|Emily Dickinson and Lady Chatterley*|
I am most distressed and fear that I might be heading in a wrong direction that will affect my social standing tremendously, creating much ill-will from my husband, who is much infirmed. He is the master of an important coal mine and other assets, including a very old estate with many servants and priceless family heirlooms.
We married before he went off to war, and he returned wounded, without the use of his legs and, most unfortunately, his manhood. Of course, he is embarrassed about his lack and has suggested that I make an appointment with the Holy Ghost, who would surely see to it that dear Clifford would have his heir. It has been implied that I should find a young man of high social standing and not reveal his identity to Clifford, who realizes that his lack would mean the end of the line for the family name.
My problem: I am still young and very lonely for romantic male companionship, not just a surrogate sire for my future child. The young candidates I have met so far have left me cold and bored.
Alas, I have found the man who makes me weak in the knees, but he is low in the social order, a mere gamekeeper on our estate.
I am embarrassed to admit that I spied on Oliver as he washed (naked) at a water pump and have secretly watched him chopping wood, his chest bared.
Finally, I accidentally (on purpose) met him at a brooding hut, just as he was caring for the eggs for this year’s chicks.
While he was most cruel and disrespectful to me about my and Clifford’s social class, I am quite certain he feels a wild attraction to me as I do toward him.
I would very much like for Oliver to sire my child, but Clifford would not approve of our estate employee siring his child. Social class is very important to my husband, and he would certainly see the offspring of Oliver as a bastard child, not an heir to his estate.
Do you think it would be acceptable to pretend that my child’s natural father is of our class? How would Clifford ever know the true parentage of the Chatterley child? After all, the child would be raised with all the advantages of the upper class – first-class tutoring, University education, world travel, the finest of everything.
Please respond as soon as possible, for next week, I have a secret meeting with Oliver, and my situation is growing increasingly urgent.
Yours very truly,
Ah, my dear Constance,
As an American woman in the 21st century, I must admit that 1920’s England and its social structure never fail to bewilder me. Watching the servants of Downton Abbey struggle to pamper their upper crust employers makes me weary.
I mean, really, can’t the Earl of Grantham don his own overcoat, and must Lady Mary Crawley bother sweet Anna every night with the combing of her hair and all that folderol with her tiara and jewels?
But I digress.
Being a child of 1960’s, I can’t help but feel that your problem is not a problem but an opportunity to grab life by the horns and enjoy your sexy gamekeeper. Go out into that brooding hut and roll around in the hay and engage in some clean wild sex.
Your husband, the poor invalid that he is, must understand that you have needs he cannot fulfill. You have said nothing about divorce or a separation – I can only conclude those are not options. In addition, it is commendable that you are willing to have a child for your husband’s family line. In my humble opinion, you have the right to select the sire for the actual deed, Clifford’s snootiness notwithstanding, and who says you mustn’t experience some joy in the process? You have not mentioned anything about making a life with Oliver, which, in your era, would be shocking and unacceptable.
I get that.
But do take care, for your feelings for your sexy gamekeeper could evolve into something much more complicated than you have originally intended.
As for telling Clifford about the gamekeeper, I would turn to Emily Dickinson, a young American poet who lived from 1830 to 1886, for the best answer that would fit within your time and class:
Tell All The Truth
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;
As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
– Emily Dickinson
Good advice from a young American poet who probably understands your plight better than I would.
Best to you,
*Remixed Image: Emily Dickinson Daguerreotype (circa 1848) superimposed on Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (1841-1919) “Young Girl Braiding Her Hair”