mother and lover

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mother and lover

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     "THE BOTTOMS" succeeded to "Hell Row". Hell Row was a block of thatched,bulging cottages that stood by the brookside on Greenhill Lane. There lived the colliers who worked in the little gin-pits twofields away. The brook ran under the alder trees, scarcely soiledby these small mines, whose coal was drawn to the surface bydonkeys that plodded wearily in a circle round a gin. And allover the countryside were these same pits, some of which had beenworked in the time of Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeysburrowing down like ants into the earth, making queer moundsand little black places among the corn-fields and the meadows. And the cottages of these coal-miners, in blocks and pairs hereand there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers,straying over the parish, formed the village of Bestwood.

     Then, some sixty years ago, a sudden change took place. The gin-pits were elbowed aside by the large mines ofthe financiers. The coal and iron field of Nottinghamshire andDerbyshire was discovered. Carston, Waite and Co. appeared. Amid tremendous excitement, Lord Palmerston formally openedthe company's first mine at Spinney Park, on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

     About this time the notorious Hell Row, which through growingold had acquired an evil reputation, was burned down, and much dirtwas cleansed away.

     Carston, Waite & Co. found they had struck on a good thing,so, down the valleys of the brooks from Selby and Nuttall, new mineswere sunk, until soon there were six pits working. From Nuttall,high up on the sandstone among the woods, the railway ran, past theruined priory of the Carthusians and past Robin Hood's Well, down toSpinney Park, then on to Minton, a large mine among corn-fields;from Minton across the farmlands of the valleyside toBunker's Hill, branching off there, and runningnorth to Beggarlee and Selby, that looks over at Crich and the hillsof Derbyshire: six mines like black studs on the countryside,linked by a loop of fine chain, the railway.

     To accommodate the regiments of miners, Carston, Waite and Co. built the Squares, great quadrangles of dwellings on the hillsideof Bestwood, and then, in the brook valley, on the site of Hell Row,they erected the Bottoms.

     The Bottoms consisted of six blocks of miners' dwellings,two rows of three, like the dots on a blank-six domino, and twelvehouses in a block. This double row of dwellings sat at the footof the rather sharp slope from Bestwood, and looked out, from theattic windows at least, on the slow climb of the valley towards Selby.

     The houses themselves were substantial and very decent. One could walk all round, seeing little front gardens with auriculasand saxifrage in the shadow of the bottom block, sweet-williams and pinksin the sunny top block; seeing neat front windows, little porches,little privet hedges, and dormer windows for the attics. But thatwas outside; that was the view on to the uninhabited parlours of allthe colliers' wives. The dwelling-room, the kitchen, was at the backof the house, facing inward between

    the blocks, looking at a scrubbyback garden, and then at the ash-pits. And between the rows,between the long lines of ash-pits, went the alley, where the childrenplayed and the women gossiped and the men smoked. So, the actualconditions of living in the Bottoms, that was so well built andthat looked so nice, were quite unsavoury because people must livein the kitchen, and the kitchens opened on to that nasty alley of ash-pits.

     Mrs. Morel was not anxious to move into the Bottoms,which was already twelve years old and on the downward path,when she descended to it from Bestwood. But it was the best shecould do. Moreover, she had an end house in one of the top blocks,and thus had only one neighbour; on the other side an extra stripof garden. And, having an end house, she enjoyed a kind of aristocracyamong the other women of the "between" houses, because her rentwas five shillings and sixpence instead of five shillings a week. But this superiority in station was not much consolation to Mrs. Morel.

     She was thirty-one years old, and had been married eight years.A rather small woman, of delicate mould but resolute bearing,she shrank a little from the first contact with the Bottoms women. She came down in the July, and in the September expected herthird baby.

     Her husband was a miner. They had only been in their new homethree weeks when the wakes, or fair, began. Morel, she knew, was sureto make a holiday of it. He went off early on the Monday morning,the day of the fair. The two children were highly excited. William, a boy of seven, fled off immediately after breakfast,to prowl round the wakes ground, leaving Annie, who was only five,to whine all morning to go also. Mrs. Morel did her work. She scarcely knew her neighbours yet, and knew no one with whomto trust the little girl. So she promised to take her to the wakesafter dinner.

     William appeared at half-past twelve. He was a very active lad,fair-haired, freckled, with a touch of the Dane or Norwegianabout him.

     "Can I have my dinner, mother?" he cried, rushing in with hiscap on. "'Cause it begins at half-past one, the man says so."

