CHILDHOOD OF ANNA LENSKY
Tom Brangwen never loved his own son as he loved his stepchild Anna.
When they told him it was a boy,
he had a thrill of pleasure.
He liked the confirmation of fatherhood.
It gave him satisfaction to know he had a son.
But he felt not very much outgoing to the baby itself.
He was its father,
that was enough.
He was glad that his wife was mother of his child.
She was serene,
a little bit shadowy,
as if she were transplanted.
In the birth of the child she seemed to lose connection with her former self.
She became now really English,
really Mrs. Brangwen.
She was still,
She was still passionate,
with a flame of being.
But the flame was not robust and present.
Her eyes shone,
her face glowed for him,
but like some flower opened in the shade,
that could not bear the full light.
She loved the baby.
But even this,
with a sort of dimness,
a faint absence about her,
a shadowiness even in her mother-love.
When Brangwen saw her nursing his child,
absorbed in it,
a pain went over him like a thin flame.
For he perceived how he must subdue himself in his approach to her.
And he wanted again the robust,
moral exchange of love and passion such as he had had at first with her,
at one time and another,
when they were matched at their highest intensity.
This was the one experience for him now.
And he wanted it,
with remorseless craving.
She came to him again,
with the same lifting of her mouth as had driven him almost mad with trammelled passion at first.
She came to him again,
his heart delirious in delight and readiness,
he took her.
And it was almost as before.
Perhaps it was quite as before.
At any rate,
it made him know perfection,
it established in him a constant eternal knowledge.
But it died down before he wanted it to die down.
She was finished,
she could take no more.
And he was not exhausted,
he wanted to go on.
But it could not be.
So he had to begin the bitter lesson,
to abate himself,
to take less than he wanted.
For she was Woman to him,
all other women were her shadows.
For she had satisfied him.
And he wanted it to go on.
And it could not.
However he raged,
filled with suppression that became hot and bitter,
hated her in his soul that she did not want him,
however he had mad outbursts,
and drank and made ugly scenes,
still he knew,
he was only kicking against the pricks.
It was not,
he had to learn,
that she would not want him enough,
as much as he demanded that she should want him.
It was that she could not.
She could only want him in her own way,
and to her own measure.
And she had spent much life before he found her as she was,
the woman who could take him and give him fulfilment.
She had taken him and given him fulfilment.
She still could do so,
in her own times and ways.
But he must control himself,
measure himself to her.
He wanted to give her all his love,
all his passion,
all his essential energy.
But it could not be.
He must find other things than her,
other centres of living.
She sat close and impregnable with the child.
And he was jealous of the child.
But he loved her,
and time came to give some sort of course to his troublesome current of life,
so that it did not foam and flood and make misery.
He formed another centre of love in her child,
Gradually a part of his stream of life was diverted to the child,
relieving the main flood to his wife.
Also he sought the company of men,
he drank heavily now and again.
The child ceased to have so much anxiety for her mother after the baby came.
Seeing the mother with the baby boy,
delighted and serene and secure,
Anna was at first puzzled,
then gradually she became indignant,
and at last her little life settled on its own swivel,
she was no more strained and distorted to support her mother.
She became more childish,
not so abnormal,
not charged with cares she could not understand.
The charge of the mother,
the satisfying of the mother,
had devolved elsewhere than on her.
Gradually the child was freed.
She became an independent,
forgetful little soul,
loving from her own centre.
Of her own choice,
she then loved Brangwen most,
or most obviously.
For these two made a little life together,
they had a joint activity.
It amused him,
to teach her to count,
or to say her letters.
He remembered for her all the little nursery rhymes and childish songs that lay forgotten at the bottom of his brain.
At first she thought them rubbish.
But he laughed,
and she laughed.
They became to her a huge joke.
Old King Cole she thought was Brangwen.
Mother Hubbard was Tilly,
her mother was the old woman who lived in a shoe.
It was a huge,
it was a frantic delight to the child,
after her years with her mother,
after the poignant folk-tales she had had from her mother,
which always troubled and mystified her soul.
She shared a sort of recklessness with her father,
chosen carelessness that had the laugh of ridicule in it.
He loved to make her voice go high and shouting and defiant with laughter.
The baby was dark-skinned and dark-haired,
like the mother,
and had hazel eyes.
Brangwen called him the blackbird.
Brangwen would cry,
starting as he heard the wail of the child announcing it wanted to be taken out of the cradle,
"there's the blackbird tuning up."
"The blackbird's singing,"
Anna would shout with delight,
"the blackbird's singing."
"When the pie was opened,"
Brangwen shouted in his bawling bass voice,
going over to the cradle,
"the bird began to sing."
"Wasn't it a dainty dish to set before a king?"
her eyes flashing with joy as she uttered the cryptic words,
looking at Brangwen for confirmation.
He sat down with the baby,
And the baby cried loudly,
and Anna shouted lustily,
dancing in wild bliss:
"Sing a song of sixpence Pocketful of posies,
Then she stopped suddenly in silence and looked at Brangwen again,
her eyes flashing,
as she shouted loudly and delightedly:
"I've got it wrong,
I've got it wrong."
said Tilly entering,
"what a racket!"
Brangwen hushed the child and Anna flipped and danced on.
She loved her wild bursts of rowdiness with her father.
Tilly hated it,
Mrs. Brangwen did not mind.
Anna did not care much for other children.
She domineered them,
she treated them as if they were extremely young and incapable,
to her they were little people,
they were not her equals.
So she was mostly alone,
flying round the farm,
entertaining the farm-hands and Tilly and the servant-girl,
whirring on and never ceasing.
She loved driving with Brangwen in the trap.
sitting high up and bowling along,
her passion for eminence and dominance was satisfied.
She was like a little savage in her arrogance.
She thought her father important,
she was installed beside him on high.
And they spanked along,
beside the high,
surveying the activity of the countryside.
When people shouted a greeting to him from the road below,
and Brangwen shouted jovially back,
her little voice was soon heard shrilling along with his,
followed by her chuckling laugh,
when she looked up at her father with bright eyes,
and they laughed at each other.
And soon it was the custom for the passerby to sing out:
"How are ter,
"You're off together then?"
"You're lookin' rarely,
Anna would respond,
with her father:
"How are you,
makin' for Derby,"
shrilling as loudly as she could.
in response to "You're off out a bit then,"
she would reply,
to the great joy of all.
She did not like the people who saluted him and did not salute her.
She went into the public-house with him,
if he had to call,
and often sat beside him in the bar-parlour as he drank his beer or brandy.
The landladies paid court to her,
in the obsequious way landladies have.
an' what's your name?"
came the immediate,
"Indeed it is!
An' do you like driving in a trap with your father?"
but bored by these inanities.
She had a touch-me-not way of blighting the inane inquiries of grown-up people.
she's a fawce little thing,"
the landlady would say to Brangwen.
not encouraging comments on the child.
Then there followed the present of a biscuit,
or of cake,
which Anna accepted as her dues.
"What does she say,
that I'm a fawce little thing?"
the small girl asked afterwards.
"She means you're a sharp-shins."
She did not understand.
Then she laughed at some absurdity she found.
Soon he took her every week to market with him.
"I can come,
she asked every Saturday,
or Thursday morning,
when he made himself look fine in his dress of a gentleman farmer.
And his face clouded at having to refuse her.
So at last,
he overcame his own shyness,
and tucked her beside him.
They drove into Nottingham and put up at the "Black Swan".
So far all right.
Then he wanted to leave her at the inn.
But he saw her face,
and knew it was impossible.
So he mustered his courage,
and set off with her,
holding her hand,
to the cattle-market.
She stared in bewilderment,
flitting silent at his side.
But in the cattle-market she shrank from the press of men,
all in heavy,
and leathern leggins.
And the road underfoot was all nasty with cow-muck.
And it frightened her to see the cattle in the square pens,
so many horns,
and so little enclosure,
and such a madness of men and a yelling of drovers.
Also she felt her father was embarrassed by her,
He brought her a cake at the refreshment-booth,
and set her on a seat.
A man hailed him.
--and the bearded farmer jerked his head at Anna.
"I did-na know tha'd one that old."
it's my missis's."
And the man looked at Anna as if she were some odd little cattle.
She glowered with black eyes.
Brangwen left her there,
in charge of the barman,
whilst he went to see about the selling of some young stirks.
uncouth men from whom she shrank instinctively stared down at her as she sat on her seat,
then went to get their drink,
talking in unabated tones.
All was big and violent about her.
"Whose child met that be?"
they asked of the barman.
"It belongs to Tom Brangwen."
The child sat on in neglect,
watching the door for her father.
He never came;
many men came,
but not he,
and she sat like a shadow.
She knew one did not cry in such a place.
And every man looked at her inquisitively,
she shut herself away from them.
gathering coldness of isolation took hold on her.
He was never coming back.
She sat on,
When she had become blank and timeless he came,
and she slipped off her seat to him,
like one come back from the dead.
He had sold his beast as quickly as he could.
But all the business was not finished.
He took her again through the hurtling welter of the cattle-market.
Then at last they turned and went out through the gate.
He was always hailing one man or another,
always stopping to gossip about land and cattle and horses and other things she did not understand,
standing in the filth and the smell,
among the legs and great boots of men.
And always she heard the questions:
"What lass is that,
I didn't know tha'd one o' that age."
"It belongs to my missis."
Anna was very conscious of her derivation from her mother,
in the end,
and of her alienation.
But at last they were away,
and Brangwen went with her into a little dark,
ancient eating-house in the Bridlesmith-Gate.
They had cow's-tail soup,
and meat and cabbage and potatoes.
came into the dark,
Anna was wide-eyed and silent with wonder.
Then they went into the big market,
into the corn exchange,
then to shops.
He bought her a little book off a stall.
He loved buying things,
odd things that he thought would be useful.
Then they went to the "Black Swan",
and she drank milk and he brandy,
and they harnessed the horse and drove off,
up the Derby Road.
She was tired out with wonder and marvelling.
But the next day,
when she thought of it,
flipping her leg in the odd dance she did,
and talked the whole time of what had happened to her,
of what she had seen.
It lasted her all the week.
And the next Saturday she was eager to go again.
She became a familiar figure in the cattle-market,
sitting waiting in the little booth.
But she liked best to go to Derby.
There her father had more friends.
And she liked the familiarity of the smaller town,
the nearness of the river,
the strangeness that did not frighten her,
it was so much smaller.
She liked the covered-in market,
and the old women.
She liked the "George Inn",
where her father put up.
The landlord was Brangwen's old friend,
and Anna was made much of.
She sat many a day in the cosy parlour talking to Mr. Wigginton,
a fat man with red hair,
And when the farmers all gathered at twelve o'clock for dinner,
she was a little heroine.
At first she would only glower or hiss at these strange men with their uncouth accent.
But they were good-humoured.
She was a little oddity,
with her fierce,
fair hair like spun glass sticking out in a flamy halo round the apple-blossom face and the black eyes,
and the men liked an oddity.
She kindled their attention.
She was very angry because Marriott,
a gentleman-farmer from Ambergate,
called her the little pole-cat.
you're a pole-cat,"
he said to her.
That's just how a pole-cat goes."
She thought about it.
you're --you're -- --" she began.
She looked him up and down.
"You're a bow-leg man."
Which he was.
There was a roar of laughter.
They loved her that she was indomitable.
"Only a pole-cat says that."
I am a pole-cat,"
There was another roar of laughter from the men.
They loved to tease her.
me little maid,"
Braithwaite would say to her,
"an' how's th' lamb's wool?"
He gave a tug at a glistening,
pale piece of her hair.
"It's not lamb's wool,"
indignantly putting back her offended lock.
what'st ca' it then?"
Wheriver dun they rear that sort?"
"Wheriver dun they?"
her curiosity overcoming her.
Instead of answering he shouted with joy.
It was the triumph,
to make her speak dialect.
She had one enemy,
the man they called Nut-Nat,
with inturned feet,
who came flap-lapping along,
shoulder jerking up at every step.
This poor creature sold nuts in the public-houses where he was known.
He had no roof to his mouth,
and the men used to mock his speech.
The first time he came into the "George" when Anna was there,
after he had gone,
her eyes very round:
"Why does he do that when he walks?"
it's th' make o' th' fellow."
She thought about it,
then she laughed nervously.
And then she bethought herself,
her cheeks flushed,
and she cried:
"He's a horrid man."
he's non horrid;
he canna help it if he wor struck that road."
But when poor Nat came wambling in again,
she slid away.
And she would not eat his nuts,
if the men bought them for her.
And when the farmers gambled at dominoes for them,
she was angry.
"They are dirty-man's nuts,"
So a revulsion started against Nat,
who had not long after to go to the workhouse.
There grew in Brangwen's heart now a secret desire to make her a lady.
His brother Alfred,
had caused a great scandal by becoming the lover of an educated woman,
widow of a doctor.
