chapter v part 1paul launches into life morel was rather a heedless man, carelessof danger. so he had endless accidents. now, when mrs. morel heard the rattle of anempty coal-cart cease at her entry-end, she ran into the parlour to look, expectingalmost to see her husband seated in the waggon, his face grey under his dirt, hisbody limp and sick with some hurt or other. if it were he, she would run out to help. about a year after william went to london,and just after paul had left school, before he got work, mrs. morel was upstairs andher son was painting in the kitchen--he was
very clever with his brush--when there camea knock at the door. crossly he put down his brush to go.at the same moment his mother opened a window upstairs and looked down. a pit-lad in his dirt stood on thethreshold. "is this walter morel's?" he asked."yes," said mrs. morel. "what is it?" but she had guessed already."your mester's got hurt," he said. "eh, dear me!" she exclaimed."it's a wonder if he hadn't, lad. and what's he done this time?"
"i don't know for sure, but it's 'is legsomewhere. they ta'ein' 'im ter th' 'ospital.""good gracious me!" she exclaimed. "eh, dear, what a one he is! there's not five minutes of peace, i'll behanged if there is! his thumb's nearly better, and now--did yousee him?" "i seed him at th' bottom. an' i seed 'em bring 'im up in a tub, an''e wor in a dead faint. but he shouted like anythink when doctorfraser examined him i' th' lamp cabin--an' cossed an' swore, an' said as 'e wor goin'to be ta'en whoam--'e worn't goin' ter th'
'ospital." the boy faltered to an end."he would want to come home, so that i can have all the bother.thank you, my lad. eh, dear, if i'm not sick--sick andsurfeited, i am!" she came downstairs.paul had mechanically resumed his painting. "and it must be pretty bad if they've takenhim to the hospital," she went on. "but what a careless creature he is!other men don't have all these accidents. yes, he would want to put all the burden onme. eh, dear, just as we were getting easy abit at last.
put those things away, there's no time tobe painting now. what time is there a train?i know i s'll have to go trailing to keston. i s'll have to leave that bedroom.""i can finish it," said paul. "you needn't.i shall catch the seven o'clock back, i should think. oh, my blessed heart, the fuss andcommotion he'll make! and those granite setts at tinder hill--hemight well call them kidney pebbles-- they'll jolt him almost to bits.
i wonder why they can't mend them, thestate they're in, an' all the men as go across in that ambulance.you'd think they'd have a hospital here. the men bought the ground, and, my sirs,there'd be accidents enough to keep it going.but no, they must trail them ten miles in a slow ambulance to nottingham. it's a crying shame!oh, and the fuss he'll make! i know he will!i wonder who's with him. barker, i s'd think. poor beggar, he'll wish himself anywhererather.
but he'll look after him, i know. now there's no telling how long he'll bestuck in that hospital--and won't he hate it!but if it's only his leg it's not so bad." all the time she was getting ready. hurriedly taking off her bodice, shecrouched at the boiler while the water ran slowly into her lading-can. "i wish this boiler was at the bottom ofthe sea!" she exclaimed, wriggling the handle impatiently.she had very handsome, strong arms, rather surprising on a smallish woman.
paul cleared away, put on the kettle, andset the table. "there isn't a train till four-twenty," hesaid. "you've time enough." "oh no, i haven't!" she cried, blinking athim over the towel as she wiped her face. "yes, you have.you must drink a cup of tea at any rate. should i come with you to keston?" "come with me?what for, i should like to know? now, what have i to take him?eh, dear! his clean shirt--and it's a blessing it isclean.
but it had better be aired.and stockings--he won't want them--and a towel, i suppose; and handkerchiefs. now what else?""a comb, a knife and fork and spoon," said paul.his father had been in the hospital before. "goodness knows what sort of state his feetwere in," continued mrs. morel, as she combed her long brown hair, that was fineas silk, and was touched now with grey. "he's very particular to wash himself tothe waist, but below he thinks doesn't matter.but there, i suppose they see plenty like it."
paul had laid the table.he cut his mother one or two pieces of very thin bread and butter."here you are," he said, putting her cup of tea in her place. "i can't be bothered!" she exclaimedcrossly. "well, you've got to, so there, now it'sput out ready," he insisted. so she sat down and sipped her tea, and atea little, in silence. she was thinking.in a few minutes she was gone, to walk the two and a half miles to keston station. all the things she was taking him she hadin her bulging string bag.
paul watched her go up the road between thehedges--a little, quick-stepping figure, and his heart ached for her, that she wasthrust forward again into pain and trouble. and she, tripping so quickly in heranxiety, felt at the back of her her son's heart waiting on her, felt him bearing whatpart of the burden he could, even supporting her. and when she was at the hospital, shethought: "it will upset that lad when i tell him how bad it is.i'd better be careful." and when she was trudging home again, shefelt he was coming to share her burden. "is it bad?" asked paul, as soon as sheentered the house.
"it's bad enough," she replied. "what?"she sighed and sat down, undoing her bonnet-strings. her son watched her face as it was lifted,and her small, work-hardened hands fingering at the bow under her chin. "well," she answered, "it's not reallydangerous, but the nurse says it's a dreadful smash.you see, a great piece of rock fell on his leg--here--and it's a compound fracture. there are pieces of bone sticking through--"
"ugh--how horrid!" exclaimed the children. "and," she continued, "of course he sayshe's going to die--it wouldn't be him if he didn't.'i'm done for, my lass!' he said, looking at me. 'don't be so silly,' i said to him.'you're not going to die of a broken leg, however badly it's smashed.''i s'll niver come out of 'ere but in a wooden box,' he groaned. 'well,' i said, 'if you want them to carryyou into the garden in a wooden box, when you're better, i've no doubt they will.''if we think it's good for him,' said the
sister. she's an awfully nice sister, but ratherstrict." mrs. morel took off her bonnet.the children waited in silence. "of course, he is bad," she continued, "andhe will be. it's a great shock, and he's lost a lot ofblood; and, of course, it is a very dangerous smash. it's not at all sure that it will mend soeasily. and then there's the fever and themortification--if it took bad ways he'd quickly be gone.
but there, he's a clean-blooded man, withwonderful healing flesh, and so i see no reason why it should take bad ways.of course there's a wound--" she was pale now with emotion and anxiety. the three children realised that it wasvery bad for their father, and the house was silent, anxious."but he always gets better," said paul after a while. "that's what i tell him," said the mother.everybody moved about in silence. "and he really looked nearly done for," shesaid. "but the sister says that is the pain."
annie took away her mother's coat andbonnet. "and he looked at me when i came away!i said: 'i s'll have to go now, walter, because of the train--and the children.' and he looked at me.it seems hard." paul took up his brush again and went onpainting. arthur went outside for some coal. annie sat looking dismal.and mrs. morel, in her little rocking-chair that her husband had made for her when thefirst baby was coming, remained motionless, brooding.
she was grieved, and bitterly sorry for theman who was hurt so much. but still, in her heart of hearts, wherethe love should have burned, there was a blank. now, when all her woman's pity was rousedto its full extent, when she would have slaved herself to death to nurse him and tosave him, when she would have taken the pain herself, if she could, somewhere far away inside her, she felt indifferent tohim and to his suffering. it hurt her most of all, this failure tolove him, even when he roused her strong emotions.
she brooded a while."and there," she said suddenly, "when i'd got halfway to keston, i found i'd come outin my working boots--and look at them." they were an old pair of paul's, brown andrubbed through at the toes. "i didn't know what to do with myself, forshame," she added. in the morning, when annie and arthur wereat school, mrs. morel talked again to her son, who was helping her with herhousework. "i found barker at the hospital. he did look bad, poor little fellow!'well,' i said to him, 'what sort of a journey did you have with him?''dunna ax me, missis!' he said.
'ay,' i said, 'i know what he'd be.' 'but it wor bad for him, mrs. morel, it worthat!' he said. 'i know,' i said.'at ivry jolt i thought my 'eart would ha' flown clean out o' my mouth,' he said. 'an' the scream 'e gives sometimes!missis, not for a fortune would i go through wi' it again.''i can quite understand it,' i said. 'it's a nasty job, though,' he said, 'an'one as'll be a long while afore it's right again.''i'm afraid it will,' i said. i like mr. barker--i do like him.
there's something so manly about him."paul resumed his task silently. "and of course," mrs. morel continued, "fora man like your father, the hospital is hard. he can't understand rules and regulations.and he won't let anybody else touch him, not if he can help it. when he smashed the muscles of his thigh,and it had to be dressed four times a day, would he let anybody but me or his motherdo it? he wouldn't. so, of course, he'll suffer in there withthe nurses.
and i didn't like leaving him.i'm sure, when i kissed him an' came away, it seemed a shame." so she talked to her son, almost as if shewere thinking aloud to him, and he took it in as best he could, by sharing her troubleto lighten it. and in the end she shared almost everythingwith him without knowing. morel had a very bad time.for a week he was in a critical condition. then he began to mend. and then, knowing he was going to getbetter, the whole family sighed with relief, and proceeded to live happily.they were not badly off whilst morel was in
the hospital. there were fourteen shillings a week fromthe pit, ten shillings from the sick club, and five shillings from the disabilityfund; and then every week the butties had something for mrs. morel--five or seven shillings--so that she was quite well todo. and whilst morel was progressing favourablyin the hospital, the family was extraordinarily happy and peaceful. on saturdays and wednesdays mrs. morel wentto nottingham to see her husband. then she always brought back some littlething: a small tube of paints for paul, or
some thick paper; a couple of postcards forannie, that the whole family rejoiced over for days before the girl was allowed to send them away; or a fret-saw for arthur,or a bit of pretty wood. she described her adventures into the bigshops with joy. soon the folk in the picture-shop knew her,and knew about paul. the girl in the book-shop took a keeninterest in her. mrs. morel was full of information when shegot home from nottingham. the three sat round till bed-time,listening, putting in, arguing. then paul often raked the fire.
"i'm the man in the house now," he used tosay to his mother with joy. they learned how perfectly peaceful thehome could be. and they almost regretted--though none ofthem would have owned to such callousness-- that their father was soon coming back.paul was now fourteen, and was looking for work. he was a rather small and rather finely-made boy, with dark brown hair and light blue eyes. his face had already lost its youthfulchubbiness, and was becoming somewhat like william's--rough-featured, almost rugged--and it was extraordinarily mobile.
usually he looked as if he saw things, wasfull of life, and warm; then his smile, like his mother's, came suddenly and wasvery lovable; and then, when there was any clog in his soul's quick running, his facewent stupid and ugly. he was the sort of boy that becomes a clownand a lout as soon as he is not understood, or feels himself held cheap; and, again, isadorable at the first touch of warmth. he suffered very much from the firstcontact with anything. when he was seven, the starting school hadbeen a nightmare and a torture to him. but afterwards he liked it. and now that he felt he had to go out intolife, he went through agonies of shrinking
self-consciousness. he was quite a clever painter for a boy ofhis years, and he knew some french and german and mathematics that mr. heaton hadtaught him. but nothing he had was of any commercialvalue. he was not strong enough for heavy manualwork, his mother said. he did not care for making things with hishands, preferred racing about, or making excursions into the country, or reading, orpainting. "what do you want to be?" his mother asked. "anything.""that is no answer," said mrs. morel.
but it was quite truthfully the only answerhe could give. his ambition, as far as this world's gearwent, was quietly to earn his thirty or thirty-five shillings a week somewhere nearhome, and then, when his father died, have a cottage with his mother, paint and go outas he liked, and live happy ever after. that was his programme as far as doingthings went. but he was proud within himself, measuringpeople against himself, and placing them, inexorably.and he thought that perhaps he might also make a painter, the real thing. but that he left alone."then," said his mother, "you must look in
the paper for the advertisements."he looked at her. it seemed to him a bitter humiliation andan anguish to go through. but he said nothing.when he got up in the morning, his whole being was knotted up over this one thought: "i've got to go and look for advertisementsfor a job." it stood in front of the morning, thatthought, killing all joy and even life, for him. his heart felt like a tight knot.and then, at ten o'clock, he set off. he was supposed to be a queer, quiet child.
going up the sunny street of the littletown, he felt as if all the folk he met said to themselves: "he's going to the co-op. reading-room to look in the papers for a place. he can't get a job.i suppose he's living on his mother." then he crept up the stone stairs behindthe drapery shop at the co-op., and peeped in the reading-room. usually one or two men were there, eitherold, useless fellows, or colliers "on the club". so he entered, full of shrinking andsuffering when they looked up, seated
himself at the table, and pretended to scanthe news. he knew they would think: "what does a ladof thirteen want in a reading-room with a newspaper?" and he suffered.then he looked wistfully out of the window. already he was a prisoner of industrialism. large sunflowers stared over the old redwall of the garden opposite, looking in their jolly way down on the women who werehurrying with something for dinner. the valley was full of corn, brightening inthe sun. two collieries, among the fields, wavedtheir small white plumes of steam. far off on the hills were the woods ofannesley, dark and fascinating.
