I How Tom Brangwen Married a Polish Lady

II They Live at the Marsh

III Childhood of Anna Lensky

IV Girlhood of Anna Brangwen

V Wedding at the Marsh

VI Anna Victrix

VII The Cathedral

VIII The Child

IX The Marsh and the Flood

X The Widening Circle

XI First Love

XXII Shame

XIII The Man's World

XIV The Widening Circle

XV The Bitterness of Ecstasy

XVI The Rainbow





The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm,

in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees,

separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire.

Two miles away,

a church-tower stood on a hill,

the houses of the little country town climbing assiduously up to it.

Whenever one of the Brangwens in the fields lifted his head from his work,

he saw the church-tower at Ilkeston in the empty sky.

So that as he turned again to the horizontal land,

he was aware of something standing above him and beyond him in the distance.

There was a look in the eyes of the Brangwens as if they were expecting something unknown,

about which they were eager.

They had that air of readiness for what would come to them,

a kind of surety,

an expectancy,

the look of an inheritor.

They were fresh,


slow-speaking people,

revealing themselves plainly,

but slowly,

so that one could watch the change in their eyes from laughter to anger,


lit-up laughter,

to a hard blue-staring anger;

through all the irresolute stages of the sky when the weather is changing.

Living on rich land,

on their own land,

near to a growing town,

they had forgotten what it was to be in straitened circumstances.

They had never become rich,

because there were always children,

and the patrimony was divided every time.

But always,

at the Marsh,

there was ample.

So the Brangwens came and went without fear of necessity,

working hard because of the life that was in them,

not for want of the money.

Neither were they thriftless.

They were aware of the last halfpenny,

and instinct made them not waste the peeling of their apple,

for it would help to feed the cattle.

But heaven and earth was teeming around them,

and how should this cease?

They felt the rush of the sap in spring,

they knew the wave which cannot halt,

but every year throws forward the seed to begetting,


falling back,

leaves the young-born on the earth.

They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth,

sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels,

the rain sucked up in the daytime,

nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn,

showing the birds' nests no longer worth hiding.

Their life and interrelations were such;

feeling the pulse and body of the soil,

that opened to their furrow for the grain,

and became smooth and supple after their ploughing,

and clung to their feet with a weight that pulled like desire,

lying hard and unresponsive when the crops were to be shorn away.

The young corn waved and was silken,

and the lustre slid along the limbs of the men who saw it.

They took the udder of the cows,

the cows yielded milk and pulse against the hands of the men,

the pulse of the blood of the teats of the cows beat into the pulse of the hands of the men.

They mounted their horses,

and held life between the grip of their knees,

they harnessed their horses at the wagon,


with hand on the bridle-rings,

drew the heaving of the horses after their will.

In autumn the partridges whirred up,

birds in flocks blew like spray across the fallow,

rooks appeared on the grey,

watery heavens,

and flew cawing into the winter.

Then the men sat by the fire in the house where the women moved about with surety,

and the limbs and the body of the men were impregnated with the day,

cattle and earth and vegetation and the sky,

the men sat by the fire and their brains were inert,

as their blood flowed heavy with the accumulation from the living day.

The women were different.

On them too was the drowse of blood-intimacy,

calves sucking and hens running together in droves,

and young geese palpitating in the hand while the food was pushed down their throttle.

But the women looked out from the heated,

blind intercourse of farm-life,

to the spoken world beyond.

They were aware of the lips and the mind of the world speaking and giving utterance,

they heard the sound in the distance,

and they strained to listen.

It was enough for the men,

that the earth heaved and opened its furrow to them,

that the wind blew to dry the wet wheat,

and set the young ears of corn wheeling freshly round about;

it was enough that they helped the cow in labour,

or ferreted the rats from under the barn,

or broke the back of a rabbit with a sharp knock of the hand.

So much warmth and generating and pain and death did they know in their blood,

earth and sky and beast and green plants,

so much exchange and interchange they had with these,

that they lived full and surcharged,

their senses full fed,

their faces always turned to the heat of the blood,

staring into the sun,

dazed with looking towards the source of generation,

unable to turn round.

But the woman wanted another form of life than this,

something that was not blood-intimacy.

Her house faced out from the farm-buildings and fields,

looked out to the road and the village with church and Hall and the world beyond.

She stood to see the far-off world of cities and governments and the active scope of man,

the magic land to her,

where secrets were made known and desires fulfilled.

She faced outwards to where men moved dominant and creative,

having turned their back on the pulsing heat of creation,

and with this behind them,

were set out to discover what was beyond,

to enlarge their own scope and range and freedom;

whereas the Brangwen men faced inwards to the teeming life of creation,

which poured unresolved into their veins.

Looking out,

as she must,

from the front of her house towards the activity of man in the world at large,

whilst her husband looked out to the back at sky and harvest and beast and land,

she strained her eyes to see what man had done in fighting outwards to knowledge,

she strained to hear how he uttered himself in his conquest,

her deepest desire hung on the battle that she heard,

far off,

being waged on the edge of the unknown.

She also wanted to know,

and to be of the fighting host.

At home,

even so near as Cossethay,

was the vicar,

who spoke the other,

magic language,

and had the other,

finer bearing,

both of which she could perceive,

but could never attain to.

The vicar moved in worlds beyond where her own menfolk existed.

Did she not know her own menfolk: fresh,


full-built men,

masterful enough,

but easy,

native to the earth,

lacking outwardness and range of motion.

Whereas the vicar,

dark and dry and small beside her husband,

had yet a quickness and a range of being that made Brangwen,

in his large geniality,

seem dull and local.

She knew her husband.

But in the vicar's nature was that which passed beyond her knowledge.

As Brangwen had power over the cattle so the vicar had power over her husband.

What was it in the vicar,

that raised him above the common men as man is raised above the beast?

She craved to know.

She craved to achieve this higher being,

if not in herself,

then in her children.

That which makes a man strong even if he be little and frail in body,

just as any man is little and frail beside a bull,

and yet stronger than the bull,

what was it?

It was not money nor power nor position.

What power had the vicar over Tom Brangwen --none.

Yet strip them and set them on a desert island,

and the vicar was the master.

His soul was master of the other man's.

And why --why?

She decided it was a question of knowledge.

The curate was poor enough,

and not very efficacious as a man,


yet he took rank with those others,

the superior.

She watched his children being born,

she saw them running as tiny things beside their mother.

And already they were separate from her own children,


Why were her own children marked below the others?

Why should the curate's children inevitably take precedence over her children,

why should dominance be given them from the start?

It was not money,

nor even class.

It was education and experience,

she decided.

It was this,

this education,

this higher form of being,

that the mother wished to give to her children,

so that they too could live the supreme life on earth.

For her children,

at least the children of her heart,

had the complete nature that should take place in equality with the living,

vital people in the land,

not be left behind obscure among the labourers.

Why must they remain obscured and stifled all their lives,

why should they suffer from lack of freedom to move?

How should they learn the entry into the finer,

more vivid circle of life?

Her imagination was fired by the squire's lady at Shelly Hall,

who came to church at Cossethay with her little children,

girls in tidy capes of beaver fur,

and smart little hats,

herself like a winter rose,

so fair and delicate.

So fair,

so fine in mould,

so luminous,

what was it that Mrs. Hardy felt which she,

Mrs. Brangwen,

did not feel?

How was Mrs. Hardy's nature different from that of the common women of Cossethay,

in what was it beyond them?

All the women of Cossethay talked eagerly about Mrs. Hardy,

of her husband,

her children,

her guests,

her dress,

of her servants and her housekeeping.

The lady of the Hall was the living dream of their lives,

her life was the epic that inspired their lives.

In her they lived imaginatively,

and in gossiping of her husband who drank,

of her scandalous brother,

of Lord William Bentley her friend,

member of Parliament for the division,

they had their own Odyssey enacting itself,

Penelope and Ulysses before them,

and Circe and the swine and the endless web.

So the women of the village were fortunate.

They saw themselves in the lady of the manor,

each of them lived her own fulfilment of the life of Mrs. Hardy.

And the Brangwen wife of the Marsh aspired beyond herself,

towards the further life of the finer woman,

towards the extended being she revealed,

as a traveller in his self-contained manner reveals far-off countries present in himself.

But why should a knowledge of far-off countries make a man's life a different thing,



And why is a man more than the beast and the cattle that serve him?

It is the same thing.

The male part of the poem was filled in by such men as the vicar and Lord William,


eager men with strange movements,

men who had command of the further fields,

whose lives ranged over a great extent.


it was something very desirable to know,

this touch of the wonderful men who had the power of thought and comprehension.

The women of the village might be much fonder of Tom Brangwen,

and more at their ease with him,

yet if their lives had been robbed of the vicar,

and of Lord William,

the leading shoot would have been cut away from them,

they would have been heavy and uninspired and inclined to hate.

So long as the wonder of the beyond was before them,

they could get along,

whatever their lot.

And Mrs. Hardy,

and the vicar,

and Lord William,

these moved in the wonder of the beyond,

and were visible to the eyes of Cossethay in their motion.


About 1840,

a canal was constructed across the meadows of the Marsh Farm,

connecting the newly-opened collieries of the Erewash Valley.

A high embankment travelled along the fields to carry the canal,

which passed close to the homestead,


reaching the road,

went over in a heavy bridge.

So the Marsh was shut off from Ilkeston,

and enclosed in the small valley bed,

which ended in a bushy hill and the village spire of Cossethay.

The Brangwens received a fair sum of money from this trespass across their land.


a short time afterwards,

a colliery was sunk on the other side of the canal,

and in a while the Midland Railway came down the valley at the foot of the Ilkeston hill,

and the invasion was complete.

The town grew rapidly,

the Brangwens were kept busy producing supplies,

they became richer,

they were almost tradesmen.

Still the Marsh remained remote and original,

on the old,

quiet side of the canal embankment,

in the sunny valley where slow water wound along in company of stiff alders,

and the road went under ash-trees past the Brangwens' garden gate.


looking from the garden gate down the road to the right,


through the dark archway of the canal's square aqueduct,

was a colliery spinning away in the near distance,

and further,


crude houses plastered on the valley in masses,

and beyond all,

the dim smoking hill of the town.

The homestead was just on the safe side of civilization,

outside the gate.

The house stood bare from the road,

approached by a straight garden path,

along which at spring the daffodils were thick in green and yellow.

At the sides of the house were bushes of lilac and guelder-rose and privet,

entirely hiding the farm buildings behind.

At the back a confusion of sheds spread into the home-close from out of two or three indistinct yards.

The duck-pond lay beyond the furthest wall,

littering its white feathers on the padded earthen banks,

blowing its stray soiled feathers into the grass and the gorse bushes below the canal embankment,

which rose like a high rampart near at hand,

so that occasionally a man's figure passed in silhouette,

or a man and a towing horse traversed the sky.

At first the Brangwens were astonished by all this commotion around them.

The building of a canal across their land made them strangers in their own place,

this raw bank of earth shutting them off disconcerted them.

As they worked in the fields,

from beyond the now familiar embankment came the rhythmic run of the winding engines,

startling at first,

but afterwards a narcotic to the brain.

Then the shrill whistle of the trains re-echoed through the heart,

with fearsome pleasure,

announcing the far-off come near and imminent.

As they drove home from town,

the farmers of the land met the blackened colliers trooping from the pit-mouth.

As they gathered the harvest,

the west wind brought a faint,

sulphurous smell of pit-refuse burning.

As they pulled the turnips in November,

the sharp clink-clink-clink-clink-clink of empty trucks shunting on the line,

vibrated in their hearts with the fact of other activity going on beyond them.

The Alfred Brangwen of this period had married a woman from Heanor,

a daughter of the "Black Horse".

She was a slim,


dark woman,

quaint in her speech,


so that the sharp things she said did not hurt.

She was oddly a thing to herself,

rather querulous in her manner,

but intrinsically separate and indifferent,

so that her long lamentable complaints,

when she raised her voice against her husband in particular and against everybody else after him,

only made those who heard her wonder and feel affectionately towards her,

even while they were irritated and impatient with her.

She railed long and loud about her husband,

but always with a balanced,

easy-flying voice and a quaint manner of speech that warmed his belly with pride and male triumph while he scowled with mortification at the things she said.

Consequently Brangwen himself had a humorous puckering at the eyes,

a sort of fat laugh,

very quiet and full,

and he was spoilt like a lord of creation.

He calmly did as he liked,

laughed at their railing,

excused himself in a teasing tone that she loved,

followed his natural inclinations,

and sometimes,

pricked too near the quick,

frightened and broke her by a deep,

tense fury which seemed to fix on him and hold him for days,

and which she would give anything to placate in him.

They were two very separate beings,

vitally connected,

knowing nothing of each other,

yet living in their separate ways from one root.

There were four sons and two daughters.

The eldest boy ran away early to sea,

and did not come back.

After this the mother was more the node and centre of attraction in the home.

The second boy,


whom the mother admired most,

was the most reserved.

He was sent to school in Ilkeston and made some progress.

But in spite of his dogged,

yearning effort,

he could not get beyond the rudiments of anything,

save of drawing.

At this,

in which he had some power,

he worked,

as if it were his hope.

After much grumbling and savage rebellion against everything,

after much trying and shifting about,

when his father was incensed against him and his mother almost despairing,

he became a draughtsman in a lace-factory in Nottingham.

He remained heavy and somewhat uncouth,

speaking with broad Derbyshire accent,

adhering with all his tenacity to his work and to his town position,

making good designs,

and becoming fairly well-off.

But at drawing,

his hand swung naturally in big,

bold lines,

rather lax,

so that it was cruel for him to pedgill away at the lace designing,

working from the tiny squares of his paper,

counting and plotting and niggling.

He did it stubbornly,

with anguish,

crushing the bowels within him,

adhering to his chosen lot whatever it should cost.

And he came back into life set and rigid,

a rare-spoken,

almost surly man.

He married the daughter of a chemist,

who affected some social superiority,

and he became something of a snob,

in his dogged fashion,

with a passion for outward refinement in the household,

mad when anything clumsy or gross occurred.


when his three children were growing up,

and he seemed a staid,

almost middle-aged man,

he turned after strange women,

and became a silent,

inscrutable follower of forbidden pleasure,

neglecting his indignant bourgeois wife without a qualm.


the third son,

refused from the first to have anything to do with learning.

From the first he hung round the slaughter-house which stood away in the third yard at the back of the farm.

The Brangwens had always killed their own meat,

and supplied the neighbourhood.

Out of this grew a regular butcher's business in connection with the farm.

As a child Frank had been drawn by the trickle of dark blood that ran across the pavement from the slaughter-house to the crew-yard,

by the sight of the man carrying across to the meat-shed a huge side of beef,

with the kidneys showing,

embedded in their heavy laps of fat.

He was a handsome lad with soft brown hair and regular features something like a later Roman youth.

He was more easily excitable,

more readily carried away than the rest,

weaker in character.

At eighteen he married a little factory girl,

a pale,


quiet thing with sly eyes and a wheedling voice,

who insinuated herself into him and bore him a child every year and made a fool of him.

When he had taken over the butchery business,

already a growing callousness to it,

and a sort of contempt made him neglectful of it.

He drank,

and was often to be found in his public house blathering away as if he knew everything,

when in reality he was a noisy fool.

Of the daughters,


the elder,

married a collier and lived for a time stormily in Ilkeston,

before moving away to Yorkshire with her numerous young family.


the younger,

remained at home.

The last child,


was considerably younger than his brothers,

so had belonged rather to the company of his sisters.

He was his mother's favourite.

She roused herself to determination,

and sent him forcibly away to a grammar-school in Derby when he was twelve years old.

He did not want to go,

and his father would have given way,

but Mrs. Brangwen had set her heart on it.

Her slender,


tightly-covered body,

with full skirts,

was now the centre of resolution in the house,

and when she had once set upon anything,

which was not often,

the family failed before her.

So Tom went to school,

an unwilling failure from the first.

He believed his mother was right in decreeing school for him,

but he knew she was only right because she would not acknowledge his constitution.

He knew,

with a child's deep,

instinctive foreknowledge of what is going to happen to him,

that he would cut a sorry figure at school.

But he took the infliction as inevitable,

as if he were guilty of his own nature,

as if his being were wrong,

and his mother's conception right.

If he could have been what he liked,

he would have been that which his mother fondly but deludedly hoped he was.

He would have been clever,

and capable of becoming a gentleman.

It was her aspiration for him,

therefore he knew it as the true aspiration for any boy.

But you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear,

as he told his mother very early,

with regard to himself;

much to her mortification and chagrin.

When he got to school,

he made a violent struggle against his physical inability to study.

He sat gripped,

making himself pale and ghastly in his effort to concentrate on the book,

to take in what he had to learn.

