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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

His busy activity annoyed Aaron


Aaron

looked up with a glimpse of a smile. The two men were sitting before the fire at the end of a cold, wet April day: Aaron convalescent, somewhat chastened in appearance.

"Ay," he said rather sourly. "A move back to Guilford Street."

"Oh, I meant to tell you," said Lilly. "I was reading an old Baden history. They made a law in 1528--not a law, but a regulation--that: if a man forsakes his wife and children, as now so often happens, the said wife and children are at once to be dispatched after him. I thought that would please you. Does it?"

"Yes," said Aaron briefly.

"They would have arrived the next day, like a forwarded letter."

"I should have had to get a considerable move on, at that rate," grinned Aaron.

"Oh, no. You might quite like them here." But Lilly saw the white frown of determined revulsion on the convalescent's face.

"Wouldn't you?" he asked.

Aaron shook his head.

"No," he said. And it was obvious he objected to the topic. "What are you going to do about your move on?"

"Me!" said Lilly. "I'm going to sail away next week--or steam dirtily away on a tramp called the _Maud Allen Wing_."

"Where

to?"

"Malta."

"Where from?"

"London Dock. I fixed up my passage this morning for ten pounds. I am cook's assistant, signed on."

Aaron looked at him with a little admiration.

"You can take a sudden jump, can't you?" he said.

"The difficulty is to refrain from jumping: overboard or anywhere."

Aaron smoked his pipe slowly.

"And what good will Malta do you?" he asked, envious.

"Heaven knows. I shall cross to Syracuse, and move up Italy."

"Sounds as if you were a millionaire."

"I've got thirty-five pounds in all the world. But something will come along."

"I've got more than that," said Aaron.

"Good for you," replied Lilly.

He rose and went to the cupboard, taking out a bowl and a basket of potatoes. He sat down again, paring the potatoes. His busy activity annoyed Aaron.

"But what's the good of going to Malta? Shall YOU be any different in yourself, in another place? You'll be the same there as you are here."

"How am I here?"

"Why, you're all the time grinding yourself against something inside you. You're never free. You're never content. You never stop chafing."

Lilly dipped his potato into the water, and cut out the eyes carefully. Then he cut it in two, and dropped it in the clean water of the second bowl. He had not expected this criticism.

"Perhaps I don't," said he.

"Then what's the use of going somewhere else? You won't change yourself."

"I may in the end," said Lilly.

"You'll be yourself, whether it's Malta or London," said Aaron.

"There's a doom for me," laughed Lilly. The water on the fire was boiling. He rose and threw in salt, then dropped in the potatoes with little plops. "There there are lots of mes. I'm not only just one proposition. A new place brings out a new thing in a man. Otherwise you'd have stayed in your old place with your family."


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