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The trespasser


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Title:TheTrespasser
Author:D.H.Lawrence

ReleaseDate:December,2005[EBook#9498][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear
aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonOctober6,2003]
Edition:10
Language:English
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THETRESPASSER
ByD.H.Lawrence

1912


Chapter1
‘Takeoffthatmute,do!’criedLouisa,snatchingherfingersfromthepianokeys,
andturningabruptlytotheviolinist.
Helenalookedslowlyfromhermusic.
‘MydearLouisa,’shereplied,‘itwouldbesimplyunendurable.’Shestood
tappingherwhiteskirtwithherbowinakindofapatheticforbearance.
‘ButIcan’tunderstandit,’criedLouisa,bouncingonherchairwiththe
exaggerationofonewhoisindignantwithabeloved.‘Itisonlylatelyyouwould
evensubmittomutingyourviolin.Atonetimeyouwouldhaverefusedflatly,
andnodoubtaboutit.’
‘Ihaveonlylatelysubmittedtomanythings,’repliedHelena,whoseemedweary
andstupefied,butstillsententious.Louisadroopedfromherbristlingdefiance.
‘Atanyrate,’shesaid,scoldingintonestoonakedwithlove,Idon’tlikeit.’
‘GoonfromAllegro,’saidHelena,pointingwithherbowtotheplaceon
Louisa’sscoreoftheMozartsonata.Louisaobedientlytookthechords,andthe
musiccontinued.
Ayoungman,reclininginoneofthewickerarmchairsbythefire,turned
luxuriouslyfromthegirlstowatchtheflamespoiseanddancewiththemusic.
Hewasevidentlyathisease,yetheseemedastrangerintheroom.
Itwasthesitting-roomofameanhousestandinginlinewithhundredsofothers
ofthesamekind,alongawideroadinSouthLondon.Nowandagainthetrams
hummedby,buttheroomwasforeigntothetramsandtothesoundofthe


Londontraffic.ItwasHelena’sroom,forwhichshewasresponsible.Thewalls
wereofthedead-greencolourofAugustfoliage;thegreencarpet,withitsborder
ofpolishedfloor,laylikeasquareofgrassinasettingofblackloam.Ceiling
andfriezeandfireplaceweresmoothwhite.Therewasnoothercolouring.
Thefurniture,exceptingthepiano,hadatransitorylook;twolightwicker
armchairsbythefire,thetwofrailstandsofdark,polishedwood,thecoupleof


flimsychairs,andthecaseofbooksintherecess—allseemeduneasy,asifthey
mightbetossedouttoleavetheroomclear,withitsgreenfloorandwalls,andits
whiterimofskirting-board,serene.
Onthemantlepiecewerewhitelustres,andasmallsoapstoneBuddhafrom
China,grey,impassive,lockedinhisrenunciation.Besidesthese,twotabletsof
translucentstonebeautifullycloudedwithroseandblood,andcarvedwith
Chinesesymbols;thenalitterofmementoes,rock-crystals,andshellsandscraps
ofseaweed.
Astranger,entering,feltataloss.Helookedatthebarewall-spacesofdark
green,atthescantyfurniture,andwasassuredofhisunwelcome.Theonly
objectsofsympathyintheroomwerethewhitelampthatglowedonastand
nearthewall,andthelarge,beautifulfern,withnarrowfronds,whichruffledits
cloudofgreenwithinthegloomofthewindow-bay.Theseonly,withthefire,
seemedfriendly.
Thethreecandlesonthedarkpianoburnedsoftly,themusicflutteredon,but,
likenumbedbutterflies,stupidly.Helenaplayedmechanically.Shebrokethe
musicbeneathherbow,sothatitcamelifeless,veryhurtingtohear.Theyoung
manfrowned,andpondered.Uneasily,heturnedagaintotheplayers.
Theviolinistwasagirloftwenty-eight.Herwhitedress,high-waisted,swungas
sheforcedtherhythm,determinedlyswayingtothetimeasifherbodywerethe
whitestrokeofametronome.Itmadetheyoungmanfrownashewatched.Yet
hecontinuedtowatch.Shehadaverystrong,vigorousbody.Herneck,pure
white,archedinstrengthfromthefinehollowbetweenhershouldersassheheld
theviolin.Thelongwhitelaceofhersleeveswung,floated,afterthebow.
Byrnecouldnotseeherface,morethanthefullcurveofhercheek.Hewatched
herhair,whichatthebackwasalmostofthecolourofthesoapstoneidol,take
thecandlelightintoitsvigorousfreedominfrontandglistenoverherforehead.
SuddenlyHelenabrokeoffthemusic,anddroppedherarminirritable
resignation.Louisalookedroundfromthepiano,surprised.
‘Why,’shecried,‘wasn’titallright?’
Helenalaughedwearily.


‘Itwasallwrong,’sheanswered,assheputherviolintenderlytorest.
‘Oh,I’msorryIdidsobadly,’saidLouisainahuff.ShelovedHelena
passionately.
‘Youdidn’tdobadlyatall,’repliedherfriend,inthesametired,apathetictone.
‘ItwasI.’
Whenshehadclosedtheblacklidofherviolin-case,Helenastoodamomentas
ifataloss.Louisalookedupwitheyesfullofaffection,likeadogthatdidnot
daretomovetoherbeloved.Gettingnoresponse,shedroopedoverthepiano.
AtlengthHelenalookedatherfriend,thenslowlyclosedhereyes.Theburden
ofthisexcessiveaffectionwastoomuchforher.Smilingfaintly,shesaid,asif
shewerecoaxingachild:
‘PlaysomeChopin,Louisa.’
‘Ishallonlydothatallwrong,likeeverythingelse,’saidtheelderplaintively.
Louisawasthirty-five.ShehadbeenHelena’sfriendforyears.
‘Playthemazurkas,’repeatedHelenacalmly.
Louisarummagedamongthemusic.Helenablewoutherviolin-candle,and
cametositdownonthesideofthefireoppositetoByrne.Themusicbegan.
Helenapressedherarmswithherhands,musing.
‘Theyareinflamedstill’saidtheyoungman.
Sheglancedupsuddenly,herblueeyes,usuallysoheavyandtired,lightingup
withasmallsmile.
‘Yes,’sheanswered,andshepushedbackhersleeve,revealingafine,strong
arm,whichwasscarletontheoutersidefromshouldertowrist,likesomelong,
red-burnedfruit.Thegirllaidhercheekonthesmartingsoftfleshcaressively.
‘Itisquitehot,’shesmiled,againcaressinghersun-scaldedarmwithpeculiar
joy.
‘Funnytoseeasunburnlikethatinmid-winter,’hereplied,frowning.‘Ican’t
thinkwhyitshouldlastallthesemonths.Don’tyoueverputanythingontoheal


