Those who are left are different people trying to lead the same lives … Demelza to Captain MacNeil who attempted to console her for death of infant Julia (Bk 1, ch 4, p 55)
There’s no to-morrow. It doesn’t come. Life’s an illusion. Didn’t you know. Let us make the most of the shadows … Ross to Elizabeth, before raping her (Bk 3, Ch 5, p. 314(
Final shots of Season 1: Film ends with Trenwith burned down, Mark Daniel killed, all money and hopes lost, Ross to go abroad as soldier, leaving Demelza with Jeremy (very different from book here)
Dear friends and readers,
Ross Poldark, jacobin landowner, in the film an unabiding renegade who rapes Elizabeth in order (he tells himself) to try to prevent her from marrying George Warleggan, capitalist villain, ruthless, malevolent. Demelza, refusing to accept this situation, hating herself for not retaliating by going to bed with the hard but fair Captain who tried to capture Ross et alia as smugglers. Caroline, strong woman brought out of 18th century gay witty lady, Enys as disillusioned as Ross. The hard capitalist (new world, our world) Warleggans. How I love these novels. Naturally another blog.
Here am I to relive with a you a little of the experience of this fourth of Winston Graham’s marvelous Poldark novels: Warleggan. We’ve had Ross Poldark, Revenant, Demelza: Mistress Poldark, Herstory, Jeremy Poldark, the midst of life. Warleggan is the name of a family enemy to the Poldarks since their grandfathers’ time, and this novel ends with George (Ralph Bates) taking possession not just of Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark (Jill Townsend), Francis’s widow, Ross’s ex (as he thought until the end of the last book) beloved, but also of Trenwith, the family home.
An important theme in this novel is death: early on Demelza tells Captain MacNeil who tries to suggest that Jeremy has replaced Julia that ” “those who are left are different people trying to live the same lives” (p. 55): the death of Francis screws up the lives of three of the principles (Ross, Demelza and Elizabeth) by giving George Warleggan a chance to buy, seduce Elizabeth who in effect makes a second bad marriage. Her disloyalty to Ross leads to his raping her and (as emerges in Black Moon), Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the birth of Valentine, and Elizabeth’s death eventually.
The ending of the filmic Warleggan (Episode 16) differs startlingly from the ending of the novel as the opening of the mini-series (Episode 1) and ending of the first novel (Episode 4) differed from Graham’s Ross Poldark so the themes of the two works emerge quite differently.
What happens in the film is the theme of possession in the novel dominates the close: it’s true that central thematic matter in this novel also includes sexual possession, very much an 18th century theme too: towards the end of Warleggan Ross tells Demelza that he has been possessed by Elizabeth in the sense Lafayette’s La Princess de Cleves is possessed by Nemours (the man who would not mind committing adultery with her). Ross has been erotically enthralled by Elizabeth, and was awakened to his feelings the previous Xmas before Francis died. Ross asserts he is no longer, but we can see that while the grip of this “possession” has been broken during a long night of his ambiguous rape of Elizabeth, it is not altogether gone.
Demelza may be said to be possessed by Ross: she could not get herself to fuck with Captain (prevention man) McNeil (Donald Douglas) in retaliation, because she felt she belonged to or was part of Ross; but she is also possessed by Ross in law, when she’s pregnant with his child, and beholden to him for the respect she gets, her place in society, her name (as it’s put in the book).
The phrase may be used of non-erotic states and bodies: a person may feel he or she is possessed by evil and dark thoughts (the devil); you can be possessed by some pursuit that becomes an obsession. Both Mark Daniels and Dr Enys (Richard Morant) were possessed by Daniels’ wife, Keren (Demelza) in mad self-destructive way. By having the film end in a conflagration and abandonment of all the film emphasizes the destructiveness of this erotic possession and jealousy (George’s of Ross) and hatred (George’s of the community that despised him and he seeks to punish).
It is very easy to become confused between book and film so this time I preface each of the four sections with a summary of Graham’s book; and will make put a summary of 1 Poldark Part 16 in the comments to this blog (the filmic equivalent of the parts of Warleggan which differ radically from the book).
Book One: April-May 1792
The set for the 1975 Poldark mini-series: we see Nampara
This is the first of the books to try to reset the reader into the world of Cornwall: in so doing it reminds me of Trollope’s Dr Thorne: the first two Barsetshire novels were written w/o an aim to make a series, but by the third Trollope knew he had created a world and would be filling it with characters and begins to develop the setting at length.
This is not fictional in the way of Trollope’s: it is meant to be historical places but Graham doing the same thing: he really sketches the area but it’s not wooden or dull as it’s done from the viewpoint of our main characters who have been invited to and are reluctant to go to a party at one of the six gentleman’s houses in the area. Ross and Demelza’s is the smallest, least pretentious, indeed most poverty stricken of the group.
A summary of the book:
Chapter 1: The six houses, Demelza at home with Jeremy, to her Francis, Ross arrives, they discuss return of Caroline; Trenwith George’s (false) courting of Elizabeth and its success; he and Aunt Agatha’s first ugly clash
Chapter 2: Francis home to Elizabeth; Elizabeth’s obtuseness about George; George meets and tries to seduce Enys to his side, fails; Dwight at the Hoblyns, his wandering about moors at night
Chapter 3: Begins with Ross and Demelza’s arrival at Place House, owned by Trevaunances, evening of 24 May 1792 . Dinner party with all major characters at table; major blindness of Trevaunance to invite both Ross and George; flirting of MacNeil with Demelza; charged conversations of Elizabeth with Ross (he loves her), of Elizabeth with Francis (she made serious mistake marrying him); deterioration of conversation when men leave. Four riding home together, Demelza feels something new afoot, Ross declares Caroline “wrong wife for Dwight .. [she will] wipe her feet on him” (p. 43)
Chapter 4: Dwight’s custom growing (Ellery’s death), his wooing of Caroline. MacNeil of Demelza who tells him of death of Julia: “those who are left are different people trying to live the same lives” (anticipates what will happen after Francis’s death too, p 55). Ross home, MacNeil leaves; Ross and Demelza discuss Mark Daniels’ possible find, Ross to Trencom to plan; Trencom aware an informer about and he has to move operation to another cove and keep his stolen goods at Nampara (the hole in the library floor made).
Chapter 5: Dwight visits Hoblyns and finds Kempthorne’s house remarkably improved; Dwight and Caroline’s strained courting.
Chapter 6: Trencom carries on, exchange of witty rebarbative letters between Dwight and Caroline; Pascoe’s letter sounding warning about his selling that note; Francis and Demezla’s important conversation where he tells her how much she means to the family and how lucky they are to get her; and also of his part in betrayal and she cannot forgive (a theme in book); Francis drowning, the child playing at Trenwith
Chapter 7: Ross home to Demelza withi news that the note was passed to Pascoe; the hunt for Francis and realization when they get to the mine he’s drowned, the body
The power of the opening four chapters is a direct development of the five characters at length and from within and in dialogue. It is here that Ross’s love for Elizabeth (Francis, Ross’s cousin’s wife) is brought out more clearly for the first time, both from his desiring point of view and the past they knew; from within. Now she has been so disappointed in Francis (she has not been out of her house in 4 years more times than she can count on one hand) and is bored. She is letting Ross know she’s available. Demelza intuitively sees this and is very hurt.
