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Chapter 4 The Young Life Of Paul
PAUL would be built like his mother, slightly and rather small. His fair hair went reddish, and then dark brown; his eyes were grey. He was a pale, quiet child, with eyes that seemed to listen, and with a full, dropping underlip.

As a rule he seemed old for his years. He was so conscious of what other people felt, particularly his mother. When she fretted he understood, and could have no peace. His soul seemed always attentive to her.

As he grew older he became stronger. William was too far removed from him to accept him as a companion. So the smaller boy belonged at first almost entirely to Annie. She was a tomboy and a "flybie-skybie", as her mother called her. But she was intensely fond of her second brother. So Paul was towed round at the heels of Annie, sharing her game. She raced wildly at lerky with the other young wild-cats of the Bottoms. And always Paul flew beside her, living her share of the game, having as yet no part of his own. He was quiet and not noticeable. But his sister adored him. He always seemed to care for things if she wanted him to.

She had a big doll of which she was fearfully proud, though not so fond. So she laid the doll on the sofa, and covered it with an antimacassar, to sleep. Then she forgot it. Meantime Paul must practise jumping off the sofa arm. So he jumped crash into the face of the hidden doll. Annie rushed up, uttered a loud wail, and sat down to weep a dirge. Paul remained quite still.

"You couldn't tell it was there, mother; you couldn't tell it was there," he repeated over and over. So long as Annie wept for the doll he sat helpless with misery. Her grief wore itself out. She forgave her brother--he was so much upset. But a day or two afterwards she was shocked.

"Let's make a sacrifice of Arabella," he said. "Let's burn her."

She was horrified, yet rather fascinated. She wanted to see what the boy would do. He made an altar of bricks, pulled some of the shavings out of Arabella's body, put the waxen fragments into the hollow face, poured on a little paraffin, and set the whole thing alight. He watched with wicked satisfaction the drops of wax melt off the broken forehead of Arabella, and drop like sweat into the flame. So long as the stupid big doll burned he rejoiced in silence. At the end be poked among the embers with a stick, fished out the arms and legs, all blackened, and smashed them under stones.

"That's the sacrifice of Missis Arabella," he said. "An' I'm glad there's nothing left of her."

Which disturbed Annie inwardly, although she could say nothing. He seemed to hate the doll so intensely, because he had broken it.

All the children, but particularly Paul, were peculiarly against their father, along with their mother. Morel continued to bully and to drink. He had periods, months at a time, when he made the whole life of the family a misery. Paul never forgot coming home from the Band of Hope one Monday evening and finding his mother with her eye swollen and discoloured, his father standing on the hearthrug, feet astride, his head down, and William, just home from work, glaring at his father. There was a silence as the young children entered, but none of the elders looked round.

William was white to the lips, and his fists were clenched. He waited until the children were silent, watching with children's rage and hate; then he said:

"You coward, you daren't do it when I was in."

But Morel's blood was up. He swung round on his son. William was bigger, but Morel was hard-muscled, and mad with fury.

"Dossn't I?" he shouted. "Dossn't I? Ha'e much more o' thy chelp, my young jockey, an' I'll rattle my fist about thee. Ay, an' I sholl that, dost see?"

Morel crouched at the knees and showed his fist in an ugly, almost beast-like fashion. William was white with rage.

"Will yer?" he said, quiet and intense. "It 'ud be the last time, though."

Morel danced a little nearer, crouching, drawing back his fist to strike. William put his fists ready. A light came into his blue eyes, almost like a laugh. He watched his father. Another word, and the men would have begun to fight. Paul hoped they would. The three children sat pale on the sofa.

"Stop it, both of you," cried Mrs. Morel in a hard voice. "We've had enough for ONE night. And YOU," she said, turning on to her husband, "look at your children!"

Morel glanced at the sofa.

"Look at the children, you nasty little bitch!" he sneered. "Why, what have I done to the children, I should like to know? But they're like yourself; you've put 'em up to your own tricks and nasty ways--you've learned 'em in it, you 'ave."

She refused to answer him. No one spoke. After a while he threw his boots under the table and went to bed.

"Why didn't you let me have a go at him?" said William, when his father was upstairs. "I could easily have beaten him."

"A nice thing--your own father," she replied.

"'FATHER!'" repeated William. "Call HIM MY father!"

"Well, he is--and so---"

"But why don't you let me settle him? I could do, easily."

"The idea!" she cried. "It hasn't come to THAT yet."

"No," he said, "it's come to worse. Look at yourself. WHY didn't you let me give it him?"

"Because I couldn't bear it, so never think of it," she cried quickly.

And the children went to bed, miserably.

When William was growing up, the family moved from the Bottoms to a house on the brow of the hill, commanding a view of the valley, which spread out like a convex cockle-shell, or a clamp-shell, before it. In front of the house was a huge old ash-tree. The west wind, sweeping from Derbyshire, caught the houses with full force, and the tree shrieked again. Morel liked it.

"It's music," he said. "It sends me to sleep."

But Paul and Arthur and Annie hated it. To Paul it became almost a demoniacal noise. The winter of their first year in the new house their father was very bad. The children played in the street, on the brim of the wide, dark valley, until eight o'clock. Then they went to bed. Their mother sat sewing below. Having such a great space in front of the house gave the children a feeling of night, of vastness, and of terror. This terror came in from the shrieking of the tree and the anguish of the home discord. Often Paul would wake up, after he had been asleep a long time, aware of thuds downstairs. Instantly he was wide awake. Then he heard the booming shouts of his father, come home nearly drunk, then the sharp replies of his mother, then the bang, bang of his father's fist on the table, and the nasty snarling shout as the man's voice got higher. And then the whole was drowned in a piercing medley of shrieks and cries from the great, wind-swept ash-tree. The children lay silent in suspense, waiting for a lull in the wind to hear what their father was doing. He might hit their mother again. There was a feeling of horror, a kind of bristling in the darkness, and a sense of blood. They lay with their hearts in the grip of an intense anguish. The wind came through the tree fiercer and fiercer. All the chords of the great harp hummed, whistled, and shrieked. And then came the horror of the sudden silence, silence everywhere, outside and downstairs. What was it? Was it a silence of blood? What had he done?

The children lay and breathed the darkness. And then, at last, they heard their father throw down his boots and tramp upstairs in his stockinged feet. Still they listened. Then at last, if the wind allowed, they heard the water of the tap drumming into the kettle, which their mother was filling for morning, and they could go to sleep in peace.

So they were happy in the morning--happy, very happy playing, dancing at night round the lonely lamp-post in the midst of the darkness. But they had one tight place of anxiety in their hearts, one darkness in their eyes, which showed all their lives.

Paul hated his father. As a boy he had a fervent private religion.

"Make him stop drinking," he prayed every night. "Lord, let my father die," he prayed very often. "Let him not be killed at pit," he prayed when, after tea, the father did not come home from work.

That was another time when the family suffered intensely. The children came from school and had their teas. On the hob the big black saucepan was simmering, the stew-jar was in the oven, ready for Morel's dinner. He was expected at five o'clock. But for months he would stop and drink every night on his way from work.

In the winter nights, when it was cold, and grew dark early, Mrs. Morel would put a brass candlestick on the table, light a tallow candle to save the gas. The children finished their bread-and-butter, or dripping, and were ready to go out to play. But if Morel had not come they faltered. The sense of his sitting in all his pit-dirt, drinking, after a long day's work, not coming home and eating and washing, but sitting, getting drunk, on an empty stomach, made Mrs. Morel unable to bear herself. From her the feeling was transmitted to the other children. She never suffered alone any more: the children suffered with her.

Paul went out to play with the rest. Down in the great trough of twilight, tiny clusters of lights burned where the pits were. A few last colliers straggled up the dim field path. The lamplighter came along. No more colliers came. Darkness shut down over the valley; work was done. It was night.

Then Paul ran anxiously into the kitchen. The one candle still burned on the table, the big fire glowed red. Mrs. Morel sat alone. On the hob the saucepan steamed; the dinner-plate lay waiting on the table. All the room was full of the sense of waiting, waiting for the man who was sitting in his pit-dirt, dinnerless, some mile away from home, across the darkness, drinking himself drunk. Paul stood in the doorway.

"Has my dad come?" he asked.

"You can see he hasn't," said Mrs. Morel, cross with the futility of the question.

Then the boy dawdled about near his mother. They shared the same anxiety. Presently Mrs. Morel went out and strained the potatoes.

"They're ruined and black," she said; "but what do I care?"

Not many words were spoken. Paul almost hated his mother for suffering because his father did not come home from work.

"What do you bother yourself for?" he said. "If he wants to stop and get drunk, why don't you let him?"

"Let him!" flashed Mrs. Morel. "You may well say 'let him'."

She knew that the man who stops on the way home from work is on a quick way to ruining himself and his home. The children were yet young, and depended on the breadwinner. William gave her the sense of relief, providing her at last with someone to turn to if Morel failed. But the tense atmosphere of the room on these waiting evenings was the same.

The minutes ticked away. At six o'clock still the cloth lay on the table, still the dinner stood waiting, still the same sense of anxiety and expectation in the room. The boy could not stand it any longer. He could not go out and play. So he ran in to Mrs. Inger, next door but one, for her to talk to him. She had no children. Her husband was good to her but was in a shop, and came home late. So, when she saw the lad at the door, she called:

"Come in, Paul."

The two sat talking for some time, when suddenly the boy rose, saying:

"Well, I'll be going and seeing if my mother wants an errand doing."

He pretended to be perfectly cheerful, and did not tell his friend what ailed him. Then he ran indoors.

Morel at these times came in churlish and hateful.

"This is a nice time to come home," said Mrs. Morel.

"Wha's it matter to yo' what time I come whoam?" he shouted.

And everybody in the house was still, because he was dangerous. He ate his food in the most brutal manner possible, and, when he had done, pushed all the pots in a heap away from him, to lay his arms on the table. Then he went to sleep.

Paul hated his father so. The collier's small, mean head, with its black hair slightly soiled with grey, lay on the bare arms, and the face, dirty and inflamed, with a fleshy nose and thin, paltry brows, was turned sideways, asleep with beer and weariness and nasty temper. If anyone entered suddenly, or a noise were made, the man looked up and shouted:

"I'll lay my fist about thy y'ead, I'm tellin' thee, if tha doesna stop that clatter! Dost hear?"

And the two last words, shouted in a bullying fashion, usually at Annie, made the family writhe with hate of the man.

He was shut out from all family affairs. No one told him anything. The children, alone with their mother, told her all about the day's happenings, everything. Nothing had really taken place in them until it was told to their mother. But as soon as the father came in, everything stopped. He was like the scotch in the smooth, happy machinery of the home. And he was always aware of this fall of silence on his entry, the shutting off of life, the unwelcome. But now it was gone too far to alter.

He would dearly have liked the children to talk to him, but they could not. Sometimes Mrs. Morel would say:

"You ought to tell your father."

Paul won a prize in a competition in a child's paper. Everybody was highly jubilant.

"Now you'd better tell your father when be comes in," said Mrs. Morel. "You know how be carries on and says he's never told anything."

"All right," said Paul. But he would almost rather have forfeited the prize than have to tell his father.

"I've won a prize in a competition, dad," he said. Morel turned round to him.

"Have you, my boy? What sort of a competition?"

"Oh, nothing--about famous women."

"And how much is the prize, then, as you've got?"

"It's a book."

"Oh, indeed! "

"About birds."

"Hm--hm! "

And that was all. Conversation was impossible between the father and any other member of the family. He was an outsider. He had denied the God in him.

The only times when he entered again into the life of his own people was when he worked, and was happy at work. Sometimes, in the evening, he cobbled the boots or mended the kettle or his pit-bottle. Then he always wanted several attendants, and the children enjoyed it. They united with him in the work, in the actual doing of something, when he was his real self again.

He was a good workman, dexterous, and one who, when he was in a good humour, always sang. He had whole periods, months, almost years, of friction and nasty temper. Then sometimes he was jolly again. It was nice to see him run with a piece of red-hot iron into the scullery, crying:

"Out of my road--out of my road!"

Then he hammered the soft, red-glowing stuff on his iron goose, and made the shape he wanted. Or he sat absorbed for a moment, soldering. Then the children watched with joy as the metal sank suddenly molten, and was shoved about against the nose of the soldering-iron, while the room was full of a scent of burnt resin and hot tin, and Morel was silent and intent for a minute. He always sang when he mended boots because of the jolly sound of hammering. And he was rather happy when he sat putting great patches on his moleskin pit trousers, which he would often do, considering them too dirty, and the stuff too hard, for his wife to mend.

