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Women in Love

1. Sisters
Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father's
house in Beldover, working and talking. Ursula was stitching a piece of brightly-
coloured embroidery, and Gudrun was drawing upon a board which she held on
her knee. They were mostly silent, talking as their thoughts strayed through their
minds.
'Ursula,' said Gudrun, 'don't you really want to get married?' Ursula laid her
embroidery in her lap and looked up. Her face was calm and considerate.
'I don't know,' she replied. 'It depends how you mean.'
Gudrun was slightly taken aback. She watched her sister for some moments.
'Well,' she said, ironically, 'it usually means one thing! But don't you think
anyhow, you'd be--' she darkened slightly---'in a better position than you are in
now.'
A shadow came over Ursula's face.
'I might,' she said. 'But I'm not sure.'
Again Gudrun paused, slightly irritated. She wanted to be quite definite.
'You don't think one needs the experience of having been married?' she asked.
'Do you think it need be an experience?' replied Ursula.
'Bound to be, in some way or other,' said Gudrun, coolly. 'Possibly undesirable,
but bound to be an experience of some sort.'
'Not really,' said Ursula. 'More likely to be the end of experience.'
Gudrun sat very still, to attend to this.
'Of course,' she said, 'there's that to consider.' This brought the conversation to a
close. Gudrun, almost angrily, took up her rubber and began to rub out part of
her drawing. Ursula stitched absorbedly.
'You wouldn't consider a good offer?' asked Gudrun.
'I think I've rejected several,' said Ursula.
'Really!' Gudrun flushed dark--'But anything really worth while? Have you really?'
'A thousand a year, and an awfully nice man. I liked him awfully,' said Ursula.
'Really! But weren't you fearfully tempted?'
'In the abstract but not in the concrete,' said Ursula. 'When it comes to the point,
one isn't even tempted---oh, if I were tempted, I'd marry like a shot. I'm only
tempted not to.' The faces of both sisters suddenly lit up with amusement.
'Isn't it an amazing thing,' cried Gudrun, 'how strong the temptation is, not to!'
They both laughed, looking at each other. In their hearts they were frightened.
There was a long pause, whilst Ursula stitched and Gudrun went on with her
sketch. The sisters were women, Ursula twenty-six, and Gudrun twenty-five. But
both had the remote, virgin look of modern girls, sisters of Artemis rather than of
Hebe. Gudrun was very beautiful, passive, soft-skinned, soft-limbed. She wore a
dress of dark-blue silky stuff, with ruches of blue and green linen lace in the neck
and sleeves; and she had emerald-green stockings. Her look of confidence and
diffidence contrasted with Ursula's sensitive expectancy. The provincial people,
intimidated by Gudrun's perfect sang-froid and exclusive bareness of manner,
 
 
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