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Full text of "The Mill on the floss"

Mill on the Floss 







jft 



George Eliot. Frontispiece. 



L 



THE MILL ON 

THE FLOSS 



By GEORGE ELIOT 



Author of "ADAM BEDE," "DANIEL DERONDA," 

" FELIX HOLT," MIDDLEMARCH,'" ' ROMOLA," ' 

"SILAS MARKER," etc., etc. Jt jt Jt jt jt 




A. L. BURT COMPANY, j* jt ji jt 
j* j ofc PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK I. BOY AND GffiL. 

CHAPTO 

I. OUTSIDE DORLCOTE MILL, . . . . . ? 
II. MR. TULI-IVKR, OF DORLCOTE MILL, DECLARES EM RESO- 
LUTION- ABOUT TOM, ....... . 

III. MB. BILET GIVES HIS ADVICE CONCERNING A SCHOOL FOB 

TOM, ....16 

IV. TOM is EXPECTED, ......*. 29 

V. TOM COMES HOME, 84 

VI. THE AUNTS AND UNCLES ABE COMING, . . .45 

VII. ENTER THE AUNTS AND UNCLES, . . . 67 

VIIL MB. TULLIVER SHOWS HIS WEAKER SIDE, . . . .81 

IX. To GABUM FIBS, 91 

X= MAGGIE BEHAVES WOBSE THAN SHE EXPECTED, . . 105 

"XL MAGGIE TBIES TO RUN AWAY FROM HER SHADOW, 112 

XII. MR. AND MBS. GLEGG AT HOME, . . . . 124 

XIII. MB. TULLIVEB FURTHER ENTANGLES TOE SKEIN OF LlFE, 137 

BOOK H. SCHOOL-TIME. 

L TOM'S FIBST HALF," 141, 

II. THE CHBISTMAS HOLIDAYS, 162 

III. THE NEW SCHOOLFELLOW, 170 

IV. "THE YOUNG IDEA, W ........ 176 

V. MAGGIE'S SECOND VISIT, .... 187 

VI. A LOVE-SCENE, ...... 102 

VII. THE GOLDEN GATES ARE PASSED, . . . . 197 

BOOK HI. THE DOWNFALL. 

I. WHAT HAD HAPPENED AT HOME, ..... tOf 
Q. MBS. TULLIVEB'S TKBAPHIM, OB HOUSEHOLD