Dear Clifford, I am afraid what you foresaw has happened. I am really
in love with another man, and do hope you will divorce me. I am staying
at present with Duncan its his flat. I told you he was at Venice with
us. I'm awfully unhappy for your sake: but do try to take it quietly.
You don't really need me any more, and I can't bear to come back to
Wragby. I'm awfully sorry. But do try to forgive me, and divorce me
and find someone better. I'm not really the right person for you, I
am too impatient and selfish, I suppose. But I can't ever come back
to live with you again. And I feel so frightfully sorry about it all,
for your sake. But if you don't let yourself get worked up, you'll see
you won't mind so frightfully. You didn't really care about me personally.
So do forgive me and get rid of me.
And that is how we are, By strength of will we cut of four inner intuitive knowledge from admitted consciousness. This causes a state of dread, or apprehension, which makes the blow ten times worse when it does fall.
Clifford was like a hysterical child. He gave Mrs Bolton a terrible shock, sitting up in bed ghastly and blank.
`Why, Sir Clifford, whatever's the matter?'
No answer! She was terrified lest he had had a stroke. She hurried and felt his face, took his pulse.
`Is there a pain? Do try and tell me where it hurts you. Do tell me!'
`Oh dear, oh dear! Then I'll telephone to Sheffield for Dr Carrington, and Dr Lecky may as well run round straight away.'
She was moving to the door, when he said in a hollow tone:
She stopped and gazed at him. His face was yellow, blank, and like the face of an idiot.
`Do you mean you'd rather I didn't fetch the doctor?'
`Yes! I don't want him,' came the sepulchral voice.
`Oh, but Sir Clifford, you're ill, and I daren't take the responsibility. I must send for the doctor, or I shall be blamed.'
A pause: then the hollow voice said:
`I'm not ill. My wife isn't coming back.'---It was as if an image spoke.
`Not coming back? you mean her ladyship?' Mrs Bolton moved a little nearer to the bed. `Oh, don't you believe it. You can trust her ladyship to come back.'
The image in the bed did not change, but it pushed a letter over the counterpane.
`Read it!' said the sepulchral voice.
`Why, if it's a letter from her ladyship, I'm sure her ladyship wouldn't want me to read her letter to you, Sir Clifford. You can tell me what she says, if you wish.'
`Read it!' repeated the voice.
`Why, if I must, I do it to obey you, Sir Clifford,' she said. And she read the letter.
`Well, I am surprised at her ladyship,' she said. `She promised so faithfully she'd come back!'
The face in the bed seemed to deepen its expression of wild, but motionless distraction. Mrs Bolton looked at it and was worried. She knew what she was up against: male hysteria. She had not nursed soldiers without learning something about that very unpleasant disease.
She was a little impatient of Sir Clifford. Any man in his senses must have known his wife was in love with somebody else, and was going to leave him. Even, she was sure, Sir Clifford was inwardly absolutely aware of it, only he wouldn't admit it to himself. If he would have admitted it, and prepared himself for it: or if he would have admitted it, and actively struggled with his wife against it: that would have been acting like a man. But no! he knew it, and all the time tried to kid himself it wasn't so. He felt the devil twisting his tail, and pretended it was the angels smiling on him. This state of falsity had now brought on that crisis of falsity and dislocation, hysteria, which is a form of insanity. `It comes', she thought to herself, hating him a little, `because he always thinks of himself. He's so wrapped up in his own immortal self, that when he does get a shock he's like a mummy tangled in its own bandages. Look at him!'
But hysteria is dangerous: and she was a nurse, it was her duty to pull him out. Any attempt to rouse his manhood and his pride would only make him worse: for his manhood was dead, temporarily if not finally. He would only squirm softer and softer, like a worm, and become more dislocated.
The only thing was to release his self-pity. Like the lady in Tennyson, he must weep or he must die.
So Mrs Bolton began to weep first. She covered her face with her hand and burst into little wild sobs. `I would never have believed it of her ladyship, I wouldn't!' she wept, suddenly summoning up all her old grief and sense of woe, and weeping the tears of her own bitter chagrin. Once she started, her weeping was genuine enough, for she had had something to weep for.
