|Table of Contents|
and Lovers, by D. H. Lawrence
In The Family
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 had to work, and
escaped as soon as possible to his sport again.
appearance he remained the flower of the family, 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 his generous manner and fiery temper, made him a
favourite. But as he grew older
his temper became uncertain. He
flew into rages over nothing, seemed unbearably raw and irritable.
mother, whom he loved, wearied of him sometimes. 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 her ceaselessly.
boy!" she said, when he groaned about a master who, he said, hated him,
"if you don't like it, alter it, and if you can't alter it, put up with
his father, whom he had loved and who had worshipped him, he came to detest.
As he grew older Morel fell into a slow ruin.
His body, which had been beautiful in movement and in being, shrank,
did not seem to ripen with the years, but to get mean and rather despicable.
There came over him a look of meanness and of paltriness.
And when the mean-looking elderly man bullied or ordered the boy
about, Arthur was furious. Moreover, Morel's manners got worse and worse, his habits
somewhat disgusting. When the
children were growing up and in the crucial stage of adolescence, the father
was like some ugly irritant to their souls.
His manners in the house were the same as he used among the colliers
nuisance!" Arthur would
cry, jumping up and going straight 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 in disgusting them, and
driving them nearly mad, while they were so irritably sensitive at the age
of fourteen or fifteen. So that
Arthur, who was growing up when his father was degenerate and elderly, hated
him worst of all.
sometimes, the father would seem to feel the contemptuous hatred of his
not a man tries harder for his family!" he would shout.
"He does his best for them, and then gets treated like a dog.
But I'm not going to stand it, I tell you!"
for the threat and the fact that he did not try so hard as be imagined, they
would have felt sorry. As it
was, the battle now went on nearly all between father and children, he
persisting in his dirty and disgusting ways, just to assert his
independence. They loathed him.
was so inflamed and irritable at last, that when he won a scholarship for
the Grammar School in Nottingham, his mother decided to let him live in
town, with one of her sisters, and only come home at week-ends.
was still a junior teacher in the Board-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 the house.
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 the evening, and then she
unburdened herself of all she had pondered, or of all that had occurred to
her during the day. He sat and
listened with his earnestness. The
two shared lives.
was engaged now to his brunette, and had bought her an engagement ring that
cost eight guineas. The
children gasped at such a fabulous price.
guineas!" said Morel. "More
fool him! If he'd gen me some
on't, it 'ud ha' looked better on 'im."
YOU some of it!" cried Mrs. Morel.
"Why give YOU some of it!"
remembered HE had bought no engagement ring at all, and she preferred
William, who was not mean, if he were foolish.
But now the young man talked only of the dances to which he went with
his betrothed, and the different resplendent clothes she wore; or he told
his mother with glee how they went to the theatre like great swells.
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.
mother!" He kissed her
hastily, then stood aside to present a tall, handsome girl, who was wearing
a costume of fine black-and-white check, and furs.
Western held out her hand and showed her teeth in a small smile.
how do you do, Mrs. Morel!" she exclaimed.
am afraid you will be hungry," said Mrs. Morel.
no, we had dinner in the train. Have
you got my gloves, Chubby?"
Morel, big and raw-boned, looked at her quickly.
should I?" he said.
I've lost them. Don't be cross
frown went over his face, but he said nothing.
She glanced round the kitchen. It
was small and curious to her, with its glittering kissing-bunch, its
evergreens behind the pictures, its wooden chairs and little deal table.
At that moment Morel came in.
my son! Tha's let on me!"
two shook hands, and William presented the lady. She gave the same smile that showed her teeth.
do you do, Mr. Morel?"
very well, and I hope so are you. You
must make yourself very welcome."
thank you," she replied, rather amused.
will like to go upstairs," said Mrs. Morel.
you don't mind; but not if it is any trouble to you."
is no trouble. Annie will take
you. Walter, carry up this
don't be an hour dressing yourself up," said William to his betrothed.
took a brass candlestick, and, too shy almost to speak, preceded the young
lady to the front bedroom, which Mr. and Mrs. Morel had vacated for her.
It, too, was small and cold by candlelight.
The colliers' wives only lit fires in bedrooms in case of extreme
I unstrap the box?" asked Annie.
thank you very much!"
played the part of maid, then went downstairs for hot water.
think she's rather tired, mother," said William. "It's a beastly journey, and we had such a rush."
there anything I can give her?" asked Mrs. Morel.
no, she'll be all right."
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.
told you you'd no need to change," said William to her.
Chubby!" Then she turned
with that sweetish smile to Mrs. Morel.
"Don't you think he's always grumbling, Mrs. Morel?"
he?" said Mrs. Morel. "That's
not very nice of him."
are cold," said the mother. "Won't
you come near the fire?"
jumped out of his armchair.
and sit you here!" he cried. "Come
and sit you here!"
dad, keep your own chair. Sit
on the sofa, Gyp," said William.
no!" cried Morel. "This
cheer's warmest. Come and sit
here, Miss Wesson."
you so much," said the girl, seating herself in the collier's armchair,
the place of honour. She
shivered, feeling the warmth of the kitchen penetrate her.