George Warleggan begins to be central as a presence. We see his spite in the way he insults Aunt Agatha, wishes for her death, calls her ugly in front of her because she’s deaf. She’s pathetic and narrow but not a bad woman, and has nowhere to live but with Francis and Elizabeth. Francis is wry and ironic but not unkind. We see how hard he is trying to support Ross; Francis warns Ross not to participate in the smuggling, even if the money is so desperately needed — as Warleggan is Ross’s enemy and has liens on the authorities.
Dr Enys is among the faithful decent. Alas, partly because of this he is not doing well. He cannot cure people magically and when they die, he’s blamed.
Breaking of sexual norms:
The character of Caroline Penvenen; far from a Gainsborough heroine, like Elizabeth, she is a woman who breaks sentimental norms. Another strong woman emerges: Caroline Penvenen. She’s an important character: in archetype she’s the gay witty lady of Restoration and 18th century comic drama: I can see Anne Oldfield doing her to perfection.
This is from Season 2 where there are scenes capturing this aspect of Caroline; in Season 1 she is much more like the elusive lady of Gainsborough 1940s movies, mischievous, non-serious
IN the book, what Winston Graham did was take this character and make her a proto feminist: she is pro-active and aggressive in her love affair with Dr Enys. He would have shrunk from her because of his lower station background, his lack of money, his sensitivity and gravity as a personality; his past history of having been taken over by another woman’s erotic enthrallment (in which he more than acquiesced) and her murder by her husband, Mark Daniels (still a fugitive in France, helped to get there by Ross Poldark) all in the way. She overcomes this by her wit, determination (Bk 1, ch 5 67-75, Bk 2, ch 2, 115-22). In Jeremy Poldark she had showed her understanding and kindness in the romance of the oranges I described.
In the film and book Enys is in love with her and she knows it; she refuses the older man her uncle wants her to marry. A good set of implicit social scenes does this. Ross is ever shown as intelligent (so too Demelza) and his remark on the relationship of Enys and Caroline rings a dark ominous note: “I certainly think she is the wrong wife for Dwight. She would wipe her feet on him” (ch 3, p 43). Nonetheless, when Warleggan tries to bully Enys into coming on his side, Enys refuses pointblank and is frank in discourtesy.
In both Francis (in Jeremy Poldark he tried to commit suicide; he drinks to drown depression, assumes ironical stance towards life) and Enys (the idealistic doctor who will not kowtow but is susceptible to affection from women) Graham breaks masculinity norms.
The film series does try to do justice to some of this, e.g.,
In the opening segment of season 2: after in the film Ross rescues Enys and Enys and Caroline marry, Caroline in the film lets Demelza know that after his long imprisonment & shattering experience Enys is still impotent but it does not come off sympathetic to him so much as about her frustration, the actress has not much feel for this, or maybe the writer and director (both men).
Finally, McNeil brought back — a Scots customs officer who had warned Ross in the end of Demelza about not getting too far away from law. He is well played in the series by Donald Douglas. He is interested in Demelza and she responsive — partly from her own frustrations. In Captain McNeil, the customs officer’s conversation with Demelza, he expresses regret at the death of Julie to which Demelza replies: “Those who are left are different people trying to live the same lives” (p 55).
It seems a strong remark about a 1 1/2 year old child, but not about the death of Francis. For now Elizabeth the frail widow who Ross knows is willing, Ross, now genuinely grieving yet aware how futile and stupid was Francis’s act (there was nothing there probably), has to take over Francis’s duties, supply the other half of the firm; his absence hurts Demelza’s self-confidence and and growing place. Because he’s not there their roles must be different in law and custom.
Francis’s death (Chapter 6): I can’t speak too highly of the power and effect of the way this is done. Francis having tried so hard to make up for his dereliction in allowing himself to be bribed and pressured to give away who (Ross) was starting up the Copper company, with last intimate talk to Demelza, returns to the mine to see if he can find this ore level Mark Daniels had seen. He goes too far in, slips, falls, and drowns.
That’s what’s seen in the film. In the book we are with this man during the hours he waits to be rescued. In Jeremy Poldark he had tried to kill himself in Dr Enys’s room before the trial, but now he has thought better of it, is going in the direction of a life he wants, with respect for himself (his father never gave) him and wants to live. We are with him as he sinks, as he finds there is no ladder, as he holds onto that nail for three hours and then as the wall crumbles. His thoughts, his frantic shouts. A long sequence, not overdone but each moment felt as the man is there waiting, slipping, frantic and gone. We have heard so many stories of late about miners thrown away (unions useless now), and out infrastructure let go and so many dying this way. 9/11 managed to retrieve only a few and who ultimately brought on that blast? who has profited from it?
And then the silence and narrative returns to Elizabeth waiting for him patiently as yet.
A theme in the book: when an individual dies it matters. Ellery dies, Rosalie Hobyns doesn’t and that changes Enys’s life. Harris Peascoe passes the promissory note Ross originally signed for the first loan to Cary Warleggan. Charles, the old man, now dead and Cary ruthless.
Book Two, Mid-November 1792:
Botallack Mine, Cornwall
A summary of the book:
Chapter 1: That terrible year (mist, cold), Ross walking meets Caroline in coach, Ross she means to have Dwight and in Ross’s thoughts the renewal of the relationship with Elizabeth, now frail and clinging to him (so he thinks) — he’s like a man with two wives. Dwight visits Demelza who tells him she does not want to be like “Elizabeth and Geoffrey Charles” (p. 110); Ross arrives to tell of return again of Caroline, and talks with them “Events do what they like with us, and such — such temporary freedom as we have only fosters an illusion … Look at Francis Was there ever a more sorrier or end … To drown like a dog in a well for nothing .. the wantonness …the useless waste” (P. 113), and Demelza trying to look forward …
Chapter 2: November a bad month for secret assignments out of doors but we have meeting of Caroline and Dwight and at long last agreed upon engagement; she agrees he the most noble but she does see he does not like her Bath plan … (patients need him)
Chapter 3: One of Ross’s weekly visits to Elizabeth; does she know how much he feels responsibility; when he leaves we see she is thinking of saying yes to George’s proposal as solving her problems; Ross to Demelza, about their desperation, talk of how much more of Trencom they will need; she wants to borrow, he does not, dark hours
Chapter 4: Mr Penvenen and Dwight’s clash over Caroline — very like a Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth scene; Caroline’s visit to Pascoe and her determination to provide needed 2000 pounds
Chapter 5: Pascoe tells Ross the good news, Ross’s return to Demelza who we see with dog, with child, with cat, good news, how they will prosper, the presents he means to give her, the love-making
“that odd fusion of desire and affection for which there is no substitute … They stayed for a while hardly moving. His hands were cool on her legs. Remember this, she thought. In the times of jealousy and neglect, remember this” (p. 159). “so you are not to be rid of me my love …”
Chapter 6: Another Christmas, now 1792: they were all to go to Verity (who had taken Francis’s death hard), last moment Elizabeth decides to go to mother (Cusargne); instead she goes to Cardew which makes Trenwith look like country house, and Cusargne an empty barn, the tension among the Warleggans, Nicholas not keen for Poldark widow as a daughter-in-law; Ross’s quixotic gesture; now Ross determined to pay his debt to Francis for mine: to give Elizabeth the 600 pounds and take useless mine from her; Dwight and Caroline’s compromise (he does not want to go but feels he ought, still guilty over Keren); Ross gives Elizabeth the 600 without admitting it’s him; she is all smiles and brilliance, talks of her “dislike to think I was being false to our friendship” (p.175). He is intensely aware of her tight narrow body. We are to guess she has half accepted George.
