Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to
take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we
are among the ruins, we start to build up new little
habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather
hard work: there is now no smooth road into the
future: but we go round, or scramble over the
obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many
skies have fallen.
This was more or less Constance Chatterley's
position. The war had brought the roof down over her
head. And she had realized that one must live and
She married Clifford Chatterley in 1917, when he
was home for a month on leave. They had a month's
honeymoon. Then he went back to Flanders: to be
shipped over to England again six months later, more
or less in bits. Constance, his wife, was then
twenty-three years old, and he was twenty-nine.
His hold on life was marvellous. He didn't die,
and the bits seemed to grow together again. For two
years he remained in the doctor's hands. Then he was
pronounced a cure, and could return to life again,
with the lower half of his body, from the hips down,
paralysed for ever.
This was in 1920. They returned, Clifford and
Constance, to his home, Wragby Hall, the family
'seat'. His father had died, Clifford was now a
baronet, Sir Clifford, and Constance was Lady
Chatterley. They came to start housekeeping and
married life in the rather forlorn home of the
Chatterleys on a rather inadequate income. Clifford
had a sister, but she had departed. Otherwise there
were no near relatives. The elder brother was dead
in the war. Crippled for ever, knowing he could
never have any children, Clifford came home to the
smoky Midlands to keep the Chatterley name alive
while he could.
He was not really downcast. He could wheel
himself about in a wheeled chair, and he had a
bath-chair with a small motor attachment, so he
could drive himself slowly round the garden and into
the line melancholy park, of which he was really so
proud, though he pretended to be flippant about it.
Having suffered so much, the capacity for
suffering had to some extent left him. He remained
strange and bright and cheerful, almost, one might
say, chirpy, with his ruddy, healthy-looking face,
and his pale-blue, challenging bright eyes. His
shoulders were broad and strong, his hands were very
strong. He was expensively dressed, and wore
handsome neckties from Bond Street. Yet still in his
face one saw the watchful look, the slight vacancy
of a cripple.
He had so very nearly lost his life, that what
remained was wonderfully precious to him. It was
obvious in the anxious brightness of his eyes, how
proud he was, after the great shock, of being alive.
But he had been so much hurt that something inside
him had perished, some of his feelings had gone.
There was a blank of insentience.
Constance, his wife, was a ruddy, country-looking
girl with soft brown hair and sturdy body, and slow
movements, full of unusual energy. She had big,
wondering eyes, and a soft mild voice, and seemed
just to have come from her native village. It was
not so at all. Her father was the once well-known R.
A., old Sir Malcolm Reid. Her mother had been one of
the cultivated Fabians in the palmy, rather
pre-Raphaelite days. Between artists and cultured
socialists, Constance and her sister Hilda had had
what might be called an aesthetically unconventional
upbringing. They had been taken to Paris and
Florence and Rome to breathe in art, and they had
been taken also in the other direction, to the Hague
and Berlin, to great Socialist conventions, where
the speakers spoke in every civilized tongue, and no
one was abashed.
The two girls, therefore, were from an early age
not the least daunted by either art or ideal
politics. It was their natural atmosphere. They were
at once cosmopolitan and provincial, with the
cosmopolitan provincialism of art that goes with
pure social ideals.
They had been sent to Dresden at the age of
fifteen, for music among other things. And they had
had a good time there. They lived freely among the
students, they argued with the men over
philosophical, sociological and artistic matters,
they were just as good as the men themselves: only
better, since they were women. And they tramped off
to the forests with sturdy youths bearing guitars,
twang-twang! They sang the Wandervogel songs, and
they were free. Free! That was the great word. Out
in the open world, out in the forests of the
morning, with lusty and splendid-throated young
fellows, free to do as they liked, and--above
all--to say what they liked. It was the talk that
mattered supremely: the impassioned interchange of
talk. Love was only a minor accompaniment.
Both Hilda and Constance had had their tentative
love-affairs by the time they were eighteen. The
young men with whom they talked so passionately and
sang so lustily and camped under the trees in such
freedom wanted, of course, the love connexion. The
girls were doubtful, but then the thing was so much
talked about, it was supposed to be so important.
And the men were so humble and craving. Why couldn't
a girl be queenly, and give the gift of herself?
So they had given the gift of themselves, each to
the youth with whom she had the most subtle and
intimate arguments. The arguments, the discussions
were the great thing: the love-making and connexion
were only a sort of primitive reversion and a bit of
an anti-climax. One was less in love with the boy
afterwards, and a little inclined to hate him, as if
he had trespassed on one's privacy and inner
freedom. For, of course, being a girl, one's whole
dignity and meaning in life consisted in the
achievement of an absolute, a perfect, a pure and
noble freedom. What else did a girl's life mean? To
shake off the old and sordid connexions and
And however one might sentimentalize it, this sex
business was one of the most ancient, sordid
connexions and subjections. Poets who glorified it
were mostly men. Women had always known there was
something better, something higher. And now they
knew it more definitely than ever. The beautiful
pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more
wonderful than any sexual love. The only unfortunate
thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the
matter. They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.
And a woman had to yield. A man was like a child
with his appetites. A woman had to yield him what he
wanted, or like a child he would probably turn nasty
and flounce away and spoil what was a very pleasant
connexion. But a woman could yield to a man without
yielding her inner, free self. That the poets and
talkers about sex did not seem to have taken
sufficiently into account. A woman could take a man
without really giving herself away. Certainly she
could take him without giving herself into his
power. Rather she could use this sex thing to have
power over him. For she only had to hold herself
back in sexual intercourse, and let him finish and
expend himself without herself coming to the crisis:
and then she could prolong the connexion and achieve
her orgasm and her crisis while he was merely her
Both sisters had had their love experience by the
time the war came, and they were hurried home.
Neither was ever in love with a young man unless he
and she were verbally very near: that is unless they
were profoundly interested, talking to one
another. The amazing, the profound, the unbelievable
thrill there was in passionately talking to some
really clever young man by the hour, resuming day
after day for months...this they had never realized
till it happened! The paradisal promise: Thou shalt
have men to talk to!--had never been uttered. It was
fulfilled before they knew what a promise it was.
And if after the roused intimacy of these vivid
and soul-enlightened discussions the sex thing
became more or less inevitable, then let it. It
marked the end of a chapter. It had a thrill of its
own too: a queer vibrating thrill inside the body, a
final spasm of self-assertion, like the last word,
exciting, and very like the row of asterisks that
can be put to show the end of a paragraph, and a
break in the theme.
When the girls came home for the summer holidays
of 1913, when Hilda was twenty and Connie eighteen,
their father could see plainly that they had had the
L'amour avait passe par la, as somebody
puts it. But he was a man of experience himself, and
let life take its course. As for the mother, a
nervous invalid in the last few months of her life,
she wanted her girls to be 'free', and to 'fulfil
themselves'. She herself had never been able to be
altogether herself: it had been denied her. Heaven
knows why, for she was a woman who had her own
income and her own way. She blamed her husband. But
as a matter of fact, it was some old impression of
authority on her own mind or soul that she could not
get rid of. It had nothing to do with Sir Malcolm,
who left his nervously hostile, high-spirited wife
to rule her own roost, while he went his own way.
So the girls were 'free', and went back to
Dresden, and their music, and the university and the
young men. They loved their respective young men,
and their respective young men loved them with all
the passion of mental attraction. All the wonderful
things the young men thought and expressed and
wrote, they thought and expressed and wrote for the
young women. Connie's young man was musical, Hilda's
was technical. But they simply lived for their young
women. In their minds and their mental excitements,
that is. Somewhere else they were a little rebuffed,
though they did not know it.
It was obvious in them too that love had gone
through them: that is, the physical experience. It
is curious what a subtle but unmistakable
transmutation it makes, both in the body of men and
women: the woman more blooming, more subtly rounded,
her young angularities softened, and her expression
either anxious or triumphant: the man much quieter,
more inward, the very shapes of his shoulders and
his buttocks less assertive, more hesitant.
In the actual sex-thrill within the body, the
sisters nearly succumbed to the strange male power.
But quickly they recovered themselves, took the
sex-thrill as a sensation, and remained free.
Whereas the men, in gratitude to the woman for the
sex experience, let their souls go out to her. And
afterwards looked rather as if they had lost a
shilling and found sixpence. Connie's man could be a
bit sulky, and Hilda's a bit jeering. But that is
how men are! Ungrateful and never satisfied. When
you don't have them they hate you because you won't;
and when you do have them they hate you again, for
some other reason. Or for no reason at all, except
that they are discontented children, and can't be
satisfied whatever they get, let a woman do what she
However, came the war, Hilda and Connie were
rushed home again after having been home already in
May, to their mother's funeral. Before Christmas of
1914 both their German young men were dead:
whereupon the sisters wept, and loved the young men
passionately, but underneath forgot them. They
didn't exist any more.
Both sisters lived in their father's, really
their mother's, Kensington house, and mixed with the
young Cambridge group, the group that stood for
'freedom' and flannel trousers, and flannel shirts
open at the neck, and a well-bred sort of emotional
anarchy, and a whispering, murmuring sort of voice,
and an ultra-sensitive sort of manner. Hilda,
however, suddenly married a man ten years older than
herself, an elder member of the same Cambridge
group, a man with a fair amount of money, and a
comfortable family job in the government: he also
wrote philosophical essays. She lived with him in a
smallish house in Westminster, and moved in that
good sort of society of people in the government who
are not tip-toppers, but who are, or would be, the
real intelligent power in the nation: people who
know what they're talking about, or talk as if they
Connie did a mild form of war-work, and consorted
with the flannel-trousers Cambridge intransigents,
who gently mocked at everything, so far. Her
'friend' was a Clifford Chatterley, a young man of
twenty-two, who had hurried home from Bonn, where he
was studying the technicalities of coal-mining. He
had previously spent two years at Cambridge. Now he
had become a first lieutenant in a smart regiment,
so he could mock at everything more becomingly in
Clifford Chatterley was more upper-class than
Connie. Connie was well-to-do intelligentsia, but he
was aristocracy. Not the big sort, but still it. His
father was a baronet, and his mother had been a
But Clifford, while he was better bred than
Connie, and more 'society', was in his own way more
provincial and more timid. He was at his ease in the
narrow 'great world', that is, landed aristocracy
society, but he was shy and nervous of all that
other big world which consists of the vast hordes of
the middle and lower classes, and foreigners. If the
truth must be told, he was just a little bit
frightened of middle-and lower-class humanity, and
of foreigners not of his own class. He was, in some
paralysing way, conscious of his own
defencelessness, though he had all the defence of
privilege. Which is curious, but a phenomenon of our
Therefore the peculiar soft assurance of a girl
like Constance Reid fascinated him. She was so much
more mistress of herself in that outer world of
chaos than he was master of himself.
Nevertheless he too was a rebel: rebelling even
against his class. Or perhaps rebel is too strong a
word; far too strong. He was only caught in the
general, popular recoil of the young against
convention and against any sort of real authority.
Fathers were ridiculous: his own obstinate one
supremely so. And governments were ridiculous: our
own wait-and-see sort especially so. And armies were
ridiculous, and old buffers of generals altogether,
the red-faced Kitchener supremely. Even the war was
ridiculous, though it did kill rather a lot of
In fact everything was a little ridiculous, or
very ridiculous: certainly everything connected with
authority, whether it were in the army or the
government or the universities, was ridiculous to a
degree. And as far as the governing class made any
pretensions to govern, they were ridiculous too. Sir
Geoffrey, Clifford's father, was intensely
ridiculous, chopping down his trees, and weeding men
out of his colliery to shove them into the war; and
himself being so safe and patriotic; but, also,
spending more money on his country than he'd got.
When Miss Chatterley--Emma--came down to London
from the Midlands to do some nursing work, she was
very witty in a quiet way about Sir Geoffrey and his
determined patriotism. Herbert, the elder brother
and heir, laughed outright, though it was his trees
that were felling for trench props. But Clifford
only smiled a little uneasily. Everything was
ridiculous, quite true. But when it came too close
and oneself became ridiculous too...? At least
people of a different class, like Connie, were
earnest about something. They believed in something.
They were rather earnest about the Tommies, and
the threat of conscription, and the shortage of
sugar and toffee for the children. In all these
things, of course, the authorities were ridiculously
at fault. But Clifford could not take it to heart.
To him the authorities were ridiculous ab ovo,
not because of toffee or Tommies.
And the authorities felt ridiculous, and behaved
in a rather ridiculous fashion, and it was all a mad
hatter's tea-party for a while. Till things
developed over there, and Lloyd George came to save
the situation over here. And this surpassed even
ridicule, the flippant young laughed no more.
In 1916 Herbert Chatterley was killed, so
Clifford became heir. He was terrified even of this.
His importance as son of Sir Geoffrey, and child of
Wragby, was so ingrained in him, he could never
escape it. And yet he knew that this too, in the
eyes of the vast seething world, was ridiculous. Now
he was heir and responsible for Wragby. Was that not
terrible? and also splendid and at the same time,
perhaps, purely absurd?
Sir Geoffrey would have none of the absurdity. He
was pale and tense, withdrawn into himself, and
obstinately determined to save his country and his
own position, let it be Lloyd George or who it
might. So cut off he was, so divorced from the
England that was really England, so utterly
incapable, that he even thought well of Horatio
Bottomley. Sir Geoffrey stood for England and Lloyd
George as his forebears had stood for England and St
George: and he never knew there was a difference. So
Sir Geoffrey felled timber and stood for Lloyd
George and England, England and Lloyd George.
And he wanted Clifford to marry and produce an
heir. Clifford felt his father was a hopeless
anachronism. But wherein was he himself any further
ahead, except in a wincing sense of the
ridiculousness of everything, and the paramount
ridiculousness of his own position? For willy-nilly
he took his baronetcy and Wragby with the last
The gay excitement had gone out of the
war...dead. Too much death and horror. A man needed
support and comfort. A man needed to have an anchor
in the safe world. A man needed a wife.
The Chatterleys, two brothers and a sister, had
lived curiously isolated, shut in with one another
at Wragby, in spite of all their connexions. A sense
of isolation intensified the family tie, a sense of
the weakness of their position, a sense of
defencelessness, in spite of, or because of, the
title and the land. They were cut off from those
industrial Midlands in which they passed their
lives. And they were cut off from their own class by
the brooding, obstinate, shut-up nature of Sir
Geoffrey, their father, whom they ridiculed, but
whom they were so sensitive about.
The three had said they would all live together
always. But now Herbert was dead, and Sir Geoffrey
wanted Clifford to marry. Sir Geoffrey barely
mentioned it: he spoke very little. But his silent,
brooding insistence that it should be so was hard
for Clifford to bear up against.
But Emma said No! She was ten years older than
Clifford, and she felt his marrying would be a
desertion and a betrayal of what the young ones of
the family had stood for.
Clifford married Connie, nevertheless, and had
his month's honeymoon with her. It was the terrible
year 1917, and they were intimate as two people who
stand together on a sinking ship. He had been virgin
when he married: and the sex part did not mean much
to him. They were so close, he and she, apart from
that. And Connie exulted a little in this intimacy
which was beyond sex, and beyond a man's
'satisfaction'. Clifford anyhow was not just keen on
his 'satisfaction', as so many men seemed to be. No,
the intimacy was deeper, more personal than that.
And sex was merely an accident, or an adjunct, one
of the curious obsolete, organic processes which
persisted in its own clumsiness, but was not really
necessary. Though Connie did want children: if only
to fortify her against her sister-in-law Emma.
But early in 1918 Clifford was shipped home
smashed, and there was no child. And Sir Geoffrey
died of chagrin.
Connie and Clifford came home to Wragby in the
autumn of 1920. Miss Chatterley, still disgusted at
her brother's defection, had departed and was living
in a little flat in London.
Wragby was a long low old house in brown stone,
begun about the middle of the eighteenth century,
and added on to, till it was a warren of a place
without much distinction. It stood on an eminence in
a rather line old park of oak trees, but alas, one
could see in the near distance the chimney of
Tevershall pit, with its clouds of steam and smoke,
and on the damp, hazy distance of the hill the raw
straggle of Tevershall village, a village which
began almost at the park gates, and trailed in utter
hopeless ugliness for a long and gruesome mile:
houses, rows of wretched, small, begrimed, brick
houses, with black slate roofs for lids, sharp
angles and wilful, blank dreariness.
Connie was accustomed to Kensington or the Scotch
hills or the Sussex downs: that was her England.
With the stoicism of the young she took in the
utter, soulless ugliness of the coal-and-iron
Midlands at a glance, and left it at what it was:
unbelievable and not to be thought about. From the
rather dismal rooms at Wragby she heard the
rattle-rattle of the screens at the pit, the puff of
the winding-engine, the clink-clink of shunting
trucks, and the hoarse little whistle of the
colliery locomotives. Tevershall pit-bank was
burning, had been burning for years, and it would
cost thousands to put it out. So it had to burn. And
when the wind was that way, which was often, the
house was full of the stench of this sulphurous
combustion of the earth's excrement. But even on
windless days the air always smelt of something
under-earth: sulphur, iron, coal, or acid. And even
on the Christmas roses the smuts settled
persistently, incredible, like black manna from the
skies of doom.
Well, there it was: fated like the rest of
things! It was rather awful, but why kick? You
couldn't kick it away. It just went on. Life, like
all the rest! On the low dark ceiling of cloud at
night red blotches burned and quavered, dappling and
swelling and contracting, like burns that give pain.
It was the furnaces. At first they fascinated Connie
with a sort of horror; she felt she was living
underground. Then she got used to them. And in the
morning it rained.
Clifford professed to like Wragby better than
London. This country had a grim will of its own, and
the people had guts. Connie wondered what else they
had: certainly neither eyes nor minds. The people
were as haggard, shapeless, and dreary as the
countryside, and as unfriendly. Only there was
something in their deep-mouthed slurring of the
dialect, and the thresh-thresh of their hob-nailed
pit-boots as they trailed home in gangs on the
asphalt from work, that was terrible and a bit
There had been no welcome home for the young
squire, no festivities, no deputation, not even a
single flower. Only a dank ride in a motor-car up a
dark, damp drive, burrowing through gloomy trees,
out to the slope of the park where grey damp sheep
were feeding, to the knoll where the house spread
its dark brown facade, and the housekeeper and her
husband were hovering, like unsure tenants on the
face of the earth, ready to stammer a welcome.
There was no communication between Wragby Hall
and Tevershall village, none. No caps were touched,
no curtseys bobbed. The colliers merely stared; the
tradesmen lifted their caps to Connie as to an
acquaintance, and nodded awkwardly to Clifford; that
was all. Gulf impassable, and a quiet sort of
resentment on either side. At first Connie suffered
from the steady drizzle of resentment that came from
the village. Then she hardened herself to it, and it
became a sort of tonic, something to live up to. It
was not that she and Clifford were unpopular, they
merely belonged to another species altogether from
the colliers. Gulf impassable, breach indescribable,
such as is perhaps nonexistent south of the Trent.
But in the Midlands and the industrial North gulf
impassable, across which no communication could take
place. You stick to your side, I'll stick to mine! A
strange denial of the common pulse of humanity.
Yet the village sympathized with Clifford and
Connie in the abstract. In the flesh it was--You
leave me alone!--on either side.
The rector was a nice man of about sixty, full of
his duty, and reduced, personally, almost to a
nonentity by the silent--You leave me alone!--of the
village. The miners' wives were nearly all
Methodists. The miners were nothing. But even so
much official uniform as the clergyman wore was
enough to obscure entirely the fact that he was a
man like any other man. No, he was Mester Ashby, a
sort of automatic preaching and praying concern.
This stubborn, instinctive--We think ourselves as
good as you, if you are Lady
Chatterley!--puzzled and baffled Connie at first
extremely. The curious, suspicious, false amiability
with which the miners' wives met her overtures; the
curiously offensive tinge of--Oh dear me! I am
somebody now, with Lady Chatterley talking to me!
But she needn't think I'm not as good as her for all
that!--which she always heard twanging in the
women's half-fawning voices, was impossible. There
was no getting past it. It was hopelessly and
Clifford left them alone, and she learnt to do
the same: she just went by without looking at them,
and they stared as if she were a walking wax figure.
When he had to deal with them, Clifford was rather
haughty and contemptuous; one could no longer afford
to be friendly. In fact he was altogether rather
supercilious and contemptuous of anyone not in his
own class. He stood his ground, without any attempt
at conciliation. And he was neither liked nor
disliked by the people: he was just part of things,
like the pit-bank and Wragby itself.
But Clifford was really extremely shy and
self-conscious now he was lamed. He hated seeing
anyone except just the personal servants. For he had
to sit in a wheeled chair or a sort of bath-chair.
Nevertheless he was just as carefully dressed as
ever, by his expensive tailors, and he wore the
careful Bond Street neckties just as before, and
from the top he looked just as smart and impressive
as ever. He had never been one of the modern
ladylike young men: rather bucolic even, with his
ruddy face and broad shoulders. But his very quiet,
hesitating voice, and his eyes, at the same time
bold and frightened, assured and uncertain, revealed
his nature. His manner was often offensively
supercilious, and then again modest and
self-effacing, almost tremulous.
Connie and he were attached to one another, in
the aloof modern way. He was much too hurt in
himself, the great shock of his maiming, to be easy
and flippant. He was a hurt thing. And as such
Connie stuck to him passionately.
But she could not help feeling how little
connexion he really had with people. The miners
were, in a sense, his own men; but he saw them as
objects rather than men, parts of the pit rather
than parts of life, crude raw phenomena rather than
human beings along with him. He was in some way
afraid of them, he could not bear to have them look
at him now he was lame. And their queer, crude life
seemed as unnatural as that of hedgehogs.
He was remotely interested; but like a man
looking down a microscope, or up a telescope. He was
not in touch. He was not in actual touch with
anybody, save, traditionally, with Wragby, and,
through the close bond of family defence, with Emma.
Beyond this nothing really touched him. Connie felt
that she herself didn't really, not really touch
him; perhaps there was nothing to get at ultimately;
just a negation of human contact.
Yet he was absolutely dependent on her, he needed
her every moment. Big and strong as he was, he was
helpless. He could wheel himself about in a wheeled
chair, and he had a sort of bath-chair with a motor
attachment, in which he could puff slowly round the
park. But alone he was like a lost thing. He needed
Connie to be there, to assure him he existed at all.
Still he was ambitious. He had taken to writing
stories; curious, very personal stories about people
he had known. Clever, rather spiteful, and yet, in
some mysterious way, meaningless. The observation
was extraordinary and peculiar. But there was no
touch, no actual contact. It was as if the whole
thing took place in a vacuum. And since the field of
life is largely an artificially-lighted stage today,
the stories were curiously true to modern life, to
the modern psychology, that is.
Clifford was almost morbidly sensitive about
these stories. He wanted everyone to think them
good, of the best, ne plus ultra. They
appeared in the most modern magazines, and were
praised and blamed as usual. But to Clifford the
blame was torture, like knives goading him. It was
as if the whole of his being were in his stories.
Connie helped him as much as she could. At first
she was thrilled. He talked everything over with her
monotonously, insistently, persistently, and she had
to respond with all her might. It was as if her
whole soul and body and sex had to rouse up and pass
into theme stories of his. This thrilled her and
Of physical life they lived very little. She had
to superintend the house. But the housekeeper had
served Sir Geoffrey for many years, and the
dried-up, elderly, superlatively correct female you
could hardly call her a parlour-maid, or even a
woman...who waited at table, had been in the house
for forty years. Even the very housemaids were no
longer young. It was awful! What could you do with
such a place, but leave it alone! All these endless
rooms that nobody used, all the Midlands routine,
the mechanical cleanliness and the mechanical order!
Clifford had insisted on a new cook, an experienced
woman who had served him in his rooms in London. For
the rest the place seemed run by mechanical anarchy.
Everything went on in pretty good order, strict
cleanliness, and strict punctuality; even pretty
strict honesty. And yet, to Connie, it was a
methodical anarchy. No warmth of feeling united it
organically. The house seemed as dreary as a disused
What could she do but leave it alone? So she left
it alone. Miss Chatterley came sometimes, with her
aristocratic thin face, and triumphed, finding
nothing altered. She would never forgive Connie for
ousting her from her union in consciousness with her
brother. It was she, Emma, who should be bringing
forth the stories, these books, with him; the
Chatterley stories, something new in the world, that
they, the Chatterleys, had put there. There
was no other standard. There was no organic
connexion with the thought and expression that had
gone before. Only something new in the world: the
Chatterley books, entirely personal.
Connie's father, where he paid a flying visit to
Wragby, and in private to his daughter: As for
Clifford's writing, it's smart, but there's
nothing in it. It won't last! Connie looked at
the burly Scottish knight who had done himself well
all his life, and her eyes, her big, still-wondering
blue eyes became vague. Nothing in it! What did he
mean by nothing in it? If the critics praised it,
and Clifford's name was almost famous, and it even
brought in money...what did her father mean by
saying there was nothing in Clifford's writing? What
else could there be?
For Connie had adopted the standard of the young:
what there was in the moment was everything. And
moments followed one another without necessarily
belonging to one another.
It was in her second winter at Wragby her father
said to her: 'I hope, Connie, you won't let
circumstances force you into being a demi-vierge.'
'A demi-vierge!' replied Connie vaguely. 'Why?
'Unless you like it, of course!' said her father
hastily. To Clifford he said the same, when the two
men were alone: 'I'm afraid it doesn't quite suit
Connie to be a demi-vierge.'
'A half-virgin!' replied Clifford, translating
the phrase to be sure of it.
He thought for a moment, then flushed very red.
He was angry and offended.
'In what way doesn't it suit her?' he asked
'She's getting thin...angular. It's not her
style. She's not the pilchard sort of little slip of
a girl, she's a bonny Scotch trout.'
'Without the spots, of course!' said Clifford.
He wanted to say something later to Connie about
the demi-vierge business...the half-virgin state of
her affairs. But he could not bring himself to do
it. He was at once too intimate with her and not
intimate enough. He was so very much at one with
her, in his mind and hers, but bodily they were
non-existent to one another, and neither could bear
to drag in the corpus delicti. They were so
intimate, and utterly out of touch.
Connie guessed, however, that her father had said
something, and that something was in Clifford's
mind. She knew that he didn't mind whether she were
demi-vierge or demi-monde, so long as he didn't
absolutely know, and wasn't made to see. What the
eye doesn't see and the mind doesn't know, doesn't
Connie and Clifford had now been nearly two years
at Wragby, living their vague life of absorption in
Clifford and his work. Their interests had never
ceased to flow together over his work. They talked
and wrestled in the throes of composition, and felt
as if something were happening, really happening,
really in the void.
And thus far it was a life: in the void. For the
rest it was non-existence. Wragby was there, the
servants...but spectral, not really existing. Connie
went for walks in the park, and in the woods that
joined the park, and enjoyed the solitude and the
mystery, kicking the brown leaves of autumn, and
picking the primroses of spring. But it was all a
dream; or rather it was like the simulacrum of
reality. The oak-leaves were to her like oak-leaves
seen ruffling in a mirror, she herself was a figure
somebody had read about, picking primroses that were
only shadows or memories, or words. No substance to
her or anything...no touch, no contact! Only this
life with Clifford, this endless spinning of webs of
yarn, of the minutiae of consciousness, these
stories Sir Malcolm said there was nothing in, and
they wouldn't last. Why should there be anything in
them, why should they last? Sufficient unto the day
is the evil thereof. Sufficient unto the moment is
the appearance of reality.
Clifford had quite a number of friends,
acquaintances really, and he invited them to Wragby.
He invited all sorts of people, critics and writers,
people who would help to praise his books. And they
were flattered at being asked to Wragby, and they
praised. Connie understood it all perfectly. But why
not? This was one of the fleeting patterns in the
mirror. What was wrong with it?
She was hostess to these people...mostly men. She
was hostess also to Clifford's occasional
aristocratic relations. Being a soft, ruddy,
country-looking girl, inclined to freckles, with big
blue eyes, and curling, brown hair, and a soft
voice, and rather strong, female loins she was
considered a little old-fashioned and 'womanly'. She
was not a 'little pilchard sort of fish', like a
boy, with a boy's flat breast and little buttocks.
She was too feminine to be quite smart.
So the men, especially those no longer young,
were very nice to her indeed. But, knowing what
torture poor Clifford would feel at the slightest
sign of flirting on her part, she gave them no
encouragement at all. She was quiet and vague, she
had no contact with them and intended to have none.
Clifford was extraordinarily proud of himself.
His relatives treated her quite kindly. She knew
that the kindliness indicated a lack of fear, and
that these people had no respect for you unless you
could frighten them a little. But again she had no
contact. She let them be kindly and disdainful, she
let them feel they had no need to draw their steel
in readiness. She had no real connexion with them.
Time went on. Whatever happened, nothing
happened, because she was so beautifully out of
contact. She and Clifford lived in their ideas and
his books. She entertained...there were always
people in the house. Time went on as the clock does,
half past eight instead of half past seven.
Connie was aware, however, of a growing
restlessness. Out of her disconnexion, a
restlessness was taking possession of her like
madness. It twitched her limbs when she didn't want
to twitch them, it jerked her spine when she didn't
want to jerk upright but preferred to rest
comfortably. It thrilled inside her body, in her
womb, somewhere, till she felt she must jump into
water and swim to get away from it; a mad
restlessness. It made her heart beat violently for
no reason. And she was getting thinner.
It was just restlessness. She would rush off
across the park, abandon Clifford, and lie prone in
the bracken. To get away from the house...she must
get away from the house and everybody. The work was
her one refuge, her sanctuary.
But it was not really a refuge, a sanctuary,
because she had no connexion with it. It was only a
place where she could get away from the rest. She
never really touched the spirit of the wood
itself...if it had any such nonsensical thing.
Vaguely she knew herself that she was going to
pieces in some way. Vaguely she knew she was out of
connexion: she had lost touch with the substantial
and vital world. Only Clifford and his books, which
did not exist...which had nothing in them! Void to
void. Vaguely she knew. But it was like beating her
head against a stone.
Her father warned her again: 'Why don't you get
yourself a beau, Connie? Do you all the good in the
That winter Michaelis came for a few days. He was
a young Irishman who had already made a large
fortune by his plays in America. He had been taken
up quite enthusiastically for a time by smart
society in London, for he wrote smart society plays.
Then gradually smart society realized that it had
been made ridiculous at the hands of a down-at-heel
Dublin street-rat, and revulsion came. Michaelis was
the last word in what was caddish and bounderish. He
was discovered to be anti-English, and to the class
that made this discovery this was worse than the
dirtiest crime. He was cut dead, and his corpse
thrown into the refuse can.
Nevertheless Michaelis had his apartment in
Mayfair, and walked down Bond Street the image of a
gentleman, for you cannot get even the best tailors
to cut their low-down customers, when the customers
Clifford was inviting the young man of thirty at
an inauspicious moment in that young man's career.
Yet Clifford did not hesitate. Michaelis had the ear
of a few million people, probably; and, being a
hopeless outsider, he would no doubt be grateful to
be asked down to Wragby at this juncture, when the
rest of the smart world was cutting him. Being
grateful, he would no doubt do Clifford 'good' over
there in America. Kudos! A man gets a lot of kudos,
whatever that may be, by being talked about in the
right way, especially 'over there'. Clifford was a
coming man; and it was remarkable what a sound
publicity instinct he had. In the end Michaelis did
him most nobly in a play, and Clifford was a sort of
popular hero. Till the reaction, when he found he
had been made ridiculous.
Connie wondered a little over Clifford's blind,
imperious instinct to become known: known, that is,
to the vast amorphous world he did not himself know,
and of which he was uneasily afraid; known as a
writer, as a first-class modern writer. Connie was
aware from successful, old, hearty, bluffing Sir
Malcolm, that artists did advertise themselves, and
exert themselves to put their goods over. But her
father used channels ready-made, used by all the
other R. A.s who sold their pictures. Whereas
Clifford discovered new channels of publicity, all
kinds. He had all kinds of people at Wragby, without
exactly lowering himself. But, determined to build
himself a monument of a reputation quickly, he used
any handy rubble in the making.
Michaelis arrived duly, in a very neat car, with
a chauffeur and a manservant. He was absolutely Bond
Street! But at sight of him something in Clifford's
county soul recoiled. He wasn't exactly... not
exactly...in fact, he wasn't at all, well, what his
appearance intended to imply. To Clifford this was
final and enough. Yet he was very polite to the man;
to the amazing success in him. The bitch-goddess, as
she is called, of Success, roamed, snarling and
protective, round the half-humble, half-defiant
Michaelis' heels, and intimidated Clifford
completely: for he wanted to prostitute himself to
the bitch-goddess, Success also, if only she would
Michaelis obviously wasn't an Englishman, in
spite of all the tailors, hatters, barbers, booters
of the very best quarter of London. No, no, he
obviously wasn't an Englishman: the wrong sort of
flattish, pale face and bearing; and the wrong sort
of grievance. He had a grudge and a grievance: that
was obvious to any true-born English gentleman, who
would scorn to let such a thing appear blatant in
his own demeanour. Poor Michaelis had been much
kicked, so that he had a slightly
tail-between-the-legs look even now. He had pushed
his way by sheer instinct and sheerer effrontery on
to the stage and to the front of it, with his plays.
