|Table of Contents|
and Lovers, by D. H. Lawrence
Young Life of Paul
would be built like his mother, slightly and rather small.
His fair hair went reddish, and then dark brown; his eyes were grey.
He was a pale, quiet child, with eyes that seemed to listen, and with
a full, dropping underlip.
a rule he seemed old for his years. He
was so conscious of what other people felt, particularly his mother.
When she fretted he understood, and could have no peace.
His soul seemed always attentive to her.
he grew older he became stronger. William
was too far removed from him to accept him as a companion.
So the smaller boy belonged at first almost entirely to Annie.
She was a tomboy and a "flybie-skybie", as her mother
called her. But she was
intensely fond of her second brother. So
Paul was towed round at the heels of Annie, sharing her game.
She raced wildly at lerky with the other young wild-cats of the
Bottoms. And always Paul flew
beside her, living her share of the game, having as yet no part of his own. He was quiet and not noticeable.
But his sister adored him. He
always seemed to care for things if she wanted him to.
had a big doll of which she was fearfully proud, though not so fond.
So she laid the doll on the sofa, and covered it with an
antimacassar, to sleep. Then
she forgot it. Meantime Paul
must practise jumping off the sofa arm.
So he jumped crash into the face of the hidden doll.
Annie rushed up, uttered a loud wail, and sat down to weep a dirge.
Paul remained quite still.
couldn't tell it was there, mother; you couldn't tell it was there," he
repeated over and over. So long
as Annie wept for the doll he sat helpless with misery. Her grief wore itself out.
She forgave her brother--he was so much upset. But a day or two afterwards she was shocked.
make a sacrifice of Arabella," he said.
"Let's burn her."
was horrified, yet rather fascinated. She
wanted to see what the boy would do. He made an altar of bricks, pulled some of the shavings out
of Arabella's body, put the waxen fragments into the hollow face, poured on
a little paraffin, and set the whole thing alight. He watched with wicked satisfaction the drops of wax melt off
the broken forehead of Arabella, and drop like sweat into the flame.
So long as the stupid big doll burned he rejoiced in silence.
At the end be poked among the embers with a stick, fished out the
arms and legs, all blackened, and smashed them under stones.
the sacrifice of Missis Arabella," he said. "An' I'm glad there's nothing left of her."
disturbed Annie inwardly, although she could say nothing.
He seemed to hate the doll so intensely, because he had broken it.
the children, but particularly Paul, were peculiarly against their father,
along with their mother. Morel
continued to bully and to drink. He
had periods, months at a time, when he made the whole life of the family a
misery. Paul never forgot
coming home from the Band of Hope one Monday evening and finding his mother
with her eye swollen and discoloured, his father standing on the hearthrug,
feet astride, his head down, and William, just home from work, glaring at
his father. There was a silence
as the young children entered, but none of the elders looked round.
was white to the lips, and his fists were clenched. He waited until the children were silent, watching with
children's rage and hate; then he said:
coward, you daren't do it when I was in."
Morel's blood was up. He swung
round on his son. William was
bigger, but Morel was hard-muscled, and mad with fury.
I?" he shouted. "Dossn't
I? Ha'e much more o' thy chelp,
my young jockey, an' I'll rattle my fist about thee. Ay, an' I sholl that, dost see?"
crouched at the knees and showed his fist in an ugly, almost beast-like
fashion. William was white with
yer?" he said, quiet and intense.
"It 'ud be the last time, though."
danced a little nearer, crouching, drawing back his fist to strike.
William put his fists ready. A
light came into his blue eyes, almost like a laugh.
He watched his father. Another
word, and the men would have begun to fight.
Paul hoped they would. The
three children sat pale on the sofa.
it, both of you," cried Mrs. Morel in a hard voice.
"We've had enough for ONE night.
And YOU," she said, turning on to her husband, "look at
glanced at the sofa.
at the children, you nasty little bitch!" he sneered.
"Why, what have I done to the children, I should like to know?
But they're like yourself; you've put 'em up to your own tricks and
nasty ways--you've learned 'em in it, you 'ave."
refused to answer him. No one
spoke. After a while he threw
his boots under the table and went to bed.
didn't you let me have a go at him?" said William, when his father was
upstairs. "I could easily
have beaten him."
nice thing--your own father," she replied.
repeated William. "Call
HIM MY father!"
he is--and so---"
why don't you let me settle him? I
could do, easily."
idea!" she cried. "It
hasn't come to THAT yet."
he said, "it's come to worse. Look
at yourself. WHY didn't you let
me give it him?"
I couldn't bear it, so never think of it," she cried quickly.
the children went to bed, miserably.
William was growing up, the family moved from the Bottoms to a house on the
brow of the hill, commanding a view of the valley, which spread out like a
convex cockle-shell, or a clamp-shell, before it. In front of the house was a huge old ash-tree. The west wind,
sweeping from Derbyshire, caught the houses with full force, and the tree
shrieked again. Morel liked it.
music," he said. "It
sends me to sleep."
Paul and Arthur and Annie hated it. To
Paul it became almost a demoniacal noise. The winter of their first year in the new house their father
was very bad. The children
played in the street, on the brim of the wide, dark valley, until eight
o'clock. Then they went to bed. Their
mother sat sewing below. Having
such a great space in front of the house gave the children a feeling of
night, of vastness, and of terror. This
terror came in from the shrieking of the tree and the anguish of the home
discord. Often Paul would wake
up, after he had been asleep a long time, aware of thuds downstairs.
Instantly he was wide awake. Then
he heard the booming shouts of his father, come home nearly drunk, then the
sharp replies of his mother, then the bang, bang of his father's fist on the
table, and the nasty snarling shout as the man's voice got higher.
