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Chapter 7 Lad-And-Girl Love
PAUL had been many times up to Willey Farm during the autumn. He was friends with the two youngest boys. Edgar the eldest, would not condescend at first. And Miriam also refused to be approached. She was afraid of being set at nought, as by her own brothers. The girl was romantic in her soul. Everywhere was a Walter Scott heroine being loved by men with helmets or with plumes in their caps. She herself was something of a princess turned into a swine-girl in her own imagination. And she was afraid lest this boy, who, nevertheless, looked something like a Walter Scott hero, who could paint and speak French, and knew what algebra meant, and who went by train to Nottingham every day, might consider her simply as the swine-girl, unable to perceive the princess beneath; so she held aloof.

Her great companion was her mother. They were both brown-eyed, and inclined to be mystical, such women as treasure religion inside them, breathe it in their nostrils, and see the whole of life in a mist thereof. So to Miriam, Christ and God made one great figure, which she loved tremblingly and passionately when a tremendous sunset burned out the western sky, and Ediths, and Lucys, and Rowenas, Brian de Bois Guilberts, Rob Roys, and Guy Mannerings, rustled the sunny leaves in the morning, or sat in her bedroom aloft, alone, when it snowed. That was life to her. For the rest, she drudged in the house, which work she would not have minded had not her clean red floor been mucked up immediately by the trampling farm-boots of her brothers. She madly wanted her little brother of four to let her swathe him and stifle him in her love; she went to church reverently, with bowed head, and quivered in anguish from the vulgarity of the other choir-girls and from the common-sounding voice of the curate; she fought with her brothers, whom she considered brutal louts; and she held not her father in too high esteem because he did not carry any mystical ideals cherished in his heart, but only wanted to have as easy a time as he could, and his meals when he was ready for them.

She hated her position as swine-girl. She wanted to be considered. She wanted to learn, thinking that if she could read, as Paul said he could read, "Colomba", or the "Voyage autour de ma Chambre", the world would have a different face for her and a deepened respect. She could not be princess by wealth or standing. So she was mad to have learning whereon to pride herself. For she was different from other folk, and must not be scooped up among the common fry. Learning was the only distinction to which she thought to aspire.

Her beauty--that of a shy, wild, quiveringly sensitive thing--seemed nothing to her. Even her soul, so strong for rhapsody, was not enough. She must have something to reinforce her pride, because she felt different from other people. Paul she eyed rather wistfully. On the whole, she scorned the male sex. But here was a new specimen, quick, light, graceful, who could be gentle and who could be sad, and who was clever, and who knew a lot, and who had a death in the family. The boy's poor morsel of learning exalted him almost sky-high in her esteem. Yet she tried hard to scorn him, because he would not see in her the princess but only the swine-girl. And he scarcely observed her.

Then he was so ill, and she felt he would be weak. Then she would be stronger than he. Then she could love him. If she could be mistress of him in his weakness, take care of him, if he could depend on her, if she could, as it were, have him in her arms, how she would love him!

As soon as the skies brightened and plum-blossom was out, Paul drove off in the milkman's heavy float up to Willey Farm. Mr. Leivers shouted in a kindly fashion at the boy, then clicked to the horse as they climbed the hill slowly, in the freshness of the morning. White clouds went on their way, crowding to the back of the hills that were rousing in the springtime. The water of Nethermere lay below, very blue against the seared meadows and the thorn-trees.

It was four and a half miles' drive. Tiny buds on the hedges, vivid as copper-green, were opening into rosettes; and thrushes called, and blackbirds shrieked and scolded. It was a new, glamorous world.

Miriam, peeping through the kitchen window, saw the horse walk through the big white gate into the farmyard that was backed by the oak-wood, still bare. Then a youth in a heavy overcoat climbed down. He put up his hands for the whip and the rug that the good-looking, ruddy farmer handed down to him.

Miriam appeared in the doorway. She was nearly sixteen, very beautiful, with her warm colouring, her gravity, her eyes dilating suddenly like an ecstasy.

"I say," said Paul, turning shyly aside, "your daffodils are nearly out. Isn't it early? But don't they look cold?"

"Cold!" said Miriam, in her musical, caressing voice.

"The green on their buds---" and he faltered into silence timidly.

"Let me take the rug," said Miriam over-gently.

"I can carry it," he answered, rather injured. But he yielded it to her.

Then Mrs. Leivers appeared.

"I'm sure you're tired and cold," she said. "Let me take your coat. It IS heavy. You mustn't walk far in it."

She helped him off with his coat. He was quite unused to such attention. She was almost smothered under its weight.

"Why, mother," laughed the farmer as he passed through the kitchen, swinging the great milk-churns, "you've got almost more than you can manage there."

She beat up the sofa cushions for the youth.

The kitchen was very small and irregular. The farm had been originally a labourer's cottage. And the furniture was old and battered. But Paul loved it--loved the sack-bag that formed the hearthrug, and the funny little corner under the stairs, and the small window deep in the corner, through which, bending a little, be could see the plum trees in the back garden and the lovely round hills beyond.

"Won't you lie down?" said Mrs. Leivers.

"Oh no; I'm not tired," he said. "Isn't it lovely coming out, don't you think? I saw a sloe-bush in blossom and a lot of celandines. I'm glad it's sunny."

"Can I give you anything to eat or to drink?"

"No, thank you."

"How's your mother?"

"I think she's tired now. I think she's had too much to do. Perhaps in a little while she'll go to Skegness with me. Then she'll be able to rest. I s'll be glad if she can."

"Yes," replied Mrs. Leivers. "It's a wonder she isn't ill herself."

Miriam was moving about preparing dinner. Paul watched everything that happened. His face was pale and thin, but his eyes were quick and bright with life as ever. He watched the strange, almost rhapsodic way in which the girl moved about, carrying a great stew-jar to the oven, or looking in the saucepan. The atmosphere was different from that of his own home, where everything seemed so ordinary. When Mr. Leivers called loudly outside to the horse, that was reaching over to feed on the rose-bushes in the garden, the girl started, looked round with dark eyes, as if something had come breaking in on her world. There was a sense of silence inside the house and out. Miriam seemed as in some dreamy tale, a maiden in bondage, her spirit dreaming in a land far away and magical. And her discoloured, old blue frock and her broken boots seemed only like the romantic rags of King Cophetua's beggar-maid.

She suddenly became aware of his keen blue eyes upon her, taking her all in. Instantly her broken boots and her frayed old frock hurt her. She resented his seeing everything. Even he knew that her stocking was not pulled up. She went into the scullery, blushing deeply. And afterwards her hands trembled slightly at her work. She nearly dropped all she handled. When her inside dream was shaken, her body quivered with trepidation. She resented that he saw so much.

Mrs. Leivers sat for some time talking to the boy, although she was needed at her work. She was too polite to leave him. Presently she excused herself and rose. After a while she looked into the tin saucepan.

"Oh DEAR, Miriam," she cried, "these potatoes have boiled dry!"

Miriam started as if she had been stung.

"HAVE they, mother?" she cried.

"I shouldn't care, Miriam," said the mother, "if I hadn't trusted them to you." She peered into the pan.

The girl stiffened as if from a blow. Her dark eyes dilated; she remained standing in the same spot.

"Well," she answered, gripped tight in self-conscious shame, "I'm sure I looked at them five minutes since."

"Yes," said the mother, "I know it's easily done."

"They're not much burned," said Paul. "It doesn't matter, does it?"

Mrs. Leivers looked at the youth with her brown, hurt eyes.

"It wouldn't matter but for the boys," she said to him. "Only Miriam knows what a trouble they make if the potatoes are 'caught'."

"Then," thought Paul to himself, "you shouldn't let them make a trouble."

After a while Edgar came in. He wore leggings, and his boots were covered with earth. He was rather small, rather formal, for a farmer. He glanced at Paul, nodded to him distantly, and said:

"Dinner ready?"

"Nearly, Edgar," replied the mother apologetically.

"I'm ready for mine," said the young man, taking up the newspaper and reading. Presently the rest of the family trooped in. Dinner was served. The meal went rather brutally. The over-gentleness and apologetic tone of the mother brought out all the brutality of manners in the sons. Edgar tasted the potatoes, moved his mouth quickly like a rabbit, looked indignantly at his mother, and said:

"These potatoes are burnt, mother."

"Yes, Edgar. I forgot them for a minute. Perhaps you'll have bread if you can't eat them."

Edgar looked in anger across at Miriam.

"What was Miriam doing that she couldn't attend to them?" he said.

Miriam looked up. Her mouth opened, her dark eyes blazed and winced, but she said nothing. She swallowed her anger and her shame, bowing her dark head.

"I'm sure she was trying hard," said the mother.

"She hasn't got sense even to boil the potatoes," said Edgar. "What is she kept at home for?"

"On'y for eating everything that's left in th' pantry," said Maurice.

"They don't forget that potato-pie against our Miriam," laughed the father.

She was utterly humiliated. The mother sat in silence, suffering, like some saint out of place at the brutal board.

It puzzled Paul. He wondered vaguely why all this intense feeling went running because of a few burnt potatoes. The mother exalted everything--even a bit of housework--to the plane of a religious trust. The sons resented this; they felt themselves cut away underneath, and they answered with brutality and also with a sneering superciliousness.

Paul was just opening out from childhood into manhood. This atmosphere, where everything took a religious value, came with a subtle fascination to him. There was something in the air. His own mother was logical. Here there was something different, something he loved, something that at times he hated.

Miriam quarrelled with her brothers fiercely. Later in the afternoon, when they had gone away again, her mother said:

"You disappointed me at dinner-time, Miriam."

The girl dropped her head.

"They are such BRUTES!" she suddenly cried, looking up with flashing eyes.

"But hadn't you promised not to answer them?" said the mother. "And I believed in you. I CAN'T stand it when you wrangle."

"But they're so hateful!" cried Miriam, "and--and LOW."

"Yes, dear. But how often have I asked you not to answer Edgar back? Can't you let him say what he likes?"

"But why should he say what he likes?"

"Aren't you strong enough to bear it, Miriam, if even for my sake? Are you so weak that you must wrangle with them?"

Mrs. Leivers stuck unflinchingly to this doctrine of "the other cheek". She could not instil it at all into the boys. With the girls she succeeded better, and Miriam was the child of her heart. The boys loathed the other cheek when it was presented to them. Miriam was often sufficiently lofty to turn it. Then they spat on her and hated her. But she walked in her proud humility, living within herself.

There was always this feeling of jangle and discord in the Leivers family. Although the boys resented so bitterly this eternal appeal to their deeper feelings of resignation and proud humility, yet it had its effect on them. They could not establish between themselves and an outsider just the ordinary human feeling and unexaggerated friendship; they were always restless for the something deeper. Ordinary folk seemed shallow to them, trivial and inconsiderable. And so they were unaccustomed, painfully uncouth in the simplest social intercourse, suffering, and yet insolent in their superiority. Then beneath was the yearning for the soul-intimacy to which they could not attain because they were too dumb, and every approach to close connection was blocked by their clumsy contempt of other people. They wanted genuine intimacy, but they could not get even normally near to anyone, because they scorned to take the first steps, they scorned the triviality which forms common human intercourse.

Paul fell under Mrs. Leivers's spell. Everything had a religious and intensified meaning when he was with her. His soul, hurt, highly developed, sought her as if for nourishment. Together they seemed to sift the vital fact from an experience.

Miriam was her mother's daughter. In the sunshine of the afternoon mother and daughter went down the fields with him. They looked for nests. There was a jenny wren's in the hedge by the orchard.

"I DO want you to see this," said Mrs. Leivers.

He crouched down and carefully put his finger through the thorns into the round door of the nest.

"It's almost as if you were feeling inside the live body of the bird," he said, "it's so warm. They say a bird makes its nest round like a cup with pressing its breast on it. Then how did it make the ceiling round, I wonder?"

The nest seemed to start into life for the two women. After that, Miriam came to see it every day. It seemed so close to her. Again, going down the hedgeside with the girl, he noticed the celandines, scalloped splashes of gold, on the side of the ditch.

"I like them," he said, "when their petals go flat back with the sunshine. They seemed to be pressing themselves at the sun."

And then the celandines ever after drew her with a little spell. Anthropomorphic as she was, she stimulated him into appreciating things thus, and then they lived for her. She seemed to need things kindling in her imagination or in her soul before she felt she had them. And she was cut off from ordinary life by her religious intensity which made the world for her either a nunnery garden or a paradise, where sin and knowledge were not, or else an ugly, cruel thing.

So it was in this atmosphere of subtle intimacy, this meeting in their common feeling for something in Nature, that their love started.

Personally, he was a long time before he realized her. For ten months he had to stay at home after his illness. For a while he went to Skegness with his mother, and was perfectly happy. But even from the seaside he wrote long letters to Mrs. Leivers about the shore and the sea. And he brought back his beloved sketches of the flat Lincoln coast, anxious for them to see. Almost they would interest the Leivers more than they interested his mother. It was not his art Mrs. Morel cared about; it was himself and his achievement. But Mrs. Leivers and her children were almost his disciples. They kindled him and made him glow to his work, whereas his mother's influence was to make him quietly determined, patient, dogged, unwearied.

He soon was friends with the boys, whose rudeness was only superficial. They had all, when they could trust themselves, a strange gentleness and lovableness.

"Will you come with me on to the fallow?" asked Edgar, rather hesitatingly.

Paul went joyfully, and spent the afternoon helping to hoe or to single turnips with his friend. He used to lie with the three brothers in the hay piled up in the barn and tell them about Nottingham and about Jordan's. In return, they taught him to milk, and let him do little jobs--chopping hay or pulping turnips--just as much as he liked. At midsummer he worked all through hay-harvest with them, and then he loved them. The family was so cut off from the world actually. They seemed, somehow, like "les derniers fils d'une race epuisee". Though the lads were strong and healthy, yet they had all that over-sensitiveness and hanging-back which made them so lonely, yet also such close, delicate friends once their intimacy was won. Paul loved them dearly, and they him.

Miriam came later. But he had come into her life before she made any mark on his. One dull afternoon, when the men were on the land and the rest at school, only Miriam and her mother at home, the girl said to him, after having hesitated for some time:

"Have you seen the swing?"

"No," he answered. "Where?"

"In the cowshed," she replied.

She always hesitated to offer or to show him anything. Men have such different standards of worth from women, and her dear things--the valuable things to her--her brothers had so often mocked or flouted.

"Come on, then," he replied, jumping up.

There were two cowsheds, one on either side of the barn. In the lower, darker shed there was standing for four cows. Hens flew scolding over the manger-wall as the youth and girl went forward for the great thick rope which hung from the beam in the darkness overhead, and was pushed back over a peg in the wall.

"It's something like a rope!" he exclaimed appreciatively; and he sat down on it, anxious to try it. Then immediately he rose.

"Come on, then, and have first go," he said to the girl.

"See," she answered, going into the barn, "we put some bags on the seat"; and she made the swing comfortable for him. That gave her pleasure. He held the rope.

"Come on, then," he said to her.

"No, I won't go first," she answered.

She stood aside in her still, aloof fashion.

"Why?"

"You go," she pleaded.

Almost for the first time in her life she had the pleasure of giving up to a man, of spoiling him. Paul looked at her.

"All right," he said, sitting down. "Mind out!"

He set off with a spring, and in a moment was flying through the air, almost out of the door of the shed, the upper half of which was open, showing outside the drizzling rain, the filthy yard, the cattle standing disconsolate against the black cartshed, and at the back of all the grey-green wall of the wood. She stood below in her crimson tam-o'-shanter and watched. He looked down at her, and she saw his blue eyes sparkling.

"It's a treat of a swing," he said.

"Yes."

He was swinging through the air, every bit of him swinging, like a bird that swoops for joy of movement. And he looked down at her. Her crimson cap hung over her dark curls, her beautiful warm face, so still in a kind of brooding, was lifted towards him. It was dark and rather cold in the shed. Suddenly a swallow came down from the high roof and darted out of the door.

"I didn't know a bird was watching," he called.

He swung negligently. She could feel him falling and lifting through the air, as if he were lying on some force.

"Now I'll die," he said, in a detached, dreamy voice, as though he were the dying motion of the swing. She watched him, fascinated. Suddenly he put on the brake and jumped out.

"I've had a long turn," he said. "But it's a treat of a swing--it's a real treat of a swing!"

Miriam was amused that he took a swing so seriously and felt so warmly over it.

"No; you go on," she said.

"Why, don't you want one?" he asked, astonished.

"Well, not much. I'll have just a little."

She sat down, whilst he kept the bags in place for her.

"It's so ripping!" he said, setting her in motion. "Keep your heels up, or they'll bang the manger wall."

She felt the accuracy with which he caught her, exactly at the right moment, and the exactly proportionate strength of his thrust, and she was afraid. Down to her bowels went the hot wave of fear. She was in his hands. Again, firm and inevitable came the thrust at the right moment. She gripped the rope, almost swooning.

"Ha!" she laughed in fear. "No higher!"

"But you're not a BIT high," he remonstrated.

"But no higher."

He heard the fear in her voice, and desisted. Her heart melted in hot pain when the moment came for him to thrust her forward again. But he left her alone. She began to breathe.

"Won't you really go any farther?" he asked. "Should I keep you there?"

"No; let me go by myself," she answered.

He moved aside and watched her.

"Why, you're scarcely moving," he said.

She laughed slightly with shame, and in a moment got down.

"They say if you can swing you won't be sea-sick," he said, as he mounted again. "I don't believe I should ever be sea-sick."

Away he went. There was something fascinating to her in him. For the moment he was nothing but a piece of swinging stuff; not a particle of him that did not swing. She could never lose herself so, nor could her brothers. It roused a warmth in her. It was almost as if he were a flame that had lit a warmth in her whilst he swung in the middle air.

And gradually the intimacy with the family concentrated for Paul on three persons--the mother, Edgar, and Miriam. To the mother he went for that sympathy and that appeal which seemed to draw him out. Edgar was his very close friend. And to Miriam he more or less condescended, because she seemed so humble.

But the girl gradually sought him out. If he brought up his sketch-book, it was she who pondered longest over the last picture. Then she would look up at him. Suddenly, her dark eyes alight like water that shakes with a stream of gold in the dark, she would ask:

"Why do I like this so?"

Always something in his breast shrank from these close, intimate, dazzled looks of hers.

"Why DO you?" he asked.

"I don't know. It seems so true."

"It's because--it's because there is scarcely any shadow in it; it's more shimmery, as if I'd painted the shimmering protoplasm in the leaves and everywhere, and not the stiffness of the shape. That seems dead to me. Only this shimmeriness is the real living. The shape is a dead crust. The shimmer is inside really."

And she, with her little finger in her mouth, would ponder these sayings. They gave her a feeling of life again, and vivified things which had meant nothing to her. She managed to find some meaning in his struggling, abstract speeches. And they were the medium through which she came distinctly at her beloved objects.