But the best time for the young children was when he made fuses. Morel fetched a sheaf of long sound wheat-straws from the attic. These he cleaned with his hand, till each one gleamed like a stalk of gold, after which he cut the straws into lengths of about six inches, leaving, if he could, a notch at the bottom of each piece. He always had a beautifully sharp knife that could cut a straw clean without hurting it. Then he set in the middle of the table a heap of gunpowder, a little pile of black grains upon the white-scrubbed board. He made and trimmed the straws while Paul and Annie rifled and plugged them. Paul loved to see the black grains trickle down a crack in his palm into the mouth of the straw, peppering jollily downwards till the straw was full. Then he bunged up the mouth with a bit of soap--which he got on his thumb-nail from a pat in a saucer--and the straw was finished.

"Look, dad!" he said.

"That's right, my beauty," replied Morel, who was peculiarly lavish of endearments to his second son. Paul popped the fuse into the powder-tin, ready for the morning, when Morel would take it to the pit, and use it to fire a shot that would blast the coal down.

Meantime Arthur, still fond of his father, would lean on the arm of Morel's chair and say:

"Tell us about down pit, daddy."

This Morel loved to do.

"Well, there's one little 'oss--we call 'im Taffy," he would begin. "An' he's a fawce 'un!"

Morel had a warm way of telling a story. He made one feel Taffy's cunning.

"He's a brown 'un," he would answer, "an' not very high. Well, he comes i' th' stall wi' a rattle, an' then yo' 'ear 'im sneeze.

"'Ello, Taff,' you say, 'what art sneezin' for? Bin ta'ein' some snuff?'

"An' 'e sneezes again. Then he slives up an' shoves 'is 'ead on yer, that cadin'.

"'What's want, Taff?' yo' say."

"And what does he?" Arthur always asked.

"He wants a bit o' bacca, my duckie."

This story of Taffy would go on interminably, and everybody loved it.

Or sometimes it was a new tale.

"An' what dost think, my darlin'? When I went to put my coat on at snap-time, what should go runnin' up my arm but a mouse.

"'Hey up, theer!' I shouts.

"An' I wor just in time ter get 'im by th' tail."

"And did you kill it?"

"I did, for they're a nuisance. The place is fair snied wi' 'em."

"An' what do they live on?"

"The corn as the 'osses drops--an' they'll get in your pocket an' eat your snap, if you'll let 'em--no matter where yo' hing your coat-the slivin', nibblin' little nuisances, for they are."

These happy evenings could not take place unless Morel had some job to do. And then he always went to bed very early, often before the children. There was nothing remaining for him to stay up for, when he had finished tinkering, and had skimmed the headlines of the newspaper.

And the children felt secure when their father was in bed. They lay and talked softly a while. Then they started as the lights went suddenly sprawling over the ceiling from the lamps that swung in the hands of the colliers tramping by outside, going to take the nine o'clock shift. They listened to the voices of the men, imagined them dipping down into the dark valley. Sometimes they went to the window and watched the three or four lamps growing tinier and tinier, swaying down the fields in the darkness. Then it was a joy to rush back to bed and cuddle closely in the warmth.

Paul was rather a delicate boy, subject to bronchitis. The others were all quite strong; so this was another reason for his mother's difference in feeling for him. One day he came home at dinner-time feeling ill. But it was not a family to make any fuss.

"What's the matter with YOU?" his mother asked sharply.

"Nothing," he replied.

But he ate no dinner.

"If you eat no dinner, you're not going to school," she said.

"Why?" he asked.

"That's why."

So after dinner he lay down on the sofa, on the warm chintz cushions the children loved. Then he fell into a kind of doze. That afternoon Mrs. Morel was ironing. She listened to the small, restless noise the boy made in his throat as she worked. Again rose in her heart the old, almost weary feeling towards him. She had never expected him to live. And yet he had a great vitality in his young body. Perhaps it would have been a little relief to her if he had died. She always felt a mixture of anguish in her love for him.

He, in his semi-conscious sleep, was vaguely aware of the clatter of the iron on the iron-stand, of the faint thud, thud on the ironing-board. Once roused, he opened his eyes to see his mother standing on the hearthrug with the hot iron near her cheek, listening, as it were, to the heat. Her still face, with the mouth closed tight from suffering and disillusion and self-denial, and her nose the smallest bit on one side, and her blue eyes so young, quick, and warm, made his heart contract with love. When she was quiet, so, she looked brave and rich with life, but as if she had been done out of her rights. It hurt the boy keenly, this feeling about her that she had never had her life's fulfilment: and his own incapability to make up to her hurt him with a sense of impotence, yet made him patiently dogged inside. It was his childish aim.

She spat on the iron, and a little ball of spit bounded, raced off the dark, glossy surface. Then, kneeling, she rubbed the iron on the sack lining of the hearthrug vigorously. She was warm in the ruddy firelight. Paul loved the way she crouched and put her head on one side. Her movements were light and quick. It was always a pleasure to watch her. Nothing she ever did, no movement she ever made, could have been found fault with by her children. The room was warm and full of the scent of hot linen. Later on the clergyman came and talked softly with her.

Paul was laid up with an attack of bronchitis. He did not mind much. What happened happened, and it was no good kicking against the pricks. He loved the evenings, after eight o'clock, when the light was put out, and he could watch the fire-flames spring over the darkness of the walls and ceiling; could watch huge shadows waving and tossing, till the room seemed full of men who battled silently.

On retiring to bed, the father would come into the sickroom. He was always very gentle if anyone were ill. But he disturbed the atmosphere for the boy.

"Are ter asleep, my darlin'?" Morel asked softly.

"No; is my mother comin'?"

"She's just finishin' foldin' the clothes. Do you want anything?" Morel rarely "thee'd" his son.

"I don't want nothing. But how long will she be?"

"Not long, my duckie."

The father waited undecidedly on the hearthrug for a moment or two. He felt his son did not want him. Then he went to the top of the stairs and said to his wife:

"This childt's axin' for thee; how long art goin' to be?"

"Until I've finished, good gracious! Tell him to go to sleep."

"She says you're to go to sleep," the father repeated gently to Paul.

"Well, I want HER to come," insisted the boy.

"He says he can't go off till you come," Morel called downstairs.

"Eh, dear! I shan't be long. And do stop shouting downstairs. There's the other children---"

Then Morel came again and crouched before the bedroom fire. He loved a fire dearly.

"She says she won't be long," he said.

He loitered about indefinitely. The boy began to get feverish with irritation. His father's presence seemed to aggravate all his sick impatience. At last Morel, after having stood looking at his son awhile, said softly:

"Good-night, my darling."

"Good-night," Paul replied, turning round in relief to be alone.

Paul loved to sleep with his mother. Sleep is still most perfect, in spite of hygienists, when it is shared with a beloved. The warmth, the security and peace of soul, the utter comfort from the touch of the other, knits the sleep, so that it takes the body and soul completely in its healing. Paul lay against her and slept, and got better; whilst she, always a bad sleeper, fell later on into a profound sleep that seemed to give her faith.

In convalescence he would sit up in bed, see the fluffy horses feeding at the troughs in the field, scattering their hay on the trodden yellow snow; watch the miners troop home--small, black figures trailing slowly in gangs across the white field. Then the night came up in dark blue vapour from the snow.

In convalescence everything was wonderful. The snowflakes, suddenly arriving on the window-pane, clung there a moment like swallows, then were gone, and a drop of water was crawling down the glass. The snowflakes whirled round the corner of the house, like pigeons dashing by. Away across the valley the little black train crawled doubtfully over the great whiteness.

While they were so poor, the children were delighted if they could do anything to help economically. Annie and Paul and Arthur went out early in the morning, in summer, looking for mushrooms, hunting through the wet grass, from which the larks were rising, for the white-skinned, wonderful naked bodies crouched secretly in the green. And if they got half a pound they felt exceedingly happy: there was the joy of finding something, the joy of accepting something straight from the hand of Nature, and the joy of contributing to the family exchequer.

But the most important harvest, after gleaning for frumenty, was the blackberries. Mrs. Morel must buy fruit for puddings on the Saturdays; also she liked blackberries. So Paul and Arthur scoured the coppices and woods and old quarries, so long as a blackberry was to be found, every week-end going on their search. In that region of mining villages blackberries became a comparative rarity. But Paul hunted far and wide. He loved being out in the country, among the bushes. But he also could not bear to go home to his mother empty. That, he felt, would disappoint her, and he would have died rather.

"Good gracious!" she would exclaim as the lads came in, late, and tired to death, and hungry, "wherever have you been?"

"Well," replied Paul, "there wasn't any, so we went over Misk Hills. And look here, our mother!"

She peeped into the basket.

"Now, those are fine ones!" she exclaimed.

"And there's over two pounds-isn't there over two pounds"?

She tried the basket.

"Yes," she answered doubtfully.

Then Paul fished out a little spray. He always brought her one spray, the best he could find.

"Pretty!" she said, in a curious tone, of a woman accepting a love-token.

The boy walked all day, went miles and miles, rather than own himself beaten and come home to her empty-handed. She never realised this, whilst he was young. She was a woman who waited for her children to grow up. And William occupied her chiefly.

But when William went to Nottingham, and was not so much at home, the mother made a companion of Paul. The latter was unconsciously jealous of his brother, and William was jealous of him. At the same time, they were good friends.

Mrs. Morel's intimacy with her second son was more subtle and fine, perhaps not so passionate as with her eldest. It was the rule that Paul should fetch the money on Friday afternoons. The colliers of the five pits were paid on Fridays, but not individually. All the earnings of each stall were put down to the chief butty, as contractor, and he divided the wages again, either in the public-house or in his own home. So that the children could fetch the money, school closed early on Friday afternoons. Each of the Morel children--William, then Annie, then Paul--had fetched the money on Friday afternoons, until they went themselves to work. Paul used to set off at half-past three, with a little calico bag in his pocket. Down all the paths, women, girls, children, and men were seen trooping to the offices.

These offices were quite handsome: a new, red-brick building, almost like a mansion, standing in its own grounds at the end of Greenhill Lane. The waiting-room was the hall, a long, bare room paved with blue brick, and having a seat all round, against the wall. Here sat the colliers in their pit-dirt. They had come up early. The women and children usually loitered about on the red gravel paths. Paul always examined the grass border, and the big grass bank, because in it grew tiny pansies and tiny forget-me-nots. There was a sound of many voices. The women had on their Sunday hats. The girls chattered loudly. Little dogs ran here and there. The green shrubs were silent all around.

Then from inside came the cry "Spinney Park--Spinney Park." All the folk for Spinney Park trooped inside. When it was time for Bretty to be paid, Paul went in among the crowd. The pay-room was quite small. A counter went across, dividing it into half. Behind the counter stood two men--Mr. Braithwaite and his clerk, Mr. Winterbottom. Mr. Braithwaite was large, somewhat of the stern patriarch in appearance, having a rather thin white beard. He was usually muffled in an enormous silk neckerchief, and right up to the hot summer a huge fire burned in the open grate. No window was open. Sometimes in winter the air scorched the throats of the people, coming in from the freshness. Mr. Winterbottom was rather small and fat, and very bald. He made remarks that were not witty, whilst his chief launched forth patriarchal admonitions against the colliers.

The room was crowded with miners in their pit-dirt, men who had been home and changed, and women, and one or two children, and usually a dog. Paul was quite small, so it was often his fate to be jammed behind the legs of the men, near the fire which scorched him. He knew the order of the names--they went according to stall number.

"Holliday," came the ringing voice of Mr. Braithwaite. Then Mrs. Holliday stepped silently forward, was paid, drew aside.

"Bower--John Bower."

A boy stepped to the counter. Mr. Braithwaite, large and irascible, glowered at him over his spectacles.

"John Bower!" he repeated.

"It's me," said the boy.

"Why, you used to 'ave a different nose than that," said glossy Mr. Winterbottom, peering over the counter. The people tittered, thinking of John Bower senior.

"How is it your father's not come!" said Mr. Braithwaite, in a large and magisterial voice.

"He's badly," piped the boy.

"You should tell him to keep off the drink," pronounced the great cashier.

"An' niver mind if he puts his foot through yer," said a mocking voice from behind.

All the men laughed. The large and important cashier looked down at his next sheet.

"Fred Pilkington!" he called, quite indifferent.

Mr. Braithwaite was an important shareholder in the firm.

Paul knew his turn was next but one, and his heart began to beat. He was pushed against the chimney-piece. His calves were burning. But he did not hope to get through the wall of men.

"Walter Morel!" came the ringing voice.

"Here!" piped Paul, small and inadequate.

"Morel--Walter Morel!" the cashier repeated, his finger and thumb on the invoice, ready to pass on.

