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Women in Love

28. Gudrun In The Pompadour
Christmas drew near, all four prepared for flight. Birkin and Ursula were busy
packing their few personal things, making them ready to be sent off, to whatever
country and whatever place they might choose at last. Gudrun was very much
excited. She loved to be on the wing.
She and Gerald, being ready first, set off via London and Paris to Innsbruck,
where they would meet Ursula and Birkin. In London they stayed one night. They
went to the music-hall, and afterwards to the Pompadour Cafe.
Gudrun hated the Cafe, yet she always went back to it, as did most of the artists
of her acquaintance. She loathed its atmosphere of petty vice and petty jealousy
and petty art. Yet she always called in again, when she was in town. It was as if
she had to return to this small, slow, central whirlpool of disintegration and
dissolution: just give it a look.
She sat with Gerald drinking some sweetish liqueur, and staring with black,
sullen looks at the various groups of people at the tables. She would greet
nobody, but young men nodded to her frequently, with a kind of sneering
familiarity. She cut them all. And it gave her pleasure to sit there, cheeks flushed,
eyes black and sullen, seeing them all objectively, as put away from her, like
creatures in some menagerie of apish degraded souls. God, what a foul crew
they were! Her blood beat black and thick in her veins with rage and loathing. Yet
she must sit and watch, watch. One or two people came to speak to her. From
every side of the Cafe, eyes turned half furtively, half jeeringly at her, men
looking over their shoulders, women under their hats.
The old crowd was there, Carlyon in his corner with his pupils and his girl,
Halliday and Libidnikov and the Pussum---they were all there. Gudrun watched
Gerald. She watched his eyes linger a moment on Halliday, on Halliday's party.
These last were on the look-out---they nodded to him, he nodded again. They
giggled and whispered among themselves. Gerald watched them with the steady
twinkle in his eyes. They were urging the Pussum to something.
She at last rose. She was wearing a curious dress of dark silk splashed and
spattered with different colours, a curious motley effect. She was thinner, her
eyes were perhaps hotter, more disintegrated. Otherwise she was just the same.
Gerald watched her with the same steady twinkle in his eyes as she came
across. She held out her thin brown hand to him.
'How are you?' she said.
He shook hands with her, but remained seated, and let her stand near him,
against the table. She nodded blackly to Gudrun, whom she did not know to
speak to, but well enough by sight and reputation.
'I am very well,' said Gerald. 'And you?'
'Oh I'm all wight. What about Wupert?'
'Rupert? He's very well, too.'
'Yes, I don't mean that. What about him being married?'
'Oh---yes, he is married.'
The Pussum's eyes had a hot flash.