Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore
automatico interattivo FGA Translate
Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
Clicca sul pulsante qui sopra per iscriverti alla nostra newsletter gratuita che
ti informerà su tutte le nostre novità e iniziative!
legge il testo inglese con una perfetta pronuncia
britannica e con il magico effetto karaoke. Per attivarlo clicca sul
pulsante Ascolta il testo che si trova qui sotto. Puoi anche
selezionare una parola, frase o porzione di testo e ascoltare solo
quella cliccando sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla
porzione di testo selezionata.
Translate: selezionando con il mouse una qualsiasi porzione di testo,
FGA Translate te la traduce istantaneamente in una finestrella pop-up.
Per evitare eventuali conflitti tra ReadSpeaker e FGA Translate puoi
deselezionare quest'ultimo togliendo la spunta qui sopra.
ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
The Mill on the Floss.
by George Eliot.
Book 1. "Boy and Girl".
Chapter 1. Outside Dorlcote Mill.
A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green
banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its
passage with an impetuous embrace. On this mighty tide the black
ships--laden with the fresh-scented fir-planks, with rounded sacks of
oil-bearing seed, or with the dark glitter of coal--are borne along to
the town of St. Ogg's, which shows its aged, fluted red roofs and the
broad gables of its wharves between the low wooded hill and the
river-brink, tingeing the water with a soft purple hue under the
transient glance of this February sun. Far away on each hand stretch
the rich pastures, and the patches of dark earth made ready for the
seed of broad-leaved green crops, or touched already with the tint of
the tender-bladed autumn-sown corn. There is a remnant still of last
year's golden clusters of beehive-ricks rising at intervals beyond the
hedgerows; and everywhere the hedgerows are studded with trees; the
distant ships seem to be lifting their masts and stretching their
red-brown sails close among the branches of the spreading ash. Just by
the red-roofed town the tributary Ripple flows with a lively current
into the Floss. How lovely the little river is, with its dark changing
wavelets! It seems to me like a living companion while I wander along
the bank, and listen to its low, placid voice, as to the voice of one
who is deaf and loving. I remember those large dipping willows. I
remember the stone bridge.
And this is Dorlcote Mill. I must stand a minute or two here on the
bridge and look at it, though the clouds are threatening, and it is
far on in the afternoon. Even in this leafless time of departing
February it is pleasant to look at,--perhaps the chill, damp season
adds a charm to the trimly kept, comfortable dwelling-house, as old as
the elms and chestnuts that shelter it from the northern blast. The
stream is brimful now, and lies high in this little withy plantation,
and half drowns the grassy fringe of the croft in front of the house.
As I look at the full stream, the vivid grass, the delicate
bright-green powder softening the outline of the great trunks and
branches that gleam from under the bare purple boughs, I am in love
with moistness, and envy the white ducks that are dipping their heads
far into the water here among the withes, unmindful of the awkward
appearance they make in the drier world above.
The rush of the water and the booming of the mill bring a dreamy
deafness, which seems to heighten the peacefulness of the scene. They
are like a great curtain of sound, shutting one out from the world
beyond. And now there is the thunder of the huge covered wagon coming
home with sacks of grain. That honest wagoner is thinking of his
dinner, getting sadly dry in the oven at this late hour; but he will
not touch it till he has fed his horses,--the strong, submissive,
meek-eyed beasts, who, I fancy, are looking mild reproach at him from
between their blinkers, that he should crack his whip at them in that
awful manner as if they needed that hint! See how they stretch their
shoulders up the slope toward the bridge, with all the more energy
because they are so near home. Look at their grand shaggy feet that
seem to grasp the firm earth, at the patient strength of their necks,
bowed under the heavy collar, at the mighty muscles of their
struggling haunches! I should like well to hear them neigh over their
hardly earned feed of corn, and see them, with their moist necks freed
from the harness, dipping their eager nostrils into the muddy pond.
Now they are on the bridge, and down they go again at a swifter pace,
and the arch of the covered wagon disappears at the turning behind the
Now I can turn my eyes toward the mill again, and watch the unresting
wheel sending out its diamond jets of water. That little girl is
watching it too; she has been standing on just the same spot at the
edge of the water ever since I paused on the bridge. And that queer
white cur with the brown ear seems to be leaping and barking in
ineffectual remonstrance with the wheel; perhaps he is jealous because
his playfellow in the beaver bonnet is so rapt in its movement. It is
time the little playfellow went in, I think; and there is a very
bright fire to tempt her: the red light shines out under the deepening
gray of the sky. It is time, too, for me to leave off resting my arms
on the cold stone of this bridge....
Ah, my arms are really benumbed. I have been pressing my elbows on the
arms of my chair, and dreaming that I was standing on the bridge in
front of Dorlcote Mill, as it looked one February afternoon many years
ago. Before I dozed off, I was going to tell you what Mr. and Mrs.
Tulliver were talking about, as they sat by the bright fire in the
left-hand parlor, on that very afternoon I have been dreaming of.
Mr. Tulliver, of Dorlcote Mill, Declares His Resolution about Tom
"What I want, you know," said Mr. Tulliver,--"what I want is to give
Tom a good eddication; an eddication as'll be a bread to him. That was
what I was thinking of when I gave notice for him to leave the academy
at Lady-day. I mean to put him to a downright good school at
Midsummer. The two years at th' academy 'ud ha' done well enough, if
I'd meant to make a miller and farmer of him, for he's had a fine
sight more schoolin' nor "I" ever got. All the learnin' "my" father
ever paid for was a bit o' birch at one end and the alphabet at th'
other. But I should like Tom to be a bit of a scholard, so as he might
be up to the tricks o' these fellows as talk fine and write with a
flourish. It 'ud be a help to me wi' these lawsuits, and arbitrations,
and things. I wouldn't make a downright lawyer o' the lad,--I should
be sorry for him to be a raskill,--but a sort o' engineer, or a
surveyor, or an auctioneer and vallyer, like Riley, or one o' them
smartish businesses as are all profits and no outlay, only for a big
watch-chain and a high stool. They're pretty nigh all one, and they're
not far off being even wi' the law, "I" believe; for Riley looks
Lawyer Wakem i' the face as hard as one cat looks another. "He's" none
frightened at him."
Mr. Tulliver was speaking to his wife, a blond comely woman in a
fan-shaped cap (I am afraid to think how long it is since fan-shaped
caps were worn, they must be so near coming in again. At that time,
when Mrs. Tulliver was nearly forty, they were new at St. Ogg's, and
considered sweet things).
"Well, Mr. Tulliver, you know best: "I've" no objections. But hadn't I
better kill a couple o' fowl, and have th' aunts and uncles to dinner
next week, so as you may hear what sister Glegg and sister Pullet have
got to say about it? There's a couple o' fowl "wants" killing!"
"You may kill every fowl i' the yard if you like, Bessy; but I shall
ask neither aunt nor uncle what I'm to do wi' my own lad," said Mr.
"Dear heart!" said Mrs. Tulliver, shocked at this sanguinary rhetoric,
"how can you talk so, Mr. Tulliver? But it's your way to speak
disrespectful o' my family; and sister Glegg throws all the blame
upo' me, though I'm sure I'm as innocent as the babe unborn. For
nobody's ever heard me say as it wasn't lucky for my children to have
aunts and uncles as can live independent. Howiver, if Tom's to go to a
new school, I should like him to go where I can wash him and mend him;
else he might as well have calico as linen, for they'd be one as
yallow as th' other before they'd been washed half-a-dozen times. And
then, when the box is goin' back'ard and forrard, I could send the lad
a cake, or a pork-pie, or an apple; for he can do with an extry bit,
bless him! whether they stint him at the meals or no. My children can
eat as much victuals as most, thank God!"
"Well, well, we won't send him out o' reach o' the carrier's cart, if
other things fit in," said Mr. Tulliver. "But you mustn't put a spoke
i' the wheel about the washin,' if we can't get a school near enough.
That's the fault I have to find wi' you, Bessy; if you see a stick i'
the road, you're allays thinkin' you can't step over it. You'd want me
not to hire a good wagoner, 'cause he'd got a mole on his face."
"Dear heart!" said Mrs. Tulliver, in mild surprise, "when did I iver
make objections to a man because he'd got a mole on his face? I'm sure
I'm rether fond o' the moles; for my brother, as is dead an' gone, had
a mole on his brow. But I can't remember your iver offering to hire a
wagoner with a mole, Mr. Tulliver. There was John Gibbs hadn't a mole
on his face no more nor you have, an' I was all for having you hire
"him"; an' so you did hire him, an' if he hadn't died o' th'
inflammation, as we paid Dr. Turnbull for attending him, he'd very
like ha' been drivin' the wagon now. He might have a mole somewhere
out o' sight, but how was I to know that, Mr. Tulliver?"
"No, no, Bessy; I didn't mean justly the mole; I meant it to stand for
summat else; but niver mind--it's puzzling work, talking is. What I'm
thinking on, is how to find the right sort o' school to send Tom to,
for I might be ta'en in again, as I've been wi' th' academy. I'll have
nothing to do wi' a 'cademy again: whativer school I send Tom to, it
sha'n't be a 'cademy; it shall be a place where the lads spend their
time i' summat else besides blacking the family's shoes, and getting
up the potatoes. It's an uncommon puzzling thing to know what school
Mr. Tulliver paused a minute or two, and dived with both hands into
his breeches pockets as if he hoped to find some suggestion there.
Apparently he was not disappointed, for he presently said, "I know
what I'll do: I'll talk it over wi' Riley; he's coming to-morrow, t'
arbitrate about the dam."
"Well, Mr. Tulliver, I've put the sheets out for the best bed, and
Kezia's got 'em hanging at the fire. They aren't the best sheets, but
they're good enough for anybody to sleep in, be he who he will; for as
for them best Holland sheets, I should repent buying 'em, only they'll
do to lay us out in. An' if you was to die to-morrow, Mr. Tulliver,
they're mangled beautiful, an' all ready, an' smell o' lavender as it
'ud be a pleasure to lay 'em out; an' they lie at the left-hand corner
o' the big oak linen-chest at the back: not as I should trust anybody
to look 'em out but myself."
As Mrs. Tulliver uttered the last sentence, she drew a bright bunch of
keys from her pocket, and singled out one, rubbing her thumb and
finger up and down it with a placid smile while she looked at the
clear fire. If Mr. Tulliver had been a susceptible man in his conjugal
relation, he might have supposed that she drew out the key to aid her
imagination in anticipating the moment when he would be in a state to
justify the production of the best Holland sheets. Happily he was not
so; he was only susceptible in respect of his right to water-power;
moreover, he had the marital habit of not listening very closely, and
since his mention of Mr. Riley, had been apparently occupied in a
tactile examination of his woollen stockings.
"I think I've hit it, Bessy," was his first remark after a short
silence. "Riley's as likely a man as any to know o' some school; he's
had schooling himself, an' goes about to all sorts o' places,
arbitratin' and vallyin' and that. And we shall have time to talk it
over to-morrow night when the business is done. I want Tom to be such
a sort o' man as Riley, you know,--as can talk pretty nigh as well as
if it was all wrote out for him, and knows a good lot o' words as
don't mean much, so as you can't lay hold of 'em i' law; and a good
solid knowledge o' business too."
"Well," said Mrs. Tulliver, "so far as talking proper, and knowing
everything, and walking with a bend in his back, and setting his hair
up, I shouldn't mind the lad being brought up to that. But them
fine-talking men from the big towns mostly wear the false
shirt-fronts; they wear a frill till it's all a mess, and then hide it
with a bib; I know Riley does. And then, if Tom's to go and live at
Mudport, like Riley, he'll have a house with a kitchen hardly big
enough to turn in, an' niver get a fresh egg for his breakfast, an'
sleep up three pair o' stairs,--or four, for what I know,--and be
burnt to death before he can get down."
"No, no," said Mr. Tulliver, "I've no thoughts of his going to
Mudport: I mean him to set up his office at St. Ogg's, close by us,
an' live at home. But," continued Mr. Tulliver after a pause, "what
I'm a bit afraid on is, as Tom hasn't got the right sort o' brains for
a smart fellow. I doubt he's a bit slowish. He takes after your
"Yes, that he does," said Mrs. Tulliver, accepting the last
proposition entirely on its own merits; "he's wonderful for liking a
deal o' salt in his broth. That was my brother's way, and my father's
"It seems a bit a pity, though," said Mr. Tulliver, "as the lad should
take after the mother's side instead o' the little wench. That's the
worst on't wi' crossing o' breeds: you can never justly calkilate
what'll come on't. The little un takes after my side, now: she's twice
as 'cute as Tom. Too 'cute for a woman, I'm afraid," continued Mr.
Tulliver, turning his head dubiously first on one side and then on the
other. "It's no mischief much while she's a little un; but an
over-'cute woman's no better nor a long-tailed sheep,--she'll fetch
none the bigger price for that."
"Yes, it "is" a mischief while she's a little un, Mr. Tulliver, for it
runs to naughtiness. How to keep her in a clean pinafore two hours
together passes my cunning. An' now you put me i' mind," continued
Mrs. Tulliver, rising and going to the window, "I don't know where she
is now, an' it's pretty nigh tea-time. Ah, I thought so,--wanderin' up
an' down by the water, like a wild thing: She'll tumble in some day."
Mrs. Tulliver rapped the window sharply, beckoned, and shook her
head,--a process which she repeated more than once before she returned
to her chair.
"You talk o' 'cuteness, Mr. Tulliver," she observed as she sat down,
"but I'm sure the child's half an idiot i' some things; for if I send
her upstairs to fetch anything, she forgets what she's gone for, an'
perhaps 'ull sit down on the floor i' the sunshine an' plait her hair
an' sing to herself like a Bedlam creatur', all the while I'm waiting
for her downstairs. That niver run i' my family, thank God! no more
nor a brown skin as makes her look like a mulatter. I don't like to
fly i' the face o' Providence, but it seems hard as I should have but
one gell, an' her so comical."
"Pooh, nonsense!" said Mr. Tulliver; "she's a straight, black-eyed
wench as anybody need wish to see. I don't know i' what she's behind
other folks's children; and she can read almost as well as the
"But her hair won't curl all I can do with it, and she's so franzy
about having it put i' paper, and I've such work as never was to make
her stand and have it pinched with th' irons."
"Cut it off--cut it off short," said the father, rashly.
"How can you talk so, Mr. Tulliver? She's too big a gell--gone nine,
and tall of her age--to have her hair cut short; an' there's her
cousin Lucy's got a row o' curls round her head, an' not a hair out o'
place. It seems hard as my sister Deane should have that pretty child;
I'm sure Lucy takes more after me nor my own child does. Maggie,
Maggie," continued the mother, in a tone of half-coaxing fretfulness,
as this small mistake of nature entered the room, "where's the use o'
my telling you to keep away from the water? You'll tumble in and be
drownded some day, an' then you'll be sorry you didn't do as mother
Maggie's hair, as she threw off her bonnet, painfully confirmed her
mother's accusation. Mrs. Tulliver, desiring her daughter to have a
curled crop, "like other folks's children," had had it cut too short
in front to be pushed behind the ears; and as it was usually straight
an hour after it had been taken out of paper, Maggie was incessantly
tossing her head to keep the dark, heavy locks out of her gleaming
black eyes,--an action which gave her very much the air of a small
"Oh, dear, oh, dear, Maggie, what are you thinkin' of, to throw your
bonnet down there? Take it upstairs, there's a good gell, an' let your
hair be brushed, an' put your other pinafore on, an' change your
shoes, do, for shame; an' come an' go on with your patchwork, like a
"Oh, mother," said Maggie, in a vehemently cross tone, "I don't "want"
to do my patchwork."
"What! not your pretty patchwork, to make a counterpane for your aunt
"It's foolish work," said Maggie, with a toss of her mane,--"tearing
things to pieces to sew 'em together again. And I don't want to do
anything for my aunt Glegg. I don't like her."
Exit Maggie, dragging her bonnet by the string, while Mr. Tulliver
"I wonder at you, as you'll laugh at her, Mr. Tulliver," said the
mother, with feeble fretfulness in her tone. "You encourage her i'
naughtiness. An' her aunts will have it as it's me spoils her."
Mrs. Tulliver was what is called a good-tempered person,--never cried,
when she was a baby, on any slighter ground than hunger and pins; and
from the cradle upward had been healthy, fair, plump, and dull-witted;
in short, the flower of her family for beauty and amiability. But milk
and mildness are not the best things for keeping, and when they turn
only a little sour, they may disagree with young stomachs seriously. I
have often wondered whether those early Madonnas of Raphael, with the
blond faces and somewhat stupid expression, kept their placidity
undisturbed when their strong-limbed, strong-willed boys got a little
too old to do without clothing. I think they must have been given to
feeble remonstrance, getting more and more peevish as it became more
and more ineffectual.
Mr. Riley Gives His Advice Concerning a School for Tom
The gentleman in the ample white cravat and shirt-frill, taking his
brandy-and-water so pleasantly with his good friend Tulliver, is Mr.
Riley, a gentleman with a waxen complexion and fat hands, rather
highly educated for an auctioneer and appraiser, but large-hearted
enough to show a great deal of "bonhomie" toward simple country
acquaintances of hospitable habits. Mr. Riley spoke of such
acquaintances kindly as "people of the old school."
The conversation had come to a pause. Mr. Tulliver, not without a
particular reason, had abstained from a seventh recital of the cool
retort by which Riley had shown himself too many for Dix, and how
Wakem had had his comb cut for once in his life, now the business of
the dam had been settled by arbitration, and how there never would
have been any dispute at all about the height of water if everybody
was what they should be, and Old Harry hadn't made the lawyers.
Mr. Tulliver was, on the whole, a man of safe traditional opinions;
but on one or two points he had trusted to his unassisted intellect,
and had arrived at several questionable conclusions; amongst the rest,
that rats, weevils, and lawyers were created by Old Harry. Unhappily
he had no one to tell him that this was rampant Manichæism, else he
might have seen his error. But to-day it was clear that the good
principle was triumphant: this affair of the water-power had been a
tangled business somehow, for all it seemed--look at it one way--as
plain as water's water; but, big a puzzle as it was, it hadn't got the
better of Riley. Mr. Tulliver took his brandy-and-water a little
stronger than usual, and, for a man who might be supposed to have a
few hundreds lying idle at his banker's, was rather incautiously open
in expressing his high estimate of his friend's business talents.
But the dam was a subject of conversation that would keep; it could
always be taken up again at the same point, and exactly in the same
condition; and there was another subject, as you know, on which Mr.
Tulliver was in pressing want of Mr. Riley's advice. This was his
particular reason for remaining silent for a short space after his
last draught, and rubbing his knees in a meditative manner. He was not
a man to make an abrupt transition. This was a puzzling world, as he
often said, and if you drive your wagon in a hurry, you may light on
an awkward corner. Mr. Riley, meanwhile, was not impatient. Why should
he be? Even Hotspur, one would think, must have been patient in his
slippers on a warm hearth, taking copious snuff, and sipping
"There's a thing I've got i' my head," said Mr. Tulliver at last, in
rather a lower tone than usual, as he turned his head and looked
steadfastly at his companion.
"Ah!" said Mr. Riley, in a tone of mild interest. He was a man with
heavy waxen eyelids and high-arched eyebrows, looking exactly the same
under all circumstances. This immovability of face, and the habit of
taking a pinch of snuff before he gave an answer, made him trebly
oracular to Mr. Tulliver.
"It's a very particular thing," he went on; "it's about my boy Tom."
At the sound of this name, Maggie, who was seated on a low stool close
by the fire, with a large book open on her lap, shook her heavy hair
back and looked up eagerly. There were few sounds that roused Maggie
when she was dreaming over her book, but Tom's name served as well as
the shrillest whistle; in an instant she was on the watch, with
gleaming eyes, like a Skye terrier suspecting mischief, or at all
events determined to fly at any one who threatened it toward Tom.
"You see, I want to put him to a new school at Midsummer," said Mr.
Tulliver; "he's comin' away from the 'cademy at Lady-day, an' I shall
let him run loose for a quarter; but after that I want to send him to
a downright good school, where they'll make a scholard of him."
"Well," said Mr. Riley, "there's no greater advantage you can give him
than a good education. Not," he added, with polite significance,--"not
that a man can't be an excellent miller and farmer, and a shrewd,
sensible fellow into the bargain, without much help from the
"I believe you," said Mr. Tulliver, winking, and turning his head on
one side; "but that's where it is. I don't "mean" Tom to be a miller
and farmer. I see no fun i' that. Why, if I made him a miller an'
farmer, he'd be expectin' to take to the mill an' the land, an'
a-hinting at me as it was time for me to lay by an' think o' my latter
end. Nay, nay, I've seen enough o' that wi' sons. I'll never pull my
coat off before I go to bed. I shall give Tom an eddication an' put
him to a business, as he may make a nest for himself, an' not want to
push me out o' mine. Pretty well if he gets it when I'm dead an' gone.
I sha'n't be put off wi' spoon-meat afore I've lost my teeth."
This was evidently a point on which Mr. Tulliver felt strongly; and
the impetus which had given unusual rapidity and emphasis to his
speech showed itself still unexhausted for some minutes afterward in a
defiant motion of the head from side to side, and an occasional "Nay,
nay," like a subsiding growl.
These angry symptoms were keenly observed by Maggie, and cut her to
the quick. Tom, it appeared, was supposed capable of turning his
father out of doors, and of making the future in some way tragic by
his wickedness. This was not to be borne; and Maggie jumped up from
her stool, forgetting all about her heavy book, which fell with a bang
within the fender, and going up between her father's knees, said, in a
half-crying, half-indignant voice,--
"Father, Tom wouldn't be naughty to you ever; I know he wouldn't."
Mrs. Tulliver was out of the room superintending a choice supper-dish,
and Mr. Tulliver's heart was touched; so Maggie was not scolded about
the book. Mr. Riley quietly picked it up and looked at it, while the
father laughed, with a certain tenderness in his hard-lined face, and
patted his little girl on the back, and then held her hands and kept
her between his knees.
"What! they mustn't say any harm o' Tom, eh?" said Mr. Tulliver,
looking at Maggie with a twinkling eye. Then, in a lower voice,
turning to Mr. Riley, as though Maggie couldn't hear, "She understands
what one's talking about so as never was. And you should hear her
read,--straight off, as if she knowed it all beforehand. And allays at
her book! But it's bad--it's bad," Mr. Tulliver added sadly, checking
this blamable exultation. "A woman's no business wi' being so clever;
it'll turn to trouble, I doubt. But bless you!"--here the exultation
was clearly recovering the mastery,--"she'll read the books and
understand 'em better nor half the folks as are growed up."
Maggie's cheeks began to flush with triumphant excitement. She thought
Mr. Riley would have a respect for her now; it had been evident that
he thought nothing of her before.
Mr. Riley was turning over the leaves of the book, and she could make
nothing of his face, with its high-arched eyebrows; but he presently
looked at her, and said,--
"Come, come and tell me something about this book; here are some
pictures,--I want to know what they mean."
Maggie, with deepening color, went without hesitation to Mr. Riley's
elbow and looked over the book, eagerly seizing one corner, and
tossing back her mane, while she said,--
"Oh, I'll tell you what that means. It's a dreadful picture, isn't it?
But I can't help looking at it. That old woman in the water's a
witch,--they've put her in to find out whether she's a witch or no;
and if she swims she's a witch, and if she's drowned--and killed, you
know--she's innocent, and not a witch, but only a poor silly old
woman. But what good would it do her then, you know, when she was
drowned? Only, I suppose, she'd go to heaven, and God would make it up
to her. And this dreadful blacksmith with his arms akimbo,
laughing,--oh, isn't he ugly?--I'll tell you what he is. He's the
Devil "really"" (here Maggie's voice became louder and more emphatic),
"and not a right blacksmith; for the Devil takes the shape of wicked
men, and walks about and sets people doing wicked things, and he's
oftener in the shape of a bad man than any other, because, you know,
if people saw he was the Devil, and he roared at 'em, they'd run away,
and he couldn't make 'em do what he pleased."
Mr. Tulliver had listened to this exposition of Maggie's with
"Why, what book is it the wench has got hold on?" he burst out at
"The 'History of the Devil,' by Daniel Defoe,--not quite the right
book for a little girl," said Mr. Riley. "How came it among your
books, Mr. Tulliver?"
Maggie looked hurt and discouraged, while her father said,--
"Why, it's one o' the books I bought at Partridge's sale. They was all
bound alike,--it's a good binding, you see,--and I thought they'd be
all good books. There's Jeremy Taylor's 'Holy Living and Dying' among
'em. I read in it often of a Sunday" (Mr. Tulliver felt somehow a
familiarity with that great writer, because his name was Jeremy); "and
there's a lot more of 'em,--sermons mostly, I think,--but they've all
got the same covers, and I thought they were all o' one sample, as you
may say. But it seems one mustn't judge by th' outside. This is a
"Well," said Mr. Riley, in an admonitory, patronizing tone as he
patted Maggie on the head, "I advise you to put by the 'History of the
Devil,' and read some prettier book. Have you no prettier books?"
"Oh, yes," said Maggie, reviving a little in the desire to vindicate
the variety of her reading. "I know the reading in this book isn't
pretty; but I like the pictures, and I make stories to the pictures
out of my own head, you know. But I've got 'Æsop's Fables,' and a book
about Kangaroos and things, and the 'Pilgrim's Progress.'"
"Ah, a beautiful book," said Mr. Riley; "you can't read a better."
"Well, but there's a great deal about the Devil in that," said Maggie,
triumphantly, "and I'll show you the picture of him in his true shape,
as he fought with Christian."
Maggie ran in an instant to the corner of the room, jumped on a chair,
and reached down from the small bookcase a shabby old copy of Bunyan,
which opened at once, without the least trouble of search, at the
picture she wanted.
"Here he is," she said, running back to Mr. Riley, "and Tom colored
him for me with his paints when he was at home last holidays,--the
body all black, you know, and the eyes red, like fire, because he's
all fire inside, and it shines out at his eyes."
"Go, go!" said Mr. Tulliver, peremptorily, beginning to feel rather
uncomfortable at these free remarks on the personal appearance of a
being powerful enough to create lawyers; "shut up the book, and let's
hear no more o' such talk. It is as I thought--the child 'ull learn
more mischief nor good wi' the books. Go, go and see after your
Maggie shut up the book at once, with a sense of disgrace, but not
being inclined to see after her mother, she compromised the matter by
going into a dark corner behind her father's chair, and nursing her
doll, toward which she had an occasional fit of fondness in Tom's
absence, neglecting its toilet, but lavishing so many warm kisses on
it that the waxen cheeks had a wasted, unhealthy appearance.
"Did you ever hear the like on't?" said Mr. Tulliver, as Maggie
retired. "It's a pity but what she'd been the lad,--she'd ha' been a
match for the lawyers, "she" would. It's the wonderful'st thing"--here
he lowered his voice--"as I picked the mother because she wasn't o'er
'cute--bein' a good-looking woman too, an' come of a rare family for
managing; but I picked her from her sisters o' purpose, 'cause she was
a bit weak like; for I wasn't agoin' to be told the rights o' things
by my own fireside. But you see when a man's got brains himself,
there's no knowing where they'll run to; an' a pleasant sort o' soft
woman may go on breeding you stupid lads and 'cute wenches, till it's
like as if the world was turned topsy-turvy. It's an uncommon puzzlin'
Mr. Riley's gravity gave way, and he shook a little under the
application of his pinch of snuff before he said,--
"But your lad's not stupid, is he? I saw him, when I was here last,
busy making fishing-tackle; he seemed quite up to it."
"Well, he isn't not to say stupid,--he's got a notion o' things out o'
door, an' a sort o' common sense, as he'd lay hold o' things by the
right handle. But he's slow with his tongue, you see, and he reads but
poorly, and can't abide the books, and spells all wrong, they tell me,
an' as shy as can be wi' strangers, an' you never hear him say 'cute
things like the little wench. Now, what I want is to send him to a
school where they'll make him a bit nimble with his tongue and his
pen, and make a smart chap of him. I want my son to be even wi' these
fellows as have got the start o' me with having better schooling. Not
but what, if the world had been left as God made it, I could ha' seen
my way, and held my own wi' the best of 'em; but things have got so
twisted round and wrapped up i' unreasonable words, as aren't a bit
like 'em, as I'm clean at fault, often an' often. Everything winds
about so--the more straightforrad you are, the more you're puzzled."
Mr. Tulliver took a draught, swallowed it slowly, and shook his head
in a melancholy manner, conscious of exemplifying the truth that a
perfectly sane intellect is hardly at home in this insane world.
"You're quite in the right of it, Tulliver," observed Mr. Riley.
"Better spend an extra hundred or two on your son's education, than
leave it him in your will. I know I should have tried to do so by a
son of mine, if I'd had one, though, God knows, I haven't your ready
money to play with, Tulliver; and I have a houseful of daughters into
"I dare say, now, you know of a school as 'ud be just the thing for
Tom," said Mr. Tulliver, not diverted from his purpose by any sympathy
with Mr. Riley's deficiency of ready cash.
Mr. Riley took a pinch of snuff, and kept Mr. Tulliver in suspense by
a silence that seemed deliberative, before he said,--
"I know of a very fine chance for any one that's got the necessary
money and that's what you have, Tulliver. The fact is, I wouldn't
recommend any friend of mine to send a boy to a regular school, if he
could afford to do better. But if any one wanted his boy to get
superior instruction and training, where he would be the companion of
his master, and that master a first rate fellow, I know his man. I
wouldn't mention the chance to everybody, because I don't think
everybody would succeed in getting it, if he were to try; but I
mention it to you, Tulliver, between ourselves."
The fixed inquiring glance with which Mr. Tulliver had been watching
his friend's oracular face became quite eager.
"Ay, now, let's hear," he said, adjusting himself in his chair with
the complacency of a person who is thought worthy of important
"He's an Oxford man," said Mr. Riley, sententiously, shutting his
mouth close, and looking at Mr. Tulliver to observe the effect of this
"What! a parson?" said Mr. Tulliver, rather doubtfully.
"Yes, and an M.A. The bishop, I understand, thinks very highly of him:
why, it was the bishop who got him his present curacy."
"Ah?" said Mr. Tulliver, to whom one thing was as wonderful as another
concerning these unfamiliar phenomena. "But what can he want wi' Tom,
"Why, the fact is, he's fond of teaching, and wishes to keep up his
studies, and a clergyman has but little opportunity for that in his
parochial duties. He's willing to take one or two boys as pupils to
fill up his time profitably. The boys would be quite of the
family,--the finest thing in the world for them; under Stelling's eye
"But do you think they'd give the poor lad twice o' pudding?" said
Mrs. Tulliver, who was now in her place again. "He's such a boy for
pudding as never was; an' a growing boy like that,--it's dreadful to
think o' their stintin' him."
"And what money 'ud he want?" said Mr. Tulliver, whose instinct told
him that the services of this admirable M.A. would bear a high price.
"Why, I know of a clergyman who asks a hundred and fifty with his
youngest pupils, and he's not to be mentioned with Stelling, the man I
speak of. I know, on good authority, that one of the chief people at
Oxford said, Stelling might get the highest honors if he chose. But he
didn't care about university honors; he's a quiet man--not noisy."
"Ah, a deal better--a deal better," said Mr. Tulliver; "but a hundred
and fifty's an uncommon price. I never thought o' paying so much as
"A good education, let me tell you, Tulliver,--a good education is
cheap at the money. But Stelling is moderate in his terms; he's not a
grasping man. I've no doubt he'd take your boy at a hundred, and
that's what you wouldn't get many other clergymen to do. I'll write to
him about it, if you like."
Mr. Tulliver rubbed his knees, and looked at the carpet in a
"But belike he's a bachelor," observed Mrs. Tulliver, in the interval;
"an' I've no opinion o' housekeepers. There was my brother, as is dead
an' gone, had a housekeeper once, an' she took half the feathers out
o' the best bed, an' packed 'em up an' sent 'em away. An' it's unknown
the linen she made away with--Stott her name was. It 'ud break my
heart to send Tom where there's a housekeeper, an' I hope you won't
think of it, Mr. Tulliver."
"You may set your mind at rest on that score, Mrs. Tulliver," said Mr.
Riley, "for Stelling is married to as nice a little woman as any man
need wish for a wife. There isn't a kinder little soul in the world; I
know her family well. She has very much your complexion,--light curly
hair. She comes of a good Mudport family, and it's not every offer
that would have been acceptable in that quarter. But Stelling's not an
every-day man; rather a particular fellow as to the people he chooses
to be connected with. But I "think" he would have no objection to take
your son; I "think" he would not, on my representation."
