Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence

   
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Femme Classic Art ~Chapter~ 14 ~Chapter~ 15

~Chapter~ 16 ~Chapter~ 17 ~Chapter~ 18 ~Chapter~ 19

 

Femme Classic Art
Love Poems  
Love Poems
Love stories
~Chapter~ 13
Love stories
     
 

 

On Sunday Clifford wanted to go into the wood. It was a lovely morning,
the pear~ blossom and plum had suddenly appeared in the world in a
wonder of white here and there.

It was cruel for Clifford, while the world bloomed, to have to be
helped from chair to bath~ chair. But he had forgotten, and even seemed
to have a certain conceit of himself in his lameness. Connie still
suffered, having to lift his inert legs into place. Mrs Bolton did it
now, or Field.

She waited for him at the top of the drive, at the edge of the screen
of beeches. His chair came puffing along with a sort of valetudinarian
slow importance. As he joined his wife he said:

'Sir Clifford on his roaming steed!'

'Snorting, at least!' she' laughed.

He stopped and looked round at the facade of the long, low old brown
house.

'Wragby doesn't wink an eyelid!' he said. 'But then why should it! I
ride upon the achievements of the mind of man, and that beats a horse.'

'I suppose it does. And the souls in Plato riding up to heaven in a
two~ horse chariot would go in a Ford car now,' she' said.

'Or a Rolls~ Royce: Plato was an aristocrat!'

'Quite! No more black horse to thrash and maltreat. Plato never thought
we'd go one better than his black steed and his white steed, and have
no steeds at all, only an engine!'

'Only an engine and gas!' said Clifford. 'I hope I can have some repairs
done to the old place next year. I think I shall have about a thousand
to spare for that: but work costs so much!' he added.

'Oh, good!' said Connie. 'If only there aren't more strikes!'

'What would be the use of their striking again! Merely ruin the
industry, what's left of it: and surely the owls are beginning to see
it!'

'Perhaps they don't mind ruining the industry,' said Connie.

'Ah, don't talk like a woman! The industry fills their bellies, even if
it can't keep their pockets quite so flush ,' he said, using turns of
speech that oddly had a twang of Mrs Bolton.

'But didn't you say the other day that you were a
conservative~ anarchist,' she' asked innocently.

'And did you understand what I meant?' he retorted. 'All I meant is,
people can be what they like and feel what they like and do what they
like, strictly privately, so long as they keep the FORM of life intact,
and the apparatus.'

Connie walked on in silence a few paces. Then she' said, obstinately:

'It sounds like saying an egg may go as addled as it likes, so long as
it keeps its shell on whole. But addled eggs do break of themselves.'

'I don't think people are eggs,' he said. 'Not even angels' eggs, my
dear little evangelist.'

He was in rather high feather this bright morning. The larks were
trilling away over the park, the distant pit in the hollow was fuming
silent steam. It was almost like old days, before the war. Connie
didn't really want to argue. But then she' did not really want to go to
the wood with Clifford either. So she' walked beside his chair in a
certain obstinacy of spirit.

'No,' he said. 'There will be no more strikes, if the thing is
properly managed.'

'Why not?'

'Because strikes will be made as good as impossible.'

'But will the men let you?' she' asked.

'We shan't ask them. We shall do it while they aren't looking: for
their own good, to save the industry.'

'For your own good too,' she' said.

'Naturally! For the good of everybody. But for their good even more
than mine. I can live without the pits. They can't. They'll starve if
there are no pits. I've got other provision.'

They looked up the shallow valley at the mine, and beyond it, at the
black~ lidded houses of Tevershall crawling like some serpent up the
hill. From the old brown church the bells were ringing: Sunday,
Sunday, Sunday!

'But will the men let you dictate terms?' she' said.

'My dear, they will have to: if one does it gently.'

'But mightn't there be a mutual understanding?'

'Absolutely: when they realize that the industry comes before the
individual.'

'But must you own the industry?' she' said.

'I don't. But to the extent I do own it, yes, most decidedly. The
ownership of property has now become a religious question: as it has
been since Jesus and St Francis. The point is NOT: take all thou hast
and give to the poor, but use all thou hast to encourage the industry
and give work to the poor. It's the only way to feed all the mouths and
clothe all the bodies. Giving away all we have to the poor spells
starvation for the poor just as much as for us. And universal
starvation is no high aim. Even general poverty is no lovely thing.
Poverty is ugly.'

'But the disparity?'

'That is fate. Why is the star Jupiter bigger than the star Neptune?
You can't start altering the make~ up of things!'

'But when this envy and jealousy and discontent has once started~ ' she'
began.

'Do your best to stop it. Somebody's GOT to be boss of the show.'

'But who is boss of the show?' she' asked.

'The men who own and run the industries.'

There was a long silence.

'It seems to me they're a bad boss,' she' said.

'Then you suggest what they should do.'

'They don't take their boss~ ship seriously enough,' she' said.

'They take it far more seriously than you take your ladyship,' he said.

'That's thrust upon me. I don't really want it,' she' blurted out. He
stopped the chair and looked at her.

'Who's shirking their responsibility now!' he said. 'Who is trying to
get away NOW from the responsibility of their own boss~ ship, as you
call it?'

'But I don't want any boss~ ship,' she' protested.

'Ah! But that is funk. You've got it: fated to it. And you should live
up to it. Who has given the colliers all they have that's worth having:
all their political liberty, and their education, such as it is, their
sanitation, their health~ conditions, their books, their music,
everything. Who has given it them? Have colliers given it to colliers?
No! All the Wragbys and Shipleys in England have given their part, and
must go on giving. There's your responsibility.'

Connie listened, and flush ed very red.

'I'd like to give something,' she' said. 'But I'm not allowed.
Everything is to be sold and paid for now; and all the things you
mention now, Wragby and Shipley SELLS them to the people, at a good
profit. Everything is sold. You don't give one heart~ beat of real
sympathy. And besides, who has taken away from the people their natural
life and manhood, and given them this industrial horror? Who has done
that?'

'And what must I do?' he asked, green. 'Ask them to come and pillage
me?'

'Why is Tevershall so ugly, so hideous? Why are their lives so
hopeless?'

'They built their own Tevershall, that's part of their display of
freedom. They built themselves their pretty Tevershall, and they live
their own pretty lives. I can't live their lives for them. Every beetle
must live its own life.'

'But you make them work for you. They live the life of your coal~ mine.'

'Not at all. Every beetle finds its own food. Not one man is forced to
work for me.

'Their lives are industrialized and hopeless, and so are ours,' she'
cried.

'I don't think they are. That's just a romantic figure of speech, a
relic of the swooning and die~ away romanticism. You don't look at all a
hopeless figure standing there, Connie my dear.'

Which was true. For her dark~ blue eyes were flashing, her colour was
hot in her cheeks, she' looked full of a rebellious passion far from the
dejection of hopelessness. She noticed, in the tussocky places of the
grass, cottony young cowslips standing up still bleared in their down.
And she' wondered with rage, why it was she' felt Clifford was so WRONG,
yet she' couldn't say it to him, she' could not say exactly WHERE he was
wrong.

'No wonder the men hate you,' she' said.

'They don't!' he replied. 'And don't fall into errors: in your sense of
the word, they are NOT men. They are animals you don't understand, and
never could. Don't thrust your illusions on other people. The masses
were always the same, and will always be the same. Nero's slaves were
extremely little different from our colliers or the Ford motor~ car
workmen. I mean Nero's mine slaves and his field slaves. It is the
masses: they are the unchangeable. An individual may emerge from the
masses. But the emergence doesn't alter the mass. The masses are
unalterable. It is one of the most momentous facts of social science.
PANEM ET CIRCENSES! Only today education is one of the bad substitutes
for a circus. What is wrong today is that we've made a profound hash of
the circuses part of the programme, and poisoned our masses with a
little education.'

When Clifford became really roused in his feelings about the common
people, Connie was frightened. There was something devastatingly true
in what he said. But it was a truth that killed.

Seeing her pale and silent, Clifford started the chair again, and no
more was said till he halted again at the wood gate, which she' opened.

'And what we need to take up now,' he said, 'is whips, not swords. The
masses have been ruled since time began, and till time ends, ruled they
will have to be. It is sheer hypocrisy and farce to say they can rule
themselves.'

'But can you rule them?' she' asked.

'I? Oh yes! Neither my mind nor my will is crippled, and I don't rule
with my legs. I can do my share of ruling: absolutely, my share; and
give me a son, and he will be able to rule his portion after me.'

'But he wouldn't be your own son, of your own ruling class; or perhaps
not,' she' stammered.

'I don't care who his father may be, so long as he is a healthy man not
below normal intelligence. Give me the child of any healthy, normally
intelligent man, and I will make a perfectly competent Chatterley of
him. It is not who begets us, that matters, but where fate places us.
Place any child among the ruling classes, and he will grow up, to his
own extent, a ruler. Put kings' and dukes' children among the masses,
and they'll be little plebeians, mass products. It is the overwhelming
pressure of environment.'

'Then the common people aren't a race, and the aristocrats aren't
blood,' she' said.

'No, my child! All that is romantic illusion. Aristocracy is a
function, a part of fate. And the masses are a functioning of another
part of fate. The individual hardly matters. It is a question of which
function you are brought up to and adapted to. It is not the
individuals that make an aristocracy: it is the functioning of the
aristocratic whole. And it is the functioning of the whole mass that
makes the common man what he is.'

'Then there is no common humanity between us all!'

'Just as you like. We all need to fill our bellies. But when it comes
to expressive or executive functioning, I believe there is a gulf and
an absolute one, between the ruling and the serving classes. The two
functions are opposed. And the function determines the individual.'

Connie looked at him with dazed eyes.

'Won't you come on?' she' said.

And he started his chair. He had said his say. Now he lapsed into his
peculiar and rather vacant apathy, that Connie found so trying. In the
wood, anyhow, she' was determined not to argue.

In front of them ran the open cleft of the riding, between the hazel
walls and the gay grey trees. The chair puffed slowly on, slowly
surging into the forget~ me~ nots that rose up in the drive like milk
froth, beyond the hazel shadows. Clifford steered the middle course,
where feet passing had kept a channel through the flowers. But Connie,
walking behind, had watched the wheels jolt over the wood~ ruff and the
bugle, and squash the little yellow cups of the creeping~ jenny. Now
they made a wake through the forget~ me~ nots.

All the flowers were there, the first bluebells in blue pools, like
standing water.

'You are quite right about its being beautiful,' said Clifford. 'It is
so amazingly. What is QUITE so lovely as an English spring!'

Connie thought it sounded as if even the spring bloomed by act of
Parliament. An English spring! Why not an Irish one? or Jewish? The
chair moved slowly ahead, past tufts of sturdy bluebells that stood up
like wheat and over grey burdock leaves. When they came to the open
place where the trees had been felled, the light flooded in rather
stark. And the bluebells made sheets of bright blue colour, here and
there, sheering off into lilac and purple. And between, the bracken was
lifting its brown curled heads, like legions of young snakes with a new
secret to whisper to Eve. Clifford kept the chair going till he came to
the brow of the hill; Connie followed slowly behind. The oak~ buds were
opening soft and brown. Everything came tenderly out of the old
hardness. Even the snaggy craggy oak~ trees put out the softest young
leaves, spreading thin, brown little wings like young bat~ wings in the
light. Why had men never any newness in them, any freshness to come
forth with! Stale men!

Clifford stopped the chair at the top of the rise and looked down. The
bluebells washed blue like flood~ water over the broad riding, and lit
up the downhill with a warm blueness.

'It's a very fine colour in itself,' said Clifford, 'but useless for
making a painting.'

'Quite!' said Connie, completely uninterested.

'Shall I venture as far as the spring?' said Clifford.

'Will the chair get up again?' she' said.

'We'll try; nothing venture, nothing win!'

And the chair began to advance slowly, joltingly down the beautiful
broad riding washed over with blue encroaching hyacinths. O last of all
ships, through the hyacinthian shallows! O pinnace on the last wild
waters, sailing in the last voyage of our civilization! Whither, O
weird wheeled ship, your slow course steering. Quiet and complacent,
Clifford sat at the wheel of adventure: in his old black hat and tweed
jacket, motionless and cautious. O Captain, my Captain, our splendid
trip is done! Not yet though! Downhill, in the wake, came Constance in
her grey dress, watching the chair jolt downwards.

They passed the narrow track to the hut. Thank heaven it was not wide
enough for the chair: hardly wide enough for one person. The chair
reached the bottom of the slope, and swerved round, to disappear. And
Connie heard a low whistle behind her. She glanced sharply round: the
keeper was striding downhill towards her, his dog keeping behind him.

'Is Sir Clifford going to the cottage?' he asked, looking into her
eyes.

'No, only to the well.'

'Ah! Good! Then I can keep out of sight. But I shall see you tonight. I
shall wait for you at the park~ gate about ten.'

He looked again direct into her eyes.

'Yes,' she' faltered.

They heard the Papp! Papp! of Clifford's horn, tooting for Connie. She
'Coo~ eed!' in reply. The keeper's face flickered with a little grimace,
and with his hand he softly brushed her breast upwards, from
underneath. She looked at him, frightened, and started running down the
hill, calling Coo~ ee! again to Clifford. The man above watched her,
then turned, grinning faintly, back into his path.

She found Clifford slowly mounting to the spring, which was halfway up
the slope of the dark larch~ wood. He was there by the time she' caught
him up.

'She did that all right,' he said, referring to the chair.

Connie looked at the great grey leaves of burdock that grew out ghostly
from the edge of the larch~ wood. The people call it Robin Hood's
Rhubarb. How silent and gloomy it seemed by the well! Yet the water
bubbled so bright, wonderful! And there were bits of eye~ bright and
strong blue bugle.And there, under the bank, the yellow earth was
moving. A mole! It emerged, rowing its pink hands, and waving its blind
gimlet of a face, with the tiny pink nose~ tip uplifted.

'It seems to see with the end of its nose,' said Connie.

'Better than with its eyes!' he said. 'Will you drink?'

'Will you?'

She took an enamel mug from a twig on a tree, and stooped to fill it
for him. He drank in sips. Then she' stooped again, and drank a little
herself.

'So icy!' she' said gasping.

'Good, isn't it! Did you wish?'

'Did you?'

'Yes, I wished. But I won't tell.'

She was aware of the rapping of a woodpecker, then of the wind, soft
and eerie through the larches. She looked up. White clouds were
crossing the blue.

'Clouds!' she' said.

'White lambs only,' he replied.

A shadow crossed the little clearing. The mole had swum out on to the
soft yellow earth.

'Unpleasant little beast, we ought to kill him,' said Clifford.

'Look! he's like a parson in a pulpit,' she' said.

She gathered some sprigs of woodruff and brought them to him.

'New~ mown hay!' he said. 'Doesn't it smell like the romantic ladies of
the last century, who had their heads screwed on the right way after
all!'

She was looking at the white clouds.

'I wonder if it will rain,' she' said.

'Rain! Why! Do you want it to?'

They started on the return journey, Clifford jolting cautiously
downhill. They came to the dark bottom of the hollow, turned to the
right, and after a hundred yards swerved up the foot of the long slope,
where bluebells stood in the light.

'Now, old girl!' said Clifford, putting the chair to it.

It was a steep and jolty climb. The chair pugged slowly, in a
struggling unwilling fashion. Still, she' nosed her way up unevenly,
till she' came to where the hyacinths were all around her, then she'
balked, struggled, jerked a little way out of the flowers, then stopped.

'We'd better sound the horn and see if the keeper will come,' said
Connie. 'He could push her a bit. For that matter, I will push. It
helps.'

'We'll let her breathe,' said Clifford. 'Do you mind putting a scotch
under the wheel?'

Connie found a stone, and they waited. After a while Clifford started
his motor again, then set the chair in motion. It struggled and
faltered like a sick thing, with curious noises.

'Let me push!' said Connie, coming up behind.

'No! Don't push!' he said angrily. 'What's the good of the damned
thing, if it has to be pushed! Put the stone under!'

There was another pause, then another start; but more ineffectual than
before.

'You MUST let me push,' said she'. 'Or sound the horn for the keeper.'

'Wait!'

She waited; and he had another try, doing more harm than good.

'Sound the horn then, if you won't let me push,' she' said.

'Hell! Be quiet a moment!'

She was quiet a moment: he made shattering efforts with the little
motor.

'You'll only break the thing down altogether, Clifford,' she'
remonstrated; 'besides wasting your nervous energy.'

'If I could only get out and look at the damned thing!' he said,
exasperated. And he sounded the horn stridently. 'Perhaps Mellors can
see what's wrong.'

They waited, among the mashed flowers under a sky softly curdling with
cloud. In the silence a wood~ pigeon began to coo roo~ hoo hoo! roo~ hoo
hoo! Clifford shut her up with a blast on the horn.

The keeper appeared directly, striding inquiringly round the corner. He
saluted.

'Do you know anything about motors?' asked Clifford sharply.

'I am afraid I don't. Has she' gone wrong?'

'Apparently!' snapped Clifford.

The man crouched solicitously by the wheel, and peered at the little
engine.

'I'm afraid I know nothing at all about these mechanical things, Sir
Clifford,' he said calmly. 'If she' has enough petrol and oil~ '

'Just look carefully and see if you can see anything broken,' snapped
Clifford.

The man laid his gun against a tree, took off his coat, and threw it
beside it. The brown dog sat guard. Then he sat down on his heels and
peered under the chair, poking with his finger at the greasy little
engine, and resenting the grease~ marks on his clean Sunday shirt.

'Doesn't seem anything broken,' he said. And he stood up, pushing back
his hat from his forehead, rubbing his brow and apparently studying.

'Have you looked at the rods underneath?' asked Clifford. 'See if they
are all right!'

The man lay flat on his stomach on the floor, his neck pressed back,
wriggling under the engine and poking with his finger. Connie thought
what a pathetic sort of thing a man was, feeble and small~ looking, when
he was lying on his belly on the big earth.

'Seems all right as far as I can see,' came his muffled voice.

'I don't suppose you can do anything,' said Clifford.

'Seems as if I can't!' And he scrambled up and sat on his heels,
collier fashion. 'There's certainly nothing obviously broken.'

Clifford started his engine, then put her in gear. She would not move.

'Run her a bit hard, like,' suggested the keeper.

Clifford resented the interference: but he made his engine buzz like a
blue~ bottle. Then she' coughed and snarled and seemed to go better.

'Sounds as if she''d come clear,' said Mellors.

But Clifford had already jerked her into gear. She gave a sick lurch
and ebbed weakly forwards.

'If I give her a push, she''ll do it,' said the keeper, going behind.

'Keep off!' snapped Clifford. 'She'll do it by herself.'

'But Clifford!' put in Connie from the bank, 'you know it's too much
for her. Why are you so obstinate!'

Clifford was pale with anger. He jabbed at his levers. The chair gave a
sort of scurry, reeled on a few more yards, and came to her end amid a
particularly promising patch of bluebells.

'She's done!' said the keeper. 'Not power enough.'

'She's been up here before,' said Clifford coldly.

'She won't do it this time,' said the keeper.

Clifford did not reply. He began doing things with his engine, running
her fast and slow as if to get some sort of tune out of her. The wood
re~ echoed with weird noises. Then he put her in gear with a jerk,
having jerked off his brake.

'You'll rip her inside out,' murmured the keeper.

The chair charged in a sick lurch sideways at the ditch.

'Clifford!' cried Connie, rushing forward.

But the keeper had got the chair by the rail. Clifford, however,
putting on all his pressure, managed to steer into the riding, and with
a strange noise the chair was fighting the hill. Mellors pushed
steadily behind, and up she' went, as if to retrieve herself.

'You see, she''s doing it!' said Clifford, victorious, glancing over his
shoulder. There he saw the keeper's face.

'Are you pushing her?'

'She won't do it without.'

'Leave her alone. I asked you not.

'She won't do it.'

'LET HER TRY!' snarled Clifford, with all his emphasis.

The keeper stood back: then turned to fetch his coat and gun. The chair
seemed to strangle immediately. She stood inert. Clifford, seated a
prisoner, was white with vexation. He jerked at the levers with his
hand, his feet were no good. He got queer noises out of her. In savage
impatience he moved little handles and got more noises out of her. But
she' would not budge. No, she' would not budge. He stopped the engine and
sat rigid with anger.

Constance sat on the bank and looked at the wretched and trampled
bluebells. 'Nothing quite so lovely as an English spring.' 'I can do my
share of ruling.' 'What we need to take up now is whips, not swords.'
'The ruling classes!'

The keeper strode up with his coat and gun, Flossie cautiously at his
heels. Clifford asked the man to do something or other to the engine.
Connie, who understood nothing at all of the technicalities of motors,
and who had had experience of breakdowns, sat patiently on the bank as
if she' were a cipher. The keeper lay on his stomach again. The ruling
classes and the serving classes!

He got to his feet and said patiently:

'Try her again, then.'

He spoke in a quiet voice, almost as if to a child.

Clifford tried her, and Mellors stepped quickly behind and began to
push. She was going, the engine doing about half the work, the man the
rest.

Clifford glanced round, yellow with anger.

'Will you get off there!'

The keeper dropped his hold at once, and Clifford added: 'How shall I
know what she' is doing!'

The man put his gun down and began to pull on his coat. He'd done.

The chair began slowly to run backwards.

'Clifford, your brake!' cried Connie.

She, Mellors, and Clifford moved at once, Connie and the keeper
jostling lightly. The chair stood. There was a moment of dead silence.

'It's obvious I'm at everybody's mercy!' said Clifford. He was yellow
with anger.

No one answered. Mellors was slinging his gun over his shoulder, his
face queer and expressionless, save for an abstracted look of patience.
The dog Flossie, standing on guard almost between her master's legs,
moved uneasily, eyeing the chair with great suspicion and dislike, and
very much perplexed between the three human beings. The TABLEAU VIVANT
remained set among the squashed bluebells, nobody proffering a word.

'I expect she''ll have to be pushed,' said Clifford at last, with an
affectation of SANG FROID.

No answer. Mellors' abstracted face looked as if he had heard nothing.
Connie glanced anxiously at him. Clifford too glanced round.

'Do you mind pushing her home, Mellors!' he said in a cool superior
tone. 'I hope I have said nothing to offend you,' he added, in a tone
of dislike.

'Nothing at all, Sir Clifford! Do you want me to push that chair?'

'If you please.'

The man stepped up to it: but this time it was without effect. The
brake was jammed. They poked and pulled, and the keeper took off his
gun and his coat once more. And now Clifford said never a word. At last
the keeper heaved the back of the chair off the ground and, with an
instantaneous push of his foot, tried to loosen the wheels. He failed,
the chair sank. Clifford was clutching the sides. The man gasped with
the weight.

'Don't do it!' cried Connie to him.

'If you'll pull the wheel that way, so!' he said to her, showing her
how.

'No! You mustn't lift it! You'll strain yourself,' she' said, flush ed
now with anger.

But he looked into her eyes and nodded. And she' had to go and take hold
of the wheel, ready. He heaved and she' tugged, and the chair reeled.

'For God's sake!' cried Clifford in terror.

But it was all right, and the brake was off. The keeper put a stone
under the wheel, and went to sit on the bank, his heart beat and his
face white with the effort, semi~ conscious.

Connie looked at him, and almost cried with anger. There was a pause
and a dead silence. She saw his hands trembling on his thighs.

'Have you hurt yourself?' she' asked, going to him.

'No. No!' He turned away almost angrily.

There was dead silence. The back of Clifford's fair head did not move.
Even the dog stood motionless. The sky had clouded over.

At last he sighed, and blew his nose on his red handkerchief.

'That pneumonia took a lot out of me,' he said.

No one answered. Connie calculated the amount of strength it must have
taken to heave up that chair and the bulky Clifford: too much, far too
much! If it hadn't killed him!

He rose, and again picked up his coat, slinging it through the handle
of the chair.

'Are you ready, then, Sir Clifford?'

'When you are!'

He stooped and took out the scotch, then put his weight against the
chair. He was paler than Connie had ever seen him: and more absent.
Clifford was a heavy man: and the hill was steep. Connie stepped to the
keeper's side.

'I'm going to push too!' she' said.

And she' began to shove with a woman's turbulent energy of anger. The
chair went faster. Clifford looked round.

'Is that necessary?' he said.

'Very! Do you want to kill the man! If you'd let the motor work while
it would~ '

But she' did not finish. She was already panting. She slackened off a
little, for it was surprisingly hard work.

'Ay! slower!' said the man at her side, with a faint smile of his eyes.

'Are you sure you've not hurt yourself?' she' said fiercely.

He shook his head. She looked at his smallish, short, alive hand,
browned by the weather. It was the hand that caressed her. She had
never even looked at it before. It seemed so still, like him, with a
curious inward stillness that made her want to clutch it, as if she'
could not reach it. All her soul suddenly swept towards him: he was so
silent, and out of reach! And he felt his limbs revive. Shoving with
his left hand, he laid his right on her round white wrist, softly
enfolding her wrist, with a caress. And the flame of strength went down
his back and his loins, reviving him. And she' bent suddenly and kissed
his hand. Meanwhile the back of Clifford's head was held sleek and
motionless, just in front of them.

At the top of the hill they rested, and Connie was glad to let go. She
had had fugitive dreams of friendship between these two men: one her
husband, the other the father of her child. Now she' saw the screaming
absurdity of her dreams. The two males were as hostile as fire and
water. They mutually exterminated one another. And she' realized for the
first time what a queer subtle thing hate is. For the first time, she'
had consciously and definitely hated Clifford, with vivid hate: as if
he ought to be obliterated from the face of the earth. And it was
strange, how free and full of life it made her feel, to hate him and to
admit it fully to herself.~ 'Now I've hated him, I shall never be able
to go on living with him,' came the thought into her mind.

On the level the keeper could push the chair alone. Clifford made a
little conversation with her, to show his complete composure: about
Aunt Eva, who was at Dieppe, and about Sir Malcolm, who had written to
ask would Connie drive with him in his small car, to Venice, or would
she' and Hilda go by train.

'I'd much rather go by train,' said Connie. 'I don't like long motor
drives, especially when there's dust. But I shall see what Hilda
wants.'

'She will want to drive her own car, and take you with her,' he said.

'Probably!~ I must help up here. You've no idea how heavy this chair
is.'

She went to the back of the chair, and plodded side by side with the
keeper, shoving up the pink path. She did not care who saw.

'Why not let me wait, and fetch Field? He is strong enough for the
job,' said Clifford.

'It's so near,' she' panted.

But both she' and Mellors wiped the sweat from their faces when they
came to the top. It was curious, but this bit of work together had
brought them much closer than they had been before.

'Thanks so much, Mellors,' said Clifford, when they were at the house
door. 'I must get a different sort of motor, that's all. Won't you go
to the kitchen and have a meal? It must be about time.'

'Thank you, Sir Clifford. I was going to my mother for dinner today,
Sunday.'

'As you like.'

Mellors slung into his coat, looked at Connie, saluted, and was gone.
Connie, furious, went upstairs.

At lunch she' could not contain her feeling.

'Why are you so abominably inconsiderate, Clifford?' she' said to him.

'Of whom?'

'Of the keeper! If that is what you call ruling classes, I'm sorry for
you.'

'Why?'

'A man who's been ill, and isn't strong! My word, if I were the serving
classes, I'd let you wait for service. I'd let you whistle.'

'I quite believe it.'

'If he'd been sitting in a chair with paralysed legs, and behaved as
you behaved, what would you have done for HIM?'

'My dear evangelist, this confusing of persons and personalities is in
bad taste.'

'And your nasty, sterile want of common sympathy is in the worst taste
imaginable. NOBLESSE OBLIGE! You and your ruling class!'

'And to what should it oblige me? To have a lot of unnecessary emotions
about my game~ keeper? I refuse. I leave it all to my evangelist.'

'As if he weren't a man as much as you are, my word!'

'My game~ keeper to boot, and I pay him two pounds a week and give him a
house.'

'Pay him! What do you think you pay for, with two pounds a week and a
house?'

'His services.'

'Bah! I would tell you to keep your two pounds a week and your house.'

'Probably he would like to: but can't afford the luxury!'

'You, and RULE!' she' said. 'You don't rule, don't flatter yourself. You
have only got more than your share of the money, and make people work
for you for two pounds a week, or threaten them with starvation. Rule!
What do you give forth of rule? Why, you're dried up! You only bully
with your money, like any Jew or any Schieber!'

'You are very elegant in your speech, Lady Chatterley!'

'I assure you, you were very elegant altogether out there in the wood.
I was utterly ashamed of you. Why, my father is ten times the human
being you are: you GENTLEMAN!'

He reached and rang the bell for Mrs Bolton. But he was yellow at the
gills.

She went up to her room, furious, saying to herself: 'Him and buying
people! Well, he doesn't buy me, and therefore there's no need for me
to stay with him. Dead fish of a gentleman, with his celluloid soul!
And how they take one in, with their manners and their mock wistfulness
and gentleness. They've got about as much feeling as celluloid has.'

