PAUL had been many times up to Willey Farm during the autumn.
He was friends with the two youngest boys.
Edgar the eldest,
would not condescend at first.
And Miriam also refused to be approached.
She was afraid of being set at nought,
as by her own brothers.
The girl was romantic in her soul.
Everywhere was a Walter Scott heroine being loved by men with helmets or with plumes in their caps.
She herself was something of a princess turned into a swine-girl in her own imagination.
And she was afraid lest this boy,
looked something like a Walter Scott hero,
who could paint and speak French,
and knew what algebra meant,
and who went by train to Nottingham every day,
might consider her simply as the swine-girl,
unable to perceive the princess beneath;
so she held aloof.
Her great companion was her mother.
They were both brown-eyed,
and inclined to be mystical,
such women as treasure religion inside them,
breathe it in their nostrils,
and see the whole of life in a mist thereof.
So to Miriam,
Christ and God made one great figure,
which she loved tremblingly and passionately when a tremendous sunset burned out the western sky,
Brian de Bois Guilberts,
and Guy Mannerings,
rustled the sunny leaves in the morning,
or sat in her bedroom aloft,
when it snowed.
That was life to her.
For the rest,
she drudged in the house,
which work she would not have minded had not her clean red floor been mucked up immediately by the trampling farm-boots of her brothers.
She madly wanted her little brother of four to let her swathe him and stifle him in her love;
she went to church reverently,
with bowed head,
and quivered in anguish from the vulgarity of the other choir-girls and from the common-sounding voice of the curate;
she fought with her brothers,
whom she considered brutal louts;
and she held not her father in too high esteem because he did not carry any mystical ideals cherished in his heart,
but only wanted to have as easy a time as he could,
and his meals when he was ready for them.
She hated her position as swine-girl.
She wanted to be considered.
She wanted to learn,
thinking that if she could read,
as Paul said he could read,
or the "Voyage autour de ma Chambre",
the world would have a different face for her and a deepened respect.
She could not be princess by wealth or standing.
So she was mad to have learning whereon to pride herself.
For she was different from other folk,
and must not be scooped up among the common fry.
Learning was the only distinction to which she thought to aspire.
Her beauty --that of a shy,
quiveringly sensitive thing --seemed nothing to her.
Even her soul,
so strong for rhapsody,
was not enough.
She must have something to reinforce her pride,
because she felt different from other people.
Paul she eyed rather wistfully.
On the whole,
she scorned the male sex.
But here was a new specimen,
who could be gentle and who could be sad,
and who was clever,
and who knew a lot,
and who had a death in the family.
The boy's poor morsel of learning exalted him almost sky-high in her esteem.
Yet she tried hard to scorn him,
because he would not see in her the princess but only the swine-girl.
And he scarcely observed her.
Then he was so ill,
and she felt he would be weak.
Then she would be stronger than he.
Then she could love him.
If she could be mistress of him in his weakness,
take care of him,
if he could depend on her,
if she could,
as it were,
have him in her arms,
how she would love him!
As soon as the skies brightened and plum-blossom was out,
Paul drove off in the milkman's heavy float up to Willey Farm.
Mr. Leivers shouted in a kindly fashion at the boy,
then clicked to the horse as they climbed the hill slowly,
in the freshness of the morning.
White clouds went on their way,
crowding to the back of the hills that were rousing in the springtime.
The water of Nethermere lay below,
very blue against the seared meadows and the thorn-trees.
It was four and a half miles' drive.
Tiny buds on the hedges,
vivid as copper-green,
were opening into rosettes;
and thrushes called,
and blackbirds shrieked and scolded.
It was a new,
peeping through the kitchen window,
saw the horse walk through the big white gate into the farmyard that was backed by the oak-wood,
Then a youth in a heavy overcoat climbed down.
He put up his hands for the whip and the rug that the good-looking,
ruddy farmer handed down to him.
Miriam appeared in the doorway.
She was nearly sixteen,
with her warm colouring,
her eyes dilating suddenly like an ecstasy.
turning shyly aside,
"your daffodils are nearly out.
Isn't it early?
But don't they look cold?"
in her musical,
"The green on their buds --" and he faltered into silence timidly.
"Let me take the rug,"
said Miriam over-gently.
"I can carry it,"
But he yielded it to her.
Then Mrs. Leivers appeared.
"I'm sure you're tired and cold,"
"Let me take your coat.
It IS heavy.
You mustn't walk far in it."
She helped him off with his coat.
He was quite unused to such attention.
She was almost smothered under its weight.
laughed the farmer as he passed through the kitchen,
swinging the great milk-churns,
"you've got almost more than you can manage there."
She beat up the sofa cushions for the youth.
The kitchen was very small and irregular.
The farm had been originally a labourer's cottage.
And the furniture was old and battered.
But Paul loved it --loved the sack-bag that formed the hearthrug,
and the funny little corner under the stairs,
and the small window deep in the corner,
bending a little,
he could see the plum trees in the back garden and the lovely round hills beyond.
"Won't you lie down?"
said Mrs. Leivers.
I'm not tired,"
"Isn't it lovely coming out,
don't you think?
I saw a sloe-bush in blossom and a lot of celandines.
I'm glad it's sunny."
"Can I give you anything to eat or to drink?"
"How's your mother?"
"I think she's tired now.
I think she's had too much to do.
Perhaps in a little while she'll go to Skegness with me.
Then she'll be able to rest.
I s'll be glad if she can."
replied Mrs. Leivers.
"It's a wonder she isn't ill herself."
Miriam was moving about preparing dinner.
Paul watched everything that happened.
His face was pale and thin,
but his eyes were quick and bright with life as ever.
He watched the strange,
almost rhapsodic way in which the girl moved about,
carrying a great stew-jar to the oven,
or looking in the saucepan.
The atmosphere was different from that of his own home,
where everything seemed so ordinary.
When Mr. Leivers called loudly outside to the horse,
that was reaching over to feed on the rose-bushes in the garden,
the girl started,
looked round with dark eyes,
as if something had come breaking in on her world.
There was a sense of silence inside the house and out.
Miriam seemed as in some dreamy tale,
a maiden in bondage,
her spirit dreaming in a land far away and magical.
And her discoloured,
old blue frock and her broken boots seemed only like the romantic rags of King Cophetua's beggar-maid.
She suddenly became aware of his keen blue eyes upon her,
taking her all in.
Instantly her broken boots and her frayed old frock hurt her.
She resented his seeing everything.
Even he knew that her stocking was not pulled up.
She went into the scullery,
And afterwards her hands trembled slightly at her work.
She nearly dropped all she handled.
When her inside dream was shaken,
her body quivered with trepidation.
She resented that he saw so much.
Mrs. Leivers sat for some time talking to the boy,
although she was needed at her work.
She was too polite to leave him.
Presently she excused herself and rose.
After a while she looked into the tin saucepan.
"these potatoes have boiled dry!"
Miriam started as if she had been stung.
"I shouldn't care,
said the mother,
"if I hadn't trusted them to you."
She peered into the pan.
The girl stiffened as if from a blow.
Her dark eyes dilated;
she remained standing in the same spot.
gripped tight in self-conscious shame,
"I'm sure I looked at them five minutes since."
said the mother,
"I know it's easily done."
"They're not much burned,"
"It doesn't matter,
Mrs. Leivers looked at the youth with her brown,
"It wouldn't matter but for the boys,"
she said to him.
"Only Miriam knows what a trouble they make if the potatoes are
thought Paul to himself,
"you shouldn't let them make a trouble."
After a while Edgar came in.
He wore leggings,
and his boots were covered with earth.
He was rather small,
for a farmer.
He glanced at Paul,
nodded to him distantly,
replied the mother apologetically.
"I'm ready for mine,"
said the young man,
taking up the newspaper and reading.
Presently the rest of the family trooped in.
Dinner was served.
The meal went rather brutally.
The over-gentleness and apologetic tone of the mother brought out all the brutality of manners in the sons.
Edgar tasted the potatoes,
moved his mouth quickly like a rabbit,
looked indignantly at his mother,
"These potatoes are burnt,
I forgot them for a minute.
Perhaps you'll have bread if you can't eat them."
Edgar looked in anger across at Miriam.
"What was Miriam doing that she couldn't attend to them?"
Miriam looked up.
Her mouth opened,
her dark eyes blazed and winced,
but she said nothing.
She swallowed her anger and her shame,
bowing her dark head.
"I'm sure she was trying hard,"
said the mother.
"She hasn't got sense even to boil the potatoes,"
"What is she kept at home for?"
"On'y for eating everything that's left in th' pantry,"
"They don't forget that potato-pie against our Miriam,"
laughed the father.
She was utterly humiliated.
The mother sat in silence,
like some saint out of place at the brutal board.
It puzzled Paul.
He wondered vaguely why all this intense feeling went running because of a few burnt potatoes.
The mother exalted everything --even a bit of housework --to the plane of a religious trust.
The sons resented this;
they felt themselves cut away underneath,
and they answered with brutality and also with a sneering superciliousness.
Paul was just opening out from childhood into manhood.
where everything took a religious value,
came with a subtle fascination to him.
There was something in the air.
His own mother was logical.
Here there was something different,
something he loved,
something that at times he hated.
Miriam quarrelled with her brothers fiercely.
Later in the afternoon,
when they had gone away again,
her mother said:
"You disappointed me at dinner-time,
The girl dropped her head.
"They are such BRUTES!"
she suddenly cried,
looking up with flashing eyes.
"But hadn't you promised not to answer them?"
said the mother.
"And I believed in you.
I CAN'T stand it when you wrangle."
"But they're so hateful!"
"and --and LOW."
But how often have I asked you not to answer Edgar back?
Can't you let him say what he likes?"
"But why should he say what he likes?"
"Aren't you strong enough to bear it,
if even for my sake?
Are you so weak that you must wrangle with them?"
Mrs. Leivers stuck unflinchingly to this doctrine of "the other cheek".
She could not instil it at all into the boys.
With the girls she succeeded better,
and Miriam was the child of her heart.
The boys loathed the other cheek when it was presented to them.
Miriam was often sufficiently lofty to turn it.
Then they spat on her and hated her.
But she walked in her proud humility,
living within herself.
There was always this feeling of jangle and discord in the Leivers family.
Although the boys resented so bitterly this eternal appeal to their deeper feelings of resignation and proud humility,
yet it had its effect on them.
They could not establish between themselves and an outsider just the ordinary human feeling and unexaggerated friendship;
they were always restless for the something deeper.
Ordinary folk seemed shallow to them,
trivial and inconsiderable.
And so they were unaccustomed,
painfully uncouth in the simplest social intercourse,
and yet insolent in their superiority.
Then beneath was the yearning for the soul-intimacy to which they could not attain because they were too dumb,
and every approach to close connection was blocked by their clumsy contempt of other people.
They wanted genuine intimacy,
but they could not get even normally near to anyone,
because they scorned to take the first steps,
they scorned the triviality which forms common human intercourse.
Paul fell under Mrs. Leivers's spell.
Everything had a religious and intensified meaning when he was with her.
sought her as if for nourishment.
Together they seemed to sift the vital fact from an experience.
Miriam was her mother's daughter.
In the sunshine of the afternoon mother and daughter went down the fields with him.
They looked for nests.
There was a jenny wren's in the hedge by the orchard.
"I DO want you to see this,"
said Mrs. Leivers.
He crouched down and carefully put his finger through the thorns into the round door of the nest.
"It's almost as if you were feeling inside the live body of the bird,"
"it's so warm.
They say a bird makes its nest round like a cup with pressing its breast on it.
Then how did it make the ceiling round,
The nest seemed to start into life for the two women.
Miriam came to see it every day.
It seemed so close to her.
going down the hedgeside with the girl,
he noticed the celandines,
scalloped splashes of gold,
on the side of the ditch.
"I like them,"
"when their petals go flat back with the sunshine.
They seemed to be pressing themselves at the sun."
And then the celandines ever after drew her with a little spell.
Anthropomorphic as she was,
she stimulated him into appreciating things thus,
and then they lived for her.
She seemed to need things kindling in her imagination or in her soul before she felt she had them.
And she was cut off from ordinary life by her religious intensity which made the world for her either a nunnery garden or a paradise,
where sin and knowledge were not,
or else an ugly,
So it was in this atmosphere of subtle intimacy,
this meeting in their common feeling for something in Nature,
that their love started.
he was a long time before he realized her.
For ten months he had to stay at home after his illness.
For a while he went to Skegness with his mother,
and was perfectly happy.
But even from the seaside he wrote long letters to Mrs. Leivers about the shore and the sea.
And he brought back his beloved sketches of the flat Lincoln coast,
anxious for them to see.
Almost they would interest the Leivers more than they interested his mother.
It was not his art Mrs. Morel cared about;
it was himself and his achievement.
But Mrs. Leivers and her children were almost his disciples.
They kindled him and made him glow to his work,
whereas his mother's influence was to make him quietly determined,
He soon was friends with the boys,
whose rudeness was only superficial.
They had all,
when they could trust themselves,
a strange gentleness and lovableness.
"Will you come with me on to the fallow?"
Paul went joyfully,
and spent the afternoon helping to hoe or to single turnips with his friend.
He used to lie with the three brothers in the hay piled up in the barn and tell them about Nottingham and about Jordan's.
they taught him to milk,
and let him do little jobs --chopping hay or pulping turnips --just as much as he liked.
At midsummer he worked all through hay-harvest with them,
and then he loved them.
The family was so cut off from the world actually.
like "-les derniers fils d'une race epuisee-".
Though the lads were strong and healthy,
yet they had all that over-sensitiveness and hanging-back which made them so lonely,
yet also such close,
delicate friends once their intimacy was won.
Paul loved them dearly,
and they him.
Miriam came later.
But he had come into her life before she made any mark on his.
One dull afternoon,
when the men were on the land and the rest at school,
only Miriam and her mother at home,
the girl said to him,
after having hesitated for some time:
"Have you seen the swing?"
"In the cowshed,"
She always hesitated to offer or to show him anything.
Men have such different standards of worth from women,
and her dear things --the valuable things to her --her brothers had so often mocked or flouted.
There were two cowsheds,
one on either side of the barn.
In the lower,
darker shed there was standing for four cows.
Hens flew scolding over the manger-wall as the youth and girl went forward for the great thick rope which hung from the beam in the darkness overhead,
and was pushed back over a peg in the wall.
"It's something like a rope!"
he exclaimed appreciatively;
and he sat down on it,
anxious to try it.
Then immediately he rose.
and have first go,"
he said to the girl.
going into the barn,
"we put some bags on the seat";
and she made the swing comfortable for him.
That gave her pleasure.
He held the rope.
he said to her.
I won't go first,"
She stood aside in her still,
Almost for the first time in her life she had the pleasure of giving up to a man,
of spoiling him.
Paul looked at her.
He set off with a spring,
and in a moment was flying through the air,
almost out of the door of the shed,
the upper half of which was open,
showing outside the drizzling rain,
the filthy yard,
the cattle standing disconsolate against the black cartshed,
and at the back of all the grey-green wall of the wood.
She stood below in her crimson tam-o'-shanter and watched.
He looked down at her,
and she saw his blue eyes sparkling.
"It's a treat of a swing,"
He was swinging through the air,
every bit of him swinging,
like a bird that swoops for joy of movement.
And he looked down at her.
Her crimson cap hung over her dark curls,
her beautiful warm face,
so still in a kind of brooding,
was lifted towards him.
It was dark and rather cold in the shed.
Suddenly a swallow came down from the high roof and darted out of the door.
"I didn't know a bird was watching,"
He swung negligently.
