`And hasn't it now?' asked Ursula. She was always angry when he took this tone.

`No, it hasn't. When I see that clear, beautiful chair, and I think of England, even Jane Austen's England -- it had living thoughts to unfold even then, and pure happiness in unfolding them. And now, we can only fish among the rubbish heaps for the remnants of their old expression. There is no production in us now, only sordid and foul mechanicalness.'

`It isn't true,' cried Ursula. `Why must you always praise the past, at the expense of the present? Really, I don't think so much of Jane Austen's England. It was materialistic enough, if you like --'

`It could afford to be materialistic,' said Birkin, `because it had the power to be something other -- which we haven't. We are materialistic because we haven't the power to be anything else -- try as we may, we can't bring off anything but materialism: mechanism, the very soul of materialism.'

Ursula was subdued into angry silence. She did not heed what he said. She was rebelling against something else.

`And I hate your past. I'm sick of it,' she cried. `I believe I even hate that old chair, though it is beautiful. It isn't my sort of beauty. I wish it had been smashed up when its day was over, not left to preach the beloved past to us. I'm sick of the beloved past.'

`Not so sick as I am of the accursed present,' he said.

`Yes, just the same. I hate the present -- but I don't want the past to take its place -- I don't want that old chair.'

He was rather angry for a moment. Then he looked at the sky shining beyond the tower of the public baths, and he seemed to get over it all. He laughed.

`All right,' he said, `then let us not have it. I'm sick of it all, too. At any rate one can't go on living on the old bones of beauty.'

`One can't,' she cried. `I don't want old things.'

`The truth is, we don't want things at all,' he replied. `The thought of a house and furniture of my own is hateful to me.'

This startled her for a moment. Then she replied:

`So it is to me. But one must live somewhere.'

`Not somewhere -- anywhere,' he said. `One should just live anywhere -- not have a definite place. I don't want a definite place. As soon as you get a room, and it is complete, you want to run from it. Now my rooms at the Mill are quite complete, I want them at the bottom of the sea. It is a horrible tyranny of a fixed milieu, where each piece of furniture is a commandment-stone.'

She clung to his arm as they walked away from the market.

`But what are we going to do?' she said. `We must live somehow. And I do want some beauty in my surroundings. I want a sort of natural grandeur even, splendour.'

`You'll never get it in houses and furniture -- or even clothes. Houses and furniture and clothes, they are all terms of an old base world, a detestable society of man. And if you have a Tudor house and old, beautiful furniture, it is only the past perpetuated on top of you, horrible. And if you have a perfect modern house done for you by Poiret, it is something else perpetuated on top of you. It is all horrible. It is all possessions, possessions, bullying you and turning you into a generalisation. You have to be

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