Hangman's Hands

'As they had seen me with these hangman's hands…' Macbeth

'…the narrow coils of the rind sliding slowly over his fingers…' Gaudy Night

She had recognised his hands on Saint-George… the Wimsey hands… 'my one really shameful weakness…'

Yes… but pride in those hands was allowable. They were such very beautiful hands… white… slender… experienced…

With what kind of experience?

The Viennese singer… and others. She could not complain, he had told her frankly about his mistresses. She had been in prison then… she had protested, she could not marry him, she had had a lover… and he hadn't smiled. Later, she knew, he would have smiled. 'So have I,', he had said, 'Several'… and there were his hands, his gently experienced hands, to prove it.

Hangman's hands.

How many had he sent to the gallows? Found them with his own hands… hanged them with his own white, lovely hands. White for cowardice, never for purity… white hands that hanged, as surely as if those soft hands had tied the rope and pulled the lever…. hanged men and women… wicked and remorseful… men who had killed in sudden madness… whom he had killed in cold blood.

And he would do it again… soon. London had come to her cloister… to Lady Athaliah's tower… he had come to hang the foulness, to clear the air of the frustration, perversion, madness that hung there, polluting…but the foulness was within. Within each of them… all celibate… all tainted… he could not hang all of them, but each of them was guilty.

So was she.

She had rejected him… she hadn't known, then, to look at his hands… that was a realisation for tonight, too late. There had been nothing in his eyes… only that veil where he hid himself from the world… but he could not veil his hands… his delicate, nervous fingers would have betrayed him. If she had seen his hands… seen them tighten in despair… she would have relented.

She thought so.

She hoped so.

But it was too late now… it had been too late then… by the time he had met her, she had been too far gone. Philip had hurt her too much… even without the whole ghastly interpolation of the trial, she could not have been ready for Peter… she knew that… she would not… could never have given in to him. Not in prison, not then… it had been too soon.

Not in Oxford, not now. It was too late.

But we all know what happened then…J

Stream-of-consciousness… my way of doing it bears no relation to DLS. I really tried to get this DLSey, but all I could do was this. Oh well. I'm sure it was better before I started mucking about with it…