THAT EVENING Ursula returned home very bright-eyed and wondrous -- which irritated her people. Her father came home at suppertime, tired after the evening class, and the long journey home. Gudrun was reading, the mother sat in silence.
Suddenly Ursula said to the company at large, in a bright voice, `Rupert and I are going to be married tomorrow.'
Her father turned round, stiffly.
`You what?' he said.
`Tomorrow!' echoed Gudrun.
`Indeed!' said the mother.
But Ursula only smiled wonderfully, and did not reply.
`Married tomorrow!' cried her father harshly. `What are you talking about.'
`Yes,' said Ursula. `Why not?' Those two words, from her, always drove him mad. `Everything is all right -- we shall go to the registrar's office--'
There was a second's hush in the room, after Ursula's blithe vagueness.
`Really, Ursula!' said Gudrun.
`Might we ask why there has been all this secrecy?' demanded the mother, rather superbly.
`But there hasn't,' said Ursula. `You knew.'
`Who knew?' now cried the father. `Who knew? What do you mean by your "you knew"?'
He was in one of his stupid rages, she instantly closed against him.
`Of course you knew,' she said coolly. `You knew we were going to get married.'
There was a dangerous pause.
`We knew you were going to get married, did we? Knew! Why, does anybody know anything about you, you shifty bitch!'
`Father!' cried Gudrun, flushing deep in violent remonstrance. Then, in a cold, but gentle voice, as if to remind her sister to be tractable: `But isn't it a fearfully sudden decision, Ursula?' she asked.
`No, not really,' replied Ursula, with the same maddening cheerfulness. `He's been wanting me to agree for weeks -- he's had the licence ready. Only I -- I wasn't ready in myself. Now I am ready -- is there anything to be disagreeable about?'
`Certainly not,' said Gudrun, but in a tone of cold reproof. `You are perfectly free to do as you like.'
`"Ready in yourself" -- yourself, that's all that matters, isn't it! "I wasn't ready in myself,"' he mimicked her phrase offensively. `You and yourself, you're of some importance, aren't you?'
She drew herself up and set back her throat, her eyes shining yellow and dangerous.
`I am to myself,' she said, wounded and mortified. `I know I am not to anybody else. You only wanted to bully me -- you never cared for my happiness.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|