She could feel him falling and lifting through the air,
as if he were lying on some force.
"Now I'll die,"
in a detached,
as though he were the dying motion of the swing.
She watched him,
Suddenly he put on the brake and jumped out.
"I've had a long turn,"
"But it's a treat of a swing --it's a real treat of a swing!"
Miriam was amused that he took a swing so seriously and felt so warmly over it.
you go on,"
don't you want one?"
I'll have just a little."
She sat down,
whilst he kept the bags in place for her.
"It's so ripping!"
setting her in motion.
"Keep your heels up,
or they'll bang the manger wall."
She felt the accuracy with which he caught her,
exactly at the right moment,
and the exactly proportionate strength of his thrust,
and she was afraid.
Down to her bowels went the hot wave of fear.
She was in his hands.
firm and inevitable came the thrust at the right moment.
She gripped the rope,
she laughed in fear.
"But you're not a BIT high,"
"But no higher."
He heard the fear in her voice,
Her heart melted in hot pain when the moment came for him to thrust her forward again.
But he left her alone.
She began to breathe.
"Won't you really go any farther?"
"Should I keep you there?"
let me go by myself,"
He moved aside and watched her.
you're scarcely moving,"
She laughed slightly with shame,
and in a moment got down.
"They say if you can swing you won't be sea-sick,"
as he mounted again.
"I don't believe I should ever be sea-sick."
Away he went.
There was something fascinating to her in him.
For the moment he was nothing but a piece of swinging stuff;
not a particle of him that did not swing.
She could never lose herself so,
nor could her brothers.
It roused a warmth in her.
It was almost as if he were a flame that had lit a warmth in her whilst he swung in the middle air.
And gradually the intimacy with the family concentrated for Paul on three persons --the mother,
To the mother he went for that sympathy and that appeal which seemed to draw him out.
Edgar was his very close friend.
And to Miriam he more or less condescended,
because she seemed so humble.
But the girl gradually sought him out.
If he brought up his sketch-book,
it was she who pondered longest over the last picture.
Then she would look up at him.
her dark eyes alight like water that shakes with a stream of gold in the dark,
she would ask:
"Why do I like this so?"
Always something in his breast shrank from these close,
dazzled looks of hers.
"Why DO you?"
"I don't know.
It seems so true."
"It's because --it's because there is scarcely any shadow in it;
it's more shimmery,
as if I'd painted the shimmering protoplasm in the leaves and everywhere,
and not the stiffness of the shape.
That seems dead to me.
Only this shimmeriness is the real living.
The shape is a dead crust.
The shimmer is inside really."
with her little finger in her mouth,
would ponder these sayings.
They gave her a feeling of life again,
and vivified things which had meant nothing to her.
She managed to find some meaning in his struggling,
And they were the medium through which she came distinctly at her beloved objects.
Another day she sat at sunset whilst he was painting some pine-trees which caught the red glare from the west.
He had been quiet.
"There you are!"
he said suddenly.
"I wanted that.
look at them and tell me,
are they pine trunks or are they red coals,
standing-up pieces of fire in that darkness?
There's God's burning bush for you,
that burned not away."
and was frightened.
But the pine trunks were wonderful to her,
He packed his box and rose.
Suddenly he looked at her.
"Why are you always sad?"
he asked her.
looking up at him with startled,
wonderful brown eyes.
"You are always sad."
"I am not --oh,
not a bit!"
"But even your joy is like a flame coming off of sadness,"
"You're never jolly,
or even just all right."
"I wonder --why?"
"Because you're not;
because you're different inside,
like a pine-tree,
and then you flare up;
but you're not just like an ordinary tree,
with fidgety leaves and jolly --"
He got tangled up in his own speech;
but she brooded on it,
and he had a strange,
as if his feelings were new.
She got so near him.
It was a strange stimulant.
Then sometimes he hated her.
Her youngest brother was only five.
He was a frail lad,
with immense brown eyes in his quaint fragile face --one of Reynolds's "Choir of Angels",
with a touch of elf.
Often Miriam kneeled to the child and drew him to her.
in a voice heavy and surcharged with love.
folding him in her arms,
she swayed slightly from side to side with love,
her face half lifted,
her eyes half closed,
her voice drenched with love.
said the child,
you love me,
she murmured deep in her throat,
almost as if she were in a trance,
and swaying also as if she were swooned in an ecstasy of love.
repeated the child,
a frown on his clear brow.
"You love me,
"What do you make such a FUSS for?"
all in suffering because of her extreme emotion.
"Why can't you be ordinary with him?"
She let the child go,
and said nothing.
which would leave no emotion on a normal plane,
irritated the youth into a frenzy.
And this fearful,
naked contact of her on small occasions shocked him.
He was used to his mother's reserve.
And on such occasions he was thankful in his heart and soul that he had his mother,
so sane and wholesome.
All the life of Miriam's body was in her eyes,
which were usually dark as a dark church,
but could flame with light like a conflagration.
Her face scarcely ever altered from its look of brooding.
She might have been one of the women who went with Mary when Jesus was dead.
Her body was not flexible and living.
She walked with a swing,
her head bowed forward,
She was not clumsy,
and yet none of her movements seemed quite THE movement.
when wiping the dishes,
she would stand in bewilderment and chagrin because she had pulled in two halves a cup or a tumbler.
It was as if,
in her fear and self-mistrust,
she put too much strength into the effort.
There was no looseness or abandon about her.
Everything was gripped stiff with intensity,
and her effort,
closed in on itself.
She rarely varied from her swinging,
Occasionally she ran with Paul down the fields.
Then her eyes blazed naked in a kind of ecstasy that frightened him.
But she was physically afraid.
If she were getting over a stile,
she gripped his hands in a little hard anguish,
and began to lose her presence of mind.
And he could not persuade her to jump from even a small height.
Her eyes dilated,
became exposed and palpitating.
half laughing in terror --"no!"
he cried once,
jerking her forward,
he brought her falling from the fence.
But her wild "Ah!"
as if she were losing consciousness,
She landed on her feet safely,
and afterwards had courage in this respect.
She was very much dissatisfied with her lot.
"Don't you like being at home?"
Paul asked her,
low and intense.
"What is it?
I'm all day cleaning what the boys make just as bad in five minutes.
I don't WANT to be at home."
"What do you want,
"I want to do something.
I want a chance like anybody else.
Why should I,
because I'm a girl,
be kept at home and not allowed to be anything?
What chance HAVE I?"
"Chance of what?"
"Of knowing anything --of learning,
of doing anything.
It's not fair,
because I'm a woman."
She seemed very bitter.
In his own home Annie was almost glad to be a girl.
She had not so much responsibility;
things were lighter for her.
She never wanted to be other than a girl.
But Miriam almost fiercely wished she were a man.
And yet she hated men at the same time.
"But it's as well to be a woman as a man,"
Men have everything."
"I should think women ought to be as glad to be women as men are to be men,"
--she shook her head --"no!
Everything the men have."
"But what do you want?"
"I want to learn.
Why SHOULD it be that I know nothing?"
such as mathematics and French?"
"Why SHOULDN'T I know mathematics?
her eye expanding in a kind of defiance.
you can learn as much as I know,"
"I'll teach you,
if you like."
Her eyes dilated.
She mistrusted him as teacher.
Her head had dropped,
and she was sucking her finger broodingly.
she said hesitatingly.
He used to tell his mother all these things.
"I'm going to teach Miriam algebra,"
replied Mrs. Morel,
"I hope she'll get fat on it."
When he went up to the farm on the Monday evening,
it was drawing twilight.
Miriam was just sweeping up the kitchen,
and was kneeling at the hearth when he entered.
Everyone was out but her.
She looked round at him,
her dark eyes shining,
her fine hair falling about her face.
soft and musical.
"I knew it was you."
"I knew your step.
Nobody treads so quick and firm."
He sat down,
"Ready to do some algebra?"
drawing a little book from his pocket.
He could feel her backing away.
"You said you wanted,"
"But I came on purpose.
And if you want to learn it,
you must begin."
She took up her ashes in the dustpan and looked at him,
I haven't thought of it."
Take the ashes and come."
He went and sat on the stone bench in the back-yard,
where the big milk-cans were standing,
The men were in the cowsheds.
He could hear the little sing-song of the milk spurting into the pails.
Presently she came,
bringing some big greenish apples.
"You know you like them,"
He took a bite.
with his mouth full.
She was short-sighted,
and peered over his shoulder.
It irritated him.
He gave her the book quickly.
"It's only letters for figures.
You put down
'a' instead of
she with her head down on the book.
He was quick and hasty.
She never answered.
when he demanded of her,
"Do you see?"
she looked up at him,
her eyes wide with the half-laugh that comes of fear.
He had been too fast.
But she said nothing.
He questioned her more,
then got hot.
It made his blood rouse to see her there,
as it were,
at his mercy,
her mouth open,
her eyes dilated with laughter that was afraid,
Then Edgar came along with two buckets of milk.
"What are you doing?"
repeated Edgar curiously.
Then he passed on with a laugh.
Paul took a bite at his forgotten apple,
looked at the miserable cabbages in the garden,
pecked into lace by the fowls,
and he wanted to pull them up.
Then he glanced at Miriam.
She was poring over the book,
seemed absorbed in it,
yet trembling lest she could not get at it.
It made him cross.
She was ruddy and beautiful.
Yet her soul seemed to be intensely supplicating.
The algebra-book she closed,
knowing he was angered;
and at the same instant he grew gentle,
seeing her hurt because she did not understand.
But things came slowly to her.
And when she held herself in a grip,
seemed so utterly humble before the lesson,
it made his blood rouse.
He stormed at her,
continued the lesson,
and grew furious again,
She listened in silence.
she defended herself.
Her liquid dark eyes blazed at him.
"You don't give me time to learn it,"
throwing the book on the table and lighting a cigarette.
after a while,
he went back to her repentant.
So the lessons went.
He was always either in a rage or very gentle.
"What do you tremble your SOUL before it for?"
"You don't learn algebra with your blessed soul.
Can't you look at it with your clear simple wits?"
when he went again into the kitchen,
Mrs. Leivers would look at him reproachfully,
don't be so hard on Miriam.
She may not be quick,
but I'm sure she tries."
"I can't help it,"
he said rather pitiably.
"I go off like it."
"You don't mind me,
he asked of the girl later.
she reassured him in her beautiful deep tones --"no,
I don't mind."
"Don't mind me;
it's my fault."
in spite of himself,
his blood began to boil with her.
It was strange that no one else made him in such fury.
He flared against her.
Once he threw the pencil in her face.
There was a silence.
She turned her face slightly aside.
"I didn't --" he began,
but got no farther,
feeling weak in all his bones.
She never reproached him or was angry with him.
He was often cruelly ashamed.
But still again his anger burst like a bubble surcharged;
when he saw her eager,
as it were,
he felt he wanted to throw the pencil in it;
when he saw her hand trembling and her mouth parted with suffering,
his heart was scalded with pain for her.
And because of the intensity to which she roused him,
he sought her.
Then he often avoided her and went with Edgar.
Miriam and her brother were naturally antagonistic.
Edgar was a rationalist,
who was curious,
and had a sort of scientific interest in life.
It was a great bitterness to Miriam to see herself deserted by Paul for Edgar,
who seemed so much lower.
But the youth was very happy with her elder brother.
The two men spent afternoons together on the land or in the loft doing carpentry,
when it rained.
And they talked together,
or Paul taught Edgar the songs he himself had learned from Annie at the piano.
And often all the men,
Mr. Leivers as well,
had bitter debates on the nationalizing of the land and similar problems.
Paul had already heard his mother's views,
and as these were as yet his own,
he argued for her.
Miriam attended and took part,
but was all the time waiting until it should be over and a personal communication might begin.
she said within herself,
"if the land were nationalized,
Edgar and Paul and I would be just the same."
So she waited for the youth to come back to her.
He was studying for his painting.
He loved to sit at home,
alone with his mother,
working and working.
She sewed or read.
looking up from his task,
he would rest his eyes for a moment on her face,
that was bright with living warmth,
and he returned gladly to his work.
"I can do my best things when you sit there in your rocking-chair,
sniffing with mock scepticism.
But she felt it was so,
and her heart quivered with brightness.
For many hours she sat still,
slightly conscious of him labouring away,
whilst she worked or read her book.
with all his soul's intensity directing his pencil,
could feel her warmth inside him like strength.
They were both very happy so,
and both unconscious of it.
that meant so much,
and which were real living,
they almost ignored.
He was conscious only when stimulated.
A sketch finished,
he always wanted to take it to Miriam.
Then he was stimulated into knowledge of the work he had produced unconsciously.
In contact with Miriam he gained insight;
his vision went deeper.
From his mother he drew the life-warmth,
the strength to produce;
Miriam urged this warmth into intensity like a white light.
When he returned to the factory the conditions of work were better.
He had Wednesday afternoon off to go to the Art School --Miss Jordan's provision --returning in the evening.
Then the factory closed at six instead of eight on Thursday and Friday evenings.
One evening in the summer Miriam and he went over the fields by Herod's Farm on their way from the library home.
So it was only three miles to Willey Farm.
There was a yellow glow over the mowing-grass,
and the sorrel-heads burned crimson.
as they walked along the high land,
the gold in the west sank down to red,
the red to crimson,
and then the chill blue crept up against the glow.
They came out upon the high road to Alfreton,
which ran white between the darkening fields.
There Paul hesitated.
It was two miles home for him,
one mile forward for Miriam.
They both looked up the road that ran in shadow right under the glow of the north-west sky.
On the crest of the hill,
with its stark houses and the up-pricked headstocks of the pit,
stood in black silhouette small against the sky.
He looked at his watch.
The pair stood,
loth to part,
hugging their books.
"The wood is so lovely now,"
"I wanted you to see it."
He followed her slowly across the road to the white gate.
"They grumble so if I'm late,"
"But you're not doing anything wrong,"
she answered impatiently.
He followed her across the nibbled pasture in the dusk.
There was a coolness in the wood,
a scent of leaves,
and a twilight.
The two walked in silence.
Night came wonderfully there,
among the throng of dark tree-trunks.
He looked round,
She wanted to show him a certain wild-rose bush she had discovered.
She knew it was wonderful.
till he had seen it,
she felt it had not come into her soul.
Only he could make it her own,
She was dissatisfied.
Dew was already on the paths.
In the old oak-wood a mist was rising,
and he hesitated,
wondering whether one whiteness were a strand of fog or only campion-flowers pallid in a cloud.
By the time they came to the pine-trees Miriam was getting very eager and very tense.
Her bush might be gone.
She might not be able to find it;
and she wanted it so much.
Almost passionately she wanted to be with him when he stood before the flowers.
They were going to have a communion together --something that thrilled her,
He was walking beside her in silence.
They were very near to each other.
and he listened,
Coming to the edge of the wood,
they saw the sky in front,
and the earth growing dark.
Somewhere on the outermost branches of the pine-wood the honeysuckle was streaming scent.
"Down the middle path,"
When they turned the corner of the path she stood still.
In the wide walk between the pines,
gazing rather frightened,
she could distinguish nothing for some moments;
the greying light robbed things of their colour.
Then she saw her bush.
It was very still.
The tree was tall and straggling.
It had thrown its briers over a hawthorn-bush,
and its long streamers trailed thick,
right down to the grass,
splashing the darkness everywhere with great spilt stars,
In bosses of ivory and in large splashed stars the roses gleamed on the darkness of foliage and stems and grass.
Paul and Miriam stood close together,
Point after point the steady roses shone out to them,
seeming to kindle something in their souls.
