The Rainbow (Chapter 2, page 1 of 25)

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Chapter 2

She was the daughter of a Polish landowner who, deeply in
debt to the Jews, had married a German wife with money, and who
had died just before the rebellion. Quite young, she had married
Paul Lensky, an intellectual who had studied at Berlin, and had
returned to Warsaw a patriot. Her mother had married a German
merchant and gone away.

Lydia Lensky, married to the young doctor, became with him a
patriot and an émancipée. They were poor, but they
were very conceited. She learned nursing as a mark of her
emancipation. They represented in Poland the new movement just
begun in Russia. But they were very patriotic: and, at the same
time, very "European".

They had two children. Then came the great rebellion. Lensky,
very ardent and full of words, went about inciting his
countrymen. Little Poles flamed down the streets of Warsaw, on
the way to shoot every Muscovite. So they crossed into the south
of Russia, and it was common for six little insurgents to ride
into a Jewish village, brandishing swords and words, emphasizing
the fact that they were going to shoot every living

Lensky was something of a fire-eater also. Lydia, tempered by
her German blood, coming of a different family, was obliterated,
carried along in her husband's emphasis of declaration, and his
whirl of patriotism. He was indeed a brave man, but no bravery
could quite have equalled the vividness of his talk. He worked
very hard, till nothing lived in him but his eyes. And Lydia, as
if drugged, followed him like a shadow, serving, echoing.
Sometimes she had her two children, sometimes they were left

She returned once to find them both dead of diphtheria. Her
husband wept aloud, unaware of everybody. But the war went on,
and soon he was back at his work. A darkness had come over
Lydia's mind. She walked always in a shadow, silenced, with a
strange, deep terror having hold of her, her desire was to seek
satisfaction in dread, to enter a nunnery, to satisfy the
instincts of dread in her, through service of a dark religion.
But she could not.

Then came the flight to London. Lensky, the little, thin man,
had got all his life locked into a resistance and could not
relax again. He lived in a sort of insane irritability, touchy,
haughty to the last degree, fractious, so that as assistant
doctor in one of the hospitals he soon became impossible. They
were almost beggars. But he kept still his great ideas of
himself, he seemed to live in a complete hallucination, where he
himself figured vivid and lordly. He guarded his wife jealously
against the ignominy of her position, rushed round her like a
brandished weapon, an amazing sight to the English eye, had her
in his power, as if he hypnotized her. She was passive, dark,
always in shadow.

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