Snowed Up

WHEN URSULA and Birkin were gone, Gudrun felt herself free in her contest with Gerald. As they grew more used to each other, he seemed to press upon her more and more. At first she could manage him, so that her own will was always left free. But very soon, he began to ignore her female tactics, he dropped his respect for her whims and her privacies, he began to exert his own will blindly, without submitting to hers.

Already a vital conflict had set in, which frightened them both. But he was alone, whilst already she had begun to cast round for external resource.

When Ursula had gone, Gudrun felt her own existence had become stark and elemental. She went and crouched alone in her bedroom, looking out of the window at the big, flashing stars. In front was the faint shadow of the mountain-knot. That was the pivot. She felt strange and inevitable, as if she were centred upon the pivot of all existence, there was no further reality.

Presently Gerald opened the door. She knew he would not be long before he came. She was rarely alone, he pressed upon her like a frost, deadening her.

`Are you alone in the dark?' he said. And she could tell by his tone he resented it, he resented this isolation she had drawn round herself. Yet, feeling static and inevitable, she was kind towards him.

`Would you like to light the candle?' she asked.

He did not answer, but came and stood behind her, in the darkness.

`Look,' she said, `at that lovely star up there. Do you know its name?'

He crouched beside her, to look through the low window.

`No,' he said. `It is very fine.'

`Isn't it beautiful! Do you notice how it darts different coloured fires -- it flashes really superbly --'

They remained in silence. With a mute, heavy gesture she put her hand on his knee, and took his hand.

`Are you regretting Ursula?' he asked.

`No, not at all,' she said. Then, in a slow mood, she asked:

`How much do you love me?'

He stiffened himself further against her.

`How much do you think I do?' he asked.

`I don't know,' she replied.

`But what is your opinion?' he asked.

There was a pause. At length, in the darkness, came her voice, hard and indifferent:

`Very little indeed,' she said coldly, almost flippant.

His heart went icy at the sound of her voice.

`Why don't I love you?' he asked, as if admitting the truth of her accusation, yet hating her for it.

`I don't know why you don't -- I've been good to you. You were in a fearful state when you came to me.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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