it?’
Shesmiledathimagain,almostpitying,thenputhermouthlovinglyonthe
burn.
‘Itcomesouteveryeveninglikethis,’shesaidsoftly,withcuriousjoy.
‘AndthatwasAugust,andnowit’sFebruary!’heexclaimed.‘Itmustbe
psychological,youknow.Youmakeitcome—thesmart;youinvokeit.’
Shelookedupathim,suddenlycold.
‘I!Ineverthinkofit,’sheansweredbriefly,withakindofsneer.
Theyoungman’sbloodranbackfromheratheracidtone.Butthemortification
wasphysicalonly.Smilingquickly,gently—’
‘Never?’here-echoed.
Therewassilencebetweenthemforsomemoments,whilstLouisacontinuedto
playthepianofortheirbenefit.Atlast:
‘Dratit,’sheexclaimed,flouncingroundonthepiano-stool.
Thetwolookedupather.
‘Yedidrunwell—whathathhinderedyou?’laughedByrne.
‘You!’criedLouisa.‘Oh,Ican’tplayanymore,’sheadded,droppingherarms
alongherskirtpathetically.Helenalaughedquickly.
‘OhIcan’t,Helen!’pleadedLouisa.
‘Mydear,’saidHelena,laughingbriefly,‘youarereallyundernoobligation
whatever.’
Withthelittlegroanofonewhoyieldstoadesirecontrarytoherself-respect,
LouisadroppedatthefeetofHelena,laidherarmandherheadlanguishinglyon
thekneeofherfriend.Thelattergavenosign,butcontinuedtogazeinthefire.
Byrne,ontheothersideofthehearth,sprawledinhischair,smokingareflective
cigarette.


Theroomwasveryquiet,silentevenofthetickofaclock.Outside,thetraffic
sweptby,andfeetpatteredalongthepavement.Butthisvulgarstormoflife
seemedshutoutofHelena’sroom,thatremainedindifferent,likeachurch.Two
candlesburneddimlyasonanaltar,glisteningyellowonthedarkpiano.The
lampwasblownout,andtheflamelessfire,aredrubble,dwindledinthegrate,
sothattheyellowglowofthecandlesseemedtoshineevenontheembers.Still
noonespoke.
AtlastHelenashiveredslightlyinherchair,thoughdidnotchangeherposition.
Shesatmotionless.
‘Willyoumakecoffee,Louisa?’sheasked.Louisaliftedherself,lookedather
friend,andstretchedslightly.
‘Oh!’shegroanedvoluptuously.‘Thisissocomfortable!’
‘Don’ttroublethen,I’llgo.No,don’tgetup,’saidHelena,tryingtodisengage
herself.LouisareachedandputherhandsonHelena’swrists.
‘Iwillgo,’shedrawled,almostgroaningwithvoluptuousnessandappealing
love.
Then,asHelenastillmademovementstorise,theelderwomangotupslowly,
leaningasshedidsoallherweightonherfriend.
‘Whereisthecoffee?’sheasked,affectingthedullnessoflethargy.Shewasfull
ofsmallaffectations,beingconsumedwithuneasylove.
‘Ithink,mydear,’repliedHelena,‘itisinitsusualplace.’
‘Oh—o-o-oh!’yawnedLouisa,andshedraggedherselfout.
Thetwohadbeenintimatefriendsforyears,hadslepttogether,andplayed
togetherandlivedtogether.Nowthefriendshipwascomingtoanend.
‘Afterall,’saidByrne,whenthedoorwasclosed,‘ifyou’realiveyou’vegotto
live.’
Helenaburstintoatitterofamusementatthissuddenremark.


‘Wherefore?’sheaskedindulgently.
‘Becausethere’snosuchthingaspassiveexistence,’hereplied,grinning.
Shecurledherlipinamusedindulgenceofthisveryyoungman.
‘Idon’tseeitatall,’shesaid.
‘Youcan’t,heprotested,‘anymorethanatreecanhelpbuddinginApril—it
can’thelpitself,ifit’salive;samewithyou.’
‘Well,then’—andagaintherewasthetouchofasneer—‘ifIcan’thelpmyself,
whytrouble,myfriend?’
‘Because—becauseIsupposeIcan’thelpmyself—ifitbothersme,itdoes.You
see,I’—hesmiledbrilliantly—‘amApril.’
Shepaidverylittleattentiontohim,butbeganinapeculiarreedy,metallictone,
thatsethisnervesquivering:
‘ButIamnotabaretree.Allmydeadleaves,theyhangtome—and—andgo
throughakindofdansemacabre—’
‘Butyoubudunderneath—likebeech,’hesaidquickly.
‘Really,myfriend,’shesaidcoldly,‘Iamtootiredtobud.’
‘No,’hepleaded,‘no!’Withhisthickbrowsknitted,hesurveyedheranxiously.
ShehadreceivedagreatblowinAugust,andshestillwasstunned.Herface,
whiteandheavy,waslikeamask,almostsullen.Shelookedinthefire,
forgettinghim.
‘YouwantMarch,’hesaid—heworriedendlesslyoverher—‘toripoffyourold
leaves.Is’llhavetobeMarch,’helaughed.
Sheignoredhimagainbecauseofhispresumption.Hewaitedawhile,thenbroke
outoncemore.
‘Youmuststartagain—youmust.Alwaysyourustleyourredleavesofablasted
summer.Youarenotdead.Evenifyouwanttobe,you’renot.Evenifit’sa