She made her plans for the night, and determined to get Clifford off
her mind. She didn't want to hate him. She didn't want to be mixed up
very intimately with him in any sort of feeling. She wanted him not to
know anything at all about herself: and especially, not to know
anything about her feeling for the keeper. This squabble of her
attitude to the servants was an old one. He found her too familiar, she'
found him stupidly insentient, tough and indiarubbery where other
people were concerned.

She went downstairs calmly, with her old demure bearing, at
dinner~ time. He was still yellow at the gills: in for one of his liver
bouts, when he was really very queer.~ He was reading a French book.

'Have you ever read Proust?' he asked her.

'I've tried, but he bores me.'

'He's really very extraordinary.'

'Possibly! But he bores me: all that sophistication! He doesn't have
feelings, he only has streams of words about feelings. I'm tired of
self~ important mentalities.'

'Would you prefer self~ important animalities?'

'Perhaps! But one might possibly get something that wasn't
self~ important.'

'Well, I like Proust's subtlety and his well~ bred anarchy.'

'It makes you very dead, really.'

'There speaks my evangelical little wife.'

They were at it again, at it again! But she' couldn't help fighting him.
He seemed to sit there like a skeleton, sending out a skeleton's cold
grizzly WILL against her. Almost she' could feel the skeleton clutching
her and pressing her to its cage of ribs. He too was really up in arms:
and she' was a little afraid of him.

She went upstairs as soon as possible, and went to bed quite early. But
at half past nine she' got up, and went outside to listen. There was no
sound. She slipped on a dressing~ gown and went downstairs. Clifford and
Mrs Bolton were playing cards, gambling. They would probably go on
until midnight.

Connie returned to her room, threw her pyjamas on the tossed bed, put
on a thin tennis~ dress and over that a woollen day~ dress, put on rubber
tennis~ shoes, and then a light coat. And she' was ready. If she' met
anybody, she' was just going out for a few minutes. And in the morning,
when she' came in again, she' would just have been for a little walk in
the dew, as she' fairly often did before breakfast. For the rest, the
only danger was that someone should go into her room during the night.
But that was most unlikely: not one chance in a hundred.

Betts had not locked up. He fastened up the house at ten o'clock, and
unfastened it again at seven in the morning. She slipped out silently
and unseen. There was a half~ moon shining, enough to make a little
light in the world, not enough to show her up in her dark~ grey coat.
She walked quickly across the park, not really in the thrill of the
assignation, but with a certain anger and rebellion burning in her
heart. It was not the right sort of heart to take to a love~ meeting.
But LA GUERRE COMME LA GUERRE!

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 14
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

When she' got near the park~ gate, she' heard the click of the latch. He
was there, then, in the darkness of the wood, and had seen her!

'You are good and early,' he said out of the dark. 'Was everything all
right?'

'Perfectly easy.'

He shut the gate quietly after her, and made a spot of light on the
dark ground, showing the pallid flowers still standing there open in
the night. They went on apart, in silence.

'Are you sure you didn't hurt yourself this morning with that chair?'
she' asked.

'No, no!'

'When you had that pneumonia, what did it do to you?'

'Oh nothing! it left my heart not so strong and the lungs not so
elastic. But it always does that.'

'And you ought not to make violent physical efforts?'

'Not often.'

She plodded on in an angry silence.

'Did you hate Clifford?' she' said at last.

'Hate him, no! I've met too many like him to upset myself hating him. I
know beforehand I don't care for his sort, and I let it go at that.'

'What is his sort?'

'Nay, you know better than I do. The sort of youngish gentleman a bit
like a lady, and no balls.'

'What balls?'

'Balls! A man's balls!'

She pondered this.

'But is it a question of that?' she' said, a little annoyed.

'You say a man's got no brain, when he's a fool: and no heart, when
he's mean; and no stomach when he's a funker. And when he's got none of
that spunky wild bit of a man in him, you say he's got no balls. When
he's a sort of tame.'

She pondered this.

'And is Clifford tame?' she' asked.

'Tame, and nasty with it: like most such fellows, when you come up
against 'em.'

'And do you think you're not tame?'

'Maybe not quite!'

At length she' saw in the distance a yellow light.

She stood still.

'There is a light!' she' said.

'I always leave a light in the house,' he said.

She went on again at his side, but not touching him, wondering why she'
was going with him at all.

He unlocked, and they went in, he bolting the door behind them. As if
it were a prison, she' thought! The kettle was singing by the red fire,
there were cups on the table.

She sat in the wooden arm~ chair by the fire. It was warm after the
chill outside.

'I'll take off my shoes, they are wet,' she' said.

She sat with her stockinged feet on the bright steel fender. He went to
the pantry, bringing food: bread and butter and pressed tongue. She was
warm: she' took off her coat. He hung it on the door.

'Shall you have cocoa or tea or coffee to drink?' he asked.

'I don't think I want anything,' she' said, looking at the table. 'But
you eat.'

'Nay, I don't care about it. I'll just feed the dog.'

He tramped with a quiet inevitability over the brick floor, putting
food for the dog in a brown bowl. The spaniel looked up at him
anxiously.

'Ay, this is thy supper, tha nedna look as if tha wouldna get it!' he
said.

He set the bowl on the stairfoot mat, and sat himself on a chair by the
wall, to take off his leggings and boots. The dog instead of eating,
came to him again, and sat looking up at him, troubled.

He slowly unbuckled his leggings. The dog edged a little nearer.

'What's amiss wi' thee then? Art upset because there's somebody else
here? Tha'rt a female, tha art! Go an' eat thy supper.'

He put his hand on her head, and the bitch leaned her head sideways
against him. He slowly, softly pulled the long silky ear.

'There!' he said. 'There! Go an' eat thy supper! Go!'

He tilted his chair towards the pot on the mat, and the dog meekly
went, and fell to eating.

'Do you like dogs?' Connie asked him.

'No, not really. They're too tame and clinging.'

He had taken off his leggings and was unlacing his heavy boots. Connie
had turned from the fire. How bare the little room was! Yet over his
head on the wall hung a hideous enlarged photograph of a young married
couple, apparently him and a bold~ faced young woman, no doubt his wife.

'Is that you?' Connie asked him.

He twisted and looked at the enlargement above his head.

'Ay! Taken just afore we was married, when I was twenty~ one.' He looked
at it impassively.

'Do you like it?' Connie asked him.

'Like it? No! I never liked the thing. But she' fixed it all up to have
it done, like.'

He returned to pulling off his boots.

'If you don't like it, why do you keep it hanging there? Perhaps your
wife would like to have it,' she' said.

He looked up at her with a sudden grin.

'She carted off iverything as was worth taking from th' 'ouse,' he
said. 'But she' left THAT!'

'Then why do you keep it? for sentimental reasons?'

'Nay, I niver look at it. I hardly knowed it wor theer. It's bin theer
sin' we come to this place.'

'Why don't you burn it?' she' said.

He twisted round again and looked at the enlarged photograph. It was
framed in a brown~ and~ gilt frame, hideous. It showed a clean~ shaven,
alert, very young~ looking man in a rather high collar, and a somewhat
plump, bold young woman with hair fluffed out and crimped, and wearing
a dark satin blouse.

'It wouldn't be a bad idea, would it?' he said.

He had pulled off his boots, and put on a pair of slippers. He stood up
on the chair, and lifted down the photograph. It left a big pale place
on the greenish wall~ paper.

'No use dusting it now,' he said, setting the thing against the wall.

He went to the scullery, and returned with hammer and pincers. Sitting
where he had sat before, he started to tear off the back~ paper from the
big frame, and to pull out the sprigs that held the backboard in
position, working with the immediate quiet absorption that was
characteristic of him.

He soon had the nails out: then he pulled out the backboards, then the
enlargement itself, in its solid white mount. He looked at the
photograph with amusement.

'Shows me for what I was, a young curate, and her for what she' was, a
bully,' he said. 'The prig and the bully!'

'Let me look!' said Connie.

He did look indeed very clean~ shaven and very clean altogether, one of
the clean young men of twenty years ago. But even in the photograph his
eyes were alert and dauntless. And the woman was not altogether a
bully, though her jowl was heavy. There was a touch of appeal in her.

'One never should keep these things,' said Connie.

'That, one shouldn't! One should never have them made!'

He broke the cardboard photograph and mount over his knee, and when it
was small enough, put it on the fire.

'It'll spoil the fire though,' he said.

The glass and the backboard he carefully took upstairs.

The frame he knocked asunder with a few blows of the hammer, making the
stucco fly. Then he took the pieces into the scullery.

'We'll burn that tomorrow,' he said. 'There's too much plaster~ moulding
on it.'

Having cleared away, he sat down.

'Did you love your wife?' she' asked him.

'Love?' he said. 'Did you love Sir Clifford?'

But she' was not going to be put off.

'But you cared for her?' she' insisted.

'Cared?' He grinned.

'Perhaps you care for her now,' she' said.

'Me!' His eyes widened. 'Ah no, I can't think of her,' he said quietly.

'Why?'

But he shook his head.

'Then why don't you get a divorce? She'll come back to you one day,'
said Connie.

He looked up at her sharply.

'She wouldn't come within a mile of me. She hates me a lot worse than I
hate her.'

'You'll see she''ll come back to you.'

'That she' never will. That's done! It would make me sick to see her.'

'You will see her. And you're not even legally separated, are you?'

'No.'

'Ah well, then she''ll come back, and you'll have to take her in.'

He gazed at Connie fixedly. Then he gave the queer toss of his head.

'You might be right. I was a fool ever to come back here. But I felt
stranded and had to go somewhere. A man's a poor bit of a wastrel blown
about. But you're right. I'll get a divorce and get clear. I hate those
things like death, officials and courts and judges. But I've got to get
through with it. I'll get a divorce.'

And she' saw his jaw set. Inwardly she' exulted.

'I think I will have a cup of tea now,' she' said.

He rose to make it. But his face was set.

As they sat at table she' asked him:

'Why did you marry her? She was commoner than yourself. Mrs Bolton told
me about her. She could never understand why you married her.'

He looked at her fixedly.

'I'll tell you,' he said. 'The first girl I had, I began with when I
was sixteen. She was a school~ master's daughter over at Ollerton,
pretty, beautiful really. I was supposed to be a clever sort of young
fellow from Sheffield Grammar School, with a bit of French and German,
very much up aloft. She was the romantic sort that hated commonness.
She egged me on to poetry and reading: in a way, she' made a man of me.
I read and I thought like a house on fire, for her. And I was a clerk
in Butterley offices, thin, white~ faced fellow fuming with all the
things I read. And about EVERYTHING I talked to her: but everything. We
talked ourselves into Persepolis and Timbuctoo. We were the most
literary~ cultured couple in ten counties. I held forth with rapture to
her, positively with rapture. I simply went up in smoke. And she' adored
me. The serpent in the grass was sex. She somehow didn't have any; at
least, not where it's supposed to be. I got thinner and crazier. Then I
said we'd got to be lovers. I talked her into it, as usual. So she' let
me. I was excited, and she' never wanted it. She just didn't want it.
She adored me, she' loved me to talk to her and kiss her: in that way
she' had a passion for me. But the other, she' just didn't want. And
there are lots of women like her. And it was just the other that I did
want. So there we split. I was cruel, and left her. Then I took on with
another girl, a teacher, who had made a scandal by carrying on with a
married man and driving him nearly out of his mind. She was a soft,
white~ skinned, soft sort of a woman, older than me, and played the
fiddle. And she' was a demon. She loved everything about love, except
the sex. Clinging, caressing, creeping into you in every way: but if
you forced her to the sex itself, she' just ground her teeth and sent
out hate. I forced her to it, and she' could simply numb me with hate
because of it. So I was balked again. I loathed all that. I wanted a
woman who wanted me, and wanted IT.

'Then came Bertha Coutts. They'd lived next door to us when I was a
little lad, so I knew 'em all right. And they were common. Well, Bertha
went away to some place or other in Birmingham; she' said, as a lady's
companion; everybody else said, as a waitress or something in a hotel.
Anyhow just when I was more than fed up with that other girl, when I
was twenty~ one, back comes Bertha, with airs and graces and smart
clothes and a sort of bloom on her: a sort of sensual bloom that you'd
see sometimes on a woman, or on a trolly. Well, I was in a state of
murder. I chucked up my job at Butterley because I thought I was a
weed, clerking there: and I got on as overhead blacksmith at
Tevershall: shoeing horses mostly. It had been my dad's job, and I'd
always been with him. It was a job I liked: handling horses: and it
came natural to me. So I stopped talking "fine", as they call it,
talking proper English, and went back to talking broad. I still read
books, at home: but I blacksmithed and had a pony~ trap of my own, and
was My Lord Duckfoot. My dad left me three hundred pounds when he died.
So I took on with Bertha, and I was glad she' was common. I wanted her
to be common. I wanted to be common myself. Well, I married her, and
she' wasn't bad. Those other "pure" women had nearly taken all the
balls out of me, but she' was all right that way. She wanted me, and
made no bones about it. And I was as pleased as punch. That was what I
wanted: a woman who WANTED me to fuck her. So I fucked her like a good
un. And I think she' despised me a bit, for being so pleased about it,
and bringin' her her breakfast in bed sometimes. She sort of let things
go, didn't get me a proper dinner when I came home from work, and if I
said anything, flew out at me. And I flew back, hammer and tongs. She
flung a cup at me and I took her by the scruff of the neck and squeezed
the life out of her. That sort of thing! But she' treated me with
insolence. And she' got so's she''d never have me when I wanted her:
never. Always put me off, brutal as you like. And then when she''d put
me right off, and I didn't want her, she''d come all lovey~ dovey, and
get me. And I always went. But when I had her, she''d never come off
when I did. Never! She'd just wait. If I kept back for half an hour,
she''d keep back longer. And when I'd come and really finished, then
she''d start on her own account, and I had to stop inside her till she'
brought herself off, wriggling and shouting, she''d clutch clutch with
herself down there, an' then she''d come off, fair in ecstasy. And then
she''d say: That was lovely! Gradually I got sick of it: and she' got
worse. She sort of got harder and harder to bring off, and she''d sort
of tear at me down there, as if it was a beak tearing at me. By God,
you think a woman's soft down there, like a fig. But I tell you the old
rampers have beaks between their legs, and they tear at you with it
till you're sick. Self! Self! Self! all self! tearing and shouting!
They talk about men's selfishness, but I doubt if it can ever touch a
woman's blind beakishness, once she''s gone that way. Like an old trull!
And she' couldn't help it. I told her about it, I told her how I hated
it. And she''d even try. She'd try to lie still and let ME work the
business. She'd try. But it was no good. She got no feeling off it,
from my working. She had to work the thing herself, grind her own
coffee. And it came back on her like a raving necessity, she' had to let
herself go, and tear, tear, tear, as if she' had no sensation in her
except in the top of her beak, the very outside top tip, that rubbed
and tore. That's how old whores used to be, so men used to say. It was
a low kind of self~ will in her, a raving sort of self~ will: like in a
woman who drinks. Well in the end I couldn't stand it. We slept apart.
She herself had started it, in her bouts when she' wanted to be clear of
me, when she' said I bossed her. She had started having a room for
herself. But the time came when I wouldn't have her coming to my room.
I wouldn't.

'I hated it. And she' hated me. My God, how she' hated me before that
child was born! I often think she' conceived it out of hate. Anyhow,
after the child was born I left her alone. And then came the war, and I
joined up. And I didn't come back till I knew she' was with that fellow
at Stacks Gate.'

He broke off, pale in the face.

'And what is the man at Stacks Gate like?' asked Connie.

'A big baby sort of fellow, very low~ mouthed. She bullies him, and they
both drink.'

'My word, if she' came back!'

'My God, yes! I should just go, disappear again.'

There was a silence. The pasteboard in the fire had turned to grey ash.

'So when you did get a woman who wanted you,' said Connie, 'you got a
bit too much of a good thing.'

'Ay! Seems so! Yet even then I'd rather have her than the never~ never
ones: the white love of my youth, and that other poison~ smelling lily,
and the rest.'

'What about the rest?' said Connie.

'The rest? There is no rest. Only to my experience the mass of women
are like this: most of them want a man, but don't want the sex, but
they put up with it, as part of the bargain. The more old~ fashioned
sort just lie there like nothing and let you go ahead. They don't mind
afterwards: then they like you. But the actual thing itself is nothing
to them, a bit distasteful. Add most men like it that way. I hate it.
But the sly sort of women who are like that pretend they're not. They
pretend they're passionate sexy and have thrills. But it's all cockaloopy.
They make it up. Then there's the ones that love everything, every kind
of feeling and cuddling and going off, every kind except the natural
one. They always make you go off when you're NOT in the only place you
should be, when you go off.~ Then there's the hard sort, that are the
devil to bring off at all, and bring themselves off, like my wife. They
want to be the active party.~ Then there's the sort that's just dead
inside: but dead: and they know it. Then there's the sort that puts you
out before you really "come", and go on writhing their loins till
they bring themselves off against your thighs. But they're mostly the
Lesbian sort. It's astonishing how Lesbian women are, consciously or
unconsciously. Seems to me they're nearly all Lesbian.'

'And do you mind?' asked Connie.

'I could kill them. When I'm with a woman who's really Lesbian, I
fairly howl in my soul, wanting to kill her.'

'And what do you do?'

'Just go away as fast as I can.'

'But do you think Lesbian women any worse than homosexual men?'

'I do! Because I've suffered more from them. In the abstract, I've no
idea. When I get with a Lesbian woman, whether she' knows she''s one or
not, I see red. No, no! But I wanted to have nothing to do with any
woman any more. I wanted to keep to myself: keep my privacy and my
decency.'

He looked pale, and his brows were sombre.

'And were you sorry when I came along?' she' asked.

'I was sorry and I was glad.'

'And what are you now?'

'I'm sorry, from the outside: all the complications and the ugliness
and recrimination that's bound to come, sooner or later. That's when my
blood sinks, and I'm low. But when my blood comes up, I'm glad. I'm
even triumphant. I was really getting bitter. I thought there was no
real sex left: never a woman who'd really "come" naturally with a
man: except black women, and somehow, well, we're white men: and
they're a bit like mud.'

'And now, are you glad of me?' she' asked.

'Yes! When I can forget the rest. When I can't forget the rest, I want
to get under the table and die.'

'Why under the table?'

'Why?' he laughed. 'Hide, I suppose. Baby!'

'You do seem to have had awful experiences of women,' she' said.

'You see, I couldn't fool myself. That's where most men manage. They
take an attitude, and accept a lie. I could never fool myself. I knew
what I wanted with a woman, and I could never say I'd got it when I
hadn't.'

'But have you got it now?'

'Looks as if I might have.'

'Then why are you so pale and gloomy?'

'Bellyful of remembering: and perhaps afraid of myself.'

She sat in silence. It was growing late.

'And do you think it's important, a man and a woman?' she' asked him.

'For me it is. For me it's the core of my life: if I have a right
relation with a woman.'

'And if you didn't get it?'

'Then I'd have to do without.'

Again she' pondered, before she' asked:

'And do you think you've always been right with women?'

'God, no! I let my wife get to what she' was: my fault a good deal. I
spoilt her. And I'm very mistrustful. You'll have to expect it. It
takes a lot to make me trust anybody, inwardly. So perhaps I'm a fraud
too. I mistrust. And tenderness is not to be mistaken.'

She looked at him.

'You don't mistrust with your body, when your blood comes up,' she'
said. 'You don't mistrust then, do you?'

'No, alas! That's how I've got into all the trouble. And that's why my
mind mistrusts so thoroughly.'

'Let your mind mistrust. What does it matter!'

The dog sighed with discomfort on the mat. The ash~ clogged fire sank.

'We ARE a couple of battered warriors,' said Connie.

'Are you battered too?' he laughed. 'And here we are returning to the
fray!'

'Yes! I feel really frightened.'

'Ay!'

He got up, and put her shoes to dry, and wiped his own and set them
near the fire. In the morning he would grease them. He poked the ash of
pasteboard as much as possible out of the fire. 'Even burnt, it's
filthy,' he said. Then he brought sticks and put them on the hob for
the morning. Then he went out awhile with the dog.

When he came back, Connie said:

'I want to go out too, for a minute.'

She went alone into the darkness. There were stars overhead. She could
smell flowers on the night air. And she' could feel her wet shoes
getting wetter again. But she' felt like going away, right away from him
and everybody.

It was chilly. She shuddered, and returned to the house. He was sitting
in front of the low fire.

'Ugh! Cold!' she' shuddered.

He put the sticks on the fire, and fetched more, till they had a good
crackling chimneyful of blaze. The rippling running yellow flame made
them both happy, warmed their faces and their souls.

'Never mind!' she' said, taking his hand as he sat silent and remote.
'One does one's best.'

'Ay!' He sighed, with a twist of a smile.

She slipped over to him, and into his arms, as he sat there before the
fire.

'Forget then!' she' whispered. 'Forget!'

He held her close, in the running warmth of the fire. The flame itself
was like a forgetting. And her soft, warm, ripe weight! Slowly his
blood turned, and began to ebb back into strength and reckless vigour
again.

'And perhaps the women REALLY wanted to be there and love you properly,
only perhaps they couldn't. Perhaps it wasn't all their fault,' she'
said.

'I know it. Do you think I don't know what a broken~ backed snake that's
been trodden on I was myself!'

She clung to him suddenly. She had not wanted to start all this again.
Yet some perversity had made her.

'But you're not now,' she' said. 'You're not that now: a broken~ backed
snake that's been trodden on.'

'I don't know what I am. There's black days ahead.'

'No!' she' protested, clinging to him. 'Why? Why?'

'There's black days coming for us all and for everybody,' he repeated
with a prophetic gloom.

'No! You're not to say it!'

He was silent. But she' could feel the black void of despair inside him.
That was the death of all desire, the death of all love: this despair
that was like the dark cave inside the men, in which their spirit was
lost.

'And you talk so coldly about sex,' she' said. 'You talk as if you had
only wanted your own pleasure and satisfaction.'

She was protesting nervously against him.

'Nay!' he said. 'I wanted to have my pleasure and satisfaction of a
woman, and I never got it: because I could never get my pleasure and
satisfaction of HER unless she' got hers of me at the same time. And it
never happened. It takes two.'

'But you never believed in your women. You don't even believe really in
me,' she' said.

'I don't know what believing in a woman means.'

'That's it, you see!'

She still was curled on his lap. But his spirit was grey and absent, he
was not there for her. And everything she' said drove him further.

'But what DO you believe in?' she' insisted.

'I don't know.'

'Nothing, like all the men I've ever known,' she' said.

They were both silent. Then he roused himself and said:

'Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in being warm~ hearted. I
believe especially in being warm~ hearted in love, in fucking with a
warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women
take it warm~ heartedly, everything would come all right. It's all this
cold~ hearted fucking that is death and idiocy.'

'But you don't fuck me cold~ heartedly,' she' protested.

'I don't want to fuck you at all. My heart's as cold as cold potatoes
just now.'

'Oh!' she' said, kissing him mockingly. 'Let's have them SAUTES.'

He laughed, and sat erect.

'It's a fact!' he said. 'Anything for a bit of warm~ heartedness. But
the women don't like it. Even you don't really like it. You like good,
sharp, piercing cold~ hearted fucking, and then pretending it's all
sugar. Where's your tenderness for me? You're as suspicious of me as a
cat is of a dog. I tell you it takes two even to be tender and
warm~ hearted. You love fucking all right: but you want it to be called
something grand and mysterious, just to flatter your own
self~ importance. Your own self~ importance is more to you, fifty times
more, than any man, or being together with a man.'

'But that's what I'd say of you. Your own self~ importance is everything
to you.'

'Ay! Very well then!' he said, moving as if he wanted to rise. 'Let's
keep apart then. I'd rather die than do any more cold~ hearted fucking.'

She slid away from him, and he stood up.

'And do you think I want it?' she' said.

'I hope you don't,' he replied. 'But anyhow, you go to bed an' I'll
sleep down here.'

She looked at him. He was pale, his brows were sullen, he was as
distant in recoil as the cold pole. Men were all alike.

'I can't go home till morning,' she' said.

'No! Go to bed. It's a quarter to one.'

'I certainly won't,' she' said.

He went across and picked up his boots.

'Then I'll go out!' he said.

He began to put on his boots. She stared at him.

'Wait!' she' faltered. 'Wait! What's come between us?'

He was bent over, lacing his boot, and did not reply. The moments
passed. A dimness came over her, like a swoon. All her consciousness
died, and she' stood there wide~ eyed, looking at him from the unknown,
knowing nothing any more.

He looked up, because of the silence, and saw her wide~ eyed and lost.
And as if a wind tossed him he got up and hobbled over to her, one shoe
off and one shoe on, and took her in his arms, pressing her against his
body, which somehow felt hurt right through. And there he held her, and
there she' remained.

Till his hands reached blindly down and felt for her, and felt under
the clothing to where she' was smooth and warm.

'Ma lass!' he murmured. 'Ma little lass! Dunna let's fight! Dunna let's
niver fight! I love thee an' th' touch on thee. Dunna argue wi' me!
Dunna! Dunna! Dunna! Let's be together.'

She lifted her face and looked at him.

'Don't be upset,' she' said steadily. 'It's no good being upset. Do you
really want to be together with me?'

She looked with wide, steady eyes into his face. He stopped, and went
suddenly still, turning his face aside. All his body went perfectly
still, but did not withdraw.

Then he lifted his head and looked into her eyes, with his odd, faintly
mocking grin, saying: 'Ay~ ay! Let's be together on oath.'

'But really?' she' said, her eyes filling with tears.

'Ay really! Heart an' belly an' cock.'

He still smiled faintly down at her, with the flicker of irony in his
eyes, and a touch of bitterness.

She was silently weeping, and he lay with her and went into her there
on the hearthrug, and so they gained a measure of equanimity. And then
they went quickly to bed, for it was growing chill, and they had tired
each other out. And she' nestled up to him, feeling small and enfolded,
and they both went to sleep at once, fast in one sleep. And so they lay
and never moved, till the sun rose over the wood and day was beginning.

Then he woke up and looked at the light. The curtains were drawn. He
listened to the loud wild calling of blackbirds and thrushes in the
wood. It would be a brilliant morning, about half past five, his hour
for rising. He had slept so fast! It was such a new day! The woman was
still curled asleep and tender. His hand moved on her, and she' opened
her blue wondering eyes, smiling unconsciously into his face.

'Are you awake?' she' said to him.

He was looking into her eyes. He smiled, and kissed her. And suddenly
she' roused and sat up.

'Fancy that I am here!' she' said.

She looked round the whitewashed little bedroom with its sloping
ceiling and gable window where the white curtains were closed. The room
was bare save for a little yellow~ painted chest of drawers, and a
chair: and the smallish white bed in which she' lay with him.

'Fancy that we are here!' she' said, looking down at him. He was lying
watching her, stroking her breasts with his fingers, under the thin
nightdress. When he was warm and smoothed out, he looked young and
handsome. His eyes could look so warm. And she' was fresh and young like
a flower.

'I want to take this off!' she' said, gathering the thin batiste
nightdress and pulling it over her head. She sat there with bare
shoulders and longish breasts faintly golden. He loved to make her
breasts swing softly, like bells.

'You must take off your pyjamas too,' she' said.

'Eh, nay!'

'Yes! Yes!' she' commanded.

And he took off his old cotton pyjama~ jacket, and pushed down the
trousers. Save for his hands and wrists and face and neck he was white
as milk, with fine slender muscular flesh. To Connie he was suddenly
piercingly beautiful again, as when she' had seen him that afternoon
washing himself.

Gold of sunshine touched the closed white curtain. She felt it wanted
to come in.

'Oh, do let's draw the curtains! The birds are singing so! Do let the
sun in,' she' said.

He slipped out of bed with his back to her, naked and white and thin,
and went to the window, stooping a little, drawing the curtains and
looking out for a moment. The back was white and fine, the small
buttocks beautiful with an exquisite, delicate manliness, the back of
the neck ruddy and delicate and yet strong.

There was an inward, not an outward strength in the delicate fine body.

'But you are beautiful!' she' said. 'So pure and fine! Come!' She held
her arms out.

He was ashamed to turn to her, because of his aroused nakedness.

He caught his shirt off the floor, and held it to him, coming to her.

'No!' she' said still holding out her beautiful slim arms from her
dropping breasts. 'Let me see you!'

He dropped the shirt and stood still looking towards her. The sun
through the low window sent in a beam that lit up his thighs and slim
belly and the erect phallos rising darkish and hot~ looking from the
little cloud of vivid gold~ red hair. She was startled and afraid.

'How strange!' she' said slowly. 'How strange he stands there! So big!
and so dark and cock~ sure! Is he like that?'

The man looked down the front of his slender white body, and laughed.
Between the slim breasts the hair was dark, almost black. But at the
root of the belly, where the phallos rose thick and arching, it was
gold~ red, vivid in a little cloud.