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 realise them as people:
they were creatures to her for the present.
such a household, in Streatham, Miss Western 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?
go," said Annie.
Western took no notice, as if a servant had spoken. But when the girl came downstairs again with the
handkerchief, she said: "Oh,
thank you!" in a gracious way.
sat and talked about the dinner on the train, 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 thick twist tobacco, watching her,
and listening to her glib London speech, as he puffed.
Mrs. Morel, dressed up in her best black silk 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 best table cloth, the best coffee-jug. The
children thought she must find it quite grand.
She felt strange, not able to realise the people, not knowing how to
treat them. William joked, and
was slightly uncomfortable.
about ten o'clock he said to her:
you tired, Gyp?"
Chubby," she answered, at once in the intimate tones and putting her
head slightly on one side.
light her the candle, mother," he said.
well," replied the mother.
Western stood up, held out her hand to Mrs. Morel.
Mrs. Morel," she said.
sat at the boiler, letting the water run from the tap into a stone
beer-bottle. Annie swathed the bottle in an old flannel pit-singlet, and
kissed her mother good-night. She was to share the room with the lady,
because the house was full.
wait a minute," said Mrs. Morel to Annie.
And Annie sat nursing the hot-water bottle. Miss Western shook hands all round, to everybody's
discomfort, and took her departure, preceded by William.
In five minutes he was downstairs again. His heart was rather sore; he did not know why.
He talked very little till everybody had gone to bed, but himself and
his mother. Then he stood with
his legs apart, in his old attitude on the hearthrug, and said hesitatingly:
sat in the rocking-chair, feeling somehow hurt and humiliated, for his sake.
you like her?"
came the slow answer.
shy yet, mother. She's not used
to it. It's different from her
aunt's house, you know."
course it is, my boy; and she must find it difficult."
does." Then he frowned
swiftly. "If only she
wouldn't put on her BLESSED airs!"
only her first awkwardness, my boy. She'll
be all right."
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."
young, my boy."
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."
Well, you must make up to her."
so--you have to forgive her a lot of things."
do you have to forgive her, my boy?"
dunno. When she seems shallow,
you have to remember she's never had anybody to bring her deeper side out.
And she's FEARFULLY fond of me."
can see that."
you know, mother--she's--she's different from us. Those sort of people, like those she lives amongst, they
don't seem to have the same principles."
mustn't judge too hastily," said Mrs. Morel.
he seemed uneasy within himself.
the morning, however, he was up singing and larking round the house.
he called, sitting on the stairs. "Are
you getting up?"
her voice called faintly.
Christmas!" he shouted to her.
laugh, pretty and tinkling, was heard in the bedroom. She did not come down in half an hour.
she REALLY getting up when she said she was?" he asked of Annie.
she was," replied Annie. He
waited a while, then went to the stairs again.
New Year," he called.
you, Chubby dear!" came the laughing voice, far away.
up!" he implored.
was nearly an hour, and still he was waiting for her. Morel, who always rose before six, looked at the clock.
it's a winder!" he exclaimed.
family had breakfasted, all but William.
He went to the foot of the stairs.
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.
you REALLY been all this time getting ready?" he asked.
dear! That question is not
permitted, is it, Mrs. Morel?"
played the grand lady at first. When
she went with William to chapel, he in his frock-coat and silk hat, she in
her furs and London-made costume, Paul and Arthur and Annie expected
everybody to bow to the ground in admiration.
And Morel, standing in his Sunday suit at the end of the road,
watching the gallant pair go, felt he was the father of princes and
yet she was not so grand. For a
year now she had been a sort of secretary or clerk in a London office.
But while she was with the Morels she queened it.
She sat and let Annie or Paul wait on her as if they were her
servants. She treated Mrs.
Morel with a certain glibness and Morel with patronage.
But after a day or so she began to change her tune.
always wanted Paul or Annie to go along 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 adulation with which he treated
the second day, when Lily said: "Oh,
Annie, do you know where I left my muff?"
know it is in your bedroom. Why
do you ask Annie?"
Lily went upstairs with a cross, shut mouth.
But it angered the young man that she made a servant of his sister.
the third evening William and Lily were sitting 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, followed by his beloved.
it as late as that, mother?" he said.
She had been sitting alone.
is not LATE, my boy, but it is as late as I usually sit up."
you go to bed, then?" he asked.
leave you two? No, my boy, I
don't believe in it."
you trust us, mother?"
I can or not, I won't do it. You
can stay till eleven if you like, and I can read."
to bed, Gyp," he said to his girl.