     "You can have your dinner as soon as it's done," replied the mother.

     "Isn't it done?" he cried, his blue eyes staring at herin indignation. "Then I'm goin' be-out it."

     "You'll do nothing of the sort. It will be done in five minutes. It is only half-past twelve."

     "They'll be beginnin'," the boy half cried, half shouted.

     "You won't die if they do," said the mother. "Besides, it'sonly half-past twelve, so you've a full hour."

     The lad began hastily to lay the table, and directly the threesat down. They were eating batter-pudding and jam, when the boyjumped off his chair and stood perfectly stiff. Some distanceaway could be heard the first small braying of a merry-go-round,and the tooting of a horn. His face quivered as he looked at his mother.

     "I told you!" he said, running to the dresser for his cap.

     "Take your pudding in your hand--and it's only five past one,so you were wrong--you haven't got your twopence," cried the motherin a breath.

     The boy came back, bitterly disappointed, for his twopence,then went off without

a word.

     "I want to go, I want to go," said Annie, beginning to cry.

     "Well, and you shall go, whining, wizzening little stick!"said the mother. And later in the afternoon she trudged up thehill under the tall hedge with her child. The hay was gatheredfrom the fields, and cattle were turned on to the eddish. It was warm, peaceful.

     Mrs. Morel did not like the wakes. There were two sets of horses,one going by steam, one pulled round by a pony; three organswere grinding, and there came odd cracks of pistol-shots, fearfulscreeching of the cocoanut man's rattle, shouts of the Aunt Sally man,screeches from the peep-show lady. The mother perceived her son gazingenraptured outside the Lion Wallace booth, at the pictures of thisfamous lion that had killed a negro and maimed for life two white men. She left him alone, and went to get Annie a spin of toffee. Presently the lad stood in front of her, wildly excited.

     "You never said you was coming--isn't the' a lot of things?-that lion's killed three men-l've spent my tuppence-an' look here."

     He pulled from his pocket two egg-cups, with pink moss-roseson them.

     "I got these from that stall where y'ave ter get them marblesin them holes. An' I got these two in two goes-'aepenny a go-they'vegot moss-roses on, look here. I wanted these."

     She knew he wanted them for her.

     "H'm!" she said, pleased. "They ARE pretty!"

     "Shall you carry 'em, 'cause I'm frightened o' breakin' 'em?"

     He was tipful of excitement now she had come, led her aboutthe ground, showed her everything. Then, at the peep-show, sheexplained the pictures, in a sort of story, to which he listenedas if spellbound. He would not leave her. All the time hestuck close to her, bristling with a small boy's pride of her. For no other woman looked such a lady as she did, in her little blackbonnet and her cloak. She smiled when she saw women she knew. When she was tired she said to her son:

     "Well, are you coming now, or later?"

     "Are you goin' a'ready?" he cried, his face full of reproach.

     "Already? It is past four, I know."

     "What are you goin' a'ready for?" he lamented.

     "You needn't come if you don't want," she said.

     And she went slowly away with her little girl, whilst her sonstood watching her, cut to the heart to let her go, and yet unableto leave the wakes. As she crossed the open ground in front ofthe Moon and Stars she heard men shouting, and smelled the beer,and hurried a little, thinking her husband was probably in the bar.

     At about half-past six her son came home, tired now, rather pale,and somewhat wretched. He was miserable, though he did not know it,because he had let her go alone. Since she had gone, he had notenjoyed his wakes.

     "Has my dad been?" he asked.

     "No," said the mother.

     "He's helping to wait at the Moon and Stars. I seed him throughthat black tin

stuff wi' holes in, on the window, wi' his sleevesrolled up."

     "Ha!" exclaimed the mother shortly. "He's got no money. An' he'll be satisfied if he gets his 'lowance, whether theygive him more or not."

     When the light was fading, and Mrs. Morel could see no more to sew,she rose and went to the door. Everywhere was the sound of excitement,the restlessness of the holiday, that at last infected her. She wentout into the side garden. Women were coming home from the wakes,the children hugging a white lamb with green legs, or a wooden horse. Occasionally a man lurched past, almost as full as he could carry. Sometimes a good husband came along with his family, peacefully. But usually the women and children were alone. The stay-at-home mothersstood gossiping at the corners of the alley, as the twilight sank,folding their arms under their white aprons.