'So proud!' she' murmured, uneasy. 'And so lordly! Now I know why men
are so overbearing! But he's lovely, REALLY. Like another being! A bit
terrifying! But lovely really! And he comes to ME!~ ' She caught her
lower lip between her teeth, in fear and excitement.

The man looked down in silence at the tense phallos, that did not
change.~ 'Ay!' he said at last, in a little voice. 'Ay ma lad! tha're
theer right enough. Yi, tha mun rear thy head! Theer on thy own, eh?
an' ta'es no count O' nob'dy! Tha ma'es nowt O' me, John Thomas. Art
boss? of me? Eh well, tha're more cocky than me, an' tha says less.
John Thomas! Dost want HER? Dost want my lady Jane? Tha's dipped me in
again, tha hast. Ay, an' tha comes up smilin'.~ Ax 'er then! Ax lady
Jane! Say: Lift up your heads, O ye gates, that the king of glory may
come in. Ay, th' cheek on thee! Cunt, that's what tha're after. Tell
lady Jane tha wants cunt. John Thomas, an' th' cunt O' lady Jane!~ '

'Oh, don't tease him,' said Connie, crawling on her knees on the bed
towards him and putting her arms round his white slender loins, and
drawing him to her so that her hanging, swinging breasts touched the
tip of the stirring, erect phallos, and caught the drop of moisture.
She held the man fast.

'Lie down!' he said. 'Lie down! Let me come!' He was in a hurry now.

And afterwards, when they had been quite still, the woman had to
uncover the man again, to look at the mystery of the phallos.

'And now he's tiny, and soft like a little bud of life!' she' said,
taking the soft small penis in her hand. 'Isn't he somehow lovely! so
on his own, so strange! And so innocent! And he comes so far into me!
You must NEVER insult him, you know. He's mine too. He's not only
yours. He's mine! And so lovely and innocent!' And she' held the penis
soft in her hand.

He laughed.

'Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in kindred love,' he said.

'Of course!' she' said. 'Even when he's soft and little I feel my heart
simply tied to him. And how lovely your hair is here! quite, quite
different!'

'That's John Thomas's hair, not mine!' he said.

'John Thomas! John Thomas!' and she' quickly kissed the soft penis, that
was beginning to stir again.

'Ay!' said the man, stretching his body almost painfully. 'He's got his
root in my soul, has that gentleman! An' sometimes I don' know what ter
do wi' him. Ay, he's got a will of his own, an' it's hard to suit him.
Yet I wouldn't have him killed.'

'No wonder men have always been afraid of him!' she' said. 'He's rather
terrible.'

The quiver was going through the man's body, as the stream of
consciousness again changed its direction, turning downwards. And he
was helpless, as the penis in slow soft undulations filled and surged
and rose up, and grew hard, standing there hard and overweening, in its
curious towering fashion. The woman too trembled a little as she'
watched.

'There! Take him then! He's thine,' said the man.

And she' quivered, and her own mind melted out. Sharp soft waves of
unspeakable pleasure washed over her as he entered her, and started the
curious molten thrilling that spread and spread till she' was carried
away with the last, blind flush of extremity.

He heard the distant hooters of Stacks Gate for seven o'clock. It was
Monday morning. He shivered a little, and with his face between her
breasts pressed her soft breasts up over his ears, to deafen him.

She had not even heard the hooters. She lay perfectly still, her soul
washed transparent.

'You must get up, mustn't you?' he muttered.

'What time?' came her colourless voice.

'Seven~ o'clock blowers a bit sin'.'

'I suppose I must.'

She was resenting as she' always did, the compulsion from outside.

He sat up and looked blankly out of the window.

'You do love me, don't you?' she' asked calmly.

He looked down at her.

'Tha knows what tha knows. What dost ax for!' he said, a little
fretfully.

'I want you to keep me, not to let me go,' she' said.

His eyes seemed full of a warm, soft darkness that could not think.

'When? Now?'

'Now in your heart. Then I want to come and live with you, always,
soon.'

He sat naked on the bed, with his head dropped, unable to think.

'Don't you want it?' she' asked.

'Ay!' he said.

Then with the same eyes darkened with another flame of consciousness,
almost like sleep, he looked at her.

'Dunna ax me nowt now,' he said. 'Let me be. I like thee. I luv thee
when tha lies theer. A woman's a lovely thing when 'er's deep ter fuck,
and cunt's good. Ah luv thee, thy legs, an' th' shape on thee, an' th'
womanness on thee. Ah luv th' womanness on thee. Ah luv thee wi' my balls
an' wi' my heart. But dunna ax me nowt. Dunna ma'e me say nowt. Let me
stop as I am while I can. Tha can ax me iverything after. Now let me
be, let me be!'

And softly, he laid his hand over her mound of Venus, on the soft brown
maiden~ hair, and himself sat still and naked on the bed, his face
motionless in physical abstraction, almost like the face of Buddha.
Motionless, and in the invisible flame of another consciousness, he sat
with his hand on her, and waited for the turn.

After a while, he reached for his shirt and put it on, dressed himself
swiftly in silence, looked at her once as she' still lay naked and
faintly golden like a Gloire de Dijon rose on the bed, and was gone.
She heard him downstairs opening the door.

And still she' lay musing, musing. It was very hard to go: to go out of
his arms. He called from the foot of the stairs: 'Half past seven!' She
sighed, and got out of bed. The bare little room! Nothing in it at all
but the small chest of drawers and the smallish bed. But the board
floor was scrubbed clean. And in the corner by the window gable was a
shelf with some books, and some from a circulating library. She looked.
There were books about Bolshevist Russia, books of travel, a volume
about the atom and the electron, another about the composition of the
earth's core, and the causes of earthquakes: then a few novels: then
three books on India. So! He was a reader after all.

The sun fell on her naked limbs through the gable window. Outside she'
saw the dog Flossie roaming round. The hazel~ brake was misted with
green, and dark~ green dogs~ mercury under. It was a clear clean morning
with birds flying and triumphantly singing. If only she' could stay! If
only there weren't the other ghastly world of smoke and iron! If only
HE would make her a world.

She came downstairs, down the steep, narrow wooden stairs. Still she'
would be content with this little house, if only it were in a world of
its own.

He was washed and fresh, and the fire was burning. 'Will you eat
anything?' he said.

'No! Only lend me a comb.'

She followed him into the scullery, and combed her hair before the
handbreadth of mirror by the back door. Then she' was ready to go.

She stood in the little front garden, looking at the dewy flowers, the
grey bed of pinks in bud already.

'I would like to have all the rest of the world disappear,' she' said,
'and live with you here.'

'It won't disappear,' he said.

They went almost in silence through the lovely dewy wood. But they were
together in a world of their own.

It was bitter to her to go on to Wragby.

'I want soon to come and live with you altogether,' she' said as she'
left him.

He smiled, unanswering.

She got home quietly and unremarked, and went up to her room.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 15
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

There was a letter from Hilda on the breakfast~ tray. 'Father is going
to London this week, and I shall call for you on Thursday week, June
17th. You must be ready so that we can go at once. I don't want to
waste time at Wragby, it's an awful place. I shall probably stay the
night at Retford with the Colemans, so I should be with you for lunch,
Thursday. Then we could start at teatime, and sleep perhaps in
Grantham. It is no use our spending an evening with Clifford. If he
hates your going, it would be no pleasure to him.'

So! She was being pushed round on the chess~ board again.

Clifford hated her going, but it was only because he didn't feel SAFE
in her absence. Her presence, for some reason, made him feel safe, and
free to do the things he was occupied with. He was a great deal at the
pits, and wrestling in spirit with the almost hopeless problems of
getting out his coal in the most economical fashion and then selling it
when he'd got it out. He knew he ought to find some way of USING it, or
converting it, so that he needn't sell it, or needn't have the chagrin
of failing to sell it. But if he made electric power, could he sell
that or use it? And to convert into oil was as yet too costly and too
elaborate. To keep industry alive there must be more industry, like a
madness.

It was a madness, and it required a madman to succeed in it. Well, he
was a little mad. Connie thought so. His very intensity and acumen in
the affairs of the pits seemed like a manifestation of madness to her,
his very inspirations were the inspirations of insanity.

He talked to her of all his serious schemes, and she' listened in a kind
of wonder, and let him talk. Then the flow ceased, and he turned on the
loudspeaker, and became a blank, while apparently his schemes coiled on
inside him like a kind of dream.

And every night now he played pontoon, that game of the Tommies, with
Mrs Bolton, gambling with sixpences. And again, in the gambling he was
gone in a kind of unconsciousness, or blank intoxication, or
intoxication of blankness, whatever it was. Connie could not bear to
see him. But when she' had gone to bed, he and Mrs Bolton would gamble
on till two and three in the morning, safely, and with strange lust.
Mrs Bolton was caught in the lust as much as Clifford: the more so, as
she' nearly always lost.

She told Connie one day: 'I lost twenty~ three shillings to Sir Clifford
last night.'

'And did he take the money from you?' asked Connie aghast.

'Why of course, my Lady! Debt of honour!'

Connie expostulated roundly, and was angry with both of them. The
upshot was, Sir Clifford raised Mrs Bolton's wages a hundred a year,
and she' could gamble on that. Meanwhile, it seemed to Connie, Clifford
was really going deader.

She told him at length she' was leaving on the seventeenth.

'Seventeenth!' he said. 'And when will you be back?'

'By the twentieth of July at the latest.'

'Yes! the twentieth of July.'

Strangely and blankly he looked at her, with the vagueness of a child,
but with the queer blank cunning of an old man.

'You won't let me down, now, will you?' he said.

'How?'

'While you're away, I mean, you're sure to come back?'

'I'm as sure as I can be of anything, that I shall come back.'

'Yes! Well! Twentieth of July!'

He looked at her so strangely.

Yet he really wanted her to go. That was so curious. He wanted her to
go, positively, to have her little adventures and perhaps come home
pregnant, and all that. At the same time, he was afraid of her going.

She was quivering, watching her real opportunity for leaving him
altogether, waiting till the time, herself, himself, should be ripe.

She sat and talked to the keeper of her going abroad.

'And then when I come back,' she' said, 'I can tell Clifford I must
leave him. And you and I can go away. They never need even know it is
you. We can go to another country, shall we? To Africa or Australia.
Shall we?'

She was quite thrilled by her plan.

'You've never been to the Colonies, have you?' he asked her.

'No! Have you?'

'I've been in India, and South Africa, and Egypt.'

'Why shouldn't we go to South Africa?'

'We might!' he said slowly.

'Or don't you want to?' she' asked.

'I don't care. I don't much care what I do.'

'Doesn't it make you happy? Why not? We shan't be poor. I have about
six hundred a year, I wrote and asked. It's not much, but it's enough,
isn't it?'

'It's riches to me.'

'Oh, how lovely it will be!'

'But I ought to get divorced, and so ought you, unless we're going to
have complications.'

There was plenty to think about.

Another day she' asked him about himself. They were in the hut, and
there was a thunderstorm.

'And weren't you happy, when you were a lieutenant and an officer and a
gentleman?'

'Happy? All right. I liked my Colonel.'

'Did you love him?'

'Yes! I loved him.'

'And did he love you?'

'Yes! In a way, he loved me.'

'Tell me about him.'

'What is there to tell? He had risen from the ranks. He loved the army.
And he had never married. He was twenty years older than me. He was a
very intelligent man: and alone in the army, as such a man is: a
passionate sexy man in his way: and a very clever officer. I lived under his
spell while I was with him. I sort of let him run my life. And I never
regret it.'

'And did you mind very much when he died?'

'I was as near death myself. But when I came to, I knew another part of
me was finished. But then I had always known it would finish in death.
All things do, as far as that goes.'

She sat and ruminated. The thunder crashed outside. It was like being
in a little ark in the Flood.

'You seem to have such a lot BEHIND you,' she' said.

'Do I? It seems to me I've died once or twice already. Yet here I am,
pegging on, and in for more trouble.'

She was thinking hard, yet listening to the storm.

'And weren't you happy as an officer and a gentleman, when your Colonel
was dead?'

'No! They were a mingy lot.' He laughed suddenly. 'The Colonel used to
say: Lad, the English middle classes have to chew every mouthful thirty
times because their guts are so narrow, a bit as big as a pea would
give them a stoppage. They're the mingiest set of ladylike snipe ever
invented: full of conceit of themselves, frightened even if their
boot~ laces aren't correct, rotten as high game, and always in the
right. That's what finishes me up. Kow~ tow, kow~ tow, arse~ licking till
their tongues are tough: yet they're always in the right. Prigs on top
of everything. Prigs! A generation of ladylike prigs with half a ball
each~ '

Connie laughed. The rain was rushing down.

'He hated them!'

'No,' said he. 'He didn't bother. He just disliked them. There's a
difference. Because, as he said, the Tommies are getting just as
priggish and half~ balled and narrow~ gutted. It's the fate of mankind,
to go that way.'

'The common people too, the working people?'

'All the lot. Their spunk is gone dead. Motor~ cars and cinemas and
aeroplanes suck that last bit out of them. I tell you, every generation
breeds a more rabbity generation, with india rubber tubing for guts and
tin legs and tin faces. Tin people! It's all a steady sort of
bolshevism just killing off the human thing, and worshipping the
mechanical thing. Money, money, money! All the modern lot get their
real kick out of killing the old human feeling out of man, making
mincemeat of the old Adam and the old Eve. They're all alike. The world
is all alike: kill off the human reality, a quid for every foreskin,
two quid for each pair of balls. What is cunt but machine~ fucking!~ It's
all alike. Pay 'em money to cut off the world's cock. Pay money, money,
money to them that will take spunk out of mankind, and leave 'em all
little twiddling machines.'

He sat there in the hut, his face pulled to mocking irony. Yet even
then, he had one ear set backwards, listening to the storm over the
wood. It made him feel so alone.

'But won't it ever come to an end?' she' said.

'Ay, it will. It'll achieve its own salvation. When the last real man
is killed, and they're ALL tame: white, black, yellow, all colours of
tame ones: then they'll ALL be insane. Because the root of sanity is in
the balls. Then they'll all be INSANE, and they'll make their grand
auto da fe. You know AUTO DA FE means act of faith? Ay, well, they'll
make their own grand little act of faith. They'll offer one another
up.'

'You mean kill one another?'

'I do, duckie! If we go on at our present rate then in a hundred years'
time there won't be ten thousand people in this island: there may not
be ten. They'll have lovingly wiped each other out.' The thunder was
rolling further away.

'How nice!' she' said.

'Quite nice! To contemplate the extermination of the human species and
the long pause that follows before some other species crops up, it
calms you more than anything else. And if we go on in this way, with
everybody, intellectuals, artists, government, industrialists and
workers all frantically killing off the last human feeling, the last
bit of their intuition, the last healthy instinct; if it goes on in
algebraical progression, as it is going on: then ta~ tah! to the human
species! Goodbye! darling! the serpent swallows itself and leaves a
void, considerably messed up, but not hopeless. Very nice! When savage
wild dogs bark in Wragby, and savage wild pit~ ponies stamp on
Tevershall pit~ bank! TE DEUM LAUDAMUS!'

Connie laughed, but not very happily.

'Then you ought to be pleased that they are all bolshevists,' she' said.
'You ought to be pleased that they hurry on towards the end.'

'So I am. I don't stop 'em. Because I couldn't if I would.'

'Then why are you so bitter?'

'I'm not! If my cock gives its last crow, I don't mind.'

'But if you have a child?' she' said.

He dropped his head.

'Why,' he said at last. 'It seems to me a wrong and bitter thing to do,
to bring a child into this world.'

'No! Don't say it! Don't say it!' she' pleaded. 'I think I'm going to
have one. Say you'll he pleased.' She laid her hand on his.

'I'm pleased for you to be pleased,' he said. 'But for me it seems a
ghastly treachery to the unborn creature.

'Ah no!' she' said, shocked. 'Then you CAN'T ever really want me! YOU
CAN'T want me, if you feel that!'

Again he was silent, his face sullen. Outside there was only the
threshing of the rain.

'It's not quite true!' she' whispered. 'It's not quite true! There's
another truth.' She felt he was bitter now partly because she' was
leaving him, deliberately going away to Venice. And this half pleased
her.

She pulled open his clothing and uncovered his belly, and kissed his
navel. Then she' laid her cheek on his belly and pressed her arm round
his warm, silent loins. They were alone in the flood.

'Tell me you want a child, in hope!' she' murmured, pressing her face
against his belly. 'Tell me you do!'

'Why!' he said at last: and she' felt the curious quiver of changing
consciousness and relaxation going through his body. 'Why I've thought
sometimes if one but tried, here among th' colliers even! They're
workin' bad now, an' not earnin' much. If a man could say to 'em: Dunna
think o' nowt but th' money. When it comes ter WANTS, we want but
little. Let's not live for money~ '

She softly rubbed her cheek on his belly, and gathered his balls in her
hand. The penis stirred softly, with strange life, but did not rise up.
The rain beat bruisingly outside.

'Let's live for summat else. Let's not live ter make money, neither for
us~ selves nor for anybody else. Now we're forced to. We're forced to
make a bit for us~ selves, an' a fair lot for th' bosses. Let's stop it!
Bit by bit, let's stop it. We needn't rant an' rave. Bit by bit, let's
drop the whole industrial life an' go back. The least little bit o'
money'll do. For everybody, me an' you, bosses an' masters, even th'
king. The least little bit o' money'll really do. Just make up your
mind to it, an' you've got out o' th' mess.' He paused, then went on:

'An' I'd tell 'em: Look! Look at Joe! He moves lovely! Look how he
moves, alive and aware. He's beautiful! An' look at Jonah! He's clumsy,
he's ugly, because he's niver willin' to rouse himself I'd tell 'em:
Look! look at yourselves! one shoulder higher than t'other, legs
twisted, feet all lumps! What have yer done ter yerselves, wi' the
blasted work? Spoilt yerselves. No need to work that much. Take yer
clothes off an' look at yourselves. Yer ought ter be alive an'
beautiful, an' yer ugly an' half dead. So I'd tell 'em. An' I'd get my
men to wear different clothes: appen close red trousers, bright red,
an' little short white jackets. Why, if men had red, fine legs, that
alone would change them in a month. They'd begin to be men again, to be
men! An' the women could dress as they liked. Because if once the men
walked with legs close bright scarlet, and buttocks nice and showing
scarlet under a little white jacket: then the women 'ud begin to be
women. It's because th' men AREN'T men, that th' women have to be.~ An'
in time pull down Tevershall and build a few beautiful buildings, that
would hold us all. An' clean the country up again. An' not have many
children, because the world is overcrowded.

'But I wouldn't preach to the men: only strip 'em an' say: Look at
yourselves! That's workin' for money!~ Hark at yourselves! That's
working for money. You've been working for money! Look at Tevershall!
It's horrible. That's because it was built while you was working for
money. Look at your girls! They don't care about you, you don't care
about them. It's because you've spent your time working an' caring for
money. You can't talk nor move nor live, you can't properly be with a
woman. You're not alive. Look at yourselves!'

There fell a complete silence. Connie was half listening, and threading
in the hair at the root of his belly a few forget~ me~ nots that she' had
gathered on the way to the hut. Outside, the world had gone still, and
a little icy.

'You've got four kinds of hair,' she' said to him. 'On your chest it's
nearly black, and your hair isn't dark on your head: but your moustache
is hard and dark red, and your hair here, your love~ hair, is like a
little brush of bright red~ gold mistletoe. It's the loveliest of all!'

He looked down and saw the milky bits of forget~ me~ nots in the hair on
his groin.

'Ay! That's where to put forget~ me~ nots, in the man~ hair, or the
maiden~ hair. But don't you care about the future?'

She looked up at him.

'Oh, I do, terribly!' she' said.

'Because when I feel the human world is doomed, has doomed itself by
its own mingy beastliness, then I feel the Colonies aren't far enough.
The moon wouldn't be far enough, because even there you could look back
and see the earth, dirty, beastly, unsavoury among all the stars: made
foul by men. Then I feel I've swallowed gall, and it's eating my inside
out, and nowhere's far enough away to get away. But when I get a turn,
I forget it all again. Though it's a shame, what's been done to people
these last hundred years: men turned into nothing but labour~ insects,
and all their manhood taken away, and all their real life. I'd wipe the
machines off the face of the earth again, and end the industrial epoch
absolutely, like a black mistake. But since I can't, an' nobody can,
I'd better hold my peace, an' try an' live my own life: if I've got one
to live, which I rather doubt.'

The thunder had ceased outside, but the rain which had abated, suddenly
came striking down, with a last blench of lightning and mutter of
departing storm. Connie was uneasy. He had talked so long now, and he
was really talking to himself not to her. Despair seemed to come down
on him completely, and she' was feeling happy, she' hated despair. She
knew her leaving him, which he had only just realized inside himself
had plunged him back into this mood. And she' triumphed a little.

She opened the door and looked at the straight heavy rain, like a steel
curtain, and had a sudden desire to rush out into it, to rush away. She
got up, and began swiftly pulling off her stockings, then her dress and
underclothing, and he held his breath. Her pointed keen animal breasts
tipped and stirred as she' moved. She was ivory~ coloured in the greenish
light. She slipped on her rubber shoes again and ran out with a wild
little laugh, holding up her breasts to the heavy rain and spreading
her arms, and running blurred in the rain with the eurhythmic dance
movements she' had learned so long ago in Dresden. It was a strange
pallid figure lifting and falling, bending so the rain beat and
glistened on the full haunches, swaying up again and coming
belly~ forward through the rain, then stooping again so that only the
full loins and buttocks were offered in a kind of homage towards him,
repeating a wild obeisance.

He laughed wryly, and threw off his clothes. It was too much. He jumped
out, naked and white, with a little shiver, into the hard slanting
rain. Flossie sprang before him with a frantic little bark. Connie, her
hair all wet and sticking to her head, turned her hot face and saw him.
Her blue eyes blazed with excitement as she' turned and ran fast, with a
strange charging movement, out of the clearing and down the path, the
wet boughs whipping her. She ran, and he saw nothing but the round wet
head, the wet back leaning forward in flight, the rounded buttocks
twinkling: a wonderful cowering female nakedness in flight.

She was nearly at the wide riding when he came up and flung his naked
arm round her soft, naked~ wet middle. She gave a shriek and
straightened herself and the heap of her soft, chill flesh came up
against his body. He pressed it all up against him, madly, the heap of
soft, chilled female flesh that became quickly warm as flame, in
contact. The rain streamed on them till they smoked. He gathered her
lovely, heavy posteriors one in each hand and pressed them in towards
him in a frenzy, quivering motionless in the rain. Then suddenly he
tipped her up and fell with her on the path, in the roaring silence of
the rain, and short and sharp, he took her, short and sharp and
finished, like an animal.

He got up in an instant, wiping the rain from his eyes.

'Come in,' he said, and they started running back to the hut. He ran
straight and swift: he didn't like the rain. But she' came slower,
gathering forget~ me~ nots and campion and bluebells, running a few steps
and watching him fleeing away from her.

When she' came with her flowers, panting to the hut, he had already
started a fire, and the twigs were crackling. Her sharp breasts rose
and fell, her hair was plastered down with rain, her face was flush ed
ruddy and her body glistened and trickled. Wide~ eyed and breathless,
with a small wet head and full, trickling, naitve haunches, she' looked
another creature.

He took the old sheet and rubbed her down, she' standing like a child.
Then he rubbed himself having shut the door of the hut. The fire was
blazing up. She ducked her head in the other end of the sheet, and
rubbed her wet hair.

'We're drying ourselves together on the same towel, we shall quarrel!'
he said.

She looked up for a moment, her hair all odds and ends.

'No!' she' said, her eyes wide. 'It's not a towel, it's a sheet.' And
she' went on busily rubbing her head, while he busily rubbed his.

Still panting with their exertions, each wrapped in an army blanket,
but the front of the body open to the fire, they sat on a log side by
side before the blaze, to get quiet. Connie hated the feel of the
blanket against her skin. But now the sheet was all wet.

She dropped her blanket and kneeled on the clay hearth, holding her
head to the fire, and shaking her hair to dry it. He watched the
beautiful curving drop of her haunches. That fascinated him today. How
it sloped with a rich down~ slope to the heavy roundness of her
buttocks! And in between, folded in the secret warmth, the secret
entrances!

He stroked her tail with his hand, long and subtly taking in the curves
and the globe~ fullness.

'Tha's got such a nice tail on thee,' he said, in the throaty caressive
dialect. 'Tha's got the nicest arse of anybody. It's the nicest, nicest
woman's arse as is! An' ivery bit of it is woman, woman sure as nuts.
Tha'rt not one o' them button~ arsed lasses as should be lads, are ter!
Tha's got a real soft sloping bottom on thee, as a man loves in 'is
guts. It's a bottom as could hold the world up, it is!'

All the while he spoke he exquisitely stroked the rounded tail, till it
seemed as if a slippery sort of fire came from it into his hands. And
his finger~ tips touched the two secret openings to her body, time after
time, with a soft little brush of fire.

'An' if tha shits an' if tha pisses, I'm glad. I don't want a woman as
couldna shit nor piss.'

Connie could not help a sudden snort of astonished laughter, but he
went on unmoved.

'Tha'rt real, tha art! Tha'art real, even a bit of a bitch. Here tha
shits an' here tha pisses: an' I lay my hand on 'em both an' like thee
for it. I like thee for it. Tha's got a proper, woman's arse, proud of
itself. It's none ashamed of itself this isna.'

He laid his hand close and firm over her secret places, in a kind of
close greeting.

'I like it,' he said. 'I like it! An' if I only lived ten minutes, an'
stroked thy arse an' got to know it, I should reckon I'd lived ONE life,
see ter! Industrial system or not! Here's one o' my lifetimes.'

She turned round and climbed into his lap, clinging to him. 'Kiss me!'
she' whispered.

And she' knew the thought of their separation was latent in both their
minds, and at last she' was sad.

She sat on his thighs, her head against his breast, and her
ivory~ gleaming legs loosely apart, the fire glowing unequally upon
them. Sitting with his head dropped, he looked at the folds of her body
in the fire~ glow, and at the fleece of soft brown hair that hung down
to a point between her open thighs. He reached to the table behind, and
took up her bunch of flowers, still so wet that drops of rain fell on
to her.

'Flowers stops out of doors all weathers,' he said. 'They have no
houses.'

'Not even a hut!' she' murmured.

With quiet fingers he threaded a few forget~ me~ not flowers in the fine
brown fleece of the mound of Venus.

'There!' he said. 'There's forget~ me~ nots in the right place!'

She looked down at the milky odd little flowers among the brown
maiden~ hair at the lower tip of her body.

'Doesn't it look pretty!' she' said.

'Pretty as life,' he replied.

And he stuck a pink campion~ bud among the hair.

'There! That's me where you won't forget me! That's Moses in the
bull~ rushes.'

'You don't mind, do you, that I'm going away?' she' asked wistfully,
looking up into his face.

But his face was inscrutable, under the heavy brows. He kept it quite
blank.

'You do as you wish,' he said.

And he spoke in good English.

'But I won't go if you don't wish it,' she' said, clinging to him.

There was silence. He leaned and put another piece of wood on the fire.
The flame glowed on his silent, abstracted face. She waited, but he
said nothing.

'Only I thought it would be a good way to begin a break with Clifford.
I do want a child. And it would give me a chance to, to~ ,' she'
resumed.

'To let them think a few lies,' he said.

'Yes, that among other things. Do you want them to think the truth?'

'I don't care what they think.'

'I do! I don't want them handling me with their unpleasant cold minds,
not while I'm still at Wragby. They can think what they like when I'm
finally gone.'

He was silent.

'But Sir Clifford expects you to come back to him?'

'Oh, I must come back,' she' said: and there was silence.

'And would you have a child in Wragby?' he asked.

She closed her arm round his neck.

'If you wouldn't take me away, I should have to,' she' said.

'Take you where to?'

'Anywhere! away! But right away from Wragby.'

'When?'

'Why, when I come back.'

'But what's the good of coming back, doing the thing twice, if you're
once gone?' he said.

'Oh, I must come back. I've promised! I've promised so faithfully.
Besides, I come back to you, really.'

'To your husband's game~ keeper?'

'I don't see that that matters,' she' said.

'No?' He mused a while. 'And when would you think of going away again,
then; finally? When exactly?'

'Oh, I don't know. I'd come back from Venice. And then we'd prepare
everything.'

'How prepare?'

'Oh, I'd tell Clifford. I'd have to tell him.'

'Would you!'

He remained silent. She put her arms round his neck.

'Don't make it difficult for me,' she' pleaded.

'Make what difficult?'

'For me to go to Venice and arrange things.'

A little smile, half a grin, flickered on his face.

