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PART II: 14. The Release
"BY the way," said Dr. Ansell one evening when Morel was in Sheffield, "we've
got a man in the fever hospital here who comes from Nottingham---Dawes. He
doesn't seem to have many belongings in this world."
"Baxter Dawes!" Paul exclaimed.
"That's the man---has been a fine fellow, physically, I should think. Been in a bit
of a mess lately. You know him?"
"He used to work at the place where I am."
"Did he? Do you know anything about him? He's just sulking, or he'd be a lot
better than he is by now."
"I don't know anything of his home circumstances, except that he's separated
from his wife and has been a bit down, I believe. But tell him about me, will you?
Tell him I'll come and see him."
The next time Morel saw the doctor he said:
"And what about Dawes?"
"I said to him," answered the other, "'Do you know a man from Nottingham
named Morel?' and he looked at me as if he'd jump at my throat. So I said: 'I see
you know the name; it's Paul Morel.' Then I told him about your saying you would
go and see him. 'What does he want?' he said, as if you were a policeman."
"And did he say he would see me?" asked Paul.
"He wouldn't say anything---good, bad or indifferent," replied the doctor.
"Why not?"
"That's what I want to know. There he lies and sulks, day in, day out. Can't get a
word of information out of him."
"Do you think I might go?" asked Paul.
"You might."
There was a feeling of connection between the rival men, more than ever since
they had fought. In a way Morel felt guilty towards the other, and more or less
responsible. And being in such a state of soul himself, he felt an almost painful
nearness to Dawes, who was suffering and despairing, too. Besides, they had
met in a naked extremity of hate, and it was a bond. At any rate, the elemental
man in each had met.
He went down to the isolation hospital, with Dr. Ansell's card. This sister, a
healthy young Irishwoman, led him down the ward.
"A visitor to see you, Jim Crow," she said.
Dawes turned over suddenly with a startled grunt.
"Caw!" she mocked. "He can only say 'Caw!' I have brought you a gentleman to
see you. Now say 'Thank you,' and show some manners."
Dawes looked swiftly with his dark, startled eyes beyond the sister at Paul. His
look was full of fear, mistrust, hate, and misery. Morel met the swift, dark eyes,
and hesitated. The two men were afraid of the naked selves they had been.
"Dr. Ansell told me you were here," said Morel, holding out his hand.