Alfred Brangwen went down as a friend to her cottage,
which was in Derbyshire,
leaving his wife and family for a day or two,
then returning to them.
And no-one dared gainsay him,
for he was a strong-willed,
and he said he was a friend of this widow.
One day Brangwen met his brother on the station.
"Where are you going to,
asked the younger brother.
"I'm going down to Wirksworth."
"You've got friends down there,
"I s'll have to be lookin' in when I'm down that road."
"You please yourself."
Tom Brangwen was so curious about the woman that the next time he was in Wirksworth he asked for her house.
He found a beautiful cottage on the steep side of a hill,
looking clean over the town,
that lay in the bottom of the basin,
and away at the old quarries on the opposite side of the space.
Mrs. Forbes was in the garden.
She was a tall woman with white hair.
She came up the path taking off her thick gloves,
laying down her shears.
It was autumn.
She wore a wide-brimmed hat.
Brangwen blushed to the roots of his hair,
and did not know what to say.
"I thought I might look in,"
"knowing you were friends of my brother's.
I had to come to Wirksworth."
She saw at once that he was a Brangwen.
"Will you come in?"
"My father is lying down."
She took him into a drawing-room,
full of books,
with a piano and a violin-stand.
And they talked,
she simply and easily.
She was full of dignity.
The room was of a kind Brangwen had never known;
the atmosphere seemed open and spacious,
like a mountain-top to him.
"Does my brother like reading?"
He has been reading Herbert Spencer.
And we read Browning sometimes."
Brangwen was full of admiration,
almost reverential admiration.
He looked at her with lit-up eyes when she said,
At last he burst out,
looking round the room:
"I didn't know our Alfred was this way inclined."
"He is quite an unusual man."
He looked at her in amazement.
She evidently had a new idea of his brother: she evidently appreciated him.
He looked again at the woman.
She was about forty,
he was not in love with her,
there was something chilling about her.
But he was filled with boundless admiration.
At tea-time he was introduced to her father,
an invalid who had to be helped about,
but who was ruddy and well-favoured,
with snowy hair and watery blue eyes,
and a courtly naive manner that again was new and strange to Brangwen,
His brother was this woman's lover!
It was too amazing.
Brangwen went home despising himself for his own poor way of life.
He was a clod-hopper and a boor,
stuck in the mud.
More than ever he wanted to clamber out,
to this visionary polite world.
He was well off.
He was as well off as Alfred,
who could not have above six hundred a year,
He himself made about four hundred,
and could make more.
His investments got better every day.
Why did he not do something?
His wife was a lady also.
But when he got to the Marsh,
he realized how fixed everything was,
how the other form of life was beyond him,
and he regretted for the first time that he had succeeded to the farm.
He felt a prisoner,
sitting safe and easy and unadventurous.
have done more with himself.
He could neither read Browning nor Herbert Spencer,
nor have access to such a room as Mrs. Forbes's.
All that form of life was outside him.
he said he did not want it.
The excitement of the visit began to pass off.
The next day he was himself,
and if he thought of the other woman,
there was something about her and her place that he did not like,
something cold something alien,
as if she were not a woman,
but an inhuman being who used up human life for cold,
The evening came on,
he played with Anna,
and then sat alone with his own wife.
She was sewing.
He sat very still,
He was aware of his wife's quiet figure,
and quiet dark head bent over her needle.
It was too quiet for him.
It was too peaceful.
He wanted to smash the walls down,
and let the night in,
so that his wife should not be so secure and quiet,
He wished the air were not so close and narrow.
His wife was obliterated from him,
she was in her own world,
He was shut down by her.
He rose to go out.
He could not sit still any longer.
He must get out of this oppressive,
His wife lifted her head and looked at him.
"Are you going out?"
He looked down and met her eyes.
They were darker than darkness,
and gave deeper space.
He felt himself retreating before her,
whilst her eyes followed and tracked him own.
"I was just going up to Cossethay,"
She remained watching him.
"Why do you go?"
His heart beat fast,
and he sat down,
"No reason particular,"
beginning to fill his pipe again,
"Why do you go away so often?"
"But you don't want me,"
She was silent for a while.
"You do not want to be with me any more,"
It startled him.
How did she know this truth?
He thought it was his secret.
"You want to find something else,"
He did not answer.
he asked himself.
"You should not want so much attention,"
"You are not a baby."
"I'm not grumbling,"
Yet he knew he was.
"You think you have not enough,"
"You think you have not enough in me.
But how do you know me?
What do you do to make me love you?"
He was flabbergasted.
"I never said I hadn't enough in you,"
"I didn't know you wanted making to love me.
What do you want?"
"You don't make it good between us any more,
you are not interested.
You do not make me want you."
"And you don't make me want you,
do you now?"
There was a silence.
They were such strangers.
"Would you like to have another woman?"
His eyes grew round,
he did not know where he was.
How could she,
his own wife,
say such a thing?
But she sat there,
small and foreign and separate.
It dawned upon him she did not consider herself his wife,
except in so far as they agreed.
She did not feel she had married him.
At any rate,
she was willing to allow he might want another woman.
a space opened before him.
he said slowly.
"What other woman should I want?"
"Like your brother,"
He was silent for some time,
"What of her?"
"I didn't like the woman."
you liked her,"
she answered persistently.
He stared in wonder at his own wife as she told him his own heart so callously.
And he was indignant.
What right had she to sit there telling him these things?
She was his wife,
what right had she to speak to him like this,
as if she were a stranger.
"I want no woman."
you would like to be like Alfred."
His silence was one of angry frustration.
He was astonished.
He had told her of his visit to Wirksworth,
As she sat with her strange dark face turned towards him,
her eyes watched him,
casting him up.
He began to oppose her.
She was again the active unknown facing him.
Must he admit her?
He resisted involuntarily.
"Why should you want to find a woman who is more to you than me?"
The turbulence raged in his breast.
"Why do you?"
"Why do you want to deny me?"
in a flash,
he saw she might be lonely,
She had seemed to him the utterly certain,
Could she need anything?
"Why aren't you satisfied with me?
--I'm not satisfied with you.
Paul used to come to me and take me like a man does.
You only leave me alone or take me like your cattle,
to forget me again --so that you can forget me again."
"What am I to remember about you?"
"I want you to know there is somebody there besides yourself."
don't I know it?"
"You come to me as if it was for nothing,
as if I was nothing there.
When Paul came to me,
I was something to him --a woman,
To you I am nothing --it is like cattle --or nothing -- --"
"You make me feel as if I was nothing,"
They were silent.
She sat watching him.
He could not move,
his soul was seething and chaotic.
She turned to her sewing again.
But the sight of her bent before him held him and would not let him be.
She was a strange,
Yet not quite hostile.
As he sat he felt his limbs were strong and hard,
he sat in strength.
She was silent for a long time,
He was aware,
of the round shape of her head,
She lifted her head and sighed.
The blood burned in him,
her voice ran to him like fire.
For some moments he did not move.
Then he rose slowly and went across the hearth.
It required an almost deathly effort of volition,
or of acquiescence.
He stood before her and looked down at her.
Her face was shining again,
her eyes were shining again like terrible laughter.
It was to him terrible,
how she could be transfigured.
He could not look at her,
it burnt his heart.
And she put her arms round him as he stood before her round his thighs,
pressing him against her breast.
And her hands on him seemed to reveal to him the mould of his own nakedness,
he was passionately lovely to himself.
He could not bear to look at her.
He knew she spoke a foreign language.
The fear was like bliss in his heart.
He looked down.
Her face was shining,
her eyes were full of light,
she was awful.
He suffered from the compulsion to her.
She was the awful unknown.
He bent down to her,
unable to let go,
unable to let himself go,
She was now the transfigured,
she was wonderful,
He wanted to go.
But he could not as yet kiss her.
He was himself apart.
Easiest he could kiss her feet.
But he was too ashamed for the actual deed,
which were like an affront.
She waited for him to meet her,
not to bow before her and serve her.
She wanted his active participation,
not his submission.
She put her fingers on him.
And it was torture to him,
that he must give himself to her actively,
participate in her,
that he must meet and embrace and know her,
who was other than himself.
There was that in him which shrank from yielding to her,
resisted the relaxing towards her,
opposed the mingling with her,
even while he most desired it.
He was afraid,
he wanted to save himself.
There were a few moments of stillness.
the withholding relaxed in him,
and he began to flow towards her.
She was beyond him,
But he let go his hold on himself,
he relinquished himself,
and knew the subterranean force of his desire to come to her,
to be with her,
to mingle with her,
losing himself to find her,
to find himself in her.
He began to approach her,
to draw near.
His blood beat up in waves of desire.
He wanted to come to her,
to meet her.
She was there,
if he could reach her.
The reality of her who was just beyond him absorbed him.
Blind and destroyed,
he pressed forward,
to receive the consummation of himself,
he received within the darkness which should swallow him and yield him up to himself.
If he could come really within the blazing kernel of darkness,
if really he could be destroyed,
burnt away till he lit with her in one consummation,
that were supreme,
Their coming together now,
after two years of married life,
was much more wonderful to them than it had been before.
It was the entry into another circle of existence,
it was the baptism to another life,
it was the complete confirmation.
Their feet trod strange ground of knowledge,
their footsteps were lit-up with discovery.
Wherever they walked,
it was well,
the world re-echoed round them in discovery.
They went gladly and forgetful.
Everything was lost,
and everything was found.
The new world was discovered,
it remained only to be explored.
They had passed through the doorway into the further space,
where movement was so big,
that it contained bonds and constraints and labours,
and still was complete liberty.
She was the doorway to him,
he to her.
At last they had thrown open the doors,
each to the other,
and had stood in the doorways facing each other,
whilst the light flooded out from behind on to each of their faces,
it was the transfiguration,
And always the light of the transfiguration burned on in their hearts.
He went his way,
she went her way,
to the rest of the world there seemed no change.
But to the two of them,
there was the perpetual wonder of the transfiguration.
He did not know her any better,
any more precisely,
now that he knew her altogether.
the war --he understood no more of this in her.
He did not understand her foreign nature,
nor her foreign speech.
But he knew her,
he knew her meaning,
What she said,
what she spoke,
this was a blind gesture on her part.
In herself she walked strong and clear,
he knew her,
he saluted her,
was with her.
What was memory after all,
but the recording of a number of possibilities which had never been fulfilled?
What was Paul Lensky to her,
but an unfulfilled possibility to which he,
was the reality and the fulfilment?
What did it matter,
that Anna Lensky was born of Lydia and Paul?
God was her father and her mother.
He had passed through the married pair without fully making Himself known to them.
Now He was declared to Brangwen and to Lydia Brangwen,
as they stood together.
When at last they had joined hands,
the house was finished,
and the Lord took up his abode.
And they were glad.
The days went on as before,
Brangwen went out to his work,
his wife nursed her child and attended in some measure to the farm.
They did not think of each other-why should they?
Only when she touched him,
he knew her instantly,
that she was with him,
that she was the gateway and the way out,
that she was beyond,
and that he was travelling in her through the beyond.
--What does it matter?
He responded always.
When she called,
when he asked,
her response came at once,
or at length.
Anna's soul was put at peace between them.
She looked from one to the other,
and she saw them established to her safety,
and she was free.
She played between the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud in confidence,
having the assurance on her right hand and the assurance on her left.
She was no longer called upon to uphold with her childish might the broken end of the arch.
Her father and her mother now met to the span of the heavens,
was free to play in the space beneath,
GIRLHOOD OF ANNE BRANGWEN
When Anna was nine years old,
Brangwen sent her to the dames' school in Cossethay.
There she went,
flipping and dancing in her inconsequential fashion,
doing very much as she liked,
disconcerting old Miss Coates by her indifference to respectability and by her lack of reverence.
Anna only laughed at Miss Coates,
and patronized her in superb,
The girl was at once shy and wild.
She had a curious contempt for ordinary people,
a benevolent superiority.
She was very shy,
and tortured with misery when people did not like her.
On the other hand,
she cared very little for anybody save her mother,
whom she still rather resentfully worshipped,
and her father,
whom she loved and patronized,
but upon whom she depended.
her mother and father,
held her still in fee.
But she was free of other people,
on the whole,
she took the benevolent attitude.
She deeply hated ugliness or intrusion or arrogance,
As a child,
she was as proud and shadowy as a tiger,
and as aloof.
She could confer favours,
save from her mother and father,
she could receive none.
She hated people who came too near to her.
Like a wild thing,
she wanted her distance.
She mistrusted intimacy.
In Cossethay and Ilkeston she was always an alien.
She had plenty of acquaintances,
but no friends.
Very few people whom she met were significant to her.
They seemed part of a herd,
She did not take people very seriously.
She had two brothers,
whom she was intimately related to but whom she never mingled with,
fair and responsive,
whom she adored but did not consider as a real,
She was too much the centre of her own universe,
too little aware of anything outside.