Another day she sat at sunset whilst he was painting some pine-trees which caught the red glare from the west. He had been quiet.

"There you are!" he said suddenly. "I wanted that. Now, look at them and tell me, are they pine trunks or are they red coals, standing-up pieces of fire in that darkness? There's God's burning bush for you, that burned not away."

Miriam looked, and was frightened. But the pine trunks were wonderful to her, and distinct. He packed his box and rose. Suddenly he looked at her.

"Why are you always sad?" he asked her.

"Sad!" she exclaimed, looking up at him with startled, wonderful brown eyes.

"Yes," he replied. "You are always sad."

"I am not--oh, not a bit!" she cried.

"But even your joy is like a flame coming off of sadness," he persisted. "You're never jolly, or even just all right."

"No," she pondered. "I wonder--why?"

"Because you're not; because you're different inside, like a pine-tree, and then you flare up; but you're not just like an ordinary tree, with fidgety leaves and jolly---"

He got tangled up in his own speech; but she brooded on it, and he had a strange, roused sensation, as if his feelings were new. She got so near him. It was a strange stimulant.

Then sometimes he hated her. Her youngest brother was only five. He was a frail lad, with immense brown eyes in his quaint fragile face--one of Reynolds's "Choir of Angels", with a touch of elf. Often Miriam kneeled to the child and drew him to her.

"Eh, my Hubert!" she sang, in a voice heavy and surcharged with love. "Eh, my Hubert!"

And, folding him in her arms, she swayed slightly from side to side with love, her face half lifted, her eyes half closed, her voice drenched with love.

"Don't!" said the child, uneasy--"don't, Miriam!"

"Yes; you love me, don't you?" she murmured deep in her throat, almost as if she were in a trance, and swaying also as if she were swooned in an ecstasy of love.

"Don't!" repeated the child, a frown on his clear brow.

"You love me, don't you?" she murmured.

"What do you make such a FUSS for?" cried Paul, all in suffering because of her extreme emotion. "Why can't you be ordinary with him?"

She let the child go, and rose, and said nothing. Her intensity, which would leave no emotion on a normal plane, irritated the youth into a frenzy. And this fearful, naked contact of her on small occasions shocked him. He was used to his mother's reserve. And on such occasions he was thankful in his heart and soul that he had his mother, so sane and wholesome.

All the life of Miriam's body was in her eyes, which were usually dark as a dark church, but could flame with light like a conflagration. Her face scarcely ever altered from its look of brooding. She might have been one of the women who went with Mary when Jesus was dead. Her body was not flexible and living. She walked with a swing, rather heavily, her head bowed forward, pondering. She was not clumsy, and yet none of her movements seemed quite THE movement. Often, when wiping the dishes, she would stand in bewilderment and chagrin because she had pulled in two halves a cup or a tumbler. It was as if, in her fear and self-mistrust, she put too much strength into the effort. There was no looseness or abandon about her. Everything was gripped stiff with intensity, and her effort, overcharged, closed in on itself.

She rarely varied from her swinging, forward, intense walk. Occasionally she ran with Paul down the fields. Then her eyes blazed naked in a kind of ecstasy that frightened him. But she was physically afraid. If she were getting over a stile, she gripped his hands in a little hard anguish, and began to lose her presence of mind. And he could not persuade her to jump from even a small height. Her eyes dilated, became exposed and palpitating.

"No!" she cried, half laughing in terror--"no!"

"You shall!" he cried once, and, jerking her forward, he brought her falling from the fence. But her wild "Ah!" of pain, as if she were losing consciousness, cut him. She landed on her feet safely, and afterwards had courage in this respect.

She was very much dissatisfied with her lot.

"Don't you like being at home?" Paul asked her, surprised.

"Who would?" she answered, low and intense. "What is it? I'm all day cleaning what the boys make just as bad in five minutes. I don't WANT to be at home."

"What do you want, then?"

"I want to do something. I want a chance like anybody else. Why should 1, because I'm a girl, be kept at home and not allowed to be anything? What chance HAVE I?"

"Chance of what?"

"Of knowing anything--of learning, of doing anything. It's not fair, because I'm a woman."

She seemed very bitter. Paul wondered. In his own home Annie was almost glad to be a girl. She had not so much responsibility; things were lighter for her. She never wanted to be other than a girl. But Miriam almost fiercely wished she were a man. And yet she hated men at the same time.

"But it's as well to be a woman as a man," he said, frowning.

"Ha! Is it? Men have everything."

"I should think women ought to be as glad to be women as men are to be men," he answered.

"No!"--she shook her head--"no! Everything the men have."

"But what do you want?" he asked.

"I want to learn. Why SHOULD it be that I know nothing?"

"What! such as mathematics and French?"

"Why SHOULDN'T I know mathematics? Yes!" she cried, her eye expanding in a kind of defiance.

"Well, you can learn as much as I know," he said. "I'll teach you, if you like."

Her eyes dilated. She mistrusted him as teacher.

"Would you?" he asked.

Her head had dropped, and she was sucking her finger broodingly.

"Yes," she said hesitatingly.

He used to tell his mother all these things.

"I'm going to teach Miriam algebra," he said.

"Well," replied Mrs. Morel, "I hope she'll get fat on it."

When he went up to the farm on the Monday evening, it was drawing twilight. Miriam was just sweeping up the kitchen, and was kneeling at the hearth when he entered. Everyone was out but her. She looked round at him, flushed, her dark eyes shining, her fine hair falling about her face.

"Hello!" she said, soft and musical. "I knew it was you."

"How?"

"I knew your step. Nobody treads so quick and firm."

He sat down, sighing.

"Ready to do some algebra?" he asked, drawing a little book from his pocket.

"But---"

He could feel her backing away.

"You said you wanted," he insisted.

"To-night, though?" she faltered.

"But I came on purpose. And if you want to learn it, you must begin."

She took up her ashes in the dustpan and looked at him, half tremulously, laughing.

"Yes, but to-night! You see, I haven't thought of it."

"Well, my goodness! Take the ashes and come."

He went and sat on the stone bench in the back-yard, where the big milk-cans were standing, tipped up, to air. The men were in the cowsheds. He could hear the little sing-song of the milk spurting into the pails. Presently she came, bringing some big greenish apples.

"You know you like them," she said.

He took a bite.

"Sit down," he said, with his mouth full.

She was short-sighted, and peered over his shoulder. It irritated him. He gave her the book quickly.

"Here," he said. "It's only letters for figures. You put down 'a' instead of '2' or '6'."

They worked, he talking, she with her head down on the book. He was quick and hasty. She never answered. Occasionally, when he demanded of her, "Do you see?" she looked up at him, her eyes wide with the half-laugh that comes of fear. "Don't you?" he cried.

He had been too fast. But she said nothing. He questioned her more, then got hot. It made his blood rouse to see her there, as it were, at his mercy, her mouth open, her eyes dilated with laughter that was afraid, apologetic, ashamed. Then Edgar came along with two buckets of milk.

"Hello!" he said. "What are you doing?"

"Algebra," replied Paul.

"Algebra!" repeated Edgar curiously. Then he passed on with a laugh. Paul took a bite at his forgotten apple, looked at the miserable cabbages in the garden, pecked into lace by the fowls, and he wanted to pull them up. Then he glanced at Miriam. She was poring over the book, seemed absorbed in it, yet trembling lest she could not get at it. It made him cross. She was ruddy and beautiful. Yet her soul seemed to be intensely supplicating. The algebra-book she closed, shrinking, knowing he was angered; and at the same instant he grew gentle, seeing her hurt because she did not understand.

But things came slowly to her. And when she held herself in a grip, seemed so utterly humble before the lesson, it made his blood rouse. He stormed at her, got ashamed, continued the lesson, and grew furious again, abusing her. She listened in silence. Occasionally, very rarely, she defended herself. Her liquid dark eyes blazed at him.

"You don't give me time to learn it," she said.

"All right," he answered, throwing the book on the table and lighting a cigarette. Then, after a while, he went back to her repentant. So the lessons went. He was always either in a rage or very gentle.

"What do you tremble your SOUL before it for?" he cried. "You don't learn algebra with your blessed soul. Can't you look at it with your clear simple wits?"

Often, when he went again into the kitchen, Mrs. Leivers would look at him reproachfully, saying:

"Paul, don't be so hard on Miriam. She may not be quick, but I'm sure she tries."

"I can't help it," he said rather pitiably. "I go off like it."

"You don't mind me, Miriam, do you?" he asked of the girl later.

"No," she reassured him in her beautiful deep tones--"no, I don't mind."

"Don't mind me; it's my fault."

But, in spite of himself, his blood began to boil with her. It was strange that no one else made him in such fury. He flared against her. Once he threw the pencil in her face. There was a silence. She turned her face slightly aside.

"I didn't---" he began, but got no farther, feeling weak in all his bones. She never reproached him or was angry with him. He was often cruelly ashamed. But still again his anger burst like a bubble surcharged; and still, when he saw her eager, silent, as it were, blind face, he felt he wanted to throw the pencil in it; and still, when he saw her hand trembling and her mouth parted with suffering, his heart was scalded with pain for her. And because of the intensity to which she roused him, he sought her.

Then he often avoided her and went with Edgar. Miriam and her brother were naturally antagonistic. Edgar was a rationalist, who was curious, and had a sort of scientific interest in life. It was a great bitterness to Miriam to see herself deserted by Paul for Edgar, who seemed so much lower. But the youth was very happy with her elder brother. The two men spent afternoons together on the land or in the loft doing carpentry, when it rained. And they talked together, or Paul taught Edgar the songs he himself had learned from Annie at the piano. And often all the men, Mr. Leivers as well, had bitter debates on the nationalizing of the land and similar problems. Paul had already heard his mother's views, and as these were as yet his own, he argued for her. Miriam attended and took part, but was all the time waiting until it should be over and a personal communication might begin.

"After all," she said within herself, "if the land were nationalized, Edgar and Paul and I would be just the same." So she waited for the youth to come back to her.

He was studying for his painting. He loved to sit at home, alone with his mother, at night, working and working. She sewed or read. Then, looking up from his task, he would rest his eyes for a moment on her face, that was bright with living warmth, and he returned gladly to his work.

"I can do my best things when you sit there in your rocking-chair, mother," he said.

"I'm sure!" she exclaimed, sniffing with mock scepticism. But she felt it was so, and her heart quivered with brightness. For many hours she sat still, slightly conscious of him labouring away, whilst she worked or read her book. And he, with all his soul's intensity directing his pencil, could feel her warmth inside him like strength. They were both very happy so, and both unconscious of it. These times, that meant so much, and which were real living, they almost ignored.

He was conscious only when stimulated. A sketch finished, he always wanted to take it to Miriam. Then he was stimulated into knowledge of the work he had produced unconsciously. In contact with Miriam he gained insight; his vision went deeper. From his mother he drew the life-warmth, the strength to produce; Miriam urged this warmth into intensity like a white light.

When he returned to the factory the conditions of work were better. He had Wednesday afternoon off to go to the Art School-Miss Jordan's provision--returning in the evening. Then the factory closed at six instead of eight on Thursday and Friday evenings.

One evening in the summer Miriam and he went over the fields by Herod's Farm on their way from the library home. So it was only three miles to Willey Farm. There was a yellow glow over the mowing-grass, and the sorrel-heads burned crimson. Gradually, as they walked along the high land, the gold in the west sank down to red, the red to crimson, and then the chill blue crept up against the glow.

They came out upon the high road to Alfreton, which ran white between the darkening fields. There Paul hesitated. It was two miles home for him, one mile forward for Miriam. They both looked up the road that ran in shadow right under the glow of the north-west sky. On the crest of the hill, Selby, with its stark houses and the up-pricked headstocks of the pit, stood in black silhouette small against the sky.

He looked at his watch.

"Nine o'clock!" he said.

The pair stood, loth to part, hugging their books.

"The wood is so lovely now," she said. "I wanted you to see it."

He followed her slowly across the road to the white gate.

"They grumble so if I'm late," he said.

"But you're not doing anything wrong," she answered impatiently.

He followed her across the nibbled pasture in the dusk. There was a coolness in the wood, a scent of leaves, of honeysuckle, and a twilight. The two walked in silence. Night came wonderfully there, among the throng of dark tree-trunks. He looked round, expectant.

She wanted to show him a certain wild-rose bush she had discovered. She knew it was wonderful. And yet, till he had seen it, she felt it had not come into her soul. Only he could make it her own, immortal. She was dissatisfied.

Dew was already on the paths. In the old oak-wood a mist was rising, and he hesitated, wondering whether one whiteness were a strand of fog or only campion-flowers pallid in a cloud.

By the time they came to the pine-trees Miriam was getting very eager and very tense. Her bush might be gone. She might not be able to find it; and she wanted it so much. Almost passionately she wanted to be with him when be stood before the flowers. They were going to have a communion together--something that thrilled her, something holy. He was walking beside her in silence. They were very near to each other. She trembled, and he listened, vaguely anxious.

Coming to the edge of the wood, they saw the sky in front, like mother-of-pearl, and the earth growing dark. Somewhere on the outermost branches of the pine-wood the honeysuckle was streaming scent.

"Where?" he asked.

"Down the middle path," she murmured, quivering.

When they turned the corner of the path she stood still. In the wide walk between the pines, gazing rather frightened, she could distinguish nothing for some moments; the greying light robbed things of their colour. Then she saw her bush.

"Ah!" she cried, hastening forward.

It was very still. The tree was tall and straggling. It had thrown its briers over a hawthorn-bush, and its long streamers trailed thick, right down to the grass, splashing the darkness everywhere with great spilt stars, pure white. In bosses of ivory and in large splashed stars the roses gleamed on the darkness of foliage and stems and grass. Paul and Miriam stood close together, silent, and watched. Point after point the steady roses shone out to them, seeming to kindle something in their souls. The dusk came like smoke around, and still did not put out the roses.

Paul looked into Miriam's eyes. She was pale and expectant with wonder, her lips were parted, and her dark eyes lay open to him. His look seemed to travel down into her. Her soul quivered. It was the communion she wanted. He turned aside, as if pained. He turned to the bush.

"They seem as if they walk like butterflies, and shake themselves," he said.

She looked at her roses. They were white, some incurved and holy, others expanded in an ecstasy. The tree was dark as a shadow. She lifted her hand impulsively to the flowers; she went forward and touched them in worship.

"Let us go," he said.

There was a cool scent of ivory roses--a white, virgin scent. Something made him feel anxious and imprisoned. The two walked in silence.

"Till Sunday," he said quietly, and left her; and she walked home slowly, feeling her soul satisfied with the holiness of the night. He stumbled down the path. And as soon as he was out of the wood, in the free open meadow, where he could breathe, he started to run as fast as he could. It was like a delicious delirium in his veins.

Always when he went with Miriam, and it grew rather late, he knew his mother was fretting and getting angry about him--why, he could not understand. As he went into the house, flinging down his cap, his mother looked up at the clock. She had been sitting thinking, because a chill to her eyes prevented her reading. She could feel Paul being drawn away by this girl. And she did not care for Miriam. "She is one of those who will want to suck a man's soul out till he has none of his own left," she said to herself; "and he is just such a gaby as to let himself be absorbed. She will never let him become a man; she never will." So, while he was away with Miriam, Mrs. Morel grew more and more worked up.

She glanced at the clock and said, coldly and rather tired:

"You have been far enough to-night."

His soul, warm and exposed from contact with the girl, shrank.

"You must have been right home with her," his mother continued.

He would not answer. Mrs. Morel, looking at him quickly, saw his hair was damp on his forehead with haste, saw him frowning in his heavy fashion, resentfully.

"She must be wonderfully fascinating, that you can't get away from her, but must go trailing eight miles at this time of night."

He was hurt between the past glamour with Miriam and the knowledge that his mother fretted. He had meant not to say anything, to refuse to answer. But he could not harden his heart to ignore his mother.

"I DO like to talk to her," he answered irritably.

"Is there nobody else to talk to?"

"You wouldn't say anything if I went with Edgar."

"You know I should. You know, whoever you went with, I should say it was too far for you to go trailing, late at night, when you've been to Nottingham. Besides"--her voice suddenly flashed into anger and contempt--"it is disgusting--bits of lads and girls courting."

"It is NOT courting," he cried.

"I don't know what else you call it."

"It's not! Do you think we SPOON and do? We only talk."

"Till goodness knows what time and distance," was the sarcastic rejoinder.

Paul snapped at the laces of his boots angrily.

"What are you so mad about?" he asked. "Because you don't like her."

"I don't say I don't like her. But I don't hold with children keeping company, and never did."

"But you don't mind our Annie going out with Jim Inger."

"They've more sense than you two."

"Why?"

"Our Annie's not one of the deep sort."

He failed to see the meaning of this remark. But his mother looked tired. She was never so strong after William's death; and her eyes hurt her.

"Well," he said, "it's so pretty in the country. Mr. Sleath asked about you. He said he'd missed you. Are you a bit better?"

"I ought to have been in bed a long time ago," she replied.

"Why, mother, you know you wouldn't have gone before quarter-past ten."

"Oh, yes, I should!"

"Oh, little woman, you'd say anything now you're disagreeable with me, wouldn't you?"

He kissed her forehead that he knew so well: the deep marks between the brows, the rising of the fine hair, greying now, and the proud setting of the temples. His hand lingered on her shoulder after his kiss. Then he went slowly to bed. He had forgotten Miriam; he only saw how his mother's hair was lifted back from her warm, broad brow. And somehow, she was hurt.

Then the next time he saw Miriam he said to her:

"Don't let me be late to-night--not later than ten o'clock. My mother gets so upset."

Miriam dropped her bead, brooding.

"Why does she get upset?" she asked.

"Because she says I oughtn't to be out late when I have to get up early."

"Very well!" said Miriam, rather quietly, with just a touch of a sneer.

He resented that. And he was usually late again.

That there was any love growing between him and Miriam neither of them would have acknowledged. He thought he was too sane for such sentimentality, and she thought herself too lofty. They both were late in coming to maturity, and psychical ripeness was much behind even the physical. Miriam was exceedingly sensitive, as her mother had always been. The slightest grossness made her recoil almost in anguish. Her brothers were brutal, but never coarse in speech. The men did all the discussing of farm matters outside. But, perhaps, because of the continual business of birth and of begetting which goes on upon every farm, Miriam was the more hypersensitive to the matter, and her blood was chastened almost to disgust of the faintest suggestion of such intercourse. Paul took his pitch from her, and their intimacy went on in an utterly blanched and chaste fashion. It could never be mentioned that the mare was in foal.