"I don't know what he could have "against" the lad," said Mrs.
Tulliver, with a slight touch of motherly indignation; "a nice
fresh-skinned lad as anybody need wish to see."
"But there's one thing I'm thinking on," said Mr. Tulliver, turning
his head on one side and looking at Mr. Riley, after a long perusal of
the carpet. "Wouldn't a parson be almost too high-learnt to bring up a
lad to be a man o' business? My notion o' the parsons was as they'd
got a sort o' learning as lay mostly out o' sight. And that isn't what
I want for Tom. I want him to know figures, and write like print, and
see into things quick, and know what folks mean, and how to wrap
things up in words as aren't actionable. It's an uncommon fine thing,
that is," concluded Mr. Tulliver, shaking his head, "when you can let
a man know what you think of him without paying for it."
"Oh, my dear Tulliver," said Mr. Riley, "you're quite under a mistake
about the clergy; all the best schoolmasters are of the clergy. The
schoolmasters who are not clergymen are a very low set of men
"Ay, that Jacobs is, at the 'cademy," interposed Mr. Tulliver.
"To be sure,--men who have failed in other trades, most likely. Now, a
clergyman is a gentleman by profession and education; and besides
that, he has the knowledge that will ground a boy, and prepare him for
entering on any career with credit. There may be some clergymen who
are mere bookmen; but you may depend upon it, Stelling is not one of
them,--a man that's wide awake, let me tell you. Drop him a hint, and
that's enough. You talk of figures, now; you have only to say to
Stelling, 'I want my son to be a thorough arithmetician,' and you may
leave the rest to him."
Mr. Riley paused a moment, while Mr. Tulliver, some-what reassured as
to clerical tutorship, was inwardly rehearsing to an imaginary Mr.
Stelling the statement, "I want my son to know 'rethmetic."
"You see, my dear Tulliver," Mr. Riley continued, "when you get a
thoroughly educated man, like Stelling, he's at no loss to take up any
branch of instruction. When a workman knows the use of his tools, he
can make a door as well as a window."
"Ay, that's true," said Mr. Tulliver, almost convinced now that the
clergy must be the best of schoolmasters.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do for you," said Mr. Riley, "and I
wouldn't do it for everybody. I'll see Stelling's father-in-law, or
drop him a line when I get back to Mudport, to say that you wish to
place your boy with his son-in-law, and I dare say Stelling will write
to you, and send you his terms."
"But there's no hurry, is there?" said Mrs. Tulliver; "for I hope, Mr.
Tulliver, you won't let Tom begin at his new school before Midsummer.
He began at the 'cademy at the Lady-day quarter, and you see what
good's come of it."
"Ay, ay, Bessy, never brew wi' bad malt upo' Michael-masday, else
you'll have a poor tap," said Mr. Tulliver, winking and smiling at Mr.
Riley, with the natural pride of a man who has a buxom wife
conspicuously his inferior in intellect. "But it's true there's no
hurry; you've hit it there, Bessy."
"It might be as well not to defer the arrangement too long," said Mr.
Riley, quietly, "for Stelling may have propositions from other
parties, and I know he would not take more than two or three boarders,
if so many. If I were you, I think I would enter on the subject with
Stelling at once: there's no necessity for sending the boy before
Midsummer, but I would be on the safe side, and make sure that nobody
"Ay, there's summat in that," said Mr. Tulliver.
"Father," broke in Maggie, who had stolen unperceived to her father's
elbow again, listening with parted lips, while she held her doll
topsy-turvy, and crushed its nose against the wood of the
chair,--"father, is it a long way off where Tom is to go? Sha'n't we
ever go to see him?"
"I don't know, my wench," said the father, tenderly. "Ask Mr. Riley;
Maggie came round promptly in front of Mr. Riley, and said, "How far
is it, please, sir?"
"Oh, a long, long way off," that gentleman answered, being of opinion
that children, when they are not naughty, should always be spoken to
jocosely. "You must borrow the seven-leagued boots to get to him."
"That's nonsense!" said Maggie, tossing her head haughtily, and
turning away, with the tears springing in her eyes. She began to
dislike Mr. Riley; it was evident he thought her silly and of no
"Hush, Maggie! for shame of you, asking questions and chattering,"
said her mother. "Come and sit down on your little stool, and hold
your tongue, do. But," added Mrs. Tulliver, who had her own alarm
awakened, "is it so far off as I couldn't wash him and mend him?"
"About fifteen miles; that's all," said Mr. Riley. "You can drive
there and back in a day quite comfortably. Or--Stelling is a
hospitable, pleasant man--he'd be glad to have you stay."
"But it's too far off for the linen, I doubt," said Mrs. Tulliver,
The entrance of supper opportunely adjourned this difficulty, and
relieved Mr. Riley from the labor of suggesting some solution or
compromise,--a labor which he would otherwise doubtless have
undertaken; for, as you perceive, he was a man of very obliging
manners. And he had really given himself the trouble of recommending
Mr. Stelling to his friend Tulliver without any positive expectation
of a solid, definite advantage resulting to himself, notwithstanding
the subtle indications to the contrary which might have misled a
too-sagacious observer. For there is nothing more widely misleading
than sagacity if it happens to get on a wrong scent; and sagacity,
persuaded that men usually act and speak from distinct motives, with a
consciously proposed end in view, is certain to waste its energies on
Plotting covetousness and deliberate contrivance, in order to compass
a selfish end, are nowhere abundant but in the world of the dramatist:
they demand too intense a mental action for many of our
fellow-parishioners to be guilty of them. It is easy enough to spoil
the lives of our neighbors without taking so much trouble; we can do
it by lazy acquiescence and lazy omission, by trivial falsities for
which we hardly know a reason, by small frauds neutralized by small
extravagances, by maladroit flatteries, and clumsily improvised
insinuations. We live from hand to mouth, most of us, with a small
family of immediate desires; we do little else than snatch a morsel to
satisfy the hungry brood, rarely thinking of seed-corn or the next
Mr. Riley was a man of business, and not cold toward his own interest,
yet even he was more under the influence of small promptings than of
far-sighted designs. He had no private understanding with the Rev.
Walter Stelling; on the contrary, he knew very little of that M.A. and
his acquirements,--not quite enough, perhaps, to warrant so strong a
recommendation of him as he had given to his friend Tulliver. But he
believed Mr. Stelling to be an excellent classic, for Gadsby had said
so, and Gadsby's first cousin was an Oxford tutor; which was better
ground for the belief even than his own immediate observation would
have been, for though Mr. Riley had received a tincture of the
classics at the great Mudport Free School, and had a sense of
understanding Latin generally, his comprehension of any particular
Latin was not ready. Doubtless there remained a subtle aroma from his
juvenile contact with the "De Senectute" and the fourth book of the
"Æneid," but it had ceased to be distinctly recognizable as classical,
and was only perceived in the higher finish and force of his
auctioneering style. Then, Stelling was an Oxford man, and the Oxford
men were always--no, no, it was the Cambridge men who were always good
mathematicians. But a man who had had a university education could
teach anything he liked; especially a man like Stelling, who had made
a speech at a Mudport dinner on a political occasion, and had
acquitted himself so well that it was generally remarked, this
son-in-law of Timpson's was a sharp fellow. It was to be expected of a
Mudport man, from the parish of St. Ursula, that he would not omit to
do a good turn to a son-in-law of Timpson's, for Timpson was one of
the most useful and influential men in the parish, and had a good deal
of business, which he knew how to put into the right hands. Mr. Riley
liked such men, quite apart from any money which might be diverted,
through their good judgment, from less worthy pockets into his own;
and it would be a satisfaction to him to say to Timpson on his return
home, "I've secured a good pupil for your son-in-law." Timpson had a
large family of daughters; Mr. Riley felt for him; besides, Louisa
Timpson's face, with its light curls, had been a familiar object to
him over the pew wainscot on a Sunday for nearly fifteen years; it was
natural her husband should be a commendable tutor. Moreover, Mr. Riley
knew of no other schoolmaster whom he had any ground for recommending
in preference; why, then, should he not recommend Stelling? His friend
Tulliver had asked him for an opinion; it is always chilling, in
friendly intercourse, to say you have no opinion to give. And if you
deliver an opinion at all, it is mere stupidity not to do it with an
air of conviction and well-founded knowledge. You make it your own in
uttering it, and naturally get fond of it. Thus Mr. Riley, knowing no
harm of Stelling to begin with, and wishing him well, so far as he had
any wishes at all concerning him, had no sooner recommended him than
he began to think with admiration of a man recommended on such high
authority, and would soon have gathered so warm an interest on the
subject, that if Mr. Tulliver had in the end declined to send Tom to
Stelling, Mr. Riley would have thought his "friend of the old school"
a thoroughly pig-headed fellow.
If you blame Mr. Riley very severely for giving a recommendation on
such slight grounds, I must say you are rather hard upon him. Why
should an auctioneer and appraiser thirty years ago, who had as good
as forgotten his free-school Latin, be expected to manifest a delicate
scrupulosity which is not always exhibited by gentlemen of the learned
professions, even in our present advanced stage of morality?
Besides, a man with the milk of human kindness in him can scarcely
abstain from doing a good-natured action, and one cannot be
good-natured all round. Nature herself occasionally quarters an
inconvenient parasite on an animal toward whom she has otherwise no
ill will. What then? We admire her care for the parasite. If Mr. Riley
had shrunk from giving a recommendation that was not based on valid
evidence, he would not have helped Mr. Stelling to a paying pupil, and
that would not have been so well for the reverend gentleman. Consider,
too, that all the pleasant little dim ideas and complacencies--of
standing well with Timpson, of dispensing advice when he was asked for
it, of impressing his friend Tulliver with additional respect, of
saying something, and saying it emphatically, with other inappreciably
minute ingredients that went along with the warm hearth and the
brandy-and-water to make up Mr. Riley's consciousness on this
occasion--would have been a mere blank.
Tom Is Expected
It was a heavy disappointment to Maggie that she was not allowed to go
with her father in the gig when he went to fetch Tom home from the
academy; but the morning was too wet, Mrs. Tulliver said, for a little
girl to go out in her best bonnet. Maggie took the opposite view very
strongly, and it was a direct consequence of this difference of
opinion that when her mother was in the act of brushing out the
reluctant black crop Maggie suddenly rushed from under her hands and
dipped her head in a basin of water standing near, in the vindictive
determination that there should be no more chance of curls that day.
"Maggie, Maggie!" exclaimed Mrs. Tulliver, sitting stout and helpless
with the brushes on her lap, "what is to become of you if you're so
naughty? I'll tell your aunt Glegg and your aunt Pullet when they come
next week, and they'll never love you any more. Oh dear, oh dear! look
at your clean pinafore, wet from top to bottom. Folks 'ull think it's
a judgment on me as I've got such a child,--they'll think I've done
Before this remonstrance was finished, Maggie was already out of
hearing, making her way toward the great attic that run under the old
high-pitched roof, shaking the water from her black locks as she ran,
like a Skye terrier escaped from his bath. This attic was Maggie's
favorite retreat on a wet day, when the weather was not too cold; here
she fretted out all her ill humors, and talked aloud to the worm-eaten
floors and the worm-eaten shelves, and the dark rafters festooned with
cobwebs; and here she kept a Fetish which she punished for all her
misfortunes. This was the trunk of a large wooden doll, which once
stared with the roundest of eyes above the reddest of cheeks; but was
now entirely defaced by a long career of vicarious suffering. Three
nails driven into the head commemorated as many crises in Maggie's
nine years of earthly struggle; that luxury of vengeance having been
suggested to her by the picture of Jael destroying Sisera in the old
Bible. The last nail had been driven in with a fiercer stroke than
usual, for the Fetish on that occasion represented aunt Glegg. But
immediately afterward Maggie had reflected that if she drove many
nails in she would not be so well able to fancy that the head was hurt
when she knocked it against the wall, nor to comfort it, and make
believe to poultice it, when her fury was abated; for even aunt Glegg
would be pitiable when she had been hurt very much, and thoroughly
humiliated, so as to beg her niece's pardon. Since then she had driven
no more nails in, but had soothed herself by alternately grinding and
beating the wooden head against the rough brick of the great chimneys
that made two square pillars supporting the roof. That was what she
did this morning on reaching the attic, sobbing all the while with a
passion that expelled every other form of consciousness,--even the
memory of the grievance that had caused it. As at last the sobs were
getting quieter, and the grinding less fierce, a sudden beam of
sunshine, falling through the wire lattice across the worm-eaten
shelves, made her throw away the Fetish and run to the window. The sun
was really breaking out; the sound of the mill seemed cheerful again;
the granary doors were open; and there was Yap, the queer
white-and-brown terrier, with one ear turned back, trotting about and
sniffing vaguely, as if he were in search of a companion. It was
irresistible. Maggie tossed her hair back and ran downstairs, seized
her bonnet without putting it on, peeped, and then dashed along the
passage lest she should encounter her mother, and was quickly out in
the yard, whirling round like a Pythoness, and singing as she whirled,
"Yap, Yap, Tom's coming home!" while Yap danced and barked round her,
as much as to say, if there was any noise wanted he was the dog for
"Hegh, hegh, Miss! you'll make yourself giddy, an' tumble down i' the
dirt," said Luke, the head miller, a tall, broad-shouldered man of
forty, black-eyed and black-haired, subdued by a general mealiness,
like an auricula.
Maggie paused in her whirling and said, staggering a little, "Oh no,
it doesn't make me giddy, Luke; may I go into the mill with you?"
Maggie loved to linger in the great spaces of the mill, and often came
out with her black hair powdered to a soft whiteness that made her
dark eyes flash out with new fire. The resolute din, the unresting
motion of the great stones, giving her a dim, delicious awe as at the
presence of an uncontrollable force; the meal forever pouring,
pouring; the fine white powder softening all surfaces, and making the
very spidernets look like a faery lace-work; the sweet, pure scent of
the meal,--all helped to make Maggie feel that the mill was a little
world apart from her outside every-day life. The spiders were
especially a subject of speculation with her. She wondered if they had
any relatives outside the mill, for in that case there must be a
painful difficulty in their family intercourse,--a fat and floury
spider, accustomed to take his fly well dusted with meal, must suffer
a little at a cousin's table where the fly was "au naturel", and the
lady spiders must be mutually shocked at each other's appearance. But
the part of the mill she liked best was the topmost story,--the
corn-hutch, where there were the great heaps of grain, which she could
sit on and slide down continually. She was in the habit of taking this
recreation as she conversed with Luke, to whom she was very
communicative, wishing him to think well of her understanding, as her
Perhaps she felt it necessary to recover her position with him on the
present occasion for, as she sat sliding on the heap of grain near
which he was busying himself, she said, at that shrill pitch which was
requisite in mill-society,--
"I think you never read any book but the Bible, did you, Luke?"
"Nay, Miss, an' not much o' that," said Luke, with great frankness.
"I'm no reader, I aren't."
"But if I lent you one of my books, Luke? I've not got any "very"
pretty books that would be easy for you to read; but there's 'Pug's
Tour of Europe,'--that would tell you all about the different sorts of
people in the world, and if you didn't understand the reading, the
pictures would help you; they show the looks and ways of the people,
and what they do. There are the Dutchmen, very fat, and smoking, you
know, and one sitting on a barrel."
"Nay, Miss, I'n no opinion o' Dutchmen. There ben't much good i'
knowin' about "them"."
"But they're our fellow-creatures, Luke; we ought to know about our
"Not much o' fellow-creaturs, I think, Miss; all I know--my old
master, as war a knowin' man, used to say, says he, 'If e'er I sow my
wheat wi'out brinin', I'm a Dutchman,' says he; an' that war as much
as to say as a Dutchman war a fool, or next door. Nay, nay, I aren't
goin' to bother mysen about Dutchmen. There's fools enoo, an' rogues
enoo, wi'out lookin' i' books for 'em."
"Oh, well," said Maggie, rather foiled by Luke's unexpectedly decided
views about Dutchmen, "perhaps you would like 'Animated Nature'
better; that's not Dutchmen, you know, but elephants and kangaroos,
and the civet-cat, and the sunfish, and a bird sitting on its tail,--I
forget its name. There are countries full of those creatures, instead
of horses and cows, you know. Shouldn't you like to know about them,
"Nay, Miss, I'n got to keep count o' the flour an' corn; I can't do
wi' knowin' so many things besides my work. That's what brings folks
to the gallows,--knowin' everything but what they'n got to get their
bread by. An' they're mostly lies, I think, what's printed i' the
books: them printed sheets are, anyhow, as the men cry i' the
"Why, you're like my brother Tom, Luke," said Maggie, wishing to turn
the conversation agreeably; "Tom's not fond of reading. I love Tom so
dearly, Luke,--better than anybody else in the world. When he grows up
I shall keep his house, and we shall always live together. I can tell
him everything he doesn't know. But I think Tom's clever, for all he
doesn't like books; he makes beautiful whipcord and rabbit-pens."
"Ah," said Luke, "but he'll be fine an' vexed, as the rabbits are all
"Dead!" screamed Maggie, jumping up from her sliding seat on the corn.
"Oh dear, Luke! What! the lop-eared one, and the spotted doe that Tom
spent all his money to buy?"
"As dead as moles," said Luke, fetching his comparison from the
unmistakable corpses nailed to the stable wall.
"Oh dear, Luke," said Maggie, in a piteous tone, while the big tears
rolled down her cheek; "Tom told me to take care of 'em, and I forgot.
What "shall" I do?"
"Well, you see, Miss, they were in that far tool-house, an' it was
nobody's business to see to 'em. I reckon Master Tom told Harry to
feed 'em, but there's no countin' on Harry; "he's" an offal creatur as
iver come about the primises, he is. He remembers nothing but his own
inside--an' I wish it 'ud gripe him."
"Oh, Luke, Tom told me to be sure and remember the rabbits every day;
but how could I, when they didn't come into my head, you know? Oh, he
will be so angry with me, I know he will, and so sorry about his
rabbits, and so am I sorry. Oh, what "shall" I do?"
"Don't you fret, Miss," said Luke, soothingly; "they're nash things,
them lop-eared rabbits; they'd happen ha' died, if they'd been fed.
Things out o' natur niver thrive: God A'mighty doesn't like 'em. He
made the rabbits' ears to lie back, an' it's nothin' but contrairiness
to make 'em hing down like a mastiff dog's. Master Tom 'ull know
better nor buy such things another time. Don't you fret, Miss. Will
you come along home wi' me, and see my wife? I'm a-goin' this minute."
The invitation offered an agreeable distraction to Maggie's grief, and
her tears gradually subsided as she trotted along by Luke's side to
his pleasant cottage, which stood with its apple and pear trees, and
with the added dignity of a lean-to pigsty, at the other end of the
Mill fields. Mrs. Moggs, Luke's wife, was a decidedly agreeable
acquaintance. She exhibited her hospitality in bread and treacle, and
possessed various works of art. Maggie actually forgot that she had
any special cause of sadness this morning, as she stood on a chair to
look at a remarkable series of pictures representing the Prodigal Son
in the costume of Sir Charles Grandison, except that, as might have
been expected from his defective moral character, he had not, like
that accomplished hero, the taste and strength of mind to dispense
with a wig. But the indefinable weight the dead rabbits had left on
her mind caused her to feel more than usual pity for the career of
this weak young man, particularly when she looked at the picture where
he leaned against a tree with a flaccid appearance, his knee-breeches
unbuttoned and his wig awry, while the swine apparently of some
foreign breed, seemed to insult him by their good spirits over their
feast of husks.
"I'm very glad his father took him back again, aren't you, Luke?" she
said. "For he was very sorry, you know, and wouldn't do wrong again."
"Eh, Miss," said Luke, "he'd be no great shakes, I doubt, let's
feyther do what he would for him."
That was a painful thought to Maggie, and she wished much that the
subsequent history of the young man had not been left a blank.
Tom Comes Home
Tom was to arrive early in the afternoon, and there was another
fluttering heart besides Maggie's when it was late enough for the
sound of the gig-wheels to be expected; for if Mrs. Tulliver had a
strong feeling, it was fondness for her boy. At last the sound
came,--that quick light bowling of the gig-wheels,--and in spite of
the wind, which was blowing the clouds about, and was not likely to
respect Mrs. Tulliver's curls and cap-strings, she came outside the
door, and even held her hand on Maggie's offending head, forgetting
all the griefs of the morning.
"There he is, my sweet lad! But, Lord ha' mercy! he's got never a
collar on; it's been lost on the road, I'll be bound, and spoilt the
Mrs. Tulliver stood with her arms open; Maggie jumped first on one leg
and then on the other; while Tom descended from the gig, and said,
with masculine reticence as to the tender emotions, "Hallo! Yap--what!
are you there?"
Nevertheless he submitted to be kissed willingly enough, though Maggie
hung on his neck in rather a strangling fashion, while his blue-gray
eyes wandered toward the croft and the lambs and the river, where he
promised himself that he would begin to fish the first thing to-morrow
morning. He was one of those lads that grow everywhere in England, and
at twelve or thirteen years of age look as much alike as goslings,--a
lad with light-brown hair, cheeks of cream and roses, full lips,
indeterminate nose and eyebrows,--a physiognomy in which it seems
impossible to discern anything but the generic character to boyhood;
as different as possible from poor Maggie's phiz, which Nature seemed
to have moulded and colored with the most decided intention. But that
same Nature has the deep cunning which hides itself under the
appearance of openness, so that simple people think they can see
through her quite well, and all the while she is secretly preparing a
refutation of their confident prophecies. Under these average boyish
physiognomies that she seems to turn off by the gross, she conceals
some of her most rigid, inflexible purposes, some of her most
unmodifiable characters; and the dark-eyed, demonstrative, rebellious
girl may after all turn out to be a passive being compared with this
pink-and-white bit of masculinity with the indeterminate features.
"Maggie," said Tom, confidentially, taking her into a corner, as soon
as his mother was gone out to examine his box and the warm parlor had
taken off the chill he had felt from the long drive, "you don't know
what I've got in "my" pockets," nodding his head up and down as a
means of rousing her sense of mystery.
"No," said Maggie. "How stodgy they look, Tom! Is it marls (marbles)
or cobnuts?" Maggie's heart sank a little, because Tom always said it
was "no good" playing with "her" at those games, she played so badly.
"Marls! no; I've swopped all my marls with the little fellows, and
cobnuts are no fun, you silly, only when the nuts are green. But see
here!" He drew something half out of his right-hand pocket.
"What is it?" said Maggie, in a whisper. "I can see nothing but a bit
"Why, it's--a--new--guess, Maggie!"
"Oh, I "can't" guess, Tom," said Maggie, impatiently.
"Don't be a spitfire, else I won't tell you," said Tom, thrusting his
hand back into his pocket and looking determined.
"No, Tom," said Maggie, imploringly, laying hold of the arm that was
held stiffly in the pocket. "I'm not cross, Tom; it was only because I
can't bear guessing. "Please" be good to me."
Tom's arm slowly relaxed, and he said, "Well, then, it's a new
fish-line--two new uns,--one for you, Maggie, all to yourself. I
wouldn't go halves in the toffee and gingerbread on purpose to save
the money; and Gibson and Spouncer fought with me because I wouldn't.
And here's hooks; see here--I say, "won't" we go and fish to-morrow
down by the Round Pool? And you shall catch your own fish, Maggie and
put the worms on, and everything; won't it be fun?"
Maggie's answer was to throw her arms round Tom's neck and hug him,
and hold her cheek against his without speaking, while he slowly
unwound some of the line, saying, after a pause,--
"Wasn't I a good brother, now, to buy you a line all to yourself? You
know, I needn't have bought it, if I hadn't liked."
"Yes, very, very good--I "do" love you, Tom."
Tom had put the line back in his pocket, and was looking at the hooks
one by one, before he spoke again.
"And the fellows fought me, because I wouldn't give in about the
"Oh, dear! I wish they wouldn't fight at your school, Tom. Didn't it
"Hurt me? no," said Tom, putting up the hooks again, taking out a
large pocket-knife, and slowly opening the largest blade, which he
looked at meditatively as he rubbed his finger along it. Then he
"I gave Spouncer a black eye, I know; that's what he got by wanting to
leather "me;" I wasn't going to go halves because anybody leathered
"Oh, how brave you are, Tom! I think you're like Samson. If there came
a lion roaring at me, I think you'd fight him, wouldn't you, Tom?"
"How can a lion come roaring at you, you silly thing? There's no
lions, only in the shows."
"No; but if we were in the lion countries--I mean in Africa, where
it's very hot; the lions eat people there. I can show it you in the
book where I read it."
"Well, I should get a gun and shoot him."
"But if you hadn't got a gun,--we might have gone out, you know, not
thinking, just as we go fishing; and then a great lion might run
toward us roaring, and we couldn't get away from him. What should you
Tom paused, and at last turned away contemptuously, saying, "But the
lion "isn't" coming. What's the use of talking?"
"But I like to fancy how it would be," said Maggie, following him.
"Just think what you would do, Tom."
"Oh, don't bother, Maggie! you're such a silly. I shall go and see my
Maggie's heart began to flutter with fear. She dared not tell the sad
truth at once, but she walked after Tom in trembling silence as he
went out, thinking how she could tell him the news so as to soften at
once his sorrow and his anger; for Maggie dreaded Tom's anger of all
things; it was quite a different anger from her own.
"Tom," she said, timidly, when they were out of doors, "how much money
did you give for your rabbits?"
"Two half-crowns and a sixpence," said Tom, promptly.
"I think I've got a great deal more than that in my steel purse
upstairs. I'll ask mother to give it you."
"What for?" said Tom. "I don't want "your" money, you silly thing.
I've got a great deal more money than you, because I'm a boy. I always
have half-sovereigns and sovereigns for my Christmas boxes because I
shall be a man, and you only have five-shilling pieces, because you're
only a girl."
"Well, but, Tom--if mother would let me give you two half-crowns and a
sixpence out of my purse to put into your pocket and spend, you know,
and buy some more rabbits with it?"
"More rabbits? I don't want any more."
"Oh, but, Tom, they're all dead."
Tom stopped immediately in his walk and turned round toward Maggie.
"You forgot to feed 'em, then, and Harry forgot?" he said, his color
heightening for a moment, but soon subsiding. "I'll pitch into Harry.
I'll have him turned away. And I don't love you, Maggie. You sha'n't
go fishing with me to-morrow. I told you to go and see the rabbits
every day." He walked on again.
"Yes, but I forgot--and I couldn't help it, indeed, Tom. I'm so very
sorry," said Maggie, while the tears rushed fast.
"You're a naughty girl," said Tom, severely, "and I'm sorry I bought
you the fish-line. I don't love you."
"Oh, Tom, it's very cruel," sobbed Maggie. "I'd forgive you, if "you"
forgot anything--I wouldn't mind what you did--I'd forgive you and
"Yes, you're silly; but I never "do" forget things, "I" don't."
"Oh, please forgive me, Tom; my heart will break," said Maggie,
shaking with sobs, clinging to Tom's arm, and laying her wet cheek on
Tom shook her off, and stopped again, saying in a peremptory tone,
"Now, Maggie, you just listen. Aren't I a good brother to you?"
"Ye-ye-es," sobbed Maggie, her chin rising and falling convulsedly.
"Didn't I think about your fish-line all this quarter, and mean to buy
it, and saved my money o' purpose, and wouldn't go halves in the
toffee, and Spouncer fought me because I wouldn't?"
"Ye-ye-es--and I--lo-lo-love you so, Tom."
"But you're a naughty girl. Last holidays you licked the paint off my
lozenge-box, and the holidays before that you let the boat drag my
fish-line down when I'd set you to watch it, and you pushed your head
through my kite, all for nothing."
"But I didn't mean," said Maggie; "I couldn't help it."
"Yes, you could," said Tom, "if you'd minded what you were doing. And
you're a naughty girl, and you sha'n't go fishing with me to-morrow."
With this terrible conclusion, Tom ran away from Maggie toward the
mill, meaning to greet Luke there, and complain to him of Harry.
Maggie stood motionless, except from her sobs, for a minute or two;
then she turned round and ran into the house, and up to her attic,
where she sat on the floor and laid her head against the worm-eaten
shelf, with a crushing sense of misery. Tom was come home, and she had
thought how happy she should be; and now he was cruel to her. What use
was anything if Tom didn't love her? Oh, he was very cruel! Hadn't she
wanted to give him the money, and said how very sorry she was? She
knew she was naughty to her mother, but she had never been naughty to
Tom--had never "meant" to be naughty to him.
"Oh, he is cruel!" Maggie sobbed aloud, finding a wretched pleasure in
the hollow resonance that came through the long empty space of the
attic. She never thought of beating or grinding her Fetish; she was
too miserable to be angry.
These bitter sorrows of childhood! when sorrow is all new and strange,
when hope has not yet got wings to fly beyond the days and weeks, and
the space from summer to summer seems measureless.
Maggie soon thought she had been hours in the attic, and it must be
tea-time, and they were all having their tea, and not thinking of her.
Well, then, she would stay up there and starve herself,--hide herself
behind the tub, and stay there all night,--and then they would all be
frightened, and Tom would be sorry. Thus Maggie thought in the pride
of her heart, as she crept behind the tub; but presently she began to
cry again at the idea that they didn't mind her being there. If she
went down again to Tom now--would he forgive her? Perhaps her father
would be there, and he would take her part. But then she wanted Tom to
forgive her because he loved her, not because his father told him. No,
she would never go down if Tom didn't come to fetch her. This
resolution lasted in great intensity for five dark minutes behind the
tub; but then the need of being loved--the strongest need in poor
Maggie's nature--began to wrestle with her pride, and soon threw it.
She crept from behind her tub into the twilight of the long attic, but
just then she heard a quick foot-step on the stairs.
Tom had been too much interested in his talk with Luke, in going the
round of the premises, walking in and out where he pleased, and
whittling sticks without any particular reason,--except that he didn't
whittle sticks at school,--to think of Maggie and the effect his anger
had produced on her. He meant to punish her, and that business having
been performed, he occupied himself with other matters, like a
practical person. But when he had been called in to tea, his father
said, "Why, where's the little wench?" and Mrs. Tulliver, almost at
the same moment, said, "Where's your little sister?"--both of them
having supposed that Maggie and Tom had been together all the
"I don't know," said Tom. He didn't want to "tell" of Maggie, though
he was angry with her; for Tom Tulliver was a lad of honor.
"What! hasn't she been playing with you all this while?" said the
father. "She'd been thinking o' nothing but your coming home."
"I haven't seen her this two hours," says Tom, commencing on the
"Goodness heart; she's got drownded!" exclaimed Mrs. Tulliver, rising
from her seat and running to the window.
"How could you let her do so?" she added, as became a fearful woman,
accusing she didn't know whom of she didn't know what.
"Nay, nay, she's none drownded," said Mr. Tulliver. "You've been
naughty to her, I doubt, Tom?"
"I'm sure I haven't, father," said Tom, indignantly. "I think she's in
"Perhaps up in that attic," said Mrs. Tulliver, "a-singing and talking
to herself, and forgetting all about meal-times."
"You go and fetch her down, Tom," said Mr. Tulliver, rather
sharply,--his perspicacity or his fatherly fondness for Maggie making
him suspect that the lad had been hard upon "the little un," else she
would never have left his side. "And be good to her, do you hear? Else
I'll let you know better."
Tom never disobeyed his father, for Mr. Tulliver was a peremptory man,
and, as he said, would never let anybody get hold of his whip-hand;
but he went out rather sullenly, carrying his piece of plumcake, and
not intending to reprieve Maggie's punishment, which was no more than
she deserved. Tom was only thirteen, and had no decided views in
grammar and arithmetic, regarding them for the most part as open
questions, but he was particularly clear and positive on one
point,--namely, that he would punish everybody who deserved it. Why,
he wouldn't have minded being punished himself if he deserved it; but,
then, he never "did" deserve it.
It was Tom's step, then, that Maggie heard on the stairs, when her
need of love had triumphed over her pride, and she was going down with
her swollen eyes and dishevelled hair to beg for pity. At least her
father would stroke her head and say, "Never mind, my wench." It is a
wonderful subduer, this need of love,--this hunger of the heart,--as
peremptory as that other hunger by which Nature forces us to submit to
the yoke, and change the face of the world.
But she knew Tom's step, and her heart began to beat violently with
the sudden shock of hope. He only stood still at the top of the stairs
and said, "Maggie, you're to come down." But she rushed to him and
clung round his neck, sobbing, "Oh, Tom, please forgive me--I can't
bear it--I will always be good--always remember things--do love
me--please, dear Tom!"