The first person she met,
who affected her as a real,
whom she regarded as having definite existence,
was Baron Skrebensky,
her mother's friend.
He also was a Polish exile,
who had taken orders,
and had received from Mr. Gladstone a small country living in Yorkshire.
When Anna was about ten years old,
she went with her mother to spend a few days with the Baron Skrebensky.
He was very unhappy in his red-brick vicarage.
He was vicar of a country church,
a living worth a little over two hundred pounds a year,
but he had a large parish containing several collieries,
with a new,
He went to the north of England expecting homage from the common people,
for he was an aristocrat.
He was roughly,
even cruelly received.
But he never understood it.
He remained a fiery aristocrat.
Only he had to learn to avoid his parishioners.
Anna was very much impressed by him.
He was a smallish man with a rugged,
rather crumpled face and blue eyes set very deep and glowing.
His wife was a tall thin woman,
of noble Polish family,
mad with pride.
He still spoke broken English,
for he had kept very close to his wife,
both of them forlorn in this strange,
and they always spoke in Polish together.
He was disappointed with Mrs. Brangwen's soft,
very disappointed that her child spoke no Polish.
Anna loved to watch him.
She liked the big,
desolate and stark on its hill.
It was so exposed,
so bleak and bold after the Marsh.
The Baron talked endlessly in Polish to Mrs. Brangwen;
he made furious gestures with his hands,
his blue eyes were full of fire.
And to Anna,
there was a significance about his sharp,
Something in her responded to his extravagance and his exuberant manner.
She thought him a very wonderful person.
She was shy of him,
she liked him to talk to her.
She felt a sense of freedom near him.
She never could tell how she knew it,
but she did know that he was a knight of Malta.
She could never remember whether she had seen his star,
of his order or not,
but it flashed in her mind,
like a symbol.
He at any rate represented to the child the real world,
where kings and lords and princes moved and fulfilled their shining lives,
whilst queens and ladies and princesses upheld the noble order.
She had recognized the Baron Skrebensky as a real person,
he had had some regard for her.
But when she did not see him any more,
he faded and became a memory.
But as a memory he was always alive to her.
Anna became a tall,
Her eyes were still very dark and quick,
but they had grown careless,
they had lost their watchful,
spun hair turned brown,
it grew heavier and was tied back.
She was sent to a young ladies' school in Nottingham.
And at this period she was absorbed in becoming a young lady.
She was intelligent enough,
but not interested in learning.
she thought all the girls at school very ladylike and wonderful,
and she wanted to be like them.
She came to a speedy disillusion: they galled and maddened her,
they were petty and mean.
After the loose,
generous atmosphere of her home,
where little things did not count,
she was always uneasy in the world,
that would snap and bite at every trifle.
A quick change came over her.
She mistrusted herself,
she mistrusted the outer world.
She did not want to go on,
she did not want to go out into it,
she wanted to go no further.
"What do I care about that lot of girls?"
she would say to her father,
"they are nobody."
The trouble was that the girls would not accept Anna at her measure.
They would have her according to themselves or not at all.
So she was confused,
she became as they were for a time,
she hated them furiously.
"Why don't you ask some of your girls here?"
her father would say.
"They're not coming here,"
"And why not?"
using one of her mother's rare phrases.
"Bagatelles or billiards,
it makes no matter,
they're nice young lasses enough."
But Anna was not to be won over.
She had a curious shrinking from commonplace people,
and particularly from the young lady of her day.
She would not go into company because of the ill-at-ease feeling other people brought upon her.
And she never could decide whether it were her fault or theirs.
She half respected these other people,
and continuous disillusion maddened her.
She wanted to respect them.
Still she thought the people she did not know were wonderful.
Those she knew seemed always to be limiting her,
tying her up in little falsities that irritated her beyond bearing.
She would rather stay at home and avoid the rest of the world,
leaving it illusory.
For at the Marsh life had indeed a certain freedom and largeness.
There was no fret about money,
no mean little precedence,
nor care for what other people thought,
because neither Mrs. Brangwen nor Brangwen could be sensible of any judgment passed on them from outside.
Their lives were too separate.
So Anna was only easy at home,
where the common sense and the supreme relation between her parents produced a freer standard of being than she could find outside.
outside the Marsh,
could she find the tolerant dignity she had been brought up in?
Her parents stood undiminished and unaware of criticism.
The people she met outside seemed to begrudge her her very existence.
They seemed to want to belittle her also.
She was exceedingly reluctant to go amongst them.
She depended upon her mother and her father.
And yet she wanted to go out.
or in the world,
she was usually at fault,
she felt usually that she ought to be slinking in disgrace.
She never felt quite sure,
whether she were wrong,
or whether the others were wrong.
She had not done her lessons: well,
she did not see any reason why she should do her lessons,
if she did not want to.
Was there some occult reason why she should?
Were these people,
representatives of some mystic Right,
some Higher Good?
They seemed to think so themselves.
But she could not for her life see why a woman should bully and insult her because she did not know thirty lines of As You Like It.
what did it matter if she knew them or not?
Nothing could persuade her that it was of the slightest importance.
Because she despised inwardly the coarsely working nature of the mistress.
Therefore she was always at outs with authority.
From constant telling,
she came almost to believe in her own badness,
her own intrinsic inferiority.
She felt that she ought always to be in a state of slinking disgrace,
if she fulfilled what was expected of her.
But she rebelled.
She never really believed in her own badness.
At the bottom of her heart she despised the other people,
who carped and were loud over trifles.
She despised them,
and wanted revenge on them.
She hated them whilst they had power over her.
Still she kept an ideal: a free,
proud lady absolved from the petty ties,
existing beyond petty considerations.
She would see such ladies in pictures: Alexandra,
Princess of Wales,
was one of her models.
This lady was proud and royal,
and stepped indifferently over all small,
mean desires: so thought Anna,
in her heart.
And the girl did up her hair high under a little slanting hat,
her skirts were fashionably bunched up,
she wore an elegant,
Her father was delighted.
Anna was very proud in her bearing,
too naturally indifferent to smaller bonds to satisfy Ilkeston,
which would have liked to put her down.
But Brangwen was having no such thing.
If she chose to be royal,
royal she should be.
He stood like a rock between her and the world.
After the fashion of his family,
he grew stout and handsome.
His blue eyes were full of light,
twinkling and sensitive,
his manner was deliberate,
His capacity for living his own life without attention from his neighbours made them respect him.
They would run to do anything for him.
He did not consider them,
but was open-handed towards them,
so they made profit of their willingness.
He liked people,
so long as they remained in the background.
Mrs. Brangwen went on in her own way,
following her own devices.
She had her husband,
her two sons and Anna.
These staked out and marked her horizon.
The other people were outsiders.
Inside her own world,
her life passed along like a dream for her,
and she lived within its lapse,
active and always pleased,
She scarcely noticed the outer things at all.
What was outside was outside,
She did not mind if the boys fought,
so long as it was out of her presence.
But if they fought when she was by,
she was angry,
and they were afraid of her.
She did not care if they broke a window of a railway carriage or sold their watches to have a revel at the Goose Fair.
Brangwen was perhaps angry over these things.
To the mother they were insignificant.
It was odd little things that offended her.
She was furious if the boys hung around the slaughter-house,
she was displeased when the school reports were bad.
It did not matter how many sins her boys were accused of,
so long as they were not stupid,
If they seemed to brook insult,
she hated them.
And it was only a certain gaucherie,
a gawkiness on Anna's part that irritated her against the girl.
Certain forms of clumsiness,
made the mother's eyes glow with curious rage.
Otherwise she was pleased,
Pursuing her splendid-lady ideal,
Anna became a lofty demoiselle of sixteen,
plagued by family shortcomings.
She was very sensitive to her father.
She knew if he had been drinking,
were he ever so little affected,
and she could not bear it.
He flushed when he drank,
the veins stood out on his temples,
there was a twinkling,
cavalier boisterousness in his eye,
his manner was jovially overbearing and mocking.
And it angered her.
When she heard his loud,
an anger of resentment filled her.
She was quick to forestall him,
the moment he came in.
"You look a sight,
red in the face,"
"I might look worse if I was green,"
"Boozing in Ilkeston."
"And what's wrong wi' Il'son?"
She flounced away.
He watched her with amused,
yet in spite of himself said that she flouted him.
They were a curious family,
a law to themselves,
separate from the world,
a small republic set in invisible bounds.
The mother was quite indifferent to Ilkeston and Cossethay,
to any claims made on her from outside,
she was very shy of any outsider,
But the moment the visitor had gone,
she laughed and dismissed him,
he did not exist.
It had been all a game to her.
She was still a foreigner,
unsure of her ground.
But alone with her own children and husband at the Marsh,
she was mistress of a little native land that lacked nothing.
She had some beliefs somewhere,
She had been brought up a Roman Catholic.
She had gone to the Church of England for protection.
The outward form was a matter of indifference to her.
Yet she had some fundamental religion.
It was as if she worshipped God as a mystery,
never seeking in the least to define what He was.
And inside her,
the subtle sense of the Great Absolute wherein she had her being was very strong.
The English dogma never reached her: the language was too foreign.
Through it all she felt the great Separator who held life in His hands,
the Great Mystery,
immediate beyond all telling.
She shone and gleamed to the Mystery,
Whom she knew through all her senses,
she glanced with strange,
mystic superstitions that never found expression in the English language,
never mounted to thought in English.
But so she lived,
within a potent,
sensuous belief that included her family and contained her destiny.
To this she had reduced her husband.
He existed with her entirely indifferent to the general values of the world.
Her very ways,
the very mark of her eyebrows were symbols and indication to him.
on the farm with her,
he lived through a mystery of life and death and creation,
profound ecstasies and incommunicable satisfactions,
of which the rest of the world knew nothing;
which made the pair of them apart and respected in the English village,
for they were also well-to-do.
But Anna was only half safe within her mother's unthinking knowledge.
She had a mother-of-pearl rosary that had been her own father's.
What it meant to her she could never say.
But the string of moonlight and silver,
when she had it between her fingers,
filled her with strange passion.
She learned at school a little Latin,
she learned an Ave Maria and a Pater Noster,
she learned how to say her rosary.
But that was no good.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus.
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,
It was not right,
What these words meant when translated was not the same as the pale rosary meant.
There was a discrepancy,
It irritated her to say,
"benedicta tu in mulieribus."
She loved the mystic words,
she was moved by "benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus,"
and by "nunc et in hora mortis nostrae."
But none of it was quite real.
It was not satisfactory,
She avoided her rosary,
moving her with curious passion as it did,
it meant only these not very significant things.
She put it away.
It was her instinct to put all these things away.
It was her instinct to avoid thinking,
to avoid it,
to save herself.
She was seventeen,
full of spirits,
and very moody: quick to flush,
and always uneasy,
For some reason or other,
she turned more to her father,
she felt almost flashes of hatred for her mother.
Her mother's dark muzzle and curiously insidious ways,
her mother's utter surety and confidence,
her strange satisfaction,
her mother's way of laughing at things and her mother's silent overriding of vexatious propositions,
most of all her mother's triumphant power maddened the girl.
She became sudden and incalculable.
Often she stood at the window,
as if she wanted to go.
Sometimes she went,
she mixed with people.
But always she came home in anger,
as if she were diminished,
There was over the house a kind of dark silence and intensity,
in which passion worked its inevitable conclusions.
There was in the house a sort of richness,
inarticulate interchange which made other places seem thin and unsatisfying.
Brangwen could sit silent,
smoking in his chair,
the mother could move about in her quiet,
and the sense of the two presences was powerful,
The whole intercourse was wordless,
intense and close.
But Anna was uneasy.
She wanted to get away.
Yet wherever she went,
there came upon her that feeling of thinness,
as if she were made smaller,
She hastened home.
There she raged and interrupted the strong,
Sometimes her mother turned on her with a fierce,
in which was no pity or consideration.
And Anna shrank,
She went to her father.
He would still listen to the spoken word,
which fell sterile on the unheeding mother.
Sometimes Anna talked to her father.
She tried to discuss people,
she wanted to know what was meant.
But her father became uneasy.
He did not want to have things dragged into consciousness.
Only out of consideration for her he listened.
And there was a kind of bristling rousedness in the room.
The cat got up and stretching itself,
went uneasily to the door.
Mrs. Brangwen was silent,
she seemed ominous.
Anna could not go on with her fault-finding,
her expression of dissatisfactions.
She felt even her father against her.
He had a strong,
dark bond with her mother,
a potent intimacy that existed inarticulate and wild,
following its own course,
and savage if interrupted,
Nevertheless Brangwen was uneasy about the girl,
the whole house continued to be disturbed.
She had a pathetic,
She was hostile to her parents,
even whilst she lived entirely with them,
within their spell.