"We won't keep mater waiting."
has left the candle burning, Lily," said Mrs. Morel; "I think you
thank you. Good-night, Mrs.
kissed his sweetheart at the foot of the stairs, and she went.
He returned to the kitchen.
you trust us, mother?" he repeated, rather offended.
boy, I tell you I don't BELIEVE in leaving two young things like you alone
downstairs when everyone else is in bed."
he was forced to take this answer. He
kissed his mother good-night.
Easter he came over alone. And
then he discussed his sweetheart endlessly with his mother.
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
a queer sort of love to marry on," said Mrs. Morel, "if she holds
you no more than that!"
IS funny!" he exclaimed. It
worried and perplexed him. "But
yet--there's so much between us now I couldn't give her up."
know best," said Mrs. Morel. "But
if it is as you say, I wouldn't call it LOVE--at any rate, it doesn't look
much like it."
I don't know, mother. She's an
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 mother to Nottingham when he
wages had been raised at Christmas to ten shillings, to his great joy.
He was quite happy at Jordan's, but his health suffered from the long
hours and the confinement. His
mother, to whom he became more and more significant, thought how to help.
half-day holiday was on Monday afternoon.
On a Monday morning in May, as the two sat alone at breakfast, she
think it will be a fine day."
looked up in surprise. This
know Mr. Leivers has gone to live on a new farm. Well, he asked me last week if I wouldn't go and see Mrs.
Leivers, and I promised to bring you on Monday if it's fine.
Shall we go?"
say, little woman, how lovely!" he cried.
"And we'll go this afternoon?"
hurried off to the station jubilant. Down
Derby Road was a cherry-tree that glistened.
The old brick wall by the Statutes ground burned scarlet, spring was
a very flame of green. And the steep swoop of highroad lay, in its cool morning
dust, splendid with patterns of sunshine and shadow, perfectly still.
The trees sloped their great green shoulders proudly; and inside the
warehouse all the morning, the boy had a vision of spring outside.
he came home at dinner-time his mother was rather excited.
we going?" he asked.
I'm ready," she replied.
he got up.
and get dressed while I wash up," he said.
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 mud
without dirtying their shoes. But
Paul had to clean them for her. They
were kid boots at eight shillings a pair.
He, however, thought them the most dainty boots in the world, and he
cleaned them with as much reverence as if they had been flowers.
she appeared in the inner doorway rather shyly. She had got a new cotton blouse on. Paul jumped up and went forward.
my stars!" he exclaimed. "What
sniffed in a little haughty way, and put her head up.
not a bobby-dazzler at all!" she replied.
"It's very quiet." She
walked forward, whilst he hovered round her.
she asked, quite shy, but pretending to be high and mighty, "do you
You ARE a fine little woman to go jaunting out with!"
went and surveyed her from the back.
he said, "if I was walking down the street behind you, I should say:
'Doesn't THAT little person fancy herself!"'
she doesn't," replied Mrs. Morel.
"She's not sure it suits her."
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."
sniffed in her little way, pleased, but pretending to know better.
she said, "it's cost me just three shillings. You couldn't have got it ready-made for that price, could
should think you couldn't," he replied.
you know, it's good stuff."
pretty," he said.
blouse was white, with a little sprig of heliotrope and black.
young for me, though, I'm afraid," she said.
young for you!" he exclaimed in disgust.
"Why don't you buy some false white hair and stick it on your
s'll soon have no need," she replied.
"I'm going white fast enough."
you've no business to," he said. "What
do I want with a white-haired mother?"
afraid you'll have to put up with one, my lad," she said rather
set off in great style, she carrying the umbrella William had given her,
because of the sun. Paul was
considerably taller than she, though he was not big. He fancied himself.
the fallow land the young wheat shone silkily.
Minton pit waved its plumes of white steam, coughed, and rattled
look at that!" said Mrs. Morel. Mother
and son stood on the road to watch. Along the ridge of the great pit-hill crawled a little group
in silhouette against the sky, a horse, a small truck, and a man.
They climbed the incline against the heavens.
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.
sit a minute, mother," he said, and she took a seat on a bank, whilst
he sketched rapidly. She was
silent whilst he worked, looking round at the afternoon, the red cottages
shining among their greenness.
world is a wonderful place," she said, "and wonderfully
so's the pit," he said. "Look
how it heaps together, like something alive almost--a big creature that you
she said. "Perhaps!"
all the trucks standing waiting, like a string of beasts to be fed," he
very thankful I am they ARE standing," she said, "for that means
they'll turn middling time this week."
I like the feel of MEN on things, while they're alive.
There's a feel of men about trucks, because they've been handled with
men's hands, all of them."
said Mrs. Morel.
went along under the trees of the highroad.
He was constantly informing her, but she was interested.
They passed the end of Nethermere, that was tossing 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.
this the way to Willey Farm?" Mrs.
hung behind in terror of being sent back.
