“Did he? Do you know anything about him? He’s just sulking, or he’d be a lot better than he is by now.”
“I don’t know anything of his home circumstances, except that he’s separated from his wife and has been a bit down, I believe. But tell him about me, will you? Tell him I’ll come and see him.”
The next time Morel saw the doctor he said:
“And what about Dawes?”
“I said to him,” answered the other, “’Do you know a man from Nottingham named Morel?’ and he looked at me as if he’d jump at my throat. So I said: ‘I see you know the name; it’s Paul Morel.’ Then I told him about your saying you would go and see him. ‘What does he want?’ he said, as if you were a policeman.”
“And did he say he would see me?” asked Paul.
“He wouldn’t say anything—good, bad or indifferent,” replied the doctor.
“That’s what I want to know. There he lies and sulks, day in, day out. Can’t get a word of information out of him.”
“Do you think I might go?” asked Paul.
There was a feeling of connection between the rival men, more than ever since they had fought. In a way Morel felt guilty towards the other, and more or less responsible. And being in such a state of soul himself, he felt an almost painful nearness to Dawes, who was suffering and despairing, too. Besides, they had met in a naked extremity of hate, and it was a bond. At any rate, the elemental man in each had met.
He went down to the isolation hospital, with Dr. Ansell’s card. This sister, a healthy young Irishwoman, led him down the ward.
“A visitor to see you, Jim Crow,” she said.
Dawes turned over suddenly with a startled grunt.
“Caw!” she mocked. “He can only say ‘Caw!’ I have brought you a gentleman to see you. Now say ‘Thank you,’ and show some manners.”
Dawes looked swiftly with his dark, startled eyes beyond the sister at Paul. His look was full of fear, mistrust, hate, and misery. Morel met the swift, dark eyes, and hesitated. The two men were afraid of the naked selves they had been.
“Dr. Ansell told me you were here,” said Morel, holding out his hand.
Dawes mechanically shook hands.
“So I thought I’d come in,” continued Paul.
There was no answer. Dawes lay staring at the opposite wall.
“Say ‘Caw!"’ mocked the nurse. “Say ‘Caw!’ Jim Crow.”
“He is getting on all right?” said Paul to her.
“Oh yes! He lies and imagines he’s going to die,” said the nurse, “and it frightens every word out of his mouth.”
“And you must have somebody to talk to,” laughed Morel.
“That’s it!” laughed the nurse. “Only two old men and a boy who always cries. It is hard lines! Here am I dying to hear Jim Crow’s voice, and nothing but an odd ‘Caw!’ will he give!”