And then the whole was drowned in a piercing medley of shrieks and
cries from the great, wind-swept ash-tree. The children lay silent in
suspense, waiting for a lull in the wind to hear what their father was
doing. He might hit their
mother again. There was a
feeling of horror, a kind of bristling in the darkness, and a sense of
blood. They lay with their
hearts in the grip of an intense anguish.
The wind came through the tree fiercer and fiercer.
All the chords of the great harp hummed, whistled, and shrieked.
And then came the horror of the sudden silence, silence everywhere,
outside and downstairs. What was it? Was
it a silence of blood? What had
children lay and breathed the darkness.
And then, at last, they heard their father throw down his boots and
tramp upstairs in his stockinged feet.
Still they listened. Then
at last, if the wind allowed, they heard the water of the tap drumming into
the kettle, which their mother was filling for morning, and they could go to
sleep in peace.
they were happy in the morning--happy, very happy playing, dancing at night
round the lonely lamp-post in the midst of the darkness.
But they had one tight place of anxiety in their hearts, one darkness
in their eyes, which showed all their lives.
hated his father. As a boy he
had a fervent private religion.
him stop drinking," he prayed every night. "Lord, let my father die," he prayed very often.
"Let him not be killed at pit," he prayed when, after tea,
the father did not come home from work.
was another time when the family suffered intensely. The children came from school and had their teas.
On the hob the big black saucepan was simmering, the stew-jar was in
the oven, ready for Morel's dinner. He
was expected at five o'clock. But for months he would stop and drink every
night on his way from work.
the winter nights, when it was cold, and grew dark early, Mrs. Morel would
put a brass candlestick on the table, light a tallow candle to save the gas.
The children finished their bread-and-butter, or dripping, and were
ready to go out to play. But if
Morel had not come they faltered. The
sense of his sitting in all his pit-dirt, drinking, after a long day's work,
not coming home and eating and washing, but sitting, getting drunk, on an
empty stomach, made Mrs. Morel unable to bear herself.
From her the feeling was transmitted to the other children.
She never suffered alone any more:
the children suffered with her.
went out to play with the rest. Down
in the great trough of twilight, tiny clusters of lights burned where the
pits were. A few last colliers
straggled up the dim field path. The
lamplighter came along. No more
colliers came. Darkness shut
down over the valley; work was done. It
Paul ran anxiously into the kitchen. The
one candle still burned on the table, the big fire glowed red.
Mrs. Morel sat alone. On
the hob the saucepan steamed; the dinner-plate lay waiting on the table.
All the room was full of the sense of waiting, waiting for the man
who was sitting in his pit-dirt, dinnerless, some mile away from home,
across the darkness, drinking himself drunk.
Paul stood in the doorway.
my dad come?" he asked.
can see he hasn't," said Mrs. Morel, cross with the futility of the
the boy dawdled about near his mother.
They shared the same anxiety. Presently
Mrs. Morel went out and strained the potatoes.
ruined and black," she said; "but what do I care?"
many words were spoken. Paul
almost hated his mother for suffering because his father did not come home
do you bother yourself for?" he said.
"If he wants to stop and get drunk, why don't you let him?"
him!" flashed Mrs. Morel. "You
may well say 'let him'."
knew that the man who stops on the way home from work is on a quick way to
ruining himself and his home. The
children were yet young, and depended on the breadwinner.
William gave her the sense of relief, providing her at last with
someone to turn to if Morel failed. But
the tense atmosphere of the room on these waiting evenings was the same.
minutes ticked away. At six
o'clock still the cloth lay on the table, still the dinner stood waiting,
still the same sense of anxiety and expectation in the room. The boy could not stand it any longer. He could not go out and play.
So he ran in to Mrs. Inger, next door but one, for her to talk to
him. She had no children.
Her husband was good to her but was in a shop, and came home late.
So, when she saw the lad at the door, she called:
two sat talking for some time, when suddenly the boy rose, saying:
I'll be going and seeing if my mother wants an errand doing."
pretended to be perfectly cheerful, and did not tell his friend what ailed
him. Then he ran indoors.
at these times came in churlish and hateful.
is a nice time to come home," said Mrs. Morel.
it matter to yo' what time I come whoam?" he shouted.
everybody in the house was still, because he was dangerous.
He ate his food in the most brutal manner possible, and, when he had
done, pushed all the pots in a heap away from him, to lay his arms on the
table. Then he went to sleep.
hated his father so. The
collier's small, mean head, with its black hair slightly soiled with grey,
lay on the bare arms, and the face, dirty and inflamed, with a fleshy nose
and thin, paltry brows, was turned sideways, asleep with beer and weariness
and nasty temper. If anyone
entered suddenly, or a noise were made, the man looked up and shouted:
lay my fist about thy y'ead, I'm tellin' thee, if tha doesna stop that
clatter! Dost hear?"
the two last words, shouted in a bullying fashion, usually at Annie, made
the family writhe with hate of the man.
was shut out from all family affairs. No
one told him anything. The
children, alone with their mother, told her all about the day's happenings,
everything. Nothing had really
taken place in them until it was told to their mother. But as soon as the father came in, everything stopped.
He was like the scotch in the smooth, happy machinery of the home.
And he was always aware of this fall of silence on his entry, the
shutting off of life, the unwelcome. But
now it was gone too far to alter.
would dearly have liked the children to talk to him, but they could not.
Sometimes Mrs. Morel would say:
ought to tell your father."
won a prize in a competition in a child's paper. Everybody was highly jubilant.
you'd better tell your father when be comes in," said Mrs. Morel.
"You know how be carries on and says he's never told
right," said Paul. But he
would almost rather have forfeited the prize than have to tell his father.
won a prize in a competition, dad," he said. Morel turned round to him.
you, my boy? What sort of a
nothing--about famous women."
how much is the prize, then, as you've got?"
that was all. Conversation was
impossible between the father and any other member of the family.
He was an outsider. He
had denied the God in him.
only times when he entered again into the life of his own people was when he
worked, and was happy at work. Sometimes,
in the evening, he cobbled the boots or mended the kettle or his pit-bottle.