But it was no good.

If he beat down his first repulsion,

and got like a suicide to the stuff,

he went very little further.

He could not learn deliberately.

His mind simply did not work.

In feeling he was developed,

sensitive to the atmosphere around him,

brutal perhaps,

but at the same time delicate,

very delicate.

So he had a low opinion of himself.

He knew his own limitation.

He knew that his brain was a slow hopeless good-for-nothing.

So he was humble.

But at the same time his feelings were more discriminating than those of most of the boys,

and he was confused.

He was more sensuously developed,

more refined in instinct than they.

For their mechanical stupidity he hated them,

and suffered cruel contempt for them.

But when it came to mental things,

then he was at a disadvantage.

He was at their mercy.

He was a fool.

He had not the power to controvert even the most stupid argument,

so that he was forced to admit things he did not in the least believe.

And having admitted them,

he did not know whether he believed them or not;

he rather thought he did.

But he loved anyone who could convey enlightenment to him through feeling.

He sat betrayed with emotion when the teacher of literature read,

in a moving fashion,

Tennyson's "Ulysses",

or Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind".

His lips parted,

his eyes filled with a strained,

almost suffering light.

And the teacher read on,

fired by his power over the boy.

Tom Brangwen was moved by this experience beyond all calculation,

he almost dreaded it,

it was so deep.

But when,

almost secretly and shamefully,

he came to take the book himself,

and began the words "Oh wild west wind,

thou breath of autumn's being,"

the very fact of the print caused a prickly sensation of repulsion to go over his skin,

the blood came to his face,

his heart filled with a bursting passion of rage and incompetence.

He threw the book down and walked over it and went out to the cricket field.

And he hated books as if they were his enemies.

He hated them worse than ever he hated any person.

He could not voluntarily control his attention.

His mind had no fixed habits to go by,

he had nothing to get hold of,

nowhere to start from.

For him there was nothing palpable,

nothing known in himself,

that he could apply to learning.

He did not know how to begin.

Therefore he was helpless when it came to deliberate understanding or deliberate learning.

He had an instinct for mathematics,

but if this failed him,

he was helpless as an idiot.

So that he felt that the ground was never sure under his feet,

he was nowhere.

His final downfall was his complete inability to attend to a question put without suggestion.

If he had to write a formal composition on the Army,

he did at last learn to repeat the few facts he knew:

"You can join the army at eighteen.

You have to be over five foot eight."

But he had all the time a living conviction that this was a dodge and that his common-places were beneath contempt.

Then he reddened furiously,

felt his bowels sink with shame,

scratched out what he had written,

made an agonized effort to think of something in the real composition style,


became sullen with rage and humiliation,

put the pen down and would have been torn to pieces rather than attempt to write another word.

He soon got used to the Grammar School,

and the Grammar School got used to him,

setting him down as a hopeless duffer at learning,

but respecting him for a generous,

honest nature.

Only one narrow,

domineering fellow,

the Latin master,

bullied him and made the blue eyes mad with shame and rage.

There was a horrid scene,

when the boy laid open the master's head with a slate,

and then things went on as before.

The teacher got little sympathy.

But Brangwen winced and could not bear to think of the deed,

not even long after,

when he was a grown man.

He was glad to leave school.

It had not been unpleasant,

he had enjoyed the companionship of the other youths,

or had thought he enjoyed it,

the time had passed very quickly,

in endless activity.

But he knew all the time that he was in an ignominious position,

in this place of learning.

He was aware of failure all the while,

of incapacity.

But he was too healthy and sanguine to be wretched,

he was too much alive.

Yet his soul was wretched almost to hopelessness.

He had loved one warm,

clever boy who was frail in body,

a consumptive type.

The two had had an almost classic friendship,

David and Jonathan,

wherein Brangwen was the Jonathan,

the server.

But he had never felt equal with his friend,

because the other's mind outpaced his,

and left him ashamed,

far in the rear.

So the two boys went at once apart on leaving school.

But Brangwen always remembered his friend that had been,

kept him as a sort of light,

a fine experience to remember.

Tom Brangwen was glad to get back to the farm,

where he was in his own again.

"I have got a turnip on my shoulders,

let me stick to th' fallow,"

he said to his exasperated mother.

He had too low an opinion of himself.

But he went about at his work on the farm gladly enough,

glad of the active labour and the smell of the land again,

having youth and vigour and humour,

and a comic wit,

having the will and the power to forget his own shortcomings,

finding himself violent with occasional rages,

but usually on good terms with everybody and everything.

When he was seventeen,

his father fell from a stack and broke his neck.

Then the mother and son and daughter lived on at the farm,

interrupted by occasional loud-mouthed lamenting,

jealous-spirited visitations from the butcher Frank,

who had a grievance against the world,

which he felt was always giving him less than his dues.

Frank was particularly against the young Tom,

whom he called a mardy baby,

and Tom returned the hatred violently,

his face growing red and his blue eyes staring.

Effie sided with Tom against Frank.

But when Alfred came,

from Nottingham,

heavy jowled and lowering,

speaking very little,

but treating those at home with some contempt,

Effie and the mother sided with him and put Tom into the shade.

It irritated the youth that his elder brother should be made something of a hero by the women,

just because he didn't live at home and was a lace-designer and almost a gentleman.

But Alfred was something of a Prometheus Bound,

so the women loved him.

Tom came later to understand his brother better.

As youngest son,

Tom felt some importance when the care of the farm devolved on to him.

He was only eighteen,

but he was quite capable of doing everything his father had done.

And of course,

his mother remained as centre to the house.

The young man grew up very fresh and alert,

with zest for every moment of life.

He worked and rode and drove to market,

he went out with companions and got tipsy occasionally and played skittles and went to the little travelling theatres.


when he was drunk at a public house,

he went upstairs with a prostitute who seduced him.

He was then nineteen.

The thing was something of a shock to him.

In the close intimacy of the farm kitchen,

the woman occupied the supreme position.

The men deferred to her in the house,

on all household points,

on all points of morality and behaviour.

The woman was the symbol for that further life which comprised religion and love and morality.

The men placed in her hands their own conscience,

they said to her "Be my conscience-keeper,

be the angel at the doorway guarding my outgoing and my incoming."

And the woman fulfilled her trust,

the men rested implicitly in her,

receiving her praise or her blame with pleasure or with anger,

rebelling and storming,

but never for a moment really escaping in their own souls from her prerogative.

They depended on her for their stability.

Without her,

they would have felt like straws in the wind,

to be blown hither and thither at random.

She was the anchor and the security,

she was the restraining hand of God,

at times highly to be execrated.

Now when Tom Brangwen,

at nineteen,

a youth fresh like a plant,

rooted in his mother and his sister,

found that he had lain with a prostitute woman in a common public house,

he was very much startled.

For him there was until that time only one kind of woman --his mother and sister.

But now?

He did not know what to feel.

There was a slight wonder,

a pang of anger,

of disappointment,

a first taste of ash and of cold fear lest this was all that would happen,

lest his relations with woman were going to be no more than this nothingness;

there was a slight sense of shame before the prostitute,

fear that she would despise him for his inefficiency;

there was a cold distaste for her,

and a fear of her;

there was a moment of paralyzed horror when he felt he might have taken a disease from her;

and upon all this startled tumult of emotion,

was laid the steadying hand of common sense,

which said it did not matter very much,

so long as he had no disease.

He soon recovered balance,

and really it did not matter so very much.

But it had shocked him,

and put a mistrust into his heart,

and emphasized his fear of what was within himself.

He was,


in a few days going about again in his own careless,

happy-go-lucky fashion,

his blue eyes just as clear and honest as ever,

his face just as fresh,

his appetite just as keen.

Or apparently so.

He had,

in fact,

lost some of his buoyant confidence,

and doubt hindered his outgoing.

For some time after this,

he was quieter,

more conscious when he drank,

more backward from companionship.

The disillusion of his first carnal contact with woman,

strengthened by his innate desire to find in a woman the embodiment of all his inarticulate,

powerful religious impulses,

put a bit in his mouth.

He had something to lose which he was afraid of losing,

which he was not sure even of possessing.

This first affair did not matter much: but the business of love was,

at the bottom of his soul,

the most serious and terrifying of all to him.

He was tormented now with sex desire,

his imagination reverted always to lustful scenes.

But what really prevented his returning to a loose woman,

over and above the natural squeamishness,

was the recollection of the paucity of the last experience.

It had been so nothing,

so dribbling and functional,

that he was ashamed to expose himself to the risk of a repetition of it.

He made a strong,

instinctive fight to retain his native cheerfulness unimpaired.

He had naturally a plentiful stream of life and humour,

a sense of sufficiency and exuberance,

giving ease.

But now it tended to cause tension.

A strained light came into his eyes,

he had a slight knitting of the brows.

His boisterous humour gave place to lowering silences,

and days passed by in a sort of suspense.

He did not know there was any difference in him,


for the most part he was filled with slow anger and resentment.

But he knew he was always thinking of women,

or a woman,

day in,

day out,

and that infuriated him.

He could not get free: and he was ashamed.

He had one or two sweethearts,

starting with them in the hope of speedy development.

But when he had a nice girl,

he found that he was incapable of pushing the desired development.

The very presence of the girl beside him made it impossible.

He could not think of her like that,

he could not think of her actual nakedness.

She was a girl and he liked her,

and dreaded violently even the thought of uncovering her.

He knew that,

in these last issues of nakedness,

he did not exist to her nor she to him.


if he had a loose girl,

and things began to develop,

she offended him so deeply all the time,

that he never knew whether he was going to get away from her as quickly as possible,

or whether he were going to take her out of inflamed necessity.

Again he learnt his lesson: if he took her it was a paucity which he was forced to despise.

He did not despise himself nor the girl.

But he despised the net result in him of the experience --he despised it deeply and bitterly.


when he was twenty-three,

his mother died,

and he was left at home with Effie.

His mother's death was another blow out of the dark.

He could not understand it,

he knew it was no good his trying.

One had to submit to these unforeseen blows that come unawares and leave a bruise that remains and hurts whenever it is touched.

He began to be afraid of all that which was up against him.

He had loved his mother.

After this,

Effie and he quarrelled fiercely.

They meant a very great deal to each other,

but they were both under a strange,

unnatural tension.

He stayed out of the house as much as possible.

He got a special corner for himself at the "Red Lion" at Cossethay,

and became a usual figure by the fire,

a fresh,

fair young fellow with heavy limbs and head held back,

mostly silent,

though alert and attentive,

very hearty in his greeting of everybody he knew,

shy of strangers.

He teased all the women,

who liked him extremely,

and he was very attentive to the talk of the men,

very respectful.

To drink made him quickly flush very red in the face,

and brought out the look of self-consciousness and unsureness,

almost bewilderment,

in his blue eyes.

When he came home in this state of tipsy confusion his sister hated him and abused him,

and he went off his head,

like a mad bull with rage.

He had still another turn with a light-o'-love.

One Whitsuntide he went a jaunt with two other young fellows,

on horseback,

to Matlock and thence to Bakewell.

Matlock was at that time just becoming a famous beauty-spot,

visited from Manchester and from the Staffordshire towns.

In the hotel where the young men took lunch,

were two girls,

and the parties struck up a friendship.

The Miss who made up to Tom Brangwen,

then twenty-four years old,

was a handsome,

reckless girl neglected for an afternoon by the man who had brought her out.

She saw Brangwen and liked him,

as all women did,

for his warmth and his generous nature,

and for the innate delicacy in him.

But she saw he was one who would have to be brought to the scratch.


she was roused and unsatisfied and made mischievous,

so she dared anything.

It would be an easy interlude,

restoring her pride.

She was a handsome girl with a bosom,

and dark hair and blue eyes,

a girl full of easy laughter,

flushed from the sun,

inclined to wipe her laughing face in a very natural and taking manner.

Brangwen was in a state of wonder.

He treated her with his chaffing deference,


but very unsure of himself,

afraid to death of being too forward,

ashamed lest he might be thought backward,

mad with desire yet restrained by instinctive regard for women from making any definite approach,

feeling all the while that his attitude was ridiculous,

and flushing deep with confusion.



became hard and daring as he became confused,

it amused her to see him come on.

"When must you get back?"

she asked.

"I'm not particular,"

he said.

There the conversation again broke down.

Brangwen's companions were ready to go on.

"Art commin',


they called,

"or art for stoppin'?"


I'm commin',"

he replied,

rising reluctantly,

an angry sense of futility and disappointment spreading over him.

He met the full,

almost taunting look of the girl,

and he trembled with unusedness.

"Shall you come an' have a look at my mare,"

he said to her,

with his hearty kindliness that was now shaken with trepidation.


I should like to,"

she said,


And she followed him,

his rather sloping shoulders and his cloth riding-gaiters,

out of the room.

The young men got their own horses out of the stable.

"Can you ride?"

Brangwen asked her.

"I should like to if I could --I have never tried,"

she said.

"Come then,

an' have a try,"

he said.

And he lifted her,

he blushing,

she laughing,

into the saddle.

"I s'll slip off --it's not a lady's saddle,"

she cried.

"Hold yer tight,"

he said,

and he led her out of the hotel gate.

The girl sat very insecurely,

clinging fast.

He put a hand on her waist,

to support her.

And he held her closely,

he clasped her as in an embrace,

he was weak with desire as he strode beside her.

The horse walked by the river.

"You want to sit straddle-leg,"

he said to her.

"I know I do,"

she said.

It was the time of very full skirts.

She managed to get astride the horse,

quite decently,

showing an intent concern for covering her pretty leg.

"It's a lot's better this road,"

she said,

looking down at him.


it is,"

he said,

feeling the marrow melt in his bones from the look in her eyes.

"I dunno why they have that side-saddle business,

twistin' a woman in two."

"Should us leave you then --you seem to be fixed up there?"

called Brangwen's companions from the road.

He went red with anger.

"Ay --don't worry,"

he called back.

"How long are yer stoppin'?"

they asked.

"Not after Christmas,"

he said.

And the girl gave a tinkling peal of laughter.

"All right --by-bye!"

called his friends.

And they cantered off,

leaving him very flushed,

trying to be quite normal with the girl.

But presently he had gone back to the hotel and given his horse into the charge of an ostler and had gone off with the girl into the woods,

not quite knowing where he was or what he was doing.

His heart thumped and he thought it the most glorious adventure,

and was mad with desire for the girl.

Afterwards he glowed with pleasure.

By Jove,

but that was something like!

He [stayed the afternoon with the girl,

and] wanted to stay the night.



told him this was impossible: her own man would be back by dark,

and she must be with him.



must not let on that there had been anything between them.

She gave him an intimate smile,

which made him feel confused and gratified.

He could not tear himself away,

though he had promised not to interfere with the girl.

He stayed on at the hotel over night.

He saw the other fellow at the evening meal: a small,

middle-aged man with iron-grey hair and a curious face,

like a monkey's,

but interesting,

in its way almost beautiful.

Brangwen guessed that he was a foreigner.

He was in company with another,

an Englishman,

dry and hard.

The four sat at table,

two men and two women.

Brangwen watched with all his eyes.

He saw how the foreigner treated the women with courteous contempt,

as if they were pleasing animals.

Brangwen's girl had put on a ladylike manner,

but her voice betrayed her.

She wanted to win back her man.

When dessert came on,


the little foreigner turned round from his table and calmly surveyed the room,

like one unoccupied.

Brangwen marvelled over the cold,

animal intelligence of the face.

The brown eyes were round,

showing all the brown pupil,

like a monkey's,

and just calmly looking,

perceiving the other person without referring to him at all.

They rested on Brangwen.

The latter marvelled at the old face turned round on him,

looking at him without considering it necessary to know him at all.

The eyebrows of the round,


but unconcerned eyes were rather high up,

with slight wrinkles above them,

just as a monkey's had.

It was an old,

ageless face.

The man was most amazingly a gentleman all the time,

an aristocrat.

Brangwen stared fascinated.

The girl was pushing her crumbs about on the cloth,


flushed and angry.

As Brangwen sat motionless in the hall afterwards,

too much moved and lost to know what to do,

the little stranger came up to him with a beautiful smile and manner,

offering a cigarette and saying:

"Will you smoke?"

Brangwen never smoked cigarettes,

yet he took the one offered,

fumbling painfully with thick fingers,

blushing to the roots of his hair.

Then he looked with his warm blue eyes at the almost sardonic,

lidded eyes of the foreigner.

The latter sat down beside him,

and they began to talk,

chiefly of horses.

Brangwen loved the other man for his exquisite graciousness,

for his tact and reserve,

and for his ageless,

monkey-like self-surety.

They talked of horses,

and of Derbyshire,

and of farming.

