Sons and Lovers HTML version
PART I: 3. The Casting Off Of Morel--The
Taking On Of William
DURING the next week Morel's temper was almost unbearable. Like all miners,
he was a great lover of medicines, which, strangely enough, he would often pay
"You mun get me a drop o' laxy vitral," he said. "It's a winder as we canna ha'e a
sup i' th' 'ouse."
So Mrs. Morel bought him elixir of vitriol, his favourite first medicine. And he
made himself a jug of wormwood tea. He had hanging in the attic great bunches
of dried herbs: wormwood, rue, horehound, elder flowers, parsley-purt,
marshmallow, hyssop, dandelion, and centaury. Usually there was a jug of one or
other decoction standing on the hob, from which he drank largely.
"Grand!" he said, smacking his lips after wormwood. "Grand!" And he exhorted
the children to try.
"It's better than any of your tea or your cocoa stews," he vowed. But they were
not to be tempted.
This time, however, neither pills nor vitriol nor all his herbs would shift the "nasty
peens in his head". He was sickening for an attack of an inflammation of the
brain. He had never been well since his sleeping on the ground when he went
with Jerry to Nottingham. Since then he had drunk and stormed. Now he fell
seriously ill, and Mrs. Morel had him to nurse. He was one of the worst patients
imaginable. But, in spite of all, and putting aside the fact that he was
breadwinner, she never quite wanted him to die. Still there was one part of her
wanted him for herself.
The neighbours were very good to her: occasionally some had the children in to
meals, occasionally some would do the downstairs work for her, one would mind
the baby for a day. But it was a great drag, nevertheless. It was not every day the
neighbours helped. Then she had nursing of baby and husband, cleaning and
cooking, everything to do. She was quite worn out, but she did what was wanted
And the money was just sufficient. She had seventeen shillings a week from
clubs, and every Friday Barker and the other butty put by a portion of the stall's
profits for Morel's wife. And the neighbours made broths, and gave eggs, and
such invalids' trifles. If they had not helped her so generously in those times, Mrs.
Morel would never have pulled through, without incurring debts that would have
dragged her down.
The weeks passed. Morel, almost against hope, grew better. He had a fine
constitution, so that, once on the mend, he went straight forward to recovery.
Soon he was pottering about downstairs. During his illness his wife had spoilt him
a little. Now he wanted her to continue. He often put his band to his head, pulled