Paul was suffering convulsions of self-consciousness, and could not or would not shout. The backs of the men obliterated him. Then Mr. Winterbottom came to the rescue.

"He's here. Where is he? Morel's lad?"

The fat, red, bald little man peered round with keen eyes. He pointed at the fireplace. The colliers looked round, moved aside, and disclosed the boy.

"Here he is!" said Mr. Winterbottom.

Paul went to the counter.

"Seventeen pounds eleven and fivepence. Why don't you shout up when you're called?" said Mr. Braithwaite. He banged on to the invoice a five-pound bag of silver, then in a delicate and pretty movement, picked up a little ten-pound column of gold, and plumped it beside the silver. The gold slid in a bright stream over the paper. The cashier finished counting off the money; the boy dragged the whole down the counter to Mr. Winterbottom, to whom the stoppages for rent and tools must be paid. Here he suffered again.

"Sixteen an' six," said Mr. Winterbottom.

The lad was too much upset to count. He pushed forward some loose silver and half a sovereign.

"How much do you think you've given me?" asked Mr. Winterbottom.

The boy looked at him, but said nothing. He had not the faintest notion.

"Haven't you got a tongue in your head?"

Paul bit his lip, and pushed forward some more silver.

"Don't they teach you to count at the Board-school?" he asked.

"Nowt but algibbra an' French," said a collier.

"An' cheek an' impidence," said another.

Paul was keeping someone waiting. With trembling fingers he got his money into the bag and slid out. He suffered the tortures of the damned on these occasions.

His relief, when he got outside, and was walking along the Mansfield Road, was infinite. On the park wall the mosses were green. There were some gold and some white fowls pecking under the apple trees of an orchard. The colliers were walking home in a stream. The boy went near the wall, self-consciously. He knew many of the men, but could not recognise them in their dirt. And this was a new torture to him.

When he got down to the New Inn, at Bretty, his father was not yet come. Mrs. Wharmby, the landlady, knew him. His grandmother, Morel's mother, had been Mrs. Wharmby's friend.

"Your father's not come yet," said the landlady, in the peculiar half-scornful, half-patronising voice of a woman who talks chiefly to grown men. "Sit you down."

Paul sat down on the edge of the bench in the bar. Some colliers were "reckoning"--sharing out their money--in a corner; others came in. They all glanced at the boy without speaking. At last Morel came; brisk, and with something of an air, even in his blackness.

"Hello!" he said rather tenderly to his son. "Have you bested me? Shall you have a drink of something?"

Paul and all the children were bred up fierce anti-alcoholists, and he would have suffered more in drinking a lemonade before all the men than in having a tooth drawn.

The landlady looked at him de haut en bas, rather pitying, and at the same time, resenting his clear, fierce morality. Paul went home, glowering. He entered the house silently. Friday was baking day, and there was usually a hot bun. His mother put it before him.

Suddenly he turned on her in a fury, his eyes flashing:

"I'm NOT going to the office any more," he said.

"Why, what's the matter?" his mother asked in surprise. His sudden rages rather amused her.

"I'm NOT going any more," he declared.

"Oh, very well, tell your father so."

He chewed his bun as if he hated it.

"I'm not--I'm not going to fetch the money."

"Then one of Carlin's children can go; they'd be glad enough of the sixpence," said Mrs. Morel.

This sixpence was Paul's only income. It mostly went in buying birthday presents; but it WAS an income, and he treasured it. But-

"They can have it, then!" he said. "I don't want it."

"Oh, very well," said his mother. "But you needn't bully ME about it."

"They're hateful, and common, and hateful, they are, and I'm not going any more. Mr. Braithwaite drops his 'h's', an' Mr. Winterbottom says 'You was'."

"And is that why you won't go any more?" smiled Mrs. Morel.

The boy was silent for some time. His face was pale, his eyes dark and furious. His mother moved about at her work, taking no notice of him.

"They always stan' in front of me, so's I can't get out," he said.

"Well, my lad, you've only to ASK them," she replied.

"An' then Alfred Winterbottom says, 'What do they teach you at the Board-school?'"

"They never taught HIM much," said Mrs. Morel, "that is a fact-neither manners nor wit--and his cunning he was born with."

So, in her own way, she soothed him. His ridiculous hypersensitiveness made her heart ache. And sometimes the fury in his eyes roused her, made her sleeping soul lift up its head a moment, surprised.

"What was the cheque?" she asked.

"Seventeen pounds eleven and fivepence, and sixteen and six stoppages," replied the boy. "It's a good week; and only five shillings stoppages for my father."

So she was able to calculate how much her husband had earned, and could call him to account if he gave her short money. Morel always kept to himself the secret of the week's amount.

Friday was the baking night and market night. It was the rule that Paul should stay at home and bake. He loved to stop in and draw or read; he was very fond of drawing. Annie always "gallivanted" on Friday nights; Arthur was enjoying himself as usual. So the boy remained alone.

Mrs. Morel loved her marketing. In the tiny market-place on the top of the hill, where four roads, from Nottingham and Derby, Ilkeston and Mansfield, meet, many stalls were erected. Brakes ran in from surrounding villages. The market-place was full of women, the streets packed with men. It was amazing to see so many men everywhere in the streets. Mrs. Morel usually quarrelled with her lace woman, sympathised with her fruit man--who was a gabey, but his wife was a bad 'un--laughed with the fish man--who was a scamp but so droll--put the linoleum man in his place, was cold with the odd-wares man, and only went to the crockery man when she was driven--or drawn by the cornflowers on a little dish; then she was coldly polite.

"I wondered how much that little dish was," she said.

"Sevenpence to you."

"Thank you."

She put the dish down and walked away; but she could not leave the market-place without it. Again she went by where the pots lay coldly on the floor, and she glanced at the dish furtively, pretending not to.

She was a little woman, in a bonnet and a black costume. Her bonnet was in its third year; it was a great grievance to Annie.

"Mother!" the girl implored, "don't wear that nubbly little bonnet."

"Then what else shall I wear," replied the mother tartly. "And I'm sure it's right enough."

It had started with a tip; then had had flowers; now was reduced to black lace and a bit of jet.

"It looks rather come down," said Paul. "Couldn't you give it a pick-me-up?"

"I'll jowl your head for impudence," said Mrs. Morel, and she tied the strings of the black bonnet valiantly under her chin.

She glanced at the dish again. Both she and her enemy, the pot man, had an uncomfortable feeling, as if there were something between them. Suddenly he shouted:

"Do you want it for fivepence?"

She started. Her heart hardened; but then she stooped and took up her dish.

"I'll have it," she said.

"Yer'll do me the favour, like?" he said. "Yer'd better spit in it, like yer do when y'ave something give yer."

Mrs. Morel paid him the fivepence in a cold manner.

"I don't see you give it me," she said. "You wouldn't let me have it for fivepence if you didn't want to."

"In this flamin', scrattlin' place you may count yerself lucky if you can give your things away," he growled.

"Yes; there are bad times, and good," said Mrs. Morel.

But she had forgiven the pot man. They were friends. She dare now finger his pots. So she was happy.

Paul was waiting for her. He loved her home-coming. She was always her best so--triumphant, tired, laden with parcels, feeling rich in spirit. He heard her quick, light step in the entry and looked up from his drawing.

"Oh!" she sighed, smiling at him from the doorway.

"My word, you ARE loaded!" he exclaimed, putting down his brush.

"I am!" she gasped. "That brazen Annie said she'd meet me. SUCH a weight!"

She dropped her string bag and her packages on the table.

"Is the bread done?" she asked, going to the oven.

"The last one is soaking," he replied. "You needn't look, I've not forgotten it."

"Oh, that pot man!" she said, closing the oven door. "You know what a wretch I've said he was? Well, I don't think he's quite so bad."

"Don't you?"

The boy was attentive to her. She took off her little black bonnet.

"No. I think he can't make any money--well, it's everybody's cry alike nowadays--and it makes him disagreeable."

"It would ME," said Paul.

"Well, one can't wonder at it. And he let me have--how much do you think he let me have THIS for?"

She took the dish out of its rag of newspaper, and stood looking on it with joy.

"Show me!" said Paul.

The two stood together gloating over the dish.

"I LOVE cornflowers on things," said Paul.

"Yes, and I thought of the teapot you bought me---"

"One and three," said Paul.

"Fivepence!"

"It's not enough, mother."

"No. Do you know, I fairly sneaked off with it. But I'd been extravagant, I couldn't afford any more. And he needn't have let me have it if he hadn't wanted to."

"No, he needn't, need he," said Paul, and the two comforted each other from the fear of having robbed the pot man.

"We c'n have stewed fruit in it," said Paul.

"Or custard, or a jelly," said his mother.

"Or radishes and lettuce," said he.

"Don't forget that bread," she said, her voice bright with glee.

Paul looked in the oven; tapped the loaf on the base.

"It's done," he said, giving it to her.

She tapped it also.

"Yes," she replied, going to unpack her bag. "Oh, and I'm a wicked, extravagant woman. I know I s'll come to want."

He hopped to her side eagerly, to see her latest extravagance. She unfolded another lump of newspaper and disclosed some roots of pansies and of crimson daisies.

"Four penn'orth!" she moaned.

"How CHEAP!" he cried.

"Yes, but I couldn't afford it THIS week of all weeks."

"But lovely!" he cried.

"Aren't they!" she exclaimed, giving way to pure joy. "Paul, look at this yellow one, isn't it--and a face just like an old man!"

"Just!" cried Paul, stooping to sniff. "And smells that nice! But he's a bit splashed."

He ran in the scullery, came back with the flannel, and carefully washed the pansy.

"NOW look at him now he's wet!" he said.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, brimful of satisfaction.

The children of Scargill Street felt quite select. At the end where the Morels lived there were not many young things. So the few were more united. Boys and girls played together, the girls joining in the fights and the rough games, the boys taking part in the dancing games and rings and make-belief of the girls.

Annie and Paul and Arthur loved the winter evenings, when it was not wet. They stayed indoors till the colliers were all gone home, till it was thick dark, and the street would be deserted. Then they tied their scarves round their necks, for they scorned overcoats, as all the colliers' children did, and went out. The entry was very dark, and at the end the whole great night opened out, in a hollow, with a little tangle of lights below where Minton pit lay, and another far away opposite for Selby. The farthest tiny lights seemed to stretch out the darkness for ever. The children looked anxiously down the road at the one lamp-post, which stood at the end of the field path. If the little, luminous space were deserted, the two boys felt genuine desolation. They stood with their hands in their pockets under the lamp, turning their backs on the night, quite miserable, watching the dark houses. Suddenly a pinafore under a short coat was seen, and a long-legged girl came flying up.

"Where's Billy Pillins an' your Annie an' Eddie Dakin?"

"I don't know."

But it did not matter so much--there were three now. They set up a game round the lamp-post, till the others rushed up, yelling. Then the play went fast and furious.

There was only this one lamp-post. Behind was the great scoop of darkness, as if all the night were there. In front, another wide, dark way opened over the hill brow. Occasionally somebody came out of this way and went into the field down the path. In a dozen yards the night had swallowed them. The children played on.

They were brought exceedingly close together owing to their isolation. If a quarrel took place, the whole play was spoilt. Arthur was very touchy, and Billy Pillins--really Philips--was worse. Then Paul had to side with Arthur, and on Paul's side went Alice, while Billy Pillins always had Emmie Limb and Eddie Dakin to back him up. Then the six would fight, hate with a fury of hatred, and flee home in terror. Paul never forgot, after one of these fierce internecine fights, seeing a big red moon lift itself up, slowly, between the waste road over the hilltop, steadily, like a great bird. And he thought of the Bible, that the moon should be turned to blood. And the next day he made haste to be friends with Billy Pillins. And then the wild, intense games went on again under the lamp-post, surrounded by so much darkness. Mrs. Morel, going into her parlour, would hear the children singing away:


"My shoes are made of Spanish leather,

My socks are made of silk;

I wear a ring on every finger,

I wash myself in milk."

They sounded so perfectly absorbed in the game as their voices came out of the night, that they had the feel of wild creatures singing. It stirred the mother; and she understood when they came in at eight o'clock, ruddy, with brilliant eyes, and quick, passionate speech.

They all loved the Scargill Street house for its openness, for the great scallop of the world it had in view. On summer evenings the women would stand against the field fence, gossiping, facing the west, watching the sunsets flare quickly out, till the Derbyshire hills ridged across the crimson far away, like the black crest of a newt.