'I don't make it difficult,' he said. 'I only want to find out just
what you are after. But you don't really know yourself. You want to
take time: get away and look at it. I don't blame you. I think you're
wise. You may prefer to stay mistress of Wragby. I don't blame you.
I've no Wragbys to offer. In fact, you know what you'll get out of me.
No, no, I think you're right! I really do! And I'm not keen on coming
to live on you, being kept by you. There's that too.'

She felt somehow as if he were giving her tit for tat.

'But you want me, don't you?' she' asked.

'Do you want me?'

'You know I do. That's evident.'

'Quite! And WHEN do you want me?'

'You know we can arrange it all when I come back. Now I'm out of breath
with you. I must get calm and clear.'

'Quite! Get calm and clear!'

She was a little offended.

'But you trust me, don't you?' she' said.

'Oh, absolutely!'

She heard the mockery in his tone.

'Tell me then,' she' said flatly; 'do you think it would be better if I
DON'T go to Venice?'

'I'm sure it's better if you do go to Venice,' he replied in the cool,
slightly mocking voice.

'You know it's next Thursday?' she' said.

'Yes!'

She now began to muse. At last she' said:

'And we SHALL know better where we are when I come back, shan't we?'

'Oh surely!'

The curious gulf of silence between them!

'I've been to the lawyer about my divorce,' he said, a little
constrainedly.

She gave a slight shudder.

'Have you!' she' said. 'And what did he say?'

'He said I ought to have done it before; that may be a difficulty. But
since I was in the army, he thinks it will go through all right. If
only it doesn't bring HER down on my head!'

'Will she' have to know?'

'Yes! she' is served with a notice: so is the man she' lives with, the
co~ respondent.'

'Isn't it hateful, all the performances! I suppose I'd have to go
through it with Clifford.'

There was a silence.

'And of course,' he said, 'I have to live an exemplary life for the
next six or eight months. So if you go to Venice, there's temptation
removed for a week or two, at least.'

'Am I temptation!' she' said, stroking his face. 'I'm so glad I'm
temptation to you! Don't let's think about it! You frighten me when you
start thinking: you roll me out flat. Don't let's think about it. We
can think so much when we are apart. That's the whole point! I've been
thinking, I must come to you for another night before I go. I MUST come
once more to the cottage. Shall I come on Thursday night?'

'Isn't that when your sister will be there?'

'Yes! But she' said we would start at tea~ time. So we could start at
tea~ time. But she' could sleep somewhere else and I could sleep with
you.

'But then she''d have to know.'

'Oh, I shall tell her. I've more or less told her already. I must talk
it all over with Hilda. She's a great help, so sensible.'

He was thinking of her plan.

'So you'd start off from Wragby at tea~ time, as if you were going to
London? Which way were you going?'

'By Nottingham and Grantham.'

'And then your sister would drop you somewhere and you'd walk or drive
back here? Sounds very risky, to me.'

'Does it? Well, then, Hilda could bring me back. She could sleep at
Mansfield, and bring me back here in the evening, and fetch me again in
the morning. It's quite easy.'

'And the people who see you?'

'I'll wear goggles and a veil.'

He pondered for some time.

'Well,' he said. 'You please yourself as usual.'

'But wouldn't it please you?'

'Oh yes! It'd please me all right,' he said a little grimly. 'I might
as well smite while the iron's hot.'

'Do you know what I thought?' she' said suddenly. 'It suddenly came to
me. You are the "Knight of the Burning Pestle"!'

'Ay! And you? Are you the Lady of the Red~ Hot Mortar?'

'Yes!' she' said. 'Yes! You're Sir Pestle and I'm Lady Mortar.'

'All right, then I'm knighted. John Thomas is Sir John, to your Lady
Jane.'

'Yes! John Thomas is knighted! I'm my~ lady~ maiden~ hair, and you must
have flowers too. Yes!'

She threaded two pink campions in the bush of red~ gold hair above his
penis.

'There!' she' said. 'Charming! Charming! Sir John!'

And she' pushed a bit of forget~ me~ not in the dark hair of his breast.

'And you won't forget me there, will you?' She kissed him on the
breast, and made two bits of forget~ me~ not lodge one over each nipple,
kissing him again.

'Make a calendar of me!' he said. He laughed, and the flowers shook
from his breast.

'Wait a bit!' he said.

He rose, and opened the door of the hut. Flossie, lying in the porch,
got up and looked at him.

'Ay, it's me!' he said.

The rain had ceased. There was a wet, heavy, perfumed stillness.
Evening was approaching.

He went out and down the little path in the opposite direction from the
riding. Connie watched his thin, white figure, and it looked to her
like a ghost, an apparition moving away from her.

When she' could see it no more, her heart sank. She stood in the door of
the hut, with a blanket round her, looking into the drenched,
motionless silence.

But he was coming back, trotting strangely, and carrying flowers. She
was a little afraid of him, as if he were not quite human. And when he
came near, his eyes looked into hers, but she' could not understand the
meaning.

He had brought columbines and campions, and new~ mown hay, and oak~ tufts
and honeysuckle in small bud. He fastened fluffy young oak~ sprays round
her breasts, sticking in tufts of bluebells and campion: and in her
navel he poised a pink campion flower, and in her maiden~ hair were
forget~ me~ nots and woodruff.

'That's you in all your glory!' he said. 'Lady Jane, at her wedding
with John Thomas.'

And he stuck flowers in the hair of his own body, and wound a bit of
creeping~ jenny round his penis, and stuck a single bell of a hyacinth
in his navel. She watched him with amusement, his odd intentness. And
she' pushed a campion flower in his moustache, where it stuck, dangling
under his nose.

'This is John Thomas marryin' Lady Jane,' he said. 'An' we mun let
Constance an' Oliver go their ways. Maybe~ '

He spread out his hand with a gesture, and then he sneezed, sneezing
away the flowers from his nose and his navel. He sneezed again.

'Maybe what?' she' said, waiting for him to go on.

He looked at her a little bewildered.

'Eh?' he said.

'Maybe what? Go on with what you were going to say,' she' insisted.

'Ay, what WAS I going to say?'

He had forgotten. And it was one of the disappointments of her life,
that he never finished.

A yellow ray of sun shone over the trees.

'Sun!' he said. 'And time you went. Time, my Lady, time! What's that as
flies without wings, your Ladyship? Time! Time!'

He reached for his shirt.

'Say goodnight! to John Thomas,' he said, looking down at his penis.
'He's safe in the arms of creeping Jenny! Not much burning pestle about
him just now.'

And he put his flannel shirt over his head.

'A man's most dangerous moment,' he said, when his head had emerged,
'is when he's getting into his shirt. Then he puts his head in a bag.
That's why I prefer those American shirts, that you put on like a
jacket.' She still stood watching him. He stepped into his short
drawers, and buttoned them round the waist.

'Look at Jane!' he said. 'In all her blossoms! Who'll put blossoms on
you next year, Jinny? Me, or somebody else? "Good~ bye, my bluebell,
farewell to you!" I hate that song, it's early war days.' He then sat
down, and was pulling on his stockings. She still stood unmoving. He
laid his hand on the slope of her buttocks. 'Pretty little Lady Jane!'
he said. 'Perhaps in Venice you'll find a man who'll put jasmine in
your maiden~ hair, and a pomegranate flower in your navel. Poor little
lady Jane!'

'Don't say those things!' she' said. 'You only say them to hurt me.'

He dropped his head. Then he said, in dialect:

'Ay, maybe I do, maybe I do! Well then, I'll say nowt, an' ha' done
wi't. But tha mun dress thysen, all' go back to thy stately homes of
England, how beautiful they stand. Time's up! Time's up for Sir John,
an' for little Lady Jane! Put thy shimmy on, Lady Chatterley! Tha might
be anybody, standin' there be~ out even a shimmy, an' a few rags o'
flowers. There then, there then, I'll undress thee, tha bob~ tailed
young throstle.' And he took the leaves from her hair, kissing her damp
hair, and the flowers from her breasts, and kissed her breasts, and
kissed her navel, and kissed her maiden~ hair, where he left the flowers
threaded. 'They mun stop while they will,' he said. 'So! There tha'rt
bare again, nowt but a bare~ arsed lass an' a bit of a Lady Jane! Now
put thy shimmy on, for tha mun go, or else Lady Chatterley's goin' to
be late for dinner, an' where 'ave yer been to my pretty maid!'

She never knew how to answer him when he was in this condition of the
vernacular. So she' dressed herself and prepared to go a little
ignominiously home to Wragby. Or so she' felt it: a little ignominiously
home.

He would accompany her to the broad riding. His young pheasants were
all right under the shelter.

When he and she' came out on to the riding, there was Mrs Bolton
faltering palely towards them.

'Oh, my Lady, we wondered if anything had happened!'

'No! Nothing has happened.'

Mrs Bolton looked into the man's face, that was smooth and new~ looking
with love. She met his half~ laughing, half~ mocking eyes. He always
laughed at mischance. But he looked at her kindly.

'Evening, Mrs Bolton! Your Ladyship will be all right now, so I can
leave you. Good~ night to your Ladyship! Good~ night, Mrs Bolton!'

He saluted and turned away.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 16
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

Connie arrived home to an ordeal of cross~ questioning. Clifford had
been out at tea~ time, had come in just before the storm, and where was
her ladyship? Nobody knew, only Mrs Bolton suggested she' had gone for a
walk into the wood. Into the wood, in such a storm! Clifford for once
let himself get into a state of nervous frenzy. He started at every
flash of lightning, and blenched at every roll of thunder. He looked at
the icy thunder~ rain as if it dare the end of the world. He got more
and more worked up.

Mrs Bolton tried to soothe him.

'She'll be sheltering in the hut, till it's over. Don't worry, her
Ladyship is all right.'

'I don't like her being in the wood in a storm like this! I don't like
her being in the wood at all! She's been gone now more than two hours.
When did she' go out?'

'A little while before you came in.'

'I didn't see her in the park. God knows where she' is and what has
happened to her.'

'Oh, nothing's happened to her. You'll see, she''ll be home directly
after the rain stops. It's just the rain that's keeping her.'

But her ladyship did not come home directly the rain stopped. In fact
time went by, the sun came out for his last yellow glimpse, and there
still was no sign of her. The sun was set, it was growing dark, and the
first dinner~ gong had rung.

'It's no good!' said Clifford in a frenzy. 'I'm going to send out Field
and Betts to find her.'

'Oh don't do that!' cried Mrs Bolton. 'They'll think there's a suicide
or something. Oh don't start a lot of talk going. Let me slip over to
the hut and see if she''s not there. I'll find her all right.'

So, after some persuasion, Clifford allowed her to go.

And so Connie had come upon her in the drive, alone and palely
loitering.

'You mustn't mind me coming to look for you, my Lady! But Sir Clifford
worked himself up into such a state. He made sure you were struck by
lightning, or killed by a falling tree. And he was determined to send
Field and Betts to the wood to find the body. So I thought I'd better
come, rather than set all the servants agog.

She spoke nervously. She could still see on Connie's face the
smoothness and the half~ dream of passion, and she' could feel the
irritation against herself.

'Quite!' said Connie. And she' could say no more.

The two women plodded on through the wet world, in silence, while great
drops splashed like explosions in the wood. When they came to the park,
Connie strode ahead, and Mrs Bolton panted a little. She was getting
plumper.

'How foolish of Clifford to make a fuss!' said Connie at length,
angrily, really speaking to herself.

'Oh, you know what men are! They like working themselves up. But he'll
be all right as soon as he sees your Ladyship.'

Connie was very angry that Mrs Bolton knew her secret: for certainly
she' knew it.

Suddenly Constance stood still on the path.

'It's monstrous that I should have to be followed!' she' said, her eyes
flashing.

'Oh! your Ladyship, don't say that! He'd certainly have sent the two
men, and they'd have come straight to the hut. I didn't know where it
was, really.'

Connie flush ed darker with rage, at the suggestion. Yet, while her
passion was on her, she' could not lie. She could not even pretend there
was nothing between herself and the keeper. She looked at the other
woman, who stood so sly, with her head dropped: yet somehow, in her
femaleness, an ally.

'Oh well!' she' said. 'If it is so it is so. I don't mind!'

'Why, you're all right, my Lady! You've only been sheltering in the
hut. It's absolutely nothing.'

They went on to the house. Connie marched in to Clifford's room,
furious with him, furious with his pale, over~ wrought face and prominent
eyes.

'I must say, I don't think you need send the servants after me,' she'
burst out.

'My God!' he exploded. 'Where have you been, woman, You've been gone
hours, hours, and in a storm like this! What the hell do you go to
that bloody wood for? What have you been up to? It's hours even since
the rain stopped, hours! Do you know what time it is? You're enough to
drive anybody mad. Where have you been? What in the name of hell have
you been doing?'

'And what if I don't choose to tell you?' She pulled her hat from her
head and shook her hair.

He looked at her with his eyes bulging, and yellow coming into the
whites. It was very bad for him to get into these rages: Mrs Bolton had
a weary time with him, for days after. Connie felt a sudden qualm.

But really!' she' said, milder. 'Anyone would think I'd been I don't
know where! I just sat in the hut during all the storm, and made myself
a little fire, and was happy.'

She spoke now easily. After all, why work him up any more!

He looked at her suspiciously.

And look at your hair!' he said; 'look at yourself!'

'Yes!' she' replied calmly. 'I ran out in the rain with no clothes on.'

He stared at her speechless.

'You must be mad!' he said.

'Why? To like a shower bath from the rain?'

'And how did you dry yourself?'

'On an old towel and at the fire.'

He still stared at her in a dumbfounded way.

'And supposing anybody came,' he said.

'Who would come?'

'Who? Why, anybody! And Mellors. Does he come? He must come in the
evenings.'

'Yes, he came later, when it had cleared up, to feed the pheasants with
corn.'

She spoke with amazing nonchalance. Mrs Bolton, who was listening in
the next room, heard in sheer admiration. To think a woman could carry
it off so naturally!

'And suppose he'd come while you were running about in the rain with
nothing on, like a maniac?'

'I suppose he'd have had the fright of his life, and cleared out as
fast as he could.'

Clifford still stared at her transfixed. What he thought in his
under~ consciousness he would never know. And he was too much taken
aback to form one clear thought in his upper consciousness. He just
simply accepted what she' said, in a sort of blank. And he admired her.
He could not help admiring her. She looked so flush ed and handsome and
smooth: love smooth.

'At least,' he said, subsiding, 'you'll be lucky if you've got off
without a severe cold.'

'Oh, I haven't got a cold,' she' replied. She was thinking to herself of
the other man's words: Tha's got the nicest woman's arse of anybody!
She wished, she' dearly wished she' could tell Clifford that this had
been said her, during the famous thunderstorm. However! She bore
herself rather like an offended queen, and went upstairs to change.

That evening, Clifford wanted to be nice to her. He was reading one of
the latest scientific~ religious books: he had a streak of a spurious
sort of religion in him, and was egocentrically concerned with the
future of his own ego. It was like his habit to make conversation to
Connie about some book, since the conversation between them had to be
made, almost chemically. They had almost chemically to concoct it in
their heads.

'What do you think of this, by the way?' he said, reaching for his
book. 'You'd have no need to cool your ardent body by running out in
the rain, if only we have a few more aeons of evolution behind us. Ah,
here it is!~ "The universe shows us two aspects: on one side it is
physically wasting, on the other it is spiritually ascending."'

Connie listened, expecting more. But Clifford was waiting. She looked
at him in surprise.

'And if it spiritually ascends,' she' said, 'what does it leave down
below, in the place where its tail used to be?'

'Ah!' he said. 'Take the man for what he means. ASCENDING is the
opposite of his WASTING, I presume.'

'Spiritually blown out, so to speak!'

'No, but seriously, without joking: do you think there is anything in
it?'

She looked at him again.

'Physically wasting?' she' said. 'I see you getting fatter, and I'm sot
wasting myself. Do you think the sun is smaller than he used to be?
He's not to me. And I suppose the apple Adam offered Eve wasn't really
much bigger, if any, than one of our orange pippins. Do you think it
was?'

'Well, hear how he goes on: "It is thus slowly passing, with a
slowness inconceivable in our measures of time, to new creative
conditions, amid which the physical world, as we at present know it,
will he represented by a ripple barely to be distinguished from
nonentity."'

She listened with a glisten of amusement. All sorts of improper things
suggested themselves. But she' only said:

'What silly hocus~ pocus! As if his little conceited consciousness could
know what was happening as slowly as all that! It only means HE'S a
physical failure on the earth, so he wants to make the whole universe a
physical failure. Priggish little impertinence!'

'Oh, but listen! Don't interrupt the great man's solemn words!~ "The
present type of order in the world has risen from an unimaginable part,
and will find its grave in an unimaginable future. There remains the
inexhaustive realm of abstract forms, and creativity with its shifting
character ever determined afresh by its own creatures, and God, upon
whose wisdom all forms of order depend."~ There, that's how he winds
up!'

Connie sat listening contemptuously.

'He's spiritually blown out,' she' said. 'What a lot of stuff!
Unimaginables, and types of order in graves, and realms of abstract
forms, and creativity with a shifty character, and God mixed up with
forms of order! Why, it's idiotic!'

'I must say, it is a little vaguely conglomerate, a mixture of gases,
so to speak,' said Clifford. 'Still, I think there is something in the
idea that the universe is physically wasting and spiritually
ascending.'

'Do you? Then let it ascend, so long as it leaves me safely and solidly
physically here below.'

'Do you like your physique?' he asked.

'I love it!' And through her mind went the words: It's the nicest,
nicest woman's arse as is!

'But that is really rather extraordinary, because there's no denying
it's an encumbrance. But then I suppose a woman doesn't take a supreme
pleasure in the life of the mind.'

'Supreme pleasure?' she' said, looking up at him. 'Is that sort of
idiocy the supreme pleasure of the life of the mind? No thank you! Give
me the body. I believe the life of the body is a greater reality than
the life of the mind: when the body is really wakened to life. But so
many people, like your famous wind~ machine, have only got minds tacked
on to their physical corpses.'

He looked at her in wonder.

'The life of the body,' he said, 'is just the life of the animals.'

'And that's better than the life of professional corpses. But it's not
true! the human body is only just coming to real life. With the Greeks
it gave a lovely flicker, then Plato and Aristotle killed it, and Jesus
finished it off. But now the body is coming really to life, it is
really rising from the tomb. And It will be a lovely, lovely life in
the lovely universe, the life of the human body.'

'My dear, you speak as if you were ushering it all in! True, you are
going away on a holiday: but don't please be quite so indecently elated
about it. Believe me, whatever God there is is slowly eliminating the
guts and alimentary system from the human being, to evolve a higher,
more spiritual being.'

'Why should I believe you, Clifford, when I feel that whatever God
there is has at last wakened up in my guts, as you call them, and is
rippling so happily there, like dawn. Why should I believe you, when I
feel so very much the contrary?'

'Oh, exactly! And what has caused this extraordinary change in you?
running out stark naked in the rain, and playing Bacchante? desire for
sensation, or the anticipation of going to Venice?'

'Both! Do you think it is horrid of me to be so thrilled at going off?'
she' said.

'Rather horrid to show it so plainly.'

'Then I'll hide it.'

'Oh, don't trouble! You almost communicate a thrill to me. I almost
feel that it is I who am going off.'

'Well, why don't you come?'

'We've gone over all that. And as a matter of fact, I suppose your
greatest thrill comes from being able to say a temporary farewell to
all this. Nothing so thrilling, for the moment, as Good~ bye~ to~ all!~ But
every parting means a meeting elsewhere. And every meeting is a new
bondage.'

'I'm not going to enter any new bondages.'

'Don't boast, while the gods are listening,' he said.

She pulled up short.

'No! I won't boast!' she' said.

But she' was thrilled, none the less, to be going off: to feel bonds
snap. She couldn't help it.

Clifford, who couldn't sleep, gambled all night with Mrs Bolton, till
she' was too sleepy almost to live.

And the day came round for Hilda to arrive. Connie had arranged with
Mellors that if everything promised well for their night together, she'
would hang a green shawl out of the window. If there were frustration,
a red one.

Mrs Bolton helped Connie to pack.

'It will be so good for your Ladyship to have a change.'

'I think it will. You don't mind having Sir Clifford on your hands
alone for a time, do you?'

'Oh no! I can manage him quite all right. I mean, I can do all he needs
me to do. Don't you think he's better than he used to be?'

'Oh much! You do wonders with him.'

'Do I though! But men are all alike: just babies, and you have to
flatter them and wheedle them and let them think they're having their
own way. Don't you find it so, my Lady?'

'I'm afraid I haven't much experience.'

Connie paused in her occupation.

'Even your husband, did you have to manage him, and wheedle him like a
baby?' she' asked, looking at the other woman.

Mrs Bolton paused too.

'Well!' she' said. 'I had to do a good bit of coaxing, with him too. But
he always knew what I was after, I must say that. But he generally gave
in to me.'

'He was never the lord and master thing?'

'No! At least there'd be a look in his eyes sometimes, and then I knew
I'D got to give in. But usually he gave in to me. No, he was never lord
and master. But neither was I. I knew when I could go no further with
him, and then I gave in: though it cost me a good bit, sometimes.'

'And what if you had held out against him?'

'Oh, I don't know, I never did. Even when he was in the wrong, if he
was fixed, I gave in. You see, I never wanted to break what was between
us. And if you really set your will against a man, that finishes it. If
you care for a man, you have to give in to him once he's really
determined; whether you're in the right or not, you have to give in.
Else you break something. But I must say, Ted 'ud give in to me
sometimes, when I was set on a thing, and in the wrong. So I suppose it
cuts both ways.'

'And that's how you are with all your patients?' asked Connie.

'Oh, That's different. I don't care at all, in the same way. I know
what's good for them, or I try to, and then I just contrive to manage
them for their own good. It's not like anybody as you're really fond
of. It's quite different. Once you've been really fond of a man, you
can be affectionate to almost any man, if he needs you at all. But it's
not the same thing. You don't really CARE. I doubt, once you've REALLY
cared, if you can ever really care again.'

These words frightened Connie.

'Do you think one can only care once?' she' asked.

'Or never. Most women never care, never begin to. They don't know what
it means. Nor men either. But when I see a woman as cares, my heart
stands still for her.'

'And do you think men easily take offence?'

'Yes! If you wound them on their pride. But aren't women the same? Only
our two prides are a bit different.'

Connie pondered this. She began again to have some misgiving about her
going away. After all, was she' not giving her man the go~ by, if only for
a short time? And he knew it. That's why he was so queer and sarcastic.

Still! the human existence is a good deal controlled by the machine of
external circumstance. She was in the power of this machine. She
couldn't extricate herself all in five minutes. She didn't even want
to.

Hilda arrived in good time on Thursday morning, in a nimble two~ seater
car, with her suit~ case strapped firmly behind. She looked as demure
and maidenly as ever, but she' had the same will of her own. She had the
very hell of a will of her own, as her husband had found out. But the
husband was now divorcing her.

Yes, she' even made it easy for him to do that, though she' had no lover.
For the time being, she' was 'off' men. She was very well content to be
quite her own mistress: and mistress of her two children, whom she' was
going to bring up 'properly', whatever that may mean.

Connie was only allowed a suit~ case, also. But she' had sent on a trunk
to her father, who was going by train. No use taking a car to Venice.
And Italy much too hot to motor in, in July. He was going comfortably
by train. He had just come down from Scotland.

So, like a demure arcadian field~ marshal, Hilda arranged the material
part of the journey. She and Connie sat in the upstairs room, chatting.

'But Hilda!' said Connie, a little frightened. 'I want to stay near
here tonight. Not here: near here!'

Hilda fixed her sister with grey, inscrutable eyes. She seemed so calm:
and she' was so often furious.

'Where, near here?' she' asked softly.

'Well, you know I love somebody, don't you?'

'I gathered there was something.'

'Well he lives near here, and I want to spend this last night with him. I
must! I've promised.'

Connie became insistent.

Hilda bent her Minerva~ like head in silence. Then she' looked up.

'Do you want to tell me who he is?' she' said.

'He's our game~ keeper,' faltered Connie, and she' flush ed vividly, like
a shamed child.

'Connie!' said Hilda, lifting her nose slightly with disgust: a motion
she' had from her mother.

'I know: but he's lovely really. He really understands tenderness,'
said Connie, trying to apologize for him.

Hilda, like a ruddy, rich~ coloured Athena, bowed her head and pondered.
She was really violently angry. But she' dared not show it, because
Connie, taking after her father, would straight away become
obstreperous and unmanageable.

It was true, Hilda did not like Clifford: his cool assurance that he
was somebody! She thought he made use of Connie shamefully and
impudently. She had hoped her sister WOULD leave him. But, being solid
Scotch middle class, she' loathed any 'lowering' of oneself or the
family. She looked up at last.

'You'll regret it,' she' said,

'I shan't,' cried Connie, flush ed red. 'He's quite the exception. I
REALLY love him. He's lovely as a lover.'

Hilda still pondered.

'You'll get over him quite soon,' she' said, 'and live to be ashamed of
yourself because of him.'

'I shan't! I hope I'm going to have a child of his.'

'CONNIE!' said Hilda, hard as a hammer~ stroke, and pale with anger.

'I shall if I possibly can. I should be fearfully proud if I had a
child by him.'

It was no use talking to her. Hilda pondered.

'And doesn't Clifford suspect?' she' said.

'Oh no! Why should he?'

'I've no doubt you've given him plenty of occasion for suspicion,' said
Hilda.

'Not at all.'

'And tonight's business seems quite gratuitous folly. Where does the
man live?'

'In the cottage at the other end of the wood.'

'Is he a bachelor?'

'No! His wife left him.'

'How old?'

'I don't know. Older than me.'

Hilda became more angry at every reply, angry as her mother used to be,
in a kind of paroxysm. But still she' hid it.

'I would give up tonight's escapade if I were you,' she' advised calmly.

'I can't! I MUST stay with him tonight, or I can't go to Venice at all.
I just can't.'

Hilda heard her father over again, and she' gave way, out of mere
diplomacy. And she' consented to drive to Mansfield, both of them, to
dinner, to bring Connie back to the lane~ end after dark, and to fetch
her from the lane~ end the next morning, herself sleeping in Mansfield,
only half an hour away, good going.

But she' was furious. She stored it up against her sister, this balk in
her plans.

Connie flung an emerald~ green shawl over her window~ sill.

On the strength of her anger, Hilda warmed toward Clifford.

After all, he had a mind. And if he had no sex, functionally, all the
better: so much the less to quarrel about! Hilda wanted no more of that
sex business, where men became nasty, selfish little horrors. Connie
really had less to put up with than many women if she' did but know it.

And Clifford decided that Hilda, after all, was a decidedly intelligent
woman, and would make a man a first~ rate helpmate, if he were going in
for politics for example. Yes, she' had none of Connie's silliness,
Connie was more a child: you had to make excuses for her, because she'
was not altogether dependable.

There was an early cup of tea in the hall, where doors were open to let
in the sun. Everybody seemed to be panting a little.

'Good~ bye, Connie girl! Come back to me safely.'

'Good~ bye, Clifford! Yes, I shan't be long.' Connie was almost tender.

'Good~ bye, Hilda! You will keep an eye on her, won't you?'

'I'll even keep two!' said Hilda. 'She shan't go very far astray.'

'It's a promise!'

'Good~ bye, Mrs Bolton! I know you'll look after Sir Clifford nobly.'

'I'll do what I can, your Ladyship.'

'And write to me if there is any news, and tell me about Sir Clifford,
how he is.'

'Very good, your Ladyship, I will. And have a good time, and come back
and cheer us up.'

Everybody waved. The car went off Connie looked back and saw Clifford,
sitting at the top of the steps in his house~ chair. After all, he was
her husband: Wragby was her home: circumstance had done it.

Mrs Chambers held the gate and wished her ladyship a happy holiday. The
car slipped out of the dark spinney that masked the park, on to the
highroad where the colliers were trailing home. Hilda turned to the
Crosshill Road, that was not a main road, but ran to Mansfield. Connie
put on goggles. They ran beside the railway, which was in a cutting
below them. Then they crossed the cutting on a bridge.

'That's the lane to the cottage!' said Connie.

Hilda glanced at it impatiently.

'It's a frightful pity we can't go straight off!' she' said. We could
have been in Pall Mall by nine o'clock.'

'I'm sorry for your sake,' said Connie, from behind her goggles.

They were soon at Mansfield, that once~ romantic, now utterly
disheartening colliery town. Hilda stopped at the hotel named in the
motor~ car book, and took a room. The whole thing was utterly
uninteresting, and she' was almost too angry to talk. However, Connie
HAD to tell her something of the man's history.

'HE! HE! What name do you call him by? You only say HE,' said Hilda.

'I've never called him by any name: nor he me: which is curious, when
you come to think of it. Unless we say Lady Jane and John Thomas. But
his name is Oliver Mellors.'

'And how would you like to be Mrs Oliver Mellors, instead of Lady
Chatterley?'

'I'd love it.'

