Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence

   
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Femme Classic Art ~Chapter~ 8

~Chapter~ 9 ~Chapter~ 10 ~Chapter~ 11 ~Chapter~ 12

Femme Classic Art
Love Poems  
Love Poems
Love stories
~Chapter~ 7
Love stories
     
 

 

When Connie went up to her bedroom she' did what she' had not done for a
long time: took off all her clothes, and looked at herself naked in the
huge mirror. She did not know what she' was looking for, or at, very
definitely, yet she' moved the lamp till it shone full on her.

And she' thought, as she' had thought so often, what a frail, easily
hurt, rather pathetic thing a human body is, naked; somehow a little
unfinished, incomplete!

She had been supposed to have rather a good figure, but now she' was out
of fashion: a little too female, not enough like an adolescent boy. She
was not very tall, a bit Scottish and short; but she' had a certain
fluent, down~ slipping grace that might have been beauty. Her skin was
faintly tawny, her limbs had a certain stillness, her body should have
had a full, down~ slipping richness; but it lacked something.

Instead of ripening its firm, down~ running curves, her body was
flattening and going a little harsh. It was as if it had not had enough
sun and warmth; it was a little greyish and sapless.

Disappointed of its real womanhood, it had not succeeded in becoming
boyish, and unsubstantial, and transparent; instead it had gone opaque.

Her breasts were rather small, and dropping pear~ shaped. But they were
unripe, a little bitter, without meaning hanging there. And her belly
had lost the fresh, round gleam it had had when she' was young, in the
days of her German boy, who really loved her physically. Then it was
young and expectant, with a real look of its own. Now it was going
slack, and a little flat, thinner, but with a slack thinness. Her
thighs, too, they used to look so quick and glimpsy in their female
roundness, somehow they too were going flat, slack, meaningless.

Her body was going meaningless, going dull and opaque, so much
insignificant substance. It made her feel immensely depressed and
hopeless. What hope was there? She was old, old at twenty~ seven, with
no gleam and sparkle in the flesh. Old through neglect and denial, yes,
denial. Fashionable women kept their bodies bright like delicate
porcelain, by external attention. There was nothing inside the
porcelain; but she' was not even as bright as that. The mental life!
Suddenly she' hated it with a rushing fury, the swindle!

She looked in the other mirror's reflection at her back, her waist, her
loins. She was getting thinner, but to her it was not becoming. The
crumple of her waist at the back, as she' bent back to look, was a
little weary; and it used to be so gay~ looking. And the longish slope
of her haunches and her buttocks had lost its gleam and its sense of
richness. Gone! Only the German boy had loved it, and he was ten years
dead, very nearly. How time went by! Ten years dead, and she' was only
twenty~ seven. The healthy boy with his fresh, clumsy sensuality that
she' had then been so scornful of! Where would she' find it now? It was
gone out of men. They had their pathetic, two~ seconds spasms like
Michaelis; but no healthy human sensuality, that warms the blood and
freshens the whole being.

Still she' thought the most beautiful part of her was the long~ sloping
fall of the haunches from the socket of the back, and the slumberous,
round stillness of the buttocks. Like hillocks of sand, the Arabs say,
soft and downward~ slipping with a long slope. Here the life still
lingered hoping. But here too she' was thinner, and going unripe,
astringent.

But the front of her body made her miserable. It was already beginning
to slacken, with a slack sort of thinness, almost withered, going old
before it had ever really lived. She thought of the child she' might
somehow bear. Was she' fit, anyhow?

She slipped into her nightdress, and went to bed, where she' sobbed
bitterly. And in her bitterness burned a cold indignation against
Clifford, and his writings and his talk: against all the men of his
sort who defrauded a woman even of her own body.

Unjust! Unjust! The sense of deep physical injustice burned to her very
soul.

But in the morning, all the same, she' was up at seven, and going
downstairs to Clifford. She had to help him in all the intimate things,
for he had no man, and refused a woman~ servant. The housekeeper's
husband, who had known him as a boy, helped him, and did any heavy
lifting; but Connie did the personal things, and she' did them
willingly. It was a demand on her, but she' had wanted to do what she'
could.

So she' hardly ever went away from Wragby, and never for more than a day
or two; when Mrs Betts, the housekeeper, attended to Clifford. He, as
was inevitable in the course of time, took all the service for granted.
It was natural he should.

And yet, deep inside herself, a sense of injustice, of being defrauded,
had begun to burn in Connie. The physical sense of injustice is a
dangerous feeling, once it is awakened. It must have outlet, or it eats
away the one in whom it is aroused. Poor Clifford, he was not to blame.
His was the greater misfortune. It was all part of the general
catastrophe.

And yet was he not in a way to blame? This lack of warmth, this lack of
the simple, warm, physical contact, was he not to blame for that? He
was never really warm, nor even kind, only thoughtful, considerate, in
a well~ bred, cold sort of way! But never warm as a man can be warm to a
woman, as even Connie's father could be warm to her, with the warmth of
a man who did himself well, and intended to, but who still could
comfort a woman with a bit of his masculine glow.

But Clifford was not like that. His whole race was not like that. They
were all inwardly hard and separate, and warmth to them was just bad
taste. You had to get on without it, and hold your own; which was all
very well if you were of the same class and race. Then you could keep
yourself cold and be very estimable, and hold your own, and enjoy the
satisfaction of holding it. But if you were of another class and
another race it wouldn't do; there was no fun merely holding your own,
and feeling you belonged to the ruling class. What was the point, when
even the smartest aristocrats had really nothing positive of their own
to hold, and their rule was really a farce, not rule at all? What was
the point? It was all cold nonsense.

A sense of rebellion smouldered in Connie. What was the good of it all?
What was the good of her sacrifice, her devoting her life to Clifford?
What was she' serving, after all? A cold spirit of vanity, that had no
warm human contacts, and that was as corrupt as any low~ born Jew, in
craving for prostitution to the bitch~ goddess, Success. Even Clifford's
cool and contactless assurance that he belonged to the ruling class
didn't prevent his tongue lolling out of his mouth, as he panted after
the bitch~ goddess. After all, Michaelis was really more dignified in
the matter, and far, far more successful. Really, if you looked closely
at Clifford, he was a buffoon, and a buffoon is more humiliating than a
bounder.

As between the two men, Michaelis really had far more use for her than
Clifford had. He had even more need of her. Any good nurse can attend
to crippled legs! And as for the heroic effort, Michaelis was a heroic
rat, and Clifford was very much of a poodle showing off.

There were people staying in the house, among them Clifford's Aunt Eva,
Lady Bennerley. She was a thin woman of sixty, with a red nose, a
widow, and still something of a grande DAME. She belonged to one of the
best families, and had the character to carry it off. Connie liked her,
she' was so perfectly simple and frank, as far as she' intended to be
frank, and superficially kind. Inside herself she' was a past~ mistress
in holding her own, and holding other people a little lower. She was
not at all a snob: far too sure of herself. She was perfect at the
social sport of coolly holding her own, and making other people defer
to her.

She was kind to Connie, and tried to worm into her woman's soul with
the sharp gimlet of her well~ born observations.

'You're quite wonderful, in my opinion,' she' said to Connie. 'You've
done wonders for Clifford. I never saw any budding genius myself, and
there he is, all the rage.' Aunt Eva was quite complacently proud of
Clifford's success. Another feather in the family cap! She didn't care
a straw about his books, but why should she'?

'Oh, I don't think it's my doing,' said Connie.

'It must be! Can't be anybody else's. And it seems to me you don't get
enough out of it.'

'How?'

'Look at the way you are shut up here. I said to Clifford: If that
child rebels one day you'll have yourself to thank!'

'But Clifford never denies me anything,' said Connie.

'Look here, my dear child'~ and Lady Bennerley laid her thin hand on
Connie's arm. 'A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not
having lived it. Believe me!' And she' took another sip of brandy, which
maybe was her form of repentance.

'But I do live my life, don't I?'

'Not in my idea! Clifford should bring you to London, and let you go
about. His sort of friends are all right for him, but what are they for
you? If I were you I should think it wasn't good enough. You'll let
your youth slip by, and you'll spend your old age, and your middle age
too, repenting it.'

Her ladyship lapsed into contemplative silence, soothed by the brandy.

But Connie was not keen on going to London, and being steered into the
smart world by Lady Bennerley. She didn't feel really smart, it wasn't
interesting. And she' did feel the peculiar, withering coldness under it
all; like the soil of Labrador, which his gay little flowers on its
surface, and a foot down is frozen.

Tommy Dukes was at Wragby, and another man, Harry Winterslow, and Jack
Strangeways with his wife Olive. The talk was much more desultory than
when only the cronies were there, and everybody was a bit bored, for
the weather was bad, and there was only billiards, and the pianola to
dance to.

Olive was reading a book about the future, when babies would be bred in
bottles, and women would be 'immunized'.

'Jolly good thing too!' she' said. 'Then a woman can live her own life.'
Strangeways wanted children, and she' didn't.

'How'd you like to be immunized?' Winterslow asked her, with an ugly
smile.

'I hope I am; naturally,' she' said. 'Anyhow the future's going to have
more sense, and a woman needn't be dragged down by her FUNCTIONS.'

'Perhaps she''ll float off into space altogether,' said Dukes.

'I do think sufficient civilization ought to eliminate a lot of the
physical disabilities,' said Clifford. 'All the love~ business for
example, it might just as well go. I suppose it would if we could breed
babies in bottles.'

'No!' cried Olive. 'That might leave all the more room for fun.'

'I suppose,' said Lady Bennerley, contemplatively, 'if the
love~ business went, something else would take its place. Morphia,
perhaps. A little morphine in all the air. It would be wonderfully
refreshing for everybody.'

'The government releasing ether into the air on Saturdays, for a
cheerful weekend!' said Jack. 'Sounds all right, but where should we be
by Wednesday?'

'So long as you can forget your body you are happy,' said Lady
Bennerley. 'And the moment you begin to be aware of your body, you are
wretched. So, if civilization is any good, it has to help us to forget
our bodies, and then time passes happily without our knowing it.'

'Help us to get rid of our bodies altogether,' said Winterslow. 'It's
quite time man began to improve on his own nature, especially the
physical side of it.'

'Imagine if we floated like tobacco smoke,' said Connie.

'It won't happen,' said Dukes. 'Our old show will come flop; our
civilization is going to fall. It's going down the bottomless pit, down
the chasm. And believe me, the only bridge across the chasm will be the
phallus!'

'Oh do! DO be impossible, General!' cried Olive.

'I believe our civilization is going to collapse,' said Aunt Eva.

'And what will come after it?' asked Clifford.

'I haven't the faintest idea, but something, I suppose,' said the
elderly lady.

'Connie says people like wisps of smoke, and Olive says immunized
women, and babies in bottles, and Dukes says the phallus is the bridge
to what comes next. I wonder what it will really be?' said Clifford.

'Oh, don't bother! let's get on with today,' said Olive. 'Only hurry up
with the breeding bottle, and let us poor women off.'

'There might even be real men, in the next phase,' said Tommy. 'Real,
intelligent, wholesome men, and wholesome nice women! Wouldn't that be
a change, an enormous change from us? WE'RE not men, and the women
aren't women. We're only cerebrating make~ shifts, mechanical and
intellectual experiments. There may even come a civilization of genuine
men and women, instead of our little lot of clever~ jacks, all at the
intelligence~ age of seven. It would be even more amazing than men of
smoke or babies in bottles.'

'Oh, when people begin to talk about real women, I give up,' said
Olive.

'Certainly nothing but the spirit in us is worth having,' said
Winterslow.

'Spirits!' said Jack, drinking his whisky and soda.

'Think so? Give me the resurrection of the body!' said Dukes.

'But it'll come, in time, when we've shoved the cerebral stone away a
bit, the money and the rest. Then we'll get a democracy of touch,
instead of a democracy of pocket.'

Something echoed inside Connie: 'Give me the democracy of touch, the
resurrection of the body!' She didn't at all know what it meant, but it
comforted her, as meaningless things may do.

Anyhow everything was terribly silly, and she' was exasperatedly bored
by it all, by Clifford, by Aunt Eva, by Olive and Jack, and Winterslow,
and even by Dukes. Talk, talk, talk! What hell it was, the continual
rattle of it!

Then, when all the people went, it was no better. She continued
plodding on, but exasperation and irritation had got hold of her lower
body, she' couldn't escape. The days seemed to grind by, with curious
painfulness, yet nothing happened. Only she' was getting thinner; even
the housekeeper noticed it, and asked her about herself. Even Tommy
Dukes insisted she' was not well, though she' said she' was all right.
Only she' began to be afraid of the ghastly white tombstones, that
peculiar loathsome whiteness of Carrara marble, detestable as false
teeth, which stuck up on the hillside, under Tevershall church, and
which she' saw with such grim painfulness from the park. The bristling
of the hideous false teeth of tombstones on the hill affected her with
a grisly kind of horror. She felt the time not far off when she' would
be buried there, added to the ghastly host under the tombstones and the
monuments, in these filthy Midlands.

She needed help, and she' knew it: so she' wrote a little CRI DU COEUR to
her sister, Hilda. 'I'm not well lately, and I don't know what's the
matter with me.'

Down posted Hilda from Scotland, where she' had taken up her abode. She
came in March, alone, driving herself in a nimble two~ seater. Up the
drive she' came, tooting up the incline, then sweeping round the oval of
grass, where the two great wild beech~ trees stood, on the flat in front
of the house.

Connie had run out to the steps. Hilda pulled up her car, got out, and
kissed her sister.

'But Connie!' she' cried. 'Whatever is the matter?'

'Nothing!' said Connie, rather shamefacedly; but she' knew how she' had
suffered in contrast to Hilda. Both sisters had the same rather golden,
glowing skin, and soft brown hair, and naturally strong, warm physique.
But now Connie was thin and earthy~ looking, with a scraggy, yellowish
neck, that stuck out of her jumper.

'But you're ill, child!' said Hilda, in the soft, rather breathless
voice that both sisters had alike. Hilda was nearly, but not quite, two
years older than Connie.

'No, not ill. Perhaps I'm bored,' said Connie a little pathetically.

The light of battle glowed in Hilda's face; she' was a woman, soft and
still as she' seemed, of the old amazon sort, not made to fit with men.

'This wretched place!' she' said softly, looking at poor, old, lumbering
Wragby with real hate. She looked soft and warm herself, as a ripe
pear, and she' was an amazon of the real old breed.

She went quietly in to Clifford. He thought how handsome she' looked,
but also he shrank from her. His wife's family did not have his sort of
manners, or his sort of etiquette. He considered them rather outsiders,
but once they got inside they made him jump through the hoop.

He sat square and well~ groomed in his chair, his hair sleek and blond,
and his face fresh, his blue eyes pale, and a little prominent, his
expression inscrutable, but well~ bred. Hilda thought it sulky and
stupid, and he waited. He had an air of aplomb, but Hilda didn't care
what he had an air of; she' was up in arms, and if he'd been Pope or
Emperor it would have been just the same.

'Connie's looking awfully unwell,' she' said in her soft voice, fixing
him with her beautiful, glowering grey eyes. She looked so maidenly, so
did Connie; but he well knew the tone of Scottish obstinacy underneath.

'She's a little thinner,' he said.

'Haven't you done anything about it?'

'Do you think it necessary?' he asked, with his suavest English
stiffness, for the two things often go together.

Hilda only glowered at him without replying; repartee was not her
forte, nor Connie's; so she' glowered, and he was much more
uncomfortable than if she' had said things.

'I'll take her to a doctor,' said Hilda at length. 'Can you suggest a
good one round here?'

'I'm afraid I can't.'

'Then I'll take her to London, where we have a doctor we trust.'

Though boiling with rage, Clifford said nothing.

'I suppose I may as well stay the night,' said Hilda, pulling off her
gloves, 'and I'll drive her to town tomorrow.'

Clifford was yellow at the gills with anger, and at evening the whites
of his eyes were a little yellow too. He ran to liver. But Hilda was
consistently modest and maidenly.

'You must have a nurse or somebody, to look after you personally. You
should really have a manservant,' said Hilda as they sat, with apparent
calmness, at coffee after dinner. She spoke in her soft, seemingly
gentle way, but Clifford felt she' was hitting him on the head with a
bludgeon.

'You think so?' he said coldly.

'I'm sure! It's necessary. Either that, or Father and I must take
Connie away for some months. This can't go on.'

'What can't go on?'

'Haven't you looked at the child!' asked Hilda, gazing at him full
stare. He looked rather like a huge, boiled crayfish at the moment; or
so she' thought.

'Connie and I will discuss it,' he said.

'I've already discussed it with her,' said Hilda.

Clifford had been long enough in the hands of nurses; he hated them,
because they left him no real privacy. And a manservant!.he couldn't
stand a man hanging round him. Almost better any woman. But why not
Connie?

The two sisters drove off in the morning, Connie looking rather like an
Easter lamb, rather small beside Hilda, who held the wheel. Sir Malcolm
was away, but the Kensington house was open.

The doctor examined Connie carefully, and asked her all about her life.
'I see your photograph, and Sir Clifford's, in the illustrated papers
sometimes. Almost notorieties, aren't you? That's how the quiet little
girls grow up, though you're only a quiet little girl even now, in
spite of the illustrated papers. No, no! There's nothing organically
wrong, but it won't do! It won't do! Tell Sir Clifford he's got to
bring you to town, or take you abroad, and amuse you. You've got to be
amused, got to! Your vitality is much too low; no reserves, no
reserves. The nerves of the heart a bit queer already: oh, yes! Nothing
but nerves; I'd put you right in a month at Cannes or Biarritz. But it
mustn't go on, MUSTN'T, I tell you, or I won't be answerable for
consequences. You're spending your life without renewing it. You've got
to be amused, properly, healthily amused. You're spending your vitality
without making any. Can't go on, you know. Depression! Avoid
depression!'

Hilda set her jaw, and that meant something.

Michaelis heard they were in town, and came running with roses. 'Why,
whatever's wrong?' he cried. 'You're a shadow of yourself. Why, I never
saw such a change! Why ever didn't you let me know? Come to Nice with
me! Come down to Sicily! Go on, come to Sicily with me. It's lovely
there just now. You want sun! You want life! Why, you're wasting away!
Come away with me! Come to Africa! Oh, hang Sir Clifford! Chuck him,
and come along with me. I'll marry you the minute he divorces you. Come
along and try a life! God's love! That place Wragby would kill anybody.
Beastly place! Foul place! Kill anybody! Come away with me into the
sun! It's the sun you want, of course, and a bit of normal life.'

But Connie's heart simply stood still at the thought of abandoning
Clifford there and then. She couldn't do it. No.no! She just
couldn't. She had to go back to Wragby.

Michaelis was disgusted. Hilda didn't like Michaelis, but she' ALMOST
preferred him to Clifford. Back went the sisters to the Midlands.

Hilda talked to Clifford, who still had yellow eyeballs when they got
back. He, too, in his way, was overwrought; but he had to listen to all
Hilda said, to all the doctor had said, not what Michaelis had said, of
course, and he sat mum through the ultimatum.

'Here is the address of a good manservant, who was with an invalid
patient of the doctor's till he died last month. He is really a good
man, and fairly sure to come.'

'But I'm NOT an invalid, and I will NOT have a manservant,' said
Clifford, poor devil.

'And here are the addresses of two women; I saw one of them, she' would
do very well; a woman of about fifty, quiet, strong, kind, and in her
way cultured.'

Clifford only sulked, and would not answer.

'Very well, Clifford. If we don't settle something by to~ morrow, I
shall telegraph to Father, and we shall take Connie away.'

'Will Connie go?' asked Clifford.

'She doesn't want to, but she' knows she' must. Mother died of cancer,
brought on by fretting. We're not running any risks.'

So next day Clifford suggested Mrs Bolton, Tevershall parish nurse.
Apparently Mrs Betts had thought of her. Mrs Bolton was just retiring
from her parish duties to take up private nursing jobs. Clifford had a
queer dread of delivering himself into the hands of a stranger, but
this Mrs Bolton had once nursed him through scarlet fever, and he knew
her.

The two sisters at once called on Mrs Bolton, in a newish house in a
row, quite select for Tevershall. They found a rather good~ looking
woman of forty~ odd, in a nurse's uniform, with a white collar and
apron, just making herself tea in a small crowded sitting~ room.

Mrs Bolton was most attentive and polite, seemed quite nice, spoke with
a bit of a broad slur, but in heavily correct English, and from having
bossed the sick colliers for a good many years, had a very good opinion
of herself, and a fair amount of assurance. In short, in her tiny way,
one of the governing class in the village, very much respected.

'Yes, Lady Chatterley's not looking at all well! Why, she' used to be
that bonny, didn't she' now? But she''s been failing all winter! Oh, it's
hard, it is. Poor Sir Clifford! Eh, that war, it's a lot to answer
for.'

And Mrs Bolton would come to Wragby at once, if Dr Shardlow would let
her off. She had another fortnight's parish nursing to do, by rights,
but they might get a substitute, you know.

Hilda posted off to Dr Shardlow, and on the following Sunday Mrs Bolton
drove up in Leiver's cab to Wragby with two trunks. Hilda had talks
with her; Mrs Bolton was ready at any moment to talk. And she' seemed so
young! The way the passion would flush in her rather pale cheek. She
was forty~ seven.

Her husband, Ted Bolton, had been killed in the pit, twenty~ two years
ago, twenty~ two years last Christmas, just at Christmas time, leaving
her with two children, one a baby in arms. Oh, the baby was married
now, Edith, to a young man in Boots Cash Chemists in Sheffield. The
other one was a schoolteacher in Chesterfield; she' came home weekends,
when she' wasn't asked out somewhere. Young folks enjoyed themselves
nowadays, not like when she', Ivy Bolton, was young.

Ted Bolton was twenty~ eight when he was killed in an explosion down
th' pit. The butty in front shouted to them all to lie down quick,
there were four of them. And they all lay down in time, only Ted, and
it killed him. Then at the inquiry, on the masters' side they said Ted
had been frightened, and trying to run away, and not obeying orders, so
it was like his fault really. So the compensation was only three
hundred pounds, and they made out as if it was more of a gift than
legal compensation, because it was really the man's own fault. And they
wouldn't let her have the money down; she' wanted to have a little shop.
But they said she''d no doubt squander it, perhaps in drink! So she' had
to draw it thirty shillings a week. Yes, she' had to go every Monday
morning down to the offices, and stand there a couple of hours waiting
her turn; yes, for almost four years she' went every Monday. And what
could she' do with two little children on her hands? But Ted's mother
was very good to her. When the baby could toddle she''d keep both the
children for the day, while she', Ivy Bolton, went to Sheffield, and
attended classes in ambulance, and then the fourth year she' even took a
nursing course and got qualified. She was determined to be independent
and keep her children. So she' was assistant at Uthwaite hospital, just
a little place, for a while. But when the Company, the Tevershall
Colliery Company, really Sir Geoffrey, saw that she' could get on by
herself, they were very good to her, gave her the parish nursing, and
stood by her, she' would say that for them. And she''d done it ever
since, till now it was getting a bit much for her; she' needed something
a bit lighter, there was such a lot of traipsing around if you were a
district nurse.

'Yes, the Company's been very good to ME, I always say it. But I should
never forget what they said about Ted, for he was as steady and
fearless a chap as ever set foot on the cage, and it was as good as
branding him a coward. But there, he was dead, and could say nothing to
none of 'em.'

It was a queer mixture of feelings the woman showed as she' talked. She
liked the colliers, whom she' had nursed for so long; but she' felt very
superior to them. She felt almost upper class; and at the same time a
resentment against the ruling class smouldered in her. The masters! In
a dispute between masters and men, she' was always for the men. But when
there was no question of contest, she' was pining to be superior, to be
one of the upper class. The upper classes fascinated her, appealing to
her peculiar English passion for superiority. She was thrilled to come
to Wragby; thrilled to talk to Lady Chatterley, my word, different from
the common colliers' wives! She said so in so many words. Yet one could
see a grudge against the Chatterleys peep out in her; the grudge
against the masters.

'Why, yes, of course, it would wear Lady Chatterley out! It's a mercy
she' had a sister to come and help her. Men don't think, high and
low~ alike, they take what a woman does for them for granted. Oh, I've
told the colliers off about it many a time. But it's very hard for Sir
Clifford, you know, crippled like that. They were always a haughty
family, standoffish in a way, as they've a right to be. But then to be
brought down like that! And it's very hard on Lady Chatterley, perhaps
harder on her. What she' misses! I only had Ted three years, but my
word, while I had him I had a husband I could never forget. He was one
in a thousand, and jolly as the day. Who'd ever have thought he'd get
killed? I don't believe it to this day somehow, I've never believed it,
though I washed him with my own hands. But he was never dead for me, he
never was. I never took it in.'

This was a new voice in Wragby, very new for Connie to hear; it roused
a new ear in her.

For the first week or so, Mrs Bolton, however, was very quiet at
Wragby, her assured, bossy manner left her, and she' was nervous. With
Clifford she' was shy, almost frightened, and silent. He liked that, and
soon recovered his self~ possession, letting her do things for him
without even noticing her.

'She's a useful nonentity!' he said. Connie opened her eyes in wonder,
but she' did not contradict him. So different are impressions on two
different people!

And he soon became rather superb, somewhat lordly with the nurse. She
had rather expected it, and he played up without knowing. So
susceptible we are to what is expected of us! The colliers had been so
like children, talking to her, and telling her what hurt them, while
she' bandaged them, or nursed them. They had always made her feel so
grand, almost super~ human in her administrations. Now Clifford made her
feel small, and like a servant, and she' accepted it without a word,
adjusting herself to the upper classes.

She came very mute, with her long, handsome face, and downcast eyes, to
administer to him. And she' said very humbly: 'Shall I do this now, Sir
Clifford? Shall I do that?'

'No, leave it for a time. I'll have it done later.'

'Very well, Sir Clifford.'

'Come in again in half an hour.'

'Very well, Sir Clifford.'

'And just take those old papers out, will you?'

'Very well, Sir Clifford.'

