chapter ix part 1defeat of miriam paul was dissatisfied with himself and witheverything. the deepest of his love belonged to hismother. when he felt he had hurt her, or woundedhis love for her, he could not bear it. now it was spring, and there was battlebetween him and miriam. this year he had a good deal against her. she was vaguely aware of it.the old feeling that she was to be a sacrifice to this love, which she had hadwhen she prayed, was mingled in all her emotions.
she did not at the bottom believe she everwould have him. she did not believe in herself primarily:doubted whether she could ever be what he would demand of her. certainly she never saw herself livinghappily through a lifetime with him. she saw tragedy, sorrow, and sacrificeahead. and in sacrifice she was proud, inrenunciation she was strong, for she did not trust herself to support everyday life.she was prepared for the big things and the deep things, like tragedy. it was the sufficiency of the small day-life she could not trust.
the easter holidays began happily.paul was his own frank self. yet she felt it would go wrong. on the sunday afternoon she stood at herbedroom window, looking across at the oak- trees of the wood, in whose branches atwilight was tangled, below the bright sky of the afternoon. grey-green rosettes of honeysuckle leaveshung before the window, some already, she fancied, showing bud.it was spring, which she loved and dreaded. hearing the clack of the gate she stood insuspense. it was a bright grey day.paul came into the yard with his bicycle,
which glittered as he walked. usually he rang his bell and laughedtowards the house. to-day he walked with shut lips and cold,cruel bearing, that had something of a slouch and a sneer in it. she knew him well by now, and could tellfrom that keen-looking, aloof young body of his what was happening inside him. there was a cold correctness in the way heput his bicycle in its place, that made her heart sink.she came downstairs nervously. she was wearing a new net blouse that shethought became her.
it had a high collar with a tiny ruff,reminding her of mary, queen of scots, and making her, she thought, look wonderfully awoman, and dignified. at twenty she was full-breasted andluxuriously formed. her face was still like a soft rich mask,unchangeable. but her eyes, once lifted, were wonderful. she was afraid of him.he would notice her new blouse. he, being in a hard, ironical mood, wasentertaining the family to a description of a service given in the primitive methodistchapel, conducted by one of the well-known preachers of the sect.
he sat at the head of the table, his mobileface, with the eyes that could be so beautiful, shining with tenderness ordancing with laughter, now taking on one expression and then another, in imitationof various people he was mocking. his mockery always hurt her; it was toonear the reality. he was too clever and cruel. she felt that when his eyes were like this,hard with mocking hate, he would spare neither himself nor anybody else. but mrs. leivers was wiping her eyes withlaughter, and mr. leivers, just awake from his sunday nap, was rubbing his head inamusement.
the three brothers sat with ruffled, sleepyappearance in their shirt-sleeves, giving a guffaw from time to time.the whole family loved a "take-off" more than anything. he took no notice of miriam.later, she saw him remark her new blouse, saw that the artist approved, but it wonfrom him not a spark of warmth. she was nervous, could hardly reach theteacups from the shelves. when the men went out to milk, she venturedto address him personally. "you were late," she said. "was i?" he answered.there was silence for a while.
"was it rough riding?" she asked."i didn't notice it." she continued quickly to lay the table. when she had finished--"tea won't be for a few minutes. will you come and look at the daffodils?"she said. he rose without answering. they went out into the back garden underthe budding damson-trees. the hills and the sky were clean and cold.everything looked washed, rather hard. miriam glanced at paul. he was pale and impassive.it seemed cruel to her that his eyes and
brows, which she loved, could look sohurting. "has the wind made you tired?" she asked. she detected an underneath feeling ofweariness about him. "no, i think not," he answered."it must be rough on the road--the wood moans so." "you can see by the clouds it's a south-west wind; that helps me here." "you see, i don't cycle, so i don'tunderstand," she murmured. "is there need to cycle to know that!" hesaid. she thought his sarcasms were unnecessary.they went forward in silence.
round the wild, tussocky lawn at the backof the house was a thorn hedge, under which daffodils were craning forward from amongtheir sheaves of grey-green blades. the cheeks of the flowers were greenishwith cold. but still some had burst, and their goldruffled and glowed. miriam went on her knees before onecluster, took a wild-looking daffodil between her hands, turned up its face ofgold to her, and bowed down, caressing it with her mouth and cheeks and brow. he stood aside, with his hands in hispockets, watching her. one after another she turned up to him thefaces of the yellow, bursten flowers
appealingly, fondling them lavishly all thewhile. "aren't they magnificent?" she murmured. "magnificent!it's a bit thick--they're pretty!" she bowed again to her flowers at hiscensure of her praise. he watched her crouching, sipping theflowers with fervid kisses. "why must you always be fondling things?"he said irritably. "but i love to touch them," she replied,hurt. "can you never like things withoutclutching them as if you wanted to pull the heart out of them?
why don't you have a bit more restraint, orreserve, or something?" she looked up at him full of pain, thencontinued slowly to stroke her lips against a ruffled flower. their scent, as she smelled it, was so muchkinder than he; it almost made her cry. "you wheedle the soul out of things," hesaid. "i would never wheedle--at any rate, i'd gostraight." he scarcely knew what he was saying.these things came from him mechanically. she looked at him. his body seemed one weapon, firm and hardagainst her.
"you're always begging things to love you,"he said, "as if you were a beggar for love. even the flowers, you have to fawn on them--" rhythmically, miriam was swaying andstroking the flower with her mouth, inhaling the scent which ever after madeher shudder as it came to her nostrils. "you don't want to love--your eternal andabnormal craving is to be loved. you aren't positive, you're negative. you absorb, absorb, as if you must fillyourself up with love, because you've got a shortage somewhere."she was stunned by his cruelty, and did not hear.
he had not the faintest notion of what hewas saying. it was as if his fretted, tortured soul,run hot by thwarted passion, jetted off these sayings like sparks from electricity. she did not grasp anything he said.she only sat crouched beneath his cruelty and his hatred of her.she never realised in a flash. over everything she brooded and brooded. after tea he stayed with edgar and thebrothers, taking no notice of miriam. she, extremely unhappy on this looked-forholiday, waited for him. and at last he yielded and came to her.
she was determined to track this mood ofhis to its origin. she counted it not much more than a mood. "shall we go through the wood a littleway?" she asked him, knowing he never refused a direct request.they went down to the warren. on the middle path they passed a trap, anarrow horseshoe hedge of small fir-boughs, baited with the guts of a rabbit.paul glanced at it frowning. she caught his eye. "isn't it dreadful?" she asked."i don't know! is it worse than a weasel with its teeth ina rabbit's throat?
one weasel or many rabbits? one or the other must go!"he was taking the bitterness of life badly. she was rather sorry for him."we will go back to the house," he said. "i don't want to walk out." they went past the lilac-tree, whose bronzeleaf-buds were coming unfastened. just a fragment remained of the haystack, amonument squared and brown, like a pillar of stone. there was a little bed of hay from the lastcutting. "let us sit here a minute," said miriam.he sat down against his will, resting his
back against the hard wall of hay. they faced the amphitheatre of round hillsthat glowed with sunset, tiny white farms standing out, the meadows golden, the woodsdark and yet luminous, tree-tops folded over tree-tops, distinct in the distance. the evening had cleared, and the east wastender with a magenta flush under which the land lay still and rich."isn't it beautiful?" she pleaded. but he only scowled. he would rather have had it ugly just then.at that moment a big bull-terrier came rushing up, open-mouthed, pranced his twopaws on the youth's shoulders, licking his
face. paul drew back, laughing.bill was a great relief to him. he pushed the dog aside, but it cameleaping back. "get out," said the lad, "or i'll dot theeone." but the dog was not to be pushed away. so paul had a little battle with thecreature, pitching poor bill away from him, who, however, only floundered tumultuouslyback again, wild with joy. the two fought together, the man laughinggrudgingly, the dog grinning all over. miriam watched them.there was something pathetic about the man.
he wanted so badly to love, to be tender. the rough way he bowled the dog over wasreally loving. bill got up, panting with happiness, hisbrown eyes rolling in his white face, and lumbered back again. he adored paul.the lad frowned. "bill, i've had enough o' thee," he said. but the dog only stood with two heavy paws,that quivered with love, upon his thigh, and flickered a red tongue at him.he drew back. "no," he said--"no--i've had enough."
and in a minute the dog trotted offhappily, to vary the fun. he remained staring miserably across at thehills, whose still beauty he begrudged. he wanted to go and cycle with edgar. yet he had not the courage to leave miriam."why are you sad?" she asked humbly. "i'm not sad; why should i be," heanswered. "i'm only normal." she wondered why he always claimed to benormal when he was disagreeable. "but what is the matter?" she pleaded,coaxing him soothingly. "nothing!"