When he was nineteen, he was earning only twenty shillings a week, but he was happy. His painting went well, and life went well enough. On the Good Friday he organised a walk to the Hemlock Stone. There were three lads of his own age, then Annie and Arthur, Miriam and Geoffrey. Arthur, apprenticed as an electrician in Nottingham, was home for the holiday. Morel, as usual, was up early, whistling and sawing in the yard. At seven o'clock the family heard him buy threepennyworth of hot-cross buns; he talked with gusto to the little girl who brought them, calling her "my darling". He turned away several boys who came with more buns, telling them they had been "kested" by a little lass. Then Mrs. Morel got up, and the family straggled down. It was an immense luxury to everybody, this lying in bed just beyond the ordinary time on a weekday. And Paul and Arthur read before breakfast, and had the meal unwashed, sitting in their shirt-sleeves. This was another holiday luxury. The room was warm. Everything felt free of care and anxiety. There was a sense of plenty in the house.

While the boys were reading, Mrs. Morel went into the garden. They were now in another house, an old one, near the Scargill Street home, which had been left soon after William had died. Directly came an excited cry from the garden:

"Paul! Paul! come and look!"

It was his mother's voice. He threw down his book and went out. There was a long garden that ran to a field. It was a grey, cold day, with a sharp wind blowing out of Derbyshire. Two fields away Bestwood began, with a jumble of roofs and red house-ends, out of which rose the church tower and the spire of the Congregational Chapel. And beyond went woods and hills, right away to the pale grey heights of the Pennine Chain.

Paul looked down the garden for his mother. Her head appeared among the young currant-bushes.

"Come here!" she cried.

"What for?" he answered.

"Come and see."

She had been looking at the buds on the currant trees. Paul went up.

"To think," she said, "that here I might never have seen them!"

Her son went to her side. Under the fence, in a little bed, was a ravel of poor grassy leaves, such as come from very immature bulbs, and three scyllas in bloom. Mrs. Morel pointed to the deep blue flowers.



"Now, just see those!" she exclaimed. "I was looking at the currant bushes, when, thinks I to myself, 'There's something very blue; is it a bit of sugar-bag?' and there, behold you! Sugar-bag! Three glories of the snow, and such beauties! But where on earth did they come from?"

"I don't know," said Paul.

"Well, that's a marvel, now! I THOUGHT I knew every weed and blade in this garden. But HAVEN'T they done well? You see, that gooseberry-bush just shelters them. Not nipped, not touched!"

He crouched down and turned up the bells of the little blue flowers.

"They're a glorious colour!" he said.

"Aren't they!" she cried. "I guess they come from Switzerland, where they say they have such lovely things. Fancy them against the snow! But where have they come from? They can't have BLOWN here, can they?"

Then he remembered having set here a lot of little trash of bulbs to mature.

"And you never told me," she said.

"No! I thought I'd leave it till they might flower."

"And now, you see! I might have missed them. And I've never had a glory of the snow in my garden in my life."

She was full of excitement and elation. The garden was an endless joy to her. Paul was thankful for her sake at last to be in a house with a long garden that went down to a field. Every morning after breakfast she went out and was happy pottering about in it. And it was true, she knew every weed and blade.

Everybody turned up for the walk. Food was packed, and they set off, a merry, delighted party. They hung over the wall of the mill-race, dropped paper in the water on one side of the tunnel and watched it shoot out on the other. They stood on the foot-bridge over Boathouse Station and looked at the metals gleaming coldly.

"You should see the Flying Scotsman come through at half-past six!" said Leonard, whose father was a signalman. "Lad, but she doesn't half buzz!" and the little party looked up the lines one way, to London, and the other way, to Scotland, and they felt the touch of these two magical places.

In Ilkeston the colliers were waiting in gangs for the public-houses to open. It was a town of idleness and lounging. At Stanton Gate the iron foundry blazed. Over everything there were great discussions. At Trowell they crossed again from Derbyshire into Nottinghamshire. They came to the Hemlock Stone at dinner-time. Its field was crowded with folk from Nottingham and Ilkeston.

They had expected a venerable and dignified monument. They found a little, gnarled, twisted stump of rock, something like a decayed mushroom, standing out pathetically on the side of a field. Leonard and Dick immediately proceeded to carve their initials, "L. W." and "R. P.", in the old red sandstone; but Paul desisted, because he had read in the newspaper satirical remarks about initial-carvers, who could find no other road to immortality. Then all the lads climbed to the top of the rock to look round.

Everywhere in the field below, factory girls and lads were eating lunch or sporting about. Beyond was the garden of an old manor. It had yew-hedges and thick clumps and borders of yellow crocuses round the lawn.

"See," said Paul to Miriam, "what a quiet garden!"

She saw the dark yews and the golden crocuses, then she looked gratefully. He had not seemed to belong to her among all these others; he was different then--not her Paul, who understood the slightest quiver of her innermost soul, but something else, speaking another language than hers. How it hurt her, and deadened her very perceptions. Only when he came right back to her, leaving his other, his lesser self, as she thought, would she feel alive again. And now he asked her to look at this garden, wanting the contact with her again. Impatient of the set in the field, she turned to the quiet lawn, surrounded by sheaves of shut-up crocuses. A feeling of stillness, almost of ecstasy, came over her. It felt almost as if she were alone with him in this garden.

Then he left her again and joined the others. Soon they started home. Miriam loitered behind, alone. She did not fit in with the others; she could very rarely get into human relations with anyone: so her friend, her companion, her lover, was Nature. She saw the sun declining wanly. In the dusky, cold hedgerows were some red leaves. She lingered to gather them, tenderly, passionately. The love in her finger-tips caressed the leaves; the passion in her heart came to a glow upon the leaves.

Suddenly she realised she was alone in a strange road, and she hurried forward. Turning a corner in the lane, she came upon Paul, who stood bent over something, his mind fixed on it, working away steadily, patiently, a little hopelessly. She hesitated in her approach, to watch.

He remained concentrated in the middle of the road. Beyond, one rift of rich gold in that colourless grey evening seemed to make him stand out in dark relief. She saw him, slender and firm, as if the setting sun had given him to her. A deep pain took hold of her, and she knew she must love him. And she had discovered him, discovered in him a rare potentiality, discovered his loneliness. Quivering as at some "annunciation", she went slowly forward.

At last he looked up.

"Why," he exclaimed gratefully, "have you waited for me!"

She saw a deep shadow in his eyes.

"What is it?" she asked.

"The spring broken here;" and he showed her where his umbrella was injured.

Instantly, with some shame, she knew he had not done the damage himself, but that Geoffrey was responsible.

"It is only an old umbrella, isn't it?" she asked.

She wondered why he, who did not usually trouble over trifles, made such a mountain of this molehill.

"But it was William's an' my mother can't help but know," he said quietly, still patiently working at the umbrella.

The words went through Miriam like a blade. This, then, was the confirmation of her vision of him! She looked at him. But there was about him a certain reserve, and she dared not comfort him, not even speak softly to him.

"Come on," he said. "I can't do it;" and they went in silence along the road.

That same evening they were walking along under the trees by Nether Green. He was talking to her fretfully, seemed to be struggling to convince himself.

"You know," he said, with an effort, "if one person loves, the other does."

"Ah!" she answered. "Like mother said to me when I was little, 'Love begets love.'"

"Yes, something like that, I think it MUST be."

"I hope so, because, if it were not, love might be a very terrible thing," she said.

"Yes, but it IS--at least with most people," he answered.

And Miriam, thinking he had assured himself, felt strong in herself. She always regarded that sudden coming upon him in the lane as a revelation. And this conversation remained graven in her mind as one of the letters of the law.

Now she stood with him and for him. When, about this time, he outraged the family feeling at Willey Farm by some overbearing insult, she stuck to him, and believed he was right. And at this time she dreamed dreams of him, vivid, unforgettable. These dreams came again later on, developed to a more subtle psychological stage.

On the Easter Monday the same party took an excursion to Wingfield Manor. It was great excitement to Miriam to catch a train at Sethley Bridge, amid all the bustle of the Bank Holiday crowd. They left the train at Alfreton. Paul was interested in the street and in the colliers with their dogs. Here was a new race of miners. Miriam did not live till they came to the church. They were all rather timid of entering, with their bags of food, for fear of being turned out. Leonard, a comic, thin fellow, went first; Paul, who would have died rather than be sent back, went last. The place was decorated for Easter. In the font hundreds of white narcissi seemed to be growing. The air was dim and coloured from the windows and thrilled with a subtle scent of lilies and narcissi. In that atmosphere Miriam's soul came into a glow. Paul was afraid of the things he mustn't do; and he was sensitive to the feel of the place. Miriam turned to him. He answered. They were together. He would not go beyond the Communion-rail. She loved him for that. Her soul expanded into prayer beside him. He felt the strange fascination of shadowy religious places. All his latent mysticism quivered into life. She was drawn to him. He was a prayer along with her.

Miriam very rarely talked to the other lads. They at once became awkward in conversation with her. So usually she was silent.

It was past midday when they climbed the steep path to the manor. All things shone softly in the sun, which was wonderfully warm and enlivening. Celandines and violets were out. Everybody was tip-top full with happiness. The glitter of the ivy, the soft, atmospheric grey of the castle walls, the gentleness of everything near the ruin, was perfect.

The manor is of hard, pale grey stone, and the other walls are blank and calm. The young folk were in raptures. They went in trepidation, almost afraid that the delight of exploring this ruin might be denied them. In the first courtyard, within the high broken walls, were farm-carts, with their shafts lying idle on the ground, the tyres of the wheels brilliant with gold-red rust. It was very still.

All eagerly paid their sixpences, and went timidly through the fine clean arch of the inner courtyard. They were shy. Here on the pavement, where the hall had been, an old thorn tree was budding. All kinds of strange openings and broken rooms were in the shadow around them.

After lunch they set off once more to explore the ruin. This time the girls went with the boys, who could act as guides and expositors. There was one tall tower in a corner, rather tottering, where they say Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.

"Think of the Queen going up here!" said Miriam in a low voice, as she climbed the hollow stairs.

"If she could get up," said Paul, "for she had rheumatism like anything. I reckon they treated her rottenly."

"You don't think she deserved it?" asked Miriam.

"No, I don't. She was only lively."

They continued to mount the winding staircase. A high wind, blowing through the loopholes, went rushing up the shaft, and filled the girl's skirts like a balloon, so that she was ashamed, until he took the hem of her dress and held it down for her. He did it perfectly simply, as he would have picked up her glove. She remembered this always.

Round the broken top of the tower the ivy bushed out, old and handsome. Also, there were a few chill gillivers, in pale cold bud. Miriam wanted to lean over for some ivy, but he would not let her. Instead, she had to wait behind him, and take from him each spray as he gathered it and held it to her, each one separately, in the purest manner of chivalry. The tower seemed to rock in the wind. They looked over miles and miles of wooded country, and country with gleams of pasture.

The crypt underneath the manor was beautiful, and in perfect preservation. Paul made a drawing: Miriam stayed with him. She was thinking of Mary Queen of Scots looking with her strained, hopeless eyes, that could not understand misery, over the hills whence no help came, or sitting in this crypt, being told of a God as cold as the place she sat in.

They set off again gaily, looking round on their beloved manor that stood so clean and big on its hill.

"Supposing you could have THAT farm," said Paul to Miriam.

"Yes!"

"Wouldn't it be lovely to come and see you!"

They were now in the bare country of stone walls, which he loved, and which, though only ten miles from home, seemed so foreign to Miriam. The party was straggling. As they were crossing a large meadow that sloped away from the sun, along a path embedded with innumerable tiny glittering points, Paul, walking alongside, laced his fingers in the strings of the bag Miriam was carrying, and instantly she felt Annie behind, watchful and jealous. But the meadow was bathed in a glory of sunshine, and the path was jewelled, and it was seldom that he gave her any sign. She held her fingers very still among the strings of the bag, his fingers touching; and the place was golden as a vision.

At last they came into the straggling grey village of Crich, that lies high. Beyond the village was the famous Crich Stand that Paul could see from the garden at home. The party pushed on. Great expanse of country spread around and below. The lads were eager to get to the top of the hill. It was capped by a round knoll, half of which was by now cut away, and on the top of which stood an ancient monument, sturdy and squat, for signalling in old days far down into the level lands of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

It was blowing so hard, high up there in the exposed place, that the only way to be safe was to stand nailed by the wind to the wan of the tower. At their feet fell the precipice where the limestone was quarried away. Below was a jumble of hills and tiny villages--Mattock, Ambergate, Stoney Middleton. The lads were eager to spy out the church of Bestwood, far away among the rather crowded country on the left. They were disgusted that it seemed to stand on a plain. They saw the hills of Derbyshire fall into the monotony of the Midlands that swept away South.

Miriam was somewhat scared by the wind, but the lads enjoyed it. They went on, miles and miles, to Whatstandwell. All the food was eaten, everybody was hungry, and there was very little money to get home with. But they managed to procure a loaf and a currant-loaf, which they hacked to pieces with shut-knives, and ate sitting on the wall near the bridge, watching the bright Derwent rushing by, and the brakes from Matlock pulling up at the inn.

Paul was now pale with weariness. He had been responsible for the party all day, and now he was done. Miriam understood, and kept close to him, and he left himself in her hands.

They had an hour to wait at Ambergate Station. Trains came, crowded with excursionists returning to Manchester, Birmingham, and London.

"We might be going there--folk easily might think we're going that far," said Paul.

They got back rather late. Miriam, walking home with Geoffrey, watched the moon rise big and red and misty. She felt something was fulfilled in her.

She had an elder sister, Agatha, who was a school-teacher. Between the two girls was a feud. Miriam considered Agatha worldly. And she wanted herself to be a school-teacher.

One Saturday afternoon Agatha and Miriam were upstairs dressing. Their bedroom was over the stable. It was a low room, not very large, and bare. Miriam had nailed on the wall a reproduction of Veronese's "St. Catherine". She loved the woman who sat in the window, dreaming. Her own windows were too small to sit in. But the front one was dripped over with honeysuckle and virginia creeper, and looked upon the tree-tops of the oak-wood across the yard, while the little back window, no bigger than a handkerchief, was a loophole to the east, to the dawn beating up against the beloved round hills.

The two sisters did not talk much to each other. Agatha, who was fair and small and determined, had rebelled against the home atmosphere, against the doctrine of "the other cheek". She was out in the world now, in a fair way to be independent. And she insisted on worldly values, on appearance, on manners, on position, which Miriam would fain have ignored.

Both girls liked to be upstairs, out of the way, when Paul came. They preferred to come running down, open the stair-foot door, and see him watching, expectant of them. Miriam stood painfully pulling over her head a rosary he had given her. It caught in the fine mesh of her hair. But at last she had it on, and the red-brown wooden beads looked well against her cool brown neck. She was a well-developed girl, and very handsome. But in the little looking-glass nailed against the whitewashed wall she could only see a fragment of herself at a time. Agatha had bought a little mirror of her own, which she propped up to suit herself. Miriam was near the window. Suddenly she heard the well-known click of the chain, and she saw Paul fling open the gate, push his bicycle into the yard. She saw him look at the house, and she shrank away. He walked in a nonchalant fashion, and his bicycle went with him as if it were a live thing.

"Paul's come!" she exclaimed.

"Aren't you glad?" said Agatha cuttingly.

Miriam stood still in amazement and bewilderment.

"Well, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yes, but I'm not going to let him see it, and think I wanted him."

Miriam was startled. She heard him putting his bicycle in the stable underneath, and talking to Jimmy, who had been a pit-horse, and who was seedy.

"Well, Jimmy my lad, how are ter? Nobbut sick an' sadly, like? Why, then, it's a shame, my owd lad."

She heard the rope run through the hole as the horse lifted its head from the lad's caress. How she loved to listen when he thought only the horse could hear. But there was a serpent in her Eden. She searched earnestly in herself to see if she wanted Paul Morel. She felt there would be some disgrace in it. Full of twisted feeling, she was afraid she did want him. She stood self-convicted. Then came an agony of new shame. She shrank within herself in a coil of torture. Did she want Paul Morel, and did he know she wanted him? What a subtle infamy upon her. She felt as if her whole soul coiled into knots of shame.

Agatha was dressed first, and ran downstairs. Miriam heard her greet the lad gaily, knew exactly how brilliant her grey eyes became with that tone. She herself would have felt it bold to have greeted him in such wise. Yet there she stood under the self-accusation of wanting him, tied to that stake of torture. In bitter perplexity she kneeled down and prayed:

"O Lord, let me not love Paul Morel. Keep me from loving him, if I ought not to love him."

Something anomalous in the prayer arrested her. She lifted her head and pondered. How could it be wrong to love him? Love was God's gift. And yet it caused her shame. That was because of him, Paul Morel. But, then, it was not his affair, it was her own, between herself and God. She was to be a sacrifice. But it was God's sacrifice, not Paul Morel's or her own. After a few minutes she hid her face in the pillow again, and said:

"But, Lord, if it is Thy will that I should love him, make me love him--as Christ would, who died for the souls of men. Make me love him splendidly, because he is Thy son."

She remained kneeling for some time, quite still, and deeply moved, her black hair against the red squares and the lavender-sprigged squares of the patchwork quilt. Prayer was almost essential to her. Then she fell into that rapture of self-sacrifice, identifying herself with a God who was sacrificed, which gives to so many human souls their deepest bliss.

When she went downstairs Paul was lying back in an armchair, holding forth with much vehemence to Agatha, who was scorning a little painting he had brought to show her. Miriam glanced at the two, and avoided their levity. She went into the parlour to be alone.

It was tea-time before she was able to speak to Paul, and then her manner was so distant he thought he had offended her.

Miriam discontinued her practice of going each Thursday evening to the library in Bestwood. After calling for Paul regularly during the whole spring, a number of trifling incidents and tiny insults from his family awakened her to their attitude towards her, and she decided to go no more. So she announced to Paul one evening she would not call at his house again for him on Thursday nights.

"Why?" he asked, very short.

"Nothing. Only I'd rather not."

"Very well."

"But," she faltered, "if you'd care to meet me, we could still go together."

"Meet you where?"

"Somewhere--where you like."

"I shan't meet you anywhere. I don't see why you shouldn't keep calling for me. But if you won't, I don't want to meet you."

So the Thursday evenings which had been so precious to her, and to him, were dropped. He worked instead. Mrs. Morel sniffed with satisfaction at this arrangement.

He would not have it that they were lovers. The intimacy between them had been kept so abstract, such a matter of the soul, all thought and weary struggle into consciousness, that he saw it only as a platonic friendship. He stoutly denied there was anything else between them. Miriam was silent, or else she very quietly agreed. He was a fool who did not know what was happening to himself. By tacit agreement they ignored the remarks and insinuations of their acquaintances.

"We aren't lovers, we are friends," he said to her. "WE know it. Let them talk. What does it matter what they say."

Sometimes, as they were walking together, she slipped her arm timidly into his. But he always resented it, and she knew it. It caused a violent conflict in him. With Miriam he was always on the high plane of abstraction, when his natural fire of love was transmitted into the fine stream of thought. She would have it so. If he were jolly and, as she put it, flippant, she waited till he came back to her, till the change had taken place in him again, and he was wrestling with his own soul, frowning, passionate in his desire for understanding. And in this passion for understanding her soul lay close to his; she had him all to herself. But he must be made abstract first.