bitterthingtosay,youhavetosayit:youarenotdead….’
Smilingapeculiar,painfulsmile,asifhehurther,sheturnedtogazeata
photographthathungoverthepiano.Itwastheprofileofahandsomemaninthe
primeoflife.Hewasleaningslightlyforward,asifyieldingbeneathaburdenof
life,ortothepulloffate.Helookedoutmusingly,andtherewasnohintof
rebellioninthecontoursoftheregularfeatures.Thehairwasbrushedback,soft
andthick,straightfromhisfinebrow.Hisnosewassmallandshapely,hischin
rounded,cleft,ratherbeautifullymoulded.Byrnegazedalsoatthephoto.His
lookbecamedistressedandhelpless.
‘YoucannotsayyouaredeadwithSiegmund,’hecriedbrutally.Sheshuddered,
claspedherburningarmsonherbreast,andlookedintothefire.‘Youarenot
deadwithSiegmund,’hepersisted,‘soyoucan’tsayyoulivewithhim.Youmay
livewithhismemory.ButSiegmundisdead,andhismemoryisnothe—
himself,’Hemadeafiercegestureofimpatience.‘Siegmundnow—heisnota
memory—heisnotyourdeadredleaves—heisSiegmundDead!Andyoudo
notknowhim,becauseyouarealive,likeme,soSiegmundDeadisastrangerto
you.’
Withherheadboweddown,coweringlikeasulkyanimal,shelookedathim
underherbrows.Hestaredfiercelybackather,butbeneathhersteady,
gloweringgazeheshrank,thenturnedaside.
‘Youstretchyourhandsblindlytothedead;youlookbackwards.No,younever
touchthething,’hecried.
‘IhavethearmsofLouisaalwaysroundmyneck,’camehervoice,likethecry
ofacat.Sheputherhandsonherthroatasifshemustrelieveanache.Hesaw
herlipraisedinakindofdisgust,arevulsionfromlife.Shewasverysickafter
thetragedy.
Hefrowned,andhiseyesdilated.
‘Folkaregood;theyaregoodforone.Youneverhavelookedatthem.You
wouldlingerhoursoverablueweed,andletallthepeopledowntheroadgoby.
Folksarebetterthanagardeninfullblossom—’
Shewatchedhimagain.Acertainbeautyinhisspeech,andhispassionateway,
rousedherwhenshedidnotwanttoberoused,whenmovingfromhertorpor


waspainful.Atlast—
‘Youaremerciless,youknow,Cecil,’shesaid.
‘AndIwillbe,’protestedByrne,flinginghishandather.Shelaughedsoftly,
wearily.
Forsometimetheyweresilent.Shegazedoncemoreatthephotographoverthe
piano,andforgotallthepresent.Byrne,spentforthetimebeing,wasbusy
huntingforsomelife-interesttogiveher.Heignoredthesimplest—thatoflove
—becausehewasevenmorefaithfulthanshetothememoryofSiegmund,and
blinderthanmosttohisownheart.
‘IdowishIhadSiegmund’sviolin,’shesaidquietly,butwithgreatintensity.
Byrneglancedather,thenaway.Hisheartbeatsulkily.Hissanguine,passionate
spiritdroppedandslouchedunderhercontempt.He,also,feltthejar,heardthe
discord.Shemadehimsometimespantwithherownhorror.Hewaited,fullof
hateandtastingofashes,forthearrivalofLouisawiththecoffee.


Chapter2
Siegmund’sviolin,desiredofHelena,layinitscasebesideSiegmund’slean
portmanteauinthewhitedustofthelumber-roominHighgate.Itwasworth
twentypounds,butBeatricehadnotyetrousedherselftosellit;shekeptthe
blackcaseoutofsight.
Siegmund’sviolinlayinthedark,foldedup,ashehadplaceditforthelasttime,
withhasty,familiarhands,initsredsilkshroud.Aftertwodeadmonthsthefirst
stringhadsnapped,sharplystrikingthesensitivebodyoftheinstrument.The
secondstringhadbrokennearChristmas,butnoonehadheardthefaintmoanof
itsgoing.Theviolinlaymuteinthedark,afaintodourofmustcreepingoverthe
smooth,softwood.Itstwisted,witheredstringslaycrispedfromtheanguishof
breaking,smotheredunderthesilkfolds.ThefragranceofSiegmundhimself,
withwhichtheviolinwassteeped,slowlychangedintoanodourofmust.
Siegmunddiedoutevenfromhisviolin.Hehadinfuseditwithhislife,tillits
fibreshadbeenasthetissueofhisownflesh.Graspinghisviolin,heseemedto
havehisfingersonthestringsofhisheartandoftheheartofHelena.Itwashis
littlebelovedthatdrankhisbeingandturneditintomusic.AndnowSiegmund
wasdead;onlyanodourofmustremainedofhiminhisviolin.
Itlayfoldedinsilkinthedark,waiting.Sixmonthsbeforeithadlongedforrest;
duringthelastnightsoftheseason,whenSiegmund’sfingershadpressedtoo
hard,whenSiegmund’spassion,andjoy,andfearhadhurt,too,thesoftbodyof
hislittlebeloved,theviolinhadsickenedforrest.Onthatlastnightofopera,
withoutpitySiegmundhadstrucktheclosingphrasesfromthefiddle,harshin
hisimpatience,wildinanticipation.
Thecurtaincamedown,thegreatsingersbowed,andSiegmundfeltthe
spatteringroarofapplausequickenhispulse.Itwashoarse,andsavage,and
startlingonhisinflamedsoul,makinghimshiverwithanticipation,asif
somethinghadbrushedhishotnakedness.Quickly,withhandsofhabitual
tenderness,heputhisviolinaway.
Thetheatre-goersweretired,andlifedrainedrapidlyoutoftheopera-house.The
membersoftheorchestrarose,laughing,minglingtheirwearinesswithgood