In this summer season the pits never turned full time, particularly the soft coal. Mrs. Dakin, who lived next door to Mrs. Morel, going to the field fence to shake her hearthrug, would spy men coming slowly up the hill. She saw at once they were colliers. Then she waited, a tall, thin, shrew-faced woman, standing on the hill brow, almost like a menace to the poor colliers who were toiling up. It was only eleven o'clock. From the far-off wooded hills the haze that hangs like fine black crape at the back of a summer morning had not yet dissipated. The first man came to the stile. "Chock-chock!" went the gate under his thrust.

"What, han' yer knocked off?" cried Mrs. Dakin.

"We han, missis."

"It's a pity as they letn yer goo," she said sarcastically.

"It is that," replied the man.

"Nay, you know you're flig to come up again," she said.

And the man went on. Mrs. Dakin, going up her yard, spied Mrs. Morel taking the ashes to the ash-pit.

"I reckon Minton's knocked off, missis," she cried.

"Isn't it sickenin!" exclaimed Mrs. Morel in wrath.

"Ha! But I'n just seed Jont Hutchby."

"They might as well have saved their shoe-leather," said Mrs. Morel. And both women went indoors disgusted.

The colliers, their faces scarcely blackened, were trooping home again. Morel hated to go back. He loved the sunny morning. But he had gone to pit to work, and to be sent home again spoilt his temper.

"Good gracious, at this time!" exclaimed his wife, as he entered.

"Can I help it, woman?" he shouted.

"And I've not done half enough dinner."

"Then I'll eat my bit o' snap as I took with me," he bawled pathetically. He felt ignominious and sore.

And the children, coming home from school, would wonder to see their father eating with his dinner the two thick slices of rather dry and dirty bread-and-butter that had been to pit and back.

"What's my dad eating his snap for now?" asked Arthur.

"I should ha'e it holled at me if I didna," snorted Morel.

"What a story!" exclaimed his wife.

"An' is it goin' to be wasted?" said Morel. "I'm not such a extravagant mortal as you lot, with your waste. If I drop a bit of bread at pit, in all the dust an' dirt, I pick it up an' eat it."

"The mice would eat it," said Paul. "It wouldn't be wasted."

"Good bread-an'-butter's not for mice, either," said Morel. "Dirty or not dirty, I'd eat it rather than it should be wasted."

"You might leave it for the mice and pay for it out of your next pint," said Mrs. Morel.

"Oh, might I?" he exclaimed.

They were very poor that autumn. William had just gone away to London, and his mother missed his money. He sent ten shillings once or twice, but he had many things to pay for at first. His letters came regularly once a week. He wrote a good deal to his mother, telling her all his life, how he made friends, and was exchanging lessons with a Frenchman, how he enjoyed London. His mother felt again he was remaining to her just as when he was at home. She wrote to him every week her direct, rather witty letters. All day long, as she cleaned the house, she thought of him. He was in London: he would do well. Almost, he was like her knight who wore HER favour in the battle.

He was coming at Christmas for five days. There had never been such preparations. Paul and Arthur scoured the land for holly and evergreens. Annie made the pretty paper hoops in the old-fashioned way. And there was unheard-of extravagance in the larder. Mrs. Morel made a big and magnificent cake. Then, feeling queenly, she showed Paul how to blanch almonds. He skinned the long nuts reverently, counting them all, to see not one was lost. It was said that eggs whisked better in a cold place. So the boy stood in the scullery, where the temperature was nearly at freezing-point, and whisked and whisked, and flew in excitement to his mother as the white of egg grew stiffer and more snowy.

"Just look, mother! Isn't it lovely?"

And he balanced a bit on his nose, then blew it in the air.

"Now, don't waste it," said the mother.

Everybody was mad with excitement. William was coming on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Morel surveyed her pantry. There was a big plum cake, and a rice cake, jam tarts, lemon tarts, and mince-pies-two enormous dishes. She was finishing cooking--Spanish tarts and cheese-cakes. Everywhere was decorated. The kissing bunch of berried holly hung with bright and glittering things, spun slowly over Mrs. Morel's head as she trimmed her little tarts in the kitchen. A great fire roared. There was a scent of cooked pastry. He was due at seven o'clock, but he would be late. The three children had gone to meet him. She was alone. But at a quarter to seven Morel came in again. Neither wife nor husband spoke. He sat in his armchair, quite awkward with excitement, and she quietly went on with her baking. Only by the careful way in which she did things could it be told how much moved she was. The clock ticked on.

"What time dost say he's coming?" Morel asked for the fifth time.

"The train gets in at half-past six," she replied emphatically.

"Then he'll be here at ten past seven."

"Eh, bless you, it'll be hours late on the Midland," she said indifferently. But she hoped, by expecting him late, to bring him early. Morel went down the entry to look for him. Then he came back.

"Goodness, man!" she said. "You're like an ill-sitting hen."

"Hadna you better be gettin' him summat t' eat ready?" asked the father.

"There's plenty of time," she answered.

"There's not so much as I can see on," he answered, turning crossly in his chair. She began to clear her table. The kettle was singing. They waited and waited.

Meantime the three children were on the platform at Sethley Bridge, on the Midland main line, two miles from home. They waited one hour. A train came--he was not there. Down the line the red and green lights shone. It was very dark and very cold.

"Ask him if the London train's come," said Paul to Annie, when they saw a man in a tip cap.

"I'm not," said Annie. "You be quiet--he might send us off."

But Paul was dying for the man to know they were expecting someone by the London train: it sounded so grand. Yet he was much too much scared of broaching any man, let alone one in a peaked cap, to dare to ask. The three children could scarcely go into the waiting-room for fear of being sent away, and for fear something should happen whilst they were off the platform. Still they waited in the dark and cold.

"It's an hour an' a half late," said Arthur pathetically.

"Well," said Annie, "it's Christmas Eve."

They all grew silent. He wasn't coming. They looked down the darkness of the railway. There was London! It seemed the utter-most of distance. They thought anything might happen if one came from London. They were all too troubled to talk. Cold, and unhappy, and silent, they huddled together on the platform.

At last, after more than two hours, they saw the lights of an engine peering round, away down the darkness. A porter ran out. The children drew back with beating hearts. A great train, bound for Manchester, drew up. Two doors opened, and from one of them, William. They flew to him. He handed parcels to them cheerily, and immediately began to explain that this great train had stopped for HIS sake at such a small station as Sethley Bridge: it was not booked to stop.

Meanwhile the parents were getting anxious. The table was set, the chop was cooked, everything was ready. Mrs. Morel put on her black apron. She was wearing her best dress. Then she sat, pretending to read. The minutes were a torture to her.

"H'm!" said Morel. "It's an hour an' a ha'ef."

"And those children waiting!" she said.

"Th' train canna ha' come in yet," he said.

"I tell you, on Christmas Eve they're HOURS wrong."

They were both a bit cross with each other, so gnawed with anxiety. The ash tree moaned outside in a cold, raw wind. And all that space of night from London home! Mrs. Morel suffered. The slight click of the works inside the clock irritated her. It was getting so late; it was getting unbearable.

At last there was a sound of voices, and a footstep in the entry.

"Ha's here!" cried Morel, jumping up.

Then he stood back. The mother ran a few steps towards the door and waited. There was a rush and a patter of feet, the door burst open. William was there. He dropped his Gladstone bag and took his mother in his arms.

"Mater!" he said.

"My boy!" she cried.

And for two seconds, no longer, she clasped him and kissed him. Then she withdrew and said, trying to be quite normal:

"But how late you are!"

"Aren't I!" he cried, turning to his father. "Well, dad!"

The two men shook hands.

"Well, my lad!"

Morel's eyes were wet.

"We thought tha'd niver be commin'," he said.

"Oh, I'd come!" exclaimed William.

Then the son turned round to his mother.

"But you look well," she said proudly, laughing.

"Well!" he exclaimed. "I should think so--coming home!"

He was a fine fellow, big, straight, and fearless-looking. He looked round at the evergreens and the kissing bunch, and the little tarts that lay in their tins on the hearth.

"By jove! mother, it's not different!" he said, as if in relief.

Everybody was still for a second. Then he suddenly sprang forward, picked a tart from the hearth, and pushed it whole into his mouth.

"Well, did iver you see such a parish oven!" the father exclaimed.

He had brought them endless presents. Every penny he had he had spent on them. There was a sense of luxury overflowing in the house. For his mother there was an umbrella with gold on the pale handle. She kept it to her dying day, and would have lost anything rather than that. Everybody had something gorgeous, and besides, there were pounds of unknown sweets: Turkish delight, crystallised pineapple, and such-like things which, the children thought, only the splendour of London could provide. And Paul boasted of these sweets among his friends.

"Real pineapple, cut off in slices, and then turned into crystal--fair grand!"

Everybody was mad with happiness in the family. Home was home, and they loved it with a passion of love, whatever the suffering had been. There were parties, there were rejoicings. People came in to see William, to see what difference London had made to him. And they all found him "such a gentleman, and SUCH a fine fellow, my word"!

When he went away again the children retired to various places to weep alone. Morel went to bed in misery, and Mrs. Morel felt as if she were numbed by some drug, as if her feelings were paralysed. She loved him passionately.

He was in the office of a lawyer connected with a large shipping firm, and at the midsummer his chief offered him a trip in the Mediterranean on one of the boats, for quite a small cost. Mrs. Morel wrote: "Go, go, my boy. You may never have a chance again, and I should love to think of you cruising there in the Mediterranean almost better than to have you at home." But William came home for his fortnight's holiday. Not even the Mediterranean, which pulled at all his young man's desire to travel, and at his poor man's wonder at the glamorous south, could take him away when he might come home. That compensated his mother for much.

保罗长得像母亲,身材纤弱,个子也不高。他的金黄的头发渐渐变红,后来又变成深棕色。眼睛是灰色的,他是个脸色苍白而又文静的孩子。那双眼睛流露出好象在倾听着什么的神情,下唇丰满,往下撤着。

一般说来,他在这个年龄的孩子中显得比较早熟。他对别人的感情,尤其是对母亲的感情相当敏感。她有什么不顺心的事,他一清二楚,而且为此显得心神不定,他的内心似乎总是在关心她。

随着年龄的增长,他变得强壮了一些。威廉与他年龄相差太大,不能与他做伴,因此,这个小男孩一开始几乎完全属于安妮。她是个淘气的女孩,母亲叫她“顽皮鬼”。不过她特别喜欢弟弟,因此保罗一步不离地踉着她,一起玩游戏。她和河川区那些野猫似的孩子疯一般地玩游戏,保罗总是跟随在她身边。由于他太小还不能参加这些活动,只和她分享游戏的快乐。他很安静,也不引人注目,但姐姐十分喜欢他,因为他最听姐姐的话。

她有一个虽不是很喜欢,但引以为豪的大洋娃娃。她把洋娃娃放在沙发上,用一个沙发套盖着,让她睡觉。后来,她就忘了它,当时保罗正在练习从沙发扶手上往前跳,正好踩坏藏在那儿的洋娃娃的脸。安妮跑过来,大叫一声,坐在地下哭了起来,保罗吓得呆呆地站着。

“我不知道它在那儿,安妮,我不知道它在那儿。”他一遍又一遍地说。安妮痛哭时,他就在旁边手足无措地伤心地坐着,一直等她哭够为止。她原谅了弟弟——他还是那么不安。但一两天后,她吃了一惊。

“我们把阿拉贝拉做个祭品吧,”他说:“我们烧了她。”

她吃了一惊,可又有点好奇。她想看看这个男孩子会干些什么。他用砖头搭了一个祭坛,从阿拉贝拉身体里取出一些刨花,把碎蜡放到凹陷的洋娃娃脸上,浇了一点煤油,把它全部烧掉了。他用一种怀有恶意的满足看着碎蜡一滴滴地在阿拉贝拉破碎的额头上融化,像汗珠似的滴在火苗上。这个又大又笨的娃娃在火中焚烧着,他心里暗自高兴。最后,他用一根棍子在灰堆里拨了拨,捞鱼似的捞出了发黑的四肢,用石头砸烂了它们。

“这就是阿拉贝拉夫人的火葬。”他说:“我很开心她什么也没剩下。”

安妮内心很不安,虽然她一句话也说不出来。看来他痛恨这个洋娃娃,因为是他弄坏了它。

所有的孩子,尤其是保罗,都非常敌视他们的父亲,站在母亲一边。莫瑞尔仍旧蛮横专制,还是一味好酒。他周期性地给全家人的生活染上不幸的色彩,有时长达数月。保罗总也忘不了,一个星期的傍晚,他从希望乐团回来,看见母亲眼睛肿着,还发青,父亲叉着两腿站在炉前地毯上,低着头。威廉刚下班回到家,瞪着父亲。孩子们进来时,屋里一片寂静,大人们谁也没回头看一上眼。

威廉气得嘴唇发白,拳头紧握着,用孩子式的愤怒和痛恨看着这一切,他等几个弟妹安静下来才说:

“你这个胆小鬼,你不敢在我在的时候这样干。”

莫瑞尔的血直往上涌,他冲着儿子转过身。威廉比他高大些,但莫瑞尔肌肉结实,而且正在气头上。

“我不敢?”他大叫:“我不敢?毛头小伙子,你再敢多嘴,我就要用我的拳头了。哼,我会那样做的,看着吧。”

莫瑞尔弯着腰,穷凶极恶地举起拳头。威廉气得脸色发白。

“你会吗?”他说,平静却又激动,“不过这是最后一次了。”

莫瑞尔跳近了一步,弯着腰,缩回拳头要打,威廉的拳头也准备着出击。他的蓝眼睛闪过一束光,好象在笑。他盯着父亲,只要再多说一句话,两个人就会打起来。保罗希望他们打起来,三个孩子吓得脸色苍白,坐在沙发上。

“你们俩都给我住手,”莫瑞尔太太用一种严厉的声音喝道:“够了,吵了一夜啦。你,”她说着,转向丈夫:“看看你的孩子!”