already his heart went down.he was being taken into bondage. his freedom in the beloved home valley wasgoing now. the brewers' waggons came rolling up fromkeston with enormous barrels, four a side, like beans in a burst bean-pod. the waggoner, throned aloft, rollingmassively in his seat, was not so much below paul's eye. the man's hair, on his small, bullet head,was bleached almost white by the sun, and on his thick red arms, rocking idly on hissack apron, the white hairs glistened. his red face shone and was almost asleepwith sunshine.
the horses, handsome and brown, went on bythemselves, looking by far the masters of the show. paul wished he were stupid."i wish," he thought to himself, "i was fat like him, and like a dog in the sun.i wish i was a pig and a brewer's waggoner." then, the room being at last empty, hewould hastily copy an advertisement on a scrap of paper, then another, and slip outin immense relief. his mother would scan over his copies. "yes," she said, "you may try."william had written out a letter of
application, couched in admirable businesslanguage, which paul copied, with variations. the boy's handwriting was execrable, sothat william, who did all things well, got into a fever of impatience.the elder brother was becoming quite swanky. in london he found that he could associatewith men far above his bestwood friends in station. some of the clerks in the office hadstudied for the law, and were more or less going through a kind of apprenticeship.william always made friends among men
wherever he went, he was so jolly. therefore he was soon visiting and stayingin houses of men who, in bestwood, would have looked down on the unapproachable bankmanager, and would merely have called indifferently on the rector. so he began to fancy himself as a greatgun. he was, indeed, rather surprised at theease with which he became a gentleman. his mother was glad, he seemed so pleased. and his lodging in walthamstow was sodreary. but now there seemed to come a kind offever into the young man's letters.
he was unsettled by all the change, he didnot stand firm on his own feet, but seemed to spin rather giddily on the quick currentof the new life. his mother was anxious for him. she could feel him losing himself. he had danced and gone to the theatre,boated on the river, been out with friends; and she knew he sat up afterwards in hiscold bedroom grinding away at latin, because he intended to get on in hisoffice, and in the law as much as he could. he never sent his mother any money now.it was all taken, the little he had, for his own life.
and she did not want any, except sometimes,when she was in a tight corner, and when ten shillings would have saved her muchworry. she still dreamed of william, and of whathe would do, with herself behind him. never for a minute would she admit toherself how heavy and anxious her heart was because of him. also he talked a good deal now of a girl hehad met at a dance, a handsome brunette, quite young, and a lady, after whom the menwere running thick and fast. "i wonder if you would run, my boy," hismother wrote to him, "unless you saw all the other men chasing her too.you feel safe enough and vain enough in a
crowd. but take care, and see how you feel whenyou find yourself alone, and in triumph." william resented these things, andcontinued the chase. he had taken the girl on the river. "if you saw her, mother, you would know howi feel. tall and elegant, with the clearest ofclear, transparent olive complexions, hair as black as jet, and such grey eyes--bright, mocking, like lights on water at night. it is all very well to be a bit satiricaltill you see her.
and she dresses as well as any woman inlondon. i tell you, your son doesn't half put hishead up when she goes walking down piccadilly with him." mrs. morel wondered, in her heart, if herson did not go walking down piccadilly with an elegant figure and fine clothes, ratherthan with a woman who was near to him. but she congratulated him in her doubtfulfashion. and, as she stood over the washing-tub, themother brooded over her son. she saw him saddled with an elegant andexpensive wife, earning little money, dragging along and getting draggled in somesmall, ugly house in a suburb.
"but there," she told herself, "i am verylikely a silly--meeting trouble halfway." nevertheless, the load of anxiety scarcelyever left her heart, lest william should do the wrong thing by himself. presently, paul was bidden call upon thomasjordan, manufacturer of surgical appliances, at 21, spaniel row, nottingham.mrs. morel was all joy. "there, you see!" she cried, her eyesshining. "you've only written four letters, and thethird is answered. you're lucky, my boy, as i always said youwere." paul looked at the picture of a wooden leg,adorned with elastic stockings and other
appliances, that figured on mr. jordan'snotepaper, and he felt alarmed. he had not known that elastic stockingsexisted. and he seemed to feel the business world,with its regulated system of values, and its impersonality, and he dreaded it. it seemed monstrous also that a businesscould be run on wooden legs. mother and son set off together one tuesdaymorning. it was august and blazing hot. paul walked with something screwed up tightinside him. he would have suffered much physical painrather than this unreasonable suffering at
being exposed to strangers, to be acceptedor rejected. yet he chattered away with his mother. he would never have confessed to her how hesuffered over these things, and she only partly guessed.she was gay, like a sweetheart. she stood in front of the ticket-office atbestwood, and paul watched her take from her purse the money for the tickets. as he saw her hands in their old black kidgloves getting the silver out of the worn purse, his heart contracted with pain oflove of her. she was quite excited, and quite gay.
he suffered because she would talk aloud inpresence of the other travellers. "now look at that silly cow!" she said,"careering round as if it thought it was a circus." "it's most likely a bottfly," he said verylow. "a what?" she asked brightly and unashamed.they thought a while. he was sensible all the time of having heropposite him. suddenly their eyes met, and she smiled tohim--a rare, intimate smile, beautiful with brightness and love. then each looked out of the window.the sixteen slow miles of railway journey
passed. the mother and son walked down stationstreet, feeling the excitement of lovers having an adventure together. in carrington street they stopped to hangover the parapet and look at the barges on the canal below. "it's just like venice," he said, seeingthe sunshine on the water that lay between high factory walls."perhaps," she answered, smiling. they enjoyed the shops immensely. "now you see that blouse," she would say,"wouldn't that just suit our annie?
and for one-and-eleven-three.isn't that cheap?" "and made of needlework as well," he said. "yes."they had plenty of time, so they did not hurry.the town was strange and delightful to them. but the boy was tied up inside in a knot ofapprehension. he dreaded the interview with thomasjordan. it was nearly eleven o'clock by st. peter'schurch. they turned up a narrow street that led tothe castle.
it was gloomy and old-fashioned, having lowdark shops and dark green house doors with brass knockers, and yellow-ochred doorstepsprojecting on to the pavement; then another old shop whose small window looked like acunning, half-shut eye. mother and son went cautiously, lookingeverywhere for "thomas jordan and son". it was like hunting in some wild place. they were on tiptoe of excitement.suddenly they spied a big, dark archway, in which were names of various firms, thomasjordan among them. "here it is!" said mrs. morel. "but now where is it?"they looked round.
on one side was a queer, dark, cardboardfactory, on the other a commercial hotel. "it's up the entry," said paul. and they ventured under the archway, asinto the jaws of the dragon. they emerged into a wide yard, like a well,with buildings all round. it was littered with straw and boxes, andcardboard. the sunshine actually caught one cratewhose straw was streaming on to the yard like gold. but elsewhere the place was like a pit.there were several doors, and two flights of steps.
straight in front, on a dirty glass door atthe top of a staircase, loomed the ominous words "thomas jordan and son--surgicalappliances." mrs. morel went first, her son followedher. charles i mounted his scaffold with alighter heart than had paul morel as he followed his mother up the dirty steps tothe dirty door. she pushed open the door, and stood inpleased surprise. in front of her was a big warehouse, withcreamy paper parcels everywhere, and clerks, with their shirt-sleeves rolledback, were going about in an at-home sort of way.
the light was subdued, the glossy creamparcels seemed luminous, the counters were of dark brown wood.all was quiet and very homely. mrs. morel took two steps forward, thenwaited. paul stood behind her. she had on her sunday bonnet and a blackveil; he wore a boy's broad white collar and a norfolk suit.one of the clerks looked up. he was thin and tall, with a small face. his way of looking was alert.then he glanced round to the other end of the room, where was a glass office.and then he came forward.
he did not say anything, but leaned in agentle, inquiring fashion towards mrs. morel."can i see mr. jordan?" she asked. "i'll fetch him," answered the young man. he went down to the glass office.a red-faced, white-whiskered old man looked up.he reminded paul of a pomeranian dog. then the same little man came up the room. he had short legs, was rather stout, andwore an alpaca jacket. so, with one ear up, as it were, he camestoutly and inquiringly down the room. "good-morning!" he said, hesitating beforemrs. morel, in doubt as to whether she were
a customer or not."good-morning. i came with my son, paul morel. you asked him to call this morning.""come this way," said mr. jordan, in a rather snappy little manner intended to bebusinesslike. they followed the manufacturer into agrubby little room, upholstered in black american leather, glossy with the rubbingof many customers. on the table was a pile of trusses, yellowwash-leather hoops tangled together. they looked new and living.paul sniffed the odour of new wash-leather. he wondered what the things were.
by this time he was so much stunned that heonly noticed the outside things. "sit down!" said mr. jordan, irritablypointing mrs. morel to a horse-hair chair. she sat on the edge in an uncertainfashion. then the little old man fidgeted and founda paper. "did you write this letter?" he snapped,thrusting what paul recognised as his own notepaper in front of him."yes," he answered. at that moment he was occupied in two ways:first, in feeling guilty for telling a lie, since william had composed the letter;second, in wondering why his letter seemed so strange and different, in the fat, red
hand of the man, from what it had been whenit lay on the kitchen table. it was like part of himself, gone astray.he resented the way the man held it. "where did you learn to write?" said theold man crossly. paul merely looked at him shamedly, and didnot answer. "he is a bad writer," put in mrs. morelapologetically. then she pushed up her veil. paul hated her for not being prouder withthis common little man, and he loved her face clear of the veil."and you say you know french?" inquired the little man, still sharply.
"yes," said paul."what school did you go to?" "the board-school.""and did you learn it there?" "no--i--" the boy went crimson and got nofarther. "his godfather gave him lessons," said mrs.morel, half pleading and rather distant. mr. jordan hesitated. then, in his irritable manner--he alwaysseemed to keep his hands ready for action-- he pulled another sheet of paper from hispocket, unfolded it. the paper made a crackling noise. he handed it to paul."read that," he said.
it was a note in french, in thin, flimsyforeign handwriting that the boy could not decipher. he stared blankly at the paper."'monsieur,'" he began; then he looked in great confusion at mr. jordan."it's the--it's the--" he wanted to say "handwriting", but hiswits would no longer work even sufficiently to supply him with the word. feeling an utter fool, and hating mr.jordan, he turned desperately to the paper again. "'sir,--please send me'--er--er--i can'ttell the--er--'two pairs--gris fil bas--
grey thread stockings'--er--er--'sans--without'--er--i can't tell the words--er-- 'doigts--fingers'--er--i can't tell the--" he wanted to say "handwriting", but theword still refused to come. seeing him stuck, mr. jordan snatched thepaper from him. "'please send by return two pairs greythread stockings without toes.'" "well," flashed paul, "'doigts' means'fingers'--as well--as a rule--" the little man looked at him. he did not know whether "doigts" meant"fingers"; he knew that for all his purposes it meant "toes"."fingers to stockings!" he snapped.
"well, it does mean fingers," the boypersisted. he hated the little man, who made such aclod of him. mr. jordan looked at the pale, stupid,defiant boy, then at the mother, who sat quiet and with that peculiar shut-off lookof the poor who have to depend on the favour of others. "and when could he come?" he asked."well," said mrs. morel, "as soon as you wish.he has finished school now." "he would live in bestwood?" "yes; but he could be in--at the station--at quarter to eight."
"h'm!"it ended by paul's being engaged as junior spiral clerk at eight shillings a week. the boy did not open his mouth to sayanother word, after having insisted that "doigts" meant "fingers".he followed his mother down the stairs. she looked at him with her bright blue eyesfull of love and joy. "i think you'll like it," she said."'doigts' does mean 'fingers', mother, and it was the writing. i couldn't read the writing.""never mind, my boy. i'm sure he'll be all right, and you won'tsee much of him.
wasn't that first young fellow nice? i'm sure you'll like them.""but wasn't mr. jordan common, mother? does he own it all?""i suppose he was a workman who has got on," she said. "you mustn't mind people so much.they're not being disagreeable to you--it's their way.you always think people are meaning things for you. but they don't."it was very sunny. over the big desolate space of the market-place the blue sky shimmered, and the
granite cobbles of the paving glistened. shops down the long row were deep inobscurity, and the shadow was full of colour. just where the horse trams trundled acrossthe market was a row of fruit stalls, with fruit blazing in the sun--apples and pilesof reddish oranges, small green-gage plums and bananas. there was a warm scent of fruit as motherand son passed. gradually his feeling of ignominy and ofrage sank. "where should we go for dinner?" asked themother.
it was felt to be a reckless extravagance. paul had only been in an eating-house onceor twice in his life, and then only to have a cup of tea and a bun. most of the people of bestwood consideredthat tea and bread-and-butter, and perhaps potted beef, was all they could afford toeat in nottingham. real cooked dinner was considered greatextravagance. paul felt rather guilty.they found a place that looked quite cheap. but when mrs. morel scanned the bill offare, her heart was heavy, things were so dear.so she ordered kidney-pies and potatoes as
the cheapest available dish. "we oughtn't to have come here, mother,"said paul. "never mind," she said."we won't come again." she insisted on his having a small curranttart, because he liked sweets. "i don't want it, mother," he pleaded."yes," she insisted; "you'll have it." and she looked round for the waitress. but the waitress was busy, and mrs. moreldid not like to bother her then. so the mother and son waited for the girl'spleasure, whilst she flirted among the men. "brazen hussy!" said mrs. morel to paul.
