Lady Chatterley's Lover
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 mysterious.
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