wishesfortheholiday,withslywarningandsuggestiveadvice,pressinghands
warmlyeretheydisbanded.OtheryearsSiegmundhadlingered,unwillingto
takethelongfarewellofhisassociatesoftheorchestra.Otheryearshehadleft
theopera-housewithalittlepainofregret.Nowhelaughed,andtookhis
comrades’hands,andbadefarewells,alldistractedly,andwithimpatience.The
theatre,awesomenowinitsemptiness,heleftgladly,hasteninglikeaflame
stretchedlevelonthewind.
Withhisblackviolin-casehehurrieddownthestreet,thenhaltedtopitythe
flowersmassedpallidunderthegaslightofthemarket-hall.Forhimself,thesea
andthesunlightopenedgreatspacestomorrow.Themoonwasfullabovethe
river.Helookedatitasamaninabstractionwatchessomeclearthing;thenhe
cametoastandstill.Itwasuselesstohurrytohistrain.Thetrafficswungpast
thelamplightshonewarmonallthegoldenfaces;butSiegmundhadalreadyleft
thecity.Hisfacewassilverandshadowstothemoon;theriver,initssoftgrey,
shakinggoldensequinsamongthefoldsofitsshadows,fellopenlikeagarment
beforehim,torevealthewhitemoon-glitterbrilliantaslivingflesh.
Mechanically,overcastwiththerealityofthemoonlight,hetookhisseatinthe
train,andwatchedthemovingofthings.Hewasinakindoftrance,his
consciousnessseemingsuspended.Thetrainslidoutamongstlightsanddark
places.Siegmundwatchedtheendlessmovement,fascinated.
Thiswasoneofthecrisesofhislife.Foryearshehadsuppressedhissoul,ina
kindofmechanicaldespairdoinghisdutyandenduringtherest.Thenhissoul
hadbeensoftlyenticedfromitsbondage.Nowhewasgoingtobreakfree
altogether,tohaveatleastafewdayspurelyforhisownjoy.This,toamanof
hisintegrity,meantabreakingofbonds,aseveringofblood-ties,asortofnew
birth.Intheexcitementofthislastnighthislifepassedoutofhiscontrol,andhe
satatthecarriage-window,motionless,watchingthingsmove.
Hefeltbusywithinhimastrongactivitywhichhecouldnothelp.Slowlythe
bodyofhispast,thewombwhichhadnourishedhiminonefashionforsomany
years,wascastinghimforth.Hewastremblinginallhisbeing,thoughheknew
notwithwhat.Allhecoulddonowwastowatchthelightsgoby,andtoletthe
translationofhimselfcontinue.
Whenatlastthetrainranoutintothefull,luminousnight,andSiegmundsaw
themeadowsdeepinmoonlight,hequiveredwithalowanticipation.Theelms,
greatgreyshadows,seemedtoloiterintheircloaksacrossthepalefields.Hehad


notseenthemsobefore.Theworldwaschanging.
Thetrainstopped,andwithalittleeffortherosetogohome.Thenightairwas
coolandsweet.Hedrankitthirstily.Intheroadagainheliftedhisfacetothe
moon.Itseemedtohelphim;initsbrillianceamidtheblondeheavensitseemed
totranscendfretfulness.Itwouldfrontthewaveswithsilverastheyslidtothe
shore,andHelena,lookingalongthecoast,waiting,wouldliftherwhitehands
withsuddenjoy.Helaughed,andthemoonhurriedlaughingalongside,through
theblackmassesofthetrees.
Hehadforgottenhewasgoinghomeforthisnight.Thechillwetnessofhislittle
whitegarden-gateremindedhim,andafrowncameonhisface.Asheclosedthe
door,andfoundhimselfinthedarknessofthehall,thesenseofhisfatiguecame
fullyuponhim.Itwasanefforttogotobed.Nevertheless,hewentveryquietly
intothedrawing-room.Therethemoonlightentered,andhethoughtthe
whitenesswasHelena.Heheldhisbreathandstiffened,thenbreathedagain.
‘Tomorrow,’hethought,ashelaidhisviolin-caseacrossthearmsofawicker
chair.ButhehadaphysicalfeelingofthepresenceofHelena:inhisshoulders
heseemedtobeawareofher.Quickly,halfliftinghisarms,heturnedtothe
moonshine.‘Tomorrow!’heexclaimedquietly;andhelefttheroomstealthily,
forfearofdisturbingthechildren.
Inthedarknessofthekitchenburnedabluebudoflight.Hequicklyturnedup
thegastoabroadyellowflame,andsatdownattable.Hewastired,excited,and
vexedwithmisgiving.Ashelayinhisarmchair,helookedroundwithdisgust.
Thetablewasspreadwithadirtycloththathadgreatbrownstainsbetokening
children.Infrontofhimwasacupandsaucer,andasmallplatewithaknifelaid
acrossit.Thecheese,onanotherplate,waswrappedinared-bordered,fringed
cloth,tokeepofftheflies,whicheventhenwerecrawlinground,onthesugar,
ontheloaf,onthecocoa-tin.Siegmundlookedathiscup.Itwaschipped,anda
stainhadgoneundertheglaze,sothatitlookedlikethemarkofadirtymouth.
Hefetchedaglassofwater.
Theroomwasdrabanddreary.Theoil-clothwaswornintoaholenearthedoor.
Bootsandshoesofvarioussizeswerescatteredoverthefloor,whilethesofa
waslitteredwithchildren’sclothing.Intheblackstovetheashlaydead;onthe
rangewerechipsofwood,andnewspapers,andrubbishofpapers,andcrustsof
bread,andcrustsofbread-and-jam.AsSiegmundwalkedacrossthefloor,he