Clifford thought of the way he had been betrayed by the woman Connie, and in a contagion of grief, tears filled his eyes and began to run down his cheeks. He was weeping for himself. Mrs Bolton, as soon as she saw the tears running over his blank face, hastily wiped her own wet cheeks on her little handkerchief, and leaned towards him.
`Now, don't you fret, Sir Clifford!' she said, in a luxury of emotion. `Now, don't you fret, don't, you'll only do yourself an injury!'
His body shivered suddenly in an indrawn breath of silent sobbing, and the tears ran quicker down his face. She laid her hand on his arm, and her own tears fell again. Again the shiver went through him, like a convulsion, and she laid her arm round his shoulder. `There, there! There, there! Don't you fret, then, don't you! Don't you fret!' she moaned to him, while her own tears fell. And she drew him to her, and held her arms round his great shoulders, while he laid his face on her bosom and sobbed, shaking and hulking his huge shoulders, whilst she softly stroked his dusky-blond hair and said: `There! There! There! There then! There then! Never you mind! Never you mind, then!'
And he put his arms round her and clung to her like a child, wetting the bib of her starched white apron, and the bosom of her pale-blue cotton dress, with his tears. He had let himself go altogether, at last.
So at length she kissed him, and rocked him on her bosom, and in her heart she said to herself: `Oh, Sir Clifford! Oh, high and mighty Chatterleys! Is this what you've come down to!' And finally he even went to sleep, like a child. And she felt worn out, and went to her own room, where she laughed and cried at once, with a hysteria of her own. It was so ridiculous! It was so awful! Such a come-down! So shameful! And it was so upsetting as well.
After this, Clifford became like a child with Mrs Bolton. He would hold her h, and rest his head on her breast, and when she once lightly kissed him, he said! `Yes! Do kiss me! Do kiss me!' And when she sponged his great blond body, he would say the same! `Do kiss me!' and she would lightly kiss his body, anywhere, half in mockery.
And he lay with a queer, blank face like a child, with a bit of the wonderment of a child. And he would gaze on her with wide, childish eyes, in a relaxation of madonna-worship. It was sheer relaxation on his part, letting go all his manhood, and sinking back to a childish position that was really perverse. And then he would put his hand into her bosom and feel her breasts, and kiss them in exultation, the exultation of perversity, of being a child when he was a man.
Mrs Bolton was both thrilled and ashamed, she both loved and hated it. Yet she never rebuffed nor rebuked him. And they drew into a closer physical intimacy, an intimacy of perversity, when he was a child stricken with an apparent candour and an apparent wonderment, that looked almost like a religious exaltation: the perverse and literal rendering of: `except ye become again as a little child'.---While she was the Magna Mater, full of power and potency, having the great blond child-man under her will and her stroke entirely.
The curious thing was that when this child-man, which Clifford was now and which he had been becoming for years, emerged into the world, it was much sharper and keener than the real man he used to be. This perverted child-man was now a real business-man; when it was a question of affairs, he was an absolute he-man, sharp as a needle, and impervious as a bit of steel. When he was out among men, seeking his own ends, and `making good' his colliery workings, he had an almost uncanny shrewdness, hardness, and a straight sharp punch. It was as if his very passivity and prostitution to the Magna Mater gave him insight into material business affairs, and lent him a certain remarkable inhuman force. The wallowing in private emotion, the utter abasement of his manly self, seemed to lend him a second nature, cold, almost visionary, business-clever. In business he was quite inhuman.
And in this Mrs Bolton triumphed. `How he's getting on!' she would say to herself in pride. `And that's my doing! My word, he'd never have got on like this with Lady Chatterley. She was not the one to put a man forward. She wanted too much for herself.'
At the same time, in some corner of her weird female soul, how she despised him and hated him! He was to her the fallen beast, the squirming monster. And while she aided and abetted him all she could, away in the remotest corner of her ancient healthy womanhood she despised him with a savage contempt that knew no bounds. The merest tramp was better than he.
His behaviour with regard to Connie was curious. He insisted on seeing her again. He insisted, moreover, on her coming to Wragby. On this point he was finally and absolutely fixed. Connie had promised to come back to Wragby, faithfully.