He had caught the public. And he had thought the
kicking days were over. Alas, they weren't... They
never would be. For he, in a sense, asked to be
kicked. He pined to be where he didn't
belong...among the English upper classes. And how
they enjoyed the various kicks they got at him! And
how he hated them!
Nevertheless he travelled with his manservant and
his very neat car, this Dublin mongrel.
There was something about him that Connie liked.
He didn't put on airs to himself, he had no
illusions about himself. He talked to Clifford
sensibly, briefly, practically, about all the things
Clifford wanted to know. He didn't expand or let
himself go. He knew he had been asked down to Wragby
to be made use of, and like an old, shrewd, almost
indifferent business man, or big-business man, he
let himself be asked questions, and he answered with
as little waste of feeling as possible.
'Money!' he said. 'Money is a sort of instinct.
It's a sort of property of nature in a man to make
money. It's nothing you do. It's no trick you play.
It's a sort of permanent accident of your own
nature; once you start, you make money, and you go
on; up to a point, I suppose.'
'But you've got to begin,' said Clifford.
'Oh, quite! You've got to get in. You can
do nothing if you are kept outside. You've got to
beat your way in. Once you've done that, you can't
'But could you have made money except by plays?'
'Oh, probably not! I may be a good writer or I
may be a bad one, but a writer and a writer of plays
is what I am, and I've got to be. There's no
question of that.'
'And you think it's a writer of popular plays
that you've got to be?' asked Connie.
'There, exactly!' he said, turning to her in a
sudden flash. 'There's nothing in it! There's
nothing in popularity. There's nothing in the
public, if it comes to that. There's nothing really
in my plays to make them popular. It's not that.
They just are like the weather...the sort that will
have to be...for the time being.'
He turned his slow, rather full eyes, that had
been drowned in such fathomless disillusion, on
Connie, and she trembled a little. He seemed so
old...endlessly old, built up of layers of
disillusion, going down in him generation after
generation, like geological strata; and at the same
time he was forlorn like a child. An outcast, in a
certain sense; but with the desperate bravery of his
'At least it's wonderful what you've done at your
time of life,' said Clifford contemplatively.
'I'm thirty...yes, I'm thirty!' said Michaelis,
sharply and suddenly, with a curious laugh; hollow,
triumphant, and bitter.
'And are you alone?' asked Connie.
'How do you mean? Do I live alone? I've got my
servant. He's a Greek, so he says, and quite
incompetent. But I keep him. And I'm going to marry.
Oh, yes, I must marry.'
'It sounds like going to have your tonsils cut,'
laughed Connie. 'Will it be an effort?'
He looked at her admiringly. 'Well, Lady
Chatterley, somehow it will! I find... excuse me...
I find I can't marry an Englishwoman, not even an
'Try an American,' said Clifford.
'Oh, American!' He laughed a hollow laugh. 'No,
I've asked my man if he will find me a Turk or
something...something nearer to the Oriental.'
Connie really wondered at this queer, melancholy
specimen of extraordinary success; it was said he
had an income of fifty thousand dollars from America
alone. Sometimes he was handsome: sometimes as he
looked sideways, downwards, and the light fell on
him, he had the silent, enduring beauty of a carved
ivory Negro mask, with his rather full eyes, and the
strong queerly-arched brows, the immobile,
compressed mouth; that momentary but revealed
immobility, an immobility, a timelessness which the
Buddha aims at, and which Negroes express sometimes
without ever aiming at it; something old, old, and
acquiescent in the race! Aeons of acquiescence in
race destiny, instead of our individual resistance.
And then a swimming through, like rats in a dark
river. Connie felt a sudden, strange leap of
sympathy for him, a leap mingled with compassion,
and tinged with repulsion, amounting almost to love.
The outsider! The outsider! And they called him a
bounder! How much more bounderish and assertive
Clifford looked! How much stupider!
Michaelis knew at once he had made an impression
on her. He turned his full, hazel, slightly
prominent eyes on her in a look of pure detachment.
He was estimating her, and the extent of the
impression he had made. With the English nothing
could save him from being the eternal outsider, not
even love. Yet women sometimes fell for
He knew just where he was with Clifford. They
were two alien dogs which would have liked to snarl
at one another, but which smiled instead, perforce.
But with the woman he was not quite so sure.
Breakfast was served in the bedrooms; Clifford
never appeared before lunch, and the dining-room was
a little dreary. After coffee Michaelis, restless
and ill-sitting soul, wondered what he should do. It
was a fine November day ... fine for Wragby. He
looked over the melancholy park. My God! What a
He sent a servant to ask, could he be of any
service to Lady Chatterley: he thought of driving
into Sheffield. The answer came, would he care to go
up to Lady Chatterley's sitting-room.
Connie had a sitting-room on the third floor, the
top floor of the central portion of the house.
Clifford's rooms were on the ground floor, of
course. Michaelis was flattered by being asked up to
Lady Chatterley's own parlour. He followed blindly
after the servant...he never noticed things, or had
contact with his surroundings. In her room he did
glance vaguely round at the fine German
reproductions of Renoir and Cezanne.
'It's very pleasant up here,' he said, with his
queer smile, as if it hurt him to smile, showing his
teeth. 'You are wise to get up to the top.'
'Yes, I think so,' she said.
Her room was the only gay, modern one in the
house, the only spot in Wragby where her personality
was at all revealed. Clifford had never seen it, and
she asked very few people up.
Now she and Michaelis sit on opposite sides of
the fire and talked. She asked him about himself,
his mother and father, his brothers...other people
were always something of a wonder to her, and when
her sympathy was awakened she was quite devoid of
class feeling. Michaelis talked frankly about
himself, quite frankly, without affectation, simply
revealing his bitter, indifferent, stray-dog's soul,
then showing a gleam of revengeful pride in his
'But why are you such a lonely bird?' Connie
asked him; and again he looked at her, with his
full, searching, hazel look.
'Some birds are that way,' he replied.
Then, with a touch of familiar irony: 'but, look
here, what about yourself? Aren't you by way of
being a lonely bird yourself?' Connie, a little
startled, thought about it for a few moments, and
then she said: 'Only in a way! Not altogether, like
'Am I altogether a lonely bird?' he asked, with
his queer grin of a smile, as if he had toothache;
it was so wry, and his eyes were so perfectly
unchangingly melancholy, or stoical, or
disillusioned or afraid.
'Why?' she said, a little breathless, as she
looked at him. 'You are, aren't you?'
She felt a terrible appeal coming to her from
him, that made her almost lose her balance.
'Oh, you're quite right!' he said, turning his
head away, and looking sideways, downwards, with
that strange immobility of an old race that is
hardly here in our present day. It was that that
really made Connie lose her power to see him
detached from herself.
He looked up at her with the full glance that saw
everything, registered everything. At the same time,
the infant crying in the night was crying out of his
breast to her, in a way that affected her very womb.
'It's awfully nice of you to think of me,' he
'Why shouldn't I think of you?' she exclaimed,
with hardly breath to utter it.
He gave the wry, quick hiss of a laugh.
'Oh, in that way!...May I hold your hand for a
minute?' he asked suddenly, fixing his eyes on her
with almost hypnotic power, and sending out an
appeal that affected her direct in the womb.
She stared at him, dazed and transfixed, and he
went over and kneeled beside her, and took her two
feet close in his two hands, and buried his face in
her lap, remaining motionless. She was perfectly dim
and dazed, looking down in a sort of amazement at
the rather tender nape of his neck, feeling his face
pressing her thighs. In all her burning dismay, she
could not help putting her hand, with tenderness and
compassion, on the defenceless nape of his neck, and
he trembled, with a deep shudder.
Then he looked up at her with that awful appeal
in his full, glowing eyes. She was utterly incapable
of resisting it. From her breast flowed the
answering, immense yearning over him; she must give
him anything, anything.
He was a curious and very gentle lover, very
gentle with the woman, trembling uncontrollably, and
yet at the same time detached, aware, aware of every
To her it meant nothing except that she gave
herself to him. And at length he ceased to quiver
any more, and lay quite still, quite still. Then,
with dim, compassionate fingers, she stroked his
head, that lay on her breast.
When he rose, he kissed both her hands, then both
her feet, in their suede slippers, and in silence
went away to the end of the room, where he stood
with his back to her. There was silence for some
minutes. Then he turned and came to her again as she
sat in her old place by the fire.
'And now, I suppose you'll hate me!' he said in a
quiet, inevitable way. She looked up at him quickly.
'Why should I?' she asked.
'They mostly do,' he said; then he caught himself
up. 'I mean...a woman is supposed to.'
'This is the last moment when I ought to hate
you,' she said resentfully.
'I know! I know! It should be so! You're
frightfully good to me...' he cried miserably.
She wondered why he should be miserable. 'Won't
you sit down again?' she said. He glanced at the
'Sir Clifford!' he said, 'won't he...won't he
be...?' She paused a moment to consider. 'Perhaps!'
she said. And she looked up at him. 'I don't want
Clifford to know not even to suspect. It would
hurt him so much. But I don't think it's wrong, do
'Wrong! Good God, no! You're only too infinitely
good to me...I can hardly bear it.'
He turned aside, and she saw that in another
moment he would be sobbing.
'But we needn't let Clifford know, need we?' she
pleaded. 'It would hurt him so. And if he never
knows, never suspects, it hurts nobody.'
'Me!' he said, almost fiercely; 'he'll know
nothing from me! You see if he does. Me give myself
away! Ha! Ha!' he laughed hollowly, cynically, at
such an idea. She watched him in wonder. He said to
her: 'May I kiss your hand and go? I'll run into
Sheffield I think, and lunch there, if I may, and be
back to tea. May I do anything for you? May I be
sure you don't hate me?--and that you won't?'--he
ended with a desperate note of cynicism.
'No, I don't hate you,' she said. 'I think you're
'Ah!' he said to her fiercely, 'I'd rather you
said that to me than said you love me! It means such
a lot more...Till afternoon then. I've plenty to
think about till then.' He kissed her hands humbly
and was gone.
'I don't think I can stand that young man,' said
Clifford at lunch.
'Why?' asked Connie.
'He's such a bounder underneath his veneer...just
waiting to bounce us.'
'I think people have been so unkind to him,' said
'Do you wonder? And do you think he employs his
shining hours doing deeds of kindness?'
'I think he has a certain sort of generosity.'
'I don't quite know.'
'Naturally you don't. I'm afraid you mistake
unscrupulousness for generosity.'
Connie paused. Did she? It was just possible. Yet
the unscrupulousness of Michaelis had a certain
fascination for her. He went whole lengths where
Clifford only crept a few timid paces. In his way he
had conquered the world, which was what Clifford
wanted to do. Ways and means...? Were those of
Michaelis more despicable than those of Clifford?
Was the way the poor outsider had shoved and bounced
himself forward in person, and by the back doors,
any worse than Clifford's way of advertising himself
into prominence? The bitch-goddess, Success, was
trailed by thousands of gasping dogs with lolling
tongues. The one that got her first was the real dog
among dogs, if you go by success! So Michaelis could
keep his tail up.
The queer thing was, he didn't. He came back
towards tea-time with a large handful of violets and
lilies, and the same hang-dog expression. Connie
wondered sometimes if it were a sort of mask to
disarm opposition, because it was almost too fixed.
Was he really such a sad dog?
His sad-dog sort of extinguished self persisted
all the evening, though through it Clifford felt the
inner effrontery. Connie didn't feel it, perhaps
because it was not directed against women; only
against men, and their presumptions and assumptions.
That indestructible, inward effrontery in the meagre
fellow was what made men so down on Michaelis. His
very presence was an affront to a man of society,
cloak it as he might in an assumed good manner.
Connie was in love with him, but she managed to
sit with her embroidery and let the men talk, and
not give herself away. As for Michaelis, he was
perfect; exactly the same melancholic, attentive,
aloof young fellow of the previous evening, millions
of degrees remote from his hosts, but laconically
playing up to them to the required amount, and never
coming forth to them for a moment. Connie felt he
must have forgotten the morning. He had not
forgotten. But he knew where he was...in the same
old place outside, where the born outsiders are. He
didn't take the love-making altogether personally.
He knew it would not change him from an ownerless
dog, whom everybody begrudges its golden collar,
into a comfortable society dog.
The final fact being that at the very bottom of
his soul he was an outsider, and anti-social,
and he accepted the fact inwardly, no matter how
Bond-Streety he was on the outside. His isolation
was a necessity to him; just as the appearance of
conformity and mixing-in with the smart people was
also a necessity.
But occasional love, as a comfort and soothing,
was also a good thing, and he was not ungrateful. On
the contrary, he was burningly, poignantly grateful
for a piece of natural, spontaneous kindness: almost
to tears. Beneath his pale, immobile, disillusioned
face, his child's soul was sobbing with gratitude to
the woman, and burning to come to her again; just as
his outcast soul was knowing he would keep really
clear of her.
He found an opportunity to say to her, as they
were lighting the candles in the hall:
'May I come?'
'I'll come to you,' she said.
He waited for her a long time...but she came.
He was the trembling excited sort of lover, whose
crisis soon came, and was finished. There was
something curiously childlike and defenceless about
his naked body: as children are naked. His defences
were all in his wits and cunning, his very instincts
of cunning, and when these were in abeyance he
seemed doubly naked and like a child, of unfinished,
tender flesh, and somehow struggling helplessly.
He roused in the woman a wild sort of compassion
and yearning, and a wild, craving physical desire.
The physical desire he did not satisfy in her; he
was always come and finished so quickly, then
shrinking down on her breast, and recovering
somewhat his effrontery while she lay dazed,
But then she soon learnt to hold him, to keep him
there inside her when his crisis was over. And there
he was generous and curiously potent; he stayed firm
inside her, giving to her, while she was
active...wildly, passionately active, coming to her
own crisis. And as he felt the frenzy of her
achieving her own orgasmic satisfaction from his
hard, erect passivity, he had a curious sense of
pride and satisfaction.
'Ah, how good!' she whispered tremulously, and
she became quite still, clinging to him. And he lay
there in his own isolation, but somehow proud.
He stayed that time only the three days, and to
Clifford was exactly the same as on the first
evening; to Connie also. There was no breaking down
his external man.
He wrote to Connie with the same plaintive
melancholy note as ever, sometimes witty, and
touched with a queer, sexless affection. A kind of
hopeless affection he seemed to feel for her, and
the essential remoteness remained the same. He was
hopeless at the very core of him, and he wanted to
be hopeless. He rather hated hope. 'Une immense
esprance a travers la terre', he read somewhere,
and his comment was:'--and it's darned-well drowned
everything worth having.'
Connie never really understood him, but, in her
way, she loved him. And all the time she felt the
reflection of his hopelessness in her. She couldn't
quite, quite love in hopelessness. And he, being
hopeless, couldn't ever quite love at all.
So they went on for quite a time, writing, and
meeting occasionally in London. She still wanted the
physical, sexual thrill she could get with him by
her own activity, his little orgasm being over. And
he still wanted to give it her. Which was enough to
keep them connected.
And enough to give her a subtle sort of
self-assurance, something blind and a little
arrogant. It was an almost mechanical confidence in
her own powers, and went with a great cheerfulness.
She was terrifically cheerful at Wragby. And she
used all her aroused cheerfulness and satisfaction
to stimulate Clifford, so that he wrote his best at
this time, and was almost happy in his strange blind
way. He really reaped the fruits of the sensual
satisfaction she got out of Michaelis' male
passivity erect inside her. But of course he never
knew it, and if he had, he wouldn't have said thank
Yet when those days of her grand joyful
cheerfulness and stimulus were gone, quite gone, and
she was depressed and irritable, how Clifford longed
for them again! Perhaps if he'd known he might even
have wished to get her and Michaelis together again.
Connie always had a foreboding of the
hopelessness of her affair with Mick, as people
called him. Yet other men seemed to mean nothing to
her. She was attached to Clifford. He wanted a good
deal of her life and she gave it to him. But she
wanted a good deal from the life of a man, and this
Clifford did not give her; could not. There were
occasional spasms of Michaelis. But, as she knew by
foreboding, that would come to an end. Mick
couldn't keep anything up. It was part of his
very being that he must break off any connexion, and
be loose, isolated, absolutely lone dog again. It
was his major necessity, even though he always said:
She turned me down!
The world is supposed to be full of
possibilities, but they narrow down to pretty few in
most personal experience. There's lots of good fish
in the sea...maybe...but the vast masses seem to be
mackerel or herring, and if you're not mackerel or
herring yourself you are likely to find very few
good fish in the sea.
Clifford was making strides into fame, and even
money. People came to see him. Connie nearly always
had somebody at Wragby. But if they weren't mackerel
they were herring, with an occasional cat-fish, or
There were a few regular men, constants; men who
had been at Cambridge with Clifford. There was Tommy
Dukes, who had remained in the army, and was a
Brigadier-General. 'The army leaves me time to
think, and saves me from having to face the battle
of life,' he said.
There was Charles May, an Irishman, who wrote
scientifically about stars. There was Hammond,
another writer. All were about the same age as
Clifford; the young intellectuals of the day. They
all believed in the life of the mind. What you did
apart from that was your private affair, and didn't
much matter. No one thinks of inquiring of another
person at what hour he retires to the privy. It
isn't interesting to anyone but the person
And so with most of the matters of ordinary
life...how you make your money, or whether you love
your wife, or if you have 'affairs'. All these
matters concern only the person concerned, and, like
going to the privy, have no interest for anyone
'The whole point about the sexual problem,' said
Hammond, who was a tall thin fellow with a wife and
two children, but much more closely connected with a
typewriter, 'is that there is no point to it.
Strictly there is no problem. We don't want to
follow a man into the w.c., so why should we want to
follow him into bed with a woman? And therein lies
the problem. If we took no more notice of the one
thing than the other, there'd be no problem. It's
all utterly senseless and pointless; a matter of
'Quite, Hammond, quite! But if someone starts
making love to Julia, you begin to simmer; and if he
goes on, you are soon at boiling point.'...Julia was
'Why, exactly! So I should be if he began to
urinate in a corner of my drawing-room. There's a
place for all these things.'
'You mean you wouldn't mind if he made love to
Julia in some discreet alcove?'
Charlie May was slightly satirical, for he had
flirted a very little with Julia, and Hammond had
cut up very roughly.
'Of course I should mind. Sex is a private thing
between me and Julia; and of course I should mind
anyone else trying to mix in.'
'As a matter of fact,' said the lean and freckled
Tommy Dukes, who looked much more Irish than May,
who was pale and rather fat: 'As a matter of fact,
Hammond, you have a strong property instinct, and a
strong will to self-assertion, and you want success.
Since I've been in the army definitely, I've got out
of the way of the world, and now I see how
inordinately strong the craving for self-assertion
and success is in men. It is enormously
overdeveloped. All our individuality has run that
way. And of course men like you think you'll get
through better with a woman's backing. That's why
you're so jealous. That's what sex is to you...a
vital little dynamo between you and Julia, to bring
success. If you began to be unsuccessful you'd begin
to flirt, like Charlie, who isn't successful.
Married people like you and Julia have labels on
you, like travellers' trunks. Julia is labelled
Mrs Arnold B. Hammond--just like a trunk on the
railway that belongs to somebody. And you are
labelled Arnold B. Hammond, c/o Mrs Arnold B.
Hammond. Oh, you're quite right, you're quite
right! The life of the mind needs a comfortable
house and decent cooking. You're quite right. It
even needs posterity. But it all hinges on the
instinct for success. That is the pivot on which all
Hammond looked rather piqued. He was rather proud
of the integrity of his mind, and of his not
being a time-server. None the less, he did want
'It's quite true, you can't live without cash,'
said May. 'You've got to have a certain amount of it
to be able to live and get along...even to be free
to think you must have a certain amount of
money, or your stomach stops you. But it seems to me
you might leave the labels off sex. We're free to
talk to anybody; so why shouldn't we be free to make
love to any woman who inclines us that way?'
'There speaks the lascivious Celt,' said
'Lascivious! well, why not--? I can't see I do a
woman any more harm by sleeping with her than by
dancing with her...or even talking to her about the
weather. It's just an interchange of sensations
instead of ideas, so why not?'
'Be as promiscuous as the rabbits!' said Hammond.
'Why not? What's wrong with rabbits? Are they any
worse than a neurotic, revolutionary humanity, full
of nervous hate?'
'But we're not rabbits, even so,' said Hammond.
'Precisely! I have my mind: I have certain
calculations to make in certain astronomical matters
that concern me almost more than life or death.
Sometimes indigestion interferes with me. Hunger
would interfere with me disastrously. In the same
way starved sex interferes with me. What then?'
'I should have thought sexual indigestion from
surfeit would have interfered with you more
seriously,' said Hammond satirically.
'Not it! I don't over-eat myself and I don't
over-fuck myself. One has a choice about eating too
much. But you would absolutely starve me.'
'Not at all! You can marry.'
'How do you know I can? It may not suit the
process of my mind. Marriage might...and
would...stultify my mental processes. I'm not
properly pivoted that way...and so must I be chained
in a kennel like a monk? All rot and funk, my boy. I
must live and do my calculations. I need women
sometimes. I refuse to make a mountain of it, and I
refuse anybody's moral condemnation or prohibition.
I'd be ashamed to see a woman walking around with my
name-label on her, address and railway station, like
a wardrobe trunk.'
These two men had not forgiven each other about
the Julia flirtation.
'It's an amusing idea, Charlie,' said Dukes,
'that sex is just another form of talk, where you
act the words instead of saying them. I suppose it's
quite true. I suppose we might exchange as many
sensations and emotions with women as we do ideas
about the weather, and so on. Sex might be a sort of
normal physical conversation between a man and a
woman. You don't talk to a woman unless you have
ideas in common: that is you don't talk with any
interest. And in the same way, unless you had some
emotion or sympathy in common with a woman you
wouldn't sleep with her. But if you had...'
'If you have the proper sort of emotion or
sympathy with a woman, you ought to sleep
with her,' said May. 'It's the only decent thing, to
go to bed with her. Just as, when you are interested
talking to someone, the only decent thing is to have
the talk out. You don't prudishly put your tongue
between your teeth and bite it. You just say out
your say. And the same the other way.'
'No,' said Hammond. 'It's wrong. You, for
example, May, you squander half your force with
women. You'll never really do what you should do,
with a fine mind such as yours. Too much of it goes
the other way.'
'Maybe it does...and too little of you goes that
way, Hammond, my boy, married or not. You can keep
the purity and integrity of your mind, but it's
going damned dry. Your pure mind is going as dry as
fiddlesticks, from what I see of it. You're simply
talking it down.'
Tommy Dukes burst into a laugh.
'Go it, you two minds!' he said. 'Look at me...I
don't do any high and pure mental work, nothing but
jot down a few ideas. And yet I neither marry nor
run after women. I think Charlie's quite right; if
he wants to run after the women, he's quite free not
to run too often. But I wouldn't prohibit him from
running. As for Hammond, he's got a property
instinct, so naturally the straight road and the
narrow gate are right for him. You'll see he'll be
an English Man of Letters before he's done. A.B.C.
from top to toe. Then there's me. I'm nothing. Just
a squib. And what about you, Clifford? Do you think
sex is a dynamo to help a man on to success in the
Clifford rarely talked much at these times. He
never held forth; his ideas were really not vital
enough for it, he was too confused and emotional.
Now he blushed and looked uncomfortable.
'Well!' he said, 'being myself hors de combat,
I don't see I've anything to say on the matter.'
'Not at all,' said Dukes; 'the top of you's by no
means hors de combat. You've got the life of
the mind sound and intact. So let us hear your
'Well,' stammered Clifford, 'even then I don't
suppose I have much idea...I suppose
marry-and-have-done-with-it would pretty well stand
for what I think. Though of course between a man and
woman who care for one another, it is a great
'What sort of great thing?' said Tommy.
'Oh...it perfects the intimacy,' said Clifford,
uneasy as a woman in such talk.
'Well, Charlie and I believe that sex is a sort
of communication like speech. Let any woman start a
sex conversation with me, and it's natural for me to
go to bed with her to finish it, all in due season.
Unfortunately no woman makes any particular start
with me, so I go to bed by myself; and am none the
worse for it...I hope so, anyway, for how should I
know? Anyhow I've no starry calculations to be
interfered with, and no immortal works to write. I'm
merely a fellow skulking in the army...'
Silence fell. The four men smoked. And Connie sat
there and put another stitch in her sewing...Yes,
she sat there! She had to sit mum. She had to be
quiet as a mouse, not to interfere with the
immensely important speculations of these
highly-mental gentlemen. But she had to be there.
They didn't get on so well without her; their ideas
didn't flow so freely. Clifford was much more hedgy
and nervous, he got cold feet much quicker in
Connie's absence, and the talk didn't run. Tommy
Dukes came off best; he was a little inspired by her
presence. Hammond she didn't really like; he seemed
so selfish in a mental way. And Charles May, though
she liked something about him, seemed a little
distasteful and messy, in spite of his stars.
How many evenings had Connie sat and listened to
the manifestations of these four men! these, and one
or two others. That they never seemed to get
anywhere didn't trouble her deeply. She liked to
hear what they had to say, especially when Tommy was
there. It was fun. Instead of men kissing you, and
touching you with their bodies, they revealed their
minds to you. It was great fun! But what cold minds!
And also it was a little irritating. She had more
respect for Michaelis, on whose name they all poured
such withering contempt, as a little mongrel
arriviste, and uneducated bounder of the worst sort.
Mongrel and bounder or not, he jumped to his own
conclusions. He didn't merely walk round them with
millions of words, in the parade of the life of the
Connie quite liked the life of the mind, and got
a great thrill out of it. But she did think it
overdid itself a little. She loved being there,
amidst the tobacco smoke of those famous evenings of
the cronies, as she called them privately to
herself. She was infinitely amused, and proud too,
that even their talking they could not do, without
her silent presence. She had an immense respect for
thought...and these men, at least, tried to think
honestly. But somehow there was a cat, and it
wouldn't jump. They all alike talked at something,
though what it was, for the life of her she couldn't
say. It was something that Mick didn't clear,
But then Mick wasn't trying to do anything, but
just get through his life, and put as much across
other people as they tried to put across him. He was
really anti-social, which was what Clifford and his
cronies had against him. Clifford and his cronies
were not anti-social; they were more or less bent on
saving mankind, or on instructing it, to say the
There was a gorgeous talk on Sunday evening, when
the conversation drifted again to love.
'Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in
said Tommy Dukes. 'I'd like to know what the tie
is...The tie that binds us just now is mental
friction on one another. And, apart from that,
there's damned little tie between us. We bust apart,
and say spiteful things about one another, like all
the other damned intellectuals in the world. Damned
everybodies, as far as that goes, for they all do
it. Else we bust apart, and cover up the spiteful
things we feel against one another by saying false
sugaries. It's a curious thing that the mental life
seems to flourish with its roots in spite, ineffable
and fathomless spite. Always has been so! Look at
Socrates, in Plato, and his bunch round him! The
sheer spite of it all, just sheer joy in pulling
somebody else to bits...Protagoras, or whoever it
was! And Alcibiades, and all the other little
disciple dogs joining in the fray! I must say it
makes one prefer Buddha, quietly sitting under a
bo-tree, or Jesus, telling his disciples little
Sunday stories, peacefully, and without any mental
fireworks. No, there's something wrong with the
mental life, radically. It's rooted in spite and
envy, envy and spite. Ye shall know the tree by its
'I don't think we're altogether so spiteful,'
'My dear Clifford, think of the way we talk each
other over, all of us. I'm rather worse than anybody
else, myself. Because I infinitely prefer the
spontaneous spite to the concocted sugaries; now
they are poison; when I begin saying what a
fine fellow Clifford is, etc., etc., then poor
Clifford is to be pitied. For God's sake, all of
you, say spiteful things about me, then I shall know
I mean something to you. Don't say sugaries, or I'm
'Oh, but I do think we honestly like one
another,' said Hammond.
'I tell you we must...we say such spiteful things
to one another, about one another, behind our backs!
I'm the worst.'
'And I do think you confuse the mental life with
the critical activity. I agree with you, Socrates
gave the critical activity a grand start, but he did
more than that,' said Charlie May, rather
magisterially. The cronies had such a curious
pomposity under their assumed modesty. It was all so
ex cathedra, and it all pretended to be so
Dukes refused to be drawn about Socrates.
'That's quite true, criticism and knowledge are
not the same thing,' said Hammond.
'They aren't, of course,' chimed in Berry, a
brown, shy young man, who had called to see Dukes,
and was staying the night.
They all looked at him as if the ass had spoken.
'I wasn't talking about knowledge...I was talking
about the mental life,' laughed Dukes. 'Real
knowledge comes out of the whole corpus of the
consciousness; out of your belly and your penis as
much as out of your brain and mind. The mind can
only analyse and rationalize. Set the mind and the
reason to cock it over the rest, and all they can do
is to criticize, and make a deadness. I say all
they can do. It is vastly important. My God, the
world needs criticizing today...criticizing to
death. Therefore let's live the mental life, and
glory in our spite, and strip the rotten old show.
But, mind you, it's like this: while you live
your life, you are in some way an Organic whole with
all life. But once you start the mental life you
pluck the apple. You've severed the connexion
between the apple and the tree: the organic
connexion. And if you've got nothing in your life
but the mental life, then you yourself are a
plucked apple...you've fallen off the tree. And then
it is a logical necessity to be spiteful, just as
it's a natural necessity for a plucked apple to go
Clifford made big eyes: it was all stuff to him.
Connie secretly laughed to herself.
'Well then we're all plucked apples,' said
Hammond, rather acidly and petulantly.
'So let's make cider of ourselves,' said Charlie.
'But what do you think of Bolshevism?' put in the
brown Berry, as if everything had led up to it.
'Bravo!' roared Charlie. 'What do you think of
'Come on! Let's make hay of Bolshevism!' said
'I'm afraid Bolshevism is a large question,' said
Hammond, shaking his head seriously.
'Bolshevism, it seems to me,' said Charlie, 'is
just a superlative hatred of the thing they call the
bourgeois; and what the bourgeois is, isn't quite
defined. It is Capitalism, among other things.
Feelings and emotions are also so decidedly
bourgeois that you have to invent a man without
'Then the individual, especially the personal
man, is bourgeois: so he must be suppressed. You
must submerge yourselves in the greater thing, the
Soviet-social thing. Even an organism is bourgeois:
so the ideal must be mechanical. The only thing that
is a unit, non-organic, composed of many different,
yet equally essential parts, is the machine. Each
man a machine-part, and the driving power of the
machine, hate...hate of the bourgeois. That, to me,
'Absolutely!' said Tommy. 'But also, it seems to
me a perfect description of the whole of the
industrial ideal. It's the factory-owner's ideal in
a nut-shell; except that he would deny that the
driving power was hate. Hate it is, all the same;
hate of life itself. Just look at these Midlands, if
it isn't plainly written up...but it's all part of
the life of the mind, it's a logical development.'
'I deny that Bolshevism is logical, it rejects
the major part of the premisses,' said Hammond.
'My dear man, it allows the material premiss; so
does the pure mind...exclusively.'
'At least Bolshevism has got down to rock
bottom,' said Charlie.
'Rock bottom! The bottom that has no bottom! The
Bolshevists will have the finest army in the world
in a very short time, with the finest mechanical
'But this thing can't go on...this hate business.
There must be a reaction...' said Hammond.
'Well, we've been waiting for years...we wait
longer. Hate's a growing thing like anything else.
It's the inevitable outcome of forcing ideas on to
life, of forcing one's deepest instincts; our
deepest feelings we force according to certain
ideas. We drive ourselves with a formula, like a
machine. The logical mind pretends to rule the
roost, and the roost turns into pure hate. We're all
Bolshevists, only we are hypocrites. The Russians
are Bolshevists without hypocrisy.'
'But there are many other ways,' said Hammond,
'than the Soviet way. The Bolshevists aren't really
'Of course not. But sometimes it's intelligent to
be half-witted: if you want to make your end.
Personally, I consider Bolshevism half-witted; but
so do I consider our social life in the west
half-witted. So I even consider our far-famed mental
life half-witted. We're all as cold as cretins,
we're all as passionless as idiots. We're all of us
Bolshevists, only we give it another name. We think
we're gods...men like gods! It's just the same as
Bolshevism. One has to be human, and have a heart
and a penis if one is going to escape being either a
god or a Bolshevist...for they are the same thing:
they're both too good to be true.'
Out of the disapproving silence came Berry's
'You do believe in love then, Tommy, don't you?'
'You lovely lad!' said Tommy. 'No, my cherub,
nine times out of ten, no! Love's another of those
half-witted performances today. Fellows with swaying
waists fucking little jazz girls with small boy
buttocks, like two collar studs! Do you mean that
sort of love? Or the joint-property,
make-a-success-of-it, My-husband-my-wife sort of
love? No, my fine fellow, I don't believe in it at
'But you do believe in something?'
