Sons and Lovers HTML version
PART II: 12. Passion
HE was gradually making it possible to earn a livelihood by his art. Liberty's had
taken several of his painted designs on various stuffs, and he could sell designs
for embroideries, for altar-cloths, and similar things, in one or two places. It was
not very much he made at present, but he might extend it. He had also made
friends with the designer for a pottery firm, and was gaining some knowledge of
his new acquaintance's art. The applied arts interested him very much. At the
same time he laboured slowly at his pictures. He loved to paint large figures, full
of light, but not merely made up of lights and cast shadows, like the
impressionists; rather definite figures that had a certain luminous quality, like
some of Michael Angelo's people. And these he fitted into a landscape, in what
he thought true proportion. He worked a great deal from memory, using
everybody he knew. He believed firmly in his work, that it was good and valuable.
In spite of fits of depression, shrinking, everything, he believed in his work.
He was twenty-four when he said his first confident thing to his mother.
"Mother," he said, "I s'll make a painter that they'll attend to."
She sniffed in her quaint fashion. It was like a half-pleased shrug of the
"Very well, my boy, we'll see," she said.
"You shall see, my pigeon! You see if you're not swanky one of these days!"
"I'm quite content, my boy," she smiled.
"But you'll have to alter. Look at you with Minnie!"
Minnie was the small servant, a girl of fourteen.
"And what about Minnie?" asked Mrs. Morel, with dignity.
"I heard her this morning: 'Eh, Mrs. Morel! I was going to do that,' when you went
out in the rain for some coal," he said. "That looks a lot like your being able to
"Well, it was only the child's niceness," said Mrs. Morel.
"And you apologising to her: 'You can't do two things at once, can you?'"
"She was busy washing up," replied Mrs. Morel.
"And what did she say? 'It could easy have waited a bit. Now look how your feet
"Yes---brazen young baggage!" said Mrs. Morel, smiling.
He looked at his mother, laughing. She was quite warm and rosy again with love
of him. It seemed as if all the sunshine were on her for a moment. He continued
his work gladly. She seemed so well when she was happy that he forgot her grey
And that year she went with him to the Isle of Wight for a holiday. It was too
exciting for them both, and too beautiful. Mrs. Morel was full of joy and wonder.
But he would have her walk with him more than she was able. She had a bad
fainting bout. So grey her face was, so blue her mouth! It was agony to him. He