`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.

`Tonight only.'

`Oh, only tonight. Are you coming over to speak to Julius?'

`Not tonight.'

`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.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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