Constance Chatterley’s diary, March, 1921.
My husband gave me a message for the new gamekeeper; I do not usually run his errands, so this was unexpected.
We have only met the once, previously. Clifford and I took a drive in the park; he drove his motorised chair, and I walking alongside. He was of a strange humour that day, and while looking at the saplings growing on the denuded zenith of a certain hill in the woods, suggested I should take another man for the purposes of having a child. This child to be raised as a Chatterley, to take over the estate once he is gone. I found the suggestion strange, in a way that he should discuss my womb being made available in this way, but also that he hinted I should not choose an unsuitable man.
Hah! Michaelis, the playwright, would have been his every concept of unsuitable, until now. On Clifford’s request, Michaelis brought his first Act of the play in which he caricatures my husband as a lame and wealthy soldier, returned to a family seat. Clifford is enamoured of it; but it is his own affair with Fame that he sees growing, not a passing flattery. But I myself have grown apart from Mick. For an affair to become more than a dalliance or flirtation, the man must have some sense of a woman’s needs. Not that she is merely a chamber-pot into which he spills some spare emissions. Michaelis is very sheltered in that way. The issue of his own celebrity means that he has as many chamber-pots at his beck and call as he could desire, none of whom request to be satisfied in turn.
So the affair between myself and the playwright is over, just as it begins between himself and my husband. An affair of words, and Fame, and stories made of nothing. I ache for my ghost-lover, my German youth. Mick did not fill that void; he just pointed at it, and one would think he also laughed that a woman should be considered to have such a void.
After the strange discussion about an heir to Wragby being made in this indirect fashion, Clifford and I came upon the new gamekeeper and his spaniel, patrolling the woods. I must say it gave me rather a shock; a tall, thin, red-moustached fellow, with a slightly listing gait, but elegant in his deportment. Wearing velveteen gaiters! One would think, almost from the last century. Something about him spoke of a class unknown to Tevershall village, and spiked my curiosity.
He helped my husband steer his carriage uphill over the mound, and was then gone again, doffing his cap. Clifford is outrageously ignorant of the fellow he has hired, and knows nothing useful of him to speak of.
“He seems special. Is he interesting?” I asked, at dinner.
“Not to my mind,” said Clifford. “He had a wife… who left him for… many men, I believe, and who now shares with a collier elsewhere. He keeps his mother and a small child in the village, who come to visit him on Saturdays.”
“But he seems rather elegant,” I remarked. “Was he also a soldier?”
“Oh! His manners. I believe he served in India. Possibly where his deference was learned. But I do not think anything more particular about him is special, as you wonder.”
A few days later he made the request for me to take a message, the errand boy being sick. So I set off to the gamekeeper’s cottage alone.
…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 at 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…
Inspired by D.H. Lawrence