`But is it any use?' said Mrs Bolton. `Can't you let her go, and be rid of her?'
`No! She said she was coming back, and she's got to come.'
Mrs Bolton opposed him no more. She knew what she was dealing with.
I needn't tell you what effect your letter has had on me [he wrote
to Connie to London]. Perhaps you can imagine it if you try, though
no doubt you won't trouble to use your imagination on my behalf.
Connie showed this letter to Mellors.
Connie was silent. She was somewhat surprised to find that she was afraid of Clifford. She was afraid to go near him. She was afraid of him as if he were evil and dangerous.
`What shall I do?' she said.
`Nothing, if you don't want to do anything.'
She replied, trying to put Clifford off. He answered:
If you don't come back to Wragby now, I shall consider that you are
coming back one day, and act accordingly. I shall just go on the same,
and wait for you here, if I wait for fifty years.
I shall not welcome your sister, but I shall not deity her the door.
I have no doubt she has connived at your desertion of your duties and
responsibilities, so do not expect me to show pleasure in seeing her.
`Isn't it?' said Connie.
So this woman knew! How much did the rest of the servants know or suspect?
She entered the house, which now she hated with every fibre in her body. The great, rambling mass of a place seemed evil to her, just a menace over her. She was no longer its mistress, she was its victim.
`I can't stay long here,' she whispered to Hilda, terrified.
And she suffered going into her own bedroom, re-entering into possession as if nothing had happened. She hated every minute inside the Wragby walls.
They did not meet Clifford till they went down to dinner. He was dressed, and with a black tie: rather reserved, and very much the superior gentleman. He behaved perfectly politely during the meal and kept a polite sort of conversation going: but it seemed all touched with insanity.
`How much do the servants know?' asked Connie, when the woman was out of the room.
`Of your intentions? Nothing whatsoever.'
`Mrs Bolton knows.'
He changed colour.
`Mrs Bolton is not exactly one of the servants,' he said.
`Oh, I don't mind.'
There was tension till after coffee, when Hilda said she would go up to her room.
Clifford and Connie sat in silence when she had gone. Neither would begin to speak. Connie was so glad that he wasn't taking the pathetic line, she kept him up to as much haughtiness as possible. She just sat silent and looked down at her hands.
`I suppose you don't at all mind having gone back on your word?' he said at last.
`I can't help it,' she murmured.
`But if you can't, who can?'
`I suppose nobody.'
He looked at her with curious cold rage. He was used to her. She was as it were embedded in his will. How dared she now go back on him, and destroy the fabric of his daily existence? How dared she try to cause this derangement of his personality?
`And for what do you want to go back on everything?' he insisted.
`Love!' she said. It was best to be hackneyed.
`Love of Duncan Forbes? But you didn't think that worth having, when you met me. Do you mean to say you now love him better than anything else in life?'
`One changes,' she said.
`Possibly! Possibly you may have whims. But you still have to convince me of the importance of the change. I merely don't believe in your love of Duncan Forbes.'
`But why should you believe in it? You have only to divorce me, not to believe in my feelings.'
`And why should I divorce you?'
`Because I don't want to live here any more. And you really don't want me.'
`Pardon me! I don't change. For my part, since you are my wife, I should prefer that you should stay under my roof in dignity and quiet. Leaving aside personal feelings, and I assure you, on my part it is leaving aside a great deal, it is bitter as death to me to have this order of life broken up, here in Wragby, and the decent round of daily life smashed, just for some whim of yours.'
After a time of silence she said:
`I can't help it. I've got to go. I expect I shall have a child.'
He too was silent for a time.
`And is it for the child's sake you must go?' he asked at length.
`And why? Is Duncan Forbes so keen on his spawn?'
`Surely keener than you would be,' she said.
`But really? I want my wife, and I see no reason for letting her go. If she likes to bear a child under my roof, she is welcome, and the child is welcome: provided that the decency and order of life is preserved. Do you mean to tell me that Duncan Forbes has a greater hold over you? I don't believe it.'
There was a pause.
`But don't you see,' said Connie. `I must go away from you, and I must live with the man I love.'