The dusk came like smoke around,
and still did not put out the roses.
Paul looked into Miriam's eyes.
She was pale and expectant with wonder,
her lips were parted,
and her dark eyes lay open to him.
His look seemed to travel down into her.
Her soul quivered.
It was the communion she wanted.
He turned aside,
as if pained.
He turned to the bush.
"They seem as if they walk like butterflies,
and shake themselves,"
She looked at her roses.
They were white,
some incurved and holy,
others expanded in an ecstasy.
The tree was dark as a shadow.
She lifted her hand impulsively to the flowers;
she went forward and touched them in worship.
"Let us go,"
There was a cool scent of ivory roses --a white,
Something made him feel anxious and imprisoned.
The two walked in silence.
he said quietly,
and left her;
and she walked home slowly,
feeling her soul satisfied with the holiness of the night.
He stumbled down the path.
And as soon as he was out of the wood,
in the free open meadow,
where he could breathe,
he started to run as fast as he could.
It was like a delicious delirium in his veins.
Always when he went with Miriam,
and it grew rather late,
he knew his mother was fretting and getting angry about him --why,
he could not understand.
As he went into the house,
flinging down his cap,
his mother looked up at the clock.
She had been sitting thinking,
because a chill to her eyes prevented her reading.
She could feel Paul being drawn away by this girl.
And she did not care for Miriam.
"She is one of those who will want to suck a man's soul out till he has none of his own left,"
she said to herself;
"and he is just such a gaby as to let himself be absorbed.
She will never let him become a man;
she never will."
while he was away with Miriam,
Mrs. Morel grew more and more worked up.
She glanced at the clock and said,
coldly and rather tired:
"You have been far enough to-night."
warm and exposed from contact with the girl,
"You must have been right home with her,"
his mother continued.
He would not answer.
looking at him quickly,
saw his hair was damp on his forehead with haste,
saw him frowning in his heavy fashion,
"She must be wonderfully fascinating,
that you can't get away from her,
but must go trailing eight miles at this time of night."
He was hurt between the past glamour with Miriam and the knowledge that his mother fretted.
He had meant not to say anything,
to refuse to answer.
But he could not harden his heart to ignore his mother.
"I DO like to talk to her,"
he answered irritably.
"Is there nobody else to talk to?"
"You wouldn't say anything if I went with Edgar."
"You know I should.
whoever you went with,
I should say it was too far for you to go trailing,
late at night,
when you've been to Nottingham.
Besides" --her voice suddenly flashed into anger and contempt --"it is disgusting --bits of lads and girls courting."
"It is NOT courting,"
"I don't know what else you call it."
Do you think we SPOON and do?
We only talk."
"Till goodness knows what time and distance,"
was the sarcastic rejoinder.
Paul snapped at the laces of his boots angrily.
"What are you so mad about?"
"Because you don't like her."
"I don't say I don't like her.
But I don't hold with children keeping company,
and never did."
"But you don't mind our Annie going out with Jim Inger."
"They've more sense than you two."
"Our Annie's not one of the deep sort."
He failed to see the meaning of this remark.
But his mother looked tired.
She was never so strong after William's death;
and her eyes hurt her.
"it's so pretty in the country.
Mr. Sleath asked about you.
He said he'd missed you.
Are you a bit better?"
"I ought to have been in bed a long time ago,"
you know you wouldn't have gone before quarter-past ten."
you'd say anything now you're disagreeable with me,
He kissed her forehead that he knew so well: the deep marks between the brows,
the rising of the fine hair,
and the proud setting of the temples.
His hand lingered on her shoulder after his kiss.
Then he went slowly to bed.
He had forgotten Miriam;
he only saw how his mother's hair was lifted back from her warm,
she was hurt.
Then the next time he saw Miriam he said to her:
"Don't let me be late to-night --not later than ten o'clock.
My mother gets so upset."
Miriam dropped her bead,
"Why does she get upset?"
"Because she says I oughtn't to be out late when I have to get up early."
with just a touch of a sneer.
He resented that.
And he was usually late again.
That there was any love growing between him and Miriam neither of them would have acknowledged.
He thought he was too sane for such sentimentality,
and she thought herself too lofty.
They both were late in coming to maturity,
and psychical ripeness was much behind even the physical.
Miriam was exceedingly sensitive,
as her mother had always been.
The slightest grossness made her recoil almost in anguish.
Her brothers were brutal,
but never coarse in speech.
The men did all the discussing of farm matters outside.
because of the continual business of birth and of begetting which goes on upon every farm,
Miriam was the more hypersensitive to the matter,
and her blood was chastened almost to disgust of the faintest suggestion of such intercourse.
Paul took his pitch from her,
and their intimacy went on in an utterly blanched and chaste fashion.
It could never be mentioned that the mare was in foal.
When he was nineteen,
he was earning only twenty shillings a week,
but he was happy.
His painting went well,
and life went well enough.
On the Good Friday he organised a walk to the Hemlock Stone.
There were three lads of his own age,
then Annie and Arthur,
Miriam and Geoffrey.
apprenticed as an electrician in Nottingham,
was home for the holiday.
was up early,
whistling and sawing in the yard.
At seven o'clock the family heard him buy threepennyworth of hot-cross buns;
he talked with gusto to the little girl who brought them,
calling her "my darling".
He turned away several boys who came with more buns,
telling them they had been "kested" by a little lass.
Then Mrs. Morel got up,
and the family straggled down.
It was an immense luxury to everybody,
this lying in bed just beyond the ordinary time on a weekday.
And Paul and Arthur read before breakfast,
and had the meal unwashed,
sitting in their shirt-sleeves.
This was another holiday luxury.
The room was warm.
Everything felt free of care and anxiety.
There was a sense of plenty in the house.
While the boys were reading,
Mrs. Morel went into the garden.
They were now in another house,
an old one,
near the Scargill Street home,
which had been left soon after William had died.
Directly came an excited cry from the garden:
come and look!"
It was his mother's voice.
He threw down his book and went out.
There was a long garden that ran to a field.
It was a grey,
with a sharp wind blowing out of Derbyshire.
Two fields away Bestwood began,
with a jumble of roofs and red house-ends,
out of which rose the church tower and the spire of the Congregational Chapel.
And beyond went woods and hills,
right away to the pale grey heights of the Pennine Chain.
Paul looked down the garden for his mother.
Her head appeared among the young currant-bushes.
"Come and see."
She had been looking at the buds on the currant trees.
Paul went up.
"that here I might never have seen them!"
Her son went to her side.
Under the fence,
in a little bed,
was a ravel of poor grassy leaves,
such as come from very immature bulbs,
and three scyllas in bloom.
Mrs. Morel pointed to the deep blue flowers.
just see those!"
"I was looking at the currant bushes,
thinks I to myself,
'There's something very blue;
is it a bit of sugar-bag?'
Three glories of the snow,
and such beauties!
But where on earth did they come from?"
"I don't know,"
that's a marvel,
I THOUGHT I knew every weed and blade in this garden.
But HAVEN'T they done well?
that gooseberry-bush just shelters them.
He crouched down and turned up the bells of the little blue flowers.
"They're a glorious colour!"
"I guess they come from Switzerland,
where they say they have such lovely things.
Fancy them against the snow!
But where have they come from?
They can't have BLOWN here,
Then he remembered having set here a lot of little trash of bulbs to mature.
"And you never told me,"
I thought I'd leave it till they might flower."
I might have missed them.
And I've never had a glory of the snow in my garden in my life."
She was full of excitement and elation.
The garden was an endless joy to her.
Paul was thankful for her sake at last to be in a house with a long garden that went down to a field.
Every morning after breakfast she went out and was happy pottering about in it.
And it was true,
she knew every weed and blade.
Everybody turned up for the walk.
Food was packed,
and they set off,
They hung over the wall of the mill-race,
dropped paper in the water on one side of the tunnel and watched it shoot out on the other.
They stood on the foot-bridge over Boathouse Station and looked at the metals gleaming coldly.
"You should see the Flying Scotsman come through at half-past six!"
whose father was a signalman.
but she doesn't half buzz!"
and the little party looked up the lines one way,
and the other way,
and they felt the touch of these two magical places.
In Ilkeston the colliers were waiting in gangs for the public-houses to open.
It was a town of idleness and lounging.
At Stanton Gate the iron foundry blazed.
Over everything there were great discussions.
At Trowell they crossed again from Derbyshire into Nottinghamshire.
They came to the Hemlock Stone at dinner-time.
Its field was crowded with folk from Nottingham and Ilkeston.
They had expected a venerable and dignified monument.
They found a little,
twisted stump of rock,
something like a decayed mushroom,
standing out pathetically on the side of a field.
Leonard and Dick immediately proceeded to carve their initials,
in the old red sandstone;
but Paul desisted,
because he had read in the newspaper satirical remarks about initial-carvers,
who could find no other road to immortality.
Then all the lads climbed to the top of the rock to look round.
Everywhere in the field below,
factory girls and lads were eating lunch or sporting about.
Beyond was the garden of an old manor.
It had yew-hedges and thick clumps and borders of yellow crocuses round the lawn.
said Paul to Miriam,
"what a quiet garden!"
She saw the dark yews and the golden crocuses,
then she looked gratefully.
He had not seemed to belong to her among all these others;
he was different then --not her Paul,
who understood the slightest quiver of her innermost soul,
but something else,
speaking another language than hers.
How it hurt her,
and deadened her very perceptions.
Only when he came right back to her,
leaving his other,
his lesser self,
as she thought,
would she feel alive again.
And now he asked her to look at this garden,
wanting the contact with her again.
Impatient of the set in the field,
she turned to the quiet lawn,
surrounded by sheaves of shut-up crocuses.
A feeling of stillness,
almost of ecstasy,
came over her.
It felt almost as if she were alone with him in this garden.
Then he left her again and joined the others.
Soon they started home.
Miriam loitered behind,
She did not fit in with the others;
she could very rarely get into human relations with anyone: so her friend,
She saw the sun declining wanly.
In the dusky,
cold hedgerows were some red leaves.
She lingered to gather them,
The love in her finger-tips caressed the leaves;
the passion in her heart came to a glow upon the leaves.
Suddenly she realised she was alone in a strange road,
and she hurried forward.
Turning a corner in the lane,
she came upon Paul,
who stood bent over something,
his mind fixed on it,
working away steadily,
a little hopelessly.
She hesitated in her approach,
He remained concentrated in the middle of the road.
one rift of rich gold in that colourless grey evening seemed to make him stand out in dark relief.
She saw him,
slender and firm,
as if the setting sun had given him to her.
A deep pain took hold of her,
and she knew she must love him.
And she had discovered him,
discovered in him a rare potentiality,
discovered his loneliness.
Quivering as at some "annunciation",
she went slowly forward.
At last he looked up.
he exclaimed gratefully,
"have you waited for me!"
She saw a deep shadow in his eyes.
"What is it?"
"The spring broken here;"
and he showed her where his umbrella was injured.
with some shame,
she knew he had not done the damage himself,
but that Geoffrey was responsible.
"It is only an old umbrella,
She wondered why he,
who did not usually trouble over trifles,
made such a mountain of this molehill.
"But it was William's an' my mother can't help but know,"
he said quietly,
still patiently working at the umbrella.
The words went through Miriam like a blade.
was the confirmation of her vision of him!
She looked at him.
But there was about him a certain reserve,
and she dared not comfort him,
not even speak softly to him.
"I can't do it;"
and they went in silence along the road.
That same evening they were walking along under the trees by Nether Green.
He was talking to her fretfully,
seemed to be struggling to convince himself.
with an effort,
"if one person loves,
the other does."
"Like mother said to me when I was little,
'Love begets love.'"
something like that,
I think it MUST be."
"I hope so,
if it were not,
love might be a very terrible thing,"
but it IS --at least with most people,"
thinking he had assured himself,
felt strong in herself.
She always regarded that sudden coming upon him in the lane as a revelation.
And this conversation remained graven in her mind as one of the letters of the law.
Now she stood with him and for him.
about this time,
he outraged the family feeling at Willey Farm by some overbearing insult,
she stuck to him,
and believed he was right.
And at this time she dreamed dreams of him,
These dreams came again later on,
developed to a more subtle psychological stage.
On the Easter Monday the same party took an excursion to Wingfield Manor.
It was great excitement to Miriam to catch a train at Sethley Bridge,
amid all the bustle of the Bank Holiday crowd.
They left the train at Alfreton.
Paul was interested in the street and in the colliers with their dogs.
Here was a new race of miners.
Miriam did not live till they came to the church.
They were all rather timid of entering,
with their bags of food,
for fear of being turned out.
who would have died rather than be sent back,
The place was decorated for Easter.
In the font hundreds of white narcissi seemed to be growing.
The air was dim and coloured from the windows and thrilled with a subtle scent of lilies and narcissi.
In that atmosphere Miriam's soul came into a glow.
Paul was afraid of the things he mustn't do;
and he was sensitive to the feel of the place.
Miriam turned to him.
They were together.
He would not go beyond the Communion-rail.
She loved him for that.
Her soul expanded into prayer beside him.
He felt the strange fascination of shadowy religious places.
All his latent mysticism quivered into life.
She was drawn to him.
He was a prayer along with her.
Miriam very rarely talked to the other lads.
They at once became awkward in conversation with her.
So usually she was silent.
It was past midday when they climbed the steep path to the manor.
All things shone softly in the sun,
which was wonderfully warm and enlivening.
Celandines and violets were out.
Everybody was tip-top full with happiness.
The glitter of the ivy,
atmospheric grey of the castle walls,
the gentleness of everything near the ruin,
The manor is of hard,
pale grey stone,
and the other walls are blank and calm.
The young folk were in raptures.
They went in trepidation,
almost afraid that the delight of exploring this ruin might be denied them.
In the first courtyard,
within the high broken walls,
with their shafts lying idle on the ground,
the tyres of the wheels brilliant with gold-red rust.
It was very still.
All eagerly paid their sixpences,
and went timidly through the fine clean arch of the inner courtyard.
They were shy.
Here on the pavement,
where the hall had been,
an old thorn tree was budding.
All kinds of strange openings and broken rooms were in the shadow around them.
After lunch they set off once more to explore the ruin.
This time the girls went with the boys,
who could act as guides and expositors.
There was one tall tower in a corner,
where they say Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.
"Think of the Queen going up here!"
said Miriam in a low voice,
as she climbed the hollow stairs.
"If she could get up,"
"for she had rheumatism like anything.
I reckon they treated her rottenly."
"You don't think she deserved it?"
She was only lively."
They continued to mount the winding staircase.
A high wind,
blowing through the loopholes,
went rushing up the shaft,
and filled the girl's skirts like a balloon,
so that she was ashamed,
until he took the hem of her dress and held it down for her.
He did it perfectly simply,
as he would have picked up her glove.
She remembered this always.
Round the broken top of the tower the ivy bushed out,
old and handsome.
there were a few chill gillivers,
in pale cold bud.
Miriam wanted to lean over for some ivy,
but he would not let her.
she had to wait behind him,
and take from him each spray as he gathered it and held it to her,
each one separately,
in the purest manner of chivalry.
The tower seemed to rock in the wind.
They looked over miles and miles of wooded country,
and country with gleams of pasture.
The crypt underneath the manor was beautiful,
and in perfect preservation.
Paul made a drawing: Miriam stayed with him.
She was thinking of Mary Queen of Scots looking with her strained,
that could not understand misery,
over the hills whence no help came,
or sitting in this crypt,
being told of a God as cold as the place she sat in.
They set off again gaily,
looking round on their beloved manor that stood so clean and big on its hill.