She went softly, and in half an hour she' came softly again. She was
bullied, but she' didn't mind. She was experiencing the upper classes.
She neither resented nor disliked Clifford; he was just part of a
phenomenon, the phenomenon of the high~ class folks, so far unknown to
her, but now to be known. She felt more at home with Lady Chatterley,
and after all it's the mistress of the house matters most.

Mrs Bolton helped Clifford to bed at night, and slept across the
passage from his room, and came if he rang for her in the night. She
also helped him in the morning, and soon valeted him completely, even
shaving him, in her soft, tentative woman's way. She was very good and
competent, and she' soon knew how to have him in her power. He wasn't so
very different from the colliers after all, when you lathered his chin,
and softly rubbed the bristles. The stand~ offishness and the lack of
frankness didn't bother her; she' was having a new experience.

Clifford, however, inside himself, never quite forgave Connie for
giving up her personal care of him to a strange hired woman. It killed,
he said to himself, the real flower of the intimacy between him and
her. But Connie didn't mind that. The fine flower of their intimacy was
to her rather like an orchid, a bulb stuck parasitic on her tree of
life, and producing, to her eyes, a rather shabby flower.

Now she' had more time to herself she' could softly play the piano, up in
her room, and sing: 'Touch not the nettle, for the bonds of love are
ill to loose.' She had not realized till lately how ill to loose they
were, these bonds of love. But thank Heaven she' had loosened them! She
was so glad to be alone, not always to have to talk to him. When he was
alone he tapped~ tapped~ tapped on a typewriter, to infinity. But when he
was not 'working', and she' was there, he talked, always talked;
infinite small analysis of people and motives, and results, characters
and personalities, till now she' had had enough. For years she' had loved
it, until she' had enough, and then suddenly it was too much. She was
thankful to be alone.

It was as if thousands and thousands of little roots and threads of
consciousness in him and her had grown together into a tangled mass,
till they could crowd no more, and the plant was dying. Now quietly,
subtly, she' was unravelling the tangle of his consciousness and hers,
breaking the threads gently, one by one, with patience and impatience
to get clear. But the bonds of such love are more ill to loose even
than most bonds; though Mrs Bolton's coming had been a great help.

But he still wanted the old intimate evenings of talk with Connie: talk
or reading aloud. But now she' could arrange that Mrs Bolton should come
at ten to disturb them. At ten o'clock Connie could go upstairs and be
alone. Clifford was in good hands with Mrs Bolton.

Mrs Bolton ate with Mrs Betts in the housekeeper's room, since they
were all agreeable. And it was curious how much closer the servants'
quarters seemed to have come; right up to the doors of Clifford's
study, when before they were so remote. For Mrs Betts would sometimes
sit in Mrs Bolton's room, and Connie heard their lowered voices, and
felt somehow the strong, other vibration of the working people almost
invading the sitting~ room, when she' and Clifford were alone. So changed
was Wragby merely by Mrs Bolton's coming.

And Connie felt herself released, in another world, she' felt she'
breathed differently. But still she' was afraid of how many of her
roots, perhaps mortal ones, were tangled with Clifford's. Yet still,
she' breathed freer, a new phase was going to begin in her life.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 8
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

Mrs Bolton also kept a cherishing eye on Connie, feeling she' must
extend to her her female and professional protection. She was always
urging her ladyship to walk out, to drive to Uthwaite, to be in the
air. For Connie had got into the habit of sitting still by the fire,
pretending to read; or to sew feebly, and hardly going out at all.

It was a blowy day soon after Hilda had gone, that Mrs Bolton said:
'Now why don't you go for a walk through the wood, and look at the
daffs behind the keeper's cottage? They're the prettiest sight you'd
see in a day's march. And you could put some in your room; wild daffs
are always so cheerful~ looking, aren't they?'

Connie took it in good part, even daffs for daffodils. Wild daffodils!
After all, one could not stew in one's own juice. The spring came
back.'Seasons return, but not to me returns Day, or the sweet
approach of Ev'n or Morn.'

And the keeper, his thin, white body, like a lonely pistil of an
invisible flower! She had forgotten him in her unspeakable depression.
But now something roused.'Pale beyond porch and portal'.the thing
to do was to pass the porches and the portals.

She was stronger, she' could walk better, and in the wood the wind
would not be so tiring as it was across the park, flattening against her.
She wanted to forget, to forget the world, and all the dreadful,
carrion~ bodied people. 'Ye must be born again! I believe in the
resurrection of the body! Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth
and die, it shall by no means bring forth. When the crocus cometh forth
I too will emerge and see the sun!' In the wind of March endless
phrases swept through her consciousness.

Little gusts of sunshine blew, strangely bright, and lit up the
celandines at the wood's edge, under the hazel~ rods, they spangled out
bright and yellow. And the wood was still, stiller, but yet gusty with
crossing sun. The first windflowers were out, and all the wood seemed
pale with the pallor of endless little anemones, sprinkling the shaken
floor. 'The world has grown pale with thy breath.' But it was the
breath of Persephone, this time; she' was out of hell on a cold morning.
Cold breaths of wind came, and overhead there was an anger of entangled
wind caught among the twigs. It, too, was caught and trying to tear
itself free, the wind, like Absalom. How cold the anemones looked,
bobbing their naked white shoulders over crinoline skirts of green. But
they stood it. A few first bleached little primroses too, by the path,
and yellow buds unfolding themselves.

The roaring and swaying was overhead, only cold currents came down
below. Connie was strangely excited in the wood, and the colour flew in
her cheeks, and burned blue in her eyes. She walked ploddingly, picking
a few primroses and the first violets, that smelled sweet and cold,
sweet and cold. And she' drifted on without knowing where she' was.

Till she' came to the clearing, at the end of the wood, and saw the
green~ stained stone cottage, looking almost rosy, like the flesh
underneath a mushroom, its stone warmed in a burst of sun. And there
was a sparkle of yellow jasmine by the door; the closed door. But no
sound; no smoke from the chimney; no dog barking.

She went quietly round to the back, where the bank rose up; she' had an
excuse, to see the daffodils.

And they were there, the short~ stemmed flowers, rustling and fluttering
and shivering, so bright and alive, but with nowhere to hide their
faces, as they turned them away from the wind.

They shook their bright, sunny little rags in bouts of distress. But
perhaps they liked it really; perhaps they really liked the tossing.

Constance sat down with her back to a young pine~ tree, that swayed
against her with curious life, elastic, and powerful, rising up. The
erect, alive thing, with its top in the sun! And she' watched the
daffodils turn golden, in a burst of sun that was warm on her hands and
lap. Even she' caught the faint, tarry scent of the flowers. And then,
being so still and alone, she' seemed to bet into the current of her own
proper destiny. She had been fastened by a rope, and jagging and
snarring like a boat at its moorings; now she' was loose and adrift.

The sunshine gave way to chill; the daffodils were in shadow, dipping
silently. So they would dip through the day and the long cold night. So
strong in their frailty!

She rose, a little stiff, took a few daffodils, and went down. She
hated breaking the flowers, but she' wanted just one or two to go with
her. She would have to go back to Wragby and its walls, and now she'
hated it, especially its thick walls. Walls! Always walls! Yet one
needed them in this wind.

When she' got home Clifford asked her:

'Where did you go?'

'Right across the wood! Look, aren't the little daffodils adorable? To
think they should come out of the earth!'

'Just as much out of air and sunshine,' he said.

'But modelled in the earth,' she' retorted, with a prompt contradiction,
that surprised her a little.

The next afternoon she' went to the wood again. She followed the broad
riding that swerved round and up through the larches to a spring called
John's Well. It was cold on this hillside, and not a flower in the
darkness of larches. But the icy little spring softly pressed upwards
from its tiny well~ bed of pure, reddish~ white pebbles. How icy and
clear it was! Brilliant! The new keeper had no doubt put in fresh
pebbles. She heard the faint tinkle of water, as the tiny overflow
trickled over and downhill. Even above the hissing boom of the
larchwood, that spread its bristling, leafless, wolfish darkness on the
down~ slope, she' heard the tinkle as of tiny water~ bells.

This place was a little sinister, cold, damp. Yet the well must have
been a drinking~ place for hundreds of years. Now no more. Its tiny
cleared space was lush and cold and dismal.

She rose and went slowly towards home. As she' went she' heard a faint
tapping away on the right, and stood still to listen. Was it hammering,
or a woodpecker? It was surely hammering.

She walked on, listening. And then she' noticed a narrow track between
young fir~ trees, a track that seemed to lead nowhere. But she' felt it
had been used. She turned down it adventurously, between the thick
young firs, which gave way soon to the old oak wood. She followed the
track, and the hammering grew nearer, in the silence of the windy wood,
for trees make a silence even in their noise of wind.

She saw a secret little clearing, and a secret little hut made of
rustic poles. And she' had never been here before! She realized it was
the quiet place where the growing pheasants were reared; the keeper in
his shirt~ sleeves was kneeling, hammering. The dog trotted forward with
a short, sharp bark, and the keeper lifted his face suddenly and saw
her. He had a startled look in his eyes.

He straightened himself and saluted, watching her in silence, as she'
came forward with weakening limbs. He resented the intrusion; he
cherished his solitude as his only and last freedom in life.

'I wondered what the hammering was,' she' said, feeling weak and
breathless, and a little afraid of him, as he looked so straight at
her.

'Ah'm gettin' th' coops ready for th' young bods,' he said, in broad
vernacular.

She did not know what to say, and she' felt weak. 'I should like to sit
down a bit,' she' said.

'Come and sit 'ere i' th' 'ut,' he said, going in front of her to the
hut, pushing aside some timber and stuff, and drawing out a rustic
chair, made of hazel sticks.

'Am Ah t' light yer a little fire?' he asked, with the curious naiveté
of the dialect.

'Oh, don't bother,' she' replied.

But he looked at her hands; they were rather blue. So he quickly took
some larch twigs to the little brick fire~ place in the corner, and in a
moment the yellow flame was running up the chimney. He made a place by
the brick hearth.

'Sit 'ere then a bit, and warm yer,' he said.

She obeyed him. He had that curious kind of protective authority she'
obeyed at once. So she' sat and warmed her hands at the blaze, and
dropped logs on the fire, whilst outside he was hammering again. She
did not really want to sit, poked in a corner by the fire; she' would
rather have watched from the door, but she' was being looked after, so
she' had to submit.

The hut was quite cosy, panelled with unvarnished deal, having a little
rustic table and stool beside her chair, and a carpenter's bench, then
a big box, tools, new boards, nails; and many things hung from pegs:
axe, hatchet, traps, things in sacks, his coat. It had no window, the
light came in through the open door. It was a jumble, but also it was a
sort of little sanctuary.

She listened to the tapping of the man's hammer; it was not so happy.
He was oppressed. Here was a trespass on his privacy, and a dangerous
one! A woman! He had reached the point where all he wanted on earth was
to be alone. And yet he was powerless to preserve his privacy; he was a
hired man, and these people were his masters.

Especially he did not want to come into contact with a woman again. He
feared it; for he had a big wound from old contacts. He felt if he
could not be alone, and if he could not be left alone, he would die.
His recoil away from the outer world was complete; his last refuge was
this wood; to hide himself there!

Connie grew warm by the fire, which she' had made too big: then she' grew
hot. She went and sat on the stool in the doorway, watching the man at
work. He seemed not to notice her, but he knew. Yet he worked on, as if
absorbedly, and his brown dog sat on her tail near him, and surveyed
the untrustworthy world.

Slender, quiet and quick, the man finished the coop he was making,
turned it over, tried the sliding door, then set it aside. Then he
rose, went for an old coop, and took it to the chopping log where he
was working. Crouching, he tried the bars; some broke in his hands; he
began to draw the nails. Then he turned the coop over and deliberated,
and he gave absolutely no sign of awareness of the woman's presence.

So Connie watched him fixedly. And the same solitary aloneness she' had
seen in him naked, she' now saw in him clothed: solitary, and intent,
like an animal that works alone, but also brooding, like a soul that
recoils away, away from all human contact. Silently, patiently, he was
recoiling away from her even now. It was the stillness, and the
timeless sort of patience, in a man impatient and passionate sexy, that
touched Connie's womb. She saw it in his bent head, the quick quiet
hands, the crouching of his slender, sensitive loins; something patient
and withdrawn. She felt his experience had been deeper and wider than
her own; much deeper and wider, and perhaps more deadly. And this
relieved her of herself; she' felt almost irresponsible.

So she' sat in the doorway of the hut in a dream, utterly unaware of
time and of particular circumstances. She was so drifted away that he
glanced up at her quickly, and saw the utterly still, waiting look on
her face. To him it was a look of waiting. And a little thin tongue of
fire suddenly flickered in his loins, at the root of his back, and he
groaned in spirit. He dreaded with a repulsion almost of death, any
further close human contact. He wished above all things she' would go
away, and leave him to his own privacy. He dreaded her will, her female
will, and her modern female insistency. And above all he dreaded her
cool, upper~ class impudence of having her own way. For after all he was
only a hired man. He hated her presence there.

Connie came to herself with sudden uneasiness. She rose. The afternoon
was turning to evening, yet she' could not go away. She went over to the
man, who stood up at attention, his worn face stiff and blank, his eyes
watching her.

'It is so nice here, so restful,' she' said. 'I have never been here
before.'

'No?'

'I think I shall come and sit here sometimes.

'Yes?'

'Do you lock the hut when you're not here?'

'Yes, your Ladyship.'

'Do you think I could have a key too, so that I could sit here
sometimes? Are there two keys?'

'Not as Ah know on, ther' isna.'

He had lapsed into the vernacular. Connie hesitated; he was putting up
an opposition. Was it his hut, after all?

'Couldn't we get another key?' she' asked in her soft voice, that
underneath had the ring of a woman determined to get her way.

'Another!' he said, glancing at her with a flash of anger, touched with
derision.

'Yes, a duplicate,' she' said, flush ing.

''Appen Sir Clifford 'ud know,' he said, putting her off.

'Yes!' she' said, 'he might have another. Otherwise we could have one
made from the one you have. It would only take a day or so, I suppose.
You could spare your key for so long.'

'Ah canna tell yer, m'Lady! Ah know nob'dy as ma'es keys round 'ere.'

Connie suddenly flush ed with anger.

'Very well!' she' said. 'I'll see to it.'

'All right, your Ladyship.'

Their eyes met. His had a cold, ugly look of dislike and contempt, and
indifference to what would happen. Hers were hot with rebuff.

But her heart sank, she' saw how utterly he disliked her, when she' went
against him. And she' saw him in a sort of desperation.

'Good afternoon!'

'Afternoon, my Lady!' He saluted and turned abruptly away. She had
wakened the sleeping dogs of old voracious anger in him, anger against
the self~ willed female. And he was powerless, powerless. He knew it!

And she' was angry against the self~ willed male. A servant too! She
walked sullenly home.

She found Mrs Bolton under the great beech~ tree on the knoll, looking
for her.

'I just wondered if you'd be coming, my Lady,' the woman said brightly.

'Am I late?' asked Connie.

'Oh only Sir Clifford was waiting for his tea.'

'Why didn't you make it then?'

'Oh, I don't think it's hardly my place. I don't think Sir Clifford
would like it at all, my Lady.'

'I don't see why not,' said Connie.

She went indoors to Clifford's study, where the old brass kettle was
simmering on the tray.

'Am I late, Clifford?' she' said, putting down the few flowers and
taking up the tea~ caddy, as she' stood before the tray in her hat and
scarf. 'I'm sorry! Why didn't you let Mrs Bolton make the tea?'

'I didn't think of it,' he said ironically. 'I don't quite see her
presiding at the tea~ table.'

'Oh, there's nothing sacrosanct about a silver tea~ pot,' said Connie.

He glanced up at her curiously.

'What did you do all afternoon?' he said.

'Walked and sat in a sheltered place. Do you know there are still
berries on the big holly~ tree?'

She took off her scarf, but not her hat, and sat down to make tea. The
toast would certainly be leathery. She put the tea~ cosy over the
tea~ pot, and rose to get a little glass for her violets. The poor
flowers hung over, limp on their stalks.

'They'll revive again!' she' said, putting them before him in their
glass for him to smell.

'Sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,' he quoted.

'I don't see a bit of connexion with the actual violets,' she' said.
'The Elizabethans are rather upholstered.'

She poured him his tea.

'Do you think there is a second key to that little hut not far from
John's Well, where the pheasants are reared?' she' said.

'There may be. Why?'

'I happened to find it today~ and I'd never seen it before. I think
it's a darling place. I could sit there sometimes, couldn't I?'

'Was Mellors there?'

'Yes! That's how I found it: his hammering. He didn't seem to like my
intruding at all. In fact he was almost rude when I asked about a
second key.'

'What did he say?'

'Oh, nothing: just his manner; and he said he knew nothing about keys.'

'There may be one in Father's study. Betts knows them all, they're all
there. I'll get him to look.'

'Oh do!' she' said.

'So Mellors was almost rude?'

'Oh, nothing, really! But I don't think he wanted me to have the
freedom of the castle, quite.'

'I don't suppose he did.'

'Still, I don't see why he should mind. It's not his home, after all!
It's not his private abode. I don't see why I shouldn't sit there if I
want to.'

'Quite!' said Clifford. 'He thinks too much of himself, that man.'

'Do you think he does?'

'Oh, decidedly! He thinks he's something exceptional. You know he had a
wife he didn't get on with, so he joined up in 1915 and was sent to
India, I believe. Anyhow he was blacksmith to the cavalry in Egypt for
a time; always was connected with horses, a clever fellow that way.
Then some Indian colonel took a fancy to him, and he was made a
lieutenant. Yes, they gave him a commission. I believe he went back to
India with his colonel, and up to the north~ west frontier. He was ill;
he was a pension. He didn't come out of the army till last year, I
believe, and then, naturally, it isn't easy for a man like that to get
back to his own level. He's bound to flounder. But he does his duty all
right, as far as I'm concerned. Only I'm not having any of the
Lieutenant Mellors touch.'

'How could they make him an officer when he speaks broad Derbyshire?'

'He doesn't.except by fits and starts. He can speak perfectly well,
for him. I suppose he has an idea if he's come down to the ranks again,
he'd better speak as the ranks speak.'

'Why didn't you tell me about him before?'

'Oh, I've no patience with these romances. They're the ruin of all
order. It's a thousand pities they ever happened.'

Connie was inclined to agree. What was the good of discontented people
who fitted in nowhere?

In the spell of fine weather Clifford, too, decided to go to the wood.
The wind was cold, but not so tiresome, and the sunshine was like life
itself, warm and full.

'It's amazing,' said Connie, 'how different one feels when there's a
really fresh fine day. Usually one feels the very air is half dead.
People are killing the very air.'

'Do you think people are doing it?' he asked.

'I do. The steam of so much boredom, and discontent and anger out of
all the people, just kills the vitality in the air. I'm sure of it.'

'Perhaps some condition of the atmosphere lowers the vitality of the
people?' he said.

'No, it's man that poisons the universe,' she' asserted.

'Fouls his own nest,' remarked Clifford.

The chair puffed on. In the hazel copse catkins were hanging pale gold,
and in sunny places the wood~ anemones were wide open, as if exclaiming
with the joy of life, just as good as in past days, when people could
exclaim along with them. They had a faint scent of apple~ blossom.
Connie gathered a few for Clifford.

He took them and looked at them curiously.

'Thou still unravished bride of quietness,' he quoted. 'It seems to fit
flowers so much better than Greek vases.'

'Ravished is such a horrid word!' she' said. 'It's only people who
ravish things.'

'Oh, I don't know.snails and things,' he said.

'Even snails only eat them, and bees don't ravish.'

She was angry with him, turning everything into words. Violets were
Juno's eyelids, and windflowers were on ravished brides. How she' hated
words, always coming between her and life: they did the ravishing, if
anything did: ready~ made words and phrases, sucking all the life~ sap
out of living things.

The walk with Clifford was not quite a success. Between him and Connie
there was a tension that each pretended not to notice, but there it
was. Suddenly, with all the force of her female instinct, she' was
shoving him off. She wanted to be clear of him, and especially of his
consciousness, his words, his obsession with himself, his endless
treadmill obsession with himself, and his own words.

The weather came rainy again. But after a day or two she' went out in
the rain, and she' went to the wood. And once there, she' went towards
the hut. It was raining, but not so cold, and the wood felt so silent
and remote, inaccessible in the dusk of rain.

She came to the clearing. No one there! The hut was locked. But she' sat
on the log doorstep, under the rustic porch, and snuggled into her own
warmth. So she' sat, looking at the rain, listening to the many
noiseless noises of it, and to the strange soughings of wind in upper
branches, when there seemed to be no wind. Old oak~ trees stood around,
grey, powerful trunks, rain~ blackened, round and vital, throwing off
reckless limbs. The ground was fairly free of undergrowth, the anemones
sprinkled, there was a bush or two, elder, or guelder~ rose, and a
purplish tangle of bramble: the old russet of bracken almost vanished
under green anemone ruffs. Perhaps this was one of the unravished
places. Unravished! The whole world was ravished.

Some things can't be ravished. You can't ravish a tin of sardines. And
so many women are like that; and men. But the earth.!

The rain was abating. It was hardly making darkness among the oaks any
more. Connie wanted to go; yet she' sat on. But she' was getting cold;
yet the overwhelming inertia of her inner resentment kept her there as
if paralysed.

Ravished! How ravished one could be without ever being touched.
Ravished by dead words become obscene, and dead ideas become
obsessions.

A wet brown dog came running and did not bark, lifting a wet feather of
a tail. The man followed in a wet black oilskin jacket, like a
chauffeur, and face flush ed a little. She felt him recoil in his quick
walk, when he saw her. She stood up in the handbreadth of dryness under
the rustic porch. He saluted without speaking, coming slowly near. She
began to withdraw.

'I'm just going,' she' said.

'Was yer waitin' to get in?' he asked, looking at the hut, not at her.

'No, I only sat a few minutes in the shelter,' she' said, with quiet
dignity.

He looked at her. She looked cold.

'Sir Clifford 'adn't got no other key then?' he asked.

'No, but it doesn't matter. I can sit perfectly dry under this porch.
Good afternoon!' She hated the excess of vernacular in his speech.

He watched her closely, as she' was moving away. Then he hitched up his
jacket, and put his hand in his breeches pocket, taking out the key of
the hut.

''Appen yer'd better 'ave this key, an' Ah min fend for t' bods some
other road.'

She looked at him.

'What do you mean?' she' asked.

'I mean as 'appen Ah can find anuther pleece as'll du for rearin' th'
pheasants. If yer want ter be 'ere, yo'll non want me messin' abaht a'
th' time.'

She looked at him, getting his meaning through the fog of the dialect.

'Why don't you speak ordinary English?' she' said coldly.

'Me! AH thowt it WOR ordinary.'

She was silent for a few moments in anger.

'So if yer want t' key, yer'd better tacit. Or 'appen Ah'd better gi'e
't yer termorrer, an' clear all t' stuff aht fust. Would that du for
yer?'

She became more angry.

'I didn't want your key,' she' said. 'I don't want you to clear anything
out at all. I don't in the least want to turn you out of your hut,
thank you! I only wanted to be able to sit here sometimes, like today.
But I can sit perfectly well under the porch, so please say no more
about it.'

He looked at her again, with his wicked blue eyes.

'Why,' he began, in the broad slow dialect. 'Your Ladyship's as welcome
as Christmas ter th' hut an' th' key an' iverythink as is. On'y this
time O' th' year ther's bods ter set, an' Ah've got ter be potterin'
abaht a good bit, seein' after 'em, an' a'. Winter time Ah ned 'ardly
come nigh th' pleece. But what wi' spring, an' Sir Clifford wantin' ter
start th' pheasants.An' your Ladyship'd non want me tinkerin' around
an' about when she' was 'ere, all the time.'

She listened with a dim kind of amazement.

'Why should I mind your being here?' she' asked.

He looked at her curiously.

'T'nuisance on me!' he said briefly, but significantly. She flush ed.
'Very well!' she' said finally. 'I won't trouble you. But I don't think
I should have minded at all sitting and seeing you look after the
birds. I should have liked it. But since you think it interferes with
you, I won't disturb you, don't be afraid. You are Sir Clifford's
keeper, not mine.'

The phrase sounded queer, she' didn't know why. But she' let it pass.

'Nay, your Ladyship. It's your Ladyship's own 'ut. It's as your
Ladyship likes an' pleases, every time. Yer can turn me off at a wik's
notice. It wor only.'

'Only what?' she' asked, baffled.

He pushed back his hat in an odd comic way.

'On'y as 'appen yo'd like the place ter yersen, when yer did come, an'
not me messin' abaht.'

'But why?' she' said, angry. 'Aren't you a civilized human being? Do you
think I ought to be afraid of you? Why should I take any notice of you
and your being here or not? Why is it important?'

He looked at her, all his face glimmering with wicked laughter.

'It's not, your Ladyship. Not in the very least,' he said.

'Well, why then?' she' asked.

'Shall I get your Ladyship another key then?'

'No thank you! I don't want it.'

'Ah'll get it anyhow. We'd best 'ave two keys ter th' place.'

'And I consider you are insolent,' said Connie, with her colour up,
panting a little.

'Nay, nay!' he said quickly. 'Dunna yer say that! Nay, nay! I niver
meant nuthink. Ah on'y thought as if yo' come 'ere, Ah s'd ave ter
clear out, an' it'd mean a lot of work, settin' up somewheres else. But
if your Ladyship isn't going ter take no notice O' me, then.it's Sir
Clifford's 'ut, an' everythink is as your Ladyship likes, everythink is
as your Ladyship likes an' pleases, barrin' yer take no notice O' me,
doin' th' bits of jobs as Ah've got ter do.'

Connie went away completely bewildered. She was not sure whether she'
had been insulted and mortally offended, or not. Perhaps the man
really only meant what he said; that he thought she' would expect him to
keep away. As if she' would dream of it! And as if he could possibly be
so important, he and his stupid presence.