`No, I don't see it! I don't give tuppence for your love, nor for the man you love. I don't believe in that sort of cant.'
`But you see, I do.'
`Do you? My dear Madam, you are too intelligent, I assure you, to believe in your own love for Duncan Forbes. Believe me, even now you really care more for me. So why should I give in to such nonsense!'
She felt he was right there. And she felt she could keep silent no longer.
`Because it isn't Duncan that I do love,' she said, looking up at him.
`We only said it was Duncan, to spare your feelings.'
`To spare my feelings?'
`Yes! Because who I really love, and it'll make you hate me, is Mr Mellors, who was our game-keeper here.'
If he could have sprung out of his chair, he would have done so. His face went yellow, and his eyes bulged with disaster as he glared at her.
Then he dropped back in the chair, gasping and looking up at the ceiling.
At length he sat up.
`Do you mean to say you re telling me the truth?' he asked, looking gruesome.
`Yes! You know I am.'
`And when did you begin with him?'
`In the spring.'
He was silent like some beast in a trap.
`And it was you, then, in the bedroom at the cottage?'
So he had really inwardly known all the time.
He still leaned forward in his chair, gazing at her like a cornered beast.
`My God, you ought to be wiped off the face of the earth!'
`Why?' she ejaculated faintly.
But he seemed not to hear.
`That scum! That bumptious lout! That miserable cad! And carrying on with him all the time, while you were here and he was one of my servants! My God, my God, is there any end to the beastly lowness of women!'
He was beside himself with rage, as she knew he would be.
`And you mean to say you want to have a child to a cad like that?'
`Yes! I'm going to.'
`You're going to! You mean you're sure! How long have you been sure?'
He was speechless, and the queer blank look of a child came over him again.
`You'd wonder,' he said at last, `that such beings were ever allowed to be born.'
`What beings?' she asked.
He looked at her weirdly, without an answer. It was obvious, he couldn't even accept the fact of the existence of Mellors, in any connexion with his own life. It was sheer, unspeakable, impotent hate.
`And do you mean to say you'd marry him?---and bear his foul name?' he asked at length.
`Yes, that's what I want.'
He was again as if dumbfounded.
`Yes!' he said at last. `That proves that what I've always thought about you is correct: you're not normal, you're not in your right senses. You're one of those half-insane, perverted women who must run after depravity, the nostalgie de la boue.'
Suddenly he had become almost wistfully moral, seeing himself the incarnation of good, and people like Mellors and Connie the incarnation of mud, of evil. He seemed to be growing vague, inside a nimbus.
`So don't you think you'd better divorce me and have done with it?' she said.
`No! You can go where you like, but I shan't divorce you,' he said idiotically.
He was silent, in the silence of imbecile obstinacy.
`Would you even let the child be legally yours, and your heir?' she said.
`I care nothing about the child.'
`But if it's a boy it will be legally your son, and it will inherit your title, and have Wragby.'
`I care nothing about that,' he said.
`But you must! I shall prevent the child from being legally yours, if I can. I'd so much rather it were illegitimate, and mine: if it can't be Mellors'.'
`Do as you like about that.'
He was immovable.
`And won't you divorce me?' she said. `You can use Duncan as a pretext! There'd be no need to bring in the real name. Duncan doesn't mind.'
`I shall never divorce you,' he said, as if a nail had been driven in.
`But why? Because I want you to?'
`Because I follow my own inclination, and I'm not inclined to.'
It was useless. She went upstairs and told Hilda the upshot.
`Better get away tomorrow,' said Hilda, `and let him come to his senses.'
So Connie spent half the night packing her really private and personal effects. In the morning she had her trunks sent to the station, without telling Clifford. She decided to see him only to say good-bye, before lunch.
But she spoke to Mrs Bolton.
`I must say good-bye to you, Mrs Bolton, you know why. But I can trust you not to talk.'
`Oh, you can trust me, your Ladyship, though it's a sad blow for us here, indeed. But I hope you'll be happy with the other gentleman.'
`The other gentleman! It's Mr Mellors, and I care for him. Sir Clifford knobs. But don't say anything to anybody. And if one day you think Sir Clifford may be willing to divorce me, let me know, will you? I should like to be properly married to the man I care for.'