"nay!" she murmured.he picked up a stick and began to stab the earth with it."you'd far better not talk," he said. "but i wish to know--" she replied. he laughed resentfully."you always do," he said. "it's not fair to me," she murmured. he thrust, thrust, thrust at the groundwith the pointed stick, digging up little clods of earth as if he were in a fever ofirritation. she gently and firmly laid her band on hiswrist. "don't!" she said."put it away."
he flung the stick into the currant-bushes,and leaned back. now he was bottled up."what is it?" she pleaded softly. he lay perfectly still, only his eyesalive, and they full of torment. "you know," he said at length, ratherwearily--"you know--we'd better break off." it was what she dreaded. swiftly everything seemed to darken beforeher eyes. "why!" she murmured."what has happened?" "nothing has happened. we only realise where we are.it's no good--"
she waited in silence, sadly, patiently.it was no good being impatient with him. at any rate, he would tell her now whatailed him. "we agreed on friendship," he went on in adull, monotonous voice. "how often have we agreed for friendship! and yet--it neither stops there, nor getsanywhere else." he was silent again.she brooded. what did he mean? he was so wearying.there was something he would not yield. yet she must be patient with him."i can only give friendship--it's all i'm
capable of--it's a flaw in my make-up. the thing overbalances to one side--i hatea toppling balance. let us have done."there was warmth of fury in his last phrases. he meant she loved him more than he her.perhaps he could not love her. perhaps she had not in herself that whichhe wanted. it was the deepest motive of her soul, thisself-mistrust. it was so deep she dared neither realisenor acknowledge. perhaps she was deficient.
like an infinitely subtle shame, it kepther always back. if it were so, she would do without him.she would never let herself want him. she would merely see. "but what has happened?" she said."nothing--it's all in myself--it only comes out just now.we're always like this towards easter- time." he grovelled so helplessly, she pitied him.at least she never floundered in such a pitiable way.after all, it was he who was chiefly humiliated.
"what do you want?" she asked him."why--i mustn't come often--that's all. why should i monopolise you when i'm not--you see, i'm deficient in something with regard to you--" he was telling her he did not love her, andso ought to leave her a chance with another man.how foolish and blind and shamefully clumsy he was! what were other men to her!what were men to her at all! but he, ah! she loved his soul.was he deficient in something? perhaps he was.
"but i don't understand," she said huskily."yesterday--" the night was turning jangled and hatefulto him as the twilight faded. and she bowed under her suffering. "i know," he cried, "you never will!you'll never believe that i can't--can't physically, any more than i can fly up likea skylark--" "what?" she murmured. now she dreaded."love you." he hated her bitterly at that momentbecause he made her suffer. love her!
she knew he loved her.he really belonged to her. this about not loving her, physically,bodily, was a mere perversity on his part, because he knew she loved him. he was stupid like a child.he belonged to her. his soul wanted her.she guessed somebody had been influencing him. she felt upon him the hardness, theforeignness of another influence. "what have they been saying at home?" sheasked. "it's not that," he answered.
and then she knew it was.she despised them for their commonness, his people.they did not know what things were really worth. he and she talked very little more thatnight. after all he left her to cycle with edgar.he had come back to his mother. hers was the strongest tie in his life. when he thought round, miriam shrank away.there was a vague, unreal feel about her. and nobody else mattered. there was one place in the world that stoodsolid and did not melt into unreality: the
place where his mother was.everybody else could grow shadowy, almost non-existent to him, but she could not. it was as if the pivot and pole of hislife, from which he could not escape, was his mother.and in the same way she waited for him. in him was established her life now. after all, the life beyond offered verylittle to mrs. morel. she saw that our chance for doing is here,and doing counted with her. paul was going to prove that she had beenright; he was going to make a man whom nothing should shift off his feet; he wasgoing to alter the face of the earth in
some way which mattered. wherever he went she felt her soul wentwith him. whatever he did she felt her soul stood byhim, ready, as it were, to hand him his tools. she could not bear it when he was withmiriam. william was dead.she would fight to keep paul. and he came back to her. and in his soul was a feeling of thesatisfaction of self-sacrifice because he was faithful to her.she loved him first; he loved her first.
and yet it was not enough. his new young life, so strong andimperious, was urged towards something else.it made him mad with restlessness. she saw this, and wished bitterly thatmiriam had been a woman who could take this new life of his, and leave her the roots.he fought against his mother almost as he fought against miriam. it was a week before he went again towilley farm. miriam had suffered a great deal, and wasafraid to see him again. was she now to endure the ignominy of hisabandoning her?
that would only be superficial andtemporary. he would come back. she held the keys to his soul.but meanwhile, how he would torture her with his battle against her.she shrank from it. however, the sunday after easter he came totea. mrs. leivers was glad to see him.she gathered something was fretting him, that he found things hard. he seemed to drift to her for comfort.and she was good to him. she did him that great kindness of treatinghim almost with reverence.
he met her with the young children in thefront garden. "i'm glad you've come," said the mother,looking at him with her great appealing brown eyes. "it is such a sunny day.i was just going down the fields for the first time this year."he felt she would like him to come. that soothed him. they went, talking simply, he gentle andhumble. he could have wept with gratitude that shewas deferential to him. he was feeling humiliated.
at the bottom of the mow close they found athrush's nest. "shall i show you the eggs?" he said."do!" replied mrs. leivers. "they seem such a sign of spring, and sohopeful." he put aside the thorns, and took out theeggs, holding them in the palm of his hand. "they are quite hot--i think we frightenedher off them," he said. "ay, poor thing!" said mrs. leivers. miriam could not help touching the eggs,and his hand which, it seemed to her, cradled them so well."isn't it a strange warmth!" she murmured, to get near him.
"blood heat," he answered.she watched him putting them back, his body pressed against the hedge, his arm reachingslowly through the thorns, his hand folded carefully over the eggs. he was concentrated on the act.seeing him so, she loved him; he seemed so simple and sufficient to himself.and she could not get to him. after tea she stood hesitating at thebookshelf. he took "tartarin de tarascon".again they sat on the bank of hay at the foot of the stack. he read a couple of pages, but without anyheart for it.
again the dog came racing up to repeat thefun of the other day. he shoved his muzzle in the man's chest. paul fingered his ear for a moment.then he pushed him away. "go away, bill," he said."i don't want you." bill slunk off, and miriam wondered anddreaded what was coming. there was a silence about the youth thatmade her still with apprehension. it was not his furies, but his quietresolutions that she feared. turning his face a little to one side, sothat she could not see him, he began, speaking slowly and painfully:
"do you think--if i didn't come up so much--you might get to like somebody else-- another man?"so this was what he was still harping on. "but i don't know any other men. why do you ask?" she replied, in a low tonethat should have been a reproach to him. "why," he blurted, "because they say i'veno right to come up like this--without we mean to marry--" miriam was indignant at anybody's forcingthe issues between them. she had been furious with her own fatherfor suggesting to paul, laughingly, that he knew why he came so much.
"who says?" she asked, wondering if herpeople had anything to do with it. they had not."mother--and the others. they say at this rate everybody willconsider me engaged, and i ought to consider myself so, because it's not fairto you. and i've tried to find out--and i don'tthink i love you as a man ought to love his wife.what do you think about it?" miriam bowed her head moodily. she was angry at having this struggle.people should leave him and her alone. "i don't know," she murmured."do you think we love each other enough to
marry?" he asked definitely. it made her tremble."no," she answered truthfully. "i don't think so--we're too young." "i thought perhaps," he went on miserably,"that you, with your intensity in things, might have given me more--than i could evermake up to you. and even now--if you think it better--we'llbe engaged." now miriam wanted to cry.and she was angry, too. he was always such a child for people to doas they liked with. "no, i don't think so," she said firmly.he pondered a minute.