There was nothing to be done with Connie. And anyhow, if the man had
been a lieutenant in the army in India for four or five years, he must
be more or less presentable. Apparently he had character. Hilda began
to relent a little.

'But you'll be through with him in awhile,' she' said, 'and then you'll
be ashamed of having been connected with him. One CAN'T mix up with the
working people.'

'But you are such a socialist! you're always on the side of the working
classes.'

'I may be on their side in a political crisis, but being on their side
makes me know how impossible it is to mix one's life with theirs. Not
out of snobbery, but just because the whole rhythm is different.'

Hilda had lived among the real political intellectuals, so she' was
disastrously unanswerable.

The nondescript evening in the hotel dragged out, and at last they had
a nondescript dinner. Then Connie slipped a few things into a little
silk bag, and combed her hair once more.

'After all, Hilda,' she' said, 'love can be wonderful: when you feel you
LIVE, and are in the very middle of creation.' It was almost like
bragging on her part.

'I suppose every mosquito feels the same,' said Hilda. 'Do you think it
does? How nice for it!'

The evening was wonderfully clear and long~ lingering, even in the small
town. It would be half~ light all night. With a face like a mask, from
resentment, Hilda started her car again, and the two sped back on their
traces, taking the other road, through Bolsover.

Connie wore her goggles and disguising cap, and she' sat in silence.
Because of Hilda's opposition, she' was fiercely on the sidle of the
man, she' would stand by him through thick and thin.

They had their head~ lights on, by the time they passed Crosshill, and
the small lit~ up train that chuffed past in the cutting made it seem
like real night. Hilda had calculated the turn into the lane at the
bridge~ end. She slowed up rather suddenly and swerved off the road, the
lights glaring white into the grassy, overgrown lane. Connie looked
out. She saw a shadowy figure, and she' opened the door.

'Here we are!' she' said softly.

But Hilda had switched off the lights, and was absorbed backing, making
the turn.

'Nothing on the bridge?' she' asked shortly.

'You're all right,' said the man's voice.

She backed on to the bridge, reversed, let the car run forwards a few
yards along the road, then backed into the lane, under a wych~ elm tree,
crushing the grass and bracken. Then all the lights went out. Connie
stepped down. The man stood under the trees.

'Did you wait long?' Connie asked.

'Not so very,' he replied.

They both waited for Hilda to get out. But Hilda shut the door of the
car and sat tight.

'This is my sister Hilda. Won't you come and speak to her? Hilda! This
is Mr Mellors.'

The keeper lifted his hat, but went no nearer.

'Do walk down to the cottage with us, Hilda,' Connie pleaded. 'It's not
far.'

'What about the car?'

'People do leave them on the lanes. You have the key.'

Hilda was silent, deliberating. Then she' looked backwards down the
lane.

'Can I back round the bush?' she' said.

'Oh yes!' said the keeper.

She backed slowly round the curve, out of sight of the road, locked the
car, and got down. It was night, but luminous dark. The hedges rose
high and wild, by the unused lane, and very dark seeming. There was a
fresh sweet scent on the air. The keeper went ahead, then came Connie,
then Hilda, and in silence. He lit up the difficult places with a
flash~ light torch, and they went on again, while an owl softly hooted
over the oaks, and Flossie padded silently around. Nobody could speak.
There was nothing to say.

At length Connie saw the yellow light of the house, and her heart beat
fast. She was a little frightened. They trailed on, still in Indian
file.

He unlocked the door and preceded them into the warm but bare little
room. The fire burned low and red in the grate. The table was set with
two plates and two glasses on a proper white table~ cloth for once.
Hilda shook her hair and looked round the bare, cheerless room. Then
she' summoned her courage and looked at the man.

He was moderately tall, and thin, and she' thought him good~ looking. He
kept a quiet distance of his own, and seemed absolutely unwilling to
speak.

'Do sit down, Hilda,' said Connie.

'Do!' he said. 'Can I make you tea or anything, or will you drink a
glass of beer? It's moderately cool.'

'Beer!' said Connie.

'Beer for me, please!' said Hilda, with a mock sort of shyness. He
looked at her and blinked.

He took a blue jug and tramped to the scullery. When he came back with
the beer, his face had changed again.

Connie sat down by the door, and Hilda sat in his seat, with the back
to the wall, against the window corner.

'That is his chair,' said Connie softly.' And Hilda rose as if it had
burnt her.

'Sit yer still, sit yer still! Ta'e ony cheer as yo'n a mind to, none
of us is th' big bear,' he said, with complete equanimity.

And he brought Hilda a glass, and poured her beer first from the blue
jug.

'As for cigarettes,' he said, 'I've got none, but 'appen you've got
your own. I dunna smoke, mysen. Shall y' eat summat?' He turned direct
to Connie. 'Shall t'eat a smite o' summat, if I bring it thee? Tha can
usually do wi' a bite.' He spoke the vernacular with a curious calm
assurance, as if he were the landlord of the Inn.

'What is there?' asked Connie, flush ing.

'Boiled ham, cheese, pickled wa'nuts, if yer like.~ Nowt much.'

'Yes,' said Connie. 'Won't you, Hilda?'

Hilda looked up at him.

'Why do you speak Yorkshire?' she' said softly.

'That! That's non Yorkshire, that's Derby.'

He looked back at her with that faint, distant grin.

'Derby, then! Why do you speak Derby? You spoke natural English at
first.'

'Did Ah though? An' canna Ah change if Ah'm a mind to 't? Nay, nay, let
me talk Derby if it suits me. If yo'n nowt against it.'

'It sounds a little affected,' said Hilda.

'Ay, 'appen so! An' up i' Tevershall yo'd sound affected.' He looked
again at her, with a queer calculating distance, along his cheek~ bone:
as if to say: Yi, an' who are you?

He tramped away to the pantry for the food.

The sisters sat in silence. He brought another plate, and knife and
fork. Then he said:

'An' if it's the same to you, I s'll ta'e my coat off like I allers
do.'

And he took off his coat, and hung it on the peg, then sat down to
table in his shirt~ sleeves: a shirt of thin, cream~ coloured flannel.

''Elp yerselves!' he said. ''Elp yerselves! Dunna wait f'r axin'!' He
cut the bread, then sat motionless. Hilda felt, as Connie once used to,
his power of silence and distance. She saw his smallish, sensitive,
loose hand on the table. He was no simple working man, not he: he was
acting! acting!

'Still!' she' said, as she' took a little cheese. 'It would be more
natural if you spoke to us in normal English, not in vernacular.'

He looked at her, feeling her devil of a will.

'Would it?' he said in the normal English. 'Would it? Would anything
that was said between you and me be quite natural, unless you said you
wished me to hell before your sister ever saw me again: and unless I
said something almost as unpleasant back again? Would anything else be
natural?'

'Oh yes!' said Hilda. 'Just good manners would be quite natural.'

'Second nature, so to speak!' he said: then he began to laugh. 'Nay,'
he said. 'I'm weary o' manners. Let me be!'

Hilda was frankly baffled and furiously annoyed. After all, he might
show that he realized he was being honoured. Instead of which, with his
play~ acting and lordly airs, he seemed to think it was he who was
conferring the honour. Just impudence! Poor misguided Connie, in the
man's clutches!

The three ate in silence. Hilda looked to see what his table~ manners
were like. She could not help realizing that he was instinctively much
more delicate and well~ bred than herself. She had a certain Scottish
clumsiness. And moreover, he had all the quiet self~ contained assurance
of the English, no loose edges. It would be very difficult to get the
better of him.

But neither would he get the better of her.

'And do you really think,' she' said, a little more humanly, 'it's worth
the risk.'

'Is what worth what risk?'

'This escapade with my sister.'

He flickered his irritating grin.

'Yo' maun ax 'er!' Then he looked at Connie.

'Tha comes o' thine own accord, lass, doesn't ter? It's non me as
forces thee?'

Connie looked at Hilda.

'I wish you wouldn't cavil, Hilda.'

'Naturally I don't want to. But someone has to think about things.
You've got to have some sort of continuity in your life. You can't just
go making a mess.'

There was a moment's pause.

'Eh, continuity!' he said. 'An' what by that? What continuity ave yer
got i' YOUR life? I thought you was gettin' divorced. What continuity's
that? Continuity o' yer own stubbornness. I can see that much. An' what
good's it goin' to do yer? You'll be sick o' yer continuity afore yer a
fat sight older. A stubborn woman an er own self~ will: ay, they make a
fast continuity, they do. Thank heaven, it isn't me as 'as got th'
'andlin' of yer!'

'What right have you to speak like that to me?' said Hilda.

'Right! What right ha' yo' ter start harnessin' other folks i' your
continuity? Leave folks to their own continuities.'

'My dear man, do you think I am concerned with you?' said Hilda softly.

'Ay,' he said. 'Yo' are. For it's a force~ put. Yo' more or less my
sister~ in~ law.'

'Still far from it, I assure you.

'Not a' that far, I assure YOU. I've got my own sort o' continuity,
back your life! Good as yours, any day. An' if your sister there comes
ter me for a bit o' cunt an' tenderness, she' knows what she''s after.
She's been in my bed afore: which you 'aven't, thank the Lord, with
your continuity.' There was a dead pause, before he added: '~ Eh, I
don't wear me breeches arse~ forrards. An' if I get a windfall, I thank
my stars. A man gets a lot of enjoyment out o' that lass theer, which
is more than anybody gets out o' th' likes o' you. Which is a pity, for
you might appen a' bin a good apple, 'stead of a handsome crab. Women
like you needs proper graftin'.'

He was looking at her with an odd, flickering smile, faintly sensual
and appreciative.

'And men like you,' she' said, 'ought to be segregated: justifying their
own vulgarity and selfish lust.'

'Ay, ma'am! It's a mercy there's a few men left like me. But you
deserve what you get: to be left severely alone.'

Hilda had risen and gone to the door. He rose and took his coat from
the peg.

'I can find my way quite well alone,' she' said.

'I doubt you can't,' he replied easily.

They tramped in ridiculous file down the lane again, in silence. An owl
still hooted. He knew he ought to shoot it.

The car stood untouched, a little dewy. Hilda got in and started the
engine. The other two waited.

'All I mean,' she' said from her entrenchment, 'is that I doubt if
you'll find it's been worth it, either of you!'

'One man's meat is another man's poison,' he said, out of the darkness.
'But it's meat an' drink to me.

The lights flared out.

'Don't make me wait in the morning,'

'No, I won't. Goodnight!'

The car rose slowly on to the highroad, then slid swiftly away, leaving
the night silent.

Connie timidly took his arm, and they went down the lane. He did not
speak. At length she' drew him to a standstill.

'Kiss me!' she' murmured.

'Nay, wait a bit! Let me simmer down,' he said.

That amused her. She still kept hold of his arm, and they went quickly
down the lane, in silence. She was so glad to be with him, just now.
She shivered, knowing that Hilda might have snatched her away. He was
inscrutably silent.

When they were in the cottage again, she' almost jumped with pleasure,
that she' should be free of her sister.

'But you were horrid to Hilda,' she' said to him.

'She should ha' been slapped in time.'

'But why? and she''s SO nice.'

He didn't answer, went round doing the evening chores, with a quiet,
inevitable sort of motion. He was outwardly angry, but not with her. So
Connie felt. And his anger gave him a peculiar handsomeness, an
inwardness and glisten that thrilled her and made her limbs go molten.

Still he took no notice of her.

Till he sat down and began to unlace his boots. Then he looked up at
her from under his brows, on which the anger still sat firm.

'Shan't you go up?' he said. 'There's a candle!'

He jerked his head swiftly to indicate the candle burning on the table.
She took it obediently, and he watched the full curve of her hips as
she' went up the first stairs.

It was a night of sensual passion, in which she' was a little startled
and almost unwilling: yet pierced again with piercing thrills of
sensuality, different, sharper, more terrible than the thrills of
tenderness, but, at the moment, more desirable. Though a little
frightened, she' let him have his way, and the reckless, shameless
sensuality shook her to her foundations, stripped her to the very last,
and made a different woman of her. It was not really love. It was not
voluptuousness. It was sensuality sharp and searing as fire, burning
the soul to tinder.

Burning out the shames, the deepest, oldest shames, in the most secret
places. It cost her an effort to let him have his way and his will of
her. She had to be a passive, consenting thing, like a slave, a
physical slave. Yet the passion licked round her, consuming, and when
the sensual flame of it pressed through her bowels and breast, she'
really thought she' was dying: yet a poignant, marvellous death.

She had often wondered what Abelard meant, when he said that in their
year of love he and Heloise had passed through all the stages and
refinements of passion. The same thing, a thousand years ago: ten
thousand years ago! The same on the Greek vases, everywhere! The
refinements of passion, the extravagances of sensuality! And necessary,
forever necessary, to burn out false shames and smelt out the heaviest
ore of the body into purity. With the fire of sheer sensuality.

In the short summer night she' learnt so much. She would have thought a
woman would have died of shame. Instead of which, the shame died.
Shame, which is fear: the deep organic shame, the old, old physical
fear which crouches in the bodily roots of us, and can only be chased
away by the sensual fire, at last it was roused up and routed by the
phallic hunt of the man, and she' came to the very heart of the jungle
of herself. She felt, now, she' had come to the real bed~ rock of her
nature, and was essentially shameless. She was her sensual self, naked
and unashamed. She felt a triumph, almost a vainglory. So! That was how
it was! That was life! That was how oneself really was! There was
nothing left to disguise or be ashamed of. She shared her ultimate
nakedness with a man, another being.

And what a reckless devil the man was! really like a devil! One had to
be strong to bear him. But it took some getting at, the core of the
physical jungle, the last and deepest recess of organic shame. The
phallos alone could explore it. And how he had pressed in on her!

And how, in fear, she' had hated it. But how she' had really wanted it!
She knew now. At the bottom of her soul, fundamentally, she' had needed
this phallic hunting out, she' had secretly wanted it, and she' had
believed that she' would never get it. Now suddenly there it was, and a
man was sharing her last and final nakedness, she' was shameless.

What liars poets and everybody were! They made one think one wanted
sentiment. When what one supremely wanted was this piercing, consuming,
rather awful sensuality. To find a man who dared do it, without shame
or sin or final misgiving! If he had been ashamed afterwards, and made
one feel ashamed, how awful! What a pity most men are so doggy, a bit
shameful, like Clifford! Like Michaelis even! Both sensually a bit
doggy and humiliating. The supreme pleasure of the mind! And what is
that to a woman? What is it, really, to the man either! He becomes
merely messy and doggy, even in his mind. It needs sheer sensuality
even to purify and quicken the mind. Sheer fiery sensuality, not
messiness.

Ah, God, how rare a thing a man is! They are all dogs that trot and
sniff and copulate. To have found a man who was not afraid and not
ashamed! She looked at him now, sleeping so like a wild animal asleep,
gone, gone in the remoteness of it. She nestled down, not to be away
from him.

Till his rousing waked her completely. He was sitting up in bed,
looking down at her. She saw her own nakedness in his eyes, immediate
knowledge of her. And the fluid, male knowledge of herself seemed to
flow to her from his eyes and wrap her voluptuously. Oh, how voluptuous
and lovely it was to have limbs and body half~ asleep, heavy and
suffused with passion.

'Is it time to wake up?' she' said.

'Half past six.'

She had to be at the lane~ end at eight. Always, always, always this
compulsion on one!

'I might make the breakfast and bring it up here; should I?' he said.

'Oh yes!'

Flossie whimpered gently below. He got up and threw off his pyjamas,
and rubbed himself with a towel. When the human being is full of
courage and full of life, how beautiful it is! So she' thought, as she'
watched him in silence.

'Draw the curtain, will you?'

The sun was shining already on the tender green leaves of morning, and
the wood stood bluey~ fresh, in the nearness. She sat up in bed, looking
dreamily out through the dormer window, her naked arms pushing her
naked breasts together. He was dressing himself. She was half~ dreaming
of life, a life together with him: just a life.

He was going, fleeing from her dangerous, crouching nakedness.

'Have I lost my nightie altogether?' she' said.

He pushed his hand down in the bed, and pulled out the bit of flimsy
silk.

'I knowed I felt silk at my ankles,' he said.

But the night~ dress was slit almost in two.

'Never mind!' she' said. 'It belongs here, really. I'll leave it.'

'Ay, leave it, I can put it between my legs at night, for company.
There's no name nor mark on it, is there?'

She slipped on the torn thing, and sat dreamily looking out of the
window. The window was open, the air of morning drifted in, and the
sound of birds. Birds flew continuously past. Then she' saw Flossie
roaming out. It was morning.

Downstairs she' heard him making the fire, pumping water, going out at
the back door. By and by came the smell of bacon, and at length he came
upstairs with a huge black tray that would only just go through the
door. He set the tray on the bed, and poured out the tea. Connie
squatted in her torn nightdress, and fell on her food hungrily. He sat
on the one chair, with his plate on his knees.

'How good it is!' she' said. 'How nice to have breakfast together.'

He ate in silence, his mind on the time that was quickly passing. That
made her remember.

'Oh, how I wish I could stay here with you, and Wragby were a million
miles away! It's Wragby I'm going away from really. You know that,
don't you?'

'Ay!'

'And you promise we will live together and have a life together, you
and me! You promise me, don't you?'

'Ay! When we can.'

'Yes! And we WILL! we WILL, won't we?' she' leaned over, making the tea
spill, catching his wrist.

'Ay!' he said, tidying up the tea.

'We can't possibly NOT live together now, can we?' she' said
appealingly.

He looked up at her with his flickering grin.

'No!' he said. 'Only you've got to start in twenty~ five minutes.'

'Have I?' she' cried. Suddenly he held up a warning finger, and rose to
his feet.

Flossie had given a short bark, then three loud sharp yaps of warning.

Silent, he put his plate on the tray and went downstairs. Constance
heard him go down the garden path. A bicycle bell tinkled outside
there.

'Morning, Mr Mellors! Registered letter!'

'Oh ay! Got a pencil?'

'Here y'are!'

There was a pause.

'Canada!' said the stranger's voice.

'Ay! That's a mate o' mine out there in British Columbia. Dunno what
he's got to register.'

''Appen sent y'a fortune, like.'

'More like wants summat.'

Pause.

'Well! Lovely day again!'

'Ay!'

'Morning!'

'Morning!'

After a time he came upstairs again, looking a little angry.

'Postman,' he said.

'Very early!' she' replied.

'Rural round; he's mostly here by seven, when he does come.

'Did your mate send you a fortune?'

'No! Only some photographs and papers about a place out there in
British Columbia.'

'Would you go there?'

'I thought perhaps we might.'

'Oh yes! I believe it's lovely!'

But he was put out by the postman's coming.

'Them damn bikes, they're on you afore you know where you are. I hope
he twigged nothing.'

'After all, what could he twig!'

'You must get up now, and get ready. I'm just goin' ter look round
outside.'

She saw him go reconnoitring into the lane, with dog and gun. She went
downstairs and washed, and was ready by the time he came back, with the
few things in the little silk bag.

He locked up, and they set off, but through the wood, not down the
lane. He was being wary.

'Don't you think one lives for times like last night?' she' said to him.

'Ay! But there's the rest o'times to think on,' he replied, rather
short.

They plodded on down the overgrown path, he in front, in silence.

'And we WILL live together and make a life together, won't we?' she'
pleaded.

'Ay!' he replied, striding on without looking round. 'When t' time
comes! Just now you're off to Venice or somewhere.'

She followed him dumbly, with sinking heart. Oh, now she' was WAE to go!

At last he stopped.

'I'll just strike across here,' he said, pointing to the right.

But she' flung her arms round his neck, and clung to him.

'But you'll keep the tenderness for me, won't you?' she' whispered. 'I
loved last night. But you'll keep the tenderness for me, won't you?'

He kissed her and held her close for a moment. Then he sighed, and
kissed her again.

'I must go an' look if th' car's there.'

He strode over the low brambles and bracken, leaving a trail through
the fern. For a minute or two he was gone. Then he came striding back.

'Car's not there yet,' he said. 'But there's the baker's cart on t'
road.'

He seemed anxious and troubled.

'Hark!'

They heard a car softly hoot as it came nearer. It slowed up on the
bridge.

She plunged with utter mournfulness in his track through the fern, and
came to a huge holly hedge. He was just behind her.

'Here! Go through there!' he said, pointing to a gap. 'I shan't come
out.

She looked at him in despair. But he kissed her and made her go. She
crept in sheer misery through the holly and through the wooden fence,
stumbled down the little ditch and up into the lane, where Hilda was
just getting out of the car in vexation.

'Why you're there!' said Hilda. 'Where's HE?'

'He's not coming.'

Connie's face was running with tears as she' got into the car with her
little bag. Hilda snatched up the motoring helmet with the disfiguring
goggles.

'Put it on!' she' said. And Connie pulled on the disguise, then the long
motoring coat, and she' sat down, a goggling inhuman, unrecognizable
creature. Hilda started the car with a businesslike motion. They heaved
out of the lane, and were away down the road. Connie had looked round,
but there was no sight of him. Away! Away! She sat in bitter tears. The
parting had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly. It was like death.

'Thank goodness you'll be away from him for some time!' said Hilda,
turning to avoid Crosshill village.

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 17
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

'You see, Hilda,' said Connie after lunch, when they were nearing
London, 'you have never known either real tenderness or real
sensuality: and if you do know them, with the same person, it makes a
great difference.'

'For mercy's sake don't brag about your experiences!' said Hilda. 'I've
never met the man yet who was capable of intimacy with a woman, giving
himself up to her. That was what I wanted. I'm not keen on their
self~ satisfied tenderness, and their sensuality. I'm not content to be
any man's little petsy~ wetsy, nor his CHAIR PLAISIR either. I wanted
a complete intimacy, and I didn't get it. That's enough for me.

Connie pondered this. Complete intimacy! She supposed that meant
revealing everything concerning yourself to the other person, and his
revealing everything concerning himself. But that was a bore. And all
that weary self~ consciousness between a man and a woman! a disease!

'I think you're too conscious of yourself all the time, with
everybody,' she' said to her sister.

'I hope at least I haven't a slave nature,' said Hilda.

'But perhaps you have! Perhaps you are a slave to your own idea of
yourself.'

Hilda drove in silence for some time after this piece of unheard of
insolence from that chit Connie.

'At least I'm not a slave to somebody else's idea of me: and the
somebody else a servant of my husband's,' she' retorted at last, in
crude anger.

'You see, it's not so,' said Connie calmly.

She had always let herself be dominated by her elder sister. Now,
though somewhere inside herself she' was weeping, she' was free of the
dominion of OTHER WOMEN. Ah! that in itself was a relief, like being
given another life: to be free of the strange dominion and obsession of
OTHER WOMEN. How awful they were, women!

She was glad to be with her father, whose favourite she' had always
been. She and Hilda stayed in a little hotel off Pall Mall, and Sir
Malcolm was in his club. But he took his daughters out in the evening,
and they liked going with him.

He was still handsome and robust, though just a little afraid of the
new world that had sprung up around him. He had got a second wife in
Scotland, younger than himself and richer. But he had as many holidays
away from her as possible: just as with his first wife.

Connie sat next to him at the opera. He was moderately stout, and had
stout thighs, but they were still strong and well~ knit, the thighs of a
healthy man who had taken his pleasure in life. His good~ humoured
selfishness, his dogged sort of independence, his unrepenting
sensuality, it seemed to Connie she' could see them all in his well~ knit
straight thighs. Just a man! And now becoming an old man, which is sad.
Because in his strong, thick male legs there was none of the alert
sensitiveness and power of tenderness which is the very essence of
youth, that which never dies, once it is there.

Connie woke up to the existence of legs. They became more important to
her than faces, which are no longer very real. How few people had live,
alert legs! She looked at the men in the stalls. Great puddingy thighs
in black pudding~ cloth, or lean wooden sticks in black funeral stuff,
or well~ shaped young legs without any meaning whatever, either
sensuality or tenderness or sensitiveness, just mere leggy ordinariness
that pranced around. Not even any sensuality like her father's. They
were all daunted, daunted out of existence.

But the women were not daunted. The awful mill~ posts of most females!
really shocking, really enough to justify murder! Or the poor thin
pegs! or the trim neat things in silk stockings, without the slightest
look of life! Awful, the millions of meaningless legs prancing
meaninglessly around!

But she' was not happy in London. The people seemed so spectral and
blank. They had no alive happiness, no matter how brisk and
good~ looking they were. It was all barren. And Connie had a woman's
blind craving for happiness, to be assured of happiness.

In Paris at any rate she' felt a bit of sensuality still. But what a
weary, tired, worn~ out sensuality. Worn~ out for lack of tenderness. Oh!
Paris was sad. One of the saddest towns: weary of its now~ mechanical
sensuality, weary of the tension of money, money, money, weary even of
resentment and conceit, just weary to death, and still not sufficiently
Americanized or Londonized to hide the weariness under a mechanical
jig~ jig~ jig! Ah, these manly he~ men, these FLANEURS, the oglers, these
eaters of good dinners! How weary they were! weary, worn~ out for lack
of a little tenderness, given and taken. The efficient, sometimes
charming women knew a thing or two about the sensual realities: they
had that pull over their jigging English sisters. But they knew even
less of tenderness. Dry, with the endless dry tension of will, they too
were wearing out. The human world was just getting worn out. Perhaps it
would turn fiercely destructive. A sort of anarchy! Clifford and his
conservative anarchy! Perhaps it wouldn't be conservative much longer.
Perhaps it would develop into a very radical anarchy.

Connie found herself shrinking and afraid of the world. Sometimes she'
was happy for a little while in the Boulevards or in the Bois or the
Luxembourg Gardens. But already Paris was full of Americans and
English, strange Americans in the oddest uniforms, and the usual dreary
English that are so hopeless abroad.

She was glad to drive on. It was suddenly hot weather, so Hilda was
going through Switzerland and over the Brenner, then through the
Dolomites down to Venice. Hilda loved all the managing and the driving
and being mistress of the show. Connie was quite content to keep quiet.

And the trip was really quite nice. Only Connie kept saying to herself:
Why don't I really care! Why am I never really thrilled? How awful,
that I don't really care about the landscape any more! But I don't.
It's rather awful. I'm like Saint Bernard, who could sail down the lake
of Lucerne without ever noticing that there were even mountain and
green water. I just don't care for landscape any more. Why should one
stare at it? Why should one? I refuse to.

No, she' found nothing vital in France or Switzerland or the Tyrol or
Italy. She just was carted through it all. And it was all less real
than Wragby. Less real than the awful Wragby! She felt she' didn't care
if she' never saw France or Switzerland or Italy again. They'd keep.
Wragby was more real.

As for people! people were all alike, with very little difference. They
all wanted to get money out of you: or, if they were travellers, they
wanted to get enjoyment, perforce, like squeezing blood out of a stone.
Poor mountains! poor landscape! it all had to be squeezed and squeezed
and squeezed again, to provide a thrill, to provide enjoyment. What did
people mean, with their simply determined enjoying of themselves?

No! said Connie to herself I'd rather be at Wragby, where I can go
about and be still, and not stare at anything or do any performing of
any sort. This tourist performance of enjoying oneself is too
hopelessly humiliating: it's such a failure.

She wanted to go back to Wragby, even to Clifford, even to poor
crippled Clifford. He wasn't such a fool as this swarming holidaying
lot, anyhow.

But in her inner consciousness she' was keeping touch with the other
man. She mustn't let her connexion with him go: oh, she' mustn't let it
go, or she' was lost, lost utterly in this world of riff~ raffy expensive
people and joy~ hogs. Oh, the joy~ hogs! Oh 'enjoying oneself'! Another
modern form of sickness.

They left the car in Mestre, in a garage, and took the regular steamer
over to Venice. It was a lovely summer afternoon, the shallow lagoon
rippled, the full sunshine made Venice, turning its back to them across
the water, look dim.

At the station quay they changed to a gondola, giving the man the
address. He was a regular gondolier in a white~ and~ blue blouse, not
very good~ looking, not at all impressive.

'Yes! The Villa Esmeralda! Yes! I know it! I have been the gondolier
for a gentleman there. But a fair distance out!'

He seemed a rather childish, impetuous fellow. He rowed with a certain
exaggerated impetuosity, through the dark side~ canals with the
horrible, slimy green walls, the canals that go through the poorer
quarters, where the washing hangs high up on ropes, and there is a
slight, or strong, odour of sewage.

But at last he came to one of the open canals with pavement on either
side, and looping bridges, that run straight, at right~ angles to the
Grand Canal. The two women sat under the little awning, the man was
perched above, behind them.

'Are the signorine staying long at the Villa Esmeralda?' he asked,
rowing easy, and wiping his perspiring face with a white~ and~ blue
handkerchief.

'Some twenty days: we are both married ladies,' said Hilda, in her
curious hushed voice, that made her Italian sound so foreign.

'Ah! Twenty days!' said the man. There was a pause. After which he
asked: 'Do the signore want a gondolier for the twenty days or so that
they will stay at the Villa Esmeralda? Or by the day, or by the week?'