The stranger warmed to the young fellow with real warmth,

and Brangwen was excited.

He was transported at meeting this odd,


dry-skinned man,


The talk was pleasant,

but that did not matter so much.

It was the gracious manner,

the fine contact that was all.

They talked a long while together,

Brangwen flushing like a girl when the other did not understand his idiom.

Then they said good night,

and shook hands.

Again the foreigner bowed and repeated his good night.

"Good night,

and bon voyage."

Then he turned to the stairs.

Brangwen went up to his room and lay staring out at the stars of the summer night,

his whole being in a whirl.

What was it all?

There was a life so different from what he knew it.

What was there outside his knowledge,

how much?

What was this that he had touched?

What was he in this new influence?

What did everything mean?

Where was life,

in that which he knew or all outside him?

He fell asleep,

and in the morning had ridden away before any other visitors were awake.

He shrank from seeing any of them again,

in the morning.

His mind was one big excitement.

The girl and the foreigner: he knew neither of their names.

Yet they had set fire to the homestead of his nature,

and he would be burned out of cover.

Of the two experiences,

perhaps the meeting with the foreigner was the more significant.

But the girl --he had not settled about the girl.

He did not know.

He had to leave it there,

as it was.

He could not sum up his experiences.

The result of these encounters was,

that he dreamed day and night,


of a voluptuous woman and of the meeting with a small,

withered foreigner of ancient breeding.

No sooner was his mind free,

no sooner had he left his own companions,

than he began to imagine an intimacy with fine-textured,

subtle-mannered people such as the foreigner at Matlock,

and amidst this subtle intimacy was always the satisfaction of a voluptuous woman.

He went about absorbed in the interest and the actuality of this dream.

His eyes glowed,

he walked with his head up,

full of the exquisite pleasure of aristocratic subtlety and grace,

tormented with the desire for the girl.

Then gradually the glow began to fade,

and the cold material of his customary life to show through.

He resented it.

Was he cheated in his illusion?

He balked the mean enclosure of reality,

stood stubbornly like a bull at a gate,

refusing to re-enter the well-known round of his own life.

He drank more than usual to keep up the glow.

But it faded more and more for all that.

He set his teeth at the commonplace,

to which he would not submit.

It resolved itself starkly before him,

for all that.

He wanted to marry,

to get settled somehow,

to get out of the quandary he found himself in.

But how?

He felt unable to move his limbs.

He had seen a little creature caught in bird-lime,

and the sight was a nightmare to him.

He began to feel mad with the rage of impotency.

He wanted something to get hold of,

to pull himself out.

But there was nothing.

Steadfastly he looked at the young women,

to find a one he could marry.

But not one of them did he want.

And he knew that the idea of a life among such people as the foreigner was ridiculous.

Yet he dreamed of it,

and stuck to his dreams,

and would not have the reality of Cossethay and Ilkeston.

There he sat stubbornly in his corner at the "Red Lion",

smoking and musing and occasionally lifting his beer-pot,

and saying nothing,

for all the world like a gorping farm-labourer,

as he said himself.

Then a fever of restless anger came upon him.

He wanted to go away --right away.

He dreamed of foreign parts.

But somehow he had no contact with them.

And it was a very strong root which held him to the Marsh,

to his own house and land.

Then Effie got married,

and he was left in the house with only Tilly,

the cross-eyed woman-servant who had been with them for fifteen years.

He felt things coming to a close.

All the time,

he had held himself stubbornly resistant to the action of the commonplace unreality which wanted to absorb him.

But now he had to do something.

He was by nature temperate.

Being sensitive and emotional,

his nausea prevented him from drinking too much.


in futile anger,

with the greatest of determination and apparent good humour,

he began to drink in order to get drunk.

"Damn it,"

he said to himself,

"you must have it one road or another --you can't hitch your horse to the shadow of a gate-post --if you've got legs you've got to rise off your backside some time or other."

So he rose and went down to Ilkeston,

rather awkwardly took his place among a gang of young bloods,

stood drinks to the company,

and discovered he could carry it off quite well.

He had an idea that everybody in the room was a man after his own heart,

that everything was glorious,

everything was perfect.

When somebody in alarm told him his coat pocket was on fire,

he could only beam from a red,

blissful face and say "Iss-all-ri-ight --iss-al'-ri-ight --it's a' right --let it be,

let it be -- --" and he laughed with pleasure,

and was rather indignant that the others should think it unnatural for his coat pocket to burn: --it was the happiest and most natural thing in the world --what?

He went home talking to himself and to the moon,

that was very high and small,

stumbling at the flashes of moonlight from the puddles at his feet,

wondering What the Hanover!

then laughing confidently to the moon,

assuring her this was first class,

this was.

In the morning he woke up and thought about it,

and for the first time in his life,

knew what it was to feel really acutely irritable,

in a misery of real bad temper.

After bawling and snarling at Tilly,

he took himself off for very shame,

to be alone.

And looking at the ashen fields and the putty roads,

he wondered what in the name of Hell he could do to get out of this prickly sense of disgust and physical repulsion.

And he knew that this was the result of his glorious evening.

And his stomach did not want any more brandy.

He went doggedly across the fields with his terrier,

and looked at everything with a jaundiced eye.

The next evening found him back again in his place at the "Red Lion",

moderate and decent.

There he sat and stubbornly waited for what would happen next.

Did he,

or did he not believe that he belonged to this world of Cossethay and Ilkeston?

There was nothing in it he wanted.

Yet could he ever get out of it?

Was there anything in himself that would carry him out of it?

Or was he a dunderheaded baby,

not man enough to be like the other young fellows who drank a good deal and wenched a little without any question,

and were satisfied.

He went on stubbornly for a time.

Then the strain became too great for him.

A hot,

accumulated consciousness was always awake in his chest,

his wrists felt swelled and quivering,

his mind became full of lustful images,

his eyes seemed blood-flushed.

He fought with himself furiously,

to remain normal.

He did not seek any woman.

He just went on as if he were normal.

Till he must either take some action or beat his head against the wall.

Then he went deliberately to Ilkeston,

in silence,

intent and beaten.

He drank to get drunk.

He gulped down the brandy,

and more brandy,

till his face became pale,

his eyes burning.

And still he could not get free.

He went to sleep in drunken unconsciousness,

woke up at four o'clock in the morning and continued drinking.

He would get free.

Gradually the tension in him began to relax.

He began to feel happy.

His riveted silence was unfastened,

he began to talk and babble.

He was happy and at one with all the world,

he was united with all flesh in a hot blood-relationship.


after three days of incessant brandy-drinking,

he had burned out the youth from his blood,

he had achieved this kindled state of oneness with all the world,

which is the end of youth's most passionate desire.

But he had achieved his satisfaction by obliterating his own individuality,

that which it depended on his manhood to preserve and develop.

So he became a bout-drinker,

having at intervals these bouts of three or four days of brandy-drinking,

when he was drunk for the whole time.

He did not think about it.

A deep resentment burned in him.

He kept aloof from any women,


When he was twenty-eight,

a thick-limbed,


fair man with fresh complexion,

and blue eyes staring very straight ahead,

he was coming one day down from Cossethay with a load of seed out of Nottingham.

It was a time when he was getting ready for another bout of drinking,

so he stared fixedly before him,

watchful yet absorbed,

seeing everything and aware of nothing,

coiled in himself.

It was early in the year.

He walked steadily beside the horse,

the load clanked behind as the hill descended steeper.

The road curved down-hill before him,

under banks and hedges,

seen only for a few yards ahead.

Slowly turning the curve at the steepest part of the slope,

his horse britching between the shafts,

he saw a woman approaching.

But he was thinking for the moment of the horse.

Then he turned to look at her.

She was dressed in black,

was apparently rather small and slight,

beneath her long black cloak,

and she wore a black bonnet.

She walked hastily,

as if unseeing,

her head rather forward.

It was her curious,


flitting motion,

as if she were passing unseen by everybody,

that first arrested him.

She had heard the cart,

and looked up.

Her face was pale and clear,

she had thick dark eyebrows and a wide mouth,

curiously held.

He saw her face clearly,

as if by a light in the air.

He saw her face so distinctly,

that he ceased to coil on himself,

and was suspended.

"That's her,"

he said involuntarily.

As the cart passed by,

splashing through the thin mud,

she stood back against the bank.


as he walked still beside his britching horse,

his eyes met hers.

He looked quickly away,

pressing back his head,

a pain of joy running through him.

He could not bear to think of anything.

He turned round at the last moment.

He saw her bonnet,

her shape in the black cloak,

the movement as she walked.

Then she was gone round the bend.

She had passed by.

He felt as if he were walking again in a far world,

not Cossethay,

a far world,

the fragile reality.

He went on,




He could not bear to think or to speak,

nor make any sound or sign,

nor change his fixed motion.

He could scarcely bear to think of her face.

He moved within the knowledge of her,

in the world that was beyond reality.

The feeling that they had exchanged recognition possessed him like a madness,

like a torment.

How could he be sure,

what confirmation had he?

The doubt was like a sense of infinite space,

a nothingness,


He kept within his breast the will to surety.

They had exchanged recognition.

He walked about in this state for the next few days.

And then again like a mist it began to break to let through the common,

barren world.

He was very gentle with man and beast,

but he dreaded the starkness of disillusion cropping through again.

As he was standing with his back to the fire after dinner a few days later,

he saw the woman passing.

He wanted to know that she knew him,

that she was aware.

He wanted it said that there was something between them.

So he stood anxiously watching,

looking at her as she went down the road.

He called to Tilly.

"Who might that be?"

he asked.


the cross-eyed woman of forty,

who adored him,

ran gladly to the window to look.

She was glad when he asked her for anything.

She craned her head over the short curtain,

the little tight knob of her black hair sticking out pathetically as she bobbed about.

"Oh why" --she lifted her head and peered with her twisted,

keen brown eyes --"why,

you know who it is --it's her from th' vicarage --you know --"

"How do I know,

you hen-bird,"

he shouted.

Tilly blushed and drew her neck in and looked at him with her squinting,


almost reproachful look.

"Why you do --it's the new housekeeper."

"Ay --an' what by that?"


an' what by that?"

rejoined the indignant Tilly.

"She's a woman,

isn't she,

housekeeper or no housekeeper?

She's got more to her than that!

Who is she --she's got a name?"


if she has,

I don't know,"

retorted Tilly,

not to be badgered by this lad who had grown up into a man.

"What's her name?"

he asked,

more gently.

"I'm sure I couldn't tell you,"

replied Tilly,

on her dignity.

"An' is that all as you've gathered,

as she's housekeeping at the vicarage?"


'eered mention of

'er name,

but I couldn't remember it for my life."


yer riddle-skulled woman o' nonsense,

what have you got a head for?"

"For what other folks

'as got theirs for,"

retorted Tilly,

who loved nothing more than these tilts when he would call her names.

There was a lull.

"I don't believe as anybody could keep it in their head,"

the woman-servant continued,



he asked.


'er name."

"How's that?"

"She's fra some foreign parts or other."

"Who told you that?"

"That's all I do know,

as she is."

"An' wheer do you reckon she's from,


"I don't know.

They do say as she hails fra th' Pole.

I don't know,"

Tilly hastened to add,

knowing he would attack her.

"Fra th' Pole,

why do you hail fra th' Pole?

Who set up that menagerie confabulation?"

"That's what they say --I don't know -- --"

"Who says?"

"Mrs. Bentley says as she's fra th' Pole --else she is a Pole,

or summat."

Tilly was only afraid she was landing herself deeper now.

"Who says she's a Pole?"

"They all say so."

"Then what's brought her to these parts?"

"I couldn't tell you.

She's got a little girl with her."

"Got a little girl with her?"

"Of three or four,

with a head like a fuzz-ball."


"White --fair as can be,

an' all of a fuzz."

"Is there a father,


"Not to my knowledge.

I don't know."

"What brought her here?"

"I couldn't say,

without th' vicar axed her."

"Is the child her child?"

"I s'd think so --they say so."

"Who told you about her?"


Lizzie --a-Monday --we seed her goin' past."

"You'd have to be rattling your tongues if anything went past."

Brangwen stood musing.

That evening he went up to Cossethay to the "Red Lion",

half with the intention of hearing more.

She was the widow of a Polish doctor,

he gathered.

Her husband had died,

a refugee,

in London.

She spoke a bit foreign-like,

but you could easily make out what she said.

She had one little girl named Anna.

Lensky was the woman's name,

Mrs. Lensky.

Brangwen felt that here was the unreality established at last.

He felt also a curious certainty about her,

as if she were destined to him.

It was to him a profound satisfaction that she was a foreigner.

A swift change had taken place on the earth for him,

as if a new creation were fulfilled,

in which he had real existence.

Things had all been stark,



mere nullities before.

Now they were actualities that he could handle.

He dared scarcely think of the woman.

He was afraid.

Only all the time he was aware of her presence not far off,

he lived in her.

But he dared not know her,

even acquaint himself with her by thinking of her.

One day he met her walking along the road with her little girl.

It was a child with a face like a bud of apple-blossom,

and glistening fair hair like thistle-down sticking out in straight,


flamy pieces,

and very dark eyes.

The child clung jealously to her mother's side when he looked at her,

staring with resentful black eyes.

But the mother glanced at him again,

almost vacantly.

And the very vacancy of her look inflamed him.

She had wide grey-brown eyes with very dark,

fathomless pupils.

He felt the fine flame running under his skin,

as if all his veins had caught fire on the surface.

And he went on walking without knowledge.

It was coming,

he knew,

his fate.

The world was submitting to its transformation.

He made no move: it would come,

what would come.

When his sister Effie came to the Marsh for a week,

he went with her for once to church.

In the tiny place,

with its mere dozen pews,

he sat not far from the stranger.

There was a fineness about her,

a poignancy about the way she sat and held her head lifted.

She was strange,

from far off,

yet so intimate.

She was from far away,

a presence,

so close to his soul.

She was not really there,

sitting in Cossethay church beside her little girl.

She was not living the apparent life of her days.

She belonged to somewhere else.

He felt it poignantly,

as something real and natural.

But a pang of fear for his own concrete life,

that was only Cossethay,

hurt him,

and gave him misgiving.

Her thick dark brows almost met above her irregular nose,

she had a wide,

rather thick mouth.

But her face was lifted to another world of life: not to heaven or death: but to some place where she still lived,

in spite of her body's absence.

The child beside her watched everything with wide,

black eyes.

She had an odd little defiant look,

her little red mouth was pinched shut.

She seemed to be jealously guarding something,

to be always on the alert for defence.

She met Brangwen's near,


intimate gaze,

and a palpitating hostility,

almost like a flame of pain,

came into the wide,

over-conscious dark eyes.

The old clergyman droned on,

Cossethay sat unmoved as usual.

And there was the foreign woman with a foreign air about her,


and the strange child,

also foreign,

jealously guarding something.

When the service was over,

he walked in the way of another existence out of the church.

As he went down the church-path with his sister,

behind the woman and child,

the little girl suddenly broke from her mother's hand,

and slipped back with quick,

almost invisible movement,

and was picking at something almost under Brangwen's feet.

Her tiny fingers were fine and quick,

but they missed the red button.

"Have you found something?"

said Brangwen to her.

And he also stooped for the button.

But she had got it,

and she stood back with it pressed against her little coat,

her black eyes flaring at him,

as if to forbid him to notice her.


having silenced him,

she turned with a swift "Mother -- --,"

and was gone down the path.

The mother had stood watching impassive,

looking not at the child,

but at Brangwen.

He became aware of the woman looking at him,

standing there isolated yet for him dominant in her foreign existence.

He did not know what to do,

and turned to his sister.

But the wide grey eyes,

almost vacant yet so moving,

held him beyond himself.


I may have it,

mayn't I?"

came the child's proud,

silvery tones.

"Mother"-she seemed always to be calling her mother to remember her-"mother"-and she had nothing to continue now her mother had replied "Yes,

my child."


with ready invention,

the child stumbled and ran on,

"What are those people's names?"

Brangwen heard the abstract:

"I don't know,


He went on down the road as if he were not living inside himself,

but somewhere outside.

"Who was that person?"

his sister Effie asked.

"I couldn't tell you,"

he answered unknowing.

"She's somebody very funny,"

said Effie,

almost in condemnation.

"That child's like one bewitched."

"Bewitched --how bewitched?"

he repeated.

"You can see for yourself.

The mother's plain,

I must say --but the child is like a changeling.

She'd be about thirty-five."

But he took no notice.

His sister talked on.

"There's your woman for you,"

she continued.

"You'd better marry her."

But still he took no notice.

Things were as they were.

Another day,

at tea-time,

as he sat alone at table,

there came a knock at the front door.

