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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

And I don't believe Lilly does


"Well,

in moderation, I can believe in a little hard cash, and in my own ability to earn a little hard cash."

"Perhaps Lilly believes in his own ability, too."

"No. Not so. Because he will never directly work to earn money. He works--and works quite well, I am told: but only as the spirit moves him, and never with any eye to the market. Now I call that TEMPTING Providence, myself. The spirit may move him in quite an opposite direction to the market--then where is Lilly? I have put it to him more than once."

"The spirit generally does move him dead against the market," said Aaron. "But he manages to scrape along."

"In a state of jeopardy: all the time in a state of jeopardy," said the old man. "His whole existence, and that of his wife, is completely precarious. I found, in my youth, the spirit moved me to various things which would have left me and my wife starving. So I realised in time, this was no good. I took my spirit in hand, therefore, and made him pull the cart which mankind is riding in. I harnessed him to the work of productive labour. And so he brought me my reward."

"Yes," said Aaron. "But every man according to his belief."

"I don't see," said Sir William, "how a man can BELIEVE in a Providence unless he sets himself definitely to the work of earning his daily bread,

and making provision for future needs. That's what Providence means to me--making provision for oneself and one's family. Now, Mr. Lilly--and you yourself--you say you believe in a Providence that does NOT compel you to earn your daily bread, and make provision. I confess myself I cannot see it: and Lilly has never been able to convince me."

"I don't believe in a kind-hearted Providence," said Aaron, "and I don't believe Lilly does. But I believe in chance. I believe, if I go my own way, without tying my nose to a job, chance will always throw something in my way: enough to get along with."

"But on what do you base such a very unwarrantable belief?"

"I just feel like that."

"And if you are ever quite without success--and nothing to fall back on?"

"I can work at something."

"In case of illness, for example?"

"I can go to a hospital--or die."

"Dear me! However, you are more logical than Lilly. He seems to believe that he has the Invisible--call it Providence if you will--on his side, and that this Invisible will never leave him in the lurch, or let him down, so long as he sticks to his own side of the bargain, and NEVER works for his own ends. I don't quite see how he works. Certainly he seems to me a man who squanders a great deal of talent unworthily. Yet for some reason or other he calls this true, genuine activity, and has a contempt for actual work by which a man makes provision for his years and for his family. In the end, he will have to fall back on charity. But when I say so, he denies it, and says that in the end we, the men who work and make provision, will have to fall back on him. Well, all I can say is, that SO FAR he is in far greater danger of having to fall back on me, than I on him."

The old man sat back in his chair with a little laugh of triumph. But it smote almost devilishly on Aaron's ears, and for the first time in his life he felt that there existed a necessity for taking sides.

"I don't suppose he will do much falling back," he said.

"Well, he is young yet. You are both young. You are squandering your youth. I am an old man, and I see the end."


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