|Image: MADAM (I used the crayon brush in Microsoft Paint)|
Sons and Lovers
Chapter 6: A Death in the Family
William came home again with his sweetheart at the Whitsuntide.
He had one week of his holidays then. It was beautiful weather.
As a rule, William and Lily and Paul went out in the morning together
for a walk. William did not talk to his beloved much, except to tell
her things from his boyhood. Paul talked endlessly to both of them.
He looked at her. Her beauty seemed to hurt him. He glanced
at her flower-decked head and frowned.
"You look nice enough, if that's what you want to know,"
And she walked without her hat. In a little while William
recovered, and was rather tender to her. Coming to a bridge,
he carved her initials and his in a heart.
L. L. W.
She watched his strong, nervous hand, with its glistening
hairs and freckles, as he carved, and she seemed fascinated by it.
All the time there was a feeling of sadness and warmth,
and a certain tenderness in the house, whilst William and Lily
were at home. But often he got irritable. She had brought,
for an eight-days' stay, five dresses and six blouses.
"Oh, would you mind," she said to Annie, "washing me these
two blouses, and these things?"
And Annie stood washing when William and Lily went out the
next morning. Mrs. Morel was furious. And sometimes the young man,
catching a glimpse of his sweetheart's attitude towards his sister,
On Sunday morning she looked very beautiful in a dress
of foulard, silky and sweeping, and blue as a jay-bird's feather,
and in a large cream hat covered with many roses, mostly crimson.
Nobody could admire her enough. But in the evening, when she was
going out, she asked again:
"Chubby, have you got my gloves?"
"Which?" asked William.
"My new black SUEDE."
There was a hunt. She had lost them.
"Look here, mother," said William, "that's the fourth pair
she's lost since Christmas--at five shillings a pair!"
"You only gave me TWO of them," she remonstrated.
And in the evening, after supper, he stood on the hearthrug
whilst she sat on the sofa, and he seemed to hate her. In the
afternoon he had left her whilst he went to see some old friend.
She had sat looking at a book. After supper William wanted to write
"Here is your book, Lily," said Mrs. Morel. "Would you care
to go on with it for a few minutes?"
"No, thank you," said the girl. "I will sit still."
"But it is so dull."
William scribbled irritably at a great rate. As he sealed
the envelope he said:
"Read a book! Why, she's never read a book in her life."
"Oh, go along!" said Mrs. Morel, cross with the exaggeration,
"It's true, mother--she hasn't," he cried, jumping up and taking
his old position on the hearthrug. "She's never read a book in her life."
"'Er's like me," chimed in Morel. "'Er canna see what there
is i' books, ter sit borin' your nose in 'em for, nor more can I."
"But you shouldn't say these things," said Mrs. Morel to her son.
"But it's true, mother--she CAN'T read. What did you give her?"
"Well, I gave her a little thing of Annie Swan's. Nobody wants
to read dry stuff on Sunday afternoon."
"Well, I'll bet she didn't read ten lines of it."
"You are mistaken," said his mother.
All the time Lily sat miserably on the sofa. He turned
to her swiftly.
"DID you ready any?" he asked.
"Yes, I did," she replied.
"l don't know how many pages."
"Tell me ONE THING you read."
She could not.
And so often William manifested the same hatred towards
his betrothed. On the last evening at home he was railing against her.
"Well," he said, "if you don't believe me, what she's like,
would you believe she has been confirmed three times?"
"Nonsense!" laughed Mrs. Morel.
"Nonsense or not, she HAS! That's what confirmation means
for her--a bit of a theatrical show where she can cut a figure."
"I haven't, Mrs. Morel!" cried the girl--"I haven't! it
is not true!"
"What!" he cried, flashing round on her. "Once in Bromley,
once in Beckenham, and once somewhere else."
"Nowhere else!" she said, in tears--"nowhere else!"
"It WAS! And if it wasn't why were you confirmed TWICE?"
"Once I was only fourteen, Mrs. Morel," she pleaded,
tears in her eyes.
"Yes," said Mrs. Morel; "I can quite understand it, child. Take no
notice of him. You ought to be ashamed, William, saying such things."
"But it's true. She's religious--she had blue velvet
Prayer-Books--and she's not as much religion, or anything else,
in her than that table-leg. Gets confirmed three times for show,
to show herself off, and that's how she is in EVERYTHING--
The girl sat on the sofa, crying. She was not strong.
"As for LOVE!" he cried, "you might as well ask a fly to love you!
It'll love settling on you---"
"Now, say no more," commanded Mrs. Morel. "If you want
to say these things, you must find another place than this.
I am ashamed of you, William! Why don't you be more manly.
To do nothing but find fault with a girl, and then pretend you're
engaged to her! "
Mrs. Morel subsided in wrath and indignation.
William was silent, and later he repented, kissed and comforted
the girl. Yet it was true, what he had said. He hated her.
When they were going away, Mrs. Morel accompanied them as far
as Nottingham. It was a long way to Keston station.
"You know, mother," he said to her, "Gyp's shallow.
Nothing goes deep with her."
"William, I WISH you wouldn't say these things," said Mrs. Morel,
very uncomfortable for the girl who walked beside her.
"But it doesn't, mother. She's very much in love with me now,
but if I died she'd have forgotten me in three months."