`On your marriage? -- or marrying? Why should you want my opinion? I've got no opinions. I'm not interested in legal marriage, one way or another. It's a mere question of convenience.'
Still Gerald watched him closely.
`More than that, I think,' he said seriously. `However you may be bored by the ethics of marriage, yet really to marry, in one's own personal case, is something critical, final--'
`You mean there is something final in going to the registrar with a woman?'
`If you're coming back with her, I do,' said Gerald. `It is in some way irrevocable.'
`Yes, I agree,' said Birkin.
`No matter how one regards legal marriage, yet to enter into the married state, in one's own personal instance, is final--'
`I believe it is,' said Birkin, `somewhere.'
`The question remains then, should one do it,' said Gerald.
Birkin watched him narrowly, with amused eyes.
`You are like Lord Bacon, Gerald,' he said. `You argue it like a lawyer -- or like Hamlet's to-be-or-not-to- be. If I were you I would not marry: but ask Gudrun, not me. You're not marrying me, are you?'
Gerald did not heed the latter part of this speech.
`Yes,' he said, `one must consider it coldly. It is something critical. One comes to the point where one must take a step in one direction or another. And marriage is one direction--'
`And what is the other?' asked Birkin quickly.
Gerald looked up at him with hot, strangely-conscious eyes, that the other man could not understand.
`I can't say,' he replied. `If I knew that --' He moved uneasily on his feet, and did not finish.
`You mean if you knew the alternative?' asked Birkin. `And since you don't know it, marriage is a pis aller.'
Gerald looked up at Birkin with the same hot, constrained eyes.
`One does have the feeling that marriage is a pis aller,' he admitted.
`Then don't do it,' said Birkin. `I tell you,' he went on, `the same as I've said before, marriage in the old sense seems to me repulsive. Egoisme a deux is nothing to it. It's a sort of tacit hunting in couples: the world all in couples, each couple in its own little house, watching its own little interests, and stewing in its own little privacy -- it's the most repulsive thing on earth.'
`I quite agree,' said Gerald. `There's something inferior about it. But as I say, what's the alternative.'
`One should avoid this home instinct. It's not an instinct, it's a habit of cowardliness. One should never have a home.'
`I agree really,' said Gerald. `But there's no alternative.'
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