"look now, she's taking that man hispudding, and he came long after us." "it doesn't matter, mother," said paul.mrs. morel was angry. but she was too poor, and her orders weretoo meagre, so that she had not the courage to insist on her rights just then.they waited and waited. "should we go, mother?" he said. then mrs. morel stood up.the girl was passing near. "will you bring one currant tart?" saidmrs. morel clearly. the girl looked round insolently. "directly," she said."we have waited quite long enough," said
mrs. morel.in a moment the girl came back with the tart. mrs. morel asked coldly for the bill.paul wanted to sink through the floor. he marvelled at his mother's hardness. he knew that only years of battling hadtaught her to insist even so little on her rights.she shrank as much as he. "it's the last time i go there foranything!" she declared, when they were outside the place, thankful to be clear. "we'll go," she said, "and look at keep'sand boot's, and one or two places, shall
we?" they had discussions over the pictures, andmrs. morel wanted to buy him a little sable brush that he hankered after.but this indulgence he refused. he stood in front of milliners' shops anddrapers' shops almost bored, but content for her to be interested.they wandered on. "now, just look at those black grapes!" shesaid. "they make your mouth water.i've wanted some of those for years, but i s'll have to wait a bit before i get them." then she rejoiced in the florists, standingin the doorway sniffing.
"oh! oh!isn't it simply lovely!" paul saw, in the darkness of the shop, anelegant young lady in black peering over the counter curiously."they're looking at you," he said, trying to draw his mother away. "but what is it?" she exclaimed, refusingto be moved. "stocks!" he answered, sniffing hastily."look, there's a tubful." "so there is--red and white. but really, i never knew stocks to smelllike it!" and, to his great relief, she moved out ofthe doorway, but only to stand in front of
the window. "paul!" she cried to him, who was trying toget out of sight of the elegant young lady in black--the shop-girl."paul! just look here!" he came reluctantly back."now, just look at that fuchsia!" she exclaimed, pointing."h'm!" he made a curious, interested sound. "you'd think every second as the flowerswas going to fall off, they hang so big an' heavy.""and such an abundance!" she cried.
"and the way they drop downwards with theirthreads and knots!" "yes!" she exclaimed."lovely!" "i wonder who'll buy it!" he said. "i wonder!" she answered."not us." "it would die in our parlour." "yes, beastly cold, sunless hole; it killsevery bit of a plant you put in, and the kitchen chokes them to death."they bought a few things, and set off towards the station. looking up the canal, through the dark passof the buildings, they saw the castle on
its bluff of brown, green-bushed rock, in apositive miracle of delicate sunshine. "won't it be nice for me to come out atdinner-times?" said paul. "i can go all round here and seeeverything. i s'll love it." "you will," assented his mother.he had spent a perfect afternoon with his mother.they arrived home in the mellow evening, happy, and glowing, and tired. > chapter v part 2paul launches into life
in the morning he filled in the form forhis season-ticket and took it to the station.when he got back, his mother was just beginning to wash the floor. he sat crouched up on the sofa."he says it'll be here on saturday," he said."and how much will it be?" "about one pound eleven," he said. she went on washing her floor in silence."is it a lot?" he asked. "it's no more than i thought," sheanswered. "an' i s'll earn eight shillings a week,"he said.
she did not answer, but went on with herwork. at last she said: "that william promised me, when he went tolondon, as he'd give me a pound a month. he has given me ten shillings--twice; andnow i know he hasn't a farthing if i asked not that i want it.only just now you'd think he might be able to help with this ticket, which i'd neverexpected." "he earns a lot," said paul. "he earns a hundred and thirty pounds.but they're all alike. they're large in promises, but it'sprecious little fulfilment you get."
"he spends over fifty shillings a week onhimself," said paul. "and i keep this house on less thanthirty," she replied; "and am supposed to find money for extras. but they don't care about helping you, oncethey've gone. he'd rather spend it on that dressed-upcreature." "she should have her own money if she's sogrand," said paul. "she should, but she hasn't.i asked him. and i know he doesn't buy her a gold banglefor nothing. i wonder whoever bought me a gold bangle."william was succeeding with his "gipsy", as
he called her. he asked the girl--her name was louisa lilydenys western--for a photograph to send to his mother. the photo came--a handsome brunette, takenin profile, smirking slightly--and, it might be, quite naked, for on thephotograph not a scrap of clothing was to be seen, only a naked bust. "yes," wrote mrs. morel to her son, "thephotograph of louie is very striking, and i can see she must be attractive. but do you think, my boy, it was very goodtaste of a girl to give her young man that
photo to send to his mother--the first?certainly the shoulders are beautiful, as you say. but i hardly expected to see so much ofthem at the first view." morel found the photograph standing on thechiffonier in the parlour. he came out with it between his thick thumband finger. "who dost reckon this is?" he asked of hiswife. "it's the girl our william is going with,"replied mrs. morel. "h'm! 'er's a bright spark, from th' look on 'er,an' one as wunna do him owermuch good
neither.who is she?" "her name is louisa lily denys western." "an' come again to-morrer!" exclaimed theminer. "an' is 'er an actress?""she is not. she's supposed to be a lady." "i'll bet!" he exclaimed, still staring atthe photo. "a lady, is she?an' how much does she reckon ter keep up this sort o' game on?" "on nothing.she lives with an old aunt, whom she hates,
and takes what bit of money's given her.""h'm!" said morel, laying down the photograph. "then he's a fool to ha' ta'en up wi' sucha one as that." "dear mater," william replied."i'm sorry you didn't like the photograph. it never occurred to me when i sent it,that you mightn't think it decent. however, i told gyp that it didn't quitesuit your prim and proper notions, so she's going to send you another, that i hope willplease you better. she's always being photographed; in fact,the photographers ask her if they may take her for nothing."presently the new photograph came, with a
little silly note from the girl. this time the young lady was seen in ablack satin evening bodice, cut square, with little puff sleeves, and black lacehanging down her beautiful arms. "i wonder if she ever wears anything exceptevening clothes," said mrs. morel sarcastically."i'm sure i ought to be impressed." "you are disagreeable, mother," said paul. "i think the first one with bare shouldersis lovely." "do you?" answered his mother."well, i don't." on the monday morning the boy got up at sixto start work.
he had the season-ticket, which had costsuch bitterness, in his waistcoat pocket. he loved it with its bars of yellow across. his mother packed his dinner in a small,shut-up basket, and he set off at a quarter to seven to catch the 7.15 train.mrs. morel came to the entry-end to see him off. it was a perfect morning.from the ash tree the slender green fruits that the children call "pigeons" weretwinkling gaily down on a little breeze, into the front gardens of the houses. the valley was full of a lustrous darkhaze, through which the ripe corn
shimmered, and in which the steam fromminton pit melted swiftly. puffs of wind came. paul looked over the high woods ofaldersley, where the country gleamed, and home had never pulled at him so powerfully."good-morning, mother," he said, smiling, but feeling very unhappy. "good-morning," she replied cheerfully andtenderly. she stood in her white apron on the openroad, watching him as he crossed the field. he had a small, compact body that lookedfull of life. she felt, as she saw him trudging over thefield, that where he determined to go he
would get. she thought of william.he would have leaped the fence instead of going round the stile.he was away in london, doing well. paul would be working in nottingham. now she had two sons in the world. she could think of two places, greatcentres of industry, and feel that she had put a man into each of them, that these menwould work out what she wanted; they were derived from her, they were of her, andtheir works also would be hers. all the morning long she thought of paul.
at eight o'clock he climbed the dismalstairs of jordan's surgical appliance factory, and stood helplessly against thefirst great parcel-rack, waiting for somebody to pick him up. the place was still not awake.over the counters were great dust sheets. two men only had arrived, and were heardtalking in a corner, as they took off their coats and rolled up their shirt-sleeves. it was ten past eight.evidently there was no rush of punctuality. paul listened to the voices of the twoclerks. then he heard someone cough, and saw in theoffice at the end of the room an old,
decaying clerk, in a round smoking-cap ofblack velvet embroidered with red and green, opening letters. he waited and waited.one of the junior clerks went to the old man, greeted him cheerily and loudly.evidently the old "chief" was deaf. then the young fellow came stridingimportantly down to his counter. he spied paul."hello!" he said. "you the new lad?" "yes," said paul."h'm! what's your name?""paul morel."
"paul morel? all right, you come on round here."paul followed him round the rectangle of counters.the room was second storey. it had a great hole in the middle of thefloor, fenced as with a wall of counters, and down this wide shaft the lifts went,and the light for the bottom storey. also there was a corresponding big, oblonghole in the ceiling, and one could see above, over the fence of the top floor,some machinery; and right away overhead was the glass roof, and all light for the three storeys came downwards, getting dimmer, sothat it was always night on the ground
floor and rather gloomy on the secondfloor. the factory was the top floor, thewarehouse the second, the storehouse the ground floor.it was an insanitary, ancient place. paul was led round to a very dark corner. "this is the 'spiral' corner," said theclerk. "you're spiral, with pappleworth.he's your boss, but he's not come yet. he doesn't get here till half-past eight. so you can fetch the letters, if you like,from mr. melling down there." the young man pointed to the old clerk inthe office.
"all right," said paul. "here's a peg to hang your cap on.here are your entry ledgers. mr. pappleworth won't be long." and the thin young man stalked away withlong, busy strides over the hollow wooden floor.after a minute or two paul went down and stood in the door of the glass office. the old clerk in the smoking-cap lookeddown over the rim of his spectacles. "good-morning," he said, kindly andimpressively. "you want the letters for the spiraldepartment, thomas?"
paul resented being called "thomas". but he took the letters and returned to hisdark place, where the counter made an angle, where the great parcel-rack came toan end, and where there were three doors in the corner. he sat on a high stool and read theletters--those whose handwriting was not too difficult.they ran as follows: "will you please send me at once a pair oflady's silk spiral thigh-hose, without feet, such as i had from you last year;length, thigh to knee, etc." or, "major chamberlain wishes to repeat hisprevious order for a silk non-elastic
suspensory bandage." many of these letters, some of them infrench or norwegian, were a great puzzle to the boy.he sat on his stool nervously awaiting the arrival of his "boss". he suffered tortures of shyness when, athalf-past eight, the factory girls for upstairs trooped past him. mr. pappleworth arrived, chewing achlorodyne gum, at about twenty to nine, when all the other men were at work. he was a thin, sallow man with a red nose,quick, staccato, and smartly but stiffly
dressed.he was about thirty-six years old. there was something rather "doggy", rathersmart, rather 'cute and shrewd, and something warm, and something slightlycontemptible about him. "you my new lad?" he said. paul stood up and said he was."fetched the letters?" mr. pappleworth gave a chew to his gum."yes." "copied 'em?" "no.""well, come on then, let's look slippy. changed your coat?""no."
"you want to bring an old coat and leave ithere." he pronounced the last words with thechlorodyne gum between his side teeth. he vanished into the darkness behind thegreat parcel-rack, reappeared coatless, turning up a smart striped shirt-cuff overa thin and hairy arm. then he slipped into his coat. paul noticed how thin he was, and that histrousers were in folds behind. he seized a stool, dragged it beside theboy's, and sat down. "sit down," he said. paul took a seat.mr. pappleworth was very close to him.
the man seized the letters, snatched a longentry-book out of a rack in front of him, flung it open, seized a pen, and said: "now look here.you want to copy these letters in here." he sniffed twice, gave a quick chew at hisgum, stared fixedly at a letter, then went very still and absorbed, and wrote theentry rapidly, in a beautiful flourishing hand. he glanced quickly at paul."see that?" "yes.""think you can do it all right?" "yes."
"all right then, let's see you."he sprang off his stool. paul took a pen.mr. pappleworth disappeared. paul rather liked copying the letters, buthe wrote slowly, laboriously, and exceedingly badly. he was doing the fourth letter, and feelingquite busy and happy, when mr. pappleworth reappeared."now then, how'r' yer getting on? done 'em?" he leaned over the boy's shoulder, chewing,and smelling of chlorodyne. "strike my bob, lad, but you're a beautifulwriter!" he exclaimed satirically.