But the woman was amiable, and directed them. The mother and son went through the wheat and oats, over a
little bridge into a wild meadow. Peewits,
with their white breasts glistening, 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.
a wild road, mother," said Paul. "Just
it beautiful!" said Mrs. Morel, looking round.
that heron--see--see her legs?"
directed his mother, what she must see and what not. And she was quite content.
now," she said, "which way? He
told me through the wood."
wood, fenced and dark, lay on their left.
can feel a bit of a path this road," said Paul. "You've got town feet, somehow or other, you have."
found a little gate, and soon were in a broad green alley of the wood, with
a new thicket of fir and pine on one hand, an old oak glade dipping down on
the other. And among the oaks
the bluebells stood in pools of azure, under the new green hazels, upon a
pale fawn floor of oak-leaves. He found flowers for her.
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.
at the end of the riding was a fence to climb.
Paul was over in a second. "Come,"
he said, "let me help you."
go away. I will do it in my own
stood below with his hands up ready to help her. She climbed cautiously.
a way to climb!" he exclaimed scornfully, when she was safely to earth
stiles!" she cried.
of a little woman," he replied, "who can't get over 'em."
front, along the edge of the wood, was a cluster 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
towards the wood. It was very
and son went into the small railed garden, 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 a girl in a dirty apron. She was about fourteen years old, had a rosy 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, a small, frail woman,
rosy, with great dark brown eyes.
she exclaimed, smiling with a little glow, "you've come, then.
I AM glad to see you." Her
voice was intimate and rather sad.
two women shook hands.
are you sure we're not a bother to you?" said Mrs. Morel.
"I know what a farming life is."
no! We're only too thankful to
see a new face, it's so lost up here."
suppose so," said Mrs. Morel.
were taken through into the parlour--a long, 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 gillivers and looking at the
plants, when the girl came out quickly to the heap of coal which stood by
suppose these are cabbage-roses?" he said to her, pointing to the
bushes along the fence.
looked at him with startled, big brown eyes.
suppose they are cabbage-roses when they come out?" he said.
don't know," she faltered. "They're
white with pink middles."
flushed. She had a beautiful
don't know," she said.
don't have MUCH in your garden," he said.
is our first year here," she answered, 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 they went through the buildings.
Paul was hugely delighted.
I suppose you have the fowls and calves and pigs to look after?" said
Mrs. Morel to Mrs. Leivers.
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 in the house."
I suppose it is," said Mrs. Morel.
the girl came out.
is ready, mother," she said in a musical, quiet voice.
thank you, Miriam, then we'll come," replied her mother, almost
ingratiatingly. "Would you
CARE to have tea now, Mrs. Morel?"
course," said Mrs. Morel. "Whenever
and his mother and Mrs. Leivers had tea together. Then they went out into the wood that was flooded with
bluebells, while fumy forget-me-nots were in the paths.
The mother and son were in ecstasy together.
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 the prime of life, with a
golden-brown moustache, and blue eyes screwed up against the weather.
boys were condescending, but Paul scarcely observed it.
They went round for eggs, scrambling into all sorts of places.
As they were feeding the fowls Miriam came out.
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 let the hen peck from it.
you do it?" he asked of Paul.
see," said Paul.
had a small hand, warm, and rather capable-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 boys joined.
knocks you, and nips you, but she never hurts," said Paul, when the
last corn had gone. " Now,
Miriam," said Maurice, "you come an 'ave a go."
she cried, shrinking back.
baby. The mardy-kid!" said
doesn't hurt a bit," said Paul. "It
only just nips rather nicely."
she still cried, shaking her black curls and shrinking.
dursn't," said Geoffrey. "She
niver durst do anything except recite poitry."
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!"
was crimson with shame and misery.
dare do more than you," she cried.
"You're never anything but cowards and bullies."
cowards and bullies!" they repeated mincingly, mocking her speech.
"Not such a clown shall anger me,
A boor is answered silently,"
quoted against her, shouting with laughter.
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 that hung low on a swinging
wouldn't get the apple-blossom," said Edgar, the eldest brother.
"There'll be no apples next year."
wasn't going to get it," replied Paul, going away.
boys felt hostile to him; they were more interested in their own pursuits.
He wandered back to the house to look for his mother.
As he went round the back, he saw Miriam kneeling in front of the
hen-coop, some maize in her hand, biting her lip, and crouching 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 of
fear, half of chagrin.
won't hurt you," said Paul.
flushed crimson and started up.
only wanted to try," she said in a low voice.
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.
put her hand forward and dragged it away, tried again, and started back with
a cry. He frowned.
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."
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.
you see," said the boy. "It
doesn't hurt, does it?"
looked at him with dilated dark eyes.
she laughed, trembling.
she rose and went indoors. She
seemed to be in some way resentful of the boy.
thinks I'm only a common girl," she thought, and she wanted to prove
she was a grand person like the "Lady of the Lake".