crushedtwosweetsunderfoot.Hehadtogropeundersofaanddressertofindhis
slippers;andhewasineveningdress.
Itwouldbethesame,whileeverBeatricewasBeatriceandSiegmundher
husband.Heatehisbreadandcheesemechanically,wonderingwhyhewas
miserable,whyhewasnotlookingforwardwithjoytothemorrow.Asheate,he
closedhiseyes,halfwishinghehadnotpromisedHelena,halfwishinghehad
notomorrow.
Leaningbackinhischair,hefeltsomethingintheway.Itwasasmallteddy-bear
andhalfofastrongwhitecomb.Hegrinnedtohimself.Thiswasthesummary
ofhisdomesticlife—abroken,coarsecomb,achildcryingbecauseherhairwas
lugged,awifewhohadletthehairgotillnow,whenshehadgotintoatemperto
seethejobthrough;andthentheteddy-bear,patheticallycockingablack
worstednose,andliftingabsurdarmstohim.
HewonderedwhyGwenhadgonetobedwithoutherpet.Shewouldwantthe
sillything.Thestrongfeelingofaffectionforhischildrencameoverhim,
battlingwithsomethingelse.Hesankinhischair,andgraduallyhisbaffledmind
wentdark.Hesat,overcomewithwearinessandtrouble,staringblanklyintothe
space.Hisownstiflingrousedhim.Straighteninghisshoulders,hetookadeep
breath,thenrelaxedagain.Afterawhileherose,tooktheteddy-bear,andwent
slowlytobed.
GwenandMarjory,agednineandtwelve,slepttogetherinasmallroom.Itwas
fairlylight.Hesawhisfavouritedaughterlyingquiteuncovered,herwilfulhead
thrownback,hermouthhalfopen.Herblackhairwastossedacrossthepillow:
hecouldseetheaction.Marjorysnuggledunderthesheet.Heplacedtheteddybearbetweenthetwogirls.
Ashewatchedthem,hehatedthechildrenforbeingsodeartohim.Eitherhe
himselfmustgounder,anddragonanexistencehehated,ortheymustsuffer.
ButhehadagreedtospendthisholidaywithHelena,andmeanttodoso.Ashe
turned,hesawhimselflikeaghostcrossthemirror.Helookedback;hepeered
athimself.Hishairstillgrewthickanddarkfromhisbrow:hecouldnotseethe
greyatthetemples.Hiseyesweredarkandtender,andhismouth,underthe
blackmoustache,wasfullofyouth.
Herose,lookedatthechildren,frowned,andwenttohisownsmallroom.He


wasgladtobeshutaloneinthelittlecubicleofdarkness.
Outsidetheworldlayinaglamorouspallor,castingshadowsthatmadethefarm,
thetrees,thebulksofvillas,looklikelivecreatures.Thesamepallorwent
throughallthenight,glisteningonHelenaasshelaycurledupasleepatthecore
oftheglamour,likethemoon;onthesearockingbackwardsandforwardstillit
rockedherislandassheslept.Shewassocalmandfullofherownassurance.It
wasagreatresttobewithher.Withher,nothingmatteredbutloveandthe
beautyofthings.Hefeltparchedandstarving.Shehadrestandlove,likewater
andmannaforhim.Shewassostronginherself-possession,inherloveof
beautifulthingsandofdreams.
Theclockdownstairsstrucktwo.
‘Imustgettosleep,’hesaid.
Hedraggedhisportmanteaufrombeneaththebedandbegantopackit.Whenat
lastitwasfinished,heshutitwithasnap.Theclicksoundedfinal.Hestoodup,
stretchedhimself,andsighed.
‘Iamfearfullytired,’hesaid.
Butthatwaspersuasive.Whenhewasundressedhesatinhispyjamasforsome
time,rapidlybeatinghisfingersonhisknee.
‘Thirty-eightyearsold,’hesaidtohimself,‘anddisconsolateasachild!’He
begantomuseofthemorrow.
Whenheseemedtobegoingtosleep,hewokeuptofindthoughtslabouring
overhisbrain,likebeesonahive.Recollections,swiftthoughts,flewinand
alighteduponhim,aswildgeeseswingdownandtakepossessionofapond.
Phrasesfromtheoperatyrannizedoverhim;heplayedtherhythmwithallhis
blood.Asheturnedoverinthistorture,hesighed,andrecognizedamovement
oftheDeBeriotconcertowhichHelenahadplayedforherlastlesson.Hefound
himselfwatchingherashehadwatchedthen,feltagainthewildimpatience
whenshewaswrong,startedagainas,amidthedippingandslidingofherbow,
herealizedwherehisthoughtsweregoing.Shewaswrong,hewashasty;andhe
feltherblueeyeslookingintentlyathim.
BothstartedashisdaughterVeraenteredsuddenly.Shewasahandsomegirlof


