Lady Chatterley's Lover HTML version

Chapter 17
"You see, Hilda," said Connie after lunch, when they were nearing London, "you
have never known either real tenderness or real sensuality: and if you do know
them, with the same person, it makes a great difference."
"For mercy's sake don't brag about your experiences!" said Hilda. "I've never met
the man yet who was capable of intimacy with a woman, giving himself up to her.
That was what I wanted. I'm not keen on their self-satisfied tenderness, and their
sensuality. I'm not content to be any man's little petsy-wetsy, nor his chair à
plaisir either. I wanted a complete intimacy, and I didn't get it. That's enough for
Connie pondered this. Complete intimacy! She supposed that meant revealing
everything concerning yourself to the other person, and his revealing everything
concerning himself. But that was a bore. And all that weary self-consciousness
between a man and a woman! a disease!
"I think you're too conscious of yourself all the time, with everybody," she said to
her sister.
"I hope at least I haven't a slave nature," said Hilda.
"But perhaps you have! Perhaps you are a slave to your own idea of yourself."
Hilda drove in silence for some time after this piece of unheard of insolence from
that chit Connie.
"At least I'm not a slave to somebody else's idea of me: and the somebody else a
servant of my husband's," she retorted at last, in crude anger.
"You see, it's not so," said Connie calmly.
She had always let herself be dominated by her elder sister. Now, though
somewhere inside herself she was weeping, she was free of the dominion of
other women. Ah! that in itself was a relief, like being given another life: to be free
of the strange dominion and obsession of other women. How awful they were,
She was glad to be with her father, whose favourite she had always been. She
and Hilda stayed in a little hotel off Pall Mall, and Sir Malcolm was in his club. But
he took his daughters out in the evening, and they liked going with him.
He was still handsome and robust, though just a little afraid of the new world that
had sprung up around him. He had got a second wife in Scotland, younger than
himself and richer. But he had as many holidays away from her as possible: just
as with his first wife.
Connie sat next to him at the opera. He was moderately stout, and had stout
thighs, but they were still strong and well-knit, the thighs of a healthy man who
had taken his pleasure in life. His good-humoured selfishness, his dogged sort of
independence, his unrepenting sensuality, it seemed to Connie she could see
them all in his well-knit straight thighs. Just a man! And now becoming an old
man, which is sad. Because in his strong, thick male legs there was none of the
alert sensitiveness and power of tenderness which is the very essence of youth,
that which never dies, once it is there.