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'Tickets, Please!' by D. H. Lawrence (free novels to read pdf) 📖

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20 March 2022
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'Tickets, Please!'
'Tickets, Please!' by D. H. Lawrence (free novels to read pdf) 📖
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'Tickets, Please!' by D. H. Lawrence (free novels to read pdf) 📖 brief summary

'Tickets, Please!' by D. H. Lawrence (free novels to read pdf) 📖 - description and summary, by D. H. Lawrence, read for free online at the e-library uribrotv.com
ell, Nora,' said John Joseph.

'Don't know what you mean,' said Laura.

'Yes, I'm toddling,' said he, rising and reaching for his coat.

'Nay,' said Polly. 'We're all here waiting for you.'

'We've got to be up in good time in the morning,' he said, in the benevolent official manner. They all laughed.

'Nay,' said Muriel. 'Don't disappoint us all.' 'I'll take the lot, if you like,' he responded, gallantly.

'That you won't, either,' said Muriel. 'Two's company; seven's too much of a good thing.'

'Nay, take one,' said Laura. 'Fair and square, all above board, say which one.'

'Ay!' cried Annie, speaking for the first time. 'Choose, John Joseph-let's hear thee.'

'Nay,' he said. 'I'm going home quiet tonight.' He frowned at the use of his double name.

'Who says?' said Annie. 'Tha's got to ta'e one.'

'Nay, how can I take one?' he said, laughing uneasily. 'I don't want to make enemies.'

'You'd only make one,' said Annie, grimly.

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‘Tickets, Please!’

D. H. Lawrence


There is in the North a single-line system of tramcars which boldly leaves the county town and plunges off into the black, industrial countryside, up hill and down dale, through the long, ugly villages of workmen’s houses, over canals and railways, past churches perched high and nobly over the smoke and shadows, through dark, grimy, cold little market-places, tilting away in a rush past cinemas and shops down to the hollow where the collieries are, then up again, past a little rural church under the ash-trees, on in a bolt to the terminus, the last little ugly place of industry, the cold little town that shivers on the edge of the wild, gloomy country beyond. There the blue and creamy coloured tramcar seems to pause and purr with curious satisfaction. But in a few minutes-the clock on the turret of the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s shops gives the time-away it starts once more on the adventure. Again there are the reckless swoops downhill, bouncing the loops; again the chilly wait in the hill-top market-place: again the breathless slithering round the precipitous drop under the church: again the patient halts at the loops, waiting for the outcoming car: so on and on, for two long hours, till at last the city looms beyond, the fat gasworks, the narrow factories draw near, we are in the sordid streets of the great town, once more we sidle to a standstill at our terminus, abashed by the great crimson and cream-coloured city cars, but still jerky, jaunty, somewhat daredevil, pert as a blue-tit out of a black colliery garden.

To ride on these cars is always an adventure. The drivers are often men unfit for active service: cripples and hunchbacks. So they have the spirit of the devil in them. The ride becomes a steeplechase. Hurrah! we have leapt in a clean jump over the canal bridges-now for the four-lane corner! With a shriek and a trail of sparks we are clear again. To be sure a tram often leaps the rails-but what matter! It sits in a ditch till other trams come to haul it out. It is quite common for a car, packed with one solid mass of living people, to come to a dead halt in the midst of unbroken blackness, the heart of nowhere on a dark night, and for the driver and the girl-conductor to call: ‘All get off-car’s on fire.’ Instead of rushing out in a panic, the passengers stolidly reply: ‘Get on-get on. We’re not coming out. We’re stopping where we are. Push on, George.’ So till flames actually appear.

The reason for this reluctance to dismount is that the nights are howlingly cold, black and windswept, and a car is a haven of refuge. From village to village the miners travel, for a change of cinema, of girl, of pub. The trams are desperately packed. Who is going to risk himself in the black gulf outside, to wait perhaps an hour for another tram, then to see the forlorn notice ‘Depot Only’-because there is something wrong; or to greet a unit of three bright cars all so tight with people that they sail past with a howl of derision? Trams that pass in the night!

This, the most dangerous tram-service in England, as the authorities themselves declare, with pride, is entirely conducted by girls, and driven by rash young men, or else by invalids who creep forward in terror. The girls are fearless young hussies. In their ugly blue uniforms, skirts up to their knees, shapeless old peaked caps on their heads, they have all the sang-froid of an old non-commissioned officer. With a tram packed with howling colliers, roaring hymns downstairs and a sort of antiphony of obscenities upstairs, the lasses are perfectly at their ease. They pounce on the youths who try to evade their ticket-machine. They push off the men at the end of their distance. They are not going to be done in the eye-not they. They fear nobody-and everybody fears them.

‘Halloa, Annie!’

‘Halloa, Ted!’ ‘Oh, mind my corn, Miss Stone! It’s my belief you’ve got a heart of stone, for you’ve trod on it again.’

‘You should keep it in your pocket,’ replies Miss Stone, and she goes sturdily upstairs in her high boots.

‘Tickets, please.’

She is peremptory, suspicious, and ready to hit first. She can hold her own against ten thousand.