She went home in confusion, not knowing what she' thought or felt.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 9
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

Connie was surprised at her own feeling of aversion from Clifford. What
is more, she' felt she' had always really disliked him. Not hate: there
was no passion in it. But a profound physical dislike. Almost, it
seemed to her, she' had married him because she' disliked him, in a
secret, physical sort of way. But of course, she' had married him really
because in a mental way he attracted her and excited her. He had
seemed, in some way, her master, beyond her.

Now the mental excitement had worn itself out and collapsed, and she'
was aware only of the physical aversion. It rose up in her from her
depths: and she' realized how it had been eating her life away.

She felt weak and utterly forlorn. She wished some help would come from
outside. But in the whole world there was no help. Society was terrible
because it was insane. Civilized society is insane. Money and so~ called
love are its two great manias; money a long way first. The individual
asserts himself in his disconnected insanity in these two modes: money
and love. Look at Michaelis! His life and activity were just insanity.
His love was a sort of insanity.

And Clifford the same. All that talk! All that writing! All that wild
struggling to push himself forwards! It was just insanity. And it was
getting worse, really maniacal.

Connie felt washed~ out with fear. But at least, Clifford was shifting
his grip from her on to Mrs Bolton. He did not know it. Like many
insane people, his insanity might be measured by the things he was NOT
aware of the great desert tracts in his consciousness.

Mrs Bolton was admirable in many ways. But she' had that queer sort of
bossiness, endless assertion of her own will, which is one of the signs
of insanity in modern woman. She THOUGHT she' was utterly subservient
and living for others. Clifford fascinated her because he always, or so
often, frustrated her will, as if by a finer instinct. He had a finer,
subtler will of self~ assertion than herself. This was his charm for
her.

Perhaps that had been his charm, too, for Connie.

'It's a lovely day, today!' Mrs Bolton would say in her caressive,
persuasive voice. 'I should think you'd enjoy a little run in your
chair today, the sun's just lovely.'

'Yes? Will you give me that book~ there, that yellow one. And I think
I'll have those hyacinths taken out.'

'Why they're so beautiful!' She pronounced it with the 'y' sound:
be~ yutiful! 'And the scent is simply gorgeous.'

'The scent is what I object to,' he said. 'It's a little funereal.'

'Do you think so!' she' exclaimed in surprise, just a little offended,
but impressed. And she' carried the hyacinths out of the room, impressed
by his higher fastidiousness.

'Shall I shave you this morning, or would you rather do it yourself?'
Always the same soft, caressive, subservient, yet managing voice.

'I don't know. Do you mind waiting a while. I'll ring when I'm ready.'

'Very good, Sir Clifford!' she' replied, so soft and submissive,
withdrawing quietly. But every rebuff stored up new energy of will in
her.

When he rang, after a time, she' would appear at once. And then he would
say:

'I think I'd rather you shaved me this morning.'

Her heart gave a little thrill, and she' replied with extra softness:

'Very good, Sir Clifford!'

She was very deft, with a soft, lingering touch, a little slow. At
first he had resented the infinitely soft touch of her fingers on his
face. But now he liked it, with a growing voluptuousness. He let her
shave him nearly every day: her face near his, her eyes so very
concentrated, watching that she' did it right. And gradually her
fingertips knew his cheeks and lips, his jaw and chin and throat
perfectly. He was well~ fed and well~ liking, his face and throat were
handsome enough and he was a gentleman.

She was handsome too, pale, her face rather long and absolutely still,
her eyes bright, but revealing nothing. Gradually, with infinite
softness, almost with love, she' was getting him by the throat, and he
was yielding to her.

She now did almost everything for him, and he felt more at home with
her, less ashamed of accepting her menial offices, than with Connie.
She liked handling him. She loved having his body in her charge,
absolutely, to the last menial offices. She said to Connie one day:
'All men are babies, when you come to the bottom of them. Why, I've
handled some of the toughest customers as ever went down Tevershall
pit. But let anything ail them so that you have to do for them, and
they're babies, just big babies. Oh, there's not much difference in
men!'

At first Mrs Bolton had thought there really was something different in
a gentleman, a REAL gentleman, like Sir Clifford. So Clifford had got a
good start of her. But gradually, as she' came to the bottom of him, to
use her own term, she' found he was like the rest, a baby grown to man's
proportions: but a baby with a queer temper and a fine manner and power
in its control, and all sorts of odd knowledge that she' had never
dreamed of, with which he could still bully her.

Connie was sometimes tempted to say to him:

'For God's sake, don't sink so horribly into the hands of that woman!'
But she' found she' didn't care for him enough to say it, in the long
run.

It was still their habit to spend the evening together, till ten
o'clock. Then they would talk, or read together, or go over his
manuscript. But the thrill had gone out of it. She was bored by his
manuscripts. But she' still dutifully typed them out for him. But in
time Mrs Bolton would do even that.

For Connie had suggested to Mrs Bolton that she' should learn to use a
typewriter. And Mrs Bolton, always ready, had begun at once, and
practised assiduously. So now Clifford would sometimes dictate a letter
to her, and she' would take it down rather slowly, but correctly. And he
was very patient, spelling for her the difficult words, or the
occasional phrases in French. She was so thrilled, it was almost a
pleasure to instruct her.

Now Connie would sometimes plead a headache as an excuse for going up
to her room after dinner.

'Perhaps Mrs Bolton will play piquet with you,' she' said to Clifford.

'Oh, I shall be perfectly all right. You go to your own room and rest,
darling.'

But no sooner had she' gone, than he rang for Mrs Bolton, and asked her
to take a hand at piquet or bezique, or even chess. He had taught her
all these games. And Connie found it curiously objectionable to see Mrs
Bolton, flush ed and tremulous like a little girl, touching her queen or
her knight with uncertain fingers, then drawing away again. And
Clifford, faintly smiling with a half~ teasing superiority, saying to
her:

'You must say j'adoube!'

She looked up at him with bright, startled eyes, then murmured shyly,
obediently:

'J'adoube!'

Yes, he was educating her. And he enjoyed it, it gave him a sense of
power. And she' was thrilled. She was coming bit by bit into possession
of all that the gentry knew, all that made them upper class: apart from
the money. That thrilled her. And at the same time, she' was making him
want to have her there with him. It was a subtle deep flattery to him,
her genuine thrill.

To Connie, Clifford seemed to be coming out in his true colours: a
little vulgar, a little common, and uninspired; rather fat. Ivy
Bolton's tricks and humble bossiness were also only too transparent.
But Connie did wonder at the genuine thrill which the woman got out of
Clifford. To say she' was in love with him would be putting it wrongly.
She was thrilled by her contact with a man of the upper class, this
titled gentleman, this author who could write books and poems, and
whose photograph appeared in the illustrated newspapers. She was
thrilled to a weird passion. And his 'educating' her roused in her a
passion of excitement and response much deeper than any love affair
could have done. In truth, the very fact that there could BE no love
affair left her free to thrill to her very marrow with this other
passion, the peculiar passion of KNOWING, knowing as he knew.

There was no mistake that the woman was in some way in love with him:
whatever force we give to the word love. She looked so handsome and so
young, and her grey eyes were sometimes marvellous. At the same time,
there was a lurking soft satisfaction about her, even of triumph, and
private satisfaction. Ugh, that private satisfaction. How Connie
loathed it!

But no wonder Clifford was caught by the woman! She absolutely adored
him, in her persistent fashion, and put herself absolutely at his
service, for him to use as he liked. No wonder he was flattered!

Connie heard long conversations going on between the two. Or rather, it
was mostly Mrs Bolton talking. She had unloosed to him the stream of
gossip about Tevershall village. It was more than gossip. It was Mrs
Gaskell and George Eliot and Miss Mitford all rolled in one, with a
great deal more, that these women left out.' Once started, Mrs Bolton
was better than any book, about the lives of the people. She knew them
all so intimately, and had such a peculiar, flamey zest in all their
affairs, it was wonderful, if just a TRIFLE humiliating to listen to
her. At first she' had not ventured to 'talk Tevershall', as she' called
it, to Clifford. But once started, it went on. Clifford was listening
for 'material', and he found it in plenty. Connie realized that his
so~ called genius was just this: a perspicuous talent for personal
gossip, clever and apparently detached. Mrs Bolton, of course, was very
warm when she' 'talked Tevershall'. Carried away, in fact. And it was
marvellous, the things that happened and that she' knew about. She would
have run to dozens of volumes.

Connie was fascinated, listening to her. But afterwards always a little
ashamed. She ought not to listen with this queer rabid curiosity. After
all, one may hear the most private affairs of other people, but only in
a spirit of respect for the struggling, battered thing which any human
soul is, and in a spirit of fine, discriminative sympathy. For even
satire is a form of sympathy. It is the way our sympathy flows and
recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast
importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into
new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead
our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore, the
novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life: for
it is in the PASSIONAL secret places of life, above all, that the tide
of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening.

But the novel, like gossip, can also excite spurious sympathies and
recoils, mechanical and deadening to the psyche. The novel can glorify
the most corrupt feelings, so long as they are CONVENTIONALLY 'pure'.
Then the novel, like gossip, becomes at last vicious, and, like gossip,
all the more vicious because it is always ostensibly on the side of the
angels. Mrs Bolton's gossip was always on the side of the angels. 'And
he was such a BAD fellow, and she' was such a NICE woman.' Whereas, as
Connie could see even from Mrs Bolton's gossip, the woman had been
merely a mealy~ mouthed sort, and the man angrily honest. But angry
honesty made a 'bad man' of him, and mealy~ mouthedness made a 'nice
woman' of her, in the vicious, conventional channelling of sympathy by
Mrs Bolton.

For this reason, the gossip was humiliating. And for the same reason,
most novels, especially popular ones, are humiliating too. The public
responds now only to an appeal to its vices.

Nevertheless, one got a new vision of Tevershall village from Mrs
Bolton's talk. A terrible, seething welter of ugly life it seemed: not
at all the flat drabness it looked from outside. Clifford of course
knew by sight most of the people mentioned, Connie knew only one or
two. But it sounded really more like a Central African jungle than an
English village.

'I suppose you heard as Miss Allsopp was married last week! Would you
ever! Miss Allsopp, old James' daughter, the boot~ and~ shoe Allsopp. You
know they built a house up at Pye Croft. The old man died last year
from a fall; eighty~ three, he was, an' nimble as a lad. An' then he
slipped on Bestwood Hill, on a slide as the lads 'ad made last winter,
an' broke his thigh, and that finished him, poor old man, it did seem a
shame. Well, he left all his money to Tattie: didn't leave the boys a
penny. An' Tattie, I know, is five years~ yes, she''s fifty~ three last
autumn. And you know they were such Chapel people, my word! She taught
Sunday school for thirty years, till her father died. And then she'
started carrying on with a fellow from Kinbrook, I don't know if you
know him, an oldish fellow with a red nose, rather dandified, Willcock,
as works in Harrison's woodyard. Well he's sixty~ five, if he's a day,
yet you'd have thought they were a pair of young turtle~ doves, to see
them, arm in arm, and kissing at the gate: yes, an' she' sitting on his
knee right in the bay window on Pye Croft Road, for anybody to see. And
he's got sons over forty: only lost his wife two years ago. If old
James Allsopp hasn't risen from his grave, it's because there is no
rising: for he kept her that strict! Now they're married and gone to
live down at Kinbrook, and they say she' goes round in a dressing~ gown
from morning to night, a veritable sight. I'm sure it's awful, the way
the old ones go on! Why they're a lot worse than the young, and a sight
more disgusting. I lay it down to the pictures, myself. But you can't
keep them away. I was always saying: go to a good instructive film, but
do for goodness sake keep away from these melodramas and love films.
Anyhow keep the children away! But there you are, grown~ ups are worse
than the children: and the old ones beat the band.

'Talk about morality! Nobody cares a thing. Folks does as they like,
and much better off they are for it, I must say. But they're having
to draw their horns in nowadays, now th' pits are working so bad,
and they haven't got the money. And the grumbling they do, it's awful,
especially the women. The men are so good and patient! What can
they do, poor chaps! But the women, oh, they do carry on! They go
and show off, giving contributions for a wedding present for
Princess Mary, and then when they see all the grand things
that's been given, they simply rave: who's she', any better
than anybody else! Why doesn't Swan & Edgar give me ONE fur coat,
instead of giving her six. I wish I'd kept my ten shillings! What's she'
going to give me, I should like to know? Here I can't get a new spring
coat, my dad's working that bad, and she' gets van~ loads. It's time as
poor folks had some money to spend, rich ones 'as 'ad it long enough. I
want a new spring coat, I do, an' wheer am I going to get it? I say to
them, be thankful you're well fed and well clothed, without all the new
finery you want! And they fly back at me: "Why isn't Princess Mary
thankful to go about in her old rags, then, an' have nothing! Folks
like HER get van~ loads, an' I can't have a new spring coat. It's a
damned shame. Princess! Bloomin' rot about Princess! It's munney as
matters, an' cos she''s got lots, they give her more! Nobody's givin' me
any, an' I've as much right as anybody else. Don't talk to me about
education. It's munney as matters. I want a new spring coat, I do, an'
I shan't get it, cos there's no munney."

'That's all they care about, clothes. They think nothing of giving
seven or eight guineas for a winter coat~ colliers' daughters,
mind you~ and two guineas for a child's summer hat. And then
they go to the Primitive Chapel in their two~ guinea hat, girls
as would have been proud of a three~ and~ sixpenny one in my day.
I heard that at the Primitive Methodist anniversary this
year, when they have a built~ up platform for the Sunday School
children, like a grandstand going almost up to th' ceiling, I heard
Miss Thompson, who has the first class of girls in the Sunday
School, say there'd be over a thousand pounds in new Sunday
clothes sitting on that platform! And times are what they are!
But you can't stop them. They're mad for clothes. And boys the same.
The lads spend every penny on themselves, clothes, smoking, drinking in
the Miners' Welfare, jaunting off to Sheffield two or three times a
week. Why, it's another world. And they fear nothing, and they respect
nothing, the young don't. The older men are that patient and good,
really, they let the women take everything. And this is what it leads
to. The women are positive demons. But the lads aren't like their dads.
They're sacrificing nothing, they aren't: they're all for self. If you
tell them they ought to be putting a bit by, for a home, they say:
That'll keep, that will, I'm goin' t' enjoy myself while I can. Owt
else'll keep! Oh, they're rough an' selfish, if you like. Everything
falls on the older men, an' it's a bad outlook all round.'

Clifford began to get a new idea of his own village. The place had
always frightened him, but he had thought it more or less stable.
Now~ ?

'Is there much Socialism, Bolshevism, among the people?' he asked.

'Oh!' said Mrs Bolton, 'you hear a few loud~ mouthed ones. But they're
mostly women who've got into debt. The men take no notice. I don't
believe you'll ever turn our Tevershall men into reds. They're too
decent for that. But the young ones blether sometimes. Not that they
care for it really. They only want a bit of money in their pocket, to
spend at the Welfare, or go gadding to Sheffield. That's all they care.
When they've got no money, they'll listen to the reds spouting. But
nobody believes in it, really.'

'So you think there's no danger?'

'Oh no! Not if trade was good, there wouldn't be. But if things were
bad for a long spell, the young ones might go funny. I tell you,
they're a selfish, spoilt lot. But I don't see how they'd ever do
anything. They aren't ever serious about anything, except showing off
on motor~ bikes and dancing at the Palais~ de~ danse in Sheffield. You
can't MAKE them serious. The serious ones dress up in evening clothes
and go off to the Pally to show off before a lot of girls and dance
these new Charlestons and what not. I'm sure sometimes the bus'll be
full of young fellows in evening suits, collier lads, off to the Pally:
let alone those that have gone with their girls in motors or on
motor~ bikes. They don't give a serious thought to a thing~ save
Doncaster races, and the Derby: for they all of them bet on every race.
And football! But even football's not what it was, not by a long chalk.
It's too much like hard work, they say. No, they'd rather be off on
motor~ bikes to Sheffield or Nottingham, Saturday afternoons.'

'But what do they do when they get there?'

'Oh, hang around~ and have tea in some fine tea~ place like the
Mikado~ and go to the Pally or the pictures or the Empire, with some
girl. The girls are as free as the lads. They do just what they like.'

'And what do they do when they haven't the money for these things?'

'They seem to get it, somehow. And they begin talking nasty then. But I
don't see how you're going to get bolshevism, when all the lads want is
just money to enjoy themselves, and the girls the same, with fine
clothes: and they don't care about another thing. They haven't the
brains to be socialists. They haven't enough seriousness to take
anything really serious, and they never will have.'

Connie thought, how extremely like all the rest of the classes the
lower classes sounded. Just the same thing over again, Tevershall or
Mayfair or Kensington. There was only one class nowadays: moneyboys.
The moneyboy and the moneygirl, the only difference was how much you'd
got, and how much you wanted.

Under Mrs Bolton's influence, Clifford began to take a new interest in
the mines. He began to feel he belonged. A new sort of self~ assertion
came into him. After all, he was the real boss in Tevershall, he was
really the pits. It was a new sense of power, something he had till now
shrunk from with dread.

Tevershall pits were running thin. There were only two collieries:
Tevershall itself, and New London. Tevershall had once been a famous
mine, and had made famous money. But its best days were over. New
London was never very rich, and in ordinary times just got along
decently. But now times were bad, and it was pits like New London that
got left.

'There's a lot of Tevershall men left and gone to Stacks Gate and
Whiteover,' said Mrs Bolton. 'You've not seen the new works at Stacks
Gate, opened after the war, have you, Sir Clifford? Oh, you must go one
day, they're something quite new: great big chemical works at the
pit~ head, doesn't look a bit like a colliery. They say they get more
money out of the chemical by~ products than out of the coal~ I forget
what it is. And the grand new houses for the men, fair mansions! of
course it's brought a lot of riff~ raff from all over the country. But a
lot of Tevershall men got on there, and doin' well, a lot better than
our own men. They say Tevershall's done, finished: only a question of a
few more years, and it'll have to shut down. And New London'll go
first. My word, won't it be funny when there's no Tevershall pit
working. It's bad enough during a strike, but my word, if it closes for
good, it'll be like the end of the world. Even when I was a girl it was
the best pit in the country, and a man counted himself lucky if he
could on here. Oh, there's been some money made in Tevershall. And now
the men say it's a sinking ship, and it's time they all got out.
Doesn't it sound awful! But of course there's a lot as'll never go till
they have to. They don't like these new fangled mines, such a depth,
and all machinery to work them. Some of them simply dreads those iron
men, as they call them, those machines for hewing the coal, where men
always did it before. And they say it's wasteful as well. But what goes
in waste is saved in wages, and a lot more. It seems soon there'll be
no use for men on the face of the earth, it'll be all machines. But
they say that's what folks said when they had to give up the old
stocking frames. I can remember one or two. But my word, the more
machines, the more people, that's what it looks like! They say you
can't get the same chemicals out of Tevershall coal as you can out of
Stacks Gate, and that's funny, they're not three miles apart. But they
say so. But everybody says it's a shame something can't be started, to
keep the men going a bit better, and employ the girls. All the girls
traipsing off to Sheffield every day! My word, it would be something to
talk about if Tevershall Collieries took a new lease of life, after
everybody saying they're finished, and a sinking ship, and the men
ought to leave them like rats leave a sinking ship. But folks talk so
much, of course there was a boom during the war. When Sir Geoffrey made
a trust of himself and got the money safe for ever, somehow. So they
say! But they say even the masters and the owners don't get much out of
it now. You can hardly believe it, can you! Why I always thought the
pits would go on for ever and ever. Who'd have thought, when I was a
girl! But New England's shut down, so is Colwick Wood: yes, it's fair
haunting to go through that coppy and see Colwick Wood standing there
deserted among the trees, and bushes growing up all over the pit~ head,
and the lines red rusty. It's like death itself, a dead colliery. Why,
whatever should we do if Tevershall shut down~ ? It doesn't bear
thinking of. Always that throng it's been, except at strikes, and even
then the fan~ wheels didn't stand, except when they fetched the ponies
up. I'm sure it's a funny world, you don't know where you are from year
to year, you really don't.'

It was Mrs Bolton's talk that really put a new fight into Clifford. His
income, as she' pointed out to him, was secure, from his father's trust,
even though it was not large. The pits did not really concern him. It
was the other world he wanted to capture, the world of literature and
fame; the popular world, not the working world.

Now he realized the distinction between popular success and working
success: the populace of pleasure and the populace of work. He, as a
private individual, had been catering with his stories for the populace
of pleasure. And he had caught on. But beneath the populace of pleasure
lay the populace of work, grim, grimy, and rather terrible. They too
had to have their providers. And it was a much grimmer business,
providing for the populace of work, than for the populace of pleasure.
While he was doing his stories, and 'getting on' in the world,
Tevershall was going to the wall.

He realized now that the bitch~ goddess of Success had two main
appetites: one for flattery, adulation, stroking and tickling such as
writers and artists gave her; but the other a grimmer appetite for meat
and bones. And the meat and bones for the bitch~ goddess were provided
by the men who made money in industry.

Yes, there were two great groups of dogs wrangling for the
bitch~ goddess: the group of the flatterers, those who offered her
amusement, stories, films, plays: and the other, much less showy, much
more savage breed, those who gave her meat, the real substance of
money. The well~ groomed showy dogs of amusement wrangled and snarled
among themselves for the favours of the bitch~ goddess. But it was
nothing to the silent fight~ to~ the~ death that went on among the
indispensables, the bone~ bringers.

But under Mrs Bolton's influence, Clifford was tempted to enter this
other fight, to capture the bitch~ goddess by brute means of industrial
production. Somehow, he got his pecker up.

In one way, Mrs Bolton made a man of him, as Connie never did. Connie
kept him apart, and made him sensitive and conscious of himself and his
own states. Mrs Bolton made him aware only of outside things. Inwardly
he began to go soft as pulp. But outwardly he began to be effective.

He even roused himself to go to the mines once more: and when he was
there, he went down in a tub, and in a tub he was hauled out into the
workings. Things he had learned before the war, and seemed utterly to
have forgotten, now came back to him. He sat there, crippled, in a tub,
with the underground manager showing him the seam with a powerful
torch. And he said little. But his mind began to work.

He began to read again his technical works on the coal~ mining industry,
he studied the government reports, and he read with care the latest
things on mining and the chemistry of coal and of shale which were
written in German. Of course the most valuable discoveries were kept
secret as far as possible. But once you started a sort of research in
the field of coal~ mining, a study of methods and means, a study of
by~ products and the chemical possibilities of coal, it was astounding
the ingenuity and the almost uncanny cleverness of the modern technical
mind, as if really the devil himself had lent fiend's wits to the
technical scientists of industry. It was far more interesting than art,
than literature, poor emotional half~ witted stuff, was this technical
science of industry. In this field, men were like gods, or demons,
inspired to discoveries, and fighting to carry them out. In this
activity, men were beyond any mental age calculable. But Clifford knew
that when it did come to the emotional and human life, these self~ made
men were of a mental age of about thirteen, feeble boys. The
discrepancy was enormous and appalling.

But let that be. Let man slide down to general idiocy in the emotional
and 'human' mind, Clifford did not care. Let all that go hang. He was
interested in the technicalities of modern coal~ mining, and in pulling
Tevershall out of the hole.

He went down to the pit day after day, he studied, he put the general
manager, and the overhead manager, and the underground manager, and the
engineers through a mill they had never dreamed of. Power! He felt a
new sense of power flowing through him: power over all these men, over
the hundreds and hundreds of colliers. He was finding out: and he was
getting things into his grip.

And he seemed verily to be re~ born. NOW life came into him! He had been
gradually dying, with Connie, in the isolated private life of the
artist and the conscious being. Now let all that go. Let it sleep. He
simply felt life rush into him out of the coal, out of the pit. The
very stale air of the colliery was better than oxygen to him. It gave
him a sense of power, power. He was doing something: and he was GOING
to do something. He was going to win, to win: not as he had won with
his stories, mere publicity, amid a whole sapping of energy and malice.
But a man's victory.

At first he thought the solution lay in electricity: convert the coal
into electric power. Then a new idea came. The Germans invented a new
locomotive engine with a self feeder, that did not need a fireman. And
it was to be fed with a new fuel, that burnt in small quantities at a
great heat, under peculiar conditions.

The idea of a new concentrated fuel that burnt with a hard slowness at
a fierce heat was what first attracted Clifford. There must be some
sort of external stimulus of the burning of such fuel, not merely air
supply. He began to experiment, and got a clever young fellow, who had
proved brilliant in chemistry, to help him.

And he felt triumphant. He had at last got out of himself. He had
fulfilled his life~ long secret yearning to get out of himself. Art had
not done it for him. Art had only made it worse. But now, now he had
done it.

He was not aware how much Mrs Bolton was behind him. He did not know
how much he depended on her. But for all that, it was evident that when
he was with her his voice dropped to an easy rhythm of intimacy, almost
a trifle vulgar.

With Connie, he was a little stiff. He felt he owed her everything, and
he showed her the utmost respect and consideration, so long as she' gave
him mere outward respect. But it was obvious he had a secret dread of
her. The new Achilles in him had a heel, and in this heel the woman,
the woman like Connie, his wife, could lame him fatally. He went in a
certain half~ subservient dread of her, and was extremely nice to her.
But his voice was a little tense when he spoke to her, and he began to
be silent whenever she' was present.

Only when he was alone with Mrs Bolton did he really feel a lord and a
master, and his voice ran on with her almost as easily and garrulously
as her own could run. And he let her shave him or sponge all his body
as if he were a child, really as if he were a child.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 10
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

Connie was a good deal alone now, fewer people came to Wragby. Clifford
no longer wanted them. He had turned against even the cronies. He was
queer. He preferred the radio, which he had installed at some expense,
with a good deal of success at last. He could sometimes get Madrid or
Frankfurt, even there in the uneasy Midlands.

And he would sit alone for hours listening to the loudspeaker bellowing
forth. It amazed and stunned Connie. But there he would sit, with a
blank entranced expression on his face, like a person losing his mind,
and listen, or seem to listen, to the unspeakable thing.