Then he always wanted several attendants, and the children enjoyed it.
They united with him in the work, in the actual doing of something,
when he was his real self again.
was a good workman, dexterous, and one who, when he was in a good humour,
always sang. He had whole
periods, months, almost years, of friction and nasty temper. Then sometimes he was jolly again. It was nice to see him run with a piece of red-hot iron into
the scullery, crying:
of my road--out of my road!"
he hammered the soft, red-glowing stuff on his iron goose, and made the
shape he wanted. Or he sat
absorbed for a moment, soldering. Then
the children watched with joy as the metal sank suddenly molten, and was
shoved about against the nose of the soldering-iron, while the room was full
of a scent of burnt resin and hot tin, and Morel was silent and intent for a
minute. He always sang when he
mended boots because of the jolly sound of hammering.
And he was rather happy when he sat putting great patches on his
moleskin pit trousers, which he would often do, considering them too dirty,
and the stuff too hard, for his wife to mend.
the best time for the young children was when he made fuses.
Morel fetched a sheaf of long sound wheat-straws from the attic.
These he cleaned with his hand, till each one gleamed like a stalk of
gold, after which he cut the straws into lengths of about six inches,
leaving, if he could, a notch at the bottom of each piece.
He always had a beautifully sharp knife that could cut a straw clean
without hurting it. Then he set
in the middle of the table a heap of gunpowder, a little pile of black
grains upon the white-scrubbed board. He
made and trimmed the straws while Paul and Annie rifled and plugged them.
Paul loved to see the black grains trickle down a crack in his palm
into the mouth of the straw, peppering jollily downwards till the straw was
full. Then he bunged up the
mouth with a bit of soap--which he got on his thumb-nail from a pat in a
saucer--and the straw was finished.
dad!" he said.
right, my beauty," replied Morel, who was peculiarly lavish of
endearments to his second son. Paul
popped the fuse into the powder-tin, ready for the morning, when Morel would
take it to the pit, and use it to fire a shot that would blast the coal
Arthur, still fond of his father, would lean on the arm of Morel's chair and
us about down pit, daddy."
Morel loved to do.
there's one little 'oss--we call 'im Taffy," he would begin.
"An' he's a fawce 'un!"
had a warm way of telling a story. He
made one feel Taffy's cunning.
a brown 'un," he would answer, "an' not very high.
Well, he comes i' th' stall wi' a rattle, an' then yo' 'ear 'im
Taff,' you say, 'what art sneezin' for? Bin ta'ein' some snuff?'
'e sneezes again. Then he
slives up an' shoves 'is 'ead on yer, that cadin'.
want, Taff?' yo' say."
what does he?" Arthur
wants a bit o' bacca, my duckie."
story of Taffy would go on interminably, and everybody loved it.
sometimes it was a new tale.
what dost think, my darlin'? When I went to put my coat on at snap-time,
what should go runnin' up my arm but a mouse.
up, theer!' I shouts.
I wor just in time ter get 'im by th' tail."
did you kill it?"
did, for they're a nuisance. The
place is fair snied wi' 'em."
what do they live on?"
corn as the 'osses drops--an' they'll get in your pocket an' eat your snap,
if you'll let 'em--no matter where yo' hing your coat-- the slivin', nibblin'
little nuisances, for they are."
happy evenings could not take place unless Morel had some job to do.
And then he always went to bed very early, often before the children.
There was nothing remaining for him to stay up for, when he had
finished tinkering, and had skimmed the headlines of the newspaper.
the children felt secure when their father was in bed.
They lay and talked softly a while.
Then they started as the lights went suddenly sprawling over the
ceiling from the lamps that swung in the hands of the colliers tramping by
outside, going to take the nine o'clock shift.
They listened to the voices of the men, imagined them dipping down
into the dark valley. Sometimes they went to the window and watched the three or
four lamps growing tinier and tinier, swaying down the fields in the
darkness. Then it was a joy to
rush back to bed and cuddle closely in the warmth.
was rather a delicate boy, subject to bronchitis. The others were all quite strong; so this was another reason
for his mother's difference in feeling for him.
One day he came home at dinner-time feeling ill.
But it was not a family to make any fuss.
the matter with YOU?" his mother asked sharply.
he ate no dinner.
you eat no dinner, you're not going to school," she said.
after dinner he lay down on the sofa, on the warm chintz cushions the
children loved. Then he fell
into a kind of doze. That
afternoon Mrs. Morel was ironing. She
listened to the small, restless noise the boy made in his throat as she
worked. Again rose in her heart
the old, almost weary feeling towards him.
She had never expected him to live.
And yet he had a great vitality in his young body.
Perhaps it would have been a little relief to her if he had died.
She always felt a mixture of anguish in her love for him.
in his semi-conscious sleep, was vaguely aware of the clatter of the iron on
the iron-stand, of the faint thud, thud on the ironing-board. Once roused,
he opened his eyes to see his mother standing on the hearthrug with the hot
iron near her cheek, listening, as it were, to the heat. Her still face, with the mouth closed tight from suffering
and disillusion and self-denial, and her nose the smallest bit on one side,
and her blue eyes so young, quick, and warm, made his heart contract with
love. When she was quiet, so,
she looked brave and rich with life, but as if she had been done out of her
rights. It hurt the boy keenly,
this feeling about her that she had never had her life's fulfilment: and his own incapability to make up to her hurt him with a
sense of impotence, yet made him patiently dogged inside. It was his childish aim.
spat on the iron, and a little ball of spit bounded, raced off the dark,
glossy surface. Then, kneeling,
she rubbed the iron on the sack lining of the hearthrug vigorously. She was warm in the ruddy firelight. Paul loved the way she crouched and put her head on one side.
Her movements were light and quick.
It was always a pleasure to watch her.