"ne'er mind, how many h'yer done? only three!i'd 'a eaten 'em. get on, my lad, an' put numbers on 'em.here, look! get on!" paul ground away at the letters, whilst mr.pappleworth fussed over various jobs. suddenly the boy started as a shrillwhistle sounded near his ear. mr. pappleworth came, took a plug out of apipe, and said, in an amazingly cross and bossy voice:"yes?" paul heard a faint voice, like a woman's,out of the mouth of the tube.
he gazed in wonder, never having seen aspeaking-tube before. "well," said mr. pappleworth disagreeablyinto the tube, "you'd better get some of your back work done, then."again the woman's tiny voice was heard, sounding pretty and cross. "i've not time to stand here while youtalk," said mr. pappleworth, and he pushed the plug into the tube. "come, my lad," he said imploringly topaul, "there's polly crying out for them orders.can't you buck up a bit? here, come out!"
he took the book, to paul's immensechagrin, and began the copying himself. he worked quickly and well. this done, he seized some strips of longyellow paper, about three inches wide, and made out the day's orders for the work-girls. "you'd better watch me," he said to paul,working all the while rapidly. paul watched the weird little drawings oflegs, and thighs, and ankles, with the strokes across and the numbers, and the fewbrief directions which his chief made upon the yellow paper. then mr. pappleworth finished and jumpedup.
"come on with me," he said, and the yellowpapers flying in his hands, he dashed through a door and down some stairs, intothe basement where the gas was burning. they crossed the cold, damp storeroom, thena long, dreary room with a long table on trestles, into a smaller, cosy apartment,not very high, which had been built on to the main building. in this room a small woman with a red sergeblouse, and her black hair done on top of her head, was waiting like a proud littlebantam. "here y'are!" said pappleworth. "i think it is 'here you are'!" exclaimedpolly.
"the girls have been here nearly half anhour waiting. just think of the time wasted!" "you think of getting your work done andnot talking so much," said mr. pappleworth. "you could ha' been finishing off." "you know quite well we finished everythingoff on saturday!" cried pony, flying at him, her dark eyes flashing."tu-tu-tu-tu-terterter!" he mocked. "here's your new lad. don't ruin him as you did the last.""as we did the last!" repeated polly. "yes, we do a lot of ruining, we do.my word, a lad would take some ruining
after he'd been with you." "it's time for work now, not for talk,"said mr. pappleworth severely and coldly. "it was time for work some time back," saidpolly, marching away with her head in the air. she was an erect little body of forty.in that room were two round spiral machines on the bench under the window.through the inner doorway was another longer room, with six more machines. a little group of girls, nicely dressed inwhite aprons, stood talking together. "have you nothing else to do but talk?"said mr. pappleworth.
"only wait for you," said one handsomegirl, laughing. "well, get on, get on," he said."come on, my lad. you'll know your road down here again." and paul ran upstairs after his chief.he was given some checking and invoicing to do.he stood at the desk, labouring in his execrable handwriting. presently mr. jordan came strutting downfrom the glass office and stood behind him, to the boy's great discomfort.suddenly a red and fat finger was thrust on the form he was filling in.
"mr. j. a. bates, esquire!" exclaimed thecross voice just behind his ear. paul looked at "mr. j. a. bates, esquire"in his own vile writing, and wondered what was the matter now. "didn't they teach you any better than thatwhile they were at it? if you put 'mr.' you don't put esquire'-aman can't be both at once." the boy regretted his too-much generosityin disposing of honours, hesitated, and with trembling fingers, scratched out the"mr." then all at once mr. jordan snatched awaythe invoice. "make another!are you going to send that to a gentleman?"
and he tore up the blue form irritably. paul, his ears red with shame, began again.still mr. jordan watched. "i don't know what they do teach inschools. you'll have to write better than that. lads learn nothing nowadays, but how torecite poetry and play the fiddle. have you seen his writing?" he asked of mr.pappleworth. "yes; prime, isn't it?" replied mr.pappleworth indifferently. mr. jordan gave a little grunt, notunamiable. paul divined that his master's bark wasworse than his bite.
indeed, the little manufacturer, althoughhe spoke bad english, was quite gentleman enough to leave his men alone and to takeno notice of trifles. but he knew he did not look like the bossand owner of the show, so he had to play his role of proprietor at first, to putthings on a right footing. "let's see, what's your name?" asked mr.pappleworth of the boy. "paul morel."it is curious that children suffer so much at having to pronounce their own names. "paul morel, is it?all right, you paul-morel through them things there, and then--"mr. pappleworth subsided on to a stool, and
began writing. a girl came up from out of a door justbehind, put some newly-pressed elastic web appliances on the counter, and returned. mr. pappleworth picked up the whitey-blueknee-band, examined it, and its yellow order-paper quickly, and put it on oneside. next was a flesh-pink "leg". he went through the few things, wrote out acouple of orders, and called to paul to accompany him.this time they went through the door whence the girl had emerged.
there paul found himself at the top of alittle wooden flight of steps, and below him saw a room with windows round twosides, and at the farther end half a dozen girls sitting bending over the benches inthe light from the window, sewing. they were singing together "two littlegirls in blue". hearing the door opened, they all turnedround, to see mr. pappleworth and paul looking down on them from the far end ofthe room. they stopped singing. "can't you make a bit less row?" said mr.pappleworth. "folk'll think we keep cats."
a hunchback woman on a high stool turnedher long, rather heavy face towards mr. pappleworth, and said, in a contraltovoice: "they're all tom-cats then." in vain mr. pappleworth tried to beimpressive for paul's benefit. he descended the steps into the finishing-off room, and went to the hunchback fanny. she had such a short body on her high stoolthat her head, with its great bands of bright brown hair, seemed over large, asdid her pale, heavy face. she wore a dress of green-black cashmere,and her wrists, coming out of the narrow cuffs, were thin and flat, as she put downher work nervously.
he showed her something that was wrong witha knee-cap. "well," she said, "you needn't come blamingit on to me. it's not my fault." her colour mounted to her cheek."i never said it was your fault. will you do as i tell you?" replied mr.pappleworth shortly. "you don't say it's my fault, but you'dlike to make out as it was," the hunchback woman cried, almost in tears. then she snatched the knee-cap from her"boss", saying: "yes, i'll do it for you, but you needn't be snappy.""here's your new lad," said mr.
pappleworth. fanny turned, smiling very gently on paul."oh!" she said. "yes; don't make a softy of him betweenyou." "it's not us as 'ud make a softy of him,"she said indignantly. "come on then, paul," said mr. pappleworth."au revoy, paul," said one of the girls. there was a titter of laughter. paul went out, blushing deeply, not havingspoken a word. the day was very long.all morning the work-people were coming to speak to mr. pappleworth.
paul was writing or learning to make upparcels, ready for the midday post. at one o'clock, or, rather, at a quarter toone, mr. pappleworth disappeared to catch his train: he lived in the suburbs. at one o'clock, paul, feeling very lost,took his dinner-basket down into the stockroom in the basement, that had thelong table on trestles, and ate his meal hurriedly, alone in that cellar of gloomand desolation. then he went out of doors. the brightness and the freedom of thestreets made him feel adventurous and happy.but at two o'clock he was back in the
corner of the big room. soon the work-girls went trooping past,making remarks. it was the commoner girls who workedupstairs at the heavy tasks of truss-making and the finishing of artificial limbs. he waited for mr. pappleworth, not knowingwhat to do, sitting scribbling on the yellow order-paper.mr. pappleworth came at twenty minutes to three. then he sat and gossiped with paul,treating the boy entirely as an equal, even in age.
in the afternoon there was never very muchto do, unless it were near the week-end, and the accounts had to be made up. at five o'clock all the men went down intothe dungeon with the table on trestles, and there they had tea, eating bread-and-butteron the bare, dirty boards, talking with the same kind of ugly haste and slovenlinesswith which they ate their meal. and yet upstairs the atmosphere among themwas always jolly and clear. the cellar and the trestles affected them. after tea, when all the gases were lighted,work went more briskly. there was the big evening post to get off.the hose came up warm and newly pressed
from the workrooms. paul had made out the invoices.now he had the packing up and addressing to do, then he had to weigh his stock ofparcels on the scales. everywhere voices were calling weights,there was the chink of metal, the rapid snapping of string, the hurrying to old mr.melling for stamps. and at last the postman came with his sack,laughing and jolly. then everything slacked off, and paul tookhis dinner-basket and ran to the station to catch the eight-twenty train. the day in the factory was just twelvehours long.
his mother sat waiting for him ratheranxiously. he had to walk from keston, so was not homeuntil about twenty past nine. and he left the house before seven in themorning. mrs. morel was rather anxious about hishealth. but she herself had had to put up with somuch that she expected her children to take the same odds. they must go through with what came.and paul stayed at jordan's, although all the time he was there his health sufferedfrom the darkness and lack of air and the long hours.
he came in pale and tired.his mother looked at him. she saw he was rather pleased, and heranxiety all went. "well, and how was it?" she asked. "ever so funny, mother," he replied."you don't have to work a bit hard, and they're nice with you.""and did you get on all right?" "yes: they only say my writing's bad. but mr. pappleworth--he's my man--said tomr. jordan i should be all right. i'm spiral, mother; you must come and see.it's ever so nice." soon he liked jordan's.
mr. pappleworth, who had a certain "saloonbar" flavour about him, was always natural, and treated him as if he had been acomrade. sometimes the "spiral boss" was irritable,and chewed more lozenges than ever. even then, however, he was not offensive,but one of those people who hurt themselves by their own irritability more than theyhurt other people. "haven't you done that yet?" he would cry. "go on, be a month of sundays."again, and paul could understand him least then, he was jocular and in high spirits. "i'm going to bring my little yorkshireterrier bitch tomorrow," he said jubilantly
to paul."what's a yorkshire terrier?" "don't know what a yorkshire terrier is? don't know a yorkshire--" mr. pappleworthwas aghast. "is it a little silky one--colours of ironand rusty silver?" "that's it, my lad. she's a gem.she's had five pounds' worth of pups already, and she's worth over seven poundsherself; and she doesn't weigh twenty ounces." the next day the bitch came.she was a shivering, miserable morsel.
paul did not care for her; she seemed solike a wet rag that would never dry. then a man called for her, and began tomake coarse jokes. but mr. pappleworth nodded his head in thedirection of the boy, and the talk went on sotto voce. mr. jordan only made one more excursion towatch paul, and then the only fault he found was seeing the boy lay his pen on thecounter. "put your pen in your ear, if you're goingto be a clerk. pen in your ear!"and one day he said to the lad: "why don't you hold your shoulders straighter?
come down here," when he took him into theglass office and fitted him with special braces for keeping the shoulders square.but paul liked the girls best. the men seemed common and rather dull. he liked them all, but they wereuninteresting. polly, the little brisk overseerdownstairs, finding paul eating in the cellar, asked him if she could cook himanything on her little stove. next day his mother gave him a dish thatcould be heated up. he took it into the pleasant, clean room topolly. and very soon it grew to be an establishedcustom that he should have dinner with her.
when he came in at eight in the morning hetook his basket to her, and when he came down at one o'clock she had his dinnerready. he was not very tall, and pale, with thickchestnut hair, irregular features, and a wide, full mouth.she was like a small bird. he often called her a "robinet". though naturally rather quiet, he would sitand chatter with her for hours telling her about his home.the girls all liked to hear him talk. they often gathered in a little circlewhile he sat on a bench, and held forth to them, laughing.
some of them regarded him as a curiouslittle creature, so serious, yet so bright and jolly, and always so delicate in hisway with them. they all liked him, and he adored them. polly he felt he belonged to.then connie, with her mane of red hair, her face of apple-blossom, her murmuring voice,such a lady in her shabby black frock, appealed to his romantic side. "when you sit winding," he said, "it looksas if you were spinning at a spinning- wheel--it looks ever so nice.you remind me of elaine in the 'idylls of the king'.
i'd draw you if i could."and she glanced at him blushing shyly. and later on he had a sketch he prized verymuch: connie sitting on the stool before the wheel, her flowing mane of red hair onher rusty black frock, her red mouth shut and serious, running the scarlet thread offthe hank on to the reel. with louie, handsome and brazen, who alwaysseemed to thrust her hip at him, he usually joked. emma was rather plain, rather old, andcondescending. but to condescend to him made her happy,and he did not mind. "how do you put needles in?" he asked.
"go away and don't bother.""but i ought to know how to put needles in."she ground at her machine all the while steadily. "there are many things you ought to know,"she replied. "tell me, then, how to stick needles in themachine." "oh, the boy, what a nuisance he is! why, this is how you do it."he watched her attentively. suddenly a whistle piped.then polly appeared, and said in a clear voice:
"mr. pappleworth wants to know how muchlonger you're going to be down here playing with the girls, paul."paul flew upstairs, calling "good-bye!" and emma drew herself up. "it wasn't me who wanted him to play withthe machine," she said. as a rule, when all the girls came back attwo o'clock, he ran upstairs to fanny, the hunchback, in the finishing-off room. mr. pappleworth did not appear till twentyto three, and he often found his boy sitting beside fanny, talking, or drawing,or singing with the girls. often, after a minute's hesitation, fannywould begin to sing.
she had a fine contralto voice.everybody joined in the chorus, and it went well. paul was not at all embarrassed, after awhile, sitting in the room with the half a dozen work-girls.at the end of the song fanny would say: "i know you've been laughing at me." "don't be so soft, fanny!" cried one of thegirls. once there was mention of connie's redhair. "fanny's is better, to my fancy," saidemma. "you needn't try to make a fool of me,"said fanny, flushing deeply.
