The Rainbow (Chapter 3, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 3

Tom Brangwen never loved his own son as he loved his
stepchild Anna. When they told him it was a boy, he had a thrill
of pleasure. He liked the confirmation of fatherhood. It gave
him satisfaction to know he had a son. But he felt not very much
outgoing to the baby itself. He was its father, that was
enough.

He was glad that his wife was mother of his child. She was
serene, a little bit shadowy, as if she were transplanted. In
the birth of the child she seemed to lose connection with her
former self. She became now really English, really Mrs.
Brangwen. Her vitality, however, seemed lowered.

She was still, to Brangwen, immeasurably beautiful. She was
still passionate, with a flame of being. But the flame was not
robust and present. Her eyes shone, her face glowed for him, but
like some flower opened in the shade, that could not bear the
full light. She loved the baby. But even this, with a sort of
dimness, a faint absence about her, a shadowiness even in her
mother-love. When Brangwen saw her nursing his child, happy,
absorbed in it, a pain went over him like a thin flame. For he
perceived how he must subdue himself in his approach to her. And
he wanted again the robust, moral exchange of love and passion
such as he had had at first with her, at one time and another,
when they were matched at their highest intensity. This was the
one experience for him now. And he wanted it, always, with
remorseless craving.

She came to him again, with the same lifting of her mouth as
had driven him almost mad with trammelled passion at first. She
came to him again, and, his heart delirious in delight and
readiness, he took her. And it was almost as before.

Perhaps it was quite as before. At any rate, it made him know
perfection, it established in him a constant eternal
knowledge.

But it died down before he wanted it to die down. She was
finished, she could take no more. And he was not exhausted, he
wanted to go on. But it could not be.

So he had to begin the bitter lesson, to abate himself, to
take less than he wanted. For she was Woman to him, all other
women were her shadows. For she had satisfied him. And he wanted
it to go on. And it could not. However he raged, and, filled
with suppression that became hot and bitter, hated her in his
soul that she did not want him, however he had mad outbursts,
and drank and made ugly scenes, still he knew, he was only
kicking against the pricks. It was not, he had to learn, that
she would not want him enough, as much as he demanded that she
should want him. It was that she could not. She could only want
him in her own way, and to her own measure. And she had spent
much life before he found her as she was, the woman who could
take him and give him fulfilment. She had taken him and given
him fulfilment. She still could do so, in her own times and
ways. But he must control himself, measure himself to her.

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