Many ways she tried,
She became an assiduous church-goer.
But the language meant nothing to her: it seemed false.
She hated to hear things expressed,
put into words.
Whilst the religious feelings were inside her they were passionately moving.
In the mouth of the clergyman,
they were false,
She tried to read.
But again the tedium and the sense of the falsity of the spoken word put her off.
She went to stay with girl friends.
At first she thought it splendid.
But then the inner boredom came on,
it seemed to her all nothingness.
And she felt always belittled,
as if never,
never could she stretch her length and stride her stride.
Her mind reverted often to the torture cell of a certain Bishop of France,
in which the victim could neither stand nor lie stretched out,
Not that she thought of herself in any connection with this.
But often there came into her mind the wonder,
how the cell was built,
and she could feel the horror of the crampedness,
as something very real.
only eighteen when a letter came from Mrs. Alfred Brangwen,
saying that her son William was coming to Ilkeston to take a place as junior draughtsman,
scarcely more than apprentice,
in a lace factory.
He was twenty years old,
and would the Marsh Brangwens be friendly with him.
Tom Brangwen at once wrote offering the young man a home at the Marsh.
This was not accepted,
but the Nottingham Brangwens expressed gratitude.
There had never been much love lost between the Nottingham Brangwens and the Marsh.
having inherited three thousand pounds,
and having occasion to be dissatisfied with her husband,
held aloof from all the Brangwens whatsoever.
some esteem of Mrs. Tom,
as she called the Polish woman,
saying that at any rate she was a lady.
Anna Brangwen was faintly excited at the news of her Cousin Will's coming to Ilkeston.
She knew plenty of young men,
but they had never become real to her.
She had seen in this young gallant a nose she liked,
in that a pleasant moustache,
in the other a nice way of wearing clothes,
in one a ridiculous fringe of hair,
in another a comical way of talking.
They were objects of amusement and faint wonder to her,
rather than real beings,
the young men.
The only man she knew was her father;
as he was something large,
a kind of Godhead,
he embraced all manhood for her,
and other men were just incidental.
She remembered her cousin Will.
He had town clothes and was thin,
with a very curious head,
black as jet,
with hair like sleek,
It was a curious head: it reminded her she knew not of what: of some animal,
some mysterious animal that lived in the darkness under the leaves and never came out,
but which lived vividly,
swift and intense.
She always thought of him with that black,
And she considered him odd.
He appeared at the Marsh one Sunday morning: a rather long,
thin youth with a bright face and a curious self-possession among his shyness,
a native unawareness of what other people might be,
since he was himself.
When Anna came downstairs in her Sunday clothes,
ready for church,
he rose and greeted her conventionally,
His manners were better than hers.
She noticed that he now had a thick fledge on his upper lip,
finely-shapen line marking his wide mouth.
It rather repelled her.
It reminded her of the thin,
fine fur of his hair.
She was aware of something strange in him.
His voice had rather high upper notes,
and very resonant middle notes.
It was queer.
She wondered why he did it.
But he sat very naturally in the Marsh living-room.
He had some uncouthness,
some natural self-possession of the Brangwens,
that made him at home there.
Anna was rather troubled by the strangely intimate,
affectionate way her father had towards this young man.
He seemed gentle towards him,
he put himself aside in order to fill out the young man.
This irritated Anna.
she said abruptly,
"give me some collection."
"Don't be ridiculous,"
"what collection's this?"
"You know it's the first Sunday of the month."
Anna stood confused.
Why was he doing this,
why was he making her conspicuous before this stranger?
"I want some collection,"
"So tha says,"
he replied indifferently,
looking at her,
then turning again to this nephew.
She went forward,
and thrust her hand into his breeches pocket.
He smoked steadily,
making no resistance,
talking to his nephew.
Her hand groped about in his pocket,
and then drew out his leathern purse.
Her colour was bright in her clear cheeks,
her eyes shone.
Brangwen's eyes were twinkling.
The nephew sat sheepishly.
in her finery,
sat down and slid all the money into her lap.
There was silver and gold.
The youth could not help watching her.
She was bent over the heap of money,
fingering the different coins.
"I've a good mind to take half a sovereign,"
and she looked up with glowing dark eyes.
She met the light-brown eyes of her cousin,
close and intent upon her.
She was startled.
She laughed quickly,
and turned to her father.
"I've a good mind to take half a sovereign,
said her father.
"You take what's your own."
"Are you coming,
asked her brother from the door.
She suddenly chilled to normal,
forgetting both her father and her cousin.
taking sixpence from the heap of money and sliding the rest back into the purse,
which she laid on the table.
"Give it here,"
said her father.
Hastily she thrust the purse into his pocket and was going out.
"You'd better go wi'
said the father to the nephew.
Will Brangwen rose uncertainly.
He had golden-brown,
like a bird's,
like a hawk's,
which cannot look afraid.
"Your Cousin Will
'll come with you,"
said the father.
Anna glanced at the strange youth again.
She felt him waiting there for her to notice him.
He was hovering on the edge of her consciousness,
ready to come in.
She did not want to look at him.
She was antagonistic to him.
She waited without speaking.
Her cousin took his hat and joined her.
It was summer outside.
Her brother Fred was plucking a sprig of flowery currant to put in his coat,
from the bush at the angle of the house.
She took no notice.
Her cousin followed just behind her.
They were on the high road.
She was aware of a strangeness in her being.
It made her uncertain.
She caught sight of the flowering currant in her brother's buttonhole.
"Don't wear that stuff to go to church."
Fred looked down protectively at the pink adornment on his breast.
I like it,"
"Then you're the only one who does,
And she turned to her cousin.
"Do you like the smell of it?"
He was there beside her,
tall and uncouth and yet self-possessed.
It excited her.
"I can't say whether I do or not,"
"Give it here,
don't have it smelling in church,"
she said to the little boy,
small brother handed her the flower dutifully.
She sniffed it and gave it without a word to her cousin,
for his judgment.
He smelled the dangling flower curiously.
"It's a funny smell,"
And suddenly she laughed,
and a quick light came on all their faces,
there was a blithe trip in the small boy's walk.
The bells were ringing,
they were going up the summery hill in their Sunday clothes.
Anna was very fine in a silk frock of brown and white stripes,
tight along the arms and the body,
bunched up very elegantly behind the skirt.
There was something of the cavalier about Will Brangwen,
and he was well dressed.
He walked along with the sprig of currant-blossom dangling between his fingers,
and none of them spoke.
The sun shone brightly on little showers of buttercup down the bank,
in the fields the fool's-parsley was foamy,
held very high and proud above a number of flowers that flitted in the greenish twilight of the mowing-grass below.
They reached the church.
Fred led the way to the pew,
followed by the cousin,
She felt very conspicuous and important.
this young man gave her away to other people.
He stood aside and let her pass to her place,
then sat next to her.
It was a curious sensation,
to sit next to him.
The colour came streaming from the painted window above her.
It lit on the dark wood of the pew,
on the stone,
on the pillar behind her cousin,
and on her cousin's hands,
as they lay on his knees.
She sat amid illumination,
illumination and luminous shadow all around her,
her soul very bright.
without knowing it,
conscious of the hands and motionless knees of her cousin.
Something strange had entered into her world,
something entirely strange and unlike what she knew.
She was curiously elated.
She sat in a glowing world of unreality,
A brooding light,
was in her eyes.
She was aware of a strange influence entering in to her,
which she enjoyed.
It was a dark enrichening influence she had not known before.
She did not think of her cousin.
But she was startled when his hands moved.
She wished he would not say the responses so plainly.
It diverted her from her vague enjoyment.
Why would he obtrude,
and draw notice to himself?
It was bad taste.
But she went on all right till the hymn came.
He stood up beside her to sing,
and that pleased her.
at the very first word,
his voice came strong and over-riding,
filling the church.
He was singing the tenor.
Her soul opened in amazement.
His voice filled the church!
It rang out like a trumpet,
and rang out again.
She started to giggle over her hymn-book.
But he went on,
Up and down rang his voice,
going its own way.
She was helplessly shocked into laughter.
Between moments of dead silence in herself she shook with laughter.
On came the laughter,
seized her and shook her till the tears were in her eyes.
She was amazed,
and rather enjoyed it.
And still the hymn rolled on,
and still she laughed.
She bent over her hymn-book crimson with confusion,
but still her sides shook with laughter.
She pretended to cough,
she pretended to have a crumb in her throat.
Fred was gazing up at her with clear blue eyes.
She was recovering herself.
And then a slur in the strong,
blind voice at her side brought it all on again,
in a gust of mad laughter.
She bent down to prayer in cold reproof of herself.
as she knelt,
little eddies of giggling went over her.
The very sight of his knees on the praying cushion sent the little shock of laughter over her.
She gathered herself together and sat with prim,
white and pink and cold as a Christmas rose,
her hands in her silk gloves folded on her lap,
her dark eyes all vague,
abstracted in a sort of dream,
oblivious of everything.
The sermon rolled on vaguely,
in a tide of pregnant peace.
Her cousin took out his pocket-handkerchief.
He seemed to be drifted absorbed into the sermon.
He put his handkerchief to his face.
Then something dropped on to his knee.
There lay the bit of flowering currant!
He was looking down at it in real astonishment.
A wild snort of laughter came from Anna.
Everybody heard: it was torture.
He had shut the crumpled flower in his hand and was looking up again with the same absorbed attention to the sermon.
Another snort of laughter from Anna.
Fred nudged her remindingly.
Her cousin sat motionless.
Somehow he was aware that his face was red.
She could feel him.
closed over the flower,
remained quite still,
pretending to be normal.
Another wild struggle in Anna's breast,
and the snort of laughter.
She bent forward shaking with laughter.
It was now no joke.
Fred was nudge-nudging at her.
She nudged him back fiercely.
Then another vicious spasm of laughter seized her.
She tried to ward it off in a little cough.
The cough ended in a suppressed whoop.
She wanted to die.
And the closed hand crept away to the pocket.
Whilst she sat in taut suspense,
the laughter rushed back at her,
knowing he was fumbling in his pocket to shove the flower away.
In the end,
she felt weak,
exhausted and thoroughly depressed.
A blankness of wincing depression came over her.
She hated the presence of the other people.
Her face became quite haughty.
She was unaware of her cousin any more.
When the collection arrived with the last hymn,
her cousin was again singing resoundingly.
And still it amused her.
In spite of the shameful exhibition she had made of herself,
it amused her still.
She listened to it in a spell of amusement.
And the bag was thrust in front of her,
and her sixpence was mingled in the folds of her glove.
In her haste to get it out,
it flipped away and went twinkling in the next pew.
She stood and giggled.
She could not help it: she laughed outright,
a figure of shame.
"What were you laughing about,
the moment they were out of the church.
I couldn't help it,"
in her careless,
"I don't know why Cousin Will's singing set me off."
"What was there in my singing to make you laugh?"
"It was so loud,"
They did not look at each other,
but they both laughed again,
"What were you snorting and laughing for,
the elder brother,
at the dinner table,
his hazel eyes bright with joy.
"Everybody stopped to look at you."
Tom was in the choir.
She was aware of Will's eyes shining steadily upon her,
waiting for her to speak.
"It was Cousin Will's singing,"
At which her cousin burst into a suppressed,
suddenly showing all his small,
rather sharp teeth,
and just as quickly closing his mouth again.
"Has he got such a remarkable voice on him then?"
it's not that,"
"Only it tickled me --I couldn't tell you why."
And again a ripple of laughter went down the table.
Will Brangwen thrust forward his dark face,
his eyes dancing,
"I'm in the choir of St. Nicholas."
you go to church then!"
"Mother does --father doesn't,"
replied the youth.
It was the little things,
the funny tones of his voice,
that showed up big to Anna.
The matter-of-fact things he said were absurd in contrast.
The things her father said seemed meaningless and neutral.
During the afternoon they sat in the parlour,
that smelled of geranium,
and they ate cherries,
Will Brangwen was called on to give himself forth.
And soon he was drawn out.
He was interested in churches,
in church architecture.
The influence of Ruskin had stimulated him to a pleasure in the medieval forms.
His talk was fragmentary,
he was only half articulate.
But listening to him,
as he spoke of church after church,
of nave and chancel and transept,
of rood-screen and font,
of hatchet-carving and moulding and tracery,
speaking always with close passion of particular things,
there gathered in her heart a pregnant hush of churches,
a ponderous significance of bowed stone,
a dim-coloured light through which something took place obscurely,
passing into darkness: a high,
delighted framework of the mystic screen,
in the furthest beyond,
It was a very real experience.
She was carried away.
And the land seemed to be covered with a vast,
reserved in gloom,
thrilled with an unknown Presence.
Almost it hurt her,
to look out of the window and see the lilacs towering in the vivid sunshine.
Or was this the jewelled glass?