"you see," he said, "with me--i don't thinkone person would ever monopolize me--be everything to me--i think never."this she did not consider. "no," she murmured. then, after a pause, she looked at him, andher dark eyes flashed. "this is your mother," she said."i know she never liked me." "no, no, it isn't," he said hastily. "it was for your sake she spoke this time.she only said, if i was going on, i ought to consider myself engaged."there was a silence. "and if i ask you to come down any time,you won't stop away, will you?"
she did not answer.by this time she was very angry. "well, what shall we do?" she said shortly. "i suppose i'd better drop french.i was just beginning to get on with it. but i suppose i can go on alone.""i don't see that we need," he said. "i can give you a french lesson, surely." "well--and there are sunday nights.i shan't stop coming to chapel, because i enjoy it, and it's all the social life iget. but you've no need to come home with me. i can go alone.""all right," he answered, rather taken
aback."but if i ask edgar, he'll always come with us, and then they can say nothing." there was silence.after all, then, she would not lose much. for all their talk down at his home therewould not be much difference. she wished they would mind their ownbusiness. "and you won't think about it, and let ittrouble you, will you?" he asked. "oh no," replied miriam, without looking athim. he was silent.she thought him unstable. he had no fixity of purpose, no anchor ofrighteousness that held him.
"because," he continued, "a man gets acrosshis bicycle--and goes to work--and does all sorts of things. but a woman broods.""no, i shan't bother," said miriam. and she meant it.it had gone rather chilly. they went indoors. "how white paul looks!"mrs. leivers exclaimed. "miriam, you shouldn't have let him sit outof doors. do you think you've taken cold, paul?" "oh, no!" he laughed.but he felt done up.
it wore him out, the conflict in himself.miriam pitied him now. but quite early, before nine o'clock, herose to go. "you're not going home, are you?" askedmrs. leivers anxiously. "yes," he replied. "i said i'd be early."he was very awkward. "but this is early," said mrs. leivers.miriam sat in the rocking-chair, and did not speak. he hesitated, expecting her to rise and gowith him to the barn as usual for his bicycle.she remained as she was.
he was at a loss. "well--good-night, all!" he faltered.she spoke her good-night along with all the others.but as he went past the window he looked in. she saw him pale, his brows knit slightlyin a way that had become constant with him, his eyes dark with pain. she rose and went to the doorway to wavegood-bye to him as he passed through the gate.he rode slowly under the pine-trees, feeling a cur and a miserable wretch.
his bicycle went tilting down the hills atrandom. he thought it would be a relief to breakone's neck. two days later he sent her up a book and alittle note, urging her to read and be busy.at this time he gave all his friendship to edgar. he loved the family so much, he loved thefarm so much; it was the dearest place on earth to him.his home was not so lovable. it was his mother. but then he would have been just as happywith his mother anywhere.
whereas willey farm he loved passionately. he loved the little pokey kitchen, wheremen's boots tramped, and the dog slept with one eye open for fear of being trodden on;where the lamp hung over the table at night, and everything was so silent. he loved miriam's long, low parlour, withits atmosphere of romance, its flowers, its books, its high rosewood piano. he loved the gardens and the buildings thatstood with their scarlet roofs on the naked edges of the fields, crept towards the woodas if for cosiness, the wild country scooping down a valley and up theuncultured hills of the other side.
only to be there was an exhilaration and ajoy to him. he loved mrs. leivers, with herunworldliness and her quaint cynicism; he loved mr. leivers, so warm and young andlovable; he loved edgar, who lit up when he came, and the boys and the children and bill--even the sow circe and the indiangame-cock called tippoo. all this besides miriam.he could not give it up. so he went as often, but he was usuallywith edgar. only all the family, including the father,joined in charades and games at evening. and later, miriam drew them together, andthey read macbeth out of penny books,
taking parts.it was great excitement. miriam was glad, and mrs. leivers was glad,and mr. leivers enjoyed it. then they all learned songs together fromtonic sol-fa, singing in a circle round the fire. but now paul was very rarely alone withmiriam. she waited. when she and edgar and he walked hometogether from chapel or from the literary society in bestwood, she knew his talk, sopassionate and so unorthodox nowadays, was for her.
she did envy edgar, however, his cyclingwith paul, his friday nights, his days working in the fields.for her friday nights and her french lessons were gone. she was nearly always alone, walking,pondering in the wood, reading, studying, dreaming, waiting.and he wrote to her frequently. one sunday evening they attained to theirold rare harmony. edgar had stayed to communion--he wonderedwhat it was like--with mrs. morel. so paul came on alone with miriam to hishome. he was more or less under her spell again.as usual, they were discussing the sermon.
he was setting now full sail towardsagnosticism, but such a religious agnosticism that miriam did not suffer sobadly. they were at the renan vie de jesus stage. miriam was the threshing-floor on which hethreshed out all his beliefs. while he trampled his ideas upon her soul,the truth came out for him. she alone was his threshing-floor. she alone helped him towards realization.almost impassive, she submitted to his argument and expounding.and somehow, because of her, he gradually realized where he was wrong.
and what he realized, she realized.she felt he could not do without her. they came to the silent house.he took the key out of the scullery window, and they entered. all the time he went on with hisdiscussion. he lit the gas, mended the fire, andbrought her some cakes from the pantry. she sat on the sofa, quietly, with a plateon her knee. she wore a large white hat with somepinkish flowers. it was a cheap hat, but he liked it. her face beneath was still and pensive,golden-brown and ruddy.
always her ears were hid in her shortcurls. she watched him. she liked him on sundays.then he wore a dark suit that showed the lithe movement of his body.there was a clean, clear-cut look about he went on with his thinking to her.suddenly he reached for a bible. miriam liked the way he reached up--sosharp, straight to the mark. he turned the pages quickly, and read her achapter of st. john. as he sat in the armchair reading, intent,his voice only thinking, she felt as if he were using her unconsciously as a man useshis tools at some work he is bent on.
she loved it. and the wistfulness of his voice was like areaching to something, and it was as if she were what he reached with. she sat back on the sofa away from him, andyet feeling herself the very instrument his hand grasped.it gave her great pleasure. then he began to falter and to get self-conscious. and when he came to the verse, "a woman,when she is in travail, hath sorrow because her hour is come", he missed it out. miriam had felt him growing uncomfortable.she shrank when the well-known words did
not follow.he went on reading, but she did not hear. a grief and shame made her bend her head. six months ago he would have read itsimply. now there was a scotch in his running withher. now she felt there was really somethinghostile between them, something of which they were ashamed.she ate her cake mechanically. he tried to go on with his argument, butcould not get back the right note. soon edgar came in.mrs. morel had gone to her friends'. the three set off to willey farm.
miriam brooded over his split with her.there was something else he wanted. he could not be satisfied; he could giveher no peace. there was between them now always a groundfor strife. she wanted to prove him.she believed that his chief need in life was herself. if she could prove it, both to herself andto him, the rest might go; she could simply trust to the future.so in may she asked him to come to willey farm and meet mrs. dawes. there was something he hankered after.she saw him, whenever they spoke of clara
dawes, rouse and get slightly angry.he said he did not like her. yet he was keen to know about her. well, he should put himself to the test.she believed that there were in him desires for higher things, and desires for lower,and that the desire for the higher would conquer. at any rate, he should try.she forgot that her "higher" and "lower" were arbitrary.he was rather excited at the idea of meeting clara at willey farm. mrs. dawes came for the day.her heavy, dun-coloured hair was coiled on
top of her head. she wore a white blouse and navy skirt, andsomehow, wherever she was, seemed to make things look paltry and insignificant.when she was in the room, the kitchen seemed too small and mean altogether. miriam's beautiful twilighty parlour lookedstiff and stupid. all the leivers were eclipsed like candles.they found her rather hard to put up with. yet she was perfectly amiable, butindifferent, and rather hard. paul did not come till afternoon.he was early. as he swung off his bicycle, miriam saw himlook round at the house eagerly.
he would be disappointed if the visitor hadnot come. miriam went out to meet him, bowing herhead because of the sunshine. nasturtiums were coming out crimson underthe cool green shadow of their leaves. the girl stood, dark-haired, glad to seehim. "hasn't clara come?" he asked."yes," replied miriam in her musical tone. "she's reading." he wheeled his bicycle into the barn.he had put on a handsome tie, of which he was rather proud, and socks to match."she came this morning?" he asked. "yes," replied miriam, as she walked at hisside.