"Supposing you could have THAT farm,"
said Paul to Miriam.
"Wouldn't it be lovely to come and see you!"
They were now in the bare country of stone walls,
which he loved,
though only ten miles from home,
seemed so foreign to Miriam.
The party was straggling.
As they were crossing a large meadow that sloped away from the sun,
along a path embedded with innumerable tiny glittering points,
laced his fingers in the strings of the bag Miriam was carrying,
and instantly she felt Annie behind,
watchful and jealous.
But the meadow was bathed in a glory of sunshine,
and the path was jewelled,
and it was seldom that he gave her any sign.
She held her fingers very still among the strings of the bag,
his fingers touching;
and the place was golden as a vision.
At last they came into the straggling grey village of Crich,
that lies high.
Beyond the village was the famous Crich Stand that Paul could see from the garden at home.
The party pushed on.
Great expanse of country spread around and below.
The lads were eager to get to the top of the hill.
It was capped by a round knoll,
half of which was by now cut away,
and on the top of which stood an ancient monument,
sturdy and squat,
for signalling in old days far down into the level lands of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
It was blowing so hard,
high up there in the exposed place,
that the only way to be safe was to stand nailed by the wind to the wan of the tower.
At their feet fell the precipice where the limestone was quarried away.
Below was a jumble of hills and tiny villages --Mattock,
The lads were eager to spy out the church of Bestwood,
far away among the rather crowded country on the left.
They were disgusted that it seemed to stand on a plain.
They saw the hills of Derbyshire fall into the monotony of the Midlands that swept away South.
Miriam was somewhat scared by the wind,
but the lads enjoyed it.
They went on,
miles and miles,
All the food was eaten,
everybody was hungry,
and there was very little money to get home with.
But they managed to procure a loaf and a currant-loaf,
which they hacked to pieces with shut-knives,
and ate sitting on the wall near the bridge,
watching the bright Derwent rushing by,
and the brakes from Matlock pulling up at the inn.
Paul was now pale with weariness.
He had been responsible for the party all day,
and now he was done.
and kept close to him,
and he left himself in her hands.
They had an hour to wait at Ambergate Station.
crowded with excursionists returning to Manchester,
"We might be going there --folk easily might think we're going that far,"
They got back rather late.
walking home with Geoffrey,
watched the moon rise big and red and misty.
She felt something was fulfilled in her.
She had an elder sister,
who was a school-teacher.
Between the two girls was a feud.
Miriam considered Agatha worldly.
And she wanted herself to be a school-teacher.
One Saturday afternoon Agatha and Miriam were upstairs dressing.
Their bedroom was over the stable.
It was a low room,
not very large,
Miriam had nailed on the wall a reproduction of Veronese's "St. Catherine".
She loved the woman who sat in the window,
Her own windows were too small to sit in.
But the front one was dripped over with honeysuckle and virginia creeper,
and looked upon the tree-tops of the oak-wood across the yard,
while the little back window,
no bigger than a handkerchief,
was a loophole to the east,
to the dawn beating up against the beloved round hills.
The two sisters did not talk much to each other.
who was fair and small and determined,
had rebelled against the home atmosphere,
against the doctrine of "the other cheek".
She was out in the world now,
in a fair way to be independent.
And she insisted on worldly values,
which Miriam would fain have ignored.
Both girls liked to be upstairs,
out of the way,
when Paul came.
They preferred to come running down,
open the stair-foot door,
and see him watching,
expectant of them.
Miriam stood painfully pulling over her head a rosary he had given her.
It caught in the fine mesh of her hair.
But at last she had it on,
and the red-brown wooden beads looked well against her cool brown neck.
She was a well-developed girl,
and very handsome.
But in the little looking-glass nailed against the whitewashed wall she could only see a fragment of herself at a time.
Agatha had bought a little mirror of her own,
which she propped up to suit herself.
Miriam was near the window.
Suddenly she heard the well-known click of the chain,
and she saw Paul fling open the gate,
push his bicycle into the yard.
She saw him look at the house,
and she shrank away.
He walked in a nonchalant fashion,
and his bicycle went with him as if it were a live thing.
"Aren't you glad?"
said Agatha cuttingly.
Miriam stood still in amazement and bewilderment.
but I'm not going to let him see it,
and think I wanted him."
Miriam was startled.
She heard him putting his bicycle in the stable underneath,
and talking to Jimmy,
who had been a pit-horse,
and who was seedy.
Jimmy my lad,
how are ter?
Nobbut sick an' sadly,
it's a shame,
my owd lad."
She heard the rope run through the hole as the horse lifted its head from the lad's caress.
How she loved to listen when he thought only the horse could hear.
But there was a serpent in her Eden.
She searched earnestly in herself to see if she wanted Paul Morel.
She felt there would be some disgrace in it.
Full of twisted feeling,
she was afraid she did want him.
She stood self-convicted.
Then came an agony of new shame.
She shrank within herself in a coil of torture.
Did she want Paul Morel,
and did he know she wanted him?
What a subtle infamy upon her.
She felt as if her whole soul coiled into knots of shame.
Agatha was dressed first,
and ran downstairs.
Miriam heard her greet the lad gaily,
knew exactly how brilliant her grey eyes became with that tone.
She herself would have felt it bold to have greeted him in such wise.
Yet there she stood under the self-accusation of wanting him,
tied to that stake of torture.
In bitter perplexity she kneeled down and prayed:
let me not love Paul Morel.
Keep me from loving him,
if I ought not to love him."
Something anomalous in the prayer arrested her.
She lifted her head and pondered.
How could it be wrong to love him?
Love was God's gift.
And yet it caused her shame.
That was because of him,
it was not his affair,
it was her own,
between herself and God.
She was to be a sacrifice.
But it was God's sacrifice,
not Paul Morel's or her own.
After a few minutes she hid her face in the pillow again,
if it is Thy will that I should love him,
make me love him --as Christ would,
who died for the souls of men.
Make me love him splendidly,
because he is Thy son."
She remained kneeling for some time,
and deeply moved,
her black hair against the red squares and the lavender-sprigged squares of the patchwork quilt.
Prayer was almost essential to her.
Then she fell into that rapture of self-sacrifice,
identifying herself with a God who was sacrificed,
which gives to so many human souls their deepest bliss.
When she went downstairs Paul was lying back in an armchair,
holding forth with much vehemence to Agatha,
who was scorning a little painting he had brought to show her.
Miriam glanced at the two,
and avoided their levity.
She went into the parlour to be alone.
It was tea-time before she was able to speak to Paul,
and then her manner was so distant he thought he had offended her.
Miriam discontinued her practice of going each Thursday evening to the library in Bestwood.
After calling for Paul regularly during the whole spring,
a number of trifling incidents and tiny insults from his family awakened her to their attitude towards her,
and she decided to go no more.
So she announced to Paul one evening she would not call at his house again for him on Thursday nights.
Only I'd rather not."
"if you'd care to meet me,
we could still go together."
"Meet you where?"
"Somewhere --where you like."
"I shan't meet you anywhere.
I don't see why you shouldn't keep calling for me.
But if you won't,
I don't want to meet you."
So the Thursday evenings which had been so precious to her,
and to him,
He worked instead.
Mrs. Morel sniffed with satisfaction at this arrangement.
He would not have it that they were lovers.
The intimacy between them had been kept so abstract,
such a matter of the soul,
all thought and weary struggle into consciousness,
that he saw it only as a platonic friendship.
He stoutly denied there was anything else between them.
Miriam was silent,
or else she very quietly agreed.
He was a fool who did not know what was happening to himself.
By tacit agreement they ignored the remarks and insinuations of their acquaintances.
"We aren't lovers,
we are friends,"
he said to her.
"WE know it.
Let them talk.
What does it matter what they say."
as they were walking together,
she slipped her arm timidly into his.
But he always resented it,
and she knew it.
It caused a violent conflict in him.
With Miriam he was always on the high plane of abstraction,
when his natural fire of love was transmitted into the fine stream of thought.
She would have it so.
If he were jolly and,
as she put it,
she waited till he came back to her,
till the change had taken place in him again,
and he was wrestling with his own soul,
passionate in his desire for understanding.
And in this passion for understanding her soul lay close to his;
she had him all to herself.
But he must be made abstract first.
if she put her arm in his,
it caused him almost torture.
His consciousness seemed to split.
The place where she was touching him ran hot with friction.
He was one internecine battle,
and he became cruel to her because of it.
One evening in midsummer Miriam called at the house,
warm from climbing.
Paul was alone in the kitchen;
his mother could be heard moving about upstairs.
"Come and look at the sweet-peas,"
he said to the girl.
They went into the garden.
The sky behind the townlet and the church was orange-red;
the flower-garden was flooded with a strange warm light that lifted every leaf into significance.
Paul passed along a fine row of sweet-peas,
gathering a blossom here and there,
all cream and pale blue.
breathing the fragrance.
flowers appealed with such strength she felt she must make them part of herself.
When she bent and breathed a flower,
it was as if she and the flower were loving each other.
Paul hated her for it.
There seemed a sort of exposure about the action,
something too intimate.
When he had got a fair bunch,
they returned to the house.
He listened for a moment to his mother's quiet movement upstairs,
then he said:
and let me pin them in for you."
He arranged them two or three at a time in the bosom of her dress,
stepping back now and then to see the effect.
taking the pin out of his mouth,
"a woman ought always to arrange her flowers before her glass."
She thought flowers ought to be pinned in one's dress without any care.
That Paul should take pains to fix her flowers for her was his whim.
He was rather offended at her laughter.
"Some women do --those who look decent,"
Miriam laughed again,
to hear him thus mix her up with women in a general way.
From most men she would have ignored it.
But from him it hurt her.
He had nearly finished arranging the flowers when he heard his mother's footstep on the stairs.
Hurriedly he pushed in the last pin and turned away.
"Don't let mater know,"
Miriam picked up her books and stood in the doorway looking with chagrin at the beautiful sunset.
She would call for Paul no more,
in a deferential way.
She sounded as if she felt she had no right to be there.
is it you,
replied Mrs. Morel coolly.
But Paul insisted on everybody's accepting his friendship with the girl,
and Mrs. Morel was too wise to have any open rupture.
It was not till he was twenty years old that the family could ever afford to go away for a holiday.
Mrs. Morel had never been away for a holiday,
except to see her sister,
since she had been married.
Now at last Paul had saved enough money,
and they were all going.
There was to be a party: some of Annie's friends,
one friend of Paul's,
a young man in the same office where William had previously been,
It was great excitement writing for rooms.
Paul and his mother debated it endlessly between them.
They wanted a furnished cottage for two weeks.
She thought one week would be enough,
but he insisted on two.
At last they got an answer from Mablethorpe,
a cottage such as they wished for thirty shillings a week.
There was immense jubilation.
Paul was wild with joy for his mother's sake.
She would have a real holiday now.
He and she sat at evening picturing what it would be like.
Annie came in,
There was wild rejoicing and anticipation.
Paul told Miriam.
She seemed to brood with joy over it.
But the Morel's house rang with excitement.
They were to go on Saturday morning by the seven train.
Paul suggested that Miriam should sleep at his house,
because it was so far for her to walk.
She came down for supper.
Everybody was so excited that even Miriam was accepted with warmth.
But almost as soon as she entered the feeling in the family became close and tight.
He had discovered a poem by Jean Ingelow which mentioned Mablethorpe,
and so he must read it to Miriam.
He would never have got so far in the direction of sentimentality as to read poetry to his own family.
But now they condescended to listen.
Miriam sat on the sofa absorbed in him.
She always seemed absorbed in him,
and by him,
when he was present.
Mrs. Morel sat jealously in her own chair.
She was going to hear also.
And even Annie and the father attended,
Morel with his head cocked on one side,
like somebody listening to a sermon and feeling conscious of the fact.
Paul ducked his head over the book.
He had got now all the audience he cared for.
And Mrs. Morel and Annie almost contested with Miriam who should listen best and win his favour.
He was in very high feather.
interrupted Mrs. Morel,
"what IS the
'Bride of Enderby' that the bells are supposed to ring?"
"It's an old tune they used to play on the bells for a warning against water.
I suppose the Bride of Enderby was drowned in a flood,"
He had not the faintest knowledge what it really was,
but he would never have sunk so low as to confess that to his womenfolk.
They listened and believed him.
He believed himself.
"And the people knew what that tune meant?"
said his mother.
"Yes --just like the Scotch when they heard
'The Flowers o' the Forest' --and when they used to ring the bells backward for alarm."
"A bell sounds the same whether it's rung backwards or forwards."
"if you start with the deep bell and ring up to the high one --der --der --der --der --der --der --der --der!"
He ran up the scale.
Everybody thought it clever.
He thought so too.
waiting a minute,
he continued the poem.
said Mrs. Morel curiously,
when he finished.
"But I wish everything that's written weren't so sad."
"I canna see what they want drownin' theirselves for,"
There was a pause.
Annie got up to clear the table.
Miriam rose to help with the pots.
"Let ME help to wash up,"
"You sit down again.
There aren't many."
who could not be familiar and insist,
sat down again to look at the book with Paul.
He was master of the party;
his father was no good.
And great tortures he suffered lest the tin box should be put out at Firsby instead of at Mablethorpe.
And he wasn't equal to getting a carriage.
His bold little mother did that.
she cried to a man.
Paul and Annie got behind the rest,
convulsed with shamed laughter.
"How much will it be to drive to Brook Cottage?"
said Mrs. Morel.
how far is it?"
"A good way."
"I don't believe it,"
But she scrambled in.
There were eight crowded in one old seaside carriage.
said Mrs. Morel,
"it's only threepence each,
and if it were a tramcar --"
They drove along.
Each cottage they came to,
Mrs. Morel cried:
"Is it this?
this is it!"
Everybody sat breathless.
They drove past.
There was a universal sigh.
"I'm thankful it wasn't that brute,"
said Mrs. Morel.
"I WAS frightened."
They drove on and on.
At last they descended at a house that stood alone over the dyke by the highroad.
There was wild excitement because they had to cross a little bridge to get into the front garden.
But they loved the house that lay so solitary,
with a sea-meadow on one side,
and immense expanse of land patched in white barley,
and green root-crops,
flat and stretching level to the sky.
Paul kept accounts.
He and his mother ran the show.
The total expenses --lodging,
everything --was sixteen shillings a week per person.
He and Leonard went bathing in the mornings.
Morel was wandering abroad quite early.
his mother called from the bedroom,
"eat a piece of bread-and-butter."
And when he got back he saw his mother presiding in state at the breakfast-table.
The woman of the house was young.
Her husband was blind,
and she did laundry work.
So Mrs. Morel always washed the pots in the kitchen and made the beds.
"But you said you'd have a real holiday,"
"and now you work."
"What are you talking about!"
He loved to go with her across the fields to the village and the sea.
She was afraid of the plank bridge,
and he abused her for being a baby.
On the whole he stuck to her as if he were HER man.
Miriam did not get much of him,
when all the others went to the "Coons".
Coons were insufferably stupid to Miriam,
so he thought they were to himself also,
and he preached priggishly to Annie about the fatuity of listening to them.
knew all their songs,
and sang them along the roads roisterously.
And if he found himself listening,
the stupidity pleased him very much.
Yet to Annie he said:
there isn't a grain of intelligence in it.
Nobody with more gumption than a grasshopper could go and sit and listen."
And to Miriam he said,
with much scorn of Annie and the others:
"I suppose they're at the
It was queer to see Miriam singing coon songs.
She had a straight chin that went in a perpendicular line from the lower lip to the turn.
