THE CASTING OFF OF MOREL-THE TAKING ON OF WILLIAM
DURING the next week Morel's temper was almost unbearable. Like all miners, he was a great lover of medicines, which, strangely enough, he would often pay for himself.
'You mull get me a drop o' laxy vitral,' he said. 'It's a winder as we canna ha'e a sup i' th' 'ouse.'
So Mrs Morel bought him elixir of vitriol, his favourite first medicine. And he made himself a jug of wormwood tea. He had hanging in the attic great bunches of dried herbs: wormwood, rue, horehound, elder-flowers, parsley-purt, marshmallow, hyssop, dandelion, and centaury. Usually there was a jug of one or other decoction standing on the hob, from which he drank largely.
'Grand!' he said, smacking his lips after wormwood. 'Grand!' And he exhorted the children to try.
'It's better than any of your tea or your cocoa stews,' he vowed. But they were not to be tempted.
This time, however, neither pills nor vitriol nor all his herbs would shift the 'nasty peens in his head.' He was sickening for an attack of an inflammation of the brain. He had never been well since his sleeping on the ground when he went with Jerry to Nottingham. Since then he had drunk and stormed. Now he fell seriously ill, and Mrs Morel had him to nurse. He was one of the worst patients imaginable. But, in spite of all, and putting aside the fact that he was bread-winner, she never quite wanted him to die. Still there was one part of her wanted him for herself.
The neighbours were very good to her: occasionally some had the children in to meals, occasionally some would do the downstairs work for her, one would mind the baby for a day. But it was a great drag, nevertheless. It was not every day the neighbours helped. Then she had nursing of baby