There remain the moments, impotent but indestructible.
YOUTH TO YOUTH
Kay was home for the Christmas vacation. He was full, not so much of Cambridge, as of schemes for establishing a co-operative press next year. He was learning printing and binding, and wanted Gerda to learn too.
“Because, if you’re really not going to marry Barry, and if Barry sticks to not having you without, you’ll be rather at a loose end, won’t you, and you may as well come and help us with the press.... But of course, you know,” Kay added absently, his thoughts still on the press, “I should advise you to give up on that point.”
“Give up, Kay? Marry, do you mean?”
“Yes.... It doesn’t seem to me to be a point worth making a fuss about. Of course I agree with you in theory—I always have. But I’ve come to think lately that it’s not a point of much importance. And perfectly sensible people are doing it all the time. You know Jimmy Kenrick and Susan Mallow have done it? They used to say they wouldn’t, but they have. The fact is, people do do it, whatever they say about it beforehand. And though in theory it’s absurd, it seems often to work out pretty well in actual life. Personally I should make no bones about it, if I wanted a girl and she wanted marriage. Of course a girl can always go on being called by her own name if she likes. That has points.”
“Of course one could do that,” Gerda pondered.
“It’s a sound plan in some ways. It saves trouble and explanation to go on with the name you’ve published your things under before marriage.... By the way, what about your poems, Gerda? They’ll be about ready by the time we get our press going, won’t they? We can afford to have some slight stuff of that sort if we get hold of a few really good things to start with, to make our name.”
Gerda’s thoughts were not on her poems, nor on Kay’s press, but on his advice about matrimony. For the first time she wavered. If Kay thought that.... It set the business in a new light. And of course other people were doing it; sound people, the people who talked the same language and belonged to the same set as one’s self.
Kay had spoken. It was the careless, authentic voice of youth speaking to youth. It was a trumpet blast making a breach in the walls against which the batteries of middle age had thundered in vain. Gerda told herself that she must look further into this, think it over again, talk it over with other people of the age to know what was right. If it could be managed with honour, she would find it a great relief to give up on this point. For Barry was so firm; he would never give up; and, after all, one of them must, if it could be done with a clear conscience.
Ten days later Gerda said to Barry, “I’ve been thinking it over again, Barry, and I’ve decided that perhaps it will be all right for us to get married after all.”