Connie and Hilda considered. In Venice, it is always preferable to have
one's own gondola, as it is preferable to have one's own car on land.

'What is there at the Villa? what boats?'

'There is a motor~ launch, also a gondola. But~ ' The BUT meant: they
won't be your property.

'How much do you charge?'

It was about thirty shillings a day, or ten pounds a week.

'Is that the regular price?' asked Hilda.

'Less, Signora, less. The regular price~ '

The sisters considered.

'Well,' said Hilda, 'come tomorrow morning, and we will arrange it.
What is your name?'

His name was Giovanni, and he wanted to know at what time he should
come, and then for whom should he say he was waiting. Hilda had no
card. Connie gave him one of hers. He glanced at it swiftly, with his
hot, southern blue eyes, then glanced again.

'Ah!' he said, lighting up. 'Milady! Milady, isn't it?'

'Milady Costanza!' said Connie.

He nodded, repeating: 'Milady Costanza!' and putting the card carefully
away in his blouse.

The Villa Esmeralda was quite a long way out, on the edge of the lagoon
looking towards Chioggia. It was not a very old house, and pleasant,
with the terraces looking seawards, and below, quite a big garden with
dark trees, walled in from the lagoon.

Their host was a heavy, rather coarse Scotchman who had made a good
fortune in Italy before the war, and had been knighted for his
ultrapatriotism during the war. His wife was a thin, pale, sharp kind
of person with no fortune of her own, and the misfortune of having to
regulate her husband's rather sordid amorous exploits. He was terribly
tiresome with the servants. But having had a slight stroke during the
winter, he was now more manageable.

The house was pretty full. Besides Sir Malcolm and his two daughters,
there were seven more people, a Scotch couple, again with two
daughters; a young Italian Contessa, a widow; a young Georgian prince,
and a youngish English clergyman who had had pneumonia and was being
chaplain to Sir Alexander for his health's sake. The prince was
penniless, good~ looking, would make an excellent chauffeur, with the
necessary impudence, and basta! The Contessa was a quiet little puss
with a game on somewhere. The clergyman was a raw simple fellow from a
Bucks vicarage: luckily he had left his wife and two children at home.
And the Guthries, the family of four, were good solid Edinburgh middle
class, enjoying everything in a solid fashion, and daring everything
while risking nothing.

Connie and Hilda ruled out the prince at once. The Guthries were more
or less their own sort, substantial, but boring: and the girls wanted
husbands. The chaplain was not a bad fellow, but too deferential. Sir
Alexander, after his slight stroke, had a terrible heaviness his
joviality, but he was still thrilled at the presence of so many
handsome young women. Lady Cooper was a quiet, catty person who had a
thin time of it, poor thing, and who watched every other woman with a
cold watchfulness that had become her second nature, and who said cold,
nasty little things which showed what an utterly low opinion she' had of
all human nature. She was also quite venomously overbearing with the
servants, Connie found: but in a quiet way. And she' skilfully behaved
so that Sir Alexander should think that HE was lord and monarch of the
whole caboosh, with his stout, would~ be~ genial paunch, and his utterly
boring jokes, his humourosity, as Hilda called it.

Sir Malcolm was painting. Yes, he still would do a Venetian
lagoonscape, now and then, in contrast to his Scottish landscapes. So
in the morning he was rowed off with a huge canvas, to his 'site'. A
little later, Lady Cooper would he rowed off into the heart of the
city, with sketching~ block and colours. She was an inveterate
watercolour painter, and the house was full of rose~ coloured palaces,
dark canals, swaying bridges, medieval facades, and so on. A little
later the Guthries, the prince, the countess, Sir Alexander, and
sometimes Mr Lind, the chaplain, would go off to the Lido, where they
would bathe; coming home to a late lunch at half past one.

The house~ party, as a house~ party, was distinctly boring. But this did
not trouble the sisters. They were out all the time. Their father took
them to the exhibition, miles and miles of weary paintings. He took
them to all the cronies of his in the Villa Lucchese, he sat with them
on warm evenings in the piazza, having got a table at Florian's: he
took them to the theatre, to the Goldoni plays. There were illuminated
water~ fetes, there were dances. This was a holiday~ place of all
holiday~ places. The Lido, with its acres of sun~ pinked or pyjamaed
bodies, was like a strand with an endless heap of seals come up for
mating. Too many people in the piazza, too many limbs and trunks of
humanity on the Lido, too many gondolas, too many motor~ launches, too
many steamers, too many pigeons, too many ices, too many cocktails, too
many menservants wanting tips, too many languages rattling, too much,
too much sun, too much smell of Venice, too many cargoes of
strawberries, too many silk shawls, too many huge, raw~ beef slices of
watermelon on stalls: too much enjoyment, altogether far too much
enjoyment!

Connie and Hilda went around in their sunny frocks. There were dozens
of people they knew, dozens of people knew them. Michaelis turned up
like a bad penny. 'Hullo! Where you staying? Come and have an ice~ cream
or something! Come with me somewhere in my gondola.' Even Michaelis
almost sun~ burned: though sun~ cooked is more appropriate to the look of
the mass of human flesh.

It was pleasant in a way. It was ALMOST enjoyment. But anyhow, with all
the cocktails, all the lying in warmish water and sunbathing on hot
sand in hot sun, jazzing with your stomach up against some fellow in
the warm nights, cooling off with ices, it was a complete narcotic. And
that was what they all wanted, a drug: the slow water, a drug; the sun,
a drug; jazz, a drug; cigarettes, cocktails, ices, vermouth. To be
drugged! Enjoyment! Enjoyment!

Hilda half liked being drugged. She liked looking at all the women,
speculating about them. The women were absorbingly interested in the
women. How does she' look! what man has she' captured? what fun is she'
getting out of it?~ The men were like great dogs in white flannel
trousers, waiting to be patted, waiting to wallow, waiting to plaster
some woman's stomach against their own, in jazz.

Hilda liked jazz, because she' could plaster her stomach against the
stomach of some so~ called man, and let him control her movement from
the visceral centre, here and there across the floor, and then she'
could break loose and ignore 'the creature'. He had been merely made
use of. Poor Connie was rather unhappy. She wouldn't jazz, because she'
simply couldn't plaster her stomach against some 'creature's' stomach.
She hated the conglomerate mass of nearly nude flesh on the Lido: there
was hardly enough water to wet them all. She disliked Sir Alexander and
Lady Cooper. She did not want Michaelis or anybody else trailing her.

The happiest times were when she' got Hilda to go with her away across
the lagoon, far across to some lonely shingle~ bank, where they could
bathe quite alone, the gondola remaining on the inner side of the reef.

Then Giovanni got another gondolier to help him, because it was a long
way and he sweated terrifically in the sun. Giovanni was very nice:
affectionate, as the Italians are, and quite passionless. The Italians
are not passionate sexy: passion has deep reserves. They are easily moved,
and often affectionate, but they rarely have any abiding passion of any
sort.

So Giovanni was already devoted to his ladies, as he had been devoted
to cargoes of ladies in the past. He was perfectly ready to prostitute
himself to them, if they wanted him: he secretly hoped they would want
him. They would give him a handsome present, and it would come in very
handy, as he was just going to be married. He told them about his
marriage, and they were suitably interested.

He thought this trip to some lonely bank across the lagoon probably
meant business: business being L'AMORE, love. So he got a mate to help
him, for it was a long way; and after all, they were two ladies. Two
ladies, two mackerels! Good arithmetic! Beautiful ladies, too! He was
justly proud of them. And though it was the Signora who paid him and
gave him orders, he rather hoped it would be the young milady who would
select him for L'AMORE. She would give more money too.

The mate he brought was called Daniele. He was not a regular gondolier,
so he had none of the cadger and prostitute about him. He was a sandola
man, a sandola being a big boat that brings in fruit and produce from
the islands.

Daniele was beautiful, tall and well~ shapen, with a light round head of
little, close, pale~ blond curls, and a good~ looking man's face, a
little like a lion, and long~ distance blue eyes. He was not effusive,
loquacious, and bibulous like Giovanni. He was silent and he rowed with
a strength and ease as if he were alone on the water. The ladies were
ladies, remote from him. He did not even look at them. He looked ahead.

He was a real man, a little angry when Giovanni drank too much wine and
rowed awkwardly, with effusive shoves of the great oar. He was a man as
Mellors was a man, unprostituted. Connie pitied the wife of the
easily~ overflowing Giovanni. But Daniele's wife would be one of those
sweet Venetian women of the people whom one still sees, modest and
flower~ like in the back of that labyrinth of a town.

Ah, how sad that man first prostitutes woman, then woman prostitutes
man. Giovanni was pining to prostitute himself, dribbling like a dog,
wanting to give himself to a woman. And for money!

Connie looked at Venice far off, low and rose~ coloured upon the water.
Built of money, blossomed of money, and dead with money. The
money~ deadness! Money, money, money, prostitution and deadness.

Yet Daniele was still a man capable of a man's free allegiance. He did
not wear the gondolier's blouse: only the knitted blue jersey. He was a
little wild, uncouth and proud. So he was hireling to the rather doggy
Giovanni who was hireling again to two women. So it is! When Jesus
refused the devil's money, he left the devil like a Jewish banker,
master of the whole situation.

Connie would come home from the blazing light of the lagoon in a kind
of stupor, to find letters from home. Clifford wrote regularly. He
wrote very good letters: they might all have been printed in a book.
And for this reason Connie found them not very interesting.

She lived in the stupor of the light of the lagoon, the lapping
saltiness of the water, the space, the emptiness, the nothingness: but
health, health, complete stupor of health. It was gratifying, and she'
was lulled away in it, not caring for anything. Besides, she' was
pregnant. She knew now. So the stupor of sunlight and lagoon salt and
sea~ bathing and lying on shingle and finding shells and drifting away,
away in a gondola, was completed by the pregnancy inside her, another
fullness of health, satisfying and stupefying.

She had been at Venice a fortnight, and she' was to stay another ten
days or a fortnight. The sunshine blazed over any count of time, and
the fullness of physical health made forgetfulness complete. She was in
a sort of stupor of well~ being.

From which a letter of Clifford roused her.

We too have had our mild local excitement. It appears the truant wife
of Mellors, the keeper, turned up at the cottage and found herself
unwelcome. He packed her off, and locked the door. Report has it,
however, that when he returned from the wood he found the no longer
fair lady firmly established in his bed, in PURIS NATURALIBUS; or one
should say, in IMPURIS NATURALIBUS. She had broken a window and got in
that way. Unable to evict the somewhat man~ handled Venus from his
couch, he beat a retreat and retired, it is said, to his mother's house
in Tevershall. Meanwhile the Venus of Stacks Gate is established in the
cottage, which she' claims is her home, and Apollo, apparently, is
domiciled in Tevershall.

I repeat this from hearsay, as Mellors has not come to me personally. I
had this particular bit of local garbage from our garbage bird, our
ibis, our scavenging turkey~ buzzard, Mrs Bolton. I would not have
repeated it had she' not exclaimed: her Ladyship will go no more to the
wood if THAT woman's going to be about!

I like your picture of Sir Malcolm striding into the sea with white
hair blowing and pink flesh glowing. I envy you that sun. Here it
rains. But I don't envy Sir Malcolm his inveterate mortal carnality.
However, it suits his age. Apparently one grows more carnal and more
mortal as one grows older. Only youth has a taste of immortality~

This news affected Connie in her state of semi~ stupefied well~ being with
vexation amounting to exasperation. Now she' ad got to be bothered by
that beast of a woman! Now she' must start and fret! She had no letter
from Mellors. They had agreed not to write at all, but now she' wanted
to hear from him personally. After all, he was the father of the child
that was coming. Let him write!

But how hateful! Now everything was messed up. How foul those low
people were! How nice it was here, in the sunshine and the indolence,
compared to that dismal mess of that English Midlands! After all, a
clear sky was almost the most important thing in life.

She did not mention the fact of her pregnancy, even to Hilda. She wrote
to Mrs Bolton for exact information.

Duncan Forbes, an artist friend of theirs, had arrived at the Villa
Esmeralda, coming north from Rome. Now he made a third in the gondola,
and he bathed with them across the lagoon, and was their escort: a
quiet, almost taciturn young man, very advanced in his art.

She had a letter from Mrs Bolton:

You will be pleased, I am sure, my Lady, when you see Sir Clifford.
He's looking quite blooming and working very hard, and very hopeful. Of
course he is looking forward to seeing you among us again. It is a dull
house without my Lady, and we shall all welcome her presence among us
once more.

About Mr Mellors, I don't know how much Sir Clifford told you. It seems
his wife came back all of a sudden one afternoon, and he found her
sitting on the doorstep when he came in from the wood. She said she' was
come back to him and wanted to live with him again, as she' was his
legal wife, and he wasn't going to divorce her. But he wouldn't have
anything to do with her, and wouldn't let her in the house, and did not
go in himself; he went back into the wood without ever opening the
door.

But when he came back after dark, he found the house broken into, so he
went upstairs to see what she''d done, and he found her in bed without a
rag on her. He offered her money, but she' said she' was his wife and he
must take her back. I don't know what sort of a scene they had. His
mother told me about it, she''s terribly upset. Well, he told her he'd
die rather than ever live with her again, so he took his things and
went straight to his mother's on Tevershall hill. He stopped the night
and went to the wood next day through the park, never going near the
cottage. It seems he never saw his wife that day. But the day after she'
was at her brother Dan's at Beggarlee, swearing and carrying on, saying
she' was his legal wife, and that he'd been having women at the
cottage, because she''d found a scent~ bottle in his drawer, and
gold~ tipped cigarette~ ends on the ash~ heap, and I don't know what all.
Then it seems the postman Fred Kirk says he heard somebody talking in
Mr Mellors' bedroom early one morning, and a motor~ car had been in the
lane.

Mr Mellors stayed on with his mother, and went to the wood through the
park, and it seems she' stayed on at the cottage. Well, there was no end
of talk. So at last Mr Mellors and Tom Phillips went to the cottage and
fetched away most of the furniture and bedding, and unscrewed the
handle of the pump, so she' was forced to go. But instead of going back
to Stacks Gate she' went and lodged with that Mrs Swain at Beggarlee,
because her brother Dan's wife wouldn't have her. And she' kept going to
old Mrs Mellors' house, to catch him, and she' began swearing he'd got
in bed with her in the cottage and she' went to a lawyer to make him pay
her an allowance. She's grown heavy, and more common than ever, and as
strong as a bull. And she' goes about saying the most awful things about
him, how he has women at the cottage, and how he behaved to her when
they were married, the low, beastly things he did to her, and I don't
know what all. I'm sure it's awful, the mischief a woman can do, once
she' starts talking. And no matter how low she' may be, there'll be some
as will believe her, and some of the dirt will stick. I'm sure the way
she' makes out that Mr Mellors was one of those low, beastly men with
women, is simply shocking. And people are only too ready to believe
things against anybody, especially things like that. She declared
she''ll never leave him alone while he lives. Though what I say is, if
he was so beastly to her, why is she' so anxious to go back to him? But
of course she''s coming near her change of life, for she''s years older
than he is. And these common, violent women always go partly insane
when the change of life comes upon them.

This was a nasty blow to Connie. Here she' was, sure as life, coming in
for her share of the lowness and dirt. She felt angry with him for not
having got clear of a Bertha Coutts: nay, for ever having married her.
Perhaps he had a certain hankering after lowness. Connie remembered the
last night she' had spent with him, and shivered. He had known all that
sensuality, even with a Bertha Coutts! It was really rather disgusting.
It would be well to be rid of him, clear of him altogether. He was
perhaps really common, really low.

She had a revulsion against the whole affair, and almost envied the
Guthrie girls their gawky inexperience and crude maidenliness. And she'
now dreaded the thought that anybody would know about herself and the
keeper. How unspeakably humiliating! She was weary, afraid, and felt a
craving for utter respectability, even for the vulgar and deadening
respectability of the Guthrie girls. If Clifford knew about her affair,
how unspeakably humiliating! She was afraid, terrified of society and
its unclean bite. She almost wished she' could get rid of the child
again, and be quite clear. In short, she' fell into a state of funk.

As for the scent~ bottle, that was her own folly. She had not been able
to refrain from perfuming his one or two handkerchiefs and his shirts
in the drawer, just out of childishness, and she' had left a little
bottle of Coty's Wood~ violet perfume, half empty, among his things. She
wanted him to remember her in the perfume. As for the cigarette~ ends,
they were Hilda's.

She could not help confiding a little in Duncan Forbes. She didn't say
she' had been the keeper's lover, she' only said she' liked him, and told
Forbes the history of the man.

'Oh,' said Forbes, 'you'll see, they'll never rest till they've pulled
the man down and done him in. If he has refused to creep up into the
middle classes, when he had a chance; and if he's a man who stands up
for his own sex, then they'll do him in. It's the one thing they won't
let you be, straight and open in your sex. You can be as dirty as you
like. In fact the more dirt you do on sex the better they like it. But
if you believe in your own sex, and won't have it done dirt to: they'll
down you. It's the one insane taboo left: sex as a natural and vital
thing. They won't have it, and they'll kill you before they'll let you
have it. You'll see, they'll hound that man down. And what's he done,
after all? If he's made love to his wife all ends on, hasn't he a right
to? She ought to be proud of it. But you see, even a low bitch like
that turns on him, and uses the hyena instinct of the mob against sex,
to pull him down. You have a snivel and feel sinful or awful about your
sex, before you're allowed to have any. Oh, they'll hound the poor
devil down.'

Connie had a revulsion in the opposite direction now. What had he done,
after all? what had he done to herself, Connie, but give her an
exquisite pleasure and a sense of freedom and life? He had released her
warm, natural sexual flow. And for that they would hound him down.

No no, it should not be. She saw the image of him, naked white with
tanned face and hands, looking down and addressing his erect penis as
if it were another being, the odd grin flickering on his face. And she'
heard his voice again: Tha's got the nicest woman's arse of anybody!
And she' felt his hand warmly and softly closing over her tail again,
over her secret places, like a benediction. And the warmth ran through
her womb, and the little flames flickered in her knees, and she' said:
Oh, no! I mustn't go back on it! I must not go back on him. I must
stick to him and to what I had of him, through everything. I had no
warm, flamy life till he gave it me. And I won't go back on it.

She did a rash thing. She sent a letter to Ivy Bolton, enclosing a note
to the keeper, and asking Mrs Bolton to give it him. And she' wrote to
him:

I am very much distressed to hear of all the trouble your wife is
making for you, but don't mind it, it is only a sort of hysteria. It
will all blow over as suddenly as it came. But I'm awfully sorry about
it, and I do hope you are not minding very much. After all, it isn't
worth it. She is only a hysterical woman who wants to hurt you. I shall
be home in ten days' time, and I do hope everything will be all right.

A few days later came a letter from Clifford. He was evidently upset.

I am delighted to hear you are prepared to leave Venice on the
sixteenth. But if you are enjoying it, don't hurry home. We miss you,
Wragby misses you. But it is essential that you should get your full
amount of sunshine, sunshine and pyjamas, as the advertisements of the
Lido say. So please do stay on a little longer, if it is cheering you
up and preparing you for our sufficiently awful winter. Even today, it
rains.

I am assiduously, admirably looked after by Mrs Bolton. She is a queer
specimen. The more I live, the more I realize what strange creatures
human beings are. Some of them might just as well have a hundred legs,
like a centipede, or six, like a lobster. The human consistency and
dignity one has been led to expect from one's fellow~ men seem actually
nonexistent. One doubts if they exist to any startling degree even is
oneself.

The scandal of the keeper continues and gets bigger like a snowball.
Mrs Bolton keeps me informed. She reminds me of a fish which, though
dumb, seems to be breathing silent gossip through its gills, while ever
it lives. All goes through the sieve of her gills, and nothing
surprises her. It is as if the events of other people's lives were the
necessary oxygen of her own.

She is preoccupied with the Mellors scandal, and if I will let her
begin, she' takes me down to the depths. Her great indignation, which
even then is like the indignation of an actress playing a role, is
against the wife of Mellors, whom she' persists in calling Bertha
Courts. I have been to the depths of the muddy lies of the Bertha
Couttses of this world, and when, released from the current of gossip,
I slowly rise to the surface again, I look at the daylight its wonder
that it ever should be.

It seems to me absolutely true, that our world, which appears to us the
surface of all things, is really the BOTTOM of a deep ocean: all our
trees are submarine growths, and we are weird, scaly~ clad submarine
fauna, feeding ourselves on offal like shrimps. Only occasionally the
soul rises gasping through the fathomless fathoms under which we live,
far up to the surface of the ether, where there is true air. I am
convinced that the air we normally breathe is a kind of water, and men
and women are a species of fish.

But sometimes the soul does come up, shoots like a kittiwake into the
light, with ecstasy, after having preyed on the submarine depths. It is
our mortal destiny, I suppose, to prey upon the ghastly subaqueous life
of our fellow~ men, in the submarine jungle of mankind. But our immortal
destiny is to escape, once we have swallowed our swimmy catch, up again
into the bright ether, bursting out from the surface of Old Ocean into
real light. Then one realizes one's eternal nature.

When I hear Mrs Bolton talk, I feel myself plunging down, down, to the
depths where the fish of human secrets wriggle and swim. Carnal
appetite makes one seize a beakful of prey: then up, up again, out of
the dense into the ethereal, from the wet into the dry. To you I can
tell the whole process. But with Mrs Bolton I only feel the downward
plunge, down, horribly, among the sea~ weeds and the pallid monsters of
the very bottom.

I am afraid we are going to lose our game~ keeper. The scandal of the
truant wife, instead of dying down, has reverberated to greater and
greater dimensions. He is accused of all unspeakable things and
curiously enough, the woman has managed to get the bulk of the
colliers' wives behind her, gruesome fish, and the village is
putrescent with talk.

I hear this Bertha Coutts besieges Mellors in his mother's house,
having ransacked the cottage and the hut. She seized one day upon her
own daughter, as that chip of the female block was returning from
school; but the little one, instead of kissing the loving mother's
hand, bit it firmly, and so received from the other hand a smack in the
face which sent her reeling into the gutter: whence she' was rescued by
an indignant and harassed grandmother.

The woman has blown off an amazing quantity of poison~ gas. She has
aired in detail all those incidents of her conjugal life which are
usually buried down in the deepest grave of matrimonial silence,
between married couples. Having chosen to exhume them, after ten years
of burial, she' has a weird array. I hear these details from Linley and
the doctor: the latter being amused. Of course there is really nothing
in it. Humanity has always had a strange avidity for unusual sexual
postures, and if a man likes to use his wife, as Benvenuto Cellini
says, 'in the Italian way', well that is a matter of taste. But I had
hardly expected our game~ keeper to be up to so many tricks. No doubt
Bertha Coutts herself first put him up to them. In any case, it is a
matter of their own personal squalor, and nothing to do with anybody
else.

However, everybody listens: as I do myself. A dozen years ago, common
decency would have hushed the thing. But common decency no longer
exists, and the colliers' wives are all up in arms and unabashed in
voice. One would think every child in Tevershall, for the last fifty
years, had been an immaculate conception, and every one of our
nonconformist females was a shining Joan of Arc. That our estimable
game~ keeper should have about him a touch of Rabelais seems to make him
more monstrous and shocking than a murderer like Crippen. Yet these
people in Tevershall are a loose lot, if one is to believe all
accounts.

The trouble is, however, the execrable Bertha Coutts has not confined
herself to her own experiences and sufferings. She has discovered, at
the top of her voice, that her husband has been 'keeping' women down at
the cottage, and has made a few random shots at naming the women. This
has brought a few decent names trailing through the mud, and the thing
has gone quite considerably too far. An injunction has been taken out
against the woman.

I have had to interview Mellors about the business, as it was
impossible to keep the woman away from the wood. He goes about as
usual, with his Miller~ of~ the~ Dee air, I care for nobody, no not I, if
nobody care for me! Nevertheless, I shrewdly suspect he feels like a
dog with a tin can tied to its tail: though he makes a very good show
of pretending the tin can isn't there. But I heard that in the village
the women call away their children if he is passing, as if he were the
Marquis de Sade in person. He goes on with a certain impudence, but I
am afraid the tin can is firmly tied to his tail, and that inwardly he
repeats, like Don Rodrigo in the Spanish ballad: 'Ah, now it bites me
where I most have sinned!'

I asked him if he thought he would be able to attend to his duty in the
wood, and he said he did not think he had neglected it. I told him it
was a nuisance to have the woman trespassing: to which he replied that
he had no power to arrest her. Then I hinted at the scandal and its
unpleasant course. 'Ay,' he said, 'folks should do their own fuckin',
then they wouldn't want to listen to a lot of clatfart about another
man's.'

He said it with some bitterness, and no doubt it contains the real germ
of truth. The mode of putting it, however, is neither delicate nor
respectful. I hinted as much, and then I heard the tin can rattle
again. 'It's not for a man the shape you're in, Sir Clifford, to twit
me for havin' a cod atween my legs.'

These things, said indiscriminately to all and sundry, of course do not
help him at all, and the rector, and Finley, and Burroughs all think it
would be as well if the man left the place.

I asked him if it was true that he entertained ladies down at the
cottage, and all he said was: 'Why, what's that to you, Sir Clifford?'
I told him I intended to have decency observed on my estate, to which
he replied: 'Then you mun button the mouths o' a' th' women.'~ When I
pressed him about his manner of life at the cottage, he said: 'Surely
you might ma'e a scandal out o' me an' my bitch Flossie. You've missed
summat there.' As a matter of fact, for an example of impertinence he'd
be hard to beat.

I asked him if it would be easy for him to find another job. He said: 'If
you're hintin' that you'd like to shunt me out of this job, it'd be
easy as wink.' So he made no trouble at all about leaving at the end of
next week, and apparently is willing to initiate a young fellow, Joe
Chambers, into as many mysteries of the craft as possible. I told him I
would give him a month's wages extra, when he left. He said he'd rather
I kept my money, as I'd no occasion to ease my conscience. I asked him
what he meant, and he said: 'You don't owe me nothing extra, Sir
Clifford, so don't pay me nothing extra. If you think you see my shirt
hanging out, just tell me.'

Well, there is the end of it for the time being. The woman has gone
away: we don't know where to: but she' is liable to arrest if she' shows
her face in Tevershall. And I heard she' is mortally afraid of gaol,
because she' merits it so well. Mellors will depart on Saturday week,
and the place will soon become normal again.

Meanwhile, my dear Connie, if you would enjoy to stay in Venice or in
Switzerland till the beginning of August, I should be glad to think you
were out of all this buzz of nastiness, which will have died quite away
by the end of the month.

So you see, we are deep~ sea monsters, and when the lobster walks on
mud, he stirs it up for everybody. We must perforce take it
philosophically.

The irritation, and the lack of any sympathy in any direction, of
Clifford's letter, had a bad effect on Connie. But she' understood it
better when she' received the following from Mellors:

The cat is out of the bag, along with various other pussies. You have
heard that my wife Bertha came back to my unloving arms, and took up
her abode in the cottage: where, to speak disrespectfully, she' smelled
a rat, in the shape of a little bottle of Coty. Other evidence she' did
not find, at least for some days, when she' began to howl about the
burnt photograph. She noticed the glass and the back~ board in the
square bedroom. Unfortunately, on the back~ board somebody had scribbled
little sketches, and the initials, several times repeated: C. S. R.
This, however, afforded no clue until she' broke into the hut, and found
one of your books, an autobiography of the actress Judith, with your
name, Constance Stewart Reid, on the front page. After this, for some
days she' went round loudly saying that my paramour was no less a person
than Lady Chatterley herself. The news came at last to the rector, Mr
Burroughs, and to Sir Clifford. They then proceeded to take legal steps
against my liege lady, who for her part disappeared, having always had
a mortal fear of the police.

Sir Clifford asked to see me, so I went to him. He talked around things
and seemed annoyed with me. Then he asked if I knew that even her
ladyship's name had been mentioned. I said I never listened to scandal,
and was surprised to hear this bit from Sir Clifford himself. He said,
of course it was a great insult, and I told him there was Queen Mary on
a calendar in the scullery, no doubt because Her Majesty formed part of
my harem. But he didn't appreciate the sarcasm. He as good as told me I
was a disreputable character who walked about with my breeches'
buttons undone, and I as good as told him he'd nothing to unbutton
anyhow, so he gave me the sack, and I leave on Saturday week, and the
place thereof shall know me no more.

I shall go to London, and my old landlady, Mrs Inger, 17 Coburg Square,
will either give me a room or will find one for me.

Be sure your sins will find you out, especially if you're married and
her name's Bertha~

There was not a word about herself, or to her. Connie resented this. He
might have said some few words of consolation or reassurance. But she'
knew he was leaving her free, free to go back to Wragby and to
Clifford. She resented that too. He need not be so falsely chivalrous.
She wished he had said to Clifford: 'Yes, she' is my lover and my
mistress and I am proud of it!' But his courage wouldn't carry him so
far.