nineteen.Crossingtheroom,brushingHelenaasifshewereapieceoffurniture
intheway,Verahadaskedherfatheraquestion,inahard,insultingtone,then
hadgoneoutagain,justasifHelenahadnotbeenintheroom.
HelenastoodfingeringthescoreofPell�as.WhenVerahadgone,sheasked,in
thepeculiartonethatmadeSiegmundshiver:
‘WhydoyouconsiderthemusicofPell�ascold?’
Siegmundhadstruggledtoanswer.Sotheypassedeverythingoff,without
mention,afterHelena’sfashion,ignoringallthatmightbehumiliating;andto
hermuchwashumiliating.
ForyearsshehadcomeaspupiltoSiegmund,firstasafriendofthehousehold.
ThensheandLouisawentoccasionallytowhateverhallortheatrehadSiegmund
intheorchestra,sothatshortlythethreeformedthehabitofcominghome
together.ThenHelenahadinvitedSiegmundtoherhome;thenthethreefriends
wentwalkstogether;thenthetwowentwalkstogether,whilstLouisasheltered
them.
Helenahadcometoreadhislonelinessandthehumiliationofhislot.Hehadfelt
herblueeyes,heavily,steadilygazingintohissoul,andhehadlosthimselfto
her.
Thatday,threeweeksbeforetheendoftheseason,whenVerahadsoinsulted
Helena,thelatterhadsaid,assheputonhercoat,lookingathimallthewhile
withheavyblueeyes:‘Ithink,Siegmund,Icannotcomehereanymore.Your
homeisnotopentomeanylonger.’Hehadwrithedinconfusionand
humiliation.Asshepressedhishand,closelyandforalongtime,shesaid:‘I
willwritetoyou.’Thenshelefthim.
Siegmundhadhatedhislifethatday.Soonshewrote.Aweeklater,whenhelay
restinghisheadonherlapinRichmondPark,shesaid:
‘Youaresotired,Siegmund.’Shestrokedhisface,andkissedhimsoftly.
Siegmundlayinthemoltendazeoflove.ButHelenawas,ifitisnottodebase
theword,virtuous:aninconsistentvirtue,cruelanduglyforSiegmund.
‘Youaresotired,dear.Youmustcomeawaywithmeandrest,thefirstweekin
August.’


Hisbloodhadleapt,andwhateverobjectionsheraised,suchashavingno
money,heallowedtobeoverridden.HewasgoingtoHelena,totheIsleof
Wight,tomorrow.
Helena,withherblueeyessofullofstorm,likethesea,but,alsolikethesea,so
eternallyself-sufficient,solitary;withherthickwhitethroat,thestrongestand
mostwonderfulthingonearth,andhersmallhands,silkenandlightaswindflowers,wouldbehistomorrow,alongwiththeseaandthedowns.Heclungto
theexquisiteflamewhichfloodedhim….
Butitdiedout,andhethoughtofthereturntoLondon,toBeatrice,andthe
children.Howwoulditbe?Beatrice,withherfuriousdarkeyes,andherblack
hairlooselyknottedback,cametohismindasshehadbeenthepreviousday,
flaringwithtemperwhenhesaidtoher:
‘Ishallbegoingawaytomorrowforafewdays’holiday.’
Sheaskedfordetail,someofwhichhegave.Then,dissatisfiedandinflamed,
shebrokeforthinhersuspicionandherabuse,andhercontempt,whiletwo
large-eyedchildrenstoodlisteningby.Siegmundhatedhiswifefordrawingon
himthegrave,coldlooksofcondemnationfromhischildren.
SomethinghehadsaidtouchedBeatrice.Shecameofgoodfamily,hadbeen
broughtuplikealady,educatedinaconventschoolinFrance.Heevokedher
oldpride.Shedrewherselfupwithdignity,andcalledthechildrenaway.He
wonderedifhecouldbeararepetitionofthatdegradation.Itbledhimofhis
courageandself-respect.
InthemorningBeatricewasdisturbedbythesharpsneckofthehalldoor.
Immediatelyawake,sheheardhisquick,firmstephasteningdownthegravel
path.Inherimpotence,discardedlikeawornoutobject,shelayforthemoment
stiffwithbitterness.
‘Iamnothing,Iamnothing,’shesaidtoherself.Shelayquiterigidforatime.
Therewasnosoundanywhere.Themorningsunlightpiercedvividlythroughthe
slitsoftheblind.Beatricelayrockingherself,breathinghard,herfinger-nails
pressingintoherpalm.Thencamethesoundofatrainslowingdowninthe
station,anddirectlythequick‘chuff-chuff-chuff’ofitsdrawingout.Beatrice
imaginedthesunlightonthepuffsofsteam,andthetwolovers,herhusbandand


Helena,rushingthroughthemilesofmorningsunshine.
‘Godstrikeherdead!MotherofGod,strikeherdown!’shesaidaloud,inalow
tone.ShehatedHelena.
Irene,wholaywithhermother,wokeupandbegantoquestionher.


Chapter3
Inthemilesofmorningsunshine,Siegmund’sshadows,hischildren,Beatrice,
hissorrow,dissipatedlikemist,andhewaselatedasayoungmansettingforth
totravel.WhenhehadpassedPortsmouthTowneverythinghadvanishedbutthe
oldgayworldofromance.Helaughedashelookedoutofthecarriagewindow.
Below,inthestreet,amilitarybandpassedglittering.Abravesoundfloatedup,
andagainhelaughed,lovingthetune,theclashandglitteroftheband,the
movementofscarlet,blithesoldiersbeyondthepark.Peopleweredrifting
brightlyfromchurch.HowcoulditbeSunday!Itwasnotime;itwasRomance,
goingbacktoTristan.
Women,likecrocusflowers,inwhiteandblueandlavender,movedgaily.
Everywhereflutteredthesmallflagsofholiday.Everyformdancedlightlyinthe
sunshine.
Andbeyonditallwerethesilenthillsidesoftheisland,withHelena.Itwasso
wonderful,hecouldbeartobepatient.Shewouldbeallinwhite,withhercool,
thickthroatleftbaretothebreeze,herfaceshining,smilingasshedippedher
headbecauseofthesun,whichglistenedonheruncoveredhair.
Hebreatheddeeply,stirringatthethought.Buthewouldnotgrowimpatient.
Thetrainhadhaltedoverthetown,wherescarletsoldiers,andludicrousblue
sailors,andallthebrilliantwomenfromchurchshooklikeakaleidoscopedown
thestreet.Thetraincrawledon,drawingneartothesea,forwhichSiegmund
waitedbreathless.ItwassolikeHelena,blue,beautiful,stronginitsreserve.
Anothermomenttheywereinthedirtystation.Thenthedayflashedout,and
Siegmundmatedwithjoy.Hefelttheseaheavingbelowhim.Helookedround,
andtheseawasblueasaperiwinkleflower,whilegoldandwhiteandblood-red
sailslithereandthereupontheblueness.Standingonthedeck,hegavehimself
tothebreezeandtothesea,feelinglikeoneoftheruddysails—asifhewere
partofitall.Allhisbodyradiatedamidthelarge,magnificentsea-moonlikea
pieceofcolour.
Thelittleshipbegantopulse,totremble.Whitewiththesoftnessofabosom,the
waterroseupfrothingandswayinggently.Shipsdrewneartheinquisitivebirds;


