Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled light and shade,
stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted. Under the
trees to the left of him the ground was misty with bluebells. The air
seemed to kiss one's skin. It was the second of May. From somewhere deeper
in the heart of the wood came the droning of ring-doves.
He was a bit early. There had been no difficulties about the journey, and
the girl was so evidently experienced that he was less frightened than he
would normally have been. Presumably she could be trusted to find a safe
place. In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the
country than in London. There were no telescreens, of course, but there
was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might
be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey
by yourself without attracting attention. For distances of less than
100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but
sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who
examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward
questions. However, no patrols had appeared, and on the walk from the
station he had made sure by cautious backward glances that he was not
being followed. The train was full of proles, in holiday mood because of
the summery weather. The wooden-seated carriage in which he travelled was
filled to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from a toothless
great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going out to spend an afternoon
with 'in-laws' in the country, and, as they freely explained to Winston,
to get hold of a little black-market butter.
The lane widened, and in a minute he came to the footpath she had told him
of, a mere cattle-track which plunged between the bushes. He had no watch,
but it could not be fifteen yet. The bluebells were so thick underfoot
that it was impossible not to tread on them. He knelt down and began
picking some partly to pass the time away, but also from a vague idea that
he would like to have a bunch of flowers to offer to the girl when they
met. He had got together a big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly
scent when a sound at his back froze him, the unmistakable crackle of a
foot on twigs. He went on picking bluebells. It was the best thing to do.
It might be the girl, or he might have been followed after all. To look
round was to show guilt. He picked another and another. A hand fell
lightly on his shoulder.
He looked up. It was the girl. She shook her head, evidently as a warning
that he must keep silent, then parted the bushes and quickly led the way
along the narrow track into the wood. Obviously she had been that way
before, for she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed,
still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling was relief, but as
he watched the strong slender body moving in front of him, with the scarlet
sash that was just tight enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the
sense of his own inferiority was heavy upon him. Even now it seemed quite
likely that when she turned round and looked at him she would draw back
after all. The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted
him. Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him
feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of
London in the pores of his skin. It occurred to him that till now she had
probably never seen him in broad daylight in the open. They came to the
fallen tree that she had spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart
the bushes, in which there did not seem to be an opening. When Winston
followed her, he found that they were in a natural clearing, a tiny grassy
knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely. The girl
stopped and turned.
'Here we are,' she said.
He was facing her at several paces' distance. As yet he did not dare move
nearer to her.
'I didn't want to say anything in the lane,' she went on, 'in case there's
a mike hidden there. I don't suppose there is, but there could be. There's
always the chance of one of those swine recognizing your voice. We're all
He still had not the courage to approach her. 'We're all right here?'
he repeated stupidly.
'Yes. Look at the trees.' They were small ashes, which at some time had
been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of
them thicker than one's wrist. 'There's nothing big enough to hide a mike
in. Besides, I've been here before.'
They were only making conversation. He had managed to move closer to her
now. She stood before him very upright, with a smile on her face that
looked faintly ironical, as though she were wondering why he was so slow
to act. The bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to have
fallen of their own accord. He took her hand.
'Would you believe,' he said, 'that till this moment I didn't know what
colour your eyes were?' They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of
brown, with dark lashes. 'Now that you've seen what I'm really like,
can you still bear to look at me?'
'I'm thirty-nine years old. I've got a wife that I can't get rid of. I've
got varicose veins. I've got five false teeth.'
'I couldn't care less,' said the girl.
The next moment, it was hard to say by whose act, she was in his arms.
At the beginning he had no feeling except sheer incredulity. The youthful
body was strained against his own, the mass of dark hair was against his
face, and yes! actually she had turned her face up and he was kissing the
wide red mouth. She had clasped her arms about his neck, she was calling
him darling, precious one, loved one. He had pulled her down on to the
ground, she was utterly unresisting, he could do what he liked with her.
But the truth was that he had no physical sensation, except that of mere
contact. All he felt was incredulity and pride. He was glad that this was
happening, but he had no physical desire. It was too soon, her youth and
prettiness had frightened him, he was too much used to living without
women – he did not know the reason. The girl picked herself up and pulled a
bluebell out of her hair. She sat against him, putting her arm round his
'Never mind, dear. There's no hurry. We've got the whole afternoon. Isn't
this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I got lost once on a community
hike. If anyone was coming you could hear them a hundred metres away.'