Was he really listening? Or was it a sort of soporific he took, whilst
something else worked on underneath in him? Connie did now know. She
fled up to her room, or out of doors to the wood. A kind of terror
filled her sometimes, a terror of the incipient insanity of the whole
civilized species.

But now that Clifford was drifting off to this other weirdness of
industrial activity, becoming almost a CREATURE, with a hard, efficient
shell of an exterior and a pulpy interior, one of the amazing crabs and
lobsters of the modern, industrial and financial world, invertebrates
of the crustacean order, with shells of steel, like machines, and inner
bodies of soft pulp, Connie herself was really completely stranded.

She was not even free, for Clifford must have her there. He seemed to
have a nervous terror that she' should leave him. The curious pulpy part
of him, the emotional and humanly~ individual part, depended on her with
terror, like a child, almost like an idiot. She must be there, there at
Wragby, a Lady Chatterley, his wife. Otherwise he would be lost like an
idiot on a moor.

This amazing dependence Connie realized with a sort of horror. She
heard him with his pit managers, with the members of his Board, with
young scientists, and she' was amazed at his shrewd insight into things,
his power, his uncanny material power over what is called practical
men. He had become a practical man himself and an amazingly astute and
powerful one, a master. Connie attributed it to Mrs Bolton's influence
upon him, just at the crisis in his life.

But this astute and practical man was almost an idiot when left alone
to his own emotional life. He worshipped Connie. She was his wife, a
higher being, and he worshipped her with a queer, craven idolatry, like
a savage, a worship based on enormous fear, and even hate of the power
of the idol, the dread idol. All he wanted was for Connie to swear, to
swear not to leave him, not to give him away.

'Clifford,' she' said to him~ but this was after she' had the key to the
hut~ 'Would you really like me to have a child one day?'

He looked at her with a furtive apprehension in his rather prominent
pale eyes.

'I shouldn't mind, if it made no difference between us,' he said.

'No difference to what?' she' asked.

'To you and me; to our love for one another. If it's going to affect
that, then I'm all against it. Why, I might even one day have a child
of my own!'

She looked at him in amazement.

'I mean, it might come back to me one of these days.'

She still stared in amazement, and he was uncomfortable.

'So you would not like it if I had a child?' she' said.

'I tell you,' he replied quickly, like a cornered dog, 'I am quite
willing, provided it doesn't touch your love for me. If it would touch
that, I am dead against it.'

Connie could only be silent in cold fear and contempt. Such talk was
really the gabbling of an idiot. He no longer knew what he was talking
about.

'Oh, it wouldn't make any difference to my feeling for you,' she' said,
with a certain sarcasm.

'There!' he said. 'That is the point! In that case I don't mind in the
least. I mean it would be awfully nice to have a child running about
the house, and feel one was building up a future for it. I should have
something to strive for then, and I should know it was your child,
shouldn't I, dear? And it would seem just the same as my own. Because
it is you who count in these matters. You know that, don't you, dear? I
don't enter, I am a cypher. You are the great I~ am! as far as life
goes. You know that, don't you? I mean, as far as I am concerned. I
mean, but for you I am absolutely nothing. I live for your sake and
your future. I am nothing to myself!'

Connie heard it all with deepening dismay and repulsion. It was one of
the ghastly half~ truths that poison human existence. What man in his
senses would say such things to a woman! But men aren't in their
senses. What man with a spark of honour would put this ghastly burden
of life~ responsibility upon a woman, and leave her there, in the void?

Moreover, in half an hour's time, Connie heard Clifford talking to Mrs
Bolton, in a hot, impulsive voice, revealing himself in a sort of
passionless passion to the woman, as if she' were half mistress, half
foster~ mother to him. And Mrs Bolton was carefully dressing him in
evening clothes, for there were important business guests in the house.

Connie really sometimes felt she' would die at this time. She felt she'
was being crushed to death by weird lies, and by the amazing cruelty of
idiocy. Clifford's strange business efficiency in a way over~ awed her,
and his declaration of private worship put her into a panic. There was
nothing between them. She never even touched him nowadays, and he never
touched her. He never even took her hand and held it kindly. No, and
because they were so utterly out of touch, he tortured her with his
declaration of idolatry. It was the cruelty of utter impotence. And she'
felt her reason would give way, or she' would die.

She fled as much as possible to the wood. One afternoon, as she' sat
brooding, watching the water bubbling coldly in John's Well, the keeper
had strode up to her.

'I got you a key made, my Lady!' he said, saluting, and he offered her
the key.

'Thank you so much!' she' said, startled.

'The hut's not very tidy, if you don't mind,' he said. 'I cleared it
what I could.'

'But I didn't want you to trouble!' she' said.

'Oh, it wasn't any trouble. I am setting the hens in about a week. But
they won't be scared of you. I s'll have to see to them morning and
night, but I shan't bother you any more than I can help.'

'But you wouldn't bother me,' she' pleaded. 'I'd rather not go to the
hut at all, if I am going to be in the way.'

He looked at her with his keen blue eyes. He seemed kindly, but
distant. But at least he was sane, and wholesome, if even he looked
thin and ill. A cough troubled him.

'You have a cough,' she' said.

'Nothing~ a cold! The last pneumonia left me with a cough, but it's
nothing.'

He kept distant from her, and would not come any nearer.

She went fairly often to the hut, in the morning or in the afternoon,
but he was never there. No doubt he avoided her on purpose. He wanted
to keep his own privacy.

He had made the hut tidy, put the little table and chair near the
fireplace, left a little pile of kindling and small logs, and put the
tools and traps away as far as possible, effacing himself. Outside, by
the clearing, he had built a low little roof of boughs and straw, a
shelter for the birds, and under it stood the live coops. And, one day
when she' came, she' found two brown hens sitting alert and fierce in the
coops, sitting on pheasants' eggs, and fluffed out so proud and deep in
all the heat of the pondering female blood. This almost broke Connie's
heart. She, herself was so forlorn and unused, not a female at all,
just a mere thing of terrors.

Then all the live coops were occupied by hens, three brown and a grey
and a black. All alike, they clustered themselves down on the eggs in
the soft nestling ponderosity of the female urge, the female nature,
fluffing out their feathers. And with brilliant eyes they watched
Connie, as she' crouched before them, and they gave short sharp clucks
of anger and alarm, but chiefly of female anger at being approached.

Connie found corn in the corn~ bin in the hut. She offered it to the
hens in her hand. They would not eat it. Only one hen pecked at her
hand with a fierce little jab, so Connie was frightened. But she' was
pining to give them something, the brooding mothers who neither fed
themselves nor drank. She brought water in a little tin, and was
delighted when one of the hens drank.

Now she' came every day to the hens, they were the only things in the
world that warmed her heart. Clifford's protestations made her go cold
from head to foot. Mrs Bolton's voice made her go cold, and the sound
of the business men who came. An occasional letter from Michaelis
affected her with the same sense of chill. She felt she' would surely
die if it lasted much longer.

Yet it was spring, and the bluebells were coming in the wood, and the
leaf~ buds on the hazels were opening like the spatter of green rain.
How terrible it was that it should be spring, and everything
cold~ hearted, cold~ hearted. Only the hens, fluffed so wonderfully on
the eggs, were warm with their hot, brooding female bodies! Connie felt
herself living on the brink of fainting all the time.

Then, one day, a lovely sunny day with great tufts of primroses under
the hazels, and many violets dotting the paths, she' came in the
afternoon to the coops and there was one tiny, tiny perky chicken
tinily prancing round in front of a coop, and the mother hen clucking
in terror. The slim little chick was greyish brown with dark markings,
and it was the most alive little spark of a creature in seven kingdoms
at that moment. Connie crouched to watch in a sort of ecstasy. Life,
life! pure, sparky, fearless new life! New life! So tiny and so utterly
without fear! Even when it scampered a little, scrambling into the coop
again, and disappeared under the hen's feathers in answer to the mother
hen's wild alarm~ cries, it was not really frightened, it took it as a
game, the game of living. For in a moment a tiny sharp head was poking
through the gold~ brown feathers of the hen, and eyeing the Cosmos.

Connie was fascinated. And at the same time, never had she' felt so
acutely the agony of her own female forlornness. It was becoming
unbearable.

She had only one desire now, to go to the clearing in the wood. The
rest was a kind of painful dream. But sometimes she' was kept all day at
Wragby, by her duties as hostess. And then she' felt as if she' too were
going blank, just blank and insane.

One evening, guests or no guests, she' escaped after tea. It was late,
and she' fled across the park like one who fears to be called back. The
sun was setting rosy as she' entered the wood, but she' pressed on among
the flowers. The light would last long overhead.

She arrived at the clearing flush ed and semi~ conscious. The keeper was
there, in his shirt~ sleeves, just closing up the coops for the night,
so the little occupants would be safe. But still one little trio was
pattering about on tiny feet, alert drab mites, under the straw
shelter, refusing to be called in by the anxious mother.

'I had to come and see the chickens!' she' said, panting, glancing shyly
at the keeper, almost unaware of him. 'Are there any more?'

'Thurty~ six so far!' he said. 'Not bad!'

He too took a curious pleasure in watching the young things come out.

Connie crouched in front of the last coop. The three chicks had run in.
But still their cheeky heads came poking sharply through the yellow
feathers, then withdrawing, then only one beady little head eyeing
forth from the vast mother~ body.

'I'd love to touch them,' she' said, putting her fingers gingerly
through the bars of the coop. But the mother~ hen pecked at her hand
fiercely, and Connie drew back startled and frightened.

'How she' pecks at me! She hates me!' she' said in a wondering voice.
'But I wouldn't hurt them!'

The man standing above her laughed, and crouched down beside her, knees
apart, and put his hand with quiet confidence slowly into the coop. The
old hen pecked at him, but not so savagely. And slowly, softly, with
sure gentle fingers, he felt among the old bird's feathers and drew out
a faintly~ peeping chick in his closed hand.

'There!' he said, holding out his hand to her. She took the little drab
thing between her hands, and there it stood, on its impossible little
stalks of legs, its atom of balancing life trembling through its almost
weightless feet into Connie's hands. But it lifted its handsome,
clean~ shaped little head boldly, and looked sharply round, and gave a
little 'peep'. 'So adorable! So cheeky!' she' said softly.

The keeper, squatting beside her, was also watching with an amused face
the bold little bird in her hands. Suddenly he saw a tear fall on to
her wrist.

And he stood up, and stood away, moving to the other coop. For suddenly
he was aware of the old flame shooting and leaping up in his loins,
that he had hoped was quiescent for ever. He fought against it, turning
his back to her. But it leapt, and leapt downwards, circling in his
knees.

He turned again to look at her. She was kneeling and holding her two
hands slowly forward, blindly, so that the chicken should run in to the
mother~ hen again. And there was something so mute and forlorn in her,
compassion flamed in his bowels for her.

Without knowing, he came quickly towards her and crouched beside her
again, taking the chick from her hands, because she' was afraid of the
hen, and putting it back in the coop. At the back of his loins the fire
suddenly darted stronger.

He glanced apprehensively at her. Her face was averted, and she' was
crying blindly, in all the anguish of her generation's forlornness. His
heart melted suddenly, like a drop of fire, and he put out his hand and
laid his fingers on her knee.

'You shouldn't cry,' he said softly.

But then she' put her hands over her face and felt that really her heart
was broken and nothing mattered any more.

He laid his hand on her shoulder, and softly, gently, it began to
travel down the curve of her back, blindly, with a blind stroking
motion, to the curve of her crouching loins. And there his hand softly,
softly, stroked the curve of her flank, in the blind instinctive
caress.

She had found her scrap of handkerchief and was blindly trying to dry
her face.

'Shall you come to the hut?' he said, in a quiet, neutral voice.

And closing his hand softly on her upper arm, he drew her up and led
her slowly to the hut, not letting go of her till she' was inside. Then
he cleared aside the chair and table, and took a brown, soldier's
blanket from the tool chest, spreading it slowly. She glanced at his
face, as she' stood motionless.

His face was pale and without expression, like that of a man submitting
to fate.

'You lie there,' he said softly, and he shut the door, so that it was
dark, quite dark.

With a queer obedience, she' lay down on the blanket. Then she' felt the
soft, groping, helplessly desirous hand touching her body, feeling for
her face. The hand stroked her face softly, softly, with infinite
soothing and assurance, and at last there was the soft touch of a kiss
on her cheek.

She lay quite still, in a sort of sleep, in a sort of dream. Then she'
quivered as she' felt his hand groping softly, yet with queer thwarted
clumsiness, among her clothing. Yet the hand knew, too, how to
unclothe her where it wanted. He drew down the thin silk sheath,
slowly, carefully, right down and over her feet. Then with a quiver of
exquisite pleasure he touched the warm soft body, and touched her navel
for a moment in a kiss. And he had to come in to her at once, to enter
the peace on earth of her soft, quiescent body. It was the moment of
pure peace for him, the entry into the body of the woman.

She lay still, in a kind of sleep, always in a kind of sleep. The
activity, the orgasm was his, all his; she' could strive for herself no
more. Even the tightness of his arms round her, even the intense
movement of his body, and the springing of his seed in her, was a kind
of sleep, from which she' did not begin to rouse till he had finished
and lay softly panting against her breast.

Then she' wondered, just dimly wondered, why? Why was this necessary?
Why had it lifted a great cloud from her and given her peace? Was it
real? Was it real?

Her tormented modern~ woman's brain still had no rest. Was it real? And
she' knew, if she' gave herself to the man, it was real. But if she' kept
herself for herself it was nothing. She was old; millions of years old,
she' felt. And at last, she' could bear the burden of herself no more.
She was to be had for the taking. To be had for the taking.

The man lay in a mysterious stillness. What was he feeling? What was he
thinking? She did not know. He was a strange man to her, she' did not
know him. She must only wait, for she' did not dare to break his
mysterious stillness. He lay there with his arms round her, his body on
hers, his wet body touching hers, so close. And completely unknown. Yet
not unpeaceful. His very stillness was peaceful.

She knew that, when at last he roused and drew away from her. It was
like an abandonment. He drew her dress in the darkness down over her
knees and stood a few moments, apparently adjusting his own clothing.
Then he quietly opened the door and went out.

She saw a very brilliant little moon shining above the afterglow over
the oaks. Quickly she' got up and arranged herself she' was tidy. Then
she' went to the door of the hut.

All the lower wood was in shadow, almost darkness. Yet the sky overhead
was crystal. But it shed hardly any light. He came through the lower
shadow towards her, his face lifted like a pale blotch.

'Shall we go then?' he said.

'Where?'

'I'll go with you to the gate.'

He arranged things his own way. He locked the door of the hut and came
after her.

'You aren't sorry, are you?' he asked, as he went at her side.

'No! No! Are you?' she' said.

'For that! No!' he said. Then after a while he added: 'But there's the
rest of things.'

'What rest of things?' she' said.

'Sir Clifford. Other folks. All the complications.'

'Why complications?' she' said, disappointed.

'It's always so. For you as well as for me. There's always
complications.' He walked on steadily in the dark.

'And are you sorry?' she' said.

'In a way!' he replied, looking up at the sky. 'I thought I'd done with
it all. Now I've begun again.'

'Begun what?'

'Life.'

'Life!' she' re~ echoed, with a queer thrill.

'It's life,' he said. 'There's no keeping clear. And if you do keep
clear you might almost as well die. So if I've got to be broken open
again, I have.'

She did not quite see it that way, but still 'It's just love,' she' said
cheerfully.

'Whatever that may be,' he replied.

They went on through the darkening wood in silence, till they were
almost at the gate.

'But you don't hate me, do you?' she' said wistfully.

'Nay, nay,' he replied. And suddenly he held her fast against his
breast again, with the old connecting passion. 'Nay, for me it was
good, it was good. Was it for you?'

'Yes, for me too,' she' answered, a little untruthfully, for she' had not
been conscious of much.

He kissed her softly, softly, with the kisses of warmth.

'If only there weren't so many other people in the world,' he said
lugubriously.

She laughed. They were at the gate to the park. He opened it for her.

'I won't come any further,' he said.

'No!' And she' held out her hand, as if to shake hands. But he took it
in both his.

'Shall I come again?' she' asked wistfully.

'Yes! Yes!'

She left him and went across the park.

He stood back and watched her going into the dark, against the pallor
of the horizon. Almost with bitterness he watched her go. She had
connected him up again, when he had wanted to be alone. She had cost
him that bitter privacy of a man who at last wants only to be alone.

He turned into the dark of the wood. All was still, the moon had set.
But he was aware of the noises of the night, the engines at Stacks
Gate, the traffic on the main road. Slowly he climbed the denuded
knoll. And from the top he could see the country, bright rows of lights
at Stacks Gate, smaller lights at Tevershall pit, the yellow lights of
Tevershall and lights everywhere, here and there, on the dark country,
with the distant blush of furnaces, faint and rosy, since the night was
clear, the rosiness of the outpouring of white~ hot metal. Sharp, wicked
electric lights at Stacks Gate! An undefinable quick of evil in them!
And all the unease, the ever~ shifting dread of the industrial night in
the Midlands. He could hear the winding~ engines at Stacks Gate turning
down the seven~ o'clock miners. The pit worked three shifts.

He went down again into the darkness and seclusion of the wood. But he
knew that the seclusion of the wood was illusory. The industrial noises
broke the solitude, the sharp lights, though unseen, mocked it. A man
could no longer be private and withdrawn. The world allows no hermits.
And now he had taken the woman, and brought on himself a new cycle of
pain and doom. For he knew by experience what it meant.

It was not woman's fault, nor even love's fault, nor the fault of sex.
The fault lay there, out there, in those evil electric lights and
diabolical rattlings of engines. There, in the world of the mechanical
greedy, greedy mechanism and mechanized greed, sparkling with lights
and gushing hot metal and roaring with traffic, there lay the vast evil
thing, ready to destroy whatever did not conform. Soon it would destroy
the wood, and the bluebells would spring no more. All vulnerable things
must perish under the rolling and running of iron.

He thought with infinite tenderness of the woman. Poor forlorn thing,
she' was nicer than she' knew, and oh! so much too nice for the tough lot
she' was in contact with. Poor thing, she' too had some of the
vulnerability of the wild hyacinths, she' wasn't all tough rubber~ goods
and platinum, like the modern girl. And they would do her in! As sure
as life, they would do her in, as they do in all naturally tender life.
Tender! Somewhere she' was tender, tender with a tenderness of the
growing hyacinths, something that has gone out of the celluloid women
of today. But he would protect her with his heart for a little while.
For a little while, before the insentient iron world and the Mammon of
mechanized greed did them both in, her as well as him.

He went home with his gun and his dog, to the dark cottage, lit the
lamp, started the fire, and ate his supper of bread and cheese, young
onions and beer. He was alone, in a silence he loved. His room was
clean and tidy, but rather stark. Yet the fire was bright, the hearth
white, the petroleum lamp hung bright over the table, with its white
oil~ cloth. He tried to read a book about India, but tonight he could
not read. He sat by the fire in his shirt~ sleeves, not smoking, but
with a mug of beer in reach. And he thought about Connie.

To tell the truth, he was sorry for what had happened, perhaps most for
her sake. He had a sense of foreboding. No sense of wrong or sin; he
was troubled by no conscience in that respect. He knew that conscience
was chiefly fear of society, or fear of oneself. He was not afraid of
himself. But he was quite consciously afraid of society, which he knew
by instinct to be a malevolent, partly~ insane beast.

The woman! If she' could be there with him, and there were nobody else
in the world! The desire rose again, his penis began to stir like a
live bird. At the same time an oppression, a dread of exposing himself
and her to that outside Thing that sparkled viciously in the electric
lights, weighed down his shoulders. She, poor young thing, was just a
young female creature to him; but a young female creature whom he had
gone into and whom he desired again.

Stretching with the curious yawn of desire, for he had been alone and
apart from man or woman for four years, he rose and took his coat
again, and his gun, lowered the lamp and went out into the starry
night, with the dog. Driven by desire and by dread of the malevolent
Thing outside, he made his round in the wood, slowly, softly. He loved
the darkness and folded himself into it. It fitted the turgidity of
his desire which, in spite of all, was like a riches; the stirring
restlessness of his penis, the stirring fire in his loins! Oh, if only
there were other men to be with, to fight that sparkling electric Thing
outside there, to preserve the tenderness of life, the tenderness of
women, and the natural riches of desire. If only there were men to
fight side by side with! But the men were all outside there, glorying
in the Thing, triumphing or being trodden down in the rush of
mechanized greed or of greedy mechanism.

Constance, for her part, had hurried across the park, home, almost
without thinking. As yet she' had no afterthought. She would be in time
for dinner.

She was annoyed to find the doors fastened, however, so that she' had to
ring. Mrs Bolton opened.

'Why there you are, your Ladyship! I was beginning to wonder if you'd
gone lost!' she' said a little roguishly. 'Sir Clifford hasn't asked for
you, though; he's got Mr Linley in with him, talking over something. It
looks as if he'd stay to dinner, doesn't it, my Lady?'

'It does rather,' said Connie.

'Shall I put dinner back a quarter of an hour? That would give you time
to dress in comfort.'

'Perhaps you'd better.'

Mr Linley was the general manager of the collieries, an elderly man
from the north, with not quite enough punch to suit Clifford; not up to
post~ war conditions, nor post~ war colliers either, with their 'ca'
canny' creed. But Connie liked Mr Linley, though she' was glad to be
spared the toadying of his wife.

Linley stayed to dinner, and Connie was the hostess men liked so much,
so modest, yet so attentive and aware, with big, wide blue eyes and a
soft repose that sufficiently hid what she' was really thinking. Connie
had played this woman so much, it was almost second nature to her; but
still, decidedly second. Yet it was curious how everything disappeared
from her consciousness while she' played it.

She waited patiently till she' could go upstairs and think her own
thoughts. She was always waiting, it seemed to be her FORTE.

Once in her room, however, she' felt still vague and confused. She
didn't know what to think. What sort of a man was he, really? Did he
really like her? Not much, she' felt. Yet he was kind. There was
something, a sort of warm naive kindness, curious and sudden, that
almost opened her womb to him. But she' felt he might be kind like that
to any woman. Though even so, it was curiously soothing, comforting.
And he was a passionate sexy man, wholesome and passionate sexy. But perhaps he
wasn't quite individual enough; he might be the same with any woman as
he had been with her. It really wasn't personal. She was only really a
female to him.

But perhaps that was better. And after all, he was kind to the female
in her, which no man had ever been. Men were very kind to the PERSON she'
was, but rather cruel to the female, despising her or ignoring her
altogether. Men were awfully kind to Constance Reid or to Lady
Chatterley; but not to her womb they weren't kind. And he took no
notice of Constance or of Lady Chatterley; he just softly stroked her
loins or her breasts.

She went to the wood next day. It was a grey, still afternoon, with the
dark~ green dogs~ mercury spreading under the hazel copse, and all the
trees making a silent effort to open their buds. Today she' could almost
feel it in her own body, the huge heave of the sap in the massive
trees, upwards, up, up to the bud~ tips, there to push into little flamey
oak~ leaves, bronze as blood. It was like a ride running turgid upward,
and spreading on the sky.

She came to the clearing, but he was not there. She had only half
expected him. The pheasant chicks were running lightly abroad, light as
insects, from the coops where the fellow hens clucked anxiously. Connie
sat and watched them, and waited. She only waited. Even the chicks she'
hardly saw. She waited.

The time passed with dream~ like slowness, and he did not come. She had
only half expected him. He never came in the afternoon. She must go
home to tea. But she' had to force herself to leave.

As she' went home, a fine drizzle of rain fell.

'Is it raining again?' said Clifford, seeing her shake her hat.

'Just drizzle.'

She poured tea in silence, absorbed in a sort of obstinacy. She did
want to see the keeper today, to see if it were really real. If it were
really real.

'Shall I read a little to you afterwards?' said Clifford.

She looked at him. Had he sensed something?

'The spring makes me feel queer~ I thought I might rest a little,' she'
said.

'Just as you like. Not feeling really unwell, are you?'

'No! Only rather tired~ with the spring. Will you have Mrs Bolton to
play something with you?'

'No! I think I'll listen in.'

She heard the curious satisfaction in his voice. She went upstairs to
her bedroom. There she' heard the loudspeaker begin to bellow, in an
idiotically velveteen~ genteel sort of voice, something about a series
of street~ cries, the very cream of genteel affectation imitating old
criers. She pulled on her old violet coloured mackintosh, and slipped
out of the house at the side door.

The drizzle of rain was like a veil over the world, mysterious, hushed,
not cold. She got very warm as she' hurried across the park. She had to
open her light waterproof.

The wood was silent, still and secret in the evening drizzle of rain,
full of the mystery of eggs and half~ open buds, half unsheathed
flowers. In the dimness of it all trees glistened naked and dark as if
they had unclothed themselves, and the green things on earth seemed to
hum with greenness.

There was still no one at the clearing. The chicks had nearly all gone
under the mother~ hens, only one or two last adventurous ones still
dibbed about in the dryness under the straw roof shelter. And they were
doubtful of themselves.

So! He still had not been. He was staying away on purpose. Or perhaps
something was wrong. Perhaps she' should go to the cottage and see.

But she' was born to wait. She opened the hut with her key. It was all
tidy, the corn put in the bin, the blankets folded on the shelf, the
straw neat in a corner; a new bundle of straw. The hurricane lamp hung
on a nail. The table and chair had been put back where she' had lain.

She sat down on a stool in the doorway. How still everything was! The
fine rain blew very softly, filmily, but the wind made no noise.
Nothing made any sound. The trees stood like powerful beings, dim,
twilit, silent and alive. How alive everything was!

Night was drawing near again; she' would have to go. He was avoiding
her.

But suddenly he came striding into the clearing, in his black oilskin
jacket like a chauffeur, shining with wet. He glanced quickly at the
hut, half~ saluted, then veered aside and went on to the coops. There he
crouched in silence, looking carefully at everything, then carefully
shutting the hens and chicks up safe against the night.

At last he came slowly towards her. She still sat on her stool. He
stood before her under the porch.

'You come then,' he said, using the intonation of the dialect.