莫瑞尔朝沙发上瞥了一眼。

“看看你的孩子,你这个肮脏的小母狗!”他冷笑道,“怎么了,我倒想知道我对孩子们怎么啦?他们倒像你,你把你那一套鬼把戏传给了他们——是你把他们宠坏了。”

她没有理他。大家都没有吭声,过了一会,他脱下靴子扔到。桌子下,上床睡觉去了。

“你为什么不让我跟他干一仗?”威廉等父亲上楼后问道,“我会轻而易举地打倒他。”

“行啦——打你自己的父亲!”她回答。

“父亲!”威廉重复,“把他叫父亲!”

“是的,他是——因此——”

“可你为什么不让我收拾他?我不费什么劲就收拾他一顿。”

“什么主意!”她喊起来,“还没到那个地步吧。”

“不,”他说,“情况更坏。看看你自己,你为什么不让我把你受的罪还给他?”

“因为我再也受不了这么多刺激,再别这么想了。”她索性大哭起来。

孩子们闷闷不乐地上床了。

威廉逐渐长大了。他们家从河川区搬到山顶的一所房子里,面对着像凸形的海扇壳那样铺开的山谷,屋前有棵巨大的白蜡树。西风从德比郡猛烈地刮来,横扫向这座房子,树被刮得呼呼响,莫瑞尔喜欢听这风声。

“这是音乐,”他说,“它催我入睡。”

但是保罗、亚瑟、安妮讨厌这种声音,对保罗来说这就像恶魔的叫声。他们搬到新居的第一个冬天,父亲的脾气更坏了,孩子们在大街上玩到八点才回来,然后孩子们就上床睡觉。大街靠近山谷,四周空旷漆黑。妈妈在楼下做针线活。屋子前一大片空间使孩子有一种黑夜漆漆,空旷迷惘,恐怖阴森的感觉。这种恐怖感来自那棵树上的呼啸声和对家庭不和的烦恼。保罗常常在长时间熟睡中被楼下传来的重重的脚步声惊醒。他听见了父亲醉醺醺地回来了,大吼大叫,母亲尖声应答着,父亲的拳头砰砰地敲着桌子,声音越来越高地在咒骂。随后这一切都湮没在风刮白蜡树发出的呼啸声中。孩子们心神不定地静静地躺在床上,等着风刮过后好听父亲在干什么。他可能又在打母亲。黑暗中有一种恐惧的感觉,还有一股血腥味。他们躺在床上,提心吊胆,烦恼万分。风刮着树枝,越来越猛,就像只大竖琴的琴弦在鸣响、呼应、喷发。突然一片令人恐惧的寂静,方圆四周,楼上楼下一片寂静。怎么了?是血的寂静吧?他干了些什么?

孩子们躺在黑暗中,静静地呼吸着。终于听到父亲扔掉靴子,穿着长袜子重重地上楼。他们静静地听着。风小了,他们听得见水龙头里的水嘀嘀哒哒流进水壶,母亲在灌早上用的水。他们才能安下心来睡觉。

到早晨他们又欢欢喜喜地、兴致勃勃地玩耍,就像晚上围着那根黑暗中的孤独的路灯跳舞一样快乐。不过,他们心中还是有一团挥不去的阴霾,眼睛流露出一丝黯淡,显示了他们内心生活的挫折。

保罗恨父亲,从小他就私下里有一种强烈的宗教信仰。

“让他别喝酒了。”他每天晚上祈祷着。“上帝啊,让我父亲死去吧。”他常常这么祈祷。有时,下午吃完茶点,父亲还没回来,他却祈祷:“别让他死在矿井里吧。”

有一阵全家人吃尽了苦头。孩子们放学回来吃完茶点,炉边铁架上那只大黑锅热汤沸腾,菜放在炉子上,等待莫瑞尔回家开饭。他本应该五点钟到家,可近几个月来,他收工后,天天在外面喝酒。

冬天晚上,天气寒冷,天黑又早,莫瑞尔太太为了节省煤油在桌上放了一只铜烛台,点上一根牛油蜡烛。孩子们吃完黄油面包,准备出去玩。要是莫瑞尔还没回来,他们就不敢出去。想到他干了一天活,满身灰土,不回家洗脸吃饭,却饿着肚子在那儿喝酒,莫瑞尔太太就无法忍受。这种感觉从她身上传到孩子们身上,她不再是一个人受苦了,孩子们和她同样在受苦。

保罗出去和别人一起玩耍。暮色中,山谷中矿井上,灯光闪闪,几位走在后面的矿工,拖着身子在黑暗的田间小路上往家走。点路灯的人过去了,后面寂无一人。黑暗笼罩了山谷,矿工早就收工了。夜色浓浓。

保罗急急忙忙地冲进厨房。那只蜡烛还在桌上燃烧着,火焰很大。莫瑞尔太太独自坐着。铁架子上的汤锅还冒着热气,餐具还在桌上摆着,整个屋子都处在一种等待的气氛中,等着那个隔着沉沉黑夜,在好几里以外饭也不吃、衣服也不换,就知道喝酒的男人。保罗在门口站住了。

“爸爸回来了吗?”他问。

“你知道他还没回来。”莫瑞尔太太回答,对这句明知故问的话有点生气。

儿子慢慢靠近母亲,两人一起分担这份焦急。不一会儿,莫瑞尔太太上去,把土豆捞了出来。

“土豆烧糊了,都发黑,”她说,“但这不管我的事。”

他们偶尔不经意地聊上几句。保罗几乎有点记恨母亲也为父亲下班不回家而难受。

“你为什么自找麻烦呢?”他说:“他不喜欢回家愿意去喝酒,你干吗不让他去呢?”

“让他去!”莫瑞尔太太生气了,“你说让他去?”

她意识到这个下班不回家的男人,会很快毁了自己,也毁了这个家。

孩子们都还小,还得依靠他生活。威廉总算让她感到欣慰,如果莫瑞尔不行,还能够有个人可依靠。每一个等待的夜晚,屋里的气氛是同样的紧张。

时间一分钟一分钟地过去了。六点钟,桌布还平铺在桌上,晚餐还是摆在那儿等着,屋里还是等待和期望的气氛。这个男孩实在受不了这种折磨,他不能去外面玩。于是,他就跑到隔壁邻居英格太太家,找她说话去了。英格太太没有生养,她丈夫对她非常体贴,可她丈夫在一家商店工作,下班很晚。因此,每当她在门口看见这个孩子,就说:

“进来,保罗。”

然后这两人就聊上一阵,孩子有时候会突然站起来说:

“好了,我该走啦,去看看我妈妈有没有活让我干。”

他装出很快乐的样子,没有把惹他烦恼的事告诉他的朋友,转身跑进家门。

这段时间,莫瑞尔一回到家总是凶狠粗暴,令人痛恨。

“这个时间了,还知道回家!”莫瑞尔太太说。

“我啥时回家关你什么事?”他回答嘴道。

屋里的每个人都不敢吭声,觉得谁也惹不起他。他吃相粗俗,吃完后,推开所有的碗碟,趴在桌上,枕着胳膊就开始睡了。

保罗恨父亲的这副德性。这个矿工蓬头垢面,形象很琐,灰尘沾满黑发,就那么歪着头躺在光膀子上。肉乎乎的鼻子,稀稀啦啦几乎看不出来的眉毛,被酒精烧得通红的脸颊。醉酒、疲劳再加上生闷气,他不知不觉已经睡着了。如果有人突然进来或声响稍高一点,他就会抬起头来训斥:

“我砸扁你的头,告诉你,给我住口,听到没有?”

他用威胁的口气吼着,通常是冲着安妮来的,这更让全家人感到厌恶。

他在家时,总是一副事不关己的神态,家人也懒得理他。孩子们常跟母亲谈论白天发生的事,就像如果不告诉母亲的话,那事如同没有发生似的。但只要父亲一进来,一切声音都突然消失了。仿佛他是这个幸福家庭的障碍一样。他也清楚自己进来,屋子就会变得沉默,全家人都不理他,不欢迎他,但这种状态已经无法挽救了。

他也非常渴望和孩子们高高兴兴地聊聊天,但他们不干。有时候莫瑞尔太太会说:

“你应该去告诉你的父亲。”

”保罗在儿童报举办的一次竞赛中获了奖,每个人都兴高彩烈。

“你最好在你父亲进来后就告诉他。”莫瑞尔太太说,“你知道他总是抱怨说没有告诉他任何事。”

“好吧。”保罗说。不过,他宁愿不要这个奖,也不愿告诉父亲。

“爸爸,我竞赛获奖了。”他说。

莫瑞尔转过身。

“是吗,我的孩子?什么竞赛?”

“哦,没什么——是关于著名妇女的。”

“哦,你得多少奖金?”

“一本书”

“哦,是吗?”

“关于鸟类的。”

“呣——呣!”

就这样,谈话似乎在父亲和其他任何一个家庭成员之间都是不可能的。他是个外人,他否认了他心中的上帝。

只有他高高兴兴地干活的时候,才是唯一和一家人融和在一起的时刻。有时晚上他补鞋、修锅或修井下用的壶,他总会需要人帮忙,孩子们也乐意帮他。当他恢复了本性善良的一面,真正地干些什么的时候,孩子们也和他连在一起。

他是个好匠人,心灵手巧,心情开朗时,总是不停地哼哼唱唱。虽然他长年累月和家人闹别扭,脾气暴躁,但干起活来热情很高。大家都会很兴奋地看到他拿着一块通红的铁块冲到洗碗间,嘴里喊着:“让开——让开!”然后,他用锤子在铁砧上锤打着这块烧红发软的东西,随心所欲地打出各种形状。或者,他全神贯注地坐在那儿焊接。孩子们就兴致勃勃地看着这些金属突然化开了,被烙铁头压进缝里去,屋子里飘满烧松香和焊锡的味儿,莫瑞尔就一声不响,一心一意地干活。他修鞋时锤子叮叮吮咪的敲打声与他的哼唱声合鸣。当他坐着给自己补下井穿的鼹鼠皮裤子时,也总是满心欢喜。他常常亲手干这活儿,他觉得这活太脏,皮子又太硬,妻子干不了。

不过,对于孩子们来说,最高兴的还是看他做导火索。莫瑞尔从搁楼里找出一捆很结实的长麦秆,用手把它们擦得干干净净、金光闪闪。然后把麦秆切成大约六英寸的小段,每段麦秆底部都留一个槽口。他随身带一把快刀,麦秆切得整整齐齐,毫无损坏。他在桌子中间倒上一堆火药,擦得明光闪亮的桌面堆起一小堆黑色颗粒。他整好麦秆,保罗和安妮往麦秆里灌火药,再一根根塞住。保罗喜欢看这些黑色的颗粒从自己指缝流进麦秆口,直到灌满为止。然后,他用大拇指指甲刮一点肥皂塞住麦秆口,这样工作就算做完了。

“看,爸爸。”他说。

“很对,宝贝。”莫瑞尔回答,他对二儿子尤其亲热。保罗把导火索插到火药罐里,替父亲收拾好,第二天早晨莫瑞尔要拿着它下井炸煤。

此时,亚瑟也很喜欢父亲,靠在莫瑞尔椅子扶手上说:

“给我们讲讲井下的事儿,爸爸。”

这是莫瑞尔最高兴的事。

“好,有一匹小马——我们叫它邰非,”他开始这么讲,“它很狡猾。”

莫瑞尔活灵活现地讲着故事,一下就让人感觉到了邰非的狡猾。

“皮肤是棕色的。”他接着说:“也不太高,嗯,它踢踢踏踏地来到井下。有人听到它打了个喷嚏。‘嗨,邰非,’有人问,‘为什么又打喷嚏了?又闻到了什么?’”

