Excerpt from “Love for Lydia” by H.E. Bates ~~Rugs~~

picture-LoveForLydia-Bates‘Take a rug,’ Johnson said. ‘Put it round your shoulders. Muster Richardson can bring it back.’
‘I think I will,’ she said.
He opened the door of the car, took out a rug and draped it round her shoulders. ‘You better have one too, Muster Richardson,’ he said.
‘Oh no,’ I said.
‘Yes, have one,’ she said.
‘You git sweatin’ and afore you know where you are you got a chill round your backbone.’ He put another rug round my shoulders. ‘That’s all right. You can bring ‘em back.’
‘Well, I don’t need it, but thanks,’ I said.
As we walked up the avenue she stopped, listening for the sound of the old Chrysler dying away in the empty street beyond the church, and stood close to me.
‘You very nearly spoiled it,’ she said.
‘Spoiled what?’
‘The rugs,’ she said. ‘You’re very simple sometimes.’
We spread one of the rugs on dry chestnut leaves and lay down on it, drawing the other one over us. The moon had vanished, leaving the sky above the half-leaved branches orange-green, without a trace of blue, warm and lucent with the dying glow. Then it turned paler, whiter and finally a clear salt-blue, with pure white stars, like a touch of winter. But under the rug it was quite warm and she pressed herself so close to me that I could feel the bone of her hip round and hard against me through the flesh.
As we lay there she said several times how beautiful the evening had been and how much she had enjoyed it and how much she had wanted me. Underneath the rug I found her body in clean long curves and held it there while I watched the stars. I felt there was probably no one else awake in all Evensford except perhaps old Johnson and Alex and his mother, and I pitied everybody because they were not awake and with her and as happy as I was.
Then I remembered how Alex had kissed her; I remembered the keen stab of jealousy, the sudden slitting through of all my puffed vanity; and I was sick because I did not want another person to touch her, and because I did not want to share her with another soul.
‘Don’t let Alex kiss you again,’ I said.
‘Oh! that was just fun,’ she said. She laughed at me from deep in her throat, and the sound danced a long way through the already baring trees. ‘There was nothing in that at all.’

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “Love for Lydia” by H.E. Bates ~~Rugs~~

  1. Herbert Ernest Bates was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire, England on 16 May 1905, and died 29 January 1974, aged 68 years. ‘Love for Lydia’ was published in 1952.

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