Chapter 7: Henshawe with new troubles, Ross now has only 75, Henshawe regrets how Ross has spent needed money; could Ross go see Mark, price coming down; Ross tells Demelza he will go find Mark; Dwight among the Hoblyns (we have this thread to remind us of informer as well as Dwight’s work), ends again on a woman, Caroline this time, how she intends to live her life her own way
“I intend to live my life in my own way and shall not be bribed by them into remaining their domestic tabby. It will do me good, Dwight, to stand on my own feet, and I want you to help me.” He says perhaps we shall have to help one another” – p 187
Chapter 8: January 1793, the execution of the king, known by Jan 24th; Ross spends last 75 pounds on purchase of coal (p. 189). Dwight comes to tell Ross he is leaving; he will be home first of February; so Dwight tells her but not about Caroline and leaves her feeling lonelier than ever; Ross in old clothes seeking Daniel on the island, uncle tells Caroline better to leave Friday, Caroline refuses to leave before Sunday; Ross now brought ashore on Thursday
Chapter 9: The meeting between Mark and Ross; Mark white haired, aged; Ross realizes that Mark saw the same vein of apparent copper that Francis did, promises to put up a stone for Keren “by building so much on the chance utterances of a man crazed with rage and grief, he had brought himself to the present pass’ (p. 201). No by giving his money away to Elizabeth. Dwight giving up on seeing Ross; meanwhile MacNeil and Vercoe making their plans; Dwight waiting until midnight, one last call to Rosina’s whose knee is gone again; goes to Hoblyns, hears Kempthorne’s lie and recognizes it, realizes what is occurring and goes to Kempthorne before trying to meet Caroline
Chapter 10: Uncle Ray Penvenen goes to bed at half ten; Caroline and maid sneak out, Dwight exposes Kempthorne to Hoblyns; Dwight and Kempthorne’s struggle; now Lottie cries out that her life is being ruined at this exposure, father hurt in struggle and Dwight flees, Lottie’s grief
Chapter 11: MacNeil come to Nampara to await Ross’s return, Demelza almost tells him but some native caution stops her and they sit waiting; Dwight rushes to the top of the hill and lights the fires of warning
Chapter 12: Ross coming ashore, his talk with Mark’s brother, Paul; they see the gaugers and military and prevention men in time; Ross begins to flee; Ross home and hidden, Demelza tries to prevent Vercoe from coming in; on the beach a terrific struggle ensuing; they examine the floor, go the cache, but it is empty
Chapter 13: Caroline’s goodbye letter to Dwight, letter dated February 3, 1793; he didn’t want to come; the men out to hunt for Kempthorne; hours after the military leave Ross emerges from his hiding place.
Commentary: Things have become desperate for Ross. Harris Pascoe has sold the promissory note to Cary Warleggan — another treachery, and Ross can do nothing about it. Cary demands full payment by December. The loss of their very land looms over Demelza and Ross.
Caroline to the rescue. She goes to Harris and offers to buy the promissory note herself. This is a scene which would startle and feel meaningful to any reader of Trollope: when women try to use money on their own, men won’t listen. At first Pascoe doubts she has the money, then the control of it, and then he says Ross would not accept money from a woman. At each count she persuades him otherwise. When at the last he downright refuses as he is uncomfortable, she asks who else runs a bank here, and is leaving. It reminded me of buying a car from a car dealer. You need to be willing to walk. He caves in and the scene closes. We don’t need to know the negotiations once she has gotten over this hump of being a woman (Bk 2, ch 4, p 144-48, in fact juxtaposed to Enys standing up to Caroline’s uncles).
What makes for the complexity also is she is given the rightist rhetoric: not as a validation but to explain why an heiress would think Tory like thoughts.
Graham is unwilling though to have his hero not be sufficiently manly so he has Enys confront Caroline’s uncle in a scene where the two men rehearse the scene between Lady Catherine de Bourgh v Elizabeth: in this one Enys stands up to all the counts of inappropriateness, future misery because they will not be accepted, the unimportance of love, sneers at his profession, learning, insistence that Caroline does not know her mind. It’s this scene (as in P&P) that persuades Caroline that Enys does love her. It’s hard not to believe Graham had P&P in mind and is reversing the sexes (bk 2, ch 4, 134-44).
That this is a quietly feminist vein is reinforced by Caroline’s riding a horse. She rides dangerously according to her uncle; she insists on riding publicly twice a week with Enys well before the uncle and he have their scene together.
The Ross-Demelza-Elizabeth triangle:
Ross is called over and at first astounded to be told the money is now paid, then perplexed, and then wonders where some treachery lies. He almost walks out but Harris Pascoe (despite his having been squeezed to sell the note) is an old friend and says on his word, this is good and Ross signs the new note. Now he is free for a long time to come (Bk 2, Ch 5, pp 149-52).
Meanwhile though money desperation and the intervention of McNeil and the prevention men has led Trencomb to ask Ross to allow them to store their smuggled goods in his house. He bends to pressure despite Demelza’s concern. Comically or ironically they use the library. We watch the scene (pp. 132-33) and from our visit to the Hoblyns with Enys where Enys’s success in curing the daughter’s broken knee, has made him get customers, begin to suspect Charles Kempthorne is not altogether above board about something. It’s impossible to keep secrets as it takes people to do things is what Graham wants us to see.
Ross’s first act is to re-buy things for the house and to bring Demelza precious presents, including things for her hair. We see and she does how he loves her tenderly despite the attraction (love or lust and a certain congeniality in their amorality) for Elizabeth still. He has had to visit Elizabeth since Francis’s death and they have come closer together — or so he thinks.