`I'm sure you would, my Lady. Oh, you can trust me. I'll be faithful to Sir Clifford, and I'll be faithful to you, for I can see you're both right in your own ways.'
`Thank you! And look! I want to give you this---may I?' So Connie left Wragby once more, and went on with Hilda to Scotland. Mellors went into the country and got work on a farm. The idea was, he should get his divorce, if possible, whether Connie got hers or not. And for six months he should work at farming, so that eventually he and Connie could have some small farm of their own, into which he could put his energy. For he would have to have some work, even hard work, to do, and he would have to make his own living, even if her capital started him.
So they would have to wait till spring was in, till the baby was born, till the early summer came round again.
The Grange Farm Old Heanor 29 September
I've got lodging in a bit of an old cottage in Engine Row very decent. The man is engine-driver at High Park, tall, with a beard, and very chapel. The woman is a birdy bit of a thing who loves anything superior. King's English and allow-me! all the time. But they lost their only son in the war, and it's sort of knocked a hole in them. There's a long gawky lass of a daughter training for a school-teacher, and I help her with her lessons sometimes, so we're quite the family. But they're very decent people, and only too kind to me. I expect I'm more coddled than you are.
I like farming all right. It's not inspiring, but then I don't ask to be inspired. I'm used to horses, and cows, though they are very female, have a soothing effect on me. When I sit with my head in her side, milking, I feel very solaced. They have six rather fine Herefords. Oat-harvest is just over and I enjoyed it, in spite of sore hands and a lot of rain. I don't take much notice of people, but get on with them all right. Most things one just ignores.
The pits are working badly; this is a colliery district like Tevershall. only prettier. I sometimes sit in the Wellington and talk to the men. They grumble a lot, but they're not going to alter anything. As everybody says, the Notts-Derby miners have got their hearts in the right place. But the rest of their anatomy must be in the wrong place, in a world that has no use for them. I like them, but they don't cheer me much: not enough of the old fighting-cock in them. They talk a lot about nationalization, nationalization of royalties, nationalization of the whole industry. But you can't nationalize coal and leave all the other industries as they are. They talk about putting coal to new uses, like Sir Clifford is trying to do. It may work here and there, but not as a general thing. I doubt. Whatever you make you've got to sell it. The men are very apathetic. They feel the whole damned thing is doomed, and I believe it is. And they are doomed along with it. Some of the young ones spout about a Soviet, but there's not much conviction in them. There's no sort of conviction about anything, except that it's all a muddle and a hole. Even under a Soviet you've still got to sell coal: and that's the difficulty.
We've got this great industrial population, and they've got to be fed, so the damn show has to be kept going somehow. The women talk a lot more than the men, nowadays, and they are a sight more cock-sure. The men are limp, they feel a doom somewhere, and they go about as if there was nothing to be done. Anyhow, nobody knows what should be done in spite of all the talk, the young ones get mad because they've no money to spend. Their whole life depends on spending money, and now they've got none to spend. That's our civilization and our education: bring up the masses to depend entirely on spending money, and then the money gives out. The pits are working two days, two and a half days a week, and there's no sign of betterment even for the winter. It means a man bringing up a family on twenty-five and thirty shillings. The women are the maddest of all. But then they're the maddest for spending, nowadays.
If you could only tell them that living and spending isn't the same thing! But it's no good. If only they were educated to live instead of earn and spend, they could manage very happily on twenty-five shillings. If the men wore scarlet trousers as I said, they wouldn't think so much of money: if they could dance and hop and skip, and sing and swagger and be handsome, they could do with very little cash. And amuse the women themselves, and be amused by the women. They ought to learn to be naked and handsome, and to sing in a mass and dance the old group dances, and carve the stools they sit on, and embroider their own emblems. Then they wouldn't need money. And that's the only way to solve the industrial problem: train the people to be able to live and live in handsomeness, without needing to spend. But you can't do it. They're all one-track minds nowadays. Whereas the mass of people oughtn't even to try to think, because they can't. They should be alive and frisky, and acknowledge the great god Pan. He's the only god for the masses, forever. The few can go in for higher cults if they like. But let the mass be forever pagan.