It startled him like a portent.

No one ever knocked at the front door.

He rose and began slotting back the bolts,

turning the big key.

When he had opened the door,

the strange woman stood on the threshold.

"Can you give me a pound of butter?"

she asked,

in a curious detached way of one speaking a foreign language.

He tried to attend to her question.

She was looking at him questioningly.

But underneath the question,

what was there,

in her very standing motionless,

which affected him?

He stepped aside and she at once entered the house,

as if the door had been opened to admit her.

That startled him.

It was the custom for everybody to wait on the doorstep till asked inside.

He went into the kitchen and she followed.

His tea-things were spread on the scrubbed deal table,

a big fire was burning,

a dog rose from the hearth and went to her.

She stood motionless just inside the kitchen.


he called loudly,

"have we got any butter?"

The stranger stood there like a silence in her black cloak.


came the shrill cry from the distance.

He shouted his question again.

"We've got what's on t' table,"

answered Tilly's shrill voice out of the dairy.

Brangwen looked at the table.

There was a large pat of butter on a plate,

almost a pound.

It was round,

and stamped with acorns and oak-leaves.

"Can't you come when you're wanted?"

he shouted.


what d'you want?"

Tilly protested,

as she came peeking inquisitively through the other door.

She saw the strange woman,

stared at her with cross-eyes,

but said nothing.

"Haven't we any butter?"

asked Brangwen again,


as if he could command some by his question.

"I tell you there's what's on t' table,"

said Tilly,

impatient that she was unable to create any to his demand.

"We haven't a morsel besides."

There was a moment's silence.

The stranger spoke,

in her curiously distinct,

detached manner of one who must think her speech first.


then thank you very much.

I am sorry that I have come to trouble you."

She could not understand the entire lack of manners,

was slightly puzzled.

Any politeness would have made the situation quite impersonal.

But here it was a case of wills in confusion.

Brangwen flushed at her polite speech.

Still he did not let her go.

"Get summat an' wrap that up for her,"

he said to Tilly,

looking at the butter on the table.

And taking a clean knife,

he cut off that side of the butter where it was touched.

His speech,

the "for her",

penetrated slowly into the foreign woman and angered Tilly.

"Vicar has his butter fra Brown's by rights,"

said the insuppressible servant-woman.

"We s'll be churnin' to-morrow mornin' first thing."

"Yes" --the long-drawn foreign yes --"yes,"

said the Polish woman,

"I went to Mrs. Brown's.

She hasn't any more."

Tilly bridled her head,

bursting to say that,

according to the etiquette of people who bought butter,

it was no sort of manners whatever coming to a place cool as you like and knocking at the front door asking for a pound as a stop-gap while your other people were short.

If you go to Brown's you go to Brown's,

an' my butter isn't just to make shift when Brown's has got none.

Brangwen understood perfectly this unspoken speech of Tilly's.

The Polish lady did not.

And as she wanted butter for the vicar,

and as Tilly was churning in the morning,

she waited.

"Sluther up now,"

said Brangwen loudly after this silence had resolved itself out;

and Tilly disappeared through the inner door.

"I am afraid that I should not come,


said the stranger,

looking at him enquiringly,

as if referring to him for what it was usual to do.

He felt confused.

"How's that?"

he said,

trying to be genial and being only protective.

"Do you -- --?"

she began deliberately.

But she was not sure of her ground,

and the conversation came to an end.

Her eyes looked at him all the while,

because she could not speak the language.

They stood facing each other.

The dog walked away from her to him.

He bent down to it.

"And how's your little girl?"

he asked.


thank you,

she is very well,"

was the reply,

a phrase of polite speech in a foreign language merely.

"Sit you down,"

he said.

And she sat in a chair,

her slim arms,

coming through the slits of her cloak,

resting on her lap.

"You're not used to these parts,"

he said,

still standing on the hearthrug with his back to the fire,


looking with curious directness at the woman.

Her self-possession pleased him and inspired him,

set him curiously free.

It seemed to him almost brutal to feel so master of himself and of the situation.

Her eyes rested on him for a moment,


as she thought of the meaning of his speech.


she said,


"No --it is strange."

"You find it middlin' rough?"

he said.

Her eyes waited on him,

so that he should say it again.

"Our ways are rough to you,"

he repeated.

"Yes --yes,

I understand.


it is different,

it is strange.

But I was in Yorkshire -- --"


well then,"

he said,

"it's no worse here than what they are up there."

She did not quite understand.

His protective manner,

and his sureness,

and his intimacy,

puzzled her.

What did he mean?

If he was her equal,

why did he behave so without formality?

"No -- --" she said,


her eyes resting on him.

She saw him fresh and naive,


almost entirely beyond relationship with her.

Yet he was good-looking,

with his fair hair and blue eyes full of energy,

and with his healthy body that seemed to take equality with her.

She watched him steadily.

He was difficult for her to understand,



and confident as he was,

sure on his feet as if he did not know what it was to be unsure.

What then was it that gave him this curious stability?

She did not know.

She wondered.

She looked round the room he lived in.

It had a close intimacy that fascinated and almost frightened her.

The furniture was old and familiar as old people,

the whole place seemed so kin to him,

as if it partook of his being,

that she was uneasy.

"It is already a long time that you have lived in this house --yes?"

she asked.

"I've always lived here,"

he said.

"Yes --but your people --your family?"

"We've been here above two hundred years,"

he said.

Her eyes were on him all the time,

wide-open and trying to grasp him.

He felt that he was there for her.

"It is your own place,

the house,

the farm -- --?"


he said.

He looked down at her and met her look.

It disturbed her.

She did not know him.

He was a foreigner,

they had nothing to do with each other.

Yet his look disturbed her to knowledge of him.

He was so strangely confident and direct.

"You live quite alone?"

"Yes --if you call it alone?"

She did not understand.

It seemed unusual to her.

What was the meaning of it?

And whenever her eyes,

after watching him for some time,

inevitably met his,

she was aware of a heat beating up over her consciousness.

She sat motionless and in conflict.

Who was this strange man who was at once so near to her?

What was happening to her?

Something in his young,

warm-twinkling eyes seemed to assume a right to her,

to speak to her,

to extend her his protection.

But how?

Why did he speak to her?

Why were his eyes so certain,

so full of light and confident,

waiting for no permission nor signal?

Tilly returned with a large leaf and found the two silent.

At once he felt it incumbent on him to speak,

now the serving-woman had come back.

"How old is your little girl?"

he asked.

"Four years,"

she replied.

"Her father hasn't been dead long,


he asked.

"She was one year when he died."

"Three years?"


three years that he is dead --yes."

Curiously quiet she was,

almost abstracted,

answering these questions.

She looked at him again,

with some maidenhood opening in her eyes.

He felt he could not move,

neither towards her nor away from her.

Something about her presence hurt him,

till he was almost rigid before her.

He saw the girl's wondering look rise in her eyes.

Tilly handed her the butter and she rose.

"Thank you very much,"

she said.

"How much is it?"

"We'll make th' vicar a present of it,"

he said.

"It'll do for me goin' to church."


'ud look better of you if you went to church and took th' money for your butter,"

said Tilly,

persistent in her claim to him.

"You'd have to put in,

shouldn't you?"

he said.

"How much,


said the Polish woman to Tilly.

Brangwen stood by and let be.


thank you very much,"

she said.

"Bring your little girl down sometime to look at th' fowls and horses,"

he said,

--"if she'd like it."


she would like it,"

said the stranger.

And she went.

Brangwen stood dimmed by her departure.

He could not notice Tilly,

who was looking at him uneasily,

wanting to be reassured.

He could not think of anything.

He felt that he had made some invisible connection with the strange woman.

A daze had come over his mind,

he had another centre of consciousness.

In his breast,

or in his bowels,

somewhere in his body,

there had started another activity.

It was as if a strong light were burning there,

and he was blind within it,

unable to know anything,

except that this transfiguration burned between him and her,

connecting them,

like a secret power.

Since she had come to the house he went about in a daze,

scarcely seeing even the things he handled,



in a state of metamorphosis.

He submitted to that which was happening to him,

letting go his will,

suffering the loss of himself,

dormant always on the brink of ecstasy,

like a creature evolving to a new birth.

She came twice with her child to the farm,

but there was this lull between them,

an intense calm and passivity like a torpor upon them,

so that there was no active change took place.

He was almost unaware of the child,

yet by his native good humour he gained her confidence,

even her affection,

setting her on a horse to ride,

giving her corn for the fowls.

Once he drove the mother and child from Ilkeston,

picking them up on the road.

The child huddled close to him as if for love,

the mother sat very still.

There was a vagueness,

like a soft mist over all of them,

and a silence as if their wills were suspended.

Only he saw her hands,


folded in her lap,

and he noticed the wedding-ring on her finger.

It excluded him: it was a closed circle.

It bound her life,

the wedding-ring,

it stood for her life in which he could have no part.


beyond all this,

there was herself and himself which should meet.

As he helped her down from the trap,

almost lifting her,

he felt he had some right to take her thus between his hands.

She belonged as yet to that other,

to that which was behind.

But he must care for her also.

She was too living to be neglected.

Sometimes her vagueness,

in which he was lost,

made him angry,

made him rage.

But he held himself still as yet.

She had no response,

no being towards him.

It puzzled and enraged him,

but he submitted for a long time.


from the accumulated troubling of her ignoring him,

gradually a fury broke out,


and he wanted to go away,

to escape her.

It happened she came down to the Marsh with the child whilst he was in this state.

Then he stood over against her,

strong and heavy in his revolt,

and though he said nothing,

still she felt his anger and heavy impatience grip hold of her,

she was shaken again as out of a torpor.

Again her heart stirred with a quick,

out-running impulse,

she looked at him,

at the stranger who was not a gentleman yet who insisted on coming into her life,

and the pain of a new birth in herself strung all her veins to a new form.

She would have to begin again,

to find a new being,

a new form,

to respond to that blind,

insistent figure standing over against her.

A shiver,

a sickness of new birth passed over her,

the flame leaped up him,

under his skin.

She wanted it,

this new life from him,

with him,

yet she must defend herself against it,

for it was a destruction.

As he worked alone on the land,

or sat up with his ewes at lambing time,

the facts and material of his daily life fell away,

leaving the kernel of his purpose clean.

And then it came upon him that he would marry her and she would be his life.


even without seeing her,

he came to know her.

He would have liked to think of her as of something given into his protection,

like a child without parents.

But it was forbidden him.

He had to come down from this pleasant view of the case.

She might refuse him.

And besides,

he was afraid of her.

But during the long February nights with the ewes in labour,

looking out from the shelter into the flashing stars,

he knew he did not belong to himself.

He must admit that he was only fragmentary,

something incomplete and subject.

There were the stars in the dark heaven travelling,

the whole host passing by on some eternal voyage.

So he sat small and submissive to the greater ordering.

Unless she would come to him,

he must remain as a nothingness.

It was a hard experience.


after her repeated obliviousness to him,

after he had seen so often that he did not exist for her,

after he had raged and tried to escape,

and said he was good enough by himself,

he was a man,

and could stand alone,

he must,

in the starry multiplicity of the night humble himself,

and admit and know that without her he was nothing.

He was nothing.

But with her,

he would be real.

If she were now walking across the frosty grass near the sheep-shelter,

through the fretful bleating of the ewes and lambs,

she would bring him completeness and perfection.

And if it should be so,

that she should come to him!

It should be so --it was ordained so.

He was a long time resolving definitely to ask her to marry him.

And he knew,

if he asked her,

she must really acquiesce.

She must,

it could not be otherwise.

He had learned a little of her.

She was poor,

quite alone,

and had had a hard time in London,

both before and after her husband died.

But in Poland she was a lady well born,

a landowner's daughter.

All these things were only words to him,

the fact of her superior birth,

the fact that her husband had been a brilliant doctor,

the fact that he himself was her inferior in almost every way of distinction.

There was an inner reality,

a logic of the soul,

which connected her with him.

One evening in March,

when the wind was roaring outside,

came the moment to ask her.

He had sat with his hands before him,

leaning to the fire.

And as he watched the fire,

he knew almost without thinking that he was going this evening.

"Have you got a clean shirt?"

he asked Tilly.

"You know you've got clean shirts,"

she said.


--bring me a white one."

Tilly brought down one of the linen shirts he had inherited from his father,

putting it before him to air at the fire.

She loved him with a dumb,

aching love as he sat leaning with his arms on his knees,

still and absorbed,

unaware of her.


a quivering inclination to cry had come over her,

when she did anything for him in his presence.

Now her hands trembled as she spread the shirt.

He was never shouting and teasing now.

The deep stillness there was in the house made her tremble.

He went to wash himself.

Queer little breaks of consciousness seemed to rise and burst like bubbles out of the depths of his stillness.

"It's got to be done,"

he said as he stooped to take the shirt out of the fender,

"it's got to be done,

so why balk it?"

And as he combed his hair before the mirror on the wall,

he retorted to himself,


"The woman's not speechless dumb.

She's not clutterin' at the nipple.

She's got the right to please herself,

and displease whosoever she likes."

This streak of common sense carried him a little further.

"Did you want anythink?"

asked Tilly,

suddenly appearing,

having heard him speak.

She stood watching him comb his fair beard.

His eyes were calm and uninterrupted.


he said,

"where have you put the scissors?"

She brought them to him,

and stood watching as,

chin forward,

he trimmed his beard.

"Don't go an' crop yourself as if you was at a shearin' contest,"

she said,


He blew the fine-curled hair quickly off his lips.

He put on all clean clothes,

folded his stock carefully,

and donned his best coat.


being ready,

as grey twilight was falling,

he went across to the orchard to gather the daffodils.

The wind was roaring in the apple trees,

the yellow flowers swayed violently up and down,

he heard even the fine whisper of their spears as he stooped to break the flattened,

brittle stems of the flowers.

"What's to-do?"

shouted a friend who met him as he left the garden gate.

"Bit of courtin',


said Brangwen.

And Tilly,

in a great state of trepidation and excitement,

let the wind whisk her over the field to the big gate,

whence she could watch him go.

He went up the hill and on towards the vicarage,

the wind roaring through the hedges,

whilst he tried to shelter his bunch of daffodils by his side.

He did not think of anything,

only knew that the wind was blowing.

Night was falling,

the bare trees drummed and whistled.

The vicar,

he knew,

would be in his study,

the Polish woman in the kitchen,

a comfortable room,

with her child.

In the darkest of twilight,

he went through the gate and down the path where a few daffodils stooped in the wind,

and shattered crocuses made a pale,

colourless ravel.

There was a light streaming on to the bushes at the back from the kitchen window.

He began to hesitate.

How could he do this?

Looking through the window,

he saw her seated in the rocking-chair with the child,

already in its nightdress,

sitting on her knee.

The fair head with its wild,

fierce hair was drooping towards the fire-warmth,

which reflected on the bright cheeks and clear skin of the child,

who seemed to be musing,

almost like a grown-up person.

The mother's face was dark and still,

and he saw,

with a pang,

that she was away back in the life that had been.

The child's hair gleamed like spun glass,

her face was illuminated till it seemed like wax lit up from the inside.

The wind boomed strongly.

Mother and child sat motionless,


the child staring with vacant dark eyes into the fire,

the mother looking into space.

The little girl was almost asleep.

It was her will which kept her eyes so wide.

Suddenly she looked round,


as the wind shook the house,

and Brangwen saw the small lips move.

The mother began to rock,

he heard the slight crunch of the rockers of the chair.

Then he heard the low,

monotonous murmur of a song in a foreign language.

Then a great burst of wind,

the mother seemed to have drifted away,

the child's eyes were black and dilated.

Brangwen looked up at the clouds which packed in great,

alarming haste across the dark sky.

Then there came the child's high,


yet imperative voice:

"Don't sing that stuff,


I don't want to hear it."

The singing died away.

"You will go to bed,"

said the mother.

He saw the clinging protest of the child,

the unmoved farawayness of the mother,

the clinging,

grasping effort of the child.

Then suddenly the clear childish challenge:

"I want you to tell me a story."

The wind blew,

the story began,

the child nestled against the mother,

Brangwen waited outside,


looking at the wild waving of the trees in the wind and the gathering darkness.

He had his fate to follow,

he lingered there at the threshold.

The child crouched distinct and motionless,

curled in against her mother,

the eyes dark and unblinking among the keen wisps of hair,

like a curled-up animal asleep but for the eyes.

The mother sat as if in shadow,

the story went on as if by itself.

Brangwen stood outside seeing the night fall.

He did not notice the passage of time.

The hand that held the daffodils was fixed and cold.

The story came to an end,

the mother rose at last,

with the child clinging round her neck.

She must be strong,

to carry so large a child so easily.

