Sons and Lovers HTML version
PART I: 5. Paul Launches Into Life
MOREL was rather a heedless man, careless of danger. So he had endless
accidents. Now, when Mrs. Morel heard the rattle of an empty coal-cart cease at
her entry-end, she ran into the parlour to look, expecting almost to see her
husband seated in the waggon, his face grey under his dirt, his body limp and
sick with some hurt or other. If it were he, she would run out to help.
About a year after William went to London, and just after Paul had left school,
before he got work, Mrs. Morel was upstairs and her son was painting in the
kitchen---he was very clever with his brush---when there came a knock at the
door. Crossly he put down his brush to go. At the same moment his mother
opened a window upstairs and looked down.
A pit-lad in his dirt stood on the threshold.
"Is this Walter Morel's?" he asked.
"Yes," said Mrs. Morel. "What is it?"
But she had guessed already.
"Your mester's got hurt," he said.
"Eh, dear me!" she exclaimed. "It's a wonder if he hadn't, lad. And what's he done
"I don't know for sure, but it's 'is leg somewhere. They ta'ein' 'im ter th' 'ospital."
"Good gracious me!" she exclaimed. "Eh, dear, what a one he is! There's not five
minutes of peace, I'll be hanged if there is! His thumb's nearly better, and now---
Did you see him?"
"I seed him at th' bottom. An' I seed 'em bring 'im up in a tub, an' 'e wor in a dead
faint. But he shouted like anythink when Doctor Fraser examined him i' th' lamp
cabin---an' cossed an' swore, an' said as 'e wor goin' to be ta'en whoam---'e
worn't goin' ter th' 'ospital."
The boy faltered to an end.
"He would want to come home, so that I can have all the bother. Thank you, my
lad. Eh, dear, if I'm not sick---sick and surfeited, I am!"
She came downstairs. Paul had mechanically resumed his painting.
"And it must be pretty bad if they've taken him to the hospital," she went on. "But
what a careless creature he is! Other men don't have all these accidents. Yes, he
would want to put all the burden on me. Eh, dear, just as we were getting easy a
bit at last. Put those things away, there's no time to be painting now. What time is
there a train? I know I s'll have to go trailing to Keston. I s'll have to leave that
"I can finish it," said Paul.
"You needn't. I shall catch the seven o'clock back, I should think. Oh, my blessed
heart, the fuss and commotion he'll make! And those granite setts at Tinder Hill---
he might well call them kidney pebbles---they'll jolt him almost to bits. I wonder
why they can't mend them, the state they're in, an' all the men as go across in
that ambulance. You'd think they'd have a hospital here. The men bought the
ground, and, my sirs, there'd be accidents enough to keep it going. But no, they