We learn to restrain ourselves as we get older. We keep apart when we
have quarrelled, express ourselves in well-bred phrases, and in this
way preserve a dignified alienation, showing much firmness on one
side, and swallowing much grief on the other. We no longer approximate
in our behavior to the mere impulsiveness of the lower animals, but
conduct ourselves in every respect like members of a highly civilized
society. Maggie and Tom were still very much like young animals, and
so she could rub her cheek against his, and kiss his ear in a random
sobbing way; and there were tender fibres in the lad that had been
used to answer to Maggie's fondling, so that he behaved with a
weakness quite inconsistent with his resolution to punish her as much
as she deserved. He actually began to kiss her in return, and say,--
"Don't cry, then, Magsie; here, eat a bit o' cake."
Maggie's sobs began to subside, and she put out her mouth for the cake
and bit a piece; and then Tom bit a piece, just for company, and they
ate together and rubbed each other's cheeks and brows and noses
together, while they ate, with a humiliating resemblance to two
"Come along, Magsie, and have tea," said Tom at last, when there was
no more cake except what was down-stairs.
So ended the sorrows of this day, and the next morning Maggie was
trotting with her own fishing-rod in one hand and a handle of the
basket in the other, stepping always, by a peculiar gift, in the
muddiest places, and looking darkly radiant from under her
beaver-bonnet because Tom was good to her. She had told Tom, however,
that she should like him to put the worms on the hook for her,
although she accepted his word when he assured her that worms couldn't
feel (it was Tom's private opinion that it didn't much matter if they
did). He knew all about worms, and fish, and those things; and what
birds were mischievous, and how padlocks opened, and which way the
handles of the gates were to be lifted. Maggie thought this sort of
knowledge was very wonderful,--much more difficult than remembering
what was in the books; and she was rather in awe of Tom's superiority,
for he was the only person who called her knowledge "stuff," and did
not feel surprised at her cleverness. Tom, indeed, was of opinion that
Maggie was a silly little thing; all girls were silly,--they couldn't
throw a stone so as to hit anything, couldn't do anything with a
pocket-knife, and were frightened at frogs. Still, he was very fond of
his sister, and meant always to take care of her, make her his
housekeeper, and punish her when she did wrong.
They were on their way to the Round Pool,--that wonderful pool, which
the floods had made a long while ago. No one knew how deep it was; and
it was mysterious, too, that it should be almost a perfect round,
framed in with willows and tall reeds, so that the water was only to
be seen when you got close to the brink. The sight of the old favorite
spot always heightened Tom's good humor, and he spoke to Maggie in the
most amicable whispers, as he opened the precious basket and prepared
their tackle. He threw her line for her, and put the rod into her
hand. Maggie thought it probable that the small fish would come to her
hook, and the large ones to Tom's. But she had forgotten all about the
fish, and was looking dreamily at the glassy water, when Tom said, in
a loud whisper, "Look, look, Maggie!" and came running to prevent her
from snatching her line away.
Maggie was frightened lest she had been doing something wrong, as
usual, but presently Tom drew out her line and brought a large tench
bouncing on the grass.
Tom was excited.
"O Magsie, you little duck! Empty the basket."
Maggie was not conscious of unusual merit, but it was enough that Tom
called her Magsie, and was pleased with her. There was nothing to mar
her delight in the whispers and the dreamy silences, when she listened
to the light dripping sounds of the rising fish, and the gentle
rustling, as if the willows and the reeds and the water had their
happy whisperings also. Maggie thought it would make a very nice
heaven to sit by the pool in that way, and never be scolded. She never
knew she had a bite till Tom told her; but she liked fishing very
It was one of their happy mornings. They trotted along and sat down
together, with no thought that life would ever change much for them;
they would only get bigger and not go to school, and it would always
be like the holidays; they would always live together and be fond of
each other. And the mill with its booming; the great chestnut-tree
under which they played at houses; their own little river, the Ripple,
where the banks seemed like home, and Tom was always seeing the
water-rats, while Maggie gathered the purple plumy tops of the reeds,
which she forgot and dropped afterward; above all, the great Floss,
along which they wandered with a sense of travel, to see the rushing
spring-tide, the awful Eagle, come up like a hungry monster, or to see
the Great Ash which had once wailed and groaned like a man, these
things would always be just the same to them. Tom thought people were
at a disadvantage who lived on any other spot of the globe; and
Maggie, when she read about Christiana passing "the river over which
there is no bridge," always saw the Floss between the green pastures
by the Great Ash.
Life did change for Tom and Maggie; and yet they were not wrong in
believing that the thoughts and loves of these first years would
always make part of their lives. We could never have loved the earth
so well if we had had no childhood in it,--if it were not the earth
where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to
gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the
grass; the same hips and haws on the autumn's hedgerows; the same
redbreasts that we used to call "God's birds," because they did no
harm to the precious crops. What novelty is worth that sweet monotony
where everything is known, and "loved" because it is known?
The wood I walk in on this mild May day, with the young yellow-brown
foliage of the oaks between me and the blue sky, the white
star-flowers and the blue-eyed speedwell and the ground ivy at my
feet, what grove of tropic palms, what strange ferns or splendid
broad-petalled blossoms, could ever thrill such deep and delicate
fibres within me as this home scene? These familiar flowers, these
well-remembered bird-notes, this sky, with its fitful brightness,
these furrowed and grassy fields, each with a sort of personality
given to it by the capricious hedgerows,--such things as these are the
mother-tongue of our imagination, the language that is laden with all
the subtle, inextricable associations the fleeting hours of our
childhood left behind them. Our delight in the sunshine on the
deep-bladed grass to-day might be no more than the faint perception of
wearied souls, if it were not for the sunshine and the grass in the
far-off years which still live in us, and transform our perception
The Aunts and Uncles Are Coming
It was Easter week, and Mrs. Tulliver's cheesecakes were more
exquisitely light than usual. "A puff o' wind 'ud make 'em blow about
like feathers," Kezia the housemaid said, feeling proud to live under
a mistress who could make such pastry; so that no season or
circumstances could have been more propitious for a family party, even
if it had not been advisable to consult sister Glegg and sister Pullet
about Tom's going to school.
"I'd as lief not invite sister Deane this time," said Mrs. Tulliver,
"for she's as jealous and having as can be, and's allays trying to
make the worst o' my poor children to their aunts and uncles."
"Yes, yes," said Mr. Tulliver, "ask her to come. I never hardly get a
bit o' talk with Deane now; we haven't had him this six months. What's
it matter what she says? My children need be beholding to nobody."
"That's what you allays say, Mr. Tulliver; but I'm sure there's nobody
o' your side, neither aunt nor uncle, to leave 'em so much as a
five-pound note for a leggicy. And there's sister Glegg, and sister
Pullet too, saving money unknown, for they put by all their own
interest and butter-money too; their husbands buy 'em everything."
Mrs. Tulliver was a mild woman, but even a sheep will face about a
little when she has lambs.
"Tchuh!" said Mr. Tulliver. "It takes a big loaf when there's many to
breakfast. What signifies your sisters' bits o' money when they've got
half-a-dozen nevvies and nieces to divide it among? And your sister
Deane won't get 'em to leave all to one, I reckon, and make the
country cry shame on 'em when they are dead?"
"I don't know what she won't get 'em to do," said Mrs. Tulliver, "for
my children are so awk'ard wi' their aunts and uncles. Maggie's ten
times naughtier when they come than she is other days, and Tom doesn't
like 'em, bless him!--though it's more nat'ral in a boy than a gell.
And there's Lucy Dean's such a good child,--you may set her on a
stool, and there she'll sit for an hour together, and never offer to
get off. I can't help loving the child as if she was my own; and I'm
sure she's more like "my" child than sister Deane's, for she'd allays
a very poor color for one of our family, sister Deane had."
"Well, well, if you're fond o' the child, ask her father and mother to
bring her with 'em. And won't you ask their aunt and uncle Moss too,
and some o' "their" children?"
"Oh, dear, Mr. Tulliver, why, there'd be eight people besides the
children, and I must put two more leaves i' the table, besides
reaching down more o' the dinner-service; and you know as well as I do
as "my" sisters and "your" sister don't suit well together."
"Well, well, do as you like, Bessy," said Mr. Tulliver, taking up his
hat and walking out to the mill. Few wives were more submissive than
Mrs. Tulliver on all points unconnected with her family relations; but
she had been a Miss Dodson, and the Dodsons were a very respectable
family indeed,--as much looked up to as any in their own parish, or
the next to it. The Miss Dodsons had always been thought to hold up
their heads very high, and no one was surprised the two eldest had
married so well,--not at an early age, for that was not the practice
of the Dodson family. There were particular ways of doing everything
in that family: particular ways of bleaching the linen, of making the
cowslip wine, curing the hams, and keeping the bottled gooseberries;
so that no daughter of that house could be indifferent to the
privilege of having been born a Dodson, rather than a Gibson or a
Watson. Funerals were always conducted with peculiar propriety in the
Dodson family: the hat-bands were never of a blue shade, the gloves
never split at the thumb, everybody was a mourner who ought to be, and
there were always scarfs for the bearers. When one of the family was
in trouble or sickness, all the rest went to visit the unfortunate
member, usually at the same time, and did not shrink from uttering the
most disagreeable truths that correct family feeling dictated; if the
illness or trouble was the sufferer's own fault, it was not in the
practice of the Dodson family to shrink from saying so. In short,
there was in this family a peculiar tradition as to what was the right
thing in household management and social demeanor, and the only bitter
circumstance attending this superiority was a painful inability to
approve the condiments or the conduct of families ungoverned by the
Dodson tradition. A female Dodson, when in "strange houses," always
ate dry bread with her tea, and declined any sort of preserves, having
no confidence in the butter, and thinking that the preserves had
probably begun to ferment from want of due sugar and boiling. There
were some Dodsons less like the family than others, that was admitted;
but in so far as they were "kin," they were of necessity better than
those who were "no kin." And it is remarkable that while no individual
Dodson was satisfied with any other individual Dodson, each was
satisfied, not only with him or her self, but with the Dodsons
collectively. The feeblest member of a family--the one who has the
least character--is often the merest epitome of the family habits and
traditions; and Mrs. Tulliver was a thorough Dodson, though a mild
one, as small-beer, so long as it is anything, is only describable as
very weak ale: and though she had groaned a little in her youth under
the yoke of her elder sisters, and still shed occasional tears at
their sisterly reproaches, it was not in Mrs. Tulliver to be an
innovator on the family ideas. She was thankful to have been a Dodson,
and to have one child who took after her own family, at least in his
features and complexion, in liking salt and in eating beans, which a
Tulliver never did.
In other respects the true Dodson was partly latent in Tom, and he was
as far from appreciating his "kin" on the mother's side as Maggie
herself, generally absconding for the day with a large supply of the
most portable food, when he received timely warning that his aunts and
uncles were coming,--a moral symptom from which his aunt Glegg deduced
the gloomiest views of his future. It was rather hard on Maggie that
Tom always absconded without letting her into the secret, but the
weaker sex are acknowledged to be serious "impedimenta" in cases of
On Wednesday, the day before the aunts and uncles were coming, there
were such various and suggestive scents, as of plumcakes in the oven
and jellies in the hot state, mingled with the aroma of gravy, that it
was impossible to feel altogether gloomy: there was hope in the air.
Tom and Maggie made several inroads into the kitchen, and, like other
marauders, were induced to keep aloof for a time only by being allowed
to carry away a sufficient load of booty.
"Tom," said Maggie, as they sat on the boughs of the elder-tree,
eating their jam-puffs, "shall you run away to-morrow?"
"No," said Tom, slowly, when he had finished his puff, and was eying
the third, which was to be divided between them,--"no, I sha'n't."
"Why, Tom? Because Lucy's coming?"
"No," said Tom, opening his pocket-knife and holding it over the puff,
with his head on one side in a dubitative manner. (It was a difficult
problem to divide that very irregular polygon into two equal parts.)
"What do "I" care about Lucy? She's only a girl,--"she" can't play at
"Is it the tipsy-cake, then?" said Maggie, exerting her hypothetic
powers, while she leaned forward toward Tom with her eyes fixed on the
"No, you silly, that'll be good the day after. It's the pudden. I know
what the pudden's to be,--apricot roll-up--O my buttons!"
With this interjection, the knife descended on the puff, and it was in
two, but the result was not satisfactory to Tom, for he still eyed the
halves doubtfully. At last he said,--
"Shut your eyes, Maggie."
"You never mind what for. Shut 'em when I tell you."
"Now, which'll you have, Maggie,--right hand or left?"
"I'll have that with the jam run out," said Maggie, keeping her eyes
shut to please Tom.
"Why, you don't like that, you silly. You may have it if it comes to
you fair, but I sha'n't give it you without. Right or left,--you
choose, now. Ha-a-a!" said Tom, in a tone of exasperation, as Maggie
peeped. "You keep your eyes shut, now, else you sha'n't have any."
Maggie's power of sacrifice did not extend so far; indeed, I fear she
cared less that Tom should enjoy the utmost possible amount of puff,
than that he should be pleased with her for giving him the best bit.
So she shut her eyes quite close, till Tom told her to "say which,"
and then she said, "Left hand."
"You've got it," said Tom, in rather a bitter tone.
"What! the bit with the jam run out?"
"No; here, take it," said Tom, firmly, handing, decidedly the best
piece to Maggie.
"Oh, please, Tom, have it; I don't mind--I like the other; please take
"No, I sha'n't," said Tom, almost crossly, beginning on his own
Maggie, thinking it was no use to contend further, began too, and ate
up her half puff with considerable relish as well as rapidity. But Tom
had finished first, and had to look on while Maggie ate her last
morsel or two, feeling in himself a capacity for more. Maggie didn't
know Tom was looking at her; she was seesawing on the elder-bough,
lost to almost everything but a vague sense of jam and idleness.
"Oh, you greedy thing!" said Tom, when she had swallowed the last
morsel. He was conscious of having acted very fairly, and thought she
ought to have considered this, and made up to him for it. He would
have refused a bit of hers beforehand, but one is naturally at a
different point of view before and after one's own share of puff is
Maggie turned quite pale. "Oh, Tom, why didn't you ask me?"
"I wasn't going to ask you for a bit, you greedy. You might have
thought of it without, when you knew I gave you the best bit."
"But I wanted you to have it; you know I did," said Maggie, in an
"Yes, but I wasn't going to do what wasn't fair, like Spouncer. He
always takes the best bit, if you don't punch him for it; and if you
choose the best with your eyes shut, he changes his hands. But if I go
halves, I'll go 'em fair; only I wouldn't be a greedy."
With this cutting innuendo, Tom jumped down from his bough, and threw
a stone with a "hoigh!" as a friendly attention to Yap, who had also
been looking on while the eatables vanished, with an agitation of his
ears and feelings which could hardly have been without bitterness. Yet
the excellent dog accepted Tom's attention with as much alacrity as if
he had been treated quite generously.
But Maggie, gifted with that superior power of misery which
distinguishes the human being, and places him at a proud distance from
the most melancholy chimpanzee, sat still on her bough, and gave
herself up to the keen sense of unmerited reproach. She would have
given the world not to have eaten all her puff, and to have saved some
of it for Tom. Not but that the puff was very nice, for Maggie's
palate was not at all obtuse, but she would have gone without it many
times over, sooner than Tom should call her greedy and be cross with
her. And he had said he wouldn't have it, and she ate it without
thinking; how could she help it? The tears flowed so plentifully that
Maggie saw nothing around her for the next ten minutes; but by that
time resentment began to give way to the desire of reconciliation, and
she jumped from her bough to look for Tom. He was no longer in the
paddock behind the rickyard; where was he likely to be gone, and Yap
with him? Maggie ran to the high bank against the great holly-tree,
where she could see far away toward the Floss. There was Tom; but her
heart sank again as she saw how far off he was on his way to the great
river, and that he had another companion besides Yap,--naughty Bob
Jakin, whose official, if not natural, function of frightening the
birds was just now at a standstill. Maggie felt sure that Bob was
wicked, without very distinctly knowing why; unless it was because
Bob's mother was a dreadfully large fat woman, who lived at a queer
round house down the river; and once, when Maggie and Tom had wandered
thither, there rushed out a brindled dog that wouldn't stop barking;
and when Bob's mother came out after it, and screamed above the
barking to tell them not to be frightened, Maggie thought she was
scolding them fiercely, and her heart beat with terror. Maggie thought
it very likely that the round house had snakes on the floor, and bats
in the bedroom; for she had seen Bob take off his cap to show Tom a
little snake that was inside it, and another time he had a handful of
young bats: altogether, he was an irregular character, perhaps even
slightly diabolical, judging from his intimacy with snakes and bats;
and to crown all, when Tom had Bob for a companion, he didn't mind
about Maggie, and would never let her go with him.
It must be owned that Tom was fond of Bob's company. How could it be
otherwise? Bob knew, directly he saw a bird's egg, whether it was a
swallow's, or a tomtit's, or a yellow-hammer's; he found out all the
wasps' nests, and could set all sort of traps; he could climb the
trees like a squirrel, and had quite a magical power of detecting
hedgehogs and stoats; and he had courage to do things that were rather
naughty, such as making gaps in the hedgerows, throwing stones after
the sheep, and killing a cat that was wandering "incognito".
Such qualities in an inferior, who could always be treated with
authority in spite of his superior knowingness, had necessarily a
fatal fascination for Tom; and every holiday-time Maggie was sure to
have days of grief because he had gone off with Bob.
Well! there was no hope for it; he was gone now, and Maggie could
think of no comfort but to sit down by the hollow, or wander by the
hedgerow, and fancy it was all different, refashioning her little
world into just what she should like it to be.
Maggie's was a troublous life, and this was the form in which she took
Meanwhile Tom, forgetting all about Maggie and the sting of reproach
which he had left in her heart, was hurrying along with Bob, whom he
had met accidentally, to the scene of a great rat-catching in a
neighboring barn. Bob knew all about this particular affair, and spoke
of the sport with an enthusiasm which no one who is not either
divested of all manly feeling, or pitiably ignorant of rat-catching,
can fail to imagine. For a person suspected of preternatural
wickedness, Bob was really not so very villanous-looking; there was
even something agreeable in his snub-nosed face, with its close-curled
border of red hair. But then his trousers were always rolled up at the
knee, for the convenience of wading on the slightest notice; and his
virtue, supposing it to exist, was undeniably "virtue in rags," which,
on the authority even of bilious philosophers, who think all
well-dressed merit overpaid, is notoriously likely to remain
unrecognized (perhaps because it is seen so seldom).
"I know the chap as owns the ferrets," said Bob, in a hoarse treble
voice, as he shuffled along, keeping his blue eyes fixed on the river,
like an amphibious animal who foresaw occasion for darting in. "He
lives up the Kennel Yard at Sut Ogg's, he does. He's the biggest
rot-catcher anywhere, he is. I'd sooner, be a rot-catcher nor
anything, I would. The moles is nothing to the rots. But Lors! you mun
ha' ferrets. Dogs is no good. Why, there's that dog, now!" Bob
continued, pointing with an air of disgust toward Yap, "he's no more
good wi' a rot nor nothin'. I see it myself, I did, at the
rot-catchin' i' your feyther's barn."
Yap, feeling the withering influence of this scorn, tucked his tail in
and shrank close to Tom's leg, who felt a little hurt for him, but had
not the superhuman courage to seem behindhand with Bob in contempt for
a dog who made so poor a figure.
"No, no," he said, "Yap's no good at sport. I'll have regular good
dogs for rats and everything, when I've done school."
"Hev ferrets, Measter Tom," said Bob, eagerly,--"them white ferrets
wi' pink eyes; Lors, you might catch your own rots, an' you might put
a rot in a cage wi' a ferret, an' see 'em fight, you might. That's
what I'd do, I know, an' it 'ud be better fun a'most nor seein' two
chaps fight,--if it wasn't them chaps as sold cakes an' oranges at the
Fair, as the things flew out o' their baskets, an' some o' the cakes
was smashed--But they tasted just as good," added Bob, by way of note
or addendum, after a moment's pause.
"But, I say, Bob," said Tom, in a tone of deliberation, "ferrets are
nasty biting things,--they'll bite a fellow without being set on."
"Lors! why that's the beauty on 'em. If a chap lays hold o' your
ferret, he won't be long before he hollows out a good un, "he" won't."
At this moment a striking incident made the boys pause suddenly in
their walk. It was the plunging of some small body in the water from
among the neighboring bulrushes; if it was not a water-rat, Bob
intimated that he was ready to undergo the most unpleasant
"Hoigh! Yap,--hoigh! there he is," said Tom, clapping his hands, as
the little black snout made its arrowy course to the opposite bank.
"Seize him, lad! seize him!"
Yap agitated his ears and wrinkled his brows, but declined to plunge,
trying whether barking would not answer the purpose just as well.
"Ugh! you coward!" said Tom, and kicked him over, feeling humiliated
as a sportsman to possess so poor-spirited an animal. Bob abstained
from remark and passed on, choosing, however, to walk in the shallow
edge of the overflowing river by way of change.
"He's none so full now, the Floss isn't," said Bob, as he kicked the
water up before him, with an agreeable sense of being insolent to it.
"Why, last 'ear, the meadows was all one sheet o' water, they was."
"Ay, but," said Tom, whose mind was prone to see an opposition between
statements that were really accordant,--"but there was a big flood
once, when the Round Pool was made. "I" know there was, 'cause father
says so. And the sheep and cows all drowned, and the boats went all
over the fields ever such a way."
""I" don't care about a flood comin'," said Bob; "I don't mind the
water, no more nor the land. I'd swim, "I" would."
"Ah, but if you got nothing to eat for ever so long?" said Tom, his
imagination becoming quite active under the stimulus of that dread.
"When I'm a man, I shall make a boat with a wooden house on the top of
it, like Noah's ark, and keep plenty to eat in it,--rabbits and
things,--all ready. And then if the flood came, you know, Bob, I
shouldn't mind. And I'd take you in, if I saw you swimming," he added,
in the tone of a benevolent patron.
"I aren't frighted," said Bob, to whom hunger did not appear so
appalling. "But I'd get in an' knock the rabbits on th' head when you
wanted to eat 'em."
"Ah, and I should have halfpence, and we'd play at heads-and-tails,"
said Tom, not contemplating the possibility that this recreation might
have fewer charms for his mature age. "I'd divide fair to begin with,
and then we'd see who'd win."
"I've got a halfpenny o' my own," said Bob, proudly, coming out of the
water and tossing his halfpenny in the air. "Yeads or tails?"
"Tails," said Tom, instantly fired with the desire to win.
"It's yeads," said Bob, hastily, snatching up the halfpenny as it
"It wasn't," said Tom, loudly and peremptorily. "You give me the
halfpenny; I've won it fair."
"I sha'n't," said Bob, holding it tight in his pocket.
"Then I'll make you; see if I don't," said Tom.
"Yes, I can."
"You can't make me do nothing, you can't," said Bob.
"No, you can't."
"I don't care for you."
"But I'll make you care, you cheat," said Tom, collaring Bob and
"You get out wi' you," said Bob, giving Tom a kick.
Tom's blood was thoroughly up: he went at Bob with a lunge and threw
him down, but Bob seized hold and kept it like a cat, and pulled Tom
down after him. They struggled fiercely on the ground for a moment or
two, till Tom, pinning Bob down by the shoulders, thought he had the
""You", say you'll give me the halfpenny now," he said, with
difficulty, while he exerted himself to keep the command of Bob's
But at this moment Yap, who had been running on before, returned
barking to the scene of action, and saw a favorable opportunity for
biting Bob's bare leg not only with inpunity but with honor. The pain
from Yap's teeth, instead of surprising Bob into a relaxation of his
hold, gave it a fiercer tenacity, and with a new exertion of his force
he pushed Tom backward and got uppermost. But now Yap, who could get
no sufficient purchase before, set his teeth in a new place, so that
Bob, harassed in this way, let go his hold of Tom, and, almost
throttling Yap, flung him into the river. By this time Tom was up
again, and before Bob had quite recovered his balance after the act of
swinging Yap, Tom fell upon him, threw him down, and got his knees
firmly on Bob's chest.
"You give me the halfpenny now," said Tom.
"Take it," said Bob, sulkily.
"No, I sha'n't take it; you give it me."
Bob took the halfpenny out of his pocket, and threw it away from him
on the ground.
Tom loosed his hold, and left Bob to rise.
"There the halfpenny lies," he said. "I don't want your halfpenny; I
wouldn't have kept it. But you wanted to cheat; I hate a cheat. I
sha'n't go along with you any more," he added, turning round homeward,
not without casting a regret toward the rat-catching and other
pleasures which he must relinquish along with Bob's society.
"You may let it alone, then," Bob called out after him. "I shall cheat
if I like; there's no fun i' playing else; and I know where there's a
goldfinch's nest, but I'll take care "you" don't. An' you're a nasty
fightin' turkey-cock, you are----"
Tom walked on without looking around, and Yap followed his example,
the cold bath having moderated his passions.
"Go along wi' you, then, wi' your drowned dog; I wouldn't own such a
dog--"I" wouldn't," said Bob, getting louder, in a last effort to
sustain his defiance. But Tom was not to be provoked into turning
round, and Bob's voice began to falter a little as he said,--
"An' I'n gi'en you everything, an' showed you everything, an' niver
wanted nothin' from you. An' there's your horn-handed knife, then as
you gi'en me." Here Bob flung the knife as far as he could after Tom's
retreating footsteps. But it produced no effect, except the sense in
Bob's mind that there was a terrible void in his lot, now that knife
He stood still till Tom had passed through the gate and disappeared
behind the hedge. The knife would do not good on the ground there; it
wouldn't vex Tom; and pride or resentment was a feeble passion in
Bob's mind compared with the love of a pocket-knife. His very fingers
sent entreating thrills that he would go and clutch that familiar
rough buck's-horn handle, which they had so often grasped for mere
affection, as it lay idle in his pocket. And there were two blades,
and they had just been sharpened! What is life without a pocket-knife
to him who has once tasted a higher existence? No; to throw the handle
after the hatchet is a comprehensible act of desperation, but to throw
one's pocket-knife after an implacable friend is clearly in every
sense a hyperbole, or throwing beyond the mark. So Bob shuffled back
to the spot where the beloved knife lay in the dirt, and felt quite a
new pleasure in clutching it again after the temporary separation, in
opening one blade after the other, and feeling their edge with his
well-hardened thumb. Poor Bob! he was not sensitive on the point of
honor, not a chivalrous character. That fine moral aroma would not
have been thought much of by the public opinion of Kennel Yard, which
was the very focus or heart of Bob's world, even if it could have made
itself perceptible there; yet, for all that, he was not utterly a
sneak and a thief as our friend Tom had hastily decided.
But Tom, you perceive, was rather a Rhadamanthine personage, having
more than the usual share of boy's justice in him,--the justice that
desires to hurt culprits as much as they deserve to be hurt, and is
troubled with no doubts concerning the exact amount of their deserts.
Maggie saw a cloud on his brow when he came home, which checked her
joy at his coming so much sooner than she had expected, and she dared
hardly speak to him as he stood silently throwing the small
gravel-stones into the mill-dam. It is not pleasant to give up a
rat-catching when you have set your mind on it. But if Tom had told
his strongest feeling at that moment, he would have said, "I'd do just
the same again." That was his usual mode of viewing his past actions;
whereas Maggie was always wishing she had done something different.
Enter the Aunts and Uncles
The Dodsons were certainly a handsome family, and Mrs. Glegg was not
the least handsome of the sisters. As she sat in Mrs. Tulliver's
arm-chair, no impartial observer could have denied that for a woman of
fifty she had a very comely face and figure, though Tom and Maggie
considered their aunt Glegg as the type of ugliness. It is true she
despised the advantages of costume, for though, as she often observed,
no woman had better clothes, it was not her way to wear her new things
out before her old ones. Other women, if they liked, might have their
best thread-lace in every wash; but when Mrs. Glegg died, it would be
found that she had better lace laid by in the right-hand drawer of her
wardrobe in the Spotted Chamber than ever Mrs. Wooll of St. Ogg's had
bought in her life, although Mrs. Wooll wore her lace before it was
paid for. So of her curled fronts: Mrs. Glegg had doubtless the
glossiest and crispest brown curls in her drawers, as well as curls in
various degrees of fuzzy laxness; but to look out on the week-day
world from under a crisp and glossy front would be to introduce a most
dreamlike and unpleasant confusion between the sacred and the secular.
Occasionally, indeed, Mrs. Glegg wore one of her third-best fronts on
a week-day visit, but not at a sister's house; especially not at Mrs.
Tulliver's, who, since her marriage, had hurt her sister's feelings
greatly by wearing her own hair, though, as Mrs. Glegg observed to
Mrs. Deane, a mother of a family, like Bessy, with a husband always
going to law, might have been expected to know better. But Bessy was
So if Mrs. Glegg's front to-day was more fuzzy and lax than usual, she
had a design under it: she intended the most pointed and cutting
allusion to Mrs. Tulliver's bunches of blond curls, separated from
each other by a due wave of smoothness on each side of the parting.
Mrs. Tulliver had shed tears several times at sister Glegg's
unkindness on the subject of these unmatronly curls, but the
consciousness of looking the handsomer for them naturally administered
support. Mrs. Glegg chose to wear her bonnet in the house
to-day,--untied and tilted slightly, of course--a frequent practice of
hers when she was on a visit, and happened to be in a severe humor:
she didn't know what draughts there might be in strange houses. For
the same reason she wore a small sable tippet, which reached just to
her shoulders, and was very far from meeting across her well-formed
chest, while her long neck was protected by a "chevaux-de-frise" of
miscellaneous frilling. One would need to be learned in the fashions
of those times to know how far in the rear of them Mrs. Glegg's
slate-colored silk gown must have been; but from certain
constellations of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor about
it suggestive of a damp clothes-chest, it was probable that it
belonged to a stratum of garments just old enough to have come
recently into wear.
Mrs. Glegg held her large gold watch in her hand with the many-doubled
chain round her fingers, and observed to Mrs. Tulliver, who had just
returned from a visit to the kitchen, that whatever it might be by
other people's clocks and watches, it was gone half-past twelve by
"I don't know what ails sister Pullet," she continued. "It used to be
the way in our family for one to be as early as another,--I'm sure it
was so in my poor father's time,--and not for one sister to sit half
an hour before the others came. But if the ways o' the family are
altered, it sha'n't be "my" fault; "I'll" never be the one to come
into a house when all the rest are going away. I wonder "at" sister
Deane,--she used to be more like me. But if you'll take my advice,
Bessy, you'll put the dinner forrard a bit, sooner than put it back,
because folks are late as ought to ha' known better."
"Oh dear, there's no fear but what they'll be all here in time,
sister," said Mrs. Tulliver, in her mild-peevish tone. "The dinner
won't be ready till half-past one. But if it's long for you to wait,
let me fetch you a cheesecake and a glass o' wine."
"Well, Bessy!" said Mrs. Glegg, with a bitter smile and a scarcely
perceptible toss of her head, "I should ha' thought you'd known your
own sister better. I never "did" eat between meals, and I'm not going
to begin. Not but what I hate that nonsense of having your dinner at
half-past one, when you might have it at one. You was never brought up
in that way, Bessy."
"Why, Jane, what can I do? Mr. Tulliver doesn't like his dinner before
two o'clock, but I put it half an hour earlier because o' you."
"Yes, yes, I know how it is with husbands,--they're for putting
everything off; they'll put the dinner off till after tea, if they've
got wives as are weak enough to give in to such work; but it's a pity
for you, Bessy, as you haven't got more strength o' mind. It'll be
well if your children don't suffer for it. And I hope you've not gone
and got a great dinner for us,--going to expense for your sisters, as
'ud sooner eat a crust o' dry bread nor help to ruin you with
extravagance. I wonder you don't take pattern by your sister Deane;
she's far more sensible. And here you've got two children to provide
for, and your husband's spent your fortin i' going to law, and's
likely to spend his own too. A boiled joint, as you could make broth
of for the kitchen," Mrs. Glegg added, in a tone of emphatic protest,
"and a plain pudding, with a spoonful o' sugar, and no spice, 'ud be
far more becoming."
With sister Glegg in this humor, there was a cheerful prospect for the
day. Mrs. Tulliver never went the length of quarrelling with her, any
more than a water-fowl that puts out its leg in a deprecating manner
can be said to quarrel with a boy who throws stones. But this point of
the dinner was a tender one, and not at all new, so that Mrs. Tulliver
could make the same answer she had often made before.
"Mr. Tulliver says he always "will" have a good dinner for his friends
while he can pay for it," she said; "and he's a right to do as he
likes in his own house, sister."