I just loved how the scene of the presents ended. Jeremy is there, natch and the dog, Garrick, chasing the cat. He kneels down to her while she sits in a chair and we are told puts his hands on her thighs. She thinks to herself that she wants to remember these moments for a long time, especially when she is feeling not valued or remembers his love for Elizabeth and then they speak:
He said: ‘So you are not to be rid of me my love.’
‘I am not to be rid of you, my love.
Over in the corner by the door Jeremy thumped down and began methodically to pull off his gloves (Book 2, ch 5, pp 158-59)
Life moves on relentlessly or quietly as it does in these novels. Next chapter, Christmas and now they can take up Verity’s invitation to Blamey’s for Christmas: they have clothes and things to bring, can hold up their heads.
We are told that Elizabeth was to come (Ross had urged her) and had planned to go to her parents but does not: We surmise she in fact went to the Warleggans, in effect to George who also has been visiting regularly: been so good to not pull in the debt Francis owed him, has bought her boy presents (pp; 158-159). She (we know) unlike Demelza but like Caroline values things over people, she wants social admiration over cherished private life (which is what matters to Demelza — and to me).
On the one hand, Ross goes to the island of St Mary’s where Mark Daniels is waiting for him. This is his last ditch attempt to be told where Daniels saw this lode of copper in the mine. Ross is shocked at how Daniels looks: decades older, white hair, wild and desperate, not quite right in his mind any more. Daniels has been living as an outcast, fugitive from the law (for murder of his wife, Keren) and has hired himself out to fight in France. It comes home to Ross how tenuous is Daniels’s memory and how foolish and self-deluded he had been to believe this story. It is improbable it appears that Daniels saw anything. And on this he had invested his last large sum, Francis’s loan, that Francis had lost his life seeking out desperately.
We see this desire was natural and Francis fell for it too because he wanted too. Earlier in the book there’s a long monologue by Ross about how life can be so meaningless and people die just for nothing — this in reference to Francis’s death by drowning.
It’s on his way home to Nampara by sea that Ross confronts this scene at the cove of unloading the goods and is almost captured by Vercoe, and actually fights him bodily, is seen and throws Vercoe off and flees home successfully to hide in a cache behind a cache in the family home’s unused (a quiet joke by Graham) library.
How did Ross manage to escape in time and why were not all the smugglers taken?
Dr Enys. As above, Enys has succombed to Caroline’s pressuring and has agreed to flee with her from her uncle’s home and go to live with her in Bath. A fait accompli. She is an heiress and apparently thinks they can live on her income, but if Enys is so determined to practice his medicine, he can set up there very well. We are told in an earlier book (it comes out in the trial scene of Ross in Jeremy Poldark) that Enys is one of those who benefited from the slight glimmerings of a meritocracy, and although from poor middling parents, was recognized for gifts and educated as a genuine physician and we see how much he cares about his patients.
He tells Demelza in an unconscious slip when he is telling her of his and Caroline’s plans, that the going off is a “grief.” It is. We remember Ross’s words about Caroline: she may wipe up the floor with Enys (I suppose like Rosamund Vincy does with Lydgate in Middlemarch though on different grounds and from different psychological/sociological causes).
That night they are to meet at 11. She insists she must not tell her uncle for he will thwart her ferociously (the class system is very real in this book) but will accept a fait accompli after a while. We get a double small interweave here. Caroline trying to say goodbye to the uncle who gains a sense something is afoot and will not go to bed. He goes well after 10 and she arrives with her luggage at the carriage late, to find no Enys.
He too was waiting and there came to him a last emergency: Rosina Hoblyns’s knee is acting up again. He is sitting there waiting for the 11 o’clock time to come near and he figures he’s better off spending the last half hour with a patient whose good health he has gained credit for. When there, he is told that Charlie Kempthorne will not be with the men that night. Why not? Kempthorne is ill and he hears a lie about himself. That he advised Kempthorne to stay in. Now we do have a novelistic providential trick: he suddenly puts together his noticing (which he had) the better condition of Kempthorne’s cottage (as doctor he visits them) and partly because he does not want to meet Caroline, heads for Kempthorne’s cottage.
A confrontation scene of some power ensues. Enys is rarely not soft-spoken and cooperative. He suddenly accused Kempthorne of being the informer and Kempthorne loses it. He is frightened himself, a fight ensues and Kempthorne tries to disable Enys (with a knife) but Enys escapes. The children are frightened by all this and anxious.
Enys then runs high on the hill and sets up a bonfire. A bonfire is an old symbol that something is wrong. He has a gun and when the men begin to land he lights the fire and attempts alerts them. Not only him but some of the smugglers have seen one of McNeil’s men and another figure at a point on a fence they usually use to get the stuff to the library.
Ross is coming onto the beach just around that time, a little tiny bit later and sees the cargo being thrown overboard, sees the first scuffle and is himself beset by Vercoe. He shoots to keep people away and either kills or wounds someone and keeps running home.
Meanwhile Demelza is waiting too — she too is up that night waiting, for Ross. We had a moving scene between them when he went off to find Daniels. We are told little things about Ross’s appearance by this time. Pascoe (his banker) sees he has taken on a wolvish appearance. He insists he must see Daniels and that he will make his way there and back (it’s 1792 and France is dangerous too). She knows this is a night for smuggling and bringing the cargo to the library.
Comes to her house to quarantine it and hold her there McNeil and his men. McNeil has been alerted that his men are seen and he wants to prevent Ross from getting home. He knows from a sub-textual conversation with Ross after the trial that Ross is involved in the smuggling. Demelza for a moment thinks to hint to McNeil the truth for McNeil is decent, has warned Ross friendly-like and would go to bed with her if she acceded. But she looks in his eye and knows there’s no mercy there.
So she sticks to her story, Ross is at St Ives and will be back tomorrow or late tonight. Her house is surrounded. The men won’t let her go upstairs but she insists on seeing her boy. She gets herself out the window, jumps three feet and is off to the beach where she meets Ross coming from it. She warns him and he goes into the library by another entrance than the front of the house. She has no way of climbing back up to her boy’s window and braves the group by just walking in.
A half hour or less later McNeil is there furious, wounded, they look everywhere for Ross, including the library. Demelza can see there’s been an informer for they know to lift part of the library floor where cargo sometimes is. No cargo tonight.
In the film a superbly well-done, tightly knit, expertly interwoven yet sprawling near-disaster. Ross and the “free trade” men he is allowing to land at Nampara cove are informed against by Charlie Kempthorne; they are lit upon by the prevention-men, Captain McNeil, the customs officer and his men, the local government man, Vercoe and 7 smugglers captured, 2 killed and one wounded. McNeil is among those wounded on the other side. The rest of the smugglers escape out to sea with most of their cargo intact. They will be back on another dawn.