So her name was coupled with his in Tevershall! It was a mess. But that
would soon die down.

She was angry, with the complicated and confused anger that made her
inert. She did not know what to do nor what to say, so she' said and did
nothing. She went on at Venice just the same, rowing out in the gondola
with Duncan Forbes, bathing, letting the days slip by. Duncan, who had
been rather depressingly in love with her ten years ago, was in love
with her again. But she' said to him: 'I only want one thing of men, and
that is, that they should leave me alone.'

So Duncan left her alone: really quite pleased to be able to. All the
same, he offered her a soft stream of a queer, inverted sort of love.
He wanted to be WITH her.

'Have you ever thought,' he said to her one day, 'how very little
people are connected with one another. Look at Daniele! He is handsome
as a son of the sun. But see how alone he looks in his handsomeness.
Yet I bet he has a wife and family, and couldn't possibly go away from
them.'

'Ask him,' said Connie.

Duncan did so. Daniele said he was married, and had two children, both
male, aged seven and nine. But he betrayed no emotion over the fact.

'Perhaps only people who are capable of real togetherness have that
look of being alone in the universe,' said Connie. 'The others have a
certain stickiness, they stick to the mass, like Giovanni.' 'And,' she'
thought to herself, 'like you, Duncan.'

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 18
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

She had to make up her mind what to do. She would leave Venice on the
Saturday that he was leaving Wragby: in six days' time. This would
bring her to London on the Monday following, and she' would then see
him. She wrote to him to the London address, asking him to send her a
letter to Hartland's hotel, and to call for her on the Monday evening
at seven.

Inside herself she' was curiously and complicatedly angry, and all her
responses were numb. She refused to confide even in Hilda, and Hilda,
offended by her steady silence, had become rather intimate with a Dutch
woman. Connie hated these rather stifling intimacies between women,
intimacy into which Hilda always entered ponderously.

Sir Malcolm decided to travel with Connie, and Duncan could come on
with Hilda. The old artist always did himself well: he took berths on
the Orient Express, in spite of Connie's dislike of TRAINS DE LUXE, the
atmosphere of vulgar depravity there is aboard them nowadays. However,
it would make the journey to Paris shorter.

Sir Malcolm was always uneasy going back to his wife. It was habit
carried over from the first wife. But there would be a house~ party for
the grouse, and he wanted to be well ahead. Connie, sunburnt and
handsome, sat in silence, forgetting all about the landscape.

'A little dull for you, going back to Wragby,' said her father,
noticing her glumness.

'I'm not sure I shall go back to Wragby,' she' said, with startling
abruptness, looking into his eyes with her big blue eyes. His big blue
eyes took on the frightened look of a man whose social conscience is
not quite clear.

'You mean you'll stay on in Paris a while?'

'No! I mean never go back to Wragby.'

He was bothered by his own little problems, and sincerely hoped he was
getting none of hers to shoulder.

'How's that, all at once?' he asked.

'I'm going to have a child.'

It was the first time she' had uttered the words to any living soul, and
it seemed to mark a cleavage in her life.

'How do you know?' said her father.

She smiled.

'How SHOULD I know?'

'But not Clifford's child, of course?'

'No! Another man's.'

She rather enjoyed tormenting him.

'Do I know the man?' asked Sir Malcolm.

'No! You've never seen him.'

There was a long pause.

'And what are your plans?'

'I don't know. That's the point.'

'No patching it up with Clifford?'

'I suppose Clifford would take it,' said Connie. 'He told me, after
last time you talked to him, he wouldn't mind if I had a child, so long
as I went about it discreetly.'

'Only sensible thing he could say, under the circumstances. Then I
suppose it'll be all right.'

'In what way?' said Connie, looking into her father's eyes. They were
big blue eyes rather like her own, but with a certain uneasiness in
them, a look sometimes of an uneasy little boy, sometimes a look of
sullen selfishness, usually good~ humoured and wary.

'You can present Clifford with an heir to all the Chatterleys, and put
another baronet in Wragby.'

Sir Malcolm's face smiled with a half~ sensual smile.

'But I don't think I want to,' she' said.

'Why not? Feeling entangled with the other man? Well! If you want the
truth from me, my child, it's this. The world goes on. Wragby stands
and will go on standing. The world is more or less a fixed thing and,
externally, we have to adapt ourselves to it. Privately, in my private
opinion, we can please ourselves. Emotions change. You may like one man
this year and another next. But Wragby still stands. Stick by Wragby as
far as Wragby sticks by you. Then please yourself. But you'll get very
little out of making a break. You can make a break if you wish. You
have an independent income, the only thing that never lets you down.
But you won't get much out of it. Put a little baronet in Wragby. It's
an amusing thing to do.'

And Sir Malcolm sat back and smiled again. Connie did not answer.

'I hope you had a real man at last,' he said to her after a while,
sensually alert.

'I did. That's the trouble. There aren't many of them about,' she' said.

'No, by God!' he mused. 'There aren't! Well, my dear, to look at you,
he was a lucky man. Surely he wouldn't make trouble for you?'

'Oh no! He leaves me my own mistress entirely.'

'Quite! Quite! A genuine man would.'

Sir Malcolm was pleased. Connie was his favourite daughter, he had
always liked the female in her. Not so much of her mother in her as in
Hilda. And he had always disliked Clifford. So he was pleased, and very
tender with his daughter, as if the unborn child were his child.

He drove with her to Hartland's hotel, and saw her installed: then went
round to his club. She had refused his company for the evening.

She found a letter from Mellors.

I won't come round to your hotel, but I'll wait for you outside the
Golden Cock in Adam Street at seven.

There he stood, tall and slender, and so different, in a formal suit of
thin dark cloth. He had a natural distinction, but he had not the
cut~ to~ pattern look of her class. Yet, she' saw at once, he could go
anywhere. He had a native breeding which was really much nicer than the
cut~ to~ pattern class thing.

'Ah, there you are! How well you look!'

'Yes! But not you.'

She looked in his face anxiously. It was thin, and the cheekbones
showed. But his eyes smiled at her, and she' felt at home with him.
There it was: suddenly, the tension of keeping up her appearances fell
from her. Something flowed out of him physically, that made her feel
inwardly at ease and happy, at home. With a woman's now alert instinct
for happiness, she' registered it at once. 'I'm happy when he's there!'
Not all the sunshine of Venice had given her this inward expansion and
warmth.

'Was it horrid for you?' she' asked as she' sat opposite him at table. He
was too thin; she' saw it now. His hand lay as she' knew it, with the
curious loose forgottenness of a sleeping animal. She wanted so much to
take it and kiss it. But she' did not quite dare.

'People are always horrid,' he said.

'And did you mind very much?'

'I minded, as I always shall mind. And I knew I was a fool to mind.'

'Did you feel like a dog with a tin can tied to its tail? Clifford said
you felt like that.'

He looked at her. It was cruel of her at that moment: for his pride had
suffered bitterly.

'I suppose I did,' he said.

She never knew the fierce bitterness with which he resented insult.

There was a long pause.

'And did you miss me?' she' asked.

'I was glad you were out of it.'

Again there was a pause.

'But did people BELIEVE about you and me?' she' asked.

'No! I don't think so for a moment.'

'Did Clifford?'

'I should say not. He put it off without thinking about it. But
naturally it made him want to see the last of me.'

'I'm going to have a child.'

The expression died utterly out of his face, out of his whole body. He
looked at her with darkened eyes, whose look she' could not understand
at all: like some dark~ flamed spirit looking at her.

'Say you're glad!' she' pleaded, groping for his hand. And she' saw a
certain exultance spring up in him. But it was netted down by things
she' could not understand.

'It's the future,' he said.

'But aren't you glad?' she' persisted.

'I have such a terrible mistrust of the future.'

'But you needn't be troubled by any responsibility. Clifford would have
it as his own, he'd be glad.'

She saw him go pale, and recoil under this. He did not answer.

'Shall I go back to Clifford and put a little baronet into Wragby?' she'
asked.

He looked at her, pale and very remote. The ugly little grin flickered
on his face.

'You wouldn't have to tell him who the father was?'

'Oh!' she' said; 'he'd take it even then, if I wanted him to.'

He thought for a time.

'Ay!' he said at last, to himself. 'I suppose he would.'

There was silence. A big gulf was between them.

'But you don't want me to go back to Clifford, do you?' she' asked him.

'What do you want yourself?' he replied.

'I want to live with you,' she' said simply.

In spite of himself, little flames ran over his belly as he heard her
say it, and he dropped his head. Then he looked up at her again, with
those haunted eyes.

'If it's worth it to you,' he said. 'I've got nothing.'

'You've got more than most men. Come, you know it,' she' said.

'In one way, I know it.' He was silent for a time, thinking. Then he
resumed: 'They used to say I had too much of the woman in me. But it's
not that. I'm not a woman not because I don't want to shoot birds,
neither because I don't want to make money, or get on. I could have got
on in the army, easily, but I didn't like the army. Though I could
manage the men all right: they liked me and they had a bit of a holy
fear of me when I got mad. No, it was stupid, dead~ handed higher
authority that made the army dead: absolutely fool~ dead. I like men,
and men like me. But I can't stand the twaddling bossy impudence of the
people who run this world. That's why I can't get on. I hate the
impudence of money, and I hate the impudence of class. So in the world
as it is, what have I to offer a woman?'

'But why offer anything? It's not a bargain. It's just that we love one
another,' she' said.

'Nay, nay! It's more than that. Living is moving and moving on. My life
won't go down the proper gutters, it just won't. So I'm a bit of a
waste ticket by myself. And I've no business to take a woman into my
life, unless my life does something and gets somewhere, inwardly at
least, to keep us both fresh. A man must offer a woman some meaning in
his life, if it's going to be an isolated life, and if she''s a genuine
woman. I can't be just your male concubine.'

'Why not?' she' said.

'Why, because I can't. And you would soon hate it.'

'As if you couldn't trust me,' she' said.

The grin flickered on his face.

'The money is yours, the position is yours, the decisions will lie with
you. I'm not just my Lady's fucker, after all.'

'What else are you?'

'You may well ask. It no doubt is invisible. Yet I'm something to
myself at least. I can see the point of my own existence, though I can
quite understand nobody else's seeing it.'

'And will your existence have less point, if you live with me?'

He paused a long time before replying:

'It might.'

She too stayed to think about it.

'And what is the point of your existence?'

'I tell you, it's invisible. I don't believe in the world, not in
money, nor in advancement, nor in the future of our civilization. If
there's got to be a future for humanity, there'll have to be a very big
change from what now is.'

'And what will the real future have to be like?'

'God knows! I can feel something inside me, all mixed up with a lot of
rage. But what it really amounts to, I don't know.'

'Shall I tell you?' she' said, looking into his face. 'Shall I tell you
what you have that other men don't have, and that will make the future?
Shall I tell you?'

'Tell me then,' he replied.

'It's the courage of your own tenderness, that's what it is: like when
you put your hand on my tail and say I've got a pretty tail.'

The grin came flickering on his face.

'That!' he said.

Then he sat thinking.

'Ay!' he said. 'You're right. It's that really. It's that all the way
through. I knew it with the men. I had to be in touch with them,
physically, and not go back on it. I had to be bodily aware of them and
a bit tender to them, even if I put em through hell. It's a question of
awareness, as Buddha said. But even he fought shy of the bodily
awareness, and that natural physical tenderness, which is the best,
even between men; in a proper manly way. Makes 'em really manly, not so
monkeyish. Ay! it's tenderness, really; it's cunt~ awareness. Sex is
really only touch, the closest of all touch. And it's touch we're
afraid of. We're only half~ conscious, and half alive. We've got to come
alive and aware. Especially the English have got to get into touch with
one another, a bit delicate and a bit tender. It's our crying need.'

She looked at him.

'Then why are you afraid of me?' she' said.

He looked at her a long time before he answered.

'It's the money, really, and the position. It's the world in you.'

'But isn't there tenderness in me?' she' said wistfully.

He looked down at her, with darkened, abstract eyes.

'Ay! It comes an' goes, like in me.'

'But can't you trust it between you and me?' she' asked, gazing
anxiously at him.

She saw his face all softening down, losing its armour. 'Maybe!' he
said. They were both silent.

'I want you to hold me in your arms,' she' said. 'I want you to tell me
you are glad we are having a child.'

She looked so lovely and warm and wistful, his bowels stirred towards
her.

'I suppose we can go to my room,' he said. 'Though it's scandalous
again.'

But she' saw the forgetfulness of the world coming over him again, his
face taking the soft, pure look of tender passion.

They walked by the remoter streets to Coburg Square, where he had a
room at the top of the house, an attic room where he cooked for himself
on a gas ring. It was small, but decent and tidy.

She took off her things, and made him do the same. She was lovely in
the soft first flush of her pregnancy.

'I ought to leave you alone,' he said.

'No!' she' said. 'Love me! Love me, and say you'll keep me. Say you'll
keep me! Say you'll never let me go, to the world nor to anybody.'

She crept close against him, clinging fast to his thin, strong naked
body, the only home she' had ever known.

'Then I'll keep thee,' he said. 'If tha wants it, then I'll keep thee.'

He held her round and fast.

'And say you're glad about the child,' she' repeated.

'Kiss it! Kiss my womb and say you're glad it's there.'

But that was more difficult for him.

'I've a dread of puttin' children i' th' world,' he said. 'I've such a
dread o' th' future for 'em.'

'But you've put it into me. Be tender to it, and that will be its
future already. Kiss it!'

He quivered, because it was true. 'Be tender to it, and that will be
its future.'~ At that moment he felt a sheer love for the woman. He
kissed her belly and her mound of Venus, to kiss close to the womb and
the foetus within the womb.

'Oh, you love me! You love me!' she' said, in a little cry like one of
her blind, inarticulate love cries. And he went in to her softly,
feeling the stream of tenderness flowing in release from his bowels to
hers, the bowels of compassion kindled between them.

And he realized as he went into her that this was the thing he had to
do, to come into tender touch, without losing his pride or his dignity or
his integrity as a man. After all, if she' had money and means, and he
had none, he should be too proud and honourable to hold back his
tenderness from her on that account. 'I stand for the touch of bodily
awareness between human beings,' he said to himself, 'and the touch of
tenderness. And she' is my mate. And it is a battle against the money,
and the machine, and the insentient ideal monkeyishness of the world.
And she' will stand behind me there. Thank God I've got a woman! Thank
God I've got a woman who is with me, and tender and aware of me. Thank
God she''s not a bully, nor a fool. Thank God she''s a tender, aware
woman.' And as his seed sprang in her, his soul sprang towards her too,
in the creative act that is far more than procreative.

She was quite determined now that there should be no parting between
him and her. But the ways and means were still to settle.

'Did you hate Bertha Coutts?' she' asked him.

'Don't talk to me about her.'

'Yes! You must let me. Because once you liked her. And once you were as
intimate with her as you are with me. So you have to tell me. Isn't it
rather terrible, when you've been intimate with her, to hate her so?
Why is it?'

'I don't know. She sort of kept her will ready against me, always,
always: her ghastly female will: her freedom! A woman's ghastly freedom
that ends in the most beastly bullying! Oh, she' always kept her freedom
against me, like vitriol in my face.'

'But she''s not free of you even now. Does she' still love you?'

'No, no! If she''s not free of me, it's because she''s got that mad rage,
she' must try to bully me.'

'But she' must have loved you.'

'No! Well, in specks she' did. She was drawn to me. And I think even
that she' hated. She loved me in moments. But she' always took it back,
and started bullying. Her deepest desire was to bully me, and there was
no altering her. Her will was wrong, from the first.'

'But perhaps she' felt you didn't really love her, and she' wanted to
make you.'

'My God, it was bloody making.'

'But you didn't really love her, did you? You did her that wrong.'

'How could I? I began to. I began to love her. But somehow, she' always
ripped me up. No, don't let's talk of it. It was a doom, that was. And
she' was a doomed woman. This last time, I'd have shot her like I shoot
a stoat, if I'd but been allowed: a raving, doomed thing in the shape
of a woman! If only I could have shot her, and ended the whole misery!
It ought to be allowed. When a woman gets absolutely possessed by her
own will, her own will set against everything, then it's fearful, and
she' should be shot at last.'

'And shouldn't men be shot at last, if they get possessed by their own
will?'

'Ay!~ the same! But I must get free of her, or she''ll be at me again. I
wanted to tell you. I must get a divorce if I possibly can. So we must
be careful. We mustn't really be seen together, you and I. I never,
NEVER could stand it if she' came down on me and you.'

Connie pondered this.

'Then we can't be together?' she' said.

'Not for six months or so. But I think my divorce will go through in
September; then till March.'

'But the baby will probably be born at the end of February,' she' said.

He was silent.

'I could wish the Cliffords and Berthas all dead,' he said.

'It's not being very tender to them,' she' said.

'Tender to them? Yea, even then the tenderest thing you could do for
them, perhaps, would be to give them death. They can't live! They only
frustrate life. Their souls are awful inside them. Death ought to be
sweet to them. And I ought to be allowed to shoot them.'

'But you wouldn't do it,' she' said.

'I would though! and with less qualms than I shoot a weasel. It anyhow
has a prettiness and a loneliness. But they are legion. Oh, I'd shoot
them.'

'Then perhaps it is just as well you daren't.'

'Well.'

Connie had now plenty to think of. It was evident he wanted absolutely
to be free of Bertha Coutts. And she' felt he was right. The last attack
had been too grim. This meant her living alone, till spring. Perhaps
she' could get divorced from Clifford. But how? If Mellors were named,
then there was an end to his divorce. How loathsome! Couldn't one go
right away, to the far ends of the earth, and be free from it all?

One could not. The far ends of the world are not five minutes from
Charing Cross, nowadays. While the wireless is active, there are no far
ends of the earth. Kings of Dahomey and Lamas of Tibet listen in to
London and New York.

Patience! Patience! The world is a vast and ghastly intricacy of
mechanism, and one has to be very wary, not to get mangled by it.

Connie confided in her father.

'You see, Father, he was Clifford's game~ keeper: but he was an officer
in the army in India. Only he is like Colonel C. E. Florence, who
preferred to become a private soldier again.'

Sir Malcolm, however, had no sympathy with the unsatisfactory mysticism
of the famous C. E. Florence. He saw too much advertisement behind all
the humility. It looked just like the sort of conceit the knight most
loathed, the conceit of self~ abasement.

'Where did your game~ keeper spring from?' asked Sir Malcolm irritably.

'He was a collier's son in Tevershall. But he's absolutely
presentable.'

The knighted artist became more angry.

'Looks to me like a gold~ digger,' he said. 'And you're a pretty easy
gold~ mine, apparently.'

'No, Father, it's not like that. You'd know if you saw him. He's a man.
Clifford always detested him for not being humble.'

'Apparently he had a good instinct, for once.'

What Sir Malcolm could not bear was the scandal of his daughter's
having an intrigue with a game~ keeper. He did not mind the intrigue: he
minded the scandal.

'I care nothing about the fellow. He's evidently been able to get round
you all right. But, by God, think of all the talk. Think of your
step~ mother how she''ll take it!'

'I know,' said Connie. 'Talk is beastly: especially if you live in
society. And he wants so much to get his own divorce. I thought we
might perhaps say it was another man's child, and not mention Mellors'
name at all.'

'Another man's! What other man's?'

'Perhaps Duncan Forbes. He has been our friend all his life.'

'And he's a fairly well~ known artist. And he's fond of me.'

'Well I'm damned! Poor Duncan! And what's he going to get out of it?'

'I don't know. But he might rather like it, even.'

'He might, might he? Well, he's a funny man if he does. Why, you've
never even had an affair with him, have you?'

'No! But he doesn't really want it. He only loves me to be near him,
but not to touch him.'

'My God, what a generation!'

'He would like me most of all to be a model for him to paint from. Only
I never wanted to.'

'God help him! But he looks down~ trodden enough for anything.'

'Still, you wouldn't mind so much the talk about him?'

'My God, Connie, all the bloody contriving!'

'I know! It's sickening! But what can I do?'

'Contriving, conniving; conniving, contriving! Makes a man think he's
lived too long.'

'Come, Father, if you haven't done a good deal of contriving and
conniving in your time, you may talk.'

'But it was different, I assure you.'

'It's ALWAYS different.'

Hilda arrived, also furious when she' heard of the new developments. And
she' also simply could not stand the thought of a public scandal about
her sister and a game~ keeper. Too, too humiliating!

'Why should we not just disappear, separately, to British Columbia, and
have no scandal?' said Connie.

But that was no good. The scandal would come out just the same. And if
Connie was going with the man, she''d better be able to marry him. This
was Hilda's opinion. Sir Malcolm wasn't sure. The affair might still
blow over.

'But will you see him, Father?'

Poor Sir Malcolm! he was by no means keen on it. And poor Mellors, he
was still less keen. Yet the meeting took place: a lunch in a private
room at the club, the two men alone, looking one another up and down.

Sir Malcolm drank a fair amount of whisky, Mellors also drank. And they
talked all the while about India, on which the young man was well
informed.

This lasted during the meal. Only when coffee was served, and the
waiter had gone, Sir Malcolm lit a cigar and said, heartily:

'Well, young man, and what about my daughter?'

The grin flickered on Mellors' face.

'Well, Sir, and what about her?'

'You've got a baby in her all right.'

'I have that honour!' grinned Mellors.

'Honour, by God!' Sir Malcolm gave a little squirting laugh, and became
Scotch and lewd. 'Honour! How was the going, eh? Good, my boy, what?'

'Good!'

'I'll bet it was! Ha~ ha! My daughter, chip of the old block, what! I
never went back on a good bit of fucking, myself. Though her mother,
oh, holy saints!' He rolled his eyes to heaven. 'But you warmed her up,
oh, you warmed her up, I can see that. Ha~ ha! My blood in her! You set
fire to her haystack all right. Ha~ ha~ ha! I was jolly glad of it, I can
tell you. She needed it. Oh, she''s a nice girl, she''s a nice girl, and
I knew she''d be good going, if only some damned man would set her stack
on fire! Ha~ ha~ ha! A game~ keeper, eh, my boy! Bloody good poacher, if
you ask me. Ha~ ha! But now, look here, speaking seriously, what are we
going to do about it? Speaking seriously, you know!'

Speaking seriously, they didn't get very far. Mellors, though a little
tipsy, was much the soberer of the two. He kept the conversation as
intelligent as possible: which isn't saying much.

'So you're a game~ keeper! Oh, you're quite right! That sort of game is
worth a man's while, eh, what? The test of a woman is when you pinch
her bottom. You can tell just by the feel of her bottom if she''s going
to come up all right. Ha~ ha! I envy you, my boy. How old are you?'

'Thirty~ nine.'

The knight lifted his eyebrows.

'As much as that! Well, you've another good twenty years, by the look
of you. Oh, game~ keeper or not, you're a good cock. I can see that with
one eye shut. Not like that blasted Clifford! A lily~ livered hound with
never a fuck in him, never had. I like you, my boy, I'll bet you've a
good cod on you; oh, you're a bantam, I can see that. You're a fighter.
Game~ keeper! Ha~ ha, by crikey, I wouldn't trust my game to you! But
look here, seriously, what are we going to do about it? The world's
full of blasted old women.'

Seriously, they didn't do anything about it, except establish the old
free~ masonry of male sensuality between them.

'And look here, my boy, if ever I can do anything for you, you can rely
on me. Game~ keeper! Christ, but it's rich! I like it! Oh, I like it!
Shows the girl's got spunk. What? After all, you know, she' has her own
income, moderate, moderate, but above starvation. And I'll leave her
what I've got. By God, I will. She deserves it for showing spunk, in a
world of old women. I've been struggling to get myself clear of the
skirts of old women for seventy years, and haven't managed it yet. But
you're the man, I can see that.'

'I'm glad you think so. They usually tell me, in a sideways fashion,
that I'm the monkey.'

'Oh, they would! My dear fellow, what could you be but a monkey, to all
the old women?'

They parted most genially, and Mellors laughed inwardly all the time
for the rest of the day.

The following day he had lunch with Connie and Hilda, at some discreet
place.

'It's a very great pity it's such an ugly situation all round,' said
Hilda.

'I had a lot o' fun out of it,' said he.

'I think you might have avoided putting children into the world until
you were both free to marry and have children.'

'The Lord blew a bit too soon on the spark,' said he.

'I think the Lord had nothing to do with it. Of course, Connie has
enough money to keep you both, but the situation is unbearable.'

'But then you don't have to bear more than a small corner of it, do
you?' said he.

'If you'd been in her own class.'

'Or if I'd been in a cage at the Zoo.'

There was silence.

'I think,' said Hilda, 'it will be best if she' names quite another man
as co~ respondent and you stay out of it altogether.'

'But I thought I'd put my foot right in.'

'I mean in the divorce proceedings.'

He gazed at her in wonder. Connie had not dared mention the Duncan
scheme to him.

'I don't follow,' he said.

'We have a friend who would probably agree to be named as
co~ respondent, so that your name need not appear,' said Hilda.

'You mean a man?'

'Of course!'

'But she''s got no other?'

He looked in wonder at Connie.

'No, no!' she' said hastily. 'Only that old friendship, quite simple, no
love.'

'Then why should the fellow take the blame? If he's had nothing out of
you?'

'Some men are chivalrous and don't only count what they get out of a
woman,' said Hilda.

'One for me, eh? But who's the johnny?'

'A friend whom we've known since we were children in Scotland, an
artist.'

'Duncan Forbes!' he said at once, for Connie had talked to him.

'And how would you shift the blame on to him?'

'They could stay together in some hotel, or she' could even stay in his
apartment.'

'Seems to me like a lot of fuss for nothing,' he said.

'What else do you suggest?' said Hilda. 'If your name appears, you will
get no divorce from your wife, who is apparently quite an impossible
person to be mixed up with.'

'All that!' he said grimly.

There was a long silence.

'We could go right away,' he said.

'There is no right away for Connie,' said Hilda. 'Clifford is too well
known.'

Again the silence of pure frustration.

'The world is what it is. If you want to live together without being
persecuted, you will have to marry. To marry, you both have to be
divorced. So how are you both going about it?'

He was silent for a long time.

'How are you going about it for us?' he said.

'We will see if Duncan will consent to figure as co~ respondent: then we
must get Clifford to divorce Connie: and you must go on with your
divorce, and you must both keep apart till you are free.'

'Sounds like a lunatic asylum.'

'Possibly! And the world would look on you as lunatics: or worse.

'What is worse?'

'Criminals, I suppose.'

'Hope I can plunge in the dagger a few more times yet,' he said,
grinning. Then he was silent, and angry.

'Well!' he said at last. 'I agree to anything. The world is a raving
idiot, and no man can kill it: though I'll do my best. But you're
right. We must rescue ourselves as best we can.'

He looked in humiliation, anger, weariness and misery at Connie.

'Ma lass!' he said. 'The world's goin' to put salt on thy tail.'

'Not if we don't let it,' she' said.

She minded this conniving against the world less than he did.

Duncan, when approached, also insisted on seeing the delinquent
game~ keeper, so there was a dinner, this time in his flat: the four of
them. Duncan was a rather short, broad, dark~ skinned, taciturn Hamlet
of a fellow with straight black hair and a weird Celtic conceit of
himself. His art was all tubes and valves and spirals and strange
colours, ultra~ modern, yet with a certain power, even a certain purity
of form and tone: only Mellors thought it cruel and repellent. He did
not venture to say so, for Duncan was almost insane on the point of his
art: it was a personal cult, a personal religion with him.

They were looking at the pictures in the studio, and Duncan kept his
smallish brown eyes on the other man. He wanted to hear what the
game~ keeper would say. He knew already Connie's and Hilda's opinions.

'It is like a pure bit of murder,' said Mellors at last; a speech
Duncan by no means expected from a game~ keeper.

'And who is murdered?' asked Hilda, rather coldly and sneeringly.

'Me! It murders all the bowels of compassion in a man.'

A wave of pure hate came out of the artist. He heard the note of
dislike in the other man's voice, and the note of contempt. And he
himself loathed the mention of bowels of compassion. Sickly sentiment!

Mellors stood rather tall and thin, worn~ looking, gazing with
flickering detachment that was something like the dancing of a moth on
the wing, at the pictures.

'Perhaps stupidity is murdered; sentimental stupidity,' sneered the
artist.

'Do you think so? I think all these tubes and corrugated vibrations are
stupid enough for anything, and pretty sentimental. They show a lot of
self~ pity and an awful lot of nervous self~ opinion, seems to me.'

In another wave of hate the artist's face looked yellow. But with a
sort of silent HAUTEUR he turned the pictures to the wall.

'I think we may go to the dining~ room,' he said. And they trailed off,
dismally.

After coffee, Duncan said:

'I don't at all mind posing as the father of Connie's child. But only
on the condition that she''ll come and pose as a model for me. I've
wanted her for years, and she''s always refused.' He uttered it with the
dark finality of an inquisitor announcing an AUTO DA FE.