'Me? Oh, intellectually I believe in having a
good heart, a chirpy penis, a lively intelligence,
and the courage to say "shit!" in front of a lady.'
'Well, you've got them all,' said Berry.
Tommy Dukes roared with laughter. 'You angel boy!
If only I had! If only I had! No; my heart's as numb
as a potato, my penis droops and never lifts its
head up, I dare rather cut him clean off than say
"shit!" in front of my mother or my aunt...they are
real ladies, mind you; and I'm not really
intelligent, I'm only a "mental-lifer". It would be
wonderful to be intelligent: then one would be alive
in all the parts mentioned and unmentionable. The
penis rouses his head and says: How do you do?--to
any really intelligent person. Renoir said he
painted his pictures with his penis...he did too,
lovely pictures! I wish I did something with mine.
God! when one can only talk! Another torture added
to Hades! And Socrates started it.'
'There are nice women in the world,' said Connie,
lifting her head up and speaking at last.
The men resented it...she should have pretended
to hear nothing. They hated her admitting she had
attended so closely to such talk.
If they be not nice to me
What care I how nice they be?
'No, it's hopeless! I just simply can't vibrate
in unison with a woman. There's no woman I can
really want when I'm faced with her, and I'm not
going to start forcing myself to it...My God, no!
I'll remain as I am, and lead the mental life. It's
the only honest thing I can do. I can be quite happy
talking to women; but it's all pure,
hopelessly pure. Hopelessly pure! What do you say,
Hildebrand, my chicken?'
'It's much less complicated if one stays pure,'
'Yes, life is all too simple!'
On a frosty morning with a little February sun,
Clifford and Connie went for a walk across the park
to the wood. That is, Clifford chuffed in his
motor-chair, and Connie walked beside him.
The hard air was still sulphurous, but they were
both used to it. Round the near horizon went the
haze, opalescent with frost and smoke, and on the
top lay the small blue sky; so that it was like
being inside an enclosure, always inside. Life
always a dream or a frenzy, inside an enclosure.
The sheep coughed in the rough, sere grass of the
park, where frost lay bluish in the sockets of the
tufts. Across the park ran a path to the wood-gate,
a fine ribbon of pink. Clifford had had it newly
gravelled with sifted gravel from the pit-bank. When
the rock and refuse of the underworld had burned and
given off its sulphur, it turned bright pink,
shrimp-coloured on dry days, darker, crab-coloured
on wet. Now it was pale shrimp-colour, with a
bluish-white hoar of frost. It always pleased
Connie, this underfoot of sifted, bright pink. It's
an ill wind that brings nobody good.
Clifford steered cautiously down the slope of the
knoll from the hall, and Connie kept her hand on the
chair. In front lay the wood, the hazel thicket
nearest, the purplish density of oaks beyond. From
the wood's edge rabbits bobbed and nibbled. Rooks
suddenly rose in a black train, and went trailing
off over the little sky.
Connie opened the wood-gate, and Clifford puffed
slowly through into the broad riding that ran up an
incline between the clean-whipped thickets of the
hazel. The wood was a remnant of the great forest
where Robin Hood hunted, and this riding was an old,
old thoroughfare coming across country. But now, of
course, it was only a riding through the private
wood. The road from Mansfield swerved round to the
In the wood everything was motionless, the old
leaves on the ground keeping the frost on their
underside. A jay called harshly, many little birds
fluttered. But there was no game; no pheasants. They
had been killed off during the war, and the wood had
been left unprotected, till now Clifford had got his
Clifford loved the wood; he loved the old
oak-trees. He felt they were his own through
generations. He wanted to protect them. He wanted
this place inviolate, shut off from the world.
The chair chuffed slowly up the incline, rocking
and jolting on the frozen clods. And suddenly, on
the left, came a clearing where there was nothing
but a ravel of dead bracken, a thin and spindly
sapling leaning here and there, big sawn stumps,
showing their tops and their grasping roots,
lifeless. And patches of blackness where the woodmen
had burned the brushwood and rubbish.
This was one of the places that Sir Geoffrey had
cut during the war for trench timber. The whole
knoll, which rose softly on the right of the riding,
was denuded and strangely forlorn. On the crown of
the knoll where the oaks had stood, now was
bareness; and from there you could look out over the
trees to the colliery railway, and the new works at
Stacks Gate. Connie had stood and looked, it was a
breach in the pure seclusion of the wood. It let in
the world. But she didn't tell Clifford.
This denuded place always made Clifford curiously
angry. He had been through the war, had seen what it
meant. But he didn't get really angry till he saw
this bare hill. He was having it replanted. But it
made him hate Sir Geoffrey.
Clifford sat with a fixed face as the chair
slowly mounted. When they came to the top of the
rise he stopped; he would not risk the long and very
jolty down-slope. He sat looking at the greenish
sweep of the riding downwards, a clear way through
the bracken and oaks. It swerved at the bottom of
the hill and disappeared; but it had such a lovely
easy curve, of knights riding and ladies on
'I consider this is really the heart of England,'
said Clifford to Connie, as he sat there in the dim
'Do you?' she said, seating herself in her blue
knitted dress, on a stump by the path.
'I do! this is the old England, the heart of it;
and I intend to keep it intact.'
'Oh yes!' said Connie. But, as she said it she
heard the eleven-o'clock hooters at Stacks Gate
colliery. Clifford was too used to the sound to
'I want this wood perfect...untouched. I want
nobody to trespass in it,' said Clifford.
There was a certain pathos. The wood still had
some of the mystery of wild, old England; but Sir
Geoffrey's cuttings during the war had given it a
blow. How still the trees were, with their crinkly,
innumerable twigs against the sky, and their grey,
obstinate trunks rising from the brown bracken! How
safely the birds flitted among them! And once there
had been deer, and archers, and monks padding along
on asses. The place remembered, still remembered.
Clifford sat in the pale sun, with the light on
his smooth, rather blond hair, his reddish full face
'I mind more, not having a son, when I come here,
than any other time,' he said.
'But the wood is older than your family,' said
'Quite!' said Clifford. 'But we've preserved it.
Except for us it would go...it would be gone
already, like the rest of the forest. One must
preserve some of the old England!'
'Must one?' said Connie. 'If it has to be
preserved, and preserved against the new England?
It's sad, I know.'
'If some of the old England isn't preserved,
there'll be no England at all,' said Clifford. 'And
we who have this kind of property, and the feeling
for it, must preserve it.'
There was a sad pause. 'Yes, for a little while,'
'For a little while! It's all we can do. We can
only do our bit. I feel every man of my family has
done his bit here, since we've had the place. One
may go against convention, but one must keep up
tradition.' Again there was a pause.
'What tradition?' asked Connie.
'The tradition of England! of this!'
'Yes,' she said slowly.
'That's why having a son helps; one is only a
link in a chain,' he said.
Connie was not keen on chains, but she said
nothing. She was thinking of the curious
impersonality of his desire for a son.
'I'm sorry we can't have a son,' she said.
He looked at her steadily, with his full,
'It would almost be a good thing if you had a
child by another man, he said. 'If we brought it up
at Wragby, it would belong to us and to the place. I
don't believe very intensely in fatherhood. If we
had the child to rear, it would be our own, and it
would carry on. Don't you think it's worth
Connie looked up at him at last. The child, her
child, was just an 'it' to him. It...it...it!
'But what about the other man?' she asked.
'Does it matter very much? Do these things really
affect us very deeply?...You had that lover in
Germany...what is it now? Nothing almost. It seems
to me that it isn't these little acts and little
connexions we make in our lives that matter so very
much. They pass away, and where are they?
Where...Where are the snows of yesteryear?...It's
what endures through one's life that matters; my own
life matters to me, in its long continuance and
development. But what do the occasional connexions
matter? And the occasional sexual connexions
especially! If people don't exaggerate them
ridiculously, they pass like the mating of birds.
And so they should. What does it matter? It's the
life-long companionship that matters. It's the
living together from day to day, not the sleeping
together once or twice. You and I are married, no
matter what happens to us. We have the habit of each
other. And habit, to my thinking, is more vital than
any occasional excitement. The long, slow, enduring
thing...that's what we live by...not the occasional
spasm of any sort. Little by little, living
together, two people fall into a sort of unison,
they vibrate so intricately to one another. That's
the real secret of marriage, not sex; at least not
the simple function of sex. You and I are interwoven
in a marriage. If we stick to that we ought to be
able to arrange this sex thing, as we arrange going
to the dentist; since fate has given us a checkmate
Connie sat and listened in a sort of wonder, and
a sort of fear. She did not know if he was right or
not. There was Michaelis, whom she loved; so she
said to herself. But her love was somehow only an
excursion from her marriage with Clifford; the long,
slow habit of intimacy, formed through years of
suffering and patience. Perhaps the human soul needs
excursions, and must not be denied them. But the
point of an excursion is that you come home again.
'And wouldn't you mind what man's child I
had?' she asked.
'Why, Connie, I should trust your natural
instinct of decency and selection. You just wouldn't
let the wrong sort of fellow touch you.'
She thought of Michaelis! He was absolutely
Clifford's idea of the wrong sort of fellow.
'But men and women may have different feelings
about the wrong sort of fellow,' she said.
'No,' he replied. 'You care for me. I don't
believe you would ever care for a man who was purely
antipathetic to me. Your rhythm wouldn't let you.'
She was silent. Logic might be unanswerable
because it was so absolutely wrong.
'And should you expect me to tell you?' she
asked, glancing up at him almost furtively.
'Not at all, I'd better not know...But you do
agree with me, don't you, that the casual sex thing
is nothing, compared to the long life lived
together? Don't you think one can just subordinate
the sex thing to the necessities of a long life?
Just use it, since that's what we're driven to?
After all, do these temporary excitements matter?
Isn't the whole problem of life the slow building up
of an integral personality, through the years?
living an integrated life? There's no point in a
disintegrated life. If lack of sex is going to
disintegrate you, then go out and have a
love-affair. If lack of a child is going to
disintegrate you, then have a child if you possibly
can. But only do these things so that you have an
integrated life, that makes a long harmonious thing.
And you and I can do that together...don't you
think?...if we adapt ourselves to the necessities,
and at the same time weave the adaptation together
into a piece with our steadily-lived life. Don't you
Connie was a little overwhelmed by his words. She
knew he was right theoretically. But when she
actually touched her steadily-lived life with him
she...hesitated. Was it actually her destiny to go
on weaving herself into his life all the rest of her
life? Nothing else?
Was it just that? She was to be content to weave
a steady life with him, all one fabric, but perhaps
brocaded with the occasional flower of an adventure.
But how could she know what she would feel next
year? How could one ever know? How could one say
Yes? for years and years? The little yes, gone on a
breath! Why should one be pinned down by that
butterfly word? Of course it had to flutter away and
be gone, to be followed by other yes's and no's!
Like the straying of butterflies.
'I think you're right, Clifford. And as far as I
can see I agree with you. Only life may turn quite a
new face on it all.'
'But until life turns a new face on it all, you
'Oh yes! I think I do, really.'
She was watching a brown spaniel that had run out
of a side-path, and was looking towards them with
lifted nose, making a soft, fluffy bark. A man with
a gun strode swiftly, softly out after the dog,
facing their way as if about to attack them; then
stopped instead, saluted, and was turning downhill.
It was only the new game-keeper, but he had
frightened Connie, he seemed to emerge with such a
swift menace. That was how she had seen him, like
the sudden rush of a threat out of nowhere.
He was a man in dark green velveteens and
gaiters...the old style, with a red face and red
moustache and distant eyes. He was going quickly
'Mellors!' called Clifford.
The man faced lightly round, and saluted with a
quick little gesture, a soldier!
'Will you turn the chair round and get it
started? That makes it easier,' said Clifford.
The man at once slung his gun over his shoulder,
and came forward with the same curious swift, yet
soft movements, as if keeping invisible. He was
moderately tall and lean, and was silent. He did not
look at Connie at all, only at the chair.
'Connie, this is the new game-keeper, Mellors.
You haven't spoken to her ladyship yet, Mellors?'
'No, Sir!' came the ready, neutral words.
The man lifted his hat as he stood, showing his
thick, almost fair hair. He stared straight into
Connie's eyes, with a perfect, fearless, impersonal
look, as if he wanted to see what she was like. He
made her feel shy. She bent her head to him shyly,
and he changed his hat to his left hand and made her
a slight bow, like a gentleman; but he said nothing
at all. He remained for a moment still, with his hat
in his hand.
'But you've been here some time, haven't you?'
Connie said to him.
'Eight months, Madam...your Ladyship!' he
corrected himself calmly.
'And do you like it?'
She looked him in the eyes. His eyes narrowed a
little, with irony, perhaps with impudence.
'Why, yes, thank you, your Ladyship! I was reared
He gave another slight bow, turned, put his hat
on, and strode to take hold of the chair. His voice
on the last words had fallen into the heavy broad
drag of the dialect...perhaps also in mockery,
because there had been no trace of dialect before.
He might almost be a gentleman. Anyhow, he was a
curious, quick, separate fellow, alone, but sure of
Clifford started the little engine, the man
carefully turned the chair, and set it nose-forwards
to the incline that curved gently to the dark hazel
'Is that all then, Sir Clifford?' asked the man.
'No, you'd better come along in case she sticks.
The engine isn't really strong enough for the uphill
work.' The man glanced round for his dog...a
thoughtful glance. The spaniel looked at him and
faintly moved its tail. A little smile, mocking or
teasing her, yet gentle, came into his eyes for a
moment, then faded away, and his face was
expressionless. They went fairly quickly down the
slope, the man with his hand on the rail of the
chair, steadying it. He looked like a free soldier
rather than a servant. And something about him
reminded Connie of Tommy Dukes.
When they came to the hazel grove, Connie
suddenly ran forward, and opened the gate into the
park. As she stood holding it, the two men looked at
her in passing, Clifford critically, the other man
with a curious, cool wonder; impersonally wanting to
see what she looked like. And she saw in his blue,
impersonal eyes a look of suffering and detachment,
yet a certain warmth. But why was he so aloof,
Clifford stopped the chair, once through the
gate, and the man came quickly, courteously, to
'Why did you run to open?' asked Clifford in his
quiet, calm voice, that showed he was displeased.
'Mellors would have done it.'
'I thought you would go straight ahead,' said
'And leave you to run after us?' said Clifford.
'Oh, well, I like to run sometimes!'
Mellors took the chair again, looking perfectly
unheeding, yet Connie felt he noted everything. As
he pushed the chair up the steepish rise of the
knoll in the park, he breathed rather quickly,
through parted lips. He was rather frail really.
Curiously full of vitality, but a little frail and
quenched. Her woman's instinct sensed it.
Connie fell back, let the chair go on. The day
had greyed over; the small blue sky that had poised
low on its circular rims of haze was closed in
again, the lid was down, there was a raw coldness.
It was going to snow. All grey, all grey! the world
looked worn out.
The chair waited at the top of the pink path.
Clifford looked round for Connie.
'Not tired, are you?' he said.
'Oh, no!' she said.
But she was. A strange, weary yearning, a
dissatisfaction had started in her. Clifford did not
notice: those were not things he was aware of. But
the stranger knew. To Connie, everything in her
world and life seemed worn out, and her
dissatisfaction was older than the hills.
They came to the house, and around to the back,
where there were no steps. Clifford managed to swing
himself over on to the low, wheeled house-chair; he
was very strong and agile with his arms. Then Connie
lifted the burden of his dead legs after him.
The keeper, waiting at attention to be dismissed,
watched everything narrowly, missing nothing. He
went pale, with a sort of fear, when he saw Connie
lifting the inert legs of the man in her arms, into
the other chair, Clifford pivoting round as she did
so. He was frightened.
'Thanks, then, for the help, Mellors,' said
Clifford casually, as he began to wheel down the
passage to the servants' quarters.
'Nothing else, Sir?' came the neutral voice, like
one in a dream.
'Nothing, good morning!'
'Good morning, Sir.'
'Good morning! it was kind of you to push the
chair up that hill...I hope it wasn't heavy for
you,' said Connie, looking back at the keeper
outside the door.
His eyes came to hers in an instant, as if
wakened up. He was aware of her.
'Oh no, not heavy!' he said quickly. Then his
voice dropped again into the broad sound of the
vernacular: 'Good mornin' to your Ladyship!'
'Who is your game-keeper?' Connie asked at lunch.
'Mellors! You saw him,' said Clifford.
'Yes, but where did he come from?'
'Nowhere! He was a Tevershall boy...son of a
collier, I believe.'
'And was he a collier himself?'
'Blacksmith on the pit-bank, I believe: overhead
smith. But he was keeper here for two years before
the war...before he joined up. My father always had
a good opinion of him, so when he came back, and
went to the pit for a blacksmith's job, I just took
him back here as keeper. I was really very glad to
get him...its almost impossible to find a good man
round here for a gamekeeper...and it needs a man who
knows the people.'
'And isn't he married?'
'He was. But his wife went off with...with
various men...but finally with a collier at Stacks
Gate, and I believe she's living there still.'
'So this man is alone?'
'More or less! He has a mother in the
village...and a child, I believe.'
Clifford looked at Connie, with his pale,
slightly prominent blue eyes, in which a certain
vagueness was coming. He seemed alert in the
foreground, but the background was like the Midlands
atmosphere, haze, smoky mist. And the haze seemed to
be creeping forward. So when he stared at Connie in
his peculiar way, giving her his peculiar, precise
information, she felt all the background of his mind
filling up with mist, with nothingness. And it
frightened her. It made him seem impersonal, almost
And dimly she realized one of the great laws of
the human soul: that when the emotional soul
receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the
body, the soul seems to recover as the body
recovers. But this is only appearance. It is really
only the mechanism of the re-assumed habit. Slowly,
slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself
felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its
terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And
when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is
then that the terrible after-effects have to be
encountered at their worst.
So it was with Clifford. Once he was 'well', once
he was back at Wragby, and writing his stories, and
feeling sure of life, in spite of all, he seemed to
forget, and to have recovered all his equanimity.
But now, as the years went by, slowly, slowly,
Connie felt the bruise of fear and horror coming up,
and spreading in him. For a time it had been so deep
as to be numb, as it were non-existent. Now slowly
it began to assert itself in a spread of fear,
almost paralysis. Mentally he still was alert. But
the paralysis, the bruise of the too-great shock,
was gradually spreading in his affective self.
And as it spread in him, Connie felt it spread in
her. An inward dread, an emptiness, an indifference
to everything gradually spread in her soul. When
Clifford was roused, he could still talk brilliantly
and, as it were, command the future: as when, in the
wood, he talked about her having a child, and giving
an heir to Wragby. But the day after, all the
brilliant words seemed like dead leaves, crumpling
up and turning to powder, meaning really nothing,
blown away on any gust of wind. They were not the
leafy words of an effective life, young with energy
and belonging to the tree. They were the hosts of
fallen leaves of a life that is ineffectual.
So it seemed to her everywhere. The colliers at
Tevershall were talking again of a strike, and it
seemed to Connie there again it was not a
manifestation of energy, it was the bruise of the
war that had been in abeyance, slowly rising to the
surface and creating the great ache of unrest, and
stupor of discontent. The bruise was deep, deep,
deep...the bruise of the false inhuman war. It would
take many years for the living blood of the
generations to dissolve the vast black clot of
bruised blood, deep inside their souls and bodies.
And it would need a new hope.
Poor Connie! As the years drew on it was the fear
of nothingness In her life that affected her.
Clifford's mental life and hers gradually began to
feel like nothingness. Their marriage, their
integrated life based on a habit of intimacy, that
he talked about: there were days when it all became
utterly blank and nothing. It was words, just so
many words. The only reality was nothingness, and
over it a hypocrisy of words.
There was Clifford's success: the bitch-goddess!
It was true he was almost famous, and his books
brought him in a thousand pounds. His photograph
appeared everywhere. There was a bust of him in one
of the galleries, and a portrait of him in two
galleries. He seemed the most modern of modern
voices. With his uncanny lame instinct for
publicity, he had become in four or five years one
of the best known of the young 'intellectuals'.
Where the intellect came in, Connie did not quite
see. Clifford was really clever at that slightly
humorous analysis of people and motives which leaves
everything in bits at the end. But it was rather
like puppies tearing the sofa cushions to bits;
except that it was not young and playful, but
curiously old, and rather obstinately conceited. It
was weird and it was nothing. This was the feeling
that echoed and re-echoed at the bottom of Connie's
soul: it was all flag, a wonderful display of
nothingness; At the same time a display. A display!
a display! a display!
Michaelis had seized upon Clifford as the central
figure for a play; already he had sketched in the
plot, and written the first act. For Michaelis was
even better than Clifford at making a display of
nothingness. It was the last bit of passion left in
these men: the passion for making a display.
Sexually they were passionless, even dead. And now
it was not money that Michaelis was after. Clifford
had never been primarily out for money, though he
made it where he could, for money is the seal and
stamp of success. And success was what they wanted.
They wanted, both of them, to make a real
display...a man's own very display of himself that
should capture for a time the vast populace.
It was strange...the prostitution to the
bitch-goddess. To Connie, since she was really
outside of it, and since she had grown numb to the
thrill of it, it was again nothingness. Even the
prostitution to the bitch-goddess was nothingness,
though the men prostituted themselves innumerable
times. Nothingness even that.
Michaelis wrote to Clifford about the play. Of
course she knew about it long ago. And Clifford was
again thrilled. He was going to be displayed again
this time, somebody was going to display him, and to
advantage. He invited Michaelis down to Wragby with
Michaelis came: in summer, in a pale-coloured
suit and white suede gloves, with mauve orchids for
Connie, very lovely, and Act I was a great success.
Even Connie was thrilled...thrilled to what bit of
marrow she had left. And Michaelis, thrilled by his
power to thrill, was really wonderful...and quite
beautiful, in Connie's eyes. She saw in him that
ancient motionlessness of a race that can't be
disillusioned any more, an extreme, perhaps, of
impurity that is pure. On the far side of his
supreme prostitution to the bitch-goddess he seemed
pure, pure as an African ivory mask that dreams
impurity into purity, in its ivory curves and
His moment of sheer thrill with the two
Chatterleys, when he simply carried Connie and
Clifford away, was one of the supreme moments of
Michaelis' life. He had succeeded: he had carried
them away. Even Clifford was temporarily in love
with him...if that is the way one can put it.
So next morning Mick was more uneasy than ever;
restless, devoured, with his hands restless in his
trousers pockets. Connie had not visited him in the
night...and he had not known where to find her.
Coquetry!...at his moment of triumph.
He went up to her sitting-room in the morning.
She knew he would come. And his restlessness was
evident. He asked her about his play...did she think
it good? He had to hear it praised: that affected
him with the last thin thrill of passion beyond any
sexual orgasm. And she praised it rapturously. Yet
all the while, at the bottom of her soul, she knew
it was nothing.
'Look here!' he said suddenly at last. 'Why don't
you and I make a clean thing of it? Why don't we
'But I am married,' she said, amazed, and yet
'Oh that!...he'll divorce you all right...Why
don't you and I marry? I want to marry. I know it
would be the best thing for me...marry and lead a
regular life. I lead the deuce of a life, simply
tearing myself to pieces. Look here, you and I,
we're made for one another...hand and glove. Why
don't we marry? Do you see any reason why we
Connie looked at him amazed: and yet she felt
nothing. These men, they were all alike, they left
everything out. They just went off from the top of
their heads as if they were squibs, and expected you
to be carried heavenwards along with their own thin
'But I am married already,' she said. 'I can't
leave Clifford, you know.'
'Why not? but why not?' he cried. 'He'll hardly
know you've gone, after six months. He doesn't know
that anybody exists, except himself. Why the man has
no use for you at all, as far as I can see; he's
entirely wrapped up in himself.'
Connie felt there was truth in this. But she also
felt that Mick was hardly making a display of
'Aren't all men wrapped up in themselves?' she
'Oh, more or less, I allow. A man's got to be, to
get through. But that's not the point. The point is,
what sort of a time can a man give a woman? Can he
give her a damn good time, or can't he? If he can't
he's no right to the woman...' He paused and gazed
at her with his full, hazel eyes, almost hypnotic.
'Now I consider,' he added, 'I can give a woman the
darndest good time she can ask for. I think I can
'And what sort of a good time?' asked Connie,
gazing on him still with a sort of amazement, that
looked like thrill; and underneath feeling nothing
'Every sort of a good time, damn it, every sort!
Dress, jewels up to a point, any nightclub you like,
know anybody you want to know, live the
pace...travel and be somebody wherever you go...Darn
it, every sort of good time.'
He spoke it almost in a brilliancy of triumph,
and Connie looked at him as if dazzled, and really
feeling nothing at all. Hardly even the surface of
her mind was tickled at the glowing prospects he
offered her. Hardly even her most outside self
responded, that at any other time would have been
thrilled. She just got no feeling from it, she
couldn't 'go off'. She just sat and stared and
looked dazzled, and felt nothing, only somewhere she
smelt the extraordinarily unpleasant smell of the
Mick sat on tenterhooks, leaning forward in his
chair, glaring at her almost hysterically: and
whether he was more anxious out of vanity for her to
say Yes! or whether he was more panic-stricken for
fear she should say Yes!--who can tell?
'I should have to think about it,' she said. 'I
couldn't say now. It may seem to you Clifford
doesn't count, but he does. When you think how
disabled he is...'
'Oh damn it all! If a fellow's going to trade on
his disabilities, I might begin to say how lonely I
am, and always have been, and all the rest of the
my-eye-Betty-Martin sob-stuff! Damn it all, if a
fellow's got nothing but disabilities to recommend
He turned aside, working his hands furiously in
his trousers pockets. That evening he said to her:
'You're coming round to my room tonight, aren't
you? I don't darn know where your room is.'
'All right!' she said.
He was a more excited lover that night, with his
strange, small boy's frail nakedness. Connie found
it impossible to come to her crisis before he had
really finished his. And he roused a certain craving
passion in her, with his little boy's nakedness and
softness; she had to go on after he had finished, in
the wild tumult and heaving of her loins, while he
heroically kept himself up, and present in her, with
all his will and self-offering, till she brought
about her own crisis, with weird little cries.
When at last he drew away from her, he said, in a
bitter, almost sneering little voice:
'You couldn't go off at the same time as a man,
could you? You'd have to bring yourself off! You'd
have to run the show!'
This little speech, at the moment, was one of the
shocks of her life. Because that passive sort of
giving himself was so obviously his only real mode
'What do you mean?' she said.
'You know what I mean. You keep on for hours
after I've gone off...and I have to hang on with my
teeth till you bring yourself off by your own
She was stunned by this unexpected piece of
brutality, at the moment when she was glowing with a
sort of pleasure beyond words, and a sort of love
for him. Because, after all, like so many modern
men, he was finished almost before he had begun. And
that forced the woman to be active.
'But you want me to go on, to get my own
satisfaction?' she said.
He laughed grimly: 'I want it!' he said. 'That's
good! I want to hang on with my teeth clenched,
while you go for me!'
'But don't you?' she insisted.
He avoided the question. 'All the darned women
are like that,' he said. 'Either they don't go off
at all, as if they were dead in there...or else they
wait till a chap's really done, and then they start
in to bring themselves off, and a chap's got to hang
on. I never had a woman yet who went off just at the
same moment as I did.'
Connie only half heard this piece of novel,
masculine information. She was only stunned by his
feeling against her...his incomprehensible
brutality. She felt so innocent.
'But you want me to have my satisfaction too,
don't you?' she repeated.
'Oh, all right! I'm quite willing. But I'm darned
if hanging on waiting for a woman to go off is much
of a game for a man...'
This speech was one of the crucial blows of
Connie's life. It killed something in her. She had
not been so very keen on Michaelis; till he started
it, she did not want him. It was as if she never
positively wanted him. But once he had started her,
it seemed only natural for her to come to her own
crisis with him. Almost she had loved him for
it...almost that night she loved him, and wanted to
Perhaps instinctively he knew it, and that was
why he had to bring down the whole show with a
smash; the house of cards. Her whole sexual feeling
for him, or for any man, collapsed that night. Her
life fell apart from his as completely as if he had
And she went through the days drearily. There was
nothing now but this empty treadmill of what
Clifford called the integrated life, the long living
together of two people, who are in the habit of
being in the same house with one another.
Nothingness! To accept the great nothingness of
life seemed to be the one end of living. All the
many busy and important little things that make up
the grand sum-total of nothingness!
'Why don't men and women really like one another
nowadays?' Connie asked Tommy Dukes, who was more or
less her oracle.
'Oh, but they do! I don't think since the human
species was invented, there has ever been a time
when men and women have liked one another as much as
they do today. Genuine liking! Take myself. I really
like women better than men; they are braver, one can
be more frank with them.'
Connie pondered this.
'Ah, yes, but you never have anything to do with
them!' she said.
'I? What am I doing but talking perfectly
sincerely to a woman at this moment?'
'And what more could I do if you were a man, than
talk perfectly sincerely to you?'
'Nothing perhaps. But a woman...'
'A woman wants you to like her and talk to her,
and at the same time love her and desire her; and it
seems to me the two things are mutually exclusive.'
'But they shouldn't be!'
'No doubt water ought not to be so wet as it is;
it overdoes it in wetness. But there it is! I like
women and talk to them, and therefore I don't love
them and desire them. The two things don't happen at
the same time in me.'
'I think they ought to.'
'All right. The fact that things ought to be
something else than what they are, is not my
Connie considered this. 'It isn't true,' she
said. 'Men can love women and talk to them. I don't
see how they can love them without talking,
and being friendly and intimate. How can they?'
'Well,' he said, 'I don't know. What's the use of
my generalizing? I only know my own case. I like
women, but I don't desire them. I like talking to
them; but talking to them, though it makes me
intimate in one direction, sets me poles apart from
them as far as kissing is concerned. So there you
are! But don't take me as a general example,
probably I'm just a special case: one of the men who
like women, but don't love women, and even hate them
if they force me into a pretence of love, or an
'But doesn't it make you sad?'
'Why should it? Not a bit! I look at Charlie May,
and the rest of the men who have affairs...No, I
don't envy them a bit! If fate sent me a woman I
wanted, well and good. Since I don't know any woman
I want, and never see one...why, I presume I'm cold,
and really like some women very much.'
'Do you like me?'
'Very much! And you see there's no question of
kissing between us, is there?'
'None at all!' said Connie. 'But oughtn't there
'Why, in God's name? I like Clifford, but
what would you say if I went and kissed him?'
'But isn't there a difference?'
'Where does it lie, as far as we're concerned?
We're all intelligent human beings, and the male and
female business is in abeyance. Just in abeyance.
How would you like me to start acting up like a
continental male at this moment, and parading the
'I should hate it.'
'Well then! I tell you, if I'm really a male
thing at all, I never run across the female of my
species. And I don't miss her, I just like women.
Who's going to force me into loving or pretending to
love them, working up the sex game?'
'No, I'm not. But isn't something wrong?'
'You may feel it, I don't.'
'Yes, I feel something is wrong between men and
women. A woman has no glamour for a man any more.'
'Has a man for a woman?'
She pondered the other side of the question.
'Not much,' she said truthfully.
'Then let's leave it all alone, and just be
decent and simple, like proper human beings with one
another. Be damned to the artificial sex-compulsion!
I refuse it!'
Connie knew he was right, really. Yet it left her
feeling so forlorn, so forlorn and stray. Like a
chip on a dreary pond, she felt. What was the point,
of her or anything?
It was her youth which rebelled. These men seemed
so old and cold. Everything seemed old and cold. And
Michaelis let one down so; he was no good. The men
didn't want one; they just didn't really want a
woman, even Michaelis didn't.
And the bounders who pretended they did, and
started working the sex game, they were worse than
It was just dismal, and one had to put up with
it. It was quite true, men had no real glamour for a
woman: if you could fool yourself into thinking they
had, even as she had fooled herself over Michaelis,
that was the best you could do. Meanwhile you just
lived on and there was nothing to it. She understood
perfectly well why people had cocktail parties, and
jazzed, and Charlestoned till they were ready to
drop. You had to take it out some way or other, your
youth, or it ate you up. But what a ghastly thing,
this youth! You felt as old as Methuselah, and yet
the thing fizzed somehow, and didn't let you be
comfortable. A mean sort of life! And no prospect!
She almost wished she had gone off with Mick, and
made her life one long cocktail party, and jazz
evening. Anyhow that was better than just mooning
yourself into the grave.
On one of her bad days she went out alone to walk
in the wood, ponderously, heeding nothing, not even
noticing where she was. The report of a gun not far
off startled and angered her.
Then, as she went, she heard voices, and
recoiled. People! She didn't want people. But her
quick ear caught another sound, and she roused; it
was a child sobbing. At once she attended; someone
was ill-treating a child. She strode swinging down
the wet drive, her sullen resentment uppermost. She
felt just prepared to make a scene.
Turning the corner, she saw two figures in the
drive beyond her: the keeper, and a little girl in a
purple coat and moleskin cap, crying.
'Ah, shut it up, tha false little bitch!' came
the man's angry voice, and the child sobbed louder.