This early dawn on the shore does not end Book 2, for its final chapter is a search for Charlie Kempthorne by a group of self-appointed men from the neighborhood. But he has fled, and while a first impulse is to burn the cottage and beat his children, better impulses prevail and the children are simply sent to an aunt and then the cottage burnt (where Kempthorne had been gathering very nice furniture and other hitherto unexplained quietly put-in signs of prosperity for quite a long time).
In the film we see the men throw Kempthorne off a cliff. A group of men seek out Charlie Kempthorne and after a while find him. It’s an ill wind that does no body any good. Kempthorne had made a deal with Rosina’s father to marry her and the father had been willing to beat her into it. Kempthorne is much older than she, brings two children; he would provide a decent home, but she is not sure he is a character she will be treated kindly by. Well, now she need not worry.
A letter from Caroline to Enys ends Book 2. A bitter one about how she has left with her uncle the next morning at 10, and does not expect to return again. She says she was aware how loathe Enys was to leave his practice and friends too at Cornwall.
As I’ve said all this is deepened by the reality of the reading experience of subjectivized narratives for 4 books now and each of the important characters is alive in the reader’s mind as a real presence.
Book Three, begins a week later, still February 1793
Prelude to Rape scene: Ross climbs the walls (Part 15, Episode 5)
The confrontation: he says he will stop her
A summary of the book:
Chapter 1: Trencom takes care of his friends, alibis for all, Dwight’s unease, some loss of custom and increase of admiration from people around as a group. His thoughts: “Far better bitter disappointment now than the humiliation and misery of a lifelong mesalliance” (p 258); Demelza and Ross’s talk, he has to admit he sold Leisure for 675 and discharged a debt of honor with the 600, she says she’s heard George Warleggan very obliging to Elizabeth so maybe not so much in need; Ross’s jealousy over Bodrugan deflects this; he and Henshawe go down Grambler, and feel despair.
Chapter 2: George Warleggan outwits Elizabeth in effect: “streak of hazard blending with good fortune” on Warleggan’s side; he pressures her into a public wedding, says that he’ll repair Trenwith; he will help her with her boy; at the close of the chapters George exults that he had “dealt what he knew would be the deadliest of blows at his bitter enemy” (p. 277)
Chapter 3: Now tin found at Gambler; Demelza to Verity, limit on what you can ask; “if you believe in him,then you’ve no excuse for asking for proofs all the time” (p. 282). Verity to have baby (October due date — so 1793). Demelza thinking, off to do what she can for Bodrugan, meets MacNeil on the way, genuine conversation (man is in his own terms decent) at Bodrugan learns of match of Elizabeth and George
Chapter 4: Large political scene sketched in (counter revolution, war in Europe, Paris open to taker), May 2, 1793 Charlie Kempthorne’s body found floating in sea; Rosina come to Dwight; moving talk; he has no one to talk to; Dwight and Ross rush to where accident; Ross had not spent enough money on mining equipment and bad accident: 2 men killed by fall, 3 seriously injured, work stops
Chapter 5: Failure coming very hard; he comes home to Demelza; odd tone, Elizabeth’s letter dated 9 May 1793 (so the rape is 9 May 1793), he goes dark in mind and heart; goes there, intense conversation which rehearses all the previous backstory history (which is dramatized in melodramatic ways in mini-series, episodes 1-4). They quarrel over his intention to stop her and her refusal to acquiesce; no escape she knows; he insists she is making another mistake; his insistence makes him hateful to her, she now needles him with her love for George and it leads to rape and his staying the night. She: “Tomorrow …:. He: “There’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t come. Life’s an illustion, Didn’t you know. Let us make the most of the shadows” (p. 314)
Chapter 6: Ross comes home to Demelza and Jeremy; terrible scene, “joint betrayal destroyed the basis of their life”; “frightening blazing anger” alive in her and she goes out; the relationship destroyed it seems, they meet at meals, the invitation to Sir Hugh Bodrugan’s party, Demelza will go alone.
Chapter 7: Demelza at party; “desolation” in her heart, the will to retaliate, but not the object; she can’t bear Bodrugan; MacNeil turns up, at heart she feel “lost, irretrievably lost” (p. 333)
Chapter 8: Demelza does lead MacNeil on, a bedroom scene which is counterpart to rape scene; MacNeil a bit too aggressive, and she punts; he will not force himself on her, she feels she must adhere to the one man; she feels debased; MacNeil’s words of interest for they do not blame Demelza by a cliched morality: “When admiration turns to contempt [what he feels for her now] it is time to go” (p. 346). She’d like to die.
Chapter 9: Comical fight of Treneglos and Bodugran outside her door; Bodrugna breaks in and finds her gone, and then thinks of Margaret (not pleasant person in the book at all).
Chapter 10: Ross at Looe on business; Demelza thinks he will leave her; he cannot get himself to go to Elizabeth (p. 356); he was sure of his love for Demelza but cannot speak or talk of it or justify himself; she would have felt better had she yielded to MacNeil. Then Elizabeth and George: Elixabeth attempts to weasel out, then to gain a delay, only manages that; real anger is that Ross had not been near her, had he come she would have reacted differently. As she yields passively to George the lines are: “God, I am in a cage! Lost for ever (why did Ross come, she hates him for coming, despise, only enmity between them, she shall be George’s faithful wife and again) “Why did he have to come? god, I am in a cage. I am lost forever” (p. 367).
So matter of this book is trial aftermath; Crash of Mine; Ross’s night with Elizabeth and its dire results for him and Demelza and for Elizabeth too.
Reading on in Smuggling on Cornwall and Devon: as far as I can tell quietly, unobtrusively, Graham continually accurate in offhand references and suggestive scenes.
The aftermath of the near capture of the smugglers, is a series of trials where the authorities get nowhere. Mary Waugh in her Smuggling in Devon and Cornwall, 1700-1850 says despite draconian legislation and punishment throughout the coastline of the British Isles starting around mid-17th century (to drag tax out of people), in some areas local populations persistently refused to convict and gradually punishments were softened so that you could get off by volunteering for military service (especially if you could bring someone with you).
Well, Trencom the man who runs this smuggling does not forget his friends. He has someone in court stand up with an alibi for Ross; he pays people’s fines. A few do have to pay by the horrors of some years at transportation or a year in prison. The prevention people go off to France to fight – they are eager for this we are told (with some irony in the narrator’s voice). A rare leftist point of view depicts Paris as under siege from the counterrevolutionary and emigrant armies. Graham also shows how the interests of the judges are distinctly against the smugglers for personal gain and stature and out of whack with the locals. Not as history but as realized personalities. The informer’s body, is found drowned some weeks later; the girl who was to have married him is somewhat saddened because after all she would have had an establishment and he showed admiration and affection but now she has the trouble of getting people to believe she knew nothing. She did know nothing.
Graham’s fiction stands out as superior to Daphne Dumaurier’s I now realize for he offers a full sociological feel of smuggling, including how it took organization, money, was a full fledged business operation outside the law. In her books it is all vague romance outside the adventure sequences.