"no, but she has, paul; she's got beautifulhair." "it's a treat of a colour," said he."that coldish colour like earth, and yet shiny. it's like bog-water.""goodness me!" exclaimed one girl, laughing."how i do but get criticised," said fanny. "but you should see it down, paul," criedemma earnestly. "it's simply beautiful.put it down for him, fanny, if he wants something to paint." fanny would not, and yet she wanted to."then i'll take it down myself," said the
lad."well, you can if you like," said fanny. and he carefully took the pins out of theknot, and the rush of hair, of uniform dark brown, slid over the humped back."what a lovely lot!" he exclaimed. the girls watched. there was silence.the youth shook the hair loose from the coil."it's splendid!" he said, smelling its perfume. "i'll bet it's worth pounds.""i'll leave it you when i die, paul," said fanny, half joking.
"you look just like anybody else, sittingdrying their hair," said one of the girls to the long-legged hunchback.poor fanny was morbidly sensitive, always imagining insults. polly was curt and businesslike.the two departments were for ever at war, and paul was always finding fanny in tears. then he was made the recipient of all herwoes, and he had to plead her case with polly.so the time went along happily enough. the factory had a homely feel. no one was rushed or driven.paul always enjoyed it when the work got
faster, towards post-time, and all the menunited in labour. he liked to watch his fellow-clerks atwork. the man was the work and the work was theman, one thing, for the time being. it was different with the girls. the real woman never seemed to be there atthe task, but as if left out, waiting. from the train going home at night he usedto watch the lights of the town, sprinkled thick on the hills, fusing together in ablaze in the valleys. he felt rich in life and happy. drawing farther off, there was a patch oflights at bulwell like myriad petals shaken
to the ground from the shed stars; andbeyond was the red glare of the furnaces, playing like hot breath on the clouds. he had to walk two and more miles fromkeston home, up two long hills, down two short hills. he was often tired, and he counted thelamps climbing the hill above him, how many more to pass. and from the hilltop, on pitch-dark nights,he looked round on the villages five or six miles away, that shone like swarms ofglittering living things, almost a heaven against his feet.
marlpool and heanor scattered the far-offdarkness with brilliance. and occasionally the black valley spacebetween was traced, violated by a great train rushing south to london or north toscotland. the trains roared by like projectiles levelon the darkness, fuming and burning, making the valley clang with their passage.they were gone, and the lights of the towns and villages glittered in silence. and then he came to the corner at home,which faced the other side of the night. the ash-tree seemed a friend now.his mother rose with gladness as he entered.
he put his eight shillings proudly on thetable. "it'll help, mother?" he asked wistfully. "there's precious little left," sheanswered, "after your ticket and dinners and such are taken off."then he told her the budget of the day. his life-story, like an arabian nights, wastold night after night to his mother. it was almost as if it were her own life. chapter vi part 1death in the family arthur morel was growing up.he was a quick, careless, impulsive boy, a good deal like his father.
he hated study, made a great moan if he hadto work, and escaped as soon as possible to his sport again. in appearance he remained the flower of thefamily, being well made, graceful, and full of life. his dark brown hair and fresh colouring,and his exquisite dark blue eyes shaded with long lashes, together with hisgenerous manner and fiery temper, made him a favourite. but as he grew older his temper becameuncertain. he flew into rages over nothing, seemedunbearably raw and irritable.
his mother, whom he loved, wearied of himsometimes. he thought only of himself.when he wanted amusement, all that stood in his way he hated, even if it were she. when he was in trouble he moaned to herceaselessly. "goodness, boy!" she said, when he groanedabout a master who, he said, hated him, "if you don't like it, alter it, and if youcan't alter it, put up with it." and his father, whom he had loved and whohad worshipped him, he came to detest. as he grew older morel fell into a slowruin. his body, which had been beautiful inmovement and in being, shrank, did not seem
to ripen with the years, but to get meanand rather despicable. there came over him a look of meanness andof paltriness. and when the mean-looking elderly manbullied or ordered the boy about, arthur was furious. moreover, morel's manners got worse andworse, his habits somewhat disgusting. when the children were growing up and inthe crucial stage of adolescence, the father was like some ugly irritant to theirsouls. his manners in the house were the same ashe used among the colliers down pit. "dirty nuisance!"
arthur would cry, jumping up and goingstraight out of the house when his father disgusted him.and morel persisted the more because his children hated it. he seemed to take a kind of satisfaction indisgusting them, and driving them nearly mad, while they were so irritably sensitiveat the age of fourteen or fifteen. so that arthur, who was growing up when hisfather was degenerate and elderly, hated him worst of all. then, sometimes, the father would seem tofeel the contemptuous hatred of his children."there's not a man tries harder for his
family!" he would shout. "he does his best for them, and then getstreated like a dog. but i'm not going to stand it, i tell you!" but for the threat and the fact that he didnot try so hard as he imagined, they would have felt sorry. as it was, the battle now went on nearlyall between father and children, he persisting in his dirty and disgustingways, just to assert his independence. they loathed him. arthur was so inflamed and irritable atlast, that when he won a scholarship for
the grammar school in nottingham, hismother decided to let him live in town, with one of her sisters, and only come homeat week-ends. annie was still a junior teacher in theboard-school, earning about four shillings a week. but soon she would have fifteen shillings,since she had passed her examination, and there would be financial peace in thehouse. mrs. morel clung now to paul. he was quiet and not brilliant.but still he stuck to his painting, and still he stuck to his mother.everything he did was for her.
she waited for his coming home in theevening, and then she unburdened herself of all she had pondered, or of all that hadoccurred to her during the day. he sat and listened with his earnestness. the two shared lives.william was engaged now to his brunette, and had bought her an engagement ring thatcost eight guineas. the children gasped at such a fabulousprice. "eight guineas!" said morel."more fool him! if he'd gen me some on't, it 'ud ha' lookedbetter on 'im." "given you some of it!" cried mrs. morel."why give you some of it!"
she remembered he had bought no engagementring at all, and she preferred william, who was not mean, if he were foolish. but now the young man talked only of thedances to which he went with his betrothed, and the different resplendent clothes shewore; or he told his mother with glee how they went to the theatre like great swells. he wanted to bring the girl home.mrs. morel said she should come at the christmas.this time william arrived with a lady, but with no presents. mrs. morel had prepared supper.hearing footsteps, she rose and went to the
door.william entered. "hello, mother!" he kissed her hastily, then stood aside topresent a tall, handsome girl, who was wearing a costume of fine black-and-whitecheck, and furs. "here's gyp!" miss western held out her hand and showedher teeth in a small smile. "oh, how do you do, mrs. morel!" sheexclaimed. "i am afraid you will be hungry," said mrs.morel. "oh no, we had dinner in the train.have you got my gloves, chubby?"
william morel, big and raw-boned, looked ather quickly. "how should i?" he said."then i've lost them. don't be cross with me." a frown went over his face, but he saidnothing. she glanced round the kitchen. it was small and curious to her, with itsglittering kissing-bunch, its evergreens behind the pictures, its wooden chairs andlittle deal table. at that moment morel came in. "hello, dad!""hello, my son!
tha's let on me!"the two shook hands, and william presented the lady. she gave the same smile that showed herteeth. "how do you do, mr. morel?"morel bowed obsequiously. "i'm very well, and i hope so are you. you must make yourself very welcome.""oh, thank you," she replied, rather amused."you will like to go upstairs," said mrs. morel. "if you don't mind; but not if it is anytrouble to you."
"it is no trouble.annie will take you. walter, carry up this box." "and don't be an hour dressing yourselfup," said william to his betrothed. annie took a brass candlestick, and, tooshy almost to speak, preceded the young lady to the front bedroom, which mr. andmrs. morel had vacated for her. it, too, was small and cold by candlelight. the colliers' wives only lit fires inbedrooms in case of extreme illness. "shall i unstrap the box?" asked annie."oh, thank you very much!" annie played the part of maid, then wentdownstairs for hot water.
"i think she's rather tired, mother," saidwilliam. "it's a beastly journey, and we had such arush." "is there anything i can give her?" askedmrs. morel. "oh no, she'll be all right." but there was a chill in the atmosphere.after half an hour miss western came down, having put on a purplish-coloured dress,very fine for the collier's kitchen. "i told you you'd no need to change," saidwilliam to her. "oh, chubby!"then she turned with that sweetish smile to mrs. morel.
"don't you think he's always grumbling,mrs. morel?" "is he?" said mrs. morel."that's not very nice of him." "it isn't, really!" "you are cold," said the mother."won't you come near the fire?" morel jumped out of his armchair."come and sit you here!" he cried. "come and sit you here!" "no, dad, keep your own chair.sit on the sofa, gyp," said william. "no, no!" cried morel."this cheer's warmest. come and sit here, miss wesson."
"thank you so much," said the girl, seatingherself in the collier's armchair, the place of honour.she shivered, feeling the warmth of the kitchen penetrate her. "fetch me a hanky, chubby dear!" she said,putting up her mouth to him, and using the same intimate tone as if they were alone;which made the rest of the family feel as if they ought not to be present. the young lady evidently did not realisethem as people: they were creatures to her for the present.william winced. in such a household, in streatham, misswestern would have been a lady
condescending to her inferiors.these people were to her, certainly clownish--in short, the working classes. how was she to adjust herself?"i'll go," said annie. miss western took no notice, as if aservant had spoken. but when the girl came downstairs againwith the handkerchief, she said: "oh, thank you!" in a gracious way. she sat and talked about the dinner on thetrain, which had been so poor; about london, about dances.she was really very nervous, and chattered from fear.
morel sat all the time smoking his thicktwist tobacco, watching her, and listening to her glib london speech, as he puffed. mrs. morel, dressed up in her best blacksilk blouse, answered quietly and rather briefly.the three children sat round in silence and admiration. miss western was the princess.everything of the best was got out for her: the best cups, the best spoons, the besttable cloth, the best coffee-jug. the children thought she must find it quitegrand. she felt strange, not able to realise thepeople, not knowing how to treat them.
william joked, and was slightlyuncomfortable. at about ten o'clock he said to her:"aren't you tired, gyp?" "rather, chubby," she answered, at once inthe intimate tones and putting her head slightly on one side."i'll light her the candle, mother," he said. "very well," replied the mother.miss western stood up, held out her hand to mrs. morel."good-night, mrs. morel," she said. paul sat at the boiler, letting the waterrun from the tap into a stone beer-bottle. annie swathed the bottle in an old flannelpit-singlet, and kissed her mother good-
she was to share the room with the lady,because the house was full. "you wait a minute," said mrs. morel toannie. and annie sat nursing the hot-water bottle. miss western shook hands all round, toeverybody's discomfort, and took her departure, preceded by william.in five minutes he was downstairs again. his heart was rather sore; he did not knowwhy. he talked very little till everybody hadgone to bed, but himself and his mother. then he stood with his legs apart, in hisold attitude on the hearthrug, and said hesitatingly:"well, mother?"
"well, my son?" she sat in the rocking-chair, feelingsomehow hurt and humiliated, for his sake. "do you like her?""yes," came the slow answer. "she's shy yet, mother. she's not used to it.it's different from her aunt's house, you know.""of course it is, my boy; and she must find it difficult." "she does."then he frowned swiftly. "if only she wouldn't put on her blessedairs!"
"it's only her first awkwardness, my boy. she'll be all right.""that's it, mother," he replied gratefully. but his brow was gloomy."you know, she's not like you, mother. she's not serious, and she can't think." "she's young, my boy.""yes; and she's had no sort of show. her mother died when she was a child.since then she's lived with her aunt, whom she can't bear. and her father was a rake.she's had no love." "no! well, you must make up to her.""and so--you have to forgive her a lot of
things." "what do you have to forgive her, my boy?""i dunno. when she seems shallow, you have toremember she's never had anybody to bring her deeper side out. and she's fearfully fond of me.""anybody can see that." "but you know, mother--she's--she'sdifferent from us. those sort of people, like those she livesamongst, they don't seem to have the same principles.""you mustn't judge too hastily," said mrs. but he seemed uneasy within himself.in the morning, however, he was up singing
and larking round the house."hello!" he called, sitting on the stairs. "are you getting up?" "yes," her voice called faintly."merry christmas!" he shouted to her. her laugh, pretty and tinkling, was heardin the bedroom. she did not come down in half an hour. "was she really getting up when she saidshe was?" he asked of annie. "yes, she was," replied annie.he waited a while, then went to the stairs "happy new year," he called."thank you, chubby dear!" came the laughing voice, far away."buck up!" he implored.
it was nearly an hour, and still he waswaiting for her. morel, who always rose before six, lookedat the clock. "well, it's a winder!" he exclaimed. the family had breakfasted, all butwilliam. he went to the foot of the stairs."shall i have to send you an easter egg up there?" he called, rather crossly. she only laughed.the family expected, after that time of preparation, something like magic.at last she came, looking very nice in a blouse and skirt.