Therefore there is a certain wild romance aboard these cars-and in the sturdy bosom of Annie herself. The romantic time is in the morning, between ten o’clock and one, when things are rather slack: that is, except market-day and Saturday. Then Annie has time to look about her. Then she often hops off her car and into a shop where she has spied something, while her driver chats in the main road. There is very good feeling between the girls and the drivers. Are they not companions in peril, shipmates aboard this careering vessel of a tramcar, for ever rocking on the waves of a hilly land?

Then, also, in the easy hours the inspectors are most in evidence. For some reason, everybody employed in this tram-service is young: there are no grey heads. It would not do. Therefore the inspectors are of the right age, and one, the chief, is also good-looking. See him stand on a wet, gloomy morning in his long oilskin, his peaked cap well down over his eyes, waiting to board a car. His face is ruddy, his small brown moustache is weathered, he has a faint, impudent smile. Fairly tall and agile, even in his waterproof, he springs aboard a car and greets Annie.

‘Halloa, Annie! Keeping the wet out?’

‘Trying to.’

There are only two people in the car. Inspecting is soon over. Then for a long and impudent chat on the footboard-a good, easy, twelve-mile chat.

The inspector’s name is John Joseph Raynor: always called John Joseph. His face sets in fury when he is addressed, from a distance, with this abbreviation. There is considerable scandal about John Joseph in half-a-dozen villages. He flirts with the girl-conductors in the morning, and walks out with them in the dark night when they leave their tramcar at the depot. Of course, the girls quit the service frequently. Then he flirts and walks out with a newcomer: always providing she is sufficiently attractive, and that she will consent to walk. It is remarkable, however, that most of the girls are quite comely, they are all young, and this roving life aboard the car gives them a sailor’s dash and recklessness. What matter how they behave when the ship is in port? Tomorrow they will be aboard again.

Annie, however, was something of a tartar, and her sharp tongue had kept John Joseph at arm’s length for many months. Perhaps, therefore, she liked him all the more; for he always came up smiling, with impudence. She watched him vanquish one girl, then another. She could tell by the movement of his mouth and eyes, when he flirted with her in the morning, that he had been walking out with this lass, or the other the night before. She could sum him up pretty well.

In their subtle antagonism, they knew each other like old friends; they were as shrewd with one another almost as man and wife. But Annie had always kept him fully at arm’s length. Besides, she had a boy of her own.

The Statutes fair, however, came in November, at Middleton. It happened that Annie had the Monday night off. It was a drizzling, ugly night, yet she dressed herself up and went to the fairground. She was alone, but she expected soon to find a pal of some sort.

The roundabouts were veering round and grinding out their music, the side-shows were making as much commotion as possible. In the coconut shies there were no coconuts, but artificial substitutes, which the lads declared were fastened into the irons. There was a sad decline in brilliance and luxury. None the less, the ground was muddy as ever, there was the same crush, the press of faces lighted up by the flares and the electric lights, the same smell of naphtha and fried potatoes and electricity.

Who should be the first to greet Miss Annie, on the show-ground, but John Joseph! He had a black overcoat buttoned up to his chin, and a tweed cap pulled down over his brows, his face between was ruddy and smiling and hardy as ever. She knew so well the way his mouth moved.

She was very glad to have a ‘boy’. To be at the Statutes without a fellow was no fun. Instantly, like the gallant he was, he took her on the dragons, grim-toothed, roundabout switchbacks. It was not nearly so exciting as a tramcar, actually. But then, to be seated in a shaking green dragon, uplifted above the sea of bubble faces, careering in a rickety fashion in the lower heavens, whilst John Joseph leaned over her, his cigarette in his mouth, was, after all, the right style. She was a plump, quick, alive little creature. So she was quite excited and happy.

John Joseph made her stay on for the next round. And therefore she could hardly for shame to repulse him when he put his arm round her and drew her a little nearer to him, in a very warm and cuddly manner. Besides, he was fairly discreet, he kept his movement as hidden as possible. She looked down, and saw that his red, clean hand was out of sight of the crowd. And they knew each other so well. So they warmed up to the fair.

After the dragons they went on the horses. John Joseph paid each time, she could but be complaisant. He, of course, sat astride on the outer horse-named ‘Black Bess’-and she sat sideways towards him, on the inner horse-named ‘Wildfire’. But, of course, John Joseph was not going to sit discreetly on ‘Black Bess’, holding the brass bar. Round they spun and heaved, in the light. And round he swung on his wooden steed, flinging one leg across her mount, and perilously tipping up and down, across the space, half-lying back, laughing at her. He was perfectly happy; she was afraid her hat was on one side, but she was excited.

He threw quoits on a table, and won her two large, pale-blue hatpins. And then, hearing the noise of the cinema, announcing another performance, they climbed the boards and went in.

Of course, during these performances, pitch darkness falls from time to time, when the machine goes wrong. Then there is a wild whooping, and a loud smacking of simulated kisses. In these moments John Joseph drew Annie towards him. After all, he had a wonderfully warm, cosy way of holding a girl with his arm, he seemed to make such a nice fit. And, after all, it was pleasant to be so held; so very comforting and cosy and nice. He leaned over her and she felt his breath on her hair. She knew he wanted to kiss her on the lips. And, after all, he was so warm and she fitted in to him so softly. After all, she wanted him to touch her lips.

But the light sprang up, she also started electrically, and put her hat straight. He left his arm lying nonchalant behind her. Well, it was fun, it was exciting to be at the Statutes with John Joseph.

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