Constance strode nearer, with blazing eyes. The
man turned and looked at her, saluting coolly, but
he was pale with anger.
'What's the matter? Why is she crying?' demanded
Constance, peremptory but a little breathless.
A faint smile like a sneer came on the man's
face. 'Nay, yo mun ax 'er,' he replied callously, in
Connie felt as if he had hit her in the face, and
she changed colour. Then she gathered her defiance,
and looked at him, her dark blue eyes blazing rather
'I asked you,' she panted.
He gave a queer little bow, lifting his hat. 'You
did, your Ladyship,' he said; then, with a return to
the vernacular: 'but I canna tell yer.' And he
became a soldier, inscrutable, only pale with
Connie turned to the child, a ruddy, black-haired
thing of nine or ten. 'What is it, dear? Tell me why
you're crying!' she said, with the conventionalized
sweetness suitable. More violent sobs,
self-conscious. Still more sweetness on Connie's
'There, there, don't you cry! Tell me what
they've done to you!'...an intense tenderness of
tone. At the same time she felt in the pocket of her
knitted jacket, and luckily found a sixpence.
'Don't you cry then!' she said, bending in front
of the child. 'See what I've got for you!'
Sobs, snuffles, a fist taken from a blubbered
face, and a black shrewd eye cast for a second on
the sixpence. Then more sobs, but subduing. 'There,
tell me what's the matter, tell me!' said Connie,
putting the coin into the child's chubby hand, which
closed over it.
'It's the...it's the...pussy!'
Shudders of subsiding sobs.
'What pussy, dear?'
After a silence the shy fist, clenching on
sixpence, pointed into the bramble brake.
Connie looked, and there, sure enough, was a big
black cat, stretched out grimly, with a bit of blood
'Oh!' she said in repulsion.
'A poacher, your Ladyship,' said the man
She glanced at him angrily. 'No wonder the child
cried,' she said, 'if you shot it when she was
there. No wonder she cried!'
He looked into Connie's eyes, laconic,
contemptuous, not hiding his feelings. And again
Connie flushed; she felt she had been making a
scene, the man did not respect her.
'What is your name?' she said playfully to the
child. 'Won't you tell me your name?'
Sniffs; then very affectedly in a piping voice:
'Connie Mellors! Well, that's a nice name! And
did you come out with your Daddy, and he shot a
pussy? But it was a bad pussy!'
The child looked at her, with bold, dark eyes of
scrutiny, sizing her up, and her condolence.
'I wanted to stop with my Gran,' said the little
'Did you? But where is your Gran?'
The child lifted an arm, pointing down the drive.
'At th' cottidge.'
'At the cottage! And would you like to go back to
Sudden, shuddering quivers of reminiscent sobs.
'Come then, shall I take you? Shall I take you to
your Gran? Then your Daddy can do what he has to
do.' She turned to the man. 'It is your little girl,
He saluted, and made a slight movement of the
head in affirmation.
'I suppose I can take her to the cottage?' asked
'If your Ladyship wishes.'
Again he looked into her eyes, with that calm,
searching detached glance. A man very much alone,
and on his own.
'Would you like to come with me to the cottage,
to your Gran, dear?'
The child peeped up again. 'Yes!' she simpered.
Connie disliked her; the spoilt, false little
female. Nevertheless she wiped her face and took her
hand. The keeper saluted in silence.
'Good morning!' said Connie.
It was nearly a mile to the cottage, and Connie
senior was well bored by Connie junior by the time
the game-keeper's picturesque little home was in
sight. The child was already as full to the brim
with tricks as a little monkey, and so self-assured.
At the cottage the door stood open, and there was
a rattling heard inside. Connie lingered, the child
slipped her hand, and ran indoors.
'Why, are yer back a'ready!'
The grandmother had been blackleading the stove,
it was Saturday morning. She came to the door in her
sacking apron, a blacklead-brush in her hand, and a
black smudge on her nose. She was a little, rather
'Why, whatever?' she said, hastily wiping her arm
across her face as she saw Connie standing outside.
'Good morning!' said Connie. 'She was crying, so
I just brought her home.'
The grandmother looked around swiftly at the
'Why, wheer was yer Dad?'
The little girl clung to her grandmother's skirts
'He was there,' said Connie, 'but he'd shot a
poaching cat, and the child was upset.'
'Oh, you'd no right t'ave bothered, Lady
Chatterley, I'm sure! I'm sure it was very good of
you, but you shouldn't 'ave bothered. Why, did ever
you see!'--and the old woman turned to the child:
'Fancy Lady Chatterley takin' all that trouble over
yer! Why, she shouldn't 'ave bothered!'
'It was no bother, just a walk,' said Connie
'Why, I'm sure 'twas very kind of you, I must
say! So she was crying! I knew there'd be something
afore they got far. She's frightened of 'im, that's
wheer it is. Seems 'e's almost a stranger to 'er,
fair a stranger, and I don't think they're two as'd
hit it off very easy. He's got funny ways.'
Connie didn't know what to say.
'Look, Gran!' simpered the child.
The old woman looked down at the sixpence in the
little girl's hand.
'An' sixpence an' all! Oh, your Ladyship, you
shouldn't, you shouldn't. Why, isn't Lady Chatterley
good to yer! My word, you're a lucky girl this
She pronounced the name, as all the people did:
Chat'ley.--Isn't Lady Chat'ley good to
you!'--Connie couldn't help looking at the old
woman's nose, and the latter again vaguely wiped her
face with the back of her wrist, but missed the
Connie was moving away 'Well, thank you ever so
much, Lady Chat'ley, I'm sure. Say thank you to Lady
Chat'ley!'--this last to the child.
'Thank you,' piped the child.
'There's a dear!' laughed Connie, and she moved
away, saying 'Good morning', heartily relieved to
get away from the contact.
Curious, she thought, that that thin, proud man
should have that little, sharp woman for a mother!
And the old woman, as soon as Connie had gone,
rushed to the bit of mirror in the scullery, and
looked at her face. Seeing it, she stamped her foot
with impatience. 'Of course she had to catch
me in my coarse apron, and a dirty face! Nice idea
she'd get of me!'
Connie went slowly home to Wragby. 'Home!'...it
was a warm word to use for that great, weary warren.
But then it was a word that had had its day. It was
somehow cancelled. All the great words, it seemed to
Connie, were cancelled for her generation: love,
joy, happiness, home, mother, father, husband, all
these great, dynamic words were half dead now, and
dying from day to day. Home was a place you lived
in, love was a thing you didn't fool yourself about,
joy was a word you applied to a good Charleston,
happiness was a term of hypocrisy used to bluff
other people, a father was an individual who enjoyed
his own existence, a husband was a man you lived
with and kept going in spirits. As for sex, the last
of the great words, it was just a cocktail term for
an excitement that bucked you up for a while, then
left you more raggy than ever. Frayed! It was as if
the very material you were made of was cheap stuff,
and was fraying out to nothing.
All that really remained was a stubborn stoicism:
and in that there was a certain pleasure. In the
very experience of the nothingness of life, phase
after phase, tape after tape, there
was a certain grisly satisfaction. So that's
that! Always this was the last utterance: home,
love, marriage, Michaelis: So that's that!
And when one died, the last words to life would be:
So that's that!
Money? Perhaps one couldn't say the same there.
Money one always wanted. Money, Success, the
bitch-goddess, as Tommy Dukes persisted in calling
it, after Henry James, that was a permanent
necessity. You couldn't spend your last sou, and say
finally: So that's that! No, if you lived
even another ten minutes, you wanted a few more sous
for something or other. Just to keep the business
mechanically going, you needed money. You had to
have it. Money you have to have. You needn't
really have anything else. So that's that!
Since, of course, it's not your own fault you are
alive. Once you are alive, money is a necessity, and
the only absolute necessity. All the rest you can
get along without, at a pinch. But not money.
Emphatically, that's that!
She thought of Michaelis, and the money she might
have had with him; and even that she didn't want.
She preferred the lesser amount which she helped
Clifford to make by his writing. That she actually
helped to make.--'Clifford and I together, we make
twelve hundred a year out of writing'; so she put it
to herself. Make money! Make it! Out of nowhere.
Wring it out of the thin air! The last feat to be
humanly proud of! The rest all-my-eye-Betty-Martin.
So she plodded home to Clifford, to join forces
with him again, to make another story out of
nothingness: and a story meant money. Clifford
seemed to care very much whether his stories were
considered first-class literature or not. Strictly,
she didn't care. Nothing in it! said her father.
Twelve hundred pounds last year! was the retort
simple and final.
If you were young, you just set your teeth, and
bit on and held on, till the money began to flow
from the invisible; it was a question of power. It
was a question of will; a subtle, subtle, powerful
emanation of will out of yourself brought back to
you the mysterious nothingness of money a word on a
bit of paper. It was a sort of magic, certainly it
was triumph. The bitch-goddess! Well, if one had to
prostitute oneself, let it be to a bitch-goddess!
One could always despise her even while one
prostituted oneself to her, which was good.
Clifford, of course, had still many childish
taboos and fetishes. He wanted to be thought 'really
good', which was all cock-a-hoopy nonsense. What was
really good was what actually caught on. It was no
good being really good and getting left with it. It
seemed as if most of the 'really good' men just
missed the bus. After all you only lived one life,
and if you missed the bus, you were just left on the
pavement, along with the rest of the failures.
Connie was contemplating a winter in London with
Clifford, next winter. He and she had caught the bus
all right, so they might as well ride on top for a
bit, and show it.
The worst of it was, Clifford tended to become
vague, absent, and to fall into fits of vacant
depression. It was the wound to his psyche coming
out. But it made Connie want to scream. Oh God, if
the mechanism of the consciousness itself was going
to go wrong, then what was one to do? Hang it all,
one did one's bit! Was one to be let down
Sometimes she wept bitterly, but even as she wept
she was saying to herself: Silly fool, wetting
hankies! As if that would get you anywhere!
Since Michaelis, she had made up her mind she
wanted nothing. That seemed the simplest solution of
the otherwise insoluble. She wanted nothing more
than what she'd got; only she wanted to get ahead
with what she'd got: Clifford, the stories, Wragby,
the Lady-Chatterley business, money and fame, such
as it was...she wanted to go ahead with it all.
Love, sex, all that sort of stuff, just water-ices!
Lick it up and forget it. If you don't hang on to it
in your mind, it's nothing. Sex
especially...nothing! Make up your mind to it, and
you've solved the problem. Sex and a cocktail: they
both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and
amounted to about the same thing.
But a child, a baby! That was still one of the
sensations. She would venture very gingerly on that
experiment. There was the man to consider, and it
was curious, there wasn't a man in the world whose
children you wanted. Mick's children! Repulsive
thought! As lief have a child to a rabbit! Tommy
Dukes? he was very nice, but somehow you couldn't
associate him with a baby, another generation. He
ended in himself. And out of all the rest of
Clifford's pretty wide acquaintance, there was not a
man who did not rouse her contempt, when she thought
of having a child by him. There were several who
would have been quite possible as lover, even Mick.
But to let them breed a child on you! Ugh!
Humiliation and abomination.
So that was that!
Nevertheless, Connie had the child at the back of
her mind. Wait! wait! She would sift the generations
of men through her sieve, and see if she couldn't
find one who would do.--'Go ye into the streets and
by ways of Jerusalem, and see if you can find a
man.' It had been impossible to find a man in
the Jerusalem of the prophet, though there were
thousands of male humans. But a man! c'est une
She had an idea that he would have to be a
foreigner: not an Englishman, still less an
Irishman. A real foreigner.
But wait! wait! Next winter she would get
Clifford to London; the following winter she would
get him abroad to the South of France, Italy. Wait!
She was in no hurry about the child. That was her
own private affair, and the one point on which, in
her own queer, female way, she was serious to the
bottom of her soul. She was not going to risk any
chance comer, not she! One might take a lover almost
at any moment, but a man who should beget a child on
one...wait! wait! it's a very different matter.--'Go
ye into the streets and byways of Jerusalem...' It
was not a question of love; it was a question of a
man. Why, one might even rather hate him,
personally. Yet if he was the man, what would one's
personal hate matter? This business concerned
another part of oneself.
It had rained as usual, and the paths were too
sodden for Clifford's chair, but Connie would go
out. She went out alone every day now, mostly in the
wood, where she was really alone. She saw nobody
This day, however, Clifford wanted to send a
message to the keeper, and as the boy was laid up
with influenza, somebody always seemed to have
influenza at Wragby, Connie said she would call at
The air was soft and dead, as if all the world
were slowly dying. Grey and clammy and silent, even
from the shuffling of the collieries, for the pits
were working short time, and today they were stopped
altogether. The end of all things!
In the wood all was utterly inert and motionless,
only great drops fell from the bare boughs, with a
hollow little crash. For the rest, among the old
trees was depth within depth of grey, hopeless
inertia, silence, nothingness.
Connie walked dimly on. From the old wood came an
ancient melancholy, somehow soothing to her, better
than the harsh insentience of the outer world. She
liked the inwardness of the remnant of
forest, the unspeaking reticence of the old trees.
They seemed a very power of silence, and yet a vital
presence. They, too, were waiting: obstinately,
stoically waiting, and giving off a potency of
silence. Perhaps they were only waiting for the end;
to be cut down, cleared away, the end of the forest,
for them the end of all things. But perhaps their
strong and aristocratic silence, the silence of
strong trees, meant something else.
As she came out of the wood on the north side,
the keeper's cottage, a rather dark, brown stone
cottage, with gables and a handsome chimney, looked
uninhabited, it was so silent and alone. But a
thread of smoke rose from the chimney, and the
little railed-in garden in the front of the house
was dug and kept very tidy. The door was shut.
Now she was here she felt a little shy of the
man, with his curious far-seeing eyes. She did not
like bringing him orders, and felt like going away
again. She knocked softly, no one came. She knocked
again, but still not loudly. There was no answer.
She peeped through the window, and saw the dark
little room, with its almost sinister privacy, not
wanting to be invaded.
She stood and listened, and it seemed to her she
heard sounds from the back of the cottage. Having
failed to make herself heard, her mettle was roused,
she would not be defeated.
So she went round the side of the house. At the
back of the cottage the land rose steeply, so the
back yard was sunken, and enclosed by a low stone
wall. She turned the corner of the house and
stopped. In the little yard two paces beyond her,
the man was washing himself, utterly unaware. He was
naked to the hips, his velveteen breeches slipping
down over his slender loins. And his white slim back
was curved over a big bowl of soapy water, in which
he ducked his head, shaking his head with a queer,
quick little motion, lifting his slender white arms,
and pressing the soapy water from his ears, quick,
subtle as a weasel playing with water, and utterly
alone. Connie backed away round the corner of the
house, and hurried away to the wood. In spite of
herself, she had had a shock. After all, merely a
man washing himself, commonplace enough, Heaven
Yet in some curious way it was a visionary
experience: it had hit her in the middle of the
body. She saw the clumsy breeches slipping down over
the pure, delicate, white loins, the bones showing a
little, and the sense of aloneness, of a creature
purely alone, overwhelmed her. Perfect, white,
solitary nudity of a creature that lives alone, and
inwardly alone. And beyond that, a certain beauty of
a pure creature. Not the stuff of beauty, not even
the body of beauty, but a lambency, the warm, white
flame of a single life, revealing itself in contours
that one might touch: a body!
Connie had received the shock of vision in her
womb, and she knew it; it lay inside her. But with
her mind she was inclined to ridicule. A man washing
himself in a back yard! No doubt with evil-smelling
yellow soap! She was rather annoyed; why should she
be made to stumble on these vulgar privacies?
So she walked away from herself, but after a
while she sat down on a stump. She was too confused
to think. But in the coil of her confusion, she was
determined to deliver her message to the fellow. She
would not be balked. She must give him time to dress
himself, but not time to go out. He was probably
preparing to go out somewhere.
So she sauntered slowly back, listening. As she
came near, the cottage looked just the same. A dog
barked, and she knocked at the door, her heart
beating in spite of herself.
She heard the man coming lightly downstairs. He
opened the door quickly, and startled her. He looked
uneasy himself, but instantly a laugh came on his
'Lady Chatterley!' he said. 'Will you come in?'
His manner was so perfectly easy and good, she
stepped over the threshold into the rather dreary
'I only called with a message from Sir Clifford,'
she said in her soft, rather breathless voice.
The man was looking at her with those blue,
all-seeing eyes of his, which made her turn her face
aside a little. He thought her comely, almost
beautiful, in her shyness, and he took command of
the situation himself at once.
'Would you care to sit down?' he asked, presuming
she would not. The door stood open.
'No thanks! Sir Clifford wondered if you would
and she delivered her message, looking unconsciously
into his eyes again. And now his eyes looked warm
and kind, particularly to a woman, wonderfully warm,
and kind, and at ease.
'Very good, your Ladyship. I will see to it at
Taking an order, his whole self had changed,
glazed over with a sort of hardness and distance.
Connie hesitated, she ought to go. But she looked
round the clean, tidy, rather dreary little
sitting-room with something like dismay.
'Do you live here quite alone?' she asked.
'Quite alone, your Ladyship.'
'But your mother...?'
'She lives in her own cottage in the village.'
'With the child?' asked Connie.
'With the child!'
And his plain, rather worn face took on an
indefinable look of derision. It was a face that
changed all the time, baking.
'No,' he said, seeing Connie stand at a loss, 'my
mother comes and cleans up for me on Saturdays; I do
the rest myself.'
Again Connie looked at him. His eyes were smiling
again, a little mockingly, but warm and blue, and
somehow kind. She wondered at him. He was in
trousers and flannel shirt and a grey tie, his hair
soft and damp, his face rather pale and
worn-looking. When the eyes ceased to laugh they
looked as if they had suffered a great deal, still
without losing their warmth. But a pallor of
isolation came over him, she was not really there
She wanted to say so many things, and she said
nothing. Only she looked up at him again, and
'I hope I didn't disturb you?'
The faint smile of mockery narrowed his eyes.
'Only combing my hair, if you don't mind. I'm
sorry I hadn't a coat on, but then I had no idea who
was knocking. Nobody knocks here, and the unexpected
He went in front of her down the garden path to
hold the gate. In his shirt, without the clumsy
velveteen coat, she saw again how slender he was,
thin, stooping a little. Yet, as she passed him,
there was something young and bright in his fair
hair, and his quick eyes. He would be a man about
thirty-seven or eight.
She plodded on into the wood, knowing he was
looking after her; he upset her so much, in spite of
And he, as he went indoors, was thinking: 'She's
nice, she's real! She's nicer than she knows.'
She wondered very much about him; he seemed so
unlike a game-keeper, so unlike a working-man
anyhow; although he had something in common with the
local people. But also something very uncommon.
'The game-keeper, Mellors, is a curious kind of
person,' she said to Clifford; 'he might almost be a
'Might he?' said Clifford. 'I hadn't noticed.'
'But isn't there something special about him?'
'I think he's quite a nice fellow, but I know
very little about him. He only came out of the army
last year, less than a year ago. From India, I
rather think. He may have picked up certain tricks
out there, perhaps he was an officer's servant, and
improved on his position. Some of the men were like
that. But it does them no good, they have to fall
back into their old places when they get home
Connie gazed at Clifford contemplatively. She saw
in him the peculiar tight rebuff against anyone of
the lower classes who might be really climbing up,
which she knew was characteristic of his breed.
'But don't you think there is something special
about him?' she asked.
'Frankly, no! Nothing I had noticed.'
He looked at her curiously, uneasily,
half-suspiciously. And she felt he wasn't telling
her the real truth; he wasn't telling himself the
real truth, that was it. He disliked any suggestion
of a really exceptional human being. People must be
more or less at his level, or below it.
Connie felt again the tightness, niggardliness of
the men of her generation. They were so tight, so
scared of life!
When Connie went up to her bedroom she did what
she had not done for a long time: took off all her
clothes, and looked at herself naked in the huge
mirror. She did not know what she was looking for,
or at, very definitely, yet she moved the lamp till
it shone full on her.
And she thought, as she had thought so often,
what a frail, easily hurt, rather pathetic thing a
human body is, naked; somehow a little unfinished,
She had been supposed to have rather a good
figure, but now she was out of fashion: a little too
female, not enough like an adolescent boy. She was
not very tall, a bit Scottish and short; but she had
a certain fluent, down-slipping grace that might
have been beauty. Her skin was faintly tawny, her
limbs had a certain stillness, her body should have
had a full, down-slipping richness; but it lacked
Instead of ripening its firm, down-running
curves, her body was flattening and going a little
harsh. It was as if it had not had enough sun and
warmth; it was a little greyish and sapless.
Disappointed of its real womanhood, it had not
succeeded in becoming boyish, and unsubstantial, and
transparent; instead it had gone opaque.
Her breasts were rather small, and dropping
pear-shaped. But they were unripe, a little bitter,
without meaning hanging there. And her belly had
lost the fresh, round gleam it had had when she was
young, in the days of her German boy, who really
loved her physically. Then it was young and
expectant, with a real look of its own. Now it was
going slack, and a little flat, thinner, but with a
slack thinness. Her thighs, too, they used to look
so quick and glimpsy in their female roundness,
somehow they too were going flat, slack,
Her body was going meaningless, going dull and
opaque, so much insignificant substance. It made her
feel immensely depressed and hopeless. What hope was
there? She was old, old at twenty-seven, with no
gleam and sparkle in the flesh. Old through neglect
and denial, yes, denial. Fashionable women kept
their bodies bright like delicate porcelain, by
external attention. There was nothing inside the
porcelain; but she was not even as bright as that.
The mental life! Suddenly she hated it with a
rushing fury, the swindle!
She looked in the other mirror's reflection at
her back, her waist, her loins. She was getting
thinner, but to her it was not becoming. The crumple
of her waist at the back, as she bent back to look,
was a little weary; and it used to be so
gay-looking. And the longish slope of her haunches
and her buttocks had lost its gleam and its sense of
richness. Gone! Only the German boy had loved it,
and he was ten years dead, very nearly. How time
went by! Ten years dead, and she was only
twenty-seven. The healthy boy with his fresh, clumsy
sensuality that she had then been so scornful of!
Where would she find it now? It was gone out of men.
They had their pathetic, two-seconds spasms like
Michaelis; but no healthy human sensuality, that
warms the blood and freshens the whole being.
Still she thought the most beautiful part of her
was the long-sloping fall of the haunches from the
socket of the back, and the slumberous, round
stillness of the buttocks. Like hillocks of sand,
the Arabs say, soft and downward-slipping with a
long slope. Here the life still lingered hoping. But
here too she was thinner, and going unripe,
But the front of her body made her miserable. It
was already beginning to slacken, with a slack sort
of thinness, almost withered, going old before it
had ever really lived. She thought of the child she
might somehow bear. Was she fit, anyhow?
She slipped into her nightdress, and went to bed,
where she sobbed bitterly. And in her bitterness
burned a cold indignation against Clifford, and his
writings and his talk: against all the men of his
sort who defrauded a woman even of her own body.
Unjust! Unjust! The sense of deep physical
injustice burned to her very soul.
But in the morning, all the same, she was up at
seven, and going downstairs to Clifford. She had to
help him in all the intimate things, for he had no
man, and refused a woman-servant. The housekeeper's
husband, who had known him as a boy, helped him, and
did any heavy lifting; but Connie did the personal
things, and she did them willingly. It was a demand
on her, but she had wanted to do what she could.
So she hardly ever went away from Wragby, and
never for more than a day or two; when Mrs Betts,
the housekeeper, attended to Clifford. He, as was
inevitable in the course of time, took all the
service for granted. It was natural he should.
And yet, deep inside herself, a sense of
injustice, of being defrauded, had begun to burn in
Connie. The physical sense of injustice is a
dangerous feeling, once it is awakened. It must have
outlet, or it eats away the one in whom it is
aroused. Poor Clifford, he was not to blame. His was
the greater misfortune. It was all part of the
And yet was he not in a way to blame? This lack
of warmth, this lack of the simple, warm, physical
contact, was he not to blame for that? He was never
really warm, nor even kind, only thoughtful,
considerate, in a well-bred, cold sort of way! But
never warm as a man can be warm to a woman, as even
Connie's father could be warm to her, with the
warmth of a man who did himself well, and intended
to, but who still could comfort a woman with a bit
of his masculine glow.
But Clifford was not like that. His whole race
was not like that. They were all inwardly hard and
separate, and warmth to them was just bad taste. You
had to get on without it, and hold your own; which
was all very well if you were of the same class and
race. Then you could keep yourself cold and be very
estimable, and hold your own, and enjoy the
satisfaction of holding it. But if you were of
another class and another race it wouldn't do; there
was no fun merely holding your own, and feeling you
belonged to the ruling class. What was the point,
when even the smartest aristocrats had really
nothing positive of their own to hold, and their
rule was really a farce, not rule at all? What was
the point? It was all cold nonsense.
A sense of rebellion smouldered in Connie. What
was the good of it all? What was the good of her
sacrifice, her devoting her life to Clifford? What
was she serving, after all? A cold spirit of vanity,
that had no warm human contacts, and that was as
corrupt as any low-born Jew, in craving for
prostitution to the bitch-goddess, Success. Even
Clifford's cool and contactless assurance that he
belonged to the ruling class didn't prevent his
tongue lolling out of his mouth, as he panted after
the bitch-goddess. After all, Michaelis was really
more dignified in the matter, and far, far more
successful. Really, if you looked closely at
Clifford, he was a buffoon, and a buffoon is more
humiliating than a bounder.
As between the two men, Michaelis really had far
more use for her than Clifford had. He had even more
need of her. Any good nurse can attend to crippled
legs! And as for the heroic effort, Michaelis was a
heroic rat, and Clifford was very much of a poodle
There were people staying in the house, among
them Clifford's Aunt Eva, Lady Bennerley. She was a
thin woman of sixty, with a red nose, a widow, and
still something of a grande dame. She
belonged to one of the best families, and had the
character to carry it off. Connie liked her, she was
so perfectly simple and frank, as far as she
intended to be frank, and superficially kind. Inside
herself she was a past-mistress in holding her own,
and holding other people a little lower. She was not
at all a snob: far too sure of herself. She was
perfect at the social sport of coolly holding her
own, and making other people defer to her.
She was kind to Connie, and tried to worm into
her woman's soul with the sharp gimlet of her
'You're quite wonderful, in my opinion,' she said
to Connie. 'You've done wonders for Clifford. I
never saw any budding genius myself, and there he
is, all the rage.' Aunt Eva was quite complacently
proud of Clifford's success. Another feather in the
family cap! She didn't care a straw about his books,
but why should she?
'Oh, I don't think it's my doing,' said Connie.
'It must be! Can't be anybody else's. And it
seems to me you don't get enough out of it.'
'Look at the way you are shut up here. I said to
Clifford: If that child rebels one day you'll have
yourself to thank!'
'But Clifford never denies me anything,' said
'Look here, my dear child'--and Lady Bennerley
laid her thin hand on Connie's arm. 'A woman has to
live her life, or live to repent not having lived
it. Believe me!' And she took another sip of brandy,
which maybe was her form of repentance.
'But I do live my life, don't I?'
'Not in my idea! Clifford should bring you to
London, and let you go about. His sort of friends
are all right for him, but what are they for you? If
I were you I should think it wasn't good enough.
You'll let your youth slip by, and you'll spend your
old age, and your middle age too, repenting it.'
Her ladyship lapsed into contemplative silence,
soothed by the brandy.
But Connie was not keen on going to London, and
being steered into the smart world by Lady
Bennerley. She didn't feel really smart, it wasn't
interesting. And she did feel the peculiar,
withering coldness under it all; like the soil of
Labrador, which his gay little flowers on its
surface, and a foot down is frozen.
Tommy Dukes was at Wragby, and another man, Harry
Winterslow, and Jack Strangeways with his wife
Olive. The talk was much more desultory than when
only the cronies were there, and everybody was a bit
bored, for the weather was bad, and there was only
billiards, and the pianola to dance to.
Olive was reading a book about the future, when
babies would be bred in bottles, and women would be
'Jolly good thing too!' she said. 'Then a woman
can live her own life.' Strangeways wanted children,
and she didn't.
'How'd you like to be immunized?' Winterslow
asked her, with an ugly smile.
'I hope I am; naturally,' she said. 'Anyhow the
future's going to have more sense, and a woman
needn't be dragged down by her functions.'
'Perhaps she'll float off into space altogether,'
'I do think sufficient civilization ought to
eliminate a lot of the physical disabilities,' said
Clifford. 'All the love-business for example, it
might just as well go. I suppose it would if we
could breed babies in bottles.'
'No!' cried Olive. 'That might leave all the more
room for fun.'
'I suppose,' said Lady Bennerley,
contemplatively, 'if the love-business went,
something else would take its place. Morphia,
perhaps. A little morphine in all the air. It would
be wonderfully refreshing for everybody.'
'The government releasing ether into the air on
Saturdays, for a cheerful weekend!' said Jack.
'Sounds all right, but where should we be by
'So long as you can forget your body you are
happy,' said Lady Bennerley. 'And the moment you
begin to be aware of your body, you are wretched.
So, if civilization is any good, it has to help us
to forget our bodies, and then time passes happily
without our knowing it.'
'Help us to get rid of our bodies altogether,'
said Winterslow. 'It's quite time man began to
improve on his own nature, especially the physical
side of it.'
'Imagine if we floated like tobacco smoke,' said
'It won't happen,' said Dukes. 'Our old show will
come flop; our civilization is going to fall. It's
going down the bottomless pit, down the chasm. And
believe me, the only bridge across the chasm will be
'Oh do! Dobe impossible, General!' cried
'I believe our civilization is going to
collapse,' said Aunt Eva.
'And what will come after it?' asked Clifford.
'I haven't the faintest idea, but something, I
suppose,' said the elderly lady.
'Connie says people like wisps of smoke, and
Olive says immunized women, and babies in bottles,
and Dukes says the phallus is the bridge to what
comes next. I wonder what it will really be?' said
'Oh, don't bother! let's get on with today,' said
Olive. 'Only hurry up with the breeding bottle, and
let us poor women off.'
'There might even be real men, in the next
phase,' said Tommy. 'Real, intelligent, wholesome
men, and wholesome nice women! Wouldn't that be a
change, an enormous change from us? we're not
men, and the women aren't women. We're only
cerebrating make-shifts, mechanical and intellectual
experiments. There may even come a civilization of
genuine men and women, instead of our little lot of
clever-jacks, all at the intelligence-age of seven.
It would be even more amazing than men of smoke or
babies in bottles.'
'Oh, when people begin to talk about real women,
I give up,' said Olive.
'Certainly nothing but the spirit in us is worth
having,' said Winterslow.
'Spirits!' said Jack, drinking his whisky and
'Think so? Give me the resurrection of the body!'
'But it'll come, in time, when we've shoved the
cerebral stone away a bit, the money and the rest.
Then we'll get a democracy of touch, instead of a
democracy of pocket.'
Something echoed inside Connie: 'Give me the
democracy of touch, the resurrection of the body!'
She didn't at all know what it meant, but it
comforted her, as meaningless things may do.
Anyhow everything was terribly silly, and she was
exasperatedly bored by it all, by Clifford, by Aunt
Eva, by Olive and Jack, and Winterslow, and even by
Dukes. Talk, talk, talk! What hell it was, the
continual rattle of it!
Then, when all the people went, it was no better.
She continued plodding on, but exasperation and
irritation had got hold of her lower body, she
couldn't escape. The days seemed to grind by, with
curious painfulness, yet nothing happened. Only she
was getting thinner; even the housekeeper noticed
it, and asked her about herself. Even Tommy Dukes
insisted she was not well, though she said she was
all right. Only she began to be afraid of the
ghastly white tombstones, that peculiar loathsome
whiteness of Carrara marble, detestable as false
teeth, which stuck up on the hillside, under
Tevershall church, and which she saw with such grim
painfulness from the park. The bristling of the
hideous false teeth of tombstones on the hill
affected her with a grisly kind of horror. She felt
the time not far off when she would be buried there,
added to the ghastly host under the tombstones and
the monuments, in these filthy Midlands.
She needed help, and she knew it: so she wrote a
little cri du coeur to her sister, Hilda.
'I'm not well lately, and I don't know what's the
matter with me.'
Down posted Hilda from Scotland, where she had
taken up her abode. She came in March, alone,
driving herself in a nimble two-seater. Up the drive
she came, tooting up the incline, then sweeping
round the oval of grass, where the two great wild
beech-trees stood, on the flat in front of the
Connie had run out to the steps. Hilda pulled up
her car, got out, and kissed her sister.
'But Connie!' she cried. 'Whatever is the
'Nothing!' said Connie, rather shamefacedly; but
she knew how she had suffered in contrast to Hilda.
Both sisters had the same rather golden, glowing
skin, and soft brown hair, and naturally strong,
warm physique. But now Connie was thin and
earthy-looking, with a scraggy, yellowish neck, that
stuck out of her jumper.
'But you're ill, child!' said Hilda, in the soft,
rather breathless voice that both sisters had alike.