"you said you'd bring me that letter fromthe man at liberty's. have you remembered?" "oh, dash, no!" he said."but nag at me till you get it." "i don't like to nag at you.""do it whether or not. and is she any more agreeable?" hecontinued. "you know i always think she is quiteagreeable." he was silent. evidently his eagerness to be early to-dayhad been the newcomer. miriam already began to suffer.they went together towards the house.
he took the clips off his trousers, but wastoo lazy to brush the dust from his shoes, in spite of the socks and tie.clara sat in the cool parlour reading. he saw the nape of her white neck, and thefine hair lifted from it. she rose, looking at him indifferently. to shake hands she lifted her arm straight,in a manner that seemed at once to keep him at a distance, and yet to fling somethingto him. he noticed how her breasts swelled insideher blouse, and how her shoulder curved handsomely under the thin muslin at the topof her arm. "you have chosen a fine day," he said.
"it happens so," she said."yes," he said; "i am glad." she sat down, not thanking him for hispoliteness. "what have you been doing all morning?"asked paul of miriam. "well, you see," said miriam, coughinghuskily, "clara only came with father--and so--she's not been here very long." clara sat leaning on the table, holdingaloof. he noticed her hands were large, but wellkept. and the skin on them seemed almost coarse,opaque, and white, with fine golden hairs. she did not mind if he observed her hands.she intended to scorn him.
her heavy arm lay negligently on the table. her mouth was closed as if she wereoffended, and she kept her face slightly averted."you were at margaret bonford's meeting the other evening," he said to her. miriam did not know this courteous paul.clara glanced at him. "yes," she said."why," asked miriam, "how do you know?" "i went in for a few minutes before thetrain came," he answered. clara turned away again ratherdisdainfully. "i think she's a lovable little woman,"said paul.
"margaret bonford!" exclaimed clara."she's a great deal cleverer than most men." "well, i didn't say she wasn't," he said,deprecating. "she's lovable for all that.""and, of course, that is all that matters," said clara witheringly. he rubbed his head, rather perplexed,rather annoyed. "i suppose it matters more than hercleverness," he said; "which, after all, would never get her to heaven." "it's not heaven she wants to get--it's herfair share on earth," retorted clara.
she spoke as if he were responsible forsome deprivation which miss bonford suffered. "well," he said, "i thought she was warm,and awfully nice--only too frail. i wished she was sitting comfortably inpeace--" "'darning her husband's stockings,'" saidclara scathingly. "i'm sure she wouldn't mind darning even mystockings," he said. "and i'm sure she'd do them well. just as i wouldn't mind blacking her bootsif she wanted me to." but clara refused to answer this sally ofhis.
he talked to miriam for a little while. the other woman held aloof."well," he said, "i think i'll go and see edgar.is he on the land?" "i believe," said miriam, "he's gone for aload of coal. he should be back directly.""then," he said, "i'll go and meet him." miriam dared not propose anything for thethree of them. he rose and left them. on the top road, where the gorse was out,he saw edgar walking lazily beside the mare, who nodded her white-starred foreheadas she dragged the clanking load of coal.
the young farmer's face lighted up as hesaw his friend. edgar was good-looking, with dark, warmeyes. his clothes were old and ratherdisreputable, and he walked with considerable pride."hello!" he said, seeing paul bareheaded. "where are you going?" "came to meet you.can't stand 'nevermore.'" edgar's teeth flashed in a laugh ofamusement. "who is 'nevermore'?" he asked. "the lady--mrs. dawes--it ought to be mrs.the raven that quothed 'nevermore.'"
edgar laughed with glee."don't you like her?" he asked. "not a fat lot," said paul. "why, do you?""no!" the answer came with a deep ring ofconviction. "no!" edgar pursed up his lips."i can't say she's much in my line." he mused a little.then: "but why do you call her 'nevermore'?" he asked. "well," said paul, "if she looks at a manshe says haughtily 'nevermore,' and if she
looks at herself in the looking-glass shesays disdainfully 'nevermore,' and if she thinks back she says it in disgust, and ifshe looks forward she says it cynically." edgar considered this speech, failed tomake much out of it, and said, laughing: "you think she's a man-hater?" "she thinks she is," replied paul."but you don't think so?" "no," replied paul."wasn't she nice with you, then?" "could you imagine her nice with anybody?"asked the young man. edgar laughed.together they unloaded the coal in the yard.
paul was rather self-conscious, because heknew clara could see if she looked out of the window.she didn't look. on saturday afternoons the horses werebrushed down and groomed. paul and edgar worked together, sneezingwith the dust that came from the pelts of jimmy and flower. "do you know a new song to teach me?" saidedgar. he continued to work all the time. the back of his neck was sun-red when hebent down, and his fingers that held the brush were thick.paul watched him sometimes.
"'mary morrison'?" suggested the younger. edgar agreed.he had a good tenor voice, and he loved to learn all the songs his friend could teachhim, so that he could sing whilst he was carting. paul had a very indifferent baritone voice,but a good ear. however, he sang softly, for fear of clara.edgar repeated the line in a clear tenor. at times they both broke off to sneeze, andfirst one, then the other, abused his horse.miriam was impatient of men. it took so little to amuse them--even paul.
she thought it anomalous in him that hecould be so thoroughly absorbed in a triviality.it was tea-time when they had finished. "what song was that?" asked miriam. edgar told her.the conversation turned to singing. "we have such jolly times," miriam said toclara. mrs. dawes ate her meal in a slow,dignified way. whenever the men were present she grewdistant. "do you like singing?" miriam asked her."if it is good," she said.
paul, of course, coloured."you mean if it is high-class and trained?" he said. "i think a voice needs training before thesinging is anything," she said. "you might as well insist on havingpeople's voices trained before you allowed them to talk," he replied. "really, people sing for their ownpleasure, as a rule." "and it may be for other people'sdiscomfort." "then the other people should have flaps totheir ears," he replied. the boys laughed.there was a silence.
he flushed deeply, and ate in silence. after tea, when all the men had gone butpaul, mrs. leivers said to clara: "and you find life happier now?""infinitely." "and you are satisfied?" "so long as i can be free and independent.""and you don't miss anything in your life?" asked mrs. leivers gently."i've put all that behind me." paul had been feeling uncomfortable duringthis discourse. he got up."you'll find you're always tumbling over the things you've put behind you," he said.
then he took his departure to the cowsheds.he felt he had been witty, and his manly pride was high.he whistled as he went down the brick track. miriam came for him a little later to knowif he would go with clara and her for a walk.they set off down to strelley mill farm. as they were going beside the brook, on thewilley water side, looking through the brake at the edge of the wood, where pinkcampions glowed under a few sunbeams, they saw, beyond the tree-trunks and the thin hazel bushes, a man leading a great bayhorse through the gullies.
the big red beast seemed to danceromantically through that dimness of green hazel drift, away there where the air wasshadowy, as if it were in the past, among the fading bluebells that might havebloomed for deidre or iseult. the three stood charmed."what a treat to be a knight," he said, "and to have a pavilion here." "and to have us shut up safely?" repliedclara. "yes," he answered, "singing with yourmaids at your broidery. i would carry your banner of white andgreen and heliotrope. i would have 'w.s.p.u.' emblazoned on myshield, beneath a woman rampant."