“接着又打了一个喷嚏,就一屁股坐下去,头顶在你身上,这个小坏蛋。”

“‘邰非,想要什么?’”有人说。

“他想要什么?”亚瑟常常会问。

“他想要一点烟草,宝贝。”

邰非的故事可以无穷无尽地讲下去,而且大家都爱听。

有时候,也会换一个新故事。

“休息时间,我穿衣服,有个东西从我胳膊上跑过,你们猜猜是啥,宝贝?原来是只老鼠。”

“‘嗨,站住!’”我大喝一声。

“我一把抓住了老鼠尾巴。”

“你把它捏死了吗?”

“是的,它们很讨厌。井下多的是。”

“它们吃什么?”

“吃拉煤车的马掉下来的谷子——如果你不收拾它们,它们会钻进你的口袋,吃掉你的点心——不管你把衣服挂在哪儿——这些偷偷摸摸、到处乱咬的讨厌东西都能找到。”

这样愉快的夜晚,只有莫瑞尔干活儿的时候才会出现。通常他总是早早的上床,比孩子们睡得还早。干完了修补的活儿,报纸也浏览了一遍,他无事可干了。

父亲上床后,孩子们才觉得安心,他们躺下说一阵悄悄话。突然天花板上反射出晃动的亮光,呼他们一跳。原来是外面矿工们提着灯去上九点的夜班。他们听着男人们的说话声,想象着他们怎么走进黑漆漆的山谷。有时孩子们还会走到窗前,望着三、四盏灯在黑暗的田野中摇摇晃晃,渐渐消失在黑夜之中。然后赶紧奔回床上,大家暖暖地挤在一起,这真令人感到兴奋。

保罗是个相当赢弱的孩子,常犯支气管炎。而另外几个孩子却都很强壮,所以母亲格外宠爱他。一天,他在吃午饭时回到家。觉得不舒服。不过莫瑞尔家的人一向不喜欢大惊小怪。

“你怎么了?”母亲关切地问。

“没什么。”他回答。

可是他饭也吃不下去。

“你不吃饭。就去不成学校。”她说。

“为什么?”他问。

“就因为不吃饭。”

饭后他就躺在沙发的那个孩子们都喜欢的印花垫子上,慢慢打起瞌睡来。那天下午,莫瑞尔太太熨衣服。她干活时,听到孩子喉咙里那微弱丝丝声,心里又涌起先前讨厌他的那种感觉。她当初没希望他能活下来,然而他稚嫩的身躯却具有强大的生命力。如果他刚生下来就死了,她倒会觉得宽慰些,她对他总有一种又爱又恼的感情。

他呢,在半睡半醒的朦胧中,迷迷糊糊地听到熨斗贴在熨衣板上的声音,还有轻微的撞击声。一醒过来,看到母亲站在炉边地毯上,把热熨斗靠近脸,好象在用耳朵倾听熨斗有多烫似的。她脸上平静安详,内心却充满痛苦和幻灭。由于自我克制,紧闭着嘴唇。但她玲珑的鼻子,蓝蓝的眼睛看上去多么年轻、敏锐、热情。他不由自主地从心里涌起一种强烈的爱。当她像现在这样平静时,她看上去很勇敢,充满活力,可又似乎被剥夺了某种生活权力。想到母亲的生活从来没有美满过,孩子感到心痛,他想报答却又心有余而力不足,这让他感到自己太无能,内心痛苦的煎熬着。但同时也使孩子念念不忘去报答母亲,这是孩子天真的生活目标。

她在熨斗上吐了口唾沫,唾沫在黑黑的熨斗面上乱溅起来,转瞬即逝。然后她跪在地上,在炉边地毯的反面用力擦拭熨斗。炉子旺盛的火焰温暖着她。保罗很喜欢母亲蹲下来,脑袋偏向一边的样子。她的一言一行,都完美无缺。屋里暖融融的,弥漫着烫衣服的气味。后来,牧师来了,跟她和风细雨地聊起来了。

保罗的支气管炎犯了,他自己倒不在乎。已经这样了,充好汉也没用了,他特别喜欢晚上八点钟之后,灯熄了,看着火光在黑暗中的墙壁上、天花板上闪动;看着巨大的影子摇摇摆摆,屋里似乎全是人,在沉默中厮打着。

在上床前,父亲总会走进这间病房,家里不论谁病了,他是显得温和亲善。但是扰乱了男孩安宁的心境。

“睡着了吗,宝贝?”莫瑞尔柔和地问。

“没呢。妈妈来了吗?”

“她马上就叠完衣服了。你想要点什么吗?”莫瑞尔很少这样对儿子。

“我什么也不要。妈妈什么时候来?”

“快了。宝贝。”

父亲在炉边地毯上犹犹豫豫地站了一会儿。他感觉到儿子不想要他。于是他下楼对他妻子说:

“孩子急着要你。你什么时候弄好啊?”

“天啊。等我忙完嘛。告诉他让他睡觉。”

“她叫你先睡。”父亲温柔地给保罗重复着。

“嗯。我要她来。”男孩子坚持着。

莫瑞尔对楼下叫道:“他说你不来他就睡不着。”

“哦。天哪。我马上就来。别对楼下嚷嚷。还有别的几个孩子呢!”

莫瑞尔又进来了。蹲在炉火前,他很喜欢烤火。

“她说她马上就来。”他说。

他磨蹭着呆在屋里,孩子烦躁得厉害,父亲在身边似乎加重了病人的烦躁。莫瑞尔站在那儿看了一下儿子,温和地说:

“晚安。宝贝。”

“晚安。”保罗回答,然后翻了个身,松了一口气,终于可以独自呆一阵了。

保罗喜欢和妈妈一起睡,不管卫生学家们怎么说,和自己所爱的人一起睡觉总是一件令人高兴的事。那份温暖、那份心灵的依赖和安宁,以及那种肌肤相亲所引起的令人舒服的感觉,催人入眠,也可以让身心完全康复。保罗挨着她睡,就觉得病好了许多。他平时老睡不踏实,这时候也睡的很深、很熟,似乎重新获得生活的信心。

康复阶段,保罗坐在床上,望着那些鬃毛蓬松的马在田间饲料槽地吃草。踩成黄色的雪地上撒满干草;望着那些矿工一群一群地走回来——一个个小小的黑影慢慢地穿过银向色的田野。雪地上升起一片晴雾。夜幕降临了。

身体渐渐复原,一切显得美好而惬意。雪花突然飘到窗户玻璃上,象一只只银色的飞燕栖息在那儿。雪花很快化了,玻璃上只有滴滴雪水往下爬着。有时雪花绕着屋角飞舞,像只鸽子即刻远逝。山谷对面,一列小小的黑色列车迟疑地爬过这一大片白色世界。

由于家庭生活拮据,孩子们为能在经济方面帮助家里而感到欣慰和自豪。夏天,安妮、保罗和亚瑟一大早就出去采蘑菇,在湿湿的草地上找啊找。偶尔,云雀在草地上飞起,那表面干净、光滑的蘑菇正好就藏在这片绿色中。如果他们能采到半磅,他们就非常高兴了,为能找到食物、为接受自然的恩赐、为能在经济帮助家里而高兴。

除了拾麦穗来熬牛奶麦粥以外,最大的收获,就是采黑莓了,莫瑞尔太太每周六总要买些水果和在布丁里,她特别喜欢黑莓。因此每到周末,保罗和亚瑟就找遍草丛、树林和旧矿,任何可能找到黑莓的每一个角落都去。在矿工居住比较集中的这地方,黑莓已经是非常稀罕,但保罗仍到处寻找,他喜欢到乡间田野,在树丛中搜寻。他无法忍受两手空空地去见母亲,他觉得宁愿去死,也不愿让她失望。

“天哪,”当孩子们很晚才回来,劳累疲乏,饥肠辘辘,她会惊叫到:“你们去了哪?”

“哦!”保罗回答:“附近没有黑莓,所以我们翻过美斯克山去找。看,妈妈!”

她朝篮子里看了一下。

“哟,真大!”她赞叹道。

“超过了两镑了吧——是有两镑多吧?”

她掂了掂篮子。

“没错。”她有点迟疑地说。

接着,保负又摸出一朵小花,他总是给她摘一支他认为最美的花。

“真漂亮!”她用惊奇的语调说道,仿佛少女接受一件定情信物似的。

这个男孩宁可走上一整天,跑很远很远的路,也不愿轻易罢休,两手空空地来见她。当时他还小,她从未意识到这一点。她是那种只盼望自己孩子赶紧长大的女人。而且那时她最关心的是威廉。

不过,威廉去了诺丁汉后,很少在家,母亲就把保罗当成了伴儿。保罗下意识地妒嫉威廉,威廉也同样妒嫉着保罗,但他们又是好朋友。

莫瑞尔太太对二儿子的感情显得微妙、敏感。不像对长子那么热情。保罗每星期五下午去领钱,五个矿井的工人都是在星期五发工资,但不是单独发给个人,每个巷道的钱都交给那个作为承包人的矿工头,由他分成一份份的工资。不是在小酒店里发,就是在办公室发。学校每星期五下午就会提前放学,为的就是让孩子们去领工钱。莫瑞尔的孩子们在工作前都领过工资,先是威廉,接着是安妮,然后是保罗。保罗一般总是在三点半动身,口袋里装着个花布包,在那个时候,每条路上都有妇女、姑娘、孩子们和男人,一群群地往发工资的办公室走去。

这些办公室相当不错,一幢新的红砖楼房,像一座大厦,坐落在青山尽头一片十分清洁的院子里,屋子的大厅就是等着发工资的地方。大厅是一间没什么摆设的长条形房子。地上是青砖,四周靠墙摆着椅子、矿工们就穿着他们下井穿的那身脏衣服坐在那儿,他们来的比较早,妇女和孩子通常在红砂砾路上来回遛跶。保罗总是在很仔细地看着那些花坛和大草坡,因为那里长着小小的米兰和勿忘我。那里一片嘈杂,女人戴上了节日才戴的帽子,姑娘们大声聊着天,小狗到处跑,只有四周绿色的灌木丛沉默着。

随后里面传来喊声,“斯宾尼公园——斯宾尼公园。”所有为斯宾尼公园的矿井干活的人都进去了。轮到布雷渥矿井的人领工资时,保罗混在人群中走了进去。领工资的房间很小,横放着一条柜台,把房间分成了两部分,两人站在柜台后面——一个是布雷恩韦特先生,一个是帐房先生温特博特姆。布雷恩韦特先生个子很高,外表看起来像个威严的长者,留着小白胡子,他平时常围着一条很大的丝质围巾,即使是夏天,敞口火炉里也烧着很大的火,而且窗户也是关着的。冬天的时候,人们从外面新鲜空气里走到这儿来,似乎喉咙都要烤焦了。温特博特姆先生又矮又胖,是个秃子。他的上司常对矿工们进行家长式教育,而他却常说一些蠢话。

屋里挤满了浑身脏乎乎的矿工,还有些回家换了衣服的男人,几个女人,一两个孩子。通常还有一条狗。保罗比较矮,因此常被挤到大人腿后靠近炉子的地方,几乎要把他烤焦了。不过,他知道领钱的顺序是根据下井的号码来叫的。

“赫利德。”传来布雷恩韦特先生响亮的声音,赫利德太太不作声地走上前去,领上钱,又退到一边。

“鲍尔——约翰·鲍尔。”

一个男孩走到柜台边上,布雷恩韦特先生个子高,脾气大,生气地透过眼镜瞪着他。

“约翰·鲍尔!”他又叫了一遍。

“是我。”男孩说。

“咦。你的鼻子和以前不一样了。”圆滑的温特博特姆先生从柜台里盯着他说。人们想起老约翰·鲍尔,都偷偷地笑了。

“你爸爸为什么不来!”布雷恩韦特用一种威严的声音大声问。

“他不舒服。”孩子尖声尖气地说。

“你应该告诉他别喝酒了。”,这个叫大掌柜的说。

“即使他听了会一脚踢破你的肚子也没关系。”一个嘲弄的声音从孩子背后传来。

所有的男人都大笑起来,这位傲慢的大掌柜垂着眼睛看着下一张工资单。

“弗雷德·皮尔金顿!”他毫无感情地叫了一声。

布雷恩韦特是矿上的一个大股东。

保罗知道该他了,他的心砰砰急跳着。他被推挤得靠着壁炉架,腿肚子都烫痛了。不过,他也不打算穿过这堵人墙。

“沃尔特·莫瑞尔!”那个响亮的声音传来。

“在这儿!”保罗尖声回答。但声音又细又弱。

“莫瑞尔——沃尔特·莫瑞尔!”掌柜的又喊了一次。他的食指和拇指捏着那张工资单,准备翻过去。

保罗害羞的不知所措,他不敢也不愿大声答应,大人们的身体把他完全挡住了,幸好温特博特姆先生帮了他一把。

“他来了,他在哪儿?莫瑞尔的儿子?”

