Hugh brings a telegram into the nursery when Sylvie is feeding Ursula a few months later, announcing that Izzie has had her baby. Hugh laments that if the man hadn’t been married, he could have made Izzie an honest woman. Sylvie wonders aloud if there is such a thing as an honest woman.
Sylvie barely disguises her dislike of Izzie throughout the novel, because she views Izzie as treading outside what is socially acceptable for women. Here, Sylvie criticizes Izzie for her lack of chastity and for having a child with a married man.
Izzie had already been noticeably pregnant when Hugh tracked her down in Paris a few months prior. Adelaide, their mother, had barred the door at the sight of Izzie’s pregnant belly and forced her daughter to wait out her shame in France. The baby boy would now be adopted as swiftly as possible by a German couple, while Izzie would be shipped off to a finishing school in Switzerland.
Hugh and Izzie’s mother Adelaide shares Sylvie’s beliefs—a dynamic that is echoed later when Ursula is raped and becomes pregnant at sixteen, turns to her mother for help but finds that Sylvie is completely uncaring about her situation.
Ursula’s first seasons pass in a swirl of leaves. She observes the turning of the seasons for the first time from her stroller, which is often placed outside, regardless of the weather. One November day, Maurice prods Ursula with a stick. He then calls her a “stupid baby” and buries her underneath a pile of leaves. She starts to fall asleep before Hugh finds her and rescues her.
Once again, Maurice’s attitude toward Ursula is evident, and this sets the stage for his later dislike of his sisters and his indifference towards their feelings. Additionally, Atkinson provides other possibilities for Ursula’s death to demonstrate how fate constantly intervenes (or doesn’t intervene) in her life.