'Yes,' she' said, looking up at him. 'You're late!'

'Ay!' he replied, looking away into the wood.

She rose slowly, drawing aside her stool.

'Did you want to come in?' she' asked.

He looked down at her shrewdly.

'Won't folks be thinkin' somethink, you comin' here every night?' he
said.

'Why?' She looked up at him, at a loss. 'I said I'd come. Nobody
knows.'

'They soon will, though,' he replied. 'An' what then?'

She was at a loss for an answer.

'Why should they know?' she' said.

'Folks always does,' he said fatally.

Her lip quivered a little.

'Well I can't help it,' she' faltered.

'Nay,' he said. 'You can help it by not comin'~ if yer want to,' he
added, in a lower tone.

'But I don't want to,' she' murmured.

He looked away into the wood, and was silent.

'But what when folks finds out?' he asked at last. 'Think about it!
Think how lowered you'll feel, one of your husband's servants.'

She looked up at his averted face.

'Is it,' she' stammered, 'is it that you don't want me?'

'Think!' he said. 'Think what if folks find out Sir Clifford an'
a'~ an' everybody talkin'~ '

'Well, I can go away.'

'Where to?'

'Anywhere! I've got money of my own. My mother left me twenty thousand
pounds in trust, and I know Clifford can't touch it. I can go away.'

'But 'appen you don't want to go away.'

'Yes, yes! I don't care what happens to me.'

'Ay, you think that! But you'll care! You'll have to care, everybody
has. You've got to remember your Ladyship is carrying on with a
game~ keeper. It's not as if I was a gentleman. Yes, you'd care. You'd
care.'

'I shouldn't. What do I care about my ladyship! I hate it really. I
feel people are jeering every time they say it. And they are, they are!
Even you jeer when you say it.'

'Me!'

For the first time he looked straight at her, and into her eyes. 'I
don't jeer at you,' he said.

As he looked into her eyes she' saw his own eyes go dark, quite dark,
the pupils dilating.

'Don't you care about a' the risk?' he asked in a husky voice. 'You
should care. Don't care when it's too late!'

There was a curious warning pleading in his voice.

'But I've nothing to lose,' she' said fretfully. 'If you knew what it
is, you'd think I'd be glad to lose it. But are you afraid for
yourself?'

'Ay!' he said briefly. 'I am. I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid o'
things.'

'What things?' she' asked.

He gave a curious backward jerk of his head, indicating the outer
world.

'Things! Everybody! The lot of 'em.'

Then he bent down and suddenly kissed her unhappy face.

'Nay, I don't care,' he said. 'Let's have it, an' damn the rest. But if
you was to feel sorry you'd ever done it~ !'

'Don't put me off,' she' pleaded.

He put his fingers to her cheek and kissed her again suddenly.

'Let me come in then,' he said softly. 'An' take off your mackintosh.'

He hung up his gun, slipped out of his wet leather jacket, and reached
for the blankets.

'I brought another blanket,' he said, 'so we can put one over us if you
like.'

'I can't stay long,' she' said. 'Dinner is half~ past seven.'

He looked at her swiftly, then at his watch.

'All right,' he said.

He shut the door, and lit a tiny light in the hanging hurricane lamp.
'One time we'll have a long time,' he said.

He put the blankets down carefully, one folded for her head. Then he
sat down a moment on the stool, and drew her to him, holding her close
with one arm, feeling for her body with his free hand. She heard the
catch of his intaken breath as he found her. Under her frail petticoat
she' was naked.

'Eh! what it is to touch thee!' he said, as his finger caressed the
delicate, warm, secret skin of her waist and hips. He put his face down
and rubbed his cheek against her belly and against her thighs again and
again. And again she' wondered a little over the sort of rapture it was
to him. She did not understand the beauty he found in her, through
touch upon her living secret body, almost the ecstasy of beauty. For
passion alone is awake to it. And when passion is dead, or absent, then
the magnificent throb of beauty is incomprehensible and even a little
despicable; warm, live beauty of contact, so much deeper than the
beauty of vision. She felt the glide of his cheek on her thighs and
belly and buttocks, and the close brushing of his moustache and his
soft thick hair, and her knees began to quiver. Far down in her she'
felt a new stirring, a new nakedness emerging. And she' was half afraid.
Half she' wished he would not caress her so. He was encompassing her
somehow. Yet she' was waiting, waiting.

And when he came into her, with an intensification of relief and
consummation that was pure peace to him, still she' was waiting. She
felt herself a little left out. And she' knew, partly it was her own
fault. She willed herself into this separateness. Now perhaps she' was
condemned to it. She lay still, feeling his motion within her, his
deep~ sunk intentness, the sudden quiver of him at the springing of his
seed, then the slow~ subsiding thrust. That thrust of the buttocks,
surely it was a little ridiculous. If you were a woman, and a part in
all the business, surely that thrusting of the man's buttocks was
supremely ridiculous. Surely the man was intensely ridiculous in this
posture and this act!

But she' lay still, without recoil. Even when he had finished, she' did
not rouse herself to get a grip on her own satisfaction, as she' had
done with Michaelis; she' lay still, and the tears slowly filled and ran
from her eyes.

He lay still, too. But he held her close and tried to cover her poor
naked legs with his legs, to keep them warm. He lay on her with a
close, undoubting warmth.

'Are yer cold?' he asked, in a soft, small voice, as if she' were close,
so close. Whereas she' was left out, distant.

'No! But I must go,' she' said gently.

He sighed, held her closer, then relaxed to rest again.

He had not guessed her tears. He thought she' was there with him.

'I must go,' she' repeated.

He lifted himself kneeled beside her a moment, kissed the inner side of
her thighs, then drew down her skirts, buttoning his own clothes
unthinking, not even turning aside, in the faint, faint light from the
lantern.

'Tha mun come ter th' cottage one time,' he said, looking down at her
with a warm, sure, easy face.

But she' lay there inert, and was gazing up at him thinking: Stranger!
Stranger! She even resented him a little.

He put on his coat and looked for his hat, which had fallen, then he
slung on his gun.

'Come then!' he said, looking down at her with those warm, peaceful
sort of eyes.

She rose slowly. She didn't want to go. She also rather resented
staying. He helped her with her thin waterproof and saw she' was tidy.

Then he opened the door. The outside was quite dark. The faithful dog
under the porch stood up with pleasure seeing him. The drizzle of rain
drifted greyly past upon the darkness. It was quite dark.

'Ah mun ta'e th' lantern,' he said. 'The'll be nob'dy.'

He walked just before her in the narrow path, swinging the hurricane
lamp low, revealing the wet grass, the black shiny tree~ roots like
snakes, wan flowers. For the rest, all was grey rain~ mist and complete
darkness.

'Tha mun come to the cottage one time,' he said, 'shall ta? We might as
well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.'

It puzzled her, his queer, persistent wanting her, when there was
nothing between them, when he never really spoke to her, and in spite
of herself she' resented the dialect. His 'tha mun come' seemed not
addressed to her, but some common woman. She recognized the foxglove
leaves of the riding and knew, more or less, where they were.

'It's quarter past seven,' he said, 'you'll do it.' He had changed his
voice, seemed to feel her distance. As they turned the last bend in the
riding towards the hazel wall and the gate, he blew out the light.
'We'll see from here,' be said, taking her gently by the arm.

But it was difficult, the earth under their feet was a mystery, but he
felt his way by tread: he was used to it. At the gate he gave her his
electric torch. 'It's a bit lighter in the park,' he said; 'but take it
for fear you get off th' path.'

It was true, there seemed a ghost~ glimmer of greyness in the open space
of the park. He suddenly drew her to him and whipped his hand under her
dress again, feeling her warm body with his wet, chill hand.

'I could die for the touch of a woman like thee,' he said in his
throat. 'If tha' would stop another minute.'

She felt the sudden force of his wanting her again.

'No, I must run,' she' said, a little wildly.

'Ay,' he replied, suddenly changed, letting her go.

She turned away, and on the instant she' turned back to him saying:
'Kiss me.'

He bent over her indistinguishable and kissed her on the left eye. She
held her mouth and he softly kissed it, but at once drew away. He hated
mouth kisses.

'I'll come tomorrow,' she' said, drawing away; 'if I can,' she' added.

'Ay! not so late,' he replied out of the darkness. Already she' could
not see him at all.

'Goodnight,' she' said.

'Goodnight, your Ladyship,' his voice.

She stopped and looked back into the wet dark. She could just see the
bulk of him. 'Why did you say that?' she' said.

'Nay,' he replied. 'Goodnight then, run!'

She plunged on in the dark~ grey tangible night. She found the side~ door
open, and slipped into her room unseen. As she' closed the door the gong
sounded, but she' would take her bath all the same~ she' must take her
bath. 'But I won't be late any more,' she' said to herself; 'it's too
annoying.'

The next day she' did not go to the wood. She went instead with Clifford
to Uthwaite. He could occasionally go out now in the car, and had got a
strong young man as chauffeur, who could help him out of the car if
need be. He particularly wanted to see his godfather, Leslie Winter,
who lived at Shipley Hall, not far from Uthwaite. Winter was an elderly
gentleman now, wealthy, one of the wealthy coal~ owners who had had
their hey~ day in King Edward's time. King Edward had stayed more than
once at Shipley, for the shooting. It was a handsome old stucco hall,
very elegantly appointed, for Winter was a bachelor and prided himself
on his style; but the place was beset by collieries. Leslie Winter was
attached to Clifford, but personally did not entertain a great respect
for him, because of the photographs in illustrated papers and the
literature. The old man was a buck of the King Edward school, who
thought life was life and the scribbling fellows were something else.
Towards Connie the Squire was always rather gallant; he thought her an
attractive demure maiden and rather wasted on Clifford, and it was a
thousand pities she' stood no chance of bringing forth an heir to
Wragby. He himself had no heir.

Connie wondered what he would say if he knew that Clifford's
game~ keeper had been having intercourse with her, and saying to her
'tha mun come to th' cottage one time.' He would detest and despise
her, for he had come almost to hate the shoving forward of the working
classes. A man of her own class he would not mind, for Connie was
gifted from nature with this appearance of demure, submissive
maidenliness, and perhaps it was part of her nature. Winter called her
'dear child' and gave her a rather lovely miniature of an
eighteenth~ century lady, rather against her will.

But Connie was preoccupied with her affair with the keeper. After all,
Mr Winter, who was really a gentleman and a man of the world, treated
her as a person and a discriminating individual; he did not lump her
together with all the rest of his female womanhood in his 'thee' and
'tha'.

She did not go to the wood that day nor the next, nor the day
following. She did not go so long as she' felt, or imagined she' felt,
the man waiting for her, wanting her. But the fourth day she' was
terribly unsettled and uneasy. She still refused to go to the wood and
open her thighs once more to the man. She thought of all the things she'
might do~ drive to Sheffield, pay visits, and the thought of all these
things was repellent. At last she' decided to take a walk, not towards
the wood, but in the opposite direction; she' would go to Marehay,
through the little iron gate in the other side of the park fence. It
was a quiet grey day of spring, almost warm. She walked on unheeding,
absorbed in thoughts she' was not even conscious of She was not really
aware of anything outside her, till she' was startled by the loud
barking of the dog at Marehay Farm. Marehay Farm! Its pastures ran up
to Wragby park fence, so they were neighbours, but it was some time
since Connie had called.

'Bell!' she' said to the big white bull~ terrier. 'Bell! have you
forgotten me? Don't you know me?' She was afraid of dogs, and Bell
stood back and bellowed, and she' wanted to pass through the farmyard on
to the warren path.

Mrs Flint appeared. She was a woman of Constance's own age, had been a
school~ teacher, but Connie suspected her of being rather a false little
thing.

'Why, it's Lady Chatterley! Why!' And Mrs Flint's eyes glowed again,
and she' flush ed like a young girl. 'Bell, Bell. Why! barking at Lady
Chatterley! Bell! Be quiet!' She darted forward and slashed at the dog
with a white cloth she' held in her hand, then came forward to Connie.

'She used to know me,' said Connie, shaking hands. The Flints were
Chatterley tenants.

'Of course she' knows your Ladyship! She's just showing off,' said Mrs
Flint, glowing and looking up with a sort of flush ed confusion, 'but
it's so long since she''s seen you. I do hope you are better.'

'Yes thanks, I'm all right.'

'We've hardly seen you all winter. Will you come in and look at the
baby?'

'Well!' Connie hesitated. 'Just for a minute.'

Mrs Flint flew wildly in to tidy up, and Connie came slowly after her,
hesitating in the rather dark kitchen where the kettle was boiling by
the fire. Back came Mrs Flint.

'I do hope you'll excuse me,' she' said. 'Will you come in here?'

They went into the living~ room, where a baby was sitting on the rag
hearth rug, and the table was roughly set for tea. A young servant~ girl
backed down the passage, shy and awkward.

The baby was a perky little thing of about a year, with red hair like
its father, and cheeky pale~ blue eyes. It was a girl, and not to be
daunted. It sat among cushions and was surrounded with rag dolls and
other toys in modern excess.

'Why, what a dear she' is!' said Connie, 'and how she''s grown! A big
girl! A big girl!'

She had given it a shawl when it was born, and celluloid ducks for
Christmas.

'There, Josephine! Who's that come to see you? Who's this, Josephine?
Lady Chatterley~ you know Lady Chatterley, don't you?'

The queer pert little mite gazed cheekily at Connie. Ladyships were
still all the same to her.

'Come! Will you come to me?' said Connie to the baby.

The baby didn't care one way or another, so Connie picked her up and
held her in her lap. How warm and lovely it was to hold a child in
one's lap, and the soft little arms, the unconscious cheeky little
legs.

'I was just having a rough cup of tea all by myself. Luke's gone to
market, so I can have it when I like. Would you care for a cup, Lady
Chatterley? I don't suppose it's what you're used to, but if you
would.'

Connie would, though she' didn't want to be reminded of what she' was
used to. There was a great relaying of the table, and the best cups
brought and the best tea~ pot.

'If only you wouldn't take any trouble,' said Connie.

But if Mrs Flint took no trouble, where was the fun! So Connie played
with the child and was amused by its little female dauntlessness, and
got a deep voluptuous pleasure out of its soft young warmth. Young
life! And so fearless! So fearless, because so defenceless. All the
other people, so narrow with fear!

She had a cup of tea, which was rather strong, and very good bread and
butter, and bottled damsons. Mrs Flint flush ed and glowed and bridled
with excitement, as if Connie were some gallant knight. And they had a
real female chat, and both of them enjoyed it.

'It's a poor little tea, though,' said Mrs Flint.

'It's much nicer than at home,' said Connie truthfully.

'Oh~ h!' said Mrs Flint, not believing, of course.

But at last Connie rose.

'I must go,' she' said. 'My husband has no idea where I am. He'll be
wondering all kinds of things.'

'He'll never think you're here,' laughed Mrs Flint excitedly. 'He'll be
sending the crier round.'

'Goodbye, Josephine,' said Connie, kissing the baby and ruffling its
red, wispy hair.

Mrs Flint insisted on opening the locked and barred front door. Connie
emerged in the farm's little front garden, shut in by a privet hedge.
There were two rows of auriculas by the path, very velvety and rich.

'Lovely auriculas,' said Connie.

'Recklesses, as Luke calls them,' laughed Mrs Flint. 'Have some.'

And eagerly she' picked the velvet and primrose flowers.

'Enough! Enough!' said Connie.

They came to the little garden gate.

'Which way were you going?' asked Mrs Flint.

'By the Warren.'

'Let me see! Oh yes, the cows are in the gin close. But they're not up
yet. But the gate's locked, you'll have to climb.'

'I can climb,' said Connie.

'Perhaps I can just go down the close with you.'

They went down the poor, rabbit~ bitten pasture. Birds were whistling in
wild evening triumph in the wood. A man was calling up the last cows,
which trailed slowly over the path~ worn pasture.

'They're late, milking, tonight,' said Mrs Flint severely. 'They know
Luke won't be back till after dark.'

They came to the fence, beyond which the young fir~ wood bristled dense.
There was a little gate, but it was locked. In the grass on the inside
stood a bottle, empty.

'There's the keeper's empty bottle for his milk,' explained Mrs Flint.
'We bring it as far as here for him, and then he fetches it himself.'

'When?' said Connie.

'Oh, any time he's around. Often in the morning. Well, goodbye Lady
Chatterley! And do come again. It was so lovely having you.'

Connie climbed the fence into the narrow path between the dense,
bristling young firs. Mrs Flint went running back across the pasture,
in a sun~ bonnet, because she' was really a schoolteacher. Constance
didn't like this dense new part of the wood; it seemed gruesome and
choking. She hurried on with her head down, thinking of the Flints'
baby. It was a dear little thing, but it would be a bit bow~ legged like
its father. It showed already, but perhaps it would grow out of it. How
warm and fulfilling somehow to have a baby, and how Mrs Flint had
showed it off! She had something anyhow that Connie hadn't got, and
apparently couldn't have. Yes, Mrs Flint had flaunted her motherhood.
And Connie had been just a bit, just a little bit jealous. She couldn't
help it.

She started out of her muse, and gave a little cry of fear. A man was
there.

It was the keeper. He stood in the path like Balaam's ass, barring her
way.

'How's this?' he said in surprise.

'How did you come?' she' panted.

'How did you? Have you been to the hut?'

'No! No! I went to Marehay.'

He looked at her curiously, searchingly, and she' hung her head a little
guiltily.

'And were you going to the hut now?' he asked rather sternly.

'No! I mustn't. I stayed at Marehay. No one knows where I am.
I'm late. I've got to run.'

'Giving me the slip, like?' he said, with a faint ironic smile.

'No! No. Not that. Only~ '

'Why, what else?' he said. And he stepped up to her and put his arms
around her. She felt the front of his body terribly near to her, and
alive.

'Oh, not now, not now,' she' cried, trying to push him away.

'Why not? It's only six o'clock. You've got half an hour. Nay! Nay! I
want you.'

He held her fast and she' felt his urgency. Her old instinct was to
fight for her freedom. But something else in her was strange and inert
and heavy. His body was urgent against her, and she' hadn't the heart
any more to fight.

He looked around.

'Come~ come here! Through here,' he said, looking penetratingly into
the dense fir~ trees, that were young and not more than half~ grown.

He looked back at her. She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce,
not loving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her
limbs. She was giving way. She was giving up.

He led her through the wall of prickly trees, that were difficult to
come through, to a place where was a little space and a pile of dead
boughs. He threw one or two dry ones down, put his coat and waistcoat
over them, and she' had to lie down there under the boughs of the tree,
like an animal, while he waited, standing there in his shirt and
breeches, watching her with haunted eyes. But still he was
provident~ he made her lie properly, properly. Yet he broke the band of
her underclothes, for she' did not help him, only lay inert.

He too had bared the front part of his body and she' felt his naked
flesh against her as he came into her. For a moment he was still inside
her, turgid there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in the
sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling
inside her. Rippling, rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping
of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance,
exquisite, exquisite and melting her all molten inside. It was like
bells rippling up and up to a culmination. She lay unconscious of the
wild little cries she' uttered at the last. But it was over too soon,
too soon, and she' could no longer force her own conclusion with her own
activity. This was different, different. She could do nothing. She
could no longer harden and grip for her own satisfaction upon him. She
could only wait, wait and moan in spirit as she' felt him withdrawing,
withdrawing and contracting, coming to the terrible moment when he
would slip out of her and be gone. Whilst all her womb was open and
soft, and softly clamouring, like a sea~ anemone under the tide,
clamouring for him to come in again and make a fulfilment for her. She
clung to him unconscious in passion, and he never quite slipped from
her, and she' felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange
rhythms flush ing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion,
swelling and swelling till it filled all her cleaving consciousness,
and then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion,
but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper
through all her tissue and consciousness, till she' was one perfect
concentric fluid of feeling, and she' lay there crying in unconscious
inarticulate cries. The voice out of the uttermost night, the life! The
man heard it beneath him with a kind of awe, as his life sprang out
into her. And as it subsided, he subsided too and lay utterly still,
unknowing, while her grip on him slowly relaxed, and she' lay inert. And
they lay and knew nothing, not even of each other, both lost. Till at
last he began to rouse and become aware of his defenceless nakedness,
and she' was aware that his body was loosening its clasp on her. He was
coming apart; but in her breast she' felt she' could not bear him to
leave her uncovered. He must cover her now for ever.

But he drew away at last, and kissed her and covered her over, and
began to cover himself. She lay looking up to the boughs of the tree,
unable as yet to move. He stood and fastened up his breeches, looking
round. All was dense and silent, save for the awed dog that lay with
its paws against its nose. He sat down again on the brushwood and took
Connie's hand in silence.

She turned and looked at him. 'We came off together that time,' he
said.

She did not answer.

'It's good when it's like that. Most folks live their lives through and
they never know it,' he said, speaking rather dreamily.

She looked into his brooding face.

'Do they?' she' said. 'Are you glad?'

He looked back into her eyes. 'Glad,' he said, 'Ay, but never mind.' He
did not want her to talk. And he bent over her and kissed her, and she'
felt, so he must kiss her for ever.

At last she' sat up.

'Don't people often come off together?' she' asked with naive curiosity.

'A good many of them never. You can see by the raw look of them.' He
spoke unwittingly, regretting he had begun.

'Have you come off like that with other women?'

He looked at her amused.

'I don't know,' he said, 'I don't know.'

And she' knew he would never tell her anything he didn't want to tell
her. She watched his face, and the passion for him moved in her bowels.
She resisted it as far as she' could, for it was the loss of herself to
herself.

He put on his waistcoat and his coat, and pushed a way through to the
path again.

The last level rays of the sun touched the wood. 'I won't come with
you,' he said; 'better not.'

She looked at him wistfully before she' turned. His dog was waiting so
anxiously for him to go, and he seemed to have nothing whatever to say.
Nothing left.

Connie went slowly home, realizing the depth of the other thing in her.
Another self was alive in her, burning molten and soft in her womb and
bowels, and with this self she' adored him. She adored him till her
knees were weak as she' walked. In her womb and bowels she' was flowing
and alive now and vulnerable, and helpless in adoration of him as the
most naive woman. It feels like a child, she' said to herself it feels
like a child in me. And so it did, as if her womb, that had always been
shut, had opened and filled with new life, almost a burden, yet lovely.

'If I had a child!' she' thought to herself; 'if I had him inside me as
a child!'~ and her limbs turned molten at the thought, and she' realized
the immense difference between having a child to oneself and having a
child to a man whom one's bowels yearned towards. The former seemed in
a sense ordinary: but to have a child to a man whom one adored in one's
bowels and one's womb, it made her feel she' was very different from her
old self and as if she' was sinking deep, deep to the centre of all
womanhood and the sleep of creation.

It was not the passion that was new to her, it was the yearning
adoration. She knew she' had always feared it, for it left her helpless;
she' feared it still, lest if she' adored him too much, then she' would
lose herself become effaced, and she' did not want to be effaced, a
slave, like a savage woman. She must not become a slave. She feared her
adoration, yet she' would not at once fight against it. She knew she'
could fight it. She had a devil of self~ will in her breast that could
have fought the full soft heaving adoration of her womb and crushed it.
She could even now do it, or she' thought so, and she' could then take up
her passion with her own will.

Ah yes, to be passionate sexy like a Bacchante, like a Bacchanal fleeing
through the woods, to call on Iacchos, the bright phallos that had no
independent personality behind it, but was pure god~ servant to the
woman! The man, the individual, let him not dare intrude. He was but a
temple~ servant, the bearer and keeper of the bright phallos, her own.

So, in the flux of new awakening, the old hard passion flamed in her
for a time, and the man dwindled to a contemptible object, the mere
phallos~ bearer, to be torn to pieces when his service was performed.
She felt the force of the Bacchae in her limbs and her body, the woman
gleaming and rapid, beating down the male; but while she' felt this, her
heart was heavy. She did not want it, it was known and barren,
birthless; the adoration was her treasure.

It was so fathomless, so soft, so deep and so unknown. No, no, she'
would give up her hard bright female power; she' was weary of it,
stiffened with it; she' would sink in the new bath of life, in the
depths of her womb and her bowels that sang the voiceless song of
adoration. It was early yet to begin to fear the man.

'I walked over by Marehay, and I had tea with Mrs Flint,' she' said to
Clifford. 'I wanted to see the baby. It's so adorable, with hair like
red cobwebs. Such a dear! Mr Flint had gone to market, so she' and I and
the baby had tea together. Did you wonder where I was?'

'Well, I wondered, but I guessed you had dropped in somewhere to tea,'
said Clifford jealously. With a sort of second sight he sensed
something new in her, something to him quite incomprehensible, but he
ascribed it to the baby. He thought that all that ailed Connie was that
she' did not have a baby, automatically bring one forth, so to speak.

'I saw you go across the park to the iron gate, my Lady,' said Mrs
Bolton; 'so I thought perhaps you'd called at the Rectory.'

'I nearly did, then I turned towards Marehay instead.'

The eyes of the two women met: Mrs Bolton's grey and bright and
searching; Connie's blue and veiled and strangely beautiful. Mrs Bolton
was almost sure she' had a lover, yet how could it be, and who could it
be? Where was there a man?

'Oh, it's so good for you, if you go out and see a bit of company
sometimes,' said Mrs Bolton. 'I was saying to Sir Clifford, it would do
her ladyship a world of good if she''d go out among people more.'

'Yes, I'm glad I went, and such a quaint dear cheeky baby, Clifford,'
said Connie. 'It's got hair just like spider~ webs, and bright orange,
and the oddest, cheekiest, pale~ blue china eyes. Of course it's a girl,
or it wouldn't be so bold, bolder than any little Sir Francis Drake.'

'You're right, my Lady~ a regular little Flint. They were always a
forward sandy~ headed family,' said Mrs Bolton.

'Wouldn't you like to see it, Clifford? I've asked them to tea for you
to see it.'

'Who?' he asked, looking at Connie in great uneasiness.

'Mrs Flint and the baby, next Monday.'

'You can have them to tea up in your room,' he said.

'Why, don't you want to see the baby?' she' cried.