A second set of scenes concerns finding a tin lode. They do find one, but alas, Ross has given back the 600 pounds Francis lent him, seeing (he thinks for a long time to come) Elizabeth’s poverty. He feels terrible over the death of Francis. He also does love Elizabeth too and visits and begins to feel he is an important presence in her house. But she does not consult or go to him because that would interfere with Demelza and they stop at a certain point from too much intimacy.
What happens to the tin lode is Ross mines it dangerously, He does not spend because he does not have the money to set up a careful operation which would preclude a sudden crash within and that is what happens. His men (friends) are wounded badly and the operation must cease now. I say this briefly and swiftly but in the book it is fully dramatized, including scenes of Ross with his money lender and the builders. Of course our hero goes down in the mine for hours to try to save people and does help bring two more men out, one Will Nanfan who I remember accompanies Ross to France to rescue Enys from a French prison in a later book (it’s in Season 2 of the films).
So I come to the sections that most engage me and at a deep level: Elizabeth’s decision to marry George Warleggan, Ross’s arch enemy.
Suffice to say it is not presented simply as a sudden burst of intense passion and revenge hatred, self-satisfaction by a hero who has within him an abiding renegade but a night of harsh love-making which causes a terrible break and tension between Ross and Demelza as she knows about it as he does not hide it — because he can’t get himself too. So as with the marriage and first pregnancy of Demelza, the films turned into something far more melodramatic and simple a sequence of adult experience.
The point I want to make about Ross’s one night with Elizabeth is its ruthlessness as an action, and ambiguity as a non-ethical violent act, however made understandable and mitigated by the past, present circumstances, and how it’s presented. As a reader who sympathizes even intensely with Ross (and equally Demelza), I want to exculpate him, and know that in my presentation of his heading the riot on the beach (for in some sense he did and it’s not clear he didn’t start it) where he and other men seized two incoming ships, fleeced them, and reveled in the exhilaration of the moment, I had an urge to make his role less instigating, dominant, and (as in the courtroom his defense attorney did) kept alive in my narrative how when he saw the action turning into wanton destruction and murder, he turned round to invite the militia (then in danger) to his house. All the while he let everything started up take its course, and even if new groups of men had come in (miners mostly) who he could not have controlled, his hospitality and later return to as benevolent landowner was an evasion.
So too here. In the film, Ross receives Elizabeth’s letter and is so enraged, he flees his house, finds a horse, makes his way to Trenwith, and upon finding the house locked for the night, climbs onto the roof, across the siding and into a window, and without much more ado than an initial face-to-face shot, rapes her. Or so we are to understand. The screen goes dark and he is next seen in the morning returning home to a Demelza who knows where he has been, as much because he then sleeps downstairs, does not go up to their room where she’s laying, baby Jeremy not far off.
That is an accurate outline of what happens — except the letter Elizabeth sends is much more apologetic in the novel. In the film she lashes out at conventions and says she is marrying George for money and power; she has been and continues to be selfish; she did not marry Ross because he had nothing and Francis was the heir to a gainful property at the time, and refuses explicitly to make moral excuses about her son. We know she dreams of going to London for she says so to George who plays along (pretends he is considering it). I doubt she’s have done that realistically . It’s an anachronism like having Demelza pregnant before marriage in the film (not so in the book) and having her claim she doesn’t know who the father is and not be judged harshly adversely as she would certainly have been.
IN the letter in the novel Elizabeth details what we have seen happening towards the end of Jeremy Poldark and the first 3/4s of this novel. In 5 years she’s been out barely 5 times; she is now living in poverty even if the 600 was returned to her (by Ross); she is beset by creditors, by the trouble of keeping up this huge house, by the problem of what to do about Geoffrey Charles’s education, by all sorts of hard-to-do even impossible to do stuff. And we see in the novel she is fooled by thinking that George is marrying her just for herself, does not know he does it to revenge himself ultimately on Ross: as her husband, he becomes the head of Trenwith, takes over Francis’s place. Graham makes this hypocrisy burningly evident in the narrator’s discourse.
Plus three different long conversations are omitted. Ross does indeed climb into Elizabeth’s room, but then they proceed to talk. This talk taking us back to her original motivations for marrying Francis, her boredom and despair, that she didn’t love him and he knew it (part of his reason for wanting to kill himself), and these long 5 years of an abyss of anything to do, anyone to talk to but Aunt Agatha, makes her marriage understandable to us and even to Ross, but it does not make up for his drive to possess her sexually and his intense frustration. He did think by giving her that 600 he would be a kind of alternative husband. He tells her she should have come to him for all these troubles and he would have helped her find another husband. The novel doesn’t make any or much of his motivations explicit (because they are not conscious with him) but we doubt he’d have found her another husband.
What the film series did was take this long talk turn it into a series of scenes which are interwoven in Season 1 throughout. In Season 1 Ross’s love and lust or urge for Elizabeth begins quite early in his marriage and carries on until this night together. In the novels, it is not evident until he and Demelza visit Francis and Charles on the second Xmas when Elizabeth makes it clear for the first time she would perhaps be willing to go to bed with Ross (over the dishes near midnight) and he responds and would have done “it” there on the floor with her, but that she held back, backed off, fled the room (in Jeremey Poldark). By threading this material throughout the film series, that makes the film series far more coherent, dramatic, psychologically modern, for Demelza knows, is hurt, feels herself someone who was simply felt sorry for and is a barrier. In the novels Ross and Poldark have a period of real euphoria, and his marrying her, giving her his name, is part of his rebellion against his class, and rank and is felt that way — not in the series (which reflects 1970s attitudes).
This reminds me of how long inset histories in novels are often taken to make scenes much earlier in film adaptations nowadays so socially unacceptable materials kept as back-stories in the older books become front stories in the films.
While this conversation cuts against the idea of that the man just went in there and raped this woman as a revenge on her, on George, and on the world for not giving him what he wanted, it is still (I think) a rape because Ross is forcing himself on Elizabeth as far as the scene goes, for as he begins to see she is not going to be persuaded not to marry George, he grows very angry, and he begins to become sexually aggressive in a cruel way, and she tells him he is “contemptible”. As he carries on, and it goes back and forth, she says as she can’t help marrying George, so
‘I can’t help this either.’ He kissed her. She turned her face away but could not get it far enough round to avoid him.
When he lifted his head, her eyes were lit with anger. He’d never seen her like it before, and he found pleasure in it.
‘This is – contemptible! I shouldn’t have believed it of you! To force yourself … To insult me when – when I have no one …
‘I don’t like this marriage to George, Elizabeth. I don’t like it! I should be glad of your assurance that you’ll not go through with it.’