But the colliers aren't pagan, far from it. They're a sad lot, a deadened lot of men: dead to their women, dead to life. The young ones scoot about on motor-bikes with girls, and jazz when they get a chance, But they're very dead. And it needs money. Money poisons you when you've got it, and starves you when you haven't.
I'm sure you're sick of all this. But I don't want to harp on myself, and I've nothing happening to me. I don't like to think too much about you, in my head, that only makes a mess of us both. But, of course, what I live for now is for you and me to live together. I'm frightened, really. I feel the devil in the air, and he'll try to get us. Or not the devil, Mammon: which I think, after all, is only the mass-will of people, wanting money and hating life. Anyhow, I feel great grasping white hands in the air, wanting to get hold of the throat of anybody who tries to live, to live beyond money, and squeeze the life out. There's a bad time coming. There's a bad time coming, boys, there's a bad time coming! If things go on as they are, there's nothing lies in the future but death and destruction, for these industrial masses. I feel my inside turn to water sometimes, and there you are, going to have a child by me. But never mind. All the bad times that ever have been, haven't been able to blow the crocus out: not even the love of women. So they won't be able to blow out my wanting you, nor the little glow there is between you and me. We'll be together next year. And though I'm frightened, I believe in your being with me. A man has to fend and fettle for the best, and then trust in something beyond himself. You can't insure against the future, except by really believing in the best bit of you, and in the power beyond it. So I believe in the little flame between us. For me now, it's the only thing in the world. I've got no friends, not inward friends. Only you. And now the little flame is all I care about in my life. There's the baby, but that is a side issue. It's my Pentecost, the forked flame between me and you. The old Pentecost isn't quite right. Me and God is a bit uppish, somehow. But the little forked flame between me and you: there you are! That's what I abide by, and will abide by, Cliffords and Berthas, colliery companies and governments and the money-mass of people all notwithstanding.
That's why I don't like to start thinking about you actually. It only tortures me, and does you no good. I don't want you to be away from me. But if I start fretting it wastes something. Patience, always patience. This is my fortieth winter. And I can't help all the winters that have been. But this winter I'll stick to my little Pentecost flame, and have some peace. And I won't let the breath of people blow it out. I believe in a higher mystery, that doesn't let even the crocus be blown out. And if you're in Scotland and I'm in the Midlands, and I can't put my arms round you, and wrap my legs round you, yet I've got something of you. My soul softly Naps in the little Pentecost flame with you, like the peace of fucking. We fucked a flame into being. Even the flowers are fucked into being between the sun and the earth. But it's a delicate thing, and takes patience and the long pause.
So I love chastity now, because it is the peace that comes of fucking. I love being chaste now. I love it as snowdrops love the snow. I love this chastity, which is the pause of peace of our fucking, between us now like a snowdrop of forked white fire. And when the real spring comes, when the drawing together comes, then we can fuck the little flame brilliant and yellow, brilliant. But not now, not yet! Now is the time to be chaste, it is so good to be chaste, like a river of cool water in my soul. I love the chastity now that it flows between us. It is like fresh water and rain. How can men want wearisomely to philander. What a misery to be like Don Juan, and impotent ever to fuck oneself into peace, and the little flame alight, impotent and unable to be chaste in the cool between-whiles, as by a river.
Well, so many words, because I can't touch you. If I could sleep with my arms round you, the ink could stay in the bottle. We could be chaste together just as we can fuck together. But we have to be separate for a while, and I suppose it is really the wiser way. If only one were sure.
Never mind, never mind, we won't get worked up. We really trust in the little flame, and in the unnamed god that shields it from being blown out. There's so much of you here with me, really, that it's a pity you aren't all here.
Never mind about Sir Clifford. If you don't hear anything from him, never mind. He can't really do anything to you. Wait, he will want to get rid of you at last, to cast you out. And if he doesn't, we'll manage to keep clear of him. But he will. In the end he will want to spew you out as the abominable thing.
Now I can't even leave off writing to you.
But a great deal of us is together, and we can but abide by it, and steer our courses to meet soon. John Thomas says good-night to Lady Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart.