(with apologies to Lawrence)
DOWN THE HATCHES
SOMERS got up early the next morning. The sun was rising over the
Pacific in a sky wiped of yesterday's rain. He could hear the waves
pounding and booming against the rocks below. He went out to the
yard and chopped some wood for a fire to warm the house. Then he
brushed out the ashes from the grate, lit the fire and busied himself
with preparing breakfast. He put some porridge into a saucepan on
the stove and spread a blue-and-white checked cloth on the table,
arranging the cutlery neatly. Harriet was still asleep and
Somers was faintly relieved not to hear her voice calling out from
He planned to go out
into the warm bush later to sit beneath a tree in peace and quiet
and try to get the novel, his "romance" moving again.
Where was his notebook? Somers searched the top of the jarrah table
in the room where he often sat to write when it was raining. He
couldn't find it anywhere. He wandered out to the verandah. At last
he spied it on the floor beside Harriet's armchair. There was an
ashtray full of cigarette butts. She must have been reading his
notebook after he had gone to bed.
Somers felt a queer
foreboding that Harriet would not have been pleased by what he had
written in the last chapter, Chapter 9, of his troublesome novel.
He had called the chapter "Harriet and Lovat at Sea in Marriage"
and it was to his mind an accurate assessment of where they were
now after 10 years of matrimony: marooned somewhere between romantic
love and comfortable companionship, though he, Somers, favoured
the role of lord and master. Harriet of course would have none of
Somers prepared a cup
of tea and took it into the bedroom where Harriet was stirring.
"I've made some
porridge," he said."I'm going down to the beach for a
The sand was glistening
with rivulets of yesterday's rain draining down to the sea. He took
off his shoes and walked along the hard sand close to the water's
edge, the little waves hissing up and caressing his ankles. Above
him was the great cathedral of Australian sky. For a moment Somers
felt overwhelmed with love for the world, love for the freedom he
felt all around him. Then the sense of foreboding crushed down on
him again and he went back to the house.
Harriet was up and dressed
and in the garden, wearing an apron and hanging out newly-washed
clothes on the makeshift line he had strung up for her.
Somers greeted her tentatively, aware from her bustling demeanour
that all was not well.
He would wait for her
to start the argument, as she always did. Subtlety was not Harriet's
strong point. In fact, Somers frowned, if only she could be more
subtle; Harriet was so direct in everything she did and said. He
had begun to find her tedious.
"I've read your
latest chapter," she began as she followed him into the house.
"You don't love me at all, Lovat."
She only called him
Lovat when she was either angry with him or when they made love.
"Of course I love
you," Somers replied.
"Pah!, " she
retorted. "Tell that to the horse marines! You couldn't write
what you said in that chapter "Harriet and Lovat at Sea in
Marriage" if you loved me!"
Harriet picked up his
notebook and turned to the offending chapter.
said in a gutteral-sounding tone, "You say you are to be the
lord and master and me the humble slave. See, you wrote: 'Or at
the very best she was to be a sort of domestic Mrs Gladstone
You say I've to submit to the mystic man and male in you..that I
must bow down to you!"
She read out parts of
a paragraph, breathing heavily and spluttering:
"She was to submit to the mystic man and male in him, with
reverence, and even a little awe, like a woman before the altar
of the great Hermes
.there was In him also the mystery and
lordship of - of Hermes, if you like - but the mystery and the lordship
of the forward-seeking male. That she must emphatically realise
and bow down to. Yes,
bow down to. You can't
have two masters of one ship: neither can you have a ship without
TheHarriet and Lovat
had been an experiment of ten years' endurance. Now she was to be
broken up, or burnt, so he said, and the non-existent Hermes was
to take her place."
Harriet banged the notebook
down on the table.
Lovat," she went on, her face taking on that queer blanched
look "is that you're all fired up with these men you are seeing
so much of - Jack and Kangaroo - talking about manliness and leadership
and rallying men to fight. You're going back to your old blood brotherhood
ideas - just like when
we were living in Cornwall and
you and Leonard wanted
to cut your hands and draw blood and clasp hands and claim everlasting
blood brotherhood. And what you thought you were doing with that
young farm boy you spent all your time in the hayfields with, I
The memory of those
fraught days and nights at Higher Tregarthen flooded through Somers's
head. It had all started out so happily. He had painted the walls
of the two cottages and made little shelves and cabinets, getting
the plae ready for Leonard and Mary. Mary was to have her own writing
tower and they would all go for walks over the downs and come back
to the cottages for tea and talk.
"You didn't care
a jot for me," Harriett jeered."You didn't care that I
had left my children for you. You were so full of brotherly love
for Leonard and making the place comfortable for that New Zealand
scribbler. Mary told me her real story, Lovat, and if you'd known
more about her, you wouldn't have been so lovey-duvvie."
It had all gone so terribly
wrong. The memory of his aching desire to reach some kind of deep
understanding, manly love, with Leonard engulfed him. Then there
was Mary, cool and enigmatic, jeering at him, while Harriet wept
for her abandoned children when she wasn't throwing pots and pans
at him in their wild tirades around the kitchen table. The military
authorities were treating them as spies, the locals were suspicious
felt himself falling back into
the dark morass, the engulfing terror of helpless fear that had
permeated his pores, filled his breath, warped his very thinking
during those dark days.
"I thought we'd
found peace,"spat Harriet. "We sailed away from Europe,
got away from the darkness. Got away from the war. We sailed away
from the Old World and discovered the New. I thought you were happy
now, Lovat. But you aren't. All you want to do is be my lord and
Somers was gripped in
a dark frenzy, the memories engulfing him. Harriet went on and on,
her voice rising to a pitch of utter frenzy.
"You're weak and
useless, Lovat! You took me away and now you don't love me. I'm
a baroness! I used to know the leading intellectuals in Germany.
You have reduced me to nothing! Nothing! I wash and clean for you
while you go up to town to talk treason with those stupid men.
"You even betrayed
our love when you gave Kangaroo that little wooden heart we found
in the Black Forest at the start of our liaison. I kept it on my
dressing table wherever we were living. You took it from my dressing
table and you gave it to Kangaroo! It was a token of your love,'
Harriet wailed. "But you gave it to that dreadful man, Kangaroo."
"That heart wasn't
a token of love," Somers spat. "It was a symbol of manliness
and bravery. I gave it to you because I wanted to demonstrate to
you how much more manly I was than that effeminate army officer
you were flirting with at that time. I wanted to show you I would
be the victor."
Harrriet looked at hm
quizzicly: "What do you mean?"
"As you well know,
Somers replied, "the writing on the wooden heart says "Dem
Mutigen gehort die Welt" - "To the manly brave belongs
the world"."That was the motto to have on one's red heart:
not Love or Hope or any of those aspiring emotions.
"I gave it to Kangaroo
not as a token of Love but of manliness."
"But it was mine,
" Harriet countered.
Somers went silent,
a cold silence that put out the burning coals of his vengeance.
Harriet was nothing to him. Nothing mattered now.
"I'm going out
to do some writing," he said. "And I'll go up to Sydney
first thing tomorrow morning. I shall stay overnight with Jack."
With that, he went out
the door, leaving Harriet standing appalled, tears sleuced down
her cheeks and she wiped them on her apron.
Lawrence left his notebook on the jarrrah table later the next
day when he went for an afternoon walk. In his absence, Frieda read
the chapter he had written that morning - Chapter X "BATTEN
DOWN THE HATCHES" , descrbing their quarrel. She went into
the bedroom, found her sewing scissors and in a frenzy of rage,
hacked out the chapter and hid it in a drawer of her bedside table.
the excised chapter X with another Chapter x "DIGGERS".
The opening paragraph says:
"They had another
ferocious battle, Somers and Harriet; they stood opposite to one
another in such fury one against the other that they nearly annihilated
A few days later,
on the Satuday, their quarrel and the memory of the dark days in
Cornwall still occupying his thoughts, Lawrence took the 6am train
p to Sydney to meet Kangaroo. That night he had the nightmare described
in Chapter X1.