     Mrs. Morel was alone, but she was used to it. Her son and herlittle girl slept upstairs; so, it seemed, her home was there behind her,fixed and stable. But she felt wretched with the coming child. The world seemed a dreary place, where nothing else would happenfor her--at least until William grew up. But for herself,nothing but this dreary endurance--till the children grew up. And the children! She could not afford to have this third. She did not want it. The father was serving beer in a public house,swilling himself drunk. She despised him, and was tied to him. This coming child was too much for her. If it were not for Williamand Annie, she was sick of it, the struggle withpoverty and ugliness and meanness.

     She went into the front garden, feeling too heavy to takeherself out, yet unable to stay indoors. The heat suffocated her. And looking ahead, the prospect of her life made her feel as if shewere buried alive.

     The front garden was a small square with a privet hedge. There she stood, trying to soothe herself with the scent of flowersand the fading, beautiful evening. Opposite her small gate was thestile that led uphill, under the tall hedge between the burning glowof the cut pastures. The sky overhead throbbed and pulsed with light. The glow sank quickly off the field; the earth and the hedgessmoked dusk. As it grew dark, a ruddy glare came out on the hilltop,and out of the glare the diminished commotion of the fair.

     Sometimes, down the trough of darkness formed by the pathunder the hedges, men came lurching home. One young man lapsedinto a run down the steep bit that ended the hill, and went with acrash into the stile. Mrs. Morel shuddered. He picked himself up,swearing viciously, rather pathetically, as if he thought the stilehad wanted to hurt him.

     She went indoors, wondering if things were never going to alter. She was beginning by now to realise that they would not. She seemedso far away from her girlhood, she wondered if it were the sameperson walking heavily up the back garden at the Bottoms as had runso lightly up the breakwater at Sheerness ten years before.

     "What have I to do with it?" she said to herself. "What haveI to do with all this? Even the child I am going to have! It doesn't seem as if I were taken into account."

     Sometimes life takes hold of one, carries the body along,accomplishes one's history, and yet is not real, but leaves oneselfas it were slurred over.

     "I wait," Mrs. Morel said to herself--"I wait, and what I waitfor can never come."

     Then she straightened the kitchen, lit the lamp, mended the fire,looked out the washing for the next day, and put it to soak. After which she sat down to her sewing. Through the long hours herneedle flashed regularly through the stuff. Occasionally she sighed,moving to relieve herself. And all the time she was thinkinghow to make the most of what she had, for the children's sakes.

     At half-past eleven her husband came. His cheeks were veryred and very shiny above his black moustache. His head nodded slightly.He was pleased with himself.

     "Oh! Oh! waitin' for me, lass? I've bin 'elpin' Anthony, an'what's think he's gen me? Nowt b'r a lousy hae'f-crown, an'that's ivry penny---"

     "He thinks you've made the rest up in beer," she said shortly.

     "An' I 'aven't--that I 'aven't. You b'lieve me, I've 'advery little this day, I have an' all." His voice went tender. "Here, an' I browt thee a bit o' brandysnap, an' a cocoanut for th'children." He laid the gingerbread and the cocoanut, a hairy object,on the table. "Nay, tha niver said thankyer for nowt i' thy life,did ter?"

     As a compromise, she picked up the cocoanut and shook it,to see if it had any milk.

     "It's a good 'un, you may back yer life o' that. I got it fra'Bill Hodgkisson. 'Bill,' I says, 'tha non wants them three nuts,does ter? Arena ter for gi'ein' me one for my bit of a lad an'wench?' 'I ham, Walter, my lad,' 'e says; 'ta'e which on 'emter's a mind.' An' so I took one, an' thanked 'im. I didn'tlike ter shake it afore 'is eyes, but 'e says, 'Tha'd better ma'esure it's a good un, Walt.' An' so, yer see, I knowed it was. He's a nice chap, is Bill Hodgkisson, e's a nice chap!"

     "A man will part with anything so long as he's drunk,and you're drunk along with him," said Mrs. Morel.

     "Eh, tha mucky little 'ussy, who's drunk, I sh'd like ter know?"said Morel. He was extraordinarily pleased with himself,because of his day's helping to wait in the Moon and Stars. He chattered on.

     Mrs. Morel, very tired, and sick of his babble, went to bedas quickly as possible, while he raked the fire.

