She gave him a few instructions. He sat looking at her as if she were almost a stranger to him, before whom he was awkward and humble, and also as if he had lost his presence of mind, and wanted to run. This feeling that he wanted to run away, that he was on thorns to be gone from so trying a situation, and yet must linger because it looked better, made his presence so trying. He put up his eyebrows for misery, and clenched his fists on his knees, feeling so awkward in presence of big trouble.
Mrs. Morel did not change much. She stayed in Sheffield for two months. If anything, at the end she was rather worse. But she wanted to go home. Annie had her children. Mrs. Morel wanted to go home. So they got a motor-car from Nottingham—for she was too ill to go by train—and she was driven through the sunshine. It was just August; everything was bright and warm. Under the blue sky they could all see she was dying. Yet she was jollier than she had been for weeks. They all laughed and talked.
“Annie,” she exclaimed, “I saw a lizard dart on that rock!”
Her eyes were so quick; she was still so full of life.
Morel knew she was coming. He had the front door open. Everybody was on tiptoe. Half the street turned out. They heard the sound of the great motor-car. Mrs. Morel, smiling, drove home down the street.
“And just look at them all come out to see me!” she said. “But there, I suppose I should have done the same. How do you do, Mrs. Mathews? How are you, Mrs. Harrison?”
They none of them could hear, but they saw her smile and nod. And they all saw death on her face, they said. It was a great event in the street.
Morel wanted to carry her indoors, but he was too old. Arthur took her as if she were a child. They had set her a big, deep chair by the hearth where her rocking-chair used to stand. When she was unwrapped and seated, and had drunk a little brandy, she looked round the room.
“Don’t think I don’t like your house, Annie,” she said; “but it’s nice to be in my own home again.”
And Morel answered huskily:
“It is, lass, it is.”
And Minnie, the little quaint maid, said:
“An’ we glad t’ ’ave yer.”
There was a lovely yellow ravel of sunflowers in the garden. She looked out of the window.
“There are my sunflowers!” she said.
“By the way,” said Dr. Ansell one evening when Morel was in Sheffield, “we’ve got a man in the fever hospital here who comes from Nottingham—Dawes. He doesn’t seem to have many belongings in this world.”
“Baxter Dawes!” Paul exclaimed.
“That’s the man—has been a fine fellow, physically, I should think. Been in a bit of a mess lately. You know him?”
“He used to work at the place where I am.”