She always reminded Paul of some sad Botticelli angel when she sang,
even when it was:
"Come down lover's lane For a walk with me,
talk with me."
Only when he sketched,
or at evening when the others were at the "Coons",
she had him to herself.
He talked to her endlessly about his love of horizontals: how they,
the great levels of sky and land in Lincolnshire,
meant to him the eternality of the will,
just as the bowed Norman arches of the church,
meant the dogged leaping forward of the persistent human soul,
on and on,
nobody knows where;
in contradiction to the perpendicular lines and to the Gothic arch,
leapt up at heaven and touched the ecstasy and lost itself in the divine.
Miriam was Gothic.
She bowed in consent even to that.
One evening he and she went up the great sweeping shore of sand towards Theddlethorpe.
The long breakers plunged and ran in a hiss of foam along the coast.
It was a warm evening.
There was not a figure but themselves on the far reaches of sand,
no noise but the sound of the sea.
Paul loved to see it clanging at the land.
He loved to feel himself between the noise of it and the silence of the sandy shore.
Miriam was with him.
Everything grew very intense.
It was quite dark when they turned again.
The way home was through a gap in the sandhills,
and then along a raised grass road between two dykes.
The country was black and still.
From behind the sandhills came the whisper of the sea.
Paul and Miriam walked in silence.
Suddenly he started.
The whole of his blood seemed to burst into flame,
and he could scarcely breathe.
An enormous orange moon was staring at them from the rim of the sandhills.
He stood still,
looking at it.
when she saw it.
He remained perfectly still,
staring at the immense and ruddy moon,
the only thing in the far-reaching darkness of the level.
His heart beat heavily,
the muscles of his arms contracted.
"What is it?"
waiting for him.
He turned and looked at her.
She stood beside him,
for ever in shadow.
covered with the darkness of her hat,
was watching him unseen.
But she was brooding.
She was slightly afraid --deeply moved and religious.
That was her best state.
He was impotent against it.
His blood was concentrated like a flame in his chest.
But he could not get across to her.
There were flashes in his blood.
But somehow she ignored them.
She was expecting some religious state in him.
she was half aware of his passion,
and gazed at him,
"What is it?"
she murmured again.
"It's the moon,"
"Isn't it wonderful?"
She was curious about him.
The crisis was past.
He did not know himself what was the matter.
He was naturally so young,
and their intimacy was so abstract,
he did not know he wanted to crush her on to his breast to ease the ache there.
He was afraid of her.
The fact that he might want her as a man wants a woman had in him been suppressed into a shame.
When she shrank in her convulsed,
coiled torture from the thought of such a thing,
he had winced to the depths of his soul.
And now this "purity" prevented even their first love-kiss.
It was as if she could scarcely stand the shock of physical love,
even a passionate kiss,
and then he was too shrinking and sensitive to give it.
As they walked along the dark fen-meadow he watched the moon and did not speak.
She plodded beside him.
He hated her,
for she seemed in some way to make him despise himself.
Looking ahead --he saw the one light in the darkness,
the window of their lamp-lit cottage.
He loved to think of his mother,
and the other jolly people.
everybody else has been in long ago!"
said his mother as they entered.
"What does that matter!"
he cried irritably.
"I can go a walk if I like,
"And I should have thought you could get in to supper with the rest,"
said Mrs. Morel.
"I shall please myself,"
"It's not LATE.
I shall do as I like."
said his mother cuttingly,
"then DO as you like."
And she took no further notice of him that evening.
Which he pretended neither to notice nor to care about,
but sat reading.
Miriam read also,
Mrs. Morel hated her for making her son like this.
She watched Paul growing irritable,
For this she put the blame on Miriam.
Annie and all her friends joined against the girl.
Miriam had no friend of her own,
But she did not suffer so much,
because she despised the triviality of these other people.
And Paul hated her because,
she spoilt his ease and naturalness.
And he writhed himself with a feeling of humiliation.
STRIFE IN LOVE
ARTHUR finished his apprenticeship,
and got a job on the electrical plant at Minton Pit.
He earned very little,
but had a good chance of getting on.
But he was wild and restless.
He did not drink nor gamble.
Yet he somehow contrived to get into endless scrapes,
always through some hot-headed thoughtlessness.
Either he went rabbiting in the woods,
like a poacher,
or he stayed in Nottingham all night instead of coming home,
or he miscalculated his dive into the canal at Bestwood,
and scored his chest into one mass of wounds on the raw stones and tins at the bottom.
He had not been at his work many months when again he did not come home one night.
"Do you know where Arthur is?"
asked Paul at breakfast.
"I do not,"
replied his mother.
"He is a fool,"
"And if he DID anything I shouldn't mind.
he simply can't come away from a game of whist,
or else he must see a girl home from the skating-rink --quite proprietously --and so can't get home.
He's a fool."
"I don't know that it would make it any better if he did something to make us all ashamed,"
said Mrs. Morel.
I should respect him more,"
"I very much doubt it,"
said his mother coldly.
They went on with breakfast.
"Are you fearfully fond of him?"
Paul asked his mother.
"What do you ask that for?"
"Because they say a woman always like the youngest best."
"She may do --but I don't.
he wearies me."
"And you'd actually rather he was good?"
"I'd rather he showed some of a man's common sense."
Paul was raw and irritable.
He also wearied his mother very often.
She saw the sunshine going out of him,
and she resented it.
As they were finishing breakfast came the postman with a letter from Derby.
Mrs. Morel screwed up her eyes to look at the address.
"Give it here,
exclaimed her son,
snatching it away from her.
and almost boxed his ears.
"It's from your son,
"What now --!"
cried Mrs. Morel.
"'My dearest Mother,'" Paul read,
"'I don't know what made me such a fool.
I want you to come and fetch me back from here.
I came with Jack Bredon yesterday,
instead of going to work,
He said he was sick of wearing the seat of a stool out,
like the idiot you know I am,
I came away with him.
"'I have taken the King's shilling,
but perhaps if you came for me they would let me go back with you.
I was a fool when I did it.
I don't want to be in the army.
My dear mother,
I am nothing but a trouble to you.
But if you get me out of this,
I promise I will have more sense and consideration.
Mrs. Morel sat down in her rocking-chair.
"let him stop!"
"let him stop."
There was silence.
The mother sat with her hands folded in her apron,
her face set,
"If I'm not SICK!"
she cried suddenly.
beginning to frown,
"you're not going to worry your soul out about this,
do you hear."
"I suppose I'm to take it as a blessing,"
turning on her son.
"You're not going to mount it up to a tragedy,
--the young fool!"
"He'll look well in uniform,"
said Paul irritatingly.
His mother turned on him like a fury.
"Not in my eyes!"
"He should get in a cavalry regiment;
he'll have the time of his life,
and will look an awful swell."
--a mighty swell idea indeed!
--a common soldier!"
"what am I but a common clerk?"
"A good deal,
cried his mother,
"At any rate,
and not a thing in a red coat."
"I shouldn't mind being in a red coat --or dark blue,
that would suit me better --if they didn't boss me about too much."
But his mother had ceased to listen.
"Just as he was getting on,
or might have been getting on,
at his job --a young nuisance --here he goes and ruins himself for life.
What good will he be,
do you think,
"It may lick him into shape beautifully,"
"Lick him into shape!
--lick what marrow there WAS out of his bones.
--a common SOLDIER!
--nothing but a body that makes movements when it hears a shout!
It's a fine thing!"
"I can't understand why it upsets you,"
perhaps you can't.
But I understand";
and she sat back in her chair,
her chin in one hand,
holding her elbow with the other,
brimmed up with wrath and chagrin.
"And shall you go to Derby?"
"It's no good."
"I'll see for myself."
"And why on earth don't you let him stop.
It's just what he wants."
cried the mother,
"YOU know what he wants!"
She got ready and went by the first train to Derby,
where she saw her son and the sergeant.
When Morel was having his dinner in the evening,
she said suddenly:
"I've had to go to Derby to-day."
The miner turned up his eyes,
showing the whites in his black face.
What took thee there?"
"Oh --an' what's agate now?"
"He's only enlisted."
Morel put down his knife and leaned back in his chair.
"that he niver
"And is going down to Aldershot tomorrow."
exclaimed the miner.
"That's a winder."
He considered it a moment,
and proceeded with his dinner.
Suddenly his face contracted with wrath.
"I hope he may never set foot i' my house again,"
cried Mrs. Morel.
"Saying such a thing!"
"A fool as runs away for a soldier,
'im look after
I s'll do no more for
"A fat sight you have done as it is,"
And Morel was almost ashamed to go to his public-house that evening.
did you go?"
said Paul to his mother when he came home.
"And could you see him?"
"And what did he say?"
"He blubbered when I came away."
"And so did I,
so you needn't
Mrs. Morel fretted after her son.
She knew he would not like the army.
He did not.
The discipline was intolerable to him.
"But the doctor,"
she said with some pride to Paul,
"said he was perfectly proportioned --almost exactly;
all his measurements were correct.
He IS good-looking,
"He's awfully nice-looking.
But he doesn't fetch the girls like William,
it's a different character.
He's a good deal like his father,
To console his mother,
Paul did not go much to Willey Farm at this time.
And in the autumn exhibition of students' work in the Castle he had two studies,
a landscape in water-colour and a still life in oil,
both of which had first-prize awards.
He was highly excited.
"What do you think I've got for my pictures,
coming home one evening.
She saw by his eyes he was glad.
Her face flushed.
how should I know,
"A first prize for those glass jars --"
"And a first prize for that sketch up at Willey Farm."
There was a rosy,
bright look about her,
though she said nothing.
"Why don't you praise me up to the skies?"
"I should have the trouble of dragging you down again,"
But she was full of joy,
William had brought her his sporting trophies.
She kept them still,
and she did not forgive his death.
Arthur was handsome --at least,
a good specimen --and warm and generous,
and probably would do well in the end.
But Paul was going to distinguish himself.
She had a great belief in him,
the more because he was unaware of his own powers.
There was so much to come out of him.
Life for her was rich with promise.
She was to see herself fulfilled.
Not for nothing had been her struggle.
Several times during the exhibition Mrs. Morel went to the Castle unknown to Paul.
She wandered down the long room looking at the other exhibits.
they were good.
But they had not in them a certain something which she demanded for her satisfaction.
Some made her jealous,
they were so good.
She looked at them a long time trying to find fault with them.
Then suddenly she had a shock that made her heart beat.
There hung Paul's picture!
She knew it as if it were printed on her heart.
"Name --Paul Morel --First Prize."
It looked so strange,
there in public,
on the walls of the Castle gallery,
where in her lifetime she had seen so many pictures.
And she glanced round to see if anyone had noticed her again in front of the same sketch.
But she felt a proud woman.
When she met well-dressed ladies going home to the Park,
she thought to herself:
you look very well --but I wonder if YOUR son has two first prizes in the Castle."
And she walked on,
as proud a little woman as any in Nottingham.
And Paul felt he had done something for her,
if only a trifle.
All his work was hers.
as he was going up Castle Gate,
he met Miriam.
He had seen her on the Sunday,
and had not expected to meet her in town.
She was walking with a rather striking woman,
with a sullen expression,
and a defiant carriage.
It was strange how Miriam,
in her bowed,
looked dwarfed beside this woman with the handsome shoulders.
Miriam watched Paul searchingly.
His gaze was on the stranger,
who ignored him.
The girl saw his masculine spirit rear its head.
"you didn't tell me you were coming to town."
"I drove in to Cattle Market with father."
He looked at her companion.
"I've told you about Mrs. Dawes,"
said Miriam huskily;
she was nervous.
do you know Paul?"
"I think I've seen him before,"
replied Mrs. Dawes indifferently,
as she shook hands with him.
She had scornful grey eyes,
a skin like white honey,
and a full mouth,
with a slightly lifted upper lip that did not know whether it was raised in scorn of all men or out of eagerness to be kissed,
but which believed the former.
She carried her head back,
as if she had drawn away in contempt,
perhaps from men also.
She wore a large,
dowdy hat of black beaver,
and a sort of slightly affected simple dress that made her look rather sack-like.
She was evidently poor,
and had not much taste.
Miriam usually looked nice.
"Where have you seen me?"
Paul asked of the woman.
She looked at him as if she would not trouble to answer.
"Walking with Louie Travers,"
Louie was one of the "Spiral" girls.
do you know her?"
She did not answer.
He turned to Miriam.
"Where are you going?"
"To the Castle."
"What train are you going home by?"
"I am driving with father.
I wish you could come too.
What time are you free?"
"You know not till eight to-night,
And directly the two women moved on.
Paul remembered that Clara Dawes was the daughter of an old friend of Mrs. Leivers.
Miriam had sought her out because she had once been Spiral overseer at Jordan's,
and because her husband,
was smith for the factory,
making the irons for cripple instruments,
and so on.
Through her Miriam felt she got into direct contact with Jordan's,
and could estimate better Paul's position.
But Mrs. Dawes was separated from her husband,
and had taken up Women's Rights.
She was supposed to be clever.
It interested Paul.
Baxter Dawes he knew and disliked.
The smith was a man of thirty-one or thirty-two.
He came occasionally through Paul's corner --a big,
also striking to look at,
There was a peculiar similarity between himself and his wife.
He had the same white skin,
with a clear,
His hair was of soft brown,
his moustache was golden.
And he had a similar defiance in his bearing and manner.
But then came the difference.
dark brown and quick-shifting,
They protruded very slightly,
and his eyelids hung over them in a way that was half hate.
His whole manner was of cowed defiance,
as if he were ready to knock anybody down who disapproved of him --perhaps because he really disapproved of himself.
From the first day he had hated Paul.
Finding the lad's impersonal,
deliberate gaze of an artist on his face,
he got into a fury.
"What are yer lookin' at?"
The boy glanced away.
But the smith used to stand behind the counter and talk to Mr. Pappleworth.
His speech was dirty,
with a kind of rottenness.
Again he found the youth with his cool,
critical gaze fixed on his face.
The smith started round as if he had been stung.
"What'r yer lookin' at,
three hap'orth o' pap?"
The boy shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"Why yer --!"
"Leave him alone,"
said Mr. Pappleworth,
in that insinuating voice which means,
"He's only one of your good little sops who can't help it."
Since that time the boy used to look at the man every time he came through with the same curious criticism,
glancing away before he met the smith's eye.
It made Dawes furious.
They hated each other in silence.
Clara Dawes had no children.
When she had left her husband the home had been broken up,
and she had gone to live with her mother.
Dawes lodged with his sister.
In the same house was a sister-in-law,
and somehow Paul knew that this girl,
was now Dawes's woman.
She was a handsome,
who mocked at the youth,
and yet flushed if he walked along to the station with her as she went home.
The next time he went to see Miriam it was Saturday evening.
She had a fire in the parlour,
and was waiting for him.
except her father and mother and the young children,
had gone out,
so the two had the parlour together.
It was a long,
There were three of Paul's small sketches on the wall,
and his photo was on the mantelpiece.
On the table and on the high old rosewood piano were bowls of coloured leaves.
He sat in the armchair,
she crouched on the hearthrug near his feet.
The glow was warm on her handsome,
pensive face as she kneeled there like a devotee.
"What did you think of Mrs. Dawes?"
she asked quietly.
"She doesn't look very amiable,"
but don't you think she's a fine woman?"
in a deep tone,
"Yes --in stature.
But without a grain of taste.
I like her for some things.
IS she disagreeable?"
"I don't think so.
I think she's dissatisfied."
"Well --how would you like to be tied for life to a man like that?"
"Why did she marry him,
if she was to have revulsions so soon?"
why did she!"
repeated Miriam bitterly.