"Well, Bessy, "I" can't leave your children enough out o' my savings
to keep 'em from ruin. And you mustn't look to having any o' Mr.
Glegg's money, for it's well if I don't go first,--he comes of a
long-lived family; and if he was to die and leave me well for my life,
he'd tie all the money up to go back to his own kin."
The sound of wheels while Mrs. Glegg was speaking was an interruption
highly welcome to Mrs. Tulliver, who hastened out to receive sister
Pullet; it must be sister Pullet, because the sound was that of a
Mrs. Glegg tossed her head and looked rather sour about the mouth at
the thought of the "four-wheel." She had a strong opinion on that
Sister Pullet was in tears when the one-horse chaise stopped before
Mrs. Tulliver's door, and it was apparently requisite that she should
shed a few more before getting out; for though her husband and Mrs.
Tulliver stood ready to support her, she sat still and shook her head
sadly, as she looked through her tears at the vague distance.
"Why, whativer is the matter, sister?" said Mrs. Tulliver. She was not
an imaginative woman, but it occurred to her that the large
toilet-glass in sister Pullet's best bedroom was possibly broken for
the second time.
There was no reply but a further shake of the head, as Mrs. Pullet
slowly rose and got down from the chaise, not without casting a glance
at Mr. Pullet to see that he was guarding her handsome silk dress from
injury. Mr. Pullet was a small man, with a high nose, small twinkling
eyes, and thin lips, in a fresh-looking suit of black and a white
cravat, that seemed to have been tied very tight on some higher
principle than that of mere personal ease. He bore about the same
relation to his tall, good-looking wife, with her balloon sleeves,
abundant mantle, and a large befeathered and beribboned bonnet, as a
small fishing-smack bears to a brig with all its sails spread.
It is a pathetic sight and a striking example of the complexity
introduced into the emotions by a high state of civilization, the
sight of a fashionably dressed female in grief. From the sorrow of a
Hottentot to that of a woman in large buckram sleeves, with several
bracelets on each arm, an architectural bonnet, and delicate ribbon
strings, what a long series of gradations! In the enlightened child of
civilization the abandonment characteristic of grief is checked and
varied in the subtlest manner, so as to present an interesting problem
to the analytic mind. If, with a crushed heart and eyes half blinded
by the mist of tears, she were to walk with a too-devious step through
a door-place, she might crush her buckram sleeves too, and the deep
consciousness of this possibility produces a composition of forces by
which she takes a line that just clears the door-post. Perceiving that
the tears are hurrying fast, she unpins her strings and throws them
languidly backward, a touching gesture, indicative, even in the
deepest gloom, of the hope in future dry moments when cap-strings will
once more have a charm. As the tears subside a little, and with her
head leaning backward at the angle that will not injure her bonnet,
she endures that terrible moment when grief, which has made all things
else a weariness, has itself become weary; she looks down pensively at
her bracelets, and adjusts their clasps with that pretty studied
fortuity which would be gratifying to her mind if it were once more in
a calm and healthy state.
Mrs. Pullet brushed each door-post with great nicety, about the
latitude of her shoulders (at that period a woman was truly ridiculous
to an instructed eye if she did not measure a yard and a half across
the shoulders), and having done that sent the muscles of her face in
quest of fresh tears as she advanced into the parlor where Mrs. Glegg
"Well, sister, you're late; what's the matter?" said Mrs. Glegg,
rather sharply, as they shook hands.
Mrs. Pullet sat down, lifting up her mantle carefully behind, before
"She's gone," unconsciously using an impressive figure of rhetoric.
"It isn't the glass this time, then," thought Mrs. Tulliver.
"Died the day before yesterday," continued Mrs. Pullet; "an' her legs
was as thick as my body,"' she added, with deep sadness, after a
pause. "They'd tapped her no end o' times, and the water--they say you
might ha' swum in it, if you'd liked."
"Well, Sophy, it's a mercy she's gone, then, whoever she may be," said
Mrs. Glegg, with the promptitude and emphasis of a mind naturally
clear and decided; "but I can't think who you're talking of, for my
"But "I" know," said Mrs. Pullet, sighing and shaking her head; "and
there isn't another such a dropsy in the parish. "I" know as it's old
Mrs. Sutton o' the Twentylands."
"Well, she's no kin o' yours, nor much acquaintance as I've ever
heared of," said Mrs. Glegg, who always cried just as much as was
proper when anything happened to her own "kin," but not on other
"She's so much acquaintance as I've seen her legs when they was like
bladders. And an old lady as had doubled her money over and over
again, and kept it all in her own management to the last, and had her
pocket with her keys in under her pillow constant. There isn't many
old "par"ish'ners like her, I doubt."
"And they say she'd took as much physic as 'ud fill a wagon," observed
"Ah!" sighed Mrs. Pullet, "she'd another complaint ever so many years
before she had the dropsy, and the doctors couldn't make out what it
was. And she said to me, when I went to see her last Christmas, she
said, 'Mrs. Pullet, if ever you have the dropsy, you'll think o' me.'
She "did" say so," added Mrs. Pullet, beginning to cry bitterly again;
"those were her very words. And she's to be buried o' Saturday, and
Pullet's bid to the funeral."
"Sophy," said Mrs. Glegg, unable any longer to contain her spirit of
rational remonstrance,--"Sophy, I wonder "at" you, fretting and
injuring your health about people as don't belong to you. Your poor
father never did so, nor your aunt Frances neither, nor any o' the
family as I ever heard of. You couldn't fret no more than this, if
we'd heared as our cousin Abbott had died sudden without making his
Mrs. Pullet was silent, having to finish her crying, and rather
flattered than indignant at being upbraided for crying too much. It
was not everybody who could afford to cry so much about their
neighbors who had left them nothing; but Mrs. Pullet had married a
gentleman farmer, and had leisure and money to carry her crying and
everything else to the highest pitch of respectability.
"Mrs. Sutton didn't die without making her will, though," said Mr.
Pullet, with a confused sense that he was saying something to sanction
his wife's tears; "ours is a rich parish, but they say there's nobody
else to leave as many thousands behind 'em as Mrs. Sutton. And she's
left no leggicies to speak on,--left it all in a lump to her husband's
"There wasn't much good i' being so rich, then," said Mrs. Glegg, "if
she'd got none but husband's kin to leave it to. It's poor work when
that's all you've got to pinch yourself for. Not as I'm one o' those
as 'ud like to die without leaving more money out at interest than
other folks had reckoned; but it's a poor tale when it must go out o'
your own family."
"I'm sure, sister," said Mrs. Pullet, who had recovered sufficiently
to take off her veil and fold it carefully, "it's a nice sort o' man
as Mrs. Sutton has left her money to, for he's troubled with the
asthmy, and goes to bed every night at eight o'clock. He told me about
it himself--as free as could be--one Sunday when he came to our
church. He wears a hareskin on his chest, and has a trembling in his
talk,--quite a gentleman sort o' man. I told him there wasn't many
months in the year as I wasn't under the doctor's hands. And he said,
'Mrs. Pullet, I can feel for you.' That was what he said,--the very
words. Ah!" sighed Mrs. Pullet, shaking her head at the idea that
there were but few who could enter fully into her experiences in pink
mixture and white mixture, strong stuff in small bottles, and weak
stuff in large bottles, damp boluses at a shilling, and draughts at
eighteenpence. "Sister, I may as well go and take my bonnet off now.
Did you see as the cap-box was put out?" she added, turning to her
Mr. Pullet, by an unaccountable lapse of memory, had forgotten it, and
hastened out, with a stricken conscience, to remedy the omission.
"They'll bring it upstairs, sister," said Mrs. Tulliver, wishing to go
at once, lest Mrs. Glegg should begin to explain her feelings about
Sophy's being the first Dodson who ever ruined her constitution with
Mrs. Tulliver was fond of going upstairs with her sister Pullet, and
looking thoroughly at her cap before she put it on her head, and
discussing millinery in general. This was part of Bessy's weakness
that stirred Mrs. Glegg's sisterly compassion: Bessy went far too well
dressed, considering; and she was too proud to dress her child in the
good clothing her sister Glegg gave her from the primeval strata of
her wardrobe; it was a sin and a shame to buy anything to dress that
child, if it wasn't a pair of shoes. In this particular, however, Mrs.
Glegg did her sister Bessy some injustice, for Mrs. Tulliver had
really made great efforts to induce Maggie to wear a leghorn bonnet
and a dyed silk frock made out of her aunt Glegg's, but the results
had been such that Mrs. Tulliver was obliged to bury them in her
maternal bosom; for Maggie, declaring that the frock smelt of nasty
dye, had taken an opportunity of basting it together with the roast
beef the first Sunday she wore it, and finding this scheme answer, she
had subsequently pumped on the bonnet with its green ribbons, so as to
give it a general resemblance to a sage cheese garnished with withered
lettuces. I must urge in excuse for Maggie, that Tom had laughed at
her in the bonnet, and said she looked like an old Judy. Aunt Pullet,
too, made presents of clothes, but these were always pretty enough to
please Maggie as well as her mother. Of all her sisters, Mrs. Tulliver
certainly preferred her sister Pullet, not without a return of
preference; but Mrs. Pullet was sorry Bessy had those naughty, awkward
children; she would do the best she could by them, but it was a pity
they weren't as good and as pretty as sister Deane's child. Maggie and
Tom, on their part, thought their aunt Pullet tolerable, chiefly
because she was not their aunt Glegg. Tom always declined to go more
than once during his holidays to see either of them. Both his uncles
tipped him that once, of course; but at his aunt Pullet's there were a
great many toads to pelt in the cellar-area, so that he preferred the
visit to her. Maggie shuddered at the toads, and dreamed of them
horribly, but she liked her uncle Pullet's musical snuff-box. Still,
it was agreed by the sisters, in Mrs. Tulliver's absence, that the
Tulliver blood did not mix well with the Dodson blood; that, in fact,
poor Bessy's children were Tullivers, and that Tom, notwithstanding he
had the Dodson complexion, was likely to be as "contrairy" as his
father. As for Maggie, she was the picture of her aunt Moss, Mr.
Tulliver's sister,--a large-boned woman, who had married as poorly as
could be; had no china, and had a husband who had much ado to pay his
rent. But when Mrs. Pullet was alone with Mrs. Tulliver upstairs, the
remarks were naturally to the disadvantage of Mrs. Glegg, and they
agreed, in confidence, that there was no knowing what sort of fright
sister Jane would come out next. But their "tête-à-tête" was curtailed
by the appearance of Mrs. Deane with little Lucy; and Mrs. Tulliver
had to look on with a silent pang while Lucy's blond curls were
adjusted. It was quite unaccountable that Mrs. Deane, the thinnest and
sallowest of all the Miss Dodsons, should have had this child, who
might have been taken for Mrs. Tulliver's any day. And Maggie always
looked twice as dark as usual when she was by the side of Lucy.
She did to-day, when she and Tom came in from the garden with their
father and their uncle Glegg. Maggie had thrown her bonnet off very
carelessly, and coming in with her hair rough as well as out of curl,
rushed at once to Lucy, who was standing by her mother's knee.
Certainly the contrast between the cousins was conspicuous, and to
superficial eyes was very much to the disadvantage of Maggie though a
connoisseur might have seen "points" in her which had a higher promise
for maturity than Lucy's natty completeness. It was like the contrast
between a rough, dark, overgrown puppy and a white kitten. Lucy put up
the neatest little rosebud mouth to be kissed; everything about her
was neat,--her little round neck, with the row of coral beads; her
little straight nose, not at all snubby; her little clear eyebrows,
rather darker than her curls, to match hazel eyes, which looked up
with shy pleasure at Maggie, taller by the head, though scarcely a
year older. Maggie always looked at Lucy with delight.
She was fond of fancying a world where the people never got any larger
than children of their own age, and she made the queen of it just like
Lucy, with a little crown on her head, and a little sceptre in her
hand--only the queen was Maggie herself in Lucy's form.
"Oh, Lucy," she burst out, after kissing her, "you'll stay with Tom
and me, won't you? Oh, kiss her, Tom."
Tom, too, had come up to Lucy, but he was not going to kiss her--no;
he came up to her with Maggie, because it seemed easier, on the whole,
than saying, "How do you do?" to all those aunts and uncles. He stood
looking at nothing in particular, with the blushing, awkward air and
semi-smile which are common to shy boys when in company,--very much as
if they had come into the world by mistake, and found it in a degree
of undress that was quite embarrassing.
"Heyday!" said aunt Glegg, with loud emphasis. "Do little boys and
gells come into a room without taking notice of their uncles and
aunts? That wasn't the way when "I" was a little gell."
"Go and speak to your aunts and uncles, my dears," said Mrs. Tulliver,
looking anxious and melancholy. She wanted to whisper to Maggie a
command to go and have her hair brushed.
"Well, and how do you do? And I hope you're good children, are you?"
said Aunt Glegg, in the same loud, emphatic way, as she took their
hands, hurting them with her large rings, and kissing their cheeks
much against their desire. "Look up, Tom, look up. Boys as go to
boarding-schools should hold their heads up. Look at me now." Tom
declined that pleasure apparently, for he tried to draw his hand away.
"Put your hair behind your ears, Maggie, and keep your frock on your
Aunt Glegg always spoke to them in this loud, emphatic way, as if she
considered them deaf, or perhaps rather idiotic; it was a means, she
thought, of making them feel that they were accountable creatures, and
might be a salutary check on naughty tendencies. Bessy's children were
so spoiled--they'd need have somebody to make them feel their duty.
"Well, my dears," said aunt Pullet, in a compassionate voice, "you
grow wonderful fast. I doubt they'll outgrow their strength," she
added, looking over their heads, with a melancholy expression, at
their mother. "I think the gell has too much hair. I'd have it thinned
and cut shorter, sister, if I was you; it isn't good for her health.
It's that as makes her skin so brown, I shouldn't wonder. Don't you
think so, sister Deane?"
"I can't say, I'm sure, sister," said Mrs. Deane, shutting her lips
close again, and looking at Maggie with a critical eye.
"No, no," said Mr. Tulliver, "the child's healthy enough; there's
nothing ails her. There's red wheat as well as white, for that matter,
and some like the dark grain best. But it 'ud be as well if Bessy 'ud
have the child's hair cut, so as it 'ud lie smooth."
A dreadful resolve was gathering in Maggie's breast, but it was
arrested by the desire to know from her aunt Deane whether she would
leave Lucy behind. Aunt Deane would hardly ever let Lucy come to see
them. After various reasons for refusal, Mrs. Deane appealed to Lucy
"You wouldn't like to stay behind without mother, should you, Lucy?"
"Yes, please, mother," said Lucy, timidly, blushing very pink all over
her little neck.
"Well done, Lucy! Let her stay, Mrs. Deane, let her stay," said Mr.
Deane, a large but alert-looking man, with a type of "physique" to be
seen in all ranks of English society,--bald crown, red whiskers, full
forehead, and general solidity without heaviness. You may see noblemen
like Mr. Deane, and you may see grocers or day-laborers like him; but
the keenness of his brown eyes was less common than his contour.
He held a silver snuff-box very tightly in his hand, and now and then
exchanged a pinch with Mr. Tulliver, whose box was only
silver-mounted, so that it was naturally a joke between them that Mr.
Tulliver wanted to exchange snuff-boxes also. Mr. Deane's box had been
given him by the superior partners in the firm to which he belonged,
at the same time that they gave him a share in the business, in
acknowledgment of his valuable services as manager. No man was thought
more highly of in St. Ogg's than Mr. Deane; and some persons were even
of opinion that Miss Susan Dodson, who was once held to have made the
worst match of all the Dodson sisters, might one day ride in a better
carriage, and live in a better house, even than her sister Pullet.
There was no knowing where a man would stop, who had got his foot into
a great mill-owning, shipowning business like that of Guest & Co.,
with a banking concern attached. And Mrs. Deane, as her intimate
female friends observed, was proud and "having" enough; "she" wouldn't
let her husband stand still in the world for want of spurring.
"Maggie," said Mrs. Tulliver, beckoning Maggie to her, and whispering
in her ear, as soon as this point of Lucy's staying was settled, "go
and get your hair brushed, do, for shame. I told you not to come in
without going to Martha first, you know I did."
"Tom come out with me," whispered Maggie, pulling his sleeve as she
passed him; and Tom followed willingly enough.
"Come upstairs with me, Tom," she whispered, when they were outside
the door. "There's something I want to do before dinner."
"There's no time to play at anything before dinner," said Tom, whose
imagination was impatient of any intermediate prospect.
"Oh yes, there is time for this; "do" come, Tom."
Tom followed Maggie upstairs into her mother's room, and saw her go at
once to a drawer, from which she took out a large pair of scissors.
"What are they for, Maggie?" said Tom, feeling his curiosity awakened.
Maggie answered by seizing her front locks and cutting them straight
across the middle of her forehead.
"Oh, my buttons! Maggie, you'll catch it!" exclaimed Tom; "you'd
better not cut any more off."
Snip! went the great scissors again while Tom was speaking, and he
couldn't help feeling it was rather good fun; Maggie would look so
"Here, Tom, cut it behind for me," said Maggie, excited by her own
daring, and anxious to finish the deed.
"You'll catch it, you know," said Tom, nodding his head in an
admonitory manner, and hesitating a little as he took the scissors.
"Never mind, make haste!" said Maggie, giving a little stamp with her
foot. Her cheeks were quite flushed.
The black locks were so thick, nothing could be more tempting to a lad
who had already tasted the forbidden pleasure of cutting the pony's
mane. I speak to those who know the satisfaction of making a pair of
scissors meet through a duly resisting mass of hair. One delicious
grinding snip, and then another and another, and the hinder-locks fell
heavily on the floor, and Maggie stood cropped in a jagged, uneven
manner, but with a sense of clearness and freedom, as if she had
emerged from a wood into the open plain.
"Oh, Maggie," said Tom, jumping round her, and slapping his knees as
he laughed, "Oh, my buttons! what a queer thing you look! Look at
yourself in the glass; you look like the idiot we throw out nutshells
to at school."
Maggie felt an unexpected pang. She had thought beforehand chiefly at
her own deliverance from her teasing hair and teasing remarks about
it, and something also of the triumph she should have over her mother
and her aunts by this very decided course of action; she didn't want
her hair to look pretty,--that was out of the question,--she only
wanted people to think her a clever little girl, and not to find fault
with her. But now, when Tom began to laugh at her, and say she was
like an idiot, the affair had quite a new aspect. She looked in the
glass, and still Tom laughed and clapped his hands, and Maggie's
cheeks began to pale, and her lips to tremble a little.
"Oh, Maggie, you'll have to go down to dinner directly," said Tom.
"Don't laugh at me, Tom," said Maggie, in a passionate tone, with an
outburst of angry tears, stamping, and giving him a push.
"Now, then, spitfire!" said Tom. "What did you cut it off for, then? I
shall go down: I can smell the dinner going in."
He hurried downstairs and left poor Maggie to that bitter sense of the
irrevocable which was almost an every-day experience of her small
soul. She could see clearly enough, now the thing was done, that it
was very foolish, and that she should have to hear and think more
about her hair than ever; for Maggie rushed to her deeds with
passionate impulse, and then saw not only their consequences, but what
would have happened if they had not been done, with all the detail and
exaggerated circumstance of an active imagination. Tom never did the
same sort of foolish things as Maggie, having a wonderful instinctive
discernment of what would turn to his advantage or disadvantage; and
so it happened, that though he was much more wilful and inflexible
than Maggie, his mother hardly ever called him naughty. But if Tom did
make a mistake of that sort, he espoused it, and stood by it: he
"didn't mind." If he broke the lash of his father's gigwhip by lashing
the gate, he couldn't help it,--the whip shouldn't have got caught in
the hinge. If Tom Tulliver whipped a gate, he was convinced, not that
the whipping of gates by all boys was a justifiable act, but that he,
Tom Tulliver, was justifiable in whipping that particular gate, and he
wasn't going to be sorry. But Maggie, as she stood crying before the
glass, felt it impossible that she should go down to dinner and endure
the severe eyes and severe words of her aunts, while Tom and Lucy, and
Martha, who waited at table, and perhaps her father and her uncles,
would laugh at her; for if Tom had laughed at her, of course every one
else would; and if she had only let her hair alone, she could have sat
with Tom and Lucy, and had the apricot pudding and the custard! What
could she do but sob? She sat as helpless and despairing among her
black locks as Ajax among the slaughtered sheep. Very trivial,
perhaps, this anguish seems to weather-worn mortals who have to think
of Christmas bills, dead loves, and broken friendships; but it was not
less bitter to Maggie--perhaps it was even more bitter--than what we
are fond of calling antithetically the real troubles of mature life.
"Ah, my child, you will have real troubles to fret about by and by,"
is the consolation we have almost all of us had administered to us in
our childhood, and have repeated to other children since we have been
grown up. We have all of us sobbed so piteously, standing with tiny
bare legs above our little socks, when we lost sight of our mother or
nurse in some strange place; but we can no longer recall the poignancy
of that moment and weep over it, as we do over the remembered
sufferings of five or ten years ago. Every one of those keen moments
has left its trace, and lives in us still, but such traces have blent
themselves irrecoverably with the firmer texture of our youth and
manhood; and so it comes that we can look on at the troubles of our
children with a smiling disbelief in the reality of their pain. Is
there any one who can recover the experience of his childhood, not
merely with a memory "of" what he did and what happened to him, of
what he liked and disliked when he was in frock and trousers, but with
an intimate penetration, a revived consciousness of what he felt then,
when it was so long from one Midsummer to another; what he felt when
his school fellows shut him out of their game because he would pitch
the ball wrong out of mere wilfulness; or on a rainy day in the
holidays, when he didn't know how to amuse himself, and fell from
idleness into mischief, from mischief into defiance, and from defiance
into sulkiness; or when his mother absolutely refused to let him have
a tailed coat that "half," although every other boy of his age had
gone into tails already? Surely if we could recall that early
bitterness, and the dim guesses, the strangely perspectiveless
conception of life, that gave the bitterness its intensity, we should
not pooh-pooh the griefs of our children.
"Miss Maggie, you're to come down this minute," said Kezia, entering
the room hurriedly. "Lawks! what have you been a-doing? I never "see"
such a fright!"
"Don't, Kezia," said Maggie, angrily. "Go away!"
"But I tell you you're to come down, Miss, this minute; your mother
says so," said Kezia, going up to Maggie and taking her by the hand to
raise her from the floor.
"Get away, Kezia; I don't want any dinner," said Maggie, resisting
Kezia's arm. "I sha'n't come."
"Oh, well, I can't stay. I've got to wait at dinner," said Kezia,
going out again.
"Maggie, you little silly," said Tom, peeping into the room ten
minutes after, "why don't you come and have your dinner? There's lots
o' goodies, and mother says you're to come. What are you crying for,
you little spooney?"
Oh, it was dreadful! Tom was so hard and unconcerned; if "he" had been
crying on the floor, Maggie would have cried too. And there was the
dinner, so nice; and she was "so" hungry. It was very bitter.
But Tom was not altogether hard. He was not inclined to cry, and did
not feel that Maggie's grief spoiled his prospect of the sweets; but
he went and put his head near her, and said in a lower, comforting
"Won't you come, then, Magsie? Shall I bring you a bit o' pudding when
I've had mine, and a custard and things?"
"Ye-e-es," said Maggie, beginning to feel life a little more
"Very well," said Tom, going away. But he turned again at the door and
said, "But you'd better come, you know. There's the dessert,--nuts,
you know, and cowslip wine."
Maggie's tears had ceased, and she looked reflective as Tom left her.
His good nature had taken off the keenest edge of her suffering, and
nuts with cowslip wine began to assert their legitimate influence.
Slowly she rose from amongst her scattered locks, and slowly she made
her way downstairs. Then she stood leaning with one shoulder against
the frame of the dining-parlour door, peeping in when it was ajar. She
saw Tom and Lucy with an empty chair between them, and there were the
custards on a side-table; it was too much. She slipped in and went
toward the empty chair. But she had no sooner sat down than she
repented and wished herself back again.
Mrs. Tulliver gave a little scream as she saw her, and felt such a
"turn" that she dropped the large gravy-spoon into the dish, with the
most serious results to the table-cloth. For Kezia had not betrayed
the reason of Maggie's refusal to come down, not liking to give her
mistress a shock in the moment of carving, and Mrs. Tulliver thought
there was nothing worse in question than a fit of perverseness, which
was inflicting its own punishment by depriving Maggie of half her
Mrs. Tulliver's scream made all eyes turn towards the same point as
her own, and Maggie's cheeks and ears began to burn, while uncle
Glegg, a kind-looking, white-haired old gentleman, said,--
"Heyday! what little gell's this? Why, I don't know her. Is it some
little gell you've picked up in the road, Kezia?"
"Why, she's gone and cut her hair herself," said Mr. Tulliver in an
undertone to Mr. Deane, laughing with much enjoyment. Did you ever
know such a little hussy as it is?"
"Why, little miss, you've made yourself look very funny," said Uncle
Pullet, and perhaps he never in his life made an observation which was
felt to be so lacerating.
"Fie, for shame!" said aunt Glegg, in her loudest, severest tone of
reproof. "Little gells as cut their own hair should be whipped and fed
on bread and water,--not come and sit down with their aunts and
"Ay, ay," said uncle Glegg, meaning to give a playful turn to this
denunciation, "she must be sent to jail, I think, and they'll cut the
rest of her hair off there, and make it all even."
"She's more like a gypsy nor ever," said aunt Pullet, in a pitying
tone; "it's very bad luck, sister, as the gell should be so brown; the
boy's fair enough. I doubt it'll stand in her way i' life to be so
"She's a naughty child, as'll break her mother's heart," said Mrs.
Tulliver, with the tears in her eyes.
Maggie seemed to be listening to a chorus of reproach and derision.
Her first flush came from anger, which gave her a transient power of
defiance, and Tom thought she was braving it out, supported by the
recent appearance of the pudding and custard. Under this impression,
he whispered, "Oh, my! Maggie, I told you you'd catch it." He meant to
be friendly, but Maggie felt convinced that Tom was rejoicing in her
ignominy. Her feeble power of defiance left her in an instant, her
heart swelled, and getting up from her chair, she ran to her father,
hid her face on his shoulder, and burst out into loud sobbing.
"Come, come, my wench," said her father, soothingly, putting his arm
round her, "never mind; you was i' the right to cut it off if it
plagued you; give over crying; father'll take your part."
Delicious words of tenderness! Maggie never forgot any of these
moments when her father "took her part"; she kept them in her heart,
and thought of them long years after, when every one else said that
her father had done very ill by his children.
"How your husband does spoil that child, Bessy!" said Mrs. Glegg, in a
loud "aside," to Mrs. Tulliver. "It'll be the ruin of her, if you
don't take care. "My" father never brought his children up so, else we
should ha' been a different sort o' family to what we are."
Mrs. Tulliver's domestic sorrows seemed at this moment to have reached
the point at which insensibility begins. She took no notice of her
sister's remark, but threw back her capstrings and dispensed the
pudding, in mute resignation.
With the dessert there came entire deliverance for Maggie, for the
children were told they might have their nuts and wine in the
summer-house, since the day was so mild; and they scampered out among
the budding bushes of the garden with the alacrity of small animals
getting from under a burning glass.
Mrs. Tulliver had her special reason for this permission: now the
dinner was despatched, and every one's mind disengaged, it was the
right moment to communicate Mr. Tulliver's intention concerning Tom,
and it would be as well for Tom himself to be absent. The children
were used to hear themselves talked of as freely as if they were
birds, and could understand nothing, however they might stretch their
necks and listen; but on this occasion Mrs. Tulliver manifested an
unusual discretion, because she had recently had evidence that the
going to school to a clergyman was a sore point with Tom, who looked
at it as very much on a par with going to school to a constable. Mrs.
Tulliver had a sighing sense that her husband would do as he liked,
whatever sister Glegg said, or sister Pullet either; but at least they
would not be able to say, if the thing turned out ill, that Bessy had
fallen in with her husband's folly without letting her own friends
know a word about it.
"Mr. Tulliver," she said, interrupting her husband in his talk with
Mr. Deane, "it's time now to tell the children's aunts and uncles what
you're thinking of doing with Tom, isn't it?"
"Very well," said Mr. Tulliver, rather sharply, "I've no objections to
tell anybody what I mean to do with him. I've settled," he added,
looking toward Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane,--"I've settled to send him to
a Mr. Stelling, a parson, down at King's Lorton, there,--an uncommon
clever fellow, I understand, as'll put him up to most things."
There was a rustling demonstration of surprise in the company, such as
you may have observed in a country congregation when they hear an
allusion to their week-day affairs from the pulpit. It was equally
astonishing to the aunts and uncles to find a parson introduced into
Mr. Tulliver's family arrangements. As for uncle Pullet, he could
hardly have been more thoroughly obfuscated if Mr. Tulliver had said
that he was going to send Tom to the Lord Chancellor; for uncle Pullet
belonged to that extinct class of British yeoman who, dressed in good
broadcloth, paid high rates and taxes, went to church, and ate a
particularly good dinner on Sunday, without dreaming that the British
constitution in Church and State had a traceable origin any more than
the solar system and the fixed stars.
It is melancholy, but true, that Mr. Pullet had the most confused idea
of a bishop as a sort of a baronet, who might or might not be a
clergyman; and as the rector of his own parish was a man of high
family and fortune, the idea that a clergyman could be a schoolmaster
was too remote from Mr. Pullet's experience to be readily conceivable.
I know it is difficult for people in these instructed times to believe
in uncle Pullet's ignorance; but let them reflect on the remarkable
results of a great natural faculty under favoring circumstances. And
uncle Pullet had a great natural faculty for ignorance. He was the
first to give utterance to his astonishment.
"Why, what can you be going to send him to a parson for?" he said,
with an amazed twinkling in his eyes, looking at Mr. Glegg and Mr.
Deane, to see if they showed any signs of comprehension.
"Why, because the parsons are the best schoolmasters, by what I can
make out," said poor Mr. Tulliver, who, in the maze of this puzzling
world, laid hold of any clue with great readiness and tenacity.
"Jacobs at th' academy's no parson, and he's done very bad by the boy;
and I made up my mind, if I send him to school again, it should be to
somebody different to Jacobs. And this Mr. Stelling, by what I can
make out, is the sort o' man I want. And I mean my boy to go to him at
Midsummer," he concluded, in a tone of decision, tapping his snuff-box
and taking a pinch.
"You'll have to pay a swinging half-yearly bill, then, eh, Tulliver?
The clergymen have highish notions, in general," said Mr. Deane,
taking snuff vigorously, as he always did when wishing to maintain a
"What! do you think the parson'll teach him to know a good sample o'
wheat when he sees it, neighbor Tulliver?" said Mr. Glegg, who was
fond of his jest, and having retired from business, felt that it was
not only allowable but becoming in him to take a playful view of
"Why, you see, I've got a plan i' my head about Tom," said Mr.
Tulliver, pausing after that statement and lifting up his glass.
"Well, if I may be allowed to speak, and it's seldom as I am," said
Mrs. Glegg, with a tone of bitter meaning, "I should like to know what
good is to come to the boy by bringin' him up above his fortin."
"Why," said Mr. Tulliver, not looking at Mrs. Glegg, but at the male
part of his audience, "you see, I've made up my mind not to bring Tom
up to my own business. I've had my thoughts about it all along, and I
made up my mind by what I saw with Garnett and "his" son. I mean to
put him to some business as he can go into without capital, and I want
to give him an eddication as he'll be even wi' the lawyers and folks,
and put me up to a notion now an' then."
Mrs. Glegg emitted a long sort of guttural sound with closed lips,
that smiled in mingled pity and scorn.
"It 'ud be a fine deal better for some people," she said, after that
introductory note, "if they'd let the lawyers alone."
"Is he at the head of a grammar school, then, this clergyman, such as
that at Market Bewley?" said Mr. Deane.
"No, nothing of that," said Mr. Tulliver. "He won't take more than two
or three pupils, and so he'll have the more time to attend to 'em, you
"Ah, and get his eddication done the sooner; they can't learn much at
a time when there's so many of 'em," said uncle Pullet, feeling that
he was getting quite an insight into this difficult matter.
"But he'll want the more pay, I doubt," said Mr. Glegg.
"Ay, ay, a cool hundred a year, that's all," said Mr. Tulliver, with
some pride at his own spirited course. "But then, you know, it's an
investment; Tom's eddication 'ull be so much capital to him."
"Ay, there's something in that," said Mr. Glegg. "Well well, neighbor
Tulliver, you may be right, you may be right:
'When land is gone and money's spent,
Then learning is most excellent.'
