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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

With an odd little hitch in her voice ROB ert


"Oh!

Hear the brotherly verdict!" laughed Julia hurriedly.

"You mean to go down to Dorset alone!" said Struthers.

"Why not?" replied Robert, answering for her.

"And stay how long?"

"Oh--as long as it lasts," said Robert again.

"Starting with eternity," said Lilly, "and working back to a fortnight."

"And what's the matter?--looks bad in the eyes of the world?"

"Yes--about that. Afraid of compromising herself--"

Lilly looked at them.

"Depends what you take the world to mean. Do you mean us in this box, or the crew outside there?" he jerked his head towards the auditorium.

"Do you think, Lilly, that we're the world?" said Robert ironically.

"Oh, yes, I guess we're shipwrecked in this box, like Robinson Crusoes. And what we do on our own little island matters to us alone. As for the infinite crowds of howling savages outside there in the unspeakable, all you've got to do is mind they don't scrap you."

"But WON'T they?" said Struthers.

"Not unless you put your head in their hands," said Lilly.

"I don't know--"

said Jim.

But the curtain had risen, they hushed him into silence.

All through the next scene, Julia puzzled herself, as to whether she should go down to the country and live with Scott. She had carried on a nervous kind of _amour_ with him, based on soul sympathy and emotional excitement. But whether to go and live with him? She didn't know if she wanted to or not: and she couldn't for her life find out. She was in that nervous state when desire seems to evaporate the moment fulfilment is offered.

When the curtain dropped she turned.

"You see," she said, screwing up her eyes, "I have to think of Robert." She cut the word in two, with an odd little hitch in her voice--"ROB-ert."

"My dear Julia, can't you believe that I'm tired of being thought of," cried Robert, flushing.

Julia screwed up her eyes in a slow smile, oddly cogitating.

"Well, who AM I to think of?" she asked.

"Yourself," said Lilly.

"Oh, yes! Why, yes! I never thought of that!" She gave a hurried little laugh. "But then it's no FUN to think about oneself," she cried flatly. "I think about ROB-ert, and SCOTT." She screwed up her eyes and peered oddly at the company.

"Which of them will find you the greatest treat," said Lilly sarcastically.

"Anyhow," interjected Robert nervously, "it will be something new for Scott."

"Stale buns for you, old boy," said Jim drily.

"I don't say so. But--" exclaimed the flushed, full-blooded Robert, who was nothing if not courteous to women.

"How long ha' you been married? Eh?" asked Jim.

"Six years!" sang Julia sweetly.

"Good God!"

"You see," said Robert, "Julia can't decide anything for herself. She waits for someone else to decide, then she puts her spoke in."


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