Taken from her The Complete Shorter Fiction collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Woolf may be exploring the theme of love. Rosalind and Ernest while they are on honeymoon are very much in love with Rosalind giving both herself and Ernest pet names. This may be important as it suggests that there is a bond or connection between Rosalind and Ernest. She considers them old and somewhat archaic or out of touch. This could be significant as Woolf may be highlighting the decline in social classes that was occurring at the time the story was written.
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The wedding march pealed out. The pigeons fluttered. Certainly he looked handsome and she looked shy. More rice was thrown, and the car moved off. That was on Tuesday. Now it was Saturday. Rosalind had still to get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Thorburn. Perhaps she never would get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Anybody, she thought, as she sat in the bow window of the hotel looking over the lake to the mountains, and waited for her husband to come down to breakfast.
Ernest was a difficult name to get used to. It was not the name she would have chosen. She would have preferred Timothy, Antony, or Peter. He did not look like Ernest either. But here he was. Thank goodness he did not look like Ernest—no. But what did he look like? She glanced at him sideways.
Well, when he was eating toast he looked like a rabbit. Not that anyone else would have seen a likeness to a creature so diminutive and timid in this spruce, muscular young man with the straight nose, the blue eyes, and the very firm mouth. But that made it all the more amusing. His nose twitched very slightly when he ate. She kept watching his nose twitch; and then she had to explain, when he caught her looking at him, why she laughed.
And she laughed and laughed; and he laughed too, so that the maiden ladies and the fishing man and the Swiss waiter in his greasy black jacket all guessed right; they were very happy.
But how long does such happiness last? But that was absurd. He was not a tame rabbit, whatever he was. She turned it into French. But whatever he was, he was not a French rabbit.
Still, his nose twitched. It seemed to suit him exactly; he was not Ernest, he was King Lappin. She did not know. When there was nothing new to talk about on their long solitary walks—and it rained, as everyone had warned them that it would rain; or when they were sitting over the fire in the evening, for it was cold, and the maiden ladies had gone and the fishing man, and the waiter only came if you rang the bell for him, she let her fancy play with the story of the Lappin tribe.
Under her hands—she was sewing; he was reading—they became very real, very vivid, very amusing. Ernest put down the paper and helped her. There were the black rabbits and the red; there were the enemy rabbits and the friendly. There were the wood in which they lived and the outlying prairies and the swamp.
Above all there was King Lappin, who, far from having only the one trick—that he twitched his nose—became as the days passed an animal of the greatest character; Rosalind was always finding new qualities in him. But above all he was a great hunter. He felt very much in love with her. He was King Lappin; she was Queen Lapinova. They were the opposite of each other; he was bold and determined; she wary and undependable. He ruled over the busy world of rabbits; her world was a desolate, mysterious place, which she ranged mostly by moonlight.
All the same, their territories touched; they were King and Queen. Thus when they came back from their honeymoon they possessed a private world, inhabited, save for the one white hare, entirely by rabbits.
No one guessed that there was such a place, and that of course made it all the more amusing. It made them feel, more even than most young married couples, in league together against the rest of the world.
Often they looked slyly at each other when people talked about rabbits and woods and traps and shooting. Sometimes when they wanted a gamekeeper, or a poacher or a Lord of the Manor, they amused themselves by distributing the parts among their friends. Reginald Thorburn, for example, fitted the part of the Squire to perfection. But it was all secret—that was the point of it; nobody save themselves knew that such a world existed. Without that world, how, Rosalind wondered, that winter could she have lived at all?
For instance, there was the golden-wedding party, when all the Thorburns assembled at Porchester Terrace to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of that union which had been so blessed—had it not produced Ernest Thorburn?
She dreaded that party. But it was inevitable. As she walked upstairs she felt bitterly that she was an only child and an orphan at that; a mere drop among all those Thorburns assembled in the great drawing-room with the shiny satin wallpaper and the lustrous family portraits. The living Thorburns much resembled the painted; save that instead of painted lips they had real lips; out of which came jokes; jokes about schoolrooms, and how they had pulled the chair from under the governess; jokes about frogs and how they had put them between the virgin sheets of maiden ladies.