"i have no doubt," said clara, "that youwould much rather fight for a woman than let her fight for herself.""i would. when she fights for herself she seems likea dog before a looking-glass, gone into a mad fury with its own shadow.""and you are the looking-glass?" she asked, with a curl of the lip. "or the shadow," he replied."i am afraid," she said, "that you are too clever.""well, i leave it to you to be good," he retorted, laughing. "be good, sweet maid, and just let me beclever."
but clara wearied of his flippancy. suddenly, looking at her, he saw that theupward lifting of her face was misery and not scorn.his heart grew tender for everybody. he turned and was gentle with miriam, whomhe had neglected till then. > chapter ix part 2defeat of miriam at the wood's edge they met limb, a thin,swarthy man of forty, tenant of strelley mill, which he ran as a cattle-raisingfarm. he held the halter of the powerful stallionindifferently, as if he were tired.
the three stood to let him pass over thestepping-stones of the first brook. paul admired that so large an animal shouldwalk on such springy toes, with an endless excess of vigour.limb pulled up before them. "tell your father, miss leivers," he said,in a peculiar piping voice, "that his young beas'es 'as broke that bottom fence threedays an' runnin'." "which?" asked miriam, tremulous. the great horse breathed heavily, shiftinground its red flanks, and looking suspiciously with its wonderful big eyesupwards from under its lowered head and falling mane.
"come along a bit," replied limb, "an' i'llshow you." the man and the stallion went forward. it danced sideways, shaking its whitefetlocks and looking frightened, as it felt itself in the brook."no hanky-pankyin'," said the man affectionately to the beast. it went up the bank in little leaps, thensplashed finely through the second brook. clara, walking with a kind of sulkyabandon, watched it half-fascinated, half- contemptuous. limb stopped and pointed to the fence undersome willows.
"there, you see where they got through," hesaid. "my man's druv 'em back three times." "yes," answered miriam, colouring as if shewere at fault. "are you comin' in?" asked the man."no, thanks; but we should like to go by the pond." "well, just as you've a mind," he said.the horse gave little whinneys of pleasure at being so near home."he is glad to be back," said clara, who was interested in the creature. "yes--'e's been a tidy step to-day."they went through the gate, and saw
approaching them from the big farmhouse asmallish, dark, excitable-looking woman of about thirty-five. her hair was touched with grey, her darkeyes looked wild. she walked with her hands behind her back.her brother went forward. as it saw her, the big bay stallionwhinneyed again. she came up excitedly."are you home again, my boy!" she said tenderly to the horse, not to the man. the great beast shifted round to her,ducking his head. she smuggled into his mouth the wrinkledyellow apple she had been hiding behind her
back, then she kissed him near the eyes. he gave a big sigh of pleasure.she held his head in her arms against her breast."isn't he splendid!" said miriam to her. miss limb looked up. her dark eyes glanced straight at paul."oh, good-evening, miss leivers," she said. "it's ages since you've been down."miriam introduced her friends. "your horse is a fine fellow!" said clara. "isn't he!"again she kissed him. "as loving as any man!""more loving than most men, i should
think," replied clara. "he's a nice boy!" cried the woman, againembracing the horse. clara, fascinated by the big beast, went upto stroke his neck. "he's quite gentle," said miss limb. "don't you think big fellows are?""he's a beauty!" replied clara. she wanted to look in his eyes.she wanted him to look at her. "it's a pity he can't talk," she said. "oh, but he can--all but," replied theother woman. then her brother moved on with the horse."are you coming in?
do come in, mr.--i didn't catch it." "morel," said miriam."no, we won't come in, but we should like to go by the mill-pond.""yes--yes, do. do you fish, mr. morel?" "no," said paul."because if you do you might come and fish any time," said miss limb."we scarcely see a soul from week's end to week's end. i should be thankful.""what fish are there in the pond?" he asked.
they went through the front garden, overthe sluice, and up the steep bank to the pond, which lay in shadow, with its twowooded islets. paul walked with miss limb. "i shouldn't mind swimming here," he said."do," she replied. "come when you like.my brother will be awfully pleased to talk with you. he is so quiet, because there is no one totalk to. do come and swim."clara came up. "it's a fine depth," she said, "and soclear."
"yes," said miss limb."do you swim?" said paul. "miss limb was just saying we could comewhen we liked." "of course there's the farm-hands," saidmiss limb. they talked a few moments, then went on upthe wild hill, leaving the lonely, haggard- eyed woman on the bank.the hillside was all ripe with sunshine. it was wild and tussocky, given over torabbits. the three walked in silence.then: "she makes me feel uncomfortable," saidpaul. "you mean miss limb?" asked miriam."yes."
"what's a matter with her? is she going dotty with being too lonely?""yes," said miriam. "it's not the right sort of life for her.i think it's cruel to bury her there. i really ought to go and see her more. but--she upsets me.""she makes me feel sorry for her--yes, and she bothers me," he said."i suppose," blurted clara suddenly, "she wants a man." the other two were silent for a fewmoments. "but it's the loneliness sends hercracked," said paul.
clara did not answer, but strode on uphill. she was walking with her hand hanging, herlegs swinging as she kicked through the dead thistles and the tussocky grass, herarms hanging loose. rather than walking, her handsome bodyseemed to be blundering up the hill. a hot wave went over paul.he was curious about her. perhaps life had been cruel to her. he forgot miriam, who was walking besidehim talking to him. she glanced at him, finding he did notanswer her. his eyes were fixed ahead on clara.
"do you still think she is disagreeable?"she asked. he did not notice that the question wassudden. it ran with his thoughts. "something's the matter with her," he said."yes," answered miriam. they found at the top of the hill a hiddenwild field, two sides of which were backed by the wood, the other sides by high loosehedges of hawthorn and elder bushes. between these overgrown bushes were gapsthat the cattle might have walked through had there been any cattle now.there the turf was smooth as velveteen, padded and holed by the rabbits.
the field itself was coarse, and crowdedwith tall, big cowslips that had never been cut.clusters of strong flowers rose everywhere above the coarse tussocks of bent. it was like a roadstead crowded with tan,fairy shipping. "ah!" cried miriam, and she looked at paul,her dark eyes dilating. he smiled. together they enjoyed the field of flowers.clara, a little way off, was looking at the cowslips disconsolately.paul and miriam stayed close together, talking in subdued tones.
he kneeled on one knee, quickly gatheringthe best blossoms, moving from tuft to tuft restlessly, talking softly all the time.miriam plucked the flowers lovingly, lingering over them. he always seemed to her too quick andalmost scientific. yet his bunches had a natural beauty morethan hers. he loved them, but as if they were his andhe had a right to them. she had more reverence for them: they heldsomething she had not. the flowers were very fresh and sweet. he wanted to drink them.as he gathered them, he ate the little
yellow trumpets.clara was still wandering about disconsolately. going towards her, he said:"why don't you get some?" "i don't believe in it.they look better growing." "but you'd like some?" "they want to be left.""i don't believe they do." "i don't want the corpses of flowers aboutme," she said. "that's a stiff, artificial notion," hesaid. "they don't die any quicker in water thanon their roots.
and besides, they look nice in a bowl--theylook jolly. and you only call a thing a corpse becauseit looks corpse-like." "whether it is one or not?" she argued. "it isn't one to me.a dead flower isn't a corpse of a flower." clara now ignored him."and even so--what right have you to pull them?" she asked. "because i like them, and want them--andthere's plenty of them." "and that is sufficient?""yes. why not?
i'm sure they'd smell nice in your room innottingham." "and i should have the pleasure of watchingthem die." "but then--it does not matter if they dodie." whereupon he left her, and went stoopingover the clumps of tangled flowers which thickly sprinkled the field like pale,luminous foam-clots. miriam had come close. clara was kneeling, breathing some scentfrom the cowslips. "i think," said miriam, "if you treat themwith reverence you don't do them any harm. it is the spirit you pluck them in thatmatters."