"And I should have thought she had enough fight in her to match him,"
Miriam bowed her head.
she queried satirically.
"What makes you think so?"
"Look at her mouth --made for passion --and the very setback of her throat --" He threw his head back in Clara's defiant manner.
Miriam bowed a little lower.
There was a silence for some moments,
while he thought of Clara.
"And what were the things you liked about her?"
"I don't know --her skin and the texture of her --and her --I don't know --there's a sort of fierceness somewhere in her.
I appreciate her as an artist,
He wondered why Miriam crouched there brooding in that strange way.
It irritated him.
"You don't really like her,
he asked the girl.
She looked at him with her great,
dazzled dark eyes.
"You don't --you can't --not really."
she asked slowly.
I don't know --perhaps you like her because she's got a grudge against men."
That was more probably one of his own reasons for liking Mrs. Dawes,
but this did not occur to him.
They were silent.
There had come into his forehead a knitting of the brows which was becoming habitual with him,
particularly when he was with Miriam.
She longed to smooth it away,
and she was afraid of it.
It seemed the stamp of a man who was not her man in Paul Morel.
There were some crimson berries among the leaves in the bowl.
He reached over and pulled out a bunch.
"If you put red berries in your hair,"
"why would you look like some witch or priestess,
and never like a reveller?"
She laughed with a naked,
"I don't know,"
His vigorous warm hands were playing excitedly with the berries.
"Why can't you laugh?"
"You never laugh laughter.
You only laugh when something is odd or incongruous,
and then it almost seems to hurt you."
She bowed her head as if he were scolding her.
"I wish you could laugh at me just for one minute --just for one minute.
I feel as if it would set something free."
"But" --and she looked up at him with eyes frightened and struggling --"I do laugh at you --I DO."
There's always a kind of intensity.
When you laugh I could always cry;
it seems as if it shows up your suffering.
you make me knit the brows of my very soul and cogitate."
Slowly she shook her head despairingly.
"I'm sure I don't want to,"
"I'm so damned spiritual with YOU always!"
She remained silent,
"Then why don't you be otherwise."
But he saw her crouching,
and it seemed to tear him in two.
"and everybody feels like a disembodied spirit then."
There was still another silence.
This peculiar sadness between them thrilled her soul.
He seemed so beautiful with his eyes gone dark,
and looking as if they were deep as the deepest well.
"You make me so spiritual!"
"And I don't want to be spiritual."
She took her finger from her mouth with a little pop,
and looked up at him almost challenging.
But still her soul was naked in her great dark eyes,
and there was the same yearning appeal upon her.
If he could have kissed her in abstract purity he would have done so.
But he could not kiss her thus --and she seemed to leave no other way.
And she yearned to him.
He gave a brief laugh.
"get that French and we'll do some --some Verlaine."
she said in a deep tone,
almost of resignation.
And she rose and got the books.
And her rather red,
nervous hands looked so pitiful,
he was mad to comfort her and kiss her.
But then be dared not --or could not.
There was something prevented him.
His kisses were wrong for her.
They continued the reading till ten o'clock,
when they went into the kitchen,
and Paul was natural and jolly again with the father and mother.
His eyes were dark and shining;
there was a kind of fascination about him.
When he went into the barn for his bicycle he found the front wheel punctured.
"Fetch me a drop of water in a bowl,"
he said to her.
"I shall be late,
and then I s'll catch it."
He lighted the hurricane lamp,
took off his coat,
turned up the bicycle,
and set speedily to work.
Miriam came with the bowl of water and stood close to him,
She loved to see his hands doing things.
He was slim and vigorous,
with a kind of easiness even in his most hasty movements.
And busy at his work he seemed to forget her.
She loved him absorbedly.
She wanted to run her hands down his sides.
She always wanted to embrace him,
so long as he did not want her.
could you have done it quicker?"
He straightened himself.
His back was towards her.
She put her two hands on his sides,
and ran them quickly down.
"You are so FINE!"
hating her voice,
but his blood roused to a wave of flame by her hands.
She did not seem to realise HIM in all this.
He might have been an object.
She never realised the male he was.
He lighted his bicycle-lamp,
bounced the machine on the barn floor to see that the tyres were sound,
and buttoned his coat.
"That's all right!"
She was trying the brakes,
that she knew were broken.
"Did you have them mended?"
"But why didn't you?"
"The back one goes on a bit."
"But it's not safe."
"I can use my toe."
"I wish you'd had them mended,"
"Don't worry --come to tea tomorrow,
"Do --about four.
I'll come to meet you."
She was pleased.
They went across the dark yard to the gate.
he saw through the uncurtained window of the kitchen the heads of Mr. and Mrs. Leivers in the warm glow.
It looked very cosy.
with pine trees,
was quite black in front.
jumping on his bicycle.
"You'll take care,
His voice already came out of the darkness.
She stood a moment watching the light from his lamp race into obscurity along the ground.
She turned very slowly indoors.
Orion was wheeling up over the wood,
his dog twinkling after him,
For the rest the world was full of darkness,
save for the breathing of cattle in their stalls.
She prayed earnestly for his safety that night.
When he left her,
she often lay in anxiety,
wondering if he had got home safely.
He dropped down the hills on his bicycle.
The roads were greasy,
so he had to let it go.
He felt a pleasure as the machine plunged over the second,
steeper drop in the hill.
It was risky,
because of the curve in the darkness at the bottom,
and because of the brewers' waggons with drunken waggoners asleep.
His bicycle seemed to fall beneath him,
and he loved it.
Recklessness is almost a man's revenge on his woman.
He feels he is not valued,
so he will risk destroying himself to deprive her altogether.
The stars on the lake seemed to leap like grasshoppers,
silver upon the blackness,
as he spun past.
Then there was the long climb home.
as he threw her the berries and leaves on to the table.
glancing at them,
then away again.
She sat reading,
as she always did.
"Aren't they pretty?"
He knew she was cross with him.
After a few minutes he said:
"Edgar and Miriam are coming to tea tomorrow."
She did not answer.
"You don't mind?"
Still she did not answer.
"You know whether I mind or not."
"I don't see why you should.
I have plenty of meals there."
"Then why do you begrudge them tea?"
"I begrudge whom tea?"
"What are you so horrid for?"
say no more!
You've asked her to tea,
it's quite sufficient.
He was very angry with his mother.
He knew it was merely Miriam she objected to.
He flung off his boots and went to bed.
Paul went to meet his friends the next afternoon.
He was glad to see them coming.
They arrived home at about four o'clock.
Everywhere was clean and still for Sunday afternoon.
Mrs. Morel sat in her black dress and black apron.
She rose to meet the visitors.
With Edgar she was cordial,
but with Miriam cold and rather grudging.
Yet Paul thought the girl looked so nice in her brown cashmere frock.
He helped his mother to get the tea ready.
Miriam would have gladly proffered,
but was afraid.
He was rather proud of his home.
There was about it now,
a certain distinction.
The chairs were only wooden,
and the sofa was old.
But the hearthrug and cushions were cosy;
the pictures were prints in good taste;
there was a simplicity in everything,
and plenty of books.
He was never ashamed in the least of his home,
nor was Miriam of hers,
because both were what they should be,
And then he was proud of the table;
the china was pretty,
the cloth was fine.
It did not matter that the spoons were not silver nor the knives ivory-handled;
everything looked nice.
Mrs. Morel had managed wonderfully while her children were growing up,
so that nothing was out of place.
Miriam talked books a little.
That was her unfailing topic.
But Mrs. Morel was not cordial,
and turned soon to Edgar.
At first Edgar and Miriam used to go into Mrs. Morel's pew.
Morel never went to chapel,
preferring the public-house.
like a little champion,
sat at the head of her pew,
Paul at the other end;
and at first Miriam sat next to him.
Then the chapel was like home.
It was a pretty place,
with dark pews and slim,
And the same people had sat in the same places ever since he was a boy.
It was wonderfully sweet and soothing to sit there for an hour and a half,
next to Miriam,
and near to his mother,
uniting his two loves under the spell of the place of worship.
Then he felt warm and happy and religious at once.
And after chapel he walked home with Miriam,
whilst Mrs. Morel spent the rest of the evening with her old friend,
He was keenly alive on his walks on Sunday nights with Edgar and Miriam.
He never went past the pits at night,
by the lighted lamp-house,
the tall black headstocks and lines of trucks,
past the fans spinning slowly like shadows,
without the feeling of Miriam returning to him,
keen and almost unbearable.
She did not very long occupy the Morels' pew.
Her father took one for themselves once more.
It was under the little gallery,
opposite the Morels'.
When Paul and his mother came in the chapel the Leivers's pew was always empty.
He was anxious for fear she would not come: it was so far,
and there were so many rainy Sundays.
often very late indeed,
she came in,
with her long stride,
her head bowed,
her face hidden under her hat of dark green velvet.
as she sat opposite,
was always in shadow.
But it gave him a very keen feeling,
as if all his soul stirred within him,
to see her there.
It was not the same glow,
that he felt in having his mother in charge: something more wonderful,
and tinged to intensity by a pain,
as if there were something he could not get to.
At this time he was beginning to question the orthodox creed.
He was twenty-one,
and she was twenty.
She was beginning to dread the spring: he became so wild,
and hurt her so much.
All the way he went cruelly smashing her beliefs.
Edgar enjoyed it.
He was by nature critical and rather dispassionate.
But Miriam suffered exquisite pain,
with an intellect like a knife,
the man she loved examined her religion in which she lived and moved and had her being.
But he did not spare her.
He was cruel.
And when they went alone he was even more fierce,
as if he would kill her soul.
He bled her beliefs till she almost lost consciousness.
"She exults --she exults as she carries him off from me,"
Mrs. Morel cried in her heart when Paul had gone.
"She's not like an ordinary woman,
who can leave me my share in him.
She wants to absorb him.
She wants to draw him out and absorb him till there is nothing left of him,
even for himself.
He will never be a man on his own feet --she will suck him up."
So the mother sat,
and battled and brooded bitterly.
coming home from his walks with Miriam,
was wild with torture.
He walked biting his lips and with clenched fists,
going at a great rate.
brought up against a stile,
he stood for some minutes,
and did not move.
There was a great hollow of darkness fronting him,
and on the black upslopes patches of tiny lights,
and in the lowest trough of the night,
a flare of the pit.
It was all weird and dreadful.
Why was he torn so,
and unable to move?
Why did his mother sit at home and suffer?
He knew she suffered badly.
But why should she?
And why did he hate Miriam,
and feel so cruel towards her,
at the thought of his mother.
If Miriam caused his mother suffering,
then he hated her --and he easily hated her.
Why did she make him feel as if he were uncertain of himself,
an indefinite thing,
as if he had not sufficient sheathing to prevent the night and the space breaking into him?
How he hated her!
what a rush of tenderness and humility!
Suddenly he plunged on again,
His mother saw on him the marks of some agony,
and she said nothing.
But he had to make her talk to him.
Then she was angry with him for going so far with Miriam.
"Why don't you like her,
he cried in despair.
"I don't know,
she replied piteously.
"I'm sure I've tried to like her.
I've tried and tried,
but I can't --I can't!"
And he felt dreary and hopeless between the two.
Spring was the worst time.
He was changeable,
and intense and cruel.
So he decided to stay away from her.
Then came the hours when he knew Miriam was expecting him.
His mother watched him growing restless.
He could not go on with his work.
He could do nothing.
It was as if something were drawing his soul out towards Willey Farm.
Then he put on his hat and went,
And his mother knew he was gone.
And as soon as he was on the way he sighed with relief.
And when he was with her he was cruel again.
One day in March he lay on the bank of Nethermere,
with Miriam sitting beside him.
It was a glistening,
went by overhead,
while shadows stole along on the water.
The clear spaces in the sky were of clean,
Paul lay on his back in the old grass,
He could not bear to look at Miriam.
She seemed to want him,
and he resisted.
He resisted all the time.
He wanted now to give her passion and tenderness,
and he could not.
He felt that she wanted the soul out of his body,
and not him.
All his strength and energy she drew into herself through some channel which united them.
She did not want to meet him,
so that there were two of them,
man and woman together.
She wanted to draw all of him into her.
It urged him to an intensity like madness,
which fascinated him,
as drug-taking might.
He was discussing Michael Angelo.
It felt to her as if she were fingering the very quivering tissue,
the very protoplasm of life,
as she heard him.
It gave her deepest satisfaction.
And in the end it frightened her.
There he lay in the white intensity of his search,
and his voice gradually filled her with fear,
so level it was,
as if in a trance.
"Don't talk any more,"
she pleaded softly,
laying her hand on his forehead.
He lay quite still,
almost unable to move.
His body was somewhere discarded.
Are you tired?"
and it wears you out."
He laughed shortly,
"Yet you always make me like it,"
"I don't wish to,"
"Not when you've gone too far,
and you feel you can't bear it.
But your unconscious self always asks it of me.
And I suppose I want it."
He went on,
in his dead fashion:
"If only you could want ME,
and not want what I can reel off for you!"
she cried bitterly --"I!
when would you let me take you?"
"Then it's my fault,"
gathering himself together,
he got up and began to talk trivialities.
He felt insubstantial.
In a vague way he hated her for it.
And he knew he was as much to blame himself.
did not prevent his hating her.
One evening about this time he had walked along the home road with her.
They stood by the pasture leading down to the wood,
unable to part.
As the stars came out the clouds closed.
They had glimpses of their own constellation,
towards the west.
His jewels glimmered for a moment,
his dog ran low,
struggling with difficulty through the spume of cloud.
Orion was for them chief in significance among the constellations.
They had gazed at him in their strange,
surcharged hours of feeling,
until they seemed themselves to live in every one of his stars.
This evening Paul had been moody and perverse.
Orion had seemed just an ordinary constellation to him.
He had fought against his glamour and fascination.
Miriam was watching her lover's mood carefully.
But he said nothing that gave him away,
till the moment came to part,
when he stood frowning gloomily at the gathered clouds,
behind which the great constellation must be striding still.
There was to be a little party at his house the next day,
at which she was to attend.
"I shan't come and meet you,"
it's not very nice out,"
she replied slowly.
"It's not that --only they don't like me to.
They say I care more for you than for them.
And you understand,
You know it's only friendship."
Miriam was astonished and hurt for him.
It had cost him an effort.
She left him,
wanting to spare him any further humiliation.
A fine rain blew in her face as she walked along the road.
She was hurt deep down;
and she despised him for being blown about by any wind of authority.
And in her heart of hearts,
she felt that he was trying to get away from her.
This she would never have acknowledged.
She pitied him.
At this time Paul became an important factor in Jordan's warehouse.
Mr. Pappleworth left to set up a business of his own,
and Paul remained with Mr. Jordan as Spiral overseer.
His wages were to be raised to thirty shillings at the year-end,
if things went well.
Still on Friday night Miriam often came down for her French lesson.
Paul did not go so frequently to Willey Farm,
and she grieved at the thought of her education's coming to end;
they both loved to be together,
in spite of discords.
So they read Balzac,
and did compositions,
and felt highly cultured.
Friday night was reckoning night for the miners.
Morel "reckoned" --shared up the money of the stall --either in the New Inn at Bretty or in his own house,
according as his fellow-butties wished.
Barker had turned a non-drinker,
so now the men reckoned at Morel's house.
who had been teaching away,
was at home again.
She was still a tomboy;
and she was engaged to be married.
Paul was studying design.
Morel was always in good spirits on Friday evening,
unless the week's earnings were small.
He bustled immediately after his dinner,
prepared to get washed.