'Oh, I'll see it, but I don't want to sit through a tea~ time with
them.'

'Oh,' cried Connie, looking at him with wide veiled eyes.

She did not really see him, he was somebody else.

'You can have a nice cosy tea up in your room, my Lady, and Mrs Flint
will be more comfortable than if Sir Clifford was there,' said Mrs
Bolton.

She was sure Connie had a lover, and something in her soul exulted. But
who was he? Who was he? Perhaps Mrs Flint would provide a clue.

Connie would not take her bath this evening. The sense of his flesh
touching her, his very stickiness upon her, was dear to her, and in a
sense holy.

Clifford was very uneasy. He would not let her go after dinner, and she'
had wanted so much to be alone. She looked at him, but was curiously
submissive.

'Shall we play a game, or shall I read to you, or what shall it be?' he
asked uneasily.

'You read to me,' said Connie.

'What shall I read~ verse or prose? Or drama?'

'Read Racine,' she' said.

It had been one of his stunts in the past, to read Racine in the real
French grand manner, but he was rusty now, and a little self~ conscious;
he really preferred the loudspeaker. But Connie was sewing, sewing a
little frock of primrose silk, cut out of one of her dresses, for
Mrs Flint's baby. Between coming home and dinner she' had cut it out,
and she' sat in the soft quiescent rapture of herself sewing, while the
noise of the reading went on.

Inside herself she' could feel the humming of passion, like the
after~ humming of deep bells.

Clifford said something to her about the Racine. She caught the sense
after the words had gone.

'Yes! Yes!' she' said, looking up at him. 'It is splendid.'

Again he was frightened at the deep blue blaze of her eyes, and of her
soft stillness, sitting there. She had never been so utterly soft and
still. She fascinated him helplessly, as if some perfume about her
intoxicated him. So he went on helplessly with his reading, and the
throaty sound of the French was like the wind in the chimneys to her.
Of the Racine she' heard not one syllable.

She was gone in her own soft rapture, like a forest soughing with the
dim, glad moan of spring, moving into bud. She could feel in the same
world with her the man, the nameless man, moving on beautiful feet,
beautiful in the phallic mystery. And in herself in all her veins, she'
felt him and his child. His child was in all her veins, like a
twilight.

'For hands she' hath none, nor eyes, nor feet, nor golden Treasure of
hair.'

She was like a forest, like the dark interlacing of the oakwood,
humming inaudibly with myriad unfolding buds. Meanwhile the birds of
desire were asleep in the vast interlaced intricacy of her body.

But Clifford's voice went on, clapping and gurgling with unusual
sounds. How extraordinary it was! How extraordinary he was, bent there
over the book, queer and rapacious and civilized, with broad shoulders
and no real legs! What a strange creature, with the sharp, cold
inflexible will of some bird, and no warmth, no warmth at all! One of
those creatures of the afterwards, that have no soul, but an
extra~ alert will, cold will. She shuddered a little, afraid of him. But
then, the soft warm flame of life was stronger than he, and the real
things were hidden from him.

The reading finished. She was startled. She looked up, and was more
startled still to see Clifford watching her with pale, uncanny eyes,
like hate.

'Thank you SO much! You do read Racine beautifully!' she' said softly.

'Almost as beautifully as you listen to him,' he said cruelly. 'What
are you making?' he asked.

'I'm making a child's dress, for Mrs Flint's baby.'

He turned away. A child! A child! That was all her obsession.

'After all,' he said in a declamatory voice, 'one gets all one wants
out of Racine. Emotions that are ordered and given shape are more
important than disorderly emotions.

She watched him with wide, vague, veiled eyes. 'Yes, I'm sure they
are,' she' said.

'The modern world has only vulgarized emotion by letting it loose. What
we need is classic control.'

'Yes,' she' said slowly, thinking of him listening with vacant face to
the emotional idiocy of the radio. 'People pretend to have emotions,
and they really feel nothing. I suppose that is being romantic.'

'Exactly!' he said.

As a matter of fact, he was tired. This evening had tired him. He would
rather have been with his technical books, or his pit~ manager, or
listening~ in to the radio.

Mrs Bolton came in with two glasses of malted milk: for Clifford, to
make him sleep, and for Connie, to fatten her again. It was a regular
night~ cap she' had introduced.

Connie was glad to go, when she' had drunk her glass, and thankful she'
needn't help Clifford to bed. She took his glass and put it on the
tray, then took the tray, to leave it outside.

'Goodnight Clifford! DO sleep well! The Racine gets into one like a
dream. Goodnight!'

She had drifted to the door. She was going without kissing him
goodnight. He watched her with sharp, cold eyes. So! She did not even
kiss him goodnight, after he had spent an evening reading to her. Such
depths of callousness in her! Even if the kiss was but a formality, it
was on such formalities that life depends. She was a Bolshevik, really.
Her instincts were Bolshevistic! He gazed coldly and angrily at the
door whence she' had gone. Anger!

And again the dread of the night came on him. He was a network of
nerves, when he was not braced up to work, and so full of energy: or
when he was not listening~ in, and so utterly neuter: then he was
haunted by anxiety and a sense of dangerous impending void. He was
afraid. And Connie could keep the fear off him, if she' would. But it
was obvious she' wouldn't, she' wouldn't. She was callous, cold and
callous to all that he did for her. He gave up his life for her, and
she' was callous to him. She only wanted her own way. 'The lady loves
her will.'

Now it was a baby she' was obsessed by. Just so that it should be her
own, all her own, and not his!

Clifford was so healthy, considering. He looked so well and ruddy in
the face, his shoulders were broad and strong, his chest deep, he had
put on flesh. And yet, at the same time, he was afraid of death. A
terrible hollow seemed to menace him somewhere, somehow, a void, and
into this void his energy would collapse. Energyless, he felt at times
he was dead, really dead.

So his rather prominent pale eyes had a queer look, furtive, and yet a
little cruel, so cold: and at the same time, almost impudent. It was a
very odd look, this look of impudence: as if he were triumphing over
life in spite of life. 'Who knoweth the mysteries of the will~ for it
can triumph even against the angels~ '

But his dread was the nights when he could not sleep. Then it was awful
indeed, when annihilation pressed in on him on every side. Then it was
ghastly, to exist without having any life: lifeless, in the night, to
exist.

But now he could ring for Mrs Bolton. And she' would always come. That
was a great comfort. She would come in her dressing gown, with her hair
in a plait down her back, curiously girlish and dim, though the brown
plait was streaked with grey. And she' would make him coffee or camomile
tea, and she' would play chess or piquet with him. She had a woman's
queer faculty of playing even chess well enough, when she' was three
parts asleep, well enough to make her worth beating. So, in the silent
intimacy of the night, they sat, or she' sat and he lay on the bed, with
the reading~ lamp shedding its solitary light on them, she' almost gone
in sleep, he almost gone in a sort of fear, and they played, played
together~ then they had a cup of coffee and a biscuit together, hardly
speaking, in the silence of night, but being a reassurance to one
another.

And this night she' was wondering who Lady Chatterley's lover was. And
she' was thinking of her own Ted, so long dead, yet for her never quite
dead. And when she' thought of him, the old, old grudge against the
world rose up, but especially against the masters, that they had killed
him. They had not really killed him. Yet, to her, emotionally, they
had. And somewhere deep in herself because of it, she' was a nihilist,
and really anarchic.

In her half~ sleep, thoughts of her Ted and thoughts of Lady
Chatterley's unknown lover commingled, and then she' felt she' shared
with the other woman a great grudge against Sir Clifford and all he
stood for. At the same time she' was playing piquet with him, and they
were gambling sixpences. And it was a source of satisfaction to be
playing piquet with a baronet, and even losing sixpences to him.

When they played cards, they always gambled. It made him forget
himself. And he usually won. Tonight too he was winning. So he would
not go to sleep till the first dawn appeared. Luckily it began to
appear at half past four or thereabouts.

Connie was in bed, and fast asleep all this time. But the keeper, too,
could not rest. He had closed the coops and made his round of the wood,
then gone home and eaten supper. But he did not go to bed. Instead he
sat by the fire and thought.

He thought of his boyhood in Tevershall, and of his five or six years
of married life. He thought of his wife, and always bitterly. She had
seemed so brutal. But he had not seen her now since 1915, in the spring
when he joined up. Yet there she' was, not three miles away, and more
brutal than ever. He hoped never to see her again while he lived.

He thought of his life abroad, as a soldier. India, Egypt, then India
again: the blind, thoughtless life with the horses: the colonel who had
loved him and whom he had loved: the several years that he had been an
officer, a lieutenant with a very fair chance of being a captain. Then
the death of the colonel from pneumonia, and his own narrow escape from
death: his damaged health: his deep restlessness: his leaving the army
and coming back to England to be a working man again.

He was temporizing with life. He had thought he would be safe, at least
for a time, in this wood. There was no shooting as yet: he had to rear
the pheasants. He would have no guns to serve. He would be alone, and
apart from life, which was all he wanted. He had to have some sort of a
background. And this was his native place. There was even his mother,
though she' had never meant very much to him. And he could go on in
life, existing from day to day, without connexion and without hope. For
he did not know what to do with himself.

He did not know what to do with himself. Since he had been an officer
for some years, and had mixed among the other officers and civil
servants, with their wives and families, he had lost all ambition to
'get on'. There was a toughness, a curious rubbernecked toughness and
unlivingness about the middle and upper classes, as he had known them,
which just left him feeling cold and different from them.

So, he had come back to his own class. To find there, what he had
forgotten during his absence of years, a pettiness and a vulgarity of
manner extremely distasteful. He admitted now at last, how important
manner was. He admitted, also, how important it was even TO PRETEND not
to care about the halfpence and the small things of life. But among the
common people there was no pretence. A penny more or less on the bacon
was worse than a change in the Gospel. He could not stand it.

And again, there was the wage~ squabble. Having lived among the owning
classes, he knew the utter futility of expecting any solution of the
wage~ squabble. There was no solution, short of death. The only thing
was not to care, not to care about the wages.

Yet, if you were poor and wretched you HAD to care. Anyhow, it was
becoming the only thing they did care about. The CARE about money was
like a great cancer, eating away the individuals of all classes. He
refused to CARE about money.

And what then? What did life offer apart from the care of money?
Nothing.

Yet he could live alone, in the wan satisfaction of being alone, and
raise pheasants to be shot ultimately by fat men after breakfast. It
was futility, futility to the nth power.

But why care, why bother? And he had not cared nor bothered till now,
when this woman had come into his life. He was nearly ten years older
than she'. And he was a thousand years older in experience, starting
from the bottom. The connexion between them was growing closer. He
could see the day when it would clinch up and they would have to make a
life together. 'For the bonds of love are ill to loose!'

And what then? What then? Must he start again, with nothing to start
on? Must he entangle this woman? Must he have the horrible broil with
her lame husband? And also some sort of horrible broil with his own
brutal wife, who hated him? Misery! Lots of misery! And he was no
longer young and merely buoyant. Neither was he the insouciant sort.
Every bitterness and every ugliness would hurt him: and the woman!

But even if they got clear of Sir Clifford and of his own wife, even if
they got clear, what were they going to do? What was he, himself going
to do? What was he going to do with his life? For he must do something.
He couldn't be a mere hanger~ on, on her money and his own very small
pension.

It was the insoluble. He could only think of going to America, to try a
new air. He disbelieved in the dollar utterly. But perhaps, perhaps
there was something else.

He could not rest nor even go to bed. After sitting in a stupor of
bitter thoughts until midnight, he got suddenly from his chair and
reached for his coat and gun.

'Come on, lass,' he said to the dog. 'We're best outside.'

It was a starry night, but moonless. He went on a slow, scrupulous,
soft~ stepping and stealthy round. The only thing he had to contend with
was the colliers setting snares for rabbits, particularly the Stacks
Gate colliers, on the Marehay side. But it was breeding season, and
even colliers respected it a little. Nevertheless the stealthy beating
of the round in search of poachers soothed his nerves and took his mind
off his thoughts.

But when he had done his slow, cautious beating of his bounds~ it was
nearly a five~ mile walk~ he was tired. He went to the top of the knoll
and looked out. There was no sound save the noise, the faint shuffling
noise from Stacks Gate colliery, that never ceased working: and there
were hardly any lights, save the brilliant electric rows at the works.
The world lay darkly and fumily sleeping. It was half past two. But
even in its sleep it was an uneasy, cruel world, stirring with the
noise of a train or some great lorry on the road, and flashing with
some rosy lightning flash from the furnaces. It was a world of iron and
coal, the cruelty of iron and the smoke of coal, and the endless,
endless greed that drove it all. Only greed, greed stirring in its
sleep.

It was cold, and he was coughing. A fine cold draught blew over the
knoll. He thought of the woman. Now he would have given all he had or
ever might have to hold her warm in his arms, both of them wrapped in
one blanket, and sleep. All hopes of eternity and all gain from the
past he would have given to have her there, to be wrapped warm with him
in one blanket, and sleep, only sleep. It seemed the sleep with the
woman in his arms was the only necessity.

He went to the hut, and wrapped himself in the blanket and lay on the
floor to sleep. But he could not, he was cold. And besides, he felt
cruelly his own unfinished nature. He felt his own unfinished condition
of aloneness cruelly. He wanted her, to touch her, to hold her fast
against him in one moment of completeness and sleep.

He got up again and went out, towards the park gates this time: then
slowly along the path towards the house. It was nearly four o'clock,
still clear and cold, but no sign of dawn. He was used to the dark, he
could see well.

Slowly, slowly the great house drew him, as a magnet. He wanted to be
near her. It was not desire, not that. It was the cruel sense of
unfinished aloneness, that needed a silent woman folded in his arms.
Perhaps he could find her. Perhaps he could even call her out to him:
or find some way in to her. For the need was imperious.

He slowly, silently climbed the incline to the hall. Then he came round
the great trees at the top of the knoll, on to the drive, which made a
grand sweep round a lozenge of grass in front of the entrance. He could
already see the two magnificent beeches which stood in this big level
lozenge in front of the house, detaching themselves darkly in the dark
air.

There was the house, low and long and obscure, with one light burning
downstairs, in Sir Clifford's room. But which room she' was in, the
woman who held the other end of the frail thread which drew him so
mercilessly, that he did not know.

He went a little nearer, gun in hand, and stood motionless on the
drive, watching the house. Perhaps even now he could find her, come at
her in some way. The house was not impregnable: he was as clever as
burglars are. Why not come to her?

He stood motionless, waiting, while the dawn faintly and imperceptibly
paled behind him. He saw the light in the house go out. But he did not
see Mrs Bolton come to the window and draw back the old curtain of
dark~ blue silk, and stand herself in the dark room, looking out on the
half~ dark of the approaching day, looking for the longed~ for dawn,
waiting, waiting for Clifford to be really reassured that it was
daybreak. For when he was sure of daybreak, he would sleep almost at
once.

She stood blind with sleep at the window, waiting. And as she' stood,
she' started, and almost cried out. For there was a man out there on the
drive, a black figure in the twilight. She woke up greyly, and watched,
but without making a sound to disturb Sir Clifford.

The daylight began to rustle into the world, and the dark figure seemed
to go smaller and more defined. She made out the gun and gaiters and
baggy jacket~ it would be Oliver Mellors, the keeper. 'Yes, for there
was the dog nosing around like a shadow, and waiting for him'!

And what did the man want? Did he want to rouse the house? What was he
standing there for, transfixed, looking up at the house like a
love~ sick male dog outside the house where the bitch is?

Goodness! The knowledge went through Mrs Bolton like a shot. He was
Lady Chatterley's lover! He! He!

To think of it! Why, she', Ivy Bolton, had once been a tiny bit in love
with him herself. When he was a lad of sixteen and she' a woman of
twenty~ six. It was when she' was studying, and he had helped her a lot
with the anatomy and things she' had had to learn. He'd been a clever
boy, had a scholarship for Sheffield Grammar School, and learned French
and things: and then after all had become an overhead blacksmith
shoeing horses, because he was fond of horses, he said: but really
because he was frightened to go out and face the world, only he'd never
admit it.

But he'd been a nice lad, a nice lad, had helped her a lot, so clever
at making things clear to you. He was quite as clever as Sir Clifford:
and always one for the women. More with women than men, they said.

Till he'd gone and married that Bertha Coutts, as if to spite himself.
Some people do marry to spite themselves, because they're disappointed
of something. And no wonder it had been a failure.~ For years he was
gone, all the time of the war: and a lieutenant and all: quite the
gentleman, really quite the gentleman!~ Then to come back to Tevershall
and go as a game~ keeper! Really, some people can't take their chances
when they've got them! And talking broad Derbyshire again like the
worst, when she', Ivy Bolton, knew he spoke like any gentleman, REALLY.

Well, well! So her ladyship had fallen for him! Well her ladyship
wasn't the first: there was something about him. But fancy! A
Tevershall lad born and bred, and she' her ladyship in Wragby Hall! My
word, that was a slap back at the high~ and~ mighty Chatterleys!

But he, the keeper, as the day grew, had realized: it's no good! It's
no good trying to get rid of your own aloneness. You've got to stick to
it all your life. Only at times, at times, the gap will be filled in.
At times! But you have to wait for the times. Accept your own aloneness
and stick to it, all your life. And then accept the times when the gap
is filled in, when they come. But they've got to come. You can't force
them.

With a sudden snap the bleeding desire that had drawn him after her
broke. He had broken it, because it must be so. There must be a coming
together on both sides. And if she' wasn't coming to him, he wouldn't
track her down. He mustn't. He must go away, till she' came.

He turned slowly, ponderingly, accepting again the isolation. He knew
it was better so. She must come to him: it was no use his trailing
after her. No use!

Mrs Bolton saw him disappear, saw his dog run after him.

'Well, well!' she' said. 'He's the one man I never thought of; and the
one man I might have thought of. He was nice to me when he was a lad,
after I lost Ted. Well, well! Whatever would he say if he knew!'

And she' glanced triumphantly at the already sleeping Clifford, as she'
stepped softly from the room.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 11
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

Connie was sorting out one of the Wragby lumber rooms. There were
several: the house was a warren, and the family never sold anything.
Sir Geoffrey's father had liked pictures and Sir Geoffrey's mother had
liked CINQUECENTO furniture. Sir Geoffrey himself had liked old carved
oak chests, vestry chests. So it went on through the generations.
Clifford collected very modern pictures, at very moderate prices.

So in the lumber room there were bad Sir Edwin Landseers and pathetic
William Henry Hunt birds' nests: and other Academy stuff, enough to
frighten the daughter of an R.A. She determined to look through it one
day, and clear it all. And the grotesque furniture interested her.

Wrapped up carefully to preserve it from damage and dry~ rot was the old
family cradle, of rosewood. She had to unwrap it, to look at it. It had
a certain charm: she' looked at it a long time.

'It's thousand pities it won't be called for,' sighed Mrs Bolton, who
was helping. 'Though cradles like that are out of date nowadays.'

'It might be called for. I might have a child,' said Connie casually,
as if saying she' might have a new hat.

'You mean if anything happened to Sir Clifford!' stammered Mrs Bolton.

'No! I mean as things are. It's only muscular paralysis with Sir
Clifford~ it doesn't affect him,' said Connie, lying as naturally as
breathing.

Clifford had put the idea into her head. He had said: 'Of course I may
have a child yet. I'm not really mutilated at all. The potency may
easily come back, even if the muscles of the hips and legs are
paralysed. And then the seed may be transferred.'

He really felt, when he had his periods of energy and worked so hard at
the question of the mines, as if his sexual potency were returning.
Connie had looked at him in terror. But she' was quite quick~ witted
enough to use his suggestion for her own preservation. For she' would
have a child if she' could: but not his.

Mrs Bolton was for a moment breathless, flabbergasted. Then she' didn't
believe it: she' saw in it a ruse. Yet doctors could do such things
nowadays. They might sort of graft seed.

'Well, my Lady, I only hope and pray you may. It would be lovely for
you: and for everybody. My word, a child in Wragby, what a difference
it would make!'

'Wouldn't it!' said Connie.

And she' chose three R. A. pictures of sixty years ago, to send to the
Duchess of Shortlands for that lady's next charitable bazaar. She was
called 'the bazaar duchess', and she' always asked all the county to
send things for her to sell. She would be delighted with three framed
R. A.s. She might even call, on the strength of them. How furious
Clifford was when she' called!

But oh my dear! Mrs Bolton was thinking to herself. Is it Oliver
Mellors' child you're preparing us for? Oh my dear, that WOULD be a
Tevershall baby in the Wragby cradle, my word! Wouldn't shame it,
neither!

Among other monstrosities in this lumber room was a largish
blackjapanned box, excellently and ingeniously made some sixty or
seventy years ago, and fitted with every imaginable object. On top was
a concentrated toilet set: brushes, bottles, mirrors, combs, boxes,
even three beautiful little razors in safety sheaths, shaving~ bowl and
all. Underneath came a sort of ESCRITOIRE outfit: blotters, pens,
ink~ bottles, paper, envelopes, memorandum books: and then a perfect
sewing~ outfit, with three different sized scissors, thimbles, needles,
silks and cottons, darning egg, all of the very best quality and
perfectly finished. Then there was a little medicine store, with
bottles labelled Laudanum, Tincture of Myrrh, Ess. Cloves and so on:
but empty. Everything was perfectly new, and the whole thing, when shut
up, was as big as a small, but fat weekend bag. And inside, it fitted
together like a puzzle. The bottles could not possibly have spilled:
there wasn't room.

The thing was wonderfully made and contrived, excellent craftsmanship
of the Victorian order. But somehow it was monstrous. Some Chatterley
must even have felt it, for the thing had never been used. It had a
peculiar soullessness.

Yet Mrs Bolton was thrilled.

'Look what beautiful brushes, so expensive, even the shaving brushes,
three perfect ones! No! and those scissors! They're the best that money
could buy. Oh, I call it lovely!'

'Do you?' said Connie. 'Then you have it.'

'Oh no, my Lady!'

'Of course! It will only lie here till Doomsday. If you won't have it,
I'll send it to the Duchess as well as the pictures, and she' doesn't
deserve so much. Do have it!'

'Oh, your Ladyship! Why, I shall never be able to thank you.'

'You needn't try,' laughed Connie.

And Mrs Bolton sailed down with the huge and very black box in her
arms, flush ing bright pink in her excitement.

Mr Betts drove her in the trap to her house in the village, with the
box. And she' HAD to have a few friends in, to show it: the
school~ mistress, the chemist's wife, Mrs Weedon the undercashier's
wife. They thought it marvellous. And then started the whisper of Lady
Chatterley's child.

'Wonders'll never cease!' said Mrs Weedon.

But Mrs Bolton was CONVINCED, if it did come, it would be Sir
Clifford's child. So there!

Not long after, the rector said gently to Clifford:

'And may we really hope for an heir to Wragby? Ah, that would be the
hand of God in mercy, indeed!'

'Well! We may HOPE,' said Clifford, with a faint irony, and at the same
time, a certain conviction. He had begun to believe it really possible
it might even be HIS child.

Then one afternoon came Leslie Winter, Squire Winter, as everybody
called him: lean, immaculate, and seventy: and every inch a gentleman,
as Mrs Bolton said to Mrs Betts. Every millimetre indeed! And with his
old~ fashioned, rather haw~ haw! manner of speaking, he seemed more out
of date than bag wigs. Time, in her flight, drops these fine old
feathers.

They discussed the collieries. Clifford's idea was, that his coal, even
the poor sort, could be made into hard concentrated fuel that would
burn at great heat if fed with certain damp, acidulated air at a fairly
strong pressure. It had long been observed that in a particularly
strong, wet wind the pit~ bank burned very vivid, gave off hardly any
fumes, and left a fine powder of ash, instead of the slow pink gravel.

'But where will you find the proper engines for burning your fuel?'
asked Winter.

'I'll make them myself. And I'll use my fuel myself. And I'll sell
electric power. I'm certain I could do it.'

'If you can do it, then splendid, splendid, my dear boy. Haw! Splendid!
If I can be of any help, I shall be delighted. I'm afraid I am a little
out of date, and my collieries are like me. But who knows, when I'm
gone, there may be men like you. Splendid! It will employ all the men
again, and you won't have to sell your coal, or fail to sell it. A
splendid idea, and I hope it will be a success. If I had sons of my
own, no doubt they would have up~ to~ date ideas for Shipley: no doubt!
By the way, dear boy, is there any foundation to the rumour that we may
entertain hopes of an heir to Wragby?'

'Is there a rumour?' asked Clifford.

'Well, my dear boy, Marshall from Fillingwood asked me, that's all I
can say about a rumour. Of course I wouldn't repeat it for the world,
if there were no foundation.'

'Well, Sir,' said Clifford uneasily, but with strange bright eyes.
'There is a hope. There is a hope.'

Winter came across the room and wrung Clifford's hand.

'My dear boy, my dear lad, can you believe what it means to me, to hear
that! And to hear you are working in the hopes of a son: and that you
may again employ every man at Tevershall. Ah, my boy! to keep up the
level of the race, and to have work waiting for any man who cares to
work!~ '

The old man was really moved.

Next day Connie was arranging tall yellow tulips in a glass vase.

'Connie,' said Clifford, 'did you know there was a rumour that you are
going to supply Wragby with a son and heir?'

Connie felt dim with terror, yet she' stood quite still, touching the
flowers.

'No!' she' said. 'Is it a joke? Or malice?'

He paused before he answered:

'Neither, I hope. I hope it may be a prophecy.'

Connie went on with her flowers.

'I had a letter from Father this morning,' She said. 'He wants to know
if I am aware he has accepted Sir Alexander Cooper's Invitation for me
for July and August, to the Villa Esmeralda in Venice.'

'July AND August?' said Clifford.

'Oh, I wouldn't stay all that time. Are you sure you wouldn't come?'

'I won't travel abroad,' said Clifford promptly. She took her flowers
to the window.

'Do you mind if I go?' she' said. 'You know it was promised, for this
summer.'

'For how long would you go?'

'Perhaps three weeks.'

There was silence for a time.