'What is your name?' said Winston.
'Julia. I know yours. It's Winston – Winston Smith.'
'How did you find that out?'
'I expect I'm better at finding things out than you are, dear. Tell me,
what did you think of me before that day I gave you the note?'
He did not feel any temptation to tell lies to her. It was even a sort of
love-offering to start off by telling the worst.
'I hated the sight of you,' he said. 'I wanted to rape you and then murder
you afterwards. Two weeks ago I thought seriously of smashing your head in
with a cobblestone. If you really want to know, I imagined that you had
something to do with the Thought Police.'
The girl laughed delightedly, evidently taking this as a
tribute to the excellence of her disguise.
'Not the Thought Police! You didn't honestly think that?'
'Well, perhaps not exactly that. But from your general appearance – merely
because you're young and fresh and healthy, you understand – I thought that
probably – – '
'You thought I was a good Party member. Pure in word and deed. Banners,
processions, slogans, games, community hikes all that stuff. And you
thought that if I had a quarter of a chance I'd denounce you as a
thought-criminal and get you killed off?'
'Yes, something of that kind. A great many young girls are like that,
'It's this bloody thing that does it,' she said, ripping off the scarlet
sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging it on to a bough. Then,
as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in
the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She
broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had
taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was
dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was
dull-brown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it,
like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted
chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent
had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was
powerful and troubling.
'Where did you get this stuff?' he said.
'Black market,' she said indifferently. 'Actually I am that sort of girl,
to look at. I'm good at games. I was a troop-leader in the Spies. I do
voluntary work three evenings a week for the Junior Anti-Sex League. Hours
and hours I've spent pasting their bloody rot all over London. I always
carry one end of a banner in the processions. I always look cheerful and
I never shirk anything. Always yell with the crowd, that's what I say.
It's the only way to be safe.'
The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston's tongue. The taste
was delightful. But there was still that memory moving round the edges of
his consciousness, something strongly felt but not reducible to definite
shape, like an object seen out of the corner of one's eye. He pushed it
away from him, aware only that it was the memory of some action which he
would have liked to undo but could not.
'You are very young,' he said. 'You are ten or fifteen years younger than
I am. What could you see to attract you in a man like me?'
'It was something in your face. I thought I'd take a chance. I'm good at
spotting people who don't belong. As soon as I saw you I knew you were
THEM, it appeared, meant the Party, and above all the Inner Party, about
whom she talked with an open jeering hatred which made Winston feel uneasy,
although he knew that they were safe here if they could be safe anywhere.
A thing that astonished him about her was the coarseness of her language.
Party members were supposed not to swear, and Winston himself very seldom
did swear, aloud, at any rate. Julia, however, seemed unable to mention
the Party, and especially the Inner Party, without using the kind of words
that you saw chalked up in dripping alley-ways. He did not dislike it. It
was merely one symptom of her revolt against the Party and all its ways,
and somehow it seemed natural and healthy, like the sneeze of a horse that
smells bad hay. They had left the clearing and were wandering again
through the chequered shade, with their arms round each other's waists
whenever it was wide enough to walk two abreast. He noticed how much
softer her waist seemed to feel now that the sash was gone. They did not
speak above a whisper. Outside the clearing, Julia said, it was better to
go quietly. Presently they had reached the edge of the little wood. She
'Don't go out into the open. There might be someone watching. We're all
right if we keep behind the boughs.'
They were standing in the shade of hazel bushes. The sunlight, filtering
through innumerable leaves, was still hot on their faces. Winston looked
out into the field beyond, and underwent a curious, slow shock of
recognition. He knew it by sight. An old, close-bitten pasture, with a
footpath wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged
hedge on the opposite side the boughs of the elm trees swayed just
perceptibly in the breeze, and their leaves stirred faintly in dense
masses like women's hair. Surely somewhere nearby, but out of sight,
there must be a stream with green pools where dace were swimming?
'Isn't there a stream somewhere near here?' he whispered.
'That's right, there is a stream. It's at the edge of the next field,
actually. There are fish in it, great big ones. You can watch them lying
in the pools under the willow trees, waving their tails.'
