`No. Don't you think it's too bad?'
This last was in a tone of challenge. The Pussum let it be known by her tone, that she was aware of Gudrun's listening.
`I suppose he didn't feel like it,' replied Gerald.
`But why didn't he?' pursued the Pussum.
This was received in silence. There was an ugly, mocking persistence in the small, beautiful figure of the short-haired girl, as she stood near Gerald.
`Are you staying in town long?' she asked.
`Oh, only tonight. Are you coming over to speak to Julius?'
`Oh very well. I'll tell him then.' Then came her touch of diablerie. `You're looking awf'lly fit.'
`Yes -- I feel it.' Gerald was quite calm and easy, a spark of satiric amusement in his eye.
`Are you having a good time?'
This was a direct blow for Gudrun, spoken in a level, toneless voice of callous ease.
`Yes,' he replied, quite colourlessly.
`I'm awf'lly sorry you aren't coming round to the flat. You aren't very faithful to your fwiends.'
`Not very,' he said.
She nodded them both `Good-night', and went back slowly to her own set. Gudrun watched her curious walk, stiff and jerking at the loins. They heard her level, toneless voice distinctly.
`He won't come over; -- he is otherwise engaged,' it said. There was more laughter and lowered voices and mockery at the table.
`Is she a friend of yours?' said Gudrun, looking calmly at Gerald.
`I've stayed at Halliday's flat with Birkin,' he said, meeting her slow, calm eyes. And she knew that the Pussum was one of his mistresses -- and he knew she knew.
She looked round, and called for the waiter. She wanted an iced cocktail, of all things. This amused Gerald -- he wondered what was up.
The Halliday party was tipsy, and malicious. They were talking out loudly about Birkin, ridiculing him on every point, particularly on his marriage.
`Oh, don't make me think of Birkin,' Halliday was squealing. `He makes me perfectly sick. He is as bad as Jesus. "Lord, what must I do to be saved!"'
He giggled to himself tipsily.
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