这个胖胖的,脸色通红的秃头小矮个,敏锐的眼睛往四周看了看,他指了指火炉,矿工们也四处搜寻,往旁边让了让,才看到了孩子。

“他来了!”温特博特姆先生说。

保罗走到柜台前面。

“十七英镑十一先令五便士。刚才喊你时,为什么不大声答应?”布雷恩韦特先生说。他砰的一声把内装五镑一袋的银币放在清单上,然后做了一个优雅的手势,拿起十镑的一小叠金币放在银币旁边。金币像发亮的小溪倾倒在纸上,掌柜的数完钱,孩子把钱捧到温特博特姆先生的柜台上,给他交房租和工具费。又该他难堪了。

“十六先令六便士。”温特博特姆先生说。

孩子心慌神乱,也顾不得数钱了。他把几个零的银币和半个金镑推了进去。

“你知道你给了我多少钱吗?”温特博特姆先生问。

“没长舌头吗?不会说话吗?”

保罗咬着嘴唇,又推过去几个银币。

“上小学时别人没教你数数吗?”他问。

“只教了代数和法语。”一个矿工说。

“还教怎样做个厚睑皮。”另一个人说。

保罗让后面的人等了很久,他抖着手指把钱放到包里,冲了出去。在这种场合,他总是被这些该死的家伙们弄得好苦。

他来到外面,沿着曼斯菲尔德路走着,长长地舒了一口气。公园墙上到处是青苔,几只金黄和白色的鸡在果园树下啄食吃。有三三两两的矿工往家走。他害羞地挨着墙根窜。矿工中有很多人他认识,他们浑身灰尘,满面尘垢无法辨认。这对他来说又是一种折磨。

他到布雷蒂新酒馆时,他父亲还没来。酒馆老板娘沃姆比太太认识他。过去,保罗的奶奶和沃姆比太太是朋友。

“你爸还没来呢。”老板娘说,声音里似乎有点嘲讽,又有点笼络的意味。这就是专和男人来往的女人特有的腔调。“请坐吧。”

保罗在酒吧里的长凳的上头坐下。有几个矿工在墙角算帐、分钱。还有些人走进来,大家瞥了这孩子一眼,但谁也没说话。终于,莫瑞尔喜滋滋地飘进了酒馆。尽管满脸煤灰,却煞有介事。

“嘿,”他十分温和地对儿子说:“敢和我比一比吗?要喝点什么?”

保罗和别的几个孩子从小滴酒不沾。当着这么多人即使让他喝一杯柠檬汁,也要比拔一颗牙还难过的多。

老板娘从头到脚打量了他一遍,心里可怜。但对他那毫不动情、循规蹈矩的态度很不满。保罗默默地往家走,气乎乎地进了门。星期五是烤面包的时候,家里总是有一只热热的小圆面包留给他,母亲把面包放在他面前。

突然,他恼怒地转过身去对着她,眼睛里充满怒火。

“我再也不去领工资的办公室了。”他说

“哦。怎么啦?”母亲吃惊地问。对他的发火,觉的有些好笑。

“我再也不去了。”他大声说。

“哦,好极了。你去和你爸爸说吧。”

他狠狠地咬着面包,好象面包是泄气的对象。

“我不——不去领工资了。”

“那就叫卡林家的孩子去吧,他们能挣到六便士会非常高兴的。”莫瑞尔太太说。

这六便士是保罗的唯一收入,这笔钱大都用来买生日礼物。毕竟它是一笔收入,他十分珍惜它。但是……

“那么,让他们去挣吧。”他说,“我不想要了。”

“哦,很好。”他母亲说,“但你也不用冲我发火呀。”

“他们真可恶,又俗气,又可恶,我不去了。布雷恩韦特先生连‘H’音都发不出来,温特博特姆先生说话时语法也不通。”

“你不愿意去,就因为这个吗?”莫瑞尔太太笑了。

孩子沉默了一会儿,他脸色苍白,眼神郁郁不乐。母亲正忙着干家务活儿,没注意他。

“他们总是挡着我,让我挤都挤不出来。”他说。

“哦,孩子,你只需叫他们让一下就行了。”她回答。

“而且艾尔弗雷德·温特博特姆说:‘小学里他们教了你些什么?’”

“他们确实没教给他什么。”莫瑞尔太太说。“这是真的——又没礼貌,又不聪明。——他的油猾是从娘胎里带来的。”

就这样,她用自己的方法安慰着他。他的可笑的敏感让她心疼。有时,他眼里的狂怒振奋了她,使她沉睡的心灵受到了惊动。

“领了多少钱?”她问道。

“十七英镑十一先令五便士,扣去十六先令六便士!”孩子回答说,“这星期不错,爸爸只扣了五先令零用钱。”

这样,她就可以算出她丈夫到底挣了多少钱,如果他少给了钱,她就可以让他算帐。莫瑞尔一向对每个星期的收入保密。

星期五晚上既要烤面包又要去市场。保罗像平常一样在家里烤面包。他喜欢在家里看书画画,他非常喜欢画画。安妮每星期五晚上都在外面闲遛跶。亚瑟像平时一样高兴地玩耍。所以,家里只有保罗一人。

莫瑞尔太太喜欢到市场采购。这个小市场坐落在小山顶上,从诺丁汉、德比、伊克斯顿和曼斯菲德沿伸过来的四条大路在这里汇合,这里货摊林立。许多大马车从周围村子涌到这儿。市场上的女人摩肩接踵,街上挤满了熙熙攘攘的男人,简直让人惊异。莫瑞尔太太总是和卖花边的女人讨价还价。与卖水果的那位叙叙叨叨的人合得来,不过水果商的妻子不怎么样。莫瑞尔太太来到鱼贩子的摊前。他是个不顶用的家伙,不过逗人发笑,她以拒人千里的态度对待亚麻油毡贩子。要不是盘上印的矢车菊图案吸引她,她才不去陶器摊,对待他们的态度冷淡而客气。

“那小盘子要多少钱?”她说。

“七便士。”

“谢谢。”

她放下盘子就走开了,可她不会不买它就离开市场的。她又从摆着那些坛坛罐罐的摊子旁走过,偷偷地再看看那只盘子,又装做没看的样子。

她是个很矮的女人,戴顶无檐帽,穿一身黑衣服。这顶帽子已戴了三年,这让安妮看着心里很不舒服。

“妈!”姑娘带着恳求地说,“别戴那顶圆乎乎的小帽子了。”

“那我应该戴什么?”母亲尖酸地说,“我相信这顶帽子不错。”

这顶帽子原来有个尖顶,后来加了几朵花,现在只剩下黑花边和一块黑玉了。

“这帽子有点垂头丧气的样子,”保罗说,“你为什么不修整修整?”

“我应该揍扁你的脑袋,说话没有一点分寸。”莫瑞尔太太说着,勇敢地把黑帽子的帽带系在下颌。

她又瞥了那个盘子一眼。她和对手——那个卖陶器的,都感到不自在。好象他们之间有什么隔阂似的。突然,他大声喊道:

“五便士你想买吗?”

她吃了惊,停了下来,拿起那只盘子。

“我要了。”她说。

“你帮了我的忙,对吗?”他说,“你最好再对盘口吐口唾沫,就像别人送给你什么东西,你还嫌弃似的。”

莫瑞尔太太冷冷地给了他五便士。

“我不觉得你把它送给了我!”她说,“如果你不愿意五便士出手,你可以不卖给我。”

“这个破地方,如果能白送掉东西,倒是幸运了。”他生气地喊道。

“是啊,买卖有赔有赚。”莫瑞尔太太说。

她已经原谅了这个卖陶器的男子。他们成了朋友。她现在敢摸摸那些陶器了,并因此而高兴。

保罗在等她,他盼着她回来。她通常这时候心情最好——得意而疲惫,大包小包的满载而归,而且,精神上也很充实。他听见她的轻快的脚步从门口传来,就从他的画架上抬起头来。

“唉!”她叹了口气,站在门口冲着他笑。

“天啊,你拿了这么多东西”他惊呼着,放下他的画笔。

“是的。”她喘着气,“该死的安妮还说来接我。太重了!”

她把网兜大包小包扔在桌上。

“面包好了吗?”她问着向烤炉走去。

“烤最后一炉。”他回答,“你不用看,我记着呢。”

“哦,那个卖陶器的!”她说着关上烤炉的门。“你记得我以前说他是怎样一个无赖吗?现在,我觉得他没有那么坏。”

“是吗?”

孩子被她的话吸引了。她摘下了那顶黑色的圆帽子。

“是的,我觉得他挣不了多少钱——不过,现在人人都说他发了——就让人讨厌他。”

“我也会这么看的。”保罗说。

“是啊,这也难怪。最后他还是卖给我了——你猜我用多少钱买下这个的?”

她打开包盘子的破报纸拿出那只盘子,站在那里喜形于色地看着它。

“让我看看。”保罗说。

两个人就站在那儿,心满意足地欣赏这个盘子。

“我可喜欢矢车菊图案装饰的东西。”保罗说。

“对了,我想起你给我买的那个茶壶……”

“一先令三便士。”保罗说。

“五便士!”

“太值了,妈妈。”

“是的,你知道吗,便宜得几乎像是偷来的呢。不过,我今天花的钱已经够多的了,再贵我就买不起了。而且,如果他不乐意,他可以不卖给我。”

“是啊,他不愿意卖,就不用卖嘛。”保罗说。他们彼此都在安慰对方别以为是坑了那个卖陶器的。

“我们可以用它来盛炖水果。”保罗说。

“还可以盛蛋糕或果子冻。”母亲说。

“要不,就盛水萝卜和葛芭。”他说。

“别忘了正在烤的面包。”她说,声音里充满喜悦。

保罗看看炉子里面,拍了拍底层的那只面包。

“好了。”他说着把面包递给她。

她也拍了拍面包。

“好。”她一边回答一边开始打开包,“哦,我真是一个爱乱花钱的女人,我知道这样会倾家荡产的。”

他心急地凑到她旁边,想看看她买了些什么贵东西。她打开报纸,露出几株紫罗兰和深红色的雏菊。

“用了四便士呢。”她抱怨着。

“真便宜!”他大声说。

“是啊,可是这个星期根本不应该买这些。”

“它们多漂亮呀!”他赞叹道。

“是的!”她说,乐得忘乎所以,“保罗,你看那朵黄色的,像个老头的脸。”

“像极了!”保罗喊到,弯下腰来闻着花,“真香!不过花上尽是泥。”

他冲到洗碗间,拿了块绒布,仔细地擦洗着紫罗兰。

“看这些水灵灵的花。”他说。

“真好看!”她赞叹着,觉得心满意足。

斯卡吉尔街上的孩子们交朋友十分挑剔。莫瑞尔家住的那一头没有多少小孩子。因此,这几个孩子更加要好,男、女孩子们一起玩,女孩子参加打仗和一些粗鲁的游戏,男孩子们也加入到跳舞、转圈和过家家游戏。

安妮、保罗、亚瑟很喜欢没有雨雪的冬夜,他们在家里等到矿工们全都进了家门,天色完全黑下来,街上不再有人时,才围上围巾出去。他们跟其他矿工的孩子一样,不愿意穿大衣。门外一片漆黑,四周朦朦胧胧,看不清任何东西,坡下有簇簇灯火,这就是敏顿矿井,对面远处也有一些灯光。那是席尔贝矿井。最远处那些微弱闪烁的灯火似乎穿破了黑暗,一直沿伸出去。孩子们焦急地顺着大路向田间小道尽头的灯柱望去。如果那光亮处没人他们就双手插在口袋里站在路灯下面,在夜色里可怜兮兮地望着那些黑乎乎的屋舍。突然,看见一位上身穿件短外套、下着裙子,两腿修长的小姑娘飞跑过来。

“比利·菲林斯和你家的安妮,还有艾迪·达肯在哪?”

