Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chapter 12:Train Ride To Rouen:Georges Du Roy and Lily Bart:Bel Ami and House of Mirth

Monet - The Gare Saint Lazare

Diderot: “Bring your lips to mine / so that out of my mouth / my soul may pass into yours” (Chanson dans le goût de la romance). From Sasha and the Silverfish  

Lily and I are on the train now and it is beginning to move. The compartment takes half a car and is luxurious, quite different from the last time I took this journey. I put those thoughts from my mind and look at Lily.

Lily removes her coat and she is wearing a new dress, simple, made of a very fine, soft cotton with tiny flowers in an overall pattern. I admire her and say, “You look lovely in that dress. I haven’t seen it before on you.”

“No, I just had my final fitting a few days ago and I wanted to have it for the country. Your Paris dressmakers are everything they are reputed to be. Really mine is a wonder. She understands just the simplicity and cut I want. Maybe I will open a couture house with her.” And she laughs softly in that new throaty, slightly hoarse laugh of hers.

My favorite tendril of hair has come loose again and is teasing me. I reach out to touch her and fondle her through my fingers. Listen, you must go back with the others again. I will try to tuck you in and fasten you securely so you will stay. I tuck her back behind Lily's ear and wind her in the coil at Lily's neck. Then I pat her and and smooth her.

Lily leans forward taking a cigarette from her case. I light it for her. She draws the smoke in lovingly and slowly before she exhales. This is the first time I have been with her when she is smoking in public although our own car is not really public.

It is mid afternoon and as we slide out of Paris the countryside begins to open up and I watch Lily watching the beauty of the unfolding landscape. She is raptly looking and she sighs. Then she looks at me, smiling slowly.

After awhile she says, “Read some more of Wuthering Heights to me, please, would you?  Or would you like me to read to you?”

We have been reading it together. Mostly I read to her so as to practice my pronunciation, but I prefer to listen to her.  So I get the book out and begin and soon we are lost in the story of Heathcliff and Cathy. Cathy is dangerously ill in childbirth, and I know she will die, but Lily as yet does not know the end. I reach the part about the feathers and I look at her feeling desire for her, as I remember our wedding night, so very different from the one I spent with Madeleine on this same train journey.

Tossing about, she increased her feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her teeth; then raising herself  up all burning, desired that I would open the window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew strong from the north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions flitting over her face, and the changes of her moods, began to alarm me terribly; and brought to my recollection her former illness, and the doctor's injunction that she should not be crossed.  A minute previously she was violent; now, supported on one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey her, she seemed to find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from the rents she had just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to their different species: her mind had strayed to other associations.

That’s a turkey’s, she murmured to herself; and this is a wild duck’s; and this is a pigeon’s.  Ah, they put pigeons’ feathers in the pillows _ no wonder I couldn’t die! Let me take care to throw it on the floor when I lie down.  And here is a moor-cock’s; and this _ I should know it among a thousand _ it’s a lapwing’s. Bonny bird; wheeling over our heads  in the middle of the moor. It wanted to get to its nest,  for the clouds had touched the swells, and it felt rain coming. This feather was picked up from the heath, the bird was not shot; we saw its nest in the winter, full of little skeletons.  Heathcliff set a trap over it, and the old ones dare not come. I made him promise he’d never shoot a lapwing after that, and he didn’t. Yes, here are more! Did he shoot my lapwings, Nelly? Are they red, any of them? Let me look.

“Give over with that baby-work!” I interrupted, dragging the pillow away, and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was removing the contents by handfuls. “Lie down and shut your eyes; you’re wandering. There’s a mess! The down is flying about like snow.”

Lily interrupts. “Do you know Shakespeare?” she asks.

“No, no I don’t. Not yet.”

I think I remember Ophelia’s speech. We had to memorize it in classes. Ophelia has fallen in love with Prince Hamlet and he is playing with her affections. He begins to seduce her, and she is already in love with him.  But her father wants her to play hard to get, to not be too available lest the Prince take advantage of her.  Then he begins to be hostile to her, saying she should get herself to a nunnery and behaves very cold and ambiguous to her, as madness creeps up on him, or he pretends to be mad.

“What you were doing to me in New York.”

“Yes, a little, but he is very cruel.”

“You were very cruel.” She arches her eyebrow at me and smiles enigmatically, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with me.

“She begins to become unhinged, slightly mad, then more and more so.”

“Ah yes, I know how that feels.” Again she looks at me almost puzzled, then with oncoming desire, as her eyes darken in the fading light from the window.

So when Ophelia becomes completely mad, she enters with a bouquet of flowers and speaks. I am sure Emily Bronte knew this speech of Ophelia’s in Hamlet and is mirroring it with Cathy’s madness. I wonder how you will see it.

And Lily begins to recite it to me.

Oph. They bore him barefac’d on the bier;
          Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny:
          And in his grave rain’d many a tear;_

Fare you well my dove!

“You must sing, Down a- down, an you call I a-down-a. O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his master’s daughter.”

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”  And Lily pretends to pick single flowers from an imaginary bouquet.

Oph. There’s fennel for you, and columbines: _ there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it, herb of grace o’Sundays: _you’may wear your rue with a difference _ There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets; but they withered all when my father died. _ They say, he made a good end, _

For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy,
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead;
Go to thy death-bed,
He never will come again.

And oh my god, I am undone. “Lily.” I say hoarsely, “Lily.” We are drowning in each other’s eyes, and she crosses over to me and sits in my lap, then twists around so she is straddling me. I am astonished that she would do such a thing and I grab her waist to hold her tight against me so she won’t change her mind as to its improperness.

My hands reach under her skirts and oh my god she is not wearing any bloomers, just sheer nakedness under her clothes. I catch my breath and look into her eyes, as she smiles at me.

“I thought maybe….maybe…. I wouldn’t want to be encumbered…..in case….in case….”, and then she moans as I feel her hotness and wetness and I am out of control, kissing her and feeling her and wanting her. Caution disappears out the window and flies away.

I am breathing heavily as I undo my pants, sliding them down as I lift her up and place her on me in a perfect position for entering her. I feel I cannot wait, cannot stop, cannot prolong this, so I try to breathe slower, to time my breathing with hers. She has her mouth on my neck, saying, “Yes, yes, please, now, please, I need you so much now, right now….” And she begins to whimper.

I enter her and slide slowly in, deeper and deeper until I am buried inside her. The sound and movement of the wheels of the train increase momentum and drive me mad. I lift her up a little then push down on her shoulders hard. She screams softly against my neck then looks into my eyes. We are both breathing faster and faster now.

She moves forward, then back, then forward again, then begins to twist her body throwing her head back, closing her eyes. She returns to me looking me deeply in the eyes before she stops breathing, her eyes fluttering closed.

“I can’t wait, I…I…I…I can’t , I can’t, I can’t “ and she begins to pulse, then throb and she is so close I can’t stand it. I thrust up into her, then I lift her and slam her down on me hard, and I pour into her shaking and moaning as I feel her letting go and shuddering, shivering , trembling all over. I keep her right where she is as we return to the world together. Quietly breathing I kiss her softly, longingly, my mouth open against hers, breathing into her mouth, feeling my soul passing into her.

Ma belle parfaite Lily,” I say.

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