Now that William's dead, Paul starts hanging out more at Willey Farm with the young Leiver boys. Miriam refuses to hang with him, though, since she believes she's a refined lady and whatnot.
The narrator tells us that Miriam is like her mother, in the sense that both are very deep, "mystical" thinkers—your regular old loner types, you know.
Miriam starts to watch Paul wistfully, because he's delicate and swift, not like the rest of the boys she knows. She also admires Paul's education, which makes her all the more worried that he'll see her as a "swine-girl" (7.4).
That's not the most attractive descriptor, we agree.
She thinks that if only she could have him in her arms and make him depend on her, she could love him.
This sounds a bit like how Mrs. Morel feels about her sons, doesn't it?
One day, Miriam becomes aware that Paul is watching her as she goes about her household duties. She becomes ashamed, because she doesn't want him to see her do this kind of "lowly" work.
When the boys get home, Edgar scolds her for ruining supper. He and the boys make fun of her in front of Paul.
Another day, Paul, Miriam, and Mrs. Leivers go out to examine a bird's nest. Mrs. Leivers encourages Paul to poke his finger into the opening of the nest.
When he follows her orders, Paul comments on how warm the inside of the nest is, and compares it to having his finger inside the body of the bird. Like we said, this guy does and says stuff that seems a lot like what serial killers do and say during their childhoods. At least in the movies.
Paul and Miriam fall in love, starting with their common affection for nature.
One day, Paul and Miriam go to a swing inside one of the barns. Paul tells Miriam to sit, but she wants him to go first, taking pleasure in giving something up for a man.
Finally, she agrees to get on, and he pushes her. She is suddenly afraid at the feeling of his "thrust" (7.113), and her fear goes "down to the bowels" (7.113). In case you didn't notice, the whole event is narrated in really sexual terms.
Pretty soon, Paul's sympathy splits between his mother, Miriam, and Miriam's brother.
Miriam soon expresses her resentment about being a girl to Paul. She tells Paul that she wishes she could go out and do something great with her life. But only men are allowed to do all that. Paul doesn't really agree with what she says, but he does offer to teach her math.
What a magnanimous dude.
She agrees, but their first lesson doesn't go well. Paul gets frustrated with her for being so dependent on him.
Miriam has an emotional way of engaging with everything in life, even math. Paul thinks she should just use logic, but she can never be completely logical, and this frustrates him. No one can make him as happy or as angry as Miriam can.
Now that sounds like love to us.
When Paul finally goes back to the factory after his illness, the conditions there are better. He's allowed to attend an Art School for one night each week, and can leave work earlier on Thursday and Friday evening.
Whenever Paul comes home from hanging out with Miriam, he can feel his mother's disapproval. Mrs. Morel can feel the girl drawing Paul away from her.
And she won't stand for that, will she?
She accuses Paul of dating or courting Miriam. But Paul denies it. After a brief argument, he kisses his mom's forehead and goes to bed.
By the time he's nineteen, Paul isn't earning all that much; but he's happy. On a Good Friday holiday, he organizes a walk to a place called "the Hemlock Stone."
A whole crowd of people comes out for the walk. When they reach the famous rock, though, none of them are all that impressed. Two guys carve their initials into it, but Paul doesn't, thinking that he'll find some more legit way to immortalize himself.
Miriam loves to be alone with Paul, but he soon runs ahead to join the rest of the gang. Miriam lingers behind, alone with Nature.
Soon, Miriam realizes that she's alone on a road she doesn't know. She runs ahead, and, turning the corner of a lane, runs into Paul. She has some sort of religious experience at this moment, realizing that she has to love Paul, and that he must belong to her.
Paul is concerned about his mother, and this concern stabs Miriam, because she realizes that she might never take Mrs. Morel's place in Paul's heart.
That's a super rational fear, if you ask us. We know all about the grip Mrs. Morel has on Paul.
She also starts to become more and more aware of the little insults Paul's family is paying her, and stops going to his house to ask for him on Thursdays.
Paul is annoyed with her for not coming to his house. He says that if she won't come to his house, he won't meet with her at all. Sheesh, Paul. Need things on your own terms much?
This effectively ends most of Paul and Miriam's hangout time. Mrs. Morel is happy about that, of course, but both of the children are unhappy.
But then, for the first time ever, the family is going to take a vacation together. Paul has finally saved enough money for them to do this.
They settle on a furnished cottage for two weeks. Miriam is invited to come.
The next day, they all pile into a carriage and drive to the cottage. During the trip, Paul sticks with his mother "as if he were her man" (7.450).
All righty then.
Miriam and Paul have many questionably romantic moments on the trip, but their "purity" prevents them from kissing or anything fun like that.