Gertrude Morel 53

It seemed to Paul his mother looked lonely, in her new black silk blouse with its bit of white trimming.

‘At any rate, mother, I s’ll never marry,’ he said.

‘Ay, they all say that, my lad. You’ve not met the one yet. Only wait a year or two.’

‘But I shan’t marry, mother. I shall live with you, and we’ll have a servant.’

‘Ah, my lad, it’s easy to talk. We’ll see when the time comes.’

‘What time? I’m nearly twenty-three.’

‘Yes, you’re not one that would marry young. But in three years’ time –’

‘I shall be with you just the same.’

‘We’ll see, my boy, we’ll see.’

‘But you don’t want me to marry?’

‘I shouldn’t like to think of you going through your life without anybody to care for you and do – no.’

‘And you think I ought to marry?’

‘Sooner or later every man ought.’

‘But you’d rather it were later.’

‘It would be hard – and very hard. It’s as they say:

 

“A son’s my son till he takes a wife,

But my daughter’s my daughter the whole of her life.”’

 

‘And you’d think I’d let a wife take me from you?’

‘Well, you wouldn’t ask her to marry your mother as well as you,’ Mrs Morel smiled.

‘She could do what she liked; she wouldn’t have to interfere.’

‘She wouldn’t – till she’d got you – and then you’d see.’

‘I never will see. I’ll never marry while I’ve got you – I won’t.’

‘But I shouldn’t like to leave you with nobody, my boy,’ she cried.

‘You’re not going to leave me. What are you? Fifty-three! I’ll give you to seventy-five. There you are, I’m fat and forty-four. Then I’ll marry a staid body. See!’

His mother sat and laughed.