Then, if she put her arm in his, it caused him almost torture. His consciousness seemed to split. The place where she was touching him ran hot with friction. He was one internecine battle, and he became cruel to her because of it.

One evening in midsummer Miriam called at the house, warm from climbing. Paul was alone in the kitchen; his mother could be heard moving about upstairs.

"Come and look at the sweet-peas," he said to the girl.

They went into the garden. The sky behind the townlet and the church was orange-red; the flower-garden was flooded with a strange warm light that lifted every leaf into significance. Paul passed along a fine row of sweet-peas, gathering a blossom here and there, all cream and pale blue. Miriam followed, breathing the fragrance. To her, flowers appealed with such strength she felt she must make them part of herself. When she bent and breathed a flower, it was as if she and the flower were loving each other. Paul hated her for it. There seemed a sort of exposure about the action, something too intimate.



When he had got a fair bunch, they returned to the house. He listened for a moment to his mother's quiet movement upstairs, then he said:

"Come here, and let me pin them in for you." He arranged them two or three at a time in the bosom of her dress, stepping back now and then to see the effect. "You know," he said, taking the pin out of his mouth, "a woman ought always to arrange her flowers before her glass."

Miriam laughed. She thought flowers ought to be pinned in one's dress without any care. That Paul should take pains to fix her flowers for her was his whim.

He was rather offended at her laughter.

"Some women do--those who look decent," he said.

Miriam laughed again, but mirthlessly, to hear him thus mix her up with women in a general way. From most men she would have ignored it. But from him it hurt her.

He had nearly finished arranging the flowers when he heard his mother's footstep on the stairs. Hurriedly he pushed in the last pin and turned away.

"Don't let mater know," he said.

Miriam picked up her books and stood in the doorway looking with chagrin at the beautiful sunset. She would call for Paul no more, she said.

"Good-evening, Mrs. Morel," she said, in a deferential way. She sounded as if she felt she had no right to be there.

"Oh, is it you, Miriam?" replied Mrs. Morel coolly.

But Paul insisted on everybody's accepting his friendship with the girl, and Mrs. Morel was too wise to have any open rupture.

It was not till he was twenty years old that the family could ever afford to go away for a holiday. Mrs. Morel had never been away for a holiday, except to see her sister, since she had been married. Now at last Paul had saved enough money, and they were all going. There was to be a party: some of Annie's friends, one friend of Paul's, a young man in the same office where William had previously been, and Miriam.

It was great excitement writing for rooms. Paul and his mother debated it endlessly between them. They wanted a furnished cottage for two weeks. She thought one week would be enough, but he insisted on two.

At last they got an answer from Mablethorpe, a cottage such as they wished for thirty shillings a week. There was immense jubilation. Paul was wild with joy for his mother's sake. She would have a real holiday now. He and she sat at evening picturing what it would be like. Annie came in, and Leonard, and Alice, and Kitty. There was wild rejoicing and anticipation. Paul told Miriam. She seemed to brood with joy over it. But the Morel's house rang with excitement.

They were to go on Saturday morning by the seven train. Paul suggested that Miriam should sleep at his house, because it was so far for her to walk. She came down for supper. Everybody was so excited that even Miriam was accepted with warmth. But almost as soon as she entered the feeling in the family became close and tight. He had discovered a poem by Jean Ingelow which mentioned Mablethorpe, and so he must read it to Miriam. He would never have got so far in the direction of sentimentality as to read poetry to his own family. But now they condescended to listen. Miriam sat on the sofa absorbed in him. She always seemed absorbed in him, and by him, when he was present. Mrs. Morel sat jealously in her own chair. She was going to hear also. And even Annie and the father attended, Morel with his head cocked on one side, like somebody listening to a sermon and feeling conscious of the fact. Paul ducked his head over the book. He had got now all the audience he cared for. And Mrs. Morel and Annie almost contested with Miriam who should listen best and win his favour. He was in very high feather.

"But," interrupted Mrs. Morel, "what IS the 'Bride of Enderby' that the bells are supposed to ring?"

"It's an old tune they used to play on the bells for a warning against water. I suppose the Bride of Enderby was drowned in a flood," he replied. He had not the faintest knowledge what it really was, but he would never have sunk so low as to confess that to his womenfolk. They listened and believed him. He believed himself.

"And the people knew what that tune meant?" said his mother.

"Yes--just like the Scotch when they heard 'The Flowers o' the Forest'--and when they used to ring the bells backward for alarm."

"How?" said Annie. "A bell sounds the same whether it's rung backwards or forwards."

"But," he said, "if you start with the deep bell and ring up to the high one--der--der--der--der--der--der--der--der!"

He ran up the scale. Everybody thought it clever. He thought so too. Then, waiting a minute, he continued the poem.

"Hm!" said Mrs. Morel curiously, when he finished. "But I wish everything that's written weren't so sad."

"I canna see what they want drownin' theirselves for," said Morel.

There was a pause. Annie got up to clear the table.

Miriam rose to help with the pots.

"Let ME help to wash up," she said.

"Certainly not," cried Annie. "You sit down again. There aren't many."

And Miriam, who could not be familiar and insist, sat down again to look at the book with Paul.

He was master of the party; his father was no good. And great tortures he suffered lest the tin box should be put out at Firsby instead of at Mablethorpe. And he wasn't equal to getting a carriage. His bold little mother did that.

"Here!" she cried to a man. "Here!"

Paul and Annie got behind the rest, convulsed with shamed laughter.

"How much will it be to drive to Brook Cottage?" said Mrs. Morel.

"Two shillings."

"Why, how far is it?"

"A good way."

"I don't believe it," she said.

But she scrambled in. There were eight crowded in one old seaside carriage.

"You see," said Mrs. Morel, "it's only threepence each, and if it were a tramcar---"

They drove along. Each cottage they came to, Mrs. Morel cried:

"Is it this? Now, this is it!"

Everybody sat breathless. They drove past. There was a universal sigh.

"I'm thankful it wasn't that brute," said Mrs. Morel. "I WAS frightened." They drove on and on.

At last they descended at a house that stood alone over the dyke by the highroad. There was wild excitement because they had to cross a little bridge to get into the front garden. But they loved the house that lay so solitary, with a sea-meadow on one side, and immense expanse of land patched in white barley, yellow oats, red wheat, and green root-crops, flat and stretching level to the sky.

Paul kept accounts. He and his mother ran the show. The total expenses--lodging, food, everything--was sixteen shillings a week per person. He and Leonard went bathing in the mornings. Morel was wandering abroad quite early.

"You, Paul," his mother called from the bedroom, "eat a piece of bread-and-butter."

"All right," he answered.

And when he got back he saw his mother presiding in state at the breakfast-table. The woman of the house was young. Her husband was blind, and she did laundry work. So Mrs. Morel always washed the pots in the kitchen and made the beds.

"But you said you'd have a real holiday," said Paul, "and now you work."

"Work!" she exclaimed. "What are you talking about!"

He loved to go with her across the fields to the village and the sea. She was afraid of the plank bridge, and he abused her for being a baby. On the whole he stuck to her as if he were HER man.

Miriam did not get much of him, except, perhaps, when all the others went to the "Coons". Coons were insufferably stupid to Miriam, so he thought they were to himself also, and he preached priggishly to Annie about the fatuity of listening to them. Yet he, too, knew all their songs, and sang them along the roads roisterously. And if he found himself listening, the stupidity pleased him very much. Yet to Annie he said:

"Such rot! there isn't a grain of intelligence in it. Nobody with more gumption than a grasshopper could go and sit and listen." And to Miriam he said, with much scorn of Annie and the others: "I suppose they're at the 'Coons'."

It was queer to see Miriam singing coon songs. She had a straight chin that went in a perpendicular line from the lower lip to the turn. She always reminded Paul of some sad Botticelli angel when she sang, even when it was:


"Come down lover's lane

For a walk with me, talk with me."

Only when he sketched, or at evening when the others were at the "Coons", she had him to herself. He talked to her endlessly about his love of horizontals: how they, the great levels of sky and land in Lincolnshire, meant to him the eternality of the will, just as the bowed Norman arches of the church, repeating themselves, meant the dogged leaping forward of the persistent human soul, on and on, nobody knows where; in contradiction to the perpendicular lines and to the Gothic arch, which, he said, leapt up at heaven and touched the ecstasy and lost itself in the divine. Himself, he said, was Norman, Miriam was Gothic. She bowed in consent even to that.

One evening he and she went up the great sweeping shore of sand towards Theddlethorpe. The long breakers plunged and ran in a hiss of foam along the coast. It was a warm evening. There was not a figure but themselves on the far reaches of sand, no noise but the sound of the sea. Paul loved to see it clanging at the land. He loved to feel himself between the noise of it and the silence of the sandy shore. Miriam was with him. Everything grew very intense. It was quite dark when they turned again. The way home was through a gap in the sandhills, and then along a raised grass road between two dykes. The country was black and still. From behind the sandhills came the whisper of the sea. Paul and Miriam walked in silence. Suddenly he started. The whole of his blood seemed to burst into flame, and he could scarcely breathe. An enormous orange moon was staring at them from the rim of the sandhills. He stood still, looking at it.

"Ah!" cried Miriam, when she saw it.

He remained perfectly still, staring at the immense and ruddy moon, the only thing in the far-reaching darkness of the level. His heart beat heavily, the muscles of his arms contracted.

"What is it?" murmured Miriam, waiting for him.

He turned and looked at her. She stood beside him, for ever in shadow. Her face, covered with the darkness of her hat, was watching him unseen. But she was brooding. She was slightly afraid--deeply moved and religious. That was her best state. He was impotent against it. His blood was concentrated like a flame in his chest. But he could not get across to her. There were flashes in his blood. But somehow she ignored them. She was expecting some religious state in him. Still yearning, she was half aware of his passion, and gazed at him, troubled.

"What is it?" she murmured again.

"It's the moon," he answered, frowning.

"Yes," she assented. "Isn't it wonderful?" She was curious about him. The crisis was past.

He did not know himself what was the matter. He was naturally so young, and their intimacy was so abstract, he did not know he wanted to crush her on to his breast to ease the ache there. He was afraid of her. The fact that he might want her as a man wants a woman had in him been suppressed into a shame. When she shrank in her convulsed, coiled torture from the thought of such a thing, he had winced to the depths of his soul. And now this "purity" prevented even their first love-kiss. It was as if she could scarcely stand the shock of physical love, even a passionate kiss, and then he was too shrinking and sensitive to give it.

As they walked along the dark fen-meadow he watched the moon and did not speak. She plodded beside him. He hated her, for she seemed in some way to make him despise himself. Looking ahead--he saw the one light in the darkness, the window of their lamp-lit cottage.

He loved to think of his mother, and the other jolly people.

"Well, everybody else has been in long ago!" said his mother as they entered.

"What does that matter!" he cried irritably. "I can go a walk if I like, can't I?"

"And I should have thought you could get in to supper with the rest," said Mrs. Morel.

"I shall please myself," he retorted. "It's not LATE. I shall do as I like."

"Very well," said his mother cuttingly, "then DO as you like." And she took no further notice of him that evening. Which he pretended neither to notice nor to care about, but sat reading. Miriam read also, obliterating herself. Mrs. Morel hated her for making her son like this. She watched Paul growing irritable, priggish, and melancholic. For this she put the blame on Miriam. Annie and all her friends joined against the girl. Miriam had no friend of her own, only Paul. But she did not suffer so much, because she despised the triviality of these other people.

And Paul hated her because, somehow, she spoilt his ease and naturalness. And he writhed himself with a feeling of humiliation.

在秋天那段时间,保罗去了好多次威利农场,他和最小的两个男孩子已经成了朋友。大儿子艾德加起初有点傲气,米丽亚姆也不大愿意和他接近,她怕被保罗看不起,会像她兄弟那样对待他,这个女孩子内心充满罗曼蒂克的幻想、她想像着到处都有沃尔特·司各特笔下的女主人公。受到头戴钢盔或帽簪羽毛的男子的爱慕,而她就是一位公主般的人物,后来沦落为一个牧猪女。而她见到得多少有点象沃尔特·司各特笔下的男主人公的保罗时有点害怕,保罗既会画画,又会说法语,还懂代数,每天乘火车去诺丁汉。她害怕保罗也把她看作是个牧猪女,看不出她自身内在的那种公主气质,因此她总是冷淡地保持一定的距离。

她的好伴儿就是自己的母亲,她们都长着褐色的眼睛,都带有神秘莫测的气质。这种女人内心深深地信仰宗教,甚至连呼吸中都有一种宗教气息,她们对待生活也是透过这层迷雾。对于米丽亚姆来说,当瑰丽的夕阳映红了西天,当艾迪丝、露茜、罗恩娜、布莱茵·德·布伊斯·吉尔伯特,罗勃·罗伊和盖·曼纳林等等人物形像在清晨朝阳下踩着脚下沙沙作响的树叶,或在下雪天,高高坐在卧室里时,她就觉得她一心一意热情膜拜的耶稣和上帝合二为一了。这就是她的生活。其余时间,她就无聊地在家里干活。要不是她刚擦干净的红地板马上就会被兄弟们的皮靴踩脏的话,她是不会介意干这些家务活的。她老是紧紧地抱着四岁的小弟弟,她的疼爱几乎到了无以复加的地步。她虔诚地去教堂,头总是低着,唱诗班别的女孩子的粗俗的行为和教区牧师庸俗的嗓音都让她痛苦得发抖。她跟她的几个兄弟针锋相对斗争,因为她认为他们是野蛮的家伙。她对父亲也不是很尊重,因为在他心中,他没有一点珍惜尊重上帝的意思,只是想尽力过一个舒适的日子。而且,只要他想吃饭,就得开饭。

她痛恨自己低下的地位,她想得到别人的尊敬。她想学习,想象着如果她也能像保罗所做的那样《高龙巴》,《围着房间的旅行》,这世界对她就会是另一副面孔了,而且也会对她肃然起敬了。她不可能靠地位和财富成为一名公主,因此她疯狂地学习,想籍此来出人头地。因为她与众不同,不该与平庸之辈一起被别人忽视。学习则是她所寻求的出人头地的唯一方法。

她的美——那种羞怯、任性、十分敏感的美——对她来说不算什么。甚至她那热烈地沉湎于狂想的灵魂,也是不足挂齿。她一定得有什么东西来巩固她的自尊心,因为她觉得自己跟别人不一样。她对保罗简直是心驰神往。总的来说,她对男性是藐视的。但是,眼前这位是一个新的形象,聪明伶俐,文雅,时而温柔,时而忧伤,时而机灵乖巧,他见多识广,家里还新近遭逢丧事。这个男孩就这点微薄的知识已经博得了她的无限尊敬。然而,她却努力装出藐视他的样子,因为他只是把她看成了一个地位低下的姑娘而不是一位公主,甚至,他几乎不注意她。

后来,他大病了一场,她想到他可能会变得十分虚弱,那么,她就比他强壮些,这样,她就可以爱护他了,而他也依靠着她,她把他拥在怀里,不知她将会多么的爱他!

天刚亮,李花竞相开放,保罗就搭那辆送牛奶的笨重的马车来到了威利农场。他们在早晨清新的空气中慢慢地往坡上爬,雷渥斯先生亲切地冲他喊了一声,接着就“嗒嗒”地催着马儿。一路上,白云缭绕,涌向被春天唤醒的后山。尼瑟米尔河流经山谷,河水在两岸干枯的草地和荆棘的映衬下显得很蓝。

马车行驶了四英里半,树篱上小小的花蕾飞开出玫瑰似的花朵,闪出铜绿般色泽。画眉和黑鸟此伏彼起互相和鸣。这儿真是一个令人着迷的新奇的世界。

米丽亚姆透过厨房向窗外张望着,看见马踏过白色的大门进了后面长满橡树的院子,但还没看见人影。紧接着,一个穿着厚厚的大衣的年轻人下了车,伸出手去接那个相貌英俊、红光满面的农夫递过去的鞭子和毛毯。

米丽亚姆出现在门口,她快十六岁了,肤色红润,仪态端庄,更加漂亮了,她的眼睛突然睁得大大的,好像什么使她欣喜若狂。

“我说,”保罗说,不好意思地侧过脸,“你家的水仙花就要开了,是不是太早啊?不过这花看上去冷冰冰的,是吗?”

“是冷冰冰的。”米丽亚姆用悦耳含情的声音说。

“那花蕾上的绿色……”他支支吾吾,嗫嚅着说不下去了。

“我来拿毯子吧。”米丽亚姆异常温柔地说。

“我自己来。”他说,似乎有些受到伤害,不过他还是把毯子递给了她。

接着,雷渥斯太太出现了。

“你一定又冷又累,”她说,“我来替你脱衣服,这衣服太厚太重,你不能穿这件衣服走远路。”

她帮他脱下大衣,他对这种照顾很不适应。她被大衣压得几乎喘不过气来。

“喂,孩子她妈,”农夫提着大奶桶,晃晃荡荡地走过厨房时,笑着说,“你怎么能拿得动那东西呢?”

她替小伙子把沙发垫子拍拍松。

厨房狭小而零乱。这个房子原来是个工人的房子,家具也是破破烂烂的。保罗喜欢这儿——喜欢被当做炉边地毯的麻袋,喜欢楼梯下面那有趣的角落,还喜欢角落里的小窗户,他弯下腰来就可以通过窗户看到后园里的李树,和远处可爱的小山丘。

“你要不要躺一躺?”雷渥斯太太问。

“哦,不要,我不累。”他说,“你不觉得出来有多么美好吗?我看见一棵开花的野刺李,还有好多的屈菜,我真高兴今天天气这么好。”

“你要不要吃喝点什么?”

“不用,谢谢你。”

“你妈妈怎么样?”

“我觉得她现在太累了,老是要干的活太多。也许要不了多久要和我一起去斯肯格涅斯,她就能休息休息了。如果她能去,我会非常开心的。”

“没错,”雷渥斯太太回答,“她自己没病倒真是个奇迹。”

米丽亚姆忙乎着准备午饭,保罗注视着她的一举一动。他的脸苍白而消瘦,不过他的眼睛还是像以往一样机灵而充满活力。他看着姑娘走来走去那惊异痴醉的样子,把一个大炖锅搁在炉子上,要不就看看平底锅里。这里的气氛和自己家里完全不一样,家里的一切总是普普通通,平平淡淡。马在园子想去吃玫瑰花,雷渥斯先生在外面大声吆喝着,姑娘吓了一跳,一双黑眼睛看了看四周,仿佛什么东西突然闯入了她的内心世界。屋里屋外都有一种寂静的感觉,米丽亚姆似乎生活在一个梦幻一般的故事里,她自己是个被囚禁的少女,她的心总是在一个遥远、神秘的地方,沉醉在梦境中,她身上那条褪色的旧裙子和破靴子就像是考菲图国王的那位行乞少女身上浪漫的破烂衣衫。

她突然意识到他那双敏锐的蓝眼睛在注视自己,把她的全身上下都看在眼里。她的破靴子和旧衣衫顿时让她感到痛心。她痛恨他看到了这一切,甚至他还知道她的长袜没有拉上去。她走进了洗碗间,脸涨得通红。从这之后,她干活时,手总是有点发抖,差点没把拿着的东西掉到地上。她内心的梦被惊动,因此她浑身惊慌得发抖,她恨他看到的太多了。

雷渥斯太太虽然需要去干活,但她还是陪保罗坐着聊了一会,她觉得让他一人坐在那儿不礼貌。一会儿,她说了声对不起便站了起来。过了一阵,她看了看汤锅。

“哦,米丽亚姆。”她喊道:“土豆都煮干了!”

