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Women in Love

25. Marriage Or Not
The Brangwen family was going to move from Beldover. It was necessary now
for the father to be in town.
Birkin had taken out a marriage licence, yet Ursula deferred from day to day. She
would not fix any definite time---she still wavered. Her month's notice to leave the
Grammar School was in its third week. Christmas was not far off.
Gerald waited for the Ursula-Birkin marriage. It was something crucial to him.
'Shall we make it a double-barrelled affair?' he said to Birkin one day.
'Who for the second shot?' asked Birkin.
'Gudrun and me,' said Gerald, the venturesome twinkle in his eyes.
Birkin looked at him steadily, as if somewhat taken aback.
'Serious--or joking?' he asked.
'Oh, serious. Shall I? Shall Gudrun and I rush in along with you?'
'Do by all means,' said Birkin. 'I didn't know you'd got that length.'
'What length?' said Gerald, looking at the other man, and laughing.
'Oh yes, we've gone all the lengths.'
'There remains to put it on a broad social basis, and to achieve a high moral
purpose,' said Birkin.
'Something like that: the length and breadth and height of it,' replied Gerald,
smiling.
'Oh well,' said Birkin,' it's a very admirable step to take, I should say.'
Gerald looked at him closely.
'Why aren't you enthusiastic?' he asked. 'I thought you were such dead nuts on
marriage.'
Birkin lifted his shoulders.
'One might as well be dead nuts on noses. There are all sorts of noses, snub and
otherwise-'
Gerald laughed.
'And all sorts of marriage, also snub and otherwise?' he said.
'That's it.'
'And you think if I marry, it will be snub?' asked Gerald quizzically, his head a
little on one side.
Birkin laughed quickly.
'How do I know what it will be!' he said. 'Don't lambaste me with my own
parallels-'
Gerald pondered a while.
'But I should like to know your opinion, exactly,' he said.
'On your marriage?---or marrying? Why should you want my opinion? I've got no
opinions. I'm not interested in legal marriage, one way or another. It's a mere
question of convenience.'
Still Gerald watched him closely.
'More than that, I think,' he said seriously. 'However you may be bored by the
ethics of marriage, yet really to marry, in one's own personal case, is something
critical, final-'
 
 
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