'Well,' said Clifford slowly, and a little gloomily. 'I suppose I could
stand it for three weeks: if I were absolutely sure you'd want to come
back.'

'I should want to come back,' she' said, with a quiet simplicity, heavy
with conviction. She was thinking of the other man.

Clifford felt her conviction, and somehow he believed her, he believed
it was for him. He felt immensely relieved, joyful at once.

'In that case,' he said,

'I think it would be all right, don't you?'

'I think so,' she' said.

'You'd enjoy the change?' She looked up at him with strange blue eyes.

'I should like to see Venice again,' she' said, 'and to bathe from one
of the shingle islands across the lagoon. But you know I loathe the
Lido! And I don't fancy I shall like Sir Alexander Cooper and Lady
Cooper. But if Hilda is there, and we have a gondola of our own: yes,
it will be rather lovely. I DO wish you'd come.'

She said it sincerely. She would so love to make him happy, in these
ways.

'Ah, but think of me, though, at the Gare du Nord: at Calais quay!'

'But why not? I see other men carried in litter~ chairs, who have been
wounded in the war. Besides, we'd motor all the way.'

'We should need to take two men.'

'Oh no! We'd manage with Field. There would always be another man
there.'

But Clifford shook his head.

'Not this year, dear! Not this year! Next year probably I'll try.'

She went away gloomily. Next year! What would next year bring? She
herself did not really want to go to Venice: not now, now there was the
other man. But she' was going as a sort of discipline: and also because,
if she' had a child, Clifford could think she' had a lover in Venice.

It was already May, and in June they were supposed to start. Always
these arrangements! Always one's life arranged for one! Wheels that
worked one and drove one, and over which one had no real control!

It was May, but cold and wet again. A cold wet May, good for corn and
hay! Much the corn and hay matter nowadays! Connie had to go into
Uthwaite, which was their little town, where the Chatterleys were still
THE Chatterleys. She went alone, Field driving her.

In spite of May and a new greenness, the country was dismal. It was
rather chilly, and there was smoke on the rain, and a certain sense of
exhaust vapour in the air. One just had to live from one's resistance.
No wonder these people were ugly and tough.

The car ploughed uphill through the long squalid straggle of
Tevershall, the blackened brick dwellings, the black slate roofs
glistening their sharp edges, the mud black with coal~ dust, the
pavements wet and black. It was as if dismalness had soaked through and
through everything. The utter negation of natural beauty, the utter
negation of the gladness of life, the utter absence of the instinct for
shapely beauty which every bird and beast has, the utter death of the
human intuitive faculty was appalling. The stacks of soap in the
grocers' shops, the rhubarb and lemons in the greengrocers! the awful
hats in the milliners! all went by ugly, ugly, ugly, followed by the
plaster~ and~ gilt horror of the cinema with its wet picture
announcements, 'A Woman's Love!', and the new big Primitive chapel,
primitive enough in its stark brick and big panes of greenish and
raspberry glass in the windows. The Wesleyan chapel, higher up, was of
blackened brick and stood behind iron railings and blackened shrubs.
The Congregational chapel, which thought itself superior, was built of
rusticated sandstone and had a steeple, but not a very high one. Just
beyond were the new school buildings, expensive pink brick, and gravelled
playground inside iron railings, all very imposing, and fixing the
suggestion of a chapel and a prison. Standard Five girls were having a
singing lesson, just finishing the la~ me~ doh~ la exercises and beginning
a 'sweet children's song'. Anything more unlike song, spontaneous song,
would be impossible to imagine: a strange bawling yell that followed
the outlines of a tune. It was not like savages: savages have subtle
rhythms. It was not like animals: animals MEAN something when they
yell. It was like nothing on earth, and it was called singing. Connie
sat and listened with her heart in her boots, as Field was filling
petrol. What could possibly become of such a people, a people in whom
the living intuitive faculty was dead as nails, and only queer
mechanical yells and uncanny will~ power remained?

A coal~ cart was coming downhill, clanking in the rain. Field started
upwards, past the big but weary~ looking drapers and clothing shops, the
post~ office, into the little market~ place of forlorn space, where Sam
Black was peering out of the door of the Sun, that called itself an
inn, not a pub, and where the commercial travellers stayed, and was
bowing to Lady Chatterley's car.

The church was away to the left among black trees. The car slid on
downhill, past the Miners' Arms. It had already passed the Wellington,
the Nelson, the Three Tuns, and the Sun, now it passed the Miners'
Arms, then the Mechanics' Hall, then the new and almost gaudy Miners'
Welfare and so, past a few new 'villas', out into the blackened road
between dark hedges and dark green fields, towards Stacks Gate.

Tevershall! That was Tevershall! Merrie England! Shakespeare's England!
No, but the England of today, as Connie had realized since she' had come
to live in it. It was producing a new race of mankind, over~ conscious
in the money and social and political side, on the spontaneous,
intuitive side dead, but dead. Half~ corpses, all of them: but with a
terrible insistent consciousness in the other half. There was something
uncanny and underground about it all. It was an under~ world. And quite
incalculable. How shall we understand the reactions in half~ corpses?
When Connie saw the great lorries full of steel~ workers from Sheffield,
weird, distorted smallish beings like men, off for an excursion to
Matlock, her bowels fainted and she' thought: Ah God, what has man done
to man? What have the leaders of men been doing to their fellow men?
They have reduced them to less than humanness; and now there can be no
fellowship any more! It is just a nightmare.

She felt again in a wave of terror the grey, gritty hopelessness of it
all. With such creatures for the industrial masses, and the upper
classes as she' knew them, there was no hope, no hope any more. Yet she'
was wanting a baby, and an heir to Wragby! An heir to Wragby! She
shuddered with dread.

Yet Mellors had come out of all this!~ Yes, but he was as apart from it
all as she' was. Even in him there was no fellowship left. It was dead.
The fellowship was dead. There was only apartness and hopelessness, as
far as all this was concerned. And this was England, the vast bulk of
England: as Connie knew, since she' had motored from the centre of it.

The car was rising towards Stacks Gate. The rain was holding off, and
in the air came a queer pellucid gleam of May. The country rolled away
in long undulations, south towards the Peak, east towards Mansfield and
Nottingham. Connie was travelling South.

As she' rose on to the high country, she' could see on her left, on a
height above the rolling land, the shadowy, powerful bulk of Warsop
Castle, dark grey, with below it the reddish plastering of miners'
dwellings, newish, and below those the plumes of dark smoke and white
steam from the great colliery which put so many thousand pounds per
annum into the pockets of the Duke and the other shareholders. The
powerful old castle was a ruin, yet it hung its bulk on the low
sky~ line, over the black plumes and the white that waved on the damp
air below.

A turn, and they ran on the high level to Stacks Gate. Stacks Gate, as
seen from the highroad, was just a huge and gorgeous new hotel, the
Coningsby Arms, standing red and white and gilt in barbarous isolation
off the road. But if you looked, you saw on the left rows of handsome
'modern' dwellings, set down like a game of dominoes, with spaces and
gardens, a queer game of dominoes that some weird 'masters' were
playing on the surprised earth. And beyond these blocks of dwellings,
at the back, rose all the astonishing and frightening overhead
erections of a really modern mine, chemical works and long galleries,
enormous, and of shapes not before known to man. The head~ stock and
pit~ bank of the mine itself were insignificant among the huge new
installations. And in front of this, the game of dominoes stood forever
in a sort of surprise, waiting to be played.

This was Stacks Gate, new on the face of the earth, since the war. But
as a matter of fact, though even Connie did not know it, downhill half
a mile below the 'hotel' was old Stacks Gate, with a little old
colliery and blackish old brick dwellings, and a chapel or two and a
shop or two and a little pub or two.

But that didn't count any more. The vast plumes of smoke and vapour
rose from the new works up above, and this was now Stacks Gate: no
chapels, no pubs, even no shops. Only the great works', which are the
modern Olympia with temples to all the gods; then the model dwellings:
then the hotel. The hotel in actuality was nothing but a miners' pub
though it looked first~ classy.

Even since Connie's arrival at Wragby this new place had arisen on the
face of the earth, and the model dwellings had filled with riff~ raff
drifting in from anywhere, to poach Clifford's rabbits among other
occupations.

The car ran on along the uplands, seeing the rolling county spread out.
The county! It had once been a proud and lordly county. In front,
looming again and hanging on the brow of the sky~ line, was the huge and
splendid bulk of Chadwick Hall, more window than wall, one of the most
famous Elizabethan houses. Noble it stood alone above a great park, but
out of date, passed over. It was still kept up, but as a show place.
'Look how our ancestors lorded it!'

That was the past. The present lay below. God alone knows where the
future lies. The car was already turning, between little old blackened
miners' cottages, to descend to Uthwaite. And Uthwaite, on a damp day,
was sending up a whole array of smoke plumes and steam, to whatever
gods there be. Uthwaite down in the valley, with all the steel threads
of the railways to Sheffield drawn through it, and the coal~ mines and
the steel~ works sending up smoke and glare from long tubes, and the
pathetic little corkscrew spire of the church, that is going to tumble
down, still pricking the fumes, always affected Connie strangely. It
was an old market~ town, centre of the dales. One of the chief inns was
the Chatterley Arms. There, in Uthwaite, Wragby was known as Wragby, as
if it were a whole place, not just a house, as it was to outsiders:
Wragby Hall, near Tevershall: Wragby, a 'seat'.

The miners' cottages, blackened, stood flush on the pavement, with that
intimacy and smallness of colliers' dwellings over a hundred years old.
They lined all the way. The road had become a street, and as you sank,
you forgot instantly the open, rolling country where the castles and
big houses still dominated, but like ghosts. Now you were just above
the tangle of naked railway~ lines, and foundries and other 'works' rose
about you, so big you were only aware of walls. And iron clanked with a
huge reverberating clank, and huge lorries shook the earth, and
whistles screamed.

Yet again, once you had got right down and into the twisted and crooked
heart of the town, behind the church, you were in the world of two
centuries ago, in the crooked streets where the Chatterley Arms stood,
and the old pharmacy, streets which used to lead Out to the wild open
world of the castles and stately couchant houses.

But at the corner a policeman held up his hand as three lorries loaded
with iron rolled past, shaking the poor old church. And not till the
lorries were past could he salute her ladyship.

So it was. Upon the old crooked burgess streets hordes of oldish
blackened miners' dwellings crowded, lining the roads out. And
immediately after these came the newer, pinker rows of rather larger
houses, plastering the valley: the homes of more modern workmen. And
beyond that again, in the wide rolling regions of the castles, smoke
waved against steam, and patch after patch of raw reddish brick showed
the newer mining settlements, sometimes in the hollows, sometimes
gruesomely ugly along the sky~ line of the slopes. And between, in
between, were the tattered remnants of the old coaching and cottage
England, even the England of Robin Hood, where the miners prowled with
the dismalness of suppressed sporting instincts, when they were not at
work.

England, my England! But which is MY England? The stately homes of
England make good photographs, and create the illusion of a connexion
with the Elizabethans. The handsome old halls are there, from the days
of Good Queen Anne and Tom Jones. But smuts fall and blacken on the
drab stucco, that has long ceased to be golden. And one by one, like
the stately homes, they were abandoned. Now they are being pulled down.
As for the cottages of England~ there they are~ great plasterings of
brick dwellings on the hopeless countryside.

'Now they are pulling down the stately homes, the Georgian halls are
going. Fritchley, a perfect old Georgian mansion, was even now, as
Connie passed in the car, being demolished. It was in perfect repair:
till the war the Weatherleys had lived in style there. But now it was
too big, too expensive, and the country had become too uncongenial. The
gentry were departing to pleasanter places, where they could spend
their money without having to see how it was made.'

This is history. One England blots out another. The mines had made the
halls wealthy. Now they were blotting them out, as they had already
blotted out the cottages. The industrial England blots out the
agricultural England. One meaning blots out another. The new England
blots out the old England. And the continuity is not Organic, but
mechanical.

Connie, belonging to the leisured classes, had clung to the remnants of
the old England. It had taken her years to realize that it was really
blotted out by this terrifying new and gruesome England, and that the
blotting out would go on till it was complete. Fritchley was gone,
Eastwood was gone, Shipley was going: Squire Winter's beloved Shipley.

Connie called for a moment at Shipley. The park gates, at the back,
opened just near the level crossing of the colliery railway; the
Shipley colliery itself stood just beyond the trees. The gates stood
open, because through the park was a right~ of~ way that the colliers
used. They hung around the park.

The car passed the ornamental ponds, in which the colliers threw their
newspapers, and took the private drive to the house. It stood above,
aside, a very pleasant stucco building from the middle of the
eighteenth century. It had a beautiful alley of yew trees, that had
approached an older house, and the hall stood serenely spread out,
winking its Georgian panes as if cheerfully. Behind, there were really
beautiful gardens.

Connie liked the interior much better than Wragby. It was much lighter,
more alive, shapen and elegant. The rooms were panelled with creamy
painted panelling, the ceilings were touched with gilt, and everything
was kept in exquisite order, all the appointments were perfect,
regardless of expense. Even the corridors managed to be ample and
lovely, softly curved and full of life.

But Leslie Winter was alone. He had adored his house. But his park was
bordered by three of his own collieries. He had been a generous man in
his ideas. He had almost welcomed the colliers in his park. Had the
miners not made him rich! So, when he saw the gangs of unshapely men
lounging by his ornamental waters~ not in the PRIVATE part of the park,
no, he drew the line there~ he would say: 'the miners are perhaps not
so ornamental as deer, but they are far more profitable.'

But that was in the golden~ monetarily~ latter half of Queen Victoria's
reign. Miners were then 'good working men'.

Winter had made this speech, half apologetic, to his guest, the then
Prince of Wales. And the Prince had replied, in his rather guttural
English:

'You are quite right. If there were coal under Sandringham, I would
open a mine on the lawns, and think it first~ rate landscape gardening.
Oh, I am quite willing to exchange roe~ deer for colliers, at the price.
Your men are good men too, I hear.'

But then, the Prince had perhaps an exaggerated idea of the beauty of
money, and the blessings of industrialism.

However, the Prince had been a King, and the King had died, and now
there was another King, whose chief function seemed to be to open
soup~ kitchens.

And the good working men were somehow hemming Shipley in. New mining
villages crowded on the park, and the squire felt somehow that the
population was alien. He used to feel, in a good~ natured but quite
grand way, lord of his own domain and of his own colliers. Now, by a
subtle pervasion of the new spirit, he had somehow been pushed out. It
was he who did not belong any more. There was no mistaking it. The
mines, the industry, had a will of its own, and this will was against
the gentleman~ owner. All the colliers took part in the will, and it was
hard to live up against it. It either shoved you out of the place, or
out of life altogether.

Squire Winter, a soldier, had stood it out. But he no longer cared to
walk in the park after dinner. He almost hid, indoors. Once he had
walked, bare~ headed, and in his patent~ leather shoes and purple silk
socks, with Connie down to the gate, talking to her in his well~ bred
rather haw~ haw fashion. But when it came to passing the little gangs of
colliers who stood and stared without either salute or anything else,
Connie felt how the lean, well~ bred old man winced, winced as an
elegant antelope stag in a cage winces from the vulgar stare. The
colliers were not PERSONALLY hostile: not at all. But their spirit was
cold, and shoving him out. And, deep down, there was a profound grudge.
They 'worked for him'. And in their ugliness, they resented his
elegant, well~ groomed, well~ bred existence. 'Who's he!' It was the
DIFFERENCE they resented.

And somewhere, in his secret English heart, being a good deal of a
soldier, he believed they were right to resent the difference. He felt
himself a little in the wrong, for having all the advantages.
Nevertheless he represented a system, and he would not be shoved out.

Except by death. Which came on him soon after Connie's call, suddenly.
And he remembered Clifford handsomely in his will.

The heirs at once gave out the order for the demolishing of Shipley. It
cost too much to keep up. No one would live there. So it was broken up.
The avenue of yews was cut down. The park was denuded of its timber,
and divided into lots. It was near enough to Uthwaite. In the strange,
bald desert of this still~ one~ more no~ man's~ land, new little streets of
semi~ detacheds were run up, very desirable! The Shipley Hall Estate!

Within a year of Connie's last call, it had happened. There stood
Shipley Hall Estate, an array of red~ brick semi~ detached 'villas' in
new streets. No one would have dreamed that the stucco hall had stood
there twelve months before.

But this is a later stage of King Edward's landscape gardening, the
sort that has an ornamental coal~ mine on the lawn.

One England blots out another. The England of the Squire Winters and
the Wragby Halls was gone, dead. The blotting out was only not yet
complete.

What would come after? Connie could not imagine. She could only see the
new brick streets spreading into the fields, the new erections rising
at the collieries, the new girls in their silk stockings, the new
collier lads lounging into the Pally or the Welfare. The younger
generation were utterly unconscious of the old England. There was a gap
in the continuity of consciousness, almost American: but industrial
really. What next?

Connie always felt there was no next. She wanted to hide her head in
the sand: or, at least, in the bosom of a living man.

The world was so complicated and weird and gruesome! The common people
were so many, and really so terrible. So she' thought as she' was going
home, and saw the colliers trailing from the pits, grey~ black,
distorted, one shoulder higher than the other, slurring their heavy
ironshod boots. Underground grey faces, whites of eyes rolling, necks
cringing from the pit roof, shoulders out of shape. Men! Men! Alas, in
some ways patient and good men. In other ways, non~ existent. Something
that men SHOULD have was bred and killed out of them. Yet they were
men. They begot children. One might bear a child to them. Terrible,
terrible thought! They were good and kindly. But they were only half,
Only the grey half of a human being. As yet, they were 'good'. But even
that was the goodness of their halfness. Supposing the dead in them
ever rose up! But no, it was too terrible to think of. Connie was
absolutely afraid of the industrial masses. They seemed so WEIRD to
her. A life with utterly no beauty in it, no intuition, always 'in the
pit'.

Children from such men! Oh God, oh God!

Yet Mellors had come from such a father. Not quite. Forty years had
made a difference, an appalling difference in manhood. The iron and the
coal had eaten deep into the bodies and souls of the men.

Incarnate ugliness, and yet alive! What would become of them all?
Perhaps with the passing of the coal they would disappear again, off
the face of the earth. They had appeared out of nowhere in their
thousands, when the coal had called for them. Perhaps they were only
weird fauna of the coal~ seams. Creatures of another reality, they were
elementals, serving the elements of coal, as the metal~ workers were
elementals, serving the element of iron. Men not men, but animas of
coal and iron and clay. Fauna of the elements, carbon, iron, silicon:
elementals. They had perhaps some of the weird, inhuman beauty of
minerals, the lustre of coal, the weight and blueness and resistance of
iron, the transparency of glass. Elemental creatures, weird and
distorted, of the mineral world! They belonged to the coal, the iron,
the clay, as fish belong to the sea and worms to dead wood. The anima
of mineral disintegration!

Connie was glad to be home, to bury her head in the sand. She was glad
even to babble to Clifford. For her fear of the mining and iron
Midlands affected her with a queer feeling that went all over her, like
influenza.

'Of course I had to have tea in Miss Bentley's shop,' she' said.

'Really! Winter would have given you tea.'

'Oh yes, but I daren't disappoint Miss Bentley.' Miss Bentley was a
shallow old maid with a rather large nose and romantic disposition who
served tea with a careful intensity worthy of a sacrament.

'Did she' ask after me?' said Clifford.

'Of course!~ MAY I ask your Ladyship how Sir Clifford is!~ I believe
she' ranks you even higher than Nurse Cavell!'

'And I suppose you said I was blooming.'

'Yes! And she' looked as rapt as if I had said the heavens had opened to
you. I said if she' ever came to Tevershall she' was to come to see you.'

'Me! Whatever for! See me!'

'Why yes, Clifford. You can't be so adored without making some slight
return. Saint George of Cappadocia was nothing to you, in her eyes.'

'And do you think she''ll come?'

'Oh, she' blush ed! and looked quite beautiful for a moment, poor thing!
Why don't men marry the women who would really adore them?'

'The women start adoring too late. But did she' say she''d come?'

'Oh!' Connie imitated the breathless Miss Bentley, 'your Ladyship, if
ever I should dare to presume!'

'Dare to presume! how absurd! But I hope to God she' won't turn up. And
how was her tea?'

'Oh, Lipton's and VERY strong. But Clifford, do you realize you are the
ROMAN DE LA ROSE of Miss Bentley and lots like her?'

'I'm not flattered, even then.'

'They treasure up every one of your pictures in the illustrated papers,
and probably pray for you every night. It's rather wonderful.'

She went upstairs to change.

That evening he said to her:

'You do think, don't you, that there is something eternal in marriage?'

She looked at him.

'But Clifford, you make eternity sound like a lid or a long, long chain
that trailed after one, no matter how far one went.'

He looked at her, annoyed.

'What I mean,' he said, 'is that if you go to Venice, you won't go in
the hopes of some love affair that you can take AU GRAND SERIEUX, will
you?'

'A love affair in Venice AU GRAND SERIEUX? No. I assure you! No, I'd
never take a love affair in Venice more than AU TRES PETIT SERIEUX.'

She spoke with a queer kind of contempt. He knitted his brows, looking
at her.

Coming downstairs in the morning, she' found the keeper's dog Flossie
sitting in the corridor outside Clifford's room, and whimpering very
faintly.

'Why, Flossie!' she' said softly. 'What are you doing here?'

And she' quietly opened Clifford's door. Clifford was sitting up in bed,
with the bed~ table and typewriter pushed aside, and the keeper was
standing at attention at the foot of the bed. Flossie ran in. With a
faint gesture of head and eyes, Mellors ordered her to the door again,
and she' slunk out.

'Oh, good morning, Clifford!' Connie said. 'I didn't know you were
busy.' Then she' looked at the keeper, saying good morning to him. He
murmured his reply, looking at her as if vaguely. But she' felt a whiff
of passion touch her, from his mere presence.

'Did I interrupt you, Clifford? I'm sorry.'

'No, it's nothing of any importance.'

She slipped out of the room again, and up to the blue boudoir on the
first floor. She sat in the window, and saw him go down the drive, with
his curious, silent motion, effaced. He had a natural sort of quiet
distinction, an aloof pride, and also a certain look of frailty. A
hireling! One of Clifford's hirelings! 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not
in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.'

Was he an underling? Was he? What did he think of HER?

It was a sunny day, and Connie was working in the garden, and Mrs
Bolton was helping her. For some reason, the two women had drawn
together, in one of the unaccountable flows and ebbs of sympathy that
exist between people. They were pegging down carnations, and putting in
small plants for the summer. It was work they both liked. Connie
especially felt a delight in putting the soft roots of young plants
into a soft black puddle, and cradling them down. On this spring
morning she' felt a quiver in her womb too, as if the sunshine had
touched it and made it happy.

'It is many years since you lost your husband?' she' said to Mrs Bolton
as she' took up another little plant and laid it in its hole.

'Twenty~ three!' said Mrs Bolton, as she' carefully separated the young
columbines into single plants. 'Twenty~ three years since they brought
him home.'

Connie's heart gave a lurch, at the terrible finality of it. 'Brought
him home!'

'Why did he get killed, do you think?' she' asked. 'He was happy with
you?'

It was a woman's question to a woman. Mrs Bolton put aside a strand of
hair from her face, with the back of her hand.

'I don't know, my Lady! He sort of wouldn't give in to things: he
wouldn't really go with the rest. And then he hated ducking his head
for anything on earth. A sort of obstinacy, that gets itself killed.
You see he didn't really care. I lay it down to the pit. He ought never
to have been down pit. But his dad made him go down, as a lad; and
then, when you're over twenty, it's not very easy to come out.'

'Did he say he hated it?'

'Oh no! Never! He never said he hated anything. He just made a funny
face. He was one of those who wouldn't take care: like some of the
first lads as went off so blithe to the war and got killed right away.
He wasn't really wezzle~ brained. But he wouldn't care. I used to say to
him: "You care for nought nor nobody!" But he did! The way he sat
when my first baby was born, motionless, and the sort of fatal eyes he
looked at me with, when it was over! I had a bad time, but I had to
comfort HIM. "It's all right, lad, it's all right!" I said to him.
And he gave me a look, and that funny sort of smile. He never said
anything. But I don't believe he had any right pleasure with me at
nights after; he'd never really let himself go. I used to say to him:
Oh, let thysen go, lad!~ I'd talk broad to him sometimes. And he said
nothing. But he wouldn't let himself go, or he couldn't. He didn't want
me to have any more children. I always blamed his mother, for letting
him in th' room. He'd no right t'ave been there. Men makes so much more
of things than they should, once they start brooding.'

'Did he mind so much?' said Connie in wonder.

'Yes, he sort of couldn't take it for natural, all that pain. And it
spoilt his pleasure in his bit of married love. I said to him: If I
don't care, why should you? It's my look~ out!~ But all he'd ever say
was: It's not right!'

'Perhaps he was too sensitive,' said Connie.

'That's it! When you come to know men, that's how they are: too
sensitive in the wrong place. And I believe, unbeknown to himself he
hated the pit, just hated it. He looked so quiet when he was dead, as
if he'd got free. He was such a nice~ looking lad. It just broke my
heart to see him, so still and pure looking, as if he'd WANTED to die.
Oh, it broke my heart, that did. But it was the pit.'

She wept a few bitter tears, and Connie wept more. It was a warm spring
day, with a perfume of earth and of yellow flowers, many things rising
to bud, and the garden still with the very sap of sunshine.

'It must have been terrible for you!' said Connie.

'Oh, my Lady! I never realized at first. I could only say: Oh my lad,
what did you want to leave me for!~ That was all my cry. But somehow I
felt he'd come back.'

'But he DIDN'T want to leave you,' said Connie.

'Oh no, my Lady! That was only my silly cry. And I kept expecting him
back. Especially at nights. I kept waking up thinking: Why he's not in
bed with me!~ It was as if MY FEELINGS wouldn't believe he'd gone. I
just felt he'd HAVE to come back and lie against me, so I could feel
him with me. That was all I wanted, to feel him there with me, warm.
And it took me a thousand shocks before I knew he wouldn't come back,
it took me years.'