Nothing she ever did, no movement she ever made, could have been
found fault with by her children. The
room was warm and full of the scent of hot linen.
Later on the clergyman came and talked softly with her.
was laid up with an attack of bronchitis.
He did not mind much. What
happened happened, and it was no good kicking against the pricks.
He loved the evenings, after eight o'clock, when the light was put
out, and he could watch the fire-flames spring over the darkness of the
walls and ceiling; could watch huge shadows waving and tossing, till the
room seemed full of men who battled silently.
retiring to bed, the father would come into the sickroom.
He was always very gentle if anyone were ill.
But he disturbed the atmosphere for the boy.
ter asleep, my darlin'?" Morel asked softly.
is my mother comin'?"
just finishin' foldin' the clothes. Do
you want anything?" Morel
rarely "thee'd" his son.
don't want nothing. But how
long will she be?"
long, my duckie."
father waited undecidedly on the hearthrug for a moment or two.
He felt his son did not want him.
Then he went to the top of the stairs and said to his wife:
childt's axin' for thee; how long art goin' to be?"
I've finished, good gracious! Tell
him to go to sleep."
says you're to go to sleep," the father repeated gently to Paul.
I want HER to come," insisted the boy.
says he can't go off till you come," Morel called downstairs.
dear! I shan't be long.
And do stop shouting downstairs.
There's the other children---"
Morel came again and crouched before the bedroom fire.
He loved a fire dearly.
says she won't be long," he said.
loitered about indefinitely. The
boy began to get feverish with irritation.
His father's presence seemed to aggravate all his sick impatience.
At last Morel, after having stood looking at his son awhile, said
Paul replied, turning round in relief to be alone.
loved to sleep with his mother. Sleep
is still most perfect, in spite of hygienists, when it is shared with a
beloved. The warmth, the
security and peace of soul, the utter comfort from the touch of the other,
knits the sleep, so that it takes the body and soul completely in its
healing. Paul lay against her
and slept, and got better; whilst she, always a bad sleeper, fell later on
into a profound sleep that seemed to give her faith.
convalescence he would sit up in bed, see the fluffy horses feeding at the
troughs in the field, scattering their hay on the trodden yellow snow; watch
the miners troop home--small, black figures trailing slowly in gangs across
the white field. Then the night
came up in dark blue vapour from the snow.
convalescence everything was wonderful.
The snowflakes, suddenly arriving on the window-pane, clung there a
moment like swallows, then were gone, and a drop of water was crawling down
the glass. The snowflakes
whirled round the corner of the house, like pigeons dashing by.
Away across the valley the little black train crawled doubtfully over
the great whiteness.
they were so poor, the children were delighted if they could do anything to
help economically. Annie and
Paul and Arthur went out early in the morning, in summer, looking for
mushrooms, hunting through the wet grass, from which the larks were rising,
for the white-skinned, wonderful naked bodies crouched secretly in the
green. And if they got half a
pound they felt exceedingly happy: there
was the joy of finding something, the joy of accepting something straight
from the hand of Nature, and the joy of contributing to the family
the most important harvest, after gleaning for frumenty, was the
blackberries. Mrs. Morel must
buy fruit for puddings on the Saturdays; also she liked blackberries.
So Paul and Arthur scoured the coppices and woods and old quarries,
so long as a blackberry was to be found, every week-end going on their
search. In that region of
mining villages blackberries became a comparative rarity.
But Paul hunted far and wide. He
loved being out in the country, among the bushes.
But he also could not bear to go home to his mother empty.
That, he felt, would disappoint her, and he would have died rather.
gracious!" she would exclaim as the lads came in, late, and tired to
death, and hungry, "wherever have you been?"
replied Paul, "there wasn't any, so we went over Misk Hills.
And look here, our mother!"
peeped into the basket.
those are fine ones!" she exclaimed.
there's over two pounds-isn't there over two pounds"?
tried the basket.
she answered doubtfully.
Paul fished out a little spray. He
always brought her one spray, the best he could find.
she said, in a curious tone, of a woman accepting a love-token.
boy walked all day, went miles and miles, rather than own himself beaten and
come home to her empty-handed. She never realised this, whilst he was young.
She was a woman who waited for her children to grow up.
And William occupied her chiefly.
when William went to Nottingham, and was not so much at home, the mother
made a companion of Paul. The
latter was unconsciously jealous of his brother, and William was jealous of
him. At the same time, they
were good friends.
Morel's intimacy with her second son was more subtle and fine, perhaps not
so passionate as with her eldest. It
was the rule that Paul should fetch the money on Friday afternoons.
The colliers of the five pits were paid on Fridays, but not
individually. All the earnings
of each stall were put down to the chief butty, as contractor, and he
divided the wages again, either in the public-house or in his own home.
So that the children could fetch the money, school closed early on
Friday afternoons. Each of the
Morel children--William, then Annie, then Paul--had fetched the money on
Friday afternoons, until they went themselves to work.
Paul used to set off at half-past three, with a little calico bag in
his pocket. Down all the paths,
women, girls, children, and men were seen trooping to the offices.
offices were quite handsome: a
new, red-brick building, almost like a mansion, standing in its own grounds
at the end of Greenhill Lane. The
waiting-room was the hall, a long, bare room paved with blue brick, and
having a seat all round, against the wall.
Here sat the colliers in their pit-dirt. They had come up early. The women and children usually loitered about on the red
gravel paths. Paul always
examined the grass border, and the big grass bank, because in it grew tiny
pansies and tiny forget-me-nots. There was a sound of many voices. The women had on their Sunday hats. The girls chattered loudly.
Little dogs ran here and there.
The green shrubs were silent all around.
from inside came the cry "Spinney Park--Spinney Park."
All the folk for Spinney Park trooped inside.
When it was time for Bretty to be paid, Paul went in among the crowd.
The pay-room was quite small. A
counter went across, dividing it into half.
