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Women in Love

12.
Carpeting
He set off down the bank, and she went unwillingly with him. Yet she would not
have stayed away, either.
'We know each other well, you and I, already,' he said. She did not answer.
In the large darkish kitchen of the mill, the labourer's wife was talking shrilly to
Hermione and Gerald, who stood, he in white and she in a glistening bluish
foulard, strangely luminous in the dusk of the room; whilst from the cages on the
walls, a dozen or more canaries sang at the top of their voices. The cages were
all placed round a small square window at the back, where the sunshine came in,
a beautiful beam, filtering through green leaves of a tree. The voice of Mrs
Salmon shrilled against the noise of the birds, which rose ever more wild and
triumphant, and the woman's voice went up and up against them, and the birds
replied with wild animation.
'Here's Rupert!' shouted Gerald in the midst of the din. He was suffering badly,
being very sensitive in the ear.
'O-o-h them birds, they won't let you speak---!' shrilled the labourer's wife in
disgust. 'I'll cover them up.'
And she darted here and there, throwing a duster, an apron, a towel, a table-
cloth over the cages of the birds.
'Now will you stop it, and let a body speak for your row,' she said, still in a voice
that was too high.
The party watched her. Soon the cages were covered, they had a strange
funereal look. But from under the towels odd defiant trills and bubblings still
shook out.
'Oh, they won't go on,' said Mrs Salmon reassuringly. 'They'll go to sleep now.'
'Really,' said Hermione, politely.
'They will,' said Gerald. 'They will go to sleep automatically, now the impression
of evening is produced.'
'Are they so easily deceived?' cried Ursula.
'Oh, yes,' replied Gerald. 'Don't you know the story of Fabre, who, when he was a
boy, put a hen's head under her wing, and she straight away went to sleep? It's
quite true.'
'And did that make him a naturalist?' asked Birkin.
'Probably,' said Gerald.
Meanwhile Ursula was peeping under one of the cloths. There sat the canary in a
corner, bunched and fluffed up for sleep.
'How ridiculous!' she cried. 'It really thinks the night has come! How absurd!
Really, how can one have any respect for a creature that is so easily taken in!'
'Yes,' sang Hermione, coming also to look. She put her hand on Ursula's arm and
chuckled a low laugh. 'Yes, doesn't he look comical?' she chuckled. 'Like a stupid
husband.'
Then, with her hand still on Ursula's arm, she drew her away, saying, in her mild
sing-song:
'How did you come here? We saw Gudrun too.'
 
 
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