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 in the woods showed the
darkening purple of bluebells. It
was everywhere perfectly stiff, save for the rustling of leaves and birds.
it is a beautiful place," said Mrs. Morel.
answered Mr. Leivers; "it's a nice little 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 it."
clapped his hands, and the field broke into motion near the woods, brown
rabbits hopping everywhere.
you believe it!" exclaimed Mrs. Morel.
and Paul went on alone together.
it lovely, mother?" he said quietly.
thin moon was coming out. His
heart was full of happiness till it hurt.
His mother had to chatter, because she, too, wanted to cry with
WOULDN'T I help that man!" she said.
"WOULDN'T I see to the fowls and the young stock!
And I'D learn to milk, and I'D talk with him, and I'D plan with him.
My word, if I were his wife, the farm would be run, I know! But there, she hasn't the strength--she simply hasn't the
strength. She ought never to
have been burdened like it, you know. I'm
sorry for her, and I'm sorry for him too.
My word, if I'D had him, I shouldn't have thought him a bad husband!
Not that she does either; and she's very lovable."
came home again with his sweetheart at the Whitsuntide.
He had one week of his holidays then.
It was beautiful weather. As
a rule, William and Lily and Paul went out 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 by Minton Church.
On one side, by the Castle Farm, was a beautiful 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 she fingered with his hair.
Paul went gathering the big daisies.
She had taken off her hat; her hair was black as a horse's mane.
Paul came back and threaded daisies in her jet-black hair--big
spangles of white and yellow, and just a pink touch of ragged robin.
you look like a young witch-woman," the boy said to her.
"Doesn't she, William?"
laughed. William opened his
eyes and looked at her. In his
gaze was a certain baffled look of misery and fierce appreciation.
he made a sight of me?" she asked, laughing down on her lover.
he has!" said William, smiling.
looked at her. Her beauty
seemed to hurt him. He glanced
at her flower-decked head and frowned.
look nice enough, if that's what you want to know," he said.
she walked without her hat. In
a little while William recovered, and was rather tender to her.
Coming to a bridge, he carved her initials and his in a heart.
L. L. W.
watched his strong, nervous hand, with its glistening hairs and freckles, as
he carved, and she seemed fascinated by it.
the time there was a feeling of sadness and warmth, and a certain tenderness
in the house, whilst William and Lily were at home. But often he got irritable.
She had brought, for an eight-days' stay, five dresses and six
would you mind," she said to Annie, "washing me these two blouses,
and these things?"
Annie stood washing when William and Lily went out the next morning.
Mrs. Morel was furious. And
sometimes the young man, catching a glimpse of his sweetheart's attitude
towards his sister, hated her.
Sunday morning she looked very beautiful in a dress of foulard, silky and
sweeping, and blue as a jay-bird's feather, and in a large 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:
have you got my gloves?"
new black SUEDE."
was a hunt. She had lost them.
here, mother," said William, "that's the fourth pair she's lost
since Christmas--at five shillings a pair!"
only gave me TWO of them," she remonstrated.
in the evening, after supper, he stood on 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.
is your book, Lily," said Mrs. Morel.
"Would you care to go on with it for a few minutes?"
thank you," said the girl. "I
will sit still."
it is so dull."
scribbled irritably at a great rate. As
he sealed the envelope he said:
a book! Why, she's never read a
book in her life."
go along!" said Mrs. Morel, cross with the exaggeration,
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."
like me," chimed in Morel. "'Er
canna see what there is i' books, ter sit borin' your nose in 'em for, nor
more can I."
you shouldn't say these things," said Mrs. Morel to her son.
it's true, mother--she CAN'T read. What
did you give her?"
I gave her a little thing of Annie Swan's. Nobody wants to read dry stuff on
I'll bet she didn't read ten lines of it."
are mistaken," said his mother.
the time Lily sat miserably on the sofa.
He turned to her swiftly.
you ready any?" he asked.
I did," she replied.
don't know how many pages."
me ONE THING you read."
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 his thoughts sifted through his
mother's mind; so, when he wanted companionship, and was asked in reply to
be the billing and twittering lover, he hated his betrothed.
know, mother," he said, when he was alone with her at night,
"she's no idea of money, she's so wessel-brained. When she's paid,
she'll suddenly buy such rot as marrons glaces, and then I have to buy her
season ticket, and her extras, even her underclothing.
And she wants to get married, and I think myself we might as well get
married next year. But at this
fine mess of a marriage it would be," replied his mother.
"I should consider it again, my boy."
well, I've gone too far to break off now," he said, "and so I
shall get married as soon as I can."
well, my boy. If you will, you
will, and there's no stopping you; but I tell you, I can't sleep when I
think about it."
she'll be all right, mother. We
she lets you buy her underclothing?" asked the mother.
he began apologetically, "she didn'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 got something 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 if we had any.