Hilda was nearly, but not quite, two years older
'No, not ill. Perhaps I'm bored,' said Connie a
The light of battle glowed in Hilda's face; she
was a woman, soft and still as she seemed, of the
old amazon sort, not made to fit with men.
'This wretched place!' she said softly, looking
at poor, old, lumbering Wragby with real hate. She
looked soft and warm herself, as a ripe pear, and
she was an amazon of the real old breed.
She went quietly in to Clifford. He thought how
handsome she looked, but also he shrank from her.
His wife's family did not have his sort of manners,
or his sort of etiquette. He considered them rather
outsiders, but once they got inside they made him
jump through the hoop.
He sat square and well-groomed in his chair, his
hair sleek and blond, and his face fresh, his blue
eyes pale, and a little prominent, his expression
inscrutable, but well-bred. Hilda thought it sulky
and stupid, and he waited. He had an air of aplomb,
but Hilda didn't care what he had an air of; she was
up in arms, and if he'd been Pope or Emperor it
would have been just the same.
'Connie's looking awfully unwell,' she said in
her soft voice, fixing him with her beautiful,
glowering grey eyes. She looked so maidenly, so did
Connie; but he well knew the tone of Scottish
'She's a little thinner,' he said.
'Haven't you done anything about it?'
'Do you think it necessary?' he asked, with his
suavest English stiffness, for the two things often
Hilda only glowered at him without replying;
repartee was not her forte, nor Connie's; so she
glowered, and he was much more uncomfortable than if
she had said things.
'I'll take her to a doctor,' said Hilda at
length. 'Can you suggest a good one round here?'
'I'm afraid I can't.'
'Then I'll take her to London, where we have a
doctor we trust.'
Though boiling with rage, Clifford said nothing.
'I suppose I may as well stay the night,' said
Hilda, pulling off her gloves, 'and I'll drive her
to town tomorrow.'
Clifford was yellow at the gills with anger, and
at evening the whites of his eyes were a little
yellow too. He ran to liver. But Hilda was
consistently modest and maidenly.
'You must have a nurse or somebody, to look after
you personally. You should really have a
manservant,' said Hilda as they sat, with apparent
calmness, at coffee after dinner. She spoke in her
soft, seemingly gentle way, but Clifford felt she
was hitting him on the head with a bludgeon.
'You think so?' he said coldly.
'I'm sure! It's necessary. Either that, or Father
and I must take Connie away for some months. This
can't go on.'
'What can't go on?'
'Haven't you looked at the child!' asked Hilda,
gazing at him full stare. He looked rather like a
huge, boiled crayfish at the moment; or so she
'Connie and I will discuss it,' he said.
'I've already discussed it with her,' said Hilda.
Clifford had been long enough in the hands of
nurses; he hated them, because they left him no real
privacy. And a manservant!...he couldn't stand a man
hanging round him. Almost better any woman. But why
The two sisters drove off in the morning, Connie
looking rather like an Easter lamb, rather small
beside Hilda, who held the wheel. Sir Malcolm was
away, but the Kensington house was open.
The doctor examined Connie carefully, and asked
her all about her life. 'I see your photograph, and
Sir Clifford's, in the illustrated papers sometimes.
Almost notorieties, aren't you? That's how the quiet
little girls grow up, though you're only a quiet
little girl even now, in spite of the illustrated
papers. No, no! There's nothing organically wrong,
but it won't do! It won't do! Tell Sir Clifford he's
got to bring you to town, or take you abroad, and
amuse you. You've got to be amused, got to! Your
vitality is much too low; no reserves, no reserves.
The nerves of the heart a bit queer already: oh,
yes! Nothing but nerves; I'd put you right in a
month at Cannes or Biarritz. But it mustn't go on,
mustn't, I tell you, or I won't be answerable
for consequences. You're spending your life without
renewing it. You've got to be amused, properly,
healthily amused. You're spending your vitality
without making any. Can't go on, you know.
Depression! Avoid depression!'
Hilda set her jaw, and that meant something.
Michaelis heard they were in town, and came
running with roses. 'Why, whatever's wrong?' he
cried. 'You're a shadow of yourself. Why, I never
saw such a change! Why ever didn't you let me know?
Come to Nice with me! Come down to Sicily! Go on,
come to Sicily with me. It's lovely there just now.
You want sun! You want life! Why, you're wasting
away! Come away with me! Come to Africa! Oh, hang
Sir Clifford! Chuck him, and come along with me.
I'll marry you the minute he divorces you. Come
along and try a life! God's love! That place Wragby
would kill anybody. Beastly place! Foul place! Kill
anybody! Come away with me into the sun! It's the
sun you want, of course, and a bit of normal life.'
But Connie's heart simply stood still at the
thought of abandoning Clifford there and then. She
couldn't do it. No...no! She just couldn't. She had
to go back to Wragby.
Michaelis was disgusted. Hilda didn't like
Michaelis, but she almost preferred him to
Clifford. Back went the sisters to the Midlands.
Hilda talked to Clifford, who still had yellow
eyeballs when they got back. He, too, in his way,
was overwrought; but he had to listen to all Hilda
said, to all the doctor had said, not what Michaelis
had said, of course, and he sat mum through the
'Here is the address of a good manservant, who
was with an invalid patient of the doctor's till he
died last month. He is really a good man, and fairly
sure to come.'
'But I'm not an invalid, and I will not
have a manservant,' said Clifford, poor devil.
'And here are the addresses of two women; I saw
one of them, she would do very well; a woman of
about fifty, quiet, strong, kind, and in her way
Clifford only sulked, and would not answer.
'Very well, Clifford. If we don't settle
something by to-morrow, I shall telegraph to Father,
and we shall take Connie away.'
'Will Connie go?' asked Clifford.
'She doesn't want to, but she knows she must.
Mother died of cancer, brought on by fretting. We're
not running any risks.'
So next day Clifford suggested Mrs Bolton,
Tevershall parish nurse. Apparently Mrs Betts had
thought of her. Mrs Bolton was just retiring from
her parish duties to take up private nursing jobs.
Clifford had a queer dread of delivering himself
into the hands of a stranger, but this Mrs Bolton
had once nursed him through scarlet fever, and he
The two sisters at once called on Mrs Bolton, in
a newish house in a row, quite select for
Tevershall. They found a rather good-looking woman
of forty-odd, in a nurse's uniform, with a white
collar and apron, just making herself tea in a small
Mrs Bolton was most attentive and polite, seemed
quite nice, spoke with a bit of a broad slur, but in
heavily correct English, and from having bossed the
sick colliers for a good many years, had a very good
opinion of herself, and a fair amount of assurance.
In short, in her tiny way, one of the governing
class in the village, very much respected.
'Yes, Lady Chatterley's not looking at all well!
Why, she used to be that bonny, didn't she now? But
she's been failing all winter! Oh, it's hard, it is.
Poor Sir Clifford! Eh, that war, it's a lot to
And Mrs Bolton would come to Wragby at once, if
Dr Shardlow would let her off. She had another
fortnight's parish nursing to do, by rights, but
they might get a substitute, you know.
Hilda posted off to Dr Shardlow, and on the
following Sunday Mrs Bolton drove up in Leiver's cab
to Wragby with two trunks. Hilda had talks with her;
Mrs Bolton was ready at any moment to talk. And she
seemed so young! The way the passion would flush in
her rather pale cheek. She was forty-seven.
Her husband, Ted Bolton, had been killed in the
pit, twenty-two years ago, twenty-two years last
Christmas, just at Christmas time, leaving her with
two children, one a baby in arms. Oh, the baby was
married now, Edith, to a young man in Boots Cash
Chemists in Sheffield. The other one was a
schoolteacher in Chesterfield; she came home
weekends, when she wasn't asked out somewhere. Young
folks enjoyed themselves nowadays, not like when
she, Ivy Bolton, was young.
Ted Bolton was twenty-eight when he was killed in
an explosion down th' pit. The butty in front
shouted to them all to lie down quick, there were
four of them. And they all lay down in time, only
Ted, and it killed him. Then at the inquiry, on the
masters' side they said Ted had been frightened, and
trying to run away, and not obeying orders, so it
was like his fault really. So the compensation was
only three hundred pounds, and they made out as if
it was more of a gift than legal compensation,
because it was really the man's own fault. And they
wouldn't let her have the money down; she wanted to
have a little shop. But they said she'd no doubt
squander it, perhaps in drink! So she had to draw it
thirty shillings a week. Yes, she had to go every
Monday morning down to the offices, and stand there
a couple of hours waiting her turn; yes, for almost
four years she went every Monday. And what could she
do with two little children on her hands? But Ted's
mother was very good to her. When the baby could
toddle she'd keep both the children for the day,
while she, Ivy Bolton, went to Sheffield, and
attended classes in ambulance, and then the fourth
year she even took a nursing course and got
qualified. She was determined to be independent and
keep her children. So she was assistant at Uthwaite
hospital, just a little place, for a while. But when
the Company, the Tevershall Colliery Company, really
Sir Geoffrey, saw that she could get on by herself,
they were very good to her, gave her the parish
nursing, and stood by her, she would say that for
them. And she'd done it ever since, till now it was
getting a bit much for her; she needed something a
bit lighter, there was such a lot of traipsing
around if you were a district nurse.
'Yes, the Company's been very good to me,
I always say it. But I should never forget what they
said about Ted, for he was as steady and fearless a
chap as ever set foot on the cage, and it was as
good as branding him a coward. But there, he was
dead, and could say nothing to none of 'em.'
It was a queer mixture of feelings the woman
showed as she talked. She liked the colliers, whom
she had nursed for so long; but she felt very
superior to them. She felt almost upper class; and
at the same time a resentment against the ruling
class smouldered in her. The masters! In a dispute
between masters and men, she was always for the men.
But when there was no question of contest, she was
pining to be superior, to be one of the upper class.
The upper classes fascinated her, appealing to her
peculiar English passion for superiority. She was
thrilled to come to Wragby; thrilled to talk to Lady
Chatterley, my word, different from the common
colliers' wives! She said so in so many words. Yet
one could see a grudge against the Chatterleys peep
out in her; the grudge against the masters.
'Why, yes, of course, it would wear Lady
Chatterley out! It's a mercy she had a sister to
come and help her. Men don't think, high and
low-alike, they take what a woman does for them for
granted. Oh, I've told the colliers off about it
many a time. But it's very hard for Sir Clifford,
you know, crippled like that. They were always a
haughty family, standoffish in a way, as they've a
right to be. But then to be brought down like that!
And it's very hard on Lady Chatterley, perhaps
harder on her. What she misses! I only had Ted three
years, but my word, while I had him I had a husband
I could never forget. He was one in a thousand, and
jolly as the day. Who'd ever have thought he'd get
killed? I don't believe it to this day somehow, I've
never believed it, though I washed him with my own
hands. But he was never dead for me, he never was. I
never took it in.'
This was a new voice in Wragby, very new for
Connie to hear; it roused a new ear in her.
For the first week or so, Mrs Bolton, however,
was very quiet at Wragby, her assured, bossy manner
left her, and she was nervous. With Clifford she was
shy, almost frightened, and silent. He liked that,
and soon recovered his self-possession, letting her
do things for him without even noticing her.
'She's a useful nonentity!' he said. Connie
opened her eyes in wonder, but she did not
contradict him. So different are impressions on two
And he soon became rather superb, somewhat lordly
with the nurse. She had rather expected it, and he
played up without knowing. So susceptible we are to
what is expected of us! The colliers had been so
like children, talking to her, and telling her what
hurt them, while she bandaged them, or nursed them.
They had always made her feel so grand, almost
super-human in her administrations. Now Clifford
made her feel small, and like a servant, and she
accepted it without a word, adjusting herself to the
She came very mute, with her long, handsome face,
and downcast eyes, to administer to him. And she
said very humbly: 'Shall I do this now, Sir
Clifford? Shall I do that?'
'No, leave it for a time. I'll have it done
'Very well, Sir Clifford.'
'Come in again in half an hour.'
'Very well, Sir Clifford.'
'And just take those old papers out, will you?'
'Very well, Sir Clifford.'
She went softly, and in half an hour she came
softly again. She was bullied, but she didn't mind.
She was experiencing the upper classes. She neither
resented nor disliked Clifford; he was just part of
a phenomenon, the phenomenon of the high-class
folks, so far unknown to her, but now to be known.
She felt more at home with Lady Chatterley, and
after all it's the mistress of the house matters
Mrs Bolton helped Clifford to bed at night, and
slept across the passage from his room, and came if
he rang for her in the night. She also helped him in
the morning, and soon valeted him completely, even
shaving him, in her soft, tentative woman's way. She
was very good and competent, and she soon knew how
to have him in her power. He wasn't so very
different from the colliers after all, when you
lathered his chin, and softly rubbed the bristles.
The stand-offishness and the lack of frankness
didn't bother her; she was having a new experience.
Clifford, however, inside himself, never quite
forgave Connie for giving up her personal care of
him to a strange hired woman. It killed, he said to
himself, the real flower of the intimacy between him
and her. But Connie didn't mind that. The fine
flower of their intimacy was to her rather like an
orchid, a bulb stuck parasitic on her tree of life,
and producing, to her eyes, a rather shabby flower.
Now she had more time to herself she could softly
play the piano, up in her room, and sing: 'Touch not
the nettle, for the bonds of love are ill to loose.'
She had not realized till lately how ill to loose
they were, these bonds of love. But thank Heaven she
had loosened them! She was so glad to be alone, not
always to have to talk to him. When he was alone he
tapped-tapped-tapped on a typewriter, to infinity.
But when he was not 'working', and she was there, he
talked, always talked; infinite small analysis of
people and motives, and results, characters and
personalities, till now she had had enough. For
years she had loved it, until she had enough, and
then suddenly it was too much. She was thankful to
It was as if thousands and thousands of little
roots and threads of consciousness in him and her
had grown together into a tangled mass, till they
could crowd no more, and the plant was dying. Now
quietly, subtly, she was unravelling the tangle of
his consciousness and hers, breaking the threads
gently, one by one, with patience and impatience to
get clear. But the bonds of such love are more ill
to loose even than most bonds; though Mrs Bolton's
coming had been a great help.
But he still wanted the old intimate evenings of
talk with Connie: talk or reading aloud. But now she
could arrange that Mrs Bolton should come at ten to
disturb them. At ten o'clock Connie could go
upstairs and be alone. Clifford was in good hands
with Mrs Bolton.
Mrs Bolton ate with Mrs Betts in the
housekeeper's room, since they were all agreeable.
And it was curious how much closer the servants'
quarters seemed to have come; right up to the doors
of Clifford's study, when before they were so
remote. For Mrs Betts would sometimes sit in Mrs
Bolton's room, and Connie heard their lowered
voices, and felt somehow the strong, other vibration
of the working people almost invading the
sitting-room, when she and Clifford were alone. So
changed was Wragby merely by Mrs Bolton's coming.
And Connie felt herself released, in another
world, she felt she breathed differently. But still
she was afraid of how many of her roots, perhaps
mortal ones, were tangled with Clifford's. Yet
still, she breathed freer, a new phase was going to
begin in her life.
Mrs Bolton also kept a cherishing eye on Connie,
feeling she must extend to her her female and
professional protection. She was always urging her
ladyship to walk out, to drive to Uthwaite, to be in
the air. For Connie had got into the habit of
sitting still by the fire, pretending to read; or to
sew feebly, and hardly going out at all.
It was a blowy day soon after Hilda had gone,
that Mrs Bolton said: 'Now why don't you go for a
walk through the wood, and look at the daffs behind
the keeper's cottage? They're the prettiest sight
you'd see in a day's march. And you could put some
in your room; wild daffs are always so
cheerful-looking, aren't they?'
Connie took it in good part, even daffs for
daffodils. Wild daffodils! After all, one could not
stew in one's own juice. The spring came
back...'Seasons return, but not to me returns Day,
or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn.'
And the keeper, his thin, white body, like a
lonely pistil of an invisible flower! She had
forgotten him in her unspeakable depression. But now
something roused...'Pale beyond porch and
portal'...the thing to do was to pass the porches
and the portals.
She was stronger, she could walk better, and in
the wood the wind would not be so tiring as it was
across the bark, flatten against her. She wanted to
forget, to forget the world, and all the dreadful,
carrion-bodied people. 'Ye must be born again! I
believe in the resurrection of the body! Except a
grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it shall
by no means bring forth. When the crocus cometh
forth I too will emerge and see the sun!' In the
wind of March endless phrases swept through her
Little gusts of sunshine blew, strangely bright,
and lit up the celandines at the wood's edge, under
the hazel-rods, they spangled out bright and yellow.
And the wood was still, stiller, but yet gusty with
crossing sun. The first windflowers were out, and
all the wood seemed pale with the pallor of endless
little anemones, sprinkling the shaken floor. 'The
world has grown pale with thy breath.' But it was
the breath of Persephone, this time; she was out of
hell on a cold morning. Cold breaths of wind came,
and overhead there was an anger of entangled wind
caught among the twigs. It, too, was caught and
trying to tear itself free, the wind, like Absalom.
How cold the anemones looked, bobbing their naked
white shoulders over crinoline skirts of green. But
they stood it. A few first bleached little primroses
too, by the path, and yellow buds unfolding
The roaring and swaying was overhead, only cold
currents came down below. Connie was strangely
excited in the wood, and the colour flew in her
cheeks, and burned blue in her eyes. She walked
ploddingly, picking a few primroses and the first
violets, that smelled sweet and cold, sweet and
cold. And she drifted on without knowing where she
Till she came to the clearing, at the end of the
wood, and saw the green-stained stone cottage,
looking almost rosy, like the flesh underneath a
mushroom, its stone warmed in a burst of sun. And
there was a sparkle of yellow jasmine by the door;
the closed door. But no sound; no smoke from the
chimney; no dog barking.
She went quietly round to the back, where the
bank rose up; she had an excuse, to see the
And they were there, the short-stemmed flowers,
rustling and fluttering and shivering, so bright and
alive, but with nowhere to hide their faces, as they
turned them away from the wind.
They shook their bright, sunny little rags in
bouts of distress. But perhaps they liked it really;
perhaps they really liked the tossing.
Constance sat down with her back to a young
pine-tree, that swayed against her with curious
life, elastic, and powerful, rising up. The erect,
alive thing, with its top in the sun! And she
watched the daffodils turn golden, in a burst of sun
that was warm on her hands and lap. Even she caught
the faint, tarry scent of the flowers. And then,
being so still and alone, she seemed to bet into the
current of her own proper destiny. She had been
fastened by a rope, and jagging and snarring like a
boat at its moorings; now she was loose and adrift.
The sunshine gave way to chill; the daffodils
were in shadow, dipping silently. So they would dip
through the day and the long cold night. So strong
in their frailty!
She rose, a little stiff, took a few daffodils,
and went down. She hated breaking the flowers, but
she wanted just one or two to go with her. She would
have to go back to Wragby and its walls, and now she
hated it, especially its thick walls. Walls! Always
walls! Yet one needed them in this wind.
When she got home Clifford asked her:
'Where did you go?'
'Right across the wood! Look, aren't the little
daffodils adorable? To think they should come out of
'Just as much out of air and sunshine,' he said.
'But modelled in the earth,' she retorted, with a
prompt contradiction, that surprised her a little.
The next afternoon she went to the wood again.
She followed the broad riding that swerved round and
up through the larches to a spring called John's
Well. It was cold on this hillside, and not a flower
in the darkness of larches. But the icy little
spring softly pressed upwards from its tiny well-bed
of pure, reddish-white pebbles. How icy and clear it
was! Brilliant! The new keeper had no doubt put in
fresh pebbles. She heard the faint tinkle of water,
as the tiny overflow trickled over and downhill.
Even above the hissing boom of the larchwood, that
spread its bristling, leafless, wolfish darkness on
the down-slope, she heard the tinkle as of tiny
This place was a little sinister, cold, damp. Yet
the well must have been a drinking-place for
hundreds of years. Now no more. Its tiny cleared
space was lush and cold and dismal.
She rose and went slowly towards home. As she
went she heard a faint tapping away on the right,
and stood still to listen. Was it hammering, or a
woodpecker? It was surely hammering.
She walked on, listening. And then she noticed a
narrow track between young fir-trees, a track that
seemed to lead nowhere. But she felt it had been
used. She turned down it adventurously, between the
thick young firs, which gave way soon to the old oak
wood. She followed the track, and the hammering grew
nearer, in the silence of the windy wood, for trees
make a silence even in their noise of wind.
She saw a secret little clearing, and a secret
little hut made of rustic poles. And she had never
been here before! She realized it was the quiet
place where the growing pheasants were reared; the
keeper in his shirt-sleeves was kneeling, hammering.
The dog trotted forward with a short, sharp bark,
and the keeper lifted his face suddenly and saw her.
He had a startled look in his eyes.
He straightened himself and saluted, watching her
in silence, as she came forward with weakening
limbs. He resented the intrusion; he cherished his
solitude as his only and last freedom in life.
'I wondered what the hammering was,' she said,
feeling weak and breathless, and a little afraid of
him, as he looked so straight at her.
'Ah'm gettin' th' coops ready for th' young
bods,' he said, in broad vernacular.
She did not know what to say, and she felt weak.
'I should like to sit down a bit,' she said.
'Come and sit 'ere i' th' 'ut,' he said, going in
front of her to the hut, pushing aside some timber
and stuff, and drawing out a rustic chair, made of
'Am Ah t' light yer a little fire?' he asked,
with the curious naivete of the dialect.
'Oh, don't bother,' she replied.
But he looked at her hands; they were rather
blue. So he quickly took some larch twigs to the
little brick fire-place in the corner, and in a
moment the yellow flame was running up the chimney.
He made a place by the brick hearth.
'Sit 'ere then a bit, and warm yer,' he said.
She obeyed him. He had that curious kind of
protective authority she obeyed at once. So she sat
and warmed her hands at the blaze, and dropped logs
on the fire, whilst outside he was hammering again.
She did not really want to sit, poked in a corner by
the fire; she would rather have watched from the
door, but she was being looked after, so she had to
The hut was quite cosy, panelled with unvarnished
deal, having a little rustic table and stool beside
her chair, and a carpenter's bench, then a big box,
tools, new boards, nails; and many things hung from
pegs: axe, hatchet, traps, things in sacks, his
coat. It had no window, the light came in through
the open door. It was a jumble, but also it was a
sort of little sanctuary.
She listened to the tapping of the man's hammer;
it was not so happy. He was oppressed. Here was a
trespass on his privacy, and a dangerous one! A
woman! He had reached the point where all he wanted
on earth was to be alone. And yet he was powerless
to preserve his privacy; he was a hired man, and
these people were his masters.
Especially he did not want to come into contact
with a woman again. He feared it; for he had a big
wound from old contacts. He felt if he could not be
alone, and if he could not be left alone, he would
die. His recoil away from the outer world was
complete; his last refuge was this wood; to hide
Connie grew warm by the fire, which she had made
too big: then she grew hot. She went and sat on the
stool in the doorway, watching the man at work. He
seemed not to notice her, but he knew. Yet he worked
on, as if absorbedly, and his brown dog sat on her
tail near him, and surveyed the untrustworthy world.
Slender, quiet and quick, the man finished the
coop he was making, turned it over, tried the
sliding door, then set it aside. Then he rose, went
for an old coop, and took it to the chopping log
where he was working. Crouching, he tried the bars;
some broke in his hands; he began to draw the nails.
Then he turned the coop over and deliberated, and he
gave absolutely no sign of awareness of the woman's
So Connie watched him fixedly. And the same
solitary aloneness she had seen in him naked, she
now saw in him clothed: solitary, and intent, like
an animal that works alone, but also brooding, like
a soul that recoils away, away from all human
contact. Silently, patiently, he was recoiling away
from her even now. It was the stillness, and the
timeless sort of patience, in a man impatient and
passionate, that touched Connie's womb. She saw it
in his bent head, the quick quiet hands, the
crouching of his slender, sensitive loins; something
patient and withdrawn. She felt his experience had
been deeper and wider than her own; much deeper and
wider, and perhaps more deadly. And this relieved
her of herself; she felt almost irresponsible.
So she sat in the doorway of the hut in a dream,
utterly unaware of time and of particular
circumstances. She was so drifted away that he
glanced up at her quickly, and saw the utterly
still, waiting look on her face. To him it was a
look of waiting. And a little thin tongue of fire
suddenly flickered in his loins, at the root of his
back, and he groaned in spirit. He dreaded with a
repulsion almost of death, any further close human
contact. He wished above all things she would go
away, and leave him to his own privacy. He dreaded
her will, her female will, and her modern female
insistency. And above all he dreaded her cool,
upper-class impudence of having her own way. For
after all he was only a hired man. He hated her
Connie came to herself with sudden uneasiness.
She rose. The afternoon was turning to evening, yet
she could not go away. She went over to the man, who
stood up at attention, his worn face stiff and
blank, his eyes watching her.
'It is so nice here, so restful,' she said. 'I
have never been here before.'
'I think I shall come and sit here sometimes.
'Do you lock the hut when you're not here?'
'Yes, your Ladyship.'
'Do you think I could have a key too, so that I
could sit here sometimes? Are there two keys?'
'Not as Ah know on, ther' isna.'
He had lapsed into the vernacular. Connie
hesitated; he was putting up an opposition. Was it
his hut, after all?
'Couldn't we get another key?' she asked in her
soft voice, that underneath had the ring of a woman
determined to get her way.
'Another!' he said, glancing at her with a flash
of anger, touched with derision.
'Yes, a duplicate,' she said, flushing.
''Appen Sir Clifford 'ud know,' he said, putting
'Yes!' she said, 'he might have another.
Otherwise we could have one made from the one you
have. It would only take a day or so, I suppose. You
could spare your key for so long.'
'Ah canna tell yer, m'Lady! Ah know nob'dy as
ma'es keys round 'ere.'
Connie suddenly flushed with anger.
'Very well!' she said. 'I'll see to it.'
'All right, your Ladyship.'
Their eyes met. His had a cold, ugly look of
dislike and contempt, and indifference to what would
happen. Hers were hot with rebuff.
But her heart sank, she saw how utterly he
disliked her, when she went against him. And she saw
him in a sort of desperation.
'Afternoon, my Lady!' He saluted and turned
abruptly away. She had wakened the sleeping dogs of
old voracious anger in him, anger against the
self-willed female. And he was powerless, powerless.
He knew it!
And she was angry against the self-willed male. A
servant too! She walked sullenly home.
She found Mrs Bolton under the great beech-tree
on the knoll, looking for her.
'I just wondered if you'd be coming, my Lady,'
the woman said brightly.
'Am I late?' asked Connie.
'Oh only Sir Clifford was waiting for his tea.'
'Why didn't you make it then?'
'Oh, I don't think it's hardly my place. I don't
think Sir Clifford would like it at all, my Lady.'
'I don't see why not,' said Connie.
She went indoors to Clifford's study, where the
old brass kettle was simmering on the tray.
'Am I late, Clifford?' she said, putting down the
few flowers and taking up the tea-caddy, as she
stood before the tray in her hat and scarf. 'I'm
sorry! Why didn't you let Mrs Bolton make the tea?'
'I didn't think of it,' he said ironically. 'I
don't quite see her presiding at the tea-table.'
'Oh, there's nothing sacrosanct about a silver
tea-pot,' said Connie.
He glanced up at her curiously.
'What did you do all afternoon?' he said.
'Walked and sat in a sheltered place. Do you know
there are still berries on the big holly-tree?'
She took off her scarf, but not her hat, and sat
down to make tea. The toast would certainly be
leathery. She put the tea-cosy over the tea-pot, and
rose to get a little glass for her violets. The poor
flowers hung over, limp on their stalks.
'They'll revive again!' she said, putting them
before him in their glass for him to smell.
'Sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,' he
'I don't see a bit of connexion with the actual
violets,' she said. 'The Elizabethans are rather
She poured him his tea.
'Do you think there is a second key to that
little hut not far from John's Well, where the
pheasants are reared?' she said.
'There may be. Why?'
'I happened to find it today--and I'd never seen
it before. I think it's a darling place. I could sit
there sometimes, couldn't I?'
'Was Mellors there?'
'Yes! That's how I found it: his hammering. He
didn't seem to like my intruding at all. In fact he
was almost rude when I asked about a second key.'
'What did he say?'
'Oh, nothing: just his manner; and he said he
knew nothing about keys.'
'There may be one in Father's study. Betts knows
them all, they're all there. I'll get him to look.'
'Oh do!' she said.
'So Mellors was almost rude?'
'Oh, nothing, really! But I don't think he wanted
me to have the freedom of the castle, quite.'
'I don't suppose he did.'
'Still, I don't see why he should mind. It's not
his home, after all! It's not his private abode. I
don't see why I shouldn't sit there if I want to.'
'Quite!' said Clifford. 'He thinks too much of
himself, that man.'
'Do you think he does?'
'Oh, decidedly! He thinks he's something
exceptional. You know he had a wife he didn't get on
with, so he joined up in 1915 and was sent to India,
I believe. Anyhow he was blacksmith to the cavalry
in Egypt for a time; always was connected with
horses, a clever fellow that way. Then some Indian
colonel took a fancy to him, and he was made a
lieutenant. Yes, they gave him a commission. I
believe he went back to India with his colonel, and
up to the north-west frontier. He was ill; he was a
pension. He didn't come out of the army till last
year, I believe, and then, naturally, it isn't easy
for a man like that to get back to his own level.
He's bound to flounder. But he does his duty all
right, as far as I'm concerned. Only I'm not having
any of the Lieutenant Mellors touch.'
'How could they make him an officer when he
speaks broad Derbyshire?'
'He doesn't...except by fits and starts. He can
speak perfectly well, for him. I suppose he has an
idea if he's come down to the ranks again, he'd
better speak as the ranks speak.'
'Why didn't you tell me about him before?'
'Oh, I've no patience with these romances.
They're the ruin of all order. It's a thousand
pities they ever happened.'
Connie was inclined to agree. What was the good
of discontented people who fitted in nowhere?
In the spell of fine weather Clifford, too,
decided to go to the wood. The wind was cold, but
not so tiresome, and the sunshine was like life
itself, warm and full.
'It's amazing,' said Connie, 'how different one
feels when there's a really fresh fine day. Usually
one feels the very air is half dead. People are
killing the very air.'
'Do you think people are doing it?' he asked.
'I do. The steam of so much boredom, and
discontent and anger out of all the people, just
kills the vitality in the air. I'm sure of it.'
'Perhaps some condition of the atmosphere lowers
the vitality of the people?' he said.
'No, it's man that poisons the universe,' she
'Fouls his own nest,' remarked Clifford.
The chair puffed on. In the hazel copse catkins
were hanging pale gold, and in sunny places the
wood-anemones were wide open, as if exclaiming with
the joy of life, just as good as in past days, when
people could exclaim along with them. They had a
faint scent of apple-blossom. Connie gathered a few
He took them and looked at them curiously.
'Thou still unravished bride of quietness,' he
quoted. 'It seems to fit flowers so much better than
'Ravished is such a horrid word!' she said. 'It's
only people who ravish things.'
'Oh, I don't know...snails and things,' he said.
'Even snails only eat them, and bees don't
She was angry with him, turning everything into
words. Violets were Juno's eyelids, and windflowers
were on ravished brides. How she hated words, always
coming between her and life: they did the ravishing,
if anything did: ready-made words and phrases,
sucking all the life-sap out of living things.
The walk with Clifford was not quite a success.
Between him and Connie there was a tension that each
pretended not to notice, but there it was. Suddenly,
with all the force of her female instinct, she was
shoving him off. She wanted to be clear of him, and
especially of his consciousness, his words, his
obsession with himself, his endless treadmill
obsession with himself, and his own words.
The weather came rainy again. But after a day or
two she went out in the rain, and she went to the
wood. And once there, she went towards the hut. It
was raining, but not so cold, and the wood felt so
silent and remote, inaccessible in the dusk of rain.
She came to the clearing. No one there! The hut
was locked. But she sat on the log doorstep, under
the rustic porch, and snuggled into her own warmth.
So she sat, looking at the rain, listening to the
many noiseless noises of it, and to the strange
soughings of wind in upper branches, when there
seemed to be no wind. Old oak-trees stood around,
grey, powerful trunks, rain-blackened, round and
vital, throwing off reckless limbs. The ground was
fairly free of undergrowth, the anemones sprinkled,
there was a bush or two, elder, or guelder-rose, and
a purplish tangle of bramble: the old russet of
bracken almost vanished under green anemone ruffs.
Perhaps this was one of the unravished places.
Unravished! The whole world was ravished.
Some things can't be ravished. You can't ravish a
tin of sardines. And so many women are like that;
and men. But the earth...!
The rain was abating. It was hardly making
darkness among the oaks any more. Connie wanted to
go; yet she sat on. But she was getting cold; yet
the overwhelming inertia of her inner resentment
kept her there as if paralysed.
Ravished! How ravished one could be without ever
being touched. Ravished by dead words become
obscene, and dead ideas become obsessions.
