WHEN he was twenty-three years old Paul sent in a landscape to the winter exhibition at Nottingham Castle. Miss Jordan had taken a good deal of interest in him, had invited him to her house, where he met other artists. He was beginning to grow ambitious.
One morning the postman came just as he was washing in the scullery. Suddenly he heard a wild noise from his mother. Rushing into the kitchen, he found her standing on the hearthrug wildly waving a letter and crying `Hurrah!' as if she had gone mad. He was shocked and frightened.
`Why, mother!' he exclaimed.
She flew to him, flung her arms round him for a moment, then waved the letter, crying:
`Hurrah, my boy! I knew we should do it!'
He was afraid of her--the small, severe woman with greying hair suddenly bursting out in such frenzy. The postman came running back, afraid something had happened. They saw his tipped cap over the short curtain. Mrs Morel rushed to the door.
`His picture's got first prize, Fred,' she cried, `and is sold for twenty guineas.'
`My word, that's something like!' said the young postman, whom they had known all his life.
`And Major Moreton has brought it!' she cried.
`It looks like meanin' something, that does, Mrs Morel,' said the postman, his blue eyes bright. He was glad to have brought such a lucky letter. Mrs Morel went indoors and sat down, trembling. Paul was afraid lest she might have misread the letter, and might be disappointed after all. He scrutinized it once, twice. Yes, he became convinced it was true. Then he sat down, his heart beating with joy.
`Mother!' he exclaimed.
`Didn't I say we should do it!' she said, pretending she was not crying.
He took the kettle off the fire and mashed the tea.
`You didn't think, mother--' he began tentatively.
`No, my son--not so much--but I expected a good deal.'
`But not so much,' he said.
`No--no--but I knew we should do it.'
And then she recovered her composure, apparently at least. He sat with his shirt turned back, showing his young throat almost like a girl's, and the towel in his hand, his hair sticking up wet.
`Twenty guineas, mother! That's just what you wanted to buy Arthur out. Now you needn't borrow any. It'll just do.'
`Indeed, I shan't take it all,' she said.
`Because I shan't.'
`Well--you have twelve pounds, I'll have nine.'
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