He talked of Gothic and Renaissance and Perpendicular,
and Early English and Norman.
The words thrilled her.
"Have you been to Southwell?"
"I was there at twelve o'clock at midday,
eating my lunch in the churchyard.
And the bells played a hymn.
it's a fine Minster,
It's got heavy,
on thick pillars.
the way those arches travel forward.
"There's a sedilia as well --pretty.
But I like the main body of the church --and that north porch --"
He was very much excited and filled with himself that afternoon.
A flame kindled round him,
making his experience passionate and glowing,
His uncle listened with twinkling eyes,
His aunt bent forward her dark face,
but held by other knowledge.
Anna went with him.
He returned to his lodging at night treading quick,
his eyes glittering,
and his face shining darkly as if he came from some passionate,
The glow remained in him,
the fire burned,
his heart was fierce like a sun.
He enjoyed his unknown life and his own self.
And he was ready to go back to the Marsh.
Without knowing it,
Anna was wanting him to come.
In him she had escaped.
In him the bounds of her experience were transgressed: he was the hole in the wall,
beyond which the sunshine blazed on an outside world.
there recurred the strange,
remote reality which carried everything before it.
he talked of his father,
whom he hated with a hatred that was burningly close to love,
of his mother,
whom he loved,
with a love that was keenly close to hatred,
or to revolt.
His sentences were clumsy,
he was only half articulate.
But he had the wonderful voice,
that could ring its vibration through the girl's soul,
transport her into his feeling.
Sometimes his voice was hot and declamatory,
sometimes it had a strange,
almost cat-like sound,
sometimes it hesitated,
sometimes there was the break of a little laugh.
Anna was taken by him.
She loved the running flame that coursed through her as she listened to him.
And his mother and his father became to her two separate people in her life.
For some weeks the youth came frequently,
and was received gladly by them all.
He sat amongst them,
his dark face glowing,
an eagerness and a touch of derisiveness on his wide mouth,
something grinning and twisted,
his eyes always shining like a bird's,
utterly without depth.
There was no getting hold of the fellow,
Brangwen irritably thought.
He was like a grinning young tom-cat,
that came when he thought he would,
and without cognizance of the other person.
At first the youth had looked towards Tom Brangwen when he talked;
and then he looked towards his aunt,
for her appreciation,
valuing it more than his uncle's;
and then he turned to Anna,
because from her he got what he wanted,
which was not in the elder people.
So that the two young people,
from being always attendant on the elder,
began to draw apart and establish a separate kingdom.
Sometimes Tom Brangwen was irritated.
His nephew irritated him.
The lad seemed to him too special,
His nature was fierce enough,
but too much abstracted,
like a separate thing,
like a cat's nature.
A cat could lie perfectly peacefully on the hearthrug whilst its master or mistress writhed in agony a yard away.
It had nothing to do with other people's affairs.
What did the lad really care about anything,
save his own instinctive affairs?
Brangwen was irritated.
Nevertheless he liked and respected his nephew.
Mrs. Brangwen was irritated by Anna,
who was suddenly changed,
under the influence of the youth.
The mother liked the boy: he was not quite an outsider.
But she did not like her daughter to be so much under the spell.
So that gradually the two young people drew apart,
escaped from the elders,
to create a new thing by themselves.
He worked in the garden to propitiate his uncle.
He talked churches to propitiate his aunt.
He followed Anna like a shadow: like a long,
unswerving black shadow he went after the girl.
It irritated Brangwen exceedingly.
It exasperated him beyond bearing,
to see the lit-up grin,
the cat-grin as he called it,
on his nephew's face.
And Anna had a new reserve,
a new independence.
Suddenly she began to act independently of her parents,
to live beyond them.
Her mother had flashes of anger.
But the courtship went on.
Anna would find occasion to go shopping in Ilkeston at evening.
She always returned with her cousin;
he walking with his head over her shoulder,
a little bit behind her,
like the Devil looking over Lincoln,
as Brangwen noted angrily and yet with satisfaction.
To his own wonder,
Will Brangwen found himself in an electric state of passion.
To his wonder,
he had stopped her at the gate as they came home from Ilkeston one night,
and had kissed her,
blocking her way and kissing her whilst he felt as if some blow were struck at him in the dark.
And when they went indoors,
he was acutely angry that her parents looked up scrutinizing at him and her.
What right had they there: why should they look up!
Let them remove themselves,
or look elsewhere.
And the youth went home with the stars in heaven whirling fiercely about the blackness of his head,
and his heart fierce,
but fierce as if he felt something baulking him.
He wanted to smash through something.
A spell was cast over her.
And how uneasy her parents were,
as she went about the house unnoticing,
not noticing them,
moving in a spell as if she were invisible to them.
She was invisible to them.
It made them angry.
Yet they had to submit.
She went about absorbed,
obscured for a while.
Over him too the darkness of obscurity settled.
He seemed to be hidden in a tense,
in which his soul,
his life was intensely active,
but without his aid or attention.
His mind was obscured.
He worked swiftly and mechanically,
and he produced some beautiful things.
His favourite work was wood-carving.
The first thing he made for her was a butter-stamper.
In it he carved a mythological bird,
something like an eagle,
rising on symmetrical wings,
from a circle of very beautiful flickering flames that rose upwards from the rim of the cup.
Anna thought nothing of the gift on the evening when he gave it to her.
In the morning,
when the butter was made,
she fetched his seal in place of the old wooden stamper of oak-leaves and acorns.
She was curiously excited to see how it would turn out.
the uncouth bird moulded there,
in the cup-like hollow,
thick waverings running inwards from a smooth rim.
She pressed another mould.
to lift the stamp and see that eagle-beaked bird raising its breast to her.
She loved creating it over and over again.
And every time she looked,
it seemed a new thing come to life.
Every piece of butter became this strange,
She showed it to her mother and father.
"That is beautiful,"
said her mother,
a little light coming on to her face.
exclaimed the father,
what sort of a bird does he call it?"
And this was the question put by the customers during the next weeks.
"What sort of a bird do you call that,
as you've got on th' butter?"
When he came in the evening,
she took him into the dairy to show him.
"Do you like it?"
in his loud,
vibrating voice that always sounded strange,
re-echoing in the dark places of her being.
They very rarely touched each other.
They liked to be alone together,
near to each other,
but there was still a distance between them.
In the cool dairy the candle-light lit on the large,
white surfaces of the cream pans.
He turned his head sharply.
It was so cool and remote in there,
His mouth was open in a little,
She stood with her head bent,
He wanted to go near to her.
He had kissed her once.
Again his eye rested on the round blocks of butter,
where the emblematic bird lifted its breast from the shadow cast by the candle flame.
What was restraining him?
Her breast was near him;
his head lifted like an eagle's.
She did not move.
with an incredibly quick,
he put his arms round her and drew her to him.
It was quick,
like a bird that swoops and sinks close,
He was kissing her throat.
She turned and looked at him.
Her eyes were dark and flowing with fire.
His eyes were hard and bright with a fierce purpose and gladness,
like a hawk's.
She felt him flying into the dark space of her flames,
like a brand,
like a gleaming hawk.
They had looked at each other,
and seen each other strange,
like a hawk stooping,
dropping into a flame of darkness.
So she took the candle and they went back to the kitchen.
They went on in this way for some time,
always coming together,
but rarely touching,
very seldom did they kiss.
it was merely a touch of the lips,
But her eyes began to waken with a constant fire,
she paused often in the midst of her transit,
as if to recollect something,
or to discover something.
And his face became sombre,
he did not really hear what was said to him.
One evening in August he came when it was raining.
He came in with his jacket collar turned up,
his jacket buttoned close,
his face wet.
And he looked so slim and definite,
coming out of the chill rain,
she was suddenly blinded with love for him.
Yet he sat and talked with her father and mother,
whilst her blood seethed to anguish in her.
She wanted to touch him now,
only to touch him.
There was the queer,
abstract look on her silvery radiant face that maddened her father,
her dark eyes were hidden.
But she raised them to the youth.
And they were dark with a flare that made him quail for a moment.
She went into the second kitchen and took a lantern.
Her father watched her as she returned.
"Come with me,
she said to her cousin.
"I want to see if I put the brick over where that rat comes in."
"You've no need to do that,"
retorted her father.
She took no notice.
The youth was between the two wills.
The colour mounted into the father's face,
his blue eyes stared.
The girl stood near the door,
her head held slightly back,
like an indication that the youth must come.
in his silent,
and was gone with her.
The blood swelled in Brangwen's forehead veins.
It was raining.
The light of the lantern flashed on the cobbled path and the bottom of the wall.
She came to a small ladder,
and climbed up.
He reached her the lantern,
Up there in the fowl-loft,
the birds sat in fat bunches on the perches,
the red combs shining like fire.
sharp eyes opened.
There was a sharp crawk of expostulation as one of the hens shifted over.
The cock sat watching,
his yellow neck-feathers bright as glass.
Anna went across the dirty floor.
Brangwen crouched in the loft watching.
The light was soft under the red,
The girl crouched in a corner.
There was another explosive bustle of a hen springing from her perch.
Anna came back,
stooping under the perches.
He was waiting for her near the door.
Suddenly she had her arms round him,
was clinging close to him,
cleaving her body against his,
in a whispering,
I love you,
I love you,
I love you."
It sounded as if it were tearing her.
He was not even very much surprised.
He held her in his arms,
and his bones melted.
He leaned back against the wall.
The door of the loft was open.
the rain slanted by in fine,
emerging out of the gulf of darkness.
He held her in his arms,
and he and she together seemed to be swinging in big,
the two of them clasped together up in the darkness.
Outside the open door of the loft in which they stood,
beyond them and below them,
with a travelling veil of rain.
"I love you,
I love you,"
"I love you,
He held her as thought they were one,
and was silent.
In the house,
Tom Brangwen waited a while.
Then he got up and went out.
He went down the yard.
He saw the curious misty shaft coming from the loft door.
He scarcely knew it was the light in the rain.
He went on till the illumination fell on him dimly.
Then looking up,
through the blurr,
he saw the youth and the girl together,
the youth with his back against the wall,
his head sunk over the head of the girl.
The elder man saw them,
blurred through the rain,
but lit up.
They thought themselves so buried in the night.
He even saw the lighted dryness of the loft behind,
and shadows and bunches of roosting fowls,
up in the night,
strange shadows cast from the lantern on the floor.
And a black gloom of anger,
and a tenderness of self-effacement,
fought in his heart.
She did not understand what she was doing.
She betrayed herself.
She was a child,
a mere child.
She did not know how much of herself she was squandering.
And he was blackly and furiously miserable.
Was he then an old man,
that he should be giving her away in marriage?
Was he old?
He was not old.
He was younger than that young thoughtless fellow in whose arms she lay.
Who knew her --he or that blind-headed youth?
To whom did she belong,
if not to himself?
He thought again of the child he had carried out at night into the barn,
whilst his wife was in labour with the young Tom.
He remembered the soft,
warm weight of the little girl on his arm,
round his neck.
Now she would say he was finished.
She was going away,
to deny him,
to leave an unendurable emptiness in him,
a void that he could not bear.
Almost he hated her.
How dared she say he was old.
He walked on in the rain,
sweating with pain,
with the horror of being old,
with the agony of having to relinquish what was life to him.
Will Brangwen went home without having seen his uncle.
He held his hot face to the rain,
and walked on in a trance.
"I love you,
I love you."
The words repeated themselves endlessly.
The veils had ripped and issued him naked into the endless space,
and he shuddered.
The walls had thrust him out and given him a vast space to walk in.
through this darkness of infinite space,
was he walking blindly?
at the end of all the darkness,
was God the Almighty still darkly,
thrusting him on?
"I love you,
I love you."
He trembled with fear as the words beat in his heart again.
And he dared not think of her face,
of her eyes which shone,
and of her strange,
The hand of the Hidden Almighty,
had thrust out of the darkness and gripped him.
He went on subject and in fear,
his heart gripped and burning from the touch.
The days went by,
they ran on dark-padded feet in silence.
He went to see Anna,
but again there had come a reserve between them.
Tom Brangwen was gloomy,
his blue eyes sombre.
Anna was strange and delivered up.
Her face in its delicate colouring was mute,
touched dumb and poignant.
The mother bowed her head and moved in her own dark world,
that was pregnant again with fulfilment.
Will Brangwen worked at his wood-carving.
It was a passion,
a passion for him to have the chisel under his grip.
Verily the passion of his heart lifted the fine bite of steel.
He was carving,
as he had always wanted,
the Creation of Eve.
It was a panel in low relief,
for a church.
Adam lay asleep as if suffering,
stooped towards him,
stretching forward His unveiled hand;
a small vivid,
naked female shape,
was issuing like a flame towards the hand of God,
from the torn side of Adam.
Will Brangwen was working at the Eve.