theoldVictoryshookhermyriadpointedflagsofyellowandscarlet;thestraight
oldhousesofthequaypassedby.
Outsidetheharbour,likefiercecreaturesoftheseacomewildlyuptolook,the
battleshipslaidtheirblacksnoutsonthewater.Siegmundlaughedatthem.He
feltthefoamonhisfacelikeasparkling,felttheblueseagatheringround.
Ontheleftstoodtheroundfortress,quaintlychequered,andsolidlyaloneinthe
walkofwater,amidthesilentflightofthegolden-andcrimson-wingedboats.
Siegmundwatchedthebluishbulkoftheisland.Likethebeautifulwomeninthe
myths,hislovehidinitsbluehaze.Itseemedimpossible.Behindhim,thewhite
waketrailedmyriadsofdaisies.Oneitherhandthegrimandwickedbattleships
watchedalongtheirsharpnoses.Beneathhimthecleargreenwaterswungand
puckeredasifitwerelaughing.Infront,Sieglinde’sislanddrewnearandnearer,
creepingtowardshim,bringinghimHelena.
Meadowsandwoodsappeared,housescrowdeddowntotheshoretomeethim;
hewasinthequay,andtheridewasover.Siegmundregrettedit.ButHelenawas
ontheisland,whichrodelikeananchoredshipunderthefleetsofcloudthathad
launchedwhilstSiegmundwasonwater.Ashewatchedtheendofthepierloom
higher,largeponderoustrainsofcloudcastoverhimtheshadowsoftheirbulk,
andheshiveredinthechillwind.
Histravellingwasveryslow.Thesky’sdarkshippingpressedcloserandcloser,
asifallthecloudshadcometoharbour.OvertheflatlandsnearNewportthe
windmoanedlikethecallingofmanyvioloncellos.Alltheskywasgrey.
SiegmundwaiteddrearilyonNewportstation,wherethewindsweptcoldly.It
wasSunday,andthestationandtheislandweredesolate,havinglosttheir
purposes.
Siegmundputonhisovercoatandsatdown.Allhismorning’sblazeofelation
wasgone,thoughtherestillglowedagreathope.Hehadsleptonlytwohoursof
thenight.Anemptyman,hehaddrunkjoy,andnowtheintoxicationwasdying
out.
Atthreeo’clockoftheafternoonhesataloneinthesecond-classcarriage,
lookingout.Afewraindropsstruckthepane,thentheblurreddazzleofashower
cameinaburstofwind,andhidthedownsandthereedsthatshiveredinthe
marshyplaces.Siegmundsatinachillytorpor.Hecountedthestations.Beneath


hisstuporhisheartwasthuddingheavilywithexcitement,surprisinghim,forhis
brainfeltdead.
Thetrainsloweddown:Yarmouth!Onemorestation,then.Siegmundwatched
theplatform,shinywithrain,slidepast.Onthedrygreyundertheshelter,one
whitepassengerwaswaiting.SuddenlySiegmund’sheartleapedup,wrenching
wildly.Heburstopenthedoor,andcaughtholdofHelena.Shedilated,gavea
palpitatingcryashedraggedherintothecarriage.
‘Youhere!’heexclaimed,inastrangetone.Shewasshiveringwithcold.Her
almostnakedarmswereblue.ShecouldnotanswerSiegmund’squestion,but
layclaspedagainsthim,shiveringawayherlastchillashiswarmthinvadedher.
Helaughedinhisheartasshenestledintohim.
‘Isitadreamnow,dear?’hewhispered.Helenaclaspedhimtightly,shuddering
becauseofthedelicioussuffusingofhiswarmththroughher.
Almostimmediatelytheyheardthegrindingofthebrakes.
‘Hereweare,then!’exclaimedHelena,droppingintoherconventional,cheerful
manneratonce.Sheputstraightherhat,whilehegatheredhisluggage.
Untiltea-timetherewasapauseintheirprogress.Siegmundwastinglingwith
anexquisitevividness,asifhehadtakensomerarestimulant.Hewonderedat
himself.Itseemedthateveryfibreinhisbodywassurprisedwithjoy,aseach
treeinaforestatdawnuttersastonishedcriesofdelight.
WhenHelenacameback,shesatoppositetohimtoseehim.Hisna�velookof
joywasverysweettoher.Hiseyesweredarkblue,showingthefibrils,likea
purple-veinedflowerattwilight,andsomehow,mysteriously,joyseemedto
quiverintheiris.Helenaappreciatedhim,featurebyfeature.Shelikedhisclear
forehead,withitsthickblackhair,andhisfullmouth,andhischin.Shelovedhis
hands,thatweresmall,butstrongandnervous,andverywhite.Shelikedhis
breast,thatbreathedsostrongandquietly,andhisarms,andhisthighs,andhis
knees.
Forhim,Helenawasapresence.Shewasambushed,fusedinanauraofhislove.
Heonlysawshewaswhite,andstrong,andfullfruited,heonlyknewherblue
eyeswereratherawfultohim.