A wet brown dog came running and did not bark,
lifting a wet feather of a tail. The man followed in
a wet black oilskin jacket, like a chauffeur, and
face flushed a little. She felt him recoil in his
quick walk, when he saw her. She stood up in the
handbreadth of dryness under the rustic porch. He
saluted without speaking, coming slowly near. She
began to withdraw.
'I'm just going,' she said.
'Was yer waitin' to get in?' he asked, looking at
the hut, not at her.
'No, I only sat a few minutes in the shelter,'
she said, with quiet dignity.
He looked at her. She looked cold.
'Sir Clifford 'adn't got no other key then?' he
'No, but it doesn't matter. I can sit perfectly
dry under this porch. Good afternoon!' She hated the
excess of vernacular in his speech.
He watched her closely, as she was moving away.
Then he hitched up his jacket, and put his hand in
his breeches pocket, taking out the key of the hut.
''Appen yer'd better 'ave this key, an' Ah min
fend for t' bods some other road.'
She looked at him.
'What do you mean?' she asked.
'I mean as 'appen Ah can find anuther pleece
as'll du for rearin' th' pheasants. If yer want ter
be 'ere, yo'll non want me messin' abaht a' th'
She looked at him, getting his meaning through
the fog of the dialect.
'Why don't you speak ordinary English?' she said
'Me! Ah thowt it wor ordinary.'
She was silent for a few moments in anger.
'So if yer want t' key, yer'd better tacit. Or
'appen Ah'd better gi'e 't yer termorrer, an' clear
all t' stuff aht fust. Would that du for yer?'
She became more angry.
'I didn't want your key,' she said. 'I don't want
you to clear anything out at all. I don't in the
least want to turn you out of your hut, thank you! I
only wanted to be able to sit here sometimes, like
today. But I can sit perfectly well under the porch,
so please say no more about it.'
He looked at her again, with his wicked blue
'Why,' he began, in the broad slow dialect. 'Your
Ladyship's as welcome as Christmas ter th' hut an'
th' key an' iverythink as is. On'y this time O' th'
year ther's bods ter set, an' Ah've got ter be
potterin' abaht a good bit, seein' after 'em, an'
a'. Winter time Ah ned 'ardly come nigh th' pleece.
But what wi' spring, an' Sir Clifford wantin' ter
start th' pheasants...An' your Ladyship'd non want
me tinkerin' around an' about when she was 'ere, all
She listened with a dim kind of amazement.
'Why should I mind your being here?' she asked.
He looked at her curiously.
'T'nuisance on me!' he said briefly, but
significantly. She flushed. 'Very well!' she said
finally. 'I won't trouble you. But I don't think I
should have minded at all sitting and seeing you
look after the birds. I should have liked it. But
since you think it interferes with you, I won't
disturb you, don't be afraid. You are Sir Clifford's
keeper, not mine.'
The phrase sounded queer, she didn't know why.
But she let it pass.
'Nay, your Ladyship. It's your Ladyship's own
'ut. It's as your Ladyship likes an' pleases, every
time. Yer can turn me off at a wik's notice. It wor
'Only what?' she asked, baffled.
He pushed back his hat in an odd comic way.
'On'y as 'appen yo'd like the place ter yersen,
when yer did come, an' not me messin' abaht.'
'But why?' she said, angry. 'Aren't you a
civilized human being? Do you think I ought to be
afraid of you? Why should I take any notice of you
and your being here or not? Why is it important?'
He looked at her, all his face glimmering with
'It's not, your Ladyship. Not in the very least,'
'Well, why then?' she asked.
'Shall I get your Ladyship another key then?'
'No thank you! I don't want it.'
'Ah'll get it anyhow. We'd best 'ave two keys ter
'And I consider you are insolent,' said Connie,
with her colour up, panting a little.
'Nay, nay!' he said quickly. 'Dunna yer say that!
Nay, nay! I niver meant nuthink. Ah on'y thought as
if yo' come 'ere, Ah s'd ave ter clear out, an' it'd
mean a lot of work, settin' up somewheres else. But
if your Ladyship isn't going ter take no notice O'
me, then...it's Sir Clifford's 'ut, an' everythink
is as your Ladyship likes, everythink is as your
Ladyship likes an' pleases, barrin' yer take no
notice O' me, doin' th' bits of jobs as Ah've got
Connie went away completely bewildered. She was
not sure whether she had been insulted and mortally
offended, or not. Perhaps the man really only meant
what he said; that he thought she would expect him
to keep away. As if she would dream of it! And as if
he could possibly be so important, he and his stupid
She went home in confusion, not knowing what she
thought or felt.
Connie was surprised at her own feeling of
aversion from Clifford. What is more, she felt she
had always really disliked him. Not hate: there was
no passion in it. But a profound physical dislike.
Almost, it seemed to her, she had married him
because she disliked him, in a secret, physical sort
of way. But of course, she had married him really
because in a mental way he attracted her and excited
her. He had seemed, in some way, her master, beyond
Now the mental excitement had worn itself out and
collapsed, and she was aware only of the physical
aversion. It rose up in her from her depths: and she
realized how it had been eating her life away.
She felt weak and utterly forlorn. She wished
some help would come from outside. But in the whole
world there was no help. Society was terrible
because it was insane. Civilized society is insane.
Money and so-called love are its two great manias;
money a long way first. The individual asserts
himself in his disconnected insanity in these two
modes: money and love. Look at Michaelis! His life
and activity were just insanity. His love was a sort
And Clifford the same. All that talk! All that
writing! All that wild struggling to push himself
forwards! It was just insanity. And it was getting
worse, really maniacal.
Connie felt washed-out with fear. But at least,
Clifford was shifting his grip from her on to Mrs
Bolton. He did not know it. Like many insane people,
his insanity might be measured by the things he was
not aware of the great desert tracts in his
Mrs Bolton was admirable in many ways. But she
had that queer sort of bossiness, endless assertion
of her own will, which is one of the signs of
insanity in modern woman. She thought she was
utterly subservient and living for others. Clifford
fascinated her because he always, or so often,
frustrated her will, as if by a finer instinct. He
had a finer, subtler will of self-assertion than
herself. This was his charm for her.
Perhaps that had been his charm, too, for Connie.
'It's a lovely day, today!' Mrs Bolton would say
in her caressive, persuasive voice. 'I should think
you'd enjoy a little run in your chair today, the
sun's just lovely.'
'Yes? Will you give me that book--there, that
yellow one. And I think I'll have those hyacinths
'Why they're so beautiful!' She pronounced it
with the 'y' sound: be-yutiful! 'And the scent is
'The scent is what I object to,' he said. 'It's a
'Do you think so!' she exclaimed in surprise,
just a little offended, but impressed. And she
carried the hyacinths out of the room, impressed by
his higher fastidiousness.
'Shall I shave you this morning, or would you
rather do it yourself?' Always the same soft,
caressive, subservient, yet managing voice.
'I don't know. Do you mind waiting a while. I'll
ring when I'm ready.'
'Very good, Sir Clifford!' she replied, so soft
and submissive, withdrawing quietly. But every
rebuff stored up new energy of will in her.
When he rang, after a time, she would appear at
once. And then he would say:
'I think I'd rather you shaved me this morning.'
Her heart gave a little thrill, and she replied
with extra softness:
'Very good, Sir Clifford!'
She was very deft, with a soft, lingering touch,
a little slow. At first he had resented the
infinitely soft touch of her fingers on his face.
But now he liked it, with a growing voluptuousness.
He let her shave him nearly every day: her face near
his, her eyes so very concentrated, watching that
she did it right. And gradually her fingertips knew
his cheeks and lips, his jaw and chin and throat
perfectly. He was well-fed and well-liking, his face
and throat were handsome enough and he was a
She was handsome too, pale, her face rather long
and absolutely still, her eyes bright, but revealing
nothing. Gradually, with infinite softness, almost
with love, she was getting him by the throat, and he
was yielding to her.
She now did almost everything for him, and he
felt more at home with her, less ashamed of
accepting her menial offices, than with Connie. She
liked handling him. She loved having his body in her
charge, absolutely, to the last menial offices. She
said to Connie one day: 'All men are babies, when
you come to the bottom of them. Why, I've handled
some of the toughest customers as ever went down
Tevershall pit. But let anything ail them so that
you have to do for them, and they're babies, just
big babies. Oh, there's not much difference in men!'
At first Mrs Bolton had thought there really was
something different in a gentleman, a real
gentleman, like Sir Clifford. So Clifford had got a
good start of her. But gradually, as she came to the
bottom of him, to use her own term, she found he was
like the rest, a baby grown to man's proportions:
but a baby with a queer temper and a fine manner and
power in its control, and all sorts of odd knowledge
that she had never dreamed of, with which he could
still bully her.
Connie was sometimes tempted to say to him:
'For God's sake, don't sink so horribly into the
hands of that woman!' But she found she didn't care
for him enough to say it, in the long run.
It was still their habit to spend the evening
together, till ten o'clock. Then they would talk, or
read together, or go over his manuscript. But the
thrill had gone out of it. She was bored by his
manuscripts. But she still dutifully typed them out
for him. But in time Mrs Bolton would do even that.
For Connie had suggested to Mrs Bolton that she
should learn to use a typewriter. And Mrs Bolton,
always ready, had begun at once, and practised
assiduously. So now Clifford would sometimes dictate
a letter to her, and she would take it down rather
slowly, but correctly. And he was very patient,
spelling for her the difficult words, or the
occasional phrases in French. She was so thrilled,
it was almost a pleasure to instruct her.
Now Connie would sometimes plead a headache as an
excuse for going up to her room after dinner.
'Perhaps Mrs Bolton will play piquet with you,'
she said to Clifford.
'Oh, I shall be perfectly all right. You go to
your own room and rest, darling.'
But no sooner had she gone, than he rang for Mrs
Bolton, and asked her to take a hand at piquet or
bezique, or even chess. He had taught her all these
games. And Connie found it curiously objectionable
to see Mrs Bolton, flushed and tremulous like a
little girl, touching her queen or her knight with
uncertain fingers, then drawing away again. And
Clifford, faintly smiling with a half-teasing
superiority, saying to her:
'You must say j'adoube!'
She looked up at him with bright, startled eyes,
then murmured shyly, obediently:
Yes, he was educating her. And he enjoyed it, it
gave him a sense of power. And she was thrilled. She
was coming bit by bit into possession of all that
the gentry knew, all that made them upper class:
apart from the money. That thrilled her. And at the
same time, she was making him want to have her there
with him. It was a subtle deep flattery to him, her
To Connie, Clifford seemed to be coming out in
his true colours: a little vulgar, a little common,
and uninspired; rather fat. Ivy Bolton's tricks and
humble bossiness were also only too transparent. But
Connie did wonder at the genuine thrill which the
woman got out of Clifford. To say she was in love
with him would be putting it wrongly. She was
thrilled by her contact with a man of the upper
class, this titled gentleman, this author who could
write books and poems, and whose photograph appeared
in the illustrated newspapers. She was thrilled to a
weird passion. And his 'educating' her roused in her
a passion of excitement and response much deeper
than any love affair could have done. In truth, the
very fact that there could be no love affair
left her free to thrill to her very marrow with this
other passion, the peculiar passion of knowing,
knowing as he knew.
There was no mistake that the woman was in some
way in love with him: whatever force we give to the
word love. She looked so handsome and so young, and
her grey eyes were sometimes marvellous. At the same
time, there was a lurking soft satisfaction about
her, even of triumph, and private satisfaction. Ugh,
that private satisfaction. How Connie loathed it!
But no wonder Clifford was caught by the woman!
She absolutely adored him, in her persistent
fashion, and put herself absolutely at his service,
for him to use as he liked. No wonder he was
Connie heard long conversations going on between
the two. Or rather, it was mostly Mrs Bolton
talking. She had unloosed to him the stream of
gossip about Tevershall village. It was more than
gossip. It was Mrs Gaskell and George Eliot and Miss
Mitford all rolled in one, with a great deal more,
that these women left out.' Once started, Mrs Bolton
was better than any book, about the lives of the
people. She knew them all so intimately, and had
such a peculiar, flamey zest in all their affairs,
it was wonderful, if just a trifle
humiliating to listen to her. At first she had not
ventured to 'talk Tevershall', as she called it, to
Clifford. But once started, it went on. Clifford was
listening for 'material', and he found it in plenty.
Connie realized that his so-called genius was just
this: a perspicuous talent for personal gossip,
clever and apparently detached. Mrs Bolton, of
course, was very warm when she 'talked Tevershall'.
Carried away, in fact. And it was marvellous, the
things that happened and that she knew about. She
would have run to dozens of volumes.
Connie was fascinated, listening to her. But
afterwards always a little ashamed. She ought not to
listen with this queer rabid curiosity. After all,
one may hear the most private affairs of other
people, but only in a spirit of respect for the
struggling, battered thing which any human soul is,
and in a spirit of fine, discriminative sympathy.
For even satire is a form of sympathy. It is the way
our sympathy flows and recoils that really
determines our lives. And here lies the vast
importance of the novel, properly handled. It can
inform and lead into new places the flow of our
sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our
sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead.
Therefore, the novel, properly handled, can reveal
the most secret places of life: for it is in the
passional secret places of life, above all, that
the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and
flow, cleansing and freshening.
But the novel, like gossip, can also excite
spurious sympathies and recoils, mechanical and
deadening to the psyche. The novel can glorify the
most corrupt feelings, so long as they are
conventionally 'pure'. Then the novel, like
gossip, becomes at last vicious, and, like gossip,
all the more vicious because it is always ostensibly
on the side of the angels. Mrs Bolton's gossip was
always on the side of the angels. 'And he was such a
bad fellow, and she was such a nice
woman.' Whereas, as Connie could see even from Mrs
Bolton's gossip, the woman had been merely a
mealy-mouthed sort, and the man angrily honest. But
angry honesty made a 'bad man' of him, and
mealy-mouthedness made a 'nice woman' of her, in the
vicious, conventional channelling of sympathy by Mrs
For this reason, the gossip was humiliating. And
for the same reason, most novels, especially popular
ones, are humiliating too. The public responds now
only to an appeal to its vices.
Nevertheless, one got a new vision of Tevershall
village from Mrs Bolton's talk. A terrible, seething
welter of ugly life it seemed: not at all the flat
drabness it looked from outside. Clifford of course
knew by sight most of the people mentioned, Connie
knew only one or two. But it sounded really more
like a Central African jungle than an English
'I suppose you heard as Miss Allsopp was married
last week! Would you ever! Miss Allsopp, old James'
daughter, the boot-and-shoe Allsopp. You know they
built a house up at Pye Croft. The old man died last
year from a fall; eighty-three, he was, an' nimble
as a lad. An' then he slipped on Bestwood Hill, on a
slide as the lads 'ad made last winter, an' broke
his thigh, and that finished him, poor old man, it
did seem a shame. Well, he left all his money to
Tattie: didn't leave the boys a penny. An' Tattie, I
know, is five years--yes, she's fifty-three last
autumn. And you know they were such Chapel people,
my word! She taught Sunday school for thirty years,
till her father died. And then she started carrying
on with a fellow from Kinbrook, I don't know if you
know him, an oldish fellow with a red nose, rather
dandified, Willcock, as works in Harrison's
woodyard. Well he's sixty-five, if he's a day, yet
you'd have thought they were a pair of young
turtle-doves, to see them, arm in arm, and kissing
at the gate: yes, an' she sitting on his knee right
in the bay window on Pye Croft Road, for anybody to
see. And he's got sons over forty: only lost his
wife two years ago. If old James Allsopp hasn't
risen from his grave, it's because there is no
rising: for he kept her that strict! Now they're
married and gone to live down at Kinbrook, and they
say she goes round in a dressing-gown from morning
to night, a veritable sight. I'm sure it's awful,
the way the old ones go on! Why they're a lot worse
than the young, and a sight more disgusting. I lay
it down to the pictures, myself. But you can't keep
them away. I was always saying: go to a good
instructive film, but do for goodness sake keep away
from these melodramas and love films. Anyhow keep
the children away! But there you are, grown-ups are
worse than the children: and the old ones beat the
'Talk about morality! Nobody cares a thing. Folks
does as they like, and much better off they are for
it, I must say. But they're having to draw their
horns in nowadays, now th' pits are working so bad,
and they haven't got the money. And the grumbling
they do, it's awful, especially the women. The men
are so good and patient! What can they do, poor
chaps! But the women, oh, they do carry on! They go
and show off, giving contributions for a wedding
present for Princess Mary, and then when they see
all the grand things that's been given, they simply
rave: who's she, any better than anybody else! Why
doesn't Swan & Edgar give me one fur coat,
instead of giving her six. I wish I'd kept my ten
shillings! What's she going to give me, I should
like to know? Here I can't get a new spring coat, my
dad's working that bad, and she gets van-loads. It's
time as poor folks had some money to spend, rich
ones 'as 'ad it long enough. I want a new spring
coat, I do, an' wheer am I going to get it? I say to
them, be thankful you're well fed and well clothed,
without all the new finery you want! And they fly
back at me: "Why isn't Princess Mary thankful to go
about in her old rags, then, an' have nothing! Folks
like her get van-loads, an' I can't have a
new spring coat. It's a damned shame. Princess!
Bloomin' rot about Princess! It's munney as matters,
an' cos she's got lots, they give her more! Nobody's
givin' me any, an' I've as much right as anybody
else. Don't talk to me about education. It's munney
as matters. I want a new spring coat, I do, an' I
shan't get it, cos there's no munney..."
'That's all they care about, clothes. They think
nothing of giving seven or eight guineas for a
winter coat--colliers' daughters, mind you--and two
guineas for a child's summer hat. And then they go
to the Primitive Chapel in their two-guinea hat,
girls as would have been proud of a
three-and-sixpenny one in my day. I heard that at
the Primitive Methodist anniversary this year, when
they have a built-up platform for the Sunday School
children, like a grandstand going almost up to th'
ceiling, I heard Miss Thompson, who has the first
class of girls in the Sunday School, say there'd be
over a thousand pounds in new Sunday clothes sitting
on that platform! And times are what they are! But
you can't stop them. They're mad for clothes. And
boys the same. The lads spend every penny on
themselves, clothes, smoking, drinking in the
Miners' Welfare, jaunting off to Sheffield two or
three times a week. Why, it's another world. And
they fear nothing, and they respect nothing, the
young don't. The older men are that patient and
good, really, they let the women take everything.
And this is what it leads to. The women are positive
demons. But the lads aren't like their dads. They're
sacrificing nothing, they aren't: they're all for
self. If you tell them they ought to be putting a
bit by, for a home, they say: That'll keep, that
will, I'm goin' t' enjoy myself while I can. Owt
else'll keep! Oh, they're rough an' selfish, if you
like. Everything falls on the older men, an' it's a
bad outlook all round.'
Clifford began to get a new idea of his own
village. The place had always frightened him, but he
had thought it more or less stable. Now--?
'Is there much Socialism, Bolshevism, among the
people?' he asked.
'Oh!' said Mrs Bolton, 'you hear a few
loud-mouthed ones. But they're mostly women who've
got into debt. The men take no notice. I don't
believe you'll ever turn our Tevershall men into
reds. They're too decent for that. But the young
ones blether sometimes. Not that they care for it
really. They only want a bit of money in their
pocket, to spend at the Welfare, or go gadding to
Sheffield. That's all they care. When they've got no
money, they'll listen to the reds spouting. But
nobody believes in it, really.'
'So you think there's no danger?'
'Oh no! Not if trade was good, there wouldn't be.
But if things were bad for a long spell, the young
ones might go funny. I tell you, they're a selfish,
spoilt lot. But I don't see how they'd ever do
anything. They aren't ever serious about anything,
except showing off on motor-bikes and dancing at the
Palais-de-danse in Sheffield. You can't make
them serious. The serious ones dress up in evening
clothes and go off to the Pally to show off before a
lot of girls and dance these new Charlestons and
what not. I'm sure sometimes the bus'll be full of
young fellows in evening suits, collier lads, off to
the Pally: let alone those that have gone with their
girls in motors or on motor-bikes. They don't give a
serious thought to a thing--save Doncaster races,
and the Derby: for they all of them bet on every
race. And football! But even football's not what it
was, not by a long chalk. It's too much like hard
work, they say. No, they'd rather be off on
motor-bikes to Sheffield or Nottingham, Saturday
'But what do they do when they get there?'
'Oh, hang around--and have tea in some fine
tea-place like the Mikado--and go to the Pally or
the pictures or the Empire, with some girl. The
girls are as free as the lads. They do just what
'And what do they do when they haven't the money
for these things?'
'They seem to get it, somehow. And they begin
talking nasty then. But I don't see how you're going
to get bolshevism, when all the lads want is just
money to enjoy themselves, and the girls the same,
with fine clothes: and they don't care about another
thing. They haven't the brains to be socialists.
They haven't enough seriousness to take anything
really serious, and they never will have.'
Connie thought, how extremely like all the rest
of the classes the lower classes sounded. Just the
same thing over again, Tevershall or Mayfair or
Kensington. There was only one class nowadays:
moneyboys. The moneyboy and the moneygirl, the only
difference was how much you'd got, and how much you
Under Mrs Bolton's influence, Clifford began to
take a new interest in the mines. He began to feel
he belonged. A new sort of self-assertion came into
him. After all, he was the real boss in Tevershall,
he was really the pits. It was a new sense of power,
something he had till now shrunk from with dread.
Tevershall pits were running thin. There were
only two collieries: Tevershall itself, and New
London. Tevershall had once been a famous mine, and
had made famous money. But its best days were over.
New London was never very rich, and in ordinary
times just got along decently. But now times were
bad, and it was pits like New London that got left.
'There's a lot of Tevershall men left and gone to
Stacks Gate and Whiteover,' said Mrs Bolton. 'You've
not seen the new works at Stacks Gate, opened after
the war, have you, Sir Clifford? Oh, you must go one
day, they're something quite new: great big chemical
works at the pit-head, doesn't look a bit like a
colliery. They say they get more money out of the
chemical by-products than out of the coal--I forget
what it is. And the grand new houses for the men,
fair mansions! of course it's brought a lot of
riff-raff from all over the country. But a lot of
Tevershall men got on there, and doin' well, a lot
better than our own men. They say Tevershall's done,
finished: only a question of a few more years, and
it'll have to shut down. And New London'll go first.
My word, won't it be funny when there's no
Tevershall pit working. It's bad enough during a
strike, but my word, if it closes for good, it'll be
like the end of the world. Even when I was a girl it
was the best pit in the country, and a man counted
himself lucky if he could on here. Oh, there's been
some money made in Tevershall. And now the men say
it's a sinking ship, and it's time they all got out.
Doesn't it sound awful! But of course there's a lot
as'll never go till they have to. They don't like
these new fangled mines, such a depth, and all
machinery to work them. Some of them simply dreads
those iron men, as they call them, those machines
for hewing the coal, where men always did it before.
And they say it's wasteful as well. But what goes in
waste is saved in wages, and a lot more. It seems
soon there'll be no use for men on the face of the
earth, it'll be all machines. But they say that's
what folks said when they had to give up the old
stocking frames. I can remember one or two. But my
word, the more machines, the more people, that's
what it looks like! They say you can't get the same
chemicals out of Tevershall coal as you can out of
Stacks Gate, and that's funny, they're not three
miles apart. But they say so. But everybody says
it's a shame something can't be started, to keep the
men going a bit better, and employ the girls. All
the girls traipsing off to Sheffield every day! My
word, it would be something to talk about if
Tevershall Collieries took a new lease of life,
after everybody saying they're finished, and a
sinking ship, and the men ought to leave them like
rats leave a sinking ship. But folks talk so much,
of course there was a boom during the war. When Sir
Geoffrey made a trust of himself and got the money
safe for ever, somehow. So they say! But they say
even the masters and the owners don't get much out
of it now. You can hardly believe it, can you! Why I
always thought the pits would go on for ever and
ever. Who'd have thought, when I was a girl! But New
England's shut down, so is Colwick Wood: yes, it's
fair haunting to go through that coppy and see
Colwick Wood standing there deserted among the
trees, and bushes growing up all over the pit-head,
and the lines red rusty. It's like death itself, a
dead colliery. Why, whatever should we do if
Tevershall shut down--? It doesn't bear thinking of.
Always that throng it's been, except at strikes, and
even then the fan-wheels didn't stand, except when
they fetched the ponies up. I'm sure it's a funny
world, you don't know where you are from year to
year, you really don't.'
It was Mrs Bolton's talk that really put a new
fight into Clifford. His income, as she pointed out
to him, was secure, from his father's trust, even
though it was not large. The pits did not really
concern him. It was the other world he wanted to
capture, the world of literature and fame; the
popular world, not the working world.
Now he realized the distinction between popular
success and working success: the populace of
pleasure and the populace of work. He, as a private
individual, had been catering with his stories for
the populace of pleasure. And he had caught on. But
beneath the populace of pleasure lay the populace of
work, grim, grimy, and rather terrible. They too had
to have their providers. And it was a much grimmer
business, providing for the populace of work, than
for the populace of pleasure. While he was doing his
stories, and 'getting on' in the world, Tevershall
was going to the wall.
He realized now that the bitch-goddess of Success
had two main appetites: one for flattery, adulation,
stroking and tickling such as writers and artists
gave her; but the other a grimmer appetite for meat
and bones. And the meat and bones for the
bitch-goddess were provided by the men who made
money in industry.
Yes, there were two great groups of dogs
wrangling for the bitch-goddess: the group of the
flatterers, those who offered her amusement,
stories, films, plays: and the other, much less
showy, much more savage breed, those who gave her
meat, the real substance of money. The well-groomed
showy dogs of amusement wrangled and snarled among
themselves for the favours of the bitch-goddess. But
it was nothing to the silent fight-to-the-death that
went on among the indispensables, the bone-bringers.
But under Mrs Bolton's influence, Clifford was
tempted to enter this other fight, to capture the
bitch-goddess by brute means of industrial
production. Somehow, he got his pecker up.
In one way, Mrs Bolton made a man of him, as
Connie never did. Connie kept him apart, and made
him sensitive and conscious of himself and his own
states. Mrs Bolton made him aware only of outside
things. Inwardly he began to go soft as pulp. But
outwardly he began to be effective.
He even roused himself to go to the mines once
more: and when he was there, he went down in a tub,
and in a tub he was hauled out into the workings.
Things he had learned before the war, and seemed
utterly to have forgotten, now came back to him. He
sat there, crippled, in a tub, with the underground
manager showing him the seam with a powerful torch.
And he said little. But his mind began to work.
He began to read again his technical works on the
coal-mining industry, he studied the government
reports, and he read with care the latest things on
mining and the chemistry of coal and of shale which
were written in German. Of course the most valuable
discoveries were kept secret as far as possible. But
once you started a sort of research in the field of
coal-mining, a study of methods and means, a study
of by-products and the chemical possibilities of
coal, it was astounding the ingenuity and the almost
uncanny cleverness of the modern technical mind, as
if really the devil himself had lent fiend's wits to
the technical scientists of industry. It was far
more interesting than art, than literature, poor
emotional half-witted stuff, was this technical
science of industry. In this field, men were like
gods, or demons, inspired to discoveries, and
fighting to carry them out. In this activity, men
were beyond any mental age calculable. But Clifford
knew that when it did come to the emotional and
human life, these self-made men were of a mental age
of about thirteen, feeble boys. The discrepancy was
enormous and appalling.
But let that be. Let man slide down to general
idiocy in the emotional and 'human' mind, Clifford
did not care. Let all that go hang. He was
interested in the technicalities of modern
coal-mining, and in pulling Tevershall out of the
He went down to the pit day after day, he
studied, he put the general manager, and the
overhead manager, and the underground manager, and
the engineers through a mill they had never dreamed
of. Power! He felt a new sense of power flowing
through him: power over all these men, over the
hundreds and hundreds of colliers. He was finding
out: and he was getting things into his grip.
And he seemed verily to be re-born. Now
life came into him! He had been gradually dying,
with Connie, in the isolated private life of the
artist and the conscious being. Now let all that go.
Let it sleep. He simply felt life rush into him out
of the coal, out of the pit. The very stale air of
the colliery was better than oxygen to him. It gave
him a sense of power, power. He was doing something:
and he was going to do something. He was
going to win, to win: not as he had won with his
stories, mere publicity, amid a whole sapping of
energy and malice. But a man's victory.
At first he thought the solution lay in
electricity: convert the coal into electric power.
Then a new idea came. The Germans invented a new
locomotive engine with a self feeder, that did not
need a fireman. And it was to be fed with a new
fuel, that burnt in small quantities at a great
heat, under peculiar conditions.
The idea of a new concentrated fuel that burnt
with a hard slowness at a fierce heat was what first
attracted Clifford. There must be some sort of
external stimulus of the burning of such fuel, not
merely air supply. He began to experiment, and got a
clever young fellow, who had proved brilliant in
chemistry, to help him.
And he felt triumphant. He had at last got out of
himself. He had fulfilled his life-long secret
yearning to get out of himself. Art had not done it
for him. Art had only made it worse. But now, now he
had done it.
He was not aware how much Mrs Bolton was behind
him. He did not know how much he depended on her.
But for all that, it was evident that when he was
with her his voice dropped to an easy rhythm of
intimacy, almost a trifle vulgar.
With Connie, he was a little stiff. He felt he
owed her everything, and he showed her the utmost
respect and consideration, so long as she gave him
mere outward respect. But it was obvious he had a
secret dread of her. The new Achilles in him had a
heel, and in this heel the woman, the woman like
Connie, his wife, could lame him fatally. He went in
a certain half-subservient dread of her, and was
extremely nice to her. But his voice was a little
tense when he spoke to her, and he began to be
silent whenever she was present.
Only when he was alone with Mrs Bolton did he
really feel a lord and a master, and his voice ran
on with her almost as easily and garrulously as her
own could run. And he let her shave him or sponge
all his body as if he were a child, really as if he
were a child.
Connie was a good deal alone now, fewer people
came to Wragby. Clifford no longer wanted them. He
had turned against even the cronies. He was queer.
He preferred the radio, which he had installed at
some expense, with a good deal of success at last.
He could sometimes get Madrid or Frankfurt, even
there in the uneasy Midlands.
And he would sit alone for hours listening to the
loudspeaker bellowing forth. It amazed and stunned
Connie. But there he would sit, with a blank
entranced expression on his face, like a person
losing his mind, and listen, or seem to listen, to
the unspeakable thing.
Was he really listening? Or was it a sort of
soporific he took, whilst something else worked on
underneath in him? Connie did now know. She fled up
to her room, or out of doors to the wood. A kind of
terror filled her sometimes, a terror of the
incipient insanity of the whole civilized species.
But now that Clifford was drifting off to this
other weirdness of industrial activity, becoming
almost a creature, with a hard, efficient
shell of an exterior and a pulpy interior, one of
the amazing crabs and lobsters of the modern,
industrial and financial world, invertebrates of the
crustacean order, with shells of steel, like
machines, and inner bodies of soft pulp, Connie
herself was really completely stranded.
She was not even free, for Clifford must have her
there. He seemed to have a nervous terror that she
should leave him. The curious pulpy part of him, the
emotional and humanly-individual part, depended on
her with terror, like a child, almost like an idiot.
She must be there, there at Wragby, a Lady
Chatterley, his wife. Otherwise he would be lost
like an idiot on a moor.
This amazing dependence Connie realized with a
sort of horror. She heard him with his pit managers,
with the members of his Board, with young
scientists, and she was amazed at his shrewd insight
into things, his power, his uncanny material power
over what is called practical men. He had become a
practical man himself and an amazingly astute and
powerful one, a master. Connie attributed it to Mrs
Bolton's influence upon him, just at the crisis in
But this astute and practical man was almost an
idiot when left alone to his own emotional life. He
worshipped Connie. She was his wife, a higher being,
and he worshipped her with a queer, craven idolatry,
like a savage, a worship based on enormous fear, and
even hate of the power of the idol, the dread idol.
All he wanted was for Connie to swear, to swear not
to leave him, not to give him away.
'Clifford,' she said to him--but this was after
she had the key to the hut--'Would you really like
me to have a child one day?'
He looked at her with a furtive apprehension in
his rather prominent pale eyes.
'I shouldn't mind, if it made no difference
between us,' he said.
'No difference to what?' she asked.
'To you and me; to our love for one another. If
it's going to affect that, then I'm all against it.
Why, I might even one day have a child of my own!'
She looked at him in amazement.
'I mean, it might come back to me one of these
She still stared in amazement, and he was
'So you would not like it if I had a child?' she
'I tell you,' he replied quickly, like a cornered
dog, 'I am quite willing, provided it doesn't touch
your love for me. If it would touch that, I am dead
Connie could only be silent in cold fear and
contempt. Such talk was really the gabbling of an
idiot. He no longer knew what he was talking about.
'Oh, it wouldn't make any difference to my
feeling for you,' she said, with a certain sarcasm.
'There!' he said. 'That is the point! In that
case I don't mind in the least. I mean it would be
awfully nice to have a child running about the
house, and feel one was building up a future for it.
I should have something to strive for then, and I
should know it was your child, shouldn't I, dear?