“真的吗,妈妈?”她叫道。

“如果我没有把这事托付你来干,我倒也放心的,米丽亚姆。”母亲说着,看了看锅。

姑娘站在那里好象被打了一拳似的。她的黑眼睛睁得大大的,站在那儿一动不动。

“可是,”她回答,一副羞愧难堪的样子,“我肯定在五分钟之前我还看了看土豆呢。”

“是的,”母亲说,“我知道土豆容易烧糊。”

“土豆糊得不厉害,”保罗说,“没什么关系吧?”

雷渥斯太太抬起那双褐色的痛心的眼睛看看这个小伙子。

“如果没有那几个兄弟们,也没什么关系。”她对他说,“只有米丽亚姆知道,如果他们发现土豆烧糊了,会惹出怎样的麻烦。”

“那么,”保罗暗自想:“你就不该让他们惹麻烦。”

一会儿,埃德加进来了。他打着绑腿,靴子上都是泥。作为一个农夫,他的身材太矮了些,神情也相当拘谨。他看了保罗一眼,冷冷地点了下头,说:

“饭好了吗?”

“马上就好了,埃德加。”母亲抱歉地回答说。

“我可等着要吃了。”年轻人说着,拿起报纸来看。一会儿,家里其它几个人纷纷回来了。饭也准备好了。大家就狼吞虎咽地吃起来。母亲过分的温顺和带有歉意的语调反而使几个儿子的举止更加粗野。埃德加尝了一口土豆,像个兔子一样地咂咂嘴,气鼓鼓地望着母亲,说:

“这些土豆糊了,妈妈。”

“对,埃德加,我一时竟忘了它,如果你们吃不下,就来点面包吧。”

埃德加怒视着米丽亚姆。

“难道米丽亚姆不能照看一下土豆?她在干什么?”他说。

米丽亚姆抬起头来,嘴巴张着,黑眼睛一闪一闪地充满了怒火,不过她什么也没说。她低下头,把怒火和羞愧都咽到肚子里去了。

“我相信她也在努力干活。”母亲说。

“她连煮土豆都不会,”埃德加说,“还留在家里有什么用?”

“就为了吃留在伙房的东西。”莫里斯说。

“他们没忘记用那回土豆馅饼的事来打击我们的米丽亚姆。”父亲哈哈大笑着说。

她觉得羞愧极了。母亲静静地坐在那儿,烦恼不堪,看起来好象圣徒不巧和野蛮的人共餐了似的。

这让莫瑞尔感到困惑,他很想知道为什么因为几个烧焦的土豆会引起这么一场轩然大波。母亲把一切事——即使是一点点小事——都让它升格到宗教信仰的高度。几个儿子很厌恶这样,他们觉得这是成心和自己过意不去,于是就以蛮横粗野和傲慢讥笑来对抗。

对于刚刚进入成年时期的保罗来说,这儿的气氛以及周围的一切似乎都有一些宗教意味,对他有一种难以表述的吸引。他只觉得这儿有一种难以名状的味儿。他的母亲是很有理性的,而这儿却不同,有些他喜欢,但有些往往会令他感到厌恶。

米丽亚姆和几个兄弟面红耳赤地争吵了一番,到下午的时候,等哥儿几个出去以后,她母亲说:

“午饭的时候你真让我失望,米丽亚姆。”

女孩子低下了头。

“他们真不是东西!”她突然喊道,抬起那双充满怒火的眼睛。

“但你不是答应我不理他们吗?”母亲说,“我相信了你。你跟他们争吵时我真受不了。”

“他们太可恨了!”米丽亚姆叫道,“而且——而且俗不可耐。”

“是的,亲爱的,但是我给你说过多少遍了,不要跟埃德加还嘴。你就不能让他想说什么就说什么吗?”

“为什么就可以这样随心所欲?”

“你难道这么不坚强,你就这么软弱,非跟他们吵,都不肯因为我面忍住这口气吗?”

雷渥斯太太始终不渝地坚持这种“忍辱负重”的说教。但这几个男孩根本不吃这一套,只有米丽亚姆还深合她的心意,她在她身上比较成功地灌输了这一套。男孩子最讨厌的就是这一套。可米丽亚姆却常常用“忍辱负重”的态度对待他们。于是他们就瞧不起她,厌恶她。可她却仍然现出这种傲慢的谦逊态度,我行我素。

雷渥斯家常常给人这种争争吵吵不甚和谐的感觉。尽管男孩子们深恶痛绝母亲要求他们逆来顺受和自卑中夹杂着高傲,但这毕竟对他们还是有很深的影响。他们不屑于和一个外人建立普通的感情和平凡的友谊,总是无休止地追求一些更深层的东西。对他们来说,普遍人似乎浅薄又平凡,而且微不足道。所以他们很不善于交际,显得格格不入,简直活受罪,然而却傲慢无礼,自认为高人一等。但私下里,却也渴望着这种他们无法得到的精神上的亲密。因为他们太麻木不仁,对别人一概愚蠢地蔑视,因此阻塞了每一条通往密切交往的途径。他们要的是真正的亲密,但他们甚至连一个人都没有好好地接近过,因为他们不屑于走出第一步,他们看不起这种建立普遍交情的小事。

保罗对雷渥斯太太充满了好奇。当他和她呆在一起时,仿佛一切蒙上了一层宗教色彩。他的心灵,受过创伤但又相当成熟,像寻求滋养似的渴求着她。在一起时,他们似乎能从一个日常经历中探究出其中荣辱生死的真谛。

米丽亚姆不愧是她母亲的女儿。在午饭后的阳光下,娘儿俩陪着他一起到田野里去。他们一起找鸟窝,果园的树篱上就有只雌鹪鹩的窝。

“我真想让你看看这个窝。”雷渥斯太太说。

他蹲下身来,小心地用手慢慢穿过荆棘模进鸟窝那圆圆的门。

“简直就像摸到了鸟儿的身体内部一样,”他说,“这里很暖和。人家说鸟儿是用胸脯把窝压成杯子那么圆的。但我弄不明白怎么顶也是圆的呢?”

这鸟窝似乎闯入了这娘俩的生活,从那以后,米丽亚姆每天都为看看这个鸟窝。鸟窝对她来说似乎很亲密。还有一次,当他和米丽亚姆一起走过树篱时,他注意到了那些白屈菜,仿佛一片片金黄色的光斑撒在沟边上。

“我喜欢这些白屈菜,”他说:“在阳光下,花瓣就平展开来,仿佛被阳光烫平了似的。”

从那以后,白屈菜对她也有了吸引力。她很善于拟人想象,但还是鼓励他像这样去欣赏各种事物。这样,这些事物在她眼里就变得栩栩如生了。她似乎需要外界的东西先在她的想象中或她的心灵中燃起火花,然后她才能确切地感受到它们的存在。由于她一心信教,她仿佛跟凡俗生活断了线。她认为,这个世界如果不能成为一个没有罪恶的修道院或者天堂,那么,就是一个丑恶、残忍的地方。

就是在这种微妙的亲密气氛中,在对自然界的东西具有一致看法而产生的情投意和中,他们逐渐萌发了爱情。

单方面来说,他是经过好久才了解她的。由于生病,他不得不在家待了十个月。有一段时间,他跟母亲去了斯肯格涅斯,在那里过的相当不错。不过,即使在海滨,他也写了几封长长的信给雷渥斯太太,给她讲了海岸和海。他还带回来他心爱的几幅单调的林肯海岸的素描,急着给她们看。雷渥斯太太家人对他的画比他母亲还感兴趣。当然莫瑞尔太太关心的不是他的艺术,而是他本人和他的成就。但雷渥斯太太和她的孩子们都几乎成了他的信徒。他们鼓舞了他,让他对他的工作满腔热情,而他的母亲的影响就是让他更加坚定,孜孜不倦,不屈不挠,坚持不懈。

他不久就和几个男孩子们交上了朋友。他们的粗鲁只不过是表面现象罢了。一旦他们遇到了自己信得过的人,他们就变得相当温文尔雅,和蔼可亲。

“你想跟我一起去修耕地吗?”艾德加有些犹豫地问他。

保罗高高兴兴地去了,整个下午都帮着朋友锄地,或者拣青萝卜。他常常和三兄弟躺在谷仓里的干草堆上,给他们讲关于诺丁汉和乔丹的事情。投桃报李,他们也教他挤牛奶,让他干些小杂活——切干草、捣烂萝卜——他愿干多少就干多少。到了仲夏,整个干草收获季节,他都和他们一起干活,而且喜欢上了他们。实际上,这个家庭与世隔绝,他们多少有点像“遗民”。虽然这些小伙子们都强壮而健康,然而他们生性过于敏感,爱踌躇不前的性格使他们相当孤寂,而你一旦赢得他们的亲密情谊,他们也是相当亲切的贴心朋友。保罗深深地爱上了他们,他们同样也爱保罗。

米丽亚姆是后来才接近他的。不过他却早在她还没在他生活中留下任何痕迹时就已经进入了她的生活圈子。一个无聊的下午,男子汉们在地里干活,其它人去了学校,家里只有米丽亚姆和她的母亲。这姑娘犹豫了一会儿,对他说:

“你见过秋千吗?”

“没有。”他回答,“在哪儿?”

“在牛棚里。”她回答。

在准备给他什么东西,或给他看什么东西之前,她总是要犹豫不决。男人对事物的价值标准和女人的大不一样。她喜欢的东西——对她来说很宝贵的东西——却常常受到几个兄弟的嘲弄取笑。

“好,走吧。”他回答着,跳起身来。

这儿有两个牛棚,谷仓两边各有一个。一个低暗一些的牛棚有四头母牛,当小伙子和姑娘向吊在黑暗处屋梁上的又粗又大的绳子走去时,母鸡乱飞到食糟边上吵个不停。那根绳子向后绕在一根钉子上。

“这倒真是挺不错的绳子呢!”他赞赏地惊叫着搂着它坐上去了,急着想显显身手。但立即他又站起身来。

“来,你先来。”他对姑娘说。

“喂,”她回答着向谷仓走去,“我们先在坐的地方铺几个袋子。”她把秋千为他弄得舒舒服服的。她很高兴这样做,他抓住了绳子。

“好,来吧。”他对她说。

“不,我不先来。”她回答。

她静静地站在一边。

“为什么?”

“你来吧。”她恳求道。

这几乎是她生命中第一次尝到对一个男人让步的乐趣,尝到了宠爱他的乐趣。保罗看着她。

“好吧,”他说着坐了下来,“当心!”

他跳上了秋千,几下子就飞上了空中,几乎飞出牛棚门口。门的上半部分是开着的,只见外面正下蒙蒙细雨,院子肮脏不堪。牛群无精打彩地靠着黑色的车棚,远处是一排灰绿色的林墙。她戴一顶绊红色的宽顶无檐帽,站在下面望着。他往下看她,她看见他那双蓝眼睛闪闪发光。

“荡秋千真是一种享受。”他说。

“是啊。”

他在空中全身心荡啊荡啊,凌空而过,活像一只高兴的飞扑而来的鸟。他朝下看着她。那顶绊红的帽子扣在她的黑卷发上,她冲着他仰起那美丽而热情的脸蛋,一动不动地沉思着。牛棚里又黑又冷。突然,一只燕子从高高的屋顶上俯冲下来,飞出了门。

“我不知道还有一只鸟在看着我们呢。”他喊起来。

他悠闲地荡着,她可以感觉到他在空中一起一落,仿佛有什么力量推动着他。

“哦,我要死了。”他说,声音恍恍惚惚,宛如梦中,好像他就是那逐渐停止摆动的秋千。她看着他,很痴迷的样子。突然,他停下了,跳了下来。

“我荡得太久了,”他说:“荡秋千真是一种享受——真是一种享受。”

米丽亚姆看到他对荡秋千这么认真,这么热衷,心里高兴极了。

“噢,你继续荡吧。”她说。

“为什么?你难道不想荡一下?”他吃惊地问。

“嗯,不是很想,我只荡一会儿吧。”

他为她铺好口袋,她坐下了。

“这很有意思,”他说着开始推她。“抬起脚后跟,要不会撞到食槽边上的?

她感觉到他灵巧地正好及时抓住了她,每推她一下用力也恰到好处。她不禁害怕起来,她的心里涌起一股热浪。她在他手里了。接着,他又恰到好处地用力推了一把,她紧紧抓住绳子,几乎要晕过去。

“哈,”她害怕地笑了,“别再高了!”

“可这一点也不高呀。”他分辩说。

“可别再高了。”

他听出了她声音里的恐惧,就住了手。在等他再一次来推她时,她的心紧张地像在煎熬中。不过他没来推,她这才喘了一口气。

“你真的不想荡得再高一点吗?”他问,“就保持这个高度吗?”

“不,让我自己来吧。”她回答。

他走到一边,看着她。

“咦,你几乎没动嘛。”他说。

她不好意思地笑了,一会儿就下来了。

“人家说你如果能荡秋千,你就不会晕船。”他说着又爬上了秋千,“我相信我不会晕船。”

他又荡了起来。在她眼里,他身上仿佛有什么引人入迷之处。这会儿他全心全意凌空荡着,浑身上下没有一处不在飘荡着。她从来不会这么投入,她的兄弟们也不会的。她的心不由升起一股热流。他仿佛是一团火焰,在空中荡来荡去时点燃了她心中的热情。

保罗和这家人的亲密感情逐渐集中到了三个人身上——母亲、艾德加和米丽亚姆。对于母亲,他是去寻求同情和那股能使他袒露胸襟的反常。艾德加是他的密友。至于米丽亚姆呢,他多少有点俯就她,因为她看来是那么卑微。

但是,这姑娘逐渐爱找他作伴。要是他带来了他的素描本,她会看到最后一张画,对着画沉思的时间最长。然后她会抬起头来望着他。她那对黑黑的双眸会突然变得亮晶晶的,宛如一汪清泉,在黑暗中闪闪发光。她会问:

“为什么我会这么喜欢这幅画?”

可是,她心里总有股力量,害怕自己流露出那种亲密眼神。

“为什么你会喜欢呢?”他问。

“我不知道,它看上去像是真的。”

“这是因为——因为这幅画里几乎没有阴影,看上去很亮,仿佛我画出了树叶里发亮的原生质,其它地方也都这么画,不是去画那种僵硬的形,那些对我来说是死的。只有发亮的部分才是真正的生命力。外形是没有生命力的空壳,只有发亮的才是真正的精华。”

她把小指头含在嘴里,一言不发地思索着这些话。它们再次给了她生命的感觉,使很多在她看来没有任何意义的东西变得栩栩如生起来。她好不容易才理解了他的那些深奥而不易讲清楚的话。而正是这些话,让她领悟了很多她所钟爱的东西。

又有一天,她坐在黄昏的阳光下,他在画着西下夕照里的几株松树。他一直没说话。

“你瞧!”他突然说,“我就要这个。来,看看这幅画,告诉我,这些是桦树干很像黑暗中火堆里的红煤块?上帝为你点燃了灌木丛,永远也燃不尽。”

米丽亚姆朝画上看了一眼,吓了一跳。不过这些松树干在她看来的确妙不可言,而且风格独特。他收拾好画箱,站起身来。突然,他盯住她。

“为什么你总是很伤心?”他问她。

“伤心!”她惊叫起来,抬起那双受惊的、奇妙的棕色眼睛望着他。

“是啊,”他回答道,“你总是一副伤心的样子。”

“我不是——哦,我一点都不伤心。”她叫道。

“甚至你高兴时也只是悲伤之余一时的热情,”他坚持说,“你从来没有高兴过,甚至连好脸色也没有过。”

“不,”她想了一会说,“我也不知道——为什么?”

“因为你不高兴,因为你的内心与众不同。像一棵松树,你突然一下子燃烧起来。不过你并不像一棵普通的松树,长着摇曳不定的叶子,兴高采烈的……”他变得语无伦次了。她却默默地琢磨着他的话,他感觉到一种奇特的激情,仿佛这激情是刚刚产生的。她顿时变得跟他如此亲近。这真是一种奇怪的兴奋剂。

然而有些时候他又极为厌恶她。她的最小的弟弟只有五岁,是个身体虚弱的孩子,那张苍白而又秀气的脸上有一双大大的棕色眼睛——就像雷诺鹚画的《天使唱诗班》里的人物,有几分淘气。米丽亚姆常常跪在这孩子面前,把他拉到身边。

“哦,我的休伯特,”她充满深情地低叫着,“哦,我的休伯特!”

她把他拥在怀里,怜爱地把他轻轻地摇来摇去,她稍稍仰着脸,眼睛半闭着,声音热情洋溢。

“不要!”孩子不舒服地说,“不要,米丽亚姆!”

“哦,你爱我,是吗?”她喉咙里喃喃地说,仿佛有些神志恍惚,晃动着身子,如痴如醉。

“不要!”孩子又喊了一声,清秀的眉毛皱了起来。

“你爱我,是吗?”她喃喃地说。

“你这么小题大做干什么呢?”保罗喊着,对她这种狂热的感情觉得很难受。“为什么你不能对他正常一些?”

她放开孩子,站起来了,一声不吭。她的过分热烈使任何感情都不能保持正常状态,这让小伙子烦到了极点。这种无缘无故流露出来的可怕的、毫无遮拦的亲近叫他感到震惊。他习惯于他母亲的那种稳重。碰到眼前这种场合,他从内心深处庆幸自己有这么一位明智而健全的母亲。

米丽亚姆身上最有活力的要算她的眼睛了。这对眼睛往往黑得像一座黑漆漆的教堂,但也能亮得仿佛喷出的熊熊烈火。她的脸总是一副沉思的样子,难得有什么变化。她很像是那个当年和玛利亚一起去静观耶稣升天的女人之一。她的身体既不柔软也没有生气。走路时摇摇摆摆,显得很笨重,头向前低着,默默地沉思着。她倒不是笨手笨脚,但她的每一个动作都不像样。她擦碟子的时候,常常站在那儿发愣和犯愁,因为她把茶杯或酒杯弄成两片了。她似乎由于害怕和不自信,而使劲过猛。她没有松松散散,也没有大大咧咧。她把一切都抓得死紧,然而她的努力,由于过分紧张,反而起了反作用。

她难得改变自己的那种摇摇摆摆、向前倾的紧张的走路姿势,偶尔她和保罗在田野里奔跑,那时她的眼睛炯炯发亮,那种狂喜的神情会让他大吃一惊。不过具体说来她很害怕运动,如果她要跨过一级踏级,就不免有些苦恼,她会紧紧地抓住他的手,心慌意乱。而且即使他劝她从一点也不高的地方跳下来,她也不肯。她的眼睛会大睁着,心怦怦乱跳,窘相毕露。

“不,”她叫道,心里害怕,脸上似笑非笑——“不!”

