The Rainbow (Chapter 2, page 2 of 25)

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Chapter 2

He was wasting away. Already when the child was born he
seemed nothing but skin and bone and fixed idea. She watched him
dying, nursed him, nursed the baby, but really took no notice of
anything. A darkness was on her, like remorse, or like a
remembering of the dark, savage, mystic ride of dread, of death,
of the shadow of revenge. When her husband died, she was
relieved. He would no longer dart about her.

England fitted her mood, its aloofness and foreignness. She
had known a little of the language before coming, and a sort of
parrot-mind made her pick it up fairly easily. But she knew
nothing of the English, nor of English life. Indeed, these did
not exist for her. She was like one walking in the Underworld,
where the shades throng intelligibly but have no connection with
one. She felt the English people as a potent, cold, slightly
hostile host amongst whom she walked isolated.

The English people themselves were almost deferential to her,
the Church saw that she did not want. She walked without
passion, like a shade, tormented into moments of love by the
child. Her dying husband with his tortured eyes and the skin
drawn tight over his face, he was as a vision to her, not a
reality. In a vision he was buried and put away. Then the vision
ceased, she was untroubled, time went on grey, uncoloured, like
a long journey where she sat unconscious as the landscape
unrolled beside her. When she rocked her baby at evening, maybe
she fell into a Polish slumber song, or she talked sometimes to
herself in Polish. Otherwise she did not think of Poland, nor of
that life to which she had belonged. It was a great blot looming
blank in its darkness. In the superficial activity of her life,
she was all English. She even thought in English. But her long
blanks and darknesses of abstraction were Polish.

So she lived for some time. Then, with slight uneasiness, she
used half to awake to the streets of London. She realized that
there was something around her, very foreign, she realized she
was in a strange place. And then, she was sent away into the
country. There came into her mind now the memory of her home
where she had been a child, the big house among the land, the
peasants of the village.

She was sent to Yorkshire, to nurse an old rector in his
rectory by the sea. This was the first shake of the kaleidoscope
that brought in front of her eyes something she must see. It
hurt her brain, the open country and the moors. It hurt her and
hurt her. Yet it forced itself upon her as something living, it
roused some potency of her childhood in her, it had some
relation to her.

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