"I remember seeing those two lines wrote on a window at Buxton. But us
that have got no learning had better keep our money, eh, neighbor
Pullet?" Mr. Glegg rubbed his knees, and looked very pleasant.
"Mr. Glegg, I wonder "at" you," said his wife. "It's very unbecoming
in a man o' your age and belongings."
"What's unbecoming, Mrs. G.?" said Mr. Glegg, winking pleasantly at
the company. "My new blue coat as I've got on?"
"I pity your weakness, Mr. Glegg. I say it's unbecoming to be making a
joke when you see your own kin going headlongs to ruin."
"If you mean me by that," said Mr. Tulliver, considerably nettled,
"you needn't trouble yourself to fret about me. I can manage my own
affairs without troubling other folks."
"Bless me!" said Mr. Deane, judiciously introducing a new idea, "why,
now I come to think of it, somebody said Wakem was going to send "his"
son--the deformed lad--to a clergyman, didn't they, Susan?" (appealing
to his wife).
"I can give no account of it, I'm sure," said Mrs. Deane, closing her
lips very tightly again. Mrs. Deane was not a woman to take part in a
scene where missiles were flying.
"Well," said Mr. Tulliver, speaking all the more cheerfully, that Mrs.
Glegg might see he didn't mind her, "if Wakem thinks o' sending his
son to a clergyman, depend on it I shall make no mistake i' sending
Tom to one. Wakem's as big a scoundrel as Old Harry ever made, but he
knows the length of every man's foot he's got to deal with. Ay, ay,
tell me who's Wakem's butcher, and I'll tell you where to get your
"But lawyer Wakem's son's got a hump-back," said Mrs. Pullet, who felt
as if the whole business had a funereal aspect; "it's more nat'ral to
send "him" to a clergyman."
"Yes," said Mr. Glegg, interpreting Mrs. Pullet's observation with
erroneous plausibility, "you must consider that, neighbor Tulliver;
Wakem's son isn't likely to follow any business. Wakem 'ull make a
gentleman of him, poor fellow."
"Mr. Glegg," said Mrs. G., in a tone which implied that her
indignation would fizz and ooze a little, though she was determined to
keep it corked up, "you'd far better hold your tongue. Mr. Tulliver
doesn't want to know your opinion nor mine either. There's folks in
the world as know better than everybody else."
"Why, I should think that's you, if we're to trust your own tale,"
said Mr. Tulliver, beginning to boil up again.
"Oh, "I" say nothing," said Mrs. Glegg, sarcastically. "My advice has
never been asked, and I don't give it."
"It'll be the first time, then," said Mr. Tulliver. "It's the only
thing you're over-ready at giving."
"I've been over-ready at lending, then, if I haven't been over-ready
at giving," said Mrs. Glegg. "There's folks I've lent money to, as
perhaps I shall repent o' lending money to kin."
"Come, come, come," said Mr. Glegg, soothingly. But Mr. Tulliver was
not to be hindered of his retort.
"You've got a bond for it, I reckon," he said; "and you've had your
five per cent, kin or no kin."
"Sister," said Mrs. Tulliver, pleadingly, "drink your wine, and let me
give you some almonds and raisins."
"Bessy, I'm sorry for you," said Mrs. Glegg, very much with the
feeling of a cur that seizes the opportunity of diverting his bark
toward the man who carries no stick. "It's poor work talking o'
almonds and raisins."
"Lors, sister Glegg, don't be so quarrelsome," said Mrs. Pullet,
beginning to cry a little. "You may be struck with a fit, getting so
red in the face after dinner, and we are but just out o' mourning, all
of us,--and all wi' gowns craped alike and just put by; it's very bad
"I should think it "is" bad," said Mrs. Glegg. "Things are come to a
fine pass when one sister invites the other to her house o' purpose to
quarrel with her and abuse her."
"Softly, softly, Jane; be reasonable, be reasonable," said Mr. Glegg.
But while he was speaking, Mr. Tulliver, who had by no means said
enough to satisfy his anger, burst out again.
"Who wants to quarrel with you?" he said. "It's you as can't let
people alone, but must be gnawing at 'em forever. "I" should never
want to quarrel with any woman if she kept her place."
"My place, indeed!" said Mrs. Glegg, getting rather more shrill.
"There's your betters, Mr. Tulliver, as are dead and in their grave,
treated me with a different sort o' respect to what you do; "though"
I've got a husband as'll sit by and see me abused by them as 'ud never
ha' had the chance if there hadn't been them in our family as married
worse than they might ha' done."
"If you talk o' that," said Mr. Tulliver, "my family's as good as
yours, and better, for it hasn't got a damned ill-tempered woman in
"Well," said Mrs. Glegg, rising from her chair, "I don't know whether
you think it's a fine thing to sit by and hear me swore at, Mr. Glegg;
but I'm not going to stay a minute longer in this house. You can stay
behind, and come home with the gig, and I'll walk home."
"Dear heart, dear heart!" said Mr. Glegg in a melancholy tone, as he
followed his wife out of the room.
"Mr. Tulliver, how could you talk so?" said Mrs. Tulliver, with the
tears in her eyes.
"Let her go," said Mr. Tulliver, too hot to be damped by any amount of
tears. "Let her go, and the sooner the better; she won't be trying to
domineer over "me" again in a hurry."
"Sister Pullet," said Mrs. Tulliver, helplessly, "do you think it 'ud
be any use for you to go after her and try to pacify her?"
"Better not, better not," said Mr. Deane. "You'll make it up another
"Then, sisters, shall we go and look at the children?" said Mrs.
Tulliver, drying her eyes.
No proposition could have been more seasonable. Mr. Tulliver felt very
much as if the air had been cleared of obtrusive flies now the women
were out of the room. There were few things he liked better than a
chat with Mr. Deane, whose close application to business allowed the
pleasure very rarely. Mr. Deane, he considered, was the "knowingest"
man of his acquaintance, and he had besides a ready causticity of
tongue that made an agreeable supplement to Mr. Tulliver's own
tendency that way, which had remained in rather an inarticulate
condition. And now the women were gone, they could carry on their
serious talk without frivolous interruption. They could exchange their
views concerning the Duke of Wellington, whose conduct in the Catholic
Question had thrown such an entirely new light on his character; and
speak slightingly of his conduct at the battle of Waterloo, which he
would never have won if there hadn't been a great many Englishmen at
his back, not to speak of Blucher and the Prussians, who, as Mr.
Tulliver had heard from a person of particular knowledge in that
matter, had come up in the very nick of time; though here there was a
slight dissidence, Mr. Deane remarking that he was not disposed to
give much credit to the Prussians,--the build of their vessels,
together with the unsatisfactory character of transactions in Dantzic
beer, inclining him to form rather a low view of Prussian pluck
generally. Rather beaten on this ground, Mr. Tulliver proceeded to
express his fears that the country could never again be what it used
to be; but Mr. Deane, attached to a firm of which the returns were on
the increase, naturally took a more lively view of the present, and
had some details to give concerning the state of the imports,
especially in hides and spelter, which soothed Mr. Tulliver's
imagination by throwing into more distant perspective the period when
the country would become utterly the prey of Papists and Radicals, and
there would be no more chance for honest men.
Uncle Pullet sat by and listened with twinkling eyes to these high
matters. He didn't understand politics himself,--thought they were a
natural gift,--but by what he could make out, this Duke of Wellington
was no better than he should be.
Mr. Tulliver Shows His Weaker Side
"Suppose sister Glegg should call her money in; it 'ud be very awkward
for you to have to raise five hundred pounds now," said Mrs. Tulliver
to her husband that evening, as she took a plaintive review of the
Mrs. Tulliver had lived thirteen years with her husband, yet she
retained in all the freshness of her early married life a facility of
saying things which drove him in the opposite direction to the one she
desired. Some minds are wonderful for keeping their bloom in this way,
as a patriarchal goldfish apparently retains to the last its youthful
illusion that it can swim in a straight line beyond the encircling
glass. Mrs. Tulliver was an amiable fish of this kind, and after
running her head against the same resisting medium for thirteen years
would go at it again to-day with undulled alacrity.
This observation of hers tended directly to convince Mr. Tulliver that
it would not be at all awkward for him to raise five hundred pounds;
and when Mrs. Tulliver became rather pressing to know "how" he would
raise it without mortgaging the mill and the house which he had said
he never "would" mortgage, since nowadays people were none so ready to
lend money without security, Mr. Tulliver, getting warm, declared that
Mrs. Glegg might do as she liked about calling in her money, he should
pay it in whether or not. He was not going to be beholden to his
wife's sisters. When a man had married into a family where there was a
whole litter of women, he might have plenty to put up with if he
chose. But Mr. Tulliver did "not" choose.
Mrs. Tulliver cried a little in a trickling, quiet way as she put on
her nightcap; but presently sank into a comfortable sleep, lulled by
the thought that she would talk everything over with her sister Pullet
to-morrow, when she was to take the children to Garum Firs to tea. Not
that she looked forward to any distinct issue from that talk; but it
seemed impossible that past events should be so obstinate as to remain
unmodified when they were complained against.
Her husband lay awake rather longer, for he too was thinking of a
visit he would pay on the morrow; and his ideas on the subject were
not of so vague and soothing a kind as those of his amiable partner.
Mr. Tulliver, when under the influence of a strong feeling, had a
promptitude in action that may seem inconsistent with that painful
sense of the complicated, puzzling nature of human affairs under which
his more dispassionate deliberations were conducted; but it is really
not improbable that there was a direct relation between these
apparently contradictory phenomena, since I have observed that for
getting a strong impression that a skein is tangled there is nothing
like snatching hastily at a single thread. It was owing to this
promptitude that Mr. Tulliver was on horseback soon after dinner the
next day (he was not dyspeptic) on his way to Basset to see his sister
Moss and her husband. For having made up his mind irrevocably that he
would pay Mrs. Glegg her loan of five hundred pounds, it naturally
occurred to him that he had a promissory note for three hundred pounds
lent to his brother-in-law Moss; and if the said brother-in-law could
manage to pay in the money within a given time, it would go far to
lessen the fallacious air of inconvenience which Mr. Tulliver's
spirited step might have worn in the eyes of weak people who require
to know precisely "how" a thing is to be done before they are strongly
confident that it will be easy.
For Mr. Tulliver was in a position neither new nor striking, but, like
other every-day things, sure to have a cumulative effect that will be
felt in the long run: he was held to be a much more substantial man
than he really was. And as we are all apt to believe what the world
believes about us, it was his habit to think of failure and ruin with
the same sort of remote pity with which a spare, long-necked man hears
that his plethoric short-necked neighbor is stricken with apoplexy. He
had been always used to hear pleasant jokes about his advantages as a
man who worked his own mill, and owned a pretty bit of land; and these
jokes naturally kept up his sense that he was a man of considerable
substance. They gave a pleasant flavor to his glass on a market-day,
and if it had not been for the recurrence of half-yearly payments, Mr.
Tulliver would really have forgotten that there was a mortgage of two
thousand pounds on his very desirable freehold. That was not
altogether his own fault, since one of the thousand pounds was his
sister's fortune, which he had to pay on her marriage; and a man who
has neighbors that "will" go to law with him is not likely to pay off
his mortgages, especially if he enjoys the good opinion of
acquaintances who want to borrow a hundred pounds on security too
lofty to be represented by parchment. Our friend Mr. Tulliver had a
good-natured fibre in him, and did not like to give harsh refusals
even to his sister, who had not only come in to the world in that
superfluous way characteristic of sisters, creating a necessity for
mortgages, but had quite thrown herself away in marriage, and had
crowned her mistakes by having an eighth baby. On this point Mr.
Tulliver was conscious of being a little weak; but he apologized to
himself by saying that poor Gritty had been a good-looking wench
before she married Moss; he would sometimes say this even with a
slight tremulousness in his voice. But this morning he was in a mood
more becoming a man of business, and in the course of his ride along
the Basset lanes, with their deep ruts,--lying so far away from a
market-town that the labor of drawing produce and manure was enough to
take away the best part of the profits on such poor land as that
parish was made of,--he got up a due amount of irritation against Moss
as a man without capital, who, if murrain and blight were abroad, was
sure to have his share of them, and who, the more you tried to help
him out of the mud, would sink the further in. It would do him good
rather than harm, now, if he were obliged to raise this three hundred
pounds; it would make him look about him better, and not act so
foolishly about his wool this year as he did the last; in fact, Mr.
Tulliver had been too easy with his brother-in-law, and because he had
let the interest run on for two years, Moss was likely enough to think
that he should never be troubled about the principal. But Mr. Tulliver
was determined not to encourage such shuffling people any longer; and
a ride along the Basset lanes was not likely to enervate a man's
resolution by softening his temper. The deep-trodden hoof-marks, made
in the muddiest days of winter, gave him a shake now and then which
suggested a rash but stimulating snarl at the father of lawyers, who,
whether by means of his hoof or otherwise, had doubtless something to
do with this state of the roads; and the abundance of foul land and
neglected fences that met his eye, though they made no part of his
brother Moss's farm, strongly contributed to his dissatisfaction with
that unlucky agriculturist. If this wasn't Moss's fallow, it might
have been; Basset was all alike; it was a beggarly parish, in Mr.
Tulliver's opinion, and his opinion was certainly not groundless.
Basset had a poor soil, poor roads, a poor non-resident landlord, a
poor non-resident vicar, and rather less than half a curate, also
poor. If any one strongly impressed with the power of the human mind
to triumph over circumstances will contend that the parishioners of
Basset might nevertheless have been a very superior class of people, I
have nothing to urge against that abstract proposition; I only know
that, in point of fact, the Basset mind was in strict keeping with its
circumstances. The muddy lanes, green or clayey, that seemed to the
unaccustomed eye to lead nowhere but into each other, did really lead,
with patience, to a distant high-road; but there were many feet in
Basset which they led more frequently to a centre of dissipation,
spoken of formerly as the "Markis o' Granby," but among intimates as
"Dickison's." A large low room with a sanded floor; a cold scent of
tobacco, modified by undetected beer-dregs; Mr. Dickison leaning
against the door-post with a melancholy pimpled face, looking as
irrelevant to the daylight as a last night's guttered candle,--all
this may not seem a very seductive form of temptation; but the
majority of men in Basset found it fatally alluring when encountered
on their road toward four o'clock on a wintry afternoon; and if any
wife in Basset wished to indicate that her husband was not a
pleasure-seeking man, she could hardly do it more emphatically than by
saying that he didn't spend a shilling at Dickison's from one
Whitsuntide to another. Mrs. Moss had said so of "her" husband more
than once, when her brother was in a mood to find fault with him, as
he certainly was to-day. And nothing could be less pacifying to Mr.
Tulliver than the behavior of the farmyard gate, which he no sooner
attempted to push open with his riding-stick than it acted as gates
without the upper hinge are known to do, to the peril of shins,
whether equine or human. He was about to get down and lead his horse
through the damp dirt of the hollow farmyard, shadowed drearily by the
large half-timbered buildings, up to the long line of tumble-down
dwelling-houses standing on a raised causeway; but the timely
appearance of a cowboy saved him that frustration of a plan he had
determined on,--namely, not to get down from his horse during this
visit. If a man means to be hard, let him keep in his saddle and speak
from that height, above the level of pleading eyes, and with the
command of a distant horizon. Mrs. Moss heard the sound of the horse's
feet, and, when her brother rode up, was already outside the kitchen
door, with a half-weary smile on her face, and a black-eyed baby in
her arms. Mrs. Moss's face bore a faded resemblance to her brother's;
baby's little fat hand, pressed against her cheek, seemed to show more
strikingly that the cheek was faded.
"Brother, I'm glad to see you," she said, in an affectionate tone. "I
didn't look for you to-day. How do you do?"
"Oh, pretty well, Mrs. Moss, pretty well," answered the brother, with
cool deliberation, as if it were rather too forward of her to ask that
question. She knew at once that her brother was not in a good humor;
he never called her Mrs. Moss except when he was angry, and when they
were in company. But she thought it was in the order of nature that
people who were poorly off should be snubbed. Mrs. Moss did not take
her stand on the equality of the human race; she was a patient,
prolific, loving-hearted woman.
"Your husband isn't in the house, I suppose?" added Mr. Tulliver after
a grave pause, during which four children had run out, like chickens
whose mother has been suddenly in eclipse behind the hen-coop.
"No," said Mrs. Moss, "but he's only in the potato-field yonders.
Georgy, run to the Far Close in a minute, and tell father your uncle's
come. You'll get down, brother, won't you, and take something?"
"No, no; I can't get down. I must be going home again directly," said
Mr. Tulliver, looking at the distance.
"And how's Mrs. Tulliver and the children?" said Mrs. Moss, humbly,
not daring to press her invitation.
"Oh, pretty well. Tom's going to a new school at Midsummer,--a deal of
expense to me. It's bad work for me, lying out o' my money."
"I wish you'd be so good as let the children come and see their
cousins some day. My little uns want to see their cousin Maggie so as
never was. And me her godmother, and so fond of her; there's nobody
'ud make a bigger fuss with her, according to what they've got. And I
know she likes to come, for she's a loving child, and how quick and
clever she is, to be sure!"
If Mrs. Moss had been one of the most astute women in the world,
instead of being one of the simplest, she could have thought of
nothing more likely to propitiate her brother than this praise of
Maggie. He seldom found any one volunteering praise of "the little
wench"; it was usually left entirely to himself to insist on her
merits. But Maggie always appeared in the most amiable light at her
aunt Moss's; it was her Alsatia, where she was out of the reach of
law,--if she upset anything, dirtied her shoes, or tore her frock,
these things were matters of course at her aunt Moss's. In spite of
himself, Mr. Tulliver's eyes got milder, and he did not look away from
his sister as he said,--
"Ay; she's fonder o' you than o' the other aunts, I think. She takes
after our family: not a bit of her mother's in her."
"Moss says she's just like what I used to be," said Mrs. Moss, "though
I was never so quick and fond o' the books. But I think my Lizzy's
like her; "she's" sharp. Come here, Lizzy, my dear, and let your uncle
see you; he hardly knows you, you grow so fast."
Lizzy, a black-eyed child of seven, looked very shy when her mother
drew her forward, for the small Mosses were much in awe of their uncle
from Dorlcote Mill. She was inferior enough to Maggie in fire and
strength of expression to make the resemblance between the two
entirely flattering to Mr. Tulliver's fatherly love.
"Ay, they're a bit alike," he said, looking kindly at the little
figure in the soiled pinafore. "They both take after our mother.
You've got enough o' gells, Gritty," he added, in a tone half
compassionate, half reproachful.
"Four of 'em, bless 'em!" said Mrs. Moss, with a sigh, stroking
Lizzy's hair on each side of her forehead; "as many as there's boys.
They've got a brother apiece."
"Ah, but they must turn out and fend for themselves," said Mr.
Tulliver, feeling that his severity was relaxing and trying to brace
it by throwing out a wholesome hint "They mustn't look to hanging on
"No; but I hope their brothers 'ull love the poor things, and remember
they came o' one father and mother; the lads 'ull never be the poorer
for that," said Mrs. Moss, flashing out with hurried timidity, like a
Mr. Tulliver gave his horse a little stroke on the flank, then checked
it, and said angrily, "Stand still with you!" much to the astonishment
of that innocent animal.
"And the more there is of 'em, the more they must love one another,"
Mrs. Moss went on, looking at her children with a didactic purpose.
But she turned toward her brother again to say, "Not but what I hope
your boy 'ull allays be good to his sister, though there's but two of
'em, like you and me, brother."
The arrow went straight to Mr. Tulliver's heart. He had not a rapid
imagination, but the thought of Maggie was very near to him, and he
was not long in seeing his relation to his own sister side by side
with Tom's relation to Maggie. Would the little wench ever be poorly
off, and Tom rather hard upon her?
"Ay, ay, Gritty," said the miller, with a new softness in his tone;
"but I've allays done what I could for you," he added, as if
vindicating himself from a reproach.
"I'm not denying that, brother, and I'm noways ungrateful," said poor
Mrs. Moss, too fagged by toil and children to have strength left for
any pride. "But here's the father. What a while you've been, Moss!"
"While, do you call it?" said Mr. Moss, feeling out of breath and
injured. "I've been running all the way. Won't you 'light, Mr.
"Well, I'll just get down and have a bit o' talk with you in the
garden," said Mr. Tulliver, thinking that he should be more likely to
show a due spirit of resolve if his sister were not present.
He got down, and passed with Mr. Moss into the garden, toward an old
yew-tree arbor, while his sister stood tapping her baby on the back
and looking wistfully after them.
Their entrance into the yew-tree arbor surprised several fowls that
were recreating themselves by scratching deep holes in the dusty
ground, and at once took flight with much pother and cackling. Mr.
Tulliver sat down on the bench, and tapping the ground curiously here
and there with his stick, as if he suspected some hollowness, opened
the conversation by observing, with something like a snarl in his
"Why, you've got wheat again in that Corner Close, I see; and never a
bit o' dressing on it. You'll do no good with it this year."
Mr. Moss, who, when he married Miss Tulliver, had been regarded as the
buck of Basset, now wore a beard nearly a week old, and had the
depressed, unexpectant air of a machine-horse. He answered in a
patient-grumbling tone, "Why, poor farmers like me must do as they
can; they must leave it to them as have got money to play with, to put
half as much into the ground as they mean to get out of it."
"I don't know who should have money to play with, if it isn't them as
can borrow money without paying interest," said Mr. Tulliver, who
wished to get into a slight quarrel; it was the most natural and easy
introduction to calling in money.
"I know I'm behind with the interest," said Mr. Moss, "but I was so
unlucky wi' the wool last year; and what with the Missis being laid up
so, things have gone awk'arder nor usual."
"Ay," snarled Mr. Tulliver, "there's folks as things 'ull allays go
awk'ard with; empty sacks 'ull never stand upright."
"Well, I don't know what fault you've got to find wi' me, Mr.
Tulliver," said Mr. Moss, deprecatingly; "I know there isn't a
day-laborer works harder."
"What's the use o' that," said Mr. Tulliver, sharply, "when a man
marries, and's got no capital to work his farm but his wife's bit o'
fortin? I was against it from the first; but you'd neither of you
listen to me. And I can't lie out o' my money any longer, for I've got
to pay five hundred o' Mrs. Glegg's, and there'll be Tom an expense to
me. I should find myself short, even saying I'd got back all as is my
own. You must look about and see how you can pay me the three hundred
"Well, if that's what you mean," said Mr. Moss, looking blankly before
him, "we'd better be sold up, and ha' done with it; I must part wi'
every head o' stock I've got, to pay you and the landlord too."
Poor relations are undeniably irritating,--their existence is so
entirely uncalled for on our part, and they are almost always very
faulty people. Mr. Tulliver had succeeded in getting quite as much
irritated with Mr. Moss as he had desired, and he was able to say
angrily, rising from his seat,--
"Well, you must do as you can. "I" can't find money for everybody else
as well as myself. I must look to my own business and my own family. I
can't lie out o' my money any longer. You must raise it as quick as
Mr. Tulliver walked abruptly out of the arbor as he uttered the last
sentence, and, without looking round at Mr. Moss, went on to the
kitchen door, where the eldest boy was holding his horse, and his
sister was waiting in a state of wondering alarm, which was not
without its alleviations, for baby was making pleasant gurgling
sounds, and performing a great deal of finger practice on the faded
face. Mrs. Moss had eight children, but could never overcome her
regret that the twins had not lived. Mr. Moss thought their removal
was not without its consolations. "Won't you come in, brother?" she
said, looking anxiously at her husband, who was walking slowly up,
while Mr. Tulliver had his foot already in the stirrup.
"No, no; good-by," said he, turning his horse's head, and riding away.
No man could feel more resolute till he got outside the yard gate, and
a little way along the deep-rutted lane; but before he reached the
next turning, which would take him out of sight of the dilapidated
farm-buildings, he appeared to be smitten by some sudden thought. He
checked his horse, and made it stand still in the same spot for two or
three minutes, during which he turned his head from side to side in a
melancholy way, as if he were looking at some painful object on more
sides than one. Evidently, after his fit of promptitude, Mr. Tulliver
was relapsing into the sense that this is a puzzling world. He turned
his horse, and rode slowly back, giving vent to the climax of feeling
which had determined this movement by saying aloud, as he struck his
horse, "Poor little wench! she'll have nobody but Tom, belike, when
Mr. Tulliver's return into the yard was descried by several young
Mosses, who immediately ran in with the exciting news to their mother,
so that Mrs. Moss was again on the door-step when her brother rode up.
She had been crying, but was rocking baby to sleep in her arms now,
and made no ostentatious show of sorrow as her brother looked at her,
but merely said:
"The father's gone to the field, again, if you want him, brother."
"No, Gritty, no," said Mr. Tulliver, in a gentle tone. "Don't you
fret,--that's all,--I'll make a shift without the money a bit, only
you must be as clever and contriving as you can."
Mrs. Moss's tears came again at this unexpected kindness, and she
could say nothing.
"Come, come!--the little wench shall come and see you. I'll bring her
and Tom some day before he goes to school. You mustn't fret. I'll
allays be a good brother to you."
"Thank you for that word, brother," said Mrs. Moss, drying her tears;
then turning to Lizzy, she said, "Run now, and fetch the colored egg
for cousin Maggie." Lizzy ran in, and quickly reappeared with a small
"It's boiled hard, brother, and colored with thrums, very pretty; it
was done o' purpose for Maggie. Will you please to carry it in your
"Ay, ay," said Mr. Tulliver, putting it carefully in his side pocket.
And so the respectable miller returned along the Basset lanes rather
more puzzled than before as to ways and means, but still with the
sense of a danger escaped. It had come across his mind that if he were
hard upon his sister, it might somehow tend to make Tom hard upon
Maggie at some distant day, when her father was no longer there to
take her part; for simple people, like our friend Mr. Tulliver, are
apt to clothe unimpeachable feelings in erroneous ideas, and this was
his confused way of explaining to himself that his love and anxiety
for "the little wench" had given him a new sensibility toward his
To Garum Firs
While the possible troubles of Maggie's future were occupying her
father's mind, she herself was tasting only the bitterness of the
present. Childhood has no forebodings; but then, it is soothed by no
memories of outlived sorrow.
The fact was, the day had begun ill with Maggie. The pleasure of
having Lucy to look at, and the prospect of the afternoon visit to
Garum Firs, where she would hear uncle Pullet's musical box, had been
marred as early as eleven o'clock by the advent of the hair-dresser
from St. Ogg's, who had spoken in the severest terms of the condition
in which he had found her hair, holding up one jagged lock after
another and saying, "See here! tut, tut, tut!" in a tone of mingled
disgust and pity, which to Maggie's imagination was equivalent to the
strongest expression of public opinion. Mr. Rappit, the hair-dresser,
with his well-anointed coronal locks tending wavily upward, like the
simulated pyramid of flame on a monumental urn, seemed to her at that
moment the most formidable of her contemporaries, into whose street at
St. Ogg's she would carefully refrain from entering through the rest
of her life.
Moreover, the preparation for a visit being always a serious affair in
the Dodson family, Martha was enjoined to have Mrs. Tulliver's room
ready an hour earlier than usual, that the laying out of the best
clothes might not be deferred till the last moment, as was sometimes
the case in families of lax views, where the ribbon-strings were never
rolled up, where there was little or no wrapping in silver paper, and
where the sense that the Sunday clothes could be got at quite easily
produced no shock to the mind. Already, at twelve o'clock, Mrs.
Tulliver had on her visiting costume, with a protective apparatus of
brown holland, as if she had been a piece of satin furniture in danger
of flies; Maggie was frowning and twisting her shoulders, that she
might if possible shrink away from the prickliest of tuckers, while
her mother was remonstrating, "Don't, Maggie, my dear; don't make
yourself so ugly!" and Tom's cheeks were looking particularly
brilliant as a relief to his best blue suit, which he wore with
becoming calmness, having, after a little wrangling, effected what was
always the one point of interest to him in his toilet: he had
transferred all the contents of his every-day pockets to those
actually in wear.
As for Lucy, she was just as pretty and neat as she had been
yesterday; no accidents ever happened to her clothes, and she was
never uncomfortable in them, so that she looked with wondering pity at
Maggie, pouting and writhing under the exasperating tucker. Maggie
would certainly have torn it off, if she had not been checked by the
remembrance of her recent humiliation about her hair; as it was, she
confined herself to fretting and twisting, and behaving peevishly
about the card-houses which they were allowed to build till dinner, as
a suitable amusement for boys and girls in their best clothes. Tom
could build perfect pyramids of houses; but Maggie's would never bear
the laying on the roof. It was always so with the things that Maggie
made; and Tom had deduced the conclusion that no girls could ever make
anything. But it happened that Lucy proved wonderfully clever at
building; she handled the cards so lightly, and moved so gently, that
Tom condescended to admire her houses as well as his own, the more
readily because she had asked him to teach her. Maggie, too, would
have admired Lucy's houses, and would have given up her own
unsuccessful building to contemplate them, without ill temper, if her
tucker had not made her peevish, and if Tom had not inconsiderately
laughed when her houses fell, and told her she was "a stupid."
"Don't laugh at me, Tom!" she burst out angrily; "I'm not a stupid. I
know a great many things you don't."
"Oh, I dare say, Miss Spitfire! I'd never be such a cross thing as
you, making faces like that. Lucy doesn't do so. I like Lucy better
than you; "I" wish Lucy was "my" sister."
"Then it's very wicked and cruel of you to wish so," said Maggie,
starting up hurriedly from her place on the floor, and upsetting Tom's
wonderful pagoda. She really did not mean it, but the circumstantial
evidence was against her, and Tom turned white with anger, but said
nothing; he would have struck her, only he knew it was cowardly to
strike a girl, and Tom Tulliver was quite determined he would never do
Maggie stood in dismay and terror, while Tom got up from the floor and
walked away, pale, from the scattered ruins of his pagoda, and Lucy
looked on mutely, like a kitten pausing from its lapping.
"Oh, Tom," said Maggie, at last, going half-way toward him, "I didn't
mean to knock it down, indeed, indeed I didn't."
Tom took no notice of her, but took, instead, two or three hard peas
out of his pocket, and shot them with his thumbnail against the
window, vaguely at first, but presently with the distinct aim of
hitting a superannuated blue-bottle which was exposing its imbecility
in the spring sunshine, clearly against the views of Nature, who had
provided Tom and the peas for the speedy destruction of this weak
Thus the morning had been made heavy to Maggie, and Tom's persistent
coldness to her all through their walk spoiled the fresh air and
sunshine for her. He called Lucy to look at the half-built bird's nest
without caring to show it Maggie, and peeled a willow switch for Lucy
and himself, without offering one to Maggie. Lucy had said, "Maggie,
shouldn't "you" like one?" but Tom was deaf.
Still, the sight of the peacock opportunely spreading his tail on the
stackyard wall, just as they reached Garum Firs, was enough to divert
the mind temporarily from personal grievances. And this was only the
beginning of beautiful sights at Garum Firs. All the farmyard life was
wonderful there,--bantams, speckled and top-knotted; Friesland hens,
with their feathers all turned the wrong way; Guinea-fowls that flew
and screamed and dropped their pretty spotted feathers; pouter-pigeons
and a tame magpie; nay, a goat, and a wonderful brindled dog, half
mastiff, half bull-dog, as large as a lion. Then there were white
railings and white gates all about, and glittering weathercocks of
various design, and garden-walks paved with pebbles in beautiful
patterns,--nothing was quite common at Garum Firs; and Tom thought
that the unusual size of the toads there was simply due to the general
unusualness which characterized uncle Pullet's possessions as a
gentleman farmer. Toads who paid rent were naturally leaner. As for
the house, it was not less remarkable; it had a receding centre, and
two wings with battlemented turrets, and was covered with glittering
Uncle Pullet had seen the expected party approaching from the window,
and made haste to unbar and unchain the front door, kept always in
this fortified condition from fear of tramps, who might be supposed to
know of the glass case of stuffed birds in the hall, and to
contemplate rushing in and carrying it away on their heads. Aunt
Pullet, too, appeared at the doorway, and as soon as her sister was
within hearing said, "Stop the children, for God's sake! Bessy; don't
let 'em come up the door-steps; Sally's bringing the old mat and the
duster, to rub their shoes."
Mrs. Pullet's front-door mats were by no means intended to wipe shoes
on; the very scraper had a deputy to do its dirty work. Tom rebelled
particularly against this shoewiping, which he always considered in
the light of an indignity to his sex. He felt it as the beginning of
the disagreeables incident to a visit at aunt Pullet's, where he had
once been compelled to sit with towels wrapped round his boots; a fact
which may serve to correct the too-hasty conclusion that a visit to
Garum Firs must have been a great treat to a young gentleman fond of
animals,--fond, that is, of throwing stones at them.