Behind the counter stood two men--Mr. Braithwaite and his clerk, Mr.
Winterbottom. Mr. Braithwaite
was large, somewhat of the stern patriarch in appearance, having a rather
thin white beard. He was
usually muffled in an enormous silk neckerchief, and right up to the hot
summer a huge fire burned in the open grate.
No window was open. Sometimes
in winter the air scorched the throats of the people, coming in from the
freshness. Mr. Winterbottom was
rather small and fat, and very bald. He
made remarks that were not witty, whilst his chief launched forth
patriarchal admonitions against the colliers.
room was crowded with miners in their pit-dirt, men who had been home and
changed, and women, and one or two children, and usually a dog.
Paul was quite small, so it was often his fate to be jammed behind
the legs of the men, near the fire which scorched him.
He knew the order of the names--they went according to stall number.
came the ringing voice of Mr. Braithwaite.
Then Mrs. Holliday stepped silently forward, was paid, drew aside.
boy stepped to the counter. Mr.
Braithwaite, large and irascible, glowered at him over his spectacles.
Bower!" he repeated.
me," said the boy.
you used to 'ave a different nose than that," said glossy Mr.
Winterbottom, peering over the counter.
The people tittered, thinking of John Bower senior.
is it your father's not come!" said Mr. Braithwaite, in a large and
badly," piped the boy.
should tell him to keep off the drink," pronounced the great cashier.
niver mind if he puts his foot through yer," said a mocking voice from
the men laughed. The large and
important cashier looked down at his next sheet.
Pilkington!" he called, quite indifferent.
Braithwaite was an important shareholder in the firm.
knew his turn was next but one, and his heart began to beat.
He was pushed against the chimney-piece. His calves were burning.
But he did not hope to get through the wall of men.
Morel!" came the ringing voice.
piped Paul, small and inadequate.
Morel!" the cashier repeated, his finger and thumb on the invoice,
ready to pass on.
was suffering convulsions of self-consciousness, and could not or would not
shout. The backs of the men
obliterated him. Then Mr.
Winterbottom came to the rescue.
here. Where is he?
fat, red, bald little man peered round with keen eyes.
He pointed at the fireplace. The
colliers looked round, moved aside, and disclosed the boy.
he is!" said Mr. Winterbottom.
went to the counter.
pounds eleven and fivepence. Why
don't you shout up when you're called?" said Mr. Braithwaite.
He banged on to the invoice a five-pound bag of silver, then in a
delicate and pretty movement, picked up a little ten-pound column of gold,
and plumped it beside the silver. The gold slid in a bright stream over the paper.
The cashier finished counting off the money; the boy dragged the
whole down the counter to Mr. Winterbottom, to whom the stoppages for rent
and tools must be paid. Here he
an' six," said Mr. Winterbottom.
lad was too much upset to count. He
pushed forward some loose silver and half a sovereign.
much do you think you've given me?" asked Mr. Winterbottom.
boy looked at him, but said nothing. He
had not the faintest notion.
you got a tongue in your head?"
bit his lip, and pushed forward some more silver.
they teach you to count at the Board-school?" he asked.
but algibbra an' French," said a collier.
cheek an' impidence," said another.
was keeping someone waiting. With
trembling fingers he got his money into the bag and slid out.
He suffered the tortures of the damned on these occasions.
relief, when he got outside, and was walking along the Mansfield Road, was
infinite. On the park wall the
mosses were green. There were
some gold and some white fowls pecking under the apple trees of an orchard.
The colliers were walking home in a stream.
The boy went near the wall, self-consciously. He knew many of the
men, but could not recognise them in their dirt.
And this was a new torture to him.
he got down to the New Inn, at Bretty, his father was not yet come.
Mrs. Wharmby, the landlady, knew him.
His grandmother, Morel's mother, had been Mrs. Wharmby's friend.
father's not come yet," said the landlady, in the peculiar
half-scornful, half-patronising voice of a woman who talks chiefly to grown
men. "Sit you down."
sat down on the edge of the bench in the bar.
Some colliers were "reckoning"--sharing out their money--in
a corner; others came in. They
all glanced at the boy without speaking.
At last Morel came; brisk, and with something of an air, even in his
he said rather tenderly to his son. "Have
you bested me? Shall you have a
drink of something?"
and all the children were bred up fierce anti-alcoholists, and he would have
suffered more in drinking a lemonade before all the men than in having a
landlady looked at him de haut en bas, rather pitying, and at the same time,
resenting his clear, fierce morality. Paul
went home, glowering. He
entered the house silently. Friday
was baking day, and there was usually a hot bun.
His mother put it before him.
he turned on her in a fury, his eyes flashing:
NOT going to the office any more," he said.
what's the matter?" his mother asked in surprise.
His sudden rages rather amused her.
NOT going any more," he declared.
very well, tell your father so."
chewed his bun as if he hated it.
not--I'm not going to fetch the money."
one of Carlin's children can go; they'd be glad enough of the
sixpence," said Mrs. Morel.
sixpence was Paul's only income. It
mostly went in buying birthday presents; but it WAS an income, and he
treasured it. But---
can have it, then!" he said. "I
don't want it."
very well," said his mother. "But
you needn't bully ME about it."
hateful, and common, and hateful, they are, and I'm not going any more.
Mr. Braithwaite drops his 'h's', an' Mr. Winterbottom says 'You
is that why you won't go any more?" smiled Mrs. Morel.
boy was silent for some time. His
face was pale, his eyes dark and furious.