"have you really been all this time gettingready?" he asked. "chubby dear!that question is not permitted, is it, mrs. morel?" she played the grand lady at first. when she went with william to chapel, he inhis frock-coat and silk hat, she in her furs and london-made costume, paul andarthur and annie expected everybody to bow to the ground in admiration. and morel, standing in his sunday suit atthe end of the road, watching the gallant pair go, felt he was the father of princesand princesses.
and yet she was not so grand. for a year now she had been a sort ofsecretary or clerk in a london office. but while she was with the morels shequeened it. she sat and let annie or paul wait on heras if they were her servants. she treated mrs. morel with a certainglibness and morel with patronage. but after a day or so she began to changeher tune. william always wanted paul or annie to goalong with them on their walks. it was so much more interesting. and paul really did admire "gipsy"wholeheartedly; in fact, his mother
scarcely forgave the boy for the adulationwith which he treated the girl. on the second day, when lily said: "oh,annie, do you know where i left my muff?" william replied:"you know it is in your bedroom. why do you ask annie?" and lily went upstairs with a cross, shutmouth. but it angered the young man that she madea servant of his sister. on the third evening william and lily weresitting together in the parlour by the fire in the dark.at a quarter to eleven mrs. morel was heard raking the fire.
william came out to the kitchen, followedby his beloved. "is it as late as that, mother?" he said.she had been sitting alone. "it is not late, my boy, but it is as lateas i usually sit up." "won't you go to bed, then?" he asked."and leave you two? no, my boy, i don't believe in it." "can't you trust us, mother?""whether i can or not, i won't do it. you can stay till eleven if you like, and ican read." "go to bed, gyp," he said to his girl. "we won't keep mater waiting.""annie has left the candle burning, lily,"
said mrs. morel; "i think you will see.""yes, thank you. good-night, mrs. morel." william kissed his sweetheart at the footof the stairs, and she went. he returned to the kitchen."can't you trust us, mother?" he repeated, rather offended. "my boy, i tell you i don't believe inleaving two young things like you alone downstairs when everyone else is in bed."and he was forced to take this answer. he kissed his mother good-night. at easter he came over alone.and then he discussed his sweetheart
endlessly with his mother."you know, mother, when i'm away from her i don't care for her a bit. i shouldn't care if i never saw her again.but, then, when i'm with her in the evenings i am awfully fond of her." "it's a queer sort of love to marry on,"said mrs. morel, "if she holds you no more than that!""it is funny!" he exclaimed. it worried and perplexed him. "but yet--there's so much between us now icouldn't give her up." "you know best," said mrs. morel.
"but if it is as you say, i wouldn't callit love--at any rate, it doesn't look much like it.""oh, i don't know, mother. she's an orphan, and--" they never came to any sort of conclusion.he seemed puzzled and rather fretted. she was rather reserved.all his strength and money went in keeping this girl. he could scarcely afford to take his motherto nottingham when he came over. paul's wages had been raised at christmasto ten shillings, to his great joy. he was quite happy at jordan's, but hishealth suffered from the long hours and the
confinement.his mother, to whom he became more and more significant, thought how to help. his half-day holiday was on mondayafternoon. on a monday morning in may, as the two satalone at breakfast, she said: "i think it will be a fine day." he looked up in surprise.this meant something. "you know mr. leivers has gone to live on anew farm. well, he asked me last week if i wouldn'tgo and see mrs. leivers, and i promised to bring you on monday if it's fine.shall we go?"
"i say, little woman, how lovely!" hecried. "and we'll go this afternoon?"paul hurried off to the station jubilant. down derby road was a cherry-tree thatglistened. the old brick wall by the statutes groundburned scarlet, spring was a very flame of green. and the steep swoop of highroad lay, in itscool morning dust, splendid with patterns of sunshine and shadow, perfectly still. the trees sloped their great greenshoulders proudly; and inside the warehouse all the morning, the boy had a vision ofspring outside.
when he came home at dinner-time his motherwas rather excited. "are we going?" he asked."when i'm ready," she replied. presently he got up. "go and get dressed while i wash up," hesaid. she did so.he washed the pots, straightened, and then took her boots. they were quite clean.mrs. morel was one of those naturally exquisite people who can walk in mudwithout dirtying their shoes. but paul had to clean them for her.
they were kid boots at eight shillings apair. he, however, thought them the most daintyboots in the world, and he cleaned them with as much reverence as if they had beenflowers. suddenly she appeared in the inner doorwayrather shyly. she had got a new cotton blouse on.paul jumped up and went forward. "oh, my stars!" he exclaimed. "what a bobby-dazzler!"she sniffed in a little haughty way, and put her head up."it's not a bobby-dazzler at all!" she replied.
"it's very quiet."she walked forward, whilst he hovered round her. "well," she asked, quite shy, butpretending to be high and mighty, "do you like it?""awfully! you are a fine little woman to go jauntingout with!" he went and surveyed her from the back. "well," he said, "if i was walking down thestreet behind you, i should say: 'doesn't that little person fancy herself!"'"well, she doesn't," replied mrs. morel. "she's not sure it suits her."
"oh no! she wants to be in dirty black,looking as if she was wrapped in burnt paper.it does suit you, and i say you look nice." she sniffed in her little way, pleased, butpretending to know better. "well," she said, "it's cost me just threeshillings. you couldn't have got it ready-made forthat price, could you?" "i should think you couldn't," he replied."and, you know, it's good stuff." "awfully pretty," he said. the blouse was white, with a little sprigof heliotrope and black. "too young for me, though, i'm afraid," shesaid.
"too young for you!" he exclaimed indisgust. "why don't you buy some false white hairand stick it on your head." "i s'll soon have no need," she replied. "i'm going white fast enough.""well, you've no business to," he said. "what do i want with a white-hairedmother?" "i'm afraid you'll have to put up with one,my lad," she said rather strangely. they set off in great style, she carryingthe umbrella william had given her, because of the sun. paul was considerably taller than she,though he was not big.
he fancied himself.on the fallow land the young wheat shone silkily. minton pit waved its plumes of white steam,coughed, and rattled hoarsely. "now look at that!" said mrs. morel.mother and son stood on the road to watch. along the ridge of the great pit-hillcrawled a little group in silhouette against the sky, a horse, a small truck,and a man. they climbed the incline against theheavens. at the end the man tipped the wagon.there was an undue rattle as the waste fell down the sheer slope of the enormous bank.
"you sit a minute, mother," he said, andshe took a seat on a bank, whilst he sketched rapidly. she was silent whilst he worked, lookinground at the afternoon, the red cottages shining among their greenness."the world is a wonderful place," she said, "and wonderfully beautiful." "and so's the pit," he said."look how it heaps together, like something alive almost--a big creature that you don'tknow." "yes," she said. "perhaps!""and all the trucks standing waiting, like
a string of beasts to be fed," he said. "and very thankful i am they are standing,"she said, "for that means they'll turn middling time this week.""but i like the feel of men on things, while they're alive. there's a feel of men about trucks, becausethey've been handled with men's hands, all of them.""yes," said mrs. morel. they went along under the trees of thehighroad. he was constantly informing her, but shewas interested. they passed the end of nethermere, that wastossing its sunshine like petals lightly in
its lap.then they turned on a private road, and in some trepidation approached a big farm. a dog barked furiously.a woman came out to see. "is this the way to willey farm?"mrs. morel asked. paul hung behind in terror of being sentback. but the woman was amiable, and directedthem. the mother and son went through the wheatand oats, over a little bridge into a wild meadow. peewits, with their white breastsglistening, wheeled and screamed about
them.the lake was still and blue. high overhead a heron floated. opposite, the wood heaped on the hill,green and still. "it's a wild road, mother," said paul."just like canada." "isn't it beautiful!" said mrs. morel,looking round. "see that heron--see--see her legs?"he directed his mother, what she must see and what not. and she was quite content."but now," she said, "which way? he told me through the wood."the wood, fenced and dark, lay on their
left. "i can feel a bit of a path this road,"said paul. "you've got town feet, somehow or other,you have." they found a little gate, and soon were ina broad green alley of the wood, with a new thicket of fir and pine on one hand, an oldoak glade dipping down on the other. and among the oaks the bluebells stood inpools of azure, under the new green hazels, upon a pale fawn floor of oak-leaves.he found flowers for her. "here's a bit of new-mown hay," he said;then, again, he brought her forget-me-nots. and, again, his heart hurt with love,seeing her hand, used with work, holding
the little bunch of flowers he gave her. she was perfectly happy.but at the end of the riding was a fence to climb.paul was over in a second. "come," he said, "let me help you." "no, go away.i will do it in my own way." he stood below with his hands up ready tohelp her. she climbed cautiously. "what a way to climb!" he exclaimedscornfully, when she was safely to earth again."hateful stiles!" she cried.
"duffer of a little woman," he replied,"who can't get over 'em." in front, along the edge of the wood, was acluster of low red farm buildings. the two hastened forward. flush with the wood was the apple orchard,where blossom was falling on the grindstone.the pond was deep under a hedge and overhanging oak trees. some cows stood in the shade.the farm and buildings, three sides of a quadrangle, embraced the sunshine towardsthe wood. it was very still.
mother and son went into the small railedgarden, where was a scent of red gillivers. by the open door were some floury loaves,put out to cool. a hen was just coming to peck them. then, in the doorway suddenly appeared agirl in a dirty apron. she was about fourteen years old, had arosy dark face, a bunch of short black curls, very fine and free, and dark eyes;shy, questioning, a little resentful of the strangers, she disappeared. in a minute another figure appeared, asmall, frail woman, rosy, with great dark brown eyes."oh!" she exclaimed, smiling with a little
glow, "you've come, then. i am glad to see you."her voice was intimate and rather sad. the two women shook hands."now are you sure we're not a bother to you?" said mrs. morel. "i know what a farming life is.""oh no! we're only too thankful to see a new face,it's so lost up here." "i suppose so," said mrs. morel. they were taken through into the parlour--along, low room, with a great bunch of guelder-roses in the fireplace.there the women talked, whilst paul went
out to survey the land. he was in the garden smelling the gilliversand looking at the plants, when the girl came out quickly to the heap of coal whichstood by the fence. "i suppose these are cabbage-roses?" hesaid to her, pointing to the bushes along the fence.she looked at him with startled, big brown eyes. "i suppose they are cabbage-roses when theycome out?" he said. "i don't know," she faltered."they're white with pink middles." "then they're maiden-blush."
miriam flushed.she had a beautiful warm colouring. "i don't know," she said."you don't have much in your garden," he "this is our first year here," sheanswered, in a distant, rather superior way, drawing back and going indoors.he did not notice, but went his round of exploration. presently his mother came out, and theywent through the buildings. paul was hugely delighted. "and i suppose you have the fowls andcalves and pigs to look after?" said mrs. morel to mrs. leivers."no," replied the little woman.
"i can't find time to look after cattle,and i'm not used to it. it's as much as i can do to keep going inthe house." "well, i suppose it is," said mrs. morel. presently the girl came out."tea is ready, mother," she said in a musical, quiet voice."oh, thank you, miriam, then we'll come," replied her mother, almost ingratiatingly. "would you care to have tea now, mrs.morel?" "of course," said mrs. morel."whenever it's ready." paul and his mother and mrs. leivers hadtea together.
then they went out into the wood that wasflooded with bluebells, while fumy forget- me-nots were in the paths. the mother and son were in ecstasytogether. when they got back to the house, mr.leivers and edgar, the eldest son, were in the kitchen. edgar was about eighteen.then geoffrey and maurice, big lads of twelve and thirteen, were in from school. mr. leivers was a good-looking man in theprime of life, with a golden-brown moustache, and blue eyes screwed up againstthe weather.
the boys were condescending, but paulscarcely observed it. they went round for eggs, scrambling intoall sorts of places. as they were feeding the fowls miriam cameout. the boys took no notice of her.one hen, with her yellow chickens, was in a coop. maurice took his hand full of corn and letthe hen peck from it. "durst you do it?" he asked of paul."let's see," said paul. he had a small hand, warm, and rathercapable-looking. miriam watched.he held the corn to the hen.
the bird eyed it with her hard, bright eye,and suddenly made a peck into his hand. he started, and laughed."rap, rap, rap!" went the bird's beak in his palm. he laughed again, and the other boysjoined. "she knocks you, and nips you, but shenever hurts," said paul, when the last corn had gone. "now, miriam," said maurice, "you come an'ave a go." "no," she cried, shrinking back."ha! baby. the mardy-kid!" said her brothers.