"yes," he said."but no, you get 'em because you want 'em, and that's all." he held out his bunch.miriam was silent. he picked some more. "look at these!" he continued; "sturdy andlusty like little trees and like boys with fat legs."clara's hat lay on the grass not far off. she was kneeling, bending forward still tosmell the flowers. her neck gave him a sharp pang, such abeautiful thing, yet not proud of itself just now.
her breasts swung slightly in her blouse.the arching curve of her back was beautiful and strong; she wore no stays. suddenly, without knowing, he wasscattering a handful of cowslips over her hair and neck, saying:"ashes to ashes, and dust to dust, if the lord won't have you the devil must." the chill flowers fell on her neck.she looked up at him, with almost pitiful, scared grey eyes, wondering what he wasdoing. flowers fell on her face, and she shut hereyes. suddenly, standing there above her, he feltawkward.
"i thought you wanted a funeral," he said,ill at ease. clara laughed strangely, and rose, pickingthe cowslips from her hair. she took up her hat and pinned it on. one flower had remained tangled in herhair. he saw, but would not tell her.he gathered up the flowers he had sprinkled over her. at the edge of the wood the bluebells hadflowed over into the field and stood there like flood-water.but they were fading now. clara strayed up to them.
he wandered after her.the bluebells pleased him. "look how they've come out of the wood!" hesaid. then she turned with a flash of warmth andof gratitude. "yes," she smiled.his blood beat up. "it makes me think of the wild men of thewoods, how terrified they would be when they got breast to breast with the openspace." "do you think they were?" she asked. "i wonder which was more frightened amongold tribes--those bursting out of their darkness of woods upon all the space oflight, or those from the open tiptoeing
into the forests." "i should think the second," she answered."yes, you do feel like one of the open space sort, trying to force yourself intothe dark, don't you?" "how should i know?" she answered queerly. the conversation ended there.the evening was deepening over the earth. already the valley was full of shadow.one tiny square of light stood opposite at crossleigh bank farm. brightness was swimming on the tops of thehills. miriam came up slowly, her face in her big,loose bunch of flowers, walking ankle-deep
through the scattered froth of thecowslips. beyond her the trees were coming intoshape, all shadow. "shall we go?" she asked.and the three turned away. they were all silent. going down the path they could see thelight of home right across, and on the ridge of the hill a thin dark outline withlittle lights, where the colliery village touched the sky. "it has been nice, hasn't it?" he asked.miriam murmured assent. clara was silent."don't you think so?" he persisted.
but she walked with her head up, and stilldid not answer. he could tell by the way she moved, as ifshe didn't care, that she suffered. at this time paul took his mother tolincoln. she was bright and enthusiastic as ever,but as he sat opposite her in the railway carriage, she seemed to look frail. he had a momentary sensation as if she wereslipping away from him. then he wanted to get hold of her, tofasten her, almost to chain her. he felt he must keep hold of her with hishand. they drew near to the city.both were at the window looking for the
cathedral. "there she is, mother!" he cried.they saw the great cathedral lying couchant above the plain."ah!" she exclaimed. "so she is!" he looked at his mother.her blue eyes were watching the cathedral quietly.she seemed again to be beyond him. something in the eternal repose of theuplifted cathedral, blue and noble against the sky, was reflected in her, something ofthe fatality. what was, was.
with all his young will he could not alterit. he saw her face, the skin still fresh andpink and downy, but crow's-feet near her eyes, her eyelids steady, sinking a little,her mouth always closed with disillusion; and there was on her the same eternal look,as if she knew fate at last. he beat against it with all the strength ofhis soul. "look, mother, how big she is above thetown! think, there are streets and streets belowher! she looks bigger than the city altogether." "so she does!" exclaimed his mother,breaking bright into life again.
but he had seen her sitting, looking steadyout of the window at the cathedral, her face and eyes fixed, reflecting therelentlessness of life. and the crow's-feet near her eyes, and hermouth shut so hard, made him feel he would go mad.they ate a meal that she considered wildly extravagant. "don't imagine i like it," she said, as sheate her cutlet. "i don't like it, i really don't!just think of your money wasted!" "you never mind my money," he said. "you forget i'm a fellow taking his girlfor an outing."
and he bought her some blue violets."stop it at once, sir!" she commanded. "how can i do it?" "you've got nothing to do.stand still!" and in the middle of high street he stuckthe flowers in her coat. "an old thing like me!" she said, sniffing. "you see," he said, "i want people to thinkwe're awful swells. so look ikey.""i'll jowl your head," she laughed. "strut!" he commanded. "be a fantail pigeon."it took him an hour to get her through the
street. she stood above glory hole, she stoodbefore stone bow, she stood everywhere, and exclaimed.a man came up, took off his hat, and bowed to her. "can i show you the town, madam?""no, thank you," she answered. "i've got my son."then paul was cross with her for not answering with more dignity. "you go away with you!" she exclaimed."ha! that's the jew's house. now, do you remember that lecture, paul--?"but she could scarcely climb the cathedral
hill. he did not notice.then suddenly he found her unable to speak. he took her into a little public-house,where she rested. "it's nothing," she said. "my heart is only a bit old; one mustexpect it." he did not answer, but looked at her.again his heart was crushed in a hot grip. he wanted to cry, he wanted to smash thingsin fury. they set off again, pace by pace, soslowly. and every step seemed like a weight on hischest.
he felt as if his heart would burst.at last they came to the top. she stood enchanted, looking at the castlegate, looking at the cathedral front. she had quite forgotten herself."now this is better than i thought it could be!" she cried. but he hated it.everywhere he followed her, brooding. they sat together in the cathedral.they attended a little service in the choir. she was timid."i suppose it is open to anybody?" she asked him."yes," he replied.
"do you think they'd have the damned cheekto send us away." "well, i'm sure," she exclaimed, "theywould if they heard your language." her face seemed to shine again with joy andpeace during the service. and all the time he was wanting to rage andsmash things and cry. afterwards, when they were leaning over thewall, looking at the town below, he blurted suddenly:"why can't a man have a young mother? what is she old for?" "well," his mother laughed, "she canscarcely help it." "and why wasn't i the oldest son?
look--they say the young ones have theadvantage--but look, they had the young mother.you should have had me for your eldest son." "i didn't arrange it," she remonstrated."come to consider, you're as much to blame as me."he turned on her, white, his eyes furious. "what are you old for!" he said, mad withhis impotence. "why can't you walk?why can't you come with me to places?" "at one time," she replied, "i could haverun up that hill a good deal better than you.""what's the good of that to me?" he cried,
hitting his fist on the wall. then he became plaintive."it's too bad of you to be ill. little, it is--""ill!" she cried. "i'm a bit old, and you'll have to put upwith it, that's all." they were quiet.but it was as much as they could bear. they got jolly again over tea. as they sat by brayford, watching theboats, he told her about clara. his mother asked him innumerable questions."then who does she live with?" "with her mother, on bluebell hill."
"and have they enough to keep them?""i don't think so. i think they do lace work.""and wherein lies her charm, my boy?" "i don't know that she's charming, mother. but she's nice.and she seems straight, you know--not a bit deep, not a bit.""but she's a good deal older than you." "she's thirty, i'm going on twenty-three." "you haven't told me what you like herfor." "because i don't know--a sort of defiantway she's got--a sort of angry way." mrs. morel considered.
she would have been glad now for her son tofall in love with some woman who would--she did not know what.but he fretted so, got so furious suddenly, and again was melancholic. she wished he knew some nice woman--she didnot know what she wished, but left it vague.at any rate, she was not hostile to the idea of clara. annie, too, was getting married.leonard had gone away to work in birmingham.one week-end when he was home she had said to him:
"you don't look very well, my lad.""i dunno," he said. "i feel anyhow or nohow, ma."he called her "ma" already in his boyish fashion. "are you sure they're good lodgings?" sheasked. "yes--yes. only--it's a winder when you have to pouryour own tea out--an' nobody to grouse if you team it in your saucer and sup it up.it somehow takes a' the taste out of it." mrs. morel laughed. "and so it knocks you up?" she said."i dunno.
i want to get married," he blurted,twisting his fingers and looking down at his boots. there was a silence."but," she exclaimed, "i thought you said you'd wait another year.""yes, i did say so," he replied stubbornly. again she considered. "and you know," she said, "annie's a bit ofa spendthrift. she's saved no more than eleven pounds.and i know, lad, you haven't had much chance." he coloured up to the ears."i've got thirty-three quid," he said.