His mother moved about at her work, taking no notice of him.
always stan' in front of me, so's I can't get out," he said.
my lad, you've only to ASK them," she replied.
then Alfred Winterbottom says, 'What do they teach you at the
never taught HIM much," said Mrs. Morel, "that is a fact-- neither
manners nor wit--and his cunning he was born with."
in her own way, she soothed him. His
ridiculous hypersensitiveness made her heart ache. And sometimes the fury in his eyes roused her, made her
sleeping soul lift up its head a moment, surprised.
was the cheque?" she asked.
pounds eleven and fivepence, and sixteen and six stoppages," replied
the boy. "It's a good
week; and only five shillings stoppages for my father."
she was able to calculate how much her husband had earned, and could call
him to account if he gave her short money.
Morel always kept to himself the secret of the week's amount.
was the baking night and market night.
It was the rule that Paul should stay at home and bake.
He loved to stop in and draw or read; he was very fond of drawing.
Annie always "gallivanted" on Friday nights; Arthur was
enjoying himself as usual. So
the boy remained alone.
Morel loved her marketing. In
the tiny market-place on the top of the hill, where four roads, from
Nottingham and Derby, Ilkeston and Mansfield, meet, many stalls were
erected. Brakes ran in from
surrounding villages. The
market-place was full of women, the streets packed with men.
It was amazing to see so many men everywhere in the streets.
Mrs. Morel usually quarrelled with her lace woman, sympathised with
her fruit man--who was a gabey, but his wife was a bad 'un--laughed with the
fish man--who was a scamp but so droll--put the linoleum man in his place,
was cold with the odd-wares man, and only went to the crockery man when she
was driven--or drawn by the cornflowers on a little dish; then she was
wondered how much that little dish was," she said.
put the dish down and walked away; but she could not leave the market-place
without it. Again she went by
where the pots lay coldly on the floor, and she glanced at the dish
furtively, pretending not to.
was a little woman, in a bonnet and a black costume. Her bonnet was in its third year; it was a great grievance to
the girl implored, "don't wear that nubbly little bonnet."
what else shall I wear," replied the mother tartly.
"And I'm sure it's right enough."
had started with a tip; then had had flowers; now was reduced to black lace
and a bit of jet.
looks rather come down," said Paul.
"Couldn't you give it a pick-me-up?"
jowl your head for impudence," said Mrs. Morel, and she tied the
strings of the black bonnet valiantly under her chin.
glanced at the dish again. Both
she and her enemy, the pot man, had an uncomfortable feeling, as if there
were something between them. Suddenly
you want it for fivepence?"
started. Her heart hardened;
but then she stooped and took up her dish.
have it," she said.
do me the favour, like?" he said.
"Yer'd better spit in it, like yer do when y'ave something give
Morel paid him the fivepence in a cold manner.
don't see you give it me," she said.
"You wouldn't let me have it for fivepence if you didn't want
this flamin', scrattlin' place you may count yerself lucky if you can give
your things away," he growled.
there are bad times, and good," said Mrs. Morel.
she had forgiven the pot man. They
were friends. She dare now
finger his pots. So she was
was waiting for her. He loved
her home-coming. She was always her best so--triumphant, tired, laden with
parcels, feeling rich in spirit. He
heard her quick, light step in the entry and looked up from his drawing.
she sighed, smiling at him from the doorway.
word, you ARE loaded!" he exclaimed, putting down his brush.
am!" she gasped. "That
brazen Annie said she'd meet me. SUCH
dropped her string bag and her packages on the table.
the bread done?" she asked, going to the oven.
last one is soaking," he replied.
"You needn't look, I've not forgotten it."
that pot man!" she said, closing the oven door. "You know what a wretch I've said he was?
Well, I don't think he's quite so bad."
boy was attentive to her. She
took off her little black bonnet.
I think he can't make any money--well, it's everybody's cry alike
nowadays--and it makes him disagreeable."
would ME," said Paul.
one can't wonder at it. And he
let me have--how much do you think he let me have THIS for?"
took the dish out of its rag of newspaper, and stood looking on it with joy.
me!" said Paul.
two stood together gloating over the dish.
LOVE cornflowers on things," said Paul.
and I thought of the teapot you bought me---"
and three," said Paul.
not enough, mother."
Do you know, I fairly sneaked off with it.
But I'd been extravagant, I couldn't afford any more.
And he needn't have let me have it if he hadn't wanted to."
he needn't, need he," said Paul, and the two comforted each other from
the fear of having robbed the pot man.
c'n have stewed fruit in it," said Paul.
custard, or a jelly," said his mother.
radishes and lettuce," said he.
forget that bread," she said, her voice bright with glee.
looked in the oven; tapped the loaf on the base.
done," he said, giving it to her.
tapped it also.
she replied, going to unpack her bag. "Oh,
and I'm a wicked, extravagant woman. I know I s'll come to want."
hopped to her side eagerly, to see her latest extravagance.
She unfolded another lump of newspaper and disclosed some roots of
pansies and of crimson daisies.
penn'orth!" she moaned.
CHEAP!" he cried.
but I couldn't afford it THIS week of all weeks."
lovely!" he cried.
they!" she exclaimed, giving way to pure joy. "Paul, look at this yellow one, isn't it--and a face
just like an old man!"
cried Paul, stooping to sniff. "And
smells that nice! But he's a
ran in the scullery, came back with the flannel, and carefully washed the
look at him now he's wet!" he said.
she exclaimed, brimful of satisfaction.
children of Scargill Street felt quite select.
At the end where the Morels lived there were not many young things.
So the few were more united. Boys
and girls played together, the girls joining in the fights and the rough
games, the boys taking part in the dancing games and rings and make-belief
of the girls.
and Paul and Arthur loved the winter evenings, when it was not wet.
They stayed indoors till the colliers were all gone home, till it was
thick dark, and the street would be deserted.
Then they tied their scarves round their necks, for they scorned
overcoats, as all the colliers' children did, and went out.
The entry was very dark, and at the end the whole great night opened
out, in a hollow, with a little tangle of lights below where Minton pit lay,
and another far away opposite for Selby.
The farthest tiny lights seemed to stretch out the darkness for ever.
The children looked anxiously down the road at the one lamp-post,
which stood at the end of the field path.
