Keep the Aspidistra Flying(107)

By: George Orwell


She had come over to his side, and she pinched his arm.

‘You aren’t serious, by any chance, are you?’

‘Why shouldn’t I be?’

‘An aspidistra! To think of having one of those awful depressing things in here! Besides, where could we put it? I’m not going to have it in this room, and in the bedroom it would be worse. Fancy having an aspidistra in one’s bedroom!’

‘We don’t want one in the bedroom. This is the place for an aspidistra. In the front window, where the people opposite can see it.’

‘Gordon, you are joking—you must be joking!’

‘No, I’m not. I tell you we’ve got to have an aspidistra.’

‘But why?’

‘It’s the proper thing to have. It’s the first thing one buys after one’s married. In fact, it’s practically part of the wedding ceremony.’

‘Don’t be so absurd! I simply couldn’t bear to have one of those things in here. You shall have a geranium if you really must. But not an aspidistra.’

‘A geranium’s no good. It’s an aspidistra we want.’

‘Well, we’re not going to have one, that’s flat.’

‘Yes, we are. Didn’t you promise to obey me just now?’

‘No, I did not. We weren’t married in church.’

‘Oh, well, it’s implied in the marriage service. “Love, honour and obey” and all that.’

‘No, it isn’t. Anyway we aren’t going to have that aspidistra.’

‘Yes, we are.’

‘We are not, Gordon!’

‘Yes.’

‘No!’

‘Yes!’

‘No!’

She did not understand him. She thought he was merely being perverse. They grew heated, and, according to their habit, quarrelled violently. It was their first quarrel as man and wife. Half an hour later they went out to the florist’s to order the aspidistra.

But when they were half-way down the first flight of stairs Rosemary stopped short and clutched the banister. Her lips parted; she looked very queer for a moment. She pressed a hand against her middle.

‘Oh, Gordon!’

‘What?’

‘I felt it move!’

‘Felt what move?’

‘The baby. I felt it move inside me.’

‘You did?’

A strange, almost terrible feeling, a sort of warm convulsion, stirred in his entrails. For a moment he felt as though he were sexually joined to her, but joined in some subtle way that he had never imagined. He had paused a step or two below her. He fell on his knees, pressed his ear to her belly and listened.

‘I can’t hear anything,’ he said at last.

‘Of course not, silly! Not for months yet.’

‘But I shall be able to hear it later on, shan’t I?’

‘I think so. You can hear it at seven months, I can feel it at four. I think that’s how it is.’

‘But it did really move? You’re sure? You really felt it move?’

‘Oh, yes. It moved.’

For a long time he remained kneeling there, his head pressed against the softness of her belly. She clasped her hands behind his head and pulled it closer. He could hear nothing, only the blood drumming in his own ear. But she could not have been mistaken. Somewhere in there, in the safe, warm, cushioned darkness, it was alive and stirring.

Well, once again things were happening in the Comstock family.

THE END