And, you know, she OUGHT to keep enough to pay for her season-ticket;
but no, she comes to me about that, and I have to find the money."
a poor lookout," said Mrs. Morel bitterly.
was pale, and his rugged face, that used to be so perfectly careless and
laughing, was stamped with conflict and despair.
I can't give her up now; it's gone too far," he said.
"And, besides, for SOME things I couldn't do without her."
boy, remember you're taking your life in your hands," said Mrs. Morel.
"NOTHING is as bad as a marriage that's a hopeless failure.
Mine was bad enough, God knows, and ought to teach you something; but
it might have been worse by a long chalk."
leaned with his back against the side of the chimney-piece, his hands in his
pockets. He was a big,
raw-boned man, who looked as if he would go to the world's end if he wanted
to. But she saw the despair on
couldn't give her up now," he said.
she said, "remember there are worse wrongs than breaking off an
can't give her up NOW," he said.
clock ticked on; mother and son remained in silence, a conflict between
them; but he would say no more. At
last she said:
go to bed, my son. You'll feel
better in the morning, and perhaps you'll know better."
kissed her, and went. She raked
the fire. Her heart was heavy
now as it had never been. Before,
with her husband, things had seemed to 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.
so often William manifested the same hatred towards his betrothed.
On the last evening at home he was railing against her.
he said, "if you don't believe me, what she's like, would you believe
she has been confirmed three times?"
laughed Mrs. Morel.
or not, she HAS! That's what
confirmation means for her--a bit of a theatrical show where she can cut a
haven't, Mrs. Morel!" cried the girl--"I haven't! it is not
he cried, flashing round on her. "Once
in Bromley, once in Beckenham, and once somewhere else."
else!" she said, in tears--"nowhere else!"
WAS! And if it wasn't why were
you confirmed TWICE?"
I was only fourteen, Mrs. Morel," she pleaded, tears in her eyes.
said Mrs. Morel; "I can quite understand it, child.
Take no notice of him. You
ought to be ashamed, William, saying such things."
it's true. She's religious--she
had blue velvet Prayer-Books--and she's not as much religion, or anything
else, in her than that table-leg. Gets confirmed three times for show, to
show herself off, and that's how she is in EVERYTHING-- EVERYTHING!"
girl sat on the sofa, crying. She
was not strong.
for LOVE!" he cried, "you might as well ask a fly to love you!
It'll love settling on you---"
say no more," commanded Mrs. Morel.
"If you want to say these things, you must find 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! "
Morel subsided in wrath and indignation.
was silent, and later he repented, kissed and comforted the girl.
Yet it was true, what he had said.
He hated her.
they were going away, Mrs. Morel accompanied them as far as Nottingham.
It was a long way to Keston station.
know, mother," he said to her, "Gyp's shallow.
Nothing goes deep with her."
I WISH you wouldn't say these things," said Mrs. Morel, very
uncomfortable for the girl who walked beside her.
it doesn't, mother. She's very
much in love with me now, but if I died she'd have forgotten me in three
Morel was afraid. Her heart
beat furiously, hearing the quiet bitterness of her son's last speech.
do you know?" she replied. "You
DON'T know, and therefore you've no right to say such a thing."
always saying these things!" cried the girl.
three months after I was buried you'd have somebody else, and I should be
forgotten," he said. "And
that's your love!"
Morel saw them into the train in Nottingham, then she returned home.
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."
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.
summer long William's letters had a feverish tone; he seemed unnatural and
intense. Sometimes he was
exaggeratedly jolly, usually he was flat and bitter in his letter.
his mother said, "I'm afraid he's ruining himself against that
creature, who isn't worthy of his love--no, no more than a rag doll."
wanted to come home. The
midsummer holiday was gone; it was a long while to Christmas. He wrote in wild excitement, saying he could come for
Saturday and Sunday at Goose Fair, the first week in October.
are not well, my boy," said his mother, when she saw him.
She was almost in tears at having him to herself again.
I've not been well," he said. "I've
seemed to have a dragging cold all the last month, but it's going, I
was sunny October weather. He
seemed wild with joy, like a schoolboy escaped; then again he was silent and
reserved. He was more gaunt
than ever, and there was a haggard look in his eyes.
are doing too much," said his mother to him.
was doing extra work, trying to make some money to marry on, he said.
He only talked to his mother once on the Saturday night; then he was
sad and tender about his beloved.
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
William," said his mother, "you're not going to die, so why talk
whether or not---" he replied.
she can't help it. She is like
that, and if you choose her--well, you can't grumble," said his mother.
the Sunday morning, as he was putting his collar on:
he said to his mother, holding up his chin, "what a rash my collar's
made under my chin!"
at the junction of chin and throat was a big red inflammation.
ought not to do that," said his mother.
"Here, put a bit of this soothing ointment on.
You should wear different collars."
went away on Sunday midnight, seeming better and more solid for his two days
Tuesday morning came a telegram from London that he was ill.