She was thin,
With trembling passion,
fine as a breath of air,
he sent the chisel over her belly,
She was a stiff little figure,
with sharp lines,
in the throes and torture and ecstasy of her creation.
But he trembled as he touched her.
He had not finished any of his figures.
There was a bird on a bough overhead,
lifting its wings for flight,
and a serpent wreathing up to it.
It was not finished yet.
He trembled with passion,
at last able to create the new,
sharp body of his Eve.
At the sides,
at the far sides,
at either end,
were two Angels covering their faces with their wings.
They were like trees.
As he went to the Marsh,
in the twilight,
he felt that the Angels,
with covered faces,
were standing back as he went by.
The darkness was of their shadows and the covering of their faces.
When he went through the Canal bridge,
the evening glowed in its last deep colours,
the sky was dark blue,
the stars glittered from afar,
very remote and approaching above the darkening cluster of the farm,
above the paths of crystal along the edge of the heavens.
She waited for him like the glow of light,
and as if his face were covered.
And he dared not lift his face to look at her.
Corn harvest came on.
One evening they walked out through the farm buildings at nightfall.
A large gold moon hung heavily to the grey horizon,
trees hovered tall,
standing back in the dusk,
Anna and the young man went on noiselessly by the hedge,
along where the farm-carts had made dark ruts in the grass.
They came through a gate into a wide open field where still much light seemed to spread against their faces.
In the under-shadow the sheaves lay on the ground where the reapers had left them,
many sheaves like bodies prostrate in shadowy bulk;
others were riding hazily in shocks,
like ships in the haze of moonlight and of dusk,
They did not want to turn back,
yet whither were they to go,
towards the moon?
For they were separate,
"We will put up some sheaves,"
So they could remain there in the broad,
They went across the stubble to where the long rows of upreared shocks ended.
Curiously populous that part of the field looked,
where the shocks rode erect;
the rest was open and prostrate.
The air was all hoary silver.
She looked around her.
Trees stood vaguely at their distance,
as if waiting like heralds,
for the signal to approach.
In this space of vague crystal her heart seemed like a bell ringing.
She was afraid lest the sound should be heard.
"You take this row,"
she said to the youth,
and passing on,
she stooped in the next row of lying sheaves,
grasping her hands in the tresses of the oats,
lifting the heavy corn in either hand,
as it hung heavily against her,
to the cleared space,
where she set the two sheaves sharply down,
bringing them together with a faint,
Her two bulks stood leaning together.
He was coming,
walking shadowily with the gossamer dusk,
carrying his two sheaves.
She waited near-by.
He set his sheaves with a keen,
next to her sheaves.
They rode unsteadily.
He tangled the tresses of corn.
It hissed like a fountain.
He looked up and laughed.
Then she turned away towards the moon,
which seemed glowingly to uncover her bosom every time she faced it.
He went to the vague emptiness of the field opposite,
grasped the wet,
soft hair of the corn,
lifted the heavy bundles,
She was always first.
She set down her sheaves,
making a pent-house with those others.
He was coming shadowy across the stubble,
carrying his bundles,
She turned away,
hearing only the sharp hiss of his mingling corn.
She walked between the moon and his shadowy figure.
She took her two new sheaves and walked towards him,
as he rose from stooping over the earth.
He was coming out of the near distance.
She set down her sheaves to make a new stook.
They were unsure.
Her hands fluttered.
Yet she broke away,
and turned to the moon,
which laid bare her bosom,
so she felt as if her bosom were heaving and panting with moonlight.
And he had to put up her two sheaves,
which had fallen down.
He worked in silence.
The rhythm of the work carried him away again,
as she was coming near.
They worked together,
coming and going,
in a rhythm,
which carried their feet and their bodies in tune.
she lifted the burden of sheaves,
she turned her face to the dimness where he was,
and went with her burden over the stubble.
set down her sheaves,
there was a swish and hiss of mingling oats,
he was drawing near,
and she must turn again.
And there was the flaring moon laying bare her bosom again,
making her drift and ebb like a wave.
He worked steadily,
threading backwards and forwards like a shuttle across the strip of cleared stubble,
weaving the long line of riding shocks,
nearer and nearer to the shadowy trees,
threading his sheaves with hers.
she was gone before he came.
As he came,
she drew away,
as he drew away,
Were they never to meet?
Gradually a low,
deep-sounding will in him vibrated to her,
tried to set her in accord,
tried to bring her gradually to him,
to a meeting,
till they should be together,
till they should meet as the sheaves that swished together.
And the work went on.
The moon grew brighter,
the corn glistened.
He bent over the prostrate bundles,
there was a hiss as the sheaves left the ground,
a trailing of heavy bodies against him,
a dazzle of moonlight on his eyes.
And then he was setting the corn together at the stook.
And she was coming near.
He waited for her,
he fumbled at the stook.
But she stood back till he drew away.
He saw her in shadow,
a dark column,
and spoke to her,
and she answered.
She saw the moonlight flash question on his face.
But there was a space between them,
and he went away,
the work carried them,
Why was there always a space between them,
why were they apart?
as she came up from under the moon,
would she halt and stand off from him?
Why was he held away from her?
His will drummed persistently,
it drowned everything else.
Into the rhythm of his work there came a pulse and a steadied purpose.
he lifted the weight,
he heaved it towards her,
setting it as in her,
under the moonlit space.
And he went back for more.
Ever with increasing closeness he lifted the sheaves and swung striding to the centre with them,
ever he drove her more nearly to the meeting,
ever he did his share,
and drew towards her,
There was only the moving to and fro in the moonlight,
the swinging in the silence,
that was marked only by the splash of sheaves,
and a splash of sheaves.
And ever the splash of his sheaves broke swifter,
beating up to hers,
and ever the splash of her sheaves recurred monotonously,
and ever the splash of his sheaves beat nearer.
Till at last,
they met at the shock,
facing each other,
sheaves in hand.
And he was silvery with moonlight,
with a moonlit,
shadowy face that frightened her.
She waited for him.
"Put yours down,"
it's your turn."
His voice was twanging and insistent.
She set her sheaves against the shock.
He saw her hands glisten among the spray of grain.
And he dropped his sheaves and he trembled as he took her in his arms.
He had over-taken her,
and it was his privilege to kiss her.
She was sweet and fresh with the night air,
and sweet with the scent of grain.
And the whole rhythm of him beat into his kisses,
and still he pursued her,
in his kisses,
and still she was not quite overcome.
He wondered over the moonlight on her nose!
All the moonlight upon her,
all the darkness within her!
All the night in his arms,
darkness and shine,
he possessed of it all!
All the night for him now,
to venture within,
all the mystery to be entered,
all the discovery to be made.
Trembling with keen triumph,
his heart was white as a star as he drove his kisses nearer.
in a low voice,
The low sound seemed to call to him from far off,
under the moon,
to him who was unaware.
came again the low,
like a bird unseen in the night.
He was afraid.
His heart quivered and broke.
He was stopped.
as if he answered her from a distance,
And he drew near,
and she drew near.
in wonder and the birthpain of love.
her voice growing rapturous.
And they kissed on the mouth,
in rapture and surprise,
The kiss lasted,
there among the moonlight.
He kissed her again,
and she kissed him.
And again they were kissing together.
Till something happened in him,
he was strange.
He wanted her.
He wanted her exceedingly.
She was something new.
They stood there folded,
suspended in the night.
And his whole being quivered with surprise,
as from a blow.
He wanted her,
and he wanted to tell her so.
But the shock was too great to him.
He had never realized before.
He trembled with irritation and unusedness,
he did not know what to do.
He held her more gently,
much more gently.
The conflict was gone by.
And he was glad,
and almost in tears.
But he knew he wanted her.
Something fixed in him for ever.
He was hers.
And he was very glad and afraid.
He did not know what to do,
as they stood there in the open,
He looked through her hair at the moon,
which seemed to swim liquid-bright.
and seemed to wake up,
then she kissed him again.
Then she loosened herself away from him and took his hand.
It hurt him when she drew away from his breast.
It hurt him with a chagrin.
Why did she draw away from him?
But she held his hand.
"I want to go home,"
looking at him in a way he could not understand.
He held close to her hand.
He was dazed and he could not move,
he did not know how to move.
She drew him away.
He walked helplessly beside her,
holding her hand.
She went with bent head.
Suddenly he said,
as the simple solution stated itself to him:
"We'll get married,
She was silent.
"We'll get married,
She stopped in the field again and kissed him,
clinging to him passionately,
in a way he could not understand.
He could not understand.
But he left it all now,
That was the solution now,
He wanted her,
he wanted to be married to her,
he wanted to have her altogether,
as his own for ever.
And he waited,
for the accomplishment.
But there was all the while a slight tension of irritation.
He spoke to his uncle and aunt that night.
"Anna and me think of getting married."
you have no money?"
said the mother.
The youth went pale.
He hated these words.
But he was like a gleaming,
something bright and inalterable.
He did not think.
He sat there in his hard brightness,
and did not speak.
"Have you mentioned it to your own mother?"
"No --I'll tell her on Saturday."
"You'll go and see her?"
There was a long pause.
"And what are you going to marry on --your pound a week?"
Again the youth went pale,
as if the spirit were being injured in him.
"I don't know,"
looking at his uncle with his bright inhuman eyes,
like a hawk's.
Brangwen stirred in hatred.
"It needs knowing,"
"I shall have the money later on,"
said the nephew.
"I will raise some now,
and pay it back then."
--And why this desperate hurry?
She's a child of eighteen,
and you're a boy of twenty.
You're neither of you of age to do as you like yet."
Will Brangwen ducked his head and looked at his uncle with swift,
like a caged hawk.
"What does it matter how old she is,
and how old I am?"
"What's the difference between me now and when I'm thirty?"
"A big difference,
let us hope."
"But you have no experience --you have no experience,
and no money.
Why do you want to marry,
without experience or money?"
asked the aunt.
"What experience do I want,
asked the boy.
And if Brangwen's heart had not been hard and intact with anger,
like a precious stone,
he would have agreed.
Will Brangwen went home strange and untouched.
He felt he could not alter from what he was fixed upon,
his will was set.
To alter it he must be destroyed.
And he would not be destroyed.
He had no money.
But he would get some from somewhere,
it did not matter.
He lay awake for many hours,
hard and clear and unthinking,
his soul crystallizing more inalterably.
Then he went fast asleep.
It was as if his soul had turned into a hard crystal.
He might tremble and quiver and suffer,
it did not alter.
The next morning Tom Brangwen,
inhuman with anger spoke to Anna.
"What's this about wanting to get married?"
paling a little,
her dark eyes springing to the hostile,
startled look of a savage thing that will defend itself,
but trembles with sensitiveness.
out of her unconsciousness.
His anger rose,
and he would have liked to break her.
"You do-you do-and what for?"
he sneered with contempt.
the blindness that could recognize nobody,
the palpitating antagonism as of a raw,
undefended thing came back on her.
"I do because I do,"
in the shrill,
hysterical way of her childhood.
"You are not my father --my father is dead --you are not my father."
She was still a stranger.
She did not recognize him.
The cold blade cut down,
deep into Brangwen's soul.
It cut him off from her.
"And what if I'm not?"
But he could not bear it.
It had been so passionately dear to him,
her "Father --Daddie."
He went about for some days as if stunned.
His wife was bemused.
She did not understand.
She only thought the marriage was impeded for want of money and position.
There was a horrible silence in the house.
Anna kept out of sight as much as possible.
She could be for hours alone.
Will Brangwen came back,
after stupid scenes at Nottingham.
He too was pale and blank,
His uncle hated him.
He hated this youth,
who was so inhuman and obstinate.
it was to Will Brangwen that the uncle,
handed over the shares which he had transferred to Anna Lensky.
They were for two thousand five hundred pounds.
Will Brangwen looked at his uncle.
It was a great deal of the Marsh capital here given away.
was only colder and more fixed.
He was abstract,
purely a fixed will.
He gave the shares to Anna.
After which she cried for a whole day,
sobbing her eyes out.
And at night,
when she had heard her mother go to bed,
she slipped down and hung in the doorway.
Her father sat in his heavy silence,
like a monument.
He turned his head slowly.
she cried from the doorway,
and she ran to him sobbing as if her heart would break.
"Daddy --daddy --daddy."
She crouched on the hearthrug with her arms round him and her face against him.
His body was so big and comfortable.
But something hurt her head intolerably.
She sobbed almost with hysteria.
He was silent,
with his hand on her shoulder.
His heart was bleak.
He was not her father.
That beloved image she had broken.
Who was he then?
A man put apart with those whose life has no more developments.
He was isolated from her.
There was a generation between them,
he was old,
he had died out from hot life.
A great deal of ash was in his fire,
He felt the inevitable coldness,
and in bitterness forgot the fire.
He sat in his coldness of age and isolation.
He had his own wife.