     Mrs. Morel came of a good old burgher family, famous independentswho had fought with Colonel Hutchinson, and who remained stoutCongregationalists. Her grandfather had gone bankrupt in the lace-marketat a time when so many lace-manufacturers were ruined in Nottingham. Her father, George Coppard, was an engineer--a large, handsome,haughty man, proud of his fair skin and blue eyes, but more proudstill of his integrity. Gertrude resembled her mother in her smallbuild. But her temper, proud and unyielding, she had from the Coppards.

     George Coppard was bitterly galled by his own poverty. He became foreman of the engineers in the dockyard at Sheerness. Mrs. Morel--Gertrude--was the second daughter. She favoured her mother,loved her mother best of all; but she had the Coppards' clear,defiant blue eyes and their broad brow. She remembered to havehated her father's overbearing manner towards her gentle, humorous,kindly-souled mother. She remembered running over the breakwaterat Sheerness and finding the boat. She remembered to have beenpetted and flattered by all the men when she had gone to the dockyard,for she was a delicate, rather proud child. She remembered the funnyold mistress, whose

    assistant she had become, whom she had loved to helpin the private school. And she still had the Bible that John Fieldhad given her. She used to walk home from chapel with John Fieldwhen she was nineteen. He was the son of a well-to-do tradesman,had been to college in London, and was to devote himself to business.

     She could always recall in detail a September Sunday afternoon,when they had sat under the vine at the back of her father's house. The sun came through the chinks of the vine-leaves and madebeautiful patterns, like a lace scarf, falling on her and on him. Some of the leaves were clean yellow, like yellow flat flowers.

     "Now sit still," he had cried. "Now your hair, I don't knowwhat it IS like! It's as bright as copper and gold, as red asburnt copper, and it has gold threads where the sun shines on it. Fancy their saying it's brown. Your mother calls it mouse-colour."

     She had met his brilliant eyes, but her clear face scarcelyshowed the elation which rose within her.

     "But you say you don't like business," she pursued.

     "I don't. I hate it!" he cried hotly.

     "And you would like to go into the ministry," she half implored.

     "I should. I should love it, if I thought I could makea first-rate preacher."

     "Then why don't you--why DON'T you?" Her voice rang with defiance. "If I were a man, nothing would stop me."

     She held her head erect. He was rather timid before her.

     "But my father's so stiff-necked. He means to put me intothe business, and I know he'll do it."

     "But if you're a MAN?" she had cried.

     "Being a man isn't everything," he replied, frowning withpuzzled helplessness.

     Now, as she moved about her work at the Bottoms, with someexperience of what being a man meant, she knew that it was NOT everything.

     At twenty, owing to her health, she had left Sheerness. Her father had retired home to Nottingham. John Field's fatherhad been ruined; the son had gone as a teacher in Norwood. She didnot hear of him until, two years later, she made determined inquiry. He had married his landlady, a woman of forty, a widow with property.

     And still Mrs. Morel preserved John Field's Bible. She didnot now believe him to be--- Well, she understood pretty well what hemight or might not have been. So she preserved his Bible, and kepthis memory intact in her heart, for her own sake. To her dying day,for thirty-five years, she did not speak of him.

     When she was twenty-three years old, she met, at a Christmasparty, a young man from the Erewash Valley. Morel was thentwenty-seven years old. He was well set-up, erect, and very smart. He had wavy black hair that shone again, and a vigorous blackbeard that had never been shaved. His cheeks were ruddy,and his red, moist mouth was noticeable because he laughed so oftenand so heartily. He had that rare thing, a rich, ringing laugh. Gertrude Coppard had watched him, fascinated. He was so full ofcolour and animation, his voice ran so easily into comic grotesque,he was so ready and so pleasant with everybody. Her own fatherhad a rich fund of humour, but it was satiric. This man'swas different: soft, non-intellectual, warm, a kind of gambolling.

     She herself was opposite. She had a curious, receptive mindwhich found much pleasure and amusement in listening to other folk. She was clever in leading folk to talk. She loved ideas, and wasconsidered very intellectual. What she liked most of all was anargument on religion or philosophy or politics with some educated man. This she did not often enjoy. So she always had people tell herabout themselves, finding her pleasure so.

     In her person she was rather small and delicate, with alarge brow, and dropping bunches of brown silk curls. Her blue eyeswere very straight, honest, and searching. She had the beautifulhands of the Coppards. Her dress was always subdued. She woredark blue silk, with a peculiar silver chain of silver scallops. This, and a heavy brooch of twisted gold, was her only ornament. She was still perfectly intact, deeply religious, and fullof beautiful candour.