Mrs. Morel got off her knees from washing the floor, read the
telegram, called a neighbour, went to her landlady and borrowed a sovereign,
put on her things, and set off. She hurried to Keston, caught an express for London in
Nottingham. She had to wait in
Nottingham nearly an hour. A
small figure in her black bonnet, she was anxiously 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 her how to get to Elmers End.
Carrying her string bag, that contained her nightdress, a comb and
brush, she went from person to person.
At last they sent her underground to Cannon Street.
was six o'clock when she arrived at William's lodging.
The blinds were not down.
is he?" she asked.
better," said the landlady.
followed the woman upstairs. William
lay on the bed, with bloodshot eyes, his face rather discoloured.
The clothes were tossed about, there was no fire in the room, a glass
of milk stood on the stand at his bedside.
No one had been with him.
my son!" said the mother bravely.
did not answer. He looked at
her, but did not see her. Then
he began to say, in a dull voice, as if repeating a letter from dictation:
"Owing to a leakage in the hold of this vessel, the sugar had
set, and become converted into rock. It
was quite unconscious. It had
been his business to examine some such cargo of sugar in the Port of London.
long has he been like this?" the mother asked the landlady.
got home at six o'clock on Monday morning, and he seemed to sleep all day;
then in the night we heard him talking, and this morning he asked for you.
So I wired, and we fetched the doctor."
you have a fire made?"
Morel tried to soothe her son, to keep him still.
doctor came. It was pneumonia,
and, he said, a peculiar erysipelas, which had started under the chin where
the collar chafed, and was spreading over the face. He hoped it would not get to the brain.
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.
Morel sat perfectly still for an hour in the lodging bedroom; then she
roused the household.
six o'clock, with the aid of the charwoman, she laid him out; then she went
round the dreary London village to the registrar and the doctor.
nine o'clock to the cottage on Scargill Street came another wire:
died last night. Let father
come, bring money."
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.
was a beautiful day. At
Brinsley pit the white steam melted slowly in the sunshine of a soft blue
sky; the wheels of the headstocks twinkled high up; the screen, shuffling
its coal into the trucks, made a busy noise.
want my father; he's got to go to London," said the boy to the first
man he met on the bank.
wants Walter Morel? Go in theer
an' tell Joe Ward."
went into the little top office.
want my father; he's got to go to London."
feyther? Is he down?
What's his name?"
Walter? Is owt amiss?"
got to go to London."
man went to the telephone and rang up the bottom office.
Morel's wanted, number 42, Hard. Summat's
amiss; there's his lad here."
he turned round to Paul.
be up in a few minutes," he said.
wandered out to the pit-top. He watched the chair come up, with its wagon 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'ed somewhere, the chair heaved, then dropped like a
did not realise William was dead; it was impossible, with such a bustle
going on. The puller-off swung
the small truck on to the turn-table, another man ran with it along the bank
down the curving lines.
William is dead, and my mother's in London, and what will she be
doing?" the boy asked himself, as if it were a conundrum.
watched chair after chair come up, and still no father.
At last, standing beside a wagon, a man's form! the chair sank on its
rests, Morel stepped off. He was slightly lame from an accident.
it thee, Paul? Is 'e
got to go to London."
two walked off the pit-bank, where men were watching curiously.
As they came out and went along the railway, with the sunny autumn
field on one side and a wall of trucks
on the other, Morel said in a frightened voice:
niver gone, child?"
night. We had a telegram from
walked on a few strides, then leaned up against a truck-side, his hand over
his eyes. He was not crying.
Paul stood looking round, waiting.
On the weighing machine a truck trundled slowly.
Paul saw everything, except his father leaning against the truck as
if he were tired.
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.
Saturday night, as Paul was turning the corner, coming home from Keston, he
saw his mother and father, who had come to Sethley Bridge Station.
They were walking in silence in the dark, tired, straggling apart.
The boy waited.
he said, in the darkness.
Morel's small figure seemed not to observe.
He spoke again.
she said, uninterestedly.
let him kiss her, but she seemed unaware of him.
the house she was the same--small, white, and mute. She noticed nothing, she said nothing, only:
coffin will be here to-night, Walter. You'd
better see about some help." Then,
turning to the children: "We're
bringing him home."
she relapsed into the same mute looking into space, her hands folded on her
lap. Paul, looking at her, felt
he could not breathe. The house
was dead silent.
went to work, mother," he said plaintively.
you?" she answered, dully.
half an hour Morel, troubled and bewildered, came in again.
s'll we ha'e him when he DOEScome?" he asked his wife.
I'd better shift th' table?"
ha'e him across th' chairs?"
know there---Yes, I suppose so."
and Paul went, with a candle, into the parlour. There was no gas there.