“不知道。”

不过这也没关系——他们现在已经三个人了。他们围着路灯柱做起游戏来。后来,别的孩子喊叫着冲出家门,他们就更高兴更热闹了。

附近只有一根灯柱。后面是茫茫一片,仿佛整个黑夜都在那儿孕育。路灯柱前面,另外是一条宽宽的通往山顶的黑暗土道。偶尔有人从大道上来,沿着这条小路走向田间。不到十几英尺,黑暗就吞没了他们。孩子们继续玩。

孩子们在一起非常亲密,因为他们和外界隔绝,很少与其他的孩子交往。如果发生一场争吵,一场游戏就泡汤了。亚瑟爱发火,比利·菲林斯——实际上是菲力浦斯——脾气更糟糕。这时,保罗必须站在亚瑟一边,爱丽思又在保罗一边,而比利·菲林斯老有埃米·利姆和艾迪·这肯撑腰。此时六个孩子就会打起来,彼此咬牙切齿,打完架就逃回家去。保罗永远忘不了,有一次,双方激烈地打了一仗后,看见一轮硕大的红月亮像一只慢慢往上飞的大鸟似的在通往山顶的荒凉的小路上徐徐升起。他不由自主地想起《圣经》上说,这月亮会变成血。第二天,他就赶紧和比利·菲林斯讲和了。于是,在一片黑暗中,他们又围着路灯柱,继续玩那种野蛮、激烈的游戏。莫瑞尔太太只要走进起居室,就可以听见孩子们在远处唱:

西班牙的鞋,

丝织的袜,

满把戒指顶呱呱,

牛奶洗澡乐哈哈。

歌声划破夜空从远处传来,可以听出他们沉醉于游戏之中。他们就像一群野人在歌唱。这情景也感染了母亲。对他们八点以后回来,个个脸面通红,眼睛发光、说起话来的那种兴奋心情很能理解。

他们都喜欢斯卡吉尔街这幢房子,这里视野开阔,外面的世界都可以一览无余。夏天的傍晚,女人们常常靠在田间篱笆上聊天,眺望西方的夕阳把天际映成一片血红,德比郡的群山绵延而去,像蝾螈黑色的背。

夏季,矿井从来不全部开工,尤其是采烟煤的矿井。住在莫瑞尔太太隔壁的达肯太太,在篱笆边拍打炉边地毯,看到慢慢往山上爬的男人,她立刻知道那是矿工们。于是,她等待着。她又瘦又高,看上去精明过人,站在山顶上,似乎在威胁那些往山上爬的矿工。这时才十一点钟。夏日清晨,树木葱郁,青山上那层透明的黑纱似的雾还没有散尽。最前面的一个人上了台阶,他把栅栏门推得“嘎——嘎”直响。

“怎么,你们停工了?”达肯太太大声问。

“是的,太太。”

“真遗憾,他们让你们滚了。”她挖苦地说。

“是啊。”那人回答。

“不,要知道,你们盼望着出来呢。”她说。

这个人径自走了。达肯太太回到自己的院子里,看见莫瑞尔太太出来倒垃圾。

“我听说敏顿停工了,太太。”她喊道。

“这多糟糕啊!”莫瑞尔太太愤怒地惊呼起来。

“哼,我刚才挖苦过约翰·哈奇比。”

“他们最好还是省点鞋底皮得了。”莫瑞尔太太说着,两个妇人都兴味索然地进了屋。

这些矿工们,脸上几乎没有沾上黑煤灰,就又一群一群地回来了。莫瑞尔讨厌回家,喜欢明媚的早晨。但是刚去下井工作,又被遣回来,扫了他的兴致。

“天哪,这时候就回来!”他刚进门,妻子喊道。

“我也没办法啊,老婆。”他大声说道。

“午饭也不够吃。”

“那么我就吃我带的干粮吧。”他抱怨地说,感到又气又恼。

孩子们从学校回来,很奇怪地看见父亲拿着下井带去又带回来的两片又干又脏的黄油面包当午饭吃着。

“爸爸为什么现在吃干粮?”亚瑟问。

“我不吃,有人就抱怨我了。”莫瑞尔生气地说。

“说的像真的!”他的妻子喊道。

“难道就让它浪费掉吗?”莫瑞尔说,“我不像你们这些人大手大脚,浪费东西。在井下我掉了一点面包,哪怕沾满灰尘,我也要吃下去。”

“老鼠会吃的,”保罗说,“不会浪费的。”

“好好的黄油面包也不是为老鼠准备的。”莫瑞尔说,“不管脏不脏,我宁愿吃下去也不愿浪费。

“你可以把面包屑留给老鼠吃,自己少喝一瓶酒不就有了。”莫瑞尔太太说。

“哦,我应该这样么?”他嚷嚷着。

那个秋天,他们生计很难,威廉刚刚去了伦敦,母亲就想着他的钱。有一两次,他寄来十先令,但他刚刚去那儿,很多地方需要花钱。他每星期按时给家里写封信,给母亲写得很多,把自己的生活状况全告诉了她:他怎么交朋友,怎么跟一个法国人互相学习,他在伦敦玩得多么有趣。母亲又感到如同他在家里一样,陪在她身边。她每星期都给他回一封语气直率、措辞幽默的信。当她收拾屋子时,她整天都思念着他。他在伦敦,他会成功的,他像她的骑士,带着代表她的徽章征战疆场。

他要在圣诞期间回来五天。家里从来没有这么准备过什么。保罗和亚瑟把地擦得干干净净,准备摆上冬青树、万年青,安妮用老方法做了漂亮的纸花环。吃的东西也从来没有这么丰盛地预备好。莫瑞尔太太准备了一个又气魄又漂亮的蛋糕。她感到自己像位女皇一样,教保罗怎样剥杏仁皮。他仔细地扒掉那些长条形果仁的皮,又数了一遍,确信一个也没丢。据说打鸡蛋最好在凉处。因此,保罗就站在洗碗间,那里滴水成冰。他在那不停地搅动着,直到搅匀,之后激动地冲进来告诉妈妈鸡蛋变浓变白了。

“看一眼,妈妈!这是不是很好看呀?”

他挑起一点点蛋沫凑近鼻子,吹向空中。

“好了,别浪费了。”母亲说。

每个人都激动万分,威廉将在圣诞前夜回来。莫瑞尔太太在伙房里巡视了一遍,里面摆着一个葡萄干大蛋糕,还有一块米糕,有果酱馅饼、柠檬馅饼和碎肉馅饼——装满了两个大盆子。西班牙馅饼和奶酪饼也快烤好了。屋子里都装饰一新。一束束结着浆果的邀吻冬青树枝上挂着亮闪闪的装饰物。莫瑞尔太太在厨房里做小馅饼时,树枝就在她头上慢悠悠地旋转。炉火很旺,烘糕饼的香味迎面扑来。他应该七点钟到家,不过有可能迟到。三个孩子去接站,只有她一人在家。在七点差一刻时莫瑞尔又进来,夫妻俩谁也没说话,他坐在自己的扶手椅上,激动得不知所措。而她,静静地继续烤饼,只要从她干活时的那种小心翼翼样子,就看出她内心有多么激动。闹钟嘀嗒、嘀嗒走着。

“他说几点到?”这是莫瑞尔第五次问了。

“火车六点半到。”她强调地说。

“那么他会七点十分到家。”

“唉,火车有时晚点好几个小时呢。”她冷冷地说。不过她希望、盼望他早点回来。莫瑞尔到门口去看看,然后又折回来。

“天哪,你!”她说,“你像一只坐不住的母鸡。”

“吃的东西准备好了吗?”莫瑞尔问。

“还有很长一段时间呢。”她说。

“我看没多长时间了。”他回答着,在他的椅子上不耐烦地扭来扭去。她开始收拾桌子,茶壶也懂懂地响起来了。他俩焦急地等着。

此时,三个孩子正站在离家两英里的中部铁路干线塞斯里桥站台上。他们等了整整一个小时,来了一列火车——可没有他。铁路线上红绿灯不停地闪着。天又黑又冷。

“问问他伦敦的火车是否来了。”当他们看到一个带鸭舌帽的人,保罗对安妮说。

“我不去,”安妮说,“你安静点——他可能会赶我们走。”

保罗却非常希望这个人知道他们在等一个从伦敦坐火车来的人。火车开起来多了不起啊。然而,他太害怕跟别人打交道,他不敢去问一个戴鸦舌帽的人。三个孩子甚至不敢去候车室,怕被赶出来,又担心一离开月台,就会错过接站。因此,他们一直在黑暗和寒冷中等待着。

“已经晚了一个半小时了。”亚瑟可怜地说。

“是啊,”安妮说,“这是圣诞前夜啊。”

他们都沉默着:他不会回来了。他们望着黑暗中的铁路,哪儿是伦敦!这似乎是一段迢迢无尽的距离。他们觉得这个将从伦敦回来的人可能在路上发生了什么事。他们十分担忧,沉默不语,在寒冷的月台上他们缩成一团。

两个多小时后,他们看见一辆机车的灯光出现在远方,从黑暗中疾驶而来,一个搬运工冲了出来。孩子们心里乱跳,往后退开几步。一长列火车,一定是从曼彻斯特来的,停了下来,两扇车门打开,从一个门里,走出了威廉。他们向他扑了过去。他兴奋地把几个包裹递给他们,立即解释火车原来是不在这停,为了他才特地在塞斯里桥站停的。

与此同时,这对父母已经火急火燎。桌子摆好了,排骨也摆上桌,一切都准备就绪。莫瑞尔太太戴上黑围裙,穿着自己最漂亮的那套衣服。她坐下来,装着在看书。每一分一秒的时间对她都是一种折磨。

“呣!”莫瑞尔说,“一个半小时了。”

“孩子们还在等着!”她说。

“火车不可能还没到啊。”他说。

“我告诉你,火车在圣诞夜总是会晚几个小时的。”

他们彼此有点不开心,焦急得不得了。屋外那颗白蜡树在刺骨的寒风中呻吟。黑夜里从伦敦往家里赶,这路多么漫长啊!莫瑞尔太太痛苦地想着。时钟嘀嗒嘀嗒的响声,让她心烦意乱。时间越来越晚,也越来越让人受不了。

终于,传来了说话声,门口听见了脚步声。

“来了!”莫瑞尔喊着跳了起来。

他往后让了让,妈妈赶紧朝门口跑了几步,等着。一片嘈杂的脚步声,门突然推开了,威廉出现在那儿,他扔下旅行包,把母亲拥在怀里。

“妈妈!”他说。

“孩子!”她喊着。

就一会儿,她搂住他,亲吻着,然后退后一步,尽力用平常的语调说:

“怎么这么晚才回来。”

“是啊!”他转过身去叫父亲,“爸爸!”

父子俩握握手。

“嗨,我的孩子!”

莫瑞尔眼里闪过泪花。

“我们还以为你不回来了呢。”他说。

“哦,我回来了!”威廉叫道。

儿子又回头对着妈妈。

“你看上去很精神。”她自豪地说笑着。

“是啊!”他回答,“我想是因为——回家了!”

他是个很帅的小伙子,身材高大挺直,神情洒脱。他看了看那些冬青树和接吻树枝,又看了炉边铁格子里烤着的小馅饼。

“天哪,妈妈,一切都不变!”他深感宽慰地说。

大家楞住了,接着他突然跳过去,从炉边拿起一个馅饼,一下子就把整个馅饼吞进嘴里。

“哈,你在外面没见过这种小地方的烤炉吧?”父亲大声说。

他给他们带来许许多多的礼物。花完他所有的积蓄。满屋显示出一种豪华的氛围。他送给母亲一把伞,灰色伞,伞把上涂着金粉。她十分珍惜这把伞,一直保存到她生命的最后一刻。每个人都得到一件漂亮的礼物。此外,还有好几磅叫不出名字的甜食:什么拌砂软糖啊、冰糖菠萝啊,在孩子们的想象中,这些东西只有伦敦才有,保罗在他的朋友中夸耀着说道:

“真正的菠萝,切成片,再做成蜜饯,好吃极了。”

家里人都欣喜若狂。家到底是家,不管经历多少苦,他们还深深地爱着家。举行几次庆贺宴会,大家都兴高彩烈,邻居都来看威廉。看他在伦敦变了多少。他们都发现他“天哪,像个绅士,好棒的小伙子!”

等他要离家时,孩子们各自躲开,不忍看伤别的泪水。莫瑞尔郁郁不乐地上床了。莫瑞尔太太觉得好象吃了麻醉药,浑身麻木,感觉迟钝。她是深深地爱着他的啊。

那时,威廉在一个律师办事处工作,和一家很大的航运商行有联系。这年仲夏,他的上司给他提供了个好机会,乘商行的船去地中海旅行,只需要花一点钱即可。莫瑞尔太太在信中写道:“去吧,去吧,孩子。也许以后再也碰不到这种机会了。我想到你将去地中海旅行,比你回家还高兴。”不过,威廉还是在家度过了那两个星期的假。虽然地中海是他早已神往的地方,但一旦他可以回家,那个吸引他的南方还是吸引不了他。这给了母亲极大的安慰。



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