"it doesn't go far," she answered.he said nothing, but twisted his fingers. "and you know," she said, "i've nothing--" "i didn't want, ma!" he cried, very red,suffering and remonstrating. "no, my lad, i know.i was only wishing i had. and take away five pounds for the weddingand things--it leaves twenty-nine pounds. you won't do much on that."he twisted still, impotent, stubborn, not looking up. "but do you really want to get married?"she asked. "do you feel as if you ought?"he gave her one straight look from his blue
eyes. "yes," he said."then," she replied, "we must all do the best we can for it, lad."the next time he looked up there were tears in his eyes. "i don't want annie to feel handicapped,"he said, struggling. "my lad," she said, "you're steady--you'vegot a decent place. if a man had needed me i'd have married himon his last week's wages. she may find it a bit hard to start humbly.young girls are like that. they look forward to the fine home theythink they'll have.
but i had expensive furniture.it's not everything." so the wedding took place almostimmediately. arthur came home, and was splendid inuniform. annie looked nice in a dove-grey dress thatshe could take for sundays. morel called her a fool for gettingmarried, and was cool with his son-in-law. mrs. morel had white tips in her bonnet,and some white on her blouse, and was teased by both her sons for fancyingherself so grand. leonard was jolly and cordial, and felt afearful fool. paul could not quite see what annie wantedto get married for.
he was fond of her, and she of him. still, he hoped rather lugubriously that itwould turn out all right. arthur was astonishingly handsome in hisscarlet and yellow, and he knew it well, but was secretly ashamed of the uniform. annie cried her eyes up in the kitchen, onleaving her mother. mrs. morel cried a little, then patted heron the back and said: "but don't cry, child, he'll be good toyou." morel stamped and said she was a fool to goand tie herself up. leonard looked white and overwrought.
mrs. morel said to him:"i s'll trust her to you, my lad, and hold you responsible for her.""you can," he said, nearly dead with the ordeal. and it was all over.when morel and arthur were in bed, paul sat talking, as he often did, with his mother."you're not sorry she's married, mother, are you?" he asked. "i'm not sorry she's married--but--it seemsstrange that she should go from me. it even seems to me hard that she canprefer to go with her leonard. that's how mothers are--i know it's silly."
"and shall you be miserable about her?""when i think of my own wedding day," his mother answered, "i can only hope her lifewill be different." "but you can trust him to be good to her?" "yes, yes.they say he's not good enough for her. but i say if a man is genuine, as he is,and a girl is fond of him--then--it should be all right. he's as good as she.""so you don't mind?" "i would never have let a daughter of minemarry a man i didn't feel to be genuine through and through.
and yet, there's a gap now she's gone."they were both miserable, and wanted her back again. it seemed to paul his mother looked lonely,in her new black silk blouse with its bit of white trimming."at any rate, mother, i s'll never marry," "ay, they all say that, my lad.you've not met the one yet. only wait a year or two.""but i shan't marry, mother. i shall live with you, and we'll have aservant." "ay, my lad, it's easy to talk.we'll see when the time comes." "what time?
i'm nearly twenty-three.""yes, you're not one that would marry young.but in three years' time--" "i shall be with you just the same." "we'll see, my boy, we'll see.""but you don't want me to marry?" "i shouldn't like to think of you goingthrough your life without anybody to care for you and do--no." "and you think i ought to marry?""sooner or later every man ought." "but you'd rather it were later.""it would be hard--and very hard. it's as they say:
"'a son's my son till he takes him a wife,but my daughter's my daughter the whole of her life.'""and you think i'd let a wife take me from you?" "well, you wouldn't ask her to marry yourmother as well as you," mrs. morel smiled. "she could do what she liked; she wouldn'thave to interfere." "she wouldn't--till she'd got you--and thenyou'd see." "i never will see.i'll never marry while i've got you--i won't." "but i shouldn't like to leave you withnobody, my boy," she cried.
"you're not going to leave me.what are you? fifty-three! i'll give you till seventy-five.there you are, i'm fat and forty-four. then i'll marry a staid body.see!" his mother sat and laughed. "go to bed," she said--"go to bed.""and we'll have a pretty house, you and me, and a servant, and it'll be just all right.i s'll perhaps be rich with my painting." "will you go to bed!" "and then you s'll have a pony-carriage.see yourself--a little queen victoria
trotting round.""i tell you to go to bed," she laughed. he kissed her and went. his plans for the future were always thesame. mrs. morel sat brooding--about herdaughter, about paul, about arthur. she fretted at losing annie. the family was very closely bound.and she felt she must live now, to be with her children.life was so rich for her. paul wanted her, and so did arthur. arthur never knew how deeply he loved her.he was a creature of the moment.
never yet had he been forced to realisehimself. the army had disciplined his body, but nothis soul. he was in perfect health and very handsome.his dark, vigorous hair sat close to his smallish head. there was something childish about hisnose, something almost girlish about his dark blue eyes. but he had the fun red mouth of a man underhis brown moustache, and his jaw was strong. it was his father's mouth; it was the noseand eyes of her own mother's people--good-
looking, weak-principled folk.mrs. morel was anxious about him. once he had really run the rig he was safe. but how far would he go?the army had not really done him any good. he resented bitterly the authority of theofficers. he hated having to obey as if he were ananimal. but he had too much sense to kick.so he turned his attention to getting the best out of it. he could sing, he was a boon-companion.often he got into scrapes, but they were the manly scrapes that are easily condoned.so he made a good time out of it, whilst
his self-respect was in suppression. he trusted to his good looks and handsomefigure, his refinement, his decent education to get him most of what hewanted, and he was not disappointed. yet he was restless. something seemed to gnaw him inside.he was never still, he was never alone. with his mother he was rather humble.paul he admired and loved and despised slightly. and paul admired and loved and despised himslightly. mrs. morel had had a few pounds left to herby her father, and she decided to buy her
son out of the army. he was wild with joy.now he was like a lad taking a holiday. he had always been fond of beatrice wyld,and during his furlough he picked up with her again. she was stronger and better in health.the two often went long walks together, arthur taking her arm in soldier's fashion,rather stiffly. and she came to play the piano whilst hesang. then arthur would unhook his tunic collar.he grew flushed, his eyes were bright, he sang in a manly tenor.
afterwards they sat together on the sofa.he seemed to flaunt his body: she was aware of him so--the strong chest, the sides, thethighs in their close-fitting trousers. he liked to lapse into the dialect when hetalked to her. she would sometimes smoke with him.occasionally she would only take a few whiffs at his cigarette. "nay," he said to her one evening, when shereached for his cigarette. "nay, tha doesna.i'll gi'e thee a smoke kiss if ter's a mind." "i wanted a whiff, no kiss at all," sheanswered.
"well, an' tha s'lt ha'e a whiff," he said,"along wi' t' kiss." "i want a draw at thy fag," she cried,snatching for the cigarette between his lips.he was sitting with his shoulder touching her. she was small and quick as lightning.he just escaped. "i'll gi'e thee a smoke kiss," he said."tha'rt a knivey nuisance, arty morel," she said, sitting back. "ha'e a smoke kiss?"the soldier leaned forward to her, smiling. his face was near hers."shonna!" she replied, turning away her
head. he took a draw at his cigarette, and pursedup his mouth, and put his lips close to her.his dark-brown cropped moustache stood out like a brush. she looked at the puckered crimson lips,then suddenly snatched the cigarette from his fingers and darted away.he, leaping after her, seized the comb from her back hair. she turned, threw the cigarette at him.he picked it up, put it in his mouth, and sat down."nuisance!" she cried.