“你跳呀!”有二次他一面喊道,一面往前推了她一把,带着她跳下了栅栏。她惊恐地拚命大叫了一声“啊!”似乎眼看要昏过去了。他听了真懵了。可结果她双脚安然地落了地,而且从此在这方面有了勇气。

她对自己的命运非常不满意。

“你不喜欢呆在家里吗?”保罗惊讶地问她。

“谁会愿意?”她低声激动地回答道,“有什么意思?我整天打扫,可那几个兄弟不消五分钟就会搞得乱七八糟。我不愿困在家里。”

“那你想要什么呢?”

“我想做点事,我想和别人一样有个机会。为什么我就应该呆在家里,不准出去做事?就因为我是个女孩吗?我有什么机会呢?”

“什么机会?”

“了解情况——学点知识,干点事情的机会呗。这真不公平,就因为我是个女人。”

她好像非常伤心。保罗觉得很奇怪。在他家里,安妮总是很高兴做个女孩。她没有那么多责任,她的事情也比较轻松,她从来没想过不做个女孩。可是米丽亚姆却几乎疯狂地希望自己是一个男人,然而同时她又厌恶男人。

“可是做男人和女人是一样的呀。”他皱着眉说。

“哈,是吗!可男人拥有一切。”

“我认为女人应该乐意做女人,男人也应该乐意做男人。”他回答说。

“不!”——她摇着头——“不,什么都让男人给占了。”

“那你想要什么?”他问。

“我想学习。为什么我就应该什么也不懂?”

“什么!就像数学和法语吗?”

“为什么我就不应该懂数学?该懂!”她大声嚷嚷,眼睛睁得偌大,流露出不服气的神情。

“好吧,你可以学的和我一样多,”他说,“如果你愿意,我可以教你。”

她的眼睛睁大了,她不相信他会当老师。

“你愿意吗?”他问。

她低下了头,沉思地吮着手指头。

“愿意。”她犹豫地说。

他常把这些事都讲给母亲听。

“我要去给米丽亚姆教代数了。”他说。

“好吧,”莫瑞尔太太回答道,“我希望她能学到点东西。”

他星期一傍晚到农场去的时候,天色快黑了。当他进屋时,米丽亚姆跪在炉边,打扫着厨房。她家别的人都出去了。她回头看到他,脸红了,黑眼睛亮晶晶的,一头秀发披散在脸前。

“你好!”她说话时声音温柔动听,“我知道是你来了。”

“怎么知道的?”

“我听得出你的脚步声。别人不会走得那么快,那么有力。”

他坐了下来,吁了口气。

“准备好学代数了吗?”他问着从口袋里掏出一本小册子。

“可是……”

他可以感觉到她逐渐退缩了。

“你说过你想学啊。”

他盯着不放说。

“今晚就开始?”她支支吾吾地说。

“我可是特地来的。如果你想学,你就必须开始。”

她把炉灰倒进畚箕,看着他,有些胆怯地笑了。

“是啊,可是今晚就学,你瞧,我还一点准备都没有呢。”

“噢,得了,把灰倒了就开始吧。”

他走过去坐在后院的一个石凳上,凳上放着几个大牛奶罐,歪斜着在那里晾着。男人们都在牛棚里,他听到了牛奶喷进桶里那种轻轻的单调的声音。不一会儿她来了,拿着几个大青苹果。

“要知道你喜欢吃这个。”她说。

他咬了一口。

“坐下。”他满嘴含着苹果说。

她眼睛近视,就越过他的肩头费劲地盯着书看。这让他很别扭,他赶紧把书递给了她。

“瞧,”他说,“代数就是用字母代替数字,你可能用a代替2或6。”

他们上课了。他讲解着,她低着头看着书。他急匆匆地讲着,她却从不应声。偶尔,他问她:“你明白吗?”她则抬头来看着他,由于害怕,眼睛睁得大大的,脸上似笑非笑。“你明白不明白啊?”他叫道。

他教得太快了。不过她什么也没说。他问她的次数多了,不由动了肝火。看见她坐在那儿,可以说受他摆布吧,嘴巴张着,眼睛圆睁着,露出害怕的笑容,又是抱歉,又是害羞,他真是火冒三丈。这时艾德加提着两桶牛奶走过来了。

“嗨,”他说:“你们在干什么?”

“代数。”保罗回答说。

“代数?”艾德加好奇地重复了一句,接着哈哈大笑着走了,保罗咬了一日刚才忘记吃的苹果,看看园子里那些可怜的被鸡啄得像花边似的卷心菜,想去把这些菜拔掉。他看了一眼米丽亚姆。她正扑在那本书上,像是全神贯注的样子,然而身子却直打哆嗦,生怕自己不明白。她这副模样真让他生气。她脸色红润而美丽,然而她的内心却似乎在拚命地祈求什么。她合上那本代数书,知道他生气了,不由畏缩了。与此同时也看出,她因为听不懂而伤了自尊心,他态度就温柔了些。

接着,讲课进度慢了些。她战战兢兢地竭力想明白讲的内容,那城惶诚恐的紧张兮兮的样子又让他冒火。他对她大发雷霆,接着又觉得不好意思了,又接着上课。后来,教着教着又发火了,又责备了她,她只默默地听着。偶尔,很难得的,她也为自己辩解几句。那双水汪汪的大眼睛对他直冒火星。

“你没有给我时间去理解。”她说。

“好吧。”他回答着,把书扔到桌子上,点了一支烟。过了一会儿,他又后悔地回到她身边。就这样继续上课。他就是这样,一会儿大发雷霆,一会儿特别温柔。

“你上课时为什么战战兢兢,魂不附体啊?”他大声叫道。”你又不是用魂来学代数的,你就不能用清醒的头脑来看看书吗?”

他再回到厨房时,雷渥斯太太常常责备地看着他,说:

“保罗,不要对米丽亚姆太严格了。她可能学得不快,但我肯定她尽力了。

“我也没办法,”他有些可怜巴巴地说,“我总是无法控制自己。”

“你不会生我的气吧?米丽亚姆,你不会吧?”后来,他问了那姑娘。

“没有,”她那低沉悦耳的声调让他放心了,“没有,我没生气。”

“别生我的气啊,是我的错。”

可是,他又不由自主地对她发起火来。很奇怪,谁也没惹他发过这么大的脾气。他会突然对她火冒三丈。有一次,他竟把铅笔扔在她脸上。接着大家默不作声。她把脸稍微扭到一边。

“我不是……”他说着,可又说不下去了,只觉得浑身上下都虚软无力。她从来没有责备过他或生过他的气。他常常感到非常羞愧。可是他的怒火还是一次次爆发,就像一只气泡被压崩一样。而且一看到她那张热切、沉默、茫然的脸庞时,他仍感到忍不住要把铅笔扔到她脸上去。当他看到她双手直打哆嗦,嘴巴痛苦地半张时,他不禁为她感到痛心。同时由于她唤起了他的激情,他渴求着她。

此后,他常常避开她而和艾德加在一起。米丽亚姆和她哥哥是天生的对头。艾德加是个讲求理性的人,他天生好奇,对生活有一种科学的兴趣。看见保罗为了艾德加而冷落了她,米丽亚姆感到非常伤心。在她看来,艾德加似乎低下得多。可是保罗和她大哥在一起居然非常开心。两人一起在田里消磨了几个下午,碰到下雨天,就在草料棚子里干木匠活。他们还在一起聊天,有时保罗把钢琴边跟安妮学唱的歌教给艾德加。男人在一起,包括雷渥斯先生在内,经常很激烈地争论土地国有化之类的问题。保罗早已经听到他母亲在这方面的见解,就把这些见解当成自己的,为她而辩解。米丽亚姆也来凑凑热闹,但总是等到争论结束时,才能只剩下他们俩自己谈谈。

“说到头来,”她心里说,“如果土地国有化了,艾德加、保罗和我也还一个样子。”因此她等着这个年轻人回到她身边。

当时他正在学画画,他特别喜欢晚上单独和母亲在一起,坐在家里,画啊画啊。她则做些针线活,或者看看书。有时候,他抬起头来,目光会在母亲那张容光焕发、充满活力的脸上停留一会儿,再高高兴兴地画他的画。

“有你坐在这儿的摇椅上,我能画出我最好的作品来,妈妈。”他说。

“真的!”她惊呼着,还假装怀疑地嗤之以鼻。其实她感觉得到他说的是真的,她的心高兴得颤抖了。当她做针线活或者看书时,她一连几个小时坐着纹丝不动,隐隐觉察到他在旁边画着。他呢,满腔热情地挥动着笔,感觉到她的热情在他身上化成了一种力量。娘儿俩都很快乐,但彼此都没意识到这一点。这一段生活是多么地有意义,这才是真正的生活,然而他们却几乎忽略了它。

只有受到激励时他才意识到这些。一幅素描完成了,他总是拿给米丽亚姆看看。在那儿受到激励后,他才对自己无意识的画加深了认识。在和米丽亚姆的接触中,他增强了洞察力,他对事物的领悟更深了。从他母亲身上,他汲取了生活的热情和创作的力量。米丽亚姆把这种热情激励成了白热化的激情。

当他回到工厂时,工作条件已有所改善。每星期三,他可以不上班而去美术学校——由乔丹小姐的资助——傍晚回来。后来,工厂每逢星期四和星期五又由八点下班改为六点下班。

夏天的一个傍晚,米丽亚姆和他从图书馆回家去,穿过了赫罗德农场的田地。从这儿到威利农场只有三英里路。田里收割下来的干草发出一片黄里透红的光,栗色的顶部已变成了深红色。当他们沿着高地走时,西方那一缕金光逐渐消褪,转为红色,红色又转为深红色,再后来,一片阴森森的蓝色又悄悄升了上来,和那片黄里透红的光彩成了对比。

在黑漆漆的田野里,他们走了往阿弗雷顿的公路。这条泛白的公路蜿蜒向前。走到这儿,保罗犹豫了一下。这儿到他的家还有两英里,往前再走一英里是米丽亚姆的家。他俩不约而同地眺望着酉北方天际晚霞下这条在阴影中绵延远去的公路。小山顶上是库尔贝矿井,那儿有几所荒凉的房子,远远的天边看得见矿井中的吊车竖着的黑影子。

他看了看表。

“九点钟了。”他说。

这俩人挟着几本书站在那儿,不愿分手。

“这早晚的树林看起来可爱极了,”她说,“我想让你去看看。”

他跟着她慢吞吞地穿过了那条公路,走向那扇白色的门。

“如果我回去晚了,他们会埋怨我的。”他说。

“可你又没做什么坏事?”她不耐烦地回答。

他跟着她穿过暮色中那片刚被牲口啃过的牧场,树林里凉意袭人,树叶发出一股香味,忍冬的香味沁人心脾,一切都朦朦胧胧的。他俩就这样默默地走着。在这片黑糊糊的树丛里,夜色奇妙地降临了。他环顾四周,期待着。

她想给他看她发现的一株野玫瑰花。她知道这株玫瑰花好看极了。然而,如果他没有见到过这株野玫瑰花,她就觉得这花就不会铭刻在心。只有他才能使这株玫瑰花变成她的,不朽的。她现在还不满足。

小路上已经有露珠了。一片雾气正从老橡树林里升起,他一时摸不清那一片白茫茫的究竟是一片雾呢,还是在纷坛中显得苍白无力的石竹花。

等他们走到松树林旁边时,米丽亚姆变得焦急和紧张起来。她的野玫瑰花可能已经不在了。她也许找不到它了,她是多么想找到它啊。她几乎迫不急待地希望自己能和他一起站在花前。他们要在花前心心相印——享受一种令她神往的,圣洁的境界。他在她身边默默地走着,俩人挨得很近。她颤抖着,他聆听着,心里暗暗着急。

走近林子边际,他们看见前方的天空宛若珍珠母,大地已经暮色苍茫。不知从哪儿飘来附在松树林外层枝桠上的忍冬香味。

“在哪儿呀?”他问道。

“就在中间那条路下面。”她哆嗦着喃喃地说。

他们刚走到小路拐弯处时,她站住不动了。有些害怕地盯着松树间的宽阔大路,有几分钟,她什么也分不清,灰暗的光线使各种东西的颜色都模糊得无法分辨。后来,她才看见那株野玫瑰。

“啊!”她叫道,赶紧走上前去。

这株玫瑰静止不动。它的树干长得很高,枝叶蔓生。有刺的花梗披挂在一棵山植树上,长长的枝条密密实实地垂在草地上,纯白色的玫瑰花朵犹如一丛丛凸起的象牙球,宛若撒落的星斗,在昏暗的簇叶、枝干和青草上熠熠发光。保罗和米丽亚姆紧靠在一起,默默无言地站着观看。从容自若的玫瑰花的光一点一点地笼罩了他们,似乎点亮了他们心灵的某个角落。暮色四合,宛如烟雾,但仍然掩盖不了那些白色的玫瑰花。

保罗深深地凝望着米丽亚姆的眼睛。她脸色苍白,带着惊叹的神情期待着。她的双唇半启,黑眼睛坦率地盯着他。他的眼光似乎看穿了她的心。她的心儿颤抖了。这正是她所要的心心相印。他却好像很苦恼地转过身去,又面对着那株玫瑰去了。

“花儿看来好像蝴蝶一样会飞,会晃动。”他说。

她看着这些玫瑰花。花儿是白色的,有些花卷曲着,显得那么圣洁,还有些花却欣喜若狂的竞相怒放。这株野玫瑰树黑得象个影子。她一时冲动,冲着花儿举起了手,不胜仰慕地走上前去抚摸这些花儿。

“我们走吧。”他说。

这些象牙色的玫瑰发出一股冷香——一种雪白而纯洁的幽香。不知怎的,让他感到焦急和束缚。两人默默地走着。

“星期天见。”他平静地说完,就离开她走了。她慢吞吞地往家走,深深地沉浸在这夜的圣洁之中,感到心满意足。他在小路上跌跌撞撞地走着。一走出树林,来到那片开阔的草地,他就呼吸自如了。他开始往家飞奔,心里一片舒畅。

每当他和米丽亚姆一起出去时,总是很晚才回来。他知道母亲为此而不满,生他的气——可为什么呢?他不明白。当他进了屋子,扔下帽子时,母亲抬头看了一下钟。她一直坐在那儿想心事,因为眼睛不太好,她不能看书。她能感觉到保罗被这个姑娘勾引了,再说她也不喜欢米丽亚姆。“她是那种一定要把男人的魂儿都勾得一点不剩的女人,”她心里说,“而他竟然听任自己被勾引过去,她决不会让他成为一个男子汉的,永远也不会。”因此,当他和米丽亚姆一起出去时,莫瑞尔太太越来越不满了。

她看了一眼钟,冷淡而疲倦地说:

“你今晚出去走得真够远的了。”

他跟那姑娘来往以后变得热情洋溢、毫无掩饰,现在却一下子畏缩了。

“你肯定把她送到家了?”母亲说。

他没回答。莫瑞尔太太飞快地看了他一眼,看见他正气恼地皱着眉,他的头发,因为匆忙,被汗浸湿了搭在额前。

“她一定非常迷人,迷得你无法离开她,晚上这个时候还要走上八英里。”

在刚才米丽亚姆的魅力与母亲的烦恼中,他感到左右为难。他本想什么也不说,不回答母亲的问题,可他又硬不下心肠来不理她。

“我确实喜欢跟她聊天。”他烦躁地说。

“再没有别人能和你聊天了吗?”

“如果我和艾德加一起出去,你就不会说什么了。”

“你知道我还是应该说的。你知道,不论你跟谁一起出去,我都应该说。从诺丁汉回来,天这么晚了,你一路走来未免也太远了。而且,——她的声音突然露出愤怒和轻蔑——“真让人恶心——这么丁点儿的姑娘跟小伙子就谈婚事。”

“不是求婚。”他大声说。

“我不知道你还能管它叫什么!”

“真不是!你以为我们在动手动脚干什么事吗?我们只不过是聊天。”

“天知道你们聊到何时何地去了。”结束了母亲这么一句挖苦的回答。

保罗生气地扯着鞋带。

“你为什么生这么大的气?”他问,“就因为你不喜欢她?”

“我没说我不喜欢她,但我不赞成小孩子之间就这么密切,从来也不会赞成。”

“但你不介意安妮跟吉姆·英格出去?”

“他们比你们理智得多。”

“为什么?”

“安妮不是那种卿卿我我的人。”

他没听懂这句话的意思。不过母亲看起来很疲倦。威廉死后,她的身体一直没有好过,而且眼睛也疼。

“好吧,”他说,“乡下的景色很漂亮,斯利恩先生问起你,他说他非常挂念你。你现在好一点了吧?”“我早就应该上床去了。”她回答。

“可是,妈妈,你知道,十点一刻之前你是不会上床的。”

“哦,不,我应该上床!”

“哦,小妇人,现在你对我样样不满意,所以你想怎么说就怎么说,是不是?”

