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Women in Love

29. Continental
Ursula went on in an unreal suspense, the last weeks before going away. She
was not herself,---she was not anything. She was something that is going to be---
soon---soon---very soon. But as yet, she was only imminent.
She went to see her parents. It was a rather stiff, sad meeting, more like a
verification of separateness than a reunion. But they were all vague and
indefinite with one another, stiffened in the fate that moved them apart.
She did not really come to until she was on the ship crossing from Dover to
Ostend. Dimly she had come down to London with Birkin, London had been a
vagueness, so had the train-journey to Dover. It was all like a sleep.
And now, at last, as she stood in the stern of the ship, in a pitch-dark, rather
blowy night, feeling the motion of the sea, and watching the small, rather
desolate little lights that twinkled on the shores of England, as on the shores of
nowhere, watched them sinking smaller and smaller on the profound and living
darkness, she felt her soul stirring to awake from its anaesthetic sleep.
'Let us go forward, shall we?' said Birkin. He wanted to be at the tip of their
projection. So they left off looking at the faint sparks that glimmered out of
nowhere, in the far distance, called England, and turned their faces to the
unfathomed night in front.
They went right to the bows of the softly plunging vessel. In the complete
obscurity, Birkin found a comparatively sheltered nook, where a great rope was
coiled up. It was quite near the very point of the ship, near the black, unpierced
space ahead. There they sat down, folded together, folded round with the same
rug, creeping in nearer and ever nearer to one another, till it seemed they had
crept right into each other, and become one substance. It was very cold, and the
darkness was palpable.
One of the ship's crew came along the deck, dark as the darkness, not really
visible. They then made out the faintest pallor of his face. He felt their presence,
and stopped, unsure---then bent forward. When his face was near them, he saw
the faint pallor of their faces. Then he withdrew like a phantom. And they
watched him without making any sound.
They seemed to fall away into the profound darkness. There was no sky, no
earth, only one unbroken darkness, into which, with a soft, sleeping motion, they
seemed to fall like one closed seed of life falling through dark, fathomless space.
They had forgotten where they were, forgotten all that was and all that had been,
conscious only in their heart, and there conscious only of this pure trajectory
through the surpassing darkness. The ship's prow cleaved on, with a faint noise
of cleavage, into the complete night, without knowing, without seeing, only
surging on.
In Ursula the sense of the unrealised world ahead triumphed over everything. In
the midst of this profound darkness, there seemed to glow on her heart the
effulgence of a paradise unknown and unrealised. Her heart was full of the most
wonderful light, golden like honey of darkness, sweet like the warmth of day, a
light which was not shed on the world, only on the unknown paradise towards