At The Heart Of Mother’s Day...
When the light was fading, and Mrs.
Morel could see no more to sew, she rose
and went to the door. Everywhere was the
sound of excitement, the restlessness of
the holiday, that at last infected her. She
went out into the side garden. Women
were coming home from the wakes, the
children hugging a white lamb with green
legs, or a wooden horse. Occasionally a
man lurched past, almost as full as he
could carry. Sometimes a good husband
came along with his family, peacefully. But
usually the women and children were
alone. The stay-at-home mothers stood
gossiping at the corners of the alley, as
the twilight sank, folding their arms under
their white aprons.
Mrs. Morel was alone, but she was
used to it. Her son and her little girl slept
upstairs; so, it seemed, her home was
there behind her, fixed and stable. But
she felt wretched with the coming child.
The world seemed a dreary place, where
nothing else would happen for heróat
least until William grew up. But for herself,
nothing but this dreary enduranceótill the
children grew up. And the children! She
could not afford to have this third. She did
not want it. The father was serving beer in
a public house, swilling himself drunk.
She despised him, and was tied to him.
This coming child was too much for her. If
it were not for William and Annie, she was
sick of it, the struggle with poverty and
ugliness and meanness.
She went into the front garden,
feeling too heavy to take herself out, yet
unable to stay indoors. The heat
suffocated her. And looking ahead, the
prospect of her life made her feel as if
she were buried alive.
The front garden was a small square
with a privet hedge. There she stood,
trying to soothe herself with the scent of
flowers and the fading, beautiful evening.
Opposite her small gate was the
stile that led uphill, under the tall hedge
between the burning glow of the cut
pastures. The sky overhead throbbed and
pulsed with light. The glow sank quickly off
the field; the earth and the hedges
smoked dusk. As it grew dark, a ruddy
glare came out on the hilltop, and out of
the glare the diminished commotion of the
Sometimes, down the trough of
darkness formed by the path under the
hedges, men came lurching home. One
young man lapsed into a run down the
steep bit that ended the hill, and went with
a crash into the stile. Mrs. Morel
shuddered. He picked himself up,
swearing viciously, rather pathetically, as
if he thought the stile
had wanted to hurt him.
She went indoors, wondering if
things were never going to alter.
She was beginning by now to realise that
they would not. She seemed so far away
from her girlhood, she wondered if it were
the same person walking heavily up the
back garden at the Bottoms as had run
so lightly up the breakwater at Sheerness
ten years before.
“What have I to do with it?” she said
to herself. “What have I to do with all this?
Even the child I am going to have!
It doesn’t seem as if I were taken into
Sometimes life takes hold of one,
carries the body along, accomplishes
oneís history, and yet is not real, but
leaves oneself as it were slurred over.
“I wait,” Mrs. Morel said to herself.”
wait, and what I wait for can never come.”
Then she straightened the kitchen, lit
the lamp, mended the fire, took out the
washing for the next day, and put it to
After which she sat down to her sewing.
Through the long hours her
needle flashed regularly through the stuff.
Occasionally she sighed, moving to
relieve herself. And all the time she was
thinking how to make the most of what
she had, for the children’s sakes.
D.H. Lawrence, 1912
from Sons & Lovers