他吻了吻母亲那非常熟悉的前额:眉宇之间已经有了深深的皱纹,飘飘洒洒的秀发已经变成灰白色了,还有那梳得很有气派的鬓角。吻了她之后,他的手还搭在她的肩上。之后,他才慢慢地上了床,他已经忘了米丽亚姆了,他只看到了母亲的头发从温暖、宽阔的额头向后梳去,而且她多少受到一点伤害。

保罗再次看到米丽亚姆时,他对她说:

“今天晚上别让我回去得太晚了——不要晚过十点。我妈妈会难过的。”

“为什么她会难过?”她问。

“因为她说我得早起,不应该在外面太晚。”

“好的。”米丽亚姆平静地说,带着淡淡的饥笑的意味。

他讨厌这样,于是他又像往常一样回去得很晚。

他和米丽亚姆俩人都不会承认他们之间滋生了爱情。他认为自己很稳重不至如此多情,而她则认为自己非常高尚。他们俩都成熟得很晚,而且心理方面比体力还要晚熟得多。米丽亚姆极为敏感,就像她母亲的为人一般,最轻微的粗俗污秽都会让她慌而不迭地退缩。她的兄弟虽然非常粗鲁,但他们说话从不粗俗。男人们从来都是在外面讨论一切关于牲畜交配的事。但是,也许因为各个农场都不断碰到牲畜繁殖的事,米丽亚姆对这类事更加敏感。即使听到别人对两性关系的稍微暗示,她就心跳加速,并十分厌恶。保罗亦步亦趋地跟着她。他们之间的亲密完全是纯洁的感情。在他们面前连母马怀孕的话都从来不提。

他十九岁时,每星期只能挣二十先令,但他很快乐。他的画技进步很大,生活也很不错。复活节那天,他组织了一次去铁杉石的远足。同去的有三个同龄的小伙子,还有安妮、亚瑟、米丽亚姆和杰弗里。亚瑟在诺丁汉当电工学徒,回家来度假。莫瑞尔像平常一样一大早就起来了,吹着口哨在院里锯着木头。七点钟时,家里人听见他在买价值三便士的十字形图案的小圆面包,还兴致勃勃地跟那个送面包的女孩子聊着,称她“亲爱的”。他打发走了其它几位拿着果子面包的男孩子,告诉他们,他们的生意已经被这个小姑娘夺走了。这时,莫瑞尔太太起床了,全家人都下了楼。对每个人来说,不是周末却能这样躺在床上睡一大觉真是一种极大的享受,保罗和亚瑟在早饭前看了会儿书,没有梳洗只穿个衬衫就坐下来吃饭,这又是节日的另一种享受。房间里很温暖,一切都无忧无虑的,家里有一种充实的感觉。

男孩子们在看书报时,莫瑞尔太太进了花园。他们现在住在另一幢房子,离斯卡吉尔街那个家很近。威廉死后不久,他们就从那儿搬了出来,不一会,从花园里传来一声激动的叫喊:

“保罗!保罗!快来看啦!”

这是母亲的声音,他扔下书就走了出去。这是一个通到野外的长长的花园。那是一个灰暗、阴冷的天,还有阵阵寒风从德比郡刮来。两块田地之外就是房屋鳞次栉比,到处是红墙的贝斯伍德。在那一片房屋中,教堂的尖塔和公理会礼拜堂的尖顶高耸而起。再往前就是树林和小山,一直通灰白色的潘宁山脉的顶部。保罗朝花园望去,寻找着母亲,她的头显露在红醋栗树丛中。

“到这儿来!”她叫道。

“干吗呀?”他回答。

“来看看。”

她在看着红醋栗树上的花蕾。保罗走了过去。

“想一想,”她说,“我以为在这里再也看不到这些了!”

儿子走到了她身边,栅栏下面有一块小小的花坛,里面长着一些绿色的毛蓬蓬雪里青,就像没发育好的球茎上长出来的一样,开着三朵奇形怪状的花。莫瑞尔太太指着那些深蓝色的花。

“来,看那个!”她惊叫着,“我正在看红醋栗时,心里想:‘那个很蓝很蓝的东西,是不是一个蜂巢呢?’那儿,你看,蜂巢,三朵雪里青,太美了!但它们是从哪儿来的呢?”

“我不知道。”保罗说。

“哦,太奇妙了!我还以为认识这园子里的一草一木呢。是不是很棒啊?你瞧,那棵醋栗树刚好掩护这些花,没伤,也没碰。

他蹲下身,把钟一般的小蓝花翻了过来。

“这是一种奇妙无比的颜色!”他说。

“可不是!她叫道,“我想这花儿可能来自瑞士,听人说那儿才有这么可爱的东西。想想,这花开在雪地里!不过,它们是从哪来的呢?风不会把它们吹来的,是吧?”

这时,他记起他曾在这儿插过很多修剪下来的断技。

“你从没告诉我。”她说。

“是的,我想等到开花时再说。”

“现在,你看!我差点错过这些。我一辈子还没在花园里见过雪里青呢。”

她又激动又得意,这花园给她无穷的乐趣。保罗为她而感到高兴,他们终于住进了有一个可以通往田地的花园的房间。每天早饭后,她都出去,心情愉快地绕着花园溜达一会儿。的确,她熟悉这园子里的一草一木。

出游的人都来齐了。吃的装好后,他们就兴冲冲地出发了。他们趴在水渠堤上,从沟这头扔下一张纸,看着纸片被水冲到另一头。他们站在游艇码头的人行桥上,看着寒光闪闪的铁轨。

“你应该看一看六点半路过的那趟特快车。”伦纳德说,他的爸爸是个信号员。“伙伴们,那趟车轰隆声可真大啊。”这一伙人看看这一头通向伦敦,另一头通向苏格兰的铁路,他们似乎感觉到了这两个神秘地方的存在。

在伊尔克斯顿,成群成群的矿工正等着酒店开门。这是一个无聊懒散的小镇。斯丹顿·盖特铸铁厂炉火熊熊。他们对所见所闻都热烈争论着。从特威尔他们又穿过德比郡回到诺丁汉郡。午饭时分,他们到了铁杉石,田野里到处是诺丁汉和伊尔克斯顿的人群。

他们原以为会有一块历史悠久、闻名于世的纪念碑,结果却只看到了一小块扭曲的岩石,像只枯烂的蘑菇,可怜兮兮地站在田野的一边。伦纳德和狄克开始把他们的名字缩写:“L.W,”和“R.P”刻在那古老的红砂石上。但是,保罗拒绝这样做,因为他曾在报上读到过讽刺刻字留念的人的评论,说这些人想流芳百世却苦于找不到其它门路。接着,所有的小伙子们都爬上了岩石顶部四处眺望。

田野里到处都是工厂男女工人在吃午饭,或做着什么运动。远处是一个古老庄园的花园,草地四周有水松树篱和密密的树丛,还有一个个种着金黄色番红花的花坛。

“瞧,”保罗对米丽亚姆说,“多么安静的一个花园!”

她已经看见了那黑黑的水松和金黄色的番红花,但她又感激地看了看那儿。和这么多人在一起,他似乎不属于她了。他和平时不一样——不是她的那个能了解她心灵处最轻微的震颤的保罗,而是另外一种人,和她没有共同语言。她感到莫大的伤害,所有的知觉也麻木了。只有当他又回到她身边,丢下她所认为另外一个比较渺小的他时,她才能回复过来。现在他让她看这个花园,渴望跟她接触。她已厌倦了田野的景色,就转过身来看看四周都被密密麻麻的番红花环绕的这片寂静的草地。一股寂静得几乎让她痴迷的感觉笼罩了她。这让她感到她是和他单独在这个花园里了。

之后,他又离开她加入其他伙伴之中。不久,他们就动身回家了。米丽亚姆一个人慢慢地走在后面,她和别人合不来,她极少结交别人:她的朋友、伙伴、情人就是大自然。她看着太阳苍白无光地往下落。在阴暗、寒冷的树篱中夹杂着一些红叶,她温柔地、充满深情地采摘着这些叶子,指尖怜爱地抚摸着叶子,表达着自己内心的深情。

突然,她发现自己一个人走在一条陌生的路上,于是她向前匆匆赶去,在小巷的拐角处她赶上保罗,他正弯着腰站在那里,好像在聚精会神地干着什么,镇定、耐心,但又有一点无望的样子。她犹豫地向他走去,看着他。

他全神贯注地呆在路中间。远处,一抹浓浓的金光还留在灰暗的天际,把他映衬得像尊黑色浮雕。就像夕阳把他送给了她,她看着他那瘦小但结实的身影。心里突然一阵痛楚,她知道自己一定爱上了他。她曾经发现了他身上少有的那种潜力,发现了他的孤独。她像是玛利亚在天使面前听到圣灵降生的消息一样,哆嗦着慢慢向前走去。

他终于抬起头来。

“哦,”他感激地惊叫到,“你在等我吗?”

她看见他眼睛掠过一丝阴影。

“这是什么?”她问。

“这个弹簧坏了。”他给她看看他的伞损坏的地方。

立刻,她有点不好意思了,她知道不是他自己弄坏的伞,是杰弗里的责任。

“这只不过是一把伞,是吧?”她问。

她很奇怪他平时不计较一些琐碎事,而此时却如此小题大作。

“但这是威廉的伞,而且根本没法不让我妈妈不知道。”他平静地说着,仍旧耐心地摆弄着那把伞。

这句话像把刀似的刺中了米丽亚姆的心。这也证实了刚才她对他的揣度,她望着他。但他却神情冷淡,因此她也不敢好言安慰他,甚至不敢温柔地跟他说话。

“走吧,”他说,“我修不了。”于是他们就默默地沿着旧路走着。

当天傍晚,他们漫步在尼瑟·格林附近的树林中,他好像在竭力要说服自己似的,有些焦急地对她说:

“你知道,”他费劲地说着:“如果一个人有了爱,另一个人也一样。”

“啊!”她回答,“就像小时候妈妈对我说的‘爱情产生爱情’。”

“是的,差不多,我想这一定是至理名言。”

“我希望是正确的,因为,如果不是这样,爱情就会变成一件可怕的事。”她说。

“是,是这样——至少对于大部分人来说是这样的。”他回答。

而米丽亚姆以为他是在宽慰自己,心里有了点底。她认为自己在小径上碰到保罗是一个天赐的良机。这番谈话深深地刻在了她的脑海中,就像摩西法律中的文字一样。

现在她和他意见一致,并且支持他。在这段时间里,他因自己家人对威利农场的不满,出言伤了全家人的感情。但她支持他,相信他是对的。而且这段时间,她多次梦到了他,梦境生动、令人难忘。这些梦后来还一再重现,促使他俩的感情上升到一个更加微妙的心理阶段。

复活节的星期一那天,又和上次那一帮人旅行到风田庄园。对于米丽亚姆来说,和欢度假日的人们挤在一起,在塞斯利桥乘火车真是一件兴奋激动的事。他们在阿尔弗雷顿下了火车。保罗对这儿的街道和带着狗的矿工很感兴趣。这儿的矿工与别处的不同。米丽亚姆到了教堂才恢复了生机,他们进去时都有点胆怯。

害怕背着装满食品的包,会被别人赶出来。伦纳德是个很瘦的小伙子,说话者带刺,走在最前面。宁死也不愿被人赶出来的保罗走在最后。因为是复活节,教堂已经被装饰过了。似乎有百朵水仙花长在圣水器里。光线透过玻璃窗户射了进来,暗淡的光线染上玻璃上的五颜六色,弥漫着一种淡淡的百合和水仙花的清香。在这种气氛下。米丽亚姆兴奋起来。保罗对这儿的气氛也很敏感,生怕做了什么他不该做的事。米丽亚姆转向他,他点头示意,他们俩心心相印地站在一起。他不愿意到领圣餐栅栏前面去。她就喜欢他这样。有他在身边,她才有心思做祈祷,他觉得这个幽暗虔诚的教堂有一种奇怪的魅力,他所有的沈醉于神秘幻想的天性颤动起来了。她为他所吸引,他俩一起祈祷着。

米丽亚姆很少跟别的男孩说话,和她谈话,他们也会觉得非常别扭。因此,她常常保持着沉默。

他们爬上通向庄园的陡峭的山路上时已经中午了。温暖耀眼的阳光下一切都显得那么柔和,白屈菜和紫罗兰已经开花了。大家的心情都极为兴奋。城堡的灰墙壁那么柔和,常春藤染着绿光,古迹周围的一切显得优雅而有格调。

庄园是浅灰色的坚固的石块砌成的。墙壁单调而宁静。年轻人都兴致勃勃、小心翼翼地走了进去,害怕享受不到这个古迹的乐趣。在第一个院子中,高高的残垣里,有几辆农场的运货马车,车辕乱扔在地上,轮胎上长满了红锈。院子里一片寂静。

大家急切地付了六便士,胆怯地穿过了一个漂亮幽静的拱门,进入了里面的院子。他们都有些却步不前。这块铺着碎石的地方,过去是一个门厅,一棵带刺的老树正在发芽。周围的阴影里是各种奇怪的空旷地和破房子。

午饭后,他们又动身去探索这座古迹。这一回,姑娘们和可以作向导和解说员的小伙子们一起去了。庄园一角有一座行将倒塌的高塔,有人说苏格兰的玛丽女王曾被囚禁在那里。

“想想吧,女王也曾经爬过这儿!”米丽亚姆爬上空空的楼梯时,她低声说。

“她一定能上得来,”保罗说,“她有风湿病,还是别的什么病,我想他们一定虐待她。”

“你不觉得她罪有应得吗?”米丽亚姆问。

“不,我不觉得,她只是太活跃了。”

他们继续爬着那曲里拐弯的楼梯,一阵大风从窗里吹了进来,一直冲到塔尖上,吹得姑娘的裙子像个气球,她很感不好意思,保罗抓住裙子褶边,帮她把裙子拉下来,他这么做自然利索,就像替她捡起一付手套似的。她永远忘不了这件事。

常春藤密密层层地环绕着这个残破的塔顶,显得十分古朴典雅。而且,还有几枝冷冷的竹香,上面长着苍白冰冷的花骨朵。米丽亚姆想探身摘一些常春藤,但保罗没让她摘。保罗却骑士气派十足的把采到的常春藤一枝一枝地递给站在他身后等着的她。塔似乎在风中摇荡着。他们目光望着一望无际树木旺盛的农庄,农庄里不时夹杂着一块草场。

庄园的地窖十分漂亮,保存完好。保罗在这儿画了一幅画,米丽亚姆和他在一起,她想象着苏格兰的玛丽女王睁着紧张绝望的双眼,看看有没有援兵从小山那边来。那双眼里似乎怎么也无法理解这不幸。或者,她坐在这个地窖里,听着别人告诉她,让她相信那个和她坐的地方一样冰冷的上帝。

他们又高高兴兴地出发了,回头看看那个他们喜欢的庄园,那么整洁,那么高大,耸立在山丘之上。

“想想如果你能拥有这样一个农庄,那会有多好啊。”保罗对米丽亚姆说。

“是啊!”

“那时到这儿来看看你该多好啊!”

这里,他们正走在石墙环绕的荒地上,他很喜欢这地方,虽然这地方离家只有十英里,但对米丽亚姆来说,却像是异国他乡一样。他们穿过一大片背阴的草地,走上一条洒满无数点点光斑的小路时,保罗和米丽亚姆肩并肩地走着,保罗的指头勾在米丽亚姆背着的小包带子上。立刻,她感觉到走在后面的安妮嫉妒地盯着这一切。这儿的草地沐浴在骄阳下,小路像镶嵌了珠宝似的。他也没有给她其它任何暗示,她的手指一动不动地抓着小包带子,任凭他的手指抚摸。这地方一片金光宛若仙境。

最后,他们来到地势较高,房屋分散的克瑞奇村。村子前面就是著名的克瑞奇平塔,保罗在家里的花园里就能看到这个平塔。大家急急地走着。下面不远处就是一片开阔的田野。小伙子们都急切地想爬到小山顶上去。这座小山上面是个圆土堆,如今有一半被削去了。顶上有一座古代的纪念碑,矮墩墩的很坚固,是古时候用来对山下远处诺丁汉郡和莱斯特郡的平地发信号的。

在这片空旷的地方,风刮得特别猛。确保安全的唯一办法就是顺风紧靠高塔墙站着。脚下就是悬崖,人们常在那儿开采石灰。再往下就是零乱的山丘和很小的村庄——马特洛克村、安伯哥特村、斯通尼、米得尔顿村。小伙子们急于在远处左边鳞次栉比的农庄中找到贝斯伍德教堂。当他们看到教堂坐落在一块平地上,都很扫兴。他们看到德比郡的群山一直往南延伸到平坦的中部,渐渐平缓下来了。

米丽亚姆多少有点害怕这么大的风,但小伙子们很快活,他们走啊走,走了一里又一里,一直走到了沃特斯丹威尔。所有的食物都吃光了,大家都饿了,他们几乎没钱回家了。不过,他们想法买了一只面包和一只葡萄干面包,用小折刀切成块,坐在桥附近的墙上吃着,看着明亮的德温特河水奔腾而过。看着从马特洛克来的马车停在小酒店门口。

保罗现在已经相当疲倦,脸色苍白,这一整天他都为这一伙人操心,现在他已经精疲力尽。米丽亚姆理解他,就紧紧地跟着他,他也任凭她来照顾自己。

他们在安伯哥特车站要等一个小时,火车来了,上面挤满要回曼彻斯特、伯明翰、伦敦去的游客。

“我们或许应该去那儿——人们很容易以为我们去那么远的地方。”保罗说。

回到家时已经相当晚了。米丽亚姆和杰弗里一起走回去的。看着月亮徐徐升起来了,又大又红又朦胧。她觉得内心的什么东西好象得到满足。

她有个姐姐,阿加莎,是个学校教师。两姐妹长期不和,米丽亚姆认为阿加莎很世俗,不过她希望自己也能当个老师。

一个星期六下午,阿加莎和米丽亚姆在楼上梳妆打扮。她们的卧室就在马厩上面,这是间低矮的房子,也不太大,空荡荡的没什么摆设。米丽亚姆墙上钉了一幅委罗内薛的《圣凯瑟琳》的复制品。她喜欢画中那个窗台上遐想的女人。她自己的窗户太小了,没法坐,前面的一扇窗爬满了忍冬花和中宅葡萄,透过去可以看到院子那边的橡树林的树顶;后面有一个手帕那么大小的窗户,是朝东的一个透气孔。从那儿可以看见周围圆丘可爱的黎明景色。

俩姐妹之间不大说话。阿加莎漂亮娇小,但性格果断,她反感家里的那种气氛,反对那种“忍辱负重”的训导。她现在已经走上社会,就要自立了。她坚持那种世俗的价值标准,看外表、看举止、看地位。而这些都是米丽亚姆不屑一顾的。

保罗来时,这姐妹俩都喜欢躲在楼上避开,她们宁愿到时候跑下来,打开楼梯口的门,欣赏他期待和寻找她们的神情。米丽亚姆站在那儿急急地把他送给她的一串念珠往头上套,但念珠被她头发缠住了,最后她还是套进去了,那褐红色的木头念珠衬着她光洁的褐色的颈部,煞是好看。她发育良好,漂亮迷人。可是从挂在白墙上的那面小镜子里,她一次只能看到自己的一小部分。阿加莎自己买了一面小镜子,可以支起来称心如意地照。这天,米丽亚姆在窗户附近,突然听见熟悉的链条咯嗒咯嗒地响,她看见保罗撞开大门,推着自行车进了院子。她看见他冲屋子看了看,她退开了。他若无其事地走着,自行车在他身边好像是个活的东西。

“保罗来了!”她叫了一声。

“你难道不高兴吗?”阿加莎尖刻地说。

米丽亚姆呆不住了,坐也不是,站也不是。

“那么,你呢?”她问。

“高兴。但我可不会让他看出来,以为我盼着他来呢。”

米丽亚姆有些吃惊。她听到他在下面马厩里停放自行车,和那匹原先在矿上干活,现在已经掉了膘的马——吉姆说着话。

“噢,我的伙伴吉姆,你好吧,别总是病秧秧,垂头丧气的样子。哦,这样子不好,我的好伙伴。”