And he blamed himself,
he sneered at himself,
for this clinging to the young,
wanting the young to belong to him.
The child who clung to him wanted her child-husband.
As was natural.
And from him,
she wanted help,
so that her life might be properly fitted out.
But love she did not want.
Why should there be love between them,
between the stout,
middle-aged man and this child?
How could there be anything between them,
but mere human willingness to help each other?
He was her guardian,
His heart was like ice,
his face cold and expressionless.
She could not move him any more than a statue.
She crept to bed,
But she was going to be married to Will Brangwen,
and then she need not bother any more.
Brangwen went to bed with a hard,
and cursed himself.
He looked at his wife.
She was still his wife.
Her dark hair was threaded with grey,
her face was beautiful in its gathering age.
She was just fifty.
How poignantly he saw her!
And he wanted to cut out some of his own heart,
which was incontinent,
and demanded still to share the rapid life of youth.
How he hated himself.
His wife was so poignant and timely.
She was still young and naive,
with some girl's freshness.
But she did not want any more the fight,
in his incontinence,
She was so natural,
and he was ugly,
in his inability to yield place.
this greedy middle-age,
which must stand in the way of life,
like a large demon.
What was missing in his life,
in his ravening soul,
he was not satisfied?
He had had that friend at school,
What had he done?
He had failed with his friend,
he had been a poor son;
but he had known satisfaction with his wife,
let it be enough;
he loathed himself for the state he was in over Anna.
Yet he was not satisfied.
It was agony to know it.
Was his life nothing?
Had he nothing to show,
He did not count his work,
anybody could have done it.
What had he known,
but the long,
marital embrace with his wife!
that this was what his life amounted to!
At any rate,
it was something,
it was eternal.
He would say so to anybody,
and be proud of it.
He lay with his wife in his arms,
and she was still his fulfilment,
just the same as ever.
And that was the be-all and the end-all.
and he was proud of it.
But the bitterness,
that there still remained an unsatisfied Tom Brangwen,
who suffered agony because a girl cared nothing for him.
He loved his sons --he had them also.
But it was the further,
the creative life with the girl,
he wanted as well.
and he was ashamed.
He trampled himself to extinguish himself.
There was no peace,
however old one grew!
One was never right,
never master of oneself.
It was as if his hope had been in the girl.
Anna quickly lapsed again into her love for the youth.
Will Brangwen had fixed his marriage for the Saturday before Christmas.
And he waited for her,
in his bright,
He wanted her,
she was his,
he suspended his being till the day should come.
The wedding day,
December the twenty-third,
had come into being for him as an absolute thing.
He lived in it.
He did not count the days.
But like a man who journeys in a ship,
he was suspended till the coming to port.
He worked at his carving,
he worked in his office,
he came to see her;
all was but a form of waiting,
without thought or question.
She was much more alive.
She wanted to enjoy courtship.
He seemed to come and go like the wind,
without asking why or whither.
But she wanted to enjoy his presence.
he was the kernel of life,
to touch him alone was bliss.
But for him,
she was the essence of life.
She existed as much when he was at his carving in his lodging in Ilkeston,
as when she sat looking at him in the Marsh kitchen.
he knew her.
But his outward faculties seemed suspended.
He did not see her with his eyes,
nor hear her with his voice.
And yet he trembled,
sometimes into a kind of swoon,
holding her in his arms.
They would stand sometimes folded together in the barn,
Then to her,
as she felt his young,
tense figure with her hands,
the bliss was intolerable,
intolerable the sense that she possessed him.
For his body was so keen and wonderful,
it was the only reality in her world.
In her world,
there was this one tense,
vivid body of a man,
and then many other shadowy men,
she touched the centre of reality.
And they were together,
he and she,
at the heart of the secret.
How she clutched him to her,
his body the central body of all life.
Out of the rock of his form the very fountain of life flowed.
But to him,
she was a flame that consumed him.
The flame flowed up his limbs,
flowed through him,
till he was consumed,
till he existed only as an unconscious,
dark transit of flame,
deriving from her.
in the darkness,
a cow coughed.
in the darkness,
a slow sound of cud chewing.
And it all seemed to flow round them and upon them as the hot blood flows through the womb,
laving the unborn young.
when it was cold,
they stood to be lovers in the stables,
where the air was warm and sharp with ammonia.
And during these dark vigils,
he learned to know her,
her body against his,
they drew nearer and nearer together,
the kisses came more subtly close and fitting.
So when in the thick darkness a horse suddenly scrambled to its feet,
with a dull,
they listened as one person listening,
they knew as one person,
they were conscious of the horse.
Tom Brangwen had taken them a cottage at Cossethay,
on a twenty-one years' lease.
Will Brangwen's eyes lit up as he saw it.
It was the cottage next the church,
with dark yew-trees,
very black old trees,
along the side of the house and the grassy front garden;
squarish cottage with a low slate roof,
and low windows.
It had a long dairy-scullery,
a big flagged kitchen,
and a low parlour,
that went up one step from the kitchen.
There were whitewashed beams across the ceilings,
and odd corners with cupboards.
Looking out through the windows,
there was the grassy garden,
the procession of black yew trees down one side,
and along the other sides,
a red wall with ivy separating the place from the high-road and the churchyard.
with its small spire on a square tower,
seemed to be looking back at the cottage windows.
"There'll be no need to have a clock,"
said Will Brangwen,
peeping out at the white clock-face on the tower,
At the back of the house was a garden adjoining the paddock,
a cowshed with standing for two cows,
pig-cotes and fowl-houses.
Will Brangwen was very happy.
Anna was glad to think of being mistress of her own place.
Tom Brangwen was now the fairy godfather.
He was never happy unless he was buying something.
with his interest in all wood-work,
was getting the furniture.
He was left to buy tables and round-staved chairs and the dressers,
quite ordinary stuff,
but such as was identified with his cottage.
with more particular thought,
spied out what he called handy little things for her.
He appeared with a set of new-fangled cooking-pans,
with a special sort of hanging lamp,
though the rooms were so low,
with canny little machines for grinding meat or mashing potatoes or whisking eggs.
Anna took a sharp interest in what he bought,
though she was not always pleased.
Some of the little contrivances,
which he thought so canny,
left her doubtful.
Nevertheless she was always expectant,
on market days there was always a long thrill of anticipation.
He arrived with the first darkness,
the copper lamps of his cart glowing.
And she ran to the gate,
burly figure up in the cart,
was bending over his parcels.
"It's cupboard love as brings you out so sharp,"
his voice resounding in the cold darkness.
Nevertheless he was excited.
taking one of the cart lamps,
poked and peered among the jumble of things he had brought,
pushing aside the oil or implements he had got for himself.
She dragged out a pair of small,
registered them in her mind,
and then pulled uncertainly at something else.
It had a long handle,
and a piece of brown paper round the middle of it,
like a waistcoat.
He stopped to look at her.
She went to the lamp-light by the horse,
and stood there bent over the new thing,
while her hair was like bronze,
her apron white and cheerful.
Her fingers plucked busily at the paper.
She dragged forth a little wringer,
with clean indiarubber rollers.
She examined it critically,
not knowing quite how it worked.
She looked up at him.
He stood a shadowy presence beyond the light.
"How does it go?"
it's for pulpin' turnips,"
She looked at him.
His voice disturbed her.
"Don't be silly.
It's a little mangle,"
"How do you stand it,
"You screw it on th' side o' your wash-tub."
He came and held it out to her.
with one of her little skipping movements,
which still came when she was suddenly glad.
And without another thought she ran off into the house,
leaving him to untackle the horse.
And when he came into the scullery,
he found her there,
with the little wringer fixed on the dolly-tub,
turning blissfully at the handle,
and Tilly beside her,
that's a natty little thing!
That'll save you luggin' your inside out.
That's the latest contraption,
And Anna turned away at the handle,
with great gusto of possession.
Then she let Tilly have a turn.
"It fair runs by itself,"
turning on and on.
"Your clothes'll nip out on to th' line."
WEDDING AT THE MARSH
It was a beautiful sunny day for the wedding,
a muddy earth but a bright sky.
They had three cabs and two big closed-in vehicles.
Everybody crowded in the parlour in excitement.
Anna was still upstairs.
Her father kept taking a nip of brandy.
He was handsome in his black coat and grey trousers.
His voice was hearty but troubled.
His wife came down in dark grey silk with lace,
and a touch of peacock-blue in her bonnet.
Her little body was very sure and definite.
Brangwen was thankful she was there,
to sustain him among all these people.
The Nottingham Mrs. Brangwen,
in silk brocade,
stands in the doorway saying who must go with whom.
There is a great bustle.
The front door is opened,
and the wedding guests are walking down the garden path,
whilst those still waiting peer through the window,
and the little crowd at the gate gorps and stretches.
How funny such dressed-up people look in the winter sunshine!
They are gone --another lot!
There begins to be more room.
Anna comes down blushing and very shy,
to be viewed in her white silk and her veil.
Her mother-in-law surveys her objectively,
twitches the white train,
arranges the folds of the veil and asserts herself.
Loud exclamations from the window that the bridegroom's carriage has just passed.
"Where's your hat,
and your gloves?"
cries the bride,
stamping her white slipper,
her eyes flashing through her veil.
He hunts round --his hair is ruffled.
Everybody has gone but the bride and her father.
He is ready --his face very red and daunted.
Tilly dithers in the little porch,
waiting to open the door.
A waiting woman walks round Anna,
"Am I all right?"
She is ready.
She bridles herself and looks queenly.
She waves her hand sharply to her father:
She puts her hand very lightly on his arm,
and holding her bouquet like a shower,
just a little impatient with her father for being so red in the face,
she sweeps slowly past the fluttering Tilly,
and down the path.
There are hoarse shouts at the gate,
and all her floating foamy whiteness passes slowly into the cab.
Her father notices her slim ankle and foot as she steps up: a child's foot.
His heart is hard with tenderness.
But she is in ecstasies with herself for making such a lovely spectacle.
All the way she sat flamboyant with bliss because it was all so lovely.
She looked down solicitously at her bouquet: white roses and lilies-of-the-valley and tube-roses and maidenhair fern --very rich and cascade-like.
Her father sat bewildered with all this strangeness,
his heart was so full it felt hard,
and he couldn't think of anything.
The church was decorated for Christmas,
dark with evergreens,
cold and snowy with white flowers.
He went vaguely down to the altar.
How long was it since he had gone to be married himself?
He was not sure whether he was going to be married now,
or what he had come for.
He had a troubled notion that he had to do something or other.
He saw his wife's bonnet,
and wondered why she wasn't there with him.
They stood before the altar.
He was staring up at the east window,
that glowed intensely,
a sort of blue purple: it was deep blue glowing,
and some crimson,
and little yellow flowers held fast in veins of shadow,
in a heavy web of darkness.
How it burned alive in radiance among its black web.
"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"
He felt somebody touch him.
The words still re-echoed in his memory,
but were drawing off.
he said hastily.
Ann bent her head and smiled in her veil.
How absurd he was.
Brangwen was staring away at the burning blue window at the back of the altar,
and wondering vaguely,
if he ever should get old,
if he ever should feel arrived and established.
He was here at Anna's wedding.
what right had he to feel responsible,
like a father?
He was still as unsure and unfixed as when he had married himself.
His wife and he!
With a pang of anguish he realized what uncertainties they both were.
He was a man of forty-five.
In five more years fifty.
Then sixty --then seventy --then it was finished.
My God --and one still was so unestablished!
How did one grow old-how could one become confident?
He wished he felt older.
what difference was there,
as far as he felt matured or completed,
between him now and him at his own wedding?
He might be getting married over again --he and his wife.
He felt himself tiny,
upright figure on a plain circled round with the immense,
roaring sky: he and his wife,
upright figures walking across this plain,
whilst the heavens shimmered and roared about them.
When did one come to an end?
In which direction was it finished?
There was no end,
only this roaring vast space.
Did one never get old,
That was the clue.
He exulted strangely,
He would go on with his wife,
he and she like two children camping in the plains.
What was sure but the endless sky?
But that was so sure,
Still the royal blue colour burned and blazed and sported itself in the web of darkness before him,
unwearyingly rich and splendid.
How rich and splendid his own life was,
red and burning and blazing and sporting itself in the dark meshes of his body: and his wife,
how she glowed and burned dark within her meshes!
Always it was so unfinished and unformed!
There was a loud noise of the organ.
The whole party was trooping to the vestry.
There was a blotted,
scrawled book --and that young girl putting back her veil in her vanity,
and laying her hand with the wedding-ring self-consciously conspicuous,
and signing her name proudly because of the vain spectacle she made:
"Anna Theresa Lensky."
"Anna Theresa Lensky" --what a vain,
independent minx she was!
slender in his black swallow-tail and grey trousers,
solemn as a young solemn cat,
was writing seriously:
That looked more like it.
"Come and sign,
cried the imperious young hussy.