The next disagreeable was confined to his feminine companions; it was
the mounting of the polished oak stairs, which had very handsome
carpets rolled up and laid by in a spare bedroom, so that the ascent
of these glossy steps might have served, in barbarous times, as a
trial by ordeal from which none but the most spotless virtue could
have come off with unbroken limbs. Sophy's weakness about these
polished stairs was always a subject of bitter remonstrance on Mrs.
Glegg's part; but Mrs. Tulliver ventured on no comment, only thinking
to herself it was a mercy when she and the children were safe on the
"Mrs. Gray has sent home my new bonnet, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, in a
pathetic tone, as Mrs. Tulliver adjusted her cap.
"Has she, sister?" said Mrs. Tulliver, with an air of much interest.
"And how do you like it?"
"It's apt to make a mess with clothes, taking 'em out and putting 'em
in again," said Mrs. Pullet, drawing a bunch of keys from her pocket
and looking at them earnestly, "but it 'ud be a pity for you to go
away without seeing it. There's no knowing what may happen."
Mrs. Pullet shook her head slowly at this last serious consideration,
which determined her to single out a particular key.
"I'm afraid it'll be troublesome to you getting it out, sister," said
Mrs. Tulliver; "but I "should" like to see what sort of a crown she's
Mrs. Pullet rose with a melancholy air and unlocked one wing of a very
bright wardrobe, where you may have hastily supposed she would find a
new bonnet. Not at all. Such a supposition could only have arisen from
a too-superficial acquaintance with the habits of the Dodson family.
In this wardrobe Mrs. Pullet was seeking something small enough to be
hidden among layers of linen,--it was a door-key.
"You must come with me into the best room," said Mrs. Pullet.
"May the children come too, sister?" inquired Mrs. Tulliver, who saw
that Maggie and Lucy were looking rather eager.
"Well," said aunt Pullet, reflectively, "it'll perhaps be safer for
'em to come; they'll be touching something if we leave 'em behind."
So they went in procession along the bright and slippery corridor,
dimly lighted by the semi-lunar top of the window which rose above the
closed shutter; it was really quite solemn. Aunt Pullet paused and
unlocked a door which opened on something still more solemn than the
passage,--a darkened room, in which the outer light, entering feebly,
showed what looked like the corpses of furniture in white shrouds.
Everything that was not shrouded stood with its legs upward. Lucy laid
hold of Maggie's frock, and Maggie's heart beat rapidly.
Aunt Pullet half-opened the shutter and then unlocked the wardrobe,
with a melancholy deliberateness which was quite in keeping with the
funereal solemnity of the scene. The delicious scent of rose-leaves
that issued from the wardrobe made the process of taking out sheet
after sheet of silver paper quite pleasant to assist at, though the
sight of the bonnet at last was an anticlimax to Maggie, who would
have preferred something more strikingly preternatural. But few things
could have been more impressive to Mrs. Tulliver. She looked all round
it in silence for some moments, and then said emphatically, "Well,
sister, I'll never speak against the full crowns again!"
It was a great concession, and Mrs. Pullet felt it; she felt something
was due to it.
"You'd like to see it on, sister?" she said sadly. "I'll open the
shutter a bit further."
"Well, if you don't mind taking off your cap, sister," said Mrs.
Mrs. Pullet took off her cap, displaying the brown silk scalp with a
jutting promontory of curls which was common to the more mature and
judicious women of those times, and placing the bonnet on her head,
turned slowly round, like a draper's lay-figure, that Mrs. Tulliver
might miss no point of view.
"I've sometimes thought there's a loop too much o' ribbon on this left
side, sister; what do you think?" said Mrs. Pullet.
Mrs. Tulliver looked earnestly at the point indicated, and turned her
head on one side. "Well, I think it's best as it is; if you meddled
with it, sister, you might repent."
"That's true," said aunt Pullet, taking off the bonnet and looking at
"How much might she charge you for that bonnet, sister?" said Mrs.
Tulliver, whose mind was actively engaged on the possibility of
getting a humble imitation of this "chef-d'œuvre" made from a piece
of silk she had at home.
Mrs. Pullet screwed up her mouth and shook her head, and then
whispered, "Pullet pays for it; he said I was to have the best bonnet
at Garum Church, let the next best be whose it would."
She began slowly to adjust the trimmings, in preparation for returning
it to its place in the wardrobe, and her thoughts seemed to have taken
a melancholy turn, for she shook her head.
"Ah," she said at last, "I may never wear it twice, sister; who
"Don't talk o' that sister," answered Mrs. Tulliver. "I hope you'll
have your health this summer."
"Ah! but there may come a death in the family, as there did soon after
I had my green satin bonnet. Cousin Abbott may go, and we can't think
o' wearing crape less nor half a year for him."
"That "would" be unlucky," said Mrs. Tulliver, entering thoroughly
into the possibility of an inopportune decease. "There's never so much
pleasure i' wearing a bonnet the second year, especially when the
crowns are so chancy,--never two summers alike."
"Ah, it's the way i' this world," said Mrs. Pullet, returning the
bonnet to the wardrobe and locking it up. She maintained a silence
characterized by head-shaking, until they had all issued from the
solemn chamber and were in her own room again. Then, beginning to cry,
she said, "Sister, if you should never see that bonnet again till I'm
dead and gone, you'll remember I showed it you this day."
Mrs. Tulliver felt that she ought to be affected, but she was a woman
of sparse tears, stout and healthy; she couldn't cry so much as her
sister Pullet did, and had often felt her deficiency at funerals. Her
effort to bring tears into her eyes issued in an odd contraction of
her face. Maggie, looking on attentively, felt that there was some
painful mystery about her aunt's bonnet which she was considered too
young to understand; indignantly conscious, all the while, that she
could have understood that, as well as everything else, if she had
been taken into confidence.
When they went down, uncle Pullet observed, with some acumen, that he
reckoned the missis had been showing her bonnet,--that was what had
made them so long upstairs. With Tom the interval had seemed still
longer, for he had been seated in irksome constraint on the edge of a
sofa directly opposite his uncle Pullet, who regarded him with
twinkling gray eyes, and occasionally addressed him as "Young sir."
"Well, young sir, what do you learn at school?" was a standing
question with uncle Pullet; whereupon Tom always looked sheepish,
rubbed his hands across his face, and answered, "I don't know." It was
altogether so embarrassing to be seated "tête-à-tête" with uncle
Pullet, that Tom could not even look at the prints on the walls, or
the flycages, or the wonderful flower-pots; he saw nothing but his
uncle's gaiters. Not that Tom was in awe of his uncle's mental
superiority; indeed, he had made up his mind that he didn't want to be
a gentleman farmer, because he shouldn't like to be such a
thin-legged, silly fellow as his uncle Pullet,--a molly-coddle, in
fact. A boy's sheepishness is by no means a sign of overmastering
reverence; and while you are making encouraging advances to him under
the idea that he is overwhelmed by a sense of your age and wisdom, ten
to one he is thinking you extremely queer. The only consolation I can
suggest to you is, that the Greek boys probably thought the same of
Aristotle. It is only when you have mastered a restive horse, or
thrashed a drayman, or have got a gun in your hand, that these shy
juniors feel you to be a truly admirable and enviable character. At
least, I am quite sure of Tom Tulliver's sentiments on these points.
In very tender years, when he still wore a lace border under his
outdoor cap, he was often observed peeping through the bars of a gate
and making minatory gestures with his small forefinger while he
scolded the sheep with an inarticulate burr, intended to strike terror
into their astonished minds; indicating thus early that desire for
mastery over the inferior animals, wild and domestic, including
cockchafers, neighbors' dogs, and small sisters, which in all ages has
been an attribute of so much promise for the fortunes of our race.
Now, Mr. Pullet never rode anything taller than a low pony, and was
the least predatory of men, considering firearms dangerous, as apt to
go off of themselves by nobody's particular desire. So that Tom was
not without strong reasons when, in confidential talk with a chum, he
had described uncle Pullet as a nincompoop, taking care at the same
time to observe that he was a very "rich fellow."
The only alleviating circumstance in a "tête-à-tête" with uncle Pullet
was that he kept a variety of lozenges and peppermint-drops about his
person, and when at a loss for conversation, he filled up the void by
proposing a mutual solace of this kind.
"Do you like peppermints, young sir?" required only a tacit answer
when it was accompanied by a presentation of the article in question.
The appearance of the little girls suggested to uncle Pullet the
further solace of small sweet-cakes, of which he also kept a stock
under lock and key for his own private eating on wet days; but the
three children had no sooner got the tempting delicacy between their
fingers, than aunt Pullet desired them to abstain from eating it till
the tray and the plates came, since with those crisp cakes they would
make the floor "all over" crumbs. Lucy didn't mind that much, for the
cake was so pretty, she thought it was rather a pity to eat it; but
Tom, watching his opportunity while the elders were talking, hastily
stowed it in his mouth at two bites, and chewed it furtively. As for
Maggie, becoming fascinated, as usual, by a print of Ulysses and
Nausicaa, which uncle Pullet had bought as a "pretty Scripture thing,"
she presently let fall her cake, and in an unlucky movement crushed it
beneath her foot,--a source of so much agitation to aunt Pullet and
conscious disgrace to Maggie, that she began to despair of hearing the
musical snuff-box to-day, till, after some reflection, it occurred to
her that Lucy was in high favor enough to venture on asking for a
tune. So she whispered to Lucy; and Lucy, who always did what she was
desired to do, went up quietly to her uncle's knee, and blush-all over
her neck while she fingered her necklace, said, "Will you please play
us a tune, uncle?"
Lucy thought it was by reason of some exceptional talent in uncle
Pullet that the snuff-box played such beautiful tunes, and indeed the
thing was viewed in that light by the majority of his neighbors in
Garum. Mr. Pullet had "bought" the box, to begin with, and he
understood winding it up, and knew which tune it was going to play
beforehand; altogether the possession of this unique "piece of music"
was a proof that Mr. Pullet's character was not of that entire nullity
which might otherwise have been attributed to it. But uncle Pullet,
when entreated to exhibit his accomplishment, never depreciated it by
a too-ready consent. "We'll see about it," was the answer he always
gave, carefully abstaining from any sign of compliance till a suitable
number of minutes had passed. Uncle Pullet had a programme for all
great social occasions, and in this way fenced himself in from much
painful confusion and perplexing freedom of will.
Perhaps the suspense did heighten Maggie's enjoyment when the fairy
tune began; for the first time she quite forgot that she had a load on
her mind, that Tom was angry with her; and by the time "Hush, ye
pretty warbling choir," had been played, her face wore that bright
look of happiness, while she sat immovable with her hands clasped,
which sometimes comforted her mother with the sense that Maggie could
look pretty now and then, in spite of her brown skin. But when the
magic music ceased, she jumped up, and running toward Tom, put her arm
round his neck and said, "Oh, Tom, isn't it pretty?"
Lest you should think it showed a revolting insensibility in Tom that
he felt any new anger toward Maggie for this uncalled-for and, to him,
inexplicable caress, I must tell you that he had his glass of cowslip
wine in his hand, and that she jerked him so as to make him spill half
of it. He must have been an extreme milksop not to say angrily, "Look
there, now!" especially when his resentment was sanctioned, as it was,
by general disapprobation of Maggie's behavior.
"Why don't you sit still, Maggie?" her mother said peevishly.
"Little gells mustn't come to see me if they behave in that way," said
"Why, you're too rough, little miss," said uncle Pullet.
Poor Maggie sat down again, with the music all chased out of her soul,
and the seven small demons all in again.
Mrs. Tulliver, foreseeing nothing but misbehavior while the children
remained indoors, took an early opportunity of suggesting that, now
they were rested after their walk, they might go and play out of
doors; and aunt Pullet gave permission, only enjoining them not to go
off the paved walks in the garden, and if they wanted to see the
poultry fed, to view them from a distance on the horse-block; a
restriction which had been imposed ever since Tom had been found
guilty of running after the peacock, with an illusory idea that fright
would make one of its feathers drop off.
Mrs. Tulliver's thoughts had been temporarily diverted from the
quarrel with Mrs. Glegg by millinery and maternal cares, but now the
great theme of the bonnet was thrown into perspective, and the
children were out of the way, yesterday's anxieties recurred.
"It weighs on my mind so as never was," she said, by way of opening
the subject, "sister Glegg's leaving the house in that way. I'm sure
I'd no wish t' offend a sister."
"Ah," said aunt Pullet, "there's no accounting for what Jane 'ull do.
I wouldn't speak of it out o' the family, if it wasn't to Dr.
Turnbull; but it's my belief Jane lives too low. I've said so to
Pullet often and often, and he knows it."
"Why, you said so last Monday was a week, when we came away from
drinking tea with 'em," said Mr. Pullet, beginning to nurse his knee
and shelter it with his pocket-hand-kerchief, as was his way when the
conversation took an interesting turn.
"Very like I did," said Mrs. Pullet, "for you remember when I said
things, better than I can remember myself. He's got a wonderful
memory, Pullet has," she continued, looking pathetically at her
sister. "I should be poorly off if he was to have a stroke, for he
always remembers when I've got to take my doctor's stuff; and I'm
taking three sorts now."
"There's the 'pills as before' every other night, and the new drops at
eleven and four, and the 'fervescing mixture 'when agreeable,'"
rehearsed Mr. Pullet, with a punctuation determined by a lozenge on
"Ah, perhaps it 'ud be better for sister Glegg if "she'd" go to the
doctor sometimes, instead o' chewing Turkey rhubarb whenever there's
anything the matter with her," said Mrs. Tulliver, who naturally saw
the wide subject of medicine chiefly in relation to Mrs. Glegg.
"It's dreadful to think on," said aunt Pullet, raising her hands and
letting them fall again, "people playing with their own insides in
that way! And it's flying i' the face o' Providence; for what are the
doctors for, if we aren't to call 'em in? And when folks have got the
money to pay for a doctor, it isn't respectable, as I've told Jane
many a time. I'm ashamed of acquaintance knowing it."
"Well, "we've" no call to be ashamed," said Mr. Pullet, "for Doctor
Turnbull hasn't got such another patient as you i' this parish, now
old Mrs. Sutton's gone."
"Pullet keeps all my physic-bottles, did you know, Bessy?" said Mrs.
Pullet. "He won't have one sold. He says it's nothing but right folks
should see 'em when I'm gone. They fill two o' the long store-room
shelves a'ready; but," she added, beginning to cry a little, "it's
well if they ever fill three. I may go before I've made up the dozen
o' these last sizes. The pill-boxes are in the closet in my
room,--you'll remember that, sister,--but there's nothing to show for
the boluses, if it isn't the bills."
"Don't talk o' your going, sister," said Mrs. Tulliver; "I should have
nobody to stand between me and sister Glegg if you was gone. And
there's nobody but you can get her to make it up with Mr. Tulliver,
for sister Deane's never o' my side, and if she was, it's not to be
looked for as she can speak like them as have got an independent
"Well, your husband "is" awk'ard, you know, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet,
good-naturedly ready to use her deep depression on her sister's
account as well as her own. "He's never behaved quite so pretty to our
family as he should do, and the children take after him,--the boy's
very mischievous, and runs away from his aunts and uncles, and the
gell's rude and brown. It's your bad luck, and I'm sorry for you,
Bessy; for you was allays my favorite sister, and we allays liked the
"I know Tulliver's hasty, and says odd things," said Mrs. Tulliver,
wiping away one small tear from the corner of her eye; "but I'm sure
he's never been the man, since he married me, to object to my making
the friends o' my side o' the family welcome to the house."
""I" don't want to make the worst of you, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet,
compassionately, "for I doubt you'll have trouble enough without that;
and your husband's got that poor sister and her children hanging on
him,--and so given to lawing, they say. I doubt he'll leave you poorly
off when he dies. Not as I'd have it said out o' the family."
This view of her position was naturally far from cheering to Mrs.
Tulliver. Her imagination was not easily acted on, but she could not
help thinking that her case was a hard one, since it appeared that
other people thought it hard.
"I'm sure, sister, I can't help myself," she said, urged by the fear
lest her anticipated misfortunes might be held retributive, to take
comprehensive review of her past conduct. "There's no woman strives
more for her children; and I'm sure at scouring-time this Lady-day as
I've had all the bedhangings taken down I did as much as the two gells
put together; and there's the last elder-flower wine I've
made--beautiful! I allays offer it along with the sherry, though
sister Glegg will have it I'm so extravagant; and as for liking to
have my clothes tidy, and not go a fright about the house, there's
nobody in the parish can say anything against me in respect o'
backbiting and making mischief, for I don't wish anybody any harm; and
nobody loses by sending me a porkpie, for my pies are fit to show with
the best o' my neighbors'; and the linen's so in order as if I was to
die to-morrow I shouldn't be ashamed. A woman can do no more nor she
"But it's all o' no use, you know, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, holding
her head on one side, and fixing her eyes pathetically on her sister,
"if your husband makes away with his money. Not but what if you was
sold up, and other folks bought your furniture, it's a comfort to
think as you've kept it well rubbed. And there's the linen, with your
maiden mark on, might go all over the country. It 'ud be a sad pity
for our family." Mrs. Pullet shook her head slowly.
"But what can I do, sister?" said Mrs. Tulliver. "Mr. Tulliver's not a
man to be dictated to,--not if I was to go to the parson and get by
heart what I should tell my husband for the best. And I'm sure I don't
pretend to know anything about putting out money and all that. I could
never see into men's business as sister Glegg does."
"Well, you're like me in that, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet; "and I think
it 'ud be a deal more becoming o' Jane if she'd have that pier-glass
rubbed oftener,--there was ever so many spots on it last
week,--instead o' dictating to folks as have more comings in than she
ever had, and telling 'em what they're to do with their money. But
Jane and me were allays contrairy; she "would" have striped things,
and I like spots. You like a spot too, Bessy; we allays hung together
"Yes, Sophy," said Mrs. Tulliver, "I remember our having a blue ground
with a white spot both alike,--I've got a bit in a bed-quilt now; and
if you would but go and see sister Glegg, and persuade her to make it
up with Tulliver, I should take it very kind of you. You was allays a
good sister to me."
"But the right thing 'ud be for Tulliver to go and make it up with her
himself, and say he was sorry for speaking so rash. If he's borrowed
money of her, he shouldn't be above that," said Mrs. Pullet, whose
partiality did not blind her to principles; she did not forget what
was due to people of independent fortune.
"It's no use talking o' that," said poor Mrs. Tulliver, almost
peevishly. "If I was to go down on my bare knees on the gravel to
Tulliver, he'd never humble himself."
"Well, you can't expect me to persuade "Jane" to beg pardon," said
Mrs. Pullet. "Her temper's beyond everything; it's well if it doesn't
carry her off her mind, though there never "was" any of our family
went to a madhouse."
"I'm not thinking of her begging pardon," said Mrs. Tulliver. "But if
she'd just take no notice, and not call her money in; as it's not so
much for one sister to ask of another; time 'ud mend things, and
Tulliver 'ud forget all about it, and they'd be friends again."
Mrs. Tulliver, you perceive, was not aware of her husband's
irrevocable determination to pay in the five hundred pounds; at least
such a determination exceeded her powers of belief.
"Well, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, mournfully, ""I" don't want to help
you on to ruin. I won't be behindhand i' doing you a good turn, if it
is to be done. And I don't like it said among acquaintance as we've
got quarrels in the family. I shall tell Jane that; and I don't mind
driving to Jane's tomorrow, if Pullet doesn't mind. What do you say,
"I've no objections," said Mr. Pullet, who was perfectly contented
with any course the quarrel might take, so that Mr. Tulliver did not
apply to "him" for money. Mr. Pullet was nervous about his
investments, and did not see how a man could have any security for his
money unless he turned it into land.
After a little further discussion as to whether it would not be better
for Mrs. Tulliver to accompany them on a visit to sister Glegg, Mrs.
Pullet, observing that it was tea-time, turned to reach from a drawer
a delicate damask napkin, which she pinned before her in the fashion
of an apron. The door did, in fact, soon open, but instead of the
tea-tray, Sally introduced an object so startling that both Mrs.
Pullet and Mrs. Tulliver gave a scream, causing uncle Pullet to
swallow his lozenge--for the fifth time in his life, as he afterward
Maggie Behaves Worse Than She Expected
The startling object which thus made an epoch for uncle Pullet was no
other than little Lucy, with one side of her person, from her small
foot to her bonnet-crown, wet and discolored with mud, holding out two
tiny blackened hands, and making a very piteous face. To account for
this unprecedented apparition in aunt Pullet's parlor, we must return
to the moment when the three children went to play out of doors, and
the small demons who had taken possession of Maggie's soul at an early
period of the day had returned in all the greater force after a
temporary absence. All the disagreeable recollections of the morning
were thick upon her, when Tom, whose displeasure toward her had been
considerably refreshed by her foolish trick of causing him to upset
his cowslip wine, said, "Here, Lucy, you come along with me," and
walked off to the area where the toads were, as if there were no
Maggie in existence. Seeing this, Maggie lingered at a distance
looking like a small Medusa with her snakes cropped. Lucy was
naturally pleased that cousin Tom was so good to her, and it was very
amusing to see him tickling a fat toad with a piece of string when the
toad was safe down the area, with an iron grating over him. Still Lucy
wished Maggie to enjoy the spectacle also, especially as she would
doubtless find a name for the toad, and say what had been his past
history; for Lucy had a delighted semibelief in Maggie's stories about
the live things they came upon by accident,--how Mrs. Earwig had a
wash at home, and one of her children had fallen into the hot copper,
for which reason she was running so fast to fetch the doctor. Tom had
a profound contempt for this nonsense of Maggie's, smashing the earwig
at once as a superfluous yet easy means of proving the entire
unreality of such a story; but Lucy, for the life of her, could not
help fancying there was something in it, and at all events thought it
was very pretty make-believe. So now the desire to know the history of
a very portly toad, added to her habitual affectionateness, made her
run back to Maggie and say, "Oh, there is such a big, funny toad,
Maggie! Do come and see!"
Maggie said nothing, but turned away from her with a deeper frown. As
long as Tom seemed to prefer Lucy to her, Lucy made part of his
unkindness. Maggie would have thought a little while ago that she
could never be cross with pretty little Lucy, any more than she could
be cruel to a little white mouse; but then, Tom had always been quite
indifferent to Lucy before, and it had been left to Maggie to pet and
make much of her. As it was, she was actually beginning to think that
she should like to make Lucy cry by slapping or pinching her,
especially as it might vex Tom, whom it was of no use to slap, even if
she dared, because he didn't mind it. And if Lucy hadn't been there,
Maggie was sure he would have got friends with her sooner.
Tickling a fat toad who is not highly sensitive is an amusement that
it is possible to exhaust, and Tom by and by began to look round for
some other mode of passing the time. But in so prim a garden, where
they were not to go off the paved walks, there was not a great choice
of sport. The only great pleasure such a restriction suggested was the
pleasure of breaking it, and Tom began to meditate an insurrectionary
visit to the pond, about a field's length beyond the garden.
"I say, Lucy," he began, nodding his head up and down with great
significance, as he coiled up his string again, "what do you think I
mean to do?"
"What, Tom?" said Lucy, with curiosity.
"I mean to go to the pond and look at the pike. You may go with me if
you like," said the young sultan.
"Oh, Tom, "dare" you?" said Lucy. "Aunt said we mustn't go out of the
"Oh, I shall go out at the other end of the garden," said Tom. "Nobody
'ull see us. Besides, I don't care if they do,--I'll run off home."
"But "I" couldn't run," said Lucy, who had never before been exposed
to such severe temptation.
"Oh, never mind; they won't be cross with "you"," said Tom. "You say I
Tom walked along, and Lucy trotted by his side, timidly enjoying the
rare treat of doing something naughty,--excited also by the mention of
that celebrity, the pike, about which she was quite uncertain whether
it was a fish or a fowl.
Maggie saw them leaving the garden, and could not resist the impulse
to follow. Anger and jealousy can no more bear to lose sight of their
objects than love, and that Tom and Lucy should do or see anything of
which she was ignorant would have been an intolerable idea to Maggie.
So she kept a few yards behind them, unobserved by Tom, who was
presently absorbed in watching for the pike,--a highly interesting
monster; he was said to be so very old, so very large, and to have
such a remarkable appetite. The pike, like other celebrities, did not
show when he was watched for, but Tom caught sight of something in
rapid movement in the water, which attracted him to another spot on
the brink of the pond.
"Here, Lucy!" he said in a loud whisper, "come here! take care! keep
on the grass!--don't step where the cows have been!" he added,
pointing to a peninsula of dry grass, with trodden mud on each side of
it; for Tom's contemptuous conception of a girl included the attribute
of being unfit to walk in dirty places.
Lucy came carefully as she was bidden, and bent down to look at what
seemed a golden arrow-head darting through the water. It was a
water-snake, Tom told her; and Lucy at last could see the serpentine
wave of its body, very much wondering that a snake could swim. Maggie
had drawn nearer and nearer; she "must" see it too, though it was
bitter to her, like everything else, since Tom did not care about her
seeing it. At last she was close by Lucy; and Tom, who had been aware
of her approach, but would not notice it till he was obliged, turned
round and said,--
"Now, get away, Maggie; there's no room for you on the grass here.
Nobody asked "you" to come."
There were passions at war in Maggie at that moment to have made a
tragedy, if tragedies were made by passion only; but the essential
[Greek text] which was present in the passion was wanting to the action;
the utmost Maggie could do, with a fierce thrust of her small brown arm,
was to push poor little pink-and-white Lucy into the cow-trodden mud.
Then Tom could not restrain himself, and gave Maggie two smart slaps
on the arm as he ran to pick up Lucy, who lay crying helplessly.
Maggie retreated to the roots of a tree a few yards off, and looked on
impenitently. Usually her repentance came quickly after one rash deed,
but now Tom and Lucy had made her so miserable, she was glad to spoil
their happiness,--glad to make everybody uncomfortable. Why should she
be sorry? Tom was very slow to forgive "her", however sorry she might
"I shall tell mother, you know, Miss Mag," said Tom, loudly and
emphatically, as soon as Lucy was up and ready to walk away. It was
not Tom's practice to "tell," but here justice clearly demanded that
Maggie should be visited with the utmost punishment; not that Tom had
learned to put his views in that abstract form; he never mentioned
"justice," and had no idea that his desire to punish might be called
by that fine name. Lucy was too entirely absorbed by the evil that had
befallen her,--the spoiling of her pretty best clothes, and the
discomfort of being wet and dirty,--to think much of the cause, which
was entirely mysterious to her. She could never have guessed what she
had done to make Maggie angry with her; but she felt that Maggie was
very unkind and disagreeable, and made no magnanimous entreaties to
Tom that he would not "tell," only running along by his side and
crying piteously, while Maggie sat on the roots of the tree and looked
after them with her small Medusa face.
"Sally," said Tom, when they reached the kitchen door, and Sally
looked at them in speechless amaze, with a piece of bread-and-butter
in her mouth and a toasting-fork in her hand,--"Sally, tell mother it
was Maggie pushed Lucy into the mud."
"But Lors ha' massy, how did you get near such mud as that?" said
Sally, making a wry face, as she stooped down and examined the "corpus
Tom's imagination had not been rapid and capacious enough to include
this question among the foreseen consequences, but it was no sooner
put than he foresaw whither it tended, and that Maggie would not be
considered the only culprit in the case. He walked quietly away from
the kitchen door, leaving Sally to that pleasure of guessing which
active minds notoriously prefer to ready-made knowledge.
Sally, as you are aware, lost no time in presenting Lucy at the parlor
door, for to have so dirty an object introduced into the house at
Garum Firs was too great a weight to be sustained by a single mind.
"Goodness gracious!" aunt Pullet exclaimed, after preluding by an
inarticulate scream; "keep her at the door, Sally! Don't bring her off
the oil-cloth, whatever you do."
"Why, she's tumbled into some nasty mud," said Mrs. Tulliver, going up
to Lucy to examine into the amount of damage to clothes for which she
felt herself responsible to her sister Deane.
"If you please, 'um, it was Miss Maggie as pushed her in," said Sally;
"Master Tom's been and said so, and they must ha' been to the pond,
for it's only there they could ha' got into such dirt."
"There it is, Bessy; it's what I've been telling you," said Mrs.
Pullet, in a tone of prophetic sadness; "it's your children,--there's
no knowing what they'll come to."
Mrs. Tulliver was mute, feeling herself a truly wretched mother. As
usual, the thought pressed upon her that people would think she had
done something wicked to deserve her maternal troubles, while Mrs.
Pullet began to give elaborate directions to Sally how to guard the
premises from serious injury in the course of removing the dirt.
Meantime tea was to be brought in by the cook, and the two naughty
children were to have theirs in an ignominious manner in the kitchen.
Mrs. Tulliver went out to speak to these naughty children, supposing
them to be close at hand; but it was not until after some search that
she found Tom leaning with rather a hardened, careless air against the
white paling of the poultry-yard, and lowering his piece of string on
the other side as a means of exasperating the turkey-cock.
"Tom, you naughty boy, where's your sister?" said Mrs. Tulliver, in a
"I don't know," said Tom; his eagerness for justice on Maggie had
diminished since he had seen clearly that it could hardly be brought
about without the injustice of some blame on his own conduct.
"Why, where did you leave her?" said the mother, looking round.
"Sitting under the tree, against the pond," said Tom, apparently
indifferent to everything but the string and the turkey-cock.
"Then go and fetch her in this minute, you naughty boy. And how could
you think o' going to the pond, and taking your sister where there was
dirt? You know she'll do mischief if there's mischief to be done."
It was Mrs. Tulliver's way, if she blamed Tom, to refer his
misdemeanor, somehow or other, to Maggie.
The idea of Maggie sitting alone by the pond roused an habitual fear
in Mrs. Tulliver's mind, and she mounted the horse-block to satisfy
herself by a sight of that fatal child, while Tom walked--not very
quickly--on his way toward her.
"They're such children for the water, mine are," she said aloud,
without reflecting that there was no one to hear her; "they'll be
brought in dead and drownded some day. I wish that river was far
But when she not only failed to discern Maggie, but presently saw Tom
returning from the pool alone, this hovering fear entered and took
complete possession of her, and she hurried to meet him.
"Maggie's nowhere about the pond, mother," said Tom; "she's gone
You may conceive the terrified search for Maggie, and the difficulty
of convincing her mother that she was not in the pond. Mrs. Pullet
observed that the child might come to a worse end if she lived, there
was no knowing; and Mr. Pullet, confused and overwhelmed by this
revolutionary aspect of things,--the tea deferred and the poultry
alarmed by the unusual running to and fro,--took up his spud as an
instrument of search, and reached down a key to unlock the goose-pen,
as a likely place for Maggie to lie concealed in.
Tom, after a while, started the idea that Maggie was gone home
(without thinking it necessary to state that it was what he should
have done himself under the circumstances), and the suggestion was
seized as a comfort by his mother.
"Sister, for goodness' sake let 'em put the horse in the carriage and
take me home; we shall perhaps find her on the road. Lucy can't walk
in her dirty clothes," she said, looking at that innocent victim, who
was wrapped up in a shawl, and sitting with naked feet on the sofa.
Aunt Pullet was quite willing to take the shortest means of restoring
her premises to order and quiet, and it was not long before Mrs.
Tulliver was in the chaise, looking anxiously at the most distant
point before her. What the father would say if Maggie was lost, was a
question that predominated over every other.
Maggie Tries to Run away from Her Shadow
Maggie's intentions, as usual, were on a larger scale than Tom
imagined. The resolution that gathered in her mind, after Tom and Lucy
had walked away, was not so simple as that of going home. No! she
would run away and go to the gypsies, and Tom should never see her any
more. That was by no means a new idea to Maggie; she had been so often
told she was like a gypsy, and "half wild," that when she was
miserable it seemed to her the only way of escaping opprobrium, and
being entirely in harmony with circumstances, would be to live in a
little brown tent on the commons; the gypsies, she considered, would
gladly receive her and pay her much respect on account of her superior
knowledge. She had once mentioned her views on this point to Tom and
suggested that he should stain his face brown, and they should run
away together; but Tom rejected the scheme with contempt, observing
that gypsies were thieves, and hardly got anything to eat and had
nothing to drive but a donkey. To-day however, Maggie thought her
misery had reached a pitch at which gypsydom was her refuge, and she
rose from her seat on the roots of the tree with the sense that this
was a great crisis in her life; she would run straight away till she
came to Dunlow Common, where there would certainly be gypsies; and
cruel Tom, and the rest of her relations who found fault with her,
should never see her any more. She thought of her father as she ran
along, but she reconciled herself to the idea of parting with him, by
determining that she would secretly send him a letter by a small
gypsy, who would run away without telling where she was, and just let
him know that she was well and happy, and always loved him very much.