As for herself, she had never even made an apple-pie bed. Holding her present in her hand she advanced toward her mother-in-law sumptuous in yellow satin; and toward her father-in-law decorated with a rich yellow carnation. But her present was only a little pinchbeck box pierced with holes; an old sand caster, an eighteenth-century relic, once used to sprinkle sand over wet ink. Not at all happy. She looked at Ernest, straight as a ramrod with a nose like all the noses in the family portraits; a nose that never twitched at all.
Then they went down to dinner. She was half hidden by the great chrysanthemums that curled their red and gold petals into large tight balls. Everything was gold. A gold-edged card with gold initials intertwined recited the list of all the dishes that would be set one after another before them.
She dipped her spoon in a plate of clear golden fluid. The raw white fog outside had been turned by the lamps into a golden mesh that blurred the edges of the plates and gave the pineapples a rough golden skin. Only she herself in her white wedding dress peering ahead of her with her prominent eyes seemed insoluble as an icicle.
As the dinner wore on, however, the room grew steamy with heat. She felt that her icicle was being turned to water. She was being melted; dispersed; dissolved into nothingness; and would soon faint. It rippled, it ran with successive twitches. And at that a mysterious catastrophe befell the Thorburns. It was a blue sky—clouds passed slowly. And they had all been changed—the Thorburns. She looked at her father-in-law, a furtive little man with dyed moustaches.
His foible was collecting things—seals, enamel boxes, trifles from eighteenth-century dressing tables which he hid in the drawers of his study from his wife. Now she saw him as he was—a poacher, stealing off with his coat bulging with pheasants and partridges to drop them stealthily into a three-legged pot in his smoky little cottage. That was her real father-in-law—a poacher.
So she saw Celia. And then she looked at her mother-in-law—whom they dubbed The Squire. Flushed, coarse, a bully—she was all that, as she stood returning thanks, but now that Rosalind—that is Lapinova—saw her, she saw behind her the decayed family mansion, the plaster peeling off the walls, and heard her, with a sob in her voice, giving thanks to her children who hated her for a world that had ceased to exist.
There was a sudden silence. They all stood with their glasses raised; they all drank; then it was over. And they drove back through the Park, King and Queen of the marsh, of the mist, and of the gorse-scented moor.
Thus time passed; one year; two years of time. Reginald Thorburn was dead; the house was to let; and there was only a caretaker in residence—Ernest came home from the office. It was cold, with fog in the air, and Rosalind was sitting over the fire, sewing.
Ernest looked completely blank for a moment. But his nose did not twitch. Her hands—they turned to hands—clutched the stuff she was holding; her eyes popped half out of her head. It took him five minutes at least to change from Ernest Thorburn to King Lappin; and while she waited she felt a load on the back of her neck, as if somebody were about to wring it.
At last he changed to King Lappin; his nose twitched; and they spent the evening roaming the woods much as usual. But she slept badly. In the middle of the night she woke, feeling as if something strange had happened to her. She was stiff and cold. At last she turned on the light and looked at Ernest lying beside her. He was sound asleep.
“Lappin and Lapinova”
The wedding march pealed out. The pigeons fluttered. Certainly he looked handsome and she looked shy. More rice was thrown, and the car moved off. That was on Tuesday. Now it was Saturday. Rosalind had still to get used to the fact that she was Mrs.
Lappin and Lapinova by Virginia Woolf
Shaktikasa Search my Subject Specializations: It sounds too thrilling. When there was nothing new to talk about on their long solitary walks—and it rained, as everyone had warned them that it would rain; or when they were sitting over the fire in the evening, for it was cold, and lappin maiden ladies had gone and the fishing man, and the waiter only came if you rang the bell for him, she let her fancy play with the story of the Lappin tribe. She had turned out the light, but the street lamp lit the ceiling faintly, and the trees outside made a lacy network over it as if there were a shadowy grove on the ceiling in which she wandered, turning, twisting, in and out, round and round, hunting, being hunted, hearing the bay qnd hounds and horns; flying, escaping. Lappin and Lapinova by Virginia Woolf In this novel, which is a parody of history and of biography, chronology is rather more straightforward than the limitation to twenty-four hours from which there are Proustian flashbacks, moments of being, in Mrs Dalloway. It was her custom, whenever an idea for one occurred to her, to sketch it out in a very rough form and then put it away in a drawer. He felt very much in love with her. Something that appears to be based on the fact that Rosalind considers Ernest to be cold-hearted when she tells him that Lapinova is dead.