"it doesn't hurt a bit," said paul."it only just nips rather nicely." "no," she still cried, shaking her blackcurls and shrinking. "she dursn't," said geoffrey. "she niver durst do anything except recitepoitry." "dursn't jump off a gate, dursn't tweedle,dursn't go on a slide, dursn't stop a girl hittin' her. she can do nowt but go about thinkin'herself somebody. 'the lady of the lake.'yah!" cried maurice. miriam was crimson with shame and misery.
"i dare do more than you," she cried."you're never anything but cowards and bullies.""oh, cowards and bullies!" they repeated mincingly, mocking her speech. "not such a clown shall anger me, a boor isanswered silently," he quoted against her, shouting with laughter.she went indoors. paul went with the boys into the orchard,where they had rigged up a parallel bar. they did feats of strength.he was more agile than strong, but it served. he fingered a piece of apple-blossom thathung low on a swinging bough.
"i wouldn't get the apple-blossom," saidedgar, the eldest brother. "there'll be no apples next year." "i wasn't going to get it," replied paul,going away. the boys felt hostile to him; they weremore interested in their own pursuits. he wandered back to the house to look forhis mother. as he went round the back, he saw miriamkneeling in front of the hen-coop, some maize in her hand, biting her lip, andcrouching in an intense attitude. the hen was eyeing her wickedly. very gingerly she put forward her hand.the hen bobbed for her.
she drew back quickly with a cry, half offear, half of chagrin. "it won't hurt you," said paul. she flushed crimson and started up."i only wanted to try," she said in a low voice. "see, it doesn't hurt," he said, and,putting only two corns in his palm, he let the hen peck, peck, peck at his bare hand."it only makes you laugh," he said. she put her hand forward and dragged itaway, tried again, and started back with a cry.he frowned. "why, i'd let her take corn from my face,"said paul, "only she bumps a bit.
she's ever so neat.if she wasn't, look how much ground she'd peck up every day." he waited grimly, and watched.at last miriam let the bird peck from her hand.she gave a little cry--fear, and pain because of fear--rather pathetic. but she had done it, and she did it again."there, you see," said the boy. "it doesn't hurt, does it?"she looked at him with dilated dark eyes. "no," she laughed, trembling. then she rose and went indoors.she seemed to be in some way resentful of
the boy. "he thinks i'm only a common girl," shethought, and she wanted to prove she was a grand person like the "lady of the lake". chapter vi part 2death in the family paul found his mother ready to go home.she smiled on her son. he took the great bunch of flowers.mr. and mrs. leivers walked down the fields with them. the hills were golden with evening; deep inthe woods showed the darkening purple of bluebells.it was everywhere perfectly stiff, save for
the rustling of leaves and birds. "but it is a beautiful place," said mrs.morel. "yes," answered mr. leivers; "it's a nicelittle place, if only it weren't for the rabbits. the pasture's bitten down to nothing.i dunno if ever i s'll get the rent off he clapped his hands, and the field brokeinto motion near the woods, brown rabbits hopping everywhere."would you believe it!" exclaimed mrs. she and paul went on alone together."wasn't it lovely, mother?" he said quietly.a thin moon was coming out.
his heart was full of happiness till ithurt. his mother had to chatter, because she,too, wanted to cry with happiness. "now wouldn't i help that man!" she said. "wouldn't i see to the fowls and the youngstock! and i'd learn to milk, and i'd talk withhim, and i'd plan with him. my word, if i were his wife, the farm wouldbe run, i know! but there, she hasn't the strength--shesimply hasn't the strength. she ought never to have been burdened likeit, you know. i'm sorry for her, and i'm sorry for himtoo.
my word, if i'd had him, i shouldn't havethought him a bad husband! not that she does either; and she's verylovable." william came home again with his sweetheartat the whitsuntide. he had one week of his holidays then.it was beautiful weather. as a rule, william and lily and paul wentout in the morning together for a walk. william did not talk to his beloved much,except to tell her things from his boyhood. paul talked endlessly to both of them. they lay down, all three, in a meadow byminton church. on one side, by the castle farm, was abeautiful quivering screen of poplars.
hawthorn was dropping from the hedges;penny daisies and ragged robin were in the field, like laughter. william, a big fellow of twenty-three,thinner now and even a bit gaunt, lay back in the sunshine and dreamed, while shefingered with his hair. paul went gathering the big daisies. she had taken off her hat; her hair wasblack as a horse's mane. paul came back and threaded daisies in herjet-black hair--big spangles of white and yellow, and just a pink touch of raggedrobin. "now you look like a young witch-woman,"the boy said to her.
"doesn't she, william?"lily laughed. william opened his eyes and looked at her. in his gaze was a certain baffled look ofmisery and fierce appreciation. "has he made a sight of me?" she asked,laughing down on her lover. "that he has!" said william, smiling. he looked at her.her beauty seemed to hurt him. he glanced at her flower-decked head andfrowned. "you look nice enough, if that's what youwant to know," he said. and she walked without her hat.in a little while william recovered, and
was rather tender to her. coming to a bridge, he carved her initialsand his in a heart. /----\/----\l. l. w. \ /\w. m. / \----/ she watched his strong, nervous hand, withits glistening hairs and freckles, as he carved, and she seemed fascinated by it. all the time there was a feeling of sadnessand warmth, and a certain tenderness in the house, whilst william and lily were athome.
but often he got irritable. she had brought, for an eight-days' stay,five dresses and six blouses. "oh, would you mind," she said to annie,"washing me these two blouses, and these things?" and annie stood washing when william andlily went out the next morning. mrs. morel was furious. and sometimes the young man, catching aglimpse of his sweetheart's attitude towards his sister, hated her. on sunday morning she looked very beautifulin a dress of foulard, silky and sweeping,
and blue as a jay-bird's feather, and in alarge cream hat covered with many roses, mostly crimson. nobody could admire her enough.but in the evening, when she was going out, she asked again:"chubby, have you got my gloves?" "which?" asked william. "my new black suede.""no." there was a hunt.she had lost them. "look here, mother," said william, "that'sthe fourth pair she's lost since christmas- -at five shillings a pair!""you only gave me two of them," she
remonstrated. and in the evening, after supper, he stoodon the hearthrug whilst she sat on the sofa, and he seemed to hate her.in the afternoon he had left her whilst he went to see some old friend. she had sat looking at a book.after supper william wanted to write a letter."here is your book, lily," said mrs. morel. "would you care to go on with it for a fewminutes?" "no, thank you," said the girl."i will sit still." "but it is so dull."
william scribbled irritably at a greatrate. as he sealed the envelope he said:"read a book! why, she's never read a book in her life." "oh, go along!" said mrs. morel, cross withthe exaggeration, "it's true, mother--she hasn't," he cried,jumping up and taking his old position on the hearthrug. "she's never read a book in her life.""'er's like me," chimed in morel. "'er canna see what there is i' books, tersit borin' your nose in 'em for, nor more can i."
"but you shouldn't say these things," saidmrs. morel to her son. "but it's true, mother--she can't read.what did you give her?" "well, i gave her a little thing of annieswan's. nobody wants to read dry stuff on sundayafternoon." "well, i'll bet she didn't read ten linesof it." "you are mistaken," said his mother.all the time lily sat miserably on the sofa. he turned to her swiftly."did you read any?" he asked. "yes, i did," she replied."how much?"
"i don't know how many pages." "tell me one thing you read."she could not. she never got beyond the second page.he read a great deal, and had a quick, active intelligence. she could understand nothing but love-making and chatter. he was accustomed to having all histhoughts sifted through his mother's mind; so, when he wanted companionship, and wasasked in reply to be the billing and twittering lover, he hated his betrothed. "you know, mother," he said, when he wasalone with her at night, "she's no idea of
money, she's so wessel-brained. when she's paid, she'll suddenly buy suchrot as marrons glaces, and then i have to buy her season ticket, and her extras, evenher underclothing. and she wants to get married, and i thinkmyself we might as well get married next year.but at this rate--" "a fine mess of a marriage it would be,"replied his mother. "i should consider it again, my boy." "oh, well, i've gone too far to break offnow," he said, "and so i shall get married as soon as i can.""very well, my boy.
if you will, you will, and there's nostopping you; but i tell you, i can't sleep when i think about it.""oh, she'll be all right, mother. we shall manage." "and she lets you buy her underclothing?"asked the mother. "well," he began apologetically, "shedidn't ask me; but one morning--and it was cold--i found her on the station shivering,not able to keep still; so i asked her if she was well wrapped up. she said: 'i think so.'so i said: 'have you got warm underthings on?'and she said: 'no, they were cotton.'
i asked her why on earth she hadn't gotsomething thicker on in weather like that, and she said because she had nothing.and there she is--a bronchial subject! i had to take her and get some warm things. well, mother, i shouldn't mind the money ifwe had any. and, you know, she ought to keep enough topay for her season-ticket; but no, she comes to me about that, and i have to findthe money." "it's a poor lookout," said mrs. morelbitterly. he was pale, and his rugged face, that usedto be so perfectly careless and laughing, was stamped with conflict and despair.
"but i can't give her up now; it's gone toofar," he said. "and, besides, for some things i couldn'tdo without her." "my boy, remember you're taking your lifein your hands," said mrs. morel. "nothing is as bad as a marriage that's ahopeless failure. mine was bad enough, god knows, and oughtto teach you something; but it might have been worse by a long chalk." he leaned with his back against the side ofthe chimney-piece, his hands in his pockets. he was a big, raw-boned man, who looked asif he would go to the world's end if he
wanted to.but she saw the despair on his face. "i couldn't give her up now," he said. "well," she said, "remember there are worsewrongs than breaking off an engagement." "i can't give her up now," he said. the clock ticked on; mother and sonremained in silence, a conflict between them; but he would say no more.at last she said: "well, go to bed, my son. you'll feel better in the morning, andperhaps you'll know better." he kissed her, and went.she raked the fire.
her heart was heavy now as it had neverbeen. before, with her husband, things had seemedto be breaking down in her, but they did not destroy her power to live. now her soul felt lamed in itself.it was her hope that was struck. and so often william manifested the samehatred towards his betrothed. on the last evening at home he was railingagainst her. "well," he said, "if you don't believe me,what she's like, would you believe she has been confirmed three times?" "nonsense!" laughed mrs. morel."nonsense or not, she has!
that's what confirmation means for her--abit of a theatrical show where she can cut a figure." "i haven't, mrs. morel!" cried the girl--"ihaven't! it is not true!" "what!" he cried, flashing round on her."once in bromley, once in beckenham, and once somewhere else." "nowhere else!" she said, in tears--"nowhere else!" "it was!and if it wasn't why were you confirmed twice?" "once i was only fourteen, mrs. morel," shepleaded, tears in her eyes.
"yes," said mrs. morel; "i can quiteunderstand it, child. take no notice of him. you ought to be ashamed, william, sayingsuch things." "but it's true. she's religious--she had blue velvetprayer-books--and she's not as much religion, or anything else, in her thanthat table-leg. gets confirmed three times for show, toshow herself off, and that's how she is in everything--everything!"the girl sat on the sofa, crying. she was not strong.
"as for love!" he cried, "you might as wellask a fly to love you! it'll love settling on you--""now, say no more," commanded mrs. morel. "if you want to say these things, you mustfind another place than this. i am ashamed of you, william!why don't you be more manly. to do nothing but find fault with a girl,and then pretend you're engaged to her!" mrs. morel subsided in wrath andindignation. william was silent, and later he repented,kissed and comforted the girl. yet it was true, what he had said.he hated her. when they were going away, mrs. morelaccompanied them as far as nottingham.
it was a long way to keston station."you know, mother," he said to her, "gyp's shallow. nothing goes deep with her.""william, i wish you wouldn't say these things," said mrs. morel, veryuncomfortable for the girl who walked beside her. "but it doesn't, mother.she's very much in love with me now, but if i died she'd have forgotten me in threemonths." mrs. morel was afraid. her heart beat furiously, hearing the quietbitterness of her son's last speech.