Maggie soon got out of breath with running, but by the time Tom got to
the pond again she was at the distance of three long fields, and was
on the edge of the lane leading to the highroad. She stopped to pant a
little, reflecting that running away was not a pleasant thing until
one had got quite to the common where the gypsies were, but her
resolution had not abated; she presently passed through the gate into
the lane, not knowing where it would lead her, for it was not this way
that they came from Dorlcote Mill to Garum Firs, and she felt all the
safer for that, because there was no chance of her being overtaken.
But she was soon aware, not without trembling, that there were two men
coming along the lane in front of her; she had not thought of meeting
strangers, she had been too much occupied with the idea of her friends
coming after her. The formidable strangers were two shabby-looking men
with flushed faces, one of them carrying a bundle on a stick over his
shoulder; but to her surprise, while she was dreading their
disapprobation as a runaway, the man with the bundle stopped, and in a
half-whining, half-coaxing tone asked her if she had a copper to give
a poor man. Maggie had a sixpence in her pocket,--her uncle Glegg's
present,--which she immediately drew out and gave this poor man with a
polite smile, hoping he would feel very kindly toward her as a
generous person. "That's the only money I've got," she said
apologetically. "Thank you, little miss," said the man, in a less
respectful and grateful tone than Maggie anticipated, and she even
observed that he smiled and winked at his companion. She walked on
hurriedly, but was aware that the two men were standing still,
probably to look after her, and she presently heard them laughing
loudly. Suddenly it occurred to her that they might think she was an
idiot; Tom had said that her cropped hair made her look like an idiot,
and it was too painful an idea to be readily forgotten. Besides, she
had no sleeves on,--only a cape and bonnet. It was clear that she was
not likely to make a favorable impression on passengers, and she
thought she would turn into the fields again, but not on the same side
of the lane as before, lest they should still be uncle Pullet's
fields. She turned through the first gate that was not locked, and
felt a delightful sense of privacy in creeping along by the hedgerows,
after her recent humiliating encounter. She was used to wandering
about the fields by herself, and was less timid there than on the
highroad. Sometimes she had to climb over high gates, but that was a
small evil; she was getting out of reach very fast, and she should
probably soon come within sight of Dunlow Common, or at least of some
other common, for she had heard her father say that you couldn't go
very far without coming to a common. She hoped so, for she was getting
rather tired and hungry, and until she reached the gypsies there was
no definite prospect of bread and butter. It was still broad daylight,
for aunt Pullet, retaining the early habits of the Dodson family, took
tea at half-past four by the sun, and at five by the kitchen clock;
so, though it was nearly an hour since Maggie started, there was no
gathering gloom on the fields to remind her that the night would come.
Still, it seemed to her that she had been walking a very great
distance indeed, and it was really surprising that the common did not
come within sight. Hitherto she had been in the rich parish of Garum,
where was a great deal of pasture-land, and she had only seen one
laborer at a distance. That was fortunate in some respects, as
laborers might be too ignorant to understand the propriety of her
wanting to go to Dunlow Common; yet it would have been better if she
could have met some one who would tell her the way without wanting to
know anything about her private business. At last, however, the green
fields came to an end, and Maggie found herself looking through the
bars of a gate into a lane with a wide margin of grass on each side of
it. She had never seen such a wide lane before, and, without her
knowing why, it gave her the impression that the common could not be
far off; perhaps it was because she saw a donkey with a log to his
foot feeding on the grassy margin, for she had seen a donkey with that
pitiable encumbrance on Dunlow Common when she had been across it in
her father's gig. She crept through the bars of the gate and walked on
with new spirit, though not without haunting images of Apollyon, and a
highwayman with a pistol, and a blinking dwarf in yellow with a mouth
from ear to ear, and other miscellaneous dangers. For poor little
Maggie had at once the timidity of an active imagination and the
daring that comes from overmastering impulse. She had rushed into the
adventure of seeking her unknown kindred, the gypsies; and now she was
in this strange lane, she hardly dared look on one side of her, lest
she should see the diabolical blacksmith in his leathern apron
grinning at her with arms akimbo. It was not without a leaping of the
heart that she caught sight of a small pair of bare legs sticking up,
feet uppermost, by the side of a hillock; they seemed something
hideously preternatural,--a diabolical kind of fungus; for she was too
much agitated at the first glance to see the ragged clothes and the
dark shaggy head attached to them. It was a boy asleep, and Maggie
trotted along faster and more lightly, lest she should wake him; it
did not occur to her that he was one of her friends the gypsies, who
in all probability would have very genial manners. But the fact was
so, for at the next bend in the lane Maggie actually saw the little
semicircular black tent with the blue smoke rising before it, which
was to be her refuge from all the blighting obloquy that had pursued
her in civilized life. She even saw a tall female figure by the column
of smoke, doubtless the gypsy-mother, who provided the tea and other
groceries; it was astonishing to herself that she did not feel more
delighted. But it was startling to find the gypsies in a lane, after
all, and not on a common; indeed, it was rather disappointing; for a
mysterious illimitable common, where there were sand-pits to hide in,
and one was out of everybody's reach, had always made part of Maggie's
picture of gypsy life. She went on, however, and thought with some
comfort that gypsies most likely knew nothing about idiots, so there
was no danger of their falling into the mistake of setting her down at
the first glance as an idiot. It was plain she had attracted
attention; for the tall figure, who proved to be a young woman with a
baby on her arm, walked slowly to meet her. Maggie looked up in the
new face rather tremblingly as it approached, and was reassured by the
thought that her aunt Pullet and the rest were right when they called
her a gypsy; for this face, with the bright dark eyes and the long
hair, was really something like what she used to see in the glass
before she cut her hair off.
"My little lady, where are you going to?" the gypsy said, in a tone of
It was delightful, and just what Maggie expected; the gypsies saw at
once that she was a little lady, and were prepared to treat her
"Not any farther," said Maggie, feeling as if she were saying what she
had rehearsed in a dream. "I'm come to stay with "you", please."
"That's pretty; come, then. Why, what a nice little lady you are, to
be sure!" said the gypsy, taking her by the hand. Maggie thought her
very agreeable, but wished she had not been so dirty.
There was quite a group round the fire when she reached it. An old
gypsy woman was seated on the ground nursing her knees, and
occasionally poking a skewer into the round kettle that sent forth an
odorous steam; two small shock-headed children were lying prone and
resting on their elbows something like small sphinxes; and a placid
donkey was bending his head over a tall girl, who, lying on her back,
was scratching his nose and indulging him with a bite of excellent
stolen hay. The slanting sunlight fell kindly upon them, and the scene
was really very pretty and comfortable, Maggie thought, only she hoped
they would soon set out the tea-cups. Everything would be quite
charming when she had taught the gypsies to use a washing-basin, and
to feel an interest in books. It was a little confusing, though, that
the young woman began to speak to the old one in a language which
Maggie did not understand, while the tall girl, who was feeding the
donkey, sat up and stared at her without offering any salutation. At
last the old woman said,--
"What! my pretty lady, are you come to stay with us? Sit ye down and
tell us where you come from."
It was just like a story; Maggie liked to be called pretty lady and
treated in this way. She sat down and said,--
"I'm come from home because I'm unhappy, and I mean to be a gypsy.
I'll live with you if you like, and I can teach you a great many
"Such a clever little lady," said the woman with the baby sitting down
by Maggie, and allowing baby to crawl; "and such a pretty bonnet and
frock," she added, taking off Maggie's bonnet and looking at it while
she made an observation to the old woman, in the unknown language. The
tall girl snatched the bonnet and put it on her own head hind-foremost
with a grin; but Maggie was determined not to show any weakness on
this subject, as if she were susceptible about her bonnet.
"I don't want to wear a bonnet," she said; "I'd rather wear a red
handkerchief, like yours" (looking at her friend by her side). "My
hair was quite long till yesterday, when I cut it off; but I dare say
it will grow again very soon," she added apologetically, thinking it
probable the gypsies had a strong prejudice in favor of long hair. And
Maggie had forgotten even her hunger at that moment in the desire to
conciliate gypsy opinion.
"Oh, what a nice little lady!--and rich, I'm sure," said the old
woman. "Didn't you live in a beautiful house at home?"
"Yes, my home is pretty, and I'm very fond of the river, where we go
fishing, but I'm often very unhappy. I should have liked to bring my
books with me, but I came away in a hurry, you know. But I can tell
you almost everything there is in my books, I've read them so many
times, and that will amuse you. And I can tell you something about
Geography too,--that's about the world we live in,--very useful and
interesting. Did you ever hear about Columbus?"
Maggie's eyes had begun to sparkle and her cheeks to flush,--she was
really beginning to instruct the gypsies, and gaining great influence
over them. The gypsies themselves were not without amazement at this
talk, though their attention was divided by the contents of Maggie's
pocket, which the friend at her right hand had by this time emptied
without attracting her notice.
"Is that where you live, my little lady?" said the old woman, at the
mention of Columbus.
"Oh, no!" said Maggie, with some pity; "Columbus was a very wonderful
man, who found out half the world, and they put chains on him and
treated him very badly, you know; it's in my Catechism of Geography,
but perhaps it's rather too long to tell before tea--"I want my tea
The last words burst from Maggie, in spite of herself, with a sudden
drop from patronizing instruction to simple peevishness.
"Why, she's hungry, poor little lady," said the younger woman. "Give
her some o' the cold victual. You've been walking a good way, I'll be
bound, my dear. Where's your home?"
"It's Dorlcote Mill, a good way off," said Maggie. "My father is Mr.
Tulliver, but we mustn't let him know where I am, else he'll fetch me
home again. Where does the queen of the gypsies live?"
"What! do you want to go to her, my little lady?" said the younger
woman. The tall girl meanwhile was constantly staring at Maggie and
grinning. Her manners were certainly not agreeable.
"No," said Maggie, "I'm only thinking that if she isn't a very good
queen you might be glad when she died, and you could choose another.
If I was a queen, I'd be a very good queen, and kind to everybody."
"Here's a bit o' nice victual, then," said the old woman, handing to
Maggie a lump of dry bread, which she had taken from a bag of scraps,
and a piece of cold bacon.
"Thank you,' said Maggie, looking at the food without taking it; "but
will you give me some bread-and-butter and tea instead? I don't like
"We've got no tea nor butter," said the old woman, with something like
a scowl, as if she were getting tired of coaxing.
"Oh, a little bread and treacle would do," said Maggie.
"We han't got no treacle," said the old woman, crossly, whereupon
there followed a sharp dialogue between the two women in their unknown
tongue, and one of the small sphinxes snatched at the bread-and-bacon,
and began to eat it. At this moment the tall girl, who had gone a few
yards off, came back, and said something which produced a strong
effect. The old woman, seeming to forget Maggie's hunger, poked the
skewer into the pot with new vigor, and the younger crept under the
tent and reached out some platters and spoons. Maggie trembled a
little, and was afraid the tears would come into her eyes. Meanwhile
the tall girl gave a shrill cry, and presently came running up the boy
whom Maggie had passed as he was sleeping,--a rough urchin about the
age of Tom. He stared at Maggie, and there ensued much incomprehensible
chattering. She felt very lonely, and was quite sure she should begin to
cry before long; the gypsies didn't seem to mind her at all, and she felt
quite weak among them. But the springing tears were checked by new
terror, when two men came up, whose approach had been the cause
of the sudden excitement. The elder of the two carried a bag, which
he flung down, addressing the women in a loud and scolding tone,
which they answered by a shower of treble sauciness; while a black
cur ran barking up to Maggie, and threw her into a tremor that only
found a new cause in the curses with which the younger man called
the dog off, and gave him a rap with a great stick he held in his hand.
Maggie felt that it was impossible she should ever be queen of these
people, or ever communicate to them amusing and useful knowledge.
Both the men now seemed to be inquiring about Maggie, for they looked
at her, and the tone of the conversation became of that pacific kind
which implies curiosity on one side and the power of satisfying it on
the other. At last the younger woman said in her previous deferential,
"This nice little lady's come to live with us; aren't you glad?"
"Ay, very glad," said the younger man, who was looking at Maggie's
silver thimble and other small matters that had been taken from her
pocket. He returned them all except the thimble to the younger woman,
with some observation, and she immediately restored them to Maggie's
pocket, while the men seated themselves, and began to attack the
contents of the kettle,--a stew of meat and potatoes,--which had been
taken off the fire and turned out into a yellow platter.
Maggie began to think that Tom must be right about the gypsies; they
must certainly be thieves, unless the man meant to return her thimble
by and by. She would willingly have given it to him, for she was not
at all attached to her thimble; but the idea that she was among
thieves prevented her from feeling any comfort in the revival of
deference and attention toward her; all thieves, except Robin Hood,
were wicked people. The women saw she was frightened.
"We've got nothing nice for a lady to eat," said the old woman, in her
coaxing tone. "And she's so hungry, sweet little lady."
"Here, my dear, try if you can eat a bit o' this," said the younger
woman, handing some of the stew on a brown dish with an iron spoon to
Maggie, who, remembering that the old woman had seemed angry with her
for not liking the bread-and-bacon, dared not refuse the stew, though
fear had chased away her appetite. If her father would but come by in
the gig and take her up! Or even if Jack the Giantkiller, or Mr.
Greatheart, or St. George who slew the dragon on the half-pennies,
would happen to pass that way! But Maggie thought with a sinking heart
that these heroes were never seen in the neighborhood of St. Ogg's;
nothing very wonderful ever came there.
Maggie Tulliver, you perceive, was by no means that well trained,
well-informed young person that a small female of eight or nine
necessarily is in these days; she had only been to school a year at
St. Ogg's, and had so few books that she sometimes read the
dictionary; so that in travelling over her small mind you would have
found the most unexpected ignorance as well as unexpected knowledge.
She could have informed you that there was such a word as "polygamy,"
and being also acquainted with "polysyllable," she had deduced the
conclusion that "poly" mean "many"; but she had had no idea that
gypsies were not well supplied with groceries, and her thoughts
generally were the oddest mixture of clear-eyed acumen and blind
Her ideas about the gypsies had undergone a rapid modification in the
last five minutes. From having considered them very respectful
companions, amenable to instruction, she had begun to think that they
meant perhaps to kill her as soon as it was dark, and cut up her body
for gradual cooking; the suspicion crossed her that the fierce-eyed
old man was in fact the Devil, who might drop that transparent
disguise at any moment, and turn either into the grinning blacksmith,
or else a fiery-eyed monster with dragon's wings. It was no use trying
to eat the stew, and yet the thing she most dreaded was to offend the
gypsies, by betraying her extremely unfavorable opinion of them; and
she wondered, with a keenness of interest that no theologian could
have exceeded, whether, if the Devil were really present, he would
know her thoughts.
"What! you don't like the smell of it, my dear," said the young woman,
observing that Maggie did not even take a spoonful of the stew. "Try a
"No, thank you," said Maggie, summoning all her force for a desperate
effort, and trying to smile in a friendly way. "I haven't time, I
think; it seems getting darker. I think I must go home now, and come
again another day, and then I can bring you a basket with some
jam-tarts and things."
Maggie rose from her seat as she threw out this illusory prospect,
devoutly hoping that Apollyon was gullible; but her hope sank when the
old gypsy-woman said, "Stop a bit, stop a bit, little lady; we'll take
you home, all safe, when we've done supper; you shall ride home, like
Maggie sat down again, with little faith in this promise, though she
presently saw the tall girl putting a bridle on the donkey, and
throwing a couple of bags on his back.
"Now, then, little missis," said the younger man, rising, and leading
the donkey forward, "tell us where you live; what's the name o' the
"Dorlcote Mill is my home," said Maggie, eagerly. "My father is Mr.
Tulliver; he lives there."
"What! a big mill a little way this side o' St. Ogg's?"
"Yes," said Maggie. "Is it far off? I think I should like to walk
there, if you please."
"No, no, it'll be getting dark, we must make haste. And the donkey'll
carry you as nice as can be; you'll see."
He lifted Maggie as he spoke, and set her on the donkey. She felt
relieved that it was not the old man who seemed to be going with her,
but she had only a trembling hope that she was really going home.
"Here's your pretty bonnet," said the younger woman, putting that
recently despised but now welcome article of costume on Maggie's head;
"and you'll say we've been very good to you, won't you? and what a
nice little lady we said you was."
"Oh yes, thank you," said Maggie, "I'm very much obliged to you. But I
wish you'd go with me too." She thought anything was better than going
with one of the dreadful men alone; it would be more cheerful to be
murdered by a larger party.
"Ah, you're fondest o' "me", aren't you?" said the woman. "But I can't
go; you'll go too fast for me."
It now appeared that the man also was to be seated on the donkey,
holding Maggie before him, and she was as incapable of remonstrating
against this arrangement as the donkey himself, though no nightmare
had ever seemed to her more horrible. When the woman had patted her on
the back, and said "Good-by," the donkey, at a strong hint from the
man's stick, set off at a rapid walk along the lane toward the point
Maggie had come from an hour ago, while the tall girl and the rough
urchin, also furnished with sticks, obligingly escorted them for the
first hundred yards, with much screaming and thwacking.
Not Leonore, in that preternatural midnight excursion with her phantom
lover, was more terrified than poor Maggie in this entirely natural
ride on a short-paced donkey, with a gypsy behind her, who considered
that he was earning half a crown. The red light of the setting sun
seemed to have a portentous meaning, with which the alarming bray of
the second donkey with the log on its foot must surely have some
connection. Two low thatched cottages--the only houses they passed in
this lane--seemed to add to its dreariness; they had no windows to
speak of, and the doors were closed; it was probable that they were
inhabitated by witches, and it was a relief to find that the donkey
did not stop there.
At last--oh, sight of joy!--this lane, the longest in the world, was
coming to an end, was opening on a broad highroad, where there was
actually a coach passing! And there was a finger-post at the
corner,--she had surely seen that finger-post before,--"To St. Ogg's,
2 miles." The gypsy really meant to take her home, then; he was
probably a good man, after all, and might have been rather hurt at the
thought that she didn't like coming with him alone. This idea became
stronger as she felt more and more certain that she knew the road
quite well, and she was considering how she might open a conversation
with the injured gypsy, and not only gratify his feelings but efface
the impression of her cowardice, when, as they reached a cross-road.
Maggie caught sight of some one coming on a white-faced horse.
"Oh, stop, stop!" she cried out. "There's my father! Oh, father,
The sudden joy was almost painful, and before her father reached her,
she was sobbing. Great was Mr. Tulliver's wonder, for he had made a
round from Basset, and had not yet been home.
"Why, what's the meaning o' this?" he said, checking his horse, while
Maggie slipped from the donkey and ran to her father's stirrup.
"The little miss lost herself, I reckon," said the gypsy. "She'd come
to our tent at the far end o' Dunlow Lane, and I was bringing her
where she said her home was. It's a good way to come after being on
the tramp all day."
"Oh yes, father, he's been very good to bring me home," said
Maggie,--"a very kind, good man!"
"Here, then, my man," said Mr. Tulliver, taking out five shillings.
"It's the best day's work "you" ever did. I couldn't afford to lose
the little wench; here, lift her up before me."
"Why, Maggie, how's this, how's this?" he said, as they rode along,
while she laid her head against her father and sobbed. "How came you
to be rambling about and lose yourself?"
"Oh, father," sobbed Maggie, "I ran away because I was so unhappy; Tom
was so angry with me. I couldn't bear it."
"Pooh, pooh," said Mr. Tulliver, soothingly, "you mustn't think o'
running away from father. What 'ud father do without his little
"Oh no, I never will again, father--never."
Mr. Tulliver spoke his mind very strongly when he reached home that
evening; and the effect was seen in the remarkable fact that Maggie
never heard one reproach from her mother, or one taunt from Tom, about
this foolish business of her running away to the gypsies. Maggie was
rather awe-stricken by this unusual treatment, and sometimes thought
that her conduct had been too wicked to be alluded to.
Mr. and Mrs. Glegg at Home
In order to see Mr. and Mrs. Glegg at home, we must enter the town of
St. Ogg's,--that venerable town with the red fluted roofs and the
broad warehouse gables, where the black ships unlade themselves of
their burthens from the far north, and carry away, in exchange, the
precious inland products, the well-crushed cheese and the soft fleeces
which my refined readers have doubtless become acquainted with through
the medium of the best classic pastorals.
It is one of those old, old towns which impress one as a continuation
and outgrowth of nature, as much as the nests of the bower-birds or
the winding galleries of the white ants; a town which carries the
traces of its long growth and history like a millennial tree, and has
sprung up and developed in the same spot between the river and the low
hill from the time when the Roman legions turned their backs on it
from the camp on the hillside, and the long-haired sea-kings came up
the river and looked with fierce, eager eyes at the fatness of the
land. It is a town "familiar with forgotten years." The shadow of the
Saxon hero-king still walks there fitfully, reviewing the scenes of
his youth and love-time, and is met by the gloomier shadow of the
dreadful heathen Dane, who was stabbed in the midst of his warriors by
the sword of an invisible avenger, and who rises on autumn evenings
like a white mist from his tumulus on the hill, and hovers in the
court of the old hall by the river-side, the spot where he was thus
miraculously slain in the days before the old hall was built. It was
the Normans who began to build that fine old hall, which is, like the
town, telling of the thoughts and hands of widely sundered
generations; but it is all so old that we look with loving pardon at
its inconsistencies, and are well content that they who built the
stone oriel, and they who built the Gothic façade and towers of finest
small brickwork with the trefoil ornament, and the windows and
battlements defined with stone, did not sacreligiously pull down the
ancient half-timbered body with its oak-roofed banqueting-hall.
But older even than this old hall is perhaps the bit of wall now built
into the belfry of the parish church, and said to be a remnant of the
original chapel dedicated to St. Ogg, the patron saint of this ancient
town, of whose history I possess several manuscript versions. I
incline to the briefest, since, if it should not be wholly true, it is
at least likely to contain the least falsehood. "Ogg the son of
Beorl," says my private hagiographer, "was a boatman who gained a
scanty living by ferrying passengers across the river Floss. And it
came to pass, one evening when the winds were high, that there sat
moaning by the brink of the river a woman with a child in her arms;
and she was clad in rags, and had a worn and withered look, and she
craved to be rowed across the river. And the men thereabout questioned
her, and said, 'Wherefore dost thou desire to cross the river? Tarry
till the morning, and take shelter here for the night; so shalt thou
be wise and not foolish.' Still she went on to mourn and crave. But
Ogg the son of Beorl came up and said, 'I will ferry thee across; it
is enough that thy heart needs it.' And he ferried her across. And it
came to pass, when she stepped ashore, that her rags were turned into
robes of flowing white, and her face became bright with exceeding
beauty, and there was a glory around it, so that she shed a light on
the water like the moon in its brightness. And she said, 'Ogg, the son
of Beorl, thou art blessed in that thou didst not question and wrangle
with the heart's need, but wast smitten with pity, and didst
straightway relieve the same. And from henceforth whoso steps into thy
boat shall be in no peril from the storm; and whenever it puts forth
to the rescue, it shall save the lives both of men and beasts.' And
when the floods came, many were saved by reason of that blessing on
the boat. But when Ogg the son of Beorl died, behold, in the parting
of his soul, the boat loosed itself from its moorings, and was floated
with the ebbing tide in great swiftness to the ocean, and was seen no
more. Yet it was witnessed in the floods of aftertime, that at the
coming on of eventide, Ogg the son of Beorl was always seen with his
boat upon the wide-spreading waters, and the Blessed Virgin sat in the
prow, shedding a light around as of the moon in its brightness, so
that the rowers in the gathering darkness took heart and pulled anew."
This legend, one sees, reflects from a far-off time the visitation of
the floods, which, even when they left human life untouched, were
widely fatal to the helpless cattle, and swept as sudden death over
all smaller living things. But the town knew worse troubles even than
the floods,--troubles of the civil wars, when it was a continual
fighting-place, where first Puritans thanked God for the blood of the
Loyalists, and then Loyalists thanked God for the blood of the
Puritans. Many honest citizens lost all their possessions for
conscience' sake in those times, and went forth beggared from their
native town. Doubtless there are many houses standing now on which
those honest citizens turned their backs in sorrow,--quaint-gabled
houses looking on the river, jammed between newer warehouses, and
penetrated by surprising passages, which turn and turn at sharp angles
till they lead you out on a muddy strand overflowed continually by the
rushing tide. Everywhere the brick houses have a mellow look, and in
Mrs. Glegg's day there was no incongruous new-fashioned smartness, no
plate-glass in shop-windows, no fresh stucco-facing or other
fallacious attempt to make fine old red St. Ogg's wear the air of a
town that sprang up yesterday. The shop-windows were small and
unpretending; for the farmers' wives and daughters who came to do
their shopping on market-days were not to be withdrawn from their
regular well-known shops; and the tradesmen had no wares intended for
customers who would go on their way and be seen no more. Ah! even Mrs.
Glegg's day seems far back in the past now, separated from us by
changes that widen the years. War and the rumor of war had then died
out from the minds of men, and if they were ever thought of by the
farmers in drab greatcoats, who shook the grain out of their
sample-bags and buzzed over it in the full market-place, it was as a
state of things that belonged to a past golden age when prices were
high. Surely the time was gone forever when the broad river could
bring up unwelcome ships; Russia was only the place where the linseed
came from,--the more the better,--making grist for the great vertical
millstones with their scythe-like arms, roaring and grinding and
carefully sweeping as if an informing soul were in them. The
Catholics, bad harvests, and the mysterious fluctuations of trade were
the three evils mankind had to fear; even the floods had not been
great of late years. The mind of St. Ogg's did not look extensively
before or after. It inherited a long past without thinking of it, and
had no eyes for the spirits that walk the streets. Since the centuries
when St. Ogg with his boat and the Virgin Mother at the prow had been
seen on the wide water, so many memories had been left behind, and had
gradually vanished like the receding hilltops! And the present time
was like the level plain where men lose their belief in volcanoes and
earthquakes, thinking to-morrow will be as yesterday, and the giant
forces that used to shake the earth are forever laid to sleep. The
days were gone when people could be greatly wrought upon by their
faith, still less change it; the Catholics were formidable because
they would lay hold of government and property, and burn men alive;
not because any sane and honest parishioner of St. Ogg's could be
brought to believe in the Pope. One aged person remembered how a rude
multitude had been swayed when John Wesley preached in the
cattle-market; but for a long while it had not been expected of
preachers that they should shake the souls of men. An occasional burst
of fervor in Dissenting pulpits on the subject of infant baptism was
the only symptom of a zeal unsuited to sober times when men had done
with change. Protestantism sat at ease, unmindful of schisms, careless
of proselytism: Dissent was an inheritance along with a superior pew
and a business connection; and Churchmanship only wondered
contemptuously at Dissent as a foolish habit that clung greatly to
families in the grocery and chandlering lines, though not incompatible
with prosperous wholesale dealing. But with the Catholic Question had
come a slight wind of controversy to break the calm: the elderly
rector had become occasionally historical and argumentative; and Mr.
Spray, the Independent minister, had begun to preach political
sermons, in which he distinguished with much subtlety between his
fervent belief in the right of the Catholics to the franchise and his
fervent belief in their eternal perdition. Most of Mr. Spray's
hearers, however, were incapable of following his subtleties, and many
old-fashioned Dissenters were much pained by his "siding with the
Catholics"; while others thought he had better let politics alone.
Public spirit was not held in high esteem at St. Ogg's, and men who
busied themselves with political questions were regarded with some
suspicion, as dangerous characters; they were usually persons who had
little or no business of their own to manage, or, if they had, were
likely enough to become insolvent.
This was the general aspect of things at St. Ogg's in Mrs. Glegg's
day, and at that particular period in her family history when she had
had her quarrel with Mr. Tulliver. It was a time when ignorance was
much more comfortable than at present, and was received with all the
honors in very good society, without being obliged to dress itself in
an elaborate costume of knowledge; a time when cheap periodicals were
not, and when country surgeons never thought of asking their female
patients if they were fond of reading, but simply took it for granted
that they preferred gossip; a time when ladies in rich silk gowns wore
large pockets, in which they carried a mutton-bone to secure them
against cramp. Mrs. Glegg carried such a bone, which she had inherited
from her grandmother with a brocaded gown that would stand up empty,
like a suit of armor, and a silver-headed walking-stick; for the
Dodson family had been respectable for many generations.
Mrs. Glegg had both a front and a back parlor in her excellent house
at St. Ogg's, so that she had two points of view from which she could
observe the weakness of her fellow-beings, and reinforce her
thankfulness for her own exceptional strength of mind. From her front
window she could look down the Tofton Road, leading out of St. Ogg's,
and note the growing tendency to "gadding about" in the wives of men
not retired from business, together with a practice of wearing woven
cotton stockings, which opened a dreary prospect for the coming
generation; and from her back windows she could look down the pleasant
garden and orchard which stretched to the river, and observe the folly
of Mr. Glegg in spending his time among "them flowers and vegetables."
For Mr. Glegg, having retired from active business as a wool-stapler
for the purpose of enjoying himself through the rest of his life, had
found this last occupation so much more severe than his business, that
he had been driven into amateur hard labor as a dissipation, and
habitually relaxed by doing the work of two ordinary gardeners. The
economizing of a gardener's wages might perhaps have induced Mrs.
Glegg to wink at this folly, if it were possible for a healthy female
mind even to simulate respect for a husband's hobby. But it is well
known that this conjugal complacency belongs only to the weaker
portion of the sex, who are scarcely alive to the responsibilities of
a wife as a constituted check on her husband's pleasures, which are
hardly ever of a rational or commendable kind.
Mr. Glegg on his side, too, had a double source of mental occupation,
which gave every promise of being inexhaustible. On the one hand, he
surprised himself by his discoveries in natural history, finding that
his piece of garden-ground contained wonderful caterpillars, slugs,
and insects, which, so far as he had heard, had never before attracted
human observation; and he noticed remarkable coincidences between
these zoological phenomena and the great events of that time,--as, for
example, that before the burning of York Minster there had been
mysterious serpentine marks on the leaves of the rose-trees, together
with an unusual prevalence of slugs, which he had been puzzled to know
the meaning of, until it flashed upon him with this melancholy
conflagration. (Mr. Glegg had an unusual amount of mental activity,
which, when disengaged from the wool business, naturally made itself a
pathway in other directions.) And his second subject of meditation was
the "contrairiness" of the female mind, as typically exhibited in Mrs.
Glegg. That a creature made--in a genealogical sense--out of a man's
rib, and in this particular case maintained in the highest
respectability without any trouble of her own, should be normally in a
state of contradiction to the blandest propositions and even to the
most accommodating concessions, was a mystery in the scheme of things
to which he had often in vain sought a clew in the early chapters of
Genesis. Mr. Glegg had chosen the eldest Miss Dodson as a handsome
embodiment of female prudence and thrift, and being himself of a
money-getting, money-keeping turn, had calculated on much conjugal
harmony. But in that curious compound, the feminine character, it may
easily happen that the flavor is unpleasant in spite of excellent
ingredients; and a fine systematic stinginess may be accompanied with
a seasoning that quite spoils its relish. Now, good Mr. Glegg himself
was stingy in the most amiable manner; his neighbors called him
"near," which always means that the person in question is a lovable
skinflint. If you expressed a preference for cheese-parings, Mr. Glegg
would remember to save them for you, with a good-natured delight in
gratifying your palate, and he was given to pet all animals which
required no appreciable keep. There was no humbug or hypocrisy about
Mr. Glegg; his eyes would have watered with true feeling over the sale
of a widow's furniture, which a five-pound note from his side pocket
would have prevented; but a donation of five pounds to a person "in a
small way of life" would have seemed to him a mad kind of lavishness
rather than "charity," which had always presented itself to him as a
contribution of small aids, not a neutralizing of misfortune. And Mr.
