Ursula is once again reading under an apple tree, this time reading Die Marquise von O. She notices a rabbit next to her and is surprised that Maurice hasn’t shot it by now. Maurice has been teaching her to shoot, though she refuses to shoot animals.
In contrast to the previous chapter, in which Ursula was reading French, here she is reading German. This, combined with Maurice teaching her to shoot, foreshadows Ursula’s eventual fate in Germany, where she tries to preemptively kill Hitler before the war.
Sylvie comes over asks if Ursula really wants to pursue a degree Modern Languages. Ursula says she intends to live in Paris for a year, where her French will be very useful, but only after university. Sylvie tells her that university won’t teach her to be a wife and mother. Ursula questions whether she wants to be a wife and mother.
It is interesting to note that even though Ursula seems increasingly certain that she wants to pursue an education and not be a wife and mother, this is the only timeline in which she actually becomes a wife and mother—perhaps proving that even Ursula’s conscious choices sometimes lead her to a fate she may not have intended.
Ursula takes a walk before dinner, and feels very hopeful about the future. She is sixteen, on the “brink of everything.” She had even been kissed by Howie on her birthday, when she’d told him that she’d give him just one kiss and then batted him away when he got too “fresh.”
As Ursula’s lives go on, Atkinson reveals more and more nuance in her relationships with men. Allowing Howie to kiss her, but then still controlling her own fate when he became too aggressive, still gives her a sense of empowerment and prevents him from raping her later on.
Ursula walks to the train station and encounters Nancy on the way back. They are then overtaken by Benjamin Cole on his bike, who escorts them to the Shawcrosses’ gate before cycling away. Ursula is a bit disappointed, as she had hoped he might walk her home alone. Ursula walks a bit of the way before Benjamin returns and invites her and Millie to a party on Saturday afternoon for his brother’s birthday. Ursula agrees, and Benjamin zooms away again.
In a later timeline, Benjamin and Ursula do have a romance—but even though this makes Ursula happier, the relationship inadvertently leads to Nancy’s death because Ursula does not walk her home. Thus, just because certain aspects of life are more satisfactory for Ursula does not always lead to a better overall outcome.
Ursula is elated, but her thoughts are interrupted by a rough-looking man who asks her the way to the station. She points down the lane, and as she tries to step away from him he grabs her arm. She manages to tug her arm away and sets off running, not stopping until she reaches her door. She decides not to tell Hugh, as she thinks he’ll only worry.
Although Ursula was certainly in danger, she is able to escape the man because she is older and presumably faster than Nancy, who was unable to. As Dr. Kellet put it in earlier chapters, a bad thing happened in order to prevent a worse thing from happening.
On Saturday, the party is a disappointment. Ursula feels invisible most of the time, and Benjamin barely pays her any attention. She eats an assortment of desserts and returns home, dejected, bringing a large piece of cake home for her and Teddy to share.
Through all of Ursula’s ups and downs with her various love interests, the person whom she can always depend on for love and support is Teddy—and he is always there at critical junctures.