The little Anna clung round her mother's neck.

The fair,

strange face of the child looked over the shoulder of the mother,

all asleep but the eyes,

and these,

wide and dark,

kept up the resistance and the fight with something unseen.

When they were gone,

Brangwen stirred for the first time from the place where he stood,

and looked round at the night.

He wished it were really as beautiful and familiar as it seemed in these few moments of release.

Along with the child,

he felt a curious strain on him,

a suffering,

like a fate.

The mother came down again,

and began folding the child's clothes.

He knocked.

She opened wondering,

a little bit at bay,

like a foreigner,


"Good evening,"

he said.

"I'll just come in a minute."

A change went quickly over her face;

she was unprepared.

She looked down at him as he stood in the light from the window,

holding the daffodils,

the darkness behind.

In his black clothes she again did not know him.

She was almost afraid.

But he was already stepping on to the threshold,

and closing the door behind him.

She turned into the kitchen,

startled out of herself by this invasion from the night.

He took off his hat,

and came towards her.

Then he stood in the light,

in his black clothes and his black stock,

hat in one hand and yellow flowers in the other.

She stood away,

at his mercy,

snatched out of herself.

She did not know him,

only she knew he was a man come for her.

She could only see the dark-clad man's figure standing there upon her,

and the gripped fist of flowers.

She could not see the face and the living eyes.

He was watching her,

without knowing her,

only aware underneath of her presence.

"I come to have a word with you,"

he said,

striding forward to the table,

laying down his hat and the flowers,

which tumbled apart and lay in a loose heap.

She had flinched from his advance.

She had no will,

no being.

The wind boomed in the chimney,

and he waited.

He had disembarrassed his hands.

Now he shut his fists.

He was aware of her standing there unknown,


yet related to him.

"I came up,"

he said,

speaking curiously matter-of-fact and level,

"to ask if you'd marry me.

You are free,

aren't you?"

There was a long silence,

whilst his blue eyes,

strangely impersonal,

looked into her eyes to seek an answer to the truth.

He was looking for the truth out of her.

And she,

as if hypnotized,

must answer at length.


I am free to marry."

The expression of his eyes changed,

became less impersonal,

as if he were looking almost at her,

for the truth of her.

Steady and intent and eternal they were,

as if they would never change.

They seemed to fix and to resolve her.

She quivered,

feeling herself created,


lapsing into him,

into a common will with him.

"You want me?"

she said.

A pallor came over his face.


he said.

Still there was no response and silence.


she said,

not of herself.


I don't know."

He felt the tension breaking up in him,

his fists slackened,

he was unable to move.

He stood there looking at her,

helpless in his vague collapse.

For the moment she had become unreal to him.

Then he saw her come to him,

curiously direct and as if without movement,

in a sudden flow.

She put her hand to his coat.

"Yes I want to,"

she said,


looking at him with wide,


newly-opened eyes,

opened now with supreme truth.

He went very white as he stood,

and did not move,

only his eyes were held by hers,

and he suffered.

She seemed to see him with her newly-opened,

wide eyes,

almost of a child,

and with a strange movement,

that was agony to him,

she reached slowly forward her dark face and her breast to him,

with a slow insinuation of a kiss that made something break in his brain,

and it was darkness over him for a few moments.

He had her in his arms,



was kissing her.

And it was sheer,

bleached agony to him,

to break away from himself.

She was there so small and light and accepting in his arms,

like a child,

and yet with such an insinuation of embrace,

of infinite embrace,

that he could not bear it,

he could not stand.

He turned and looked for a chair,

and keeping her still in his arms,

sat down with her close to him,

to his breast.


for a few seconds,

he went utterly to sleep,

asleep and sealed in the darkest sleep,


extreme oblivion.

From which he came to gradually,

always holding her warm and close upon him,

and she as utterly silent as he,

involved in the same oblivion,

the fecund darkness.

He returned gradually,

but newly created,

as after a gestation,

a new birth,

in the womb of darkness.

Aerial and light everything was,

new as a morning,

fresh and newly-begun.

Like a dawn the newness and the bliss filled in.

And she sat utterly still with him,

as if in the same.

Then she looked up at him,

the wide,

young eyes blazing with light.

And he bent down and kissed her on the lips.

And the dawn blazed in them,

their new life came to pass,

it was beyond all conceiving good,

it was so good,

that it was almost like a passing-away,

a trespass.

He drew her suddenly closer to him.

For soon the light began to fade in her,


and as she was in his arms,

her head sank,

she leaned it against him,

and lay still,

with sunk head,

a little tired,

effaced because she was tired.

And in her tiredness was a certain negation of him.

"There is the child,"

she said,

out of the long silence.

He did not understand.

It was a long time since he had heard a voice.

Now also he heard the wind roaring,

as if it had just begun again.


he said,

not understanding.

There was a slight contraction of pain at his heart,

a slight tension on his brows.

Something he wanted to grasp and could not.

"You will love her?"

she said.

The quick contraction,

like pain,

went over him again.

"I love her now,"

he said.

She lay still against him,

taking his physical warmth without heed.

It was great confirmation for him to feel her there,

absorbing the warmth from him,

giving him back her weight and her strange confidence.

But where was she,

that she seemed so absent?

His mind was open with wonder.

He did not know her.

"But I am much older than you,"

she said.

"How old?"

he asked.

"I am thirty-four,"

she said.

"I am twenty-eight,"

he said.

"Six years."

She was oddly concerned,

even as if it pleased her a little.

He sat and listened and wondered.

It was rather splendid,

to be so ignored by her,

whilst she lay against him,

and he lifted her with his breathing,

and felt her weight upon his living,

so he had a completeness and an inviolable power.

He did not interfere with her.

He did not even know her.

It was so strange that she lay there with her weight abandoned upon him.

He was silent with delight.

He felt strong,


carrying her on his breathing.

The strange,

inviolable completeness of the two of them made him feel as sure and as stable as God.


he wondered what the vicar would say if he knew.

"You needn't stop here much longer,


he said.

"I like it also,


she said.

"When one has been in many places,

it is very nice here."

He was silent again at this.

So close on him she lay,

and yet she answered him from so far away.

But he did not mind.

"What was your own home like,

when you were little?"

he asked.

"My father was a landowner,"

she replied.

"It was near a river."

This did not convey much to him.

All was as vague as before.

But he did not care,

whilst she was so close.

"I am a landowner --a little one,"

he said.


she said.

He had not dared to move.

He sat there with his arms round her,

her lying motionless on his breathing,

and for a long time he did not stir.

Then softly,


his hand settled on the roundness of her arm,

on the unknown.

She seemed to lie a little closer.

A hot flame licked up from his belly to his chest.

But it was too soon.

She rose,

and went across the room to a drawer,

taking out a little tray-cloth.

There was something quiet and professional about her.

She had been a nurse beside her husband,

both in Warsaw and in the rebellion afterwards.

She proceeded to set a tray.

It was as if she ignored Brangwen.

He sat up,

unable to bear a contradiction in her.

She moved about inscrutably.


as he sat there,

all mused and wondering,

she came near to him,

looking at him with wide,

grey eyes that almost smiled with a low light.

But her ugly-beautiful mouth was still unmoved and sad.

He was afraid.

His eyes,

strained and roused with unusedness,

quailed a little before her,

he felt himself quailing and yet he rose,

as if obedient to her,

he bent and kissed her heavy,


wide mouth,

that was kissed,

and did not alter.

Fear was too strong in him.

Again he had not got her.

She turned away.

The vicarage kitchen was untidy,

and yet to him beautiful with the untidiness of her and her child.

Such a wonderful remoteness there was about her,

and then something in touch with him,

that made his heart knock in his chest.

He stood there and waited,


Again she came to him,

as he stood in his black clothes,

with blue eyes very bright and puzzled for her,

his face tensely alive,

his hair dishevelled.

She came close up to him,

to his intent,

black-clothed body,

and laid her hand on his arm.

He remained unmoved.

Her eyes,

with a blackness of memory struggling with passion,

primitive and electric away at the back of them,

rejected him and absorbed him at once.

But he remained himself.

He breathed with difficulty,

and sweat came out at the roots of his hair,

on his forehead.

"Do you want to marry me?"

she asked slowly,

always uncertain.

He was afraid lest he could not speak.

He drew breath hard,


"I do."

Then again,

what was agony to him,

with one hand lightly resting on his arm,

she leaned forward a little,

and with a strange,

primeval suggestion of embrace,

held him her mouth.

It was ugly-beautiful,

and he could not bear it.

He put his mouth on hers,

and slowly,

slowly the response came,

gathering force and passion,

till it seemed to him she was thundering at him till he could bear no more.

He drew away,




in his blue eyes,

was something of himself concentrated.

And in her eyes was a little smile upon a black void.

She was drifting away from him again.

And he wanted to go away.

It was intolerable.

He could bear no more.

He must go.

Yet he was irresolute.

But she turned away from him.

With a little pang of anguish,

of denial,

it was decided.

"I'll come an' speak to the vicar to-morrow,"

he said,

taking his hat.

She looked at him,

her eyes expressionless and full of darkness.

He could see no answer.

"That'll do,

won't it?"

he said.


she answered,

mere echo without body or meaning.

"Good night,"

he said.

"Good night."

He left her standing there,

expressionless and void as she was.

Then she went on laying the tray for the vicar.

Needing the table,

she put the daffodils aside on the dresser without noticing them.

Only their coolness,

touching her hand,

remained echoing there a long while.

They were such strangers,

they must for ever be such strangers,

that his passion was a clanging torment to him.

Such intimacy of embrace,

and such utter foreignness of contact!

It was unbearable.

He could not bear to be near her,

and know the utter foreignness between them,

know how entirely they were strangers to each other.

He went out into the wind.

Big holes were blown into the sky,

the moonlight blew about.

Sometimes a high moon,


scudded across a hollow space and took cover under electric,

brown-iridescent cloud-edges.

Then there was a blot of cloud,

and shadow.

Then somewhere in the night a radiance again,

like a vapour.

And all the sky was teeming and tearing along,

a vast disorder of flying shapes and darkness and ragged fumes of light and a great brown circling halo,

then the terror of a moon running liquid-brilliant into the open for a moment,

hurting the eyes before she plunged under cover of cloud again.



She was the daughter of a Polish landowner who,

deeply in debt to the Jews,

had married a German wife with money,

and who had died just before the rebellion.

Quite young,

she had married Paul Lensky,

an intellectual who had studied at Berlin,

and had returned to Warsaw a patriot.

Her mother had married a German merchant and gone away.

Lydia Lensky,

married to the young doctor,

became with him a patriot and an émancipée.

They were poor,

but they were very conceited.

She learned nursing as a mark of her emancipation.

They represented in Poland the new movement just begun in Russia.

But they were very patriotic: and,

at the same time,

very "European".

They had two children.

Then came the great rebellion.


very ardent and full of words,

went about inciting his countrymen.

Little Poles flamed down the streets of Warsaw,

on the way to shoot every Muscovite.

So they crossed into the south of Russia,

and it was common for six little insurgents to ride into a Jewish village,

brandishing swords and words,

emphasizing the fact that they were going to shoot every living Muscovite.

Lensky was something of a fire-eater also.


tempered by her German blood,

coming of a different family,

was obliterated,

carried along in her husband's emphasis of declaration,

and his whirl of patriotism.

He was indeed a brave man,

but no bravery could quite have equalled the vividness of his talk.

He worked very hard,

till nothing lived in him but his eyes.

And Lydia,

as if drugged,

followed him like a shadow,



Sometimes she had her two children,

sometimes they were left behind.

She returned once to find them both dead of diphtheria.

Her husband wept aloud,

unaware of everybody.

But the war went on,

and soon he was back at his work.

A darkness had come over Lydia's mind.

She walked always in a shadow,


with a strange,

deep terror having hold of her,

her desire was to seek satisfaction in dread,

to enter a nunnery,

to satisfy the instincts of dread in her,

through service of a dark religion.

But she could not.

Then came the flight to London.


the little,

thin man,

had got all his life locked into a resistance and could not relax again.

He lived in a sort of insane irritability,


haughty to the last degree,


so that as assistant doctor in one of the hospitals he soon became impossible.

They were almost beggars.

But he kept still his great ideas of himself,

he seemed to live in a complete hallucination,

where he himself figured vivid and lordly.

He guarded his wife jealously against the ignominy of her position,

rushed round her like a brandished weapon,

an amazing sight to the English eye,

had her in his power,

as if he hypnotized her.

She was passive,


always in shadow.

He was wasting away.

Already when the child was born he seemed nothing but skin and bone and fixed idea.

She watched him dying,

nursed him,

nursed the baby,

but really took no notice of anything.

A darkness was on her,

like remorse,

or like a remembering of the dark,


mystic ride of dread,

of death,

of the shadow of revenge.

When her husband died,

she was relieved.

He would no longer dart about her.

England fitted her mood,

its aloofness and foreignness.

She had known a little of the language before coming,

and a sort of parrot-mind made her pick it up fairly easily.

But she knew nothing of the English,

nor of English life.


these did not exist for her.

She was like one walking in the Underworld,

where the shades throng intelligibly but have no connection with one.

She felt the English people as a potent,


slightly hostile host amongst whom she walked isolated.

The English people themselves were almost deferential to her,

the Church saw that she did not want.

She walked without passion,

like a shade,

tormented into moments of love by the child.

Her dying husband with his tortured eyes and the skin drawn tight over his face,

he was as a vision to her,

not a reality.

In a vision he was buried and put away.

Then the vision ceased,

she was untroubled,

time went on grey,


like a long journey where she sat unconscious as the landscape unrolled beside her.

When she rocked her baby at evening,

maybe she fell into a Polish slumber song,

or she talked sometimes to herself in Polish.

Otherwise she did not think of Poland,

nor of that life to which she had belonged.

It was a great blot looming blank in its darkness.

In the superficial activity of her life,

she was all English.

She even thought in English.

But her long blanks and darknesses of abstraction were Polish.

So she lived for some time.


with slight uneasiness,

she used half to awake to the streets of London.

She realized that there was something around her,

very foreign,

she realized she was in a strange place.

And then,

she was sent away into the country.

There came into her mind now the memory of her home where she had been a child,

the big house among the land,

the peasants of the village.

She was sent to Yorkshire,

to nurse an old rector in his rectory by the sea.

This was the first shake of the kaleidoscope that brought in front of her eyes something she must see.

It hurt her brain,

the open country and the moors.

It hurt her and hurt her.

Yet it forced itself upon her as something living,

it roused some potency of her childhood in her,

it had some relation to her.

There was green and silver and blue in the air about her now.

And there was a strange insistence of light from the sea,

to which she must attend.

Primroses glimmered around,

many of them,

and she stooped to the disturbing influence near her feet,

she even picked one or two flowers,

faintly remembering in the new colour of life,

what had been.

All the day long,

as she sat at the upper window,

the light came off the sea,



without refusal,

till it seemed to bear her away,

and the noise of the sea created a drowsiness in her,

a relaxation like sleep.

Her automatic consciousness gave way a little,

she stumbled sometimes,

she had a poignant,

momentary vision of her living child,

that hurt her unspeakably.

Her soul roused to attention.

Very strange was the constant glitter of the sea unsheathed in heaven,

very warm and sweet the graveyard,

in a nook of the hill catching the sunshine and holding it as one holds a bee between the palms of the hands,

when it is benumbed.

Grey grass and lichens and a little church,

and snowdrops among coarse grass,

and a cupful of incredibly warm sunshine.

She was troubled in spirit.

Hearing the rushing of the beck away down under the trees,

she was startled,

and wondered what it was.

Walking down,

she found the bluebells around her glowing like a presence,

among the trees.

Summer came,

the moors were tangled with harebells like water in the ruts of the roads,

the heather came rosy under the skies,

setting the whole world awake.

And she was uneasy.

She went past the gorse bushes shrinking from their presence,

she stepped into the heather as into a quickening bath that almost hurt.

Her fingers moved over the clasped fingers of the child,

she heard the anxious voice of the baby,

as it tried to make her talk,


And she shrank away again,

back into her darkness,

and for a long while remained blotted safely away from living.

But autumn came with the faint red glimmer of robins singing,

winter darkened the moors,

and almost savagely she turned again to life,

demanding her life back again,

demanding that it should be as it had been when she was a girl,

on the land at home,

under the sky.

Snow lay in great expanses,

the telegraph posts strode over the white earth,

away under the gloom of the sky.

And savagely her desire rose in her again,

demanding that this was Poland,

her youth,

that all was her own again.

But there were no sledges nor bells,

she did not see the peasants coming out like new people,

in their sheepskins and their fresh,


bright faces,

that seemed to become new and vivid when the snow lit up the ground.