'It's the Golden Country – almost,' he murmured.
'The Golden Country?'
'It's nothing, really. A landscape I've seen sometimes in a dream.'
'Look!' whispered Julia.
A thrush had alighted on a bough not five metres away, almost at the level
of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen them. It was in the sun, they in
the shade. It spread out its wings, fitted them carefully into place
again, ducked its head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance
to the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song. In the
afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston and Julia clung
together, fascinated. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with
astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as though the
bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity. Sometimes it stopped
for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then swelled its
speckled breast and again burst into song. Winston watched it with a sort
of vague reverence. For whom, for what, was that bird singing? No mate,
no rival was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood
and pour its music into nothingness? He wondered whether after all there
was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He and Julia had spoken only in
low whispers, and it would not pick up what they had said, but it would
pick up the thrush. Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small,
beetle-like man was listening intently – listening to that. But by degrees
the flood of music drove all speculations out of his mind. It was as
though it were a kind of liquid stuff that poured all over him and got
mixed up with the sunlight that filtered through the leaves. He stopped
thinking and merely felt. The girl's waist in the bend of his arm was soft
and warm. He pulled her round so that they were breast to breast; her body
seemed to melt into his. Wherever his hands moved it was all as yielding as
water. Their mouths clung together; it was quite different from the hard
kisses they had exchanged earlier. When they moved their faces apart again
both of them sighed deeply. The bird took fright and fled with a clatter
Winston put his lips against her ear. 'NOW,' he whispered.
'Not here,' she whispered back. 'Come back to the hide-out. It's safer.'
Quickly, with an occasional crackle of twigs, they threaded their way back
to the clearing. When they were once inside the ring of saplings she turned
and faced him. They were both breathing fast, but the smile had reappeared
round the corners of her mouth. She stood looking at him for an instant,
then felt at the zipper of her overalls. And, yes! it was almost as in his
dream. Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes
off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent
gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated. Her body
gleamed white in the sun. But for a moment he did not look at her body;
his eyes were anchored by the freckled face with its faint, bold smile.
He knelt down before her and took her hands in his.
'Have you done this before?'
'Of course. Hundreds of times – well, scores of times, anyway.'
'With Party members?'
'Yes, always with Party members.'
'With members of the Inner Party?'
'Not with those swine, no. But there's plenty that WOULD if they got half
a chance. They're not so holy as they make out.'
His heart leapt. Scores of times she had done it: he wished it had been
hundreds – thousands. Anything that hinted at corruption always filled him
with a wild hope. Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface,
its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing
iniquity. If he could have infected the whole lot of them with leprosy or
syphilis, how gladly he would have done so! Anything to rot, to weaken, to
undermine! He pulled her down so that they were kneeling face to face.
'Listen. The more men you've had, the more I love you. Do you understand
'I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don't want any virtue to exist anywhere.
I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.'
'Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I'm corrupt to the bones.'
'You like doing this? I don't mean simply me: I mean the thing in itself?'
'I adore it.'
That was above all what he wanted to hear. Not merely the love of one
person but the animal instinct, the simple undifferentiated desire: that
was the force that would tear the Party to pieces. He pressed her down
upon the grass, among the fallen bluebells. This time there was no
difficulty. Presently the rising and falling of their breasts slowed to
normal speed, and in a sort of pleasant helplessness they fell apart. The
sun seemed to have grown hotter. They were both sleepy. He reached out for
the discarded overalls and pulled them partly over her. Almost immediately
they fell asleep and slept for about half an hour.
Winston woke first. He sat up and watched the freckled face, still
peacefully asleep, pillowed on the palm of her hand. Except for her mouth,
you could not call her beautiful. There was a line or two round the eyes,
if you looked closely. The short dark hair was extraordinarily thick and
soft. It occurred to him that he still did not know her surname or where
The young, strong body, now helpless in sleep, awoke in him a pitying,
protecting feeling. But the mindless tenderness that he had felt under
the hazel tree, while the thrush was singing, had not quite come back.
He pulled the overalls aside and studied her smooth white flank. In the
old days, he thought, a man looked at a girl's body and saw that it was
desirable, and that was the end of the story. But you could not have pure
love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was
mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax
a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act.