Constance Chatterley’s diary, March, 1921
A little put out that my knocking had gone unheeded, but not discouraged, I turned around the side of the cottage to the back yard area, and there I got a shock.
The gamekeeper had his back to me, and was naked to the hips. In front of him, a bowl of soapy water, in which he dunked his head and patted his hair and ears, shaking droplets off, as likened to a dog.
The breeches were loose on his frame; his back white in the sunlight, thin, and bones even poked through the skin. He was not of this world; but my mind scolded me. Just a man, taking a bath! Nothing to fear here!
But my heart beat faster, and I retreated out of sight again, and sat awaiting on a small stump. How curious! To have come across him in such a way. So white, and ghostly, and somehow vulnerable. Surely he must feel the chill of fresh air on those exposed bones? And to wash himself… does that not make him mostly human, and modest? I found myself wondering about the rest of his body, hitherto concealed under those ill-fitting green velveteen gaiters; by what standard did he consider himself mostly a man, or in contrast, a ghoul? His style of dress… perhaps indeed of the last century, I realised. For a man as physically decimated as he, would surely have died long ago without some special dispensation of extended life. His elegance and his distant air now made so much more sense to my querying mind.
I waited a respectable amount of time, and then returned to knock at the cottage door, timidly. He answered, wearing a clean shirt, damp tendrils of his fair hair curling over his pale forehead and reddish sideburns.
“Your Ladyship?” he greeted me courteously, only a slight local indication in his sombre voice.
“A message from Sir Clifford,” I replied.
“Won’t you come inside?” He held the door open wider. “My apologies. I was just combing my hair.”
“Please,” I acknowledged. “Do not let me disturb you. Continue as you wish.”
He nodded as I entered his abode, gestured to a comfortable chair, and I took the seat as he quickly finished his grooming. I passed on the message, and he confirmed it would be seen to immediately.
“You are quite alone here?” I enquired.
“Ay! Your Ladyship,” he confirmed. “The Lordship is a good employer.”
I looked around the small room. There were a few comforts. The spaniel curled in the hearth, contented.
“I will not take up any more of your time,” I said at last. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
“Any time, your Ladyship,” he nodded.
I felt him watching my back as I tripped back along the pathway out of the wood. How curious he was! What creature is he? And how did he come to be working on the Wragby estate?
Inspired by D.H. Lawrence.