"Thomas Brangwen --clumsy-fist,"
he said to himself as he signed.
Then his brother,
sallow fellow with black side-whiskers wrote:
"How many more Brangwens?"
said Tom Brangwen,
ashamed of the too-frequent recurrence of his family name.
When they were out again in the sunshine,
and he saw the frost hoary and blue among the long grass under the tomb-stones,
the holly-berries overhead twinkling scarlet as the bells rang,
the yew trees hanging their black,
everything seemed like a vision.
The marriage party went across the graveyard to the wall,
mounted it by the little steps,
a vain white peacock of a bride perching herself on the top of the wall and giving her hand to the bridegroom on the other side,
to be helped down!
The vanity of her white,
and her arched neck.
And the regal impudence with which she seemed to dismiss them all,
parents and wedding guests,
as she went with her young husband.
In the cottage big fires were burning,
there were dozens of glasses on the table,
and holly and mistletoe hanging up.
The wedding party crowded in,
and Tom Brangwen,
poured out drinks.
Everybody must drink.
The bells were ringing away against the windows.
"Lift your glasses up,"
shouted Tom Brangwen from the parlour,
"lift your glasses up,
an' drink to the hearth an' home --hearth an' home,
an' may they enjoy it."
"Night an' day,
an' may they enjoy it,"
shouted Frank Brangwen,
"Hammer an' tongs,
and may they enjoy it,"
shouted Alfred Brangwen,
"Fill your glasses up,
an' let's have it all over again,"
shouted Tom Brangwen.
"Hearth an' home,
an' may ye enjoy it."
There was a ragged shout of the company in response.
"Bed an' blessin',
an' may ye enjoy it,"
shouted Frank Brangwen.
There was a swelling chorus in answer.
"Comin' and goin',
an' may ye enjoy it,"
shouted the saturnine Alfred Brangwen,
and the men roared by now boldly,
and the women said,
There was a touch of scandal in the air.
Then the party rolled off in the carriages,
full speed back to the Marsh,
to a large meal of the high-tea order,
which lasted for an hour and a half.
The bride and bridegroom sat at the head of the table,
very prim and shining both of them,
whilst the company raged down the table.
The Brangwen men had brandy in their tea,
and were becoming unmanageable.
The saturnine Alfred had glittering,
and a strange,
fierce way of laughing that showed his teeth.
His wife glowered at him and jerked her head at him like a snake.
He was oblivious.
flushed and florid and handsome,
roared echoes to his two brothers.
in his solid fashion,
was letting himself go at last.
These three brothers dominated the whole company.
Tom Brangwen wanted to make a speech.
For the first time in his life,
he must spread himself wordily.
his eyes twinkling and yet quite profound,
for he was deeply serious and hugely amused at the same time,
speaking in the slow,
full-mouthed way of the Brangwens,
"is what we're made for -- --"
"Let him talk,"
said Alfred Brangwen,
slowly and inscrutably,
"let him talk."
Mrs. Alfred darted indignant eyes at her husband.
continued Tom Brangwen,
"enjoys being a man: for what purpose was he made a man,
if not to enjoy it?"
"That a true word,"
continued Tom Brangwen,
"a woman enjoys being a woman: at least we surmise she does -- --"
don't you bother -- --" called a farmer's wife.
"You may back your life they'd be summisin'."
said Frank's wife.
continued Tom Brangwen,
"for a man to be a man,
it takes a woman -- --"
"It does that,"
said a woman grimly.
"And for a woman to be a woman,
it takes a man -- --" continued Tom Brangwen.
"All speak up,
chimed in a feminine voice.
"Therefore we have marriage,"
continued Tom Brangwen.
said Alfred Brangwen.
"Don't run us off our legs."
And in dead silence the glasses were filled.
The bride and bridegroom,
sat with intent,
shining faces at the head of the table,
"There's no marriage in heaven,"
went on Tom Brangwen;
"but on earth there is marriage."
"That's the difference between
said Alfred Brangwen,
said Tom Brangwen,
"keep your remarks till afterwards,
and then we'll thank you for them.-= --There's very little else,
You can talk about making money,
or saving souls.
You can save your own soul seven times over,
and you may have a mint of money,
but your soul goes gnawin',
and it says there's something it must have.
In heaven there is no marriage.
But on earth there is marriage,
else heaven drops out,
and there's no bottom to it."
"Just hark you now,"
said Frank's wife.
said Alfred sardonically.
"If we've got to be Angels,"
went on Tom Brangwen,
haranguing the company at large,
"and if there is no such thing as a man nor a woman amongst them,
then it seems to me as a married couple makes one Angel."
"It's the brandy,"
said Alfred Brangwen wearily.
said Tom Brangwen,
and the company was listening to the conundrum,
"an Angel can't be less than a human being.
And if it was only the soul of a man minus the man,
then it would be less than a human being."
And a laugh went round the table.
But Tom Brangwen was inspired.
"An Angel's got to be more than a human being,"
"So I say,
an Angel is the soul of man and woman in one: they rise united at the Judgment Day,
as one Angel -- --"
"Praising the Lord,"
"Praising the Lord,"
"And what about the women left over?"
The company was getting uneasy.
"That I can't tell.
How do I know as there is anybody left over at the Judgment Day?
Let that be.
What I say is,
that when a man's soul and a woman's soul unites together --that makes an Angel -- --"
"I dunno about souls.
I know as one plus one makes three,
But he had the laugh to himself.
"Bodies and souls,
it's the same,"
"And what about your missis,
who was married afore you knew her?"
set on edge by this discourse.
"That I can't tell you.
If I am to become an Angel,
it'll be my married soul,
and not my single soul.
It'll not be the soul of me when I was a lad: for I hadn't a soul as would make an Angel then."
"I can always remember,"
said Frank's wife,
"when our Harold was bad,
he did nothink but see an angel at th' back o' th' lookin'-glass.
'at that angel!'
'Theer isn't no angel,
but he wouldn't have it.
I took th' lookin'-glass off'n th' dressin'-table,
but it made no difference.
He kep' on sayin' it was there.
it did give me a turn.
I thought for sure as I'd lost him."
"I can remember,"
said another man,
Tom's sister's husband,
"my mother gave me a good hidin' once,
for sayin' I'd got an angel up my nose.
She seed me pokin',
an' she said:
'What are you pokin' at your nose for-give over.'
'There's an angel up it,'
an' she fetched me such a wipe.
But there was.
We used to call them thistle things
'angels' as wafts about.
An' I'd pushed one o' these up my nose,
for some reason or other."
"It's wonderful what children will get up their noses,"
said Frank's wife.
"I c'n remember our Hemmie,
she shoved one o' them bluebell things out o' th' middle of a bluebell,
what they call
up her nose,
we had some work!
I'd seen her stickin'
'em on the end of her nose,
but I never thought she'd be so soft as to shove it right up.
She was a gel of eight or more.
we got a crochet-hook an' I don't know what ..."
Tom Brangwen's mood of inspiration began to pass away.
He forgot all about it,
and was soon roaring and shouting with the rest.
Outside the wake came,
singing the carols.
They were invited into the bursting house.
They had two fiddles and a piccolo.
There in the parlour they played carols,
and the whole company sang them at the top of its voice.
Only the bride and bridegroom sat with shining eyes and strange,
and scarcely sang,
or only with just moving lips.
The wake departed,
and the guysers came.
There was loud applause,
and shouting and excitement as the old mystery play of St. George,
in which every man present had acted as a boy,
with banging and thumping of club and dripping pan.
I got a crack once,
when I was playin' Beelzebub,"
said Tom Brangwen,
his eyes full of water with laughing.
"It knocked all th' sense out of me as you'd crack an egg.
But I tell you,
when I come to,
I played Old Johnny Roger with St. George,
I did that."
He was shaking with laughter.
Another knock came at the door.
There was a hush.
"It's th' cab,"
said somebody from the door.
shouted Tom Brangwen,
and a red-faced grinning man entered.
get yourselves ready an' off to blanket fair,"
shouted Tom Brangwen.
"Strike a daisy,
but if you're not off like a blink o' lightnin',
you shanna go,
you s'll sleep separate."
Anna rose silently and went to change her dress.
Will Brangwen would have gone out,
but Tilly came with his hat and coat.
The youth was helped on.
shouted his father.
"When th' fat's in th' fire,
let it frizzle,"
admonished his uncle Frank.
"Fair and softly does it,
fair an' softly does it,"
cried his aunt,
"You don't want to fall over yourself,"
said his uncle by marriage.
"You're not a bull at a gate."
"Let a man have his own road,"
said Tom Brangwen testily.
"Don't be so free of your advice --it's his wedding this time,
"'E don't want many sign-posts,"
said his father.
"There's some roads a man has to be led,
an' there's some roads a boss-eyed man can only follow wi' one eye shut.
But this road can't be lost by a blind man nor a boss-eyed man nor a cripple --and he's neither,
"Don't you be so sure o' your walkin' powers,"
cried Frank's wife.
"There's many a man gets no further than half-way,
nor can't to save his life,
let him live for ever."
how do you know?"
"It's plain enough in th' looks o' some,"
The youth stood with a faint,
half-hearing smile on his face.
He was tense and abstracted.
scarcely touched him.
Anna came down,
in her day dress,
She kissed everybody,
men and women,
Will Brangwen shook hands with everybody,
kissed his mother,
who began to cry,
and the whole party went surging out to the cab.
The young couple were shut up,
last injunctions shouted at them.
shouted Tom Brangwen.
The cab rolled off.
They saw the light diminish under the ash trees.
Then the whole party,
"They'll have three good fires burning,"
said Tom Brangwen,
looking at his watch.
"I told Emma to make
'em up at nine,
an' then leave the door on th' latch.
It's only half-past.
They'll have three fires burning,
an' lamps lighted,
an' Emma will ha' warmed th' bed wi' th' warmin' pan.
So I s'd think they'll be all right."
The party was much quieter.
They talked of the young couple.
"She said she didn't want a servant in,"
said Tom Brangwen.
"The house isn't big enough,
she'd always have the creature under her nose.
Emma'll do what is wanted of her,
an' they'll be to themselves."
"you're more free."
The party talked on slowly.
Brangwen looked at his watch.
"Let's go an' give
'em a carol,"
"We s'll find th' fiddles at the
'Cock an' Robin'."
Alfred rose in silence.
The brother-in-law and one of Will's brothers rose also.
The five men went out.
The night was flashing with stars.
Sirius blazed like a signal at the side of the hill,
stately and magnificent,
was sloping along.
Tom walked with his brother,
The men's heels rang on the ground.
"It's a fine night,"
"Nice to get out."
The brothers walked close together,
the bond of blood strong between them.
Tom always felt very much the junior to Alfred.
"It's a long while since you left home,"
"I thought I was getting a bit oldish --but I'm not.
It's the things you've got as gets worn out,
it's not you yourself."
what's worn out?"
"Most folks as I've anything to do with --as has anything to do with me.
They all break down.
You've got to go on by yourself,
if it's only to perdition.
There's nobody going alongside even there."
Tom Brangwen meditated this.
"Maybe you was never broken in,"
I never was,"
said Alfred proudly.
And Tom felt his elder brother despised him a little.
He winced under it.
"Everybody's got a way of their own,"
"It's only a dog as hasn't.
An' them as can't take what they give an' give what they take,
they must go by themselves,
or get a dog as'll follow
"They can do without the dog,"
said his brother.
And again Tom Brangwen was humble,
thinking his brother was bigger than himself.
But if he was,
And if it were finer to go alone,
it was: he did not want to go for all that.
They went over the field,
where a thin,
keen wind blew round the ball of the hill,
in the starlight.
They came to the stile,
and to the side of Anna's house.
The lights were out,
only on the blinds of the rooms downstairs,
and of a bedroom upstairs,
"We'd better leave
said Alfred Brangwen.
for th' last time."
And in a quarter of an hour's time,
rather tipsy men scrambled over the wall,
and into the garden by the yew trees,
outside the windows where faint firelight glowered on the blinds.
There came a shrill sound,
two violins and a piccolo shrilling on the frosty air.
"In the fields with their flocks abiding."
A commotion of men's voices broke out singing in ragged unison.
Anna Brangwen had started up,
when the music began.
She was afraid.
"It's the wake,"
She remained tense,
her heart beating heavily,
possessed with strange,
Then there came the burst of men's singing,
She strained still,
in a low voice.
They were silent,
"And my father,"
She listened still.
But she was sure.
She sank down again into bed,
into his arms.
He held her very close,
The hymn rambled on outside,
all the men singing their best,
having forgotten everything else under the spell of the fiddles and the tune.
The firelight glowed against the darkness in the room.
Anna could hear her father singing with gusto.
"Aren't they silly,"
And they crept closer,
hearts beating to one another.
And even as the hymn rolled on,
they ceased to hear it.