If the little, luminous space were deserted, the two boys felt
genuine desolation. They stood
with their hands in their pockets under the lamp, turning their backs on the
night, quite miserable, watching the dark houses.
Suddenly a pinafore under a short coat was seen, and a long-legged
girl came flying up.
Billy Pillins an' your Annie an' Eddie Dakin?"
it did not matter so much--there were three now. They set up a game round the lamp-post, till the others
rushed up, yelling. Then the
play went fast and furious.
was only this one lamp-post. Behind was the great scoop of darkness, as if
all the night were there. In
front, another wide, dark way opened over the hill brow.
Occasionally somebody came out of this way and went into the field
down the path. In a dozen yards
the night had swallowed them. The
children played on.
were brought exceedingly close together owing to their isolation.
If a quarrel took place, the whole play was spoilt.
Arthur was very touchy, and Billy Pillins--really Philips--was worse.
Then Paul had to side with Arthur, and on Paul's side went Alice,
while Billy Pillins always had Emmie Limb and Eddie Dakin to back him up.
Then the six would fight, hate with a fury of hatred, and flee home
in terror. Paul never forgot,
after one of these fierce internecine fights, seeing a big red moon lift
itself up, slowly, between the waste road over the hilltop, steadily, like a
great bird. And he thought of
the Bible, that the moon should be turned to blood.
And the next day he made haste to be friends with Billy Pillins.
And then the wild, intense games went on again under the lamp-post,
surrounded by so much darkness. Mrs.
Morel, going into her parlour, would hear the children singing away:
"My shoes are made of Spanish leather,
My socks are made of silk;
I wear a ring on every finger,
I wash myself in milk."
sounded so perfectly absorbed in the game as their voices came out of the
night, that they had the feel of wild creatures singing.
It stirred the mother; and she understood when they came in at eight
o'clock, ruddy, with brilliant eyes, and quick, passionate speech.
all loved the Scargill Street house for its openness, for the great scallop
of the world it had in view. On
summer evenings the women would stand against the field fence, gossiping,
facing the west, watching the sunsets flare quickly out, till the Derbyshire
hills ridged across the crimson far away, like the black crest of a newt.
this summer season the pits never turned full time, particularly the soft
coal. Mrs. Dakin, who lived
next door to Mrs. Morel, going to the field fence to shake her hearthrug,
would spy men coming slowly up the hill.
She saw at once they were colliers.
Then she waited, a tall, thin, shrew-faced woman, standing on the
hill brow, almost like a menace to the poor colliers who were toiling up. It was only eleven o'clock. From the far-off wooded hills the
haze that hangs like fine black crape at the back of a summer morning had
not yet dissipated. The first
man came to the stile. "Chock-chock!"
went the gate under his thrust.
han' yer knocked off?" cried Mrs. Dakin.
a pity as they letn yer goo," she said sarcastically.
is that," replied the man.
you know you're flig to come up again," she said.
the man went on. Mrs. Dakin,
going up her yard, spied Mrs. Morel taking the ashes to the ash-pit.
reckon Minton's knocked off, missis," she cried.
it sickenin!" exclaimed Mrs. Morel in wrath.
But I'n just seed Jont Hutchby."
might as well have saved their shoe-leather," said Mrs. Morel.
And both women went indoors disgusted.
colliers, their faces scarcely blackened, were trooping home again.
Morel hated to go back. He
loved the sunny morning. But he
had gone to pit to work, and to be sent home again spoilt his temper.
gracious, at this time!" exclaimed his wife, as he entered.
I help it, woman?" he shouted.
I've not done half enough dinner."
I'll eat my bit o' snap as I took with me," he bawled pathetically.
He felt ignominious and sore.
the children, coming home from school, would wonder to see their father
eating with his dinner the two thick slices of rather dry and dirty
bread-and-butter that had been to pit and back.
my dad eating his snap for now?" asked Arthur.
should ha'e it holled at me if I didna," snorted Morel.
a story!" exclaimed his wife.
is it goin' to be wasted?" said Morel.
"I'm not such a extravagant mortal as you lot, with your waste.
If I drop a bit of bread at pit, in all the dust an' dirt, I pick it
up an' eat it."
mice would eat it," said Paul. "It
wouldn't be wasted."
bread-an'-butter's not for mice, either," said Morel.
"Dirty or not dirty, I'd eat it rather than it should be
might leave it for the mice and pay for it out of your next pint," said
might I?" he exclaimed.
were very poor that autumn. William
had just gone away to London, and his mother missed his money.
He sent ten shillings once or twice, but he had many things to pay
for at first. His letters came
regularly once a week. He wrote
a good deal to his mother, telling her all his life, how he made friends,
and was exchanging lessons with a Frenchman, how he enjoyed London.
His mother felt again he was remaining to her just as when he was at
home. She wrote to him every
week her direct, rather witty letters.
All day long, as she cleaned the house, she thought of him.
He was in London: he
would do well. Almost, he was like her knight who wore HER favour in the
was coming at Christmas for five days.
There had never been such preparations.
Paul and Arthur scoured the land for holly and evergreens.
Annie made the pretty paper hoops in the old-fashioned way.
And there was unheard-of extravagance in the larder.
Mrs. Morel made a big and magnificent cake. Then, feeling queenly, she showed Paul how to blanch almonds.
He skinned the long nuts reverently, counting them all, to see not
one was lost. It was said that
eggs whisked better in a cold place. So
the boy stood in the scullery, where the temperature was nearly at
freezing-point, and whisked and whisked, and flew in excitement to his
mother as the white of egg grew stiffer and more snowy.
look, mother! Isn't it
he balanced a bit on his nose, then blew it in the air.
don't waste it," said the mother.
was mad with excitement. William
was coming on Christmas Eve. Mrs.