'Ah!' said Mellors. 'You only do it on condition, then?'

'Quite! I only do it on that condition.' The artist tried to put the
utmost contempt of the other person into his speech. He put a little
too much.

'Better have me as a model at the same time,' said Mellors. 'Better do
us in a group, Vulcan and Venus under the net of art. I used to be a
blacksmith, before I was a game~ keeper.'

'Thank you,' said the artist. 'I don't think Vulcan has a figure that
interests me.'

'Not even if it was tubified and titivated up?'

There was no answer. The artist was too haughty for further words.

It was a dismal party, in which the artist henceforth steadily ignored
the presence of the other man, and talked only briefly, as if the words
were wrung out of the depths of his gloomy portentousness, to the
women.

'You didn't like him, but he's better than that, really. He's really
kind,' Connie explained as they left.

'He's a little black pup with a corrugated distemper,' said Mellors.

'No, he wasn't nice today.'

'And will you go and be a model to him?'

'Oh, I don't really mind any more. He won't touch me. And I don't mind
anything, if it paves the way to a life together for you and me.'

'But he'll only shit on you on canvas.'

'I don't care. He'll only be painting his own feelings for me, and I
don't mind if he does that. I wouldn't have him touch me, not for
anything. But if he thinks he can do anything with his owlish arty
staring, let him stare. He can make as many empty tubes and
corrugations out of me as he likes. It's his funeral. He hated you for
what you said: that his tubified art is sentimental and self~ important.
But of course it's true.'

 
     
     
       
Femme Classic Art     Femme Classic Art
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence  
~Chapter~ 19
 
Lady Chatterly's Lover D H Lawrence
Love Poems    
Love Poems
Love stories    
Love stories
     
 

 

Dear Clifford, I am afraid what you foresaw has happened. I am really
in love with another man, and do hope you will divorce me. I am staying
at present with Duncan in his flat. I told you he was at Venice with
us. I'm awfully unhappy for your sake: but do try to take it quietly.
You don't really need me any more, and I can't bear to come back to
Wragby. I'm awfully sorry. But do try to forgive me, and divorce me and
find someone better. I'm not really the right person for you, I am too
impatient and selfish, I suppose. But I can't ever come back to live
with you again. And I feel so frightfully sorry about it all, for your
sake. But if you don't let yourself get worked up, you'll see you won't
mind so frightfully. You didn't really care about me personally. So do
forgive me and get rid of me.

Clifford was not INWARDLY surprised to get this letter. Inwardly, he
had known for a long time she' was leaving him. But he had absolutely
refused any outward admission of it. Therefore, outwardly, it came as
the most terrible blow and shock to him, He had kept the surface of his
confidence in her quite serene.

And that is how we are. By strength of will we cut off our inner
intuitive knowledge from admitted consciousness. This causes a state of
dread, or apprehension, which makes the blow ten times worse when it
does fall.

Clifford was like a hysterical child. He gave Mrs Bolton a terrible
shock, sitting up in bed ghastly and blank.

'Why, Sir Clifford, whatever's the matter?'

No answer! She was terrified lest he had had a stroke. She hurried and
felt his face, took his pulse.

'Is there a pain? Do try and tell me where it hurts you. Do tell me!'

No answer!

'Oh dear, oh dear! Then I'll telephone to Sheffield for Dr Carrington,
and Dr Lecky may as well run round straight away.'

She was moving to the door, when he said in a hollow tone:

'No!'

She stopped and gazed at him. His face was yellow, blank, and like the
face of an idiot.

'Do you mean you'd rather I didn't fetch the doctor?'

'Yes! I don't want him,' came the sepulchral voice.

'Oh, but Sir Clifford, you're ill, and I daren't take the
responsibility. I MUST send for the doctor, or I shall be blamed.'

A pause: then the hollow voice said:

'I'm not ill. My wife isn't coming back.' It was as if an image spoke.

'Not coming back? you mean her ladyship?' Mrs Bolton moved a little
nearer to the bed. 'Oh, don't you believe it. You can trust her
ladyship to come back.'

The image in the bed did not change, but it pushed a letter over the
counterpane.

'Read it!' said the sepulchral voice.

'Why, if it's a letter from her ladyship, I'm sure her ladyship
wouldn't want me to read her letter to you, Sir Clifford. You can tell
me what she' says, if you wish.'

'Read it!' repeated the voice.

'Why, if I must, I do it to obey you, Sir Clifford,' she' said. And she'
read the letter.

'Well, I AM surprised at her ladyship,' she' said. 'She promised so
faithfully she''d come back!'

The face in the bed seemed to deepen its expression of wild, but
motionless distraction. Mrs Bolton looked at it and was worried. She
knew what she' was up against: male hysteria. She had not nursed
soldiers without learning something about that very unpleasant disease.

She was a little impatient of Sir Clifford. Any man in his senses must
have KNOWN his wife was in love with somebody else, and was going to
leave him. Even, she' was sure, Sir Clifford was inwardly absolutely
aware of it, only he wouldn't admit it to himself. If he would have
admitted it, and prepared himself for it: or if he would have admitted
it, and actively struggled with his wife against it: that would have
been acting like a man. But no! he knew it, and all the time tried to
kid himself it wasn't so. He felt the devil twisting his tail, and
pretended it was the angels smiling on him. This state of falsity had
now brought on that crisis of falsity and dislocation, hysteria, which
is a form of insanity. 'It comes', she' thought to herself, hating him a
little, 'because he always thinks of himself. He's so wrapped up in his
own immortal self, that when he does get a shock he's like a mummy
tangled in its own bandages. Look at him!'

But hysteria is dangerous: and she' was a nurse, it was her duty to pull
him out. Any attempt to rouse his manhood and his pride would only make
him worse: for his manhood was dead, temporarily if not finally. He
would only squirm softer and softer, like a worm, and become more
dislocated.

The only thing was to release his self~ pity. Like the lady in Tennyson,
he must weep or he must die.

So Mrs Bolton began to weep first. She covered her face with her hand
and burst into little wild sobs. 'I would never have believed it of her
ladyship, I wouldn't!' she' wept, suddenly summoning up all her old
grief and sense of woe, and weeping the tears of her own bitter
chagrin. Once she' started, her weeping was genuine enough, for she' had
had something to weep for.

Clifford thought of the way he had been betrayed by the woman Connie,
and in a contagion of grief, tears filled his eyes and began to run
down his cheeks. He was weeping for himself. Mrs Bolton, as soon as she'
saw the tears running over his blank face, hastily wiped her own wet
cheeks on her little handkerchief, and leaned towards him.

'Now, don't you fret, Sir Clifford!' she' said, in a luxury of emotion.
'Now, don't you fret, don't, you'll only do yourself an injury!'

His body shivered suddenly in an indrawn breath of silent sobbing, and
the tears ran quicker down his face. She laid her hand on his arm, and
her own tears fell again. Again the shiver went through him, like a
convulsion, and she' laid her arm round his shoulder. 'There, there!
There, there! Don't you fret, then, don't you! Don't you fret!' she'
moaned to him, while her own tears fell. And she' drew him to her, and
held her arms round his great shoulders, while he laid his face on her
bosom and sobbed, shaking and hulking his huge shoulders, whilst she'
softly stroked his dusky~ blond hair and said: 'There! There! There!
There then! There then! Never you mind! Never you mind, then!'

And he put his arms round her and clung to her like a child, wetting
the bib of her starched white apron, and the bosom of her pale~ blue
cotton dress, with his tears. He had let himself go altogether, at
last.

So at length she' kissed him, and rocked him on her bosom, and in her
heart she' said to herself: 'Oh, Sir Clifford! Oh, high and mighty
Chatterleys! Is this what you've come down to!' And finally he even
went to sleep, like a child. And she' felt worn out, and went to her own
room, where she' laughed and cried at once, with a hysteria of her own.
It was so ridiculous! It was so awful! Such a come~ down! So shameful!
And it WAS so upsetting as well.

After this, Clifford became like a child with Mrs Bolton. He would hold
her hand, and rest his head on her breast, and when she' once lightly
kissed him, he said! 'Yes! Do kiss me! Do kiss me!' And when she'
sponged his great blond body, he would say the same! 'Do kiss me!' and
she' would lightly kiss his body, anywhere, half in mockery.

And he lay with a queer, blank face like a child, with a bit of the
wonderment of a child. And he would gaze on her with wide, childish
eyes, in a relaxation of madonna~ worship. It was sheer relaxation on
his part, letting go all his manhood, and sinking back to a childish
position that was really perverse. And then he would put his hand into
her bosom and feel her breasts, and kiss them in exultation, the
exultation of perversity, of being a child when he was a man.

Mrs Bolton was both thrilled and ashamed, she' both loved and hated it.
Yet she' never rebuffed nor rebuked him. And they drew into a closer
physical intimacy, an intimacy of perversity, when he was a child
stricken with an apparent candour and an apparent wonderment, that
looked almost like a religious exaltation: the perverse and literal
rendering of: 'except ye become again as a little child'. While she'
was the Magna Mater, full of power and potency, having the great blond
child~ man under her will and her stroke entirely.

The curious thing was that when this child~ man, which Clifford was now
and which he had been becoming for years, emerged into the world, it
was much sharper and keener than the real man he used to be. This
perverted child~ man was now a REAL business~ man; when it was a question
of affairs, he was an absolute he~ man, sharp as a needle, and
impervious as a bit of steel. When he was out among men, seeking his
own ends, and 'making good' his colliery workings, he had an almost
uncanny shrewdness, hardness, and a straight sharp punch. It was as if
his very passivity and prostitution to the Magna Mater gave him insight
into material business affairs, and lent him a certain remarkable
inhuman force. The wallowing in private emotion, the utter abasement of
his manly self, seemed to lend him a second nature, cold, almost
visionary, business~ clever. In business he was quite inhuman.

And in this Mrs Bolton triumphed. 'How he's getting on!' she' would say
to herself in pride. 'And that's my doing! My word, he'd never have got
on like this with Lady Chatterley. She was not the one to put a man
forward. She wanted too much for herself.'

At the same time, in some corner of her weird female soul, how she'
despised him and hated him! He was to her the fallen beast, the
squirming monster. And while she' aided and abetted him all she' could,
away in the remotest corner of her ancient healthy womanhood she'
despised him with a savage contempt that knew no bounds. The merest
tramp was better than he.

His behaviour with regard to Connie was curious. He insisted on seeing
her again. He insisted, moreover, on her coming to Wragby. On this
point he was finally and absolutely fixed. Connie had promised to come
back to Wragby, faithfully.

'But is it any use?' said Mrs Bolton. 'Can't you let her go, and be rid
of her?'

'No! She said she' was coming back, and she''s got to come.'

Mrs Bolton opposed him no more. She knew what she' was dealing with.

I needn't tell you what effect your letter has had on me (he wrote to
Connie to London). Perhaps you can imagine it if you try, though no
doubt you won't trouble to use your imagination on my behalf.

I can only say one thing in answer: I must see you personally, here at
Wragby, before I can do anything. You promised faithfully to come back
to Wragby, and I hold you to the promise. I don't believe anything nor
understand anything until I see you personally, here under normal
circumstances. I needn't tell you that nobody here suspects anything,
so your return would be quite normal. Then if you feel, after we have
talked things over, that you still remain in the same mind, no doubt we
can come to terms.

Connie showed this letter to Mellors.

'He wants to begin his revenge on you,' he said, handing the letter
back.

Connie was silent. She was somewhat surprised to find that she' was
afraid of Clifford. She was afraid to go near him. She was afraid of
him as if he were evil and dangerous.

'What shall I do?' she' said.

'Nothing, if you don't want to do anything.'

She replied, trying to put Clifford off. He answered:

If you don't come back to Wragby now, I shall consider that you are
coming back one day, and act accordingly. I shall just go on the same,
and wait for you here, if I wait for fifty years.

She was frightened. This was bullying of an insidious sort. She had no
doubt he meant what he said. He would not divorce her, and the child
would be his, unless she' could find some means of establishing its
illegitimacy.

After a time of worry and harassment, she' decided to go to Wragby.
Hilda would go with her. She wrote this to Clifford. He replied:

I shall not welcome your sister, but I shall not deny her the door. I
have no doubt she' has connived at your desertion of your duties and
responsibilities, so do not expect me to show pleasure in seeing her.

They went to Wragby. Clifford was away when they arrived. Mrs Bolton
received them.

'Oh, your Ladyship, it isn't the happy home~ coming we hoped for, is
it!' she' said.

'Isn't it?' said Connie.

So this woman knew! How much did the rest of the servants know or
suspect?

She entered the house, which now she' hated with every fibre in her
body. The great, rambling mass of a place seemed evil to her, just a
menace over her. She was no longer its mistress, she' was its victim.

'I can't stay long here,' she' whispered to Hilda, terrified.

And she' suffered going into her own bedroom, re~ entering into
possession as if nothing had happened. She hated every minute inside
the Wragby walls.

They did not meet Clifford till they went down to dinner. He was
dressed, and with a black tie: rather reserved, and very much the
superior gentleman. He behaved perfectly politely during the meal and
kept a polite sort of conversation going: but it seemed all touched
with insanity.

'How much do the servants know?' asked Connie, when the woman was out
of the room.

'Of your intentions? Nothing whatsoever.'

'Mrs Bolton knows.'

He changed colour.

'Mrs Bolton is not exactly one of the servants,' he said.

'Oh, I don't mind.'

There was tension till after coffee, when Hilda said she' would go up to
her room.

Clifford and Connie sat in silence when she' had gone. Neither would
begin to speak. Connie was so glad that he wasn't taking the pathetic
line, she' kept him up to as much haughtiness as possible. She just sat
silent and looked down at her hands.

'I suppose you don't at all mind having gone back on your word?' he
said at last.

'I can't help it,' she' murmured.

'But if you can't, who can?'

'I suppose nobody.'

He looked at her with curious cold rage. He was used to her. She was as
it were embedded in his will. How dared she' now go back on him, and
destroy the fabric of his daily existence? How dared she' try to cause
this derangement of his personality?

'And for WHAT do you want to go back on everything?' he insisted.

'Love!' she' said. It was best to be hackneyed.

'Love of Duncan Forbes? But you didn't think that worth having, when
you met me. Do you mean to say you now love him better than anything
else in life?'

'One changes,' she' said.

'Possibly! Possibly you may have whims. But you still have to convince
me of the importance of the change. I merely don't believe in your love
of Duncan Forbes.'

'But why SHOULD you believe in it? You have only to divorce me, not to
believe in my feelings.'

'And why should I divorce you?'

'Because I don't want to live here any more. And you really don't want
me.'

'Pardon me! I don't change. For my part, since you are my wife, I
should prefer that you should stay under my roof in dignity and quiet.
Leaving aside personal feelings, and I assure you, on my part it is
leaving aside a great deal, it is bitter as death to me to have this
order of life broken up, here in Wragby, and the decent round of daily
life smashed, just for some whim of yours.'

After a time of silence she' said:

'I can't help it. I've got to go. I expect I shall have a child.'

He too was silent for a time.

'And is it for the child's sake you must go?' he asked at length.

She nodded.

'And why? Is Duncan Forbes so keen on his spawn?'

'Surely keener than you would be,' she' said.

'But really? I want my wife, and I see no reason for letting her go. If
she' likes to bear a child under my roof, she' is welcome, and the child
is welcome: provided that the decency and order of life is preserved.
Do you mean to tell me that Duncan Forbes has a greater hold over you?
I don't believe it.'

There was a pause.

'But don't you see,' said Connie. 'I MUST go away from you, and I must
live with the man I love.'

'No, I don't see it! I don't give tuppence for your love, nor for the
man you love. I don't believe in that sort of cant.'

'But you see, I do.'

'Do you? My dear Madam, you are too intelligent, I assure you, to
believe in your own love for Duncan Forbes. Believe me, even now you
really care more for me. So why should I give in to such nonsense!'

She felt he was right there. And she' felt she' could keep silent no
longer.

'Because it isn't Duncan that I DO love,' she' said, looking up at him.

'We only said it was Duncan, to spare your feelings.'

'To spare my feelings?'

'Yes! Because who I really love, and it'll make you hate me, is Mr
Mellors, who was our game~ keeper here.'

If he could have sprung out of his chair, he would have done so. His
face went yellow, and his eyes bulged with disaster as he glared at
her.

Then he dropped back in the chair, gasping and looking up at the
ceiling.

At length he sat up.

'Do you mean to say you're telling me the truth?' he asked, looking
gruesome.

'Yes! You know I am.'

'And when did you begin with him?'

'In the spring.'

He was silent like some beast in a trap.

'And it WAS you, then, in the bedroom at the cottage?'

So he had really inwardly known all the time.

'Yes!'

He still leaned forward in his chair, gazing at her like a cornered
beast.

'My God, you ought to be wiped off the face of the earth!'

'Why?' she' ejaculated faintly.

But he seemed not to hear.

'That scum! That bumptious lout! That miserable cad! And carrying on
with him all the time, while you were here and he was one of my
servants! My God, my God, is there any end to the beastly lowness of
women!'

He was beside himself with rage, as she' knew he would be.

'And you mean to say you want to have a child to a cad like that?'

'Yes! I'm going to.'

'You're going to! You mean you're sure! How long have you been sure?'

'Since June.'

He was speechless, and the queer blank look of a child came over him
again.

'You'd wonder,' he said at last, 'that such beings were ever allowed to
be born.'

'What beings?' she' asked.

He looked at her weirdly, without an answer. It was obvious, he
couldn't even accept the fact of the existence of Mellors, in any
connexion with his own life. It was sheer, unspeakable, impotent hate.

'And do you mean to say you'd marry him?~ and bear his foul name?' he
asked at length.

'Yes, that's what I want.'

He was again as if dumbfounded.

'Yes!' he said at last. 'That proves that what I've always thought
about you is correct: you're not normal, you're not in your right
senses. You're one of those half~ insane, perverted women who must run
after depravity, the NOSTALGIE DE LA BOUE.'

Suddenly he had become almost wistfully moral, seeing himself the
incarnation of good, and people like Mellors and Connie the incarnation
of mud, of evil. He seemed to be growing vague, inside a nimbus.

'So don't you think you'd better divorce me and have done with it?' she'
said.

'No! You can go where you like, but I shan't divorce you,' he said
idiotically.

'Why not?'

He was silent, in the silence of imbecile obstinacy.

'Would you even let the child be legally yours, and your heir?' she'
said.

'I care nothing about the child.'

'But if it's a boy it will be legally your son, and it will inherit
your title, and have Wragby.'

'I care nothing about that,' he said.

'But you MUST! I shall prevent the child from being legally yours, if I
can. I'd so much rather it were illegitimate, and mine: if it can't be
Mellors'.'

'Do as you like about that.'

He was immovable.

'And won't you divorce me?' she' said. 'You can use Duncan as a pretext!
There'd be no need to bring in the real name. Duncan doesn't mind.'

'I shall never divorce you,' he said, as if a nail had been driven in.

'But why? Because I want you to?'

'Because I follow my own inclination, and I'm not inclined to.'

It was useless. She went upstairs and told Hilda the upshot.

'Better get away tomorrow,' said Hilda, 'and let him come to his
senses.'

So Connie spent half the night packing her really private and personal
effects. In the morning she' had her trunks sent to the station, without
telling Clifford. She decided to see him only to say good~ bye, before
lunch.

But she' spoke to Mrs Bolton.

'I must say good~ bye to you, Mrs Bolton, you know why. But I can trust
you not to talk.'

'Oh, you can trust me, your Ladyship, though it's a sad blow for us
here, indeed. But I hope you'll be happy with the other gentleman.'

'The other gentleman! It's Mr Mellors, and I care for him. Sir Clifford
knows. But don't say anything to anybody. And if one day you think Sir
Clifford may be willing to divorce me, let me know, will you? I should
like to be properly married to the man I care for.'

'I'm sure you would, my Lady. Oh, you can trust me. I'll be faithful to
Sir Clifford, and I'll be faithful to you, for I can see you're both
right in your own ways.'

'Thank you! And look! I want to give you this~ may I?' So Connie left
Wragby once more, and went on with Hilda to Scotland. Mellors went into
the country and got work on a farm. The idea was, he should get his
divorce, if possible, whether Connie got hers or not. And for six
months he should work at farming, so that eventually he and Connie
could have some small farm of their own, into which he could put his
energy. For he would have to have some work, even hard work, to do, and
he would have to make his own living, even if her capital started him.

So they would have to wait till spring was in, till the baby was born,
till the early summer came round again.

The Grange Farm
Old Heanor
29 September

I got on here with a bit of contriving, because I knew Richards, the
company engineer, in the army. It is a farm belonging to Butler and
Smitham Colliery Company, they use it for raising hay and oats for the
pit~ ponies; not a private concern. But they've got cows and pigs and
all the rest of it, and I get thirty shillings a week as labourer.
Rowley, the farmer, puts me on to as many jobs as he can, so that I can
learn as much as possible between now and next Easter. I've not heard a
thing about Bertha. I've no idea why she' didn't show up at the divorce,
nor where she' is nor what she''s up to. But if I keep quiet till March I
suppose I shall be free. And don't you bother about Sir Clifford. He'll
want to get rid of you one of these days. If he leaves you alone, it's
a lot.

I've got lodging in a bit of an old cottage in Engine Row very decent.
The man is engine~ driver at High Park, tall, with a beard, and very
chapel. The woman is a birdy bit of a thing who loves anything
superior. King's English and allow~ me! all the time. But they lost
their only son in the war, and it's sort of knocked a hole in them.
There's a long gawky lass of a daughter training for a school~ teacher,
and I help her with her lessons sometimes, so we're quite the family.
But they're very decent people, and only too kind to me. I expect I'm
more coddled than you are.

I like farming all right. It's not inspiring, but then I don't ask to
be inspired. I'm used to horses, and cows, though they are very female,
have a soothing effect on me. When I sit with my head in her side,
milking, I feel very solaced. They have six rather fine Herefords.
Oat~ harvest is just over and I enjoyed it, in spite of sore hands and a
lot of rain. I don't take much notice of people, but get on with them
all right. Most things one just ignores.

The pits are working badly; this is a colliery district like
Tevershall, only prettier. I sometimes sit in the Wellington and talk
to the men. They grumble a lot, but they're not going to alter
anything. As everybody says, the Notts~ Derby miners have got their
hearts in the right place. But the rest of their anatomy must be in the
wrong place, in a world that has no use for them. I like them, but they
don't cheer me much: not enough of the old fighting~ cock in them. They
talk a lot about nationalization, nationalization of royalties,
nationalization of the whole industry. But you can't nationalize coal
and leave all the other industries as they are. They talk about putting
coal to new uses, like Sir Clifford is trying to do. It may work here
and there, but not as a general thing, I doubt. Whatever you make
you've got to sell it. The men are very apathetic. They feel the whole
damned thing is doomed, and I believe it is. And they are doomed along
with it. Some of the young ones spout about a Soviet, but there's not
much conviction in them. There's no sort of conviction about anything,
except that it's all a muddle and a hole. Even under a Soviet you've
still got to sell coal: and that's the difficulty.

We've got this great industrial population, and they've got to be fed,
so the damn show has to be kept going somehow. The women talk a lot
more than the men, nowadays, and they are a sight more cock~ sure. The
men are limp, they feel a doom somewhere, and they go about as if there
was nothing to be done. Anyhow, nobody knows what should be done in
spite of all the talk, the young ones get mad because they've no money
to spend. Their whole life depends on spending money, and now they've
got none to spend. That's our civilization and our education: bring up
the masses to depend entirely on spending money, and then the money
gives out. The pits are working two days, two and a half days a week,
and there's no sign of betterment even for the winter. It means a man
bringing up a family on twenty~ five and thirty shillings. The women are
the maddest of all. But then they're the maddest for spending,
nowadays.

If you could only tell them that living and spending isn't the same
thing! But it's no good. If only they were educated to LIVE instead of
earn and spend, they could manage very happily on twenty~ five
shillings. If the men wore scarlet trousers as I said, they wouldn't
think so much of money: if they could dance and hop and skip, and sing
and swagger and be handsome, they could do with very little cash. And
amuse the women themselves, and be amused by the women. They ought to
learn to be naked and handsome, and to sing in a mass and dance the old
group dances, and carve the stools they sit on, and embroider their own
emblems. Then they wouldn't need money. And that's the only way to
solve the industrial problem: train the people to be able to live and
live in handsomeness, without needing to spend. But you can't do it.
They're all one~ track minds nowadays. Whereas the mass of people
oughtn't even to try to think, because they can't. They should be alive
and frisky, and acknowledge the great god Pan. He's the only god for
the masses, forever. The few can go in for higher cults if they like.
But let the mass be forever pagan.

But the colliers aren't pagan, far from it. They're a sad lot, a
deadened lot of men: dead to their women, dead to life. The young ones
scoot about on motor~ bikes with girls, and jazz when they get a chance,
But they're very dead. And it needs money. Money poisons you when
you've got it, and starves you when you haven't.

I'm sure you're sick of all this. But I don't want to harp on myself,
and I've nothing happening to me. I don't like to think too much about
you, in my head, that only makes a mess of us both. But, of course,
what I live for now is for you and me to live together. I'm frightened,
really. I feel the devil in the air, and he'll try to get us. Or not
the devil, Mammon: which I think, after all, is only the mass~ will of
people, wanting money and hating life. Anyhow, I feel great grasping
white hands in the air, wanting to get hold of the throat of anybody
who tries to live, to live beyond money, and squeeze the life out.
There's a bad time coming. There's a bad time coming, boys, there's a
bad time coming! If things go on as they are, there's nothing lies in
the future but death and destruction, for these industrial masses. I
feel my inside turn to water sometimes, and there you are, going to
have a child by me. But never mind. All the bad times that ever have
been, haven't been able to blow the crocus out: not even the love of
women. So they won't be able to blow out my wanting you, nor the little
glow there is between you and me. We'll be together next year. And
though I'm frightened, I believe in your being with me. A man has to
fend and fettle for the best, and then trust in something beyond
himself. You can't insure against the future, except by really
believing in the best bit of you, and in the power beyond it. So I
believe in the little flame between us. For me now, it's the only thing
in the world. I've got no friends, not inward friends. Only you. And
now the little flame is all I care about in my life. There's the baby,
but that is a side issue. It's my Pentecost, the forked flame between
me and you. The old Pentecost isn't quite right. Me and God is a bit
uppish, somehow. But the little forked flame between me and you: there
you are! That's what I abide by, and will abide by, Cliffords and
Berthas, colliery companies and governments and the money~ mass of
people all notwithstanding.

That's why I don't like to start thinking about you actually. It only
tortures me, and does you no good. I don't want you to be away from me.
But if I start fretting it wastes something. Patience, always patience.
This is my fortieth winter. And I can't help all the winters that have
been. But this winter I'll stick to my little Pentecost flame, and have
some peace. And I won't let the breath of people blow it out. I believe
in a higher mystery, that doesn't let even the crocus be blown out. And
if you're in Scotland and I'm in the Midlands, and I can't put my arms
round you, and wrap my legs round you, yet I've got something of you.
My soul softly flaps in the little Pentecost flame with you, like the
peace of fucking. We fucked a flame into being. Even the flowers are
fucked into being between the sun and the earth. But it's a delicate
thing, and takes patience and the long pause.

So I love chastity now, because it is the peace that comes of fucking.
I love being chaste now. I love it as snowdrops love the snow. I love
this chastity, which is the pause of peace of our fucking, between us
now like a snowdrop of forked white fire. And when the real spring
comes, when the drawing together comes, then we can fuck the little
flame brilliant and yellow, brilliant. But not now, not yet! Now is the
time to be chaste, it is so good to be chaste, like a river of cool
water in my soul. I love the chastity now that it flows between us. It
is like fresh water and rain. How can men want wearisomely to
philander. What a misery to be like Don Juan, and impotent ever to fuck
oneself into peace, and the little flame alight, impotent and unable to
be chaste in the cool between~ whiles, as by a river.

Well, so many words, because I can't touch you. If I could sleep with
my arms round you, the ink could stay in the bottle. We could be chaste
together just as we can fuck together. But we have to be separate for a
while, and I suppose it is really the wiser way. If only one were sure.

Never mind, never mind, we won't get worked up. We really trust in the
little flame, and in the unnamed god that shields it from being blown
out. There's so much of you here with me, really, that it's a pity you
aren't all here.

Never mind about Sir Clifford. If you don't hear anything from him,
never mind. He can't really do anything to you. Wait, he will want to
get rid of you at last, to cast you out. And if he doesn't, we'll
manage to keep clear of him. But he will. In the end he will want to
spew you out as the abominable thing.

Now I can't even leave off writing to you.

But a great deal of us is together, and we can but abide by it, and
steer our courses to meet soon. John Thomas says good~ night to Lady
Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart.

 

 

 
 
~The End~
 
     
 
 
     
   

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