"give me my comb!" she was afraid that her hair, speciallydone for him, would come down. she stood with her hands to her head.he hid the comb between his knees. "i've non got it," he said. the cigarette trembled between his lipswith laughter as he spoke. "liar!" she said."'s true as i'm here!" he laughed, showing his hands. "you brazen imp!" she exclaimed, rushingand scuffling for the comb, which he had under his knees.
as she wrestled with him, pulling at hissmooth, tight-covered knees, he laughed till he lay back on the sofa shaking withlaughter. the cigarette fell from his mouth almostsingeing his throat. under his delicate tan the blood flushedup, and he laughed till his blue eyes were blinded, his throat swollen almost tochoking. then he sat up. beatrice was putting in her comb."tha tickled me, beat," he said thickly. like a flash her small white hand went outand smacked his face. he started up, glaring at her.
they stared at each other.slowly the flush mounted her cheek, she dropped her eyes, then her head.he sat down sulkily. she went into the scullery to adjust herhair. in private there she shed a few tears, shedid not know what for. when she returned she was pursed up close. but it was only a film over her fire.he, with ruffled hair, was sulking upon the sofa.she sat down opposite, in the armchair, and neither spoke. the clock ticked in the silence like blows."you are a little cat, beat," he said at
length, half apologetically."well, you shouldn't be brazen," she replied. there was again a long silence.he whistled to himself like a man much agitated but defiant.suddenly she went across to him and kissed "did it, pore fing!" she mocked.he lifted his face, smiling curiously. "kiss?" he invited her."daren't i?" she asked. "go on!" he challenged, his mouth lifted toher. deliberately, and with a peculiar quiveringsmile that seemed to overspread her whole body, she put her mouth on his.
immediately his arms folded round her.as soon as the long kiss was finished she drew back her head from him, put herdelicate fingers on his neck, through the open collar. then she closed her eyes, giving herself upagain in a kiss. she acted of her own free will.what she would do she did, and made nobody responsible. paul felt life changing around him.the conditions of youth were gone. now it was a home of grown-up people. annie was a married woman, arthur wasfollowing his own pleasure in a way unknown
to his folk.for so long they had all lived at home, and gone out to pass their time. but now, for annie and arthur, life layoutside their mother's house. they came home for holiday and for rest. so there was that strange, half-emptyfeeling about the house, as if the birds had flown.paul became more and more unsettled. annie and arthur had gone. he was restless to follow.yet home was for him beside his mother. and still there was something else,something outside, something he wanted.
he grew more and more restless. miriam did not satisfy him.his old mad desire to be with her grew weaker. sometimes he met clara in nottingham,sometimes he went to meetings with her, sometimes he saw her at willey farm.but on these last occasions the situation became strained. there was a triangle of antagonism betweenpaul and clara and miriam. with clara he took on a smart, worldly,mocking tone very antagonistic to miriam. it did not matter what went before.
she might be intimate and sad with him.then as soon as clara appeared, it all vanished, and he played to the newcomer.miriam had one beautiful evening with him in the hay. he had been on the horse-rake, and havingfinished, came to help her to put the hay in cocks. then he talked to her of his hopes anddespairs, and his whole soul seemed to lie bare before her.she felt as if she watched the very quivering stuff of life in him. the moon came out: they walked hometogether: he seemed to have come to her
because he needed her so badly, and shelistened to him, gave him all her love and her faith. it seemed to her he brought her the best ofhimself to keep, and that she would guard it all her life. nay, the sky did not cherish the stars moresurely and eternally than she would guard the good in the soul of paul morel.she went on home alone, feeling exalted, glad in her faith. and then, the next day, clara came.they were to have tea in the hayfield. miriam watched the evening drawing to goldand shadow.
and all the time paul was sporting withclara. he made higher and higher heaps of hay thatthey were jumping over. miriam did not care for the game, and stoodaside. edgar and geoffrey and maurice and claraand paul jumped. paul won, because he was light. clara's blood was roused.she could run like an amazon. paul loved the determined way she rushed atthe hay-cock and leaped, landed on the other side, her breasts shaken, her thickhair come undone. "you touched!" he cried.
"you touched!""no!" she flashed, turning to edgar. "i didn't touch, did i?wasn't i clear?" "i couldn't say," laughed edgar. none of them could say."but you touched," said paul. "you're beaten.""i did not touch!" she cried. "as plain as anything," said paul. "box his ears for me!" she cried to edgar."nay," edgar laughed. "i daren't.you must do it yourself." "and nothing can alter the fact that youtouched," laughed paul.
she was furious with him.her little triumph before these lads and men was gone. she had forgotten herself in the game.now he was to humble her. "i think you are despicable!" she said.and again he laughed, in a way that tortured miriam. "and i knew you couldn't jump that heap,"he teased. she turned her back on him. yet everybody could see that the onlyperson she listened to, or was conscious of, was he, and he of her.it pleased the men to see this battle
between them. but miriam was tortured.paul could choose the lesser in place of the higher, she saw.he could be unfaithful to himself, unfaithful to the real, deep paul morel. there was a danger of his becomingfrivolous, of his running after his satisfaction like any arthur, or like hisfather. it made miriam bitter to think that heshould throw away his soul for this flippant traffic of triviality with clara. she walked in bitterness and silence, whilethe other two rallied each other, and paul
sported. and afterwards, he would not own it, but hewas rather ashamed of himself, and prostrated himself before miriam.then again he rebelled. "it's not religious to be religious," hesaid. "i reckon a crow is religious when it sailsacross the sky. but it only does it because it feels itselfcarried to where it's going, not because it thinks it is being eternal." but miriam knew that one should bereligious in everything, have god, whatever god might be, present in everything."i don't believe god knows such a lot about
himself," he cried. "god doesn't know things, he is things.and i'm sure he's not soulful." and then it seemed to her that paul wasarguing god on to his own side, because he wanted his own way and his own pleasure. there was a long battle between him andher. he was utterly unfaithful to her even inher own presence; then he was ashamed, then repentant; then he hated her, and went offagain. those were the ever-recurring conditions. she fretted him to the bottom of his soul.there she remained--sad, pensive, a
worshipper.and he caused her sorrow. half the time he grieved for her, half thetime he hated her. she was his conscience; and he felt,somehow, he had got a conscience that was too much for him. he could not leave her, because in one wayshe did hold the best of him. he could not stay with her because she didnot take the rest of him, which was three- quarters. so he chafed himself into rawness over her.when she was twenty-one he wrote her a letter which could only have been writtento her.
"may i speak of our old, worn love, thislast time. it, too, is changing, is it not?say, has not the body of that love died, and left you its invulnerable soul? you see, i can give you a spirit love, ihave given it you this long, long time; but not embodied passion.see, you are a nun. i have given you what i would give a holynun--as a mystic monk to a mystic nun. surely you esteem it best.yet you regret--no, have regretted--the other. in all our relations no body enters.i do not talk to you through the senses--
rather through the spirit.that is why we cannot love in the common sense. ours is not an everyday affection. as yet we are mortal, and to live side byside with one another would be dreadful, for somehow with you i cannot long betrivial, and, you know, to be always beyond this mortal state would be to lose it. if people marry, they must live together asaffectionate humans, who may be commonplace with each other without feeling awkward--not as two souls. so i feel it.
"ought i to send this letter?--i doubt it.but there--it is best to understand. au revoir."miriam read this letter twice, after which she sealed it up. a year later she broke the seal to show hermother the letter. "you are a nun--you are a nun."the words went into her heart again and again. nothing he ever had said had gone into herso deeply, fixedly, like a mortal wound. she answered him two days after the party. "'our intimacy would have been all-beautiful but for one little mistake,'" she
quoted."was the mistake mine?" almost immediately he replied to her fromnottingham, sending her at the same time a little "omar khayyam.""i am glad you answered; you are so calm and natural you put me to shame. what a ranter i am!we are often out of sympathy. but in fundamentals we may always betogether i think. "i must thank you for your sympathy with mypainting and drawing. many a sketch is dedicated to you. i do look forward to your criticisms,which, to my shame and glory, are always
grand appreciations.it is a lovely joke, that. au revoir." this was the end of the first phase ofpaul's love affair. he was now about twenty-three years old,and, though still virgin, the sex instinct that miriam had over-refined for so longnow grew particularly strong. often, as he talked to clara dawes, camethat thickening and quickening of his blood, that peculiar concentration in thebreast, as if something were alive there, a new self or a new centre of consciousness, warning him that sooner or later he wouldhave to ask one woman or another.
but he belonged to miriam.of that she was so fixedly sure that he allowed her right.My Little Pony Coloring Pages Mane 6