CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница

Lord Jesus, was it then bound to be--Lord Jesus! He could feel the blow

descending, he knew he was murdered. Vaguely wandering forward, his

hands lifted as if to feel what would happen, he was waiting for the

moment when he would stop, when it would cease. It was not over yet.

He had come to the hollow basin of snow, surrounded by sheer slopes and

precipices, out of which rose a track that brought one to the top of

the mountain. But he wandered unconsciously, till he slipped and fell

down, and as he fell something broke in his soul, and immediately he

went CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница to sleep.

CHAPTER XXXI.

EXEUNT

When they brought the body home, the next morning, Gudrun was shut up

in her room. From her window she saw men coming along with a burden,

over the snow. She sat still and let the minutes go by.

There came a tap at her door. She opened. There stood a woman, saying

softly, oh, far too reverently:

'They have found him, madam!'

'Il est mort?'

'Yes--hours ago.'

Gudrun did not know what to say. What should she say? What should she

feel? What should she do? What did they expect of her? She was coldly

at a loss.

'Thank CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница you,' she said, and she shut the door of her room. The woman

went away mortified. Not a word, not a tear--ha! Gudrun was cold, a

cold woman.

Gudrun sat on in her room, her face pale and impassive. What was she to

do? She could not weep and make a scene. She could not alter herself.

She sat motionless, hiding from people. Her one motive was to avoid

actual contact with events. She only wrote out a long telegram to

Ursula and Birkin.

In the afternoon, however, she rose suddenly to look for Loerke. She

glanced with apprehension at the door of CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница the room that had been

Gerald's. Not for worlds would she enter there.

She found Loerke sitting alone in the lounge. She went straight up to

him.

'It isn't true, is it?' she said.

He looked up at her. A small smile of misery twisted his face. He

shrugged his shoulders.

'True?' he echoed.

'We haven't killed him?' she asked.

He disliked her coming to him in such a manner. He raised his shoulders

wearily.

'It has happened,' he said.

She looked at him. He sat crushed and frustrated for the time being,

quite as emotionless and barren as herself. My CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница God! this was a barren

tragedy, barren, barren.

She returned to her room to wait for Ursula and Birkin. She wanted to

get away, only to get away. She could not think or feel until she had

got away, till she was loosed from this position.

The day passed, the next day came. She heard the sledge, saw Ursula and

Birkin alight, and she shrank from these also.

Ursula came straight up to her.

'Gudrun!' she cried, the tears running down her cheeks. And she took

her sister in her arms. Gudrun hid her face on Ursula's shoulder, but

still she could not CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница escape the cold devil of irony that froze her soul.

'Ha, ha!' she thought, 'this is the right behaviour.'

But she could not weep, and the sight of her cold, pale, impassive face

soon stopped the fountain of Ursula's tears. In a few moments, the

sisters had nothing to say to each other.

'Was it very vile to be dragged back here again?' Gudrun asked at

length.

Ursula looked up in some bewilderment.

'I never thought of it,' she said.

'I felt a beast, fetching you,' said Gudrun. 'But I simply couldn't see

people. That is too much for me.'

'Yes CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница,' said Ursula, chilled.

Birkin tapped and entered. His face was white and expressionless. She

knew he knew. He gave her his hand, saying:

'The end of THIS trip, at any rate.'

Gudrun glanced at him, afraid.

There was silence between the three of them, nothing to be said. At

length Ursula asked in a small voice:

'Have you seen him?'

He looked back at Ursula with a hard, cold look, and did not trouble to

answer.

'Have you seen him?' she repeated.

'I have,' he said, coldly.

Then he looked at Gudrun.



'Have you done anything?' he said.

'Nothing,' she replied, 'nothing CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница.'

She shrank in cold disgust from making any statement.

'Loerke says that Gerald came to you, when you were sitting on the

sledge at the bottom of the Rudelbahn, that you had words, and Gerald

walked away. What were the words about? I had better know, so that I

can satisfy the authorities, if necessary.'

Gudrun looked up at him, white, childlike, mute with trouble.

'There weren't even any words,' she said. 'He knocked Loerke down and

stunned him, he half strangled me, then he went away.'

To herself she was saying:

'A pretty little sample of the eternal triangle!' And CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница she turned

ironically away, because she knew that the fight had been between

Gerald and herself and that the presence of the third party was a mere

contingency--an inevitable contingency perhaps, but a contingency none

the less. But let them have it as an example of the eternal triangle,

the trinity of hate. It would be simpler for them.

Birkin went away, his manner cold and abstracted. But she knew he would

do things for her, nevertheless, he would see her through. She smiled

slightly to herself, with contempt. Let him do the work, since he was

so extremely GOOD at looking after other people.

