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The Black Prince

Iris Murdoch

Part Three of Bradley Pearson's Story, 1

Part Two of Bradley Pearson's Story, 3

Part Three of Bradley Pearson's Story, 1, page 2

page 1 of 2

From the beginning of Part Three to Julian's departure


Julian has bought new clothes for herself, as well as food for their voyage. They rent a car in order to drive to the seaside cottage, Patara. Bradley feels happy as he drives, but can only think about when their bliss will end and whether they will make love. Julian romantically suggests that they will get married and that Priscilla will come live with them. Bradley criticizes Julian's naïve perspective. In response to his skepticism, Julian says that she will throw herself out of the car in order to prove her love, which she proceeds to do. Bradley stops the car and finds her on the side of the road, slightly scraped and bruised. He comforts her among the wildflowers, before they get up and finish their trip. Upon arriving at the cottage, Julian decides that she wants to visit the ocean, but falls asleep in her clothes instead. As Bradley watches her sleep, he wonders again if their relationship will last and if they will make love.

The next morning, they eat a small picnic by the sea. Julian runs around gathering pretty pieces of driftwood and finds a sheep skull that has been washed clean by the ocean. Later, they eat lunch inside, visit a local church, and Julian goes swimming. Bradley feels happy during the whole day, but keeps wondering about sex with Julian. Later that night Julian and Bradley sleep together, but because of his age and high expectations, Bradley is not able to sexually perform. The next morning, the same thing happens.

The next day, Bradley receives a telegram from Francis Marloe asking him to call. Upon calling Francis, Bradley learns that Priscilla has killed herself with sleeping pills. Francis had found Bradley's address on a letter from the rental agent in Bradley's desk. Bradley does not want to ruin his bliss with Julian by going home. He instructs Francis to call Roger and arrange for the funeral and says that he will come home soon. As Bradley drives back to the cottage, he decides to not tell Julian of Priscilla's death; he also fixates upon his desire to have sex.

When he gets home, he finds Julian dressed up like Hamlet. She is holding the sheep's skull, trying to reenact Hamlet's eulogy of Yorick. Julian excitedly describes how she constructed her outfit for Bradley, but he does not seem to hear, as he overcome by sexual urges. He leads her to bed and starts tearing her clothes off. In his roughness, Bradley breaks the sheep's skull and makes Julian cry. Several hours later, they have sex again. When they finally get up from bed, Julian seems withdrawn and thoughtful. She comments that the nature of their love has changed and she feels very different from the day before. Bradley insists that it is only a deeper type of love. She soon falls asleep again, in her clothing, while lying in his arms.

Sometime after midnight, Arnold arrives and wakes them both. He has retrieved their address from Francis. He insists that Julian return home with him. He tells her about Priscilla's suicide and also corrects Julian's impression that Bradley is forty-six by explaining that he is fifty-eight. Julian seems shocked and unsure of what do to. Bradley tries to offer explanations for why he said nothing about Priscilla, but Julian scarcely hears him. Finally, she decides not to leave with her father, but promises to return to his house the next day. Arnold passes Julian a letter from Rachel. After Arnold leaves, Julian tells Bradley that she wants to be alone and goes into the other bedroom.

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