Morel surveyed her pantry. There
was a big plum cake, and a rice cake, jam tarts, lemon tarts, and
mince-pies-- two enormous dishes. She
was finishing cooking--Spanish tarts and cheese-cakes. Everywhere was
decorated. The kissing bunch of
berried holly hung with bright and glittering things, spun slowly over Mrs.
Morel's head as she trimmed her little tarts in the kitchen.
A great fire roared. There
was a scent of cooked pastry. He
was due at seven o'clock, but he would be late.
The three children had gone to meet him.
She was alone. But at a
quarter to seven Morel came in again. Neither
wife nor husband spoke. He sat
in his armchair, quite awkward with excitement, and she quietly went on with
her baking. Only by the careful
way in which she did things could it be told how much moved she was.
The clock ticked on.
time dost say he's coming?" Morel
asked for the fifth time.
train gets in at half-past six," she replied emphatically.
he'll be here at ten past seven."
bless you, it'll be hours late on the Midland," she said indifferently.
But she hoped, by expecting him late, to bring him early.
Morel went down the entry to look for him. Then he came back.
man!" she said. "You're
like an ill-sitting hen."
you better be gettin' him summat t' eat ready?" asked the father.
plenty of time," she answered.
not so much as I can see on," he answered, turning crossly in his
chair. She began to clear her
table. The kettle was singing.
They waited and waited.
the three children were on the platform at Sethley Bridge, on the Midland
main line, two miles from home. They
waited one hour. A train
came--he was not there. Down
the line the red and green lights shone.
It was very dark and very cold.
him if the London train's come," said Paul to Annie, when they saw a
man in a tip cap.
not," said Annie. "You
be quiet--he might send us off."
Paul was dying for the man to know they were expecting someone by the London
train: it sounded so grand.
Yet he was much too much scared of broaching any man, let alone one
in a peaked cap, to dare to ask. The
three children could scarcely go into the waiting-room for fear of being
sent away, and for fear something should happen whilst they were off the
platform. Still they
waited in the dark and cold.
an hour an' a half late," said Arthur pathetically.
said Annie, "it's Christmas Eve."
all grew silent. He wasn't
coming. They looked down the
darkness of the railway. There
was London! It seemed the
utter-most of distance. They
thought anything might happen if one came from London.
They were all too troubled to talk.
Cold, and unhappy, and silent, they huddled together on the platform.
last, after more than two hours, they saw the lights of an engine peering
round, away down the darkness. A
porter ran out. The children
drew back with beating hearts. A
great train, bound for Manchester, drew up.
Two doors opened, and from one of them, William.
They flew to him. He
handed parcels to them cheerily, and immediately began to explain that this
great train had stopped for HIS sake at such a small station as Sethley
Bridge: it was not booked to
the parents were getting anxious. The
table was set, the chop was cooked, everything was ready.
Mrs. Morel put on her black apron.
She was wearing her best dress.
Then she sat, pretending to read.
The minutes were a torture to her.
said Morel. "It's an hour
an' a ha'ef."
those children waiting!" she said.
train canna ha' come in yet," he said.
tell you, on Christmas Eve they're HOURS wrong."
were both a bit cross with each other, so gnawed with anxiety.
The ash tree moaned outside in a cold, raw wind.
And all that space of night from London home!
Mrs. Morel suffered. The
slight click of the works inside the clock irritated her.
It was getting so late; it was getting unbearable.
last there was a sound of voices, and a footstep in the entry.
here!" cried Morel, jumping up.
he stood back. The mother ran a
few steps towards the door and waited.
There was a rush and a patter of feet, the door burst open.
William was there. He dropped his Gladstone bag and took his mother in his arms.
boy!" she cried.
for two seconds, no longer, she clasped him and kissed him.
Then she withdrew and said, trying to be quite normal:
how late you are!"
I!" he cried, turning to his father.
two men shook hands.
eyes were wet.
thought tha'd niver be commin'," he said.
I'd come!" exclaimed William.
the son turned round to his mother.
you look well," she said proudly, laughing.
he exclaimed. "I should
think so--coming home!"
was a fine fellow, big, straight, and fearless-looking. He looked round at
the evergreens and the kissing bunch, and the little tarts that lay in their
tins on the hearth.
jove! mother, it's not different!" he said, as if in relief.
was still for a second. Then he
suddenly sprang forward, picked a tart from the hearth, and pushed it whole
into his mouth.
did iver you see such a parish oven!" the father exclaimed.
had brought them endless presents. Every
penny he had he had spent on them. There was a sense of luxury overflowing in the house.
For his mother there was an umbrella with gold on the pale handle.
She kept it to her dying day, and would have lost anything rather
than that. Everybody had
something gorgeous, and besides, there were pounds of unknown sweets:
Turkish delight, crystallised pineapple, and such-like things which,
the children thought, only the splendour of London could provide.
And Paul boasted of these sweets among his friends.
pineapple, cut off in slices, and then turned into crystal--fair
was mad with happiness in the family. Home
was home, and they loved it with a passion of love, whatever the suffering
had been. There were parties,
there were rejoicings. People
came in to see William, to see what difference London had made to him.
And they all found him "such a gentleman, and SUCH a fine
fellow, my word"!
he went away again the children retired to various places to weep alone.
Morel went to bed in misery, and Mrs. Morel felt as if she were
numbed by some drug, as if her feelings were paralysed.
She loved him passionately.
was in the office of a lawyer connected with a large shipping firm, and at
the midsummer his chief offered him a trip in the Mediterranean on one of
the boats, for quite a small cost. Mrs.
Morel wrote: "Go, go, my
boy. You may never have a
chance again, and I should love to think of you cruising there in the
Mediterranean almost better than to have you at home."
But William came home for his fortnight's holiday.
Not even the Mediterranean, which pulled at all his young man's
desire to travel, and at his poor man's wonder at the glamorous south, could
take him away when he might come home.
That compensated his mother for much.
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