Birkin went CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница again to Gerald. He had loved him. And yet he felt chiefly

disgust at the inert body lying there. It was so inert, so coldly dead,

a carcase, Birkin's bowels seemed to turn to ice. He had to stand and

look at the frozen dead body that had been Gerald.

It was the frozen carcase of a dead male. Birkin remembered a rabbit

which he had once found frozen like a board on the snow. It had been

rigid like a dried board when he picked it up. And now this was Gerald,

stiff as a board, curled up as CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница if for sleep, yet with the horrible

hardness somehow evident. It filled him with horror. The room must be

made warm, the body must be thawed. The limbs would break like glass or

like wood if they had to be straightened.

He reached and touched the dead face. And the sharp, heavy bruise of

ice bruised his living bowels. He wondered if he himself were freezing

too, freezing from the inside. In the short blond moustache the

life-breath was frozen into a block of ice, beneath the silent

nostrils. And this was Gerald!

Again he touched the sharp, almost glittering fair hair of the frozen

body. It was icy CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница-cold, hair icy-cold, almost venomous. Birkin's heart

began to freeze. He had loved Gerald. Now he looked at the shapely,

strange-coloured face, with the small, fine, pinched nose and the manly

cheeks, saw it frozen like an ice-pebble--yet he had loved it. What was

one to think or feel? His brain was beginning to freeze, his blood was

turning to ice-water. So cold, so cold, a heavy, bruising cold pressing

on his arms from outside, and a heavier cold congealing within him, in

his heart and in his bowels.

He went over the snow slopes, to CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница see where the death had been. At last

he came to the great shallow among the precipices and slopes, near the

summit of the pass. It was a grey day, the third day of greyness and

stillness. All was white, icy, pallid, save for the scoring of black

rocks that jutted like roots sometimes, and sometimes were in naked

faces. In the distance a slope sheered down from a peak, with many

black rock-slides.

It was like a shallow pot lying among the stone and snow of the upper

world. In this pot Gerald had gone to sleep. At the far end, the guides

had driven iron stakes deep CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница into the snow-wall, so that, by means of

the great rope attached, they could haul themselves up the massive

snow-front, out on to the jagged summit of the pass, naked to heaven,

where the Marienhutte hid among the naked rocks. Round about, spiked,

slashed snow-peaks pricked the heaven.

Gerald might have found this rope. He might have hauled himself up to

the crest. He might have heard the dogs in the Marienhutte, and found

shelter. He might have gone on, down the steep, steep fall of the

south-side, down into the dark valley with its pines, on to the CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница great

Imperial road leading south to Italy.

He might! And what then? The Imperial road! The south? Italy? What

then? Was it a way out? It was only a way in again. Birkin stood high

in the painful air, looking at the peaks, and the way south. Was it any

good going south, to Italy? Down the old, old Imperial road?

He turned away. Either the heart would break, or cease to care. Best

cease to care. Whatever the mystery which has brought forth man and the

universe, it is a non-human mystery, it has its own great ends, man is

not the criterion. Best leave CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница it all to the vast, creative, non-human

mystery. Best strive with oneself only, not with the universe.

'God cannot do without man.' It was a saying of some great French

religious teacher. But surely this is false. God can do without man.

God could do without the ichthyosauri and the mastodon. These monsters

failed creatively to develop, so God, the creative mystery, dispensed

with them. In the same way the mystery could dispense with man, should

he too fail creatively to change and develop. The eternal creative

mystery could dispose of man, and replace him with a finer created

being. Just as the horse CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница has taken the place of the mastodon.

It was very consoling to Birkin, to think this. If humanity ran into a

CUL DE SAC and expended itself, the timeless creative mystery would

bring forth some other being, finer, more wonderful, some new, more

lovely race, to carry on the embodiment of creation. The game was never

up. The mystery of creation was fathomless, infallible, inexhaustible,

forever. Races came and went, species passed away, but ever new species

arose, more lovely, or equally lovely, always surpassing wonder. The

fountain-head was incorruptible and unsearchable. It had no limits. It

could bring forth miracles, create utter new races and CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница new species, in

its own hour, new forms of consciousness, new forms of body, new units

of being. To be man was as nothing compared to the possibilities of the

creative mystery. To have one's pulse beating direct from the mystery,

this was perfection, unutterable satisfaction. Human or inhuman

mattered nothing. The perfect pulse throbbed with indescribable being,

miraculous unborn species.

Birkin went home again to Gerald. He went into the room, and sat down

on the bed. Dead, dead and cold!