"how do you know?" she replied."you don't know, and therefore you've no right to say such a thing." "he's always saying these things!" criedthe girl. "in three months after i was buried you'dhave somebody else, and i should be forgotten," he said. "and that's your love!"mrs. morel saw them into the train in nottingham, then she returned home. "there's one comfort," she said to paul--"he'll never have any money to marry on, that i am sure of.and so she'll save him that way."
so she took cheer. matters were not yet very desperate.she firmly believed william would never marry his gipsy.she waited, and she kept paul near to her. all summer long william's letters had afeverish tone; he seemed unnatural and intense. sometimes he was exaggeratedly jolly,usually he was flat and bitter in his letter. "ah," his mother said, "i'm afraid he'sruining himself against that creature, who isn't worthy of his love--no, no more thana rag doll."
he wanted to come home. the midsummer holiday was gone; it was along while to christmas. he wrote in wild excitement, saying hecould come for saturday and sunday at goose fair, the first week in october. "you are not well, my boy," said hismother, when she saw him. she was almost in tears at having him toherself again. "no, i've not been well," he said. "i've seemed to have a dragging cold allthe last month, but it's going, i think." it was sunny october weather.
he seemed wild with joy, like a schoolboyescaped; then again he was silent and reserved.he was more gaunt than ever, and there was a haggard look in his eyes. "you are doing too much," said his motherto him. he was doing extra work, trying to makesome money to marry on, he said. he only talked to his mother once on thesaturday night; then he was sad and tender about his beloved. "and yet, you know, mother, for all that,if i died she'd be broken-hearted for two months, and then she'd start to forget me.you'd see, she'd never come home here to
look at my grave, not even once." "why, william," said his mother, "you'renot going to die, so why talk about it?" "but whether or not--" he replied."and she can't help it. she is like that, and if you choose her--well, you can't grumble," said his mother. on the sunday morning, as he was puttinghis collar on: "look," he said to his mother, holding uphis chin, "what a rash my collar's made under my chin!"just at the junction of chin and throat was a big red inflammation. "it ought not to do that," said his mother."here, put a bit of this soothing ointment
on.you should wear different collars." he went away on sunday midnight, seemingbetter and more solid for his two days at home.on tuesday morning came a telegram from london that he was ill. mrs. morel got off her knees from washingthe floor, read the telegram, called a neighbour, went to her landlady andborrowed a sovereign, put on her things, and set off. she hurried to keston, caught an expressfor london in nottingham. she had to wait in nottingham nearly anhour.
a small figure in her black bonnet, she wasanxiously asking the porters if they knew how to get to elmers end.the journey was three hours. she sat in her corner in a kind of stupor,never moving. at king's cross still no one could tell herhow to get to elmers end. carrying her string bag, that contained hernightdress, a comb and brush, she went from person to person.at last they sent her underground to cannon street. it was six o'clock when she arrived atwilliam's lodging. the blinds were not down."how is he?" she asked.
"no better," said the landlady. she followed the woman upstairs.william lay on the bed, with bloodshot eyes, his face rather discoloured. the clothes were tossed about, there was nofire in the room, a glass of milk stood on the stand at his bedside.no one had been with him. "why, my son!" said the mother bravely. he did not answer.he looked at her, but did not see her. then he began to say, in a dull voice, asif repeating a letter from dictation: "owing to a leakage in the hold of thisvessel, the sugar had set, and become
converted into rock. it needed hacking--"he was quite unconscious. it had been his business to examine somesuch cargo of sugar in the port of london. "how long has he been like this?" themother asked the landlady. "he got home at six o'clock on mondaymorning, and he seemed to sleep all day; then in the night we heard him talking, andthis morning he asked for you. so i wired, and we fetched the doctor." "will you have a fire made?"mrs. morel tried to soothe her son, to keep him still.the doctor came.
it was pneumonia, and, he said, a peculiarerysipelas, which had started under the chin where the collar chafed, and wasspreading over the face. he hoped it would not get to the brain. mrs. morel settled down to nurse.she prayed for william, prayed that he would recognise her.but the young man's face grew more discoloured. in the night she struggled with him.he raved, and raved, and would not come to consciousness.at two o'clock, in a dreadful paroxysm, he died.
mrs. morel sat perfectly still for an hourin the lodging bedroom; then she roused the household. at six o'clock, with the aid of thecharwoman, she laid him out; then she went round the dreary london village to theregistrar and the doctor. at nine o'clock to the cottage on scargillstreet came another wire: "william died last night.let father come, bring money." annie, paul, and arthur were at home; mr.morel was gone to work. the three children said not a word.annie began to whimper with fear; paul set off for his father.
it was a beautiful day. at brinsley pit the white steam meltedslowly in the sunshine of a soft blue sky; the wheels of the headstocks twinkled highup; the screen, shuffling its coal into the trucks, made a busy noise. "i want my father; he's got to go tolondon," said the boy to the first man he met on the bank."tha wants walter morel? go in theer an' tell joe ward." paul went into the little top office."i want my father; he's got to go to london.""thy feyther?
is he down? what's his name?""mr. morel." "what, walter?is owt amiss?" "he's got to go to london." the man went to the telephone and rang upthe bottom office. "walter morel's wanted, number 42, hard.summat's amiss; there's his lad here." then he turned round to paul. "he'll be up in a few minutes," he said.paul wandered out to the pit-top. he watched the chair come up, with itswagon of coal.
the great iron cage sank back on its rest,a full carfle was hauled off, an empty tram run on to the chair, a bell ting'edsomewhere, the chair heaved, then dropped like a stone. paul did not realise william was dead; itwas impossible, with such a bustle going on. the puller-off swung the small truck on tothe turn-table, another man ran with it along the bank down the curving lines. "and william is dead, and my mother's inlondon, and what will she be doing?" the boy asked himself, as if it were aconundrum.
he watched chair after chair come up, andstill no father. at last, standing beside a wagon, a man'sform! the chair sank on its rests, morel stepped off. he was slightly lame from an accident."is it thee, paul? is 'e worse?""you've got to go to london." the two walked off the pit-bank, where menwere watching curiously. as they came out and went along therailway, with the sunny autumn field on one side and a wall of trucks on the other,morel said in a frightened voice: "'e's niver gone, child?"
"yes.""when wor't?" "last night.we had a telegram from my mother." morel walked on a few strides, then leanedup against a truck-side, his hand over his eyes.he was not crying. paul stood looking round, waiting. on the weighing machine a truck trundledslowly. paul saw everything, except his fatherleaning against the truck as if he were tired. morel had only once before been to london.he set off, scared and peaked, to help his
wife.that was on tuesday. the children were left alone in the house. paul went to work, arthur went to school,and annie had in a friend to be with her. on saturday night, as paul was turning thecorner, coming home from keston, he saw his mother and father, who had come to sethleybridge station. they were walking in silence in the dark,tired, straggling apart. the boy waited."mother!" he said, in the darkness. mrs. morel's small figure seemed not toobserve. he spoke again."paul!" she said, uninterestedly.
she let him kiss her, but she seemedunaware of him. in the house she was the same--small,white, and mute. she noticed nothing, she said nothing,only: "the coffin will be here to-night, walter.you'd better see about some help." then, turning to the children: "we'rebringing him home." then she relapsed into the same mutelooking into space, her hands folded on her lap. paul, looking at her, felt he could notbreathe. the house was dead silent."i went to work, mother," he said
plaintively. "did you?" she answered, dully.after half an hour morel, troubled and bewildered, came in again."wheer s'll we ha'e him when he does come?" he asked his wife. "in the front-room.""then i'd better shift th' table?" "yes.""an' ha'e him across th' chairs?" "you know there--yes, i suppose so." morel and paul went, with a candle, intothe parlour. there was no gas there.
the father unscrewed the top of the bigmahogany oval table, and cleared the middle of the room; then he arranged six chairsopposite each other, so that the coffin could stand on their beds. "you niver seed such a length as he is!"said the miner, and watching anxiously as he worked.paul went to the bay window and looked out. the ash-tree stood monstrous and black infront of the wide darkness. it was a faintly luminous night.paul went back to his mother. at ten o'clock morel called: "he's here!"everyone started.
there was a noise of unbarring andunlocking the front door, which opened straight from the night into the room. "bring another candle," called morel.annie and arthur went. paul followed with his mother.he stood with his arm round her waist in the inner doorway. down the middle of the cleared room waitedsix chairs, face to face. in the window, against the lace curtains,arthur held up one candle, and by the open door, against the night, annie stoodleaning forward, her brass candlestick glittering.
there was the noise of wheels. outside in the darkness of the street belowpaul could see horses and a black vehicle, one lamp, and a few pale faces; then somemen, miners, all in their shirt-sleeves, seemed to struggle in the obscurity. presently two men appeared, bowed beneath agreat weight. it was morel and his neighbour."steady!" called morel, out of breath. he and his fellow mounted the steep gardenstep, heaved into the candlelight with their gleaming coffin-end.limbs of other men were seen struggling behind.
morel and burns, in front, staggered; thegreat dark weight swayed. "steady, steady!" cried morel, as if inpain. all the six bearers were up in the smallgarden, holding the great coffin aloft. there were three more steps to the door.the yellow lamp of the carriage shone alone down the black road. "now then!" said morel.the coffin swayed, the men began to mount the three steps with their load. annie's candle flickered, and she whimperedas the first men appeared, and the limbs and bowed heads of six men struggled toclimb into the room, bearing the coffin
that rode like sorrow on their livingflesh. "oh, my son--my son!" mrs. morel sang softly, and each time thecoffin swung to the unequal climbing of the men: "oh, my son--my son--my son!""mother!" paul whimpered, his hand round her waist. she did not hear."oh, my son--my son!" she repeated. paul saw drops of sweat fall from hisfather's brow. six men were in the room--six coatless men,with yielding, struggling limbs, filling the room and knocking against thefurniture.
the coffin veered, and was gently loweredon to the chairs. the sweat fell from morel's face on itsboards. "my word, he's a weight!" said a man, andthe five miners sighed, bowed, and, trembling with the struggle, descended thesteps again, closing the door behind them. the family was alone in the parlour withthe great polished box. william, when laid out, was six feet fourinches long. like a monument lay the bright brown,ponderous coffin. paul thought it would never be got out ofthe room again. his mother was stroking the polished wood.
they buried him on the monday in the littlecemetery on the hillside that looks over the fields at the big church and thehouses. it was sunny, and the white chrysanthemumsfrilled themselves in the warmth. mrs. morel could not be persuaded, afterthis, to talk and take her old bright interest in life. she remained shut off.all the way home in the train she had said to herself: "if only it could have beenme!" when paul came home at night he found hismother sitting, her day's work done, with hands folded in her lap upon her coarseapron.
she always used to have changed her dressand put on a black apron, before. now annie set his supper, and his mothersat looking blankly in front of her, her mouth shut tight. then he beat his brains for news to tellher. "mother, miss jordan was down to-day, andshe said my sketch of a colliery at work was beautiful." but mrs. morel took no notice.night after night he forced himself to tell her things, although she did not listen.it drove him almost insane to have her thus.
at last:"what's a-matter, mother?" he asked. she did not hear."what's a-matter?" he persisted. "mother, what's a-matter?" "you know what's the matter," she saidirritably, turning away. the lad--he was sixteen years old--went tobed drearily. he was cut off and wretched throughoctober, november and december. his mother tried, but she could not rouseherself. she could only brood on her dead son; hehad been let to die so cruelly. at last, on december 23, with his fiveshillings christmas-box in his pocket, paul
wandered blindly home. his mother looked at him, and her heartstood still. "what's the matter?" she asked."i'm badly, mother!" he replied. "mr. jordan gave me five shillings for achristmas-box!" he handed it to her with trembling hands.she put it on the table. "you aren't glad!" he reproached her; buthe trembled violently. "where hurts you?" she said, unbuttoninghis overcoat. it was the old question. "i feel badly, mother."she undressed him and put him to bed.
he had pneumonia dangerously, the doctorsaid. "might he never have had it if i'd kept himat home, not let him go to nottingham?" was one of the first things she asked."he might not have been so bad," said the doctor. mrs. morel stood condemned on her ownground. "i should have watched the living, not thedead," she told herself. paul was very ill. his mother lay in bed at nights with him;they could not afford a nurse. he grew worse, and the crisis approached.
one night he tossed into consciousness inthe ghastly, sickly feeling of dissolution, when all the cells in the body seem inintense irritability to be breaking down, and consciousness makes a last flare ofstruggle, like madness. "i s'll die, mother!" he cried, heaving forbreath on the pillow. she lifted him up, crying in a small voice: "oh, my son--my son!"that brought him to. he realised her.his whole will rose up and arrested him. he put his head on her breast, and tookease of her for love. "for some things," said his aunt, "it was agood thing paul was ill that christmas.
i believe it saved his mother." paul was in bed for seven weeks.he got up white and fragile. his father had bought him a pot of scarletand gold tulips. they used to flame in the window in themarch sunshine as he sat on the sofa chattering to his mother.the two knitted together in perfect intimacy. mrs. morel's life now rooted itself inpaul. william had been a prophet.mrs. morel had a little present and a letter from lily at christmas.
mrs. morel's sister had a letter at the newyear. "i was at a ball last night. some delightful people were there, and ienjoyed myself thoroughly," said the letter."i had every dance--did not sit out one." mrs. morel never heard any more of her. morel and his wife were gentle with eachother for some time after the death of their son.he would go into a kind of daze, staring wide-eyed and blank across the room. then he got up suddenly and hurried out tothe three spots, returning in his normal
state. but never in his life would he go for awalk up shepstone, past the office where his son had worked, and he always avoidedthe cemetery.