'The touch of him,' said Connie.

'That's it, my Lady, the touch of him! I've never got over it to this
day, and never shall. And if there's a heaven above, he'll be there,
and will lie up against me so I can sleep.'

Connie glanced at the handsome, brooding face in fear. Another
passionate sexy one out of Tevershall! The touch of him! For the bonds of
love are ill to loose!

'It's terrible, once you've got a man into your blood!' she' said. 'Oh,
my Lady! And that's what makes you feel so bitter. You feel folks
WANTED him killed. You feel the pit fair WANTED to kill him. Oh, I
felt, if it hadn't been for the pit, an' them as runs the pit, there'd
have been no leaving me. But they all WANT to separate a woman and a
man, if they're together.'

'If they're physically together,' said Connie.

'That's right, my Lady! There's a lot of hard~ hearted folks in the
world. And every morning when he got up and went to th' pit, I felt it
was wrong, wrong. But what else could he do? What can a man do?'

A queer hate flared in the woman.

'But can a touch last so long?' Connie asked suddenly. 'That you could
feel him so long?'

'Oh my Lady, what else is there to last? Children grows away from you.
But the man, well! But even THAT they'd like to kill in you, the very
thought of the touch of him. Even your own children! Ah well! We might
have drifted apart, who knows. But the feeling's something different.
It's 'appen better never to care. But there, when I look at women who's
never really been warmed through by a man, well, they seem to me poor
doolowls after all, no matter how they may dress up and gad. No, I'll
abide by my own. I've not much respect for people.'

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 12
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

Connie went to the wood directly after lunch. It was really a lovely
day, the first dandelions making suns, the first daisies so white. The
hazel thicket was a lace~ work, of half~ open leaves, and the last dusty
perpendicular of the catkins. Yellow celandines now were in crowds,
flat open, pressed back in urgency, and the yellow glitter of
themselves. It was the yellow, the powerful yellow of early summer. And
primroses were broad, and full of pale abandon, thick~ clustered
primroses no longer shy. The lush , dark green of hyacinths was a sea,
with buds rising like pale corn, while in the riding the forget~ me~ nots
were fluffing up, and columbines were unfolding their ink~ purple
ruches, and there were bits of blue bird's eggshell under a bush.
Everywhere the bud~ knots and the leap of life!

The keeper was not at the hut. Everything was serene, brown chickens
running lustily. Connie walked on towards the cottage, because she'
wanted to find him.

The cottage stood in the sun, off the wood's edge. In the little garden
the double daffodils rose in tufts, near the wide~ open door, and red
double daisies made a border to the path. There was the bark of a dog,
and Flossie came running.

The wide~ open door! so he was at home. And the sunlight falling on the
red~ brick floor! As she' went up the path, she' saw him through the
window, sitting at the table in his shirt~ sleeves, eating. The dog
wuffed softly, slowly wagging her tail.

He rose, and came to the door, wiping his mouth with a red handkerchief
still chewing.

'May I come in?' she' said.

'Come in!'

The sun shone into the bare room, which still smelled of a mutton chop,
done in a dutch oven before the fire, because the dutch oven still
stood on the fender, with the black potato~ saucepan on a piece of
paper, beside it on the white hearth. The fire was red, rather low, the
bar dropped, the kettle singing.

On the table was his plate, with potatoes and the remains of the chop;
also bread in a basket, salt, and a blue mug with beer. The table~ cloth
was white oil~ cloth, he stood in the shade.

'You are very late,' she' said. 'Do go on eating!'

She sat down on a wooden chair, in the sunlight by the door.

'I had to go to Uthwaite,' he said, sitting down at the table but not
eating.

'Do eat,' she' said. But he did not touch the food.

'Shall y'ave something?' he asked her. 'Shall y'ave a cup of tea? t'
kettle's on t' boil'~ he half rose again from his chair.

'If you'll let me make it myself,' she' said, rising. He seemed sad, and
she' felt she' was bothering him.

'Well, tea~ pot's in there'~ he pointed to a little, drab corner
cupboard; 'an' cups. An' tea's on t' mantel ower yer 'ead.'

She got the black tea~ pot, and the tin of tea from the mantel~ shelf.
She rinsed the tea~ pot with hot water, and stood a moment wondering
where to empty it.

'Throw it out,' he said, aware of her. 'It's clean.'

She went to the door and threw the drop of water down the path. How
lovely it was here, so still, so really woodland. The oaks were putting
out ochre yellow leaves: in the garden the red daisies were like red
plush buttons. She glanced at the big, hollow sandstone slab of the
threshold, now crossed by so few feet.

'But it's lovely here,' she' said. 'Such a beautiful stillness,
everything alive and still.'

He was eating again, rather slowly and unwillingly, and she' could feel
he was discouraged. She made the tea in silence, and set the tea~ pot on
the hob, as she' knew the people did. He pushed his plate aside and went
to the back place; she' heard a latch click, then he came back with
cheese on a plate, and butter.

She set the two cups on the table; there were only two. 'Will you have
a cup of tea?' she' said.

'If you like. Sugar's in th' cupboard, an' there's a little cream jug.
Milk's in a jug in th' pantry.'

'Shall I take your plate away?' she' asked him. He looked up at her with
a faint ironical smile.

'Why.if you like,' he said, slowly eating bread and cheese. She went
to the back, into the pent~ house scullery, where the pump was. On the
left was a door, no doubt the pantry door. She unlatched it, and almost
smiled at the place he called a pantry; a long narrow white~ washed slip
of a cupboard. But it managed to contain a little barrel of beer, as
well as a few dishes and bits of food. She took a little milk from the
yellow jug.

'How do you get your milk?' she' asked him, when she' came back to the
table.

'Flints! They leave me a bottle at the warren end. You know, where I
met you!'

But he was discouraged. She poured out the tea, poising the cream~ jug.

'No milk,' he said; then he seemed to hear a noise, and looked keenly
through the doorway.

''Appen we'd better shut,' he said.

'It seems a pity,' she' replied. 'Nobody will come, will they?'

'Not unless it's one time in a thousand, but you never know.'

'And even then it's no matter,' she' said. 'It's only a cup of tea.'

'Where are the spoons?'

He reached over, and pulled open the table drawer. Connie sat at the
table in the sunshine of the doorway.

'Flossie!' he said to the dog, who was lying on a little mat at the
stair foot. 'Go an' hark, hark!'

He lifted his finger, and his 'hark!' was very vivid. The dog trotted
out to reconnoitre.

'Are you sad today?' she' asked him.

He turned his blue eyes quickly, and gazed direct on her.

'Sad! no, bored! I had to go getting summonses for two poachers I
caught, and, oh well, I don't like people.'

He spoke cold, good English, and there was anger in his voice. 'Do you
hate being a game~ keeper?' she' asked.

'Being a game~ keeper, no! So long as I'm left alone. But when I have to
go messing around at the police~ station, and various other places, and
waiting for a lot of fools to attend to me.oh well, I get mad.' and
he smiled, with a certain faint humour.

'Couldn't you be really independent?' she' asked.

'Me? I suppose I could, if you mean manage to exist on my pension. I
could! But I've got to work, or I should die. That is, I've got to have
something that keeps me occupied. And I'm not in a good enough temper
to work for myself. It's got to be a sort of job for somebody else, or
I should throw it up in a month, out of bad temper. So altogether I'm
very well off here, especially lately.'

He laughed at her again, with mocking humour.

'But why are you in a bad temper?' she' asked. 'Do you mean you are
ALWAYS in a bad temper?'

'Pretty well,' he said, laughing. 'I don't quite digest my bile.'

'But what bile?' she' said.

'Bile!' he said. 'Don't you know what that is?' She was silent, and
disappointed. He was taking no notice of her.

'I'm going away for a while next month,' she' said.

'You are! Where to?'

'Venice! With Sir Clifford? For how long?'

'For a month or so,' she' replied. 'Clifford won't go.'

'He'll stay here?' he asked.

'Yes! He hates to travel as he is.'

'Ay, poor devil!' he said, with sympathy. There was a pause.

'You won't forget me when I'm gone, will you?' she' asked. Again he
lifted his eyes and looked full at her.

'Forget?' he said. 'You know nobody forgets. It's not a question of
memory!'

She wanted to say: 'When then?' but she' didn't. Instead, she' said in a
mute kind of voice: 'I told Clifford I might have a child.'

Now he really looked at her, intense and searching.

'You did?' he said at last. 'And what did he say?'

'Oh, he wouldn't mind. He'd be glad, really, so long as it seemed to be
his.' She dared not look up at him.

He was silent a long time, then he gazed again on her face.

'No mention of ME, of course?' he said.

'No. No mention of you,' she' said.

'No, he'd hardly swallow me as a substitute breeder. Then where are you
supposed to be getting the child?'

'I might have a love~ affair in Venice,' she' said.

'You might,' he replied slowly. 'So that's why you're going?'

'Not to have the love~ affair,' she' said, looking up at him, pleading.

'Just the appearance of one,' he said.

There was silence. He sat staring out the window, with a faint grin,
half mockery, half bitterness, on his face. She hated his grin.

'You've not taken any precautions against having a child then?' he
asked her suddenly. 'Because I haven't.'

'No,' she' said faintly. 'I should hate that.'

He looked at her, then again with the peculiar subtle grin out of the
window. There was a tense silence.

At last he turned his head and said satirically:

'That was why you wanted me, then, to get a child?'

She hung her head.

'No. Not really,' she' said.

'What then, REALLY?' he asked rather bitingly.

She looked up at him reproachfully, saying: 'I don't know.'

He broke into a laugh.

'Then I'm damned if I do,' he said.

There was a long pause of silence, a cold silence.

'Well,' he said at last. 'It's as your Ladyship likes. If you get the
baby, Sir Clifford's welcome to it. I shan't have lost anything. On the
contrary, I've had a very nice experience, very nice indeed!'~ and he
stretched in a half~ suppressed sort of yawn. 'If you've made use of
me,' he said, 'it's not the first time I've been made use of; and I
don't suppose it's ever been as pleasant as this time; though of course
one can't feel tremendously dignified about it.'~ He stretched again,
curiously, his muscles quivering, and his jaw oddly set.

'But I didn't make use of you,' she' said, pleading.

'At your Ladyship's service,' he replied.

'No,' she' said. 'I liked your body.'

'Did you?' he replied, and he laughed. 'Well, then, we're quits,
because I liked yours.'

He looked at her with queer darkened eyes.

'Would you like to go upstairs now?' he asked her, in a strangled sort
of voice.

'No, not here. Not now!' she' said heavily, though if he had used any
power over her, she' would have gone, for she' had no strength against
him.

He turned his face away again, and seemed to forget her. 'I want to
touch you like you touch me,' she' said. 'I've never really touched your
body.'

He looked at her, and smiled again.

'Now?' he said.

'No! No! Not here! At the hut. Would you mind?'

'How do I touch you?' he asked.

'When you feel me.'

He looked at her, and met her heavy, anxious eyes.

'And do you like it when I feel you?' he asked, laughing at her still.

'Yes, do you?' she' said.

'Oh, me!' Then he changed his tone. 'Yes,' he said. 'You know without
asking.' Which was true.

She rose and picked up her hat. 'I must go,' she' said.

'Will you go?' he replied politely.

She wanted him to touch her, to say something to her, but he said
nothing, only waited politely.

'Thank you for the tea,' she' said.

'I haven't thanked your Ladyship for doing me the honours of my
tea~ pot,' he said.

She went down the path, and he stood in the doorway, faintly grinning.
Flossie came running with her tail lifted. And Connie had to plod
dumbly across into the wood, knowing he was standing there watching
her, with that incomprehensible grin on his face.

She walked home very much downcast and annoyed. She didn't at all like
his saying he had been made use of because, in a sense, it was true.
But he oughtn't to have said it. Therefore, again, she' was divided
between two feelings: resentment against him, and a desire to make it
up with him.

She passed a very uneasy and irritated tea~ time, and at once went up to
her room. But when she' was there it was no good; she' could neither sit
nor stand. She would have to do something about it. She would have to
go back to the hut; if he was not there, well and good.

She slipped out of the side door, and took her way direct and a little
sullen. When she' came to the clearing she' was terribly uneasy. But
there he was again, in his shirt~ sleeves, stooping, letting the hens
out of the coops, among the chicks that were now growing a little
gawky, but were much more trim than hen~ chickens.

She went straight across to him. 'You see I've come!' she' said.

'Ay, I see it!' he said, straightening his back, and looking at her
with a faint amusement.

'Do you let the hens out now?' she' asked.

'Yes, they've sat themselves to skin and bone,' he said. 'An' now
they're not all that anxious to come out an' feed. There's no self in a
sitting hen; she''s all in the eggs or the chicks.'

The poor mother~ hens; such blind devotion! even to eggs not their own!
Connie looked at them in compassion. A helpless silence fell between
the man and the woman.

'Shall us go i' th' 'ut?' he asked.

'Do you want me?' she' asked, in a sort of mistrust.

'Ay, if you want to come.'

She was silent.

'Come then!' he said.

And she' went with him to the hut. It was quite dark when he had shut
the door, so he made a small light in the lantern, as before.

'Have you left your underthings off?' he asked her.

'Yes!'

'Ay, well, then I'll take my things off too.'

He spread the blankets, putting one at the side for a coverlet. She
took off her hat, and shook her hair. He sat down, taking off his shoes
and gaiters, and undoing his cord breeches.

'Lie down then!' he said, when he stood in his shirt. She obeyed in
silence, and he lay beside her, and pulled the blanket over them both.

'There!' he said.

And he lifted her dress right back, till he came even to her breasts.
He kissed them softly, taking the nipples in his lips in tiny caresses.

'Eh, but tha'rt nice, tha'rt nice!' he said, suddenly rubbing his face
with a snuggling movement against her warm belly.

And she' put her arms round him under his shirt, but she' was afraid,
afraid of his thin, smooth, naked body, that seemed so powerful, afraid
of the violent muscles. She shrank, afraid.

And when he said, with a sort of little sigh: 'Eh, tha'rt nice!'
something in her quivered, and something in her spirit stiffened in
resistance: stiffened from the terribly physical intimacy, and from the
peculiar haste of his possession. And this time the sharp ecstasy of
her own passion did not overcome her; she' lay with her ends inert on
his striving body, and do what she' might, her spirit seemed to look on
from the top of her head, and the butting of his haunches seemed
ridiculous to her, and the sort of anxiety of his penis to come to its
little evacuating crisis seemed farcical. Yes, this was love, this
ridiculous bouncing of the buttocks, and the wilting of the poor,
insignificant, moist little penis. This was the divine love! After all,
the moderns were right when they felt contempt for the performance; for
it was a performance. It was quite true, as some poets said, that the
God who created man must have had a sinister sense of humour, creating
him a reasonable being, yet forcing him to take this ridiculous
posture, and driving him with blind craving for this ridiculous
performance. Even a Maupassant found it a humiliating anti~ climax. Men
despised the intercourse act, and yet did it.

Cold and derisive her queer female mind stood apart, and though she' lay
perfectly still, her impulse was to heave her loins, and throw the man
out, escape his ugly grip, and the butting over~ riding of his absurd
haunches. His body was a foolish, impudent, imperfect thing, a little
disgusting in its unfinished clumsiness. For surely a complete
evolution would eliminate this performance, this 'function'.

And yet when he had finished, soon over, and lay very very still,
receding into silence, and a strange motionless distance, far, farther
than the horizon of her awareness, her heart began to weep. She could
feel him ebbing away, ebbing away, leaving her there like a stone on a
shore. He was withdrawing, his spirit was leaving her. He knew.

And in real grief, tormented by her own double consciousness and
reaction, she' began to weep. He took no notice, or did not even know.
The storm of weeping swelled and shook her, and shook him.

'Ay!' he said. 'It was no good that time. You wasn't there.'~ So he
knew! Her sobs became violent.

'But what's amiss?' he said. 'It's once in a while that way.'

'I.I can't love you,' she' sobbed, suddenly feeling her heart
breaking.

'Canna ter? Well, dunna fret! There's no law says as tha's got to. Ta'e
it for what it is.'

He still lay with his hand on her breast. But she' had drawn both her
hands from him.

His words were small comfort. She sobbed aloud.

'Nay, nay!' he said. 'Ta'e the thick wi' th' thin. This wor a bit o'
thin for once.'

She wept bitterly, sobbing. 'But I want to love you, and I can't. It
only seems horrid.'

He laughed a little, half bitter, half amused.

'It isna horrid,' he said, 'even if tha thinks it is. An' tha canna
ma'e it horrid. Dunna fret thysen about lovin' me. Tha'lt niver force
thysen to 't. There's sure to be a bad nut in a basketful. Tha mun ta'e
th' rough wi' th' smooth.'

He took his hand away from her breast, not touching her. And now she'
was untouched she' took an almost perverse satisfaction in it. She hated
the dialect: the THEE and the THA and the THYSEN. He could get up if he
liked, and stand there, above her, buttoning down those absurd corduroy
breeches, straight in front of her. After all, Michaelis had had the
decency to turn away. This man was so assured in himself he didn't know
what a clown other people found him, a half~ bred fellow.

Yet, as he was drawing away, to rise silently and leave her, she' clung
to him in terror.

'Don't! Don't go! Don't leave me! Don't be cross with me! Hold me! Hold
me fast!' she' whispered in blind frenzy, not even knowing what she'
said, and clinging to him with uncanny force. It was from herself she'
wanted to be saved, from her own inward anger and resistance. Yet how
powerful was that inward resistance that possessed her!

He took her in his arms again and drew her to him, and suddenly she'
became small in his arms, small and nestling. It was gone, the
resistance was gone, and she' began to melt in a marvellous peace. And
as she' melted small and wonderful in his arms, she' became infinitely
desirable to him, all his blood~ vessels seemed to scald with intense
yet tender desire, for her, for her softness, for the penetrating
beauty of her in his arms, passing into his blood. And softly, with
that marvellous swoon~ like caress of his hand in pure soft desire,
softly he stroked the silky slope of her loins, down, down between her
soft warm buttocks, coming nearer and nearer to the very quick of her.
And she' felt him like a flame of desire, yet tender, and she' felt
herself melting in the flame. She let herself go. She felt his penis
risen against her with silent amazing force and assertion and she' let
herself go to him. She yielded with a quiver that was like death, she'
went all open to him. And oh, if he were not tender to her now, how
cruel, for she' was all open to him and helpless!

She quivered again at the potent inexorable entry inside her, so
strange and terrible. It might come with the thrust of a sword in her
softly~ opened body, and that would be death. She clung in a sudden
anguish of terror. But it came with a strange slow thrust of peace, the
dark thrust of peace and a ponderous, primordial tenderness, such as
made the world in the beginning. And her terror subsided in her breast,
her breast dared to be gone in peace, she' held nothing. She dared to
let go everything, all herself and be gone in the flood.

And it seemed she' was like the sea, nothing but dark waves rising and
heaving, heaving with a great swell, so that slowly her whole darkness
was in motion, and she' was Ocean rolling its dark, dumb mass. Oh, and
far down inside her the deeps parted and rolled asunder, in long,
fair~ travelling billows, and ever, at the quick of her, the depths
parted and rolled asunder, from the centre of soft plunging, as the
plunger went deeper and deeper, touching lower, and she' was deeper and
deeper and deeper disclosed, the heavier the billows of her rolled away
to some shore, uncovering her, and closer and closer plunged the
palpable unknown, and further and further rolled the waves of herself
away from herself leaving her, till suddenly, in a soft, shuddering
convulsion, the quick of all her plasm was touched, she' knew herself
touched, the consummation was upon her, and she' was gone. She was gone,
she' was not, and she' was born: a woman.

Ah, too lovely, too lovely! In the ebbing she' realized all the
loveliness. Now all her body clung with tender love to the unknown man,
and blindly to the wilting penis, as it so tenderly, frailly,
unknowingly withdrew, after the fierce thrust of its potency. As it
drew out and left her body, the secret, sensitive thing, she' gave an
unconscious cry of pure loss, and she' tried to put it back. It had been
so perfect! And she' loved it so!

And only now she' became aware of the small, bud~ like reticence and
tenderness of the penis, and a little cry of wonder and poignancy
escaped her again, her woman's heart crying out over the tender frailty
of that which had been the power.

'It was so lovely!' she' moaned. 'It was so lovely!' But he said
nothing, only softly kissed her, lying still above her. And she' moaned
with a sort of bliss, as a sacrifice, and a newborn thing.

And now in her heart the queer wonder of him was awakened.

A man! The strange potency of manhood upon her! Her hands strayed over
him, still a little afraid. Afraid of that strange, hostile, slightly
repulsive thing that he had been to her, a man. And now she' touched
him, and it was the sons of god with the daughters of men. How
beautiful he felt, how pure in tissue! How lovely, how lovely, strong,
and yet pure and delicate, such stillness of the sensitive body! Such
utter stillness of potency and delicate flesh. How beautiful! How
beautiful! Her hands came timorously down his back, to the soft,
smallish globes of the buttocks. Beauty! What beauty! a sudden little
flame of new awareness went through her. How was it possible, this
beauty here, where she' had previously only been repelled? The
unspeakable beauty to the touch of the warm, living buttocks! The life
within life, the sheer warm, potent loveliness. And the strange weight
of the balls between his legs! What a mystery! What a strange heavy
weight of mystery, that could lie soft and heavy in one's hand! The
roots, root of all that is lovely, the primeval root of all full
beauty.

She clung to him, with a hiss of wonder that was almost awe, terror. He
held her close, but he said nothing. He would never say anything. She
crept nearer to him, nearer, only to be near to the sensual wonder of
him. And out of his utter, incomprehensible stillness, she' felt again
the slow momentous, surging rise of the phallus again, the other power.
And her heart melted out with a kind of awe.

And this time his being within her was all soft and iridescent, purely
soft and iridescent, such as no consciousness could seize. Her whole
self quivered unconscious and alive, like plasm. She could not know
what it was. She could not remember what it had been. Only that it had
been more lovely than anything ever could be. Only that. And afterwards
she' was utterly still, utterly unknowing, she' was not aware for how
long. And he was still with her, in an unfathomable silence along with
her. And of this, they would never speak.

When awareness of the outside began to come back, she' clung to his
breast, murmuring 'My love! My love!' And he held her silently. And she'
curled on his breast, perfect.

But his silence was fathomless. His hands held her like flowers, so
still aid strange.

'Where are you?' she' whispered to him. 'Where are you? Speak to me!
Say something to me!'

He kissed her softly, murmuring: 'Ay, my lass!'

But she' did not know what he meant, she' did not know where he was. In
his silence he seemed lost to her.

'You love me, don't you?' she' murmured.

'Ay, tha knows!' he said.

'But tell me!' she' pleaded.

'Ay! Ay! 'asn't ter felt it?' he said dimly, but softly and surely. And
she' clung close to him, closer. He was so much more peaceful in love
than she' was, and she' wanted him to reassure her.

'You do love me!' she' whispered, assertive. And his hands stroked her
softly, as if she' were a flower, without the quiver of desire, but with
delicate nearness. And still there haunted her a restless necessity to
get a grip on love.

'Say you'll always love me!' she' pleaded.

'Ay!' he said, abstractedly. And she' felt her questions driving him
away from her.

'Mustn't we get up?' he said at last.

'No!' she' said.

But she' could feel his consciousness straying, listening to the noises
outside.

'It'll be nearly dark,' he said. And she' heard the pressure of
circumstances in his voice. She kissed him, with a woman's grief at
yielding up her hour.

He rose, and turned up the lantern, then began to pull on his clothes,
quickly disappearing inside them. Then he stood there, above her,
fastening his breeches and looking down at her with dark, wide~ eyes,
his face a little flush ed and his hair ruffled, curiously warm and
still and beautiful in the dim light of the lantern, so beautiful, she'
would never tell him how beautiful. It made her want to cling fast to
him, to hold him, for there was a warm, half~ sleepy remoteness in his
beauty that made her want to cry out and clutch him, to have him. She
would never have him. So she' lay on the blanket with curved, soft naked
haunches, and he had no idea what she' was thinking, but to him too she'
was beautiful, the soft, marvellous thing he could go into, beyond
everything.

'I love thee that I can go into thee,' he said.

'Do you like me?' she' said, her heart beating.

'It heals it all up, that I can go into thee. I love thee that tha
opened to me. I love thee that I came into thee like that.'

He bent down and kissed her soft flank, rubbed his cheek against it,
then covered it up.

'And will you never leave me?' she' said.

'Dunna ask them things,' he said.

'But you do believe I love you?' she' said.

'Tha loved me just now, wider than iver tha thout tha would. But who
knows what'll 'appen, once tha starts thinkin' about it!'

'No, don't say those things!~ And you don't really think that I wanted
to make use of you, do you?'

'How?'

'To have a child~ ?'

'Now anybody can 'ave any childt i' th' world,' he said, as he sat down
fastening on his leggings.

'Ah no!' she' cried. 'You don't mean it?'

'Eh well!' he said, looking at her under his brows. 'This wor t' best.'

She lay still. He softly opened the door. The sky was dark blue, with
crystalline, turquoise rim. He went out, to shut up the hens, speaking
softly to his dog. And she' lay and wondered at the wonder of life, and
of being.

When he came back she' was still lying there, glowing like a gipsy. He
sat on the stool by her.

'Tha mun come one naight ter th' cottage, afore tha goos; sholl ter?'
he asked, lifting his eyebrows as he looked at her, his hands dangling
between his knees.

'Sholl ter?' she' echoed, teasing.

He smiled. 'Ay, sholl ter?' he repeated.

'Ay!' she' said, imitating the dialect sound.

'Yi!' he said.

'Yi!' she' repeated.

'An' slaip wi' me,' he said. 'It needs that. When sholt come?'

'When sholl I?' she' said.

'Nay,' he said, 'tha canna do't. When sholt come then?'

''Appen Sunday,' she' said.

''Appen a' Sunday! Ay!'

He laughed at her quickly.

'Nay, tha canna,' he protested.

'Why canna I?' she' said.

 
 
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