Imperial Caesar dead, and turned to clay

Would stop a hole to keep the wind away.

There was no response from CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница that which had been Gerald. Strange,

congealed, icy substance--no more. No more!

Terribly weary, Birkin went away, about the day's business. He did it

all quietly, without bother. To rant, to rave, to be tragic, to make

situations--it was all too late. Best be quiet, and bear one's soul in

patience and in fullness.

But when he went in again, at evening, to look at Gerald between the

candles, because of his heart's hunger, suddenly his heart contracted,

his own candle all but fell from his hand, as, with a strange

whimpering cry, the tears broke out CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница. He sat down in a chair, shaken by

a sudden access. Ursula who had followed him, recoiled aghast from him,

as he sat with sunken head and body convulsively shaken, making a

strange, horrible sound of tears.

'I didn't want it to be like this--I didn't want it to be like this,'

he cried to himself. Ursula could but think of the Kaiser's: 'Ich habe

as nicht gewollt.' She looked almost with horror on Birkin.

Suddenly he was silent. But he sat with his head dropped, to hide his

face. Then furtively he wiped his face with his fingers CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница. Then suddenly

he lifted his head, and looked straight at Ursula, with dark, almost

vengeful eyes.

'He should have loved me,' he said. 'I offered him.'

She, afraid, white, with mute lips answered:

'What difference would it have made!'

'It would!' he said. 'It would.'

He forgot her, and turned to look at Gerald. With head oddly lifted,

like a man who draws his head back from an insult, half haughtily, he

watched the cold, mute, material face. It had a bluish cast. It sent a

shaft like ice through the heart of the living man. Cold, mute,

material! Birkin remembered how once CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница Gerald had clutched his hand, with

a warm, momentaneous grip of final love. For one second--then let go

again, let go for ever. If he had kept true to that clasp, death would

not have mattered. Those who die, and dying still can love, still

believe, do not die. They live still in the beloved. Gerald might still

have been living in the spirit with Birkin, even after death. He might

have lived with his friend, a further life.

But now he was dead, like clay, like bluish, corruptible ice. Birkin

looked at the pale fingers, the inert mass. He remembered a dead

stallion he had seen CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница: a dead mass of maleness, repugnant. He remembered

also the beautiful face of one whom he had loved, and who had died

still having the faith to yield to the mystery. That dead face was

beautiful, no one could call it cold, mute, material. No one could

remember it without gaining faith in the mystery, without the soul's

warming with new, deep life-trust.

And Gerald! The denier! He left the heart cold, frozen, hardly able to

beat. Gerald's father had looked wistful, to break the heart: but not

this last terrible look of cold, mute Matter. Birkin watched and

watched.

Ursula stood aside watching CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница the living man stare at the frozen face of

the dead man. Both faces were unmoved and unmoving. The candle-flames

flickered in the frozen air, in the intense silence.

'Haven't you seen enough?' she said.

He got up.

'It's a bitter thing to me,' he said.

'What--that he's dead?' she said.

His eyes just met hers. He did not answer.

'You've got me,' she said.

He smiled and kissed her.

'If I die,' he said, 'you'll know I haven't left you.'

'And me?' she cried.

'And you won't have left me,' he said CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница. 'We shan't have any need to

despair, in death.'

She took hold of his hand.

'But need you despair over Gerald?' she said.

'Yes,' he answered.

They went away. Gerald was taken to England, to be buried. Birkin and

Ursula accompanied the body, along with one of Gerald's brothers. It

was the Crich brothers and sisters who insisted on the burial in

England. Birkin wanted to leave the dead man in the Alps, near the

snow. But the family was strident, loudly insistent.

Gudrun went to Dresden. She wrote no particulars of herself. Ursula

stayed at the Mill with Birkin for a CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница week or two. They were both very

quiet.

'Did you need Gerald?' she asked one evening.

'Yes,' he said.

'Aren't I enough for you?' she asked.

'No,' he said. 'You are enough for me, as far as a woman is concerned.

You are all women to me. But I wanted a man friend, as eternal as you

and I are eternal.'

'Why aren't I enough?' she said. 'You are enough for me. I don't want

anybody else but you. Why isn't it the same with you?'

'Having you, I can live all my life without anybody else, any CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe 42 страница other

sheer intimacy. But to make it complete, really happy, I wanted eternal

union with a man too: another kind of love,' he said.

'I don't believe it,' she said. 'It's an obstinacy, a theory, a

perversity.'

'Well--' he said.

'You can't have two kinds of love. Why should you!'

It seems as if I can't,' he said. 'Yet I wanted it.'

'You can't have it, because it's false, impossible,' she said.

'I don't believe that,' he answered.

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