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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

Coming and standing close to Aaron


did not know what they talked about, what was said. If someone had taken his mind away altogether, and left him with nothing but a body and a spinal consciousness, it would have been the same.

But at coffee the talk turned to Manfredi's duties. He would not be free from the army for some time yet. On the morrow, for example, he had to be out and away before it was day. He said he hated it, and wanted to be a free man once more. But it seemed to Aaron he would be a very bored man, once he was free. And then they drifted on to talk of the palazzo in which was their apartment.

"We've got such a fine terrace--you can see it from your house where you are," said Manfredi. "Have you noticed it?"

"No," said Aaron.

"Near that tuft of palm-trees. Don't you know?"

"No," said Aaron.

"Let us go out and show it him," said the Marchesa.

Manfredi fetched her a cloak, and they went through various doors, then up some steps. The terrace was broad and open. It looked straight across the river at the opposite Lungarno: and there was the thin-necked tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the great dome of the cathedral in the distance, in shadow-bulk in the cold-aired night of stars. Little trams were running brilliant over the flat new bridge on the right. And

from a garden just below rose a tuft of palm-trees.

"You see," said the Marchesa, coming and standing close to Aaron, so that she just touched him, "you can know the terrace, just by these palm trees. And you are in the Nardini just across there, are you? On the top floor, you said?"

"Yes, the top floor--one of the middle windows, I think."

"One that is always open now--and the others are shut. I have noticed it, not connecting it with you."

"Yes, my window is always open."

She was leaning very slightly against him, as he stood. And he knew, with the same kind of inevitability with which he knew he would one day die, that he would be the lover of this woman. Nay, that he was her lover already.

"Don't take cold," said Manfredi.

She turned at once indoors. Aaron caught a faint whiff of perfume from the little orange trees in tubs round the wall.

"Will you get the flute?" she said as they entered.

"And will you sing?" he answered.

"Play first," she said.

He did as she wished. As the other night, he went into the big music-room to play. And the stream of sound came out with the quick wild imperiousness of the pipe. It had an immediate effect on her. She seemed to relax the peculiar, drug-like tension which was upon her at all ordinary times. She seemed to go still, and yielding. Her red mouth looked as if it might moan with relief. She sat with her chin dropped on her breast, listening. And she did not move. But she sat softly, breathing rather quick, like one who has been hurt, and is soothed. A certain womanly naturalness seemed to soften her.

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