Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chapter 11:Lily and Gustav:Georges Du Roy and Lily Bart:Bel Ami and House of Mirth:

Cy Twombly - Coronation

Lily has just walked into the room. She comes over to me and touches my hair, then looks as if she is beginning to tell me something when Gustav runs into the room.

“Maman Maman! Ma belle amie! Regarde!”He holds up his closed hand.

He rushes at Lily throwing himself at her and she picks him up laughing at him. “Oh, mon fils, mon bel ami,” she says.

I gasp at the choice of their words. Then she leans into him and places her lips on his neck, closing her eyes and kissing him softly. I feel a lurch in my stomach and god in heaven, I am jealous of my own son!

Lily kisses his closed hand and then smiles, saying, “What a lovely story you wrote today. Your English is parfait and your French also of course. I wish mine were as good as yours.”

“Bientot ma belle amie, soon,” he says.

“All this mixing of French and English in the same sentence, I don’t know about that. I hope it doesn’t confuse the two of you,” I say.

They turn to me with mischievous eyes, laughing at me. I scowl at them.

“Oh, oh,"  Lily says, “we had better behave ourselves. Run now and eat your lunch that your grandmother has fixed for you.”

She comes over to me again and says, “Quel est le probleme?

“I am jealous of my own son,” I say. “When I saw you kissing him, your lips open on his neck, your eyes closed, a knife went through me.”

Lily laughs and laughs a low throaty laugh that I have not heard before. A new laugh. She raises one eyebrow at me.

“If you raise your eyebrow like that you will get a crease in your forehead that won’t rub out.”

She laughs again. “Ah, but it doesn’t matter now. I have already captured my husband. That advice is only for those still hunting.”

“I am thinking myself about jealousy. I expect I am going to experience it soon.”

I look at her in amazement. “Surely you don’t think…….” And she shushes me with her finger to my lips.  Well, Tav has been asking for a little sister, no, begging for a little sister. And one has been coming to me night after night in my dreams, and I have just found out that she will come to us. I dreamed her into existence.” And she smiles joyously at me.

“Lily, no no no! You can’t be serious. Please tell me it’s all a mistake, that you didn’t say that, that it isn’t true!” I am frantic with fear. She cannot be pregnant. She cannot, she cannot. “Lily, I cannot risk you. I wouldn’t survive it!”

Lily continues to smile happily, saying, “Women throughout time have had babies. Would you deny me, deny us? I am overjoyed. I wished this child into being for us. Please be happy with me, please. Please don’t spoil this moment for me, for us.”

“Lily, I am terrified.” I pull her into my lap and hold her so tight. “I cannot be without you. I cannot.”

I am not going to die, Georges. Yes, I know Suzanne did, but I am not Suzanne. I cannot leave you. I cannot. I will not. And that’s that. I have never known what it is to be so happy. You have changed my life completely. When I think of your scene and my utter horror at all those blank faces listening to your outburst, I can only laugh now in joy. What if you had not lost your temper, lost your control? Where would we or I be now? And your doing this has permitted me to lose all my control, although not in front of a crowd of people.” And she looks darkly at me.

“Please be happy with me. If you are worried then so will I be. That will not be good. You must forget about fear. I have lived with it far too long. I know what it does. It stops you from living and you forget that it has stopped you and you begin to survive, forgetting that you have forgotten. To live fully is to risk.

"I tremble when I think of how I love you, how I love our son, how very dangerous it is to love that much, and I choke up and feel I cannot move, that I cannot let either one of you out of my sight. But I must not allow my feelings to dampen my happiness, our happiness depends on my not allowing that. Now my happiness, our happiness, Tav’s happiness, our daughter’s happiness depend on your not allowing that fear to enter your heart.

Anyway it can’t enter your heart because I won’t let it. I am holding it, remember,” and she holds up her closed hand so I can see it, so I can know that I am safe.

I pull her to me, and my favorite little lock of her hair is loose again, so I scold her and tell her to stay with her sisters in the coil of hair, that I am busy now and cannot keep folding her back in. I kiss her hair, her face, her neck and her lips.

“Shall we go upstairs to our apartment?” I ask. “Now I won’t have to think about tricking you so as to be careful anymore. No use now.” And I smile at her looking deep into her eyes. 

I see them darken and I will not frighten her with my fear.

Tu es parfaite pour moi et pour Tav.

“I have a favor to ask,” says Lily.

“What,” I say cautiously, knowing I may get trapped again. “Tell me what you want. I will try to give it to you.”

“Ah, you are being more careful about your promises, now, so I will be more careful. You see I want to visit your parents, that part of France where you grew up. Do you suppose I could meet them? They are going to have a new grandchild, and I think it might be a happy occasion for them to know.”

“You are asking very diplomatically, aren’t you, Lily? Suzanne never met them. They have never met Tav, as you have gotten me calling him now. He was named Gustav after Flaubert, you know. But you are right, it is a heavy name for such a little boy.” I am trying to distract her now.

“Hmmmm. You are being  very careful, my husband. Shall I ask again?”

“I don’t want to take you there. I gave in to Madeleine and took her there right after we were married. I told her it wasn’t a good idea, but she insisted, just like you are doing now, only much more firmly. And when we were there she was appalled at the rustic primitiveness of the place, of my parents, of the surrounding forest that frightened her, and wanted to return immediately. My mother hated her. My mother is a simple, very hard working woman, who is foreign to anything you have known. She will be polite to you, but she will not be welcoming.”

“Oh, now you are comparing me to Madeleine. Will I ever get these ex-wives out of your mind! I am not Madeleine. I want to meet her. I want to know her. She is your mother. She raised you, and I am grateful for the way she did.”

“No, who I am now was a result of the women I have known in Paris. They took all the rough edges off me and then began to polish me. I was happy to put myself in their hands, to transfer my will over to them. They have made me who I am. Who I was when I first knew them would never have interested you at all.”

“How do you know that?”

“I know. And I do not want to explain or convince you. You cannot imagine how crass I was and I do not want to relive myself in that guise even in words.”

“How did we get in this conversation? I just asked a simple question, a simple request. Please. Please let us go visit. Please keep an open mind about me.”

“Ah, Lily, how can I say no when you ask like that. You always get your way with me. Yes, yes, we will go. We can take the train to Rouen. I will book a large private compartment for us, maybe even a full car as it will be an overnight journey. But if you are the least bit uncomfortable, then we will leave and come home. I will not have you feel  anxious, especially not now. And my lock of hair has escaped again and wishes me to touch her." I reach out to touch Lily’s face, and tuck my curl into its coil again. “Do not worry little one, tonight you can be free again. Just wait. Be patient. I love you.” And I kiss her hair.


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