     Walter Morel seemed melted away before her. She wasto the miner that thing of mystery and fascination, a lady. When she spoke to him, it was with a southern pronunciation and apurity of English which thrilled him to hear. She watched him. He danced well, as if it were natural and joyous in him to dance. His grandfather was a French refugee who had married an Englishbarmaid--if it had been a marriage. Gertrude Coppard watched theyoung miner as he danced, a certain subtle exultation like glamour inhis movement, and his face the flower of his body, ruddy, with tumbledblack hair, and laughing alike whatever partner he bowed above. She thought him rather wonderful, never having met anyone like him. Her father was to her the type of all men. And George Coppard,proud in his bearing, handsome, and rather bitter; who preferredtheology in reading, and who drew near in sympathy only to one man,the Apostle Paul; who was harsh in government, and in familiarity ironic;who ignored all sensuous pleasure:--he was very different fromthe miner. Gertrude herself was rather contemptuous of dancing;she had not the slightest inclination towards that accomplishment,and had never learned even a Roger de Coverley. She was puritan,like her father, high-minded, and really stern. Therefore the dusky,golden softness of this man's sensuous flame of life, that flowed offhis flesh like the flame from a candle, not baffled and gripped intoincandescence by thought and spirit as her life was, seemed to hersomething wonderful, beyond her.

     He came and bowed above her. A warmth radiated through heras if she had drunk wine.

     "Now do come and have this one wi' me," he said caressively. "It's easy, you know. I'm pining to see you dance."

     She had told him before she could not dance. She glancedat his humility and smiled. Her smile was very beautiful. It moved the man so that he forgot everything.

     "No, I won't dance," she said softly. Her words came cleanand ringing.

     Not knowing what he was doing--he often did the right thingby instinct--he sat beside her, inclining reverentially.

     "But you mustn't miss your dance," she reproved.

     "Nay, I don't want to dance that--it's not one as I care about."

     "Yet you invited me to it."

     He laughed very heartily at this.

     "I never thought o' that. Tha'rt not long in taking the curlout of me."

     It was her turn to laugh quickly.

     "You don't look as if you'd come much uncurled," she said.

     "I'm like a pig's tail, I curl because I canna help it,"he laughed, rather boisterously.

     "And you are a miner!" she exclaimed in surprise.

     "Yes. I went down when I was ten."

     She looked at him in wondering dismay.

     "When you were ten! And wasn't it very hard?" she asked.

     "You soon get used to it. You live like th' mice, an' you popout at night to see what's going on."

     "It makes me feel blind," she frowned.

     "Like a moudiwarp!" he laughed. "Yi, an' there's some chapsas does go round like moudiwarps." He thrust his face forwardin the blind, snout-like way of a mole, seeming to sniff andpeer for direction. "They dun though!" he protested naively. "Tha niver seed such a way they get in. But tha mun let me ta'ethee down some time, an' tha can see for thysen."

     She looked at him, startled. This was a new tract of lifesuddenly opened before her. She realised the life of the miners,hundreds of them toiling below earth and coming up at evening. He seemed to her noble. He risked his life daily, and with gaiety. She looked at him, with a touch of appeal in her pure humility.

     "Shouldn't ter like it?" he asked tenderly. "'Appen not,it 'ud dirty thee."

     She had never been "thee'd" and "thou'd" before.

     The next Christmas they were married, and for three monthsshe was perfectly happy: for six months she was very happy.

     He had signed the pledge, and wore the blue ribbon of atee-totaller: he was nothing if not showy. They lived, she thought,in his own house. It was small, but convenient enough, and quitenicely furnished, with solid, worthy stuff that suited her honest soul. The women, her neighbours, were rather foreign to her, and Morel'smother and sisters were apt to sneer at her ladylike ways.But she could perfectly well live by herself, so long as shehad her husband close.

     Sometimes, when she herself wearied of love-talk, she triedto open her heart seriously to him. She saw him listen deferentially,but without understanding. This killed her efforts at a finer intimacy,and she had flashes of fear. Sometimes he was restless of an evening: it was not enough for him just to be near her, she realised. She was glad when he set himself to little jobs.

     He was a remarkably handy man--could make or mend anything. So she would say:

     "I do like that coal-rake of your mother's--it is small and natty."

     "Does ter, my wench? Well, I made that, so I can make theeone! "

     "What! why, it's a steel one!"

     "An' what if it is! Tha s'lt ha'e one very similar, if notexactly same."

     She did not mind the mess, nor the hammering and noise. He was busy and happy.

