'You mean you don't love me?'
She suffered furiously, saying that.
'Yes, if you like to put it like that. Though perhaps that isn't true. I don't know. At any rate, I don't feel the emotion of love for you—no, and I don't want to. Because it gives out in the last issues.'
'Love gives out in the last issues?' she asked, feeling numb to the lips.
'Yes, it does. At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does NOT meet and mingle, and never can.'
...'And you mean you can't love?' she asked, in trepidation.
'Yes, if you like. I have loved. But there is a beyond, where there is not love.'
...'But how do you know—if you have never REALLY loved?' she asked.
'It is true, what I say; there is a beyond, in you, in me, which is further than love, beyond the scope, as stars are beyond the scope of vision, some of them.'
'Then there is no love,' cried Ursula.
'Ultimately, no, there is something else. But, ultimately, there IS no love.'
Ursula was given over to this statement for some moments. Then she half rose from her chair, saying, in a final, repellent voice:
'Then let me go home—what am I doing here?'
'There is the door,' he said. 'You are a free agent.'
...She hung motionless for some seconds, then she sat down again. 'If there is no love, what is there?' she cried, almost jeering.
'Something,' he said, looking at her, battling with his soul, with all his might.
'There is,' he said, in a voice of pure abstraction; 'a final me which is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final you. And it is there I would want to meet you—not in the emotional, loving plane—but there beyond, where there is no speech and no terms of agreement. There we are two stark, unknown beings, two utterly strange creatures, I would want to approach you, and you me. And there could be no obligation, because there is no standard for action there, because no understanding has been reaped from that plane. It is quite inhuman,—so there can be no calling to book, in any form whatsoever—because one is outside the pale of all that is accepted, and nothing known applies. One can only follow the impulse, taking that which lies in front, and responsible for nothing, asked for nothing, giving nothing, only each taking according to the primal desire.'
Ursula listened to this speech, her mind dumb and almost senseless, what he said was so unexpected and so untoward. 'It is just purely selfish,' she said.
'If it is pure, yes. But it isn't selfish at all. Because I don't KNOW what I want of you. I deliver MYSELF over to the unknown, in coming to you, I am without reserves or defences, stripped entirely, into the unknown. Only there needs the pledge between us, that we will both cast off everything, cast off ourselves even, and cease to be, so that that which is perfectly ourselves can take place in us.'
'But it is because you love me, that you want me?' she persisted.
'No it isn't. It is because I believe in you—if I DO believe in you.'
'Aren't you sure?' she laughed, suddenly hurt.
He was looking at her steadfastly, scarcely heeding what she said.
'Yes, I must believe in you, or else I shouldn't be here saying this,' he replied. 'But that is all the proof I have. I don't feel any very strong belief at this particular moment.'
She disliked him for this sudden relapse into weariness and faithlessness. 'But don't you think me good-looking?' she persisted, in a mocking voice.
He looked at her, to see if he felt that she was good-looking. 'I don't FEEL that you're good-looking,' he said.
'Not even attractive?' she mocked, bitingly.
He knitted his brows in sudden exasperation. 'Don't you see that it's not a question of visual appreciation in the least,' he cried. 'I don't WANT to see you. I've seen plenty of women, I'm sick and weary of seeing them. I want a woman I don't see.'
'I'm sorry I can't oblige you by being invisible,' she laughed.
'Yes,' he said, 'you are invisible to me, if you don't force me to be visually aware of you. But I don't want to see you or hear you.'
'What did you ask me to tea for, then?' she mocked.
'I want to find you, where you don't know your own existence, the you that your common self denies utterly. But I don't want your good looks, and I don't want your womanly feelings, and I don't want your thoughts nor opinions nor your ideas—they are all bagatelles to me.'
'You are very conceited, Monsieur,' she mocked. 'How do you know what my womanly feelings are, or my thoughts or my ideas? You don't even know what I think of you now.'
'Nor do I care in the slightest.'
'I think you are very silly. I think you want to tell me you love me, and you go all this way round to do it.'
'All right,' he said, looking up with sudden exasperation. 'Now go away then, and leave me alone. I don't want any more of your meretricious persiflage.'
'Is it really persiflage?' she mocked, her face really relaxing into laughter. She interpreted it, that he had made a deep confession of love to her. But he was so absurd in his words, also.
And Ursula buys this horse pucky!