Outside,thesea-mistwastravellingthickerandthickerinland.Theirlodging
wasnotfarfromthebay.Astheysattogetherattea,Siegmund’seyesdilated,
andhelookedfrowningatHelena.
‘Whatisit?’heasked,listeninguneasily.
Helenalookedupathim,frompouringoutthetea.Hislittleanxiouslookof
distressamusedher.
‘Thenoise,youmean?Merelythefog-horn,dear—notWotan’swrath,nor
Siegfried’sdragon….’
Thefogwaswhiteatthewindow.Theysatwaiting.Afterafewsecondsthe
soundcamelow,swelling,likethemooingofsomegreatseaanimal,alone,the
lastofthemonsters.Thewholefoggaveoffthesoundforasecondortwo,then
itdieddownintoanintensesilence.SiegmundandHelenalookedateachother.
Hiseyeswerefulloftrouble.Toseeabig,strongmananxious-eyedasachild
becauseofastrangesoundamusedher.Buthewastired.
‘Iassureyou,itisonlyafog-horn,’shelaughed.
‘Ofcourse.Butitisadepressingsortofsound.’
‘Isit?’shesaidcuriously.‘Why?Well—yes—IthinkIcanunderstanditsbeing
sotosomepeople.It’ssomethinglikethecallofthehornacrosstheseato
Tristan.’
Shehummedsoftly,thenthreetimesshesangthehorn-call.Siegmund,withhis
faceexpressionlessasamask,satstaringoutatthemist.Theboomofthesiren
brokeinuponthem.Tohim,thesoundwasfulloffatality.Helenawaitedtillthe
noisedieddown,thensherepeatedherhorn-call.
‘Yetitisverymuchlikethefog-horn,’shesaid,curiouslyinterested.
‘Thistimenextweek,Helena!’hesaid.
Shesuddenlywentheavy,andstretchedacrosstoclasphishandasitlayupon
thetable.
‘IshallbecallingtoyoufromCornwall,’shesaid.


Hedidnotreply.Sooftenshedidnottakehismeaning,butlefthimalonewith
hissenseoftragedy.Shehadnoideahowhislifewaswrenchedfromitsroots,
andwhenhetriedtotellher,shebalkedhim,leavinghiminwardlyquitelonely.
‘Thereisnonextweek,’shedeclared,withgreatcheerfulness.‘Thereisonlythe
present.’
Atthesamemomentsheroseandslippedacrosstohim.Puttingherarmsround
hisneck,shestoodholdinghisheadtoherbosom,pressingitclose,withher
handamonghishair.Hisnostrilsandmouthwerecrushedagainstherbreast.He
smelledthesilkofherdressandthefaint,intoxicatingodourofherperson.With
shuteyesheownedheavilytohimselfagainthatshewasblindtohim.Butsome
otherselfurgedwithgladness,nomatterhowblindshewas,sothatshepressed
hisfaceuponher.
Shestrokedandcaressedhishair,tremblinglyclaspedhisheadagainsther
breast,asifshewouldneverreleasehim;thenshebenttokisshisforehead.He
tookherinhisarms,andtheywerestillforawhile.
Nowhewantedtoblindhimselfwithher,toblazeupallhispastandfutureina
passionworthyearsofliving.
Afterteatheyrestedbythefire,whileshetoldhimallthedelightfulthingsshe
hadfound.Shehadawoman’scuriouspassionfordetails,awoman’speculiar
attachmenttocertaindeartrifles.Helistened,smiling,revivedbyherdelight,
andforgetfulofhimself.Shesoothedhimlikesunshine,andfilledhimwith
pleasure;buthehardlyattendedtoherwords.
‘Shallwegoout,orareyoutootired?No,youaretired—youareverytired,’
saidHelena.
Shestoodbyhischair,lookingdownonhimtenderly.
‘No,’hereplied,smilingbrilliantlyather,andstretchinghishandsomelimbsin
relief—‘no,notatalltirednow.’
Helenacontinuedtolookdownonhiminquiet,coveringtenderness.Butshe
quailedbeforethebrilliant,questioninggazeofhiseyes.
‘Youmustgotobedearlytonight,’shesaid,turningasideherface,rufflinghis


softblackhair.Hestretchedslightly,stiffeninghisarms,andsmiledwithout
answering.Itwasaverykeenpleasuretobethusalonewithherandinher
charge.Herose,biddingherwrapherselfupagainstthefog.
‘Youaresureyou’renottootired?’shereiterated.
Helaughed.
Outside,thesea-mistwaswhiteandwoolly.Theywenthandinhand.Itwas
cold,soshethrustherhandwithhisintothepocketofhisovercoat,whilethey
walkedtogether.
‘Ilikethemist,’hesaid,pressingherhandinhispocket.
‘Idon’tdislikeit,’shereplied,shrinkingnearertohim.
‘Itputsustogetherbyourselves,’hesaid.Sheploddedalongside,bowingher
head,notreplying.Hedidnotmindhersilence.
‘Itcouldn’thavehappenedbetterforusthanthismist,’hesaid.
Shelaughedcuriously,almostwithasoundoftears.
‘Why?’sheasked,halftenderly,halfbitterly.
‘Thereisnothingelsebutyou,andforyouthereisnothingelsebutme—look!’
Hestoodstill.Theywereonthedowns,sothatHelenafoundherselfquitealone
withthemaninaworldofmist.Suddenlysheflungherselfsobbingagainsthis
breast.Heheldherclosely,tenderly,notknowingwhatitwasallabout,but
happyandunafraid.
InonehollowplacethesirenfromtheNeedlesseemedtobellowfullintheir
ears.BothSiegmundandHelenafelttheiremotiontoointense.Theyturnedfrom
it.
‘Whatisthepitch?’askedHelena.
‘Whereitishorizontal?Itslidesupachromaticscale,’saidSiegmund.
‘Yes,butthesettledpitch—isitaboutE?’


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