It did not come to her,

the life of her youth,

it did not come back.

There was a little agony of struggle,

then a relapse into the darkness of the convent,

where Satan and the devils raged round the walls,

and Christ was white on the cross of victory.

She watched from the sick-room the snow whirl past,

like flocks of shadows in haste,

flying on some final mission out to a leaden inalterable sea,

beyond the final whiteness of the curving shore,

and the snow-speckled blackness of the rocks half submerged.

But near at hand on the trees the snow was soft in bloom.

Only the voice of the dying vicar spoke grey and querulous from behind.

By the time the snowdrops were out,


he was dead.

He was dead.

But with curious equanimity the returning woman watched the snowdrops on the edge of the grass below,

blown white in the wind,

but not to be blown away.

She watched them fluttering and bobbing,

the white,

shut flowers,

anchored by a thread to the grey-green grass,

yet never blown away,

not drifting with the wind.

As she rose in the morning,

the dawn was beating up white,

gusts of light blown like a thin snowstorm from the east,

blown stronger and fiercer,

till the rose appeared,

and the gold,

and the sea lit up below.

She was impassive and indifferent.

Yet she was outside the enclosure of darkness.

There passed a space of shadow again,

the familiarity of dread-worship,

during which she was moved,


to Cossethay.


at first,

there was nothing --just grey nothing.

But then one morning there was a light from the yellow jasmine caught her,

and after that,

morning and evening,

the persistent ringing of thrushes from the shrubbery,

till her heart,

beaten upon,

was forced to lift up its voice in rivalry and answer.

Little tunes came into her mind.

She was full of trouble almost like anguish.


she knew she was beaten,

and from fear of darkness turned to fear of light.

She would have hidden herself indoors,

if she could.

Above all,

she craved for the peace and heavy oblivion of her old state.

She could not bear to come to,

to realize.

The first pangs of this new parturition were so acute,

she knew she could not bear it.

She would rather remain out of life,

than be torn,

mutilated into this birth,

which she could not survive.

She had not the strength to come to life now,

in England,

so foreign,

skies so hostile.

She knew she would die like an early,


scentless flower that the end of the winter puts forth mercilessly.

And she wanted to harbour her modicum of twinkling life.

But a sunshiny day came full of the scent of a mezereon tree,

when bees were tumbling into the yellow crocuses,

and she forgot,

she felt like somebody else,

not herself,

a new person,

quite glad.

But she knew it was fragile,

and she dreaded it.

The vicar put pea-flower into the crocuses,

for his bees to roll in,

and she laughed.

Then night came,

with brilliant stars that she knew of old,

from her girlhood.

And they flashed so bright,

she knew they were victors.

She could neither wake nor sleep.

As if crushed between the past and the future,

like a flower that comes above-ground to find a great stone lying above it,

she was helpless.

The bewilderment and helplessness continued,

she was surrounded by great moving masses that must crush her.

And there was no escape.

Save in the old obliviousness,

the cold darkness she strove to retain.

But the vicar showed her eggs in the thrush's nest near the back door.

She saw herself the mother-thrush upon the nest,

and the way her wings were spread,

so eager down upon her secret.

The tense,


nesting wings moved her beyond endurance.

She thought of them in the morning,

when she heard the thrush whistling as he got up,

and she thought,

"Why didn't I die out there,

why am I brought here?"

She was aware of people who passed around her,

not as persons,

but as looming presences.

It was very difficult for her to adjust herself.

In Poland,

the peasantry,

the people,

had been cattle to her,

they had been her cattle that she owned and used.

What were these people?

Now she was coming awake,

she was lost.

But she had felt Brangwen go by almost as if he had brushed her.

She had tingled in body as she had gone on up the road.

After she had been with him in the Marsh kitchen,

the voice of her body had risen strong and insistent.


she wanted him.

He was the man who had come nearest to her for her awakening.



between-whiles she lapsed into the old unconsciousness,

indifference and there was a will in her to save herself from living any more.

But she would wake in the morning one day and feel her blood running,

feel herself lying open like a flower unsheathed in the sun,

insistent and potent with demand.

She got to know him better,

and her instinct fixed on him --just on him.

Her impulse was strong against him,

because he was not of her own sort.

But one blind instinct led her,

to take him,

to leave him,

and then to relinquish herself to him.

It would be safety.

She felt the rooted safety of him,

and the life in him.

Also he was young and very fresh.

The blue,

steady livingness of his eyes she enjoyed like morning.

He was very young.

Then she lapsed again to stupor and indifference.



was bound to pass.

The warmth flowed through her,

she felt herself opening,



as a flower opens in full request under the sun,

as the beaks of tiny birds open flat,

to receive,

to receive.

And unfolded she turned to him,

straight to him.

And he came,



held back by uncouth fear,

and driven by a desire bigger than himself.

When she opened and turned to him,

then all that had been and all that was,

was gone from her,

she was as new as a flower that unsheathes itself and stands always ready,



He could not understand this.

He forced himself,

through lack of understanding,

to the adherence to the line of honourable courtship and sanctioned,

licensed marriage.


after he had gone to the vicarage and asked for her,

she remained for some days held in this one spell,


receptive to him,

before him.

He was roused to chaos.

He spoke to the vicar and gave in the banns.

Then he stood to wait.

She remained attentive and instinctively expectant before him,


ready to receive him.

He could not act,

because of self-fear and because of his conception of honour towards her.

So he remained in a state of chaos.

And after a few days,

gradually she closed again,

away from him,

was sheathed over,

impervious to him,


Then a black,

bottomless despair became real to him,

he knew what he had lost.

He felt he had lost it for good,

he knew what it was to have been in communication with her,

and to be cast off again.

In misery,

his heart like a heavy stone,

he went about unliving.

Till gradually he became desperate,

lost his understanding,

was plunged in a revolt that knew no bounds.


he moved with her at the Marsh in violent,


wordless passion,

almost in hatred of her.

Till gradually she became aware of him,

aware of herself with regard to him,

her blood stirred to life,

she began to open towards him,

to flow towards him again.

He waited till the spell was between them again,

till they were together within one rushing,

hastening flame.

And then again he was bewildered,

he was tied up as with cords,

and could not move to her.

So she came to him,

and unfastened the breast of his waistcoat and his shirt,

and put her hand on him,

needing to know him.

For it was cruel to her,

to be opened and offered to him,

yet not to know what he was,

not even that he was there.

She gave herself to the hour,

but he could not,

and he bungled in taking her.

So that he lived in suspense,

as if only half his faculties worked,

until the wedding.

She did not understand.

But the vagueness came over her again,

and the days lapsed by.

He could not get definitely into touch with her.

For the time being,

she let him go again.

He suffered very much from the thought of actual marriage,

the intimacy and nakedness of marriage.

He knew her so little.

They were so foreign to each other,

they were such strangers.

And they could not talk to each other.

When she talked,

of Poland or of what had been,

it was all so foreign,

she scarcely communicated anything to him.

And when he looked at her,

an over-much reverence and fear of the unknown changed the nature of his desire into a sort of worship,

holding her aloof from his physical desire,


She did not know this,

she did not understand.

They had looked at each other,

and had accepted each other.

It was so,

then there was nothing to balk at,

it was complete between them.

At the wedding,

his face was stiff and expressionless.

He wanted to drink,

to get rid of his forethought and afterthought,

to set the moment free.

But he could not.

The suspense only tightened at his heart.

The jesting and joviality and jolly,

broad insinuation of the guests only coiled him more.

He could not hear.

That which was impending obsessed him,

he could not get free.

She sat quiet,

with a strange,

still smile.

She was not afraid.

Having accepted him,

she wanted to take him,

she belonged altogether to the hour,


No future,

no past,

only this,

her hour.

She did not even notice him,

as she sat beside him at the head of the table.

He was very near,

their coming together was close at hand.

What more!

As the time came for all the guests to go,

her dark face was softly lighted,

the bend of her head was proud,

her grey eyes clear and dilated,

so that the men could not look at her,

and the women were elated by her,

they served her.

Very wonderful she was,

as she bade farewell,

her ugly wide mouth smiling with pride and recognition,

her voice speaking softly and richly in the foreign accent,

her dilated eyes ignoring one and all the departing guests.

Her manner was gracious and fascinating,

but she ignored the being of him or her to whom she gave her hand.

And Brangwen stood beside her,

giving his hearty handshake to his friends,

receiving their regard gratefully,

glad of their attention.

His heart was tormented within him,

he did not try to smile.

The time of his trial and his admittance,

his Gethsemane and his Triumphal Entry in one,

had come now.

Behind her,

there was so much unknown to him.

When he approached her,

he came to such a terrible painful unknown.

How could he embrace it and fathom it?

How could he close his arms round all this darkness and hold it to his breast and give himself to it?

What might not happen to him?

If he stretched and strained for ever he would never be able to grasp it all,

and to yield himself naked out of his own hands into the unknown power!

How could a man be strong enough to take her,

put his arms round her and have her,

and be sure he could conquer this awful unknown next his heart?

What was it then that she was,

to which he must also deliver himself up,

and which at the same time he must embrace,


He was to be her husband.

It was established so.

And he wanted it more than he wanted life,

or anything.

She stood beside him in her silk dress,

looking at him strangely,

so that a certain terror,

horror took possession of him,

because she was strange and impending and he had no choice.

He could not bear to meet her look from under her strange,

thick brows.

"Is it late?"

she said.

He looked at his watch.

"No --half-past eleven,"

he said.

And he made an excuse to go into the kitchen,

leaving her standing in the room among the disorder and the drinking-glasses.

Tilly was seated beside the fire in the kitchen,

her head in her hands.

She started up when he entered.

"Why haven't you gone to bed?"

he said.

"I thought I'd better stop an' lock up an' do,"

she said.

Her agitation quietened him.

He gave her some little order,

then returned,

steadied now,

almost ashamed,

to his wife.

She stood a moment watching him,

as he moved with averted face.

Then she said:

"You will be good to me,

won't you?"

She was small and girlish and terrible,

with a queer,

wide look in her eyes.

His heart leaped in him,

in anguish of love and desire,

he went blindly to her and took her in his arms.

"I want to,"

he said as he drew her closer and closer in.

She was soothed by the stress of his embrace,

and remained quite still,

relaxed against him,

mingling in to him.

And he let himself go from past and future,

was reduced to the moment with her.

In which he took her and was with her and there was nothing beyond,

they were together in an elemental embrace beyond their superficial foreignness.

But in the morning he was uneasy again.

She was still foreign and unknown to him.


within the fear was pride,

belief in himself as mate for her.

And she,

everything forgotten in her new hour of coming to life,

radiated vigour and joy,

so that he quivered to touch her.

It made a great difference to him,


Things became so remote and of so little significance,

as he knew the powerful source of his life,

his eyes opened on a new universe,

and he wondered in thinking of his triviality before.

A new,

calm relationship showed to him in the things he saw,

in the cattle he used,

the young wheat as it eddied in a wind.

And each time he returned home,

he went steadily,


like a man who goes to a profound,

unknown satisfaction.

At dinner-time,

he appeared in the doorway,

hanging back a moment from entering,

to see if she was there.

He saw her setting the plates on the white-scrubbed table.

Her arms were slim,

she had a slim body and full skirts,

she had a dark,

shapely head with close-banded hair.

Somehow it was her head,

so shapely and poignant,

that revealed her his woman to him.

As she moved about clothed closely,

full-skirted and wearing her little silk apron,

her dark hair smoothly parted,

her head revealed itself to him in all its subtle,

intrinsic beauty,

and he knew she was his woman,

he knew her essence,

that it was his to possess.

And he seemed to live thus in contact with her,

in contact with the unknown,

the unaccountable and incalculable.

They did not take much notice of each other,


"I'm betimes,"

he said.


she answered.

He turned to the dogs,

or to the child if she was there.

The little Anna played about the farm,

flitting constantly in to call something to her mother,

to fling her arms round her mother's skirts,

to be noticed,

perhaps caressed,



to slip out again.

Then Brangwen,

talking to the child,

or to the dog between his knees,

would be aware of his wife,


in her tight,

dark bodice and her lace fichu,

she was reaching up to the corner cupboard.

He realized with a sharp pang that she belonged to him,

and he to her.

He realized that he lived by her.

Did he own her?

Was she here for ever?

Or might she go away?

She was not really his,

it was not a real marriage,

this marriage between them.

She might go away.

He did not feel like a master,


father of her children.

She belonged elsewhere.

Any moment,

she might be gone.

And he was ever drawn to her,

drawn after her,

with ever-raging,

ever-unsatisfied desire.

He must always turn home,

wherever his steps were taking him,

always to her,

and he could never quite reach her,

he could never quite be satisfied,

never be at peace,

because she might go away.

At evening,

he was glad.


when he had finished in the yard,

and come in and washed himself,

when the child was put to bed,

he could sit on the other side of the fire with his beer on the hob and his long white pipe in his fingers,

conscious of her there opposite him,

as she worked at her embroidery,

or as she talked to him,

and he was safe with her now,

till morning.

She was curiously self-sufficient and did not say very much.

Occasionally she lifted her head,

her grey eyes shining with a strange light,

that had nothing to do with him or with this place,

and would tell him about herself.

She seemed to be back again in the past,

chiefly in her childhood or her girlhood,

with her father.

She very rarely talked of her first husband.

But sometimes,

all shining-eyed,

she was back at her own home,

telling him about the riotous times,

the trip to Paris with her father,

tales of the mad acts of the peasants when a burst of religious,

self-hurting fervour had passed over the country.

She would lift her head and say:

"When they brought the railway across the country,

they made afterwards smaller railways,

of shorter width,

to come down to our town-a hundred miles.

When I was a girl,


my German gouvernante,

was very shocked and she would not tell me.

But I heard the servants talking.

I remember,

it was Pierre,

the coachman.

And my father,

and some of his friends,


they had taken a wagon,

a whole railway wagon --that you travel in -- --"

"A railway-carriage,"

said Brangwen.

She laughed to herself.

"I know it was a great scandal: yes --a whole wagon,

and they had girls,

you know,



all the wagon-full,

and so they came down to our village.

They came through villages of the Jews,

and it was a great scandal.

Can you imagine?

All the countryside!

And my mother,

she did not like it.

Gisla said to me,


she must not know that you have heard such things.'

"My mother,

she used to cry,

and she wished to beat my father,

plainly beat him.

He would say,

when she cried because he sold the forest,

the wood,

to jingle money in his pocket,

and go to Warsaw or Paris or Kiev,

when she said he must take back his word,

he must not sell the forest,

he would stand and say,

'I know,

I know,

I have heard it all,

I have heard it all before.

Tell me some new thing.

I know,

I know,

I know.'


but can you understand,

I loved him when he stood there under the door,

saying only,

'I know,

I know,

I know it all already.'

She could not change him,


not if she killed herself for it.

And she could change everybody else,

but him,

she could not change him -- --"

Brangwen could not understand.

He had pictures of a cattle-truck full of naked girls riding from nowhere to nowhere,

of Lydia laughing because her father made great debts and said,

"I know,

I know";

of Jews running down the street shouting in Yiddish,

"Don't do it,

don't do it,"

and being cut down by demented peasants --she called them "cattle" --whilst she looked on interested and even amused;

of tutors and governesses and Paris and a convent.

It was too much for him.

And there she sat,

telling the tales to the open space,

not to him,

arrogating a curious superiority to him,

a distance between them,

something strange and foreign and outside his life,



without rhyme or reason,

laughing when he was shocked or astounded,

condemning nothing,

confounding his mind and making the whole world a chaos,

without order or stability of any kind.


when they went to bed,

he knew that he had nothing to do with her.

She was back in her childhood,

he was a peasant,

a serf,

a servant,

a lover,

a paramour,

a shadow,

a nothing.

He lay still in amazement,

staring at the room he knew so well,

and wondering whether it was really there,

the window,

the chest of drawers,

or whether it was merely a figment in the atmosphere.

And gradually he grew into a raging fury against her.

But because he was so much amazed,

and there was as yet such a distance between them,

and she was such an amazing thing to him,

with all wonder opening out behind her,

he made no retaliation on her.

Only he lay still and wide-eyed with rage,


not understanding,

but solid with hostility.

And he remained wrathful and distinct from her,

unchanged outwardly to her,

but underneath a solid power of antagonism to her.

Of which she became gradually aware.

And it irritated her to be made aware of him as a separate power.

She lapsed into a sort of sombre exclusion,

a curious communion with mysterious powers,

a sort of mystic,

dark state which drove him and the child nearly mad.

He walked about for days stiffened with resistance to her,

stiff with a will to destroy her as she was.

Then suddenly,

out of nowhere,

there was connection between them again.

