He was leaning forward watching her, his face intense like a spark.

`Ursula, what are you saying? Keep your tongue still,' cried her mother.

Ursula swung round, and the lights in her eyes flashed.

`No, I won't,' she cried. `I won't hold my tongue and be bullied. What does it matter which day I get married -- what does it matter! It doesn't affect anybody but myself.'

Her father was tense and gathered together like a cat about to spring.

`Doesn't it?' he cried, coming nearer to her. She shrank away.

`No, how can it?' she replied, shrinking but stubborn.

`It doesn't matter to me then, what you do -- what becomes of you?' he cried, in a strange voice like a cry.

The mother and Gudrun stood back as if hypnotised.

`No,' stammered Ursula. Her father was very near to her. `You only want to--'

She knew it was dangerous, and she stopped. He was gathered together, every muscle ready.

`What?' he challenged.

`Bully me,' she muttered, and even as her lips were moving, his hand had caught her smack at the side of the face and she was sent up against the door.

`Father!' cried Gudrun in a high voice, `it is impossible!'

He stood unmoving. Ursula recovered, her hand was on the door handle. She slowly drew herself up. He seemed doubtful now.

`It's true,' she declared, with brilliant tears in her eyes, her head lifted up in defiance. `What has your love meant, what did it ever mean? -- bullying, and denial--it did--'

He was advancing again with strange, tense movements, and clenched fist, and the face of a murderer. But swift as lightning she had flashed out of the door, and they heard her running upstairs.

He stood for a moment looking at the door. Then, like a defeated animal, he turned and went back to his seat by the fire.

Gudrun was very white. Out of the intense silence, the mother's voice was heard saying, cold and angry:

`Well, you shouldn't take so much notice of her.'

Again the silence fell, each followed a separate set of emotions and thoughts.

Suddenly the door opened again: Ursula, dressed in hat and furs, with a small valise in her hand:

`Good-bye!' she said, in her maddening, bright, almost mocking tone. `I'm going.'

And in the next instant the door was closed, they heard the outer door, then her quick steps down the garden path, then the gate banged, and her light footfall was gone. There was a silence like death in the house.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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