It was decorum for the women to absent themselves while the men reckoned.
Women were not supposed to spy into such a masculine privacy as the butties' reckoning,
nor were they to know the exact amount of the week's earnings.
whilst her father was spluttering in the scullery,
Annie went out to spend an hour with a neighbour.
Mrs. Morel attended to her baking.
"Shut that doo-er!"
bawled Morel furiously.
Annie banged it behind her,
and was gone.
"If tha oppens it again while I'm weshin' me,
I'll ma'e thy jaw rattle,"
he threatened from the midst of his soap-suds.
Paul and the mother frowned to hear him.
Presently he came running out of the scullery,
with the soapy water dripping from him,
dithering with cold.
"Wheer's my towel?"
It was hung on a chair to warm before the fire,
otherwise he would have bullied and blustered.
He squatted on his heels before the hot baking-fire to dry himself.
pretending to shudder with cold.
don't be such a kid!"
said Mrs. Morel.
"It's NOT cold."
"Thee strip thysen stark nak'd to wesh thy flesh i' that scullery,"
said the miner,
as he rubbed his hair;
"nowt b'r a ice-'ouse!"
"And I shouldn't make that fuss,"
replied his wife.
tha'd drop down stiff,
as dead as a door-knob,
wi' thy nesh sides."
"Why is a door-knob deader than anything else?"
that's what they say,"
replied his father.
"But there's that much draught i' yon scullery,
as it blows through your ribs like through a five-barred gate."
"It would have some difficulty in blowing through yours,"
said Mrs. Morel.
Morel looked down ruefully at his sides.
"I'm nowt b'r a skinned rabbit.
My bones fair juts out on me."
"I should like to know where,"
retorted his wife.
I'm nobbut a sack o' faggots."
Mrs. Morel laughed.
He had still a wonderfully young body,
without any fat.
His skin was smooth and clear.
It might have been the body of a man of twenty-eight,
except that there were,
too many blue scars,
where the coal-dust remained under the skin,
and that his chest was too hairy.
But he put his hand on his side ruefully.
It was his fixed belief that,
because he did not get fat,
he was as thin as a starved rat.
Paul looked at his father's thick,
brownish hands all scarred,
with broken nails,
rubbing the fine smoothness of his sides,
and the incongruity struck him.
It seemed strange they were the same flesh.
he said to his father,
"you had a good figure once."
exclaimed the miner,
startled and timid,
like a child.
exclaimed Mrs. Morel,
"if he didn't hurtle himself up as if he was trying to get in the smallest space he could."
exclaimed Morel --"me a good figure!
I wor niver much more n'r a skeleton."
cried his wife,
"don't be such a pulamiter!"
"Tha's niver knowed me but what I looked as if I wor goin' off in a rapid decline."
She sat and laughed.
"You've had a constitution like iron,"
"and never a man had a better start,
if it was body that counted.
You should have seen him as a young man,"
she cried suddenly to Paul,
drawing herself up to imitate her husband's once handsome bearing.
Morel watched her shyly.
He saw again the passion she had had for him.
It blazed upon her for a moment.
He was shy,
Yet again he felt his old glow.
And then immediately he felt the ruin he had made during these years.
He wanted to bustle about,
to run away from it.
"Gi'e my back a bit of a wesh,"
he asked her.
His wife brought a well-soaped flannel and clapped it on his shoulders.
He gave a jump.
tha mucky little
"Cowd as death!"
"You ought to have been a salamander,"
washing his back.
It was very rarely she would do anything so personal for him.
The children did those things.
"The next world won't be half hot enough for you,"
"tha'lt see as it's draughty for me."
But she had finished.
She wiped him in a desultory fashion,
and went upstairs,
returning immediately with his shifting-trousers.
When he was dried he struggled into his shirt.
ruddy and shiny,
with hair on end,
and his flannelette shirt hanging over his pit-trousers,
he stood warming the garments he was going to put on.
He turned them,
he pulled them inside out,
he scorched them.
cried Mrs. Morel,
"Should thee like to clap thysen into britches as cowd as a tub o' water?"
At last he took off his pit-trousers and donned decent black.
He did all this on the hearthrug,
as he would have done if Annie and her familiar friends had been present.
Mrs. Morel turned the bread in the oven.
Then from the red earthenware panchion of dough that stood in a corner she took another handful of paste,
worked it to the proper shape,
and dropped it into a tin.
As she was doing so Barker knocked and entered.
He was a quiet,
compact little man,
who looked as if he would go through a stone wall.
His black hair was cropped short,
his head was bony.
Like most miners,
he was pale,
but healthy and taut.
he nodded to Mrs. Morel,
and he seated himself with a sigh.
she replied cordially.
"Tha's made thy heels crack,"
"I dunno as I have,"
as the men always did in Morel's kitchen,
effacing himself rather.
she asked of him.
He had told her some time back:
"We're expectin' us third just now,
rubbing his head,
"she keeps pretty middlin',
"Let's see --when?"
asked Mrs. Morel.
I shouldn't be surprised any time now."
And she's kept fairly?"
"That's a blessing,
for she's none too strong."
"No. An' I've done another silly trick."
Mrs. Morel knew Barker wouldn't do anything very silly.
"I'm come be-out th' market-bag."
"You can have mine."
you'll be wantin' that yourself."
I take a string bag always."
She saw the determined little collier buying in the week's groceries and meat on the Friday nights,
and she admired him.
but he's ten times the man you are,"
she said to her husband.
Just then Wesson entered.
He was thin,
with a boyish ingenuousness and a slightly foolish smile,
despite his seven children.
But his wife was a passionate woman.
"I see you've kested me,"
smiling rather vapidly.
The newcomer took off his cap and his big woollen muffler.
His nose was pointed and red.
"I'm afraid you're cold,
said Mrs. Morel.
"It's a bit nippy,"
"Then come to the fire."
I s'll do where I am."
Both colliers sat away back.
They could not be induced to come on to the hearth.
The hearth is sacred to the family.
"Go thy ways i' th' armchair,"
cried Morel cheerily.
I'm very nicely here."
insisted Mrs. Morel.
He rose and went awkwardly.
He sat in Morel's armchair awkwardly.
It was too great a familiarity.
But the fire made him blissfully happy.
"And how's that chest of yours?"
demanded Mrs. Morel.
He smiled again,
with his blue eyes rather sunny.
it's very middlin',"
"Wi' a rattle in it like a kettle-drum,"
said Barker shortly.
went Mrs. Morel rapidly with her tongue.
"Did you have that flannel singlet made?"
why didn't you?"
Barker and Morel were both impatient of Wesson.
they were both as hard as nails,
When Morel was nearly ready he pushed the bag of money to Paul.
he asked humbly.
Paul impatiently turned from his books and pencil,
tipped the bag upside down on the table.
There was a five-pound bag of silver,
sovereigns and loose money.
He counted quickly,
referred to the checks --the written papers giving amount of coal --put the money in order.
Then Barker glanced at the checks.
Mrs. Morel went upstairs,
and the three men came to table.
as master of the house,
sat in his armchair,
with his back to the hot fire.
The two butties had cooler seats.
None of them counted the money.
"What did we say Simpson's was?"
and the butties cavilled for a minute over the dayman's earnings.
Then the amount was put aside.
"An' Bill Naylor's?"
This money also was taken from the pack.
because Wesson lived in one of the company's houses,
and his rent had been deducted,
Morel and Barker took four-and-six each.
And because Morel's coals had come,
and the leading was stopped,
Barker and Wesson took four shillings each.
Then it was plain sailing.
Morel gave each of them a sovereign till there were no more sovereigns;
each half a crown till there were no more half-crowns;
each a shilling till there were no more shillings.
If there was anything at the end that wouldn't split,
Morel took it and stood drinks.
Then the three men rose and went.
Morel scuttled out of the house before his wife came down.
She heard the door close,
She looked hastily at the bread in the oven.
glancing on the table,
she saw her money lying.
Paul had been working all the time.
But now he felt his mother counting the week's money,
and her wrath rising,
went her tongue.
He could not work when she was cross.
She counted again.
"A measly twenty-five shillings!"
"How much was the cheque?"
"Ten pounds eleven,"
said Paul irritably.
He dreaded what was coming.
"And he gives me a scrattlin' twenty-five,
an' his club this week!
But I know him.
He thinks because YOU'RE earning he needn't keep the house any longer.
all he has to do with his money is to guttle it.
But I'll show him!"
I should like to know?"
"Don't carry on again.
I can't work."
She went very quiet.
it's all very well,"
"but how do you think I'm going to manage?"
it won't make it any better to whittle about it."
"I should like to know what you'd do if you had it to put up with."
"It won't be long.
You can have my money.
Let him go to hell."
He went back to his work,
and she tied her bonnet-strings grimly.
When she was fretted he could not bear it.
But now he began to insist on her recognizing him.
"The two loaves at the top,"
"will be done in twenty minutes.
Don't forget them."
and she went to market.
He remained alone working.
But his usual intense concentration became unsettled.
He listened for the yard-gate.
At a quarter-past seven came a low knock,
and Miriam entered.
As if at home,
she took off her tam-o'-shanter and her long coat,
hanging them up.
It gave him a thrill.
This might be their own house,
his and hers.
Then she came back and peered over his work.
"What is it?"
for decorating stuffs,
and for embroidery."
She bent short-sightedly over the drawings.
It irritated him that she peered so into everything that was his,
searching him out.
He went into the parlour and returned with a bundle of brownish linen.
Carefully unfolding it,
he spread it on the floor.
It proved to be a curtain or portiere,
beautifully stencilled with a design on roses.
The spread cloth,
with its wonderful reddish roses and dark green stems,
all so simple,
and somehow so wicked-looking,
lay at her feet.
She went on her knees before it,
her dark curls dropping.
He saw her crouched voluptuously before his work,
and his heart beat quickly.
Suddenly she looked up at him.
"Why does it seem cruel?"
"There seems a feeling of cruelty about it,"
"It's jolly good,
whether or not,"
folding up his work with a lover's hands.
She rose slowly,
"And what will you do with it?"
"Send it to Liberty's.
I did it for my mother,
but I think she'd rather have the money."
He had spoken with a touch of bitterness,
and Miriam sympathised.
Money would have been nothing to HER.
He took the cloth back into the parlour.
When he returned he threw to Miriam a smaller piece.
It was a cushion-cover with the same design.
"I did that for you,"
She fingered the work with trembling hands,
and did not speak.
He became embarrassed.
He took the top loaves out,
tapped them vigorously.
They were done.
He put them on the hearth to cool.
Then he went to the scullery,
wetted his hands,
scooped the last white dough out of the punchion,
and dropped it in a baking-tin.
Miriam was still bent over her painted cloth.
He stood rubbing the bits of dough from his hands.
"You do like it?"
She looked up at him,
with her dark eyes one flame of love.
He laughed uncomfortably.
Then he began to talk about the design.
There was for him the most intense pleasure in talking about his work to Miriam.
All his passion,
all his wild blood,
went into this intercourse with her,
when he talked and conceived his work.
She brought forth to him his imaginations.
She did not understand,
any more than a woman understands when she conceives a child in her womb.
But this was life for her and for him.
While they were talking,
a young woman of about twenty-two,
small and pale,
yet with a relentless look about her,
entered the room.
She was a friend at the Morel's.
"Take your things off,"
I'm not stopping."
She sat down in the armchair opposite Paul and Miriam,
who were on the sofa.
Miriam moved a little farther from him.
The room was hot,
with a scent of new bread.
crisp loaves stood on the hearth.
"I shouldn't have expected to see you here to-night,
said Beatrice wickedly.
murmured Miriam huskily.
let's look at your shoes."
Miriam remained uncomfortably still.
"If tha doesna tha durs'na,"
Miriam put her feet from under her dress.
Her boots had that queer,
rather pathetic look about them,
which showed how self-conscious and self-mistrustful she was.
And they were covered with mud.
You're a positive muck-heap,"
"Who cleans your boots?"
"I clean them myself."
"Then you wanted a job,"
"It would ha' taken a lot of men to ha' brought me down here to-night.
But love laughs at sludge,
'Postle my duck?"
are you going to spout foreign languages?
What does it mean,
There was a fine sarcasm in the last question,
but Miriam did not see it.
"'Among other things,'
she said humbly.
Beatrice put her tongue between her teeth and laughed wickedly.
"'Among other things,'
"Do you mean love laughs at mothers,
and men friends,
and lady friends,
and even at the b'loved himself?"
She affected a great innocence.
it's one big smile,"
"Up its sleeve,
'Postle Morel --you believe me,"
and she went off into another burst of wicked,
Miriam sat silent,
withdrawn into herself.
Every one of Paul's friends delighted in taking sides against her,
and he left her in the lurch --seemed almost to have a sort of revenge upon her then.
"Are you still at school?"
asked Miriam of Beatrice.
"You've not had your notice,
"I expect it at Easter."
"Isn't it an awful shame,
to turn you off merely because you didn't pass the exam?"
"I don't know,"
said Beatrice coldly.
"Agatha says you're as good as any teacher anywhere.
It seems to me ridiculous.
I wonder why you didn't pass."
"Short of brains,
said Beatrice briefly.
"Only brains to bite with,"
springing from her seat,
she rushed and boxed his ears.
She had beautiful small hands.
He held her wrists while she wrestled with him.
At last she broke free,
and seized two handfuls of his thick,
dark brown hair,
which she shook.
as he pulled his hair straight with his fingers.
"I hate you!"
She laughed with glee.
"I want to sit next to you."
"I'd as lief be neighbours with a vixen,"
nevertheless making place for her between him and Miriam.
"Did it ruffle his pretty hair,
with her hair-comb,
she combed him straight.
"And his nice little moustache!"
She tilted his head back and combed his young moustache.
"It's a wicked moustache,
"It's a red for danger.
Have you got any of those cigarettes?"
He pulled his cigarette-case from his pocket.
Beatrice looked inside it.
"And fancy me having Connie's last cig.,"
putting the thing between her teeth.
He held a lit match to her,
and she puffed daintily.
"Thanks so much,
she said mockingly.
It gave her a wicked delight.
"Don't you think he does it nicely,
He took a cigarette for himself.
tilting her cigarette at him.
He bent forward to her to light his cigarette at hers.
She was winking at him as he did so.
Miriam saw his eyes trembling with mischief,
and his full,
He was not himself,
and she could not bear it.
As he was now,
she had no connection with him;
she might as well not have existed.
She saw the cigarette dancing on his full red lips.
She hated his thick hair for being tumbled loose on his forehead.
tipping up his chin and giving him a little kiss on the cheek.
"I s'll kiss thee back,
jumping up and going away.
"Isn't he shameless,
"By the way,
aren't you forgetting the bread?"
flinging open the oven door.
Out puffed the bluish smoke and a smell of burned bread.
coming to his side.
He crouched before the oven,
she peered over his shoulder.
"This is what comes of the oblivion of love,
Paul was ruefully removing the loaves.
One was burnt black on the hot side;
another was hard as a brick.
"You want to grate it,"
"Fetch me the nutmeg-grater."
She arranged the bread in the oven.
He brought the grater,
and she grated the bread on to a newspaper on the table.
He set the doors open to blow away the smell of burned bread.
Beatrice grated away,
puffing her cigarette,
knocking the charcoal off the poor loaf.
you're in for it this time,"
exclaimed Miriam in amazement.
"You'd better be gone when his mother comes in.
I know why King Alfred burned the cakes.
Now I see it!
'Postle would fix up a tale about his work making him forget,
if he thought it would wash.
If that old woman had come in a bit sooner,
she'd have boxed the brazen thing's ears who made the oblivion,
instead of poor Alfred's."