Glegg was just as fond of saving other people's money as his own; he
would have ridden as far round to avoid a turnpike when his expenses
were to be paid for him, as when they were to come out of his own
pocket, and was quite zealous in trying to induce indifferent
acquaintances to adopt a cheap substitute for blacking. This
inalienable habit of saving, as an end in itself, belonged to the
industrious men of business of a former generation, who made their
fortunes slowly, almost as the tracking of the fox belongs to the
harrier,--it constituted them a "race," which is nearly lost in these
days of rapid money-getting, when lavishness comes close on the back
of want. In old-fashioned times an "independence" was hardly ever made
without a little miserliness as a condition, and you would have found
that quality in every provincial district, combined with characters as
various as the fruits from which we can extract acid. The true
Harpagons were always marked and exceptional characters; not so the
worthy tax-payers, who, having once pinched from real necessity,
retained even in the midst of their comfortable retirement, with their
wallfruit and wine-bins, the habit of regarding life as an ingenious
process of nibbling out one's livelihood without leaving any
perceptible deficit, and who would have been as immediately prompted
to give up a newly taxed luxury when they had had their clear five
hundred a year, as when they had only five hundred pounds of capital.
Mr. Glegg was one of these men, found so impracticable by chancellors
of the exchequer; and knowing this, you will be the better able to
understand why he had not swerved from the conviction that he had made
an eligible marriage, in spite of the too-pungent seasoning that
nature had given to the eldest Miss Dodson's virtues. A man with an
affectionate disposition, who finds a wife to concur with his
fundamental idea of life, easily comes to persuade himself that no
other woman would have suited him so well, and does a little daily
snapping and quarrelling without any sense of alienation. Mr. Glegg,
being of a reflective turn, and no longer occupied with wool, had much
wondering meditation on the peculiar constitution of the female mind
as unfolded to him in his domestic life; and yet he thought Mrs.
Glegg's household ways a model for her sex. It struck him as a
pitiable irregularity in other women if they did not roll up their
table-napkins with the same tightness and emphasis as Mrs. Glegg did,
if their pastry had a less leathery consistence, and their damson
cheese a less venerable hardness than hers; nay, even the peculiar
combination of grocery and druglike odors in Mrs. Glegg's private
cupboard impressed him as the only right thing in the way of cupboard
smells. I am not sure that he would not have longed for the
quarrelling again, if it had ceased for an entire week; and it is
certain that an acquiescent, mild wife would have left his meditations
comparatively jejune and barren of mystery.
Mr. Glegg's unmistakable kind-heartedness was shown in this, that it
pained him more to see his wife at variance with others,--even with
Dolly, the servant,--than to be in a state of cavil with her himself;
and the quarrel between her and Mr. Tulliver vexed him so much that it
quite nullified the pleasure he would otherwise have had in the state
of his early cabbages, as he walked in his garden before breakfast the
next morning. Still, he went in to breakfast with some slight hope
that, now Mrs. Glegg had "slept upon it," her anger might be subdued
enough to give way to her usually strong sense of family decorum. She
had been used to boast that there had never been any of those deadly
quarrels among the Dodsons which had disgraced other families; that no
Dodson had ever been "cut off with a shilling," and no cousin of the
Dodsons disowned; as, indeed, why should they be? For they had no
cousins who had not money out at use, or some houses of their own, at
the very least.
There was one evening-cloud which had always disappeared from Mrs.
Glegg's brow when she sat at the breakfast-table. It was her fuzzy
front of curls; for as she occupied herself in household matters in
the morning it would have been a mere extravagance to put on anything
so superfluous to the making of leathery pastry as a fuzzy curled
front. By half-past ten decorum demanded the front; until then Mrs.
Glegg could economize it, and society would never be any the wiser.
But the absence of that cloud only left it more apparent that the
cloud of severity remained; and Mr. Glegg, perceiving this, as he sat
down to his milkporridge, which it was his old frugal habit to stem
his morning hunger with, prudently resolved to leave the first remark
to Mrs. Glegg, lest, to so delicate an article as a lady's temper, the
slightest touch should do mischief. People who seem to enjoy their ill
temper have a way of keeping it in fine condition by inflicting
privations on themselves. That was Mrs. Glegg's way. She made her tea
weaker than usual this morning, and declined butter. It was a hard
case that a vigorous mood for quarrelling, so highly capable of using
an opportunity, should not meet with a single remark from Mr. Glegg on
which to exercise itself. But by and by it appeared that his silence
would answer the purpose, for he heard himself apostrophized at last
in that tone peculiar to the wife of one's bosom.
"Well, Mr. Glegg! it's a poor return I get for making you the wife
I've made you all these years. If this is the way I'm to be treated,
I'd better ha' known it before my poor father died, and then, when I'd
wanted a home, I should ha' gone elsewhere, as the choice was offered
Mr. Glegg paused from his porridge and looked up, not with any new
amazement, but simply with that quiet, habitual wonder with which we
regard constant mysteries.
"Why, Mrs. G., what have I done now?"
"Done now, Mr. Glegg? "done now?"--I'm sorry for you."
Not seeing his way to any pertinent answer, Mr. Glegg reverted to his
"There's husbands in the world," continued Mrs. Glegg, after a pause,
"as 'ud have known how to do something different to siding with
everybody else against their own wives. Perhaps I'm wrong and you can
teach me better. But I've allays heard as it's the husband's place to
stand by the wife, instead o' rejoicing and triumphing when folks
"Now, what call have you to say that?" said Mr. Glegg, rather warmly,
for though a kind man, he was not as meek as Moses. "When did I
rejoice or triumph over you?"
"There's ways o' doing things worse than speaking out plain, Mr.
Glegg. I'd sooner you'd tell me to my face as you make light of me,
than try to make out as everybody's in the right but me, and come to
your breakfast in the morning, as I've hardly slept an hour this
night, and sulk at me as if I was the dirt under your feet."
"Sulk at you?" said Mr. Glegg, in a tone of angry facetiousness.
"You're like a tipsy man as thinks everybody's had too much but
"Don't lower yourself with using coarse language to "me", Mr. Glegg!
It makes you look very small, though you can't see yourself," said
Mrs. Glegg, in a tone of energetic compassion. "A man in your place
should set an example, and talk more sensible."
"Yes; but will you listen to sense?" retorted Mr. Glegg, sharply. "The
best sense I can talk to you is what I said last night,--as you're i'
the wrong to think o' calling in your money, when it's safe enough if
you'd let it alone, all because of a bit of a tiff, and I was in hopes
you'd ha' altered your mind this morning. But if you'd like to call it
in, don't do it in a hurry now, and breed more enmity in the family,
but wait till there's a pretty mortgage to be had without any trouble.
You'd have to set the lawyer to work now to find an investment, and
make no end o' expense."
Mrs. Glegg felt there was really something in this, but she tossed her
head and emitted a guttural interjection to indicate that her silence
was only an armistice, not a peace. And, in fact hostilities soon
broke out again.
"I'll thank you for my cup o' tea, now, Mrs. G.," said Mr. Glegg,
seeing that she did not proceed to give it him as usual, when he had
finished his porridge. She lifted the teapot with a slight toss of the
head, and said,--
"I'm glad to hear you'll "thank" me, Mr. Glegg. It's little thanks "I"
get for what I do for folks i' this world. Though there's never a
woman o' "your" side o' the family, Mr. Glegg, as is fit to stand up
with me, and I'd say it if I was on my dying bed. Not but what I've
allays conducted myself civil to your kin, and there isn't one of 'em
can say the contrary, though my equils they aren't, and nobody shall
make me say it."
"You'd better leave finding fault wi' my kin till you've left off
quarrelling with you own, Mrs. G.," said Mr. Glegg, with angry
sarcasm. "I'll trouble you for the milk-jug."
"That's as false a word as ever you spoke, Mr. Glegg," said the lady,
pouring out the milk with unusual profuseness, as much as to say, if
he wanted milk he should have it with a vengeance. "And you know it's
false. I'm not the woman to quarrel with my own kin; "you" may, for
I've known you to do it."
"Why, what did you call it yesterday, then, leaving your sister's
house in a tantrum?"
"I'd no quarrel wi' my sister, Mr. Glegg, and it's false to say it.
Mr. Tulliver's none o' my blood, and it was him quarrelled with me,
and drove me out o' the house. But perhaps you'd have had me stay and
be swore at, Mr. Glegg; perhaps you was vexed not to hear more abuse
and foul language poured out upo' your own wife. But, let me tell you,
it's "your" disgrace."
"Did ever anybody hear the like i' this parish?" said Mr. Glegg,
getting hot. "A woman, with everything provided for her, and allowed
to keep her own money the same as if it was settled on her, and with a
gig new stuffed and lined at no end o' expense, and provided for when
I die beyond anything she could expect--to go on i' this way, biting
and snapping like a mad dog! It's beyond everything, as God A 'mighty
should ha' made women "so"." (These last words were uttered in a tone
of sorrowful agitation. Mr. Glegg pushed his tea from him, and tapped
the table with both his hands.)
"Well, Mr. Glegg, if those are your feelings, it's best they should be
known," said Mrs. Glegg, taking off her napkin, and folding it in an
excited manner. "But if you talk o' my being provided for beyond what
I could expect, I beg leave to tell you as I'd a right to expect a
many things as I don't find. And as to my being like a mad dog, it's
well if you're not cried shame on by the county for your treatment of
me, for it's what I can't bear, and I won't bear----"
Here Mrs. Glegg's voice intimated that she was going to cry, and
breaking off from speech, she rang the bell violently.
"Sally," she said, rising from her chair, and speaking in rather a
choked voice, "light a fire up-stairs, and put the blinds down. Mr.
Glegg, you'll please to order what you'd like for dinner. I shall have
Mrs. Glegg walked across the room to the small book-case, and took
down Baxter's "Saints' Everlasting Rest," which she carried with her
up-stairs. It was the book she was accustomed to lay open before her
on special occasions,--on wet Sunday mornings, or when she heard of a
death in the family, or when, as in this case, her quarrel with Mr.
Glegg had been set an octave higher than usual.
But Mrs. Glegg carried something else up-stairs with her, which,
together with the "Saints' Rest" and the gruel, may have had some
influence in gradually calming her feelings, and making it possible
for her to endure existence on the ground-floor, shortly before
tea-time. This was, partly, Mr. Glegg's suggestion that she would do
well to let her five hundred lie still until a good investment turned
up; and, further, his parenthetic hint at his handsome provision for
her in case of his death. Mr. Glegg, like all men of his stamp, was
extremely reticent about his will; and Mrs. Glegg, in her gloomier
moments, had forebodings that, like other husbands of whom she had
heard, he might cherish the mean project of heightening her grief at
his death by leaving her poorly off, in which case she was firmly
resolved that she would have scarcely any weeper on her bonnet, and
would cry no more than if he had been a second husband. But if he had
really shown her any testamentary tenderness, it would be affecting to
think of him, poor man, when he was gone; and even his foolish fuss
about the flowers and garden-stuff, and his insistence on the subject
of snails, would be touching when it was once fairly at an end. To
survive Mr. Glegg, and talk eulogistically of him as a man who might
have his weaknesses, but who had done the right thing by her,
not-withstanding his numerous poor relations; to have sums of interest
coming in more frequently, and secrete it in various corners, baffling
to the most ingenious of thieves (for, to Mrs. Glegg's mind, banks and
strong-boxes would have nullified the pleasure of property; she might
as well have taken her food in capsules); finally, to be looked up to
by her own family and the neighborhood, so as no woman can ever hope
to be who has not the præterite and present dignity comprised in being
a "widow well left,"--all this made a flattering and conciliatory view
of the future. So that when good Mr. Glegg, restored to good humor by
much hoeing, and moved by the sight of his wife's empty chair, with
her knitting rolled up in the corner, went up-stairs to her, and
observed that the bell had been tolling for poor Mr. Morton, Mrs.
Glegg answered magnanimously, quite as if she had been an uninjured
woman: "Ah! then, there'll be a good business for somebody to take
Baxter had been open at least eight hours by this time, for it was
nearly five o'clock; and if people are to quarrel often, it follows as
a corollary that their quarrels cannot be protracted beyond certain
Mr. and Mrs. Glegg talked quite amicably about the Tullivers that
evening. Mr. Glegg went the length of admitting that Tulliver was a
sad man for getting into hot water, and was like enough to run through
his property; and Mrs. Glegg, meeting this acknowledgment half-way,
declared that it was beneath her to take notice of such a man's
conduct, and that, for her sister's sake, she would let him keep the
five hundred a while longer, for when she put it out on a mortgage she
should only get four per cent.
Mr. Tulliver Further Entangles the Skein of Life
Owing to this new adjustment of Mrs. Glegg's thoughts, Mrs. Pullet
found her task of mediation the next day surprisingly easy. Mrs.
Glegg, indeed checked her rather sharply for thinking it would be
necessary to tell her elder sister what was the right mode of behavior
in family matters. Mrs. Pullet's argument, that it would look ill in
the neighborhood if people should have it in their power to say that
there was a quarrel in the family, was particularly offensive. If the
family name never suffered except through Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Pullet
might lay her head on her pillow in perfect confidence.
"It's not to be expected, I suppose," observed Mrs. Glegg, by way of
winding up the subject, "as I shall go to the mill again before Bessy
comes to see me, or as I shall go and fall down o' my knees to Mr.
Tulliver, and ask his pardon for showing him favors; but I shall bear
no malice, and when Mr. Tulliver speaks civil to me, I'll speak civil
to him. Nobody has any call to tell me what's becoming."
Finding it unnecessary to plead for the Tullivers, it was natural that
aunt Pullet should relax a little in her anxiety for them, and recur
to the annoyance she had suffered yesterday from the offspring of that
apparently ill-fated house. Mrs. Glegg heard a circumstantial
narrative, to which Mr. Pullet's remarkable memory furnished some
items; and while aunt Pullet pitied poor Bessy's bad luck with her
children, and expressed a half-formed project of paying for Maggie's
being sent to a distant boarding-school, which would not prevent her
being so brown, but might tend to subdue some other vices in her, aunt
Glegg blamed Bessy for her weakness, and appealed to all witnesses who
should be living when the Tulliver children had turned out ill, that
she, Mrs. Glegg, had always said how it would be from the very first,
observing that it was wonderful to herself how all her words came
"Then I may call and tell Bessy you'll bear no malice, and everything
be as it was before?" Mrs. Pullet said, just before parting.
"Yes, you may, Sophy," said Mrs. Glegg; "you may tell Mr. Tulliver,
and Bessy too, as I'm not going to behave ill because folks behave ill
to me; I know it's my place, as the eldest, to set an example in every
respect, and I do it. Nobody can say different of me, if they'll keep
to the truth."
Mrs. Glegg being in this state of satisfaction in her own lofty
magnanimity, I leave you to judge what effect was produced on her by
the reception of a short letter from Mr. Tulliver that very evening,
after Mrs. Pullet's departure, informing her that she needn't trouble
her mind about her five hundred pounds, for it should be paid back to
her in the course of the next month at farthest, together with the
interest due thereon until the time of payment. And furthermore, that
Mr. Tulliver had no wish to behave uncivilly to Mrs. Glegg, and she
was welcome to his house whenever she liked to come, but he desired no
favors from her, either for himself or his children.
It was poor Mrs. Tulliver who had hastened this catastrophe, entirely
through that irrepressible hopefulness of hers which led her to expect
that similar causes may at any time produce different results. It had
very often occurred in her experience that Mr. Tulliver had done
something because other people had said he was not able to do it, or
had pitied him for his supposed inability, or in any other way piqued
his pride; still, she thought to-day, if she told him when he came in
to tea that sister Pullet was gone to try and make everything up with
sister Glegg, so that he needn't think about paying in the money, it
would give a cheerful effect to the meal. Mr. Tulliver had never
slackened in his resolve to raise the money, but now he at once
determined to write a letter to Mrs. Glegg, which should cut off all
possibility of mistake. Mrs. Pullet gone to beg and pray for "him"
indeed! Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the
relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as
spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world.
Nevertheless, like all fervid writing, the task was done in less time
than usual, and if the spelling differed from Mrs. Glegg's,--why, she
belonged, like himself, to a generation with whom spelling was a
matter of private judgment.
Mrs. Glegg did not alter her will in consequence of this letter, and
cut off the Tulliver children from their sixth and seventh share in
her thousand pounds; for she had her principles. No one must be able
to say of her when she was dead that she had not divided her money
with perfect fairness among her own kin. In the matter of wills,
personal qualities were subordinate to the great fundamental fact of
blood; and to be determined in the distribution of your property by
caprice, and not make your legacies bear a direct ratio to degrees of
kinship, was a prospective disgrace that would have embittered her
life. This had always been a principle in the Dodson family; it was
one form if that sense of honor and rectitude which was a proud
tradition in such families,--a tradition which has been the salt of
our provincial society.
But though the letter could not shake Mrs. Glegg's principles, it made
the family breach much more difficult to mend; and as to the effect it
produced on Mrs. Glegg's opinion of Mr. Tulliver, she begged to be
understood from that time forth that she had nothing whatever to say
about him; his state of mind, apparently, was too corrupt for her to
contemplate it for a moment. It was not until the evening before Tom
went to school, at the beginning of August, that Mrs. Glegg paid a
visit to her sister Tulliver, sitting in her gig all the while, and
showing her displeasure by markedly abstaining from all advice and
criticism; for, as she observed to her sister Deane, "Bessy must bear
the consequence o' having such a husband, though I'm sorry for her,"
and Mrs. Deane agreed that Bessy was pitiable.
That evening Tom observed to Maggie: "Oh my! Maggie, aunt Glegg's
beginning to come again; I'm glad I'm going to school. "You'll" catch
it all now!"
Maggie was already so full of sorrow at the thought of Tom's going
away from her, that this playful exultation of his seemed very unkind,
and she cried herself to sleep that night.
Mr. Tulliver's prompt procedure entailed on him further promptitude in
finding the convenient person who was desirous of lending five hundred
pounds on bond. "It must be no client of Wakem's," he said to himself;
and yet at the end of a fortnight it turned out to the contrary; not
because Mr. Tulliver's will was feeble, but because external fact was
stronger. Wakem's client was the only convenient person to be found.
Mr. Tulliver had a destiny as well as Œdipus, and in this case
he might plead, like Œdipus, that his deed was inflicted on him
rather than committed by him.
Tom's "First Half"
Tom Tulliver's sufferings during the first quarter he was at King's
Lorton, under the distinguished care of the Rev. Walter Stelling, were
rather severe. At Mr. Jacob's academy life had not presented itself to
him as a difficult problem; there were plenty of fellows to play with,
and Tom being good at all active games,--fighting especially,--had
that precedence among them which appeared to him inseparable from the
personality of Tom Tulliver. Mr. Jacobs himself, familiarly known as
Old Goggles, from his habit of wearing spectacles, imposed no painful
awe; and if it was the property of snuffy old hypocrites like him to
write like copperplate and surround their signatures with arabesques,
to spell without forethought, and to spout "my name is Norval" without
bungling, Tom, for his part, was glad he was not in danger of those
mean accomplishments. He was not going to be a snuffy schoolmaster,
he, but a substantial man, like his father, who used to go hunting
when he was younger, and rode a capital black mare,--as pretty a bit
of horse-flesh as ever you saw; Tom had heard what her points were a
hundred times. "He" meant to go hunting too, and to be generally
respected. When people were grown up, he considered, nobody inquired
about their writing and spelling; when he was a man, he should be
master of everything, and do just as he liked. It had been very
difficult for him to reconcile himself to the idea that his
school-time was to be prolonged and that he was not to be brought up
to his father's business, which he had always thought extremely
pleasant; for it was nothing but riding about, giving orders, and
going to market; and he thought that a clergyman would give him a
great many Scripture lessons, and probably make him learn the Gospel
and Epistle on a Sunday, as well as the Collect. But in the absence of
specific information, it was impossible for him to imagine that school
and a schoolmaster would be something entirely different from the
academy of Mr. Jacobs. So, not to be at a deficiency, in case of his
finding genial companions, he had taken care to carry with him a small
box of percussion-caps; not that there was anything particular to be
done with them, but they would serve to impress strange boys with a
sense of his familiarity with guns. Thus poor Tom, though he saw very
clearly through Maggie's illusions, was not without illusions of his
own, which were to be cruelly dissipated by his enlarged experience at
He had not been there a fortnight before it was evident to him that
life, complicated not only with the Latin grammar but with a new
standard of English pronunciation, was a very difficult business, made
all the more obscure by a thick mist of bashfulness. Tom, as you have
observed, was never an exception among boys for ease of address; but
the difficulty of enunciating a monosyllable in reply to Mr. or Mrs.
Stelling was so great, that he even dreaded to be asked at table
whether he would have more pudding. As to the percussion-caps, he had
almost resolved, in the bitterness of his heart, that he would throw
them into a neighboring pond; for not only was he the solitary pupil,
but he began even to have a certain scepticism about guns, and a
general sense that his theory of life was undermined. For Mr. Stelling
thought nothing of guns, or horses either, apparently; and yet it was
impossible for Tom to despise Mr. Stelling as he had despised Old
Goggles. If there were anything that was not thoroughly genuine about
Mr. Stelling, it lay quite beyond Tom's power to detect it; it is only
by a wide comparison of facts that the wisest full-grown man can
distinguish well-rolled barrels from mere supernal thunder.
Mr. Stelling was a well-sized, broad-chested man, not yet thirty, with
flaxen hair standing erect, and large lightish-gray eyes, which were
always very wide open; he had a sonorous bass voice, and an air of
defiant self-confidence inclining to brazenness. He had entered on his
career with great vigor, and intended to make a considerable
impression on his fellowmen. The Rev. Walter Stelling was not a man
who would remain among the "inferior clergy" all his life. He had a
true British determination to push his way in the world,--as a
schoolmaster, in the first place, for there were capital masterships
of grammar-schools to be had, and Mr. Stelling meant to have one of
them; but as a preacher also, for he meant always to preach in a
striking manner, so as to have his congregation swelled by admirers
from neighboring parishes, and to produce a great sensation whenever
he took occasional duty for a brother clergyman of minor gifts. The
style of preaching he had chosen was the extemporaneous, which was
held little short of the miraculous in rural parishes like King's
Lorton. Some passages of Massillon and Bourdaloue, which he knew by
heart, were really very effective when rolled out in Mr. Stelling's
deepest tones; but as comparatively feeble appeals of his own were
delivered in the same loud and impressive manner, they were often
thought quite as striking by his hearers. Mr. Stelling's doctrine was
of no particular school; if anything, it had a tinge of
evangelicalism, for that was "the telling thing" just then in the
diocese to which King's Lorton belonged. In short, Mr. Stelling was a
man who meant to rise in his profession, and to rise by merit,
clearly, since he had no interest beyond what might be promised by a
problematic relationship to a great lawyer who had not yet become Lord
Chancellor. A clergyman who has such vigorous intentions naturally
gets a little into debt at starting; it is not to be expected that he
will live in the meagre style of a man who means to be a poor curate
all his life; and if the few hundreds Mr. Timpson advanced toward his
daughter's fortune did not suffice for the purchase of handsome
furniture, together with a stock of wine, a grand piano, and the
laying out of a superior flower-garden, it followed in the most
rigorous manner, either that these things must be procured by some
other means, or else that the Rev. Mr. Stelling must go without them,
which last alternative would be an absurd procrastination of the
fruits of success, where success was certain. Mr. Stelling was so
broad-chested and resolute that he felt equal to anything; he would
become celebrated by shaking the consciences of his hearers, and he
would by and by edit a Greek play, and invent several new readings. He
had not yet selected the play, for having been married little more
than two years, his leisure time had been much occupied with
attentions to Mrs. Stelling; but he had told that fine woman what he
meant to do some day, and she felt great confidence in her husband, as
a man who understood everything of that sort.
But the immediate step to future success was to bring on Tom Tulliver
during this first half-year; for, by a singular coincidence, there had
been some negotiation concerning another pupil from the same
neighborhood and it might further a decision in Mr. Stelling's favor,
if it were understood that young Tulliver, who, Mr. Stelling observed
in conjugal privacy, was rather a rough cub, had made prodigious
progress in a short time. It was on this ground that he was severe
with Tom about his lessons; he was clearly a boy whose powers would
never be developed through the medium of the Latin grammar, without
the application of some sternness. Not that Mr. Stelling was a
harsh-tempered or unkind man; quite the contrary. He was jocose with
Tom at table, and corrected his provincialisms and his deportment in
the most playful manner; but poor Tom was only the more cowed and
confused by this double novelty, for he had never been used to jokes
at all like Mr. Stelling's; and for the first time in his life he had
a painful sense that he was all wrong somehow. When Mr. Stelling said,
as the roast-beef was being uncovered, "Now, Tulliver! which would you
rather decline, roast-beef or the Latin for it?" Tom, to whom in his
coolest moments a pun would have been a hard nut, was thrown into a
state of embarrassed alarm that made everything dim to him except the
feeling that he would rather not have anything to do with Latin; of
course he answered, "Roast-beef," whereupon there followed much
laughter and some practical joking with the plates, from which Tom
gathered that he had in some mysterious way refused beef, and, in
fact, made himself appear "a silly." If he could have seen a
fellow-pupil undergo these painful operations and survive them in good
spirits, he might sooner have taken them as a matter of course. But
there are two expensive forms of education, either of which a parent
may procure for his son by sending him as solitary pupil to a
clergyman: one is the enjoyment of the reverend gentleman's undivided
neglect; the other is the endurance of the reverend gentleman's
undivided attention. It was the latter privilege for which Mr.
Tulliver paid a high price in Tom's initiatory months at King's
That respectable miller and maltster had left Tom behind, and driven
homeward in a state of great mental satisfaction. He considered that
it was a happy moment for him when he had thought of asking Riley's
advice about a tutor for Tom. Mr. Stelling's eyes were so wide open,
and he talked in such an off-hand, matter-of-fact way, answering every
difficult, slow remark of Mr. Tulliver's with, "I see, my good sir, I
see"; "To be sure, to be sure"; "You want your son to be a man who
will make his way in the world,"--that Mr. Tulliver was delighted to
find in him a clergyman whose knowledge was so applicable to the
every-day affairs of this life. Except Counsellor Wylde, whom he had
heard at the last sessions, Mr. Tulliver thought the Rev. Mr Stelling
was the shrewdest fellow he had ever met with,--not unlike Wylde, in
fact; he had the same way of sticking his thumbs in the armholes of
his waistcoat. Mr. Tulliver was not by any means an exception in
mistaking brazenness for shrewdness; most laymen thought Stelling
shrewd, and a man of remarkable powers generally; it was chiefly by
his clerical brethren that he was considered rather a full fellow. But
he told Mr. Tulliver several stories about "Swing" and incendiarism,
and asked his advice about feeding pigs in so thoroughly secular and
judicious a manner, with so much polished glibness of tongue, that the
miller thought, here was the very thing he wanted for Tom. He had no
doubt this first-rate man was acquainted with every branch of
information, and knew exactly what Tom must learn in order to become a
match for the lawyers, which poor Mr. Tulliver himself did "not" know,
and so was necessarily thrown for self-direction on this wide kind of
inference. It is hardly fair to laugh at him, for I have known much
more highly instructed persons than he make inferences quite as wide,
and not at all wiser.
As for Mrs. Tulliver, finding that Mrs. Stelling's views as to the
airing of linen and the frequent recurrence of hunger in a growing boy
entirely coincided with her own; moreover, that Mrs. Stelling, though
so young a woman, and only anticipating her second confinement, had
gone through very nearly the same experience as herself with regard to
the behavior and fundamental character of the monthly nurse,--she
expressed great contentment to her husband, when they drove away, at
leaving Tom with a woman who, in spite of her youth, seemed quite
sensible and motherly, and asked advice as prettily as could be.
"They must be very well off, though," said Mrs. Tulliver, "for
everything's as nice as can be all over the house, and that watered
silk she had on cost a pretty penny. Sister Pullet has got one like
"Ah," said Mr. Tulliver, "he's got some income besides the curacy, I
reckon. Perhaps her father allows 'em something. There's Tom 'ull be
another hundred to him, and not much trouble either, by his own
account; he says teaching comes natural to him. That's wonderful,
now," added Mr. Tulliver, turning his head on one side, and giving his
horse a meditative tickling on the flank.
Perhaps it was because teaching came naturally to Mr. Stelling, that
he set about it with that uniformity of method and independence of
circumstances which distinguish the actions of animals understood to
be under the immediate teaching of nature. Mr. Broderip's amiable
beaver, as that charming naturalist tells us, busied himself as
earnestly in constructing a dam, in a room up three pair of stairs in
London, as if he had been laying his foundation in a stream or lake in
Upper Canada. It was "Binny's" function to build; the absence of water
or of possible progeny was an accident for which he was not
accountable. With the same unerring instinct Mr. Stelling set to work
at his natural method of instilling the Eton Grammar and Euclid into
the mind of Tom Tulliver. This, he considered, was the only basis of
solid instruction; all other means of education were mere
charlatanism, and could produce nothing better than smatterers. Fixed
on this firm basis, a man might observe the display of various or
special knowledge made by irregularly educated people with a pitying
smile; all that sort of thing was very well, but it was impossible
these people could form sound opinions. In holding this conviction Mr.
Stelling was not biassed, as some tutors have been, by the excessive
accuracy or extent of his own scholarship; and as to his views about
Euclid, no opinion could have been freer from personal partiality. Mr.
Stelling was very far from being led astray by enthusiasm, either
religious or intellectual; on the other hand, he had no secret belief
that everything was humbug. He thought religion was a very excellent
thing, and Aristotle a great authority, and deaneries and prebends
useful institutions, and Great Britain the providential bulwark of
Protestantism, and faith in the unseen a great support to afflicted
minds; he believed in all these things, as a Swiss hotel-keeper
believes in the beauty of the scenery around him, and in the pleasure
it gives to artistic visitors. And in the same way Mr. Stelling
believed in his method of education; he had no doubt that he was doing
the very best thing for Mr. Tulliver's boy. Of course, when the miller
talked of "mapping" and "summing" in a vague and diffident manner, Mr
Stelling had set his mind at rest by an assurance that he understood
what was wanted; for how was it possible the good man could form any
reasonable judgment about the matter? Mr Stelling's duty was to teach
the lad in the only right way,--indeed he knew no other; he had not
wasted his time in the acquirement of anything abnormal.
He very soon set down poor Tom as a thoroughly stupid lad; for though
by hard labor he could get particular declensions into his brain,
anything so abstract as the relation between cases and terminations
could by no means get such a lodgment there as to enable him to
recognize a chance genitive or dative. This struck Mr. Stelling as
something more than natural stupidity; he suspected obstinacy, or at
any rate indifference, and lectured Tom severely on his want of
thorough application. "You feel no interest in what you're doing,
sir," Mr. Stelling would say, and the reproach was painfully true. Tom
had never found any difficulty in discerning a pointer from a setter,
when once he had been told the distinction, and his perceptive powers
were not at all deficient. I fancy they were quite as strong as those
of the Rev. Mr. Stelling; for Tom could predict with accuracy what
number of horses were cantering behind him, he could throw a stone
right into the centre of a given ripple, he could guess to a fraction
how many lengths of his stick it would take to reach across the
playground, and could draw almost perfect squares on his slate without
any measurement. But Mr. Stelling took no note of these things; he
only observed that Tom's faculties failed him before the abstractions
hideously symbolized to him in the pages of the Eton Grammar, and that
he was in a state bordering on idiocy with regard to the demonstration
that two given triangles must be equal, though he could discern with
great promptitude and certainty the fact that they "were" equal.
Whence Mr. Stelling concluded that Tom's brain, being peculiarly
impervious to etymology and demonstrations, was peculiarly in need of
being ploughed and harrowed by these patent implements; it was his
favorite metaphor, that the classics and geometry constituted that
culture of the mind which prepared it for the reception of any
subsequent crop. I say nothing against Mr. Stelling's theory; if we
are to have one regimen for all minds, his seems to me as good as any
other. I only know it turned out as uncomfortably for Tom Tulliver as
if he had been plied with cheese in order to remedy a gastric weakness
which prevented him from digesting it. It is astonishing what a
different result one gets by changing the metaphor! Once call the
brain an intellectual stomach, and one's ingenious conception of the
classics and geometry as ploughs and harrows seems to settle nothing.
But then it is open to some one else to follow great authorities, a
♥ FINE AREA VOCALIZZATA CON READSPEAKER
Prodotti straordinari per le tue lingue
online il primo numero di
l'anglorivista che mette il turbo al tuo inglese, l'unica con
pronuncia guidata e doppia traduzione italiana per capire sempre
Leggi il n. 1 gratis!
Acquista gli arretrati
Cosa dicono i lettori
- A chi serve
Total Audio, la versione del
corso 20 ORE fatta
apposta per chi come te passa tanto tempo viaggiando! Ideale per
chi fa il pendolare o compie ogni giorno lunghi tragitti sui
mezzi. Sfrutta anche tu i tempi morti per imparare o migliorare
il tuo inglese!
CORSI 20 ORE - I corsi di lingue più
completi per una preparazione di base superiore alla media in 5