The father unscrewed the top of the big mahogany oval table, and
cleared the middle of the room; then he arranged six chairs opposite each
other, so that the coffin could stand on their beds.
niver seed such a length as he is!" said the miner, and watching
anxiously as he worked.
went to the bay window and looked out.
The ash-tree stood monstrous and black in front of the wide darkness.
It was a faintly luminous night.
Paul went back to his mother.
ten o'clock Morel called:
started. There was a noise of
unbarring and unlocking the front door, which opened straight from the night
into the room.
another candle," called Morel.
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 waited six 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 stood leaning forward, her
brass candlestick glittering.
was the noise of wheels. Outside
in the darkness of the street below Paul could see horses and a black
vehicle, one lamp, and a few pale faces; then some men, miners, all in their
shirt-sleeves, seemed to struggle in the obscurity.
Presently two men appeared, bowed beneath a great weight.
It was Morel and his neighbour.
called Morel, out of breath.
and his fellow mounted the steep garden step, heaved into the candlelight
with their gleaming coffin-end. Limbs of other men were seen struggling
behind. Morel and Burns, in
front, staggered; the great dark weight swayed.
steady!" cried Morel, as if in pain.
the six bearers were up in the small garden, 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.
then!" said Morel.
coffin swayed, the men began to mount the three steps with their load.
Annie's candle flickered, and she whimpered as the first men
appeared, and the limbs and bowed heads of six men struggled to climb into
the room, bearing the coffin that rode like sorrow on their living flesh.
my son--my son!" Mrs.
Morel sang softly, and each time the coffin swung to the unequal climbing of
the men: "Oh, my son--my
Paul whimpered, his hand round her waist.
did not hear.
my son--my son!" she repeated.
saw drops of sweat fall from his father's brow. Six men were in the room--six coatless men, with yielding,
struggling limbs, filling the room and knocking against the furniture.
The coffin veered, and was gently lowered on to the chairs.
The sweat fell from Morel's face on its boards.
word, he's a weight!" said a man, and the five miners sighed, bowed,
and, trembling with the struggle, descended the steps again, closing the
door behind them.
family was alone in the parlour with the great polished box.
William, when laid out, was six feet four inches long.
Like a monument lay the bright brown, ponderous coffin.
Paul thought it would never be got out of the room again. His mother was stroking the polished wood.
buried him on the Monday in the little cemetery on the hillside that looks
over the fields at the big church and the houses.
It was sunny, and the white chrysanthemums frilled themselves in the
Morel could not be persuaded, after this, 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 been me!
Paul came home at night he found his mother sitting, her day's work done,
with hands folded in her lap upon her coarse apron.
She always used to have changed her dress and put on a black apron,
before. Now Annie set his
supper, and his mother sat looking blankly in front of her, her mouth shut
tight. Then he beat his brains
for news to tell her.
Miss Jordan was down to-day, and she said my sketch of a colliery at work
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
a-matter, mother?" he asked.
did not hear.
a-matter?" he persisted. "Mother,
know what's the matter," she said irritably, turning away.
lad--he was sixteen years old--went to bed drearily. He was cut off and wretched through October, November and
December. His mother tried, but
she could not rouse herself. She
could only brood on her dead son; he had been let to die so cruelly.
last, on December 23, with his five shillings Christmas-box in his pocket,
Paul wandered blindly home. His
mother looked at him, and her heart stood still.
the matter?" she asked.
badly, mother!" he replied. "Mr.
Jordan gave me five shillings for a Christmas-box!"
handed it to her with trembling hands.
She put it on the table.
aren't glad!" he reproached her; but he trembled violently.
hurts you?" she said, unbuttoning his overcoat.
was the old question.
feel badly, mother."
undressed him and put him to bed. He
had pneumonia dangerously, the doctor said.
he never have had it if I'd kept him at home, not let him go to
Nottingham?" was one of the first things she asked.
might not have been so bad," said the doctor.
Morel stood condemned on her own ground.
should have watched the living, not the dead," she told herself.
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 in the ghastly, sickly feeling
of dissolution, when all the cells in the body seem in intense irritability
to be breaking down, and consciousness makes a last flare of struggle, like
s'll die, mother!" be cried, heaving for breath on the pillow.
lifted him up, crying in a small voice:
my son--my son!"
brought him to. He realised
her. His whole will rose up and
arrested him. He put his head
on her breast, and took ease of her for love.
some things," said his aunt, "it was a good thing Paul was ill
that Christmas. I believe it
saved his mother."
was in bed for seven weeks. He
got up white and fragile. His
father had bought him a pot of scarlet and gold tulips.
They used to flame in the window in the March 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 in Paul.
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 New Year.
was at a ball last night. Some
delightful people were there, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly," said
the letter. "I had every
dance--did not sit out one."
Morel never heard any more of her.
and his wife were gentle with each other 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 to the Three Spots, returning
in his normal state. But never
in his life would he go for a walk up Shepstone, past the office where his
son had worked, and he always avoided the cemetery.
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