Connie was surprised at her own feeling of aversion from Clifford. What is more, she felt she had always really disliked him. Not hate: there was no passion in it. But a profound physical dislike. Almost, it seemed to her, she had married him because she disliked him, in a secret, physical sort of way. But of course, she had married him really because in a mental way he attracted her and excited her. He had seemed, in some way, her master, beyond her.
Now the mental excitement had worn itself out and collapsed, and she was aware only of the physical aversion. It rose up in her from her depths: and she realized how it had been eating her life away.
She felt weak and utterly forlorn. She wished some help would come from outside. But in the whole world there was no help. Society was terrible because it was insane. Civilized society is insane. Money and so-called love are its two great manias; money a long way first. The individual asserts himself in his disconnected insanity in these two modes: money and love. Look at Michaelis! His life and activity were just insanity. His love was a sort of insanity.
And Clifford the same. All that talk! All that writing! All that wild struggling to push himself forwards! It was just insanity. And it was getting worse, really maniacal.
Connie felt washed-out with fear. But at least, Clifford was shifting his grip from her on to Mrs Bolton. He did not know it. Like many insane people, his insanity might be measured by the things he was not aware of the great desert tracts in his consciousness.
Mrs Bolton was admirable in many ways. But she had that queer sort of bossiness, endless assertion of her own will, which is one of the signs of insanity in modern woman. She thought she was utterly subservient and living for others. Clifford fascinated her because he always, or so of ten, frustrated her will, as if by a finer instinct. He had a finer, subtler will of self-assertion than herself. This was his charm for her.
Perhaps that had been his charm, too, for Connie.
`It's a lovely day, today!' Mrs Bolton would say in her caressive, persuasive voice. `I should think you'd enjoy a little run in your chair today, the sun's just lovely.'
`Yes? Will you give me that book---there, that yellow one. And I think I'll have those hyacinths taken out.'
`Why they're so beautiful!' She pronounced it with the `y' sound: be-yutiful! `And the scent is simply gorgeous.'
`The scent is what I object to,' he said. `It's a little funereal.'
`Do you think so!' she exclaimed in surprise, just a little offended, but impressed. And she carried the hyacinths out of the room, impressed by his higher fastidiousness.
`Shall I shave you this morning, or would you rather do it yourself?' Always the same soft, caressive, subservient, yet managing voice.
`I don't know. Do you mind waiting a while. I'll ring when I'm ready.'
`Very good, Sir Clifford!' she replied, so soft and submissive, withdrawing quietly. But every rebuff stored up new energy of will in her.
When he rang, after a time, she would appear at once. And then he would say:
`I think I'd rather you shaved me this morning.'
Her heart gave a little thrill, and she replied with extra softness:
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