But Gudrun was silent for some moments, before she replied:

`Do you really want it, Ursula?'

`I want to read it,' said Ursula.

`Certainly,' said Gudrun.

Even now, she could not admit, to Ursula, that she wanted to keep it, as a memento, or a symbol. But Ursula knew, and was not pleased. So the subject was switched off.

`What did you do in Paris?' asked Ursula.

`Oh,' said Gudrun laconically -- `the usual things. We had a fine party one night in Fanny Bath's studio.'

`Did you? And you and Gerald were there! Who else? Tell me about it.'

`Well,' said Gudrun. `There's nothing particular to tell. You know Fanny is frightfully in love with that painter, Billy Macfarlane. He was there -- so Fanny spared nothing, she spent very freely. It was really remarkable! Of course, everybody got fearfully drunk -- but in an interesting way, not like that filthy London crowd. The fact is these were all people that matter, which makes all the difference. There was a Roumanian, a fine chap. He got completely drunk, and climbed to the top of a high studio ladder, and gave the most marvellous address -- really, Ursula, it was wonderful! He began in French -- La vie, c'est une affaire d'ames imperiales -- in a most beautiful voice -- he was a fine-looking chap -- but he had got into Roumanian before he had finished, and not a soul understood. But Donald Gilchrist was worked to a frenzy. He dashed his glass to the ground, and declared, by God, he was glad he had been born, by God, it was a miracle to be alive. And do you know, Ursula, so it was -- ' Gudrun laughed rather hollowly.

`But how was Gerald among them all?' asked Ursula.

`Gerald! Oh, my word, he came out like a dandelion in the sun! He's a whole saturnalia in himself, once he is roused. I shouldn't like to say whose waist his arm did not go round. Really, Ursula, he seems to reap the women like a harvest. There wasn't one that would have resisted him. It was too amazing! Can you understand it?'

Ursula reflected, and a dancing light came into her eyes.

`Yes,' she said. `I can. He is such a whole-hogger.'

`Whole-hogger! I should think so!' exclaimed Gudrun. `But it is true, Ursula, every woman in the room was ready to surrender to him. Chanticleer isn't in it -- even Fanny Bath, who is genuinely in love with Billy Macfarlane! I never was more amazed in my life! And you know, afterwards -- I felt I was a whole roomful of women. I was no more myself to him, than I was Queen Victoria. I was a whole roomful of women at once. It was most astounding! But my eye, I'd caught a Sultan that time --'

Gudrun's eyes were flashing, her cheek was hot, she looked strange, exotic, satiric. Ursula was fascinated at once -- and yet uneasy.

They had to get ready for dinner. Gudrun came down in a daring gown of vivid green silk and tissue of gold, with green velvet bodice and a strange black-and-white band round her hair. She was really brilliantly beautiful and everybody noticed her. Gerald was in that full-blooded, gleaming state when he was most handsome. Birkin watched them with quick, laughing, half-sinister eyes, Ursula quite lost her head. There seemed a spell, almost a blinding spell, cast round their table, as if they were lighted up more strongly than the rest of the dining-room.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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