And it would seem just the same as my own. Because
it is you who count in these matters. You know that,
don't you, dear? I don't enter, I am a cypher. You
are the great I-am! as far as life goes. You know
that, don't you? I mean, as far as I am concerned. I
mean, but for you I am absolutely nothing. I live
for your sake and your future. I am nothing to
Connie heard it all with deepening dismay and
repulsion. It was one of the ghastly half-truths
that poison human existence. What man in his senses
would say such things to a woman! But men aren't in
their senses. What man with a spark of honour would
put this ghastly burden of life-responsibility upon
a woman, and leave her there, in the void?
Moreover, in half an hour's time, Connie heard
Clifford talking to Mrs Bolton, in a hot, impulsive
voice, revealing himself in a sort of passionless
passion to the woman, as if she were half mistress,
half foster-mother to him. And Mrs Bolton was
carefully dressing him in evening clothes, for there
were important business guests in the house.
Connie really sometimes felt she would die at
this time. She felt she was being crushed to death
by weird lies, and by the amazing cruelty of idiocy.
Clifford's strange business efficiency in a way
over-awed her, and his declaration of private
worship put her into a panic. There was nothing
between them. She never even touched him nowadays,
and he never touched her. He never even took her
hand and held it kindly. No, and because they were
so utterly out of touch, he tortured her with his
declaration of idolatry. It was the cruelty of utter
impotence. And she felt her reason would give way,
or she would die.
She fled as much as possible to the wood. One
afternoon, as she sat brooding, watching the water
bubbling coldly in John's Well, the keeper had
strode up to her.
'I got you a key made, my Lady!' he said,
saluting, and he offered her the key.
'Thank you so much!' she said, startled.
'The hut's not very tidy, if you don't mind,' he
said. 'I cleared it what I could.'
'But I didn't want you to trouble!' she said.
'Oh, it wasn't any trouble. I am setting the hens
in about a week. But they won't be scared of you. I
s'll have to see to them morning and night, but I
shan't bother you any more than I can help.'
'But you wouldn't bother me,' she pleaded. 'I'd
rather not go to the hut at all, if I am going to be
in the way.'
He looked at her with his keen blue eyes. He
seemed kindly, but distant. But at least he was
sane, and wholesome, if even he looked thin and ill.
A cough troubled him.
'You have a cough,' she said.
'Nothing--a cold! The last pneumonia left me with
a cough, but it's nothing.'
He kept distant from her, and would not come any
She went fairly often to the hut, in the morning
or in the afternoon, but he was never there. No
doubt he avoided her on purpose. He wanted to keep
his own privacy.
He had made the hut tidy, put the little table
and chair near the fireplace, left a little pile of
kindling and small logs, and put the tools and traps
away as far as possible, effacing himself. Outside,
by the clearing, he had built a low little roof of
boughs and straw, a shelter for the birds, and under
it stood the live coops. And, one day when she came,
she found two brown hens sitting alert and fierce in
the coops, sitting on pheasants' eggs, and fluffed
out so proud and deep in all the heat of the
pondering female blood. This almost broke Connie's
heart. She, herself was so forlorn and unused, not a
female at all, just a mere thing of terrors.
Then all the live coops were occupied by hens,
three brown and a grey and a black. All alike, they
clustered themselves down on the eggs in the soft
nestling ponderosity of the female urge, the female
nature, fluffing out their feathers. And with
brilliant eyes they watched Connie, as she crouched
before them, and they gave short sharp clucks of
anger and alarm, but chiefly of female anger at
Connie found corn in the corn-bin in the hut. She
offered it to the hens in her hand. They would not
eat it. Only one hen pecked at her hand with a
fierce little jab, so Connie was frightened. But she
was pining to give them something, the brooding
mothers who neither fed themselves nor drank. She
brought water in a little tin, and was delighted
when one of the hens drank.
Now she came every day to the hens, they were the
only things in the world that warmed her heart.
Clifford's protestations made her go cold from head
to foot. Mrs Bolton's voice made her go cold, and
the sound of the business men who came. An
occasional letter from Michaelis affected her with
the same sense of chill. She felt she would surely
die if it lasted much longer.
Yet it was spring, and the bluebells were coming
in the wood, and the leaf-buds on the hazels were
opening like the spatter of green rain. How terrible
it was that it should be spring, and everything
cold-hearted, cold-hearted. Only the hens, fluffed
so wonderfully on the eggs, were warm with their
hot, brooding female bodies! Connie felt herself
living on the brink of fainting all the time.
Then, one day, a lovely sunny day with great
tufts of primroses under the hazels, and many
violets dotting the paths, she came in the afternoon
to the coops and there was one tiny, tiny perky
chicken tinily prancing round in front of a coop,
and the mother hen clucking in terror. The slim
little chick was greyish brown with dark markings,
and it was the most alive little spark of a creature
in seven kingdoms at that moment. Connie crouched to
watch in a sort of ecstasy. Life, life! pure,
sparky, fearless new life! New life! So tiny and so
utterly without fear! Even when it scampered a
little, scrambling into the coop again, and
disappeared under the hen's feathers in answer to
the mother hen's wild alarm-cries, it was not really
frightened, it took it as a game, the game of
living. For in a moment a tiny sharp head was poking
through the gold-brown feathers of the hen, and
eyeing the Cosmos.
Connie was fascinated. And at the same time,
never had she felt so acutely the agony of her own
female forlornness. It was becoming unbearable.
She had only one desire now, to go to the
clearing in the wood. The rest was a kind of painful
dream. But sometimes she was kept all day at Wragby,
by her duties as hostess. And then she felt as if
she too were going blank, just blank and insane.
One evening, guests or no guests, she escaped
after tea. It was late, and she fled across the park
like one who fears to be called back. The sun was
setting rosy as she entered the wood, but she
pressed on among the flowers. The light would last
She arrived at the clearing flushed and
semi-conscious. The keeper was there, in his
shirt-sleeves, just closing up the coops for the
night, so the little occupants would be safe. But
still one little trio was pattering about on tiny
feet, alert drab mites, under the straw shelter,
refusing to be called in by the anxious mother.
'I had to come and see the chickens!' she said,
panting, glancing shyly at the keeper, almost
unaware of him. 'Are there any more?'
'Thurty-six so far!' he said. 'Not bad!'
He too took a curious pleasure in watching the
young things come out.
Connie crouched in front of the last coop. The
three chicks had run in. But still their cheeky
heads came poking sharply through the yellow
feathers, then withdrawing, then only one beady
little head eyeing forth from the vast mother-body.
'I'd love to touch them,' she said, putting her
fingers gingerly through the bars of the coop. But
the mother-hen pecked at her hand fiercely, and
Connie drew back startled and frightened.
'How she pecks at me! She hates me!' she said in
a wondering voice. 'But I wouldn't hurt them!'
The man standing above her laughed, and crouched
down beside her, knees apart, and put his hand with
quiet confidence slowly into the coop. The old hen
pecked at him, but not so savagely. And slowly,
softly, with sure gentle fingers, he felt among the
old bird's feathers and drew out a faintly-peeping
chick in his closed hand.
'There!' he said, holding out his hand to her.
She took the little drab thing between her hands,
and there it stood, on its impossible little stalks
of legs, its atom of balancing life trembling
through its almost weightless feet into Connie's
hands. But it lifted its handsome, clean-shaped
little head boldly, and looked sharply round, and
gave a little 'peep'. 'So adorable! So cheeky!' she
The keeper, squatting beside her, was also
watching with an amused face the bold little bird in
her hands. Suddenly he saw a tear fall on to her
And he stood up, and stood away, moving to the
other coop. For suddenly he was aware of the old
flame shooting and leaping up in his loins, that he
had hoped was quiescent for ever. He fought against
it, turning his back to her. But it leapt, and leapt
downwards, circling in his knees.
He turned again to look at her. She was kneeling
and holding her two hands slowly forward, blindly,
so that the chicken should run in to the mother-hen
again. And there was something so mute and forlorn
in her, compassion flamed in his bowels for her.
Without knowing, he came quickly towards her and
crouched beside her again, taking the chick from her
hands, because she was afraid of the hen, and
putting it back in the coop. At the back of his
loins the fire suddenly darted stronger.
He glanced apprehensively at her. Her face was
averted, and she was crying blindly, in all the
anguish of her generation's forlornness. His heart
melted suddenly, like a drop of fire, and he put out
his hand and laid his fingers on her knee.
'You shouldn't cry,' he said softly.
But then she put her hands over her face and felt
that really her heart was broken and nothing
mattered any more.
He laid his hand on her shoulder, and softly,
gently, it began to travel down the curve of her
back, blindly, with a blind stroking motion, to the
curve of her crouching loins. And there his hand
softly, softly, stroked the curve of her flank, in
the blind instinctive caress.
She had found her scrap of handkerchief and was
blindly trying to dry her face.
'Shall you come to the hut?' he said, in a quiet,
And closing his hand softly on her upper arm, he
drew her up and led her slowly to the hut, not
letting go of her till she was inside. Then he
cleared aside the chair and table, and took a brown,
soldier's blanket from the tool chest, spreading it
slowly. She glanced at his face, as she stood
His face was pale and without expression, like
that of a man submitting to fate.
'You lie there,' he said softly, and he shut the
door, so that it was dark, quite dark.
With a queer obedience, she lay down on the
blanket. Then she felt the soft, groping, helplessly
desirous hand touching her body, feeling for her
face. The hand stroked her face softly, softly, with
infinite soothing and assurance, and at last there
was the soft touch of a kiss on her cheek.
She lay quite still, in a sort of sleep, in a
sort of dream. Then she quivered as she felt his
hand groping softly, yet with queer thwarted
clumsiness, among her clothing. Yet the hand knew,
too, how to unclothe her where it wanted. He drew
down the thin silk sheath, slowly, carefully, right
down and over her feet. Then with a quiver of
exquisite pleasure he touched the warm soft body,
and touched her navel for a moment in a kiss. And he
had to come in to her at once, to enter the peace on
earth of her soft, quiescent body. It was the moment
of pure peace for him, the entry into the body of
She lay still, in a kind of sleep, always in a
kind of sleep. The activity, the orgasm was his, all
his; she could strive for herself no more. Even the
tightness of his arms round her, even the intense
movement of his body, and the springing of his seed
in her, was a kind of sleep, from which she did not
begin to rouse till he had finished and lay softly
panting against her breast.
Then she wondered, just dimly wondered, why? Why
was this necessary? Why had it lifted a great cloud
from her and given her peace? Was it real? Was it
Her tormented modern-woman's brain still had no
rest. Was it real? And she knew, if she gave herself
to the man, it was real. But if she kept herself for
herself it was nothing. She was old; millions of
years old, she felt. And at last, she could bear the
burden of herself no more. She was to be had for the
taking. To be had for the taking.
The man lay in a mysterious stillness. What was
he feeling? What was he thinking? She did not know.
He was a strange man to her, she did not know him.
She must only wait, for she did not dare to break
his mysterious stillness. He lay there with his arms
round her, his body on hers, his wet body touching
hers, so close. And completely unknown. Yet not
unpeaceful. His very stillness was peaceful.
She knew that, when at last he roused and drew
away from her. It was like an abandonment. He drew
her dress in the darkness down over her knees and
stood a few moments, apparently adjusting his own
clothing. Then he quietly opened the door and went
She saw a very brilliant little moon shining
above the afterglow over the oaks. Quickly she got
up and arranged herself she was tidy. Then she went
to the door of the hut.
All the lower wood was in shadow, almost
darkness. Yet the sky overhead was crystal. But it
shed hardly any light. He came through the lower
shadow towards her, his face lifted like a pale
'Shall we go then?' he said.
'I'll go with you to the gate.'
He arranged things his own way. He locked the
door of the hut and came after her.
'You aren't sorry, are you?' he asked, as he went
at her side.
'No! No! Are you?' she said.
'For that! No!' he said. Then after a while he
added: 'But there's the rest of things.'
'What rest of things?' she said.
'Sir Clifford. Other folks. All the
'Why complications?' she said, disappointed.
'It's always so. For you as well as for me.
There's always complications.' He walked on steadily
in the dark.
'And are you sorry?' she said.
'In a way!' he replied, looking up at the sky. 'I
thought I'd done with it all. Now I've begun again.'
'Life!' she re-echoed, with a queer thrill.
'It's life,' he said. 'There's no keeping clear.
And if you do keep clear you might almost as well
die. So if I've got to be broken open again, I
She did not quite see it that way, but still
'It's just love,' she said cheerfully.
'Whatever that may be,' he replied.
They went on through the darkening wood in
silence, till they were almost at the gate.
'But you don't hate me, do you?' she said
'Nay, nay,' he replied. And suddenly he held her
fast against his breast again, with the old
connecting passion. 'Nay, for me it was good, it was
good. Was it for you?'
'Yes, for me too,' she answered, a little
untruthfully, for she had not been conscious of
He kissed her softly, softly, with the kisses of
'If only there weren't so many other people in
the world,' he said lugubriously.
She laughed. They were at the gate to the park.
He opened it for her.
'I won't come any further,' he said.
'No!' And she held out her hand, as if to shake
hands. But he took it in both his.
'Shall I come again?' she asked wistfully.
She left him and went across the park.
He stood back and watched her going into the
dark, against the pallor of the horizon. Almost with
bitterness he watched her go. She had connected him
up again, when he had wanted to be alone. She had
cost him that bitter privacy of a man who at last
wants only to be alone.
He turned into the dark of the wood. All was
still, the moon had set. But he was aware of the
noises of the night, the engines at Stacks Gate, the
traffic on the main road. Slowly he climbed the
denuded knoll. And from the top he could see the
country, bright rows of lights at Stacks Gate,
smaller lights at Tevershall pit, the yellow lights
of Tevershall and lights everywhere, here and there,
on the dark country, with the distant blush of
furnaces, faint and rosy, since the night was clear,
the rosiness of the outpouring of white-hot metal.
Sharp, wicked electric lights at Stacks Gate! An
undefinable quick of evil in them! And all the
unease, the ever-shifting dread of the industrial
night in the Midlands. He could hear the
winding-engines at Stacks Gate turning down the
seven-o'clock miners. The pit worked three shifts.
He went down again into the darkness and
seclusion of the wood. But he knew that the
seclusion of the wood was illusory. The industrial
noises broke the solitude, the sharp lights, though
unseen, mocked it. A man could no longer be private
and withdrawn. The world allows no hermits. And now
he had taken the woman, and brought on himself a new
cycle of pain and doom. For he knew by experience
what it meant.
It was not woman's fault, nor even love's fault,
nor the fault of sex. The fault lay there, out
there, in those evil electric lights and diabolical
rattlings of engines. There, in the world of the
mechanical greedy, greedy mechanism and mechanized
greed, sparkling with lights and gushing hot metal
and roaring with traffic, there lay the vast evil
thing, ready to destroy whatever did not conform.
Soon it would destroy the wood, and the bluebells
would spring no more. All vulnerable things must
perish under the rolling and running of iron.
He thought with infinite tenderness of the woman.
Poor forlorn thing, she was nicer than she knew, and
oh! so much too nice for the tough lot she was in
contact with. Poor thing, she too had some of the
vulnerability of the wild hyacinths, she wasn't all
tough rubber-goods and platinum, like the modern
girl. And they would do her in! As sure as life,
they would do her in, as they do in all naturally
tender life. Tender! Somewhere she was tender,
tender with a tenderness of the growing hyacinths,
something that has gone out of the celluloid women
of today. But he would protect her with his heart
for a little while. For a little while, before the
insentient iron world and the Mammon of mechanized
greed did them both in, her as well as him.
He went home with his gun and his dog, to the
dark cottage, lit the lamp, started the fire, and
ate his supper of bread and cheese, young onions and
beer. He was alone, in a silence he loved. His room
was clean and tidy, but rather stark. Yet the fire
was bright, the hearth white, the petroleum lamp
hung bright over the table, with its white
oil-cloth. He tried to read a book about India, but
tonight he could not read. He sat by the fire in his
shirt-sleeves, not smoking, but with a mug of beer
in reach. And he thought about Connie.
To tell the truth, he was sorry for what had
happened, perhaps most for her sake. He had a sense
of foreboding. No sense of wrong or sin; he was
troubled by no conscience in that respect. He knew
that conscience was chiefly fear of society, or fear
of oneself. He was not afraid of himself. But he was
quite consciously afraid of society, which he knew
by instinct to be a malevolent, partly-insane beast.
The woman! If she could be there with him, and
there were nobody else in the world! The desire rose
again, his penis began to stir like a live bird. At
the same time an oppression, a dread of exposing
himself and her to that outside Thing that sparkled
viciously in the electric lights, weighed down his
shoulders. She, poor young thing, was just a young
female creature to him; but a young female creature
whom he had gone into and whom he desired again.
Stretching with the curious yawn of desire, for
he had been alone and apart from man or woman for
four years, he rose and took his coat again, and his
gun, lowered the lamp and went out into the starry
night, with the dog. Driven by desire and by dread
of the malevolent Thing outside, he made his round
in the wood, slowly, softly. He loved the darkness
and folded himself into it. It fitted the turgidity
of his desire which, in spite of all, was like a
riches; the stirring restlessness of his penis, the
stirring fire in his loins! Oh, if only there were
other men to be with, to fight that sparkling
electric Thing outside there, to preserve the
tenderness of life, the tenderness of women, and the
natural riches of desire. If only there were men to
fight side by side with! But the men were all
outside there, glorying in the Thing, triumphing or
being trodden down in the rush of mechanized greed
or of greedy mechanism.
Constance, for her part, had hurried across the
park, home, almost without thinking. As yet she had
no afterthought. She would be in time for dinner.
She was annoyed to find the doors fastened,
however, so that she had to ring. Mrs Bolton opened.
'Why there you are, your Ladyship! I was
beginning to wonder if you'd gone lost!' she said a
little roguishly. 'Sir Clifford hasn't asked for
you, though; he's got Mr Linley in with him, talking
over something. It looks as if he'd stay to dinner,
doesn't it, my Lady?'
'It does rather,' said Connie.
'Shall I put dinner back a quarter of an hour?
That would give you time to dress in comfort.'
'Perhaps you'd better.'
Mr Linley was the general manager of the
collieries, an elderly man from the north, with not
quite enough punch to suit Clifford; not up to
post-war conditions, nor post-war colliers either,
with their 'ca' canny' creed. But Connie liked Mr
Linley, though she was glad to be spared the
toadying of his wife.
Linley stayed to dinner, and Connie was the
hostess men liked so much, so modest, yet so
attentive and aware, with big, wide blue eyes and a
soft repose that sufficiently hid what she was
really thinking. Connie had played this woman so
much, it was almost second nature to her; but still,
decidedly second. Yet it was curious how everything
disappeared from her consciousness while she played
She waited patiently till she could go upstairs
and think her own thoughts. She was always waiting,
it seemed to be her forte.
Once in her room, however, she felt still vague
and confused. She didn't know what to think. What
sort of a man was he, really? Did he really like
her? Not much, she felt. Yet he was kind. There was
something, a sort of warm naive kindness, curious
and sudden, that almost opened her womb to him. But
she felt he might be kind like that to any woman.
Though even so, it was curiously soothing,
comforting. And he was a passionate man, wholesome
and passionate. But perhaps he wasn't quite
individual enough; he might be the same with any
woman as he had been with her. It really wasn't
personal. She was only really a female to him.
But perhaps that was better. And after all, he
was kind to the female in her, which no man had ever
been. Men were very kind to the person she
was, but rather cruel to the female, despising her
or ignoring her altogether. Men were awfully kind to
Constance Reid or to Lady Chatterley; but not to her
womb they weren't kind. And he took no notice of
Constance or of Lady Chatterley; he just softly
stroked her loins or her breasts.
She went to the wood next day. It was a grey,
still afternoon, with the dark-green dogs-mercury
spreading under the hazel copse, and all the trees
making a silent effort to open their buds. Today she
could almost feel it in her own body, the huge heave
of the sap in the massive trees, upwards, up, up to
the bud-tips, there to push into little flamey
oak-leaves, bronze as blood. It was like a ride
running turgid upward, and spreading on the sky.
She came to the clearing, but he was not there.
She had only half expected him. The pheasant chicks
were running lightly abroad, light as insects, from
the coops where the fellow hens clucked anxiously.
Connie sat and watched them, and waited. She only
waited. Even the chicks she hardly saw. She waited.
The time passed with dream-like slowness, and he
did not come. She had only half expected him. He
never came in the afternoon. She must go home to
tea. But she had to force herself to leave.
As she went home, a fine drizzle of rain fell.
'Is it raining again?' said Clifford, seeing her
shake her hat.
She poured tea in silence, absorbed in a sort of
obstinacy. She did want to see the keeper today, to
see if it were really real. If it were really real.
'Shall I read a little to you afterwards?' said
She looked at him. Had he sensed something?
'The spring makes me feel queer--I thought I
might rest a little,' she said.
'Just as you like. Not feeling really unwell, are
'No! Only rather tired--with the spring. Will you
have Mrs Bolton to play something with you?'
'No! I think I'll listen in.'
She heard the curious satisfaction in his voice.
She went upstairs to her bedroom. There she heard
the loudspeaker begin to bellow, in an idiotically
velveteen-genteel sort of voice, something about a
series of street-cries, the very cream of genteel
affectation imitating old criers. She pulled on her
old violet coloured mackintosh, and slipped out of
the house at the side door.
The drizzle of rain was like a veil over the
world, mysterious, hushed, not cold. She got very
warm as she hurried across the park. She had to open
her light waterproof.
The wood was silent, still and secret in the
evening drizzle of rain, full of the mystery of eggs
and half-open buds, half unsheathed flowers. In the
dimness of it all trees glistened naked and dark as
if they had unclothed themselves, and the green
things on earth seemed to hum with greenness.
There was still no one at the clearing. The
chicks had nearly all gone under the mother-hens,
only one or two last adventurous ones still dibbed
about in the dryness under the straw roof shelter.
And they were doubtful of themselves.
So! He still had not been. He was staying away on
purpose. Or perhaps something was wrong. Perhaps she
should go to the cottage and see.
But she was born to wait. She opened the hut with
her key. It was all tidy, the corn put in the bin,
the blankets folded on the shelf, the straw neat in
a corner; a new bundle of straw. The hurricane lamp
hung on a nail. The table and chair had been put
back where she had lain.
She sat down on a stool in the doorway. How still
everything was! The fine rain blew very softly,
filmily, but the wind made no noise. Nothing made
any sound. The trees stood like powerful beings,
dim, twilit, silent and alive. How alive everything
Night was drawing near again; she would have to
go. He was avoiding her.
But suddenly he came striding into the clearing,
in his black oilskin jacket like a chauffeur,
shining with wet. He glanced quickly at the hut,
half-saluted, then veered aside and went on to the
coops. There he crouched in silence, looking
carefully at everything, then carefully shutting the
hens and chicks up safe against the night.
At last he came slowly towards her. She still sat
on her stool. He stood before her under the porch.
'You come then,' he said, using the intonation of
'Yes,' she said, looking up at him. 'You're
'Ay!' he replied, looking away into the wood.
She rose slowly, drawing aside her stool.
'Did you want to come in?' she asked.
He looked down at her shrewdly.
'Won't folks be thinkin' somethink, you comin'
here every night?' he said.
'Why?' She looked up at him, at a loss. 'I said
I'd come. Nobody knows.'
'They soon will, though,' he replied. 'An' what
She was at a loss for an answer.
'Why should they know?' she said.
'Folks always does,' he said fatally.
Her lip quivered a little.
'Well I can't help it,' she faltered.
'Nay,' he said. 'You can help it by not
comin'--if yer want to,' he added, in a lower tone.
'But I don't want to,' she murmured.
He looked away into the wood, and was silent.
'But what when folks finds out?' he asked at
last. 'Think about it! Think how lowered you'll
feel, one of your husband's servants.'
She looked up at his averted face.
'Is it,' she stammered, 'is it that you don't
'Think!' he said. 'Think what if folks find out
Sir Clifford an' a'--an' everybody talkin'--'
'Well, I can go away.'
'Anywhere! I've got money of my own. My mother
left me twenty thousand pounds in trust, and I know
Clifford can't touch it. I can go away.'
'But 'appen you don't want to go away.'
'Yes, yes! I don't care what happens to me.'
'Ay, you think that! But you'll care! You'll have
to care, everybody has. You've got to remember your
Ladyship is carrying on with a game-keeper. It's not
as if I was a gentleman. Yes, you'd care. You'd
'I shouldn't. What do I care about my ladyship! I
hate it really. I feel people are jeering every time
they say it. And they are, they are! Even you jeer
when you say it.'
For the first time he looked straight at her, and
into her eyes. 'I don't jeer at you,' he said.
As he looked into her eyes she saw his own eyes
go dark, quite dark, the pupils dilating.
'Don't you care about a' the risk?' he asked in a
husky voice. 'You should care. Don't care when it's
There was a curious warning pleading in his
'But I've nothing to lose,' she said fretfully.
'If you knew what it is, you'd think I'd be glad to
lose it. But are you afraid for yourself?'
'Ay!' he said briefly. 'I am. I'm afraid. I'm
afraid. I'm afraid o' things.'
'What things?' she asked.
He gave a curious backward jerk of his head,
indicating the outer world.
'Things! Everybody! The lot of 'em.'
Then he bent down and suddenly kissed her unhappy
'Nay, I don't care,' he said. 'Let's have it, an'
damn the rest. But if you was to feel sorry you'd
ever done it--!'
'Don't put me off,' she pleaded.
He put his fingers to her cheek and kissed her
'Let me come in then,' he said softly. 'An' take
off your mackintosh.'
He hung up his gun, slipped out of his wet
leather jacket, and reached for the blankets.
'I brought another blanket,' he said, 'so we can
put one over us if you like.'
'I can't stay long,' she said. 'Dinner is
He looked at her swiftly, then at his watch.
'All right,' he said.
He shut the door, and lit a tiny light in the
hanging hurricane lamp. 'One time we'll have a long
time,' he said.
He put the blankets down carefully, one folded
for her head. Then he sat down a moment on the
stool, and drew her to him, holding her close with
one arm, feeling for her body with his free hand.
She heard the catch of his intaken breath as he
found her. Under her frail petticoat she was naked.
'Eh! what it is to touch thee!' he said, as his
finger caressed the delicate, warm, secret skin of
her waist and hips. He put his face down and rubbed
his cheek against her belly and against her thighs
again and again. And again she wondered a little
over the sort of rapture it was to him. She did not
understand the beauty he found in her, through touch
upon her living secret body, almost the ecstasy of
beauty. For passion alone is awake to it. And when
passion is dead, or absent, then the magnificent
throb of beauty is incomprehensible and even a
little despicable; warm, live beauty of contact, so
much deeper than the beauty of vision. She felt the
glide of his cheek on her thighs and belly and
buttocks, and the close brushing of his moustache
and his soft thick hair, and her knees began to
quiver. Far down in her she felt a new stirring, a
new nakedness emerging. And she was half afraid.
Half she wished he would not caress her so. He was
encompassing her somehow. Yet she was waiting,
And when he came into her, with an
intensification of relief and consummation that was
pure peace to him, still she was waiting. She felt
herself a little left out. And she knew, partly it
was her own fault. She willed herself into this
separateness. Now perhaps she was condemned to it.
She lay still, feeling his motion within her, his
deep-sunk intentness, the sudden quiver of him at
the springing of his seed, then the slow-subsiding
thrust. That thrust of the buttocks, surely it was a
little ridiculous. If you were a woman, and a part
in all the business, surely that thrusting of the
man's buttocks was supremely ridiculous. Surely the
man was intensely ridiculous in this posture and
But she lay still, without recoil. Even when he
had finished, she did not rouse herself to get a
grip on her own satisfaction, as she had done with
Michaelis; she lay still, and the tears slowly
filled and ran from her eyes.
He lay still, too. But he held her close and
tried to cover her poor naked legs with his legs, to
keep them warm. He lay on her with a close,
'Are yer cold?' he asked, in a soft, small voice,
as if she were close, so close. Whereas she was left
'No! But I must go,' she said gently.
He sighed, held her closer, then relaxed to rest
He had not guessed her tears. He thought she was
there with him.
'I must go,' she repeated.
He lifted himself kneeled beside her a moment,
kissed the inner side of her thighs, then drew down
her skirts, buttoning his own clothes unthinking,
not even turning aside, in the faint, faint light
from the lantern.
'Tha mun come ter th' cottage one time,' he said,
looking down at her with a warm, sure, easy face.
But she lay there inert, and was gazing up at him
thinking: Stranger! Stranger! She even resented him
He put on his coat and looked for his hat, which
had fallen, then he slung on his gun.
'Come then!' he said, looking down at her with
those warm, peaceful sort of eyes.
She rose slowly. She didn't want to go. She also
rather resented staying. He helped her with her thin
waterproof and saw she was tidy.
Then he opened the door. The outside was quite
dark. The faithful dog under the porch stood up with
pleasure seeing him. The drizzle of rain drifted
greyly past upon the darkness. It was quite dark.
'Ah mun ta'e th' lantern,' he said. 'The'll be
He walked just before her in the narrow path,
swinging the hurricane lamp low, revealing the wet
grass, the black shiny tree-roots like snakes, wan
flowers. For the rest, all was grey rain-mist and
'Tha mun come to the cottage one time,' he said,
'shall ta? We might as well be hung for a sheep as
for a lamb.'
It puzzled her, his queer, persistent wanting
her, when there was nothing between them, when he
never really spoke to her, and in spite of herself
she resented the dialect. His 'tha mun come' seemed
not addressed to her, but some common woman. She
recognized the foxglove leaves of the riding and
knew, more or less, where they were.
'It's quarter past seven,' he said, 'you'll do
it.' He had changed his voice, seemed to feel her
distance. As they turned the last bend in the riding
towards the hazel wall and the gate, he blew out the
light. 'We'll see from here,' be said, taking her
gently by the arm.
But it was difficult, the earth under their feet
was a mystery, but he felt his way by tread: he was
used to it. At the gate he gave her his electric
torch. 'It's a bit lighter in the park,' he said;
'but take it for fear you get off th' path.'
It was true, there seemed a ghost-glimmer of
greyness in the open space of the park. He suddenly
drew her to him and whipped his hand under her dress
again, feeling her warm body with his wet, chill
'I could die for the touch of a woman like thee,'
he said in his throat. 'If tha' would stop another
She felt the sudden force of his wanting her
'No, I must run,' she said, a little wildly.
'Ay,' he replied, suddenly changed, letting her
She turned away, and on the instant she turned
back to him saying: 'Kiss me.'
He bent over her indistinguishable and kissed her
on the left eye. She held her mouth and he softly
kissed it, but at once drew away. He hated mouth
'I'll come tomorrow,' she said, drawing away; 'if
I can,' she added.
'Ay! not so late,' he replied out of the
darkness. Already she could not see him at all.
'Goodnight,' she said.
'Goodnight, your Ladyship,' his voice.
She stopped and looked back into the wet dark.
She could just see the bulk of him. 'Why did you say
that?' she said.
'Nay,' he replied. 'Goodnight then, run!'
She plunged on in the dark-grey tangible night.
She found the side-door open, and slipped into her
room unseen. As she closed the door the gong
sounded, but she would take her bath all the
same--she must take her bath. 'But I won't be late
any more,' she said to herself; 'it's too annoying.'
The next day she did not go to the wood. She went
instead with Clifford to Uthwaite. He could
occasionally go out now in the car, and had got a
strong young man as chauffeur, who could help him
out of the car if need be. He particularly wanted to
see his godfather, Leslie Winter, who lived at
Shipley Hall, not far from Uthwaite. Winter was an
elderly gentleman now, wealthy, one of the wealthy
coal-owners who had had their hey-day in King
Edward's time. King Edward had stayed more than once
at Shipley, for the shooting. It was a handsome old
stucco hall, very elegantly appointed, for Winter
was a bachelor and prided himself on his style; but
the place was beset by collieries. Leslie Winter was
attached to Clifford, but personally did not
entertain a great respect for him, because of the
photographs in illustrated papers and the
literature. The old man was a buck of the King
Edward school, who thought life was life and the
scribbling fellows were something else. Towards
Connie the Squire was always rather gallant; he
thought her an attractive demure maiden and rather
wasted on Clifford, and it was a thousand pities she
stood no chance of bringing forth an heir to Wragby.
He himself had no heir.
Connie wondered what he would say if he knew that
Clifford's game-keeper had been having intercourse
with her, and saying to her 'tha mun come to th'
cottage one time.' He would detest and despise her,
for he had come almost to hate the shoving forward
of the working classes. A man of her own class he
would not mind, for Connie was gifted from nature
with this appearance of demure, submissive
maidenliness, and perhaps it was part of her nature.
Winter called her 'dear child' and gave her a rather
lovely miniature of an eighteenth-century lady,
rather against her will.
But Connie was preoccupied with her affair with
the keeper. After all, Mr Winter, who was really a
gentleman and a man of the world, treated her as a
person and a discriminating individual; he did not
lump her together with all the rest of his female
womanhood in his 'thee' and 'tha'.