     But in the seventh month, when she was brushing his Sunday coat,she felt papers in the breast pocket, and, seized with a sudden curiosity,took them out to read. He

    very rarely wore the frock-coat he wasmarried in: and it had not occurred to her before to feel curiousconcerning the papers. They were the bills of the household furniture,still unpaid.

     "Look here," she said at night, after he was washed and hadhad his dinner. "I found these in the pocket of your wedding-coat.Haven't you settled the bills yet?"

     "No. I haven't had a chance."

     "But you told me all was paid. I had better go into Nottinghamon Saturday and settle them. I don't like sitting on another man'schairs and eating from an unpaid table."

     He did not answer.

     "I can have your bank-book, can't I?"

     "Tha can ha'e it, for what good it'll be to thee."

     "I thought---" she began. He had told her he had a good bit ofmoney left over. But she realised it was no use asking questions. She sat rigid with bitterness and indignation.

     The next day she went down to see his mother.

     "Didn't you buy the furniture for Walter?" she asked.

     "Yes, I did," tartly retorted the elder woman.

     "And how much did he give you to pay for it?"

     The elder woman was stung with fine indignation.

     "Eighty pound, if you're so keen on knowin'," she replied.

     "Eighty pounds! But there are forty-two pounds still owing!"

     "I can't help that."

     "But where has it all gone?"

     "You'll find all the papers, I think, if you look--beside tenpound as he owed me, an' six pound as the wedding cost down here."

     "Six pounds!" echoed Gertrude Morel. It seemed to hermonstrous that, after her own father had paid so heavilyfor her wedding, six pounds more should have been squanderedin eating and drinking at Walter's parents' house, at his expense.

     "And how much has he sunk in his houses?" she asked.

     "His houses--which houses?"

     Gertrude Morel went white to the lips. He had told herthe house he lived in, and the next one, was his own.

     "I thought the house we live in---" she began.

     "They're my houses, those two," said the mother-in-law. "Andnot clear either. It's as much as I can do to keep the mortgageinterest paid."

     Gertrude sat white and silent. She was her father now.

     "Then we ought to be paying you rent," she said coldly.

     "Walter is paying me rent," replied the mother.

     "And what rent?" asked Gertrude.

     "Six and six a week," retorted the mother.

     It was more than the house was worth. Gertrude held herhead erect, looked straight before her.

     "It is lucky to be you," said the elder woman, bitingly,"to have a husband as

takes all the worry of the money, and leavesyou a free hand."

     The young wife was silent.




     She said very little to her husband, but her manner hadchanged towards him. Something in her proud, honourable soulhad crystallised out hard as rock.

     When October came in, she thought only of Christmas. Two years ago,at Christmas, she had met him. Last Christmas she had married him. This Christmas she would bear him a child.

     "You don't dance yourself, do you, missis?" asked hernearest neighbour, in October, when there was great talkof opening a dancing-class over the Brick and Tile Inn at Bestwood.

     "No--I never had the least inclination to," Mrs. Morel replied.

     "Fancy! An' how funny as you should ha' married your Mester. You know he's quite a famous one for dancing."

     "I didn't know he was famous," laughed Mrs. Morel.

     "Yea, he is though! Why, he ran that dancing-class in the Miners'Arms club-room for over five year."

     "Did he?"

     "Yes, he did." The other woman was defiant. "An' it wasthronged every Tuesday, and Thursday, an' Sat'day--an' there WAScarryin's-on, accordin' to all accounts."

     This kind of thing was gall and bitterness to Mrs. Morel,and she had a fair share of it. The women did not spare her, at first;for she was superior, though she could not help it.

     He began to be rather late in coming home.

     "They're working very late now, aren't they?" she said to herwasher-woman.

     "No later than they allers do, I don't think. But they stop tohave their pint at Ellen's, an' they get talkin', an' there you are! Dinner stone cold--an' it serves 'em right."

     "But Mr. Morel does not take any drink."

     The woman dropped the clothes, looked at Mrs. Morel, then wenton with her work, saying nothing.

     Gertrude Morel was very ill when the boy was born. Morel was good to her, as good as gold. But she felt very lonely,miles away from her own people. She felt lonely with him now,and his presence only made it more intense.

     The boy was small and frail at first, but he came on quickly. He was a beautiful child, with dark gold ringlets, and dark-blueeyes which changed gradually to a clear grey. His mother lovedhim passionately. He came just when her own bitterness

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