It came on him as he was working in the fields.

The tension,

the bond,


and the passionate flood broke forward into a tremendous,

magnificent rush,

so that he felt he could snap off the trees as he passed,

and create the world afresh.

And when he arrived home,

there was no sign between them.

He waited and waited till she came.

And as he waited,

his limbs seemed strong and splendid to him,

his hands seemed like passionate servants to him,


he felt a stupendous power in himself,

of life,

and of urgent,

strong blood.

She was sure to come at last,

and touch him.

Then he burst into flame for her,

and lost himself.

They looked at each other,

a deep laugh at the bottom of their eyes,

and he went to take of her again,


mad to revel in the inexhaustible wealth of her,

to bury himself in the depths of her in an inexhaustible exploration,

she all the while revelling in that he revelled in her,

tossed all her secrets aside and plunged to that which was secret to her as well,

whilst she quivered with fear and the last anguish of delight.

What did it matter who they were,

whether they knew each other or not?

The hour passed away again,

there was severance between them,

and rage and misery and bereavement for her,

and deposition and toiling at the mill with slaves for him.

But no matter.

They had had their hour,

and should it chime again,

they were ready for it,

ready to renew the game at the point where it was left off,

on the edge of the outer darkness,

when the secrets within the woman are game for the man,

hunted doggedly,

when the secrets of the woman are the man's adventure,

and they both give themselves to the adventure.

She was with child,

and there was again the silence and distance between them.

She did not want him nor his secrets nor his game,

he was deposed,

he was cast out.

He seethed with fury at the small,

ugly-mouthed woman who had nothing to do with him.

Sometimes his anger broke on her,

but she did not cry.

She turned on him like a tiger,

and there was battle.

He had to learn to contain himself again,

and he hated it.

He hated her that she was not there for him.

And he took himself off,


But an instinct of gratitude and a knowledge that she would receive him back again,

that later on she would be there for him again,

prevented his straying very far.

He cautiously did not go too far.

He knew she might lapse into ignorance of him,

lapse away from him,




till she was lost to him.

He had sense enough,

premonition enough in himself,

to be aware of this and to measure himself accordingly.

For he did not want to lose her: he did not want her to lapse away.


he called her,


only caring about herself,

a foreigner with a bad nature,

caring really about nothing,

having no proper feelings at the bottom of her,

and no proper niceness.

He raged,

and piled up accusations that had some measure of truth in them all.

But a certain grace in him forbade him from going too far.

He knew,

and he quivered with rage and hatred,

that she was all these vile things,

that she was everything vile and detestable.

But he had grace at the bottom of him,

which told him that,

above all things,

he did not want to lose her,

he was not going to lose her.

So he kept some consideration for her,

he preserved some relationship.

He went out more often,

to the "Red Lion" again,

to escape the madness of sitting next to her when she did not belong to him,

when she was as absent as any woman in indifference could be.

He could not stay at home.

So he went to the "Red Lion".

And sometimes he got drunk.

But he preserved his measure,

some things between them he never forfeited.

A tormented look came into his eyes,

as if something were always dogging him.

He glanced sharp and quick,

he could not bear to sit still doing nothing.

He had to go out,

to find company,

to give himself away there.

For he had no other outlet,

he could not work to give himself out,

he had not the knowledge.

As the months of her pregnancy went on,

she left him more and more alone,

she was more and more unaware of him,

his existence was annulled.

And he felt bound down,


unable to stir,

beginning to go mad,

ready to rave.

For she was quiet and polite,

as if he did not exist,

as one is quiet and polite to a servant.

Nevertheless she was great with his child,

it was his turn to submit.

She sat opposite him,


her foreign face inscrutable and indifferent.

He felt he wanted to break her into acknowledgment of him,

into awareness of him.

It was insufferable that she had so obliterated him.

He would smash her into regarding him.

He had a raging agony of desire to do so.

But something bigger in him withheld him,

kept him motionless.

So he went out of the house for relief.

Or he turned to the little girl for her sympathy and her love,

he appealed with all his power to the small Anna.

So soon they were like lovers,

father and child.

For he was afraid of his wife.

As she sat there with bent head,


working or reading,

but so unutterably silent that his heart seemed under the millstone of it,

she became herself like the upper millstone lying on him,

crushing him,

as sometimes a heavy sky lies on the earth.

Yet he knew he could not tear her away from the heavy obscurity into which she was merged.

He must not try to tear her into recognition of himself,

and agreement with himself.

It were disastrous,



let him rage as he might,

he must withhold himself.

But his wrists trembled and seemed mad,

seemed as if they would burst.


in November,

the leaves came beating against the window shutters,

with a lashing sound,

he started,

and his eyes flickered with flame.

The dog looked up at him,

he sunk his head to the fire.

But his wife was startled.

He was aware of her listening.

"They blow up with a rattle,"

he said.


she asked.

"The leaves."

She sank away again.

The strange leaves beating in the wind on the wood had come nearer than she.

The tension in the room was overpowering,

it was difficult for him to move his head.

He sat with every nerve,

every vein,

every fibre of muscle in his body stretched on a tension.

He felt like a broken arch thrust sickeningly out from support.

For her response was gone,

he thrust at nothing.

And he remained himself,

he saved himself from crashing down into nothingness,

from being squandered into fragments,

by sheer tension,

sheer backward resistance.

During the last months of her pregnancy,

he went about in a surcharged,

imminent state that did not exhaust itself.

She was also depressed,

and sometimes she cried.

It needed so much life to begin afresh,

after she had lost so lavishly.

Sometimes she cried.

Then he stood stiff,

feeling his heart would burst.

For she did not want him,

she did not want even to be made aware of him.

By the very puckering of her face he knew that he must stand back,

leave her intact,


For it was the old grief come back in her,

the old loss,

the pain of the old life,

the dead husband,

the dead children.

This was sacred to her,

and he must not violate her with his comfort.

For what she wanted she would come to him.

He stood aloof with turgid heart.

He had to see her tears come,

fall over her scarcely moving face,

that only puckered sometimes,

down on to her breast,

that was so still,

scarcely moving.

And there was no noise,

save now and again,


with a strange,

somnambulant movement,

she took her handkerchief and wiped her face and blew her nose,

and went on with the noiseless weeping.

He knew that any offer of comfort from himself would be worse than useless,

hateful to her,

jangling her.

She must cry.

But it drove him insane.

His heart was scalded,

his brain hurt in his head,

he went away,

out of the house.

His great and chiefest source of solace was the child.

She had been at first aloof from him,


However friendly she might seem one day,

the next she would have lapsed to her original disregard of him,



at her distance.

The first morning after his marriage he had discovered it would not be so easy with the child.

At the break of dawn he had started awake hearing a small voice outside the door saying plaintively:


He rose and opened the door.

She stood on the threshold in her night-dress,

as she had climbed out of bed,

black eyes staring round and hostile,

her fair hair sticking out in a wild fleece.

The man and child confronted each other.

"I want my mother,"

she said,

jealously accenting the "my".

"Come on then,"

he said gently.

"Where's my mother?"

"She's here --come on."

The child's eyes,

staring at the man with ruffled hair and beard,

did not change.

The mother's voice called softly.

The little bare feet entered the room with trepidation.



my dear."

The small bare feet approached swiftly.

"I wondered where you were,"

came the plaintive voice.

The mother stretched out her arms.

The child stood beside the high bed.

Brangwen lightly lifted the tiny girl,

with an "up-a-daisy",

then took his own place in the bed again.


cried the child,

as in anguish.


my pet?"

Anna wriggled close into her mother's arms,

clinging tight,

hiding from the fact of the man.

Brangwen lay still,

and waited.

There was a long silence.

Then suddenly,

Anna looked round,

as if she thought he would be gone.

She saw the face of the man lying upturned to the ceiling.

Her black eyes stared antagonistic from her exquisite face,

her arms clung tightly to her mother,


He did not move for some time,

not knowing what to say.

His face was smooth and soft-skinned with love,

his eyes full of soft light.

He looked at her,

scarcely moving his head,

his eyes smiling.

"Have you just wakened up?"

he said.

"Go away,"

she retorted,

with a little darting forward of the head,

something like a viper.


he answered,

"I'm not going.

You can go."

"Go away,"

came the sharp little command.

"There's room for you,"

he said.

"You can't send your father from his own bed,

my little bird,"

said her mother,


The child glowered at him,

miserable in her impotence.

"There's room for you as well,"

he said.

"It's a big bed enough."

She glowered without answering,

then turned and clung to her mother.

She would not allow it.

During the day she asked her mother several times:

"When are we going home,


"We are at home,


we live here now.

This is our house,

we live here with your father."

The child was forced to accept it.

But she remained against the man.

As night came on,

she asked:

"Where are you going to sleep,


"I sleep with the father now."

And when Brangwen came in,

the child asked fiercely:

"Why do you sleep with my mother?

My mother sleeps with me,"

her voice quivering.

"You come as well,

an' sleep with both of us,"

he coaxed.


she cried,


appealing against him.

"But I must have a husband,


All women must have a husband."

"And you like to have a father with your mother,

don't you?"

said Brangwen.

Anna glowered at him.

She seemed to cogitate.


she cried fiercely at length,


I don't want."

And slowly her face puckered,

she sobbed bitterly.

He stood and watched her,


But there could be no altering it.


when she knew,

she became quiet.

He was easy with her,

talking to her,

taking her to see the live creatures,

bringing her the first chickens in his cap,

taking her to gather the eggs,

letting her throw crusts to the horse.

She would easily accompany him,

and take all he had to give,

but she remained neutral still.

She was curiously,

incomprehensibly jealous of her mother,

always anxiously concerned about her.

If Brangwen drove with his wife to Nottingham,

Anna ran about happily enough,

or unconcerned,

for a long time.


as afternoon came on,

there was only one cry --"I want my mother,

I want my mother -- --" and a bitter,

pathetic sobbing that soon had the soft-hearted Tilly sobbing too.

The child's anguish was that her mother was gone,


Yet as a rule,

Anna seemed cold,

resenting her mother,

critical of her.

It was:

"I don't like you to do that,



"I don't like you to say that."

She was a sore problem to Brangwen and to all the people at the Marsh.

As a rule,


she was active,

lightly flitting about the farmyard,

only appearing now and again to assure herself of her mother.

Happy she never seemed,

but quick,



full of imagination and changeability.

Tilly said she was bewitched.

But it did not matter so long as she did not cry.

There was something heart-rending about Anna's crying,

her childish anguish seemed so utter and so timeless,

as if it were a thing of all the ages.

She made playmates of the creatures of the farmyard,

talking to them,

telling them the stories she had from her mother,

counselling them and correcting them.

Brangwen found her at the gate leading to the paddock and to the duckpond.

She was peering through the bars and shouting to the stately white geese,

that stood in a curving line:

"You're not to call at people when they want to come.

You must not do it."

The heavy,

balanced birds looked at the fierce little face and the fleece of keen hair thrust between the bars,

and they raised their heads and swayed off,

producing the long,


protesting noise of geese,

rocking their ship-like,

beautiful white bodies in a line beyond the gate.

"You're naughty,

you're naughty,"

cried Anna,

tears of dismay and vexation in her eyes.

And she stamped her slipper.


what are they doing?"

said Brangwen.

"They won't let me come in,"

she said,

turning her flushed little face to him.


they will.

You can go in if you want to,"

and he pushed open the gate for her.

She stood irresolute,

looking at the group of bluey-white geese standing monumental under the grey,

cold day.

"Go on,"

he said.

She marched valiantly a few steps in.

Her little body started convulsively at the sudden,

derisive can-cank-ank of the geese.

A blankness spread over her.

The geese trailed away with uplifted heads under the low grey sky.

"They don't know you,"

said Brangwen.

"You should tell

'em what your name is."

"They're naughty to shout at me,"

she flashed.

"They think you don't live here,"

he said.

Later he found her at the gate calling shrilly and imperiously:

"My name is Anna,

Anna Lensky,

and I live here,

because Mr. Brangwen's my father now.

He is,

yes he is.

And I live here."

This pleased Brangwen very much.

And gradually,

without knowing it herself,

she clung to him,

in her lost,


desolate moments,

when it was good to creep up to something big and warm,

and bury her little self in his big,

unlimited being.

Instinctively he was careful of her,

careful to recognize her and to give himself to her disposal.

She was difficult of her affections.

For Tilly,

she had a childish,

essential contempt,

almost dislike,

because the poor woman was such a servant.

The child would not let the serving-woman attend to her,

do intimate things for her,

not for a long time.

She treated her as one of an inferior race.

Brangwen did not like it.

"Why aren't you fond of Tilly?"

he asked.

"Because --because --because she looks at me with her eyes bent."

Then gradually she accepted Tilly as belonging to the household,

never as a person.

For the first weeks,

the black eyes of the child were for ever on the watch.


good-humoured but impatient,

spoiled by Tilly,

was an easy blusterer.

If for a few minutes he upset the household with his noisy impatience,

he found at the end the child glowering at him with intense black eyes,

and she was sure to dart forward her little head,

like a serpent,

with her biting:

"Go away."

"I'm not going away,"

he shouted,

irritated at last.

"Go yourself --hustle --stir thysen --hop."

And he pointed to the door.

The child backed away from him,

pale with fear.

Then she gathered up courage,

seeing him become patient.

"We don't live with you,"

she said,

thrusting forward her little head at him.

"You --you're --you're a bomakle."

"A what?"

he shouted.

Her voice wavered --but it came.

"A bomakle."


an' you're a comakle."

She meditated.

Then she hissed forwards her head.

"I'm not."

"Not what?"

"A comakle."

"No more am I a bomakle."

He was really cross.

Other times she would say:

"My mother doesn't live here."



"I want her to go away."

"Then want's your portion,"

he replied laconically.

So they drew nearer together.

He would take her with him when he went out in the trap.

The horse ready at the gate,

he came noisily into the house,

which seemed quiet and peaceful till he appeared to set everything awake.

"Now then,


pop into thy bonnet."

The child drew herself up,

resenting the indignity of the address.

"I can't fasten my bonnet myself,"

she said haughtily.

"Not man enough yet,"

he said,

tying the ribbons under her chin with clumsy fingers.

She held up her face to him.

Her little bright-red lips moved as he fumbled under her chin.

"You talk --nonsents,"

she said,

re-echoing one of his phrases.

"That face shouts for th' pump,"

he said,

and taking out a big red handkerchief,

that smelled of strong tobacco,

began wiping round her mouth.

"Is Kitty waiting for me?"

she asked.


he said.

"Let's finish wiping your face --it'll pass wi' a cat-lick."

She submitted prettily.


when he let her go,

she began to skip,

with a curious flicking up of one leg behind her.

"Now my young buck-rabbit,"

he said.


She came and was shaken into her coat,

and the two set off.

She sat very close beside him in the gig,

tucked tightly,

feeling his big body sway,

against her,

very splendid.

She loved the rocking of the gig,

when his big,

live body swayed upon her,

against her.

She laughed,

a poignant little shrill laugh,

and her black eyes glowed.

She was curiously hard,

and then passionately tenderhearted.

Her mother was ill,

the child stole about on tip-toe in the bedroom for hours,

being nurse,

and doing the thing thoughtfully and diligently.

Another day,

her mother was unhappy.

Anna would stand with her legs apart,


balancing on the sides of her slippers.

She laughed when the goslings wriggled in Tilly's hand,

as the pellets of food were rammed down their throats with a skewer,

she laughed nervously.

She was hard and imperious with the animals,

squandering no love,

running about amongst them like a cruel mistress.

Summer came,

and hay-harvest,

Anna was a brown elfish mite dancing about.

Tilly always marvelled over her,

more than she loved her.

But always in the child was some anxious connection with the mother.

So long as Mrs. Brangwen was all right,

the little girl played about and took very little notice of her.

But corn-harvest went by,

the autumn drew on,

and the mother,

the later months of her pregnancy beginning,

was strange and detached,

Brangwen began to knit his brows,

the old,

unhealthy uneasiness,

the unskinned susceptibility came on the child again.

If she went to the fields with her father,


instead of playing about carelessly,

it was:

"I want to go home."


why tha's nobbut this minute come."

"I want to go home."

"What for?

What ails thee?"

"I want my mother."

"Thy mother!

Thy mother none wants thee."

"I want to go home."

There would be tears in a moment.

"Can ter find t'road,


And he watched her scudding,

silent and intent,

along the hedge-bottom,

at a steady,

anxious pace,

till she turned and was gone through the gateway.

Then he saw her two fields off,

still pressing forward,

small and urgent.

His face was clouded as he turned to plough up the stubble.

