Love vs Sex 197

Upstairs, in the bedroom, the torrent of Mary’s reproaches and abuse streamed on, unceasingly. Gerry did not even look at her. Averted, he seemed absorbed in the contemplation of the Pascin hanging over the mantelpiece. The painting showed two women lying foreshortened on a bed, naked.

“I like this picture,” he said with deliberate intolerance, when Mrs. Amberley has paused for a breath. “You can see that the man who painted it has just finished making love to those girls. Both of them. At the same time,” he added.

Mary Amberley went very pale; her lips trembled, her nostrils fluttered as though with a separate and uncontrollable life of their own.

“You haven’t even been listening to me,” she cried. “Oh, you’re awful, you’re horrible!” The torrent began to flow again, more vehemently than ever.

Still turning his back to her, Gerry went on looking at the Pascin nudes; then at last, blowing out a final cloud of tobacco-smoke, he threw the stump of his cigarette into the fireplace and turned around.

“When you’ve quite done,” he said in a tired voice,”we may as well go to bed.” And after a little pause, while, unable to speak, she glared furiously in his face, “Seeing that’s what you really want,” he added, and, smiling ironically, advanced across the room towards her. When he was quite near her, he halted and held out his hands invitingly. They were large hands, immaculately kept, but coarse, insensitive, brutal. “Hideous hands,” Mary thought as she looked at them, “odious hands!” All the more odious now, because it was by their very ugliness and brutality that she had first been attracted, was even at this moment being attracted, shamefully, in spite of all the reasons she had for hating him. “Well, aren’t you coming?” he asked in the same bored, derisive tone.

For answer, she hit out at his face. But he was too quick for her, caught the flying hand in mid-air and, when she tried to bring the other into play, caught that too. She was helpless in his grasp.

Still, smiling down at her, and without a word, he pushed her backwards, step by step, towards the bed.

“Beast!” she kept repeating, “beast!” and struggled, vainly, and found an obscure pleasure in her helplessness. He pushed her against the end of the low divan, further and further, inexorably, and at last she lost her balance and fell back across the counterpane—(fell back, while, with one knee on the edge of the bed, he bent over her, still smiling the same derisive smile). “Beast, beast!” But in fact, as she secretly admitted to herself—and the consciousness was intoxicating in its shamefulness—in fact, she really wanted to be treated as he was treating her—like a prostitute, like an animal; and in her own house, what was more, with her guests all waiting for her, and the door unlocked, and her daughters wondering where she was, perhaps at this very moment coming up the stairs to look for her. Yes, she really wanted it. Still struggling, she gave herself up to the knowledge, to the direct physical intuition that this intolerable degradation was the accomplishment of an old desire, was a revelation marvellous as well as horrible, was the Apocalypse, the whole Apocalypse at once, angel and beast, plague, lame and whore in a single divine, revolting, overwhelming experience. . .

Eyeless in Gaza

Aldous Huxley          1936


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