She did not go to the wood that day nor the next,
nor the day following. She did not go so long as she
felt, or imagined she felt, the man waiting for her,
wanting her. But the fourth day she was terribly
unsettled and uneasy. She still refused to go to the
wood and open her thighs once more to the man. She
thought of all the things she might do--drive to
Sheffield, pay visits, and the thought of all these
things was repellent. At last she decided to take a
walk, not towards the wood, but in the opposite
direction; she would go to Marehay, through the
little iron gate in the other side of the park
fence. It was a quiet grey day of spring, almost
warm. She walked on unheeding, absorbed in thoughts
she was not even conscious of She was not really
aware of anything outside her, till she was startled
by the loud barking of the dog at Marehay Farm.
Marehay Farm! Its pastures ran up to Wragby park
fence, so they were neighbours, but it was some time
since Connie had called.
'Bell!' she said to the big white bull-terrier.
'Bell! have you forgotten me? Don't you know me?'
She was afraid of dogs, and Bell stood back and
bellowed, and she wanted to pass through the
farmyard on to the warren path.
Mrs Flint appeared. She was a woman of
Constance's own age, had been a school-teacher, but
Connie suspected her of being rather a false little
'Why, it's Lady Chatterley! Why!' And Mrs Flint's
eyes glowed again, and she flushed like a young
girl. 'Bell, Bell. Why! barking at Lady Chatterley!
Bell! Be quiet!' She darted forward and slashed at
the dog with a white cloth she held in her hand,
then came forward to Connie.
'She used to know me,' said Connie, shaking
hands. The Flints were Chatterley tenants.
'Of course she knows your Ladyship! She's just
showing off,' said Mrs Flint, glowing and looking up
with a sort of flushed confusion, 'but it's so long
since she's seen you. I do hope you are better.'
'Yes thanks, I'm all right.'
'We've hardly seen you all winter. Will you come
in and look at the baby?'
'Well!' Connie hesitated. 'Just for a minute.'
Mrs Flint flew wildly in to tidy up, and Connie
came slowly after her, hesitating in the rather dark
kitchen where the kettle was boiling by the fire.
Back came Mrs Flint.
'I do hope you'll excuse me,' she said. 'Will you
come in here?'
They went into the living-room, where a baby was
sitting on the rag hearth rug, and the table was
roughly set for tea. A young servant-girl backed
down the passage, shy and awkward.
The baby was a perky little thing of about a
year, with red hair like its father, and cheeky
pale-blue eyes. It was a girl, and not to be
daunted. It sat among cushions and was surrounded
with rag dolls and other toys in modern excess.
'Why, what a dear she is!' said Connie, 'and how
she's grown! A big girl! A big girl!'
She had given it a shawl when it was born, and
celluloid ducks for Christmas.
'There, Josephine! Who's that come to see you?
Who's this, Josephine? Lady Chatterley--you know
Lady Chatterley, don't you?'
The queer pert little mite gazed cheekily at
Connie. Ladyships were still all the same to her.
'Come! Will you come to me?' said Connie to the
The baby didn't care one way or another, so
Connie picked her up and held her in her lap. How
warm and lovely it was to hold a child in one's lap,
and the soft little arms, the unconscious cheeky
'I was just having a rough cup of tea all by
myself. Luke's gone to market, so I can have it when
I like. Would you care for a cup, Lady Chatterley? I
don't suppose it's what you're used to, but if you
Connie would, though she didn't want to be
reminded of what she was used to. There was a great
relaying of the table, and the best cups brought and
the best tea-pot.
'If only you wouldn't take any trouble,' said
But if Mrs Flint took no trouble, where was the
fun! So Connie played with the child and was amused
by its little female dauntlessness, and got a deep
voluptuous pleasure out of its soft young warmth.
Young life! And so fearless! So fearless, because so
defenceless. All the other people, so narrow with
She had a cup of tea, which was rather strong,
and very good bread and butter, and bottled damsons.
Mrs Flint flushed and glowed and bridled with
excitement, as if Connie were some gallant knight.
And they had a real female chat, and both of them
'It's a poor little tea, though,' said Mrs Flint.
'It's much nicer than at home,' said Connie
'Oh-h!' said Mrs Flint, not believing, of course.
But at last Connie rose.
'I must go,' she said. 'My husband has no idea
where I am. He'll be wondering all kinds of things.'
'He'll never think you're here,' laughed Mrs
Flint excitedly. 'He'll be sending the crier round.'
'Goodbye, Josephine,' said Connie, kissing the
baby and ruffling its red, wispy hair.
Mrs Flint insisted on opening the locked and
barred front door. Connie emerged in the farm's
little front garden, shut in by a privet hedge.
There were two rows of auriculas by the path, very
velvety and rich.
'Lovely auriculas,' said Connie.
'Recklesses, as Luke calls them,' laughed Mrs
Flint. 'Have some.'
And eagerly she picked the velvet and primrose
'Enough! Enough!' said Connie.
They came to the little garden gate.
'Which way were you going?' asked Mrs Flint.
'By the Warren.'
'Let me see! Oh yes, the cows are in the gin
close. But they're not up yet. But the gate's
locked, you'll have to climb.'
'I can climb,' said Connie.
'Perhaps I can just go down the close with you.'
They went down the poor, rabbit-bitten pasture.
Birds were whistling in wild evening triumph in the
wood. A man was calling up the last cows, which
trailed slowly over the path-worn pasture.
'They're late, milking, tonight,' said Mrs Flint
severely. 'They know Luke won't be back till after
They came to the fence, beyond which the young
fir-wood bristled dense. There was a little gate,
but it was locked. In the grass on the inside stood
a bottle, empty.
'There's the keeper's empty bottle for his milk,'
explained Mrs Flint. 'We bring it as far as here for
him, and then he fetches it himself'
'When?' said Connie.
'Oh, any time he's around. Often in the morning.
Well, goodbye Lady Chatterley! And do come again. It
was so lovely having you.'
Connie climbed the fence into the narrow path
between the dense, bristling young firs. Mrs Flint
went running back across the pasture, in a
sun-bonnet, because she was really a schoolteacher.
Constance didn't like this dense new part of the
wood; it seemed gruesome and choking. She hurried on
with her head down, thinking of the Flints' baby. It
was a dear little thing, but it would be a bit
bow-legged like its father. It showed already, but
perhaps it would grow out of it. How warm and
fulfilling somehow to have a baby, and how Mrs Flint
had showed it off! She had something anyhow that
Connie hadn't got, and apparently couldn't have.
Yes, Mrs Flint had flaunted her motherhood. And
Connie had been just a bit, just a little bit
jealous. She couldn't help it.
She started out of her muse, and gave a little
cry of fear. A man was there.
It was the keeper. He stood in the path like
Balaam's ass, barring her way.
'How's this?' he said in surprise.
'How did you come?' she panted.
'How did you? Have you been to the hut?'
'No! No! I went to Marehay.'
He looked at her curiously, searchingly, and she
hung her head a little guiltily.
'And were you going to the hut now?' he asked
rather sternly. 'No! I mustn't. I stayed at Marehay.
No one knows where I am. I'm late. I've got to run.'
'Giving me the slip, like?' he said, with a faint
ironic smile. 'No! No. Not that. Only--'
'Why, what else?' he said. And he stepped up to
her and put his arms around her. She felt the front
of his body terribly near to her, and alive.
'Oh, not now, not now,' she cried, trying to push
'Why not? It's only six o'clock. You've got half
an hour. Nay! Nay! I want you.'
He held her fast and she felt his urgency. Her
old instinct was to fight for her freedom. But
something else in her was strange and inert and
heavy. His body was urgent against her, and she
hadn't the heart any more to fight.
He looked around.
'Come--come here! Through here,' he said, looking
penetratingly into the dense fir-trees, that were
young and not more than half-grown.
He looked back at her. She saw his eyes, tense
and brilliant, fierce, not loving. But her will had
left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. She was
giving way. She was giving up.
He led her through the wall of prickly trees,
that were difficult to come through, to a place
where was a little space and a pile of dead boughs.
He threw one or two dry ones down, put his coat and
waistcoat over them, and she had to lie down there
under the boughs of the tree, like an animal, while
he waited, standing there in his shirt and breeches,
watching her with haunted eyes. But still he was
provident--he made her lie properly, properly. Yet
he broke the band of her underclothes, for she did
not help him, only lay inert.
He too had bared the front part of his body and
she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into
her. For a moment he was still inside her, turgid
there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in
the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new
strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling,
rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping of
soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of
brilliance, exquisite, exquisite and melting her all
molten inside. It was like bells rippling up and up
to a culmination. She lay unconscious of the wild
little cries she uttered at the last. But it was
over too soon, too soon, and she could no longer
force her own conclusion with her own activity. This
was different, different. She could do nothing. She
could no longer harden and grip for her own
satisfaction upon him. She could only wait, wait and
moan in spirit as she felt him withdrawing,
withdrawing and contracting, coming to the terrible
moment when he would slip out of her and be gone.
Whilst all her womb was open and soft, and softly
clamouring, like a sea-anemone under the tide,
clamouring for him to come in again and make a
fulfilment for her. She clung to him unconscious in
passion, and he never quite slipped from her, and
she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring,
and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a
strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and
swelling till it filled all her cleaving
consciousness, and then began again the unspeakable
motion that was not really motion, but pure
deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper
and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness,
till she was one perfect concentric fluid of
feeling, and she lay there crying in unconscious
inarticulate cries. The voice out of the uttermost
night, the life! The man heard it beneath him with a
kind of awe, as his life sprang out into her. And as
it subsided, he subsided too and lay utterly still,
unknowing, while her grip on him slowly relaxed, and
she lay inert. And they lay and knew nothing, not
even of each other, both lost. Till at last he began
to rouse and become aware of his defenceless
nakedness, and she was aware that his body was
loosening its clasp on her. He was coming apart; but
in her breast she felt she could not bear him to
leave her uncovered. He must cover her now for ever.
But he drew away at last, and kissed her and
covered her over, and began to cover himself. She
lay looking up to the boughs of the tree, unable as
yet to move. He stood and fastened up his breeches,
looking round. All was dense and silent, save for
the awed dog that lay with its paws against its
nose. He sat down again on the brushwood and took
Connie's hand in silence.
She turned and looked at him. 'We came off
together that time,' he said.
She did not answer.
'It's good when it's like that. Most folks live
their lives through and they never know it,' he
said, speaking rather dreamily.
She looked into his brooding face.
'Do they?' she said. 'Are you glad?'
He looked back into her eyes. 'Glad,' he said,
'Ay, but never mind.' He did not want her to talk.
And he bent over her and kissed her, and she felt,
so he must kiss her for ever.
At last she sat up.
'Don't people often come off together?' she asked
with naive curiosity.
'A good many of them never. You can see by the
raw look of them.' He spoke unwittingly, regretting
he had begun.
'Have you come off like that with other women?'
He looked at her amused.
'I don't know,' he said, 'I don't know.'
And she knew he would never tell her anything he
didn't want to tell her. She watched his face, and
the passion for him moved in her bowels. She
resisted it as far as she could, for it was the loss
of herself to herself.
He put on his waistcoat and his coat, and pushed
a way through to the path again.
The last level rays of the sun touched the wood.
'I won't come with you,' he said; 'better not.'
She looked at him wistfully before she turned.
His dog was waiting so anxiously for him to go, and
he seemed to have nothing whatever to say. Nothing
Connie went slowly home, realizing the depth of
the other thing in her. Another self was alive in
her, burning molten and soft in her womb and bowels,
and with this self she adored him. She adored him
till her knees were weak as she walked. In her womb
and bowels she was flowing and alive now and
vulnerable, and helpless in adoration of him as the
most naive woman. It feels like a child, she said to
herself it feels like a child in me. And so it did,
as if her womb, that had always been shut, had
opened and filled with new life, almost a burden,
'If I had a child!' she thought to herself; 'if I
had him inside me as a child!'--and her limbs turned
molten at the thought, and she realized the immense
difference between having a child to oneself and
having a child to a man whom one's bowels yearned
towards. The former seemed in a sense ordinary: but
to have a child to a man whom one adored in one's
bowels and one's womb, it made her feel she was very
different from her old self and as if she was
sinking deep, deep to the centre of all womanhood
and the sleep of creation.
It was not the passion that was new to her, it
was the yearning adoration. She knew she had always
feared it, for it left her helpless; she feared it
still, lest if she adored him too much, then she
would lose herself become effaced, and she did not
want to be effaced, a slave, like a savage woman.
She must not become a slave. She feared her
adoration, yet she would not at once fight against
it. She knew she could fight it. She had a devil of
self-will in her breast that could have fought the
full soft heaving adoration of her womb and crushed
it. She could even now do it, or she thought so, and
she could then take up her passion with her own
Ah yes, to be passionate like a Bacchante, like a
Bacchanal fleeing through the woods, to call on
Iacchos, the bright phallos that had no independent
personality behind it, but was pure god-servant to
the woman! The man, the individual, let him not dare
intrude. He was but a temple-servant, the bearer and
keeper of the bright phallos, her own.
So, in the flux of new awakening, the old hard
passion flamed in her for a time, and the man
dwindled to a contemptible object, the mere
phallos-bearer, to be torn to pieces when his
service was performed. She felt the force of the
Bacchae in her limbs and her body, the woman
gleaming and rapid, beating down the male; but while
she felt this, her heart was heavy. She did not want
it, it was known and barren, birthless; the
adoration was her treasure.
It was so fathomless, so soft, so deep and so
unknown. No, no, she would give up her hard bright
female power; she was weary of it, stiffened with
it; she would sink in the new bath of life, in the
depths of her womb and her bowels that sang the
voiceless song of adoration. It was early yet to
begin to fear the man.
'I walked over by Marehay, and I had tea with Mrs
Flint,' she said to Clifford. 'I wanted to see the
baby. It's so adorable, with hair like red cobwebs.
Such a dear! Mr Flint had gone to market, so she and
I and the baby had tea together. Did you wonder
where I was?'
'Well, I wondered, but I guessed you had dropped
in somewhere to tea,' said Clifford jealously. With
a sort of second sight he sensed something new in
her, something to him quite incomprehensible, but he
ascribed it to the baby. He thought that all that
ailed Connie was that she did not have a baby,
automatically bring one forth, so to speak.
'I saw you go across the park to the iron gate,
my Lady,' said Mrs Bolton; 'so I thought perhaps
you'd called at the Rectory.'
'I nearly did, then I turned towards Marehay
The eyes of the two women met: Mrs Bolton's grey
and bright and searching; Connie's blue and veiled
and strangely beautiful. Mrs Bolton was almost sure
she had a lover, yet how could it be, and who could
it be? Where was there a man?
'Oh, it's so good for you, if you go out and see
a bit of company sometimes,' said Mrs Bolton. 'I was
saying to Sir Clifford, it would do her ladyship a
world of good if she'd go out among people more.'
'Yes, I'm glad I went, and such a quaint dear
cheeky baby, Clifford,' said Connie. 'It's got hair
just like spider-webs, and bright orange, and the
oddest, cheekiest, pale-blue china eyes. Of course
it's a girl, or it wouldn't be so bold, bolder than
any little Sir Francis Drake.'
'You're right, my Lady--a regular little Flint.
They were always a forward sandy-headed family,'
said Mrs Bolton.
'Wouldn't you like to see it, Clifford? I've
asked them to tea for you to see it.'
'Who?' he asked, looking at Connie in great
'Mrs Flint and the baby, next Monday.'
'You can have them to tea up in your room,' he
'Why, don't you want to see the baby?' she cried.
'Oh, I'll see it, but I don't want to sit through
a tea-time with them.'
'Oh,' cried Connie, looking at him with wide
She did not really see him, he was somebody else.
'You can have a nice cosy tea up in your room, my
Lady, and Mrs Flint will be more comfortable than if
Sir Clifford was there,' said Mrs Bolton.
She was sure Connie had a lover, and something in
her soul exulted. But who was he? Who was he?
Perhaps Mrs Flint would provide a clue.
Connie would not take her bath this evening. The
sense of his flesh touching her, his very stickiness
upon her, was dear to her, and in a sense holy.
Clifford was very uneasy. He would not let her go
after dinner, and she had wanted so much to be
alone. She looked at him, but was curiously
'Shall we play a game, or shall I read to you, or
what shall it be?' he asked uneasily.
'You read to me,' said Connie.
'What shall I read--verse or prose? Or drama?'
'Read Racine,' she said.
It had been one of his stunts in the past, to
read Racine in the real French grand manner, but he
was rusty now, and a little self-conscious; he
really preferred the loudspeaker. But Connie was
sewing, sewing a little frock of primrose silk, cut
out of one of her dresses, for Mrs Flint's baby.
Between coming home and dinner she had cut it out,
and she sat in the soft quiescent rapture of herself
sewing, while the noise of the reading went on.
Inside herself she could feel the humming of
passion, like the after-humming of deep bells.
Clifford said something to her about the Racine.
She caught the sense after the words had gone.
'Yes! Yes!' she said, looking up at him. 'It is
Again he was frightened at the deep blue blaze of
her eyes, and of her soft stillness, sitting there.
She had never been so utterly soft and still. She
fascinated him helplessly, as if some perfume about
her intoxicated him. So he went on helplessly with
his reading, and the throaty sound of the French was
like the wind in the chimneys to her. Of the Racine
she heard not one syllable.
She was gone in her own soft rapture, like a
forest soughing with the dim, glad moan of spring,
moving into bud. She could feel in the same world
with her the man, the nameless man, moving on
beautiful feet, beautiful in the phallic mystery.
And in herself in all her veins, she felt him and
his child. His child was in all her veins, like a
'For hands she hath none, nor eyes, nor feet, nor
golden Treasure of hair...'
She was like a forest, like the dark interlacing
of the oakwood, humming inaudibly with myriad
unfolding buds. Meanwhile the birds of desire were
asleep in the vast interlaced intricacy of her body.
But Clifford's voice went on, clapping and
gurgling with unusual sounds. How extraordinary it
was! How extraordinary he was, bent there over the
book, queer and rapacious and civilized, with broad
shoulders and no real legs! What a strange creature,
with the sharp, cold inflexible will of some bird,
and no warmth, no warmth at all! One of those
creatures of the afterwards, that have no soul, but
an extra-alert will, cold will. She shuddered a
little, afraid of him. But then, the soft warm flame
of life was stronger than he, and the real things
were hidden from him.
The reading finished. She was startled. She
looked up, and was more startled still to see
Clifford watching her with pale, uncanny eyes, like
'Thank you so much! You do read Racine
beautifully!' she said softly.
'Almost as beautifully as you listen to him,' he
said cruelly. 'What are you making?' he asked.
'I'm making a child's dress, for Mrs Flint's
He turned away. A child! A child! That was all
'After all,' he said in a declamatory voice, 'one
gets all one wants out of Racine. Emotions that are
ordered and given shape are more important than
She watched him with wide, vague, veiled eyes.
'Yes, I'm sure they are,' she said.
'The modern world has only vulgarized emotion by
letting it loose. What we need is classic control.'
'Yes,' she said slowly, thinking of him listening
with vacant face to the emotional idiocy of the
radio. 'People pretend to have emotions, and they
really feel nothing. I suppose that is being
'Exactly!' he said.
As a matter of fact, he was tired. This evening
had tired him. He would rather have been with his
technical books, or his pit-manager, or listening-in
to the radio.
Mrs Bolton came in with two glasses of malted
milk: for Clifford, to make him sleep, and for
Connie, to fatten her again. It was a regular
night-cap she had introduced.
Connie was glad to go, when she had drunk her
glass, and thankful she needn't help Clifford to
bed. She took his glass and put it on the tray, then
took the tray, to leave it outside.
'Goodnight Clifford! Do sleep well! The
Racine gets into one like a dream. Goodnight!'
She had drifted to the door. She was going
without kissing him goodnight. He watched her with
sharp, cold eyes. So! She did not even kiss him
goodnight, after he had spent an evening reading to
her. Such depths of callousness in her! Even if the
kiss was but a formality, it was on such formalities
that life depends. She was a Bolshevik, really. Her
instincts were Bolshevistic! He gazed coldly and
angrily at the door whence she had gone. Anger!
And again the dread of the night came on him. He
was a network of nerves, and when he was not braced
up to work, and so full of energy: or when he was
not listening-in, and so utterly neuter: then he was
haunted by anxiety and a sense of dangerous
impending void. He was afraid. And Connie could keep
the fear off him, if she would. But it was obvious
she wouldn't, she wouldn't. She was callous, cold
and callous to all that he did for her. He gave up
his life for her, and she was callous to him. She
only wanted her own way. 'The lady loves her will.'
Now it was a baby she was obsessed by. Just so
that it should be her own, all her own, and not his!
Clifford was so healthy, considering. He looked
so well and ruddy in the face, his shoulders were
broad and strong, his chest deep, he had put on
flesh. And yet, at the same time, he was afraid of
death. A terrible hollow seemed to menace him
somewhere, somehow, a void, and into this void his
energy would collapse. Energyless, he felt at times
he was dead, really dead.
So his rather prominent pale eyes had a queer
look, furtive, and yet a little cruel, so cold: and
at the same time, almost impudent. It was a very odd
look, this look of impudence: as if he were
triumphing over life in spite of life. 'Who knoweth
the mysteries of the will--for it can triumph even
against the angels--'
But his dread was the nights when he could not
sleep. Then it was awful indeed, when annihilation
pressed in on him on every side. Then it was
ghastly, to exist without having any life: lifeless,
in the night, to exist.
But now he could ring for Mrs Bolton. And she
would always come. That was a great comfort. She
would come in her dressing gown, with her hair in a
plait down her back, curiously girlish and dim,
though the brown plait was streaked with grey. And
she would make him coffee or camomile tea, and she
would play chess or piquet with him. She had a
woman's queer faculty of playing even chess well
enough, when she was three parts asleep, well enough
to make her worth beating. So, in the silent
intimacy of the night, they sat, or she sat and he
lay on the bed, with the reading-lamp shedding its
solitary light on them, she almost gone in sleep, he
almost gone in a sort of fear, and they played,
played together--then they had a cup of coffee and a
biscuit together, hardly speaking, in the silence of
night, but being a reassurance to one another.
And this night she was wondering who Lady
Chatterley's lover was. And she was thinking of her
own Ted, so long dead, yet for her never quite dead.
And when she thought of him, the old, old grudge
against the world rose up, but especially against
the masters, that they had killed him. They had not
really killed him. Yet, to her, emotionally, they
had. And somewhere deep in herself because of it,
she was a nihilist, and really anarchic.
In her half-sleep, thoughts of her Ted and
thoughts of Lady Chatterley's unknown lover
commingled, and then she felt she shared with the
other woman a great grudge against Sir Clifford and
all he stood for. At the same time she was playing
piquet with him, and they were gambling sixpences.
And it was a source of satisfaction to be playing
piquet with a baronet, and even losing sixpences to
When they played cards, they always gambled. It
made him forget himself. And he usually won. Tonight
too he was winning. So he would not go to sleep till
the first dawn appeared. Luckily it began to appear
at half past four or thereabouts.
Connie was in bed, and fast asleep all this time.
But the keeper, too, could not rest. He had closed
the coops and made his round of the wood, then gone
home and eaten supper. But he did not go to bed.
Instead he sat by the fire and thought.
He thought of his boyhood in Tevershall, and of
his five or six years of married life. He thought of
his wife, and always bitterly. She had seemed so
brutal. But he had not seen her now since 1915, in
the spring when he joined up. Yet there she was, not
three miles away, and more brutal than ever. He
hoped never to see her again while he lived.
He thought of his life abroad, as a soldier.
India, Egypt, then India again: the blind,
thoughtless life with the horses: the colonel who
had loved him and whom he had loved: the several
years that he had been an officer, a lieutenant with
a very fair chance of being a captain. Then the
death of the colonel from pneumonia, and his own
narrow escape from death: his damaged health: his
deep restlessness: his leaving the army and coming
back to England to be a working man again.
He was temporizing with life. He had thought he
would be safe, at least for a time, in this wood.
There was no shooting as yet: he had to rear the
pheasants. He would have no guns to serve. He would
be alone, and apart from life, which was all he
wanted. He had to have some sort of a background.
And this was his native place. There was even his
mother, though she had never meant very much to him.
And he could go on in life, existing from day to
day, without connexion and without hope. For he did
not know what to do with himself.
He did not know what to do with himself. Since he
had been an officer for some years, and had mixed
among the other officers and civil servants, with
their wives and families, he had lost all ambition
to 'get on'. There was a toughness, a curious
rubbernecked toughness and unlivingness about the
middle and upper classes, as he had known them,
which just left him feeling cold and different from
So, he had come back to his own class. To find
there, what he had forgotten during his absence of
years, a pettiness and a vulgarity of manner
extremely distasteful. He admitted now at last, how
important manner was. He admitted, also, how
important it was even to pretend not to care
about the halfpence and the small things of life.
But among the common people there was no pretence. A
penny more or less on the bacon was worse than a
change in the Gospel. He could not stand it.
And again, there was the wage-squabble. Having
lived among the owning classes, he knew the utter
futility of expecting any solution of the
wage-squabble. There was no solution, short of
death. The only thing was not to care, not to care
about the wages.
Yet, if you were poor and wretched you had
to care. Anyhow, it was becoming the only thing they
did care about. The care about money was like
a great cancer, eating away the individuals of all
classes. He refused to care about money.
And what then? What did life offer apart from the
care of money? Nothing.
Yet he could live alone, in the wan satisfaction
of being alone, and raise pheasants to be shot
ultimately by fat men after breakfast. It was
futility, futility to the nth power.
But why care, why bother? And he had not cared
nor bothered till now, when this woman had come into
his life. He was nearly ten years older than she.
And he was a thousand years older in experience,
starting from the bottom. The connexion between them
was growing closer. He could see the day when it
would clinch up and they would have to make a life
together. 'For the bonds of love are ill to loose!'
And what then? What then? Must he start again,
with nothing to start on? Must he entangle this
woman? Must he have the horrible broil with her lame
husband? And also some sort of horrible broil with
his own brutal wife, who hated him? Misery! Lots of
misery! And he was no longer young and merely
buoyant. Neither was he the insouciant sort. Every
bitterness and every ugliness would hurt him: and
But even if they got clear of Sir Clifford and of
his own wife, even if they got clear, what were they
going to do? What was he, himself going to do? What
was he going to do with his life? For he must do
something. He couldn't be a mere hanger-on, on her
money and his own very small pension.
It was the insoluble. He could only think of
going to America, to try a new air. He disbelieved
in the dollar utterly. But perhaps, perhaps there
was something else.
He could not rest nor even go to bed. After
sitting in a stupor of bitter thoughts until
midnight, he got suddenly from his chair and reached
for his coat and gun.
'Come on, lass,' he said to the dog. 'We're best
It was a starry night, but moonless. He went on a
slow, scrupulous, soft-stepping and stealthy round.
The only thing he had to contend with was the
colliers setting snares for rabbits, particularly
the Stacks Gate colliers, on the Marehay side. But
it was breeding season, and even colliers respected
it a little. Nevertheless the stealthy beating of
the round in search of poachers soothed his nerves
and took his mind off his thoughts.
But when he had done his slow, cautious beating
of his bounds--it was nearly a five-mile walk--he
was tired. He went to the top of the knoll and
looked out. There was no sound save the noise, the
faint shuffling noise from Stacks Gate colliery,
that never ceased working: and there were hardly any
lights, save the brilliant electric rows at the
works. The world lay darkly and fumily sleeping. It
was half past two. But even in its sleep it was an
uneasy, cruel world, stirring with the noise of a
train or some great lorry on the road, and flashing
with some rosy lightning flash from the furnaces. It
was a world of iron and coal, the cruelty of iron
and the smoke of coal, and the endless, endless
greed that drove it all. Only greed, greed stirring
in its sleep.
It was cold, and he was coughing. A fine cold
draught blew over the knoll. He thought of the
woman. Now he would have given all he had or ever
might have to hold her warm in his arms, both of
them wrapped in one blanket, and sleep. All hopes of
eternity and all gain from the past he would have
given to have her there, to be wrapped warm with him
in one blanket, and sleep, only sleep. It seemed the
sleep with the woman in his arms was the only
He went to the hut, and wrapped himself in the
blanket and lay on the floor to sleep. But he could
not, he was cold. And besides, he felt cruelly his
own unfinished nature. He felt his own unfinished
condition of aloneness cruelly. He wanted her, to
touch her, to hold her fast against him in one
moment of completeness and sleep.
He got up again and went out, towards the park
gates this time: then slowly along the path towards
the house. It was nearly four o'clock, still clear
and cold, but no sign of dawn. He was used to the
dark, he could see well.
Slowly, slowly the great house drew him, as a
magnet. He wanted to be near her. It was not desire,
not that. It was the cruel sense of unfinished
aloneness, that needed a silent woman folded in his
arms. Perhaps he could find her. Perhaps he could
even call her out to him: or find some way in to
her. For the need was imperious.
He slowly, silently climbed the incline to the
hall. Then he came round the great trees at the top
of the knoll, on to the drive, which made a grand
sweep round a lozenge of grass in front of the
entrance. He could already see the two magnificent
beeches which stood in this big level lozenge in
front of the house, detaching themselves darkly in
the dark air.
There was the house, low and long and obscure,
with one light burning downstairs, in Sir Clifford's
room. But which room she was in, the woman who held
the other end of the frail thread which drew him so
mercilessly, that he did not know.
He went a little nearer, gun in hand, and stood
motionless on the drive, watching the house. Perhaps
even now he could find her, come at her in some way.
The house was not impregnable: he was as clever as
burglars are. Why not come to her?
He stood motionless, waiting, while the dawn
faintly and imperceptibly paled behind him. He saw
the light in the house go out. But he did not see
Mrs Bolton come to the window and draw back the old
curtain of dark-blue silk, and stand herself in the
dark room, looking out on the half-dark of the
approaching day, looking for the longed-for dawn,
waiting, waiting for Clifford to be really reassured
that it was daybreak. For when he was sure of
daybreak, he would sleep almost at once.
She stood blind with sleep at the window,
waiting. And as she stood, she started, and almost
cried out. For there was a man out there on the
drive, a black figure in the twilight. She woke up
greyly, and watched, but without making a sound to
disturb Sir Clifford.
The daylight began to rustle into the world, and
the dark figure seemed to go smaller and more
defined. She made out the gun and gaiters and baggy
jacket--it would be Oliver Mellors, the keeper.
'Yes, for there was the dog nosing around like a
shadow, and waiting for him'!
And what did the man want? Did he want to rouse
the house? What was he standing there for,
transfixed, looking up at the house like a love-sick
male dog outside the house where the bitch is?
Goodness! The knowledge went through Mrs Bolton
like a shot. He was Lady Chatterley's lover! He! He!
To think of it! Why, she, Ivy Bolton, had once
been a tiny bit in love with him herself. When he
was a lad of sixteen and she a woman of twenty-six.
It was when she was studying, and he had helped her
a lot with the anatomy and things she had had to
learn. He'd been a clever boy, had a scholarship for
Sheffield Grammar School, and learned French and
things: and then after all had become an overhead
blacksmith shoeing horses, because he was fond of
horses, he said: but really because he was
frightened to go out and face the world, only he'd
never admit it.
But he'd been a nice lad, a nice lad, had helped
her a lot, so clever at making things clear to you.
He was quite as clever as Sir Clifford: and always
one for the women. More with women than men, they
Till he'd gone and married that Bertha Coutts, as
if to spite himself. Some people do marry to spite
themselves, because they're disappointed of
something. And no wonder it had been a failure.--For
years he was gone, all the time of the war: and a
lieutenant and all: quite the gentleman, really
quite the gentleman!--Then to come back to
Tevershall and go as a game-keeper! Really, some
people can't take their chances when they've got
them! And talking broad Derbyshire again like the
worst, when she, Ivy Bolton, knew he spoke like any
Well, well! So her ladyship had fallen for him!
Well her ladyship wasn't the first: there was
something about him. But fancy! A Tevershall lad
born and bred, and she her ladyship in Wragby Hall!
My word, that was a slap back at the high-and-mighty
But he, the keeper, as the day grew, had
realized: it's no good! It's no good trying to get
rid of your own aloneness. You've got to stick to it
all your life. Only at times, at times, the gap will
be filled in. At times! But you have to wait for the
times. Accept your own aloneness and stick to it,
all your life. And then accept the times when the
gap is filled in, when they come. But they've got to
come. You can't force them.
With a sudden snap the bleeding desire that had
drawn him after her broke. He had broken it, because
it must be so. There must be a coming together on
both sides. And if she wasn't coming to him, he
wouldn't track her down. He mustn't. He must go
away, till she came.
He turned slowly, ponderingly, accepting again
the isolation. He knew it was better so. She must
come to him: it was no use his trailing after her.
Mrs Bolton saw him disappear, saw his dog run
'Well, well!' she said. 'He's the one man I never
thought of; and the one man I might have thought of.
He was nice to me when he was a lad, after I lost
Ted. Well, well! Whatever would he say if he knew!'
And she glanced triumphantly at the already
sleeping Clifford, as she stepped softly from the