The year drew on,

in the hedges the berries shone red and twinkling above bare twigs,

robins were seen,

great droves of birds dashed like spray from the fallow,

rooks appeared,

black and flapping down to earth,

the ground was cold as he pulled the turnips,

the roads were churned deep in mud.

Then the turnips were pitted and work was slack.

Inside the house it was dark,

and quiet.

The child flitted uneasily round,

and now and again came her plaintive,

startled cry:


Mrs. Brangwen was heavy and unresponsive,


lapsed back.

Brangwen went on working out of doors.

At evening,

when he came in to milk,

the child would run behind him.


in the cosy cow-sheds,

with the doors shut and the air looking warm by the light of the hanging lantern,

above the branching horns of the cows,

she would stand watching his hands squeezing rhythmically the teats of the placid beast,

watch the froth and the leaping squirt of milk,

watch his hand sometimes rubbing slowly,


upon a hanging udder.

So they kept each other company,

but at a distance,

rarely speaking.

The darkest days of the year came on,

the child was fretful,

sighing as if some oppression were on her,

running hither and thither without relief.

And Brangwen went about at his work,


his heart heavy as the sodden earth.

The winter nights fell early,

the lamp was lighted before tea-time,

the shutters were closed,

they were all shut into the room with the tension and stress.

Mrs. Brangwen went early to bed,

Anna playing on the floor beside her.

Brangwen sat in the emptiness of the downstairs room,


scarcely conscious even of his own misery.

And very often he went out to escape it.

Christmas passed,

the wet,


cold days of January recurred monotonously,

with now and then a brilliance of blue flashing in,

when Brangwen went out into a morning like crystal,

when every sound rang again,

and the birds were many and sudden and brusque in the hedges.

Then an elation came over him in spite of everything,

whether his wife were strange or sad,

or whether he craved for her to be with him,

it did not matter,

the air rang with clear noises,

the sky was like crystal,

like a bell,

and the earth was hard.

Then he worked and was happy,

his eyes shining,

his cheeks flushed.

And the zest of life was strong in him.

The birds pecked busily round him,

the horses were fresh and ready,

the bare branches of the trees flung themselves up like a man yawning,

taut with energy,

the twigs radiated off into the clear light.

He was alive and full of zest for it all.

And if his wife were heavy,

separated from him,



let her be,

let him remain himself.

Things would be as they would be.

Meanwhile he heard the ringing crow of a cockerel in the distance,

he saw the pale shell of the moon effaced on a blue sky.

So he shouted to the horses,

and was happy.


driving into Ilkeston,

a fresh young woman were going in to do her shopping,

he hailed her,

and reined in his horse,

and picked her up.

Then he was glad to have her near him,

his eyes shone,

his voice,


teasing in a warm fashion,

made the poise of her head more beautiful,

her blood ran quicker.

They were both stimulated,

the morning was fine.

What did it matter that,

at the bottom of his heart,

was care and pain?

It was at the bottom,

let it stop at the bottom.

His wife,

her suffering,

her coming pain --well,

it must be so.

She suffered,

but he was out of doors,

full in life,

and it would be ridiculous,


to pull a long face and to insist on being miserable.

He was happy,

this morning,

driving to town,

with the hoofs of the horse spanking the hard earth.

Well he was happy,

if half the world were weeping at the funeral of the other half.

And it was a jolly girl sitting beside him.

And Woman was immortal,

whatever happened,

whoever turned towards death.

Let the misery come when it could not be resisted.

The evening arrived later very beautiful,

with a rosy flush hovering above the sunset,

and passing away into violet and lavender,

with turquoise green north and south in the sky,

and in the east,

a great,

yellow moon hanging heavy and radiant.

It was magnificent to walk between the sunset and the moon,

on a road where little holly trees thrust black into the rose and lavender,

and starlings flickered in droves across the light.

But what was the end of the journey?

The pain came right enough,

later on,

when his heart and his feet were heavy,

his brain dead,

his life stopped.

One afternoon,

the pains began,

Mrs. Brangwen was put to bed,

the midwife came.

Night fell,

the shutters were closed,

Brangwen came in to tea,

to the loaf and the pewter teapot,

the child,

silent and quivering,

playing with glass beads,

the house,


it seemed,

or exposed to the winter night,

as if it had no walls.

Sometimes there sounded,

long and remote in the house,

vibrating through everything,

the moaning cry of a woman in labour.


sitting downstairs,

was divided.

His lower,

deeper self was with her,

bound to her,


But the big shell of his body remembered the sound of owls that used to fly round the farmstead when he was a boy.

He was back in his youth,

a boy,

haunted by the sound of the owls,

waking up his brother to speak to him.

And his mind drifted away to the birds,

their solemn,

dignified faces,

their flight so soft and broad-winged.

And then to the birds his brother had shot,



dead heaps of softness with faces absurdly asleep.

It was a queer thing,

a dead owl.

He lifted his cup to his lips,

he watched the child with the beads.

But his mind was occupied with owls,

and the atmosphere of his boyhood,

with his brothers and sisters.



he was with his wife in labour,

the child was being brought forth out of their one flesh.

He and she,

one flesh,

out of which life must be put forth.

The rent was not in his body,

but it was of his body.

On her the blows fell,

but the quiver ran through to him,

to his last fibre.

She must be torn asunder for life to come forth,

yet still they were one flesh,

and still,

from further back,

the life came out of him to her,

and still he was the unbroken that has the broken rock in its arms,

their flesh was one rock from which the life gushed,

out of her who was smitten and rent,

from him who quivered and yielded.

He went upstairs to her.

As he came to the bedside she spoke to him in Polish.

"Is it very bad?"

he asked.

She looked at him,

and oh,

the weariness to her,

of the effort to understand another language,

the weariness of hearing him,

attending to him,

making out who he was,

as he stood there fair-bearded and alien,

looking at her.

She knew something of him,

of his eyes.

But she could not grasp him.

She closed her eyes.

He turned away,

white to the gills.

"It's not so very bad,"

said the midwife.

He knew he was a strain on his wife.

He went downstairs.

The child glanced up at him,


"I want my mother,"

she quavered.


but she's badly,"

he said mildly,


She looked at him with lost,

frightened eyes.

"Has she got a headache?"

"No --she's going to have a baby."

The child looked round.

He was unaware of her.

She was alone again in terror.

"I want my mother,"

came the cry of panic.

"Let Tilly undress you,"

he said.

"You're tired."

There was another silence.

Again came the cry of labour.

"I want my mother,"

rang automatically from the wincing,

panic-stricken child,

that felt cut off and lost in a horror of desolation.

Tilly came forward,

her heart wrung.

"Come an' let me undress her then,


she crooned.

"You s'll have your mother in th' mornin',

don't you fret,

my duckie;

never mind,


But Anna stood upon the sofa,

her back to the wall.

"I want my mother,"

she cried,

her little face quivering,

and the great tears of childish,

utter anguish falling.

"She's poorly,

my lamb,

she's poorly to-night,

but she'll be better by mornin'.


don't cry,

don't cry,


she doesn't want you to cry,

precious little heart,


she doesn't."

Tilly took gently hold of the child's skirts.

Anna snatched back her dress,

and cried,

in a little hysteria:


you're not to undress me --I want my mother,"

--and her child's face was running with grief and tears,

her body shaken.


but let Tilly undress you.

Let Tilly undress you,

who loves you,

don't be wilful to-night.

Mother's poorly,

she doesn't want you to cry."

The child sobbed distractedly,

she could not hear.

"I want --my --mother,"

she wept.

"When you're undressed,

you s'll go up to see your mother --when you're undressed,


when you've let Tilly undress you,

when you're a little jewel in your nightie,



don't you cry,

don't you --"

Brangwen sat stiff in his chair.

He felt his brain going tighter.

He crossed over the room,

aware only of the maddening sobbing.

"Don't make a noise,"

he said.

And a new fear shook the child from the sound of his voice.

She cried mechanically,

her eyes looking watchful through her tears,

in terror,

alert to what might happen.

"I want --my --mother,"

quavered the sobbing,

blind voice.

A shiver of irritation went over the man's limbs.

It was the utter,

persistent unreason,

the maddening blindness of the voice and the crying.

"You must come and be undressed,"

he said,

in a quiet voice that was thin with anger.

And he reached his hand and grasped her.

He felt her body catch in a convulsive sob.

But he too was blind,

and intent,

irritated into mechanical action.

He began to unfasten her little apron.

She would have shrunk from him,

but could not.

So her small body remained in his grasp,

while he fumbled at the little buttons and tapes,



unaware of anything but the irritation of her.

Her body was held taut and resistant,

he pushed off the little dress and the petticoats,

revealing the white arms.

She kept stiff,



he went on with his task.

And all the while she sobbed,


"I want my mother."

He was unheedingly silent,

his face stiff.

The child was now incapable of understanding,

she had become a little,

mechanical thing of fixed will.

She wept,

her body convulsed,

her voice repeating the same cry.


dear o' me!"

cried Tilly,

becoming distracted herself.






got off all the little garments,

and stood the child naked in its shift upon the sofa.

"Where's her nightie?"

he asked.

Tilly brought it,

and he put it on her.

Anna did not move her limbs to his desire.

He had to push them into place.

She stood,

with fixed,

blind will,


a small,


unchangeable thing weeping ever and repeating the same phrase.

He lifted one foot after the other,

pulled off slippers and socks.

She was ready.

"Do you want a drink?"

he asked.

She did not change.



she stood on the sofa,

standing back,


her hands shut and half lifted,

her face,

all tears,

raised and blind.

And through the sobbing and choking came the broken:

"I --want --my --mother."

"Do you want a drink?"

he said again.

There was no answer.

He lifted the stiff,

denying body between his hands.

Its stiff blindness made a flash of rage go through him.

He would like to break it.

He set the child on his knee,

and sat again in his chair beside the fire,

the wet,


inarticulate noise going on near his ear,

the child sitting stiff,

not yielding to him or anything,

not aware.

A new degree of anger came over him.

What did it all matter?

What did it matter if the mother talked Polish and cried in labour,

if this child were stiff with resistance,

and crying?

Why take it to heart?

Let the mother cry in labour,

let the child cry in resistance,

since they would do so.

Why should he fight against it,

why resist?

Let it be,

if it were so.

Let them be as they were,

if they insisted.

And in a daze he sat,

offering no fight.

The child cried on,

the minutes ticked away,

a sort of torpor was on him.

It was some little time before he came to,

and turned to attend to the child.

He was shocked by her little wet,

blinded face.

A bit dazed,

he pushed back the wet hair.

Like a living statue of grief,

her blind face cried on.


he said,

"not as bad as that.

It's not as bad as that,


my child.


what are you crying for so much?


stop now,

it'll make you sick.

I wipe you dry,

don't wet your face any more.

Don't cry any more wet tears,


it's better not to.

Don't cry --it's not so bad as all that.

Hush now,

hush --let it be enough."

His voice was queer and distant and calm.

He looked at the child.

She was beside herself now.

He wanted her to stop,

he wanted it all to stop,

to become natural.


he said,

rising to turn away,

"we'll go an' supper-up the beast."

He took a big shawl,

folded her round,

and went out into the kitchen for a lantern.

"You're never taking the child out,

of a night like this,"

said Tilly.


it'll quieten her,"

he answered.

It was raining.

The child was suddenly still,


finding the rain on its face,

the darkness.

"We'll just give the cows their something-to-eat,

afore they go to bed,"

Brangwen was saying to her,

holding her close and sure.

There was a trickling of water into the butt,

a burst of rain-drops sputtering on to her shawl,

and the light of the lantern swinging,

flashing on a wet pavement and the base of a wet wall.

Otherwise it was black darkness: one breathed darkness.

He opened the doors,

upper and lower,

and they entered into the high,

dry barn,

that smelled warm even if it were not warm.

He hung the lantern on the nail and shut the door.

They were in another world now.

The light shed softly on the timbered barn,

on the whitewashed walls,

and the great heap of hay;

instruments cast their shadows largely,

a ladder rose to the dark arch of a loft.

Outside there was the driving rain,


the softly-illuminated stillness and calmness of the barn.

Holding the child on one arm,

he set about preparing the food for the cows,

filling a pan with chopped hay and brewer's grains and a little meal.

The child,

all wonder,

watched what he did.

A new being was created in her for the new conditions.


a little spasm,

eddying from the bygone storm of sobbing,

shook her small body.

Her eyes were wide and wondering,


She was silent,

quite still.

In a sort of dream,

his heart sunk to the bottom,

leaving the surface of him still,

quite still,

he rose with the panful of food,

carefully balancing the child on one arm,

the pan in the other hand.

The silky fringe of the shawl swayed softly,

grains and hay trickled to the floor;

he went along a dimly-lit passage behind the mangers,

where the horns of the cows pricked out of the obscurity.

The child shrank,

he balanced stiffly,

rested the pan on the manger wall,

and tipped out the food,

half to this cow,

half to the next.

There was a noise of chains running,

as the cows lifted or dropped their heads sharply;

then a contented,

soothing sound,

a long snuffing as the beasts ate in silence.

The journey had to be performed several times.

There was the rhythmic sound of the shovel in the barn,

then the man returned walking stiffly between the two weights,

the face of the child peering out from the shawl.

Then the next time,

as he stooped,

she freed her arm and put it round his neck,

clinging soft and warm,

making all easier.

The beasts fed,

he dropped the pan and sat down on a box,

to arrange the child.

"Will the cows go to sleep now?"

she said,

catching her breath as she spoke.


"Will they eat all their stuff up first?"


Hark at them."

And the two sat still listening to the snuffing and breathing of cows feeding in the sheds communicating with this small barn.

The lantern shed a soft,

steady light from one wall.

All outside was still in the rain.

He looked down at the silky folds of the paisley shawl.

It reminded him of his mother.

She used to go to church in it.

He was back again in the old irresponsibility and security,

a boy at home.

The two sat very quiet.

His mind,

in a sort of trance,

seemed to become more and more vague.

He held the child close to him.

A quivering little shudder,

re-echoing from her sobbing,

went down her limbs.

He held her closer.

Gradually she relaxed,

the eyelids began to sink over her dark,

watchful eyes.

As she sank to sleep,

his mind became blank.

When he came to,

as if from sleep,

he seemed to be sitting in a timeless stillness.

What was he listening for?

He seemed to be listening for some sound a long way off,

from beyond life.

He remembered his wife.

He must go back to her.

The child was asleep,

the eyelids not quite shut,

showing a slight film of black pupil between.

Why did she not shut her eyes?

Her mouth was also a little open.

He rose quickly and went back to the house.

"Is she asleep?"

whispered Tilly.

He nodded.

The servant-woman came to look at the child who slept in the shawl,

with cheeks flushed hot and red,

and a whiteness,

a wanness round the eyes.


whispered Tilly,

shaking her head.

He pushed off his boots and went upstairs with the child.

He became aware of the anxiety grasped tight at his heart,

because of his wife.

But he remained still.

The house was silent save for the wind outside,

and the noisy trickling and splattering of water in the water-butts.

There was a slit of light under his wife's door.

He put the child into bed wrapped as she was in the shawl,

for the sheets would be cold.

Then he was afraid that she might not be able to move her arms,

so he loosened her.

The black eyes opened,

rested on him vacantly,

sank shut again.

He covered her up.

The last little quiver from the sobbing shook her breathing.

This was his room,

the room he had had before he married.

It was familiar.

He remembered what it was to be a young man,


He remained suspended.

The child slept,

pushing her small fists from the shawl.

He could tell the woman her child was asleep.

But he must go to the other landing.

He started.

There was the sound of the owls --the moaning of the woman.

What an uncanny sound!

It was not human --at least to a man.

He went down to her room,

entering softly.

She was lying still,

with eyes shut,



His heart leapt,

fearing she was dead.

Yet he knew perfectly well she was not.

He saw the way her hair went loose over her temples,

her mouth was shut with suffering in a sort of grin.

She was beautiful to him --but it was not human.

He had a dread of her as she lay there.

What had she to do with him?

She was other than himself.

Something made him go and touch her fingers that were still grasped on the sheet.

Her brown-grey eyes opened and looked at him.

She did not know him as himself.

But she knew him as the man.

She looked at him as a woman in childbirth looks at the man who begot the child in her: an impersonal look,

in the extreme hour,

female to male.

Her eyes closed again.

A great,

scalding peace went over him,

burning his heart and his entrails,

passing off into the infinite.

When her pains began afresh,

tearing her,

he turned aside,

and could not look.

But his heart in torture was at peace,

his bowels were glad.

He went downstairs,

and to the door,


lifted his face to the rain,

and felt the darkness striking unseen and steadily upon him.

The swift,

unseen threshing of the night upon him silenced him and he was overcome.

He turned away indoors,


There was the infinite world,



as well as the world of life.