She giggled as she scraped the loaf.
Even Miriam laughed in spite of herself.
Paul mended the fire ruefully.
The garden gate was heard to bang.
giving Paul the scraped loaf.
"Wrap it up in a damp towel."
Paul disappeared into the scullery.
Beatrice hastily blew her scrapings into the fire,
and sat down innocently.
Annie came bursting in.
She was an abrupt,
quite smart young woman.
She blinked in the strong light.
"Smell of burning!"
"It's the cigarettes,"
replied Beatrice demurely.
Leonard had followed Annie.
He had a long comic face and blue eyes,
"I suppose he's left you to settle it between you,"
He nodded sympathetically to Miriam,
and became gently sarcastic to Beatrice.
"he's gone off with number nine."
"I just met number five inquiring for him,"
"Yes --we're going to share him up like Solomon's baby,"
"And which bit should you have?"
"I don't know,"
"I'll let all the others pick first."
"An' you'd have the leavings,
twisting up a comic face.
Annie was looking in the oven.
Miriam sat ignored.
"This bread's a fine sight,
"Then you should stop an' look after it,"
"You mean YOU should do what you're reckoning to do,"
"I s'd think he'd got plenty on hand,"
"You had a nasty walk,
"Yes --but I'd been in all week --"
"And you wanted a bit of a change,
insinuated Leonard kindly.
you can't be stuck in the house for ever,"
She was quite amiable.
Beatrice pulled on her coat,
and went out with Leonard and Annie.
She would meet her own boy.
"Don't forget that bread,
I don't think it will rain."
When they had all gone,
Paul fetched the swathed loaf,
and surveyed it sadly.
"It's a mess!"
answered Miriam impatiently,
"what is it,
after all --twopence,
but --it's the mater's precious baking,
and she'll take it to heart.
it's no good bothering."
He took the loaf back into the scullery.
There was a little distance between him and Miriam.
He stood balanced opposite her for some moments considering,
thinking of his behaviour with Beatrice.
He felt guilty inside himself,
and yet glad.
For some inscrutable reason it served Miriam right.
He was not going to repent.
She wondered what he was thinking of as he stood suspended.
His thick hair was tumbled over his forehead.
Why might she not push it back for him,
and remove the marks of Beatrice's comb?
Why might she not press his body with her two hands.
It looked so firm,
and every whit living.
And he would let other girls,
why not her?
Suddenly he started into life.
It made her quiver almost with terror as he quickly pushed the hair off his forehead and came towards her.
"We'd better buck up.
Where's your French?"
Miriam shyly and rather bitterly produced her exercise-book.
Every week she wrote for him a sort of diary of her inner life,
in her own French.
He had found this was the only way to get her to do compositions.
And her diary was mostly a love-letter.
He would read it now;
she felt as if her soul's history were going to be desecrated by him in his present mood.
He sat beside her.
She watched his hand,
firm and warm,
rigorously scoring her work.
He was reading only the French,
ignoring her soul that was there.
But gradually his hand forgot its work.
He read in silence,
"'-Ce matin les oiseaux m'ont eveille,'" he read.
"'Il faisait encore un crepuscule.
Mais la petite fenetre de ma chambre etait bleme,
et tous les oiseaux du bois eclaterent dans un chanson vif et resonnant.
Toute l'aube tressaillit.
J'avais reve de vous.
Est-ce que vous voyez aussi l'aube?
Les oiseaux m'eveillent presque tous les matins,
et toujours il y a quelque chose de terreur dans le cri des grives.
Il est si clair ---'"
Miriam sat tremulous,
He remained quite still,
trying to understand.
He only knew she loved him.
He was afraid of her love for him.
It was too good for him,
and he was inadequate.
His own love was at fault,
he corrected her work,
humbly writing above her words.
he said quietly,
"the past participle conjugated with -avoir- agrees with the direct object when it precedes."
She bent forward,
trying to see and to understand.
fine curls tickled his face.
He started as if they had been red hot,
He saw her peering forward at the page,
her red lips parted piteously,
the black hair springing in fine strands across her tawny,
She was coloured like a pomegranate for richness.
His breath came short as he watched her.
Suddenly she looked up at him.
Her dark eyes were naked with their love,
and they hurt her.
They seemed to master her.
She lost all her self-control,
was exposed in fear.
And he knew,
before he could kiss her,
he must drive something out of himself.
And a touch of hate for her crept back again into his heart.
He returned to her exercise.
Suddenly he flung down the pencil,
and was at the oven in a leap,
turning the bread.
For Miriam he was too quick.
She started violently,
and it hurt her with real pain.
Even the way he crouched before the oven hurt her.
There seemed to be something cruel in it,
something cruel in the swift way he pitched the bread out of the tins,
caught it up again.
If only he had been gentle in his movements she would have felt so rich and warm.
As it was,
she was hurt.
He returned and finished the exercise.
"You've done well this week,"
She saw he was flattered by her diary.
It did not repay her entirely.
"You really do blossom out sometimes,"
"You ought to write poetry."
She lifted her head with joy,
then she shook it mistrustfully.
"I don't trust myself,"
"You should try!"
Again she shook her head.
"Shall we read,
or is it too late?"
"It is late --but we can read just a little,"
She was really getting now the food for her life during the next week.
He made her copy Baudelaire's "Le Balcon".
Then he read it for her.
His voice was soft and caressing,
but growing almost brutal.
He had a way of lifting his lips and showing his teeth,
passionately and bitterly,
when he was much moved.
This he did now.
It made Miriam feel as if he were trampling on her.
She dared not look at him,
but sat with her head bowed.
She could not understand why he got into such a tumult and fury.
It made her wretched.
She did not like Baudelaire,
on the whole --nor Verlaine.
"Behold her singing in the field Yon solitary highland lass."
That nourished her heart.
So did "Fair Ines".
"It was a beauteous evening,
calm and pure,
And breathing holy quiet like a nun."
These were like herself.
And there was he,
saying in his throat bitterly:
"-Tu te rappelleras la beaute des caresses-."
The poem was finished;
he took the bread out of the oven,
arranging the burnt loaves at the bottom of the panchion,
the good ones at the top.
The desiccated loaf remained swathed up in the scullery.
"Mater needn't know till morning,"
"It won't upset her so much then as at night."
Miriam looked in the bookcase,
saw what postcards and letters he had received,
saw what books were there.
She took one that had interested him.
Then he turned down the gas and they set off.
He did not trouble to lock the door.
He was not home again until a quarter to eleven.
His mother was seated in the rocking-chair.
with a rope of hair hanging down her back,
remained sitting on a low stool before the fire,
her elbows on her knees,
On the table stood the offending loaf unswathed.
Paul entered rather breathless.
No one spoke.
His mother was reading the little local newspaper.
He took off his coat,
and went to sit down on the sofa.
His mother moved curtly aside to let him pass.
No one spoke.
He was very uncomfortable.
For some minutes he sat pretending to read a piece of paper he found on the table.
"I forgot that bread,
There was no answer from either woman.
"it's only twopence ha'penny.
I can pay you for that."
he put three pennies on the table and slid them towards his mother.
She turned away her head.
Her mouth was shut tightly.
"you don't know how badly my mother is!"
The girl sat staring glumly into the fire.
"Why is she badly?"
in his overbearing way.
"She could scarcely get home."
He looked closely at his mother.
She looked ill.
"WHY could you scarcely get home?"
he asked her,
She would not answer.
"I found her as white as a sheet sitting here,"
with a suggestion of tears in her voice.
His brows were knitting,
his eyes dilating passionately.
"It was enough to upset anybody,"
said Mrs. Morel,
"hugging those parcels --meat,
and a pair of curtains --"
why DID you hug them;
you needn't have done."
"Then who would?"
"Let Annie fetch the meat."
and I WOULD fetch the meat,
but how was I to know.
You were off with Miriam,
instead of being in when my mother came."
"And what was the matter with you?"
asked Paul of his mother.
"I suppose it's my heart,"
Certainly she looked bluish round the mouth.
"And have you felt it before?"
"Yes --often enough."
"Then why haven't you told me?
--and why haven't you seen a doctor?"
Mrs. Morel shifted in her chair,
angry with him for his hectoring.
"You'd never notice anything,"
"You're too eager to be off with Miriam."
am I --and any worse than you with Leonard?"
"I was in at a quarter to ten."
There was silence in the room for a time.
"I should have thought,"
said Mrs. Morel bitterly,
"that she wouldn't have occupied you so entirely as to burn a whole ovenful of bread."
"Beatrice was here as well as she."
But we know why the bread is spoilt."
"Because you were engrossed with Miriam,"
replied Mrs. Morel hotly.
very well --then it was NOT!"
he replied angrily.
He was distressed and wretched.
Seizing a paper,
he began to read.
her blouse unfastened,
her long ropes of hair twisted into a plait,
went up to bed,
bidding him a very curt good-night.
Paul sat pretending to read.
He knew his mother wanted to upbraid him.
He also wanted to know what had made her ill,
for he was troubled.
instead of running away to bed,
as he would have liked to do,
he sat and waited.
There was a tense silence.
The clock ticked loudly.
"You'd better go to bed before your father comes in,"
said the mother harshly.
"And if you're going to have anything to eat,
you'd better get it."
"I don't want anything."
It was his mother's custom to bring him some trifle for supper on Friday night,
the night of luxury for the colliers.
He was too angry to go and find it in the pantry this night.
This insulted her.
"If I WANTED you to go to Selby on Friday night,
I can imagine the scene,"
said Mrs. Morel.
"But you're never too tired to go if SHE will come for you.
you neither want to eat nor drink then."
"I can't let her go alone."
And why does she come?"
"Not because I ask her."
"She doesn't come without you want her --"
what if I DO want her --" he replied.
if it was sensible or reasonable.
But to go trapseing up there miles and miles in the mud,
coming home at midnight,
and got to go to Nottingham in the morning --"
"If I hadn't,
you'd be just the same."
because there's no sense in it.
Is she so fascinating that you must follow her all that way?"
Mrs. Morel was bitterly sarcastic.
She sat still,
with averted face,
stroking with a rhythmic,
the black sateen of her apron.
It was a movement that hurt Paul to see.
"I do like her,"
said Mrs. Morel,
in the same biting tones.
"It seems to me you like nothing and nobody else.
There's neither Annie,
nor anyone now for you."
mother --you know I don't love her --I --I tell you I DON'T love her --she doesn't even walk with my arm,
because I don't want her to."
"Then why do you fly to her so often?"
"I DO like to talk to her --I never said I didn't.
But I DON'T love her."
"Is there nobody else to talk to?"
"Not about the things we talk of.
There's a lot of things that you're not interested in,
Mrs. Morel was so intense that Paul began to pant.
"Why --painting --and books.
YOU don't care about Herbert Spencer."
was the sad reply.
"And YOU won't at my age."
but I do now --and Miriam does --"
"And how do you know,"
Mrs. Morel flashed defiantly,
"that I shouldn't.
Do you ever try me!"
"But you don't,
you know you don't care whether a picture's decorative or not;
you don't care what MANNER it is in."
"How do you know I don't care?
Do you ever try me?
Do you ever talk to me about these things,
"But it's not that that matters to you,
you know t's not."
"What is it,
then --what is it,
that matters to me?"
He knitted his brows with pain.
and we're young."
He only meant that the interests of HER age were not the interests of his.
But he realised the moment he had spoken that he had said the wrong thing.
I know it well --I am old.
And therefore I may stand aside;
I have nothing more to do with you.
You only want me to wait on you --the rest is for Miriam."
He could not bear it.
Instinctively he realised that he was life to her.
she was the chief thing to him,
the only supreme thing.
"You know it isn't,
you know it isn't!"
She was moved to pity by his cry.
"It looks a great deal like it,"
half putting aside her despair.
mother --I really DON'T love her.
I talk to her,
but I want to come home to you."
He had taken off his collar and tie,
to go to bed.
As he stooped to kiss his mother,
she threw her arms round his neck,
hid her face on his shoulder,
in a whimpering voice,
so unlike her own that he writhed in agony:
"I can't bear it.
I could let another woman --but not her.
She'd leave me no room,
not a bit of room --"
And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly.
"And I've never --you know,
Paul --I've never had a husband --not really --"
He stroked his mother's hair,
and his mouth was on her throat.
"And she exults so in taking you from me --she's not like ordinary girls."
I don't love her,
bowing his head and hiding his eyes on her shoulder in misery.
His mother kissed him a long,
in a voice trembling with passionate love.
he gently stroked her face.
said his mother,
"now go to bed.
You'll be so tired in the morning."
As she was speaking she heard her husband coming.
"There's your father --now go."
Suddenly she looked at him almost as if in fear.
"Perhaps I'm selfish.
If you want her,
His mother looked so strange,
Paul kissed her,
he said softly.
Morel came in,
His hat was over one corner of his eye.
He balanced in the doorway.
"At your mischief again?"
he said venomously.
Mrs. Morel's emotion turned into sudden hate of the drunkard who had come in thus upon her.
"At any rate,
it is sober,"
He went into the passage,
hung up his hat and coat.
Then they heard him go down three steps to the pantry.
He returned with a piece of pork-pie in his fist.
It was what Mrs. Morel had bought for her son.
"Nor was that bought for you.
If you can give me no more than twenty-five shillings,
I'm sure I'm not going to buy you pork-pie to stuff,
after you've swilled a bellyful of beer."
toppling in his balance.
"Wha-at --not for me?"
He looked at the piece of meat and crust,
in a vicious spurt of temper,
flung it into the fire.
Paul started to his feet.
"Waste your own stuff!"
suddenly shouted Morel,
jumping up and clenching his fist.
"I'll show yer,
yer young jockey!"
said Paul viciously,
putting his head on one side.
He would at that moment dearly have loved to have a smack at something.
Morel was half crouching,
ready to spring.
The young man stood,
smiling with his lips.
hissed the father,
swiping round with a great stroke just past his son's face.
He dared not,
even though so close,
really touch the young man,
but swerved an inch away.
his eyes upon the side of his father's mouth,
where in another instant his fist would have hit.
He ached for that stroke.
But he heard a faint moan from behind.
His mother was deadly pale and dark at the mouth.
Morel was dancing up to deliver another blow.
so that the word rang.
and stood at attention.
moaned the boy.
She began to struggle with herself.
Her open eyes watched him,
although she could not move.
Gradually she was coming to herself.
He laid her down on the sofa,
and ran upstairs for a little whisky,
which at last she could sip.
The tears were hopping down his face.
As he kneeled in front of her he did not cry,
but the tears ran down his face quickly.
on the opposite side of the room,
sat with his elbows on his knees glaring across.
"What's a-matter with
The elderly man began to unlace his boots.
He stumbled off to bed.
His last fight was fought in that home.
Paul kneeled there,
stroking his mother's hand.
"Don't be poorly,
mother --don't be poorly!"
he said time after time.
At last he rose,
fetched in a large piece of coal,
and raked the fire.
Then he cleared the room,
put everything straight,
laid the things for breakfast,
and brought his mother's candle.
"Can you go to bed,
"Sleep with Annie,
not with him."
"No. I'll sleep in my own bed."
"Don't sleep with him,
"I'll sleep in my own bed."
and he turned out the gas,
then followed her closely upstairs,
carrying her candle.
On the landing he kissed her close.
He pressed his face upon the pillow in a fury of misery.
somewhere in his soul,
he was at peace because he still loved his mother best.
It was the bitter peace of resignation.
The efforts of his father to conciliate him next day were a great humiliation to him.
Everybody tried to forget the scene.