这匹马由于小伙子的抚摸抬起头来,她听见了缰绳抖动的声音。她非常喜欢听在他以为只有马才听得见时的他的说话声。但她的伊甸园里有一条引诱她的蛇。她真诚地反省自己。是不是在盼着保罗·莫瑞尔。她觉得这些感情是不正经的。她心情很复杂,害怕自己真是在盼他。她站在那里,自觉有罪,接着内心又涌起一种羞愧之情,她的内心被这些苦恼纠缠成一团。她是在盼保罗吗?他知道她在盼他吗?这多让她丢人啊!她觉得她整个心灵都被重重羞辱纠缠着。

阿加莎先梳妆完,跑下楼去。米丽亚姆听到她放荡地冲着小伙子打着招呼,她知道阿加莎用这种口气说话时那双灰眼睛会变得多么明亮。如果她这么招呼他,她一定会觉得自己太冒失大胆。她仍旧站在那儿谴责自己不应该盼着他,心灵饱受折磨,她困惑不解地站在那里祈祷着。

“哦,主啊,别让我爱上保罗·莫瑞尔,如果我不应该爱他,就别让我爱上他吧。”

祷告里有些不合情理的话引起她的深思,她抬起头来思索着。我爱他有什么错吗?爱情是上帝赐予的礼物。然而爱情却让她羞愧。这都是因为他,保罗·莫瑞尔。但是,这又不关他的事,是她自己的事,是她和上帝之间的事。她准备成为一个牺牲品。不过这是给上帝的牺牲品,不是给保罗·莫瑞尔的,也不是给她自己的。过了一阵,她把脸埋在枕头里说:

“主啊,如果我爱他是您的意愿,那么,就让我爱他吧——像基督一样,为拯救灵魂而死,让我正大光明地爱他吧,他是您的儿子啊。”

她仍旧站在那里,一动不动,被自己深深地感动了,一头黑发贴在红方块和淡紫色小枝叶图案方块拼缀起来的被面上。祈祷对她来说几乎是非常重要。祈祷之后,她就进入自我牺牲的极乐境界,认为上帝作出牺牲,赐给芸芸众生的灵魂最大的幸福,而自己和上帝是一样伟大。

她下楼时,保罗正靠在一张扶手椅上,拿着一幅小画热心地给阿加莎看,阿加莎正在讽刺他。米丽亚姆看了他俩一眼,不愿看见他们这种轻浮神态,进了起居室一个人呆在那里。

到喝茶的时候,她才能跟保罗说话,态度很冷淡,保罗以为自己得罪了她。

米丽亚姆不再每星期四晚上去贝斯伍德图书馆了,整个春天,她都按时去叫保罗一起去。但从很多小事,从他家里人的冷嘲热讽中她明白了他家对她的态度。因此她决定再也不去他家了。一天傍晚,她对保罗声明以后的星期四晚上,她再也不去叫他了。

“为什么?”他不太在意地问。

“没什么,只是我觉得还是不去的好。”

“好吧。”

“但是,”她有些支支吾吾,“如果你愿意见到我,我们还是可以一起去的。”

“在哪儿跟你见面?”

“随便什么地方——你愿意在哪儿就在哪儿。”

“我不想在别的地方跟你见面,我不明白你为什么不继续来叫我。不过既然你不来叫我,我也不想跟你见面了。”

就这样,对她和他都十分宝贵的星期四晚上就这么中断了。他用工作代替了以前星期四晚上的活动,莫瑞尔太太对这个安排十分满意。

他不承认他俩是恋人。他们之间的亲密关系一直保持着十分超然的色彩,好象只是一种精神上交流。一种想法,一种努力保持清醒的挣扎。因此,他觉得,这只不过是一种柏拉图式的恋爱。他坚决否认他们之间还有其它任何关系。米丽亚姆则保持沉默,或者是默认了。他真傻,不知道自己到底是怎么一回事。他俩一致同意,不理会亲友的议论和暗示。

“我们不是情人,我们是朋友。”他对她说,“我们清楚,让他们说去吧,他们说什么又有什么关系呢?”

有时,他们走在一起时,她羞怯地挽着他,他总是对此不满,她也知道这点。因为这引起了他内心激烈的冲突。和米丽亚姆在一起,他总是处于一种极端超然的状态,把他那股自然的爱火转化成一些微妙的意识。米丽亚姆也愿意他这样,如果他情绪高昂,像她所说的忘乎所以,她就等待着,等他回到她身边,等到他的心情恢复原样。他努力和自己的灵魂抗争着,皱着眉头,热切地渴望得到谅解。在这种渴望得到谅解的热情中,她的灵魂和他的紧紧连在一起,她觉得他完全属于她了,不过,他得首先处于超然状态。正因为这样,要是她伸出胳膊挽住他,那简直令他受酷刑,他的意识都似乎要分裂了。她挨着他的地方由于摩擦而变得温热。他心里好象在进行一场你死我活的斗争,为此他对她变得冷酷极了。

仲夏的一个傍晚,米丽亚姆来到他家看望他,由于爬坡的缘故,脸通红。保罗一个人在厨房里,可以听到母亲正在楼上走动的脚步声。

“来看这些甜豌豆花吧。”他对姑娘说。

他们走进花园。小镇和教堂背后的天空呈现一片桔红,花园里弥漫着奇妙而温暖的光,衬得每一片叶子都美不胜收。保罗走过一排生长得很旺的甜豌豆花,不时地摘几朵奶黄和淡黄色的花。米丽亚姆跟着他,呼吸着这芬芳的香味。她觉得花儿似乎有一种强大的吸引力,自己非得变成它们中的一部分不可。她弯下腰去闻闻花朵,好象和花在相爱似的。保罗厌恶她这样,她的动作显得太露骨,太亲热。

他采了一大串花后,他们回到了屋子。他听了听母亲在楼上轻轻地走动声,说:

“来,我给你戴花。”他两三朵两三朵地把花别在她的衣服上,不时地往后退几步欣赏别得好不好。“你知道吗?”他把别针从嘴里取出来,说,“女人应该在镜子跟前戴花。”

米丽亚姆笑了,她觉得花应该就那么随随便便地戴在衣服上,保罗这么认真地给她戴花是一时心血来潮。

看见她笑,他有些不高兴。

“有些女人是这样的——那些看起来高雅的女人。”他说。

米丽亚姆笑了,但只是苦笑。因为她听见他竟把她和其它女人混为一谈。如果别的人这么说,她才不会在乎,但这话出自他的口,这就伤了她感情。

他就要别完这些花时,听到了母亲下楼的声音,他急急忙忙别上最后一个别针。说:

“不要让我母亲知道。”他说。

米丽亚姆拿起她的书,站在门口,有些委屈地看着美丽的夕阳。我再也不来看保罗了,她心里发誓说。

“晚上好,莫瑞尔太太。”她恭敬地说,那声音听起来仿佛她无权待在这儿似的。

“哦,是你呀,米丽亚姆。”莫瑞尔太太冷冷地回答道。

由于保罗坚持要全家人都承认他和这位姑娘的友谊,莫瑞尔太太也很聪明,她不会和她当面闹翻脸的。

到保罗二十岁时,他们家才能支付得起外出度假。莫瑞尔太太自从结婚,除了去看望过她的姐姐,再没有出去度过假。现在保罗存够了钱,他们全家都可以去了。这一回还有一帮人是:安妮的几个朋友,保罗的一个朋友,威廉生前单位的一位同事以及米丽亚姆。

写信找房子真是让人激动不已。保罗和母亲无休止地讨论这个问题。他们想租一幢带家具的小别墅,租两周。莫瑞尔太太认为一周就足够了,但保罗坚持租两周。

最后,他们得到了从马布勒索浦来的答复,答应租给他们想要的那种小别墅,三十先令一星期。全家一片欢腾雀跃,保罗也为母亲高兴得不得了。这回她总算可以真正地度假了。晚上他和母亲坐在一起,想象着这个假日会是什么样子的情景。安妮进来了,还有伦纳德、爱丽思和凯蒂。大家都欣喜若狂,满怀期望。保罗把消息告诉了米丽亚姆,她高兴地默默思量着这件事。而莫瑞尔家可是兴奋激动的翻了天。

他们打算在星期天的早晨赶七点钟的那趟火车。保罗建议米丽亚姆来他家过夜,因为她家的路太远了。那天晚上她来他家吃晚饭。全家人都为这次旅行而激动万分,米丽亚姆也因此受到了热情欢迎。而且她一进屋,就感觉到家庭气氛亲密和气。保罗事先找到了一首琼·英吉罗描写马布勒索浦的诗,他一定要念给米丽亚姆听。他从来没有这么动过感情,当着全家人念什么诗。但此刻他们都迁就地听着他朗诵。米丽亚姆坐在沙发上,全神贯注地看着他。只要有他在场的时候,她似乎总会被他深深地吸引住。莫瑞尔太太妒嫉地坐在自己的椅子上,也准备听。甚至连安妮和父亲也在听着。莫瑞尔头歪在一边,就像有的人在自觉恭敬地听牧师布道。保罗低头看着书,他所需要的听众都来了。莫瑞尔太太和安妮几乎是在和米丽亚姆竞争,看谁听得最认真以便博得他的欢心。他兴致勃勃。

“可是,”莫瑞尔太太插了一句,“钟声奏出‘恩特贝新娘’是什么意思呢?”

“那是一支人们用钟声演奏警告人们提防洪水的古老调子。我想恩特贝的新娘就是在洪水里淹死的。”他回答。其实,他对这件事是一无所知,不过在这伙女人面前,他可不肯失掉面子,承认自己的无知。他们都听信了他,连他自己也相信。

“人们都知道这个调子的含义吗?”母亲说。

“是的——就像苏格兰人一听见那支《森林里的花朵》是什么意思一样——他们一听到钟是颠倒敲便明白是报告水警。”

“怎么?”安妮说,“一只钟不论正着敲,还是颠倒敲都不是一样的声音吗?”

“可是,”他说,“如果你先打低音的钟,再打高音的,当——当——当——当——当——当——当当!”

他哼着音阶。大家都觉得这个办法很聪明,他自己也这么认为。过了一会,他接着朗诵诗歌。

朗诵完之后,莫瑞尔太太带着新奇的神情说:“哦,我还是希望每篇作品不要写得那么悲伤才好。”

“我不明白他们为什么会跳水自杀。”莫瑞尔说。

大家沉默了片刻,安妮站起身去收拾桌子了。

米丽亚姆站起身来帮着收拾锅碗。

“我来帮你洗吧。”她说。

“这哪行,”安妮叫道,“你还是坐下吧,没有多少锅碗要洗。”

而米丽亚姆还不习惯于太随便,太不拘礼节,就又坐了下来,陪着保罗一起看书。

保罗是这伙人的领头,他父亲不中用。他一路上提心吊胆,生怕别人弄错,没有把铁箱子运到马布勒索,而运到弗斯比去。可他又没有勇气去雇一辆四轮马车,还是他那勇敢的妈妈去雇的。

“喂!”她冲着一个男人喊道,“喂!”

保罗和安妮躲在其它人后面,有些不好意思地笑起来。

“到青溪别墅要多少钱?”莫瑞尔太太问。

“两个先令。”

“哦,到那儿有多远啊?”

“相当远。”

“我不相信。”她说。

但她还是爬进了马车,于是,这八个人就这么挤在一辆破旧的海滨游览马车里。

“你们瞧,”莫瑞尔太太说,“每人才三便士,如果这是一辆电车的话……”

他们一路驶去,每经过一幢别墅,莫瑞尔太太就叫着。

“是这地儿吗?哦,是的!”

大家都屏息坐着,直到车子驶过,大家才叹了一口气。

“谢天谢地,不是那所破烂别墅。”莫瑞尔太太说:“我真害怕是。”他们一直往前驶去。

终于,他们下车了,这所别墅孤单单地坐落在公路边的堤岸上。进入前院,必须得走过一座小桥,大家都对此激动不已。不过,他们倒是很喜欢这所地处僻静的别墅。房子的一面是一大片的海滩草地,另一面是一望无际的田野,田野上种着一块块的白色的大麦,黄色的燕麦、红色的小麦和绿色的根茎作物,平坦而无垠一直延伸到天边。

保罗管帐目,并和妈妈共同调配支出用度。他们全部费用——住、食,和其它一切零用——是每人每星期十六先令。早晨他和伦纳德去洗澡,莫瑞尔则悠闲地在外面转悠着。

“哦,保罗,”母亲在卧室里喊道,“来吃一块黄油面包吧。”

“好的。”他回答。

他回来的时候,看见母亲已经在早餐桌旁指挥着。

这所别墅的女房东还很年轻,丈夫是个瞎子,她还给别人洗衣物,因此莫瑞尔太太常常自己到厨房洗碗刷锅,自己亲手为大家铺床。

“你不是说你来度一个真正的假日吗?”保罗说,“怎么你干起活来了。”

“干活!”她叫道,“你在说什么呀!”

保罗喜欢和母亲一起穿过田野到村子里去,到海边去。她害怕走那些木板桥,他骂她胆小得像个小孩子,紧跟着她寸步不离,就好象他是她的男人一样。

米丽亚姆很少有机会跟保罗在一起,除非别的人都去听流行歌手演唱的时候,米丽亚姆认为,这些歌手愚蠢到了让人难以忍受的程度,保罗也这样认为,他曾一本正经地训导过安妮,说去听那些歌手演唱是件蠢事。然而,这些流行歌他都会唱,一路上他还放声高唱过呢。如果他听到别人唱这些歌,那种蠢劲还使他感到很惬意呢。但他却对安妮说:

“全是胡扯!一点意义也没有,有头脑的人决不会去坐在那儿听歌的。”而在米丽亚姆面前,他又用不屑一顾的口气说安妮和其他人:“我想他们去听流行歌手演唱去了。”

看见米丽亚姆也唱流行歌来真是件怪事。她长着一个笔直的下巴,从下唇到下巴弯曲处形成了一条直线。她唱歌时总让保罗想起波蒂西里画中的悲伤的天使,即使她唱的是:

“沿着情人小巷

陪我散步与我倾诉。”

只有在保罗画素描时,或晚上其他人都去听流行歌手演唱时,他才是完全属于米丽亚姆的。他滔滔不绝地给她讲述他是多么喜欢地平线,讲述林肯那连绵不断的天空和巴野怎样向他预示着无穷的意志力,正如诺曼底式的教堂重重叠叠的拱门显示着人类灵魂不屈不挠地顽强地前进,永无止境地前进。他说,诺曼底式跟垂直线条和哥特式拱门截然不同,哥特式拱门高耸入云,伸向极乐世界,消失于天国。他说他自己属于诺曼底式,而米丽亚姆则属于哥特式,她对此深表赞同。

一天傍晚,保罗和米丽亚姆来到瑟德素浦附近宽阔的沙滩上,海浪卷着浪花不断地涌向岸边,夹杂着哗哗的响声堆起一堆泡沫。那是一个温暖的傍晚。这片偌大的沙滩上除了他俩外,再没有别的人;除了海浪声外,再也没有别的声音。保罗喜欢海浪拍打海岸的声音,喜欢体验身处浪花的渲闹和沙滩的寂静之间的那种感受。有米丽亚姆和他在一起,一切都变得情趣盎然。他们回来时,夜幕已经落下。回去的路上都经经过沙丘豁口,还要经过两条长堤之间的一条隆起的草地。四周一片寂静,夜幕沉沉,只有沙丘后面传来大海的低语。保罗和米丽亚姆默默地走着,突然,他吓了一惊,全身的血液似乎都燃烧起来,他简直透不过气来了。一轮巨大的桔红色的月亮从沙丘边缘上凝视着他们。他一动不动地站在那里,看着月亮。

“啊!”米丽亚姆望着月亮,惊叫起来。

他仍旧一动不动地站在那儿,看着那轮巨大的泛着红的月亮——这无边无际的黑暗中唯一的东西。他的心猛烈的跳着,胳膊上的肌肉也在跳动。

“怎么啦?”米丽亚姆低声说着,等着他。

他转过身来看着她。她就站在他身边,始终形影不离。她的脸被帽檐的阴影遮住了,看不见她凝视的双眼。她心里在沉思,有点儿害怕。这类似宗教的氛围深深地感动了她。这就是她的最佳心态。保罗对此是无能为力的。他的热血宛若一股火焰在胸腔燃烧,然而他就是无法把自己的想法给她讲清楚。他浑身热血沸腾,她却不知为什么佯装不知,她盼望他处于一种虔诚的状态,她一面迫切地盼望着他能这样,一面对他的激情也隐约有感,她凝望着他,心里十分不安。

“怎么啦?”她又低声说。

“这月亮。”他皱着眉头回答。

“是啊,”她表示赞同地说,“多美啊!”她不甚明白他怎么了,危机已经过去。

他自己也不知道这是怎么回事。他还年轻,而他们之间的这种亲密又非常抽象的纯洁,他不知道自己需要的是把她拥在怀里来解除心中痛苦的渴求。可是他有些怕她,怕对她产生那种男人对女人的欲望——这在他的心灵中被看作是一种耻辱。她宁愿忍受痛苦和激动的折磨,也拼命排除这种念头,他只好把这种念头藏在心底。就是这种所谓的“纯洁”,阻止着他们连初恋的吻也不敢尝试,也几乎受不了肉体爱的震动,甚至受不了一个热吻。他太胆层,太敏感,不敢去吻她。

他们沿着黑黑的沼泽草地走着,保罗一直看着月亮,什么也不说。米丽亚姆拖着沉重的步子;走在他身边。他恨她,因为她似乎有点让他看不起自己了。他向前望去,看到黑暗中有一点光亮,这就是他们那点着灯的别墅窗户。

他喜欢想到母亲和其它欢乐的人们。

“唷,别的人早就回来了!”他们一进屋,母亲就说。

“那又怎么了!”他烦躁地大声说,“如果我愿意,我可以出去散散步,对吧?”

“可我以为你会回来和我们一起吃晚饭的。”莫瑞尔太太说。

“那要看我是否高兴了,”他反驳说,“现在还不晚,我爱怎么样就怎么样。”

“很好,”母亲尖刻地说,“那么就去做你想做的事去吧。”那天晚上,她再也没有理他。他也假装不在乎也不注意这些,径自坐在那里看书。米丽亚姆也在看书,尽量让别人不注意她。莫瑞尔太太恨她把她的儿子变成这样。她看着保罗变得急躁、自负、郁郁寡欢,就把这些都推到米丽亚姆身上。安妮和她所有的朋友也都反对这个姑娘。米丽亚姆自己没有朋友,只有保罗。不过并不为此感到苦恼,因为她看不起其他那些人的浅薄。

保罗也有些恨她,因为不知怎么的,她破坏了他的悠闲自然,使他有一种屈辱的感觉,他因此而苦恼不堪。



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