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Women in Love

21. Threshold
Gudrun was away in London, having a little show of her work, with a friend, and
looking round, preparing for flight from Beldover. Come what might she would be
on the wing in a very short time. She received a letter from Winifred Crich,
ornamented with drawings.
'Father also has been to London, to be examined by the doctors. It made him
very tired. They say he must rest a very great deal, so he is mostly in bed. He
brought me a lovely tropical parrot in faience, of Dresden ware, also a man
ploughing, and two mice climbing up a stalk, also in faience. The mice were
Copenhagen ware. They are the best, but mice don't shine so much, otherwise
they are very good, their tails are slim and long. They all shine nearly like glass.
Of course it is the glaze, but I don't like it. Gerald likes the man ploughing the
best, his trousers are torn, he is ploughing with an ox, being I suppose a German
peasant. It is all grey and white, white shirt and grey trousers, but very shiny and
clean. Mr Birkin likes the girl best, under the hawthorn blossom, with a lamb, and
with daffodils painted on her skirts, in the drawing room. But that is silly, because
the lamb is not a real lamb, and she is silly too.
'Dear Miss Brangwen, are you coming back soon, you are very much missed
here. I enclose a drawing of father sitting up in bed. He says he hopes you are
not going to forsake us. Oh dear Miss Brangwen, I am sure you won't. Do come
back and draw the ferrets, they are the most lovely noble darlings in the world.
We might carve them in holly-wood, playing against a background of green
leaves. Oh do let us, for they are most beautiful.
'Father says we might have a studio. Gerald says we could easily have a
beautiful one over the stables, it would only need windows to be put in the slant
of the roof, which is a simple matter. Then you could stay here all day and work,
and we could live in the studio, like two real artists, like the man in the picture in
the hall, with the frying-pan and the walls all covered with drawings. I long to be
free, to live the free life of an artist. Even Gerald told father that only an artist is
free, because he lives in a creative world of his own--'
Gudrun caught the drift of the family intentions, in this letter. Gerald wanted her
to be attached to the household at Shortlands, he was using Winifred as his
stalking-horse. The father thought only of his child, he saw a rock of salvation in
Gudrun. And Gudrun admired him for his perspicacity. The child, moreover, was
really exceptional. Gudrun was quite content. She was quite willing, given a
studio, to spend her days at Shortlands. She disliked the Grammar School
already thoroughly, she wanted to be free. If a studio were provided, she would
be free to go on with her work, she would await the turn of events with complete
serenity. And she was really interested in Winifred, she would be quite glad to
understand the girl.
So there was quite a little festivity on Winifred's account, the day Gudrun
returned to Shortlands.
'You should make a bunch of flowers to give to Miss Brangwen when she
arrives,' Gerald said smiling to his sister.
 
 
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