‘I’d be surprised if you believed me if I gave it you! You called me a liar! Well, at least I do not go back on my promises! I love George to distraction and shall marry him next week-’
He caught her again, and this time began to kiss her with intense passion to which anger had given an extra relish, before anger was lost. Her hair began to fall in plaited tangles. She got her hand up to his mouth, but he brushed it away. Then she smacked his face, so he pinioned her arm …
She suddenly found herself for a brief second nearly free. ‘You treat me -like a slut-’ ‘It’s time you were so treated-’
‘Let me go, Ross! You’re hateful — horrible! If George –’
‘Shall you marry him?’
‘Don’t! I’ll scream! Oh, God, Ross … Please .. .’
‘Whatever you say, I don’t think I can believe you now. Isn’t that so?’
‘There’s no tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t come. Life is an illusion. Didn’t you know? Let us make the most of the shadows.’
‘Ross, you can’t intend … Stop! Stop, I tell you.’
But he took no further notice of the words she spoke. He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bed.
Curtain down. This idea men have “it’s time you were so treated,” as if they are doing the woman a favor by abasing and punishing her.
The next scenes take place at Ross’s house and we are in Demelza’s mind as she watches him. She does misunderstand. She thinks he does not love her, she worries he is thinking of leaving her. He is unwilling to talk about what has happened, and tries to pretend nothing important has. She won’t let this happen and asks him, “‘It won’t be the last time, will it?’ He didn’t speak, but looked down at his pate and pushed it away.” (p. 318). “‘Is their [George and Elizabeth's] wedding to go on?’ ‘I don’t know …” His scar is “noticeable this morning” She asks if Ross will see Elizabeth again, “‘I don’t know.’” What time did he get back? Around 5. He then tries small talk about ribbons for Jeremy, his plans for the day, political news. She spills her tea. “Blazing frightening” anger is what she feels; she wants to kill Elizabeth.
Demelza agrees to go to a party she knows he’d never go to: local landlords, the upper class, one Elizabeth and George will be at: given by one of the men chasing her, Sir Hugh Bodrugan, there is no danger of her taking up with him (old, stupid, lecherous), but once she is ensconced in her bedroom, the music of the dance playing, we are told is “Coming along the path towards the house was Malcolm Neil of the Scots Greys.” McNeil had told since returning to the area after the trial that he did take his men off watching the house less than 18 hours later — he could have kept them there, that would have caught Ross is what he is saying, and he did it for her.
In the fiction (not anachronistic in an obvious way like the film) she does still intensely love Ross: we are told because he took her in at age 13, was “one step more than husband to her … represented a kind of nobility, not of birth, but of character, a person whose standards of behavior always were, and always would be, slightly better, surer than hers” (p. 316). That no longer holds, quite, but his rank and her place do. Still she is incensed, and has become unsure of what is to come, what is what.
Ross does not appear to think about what happened at the ball to Demelza (if she went to bed with McNeil) but she does. He just doesn’t think about her world view except as his wife. In the 1950s/60s way she despises herself for not having gone to bed with McNeil. She sees herself as having reneged on him, having played games with this man when she didn’t mean to, but she also didn’t mean to become his lover or mistress. She is angry with herself for her tie to Ross.
Book Four, June 20, 1793 (date of George and Elizabeth’s wedding)
Ross and George Warleggan’s last confrontation: George needles Ross with the fine madeira in the house (Trenwith) of which he is now master (1 Poldark, Part 16, Episode 4)
Ross has accused Warleggan of destroying the old community with his enclosures, firings, rentracking, and Warleggan counters with accusing Ross of fleecing Geoffrey Charles, using Ross’s taking of the old mine when he gave Elizabeth the 600 pounds
Summary of Book:
Chapter 1: The wedding and George does not at all keep his word in any way. The allied armies have not yet taken Paris. Ross and Demelza not sleeping together. September 1793 George and Elizabeth move to Trenwith and he undertakes extensive repairs. Verity’s letter: the wedding, how much money spent, and Elizabeth is with child. He cannot bear the idea of them living there, it comes out the Wheal Leisure mine has much more of a lode than they dreamed. Riches. Of course the fairy tale must help now. Dr Sylvane calls in Dwight to help with Ray Penvenen.
Chapter 2: Dwight finds Penvenen creating a relationship; George and Ross’s exchange of letters; the scene where George accuses Ross of deliberately buying Wheal Leisure as a rich mine to grab it from a helpless widow when it was that he gave the 600 he needed so desperately. Warleggan will contest the ownership of the now rich mine. With Mr Chynoweth there, they accuse Ross of cheating his ward (Geoffrey Charles). George insults Ross once too often: “Go back to your scullery maid.”
Chapter 3: Jeremy needs to be near Demelza to thrive; Ross home with wounds, he and George fought so hard they almost destroyed the parlor itself, certainly many things in it; Elizabeth upstairs all the while. But he will not give up this mine; George has taken too much from him already. He looks about their house and decides it’s time to make it not so poverty-stricken. A fortnight passes. We are probably in October.
Ross to Pascoe to talk about repaying money and discovers patroness was Caroline. They go shopping, happy trip, ride back together, Demelza says he should repay Caroline by trying to get her and Dwight together, home, affection growing, of course she care; he feels he could go to bed with her, but there is that amount of resistance he decides to put it off, but she has strong feeling in her again for him
Chapter 4: Dwight’s appointment aboard a ship as surgeon (like Jeremy goes to military service). Ross to London, execution of Marie Antoinette (Oct 16, 1793) . Caroline looks ravaged; they grow as people alike who understand one another on class and personal level; talk of what happened, she felt Dwight looked upon what he was doing as shameful; Keren to her was someone in the past; does Ross know what it’s like “when your anger and bitterness are so great that you can only hurt yourself — and go on hurting yourself for ever and ever, so that it seems there’s no escape” (p. 426)? Just the case of Ross and Elizabeth. She says she will not go back; he says she has until Thursday.
Chapter 5: Demelza and Garrick on Trenwith land are accosted by Warleggan’s henchman and she could have been killed, the dog is hurt and she nearly so. In London Ross sees Dwight, Ross brings them together, Caroline does say “the people who come off worst are the people who draw back at the last moment and spend their whole lives regretting it” (p. 439). And yet she walks out again.
Chapter 6: Christmas Wednesday; Ross still not back the next Tuesday (7 days later), January 1, 1794. The story of Garrick and the trespass told him. Then we move to Trenwith and Elizabeth and George: she does not love him, he treats her as a prize possession. She finds she cannot handle or understand him as she did Francis. Ross shows up to demand they be careful of hurting his wife and actually start some reconciliation but discovers that Elizabeth now hates him and it is too late from the ninth of Mary when he had left the situation as it was. And indeed he did desert her, a pregnant woman.
Chapter 7: The quiet close. Dwight and Caroline now there together, he saying she “disguises her goodness as if ashamed of it.” The last talk between Ross and Demelza. She is talking of Elizabeth from a woman’s point of view; he says he does not want to discuss his adultery; they try to talk of it and fall to quarreling (does he want her to get MacNeil for her?). It’s the 7th Christmas of their marriage (married June 24, 1787) It does not help to talk we discover; we will rediscover this when she has her liaison with Hugh Armitage. The novel ends in a moment of truce.
There is a problem in responding to the book the way we are intended to. It’s both too close to us in time (1953) and too far (more half a century ago as I type this).
By cutting off the rape scene from our regard (in the way of middle class novels of the era), what happened is not shown. But as the story progresses, we see that while it’s clear Ross is not leaving Demelza, had he been able to get himself to visit Elizabeth on the next day or a couple of days thereafter there might have been no marriage to George. Elizabeth is waiting for him to return but too proud to call for her or send any kind of sign. So Elizabeth did acquiesce later in the night. But Ross never meant to leave Demelza. He wants both women and cannot have that.
He cannot see that Demelza has become distrustful of him, and only Elizabeth’s marriage to George and then time begins to persuade her that Ross loves her and wants the marriage to continue and supports it utterly.
In the next scene with George (dramatized after Ross and Demelza’s first morning after his night with Elizabeth and their conversation whose motives I just characterized above), Elizabeth tries to weasle out of the marriage. She wants a postponement. She too is hampered by conventions: she would have to break the engagement and admit to this man something of the reason why, and he intuivitely immediately leaps to the idea it’s Ross. He wants to marry her precisely because he thinks Ross is his rival. He manages to first soothe her (which Ross doesn’t do for anyone much, including himself), then fool her, and get her to agree to a marriage a month later. He promises a tiny affair. In fact we see he begins to renege on all his promises. It’s a huge affair. He said they would live at Cardew, his house, when he moves into Trenwith, the Poldark residence. This infuriates Ross as much as his taking Elizabeth. It’s a matter of his status, family place, pride, something not middle class or bourgeois, but stemming from an older aristocratic heritage: it was this that ruined Francis to some extent, and stands in Ross’s way again and again. We know that Aunt Agatha is not in for a good time, for we have seen how spiteful George can be to her.
I called this Ross’s rage because in some real sense the night with Elizabeth was rape as it emerged from rage, and this rage erupts again. I did love how in the scene with Elizabeth in the book Ross said: ‘It doesn’t come. Life is an illusion. Didn’t you know? Let us make the most of the shadows.’ Francis’s life thrown away; the money given to Elizabeth and the money Francis gave him all lost to no good purpose, and the events of the past nights and days (including the ones with Elizabeth and the ones without Demelza) embittering.
This time after the marriage, George sends a letter by attorney to Ross asking him to come and discuss financial matters. Ross has to come to Trenwith. There is a repeat of this in Season 2 (perhaps from Black Moon). When Ross gets there, Elizabeth does not come down although Ross wanted to deal with her. George has taken over and sends a message from Elizabeth she wants to see Ross no more. This is believable: she does dread Ross for he tells hard truths too. The scene in Season 1 from Warleggan that ensues is George needling Ross when he discovers the 600 Ross gave Elizabeth back, and his attempting to cheat Ross once more. Ross’s tin lode is beginning to produce money and George is a cutthroat capitalist. The two begin to argue and George sneers at him to go “back to his scullery maid.” Meaning Demelza.
Ross loses it, and there ensues a physical fight where the new fancy furniture (Ross noticed) in the room and two windows are badly damaged. So too George and Ross until hired men come and throw Ross out.
He then returns home, to Demelza, and what the late chapters in Book 4 show is them gradually coming together again, very slowly. She rushes to him to help him as he is badly wounded and hurt. And they get into a talk. They don’t exactly discuss their motives directly but through discussing Enys’s failed romance with the upper class Caroline. We have a scene where they go shopping together with the new found money — yes you could say begin to become middle class, but it’s more out of personal pride. These are probably modern feelings put into a historical fiction but they resonate with modern readers. They feel good bringing home their stuff. They talk again. Does he want her to stay? yes. She wants to stay. A visit to Pascoe had brought out the information it’s been Caroline Penvenen who gave them the important loan which enabled them to continue. So they agree he should go alone to her to talk of what to do now — in London.
When he returns he and Demelza have another talk. In this one they quarrel first: she is looking at the night’s sex from a woman’s point of view; he as the man who does not want his intimate life undignified. He grows angry and jealous when she brings up MacNeil. They are getting angry and getting nowhere and stop this talk.
The scene ends thus: He says again she should come to London; he would show her London, she could stay in the inn:
‘You could stay at the inn while I went to see her.’ ‘No. This time I’d rather not.’
He had moved a little closer to her. ‘Demelza.’ ‘Yes.’
‘There have been a lot of unhappy things between us in these last months. Not said – but felt. I should be glad to think they are all forgotten.’
‘Of course, Ross. I feel nothing now.’
He put his face against her hair. ‘It is not nothing that I want you to feel.’
‘I’m sorry .. .’
They stayed thus for a moment more. Although unable to feel any tautness within her, he knew it was there. He had not removed it, he had not defeated it. He knew he could take her if he wanted, and her resistance would only be token; yet the token was there, and while it existed the reconciliation would be ashes.
He kissed her abruptly on the hair, released her, went across to the north window, and pulled aside the curtain to look out. Her eyes followed him.
He said: ‘Perhaps you’re right; we don’t ever regain
what we lightly lose.’
‘I don’t think ’twas lightly lost on either side.’ ‘But lost,’
‘Well .. .’
It was so dark outside he could hardly see the sea.
‘And lost to no good purpose,’ he said, half speaking to himself.
‘That I don’t know.’
‘Oh, there was a purpose, a good purpose served, if you come to think of it; though perhaps you would not agree. I don’t know … I have not wanted to talk of it.’
She stood by the cot watching him.
‘Perhaps sometime it will have to be talked of,’ he said. ‘if we are ever to straighten this out between us. Yet I have a prejudice, a feeling that it is a bad thing .. .’
‘What is a bad thing, Ross?’
He turned from the window, let the curtain fall from his long fingers, said wryly: ‘I think there is an etiquette even in adultery, and I cannot bring myself to discuss one woman with another, even when the second happens to be my wife.’ .
‘You don’t suppose 1 should want to hear it?’ ‘Yet it might not displease you.’
‘I can’t see how it would be likely to please me.’ ‘Then you are less perceptive than I suppose.’
“Tis very likely.’ .
There was another pause. Ross came slowly back from the window and after a moment’s hesitation bent and kissed her on the lips.
‘Yes, it is very likely,’ he said, and went out.
She did not move for a time. Jeremy’s breathing was a. little more hurried now, as if he were dreaming. She turned him over expertly, firmly; as if knowing the touch of the familiar hand, he settled more comfortably after it.
She straightened up and went to the window herself There were movements of warmth in her heart where she had not expected to have feeling again.
In fact her trip to London (which she finally undertakes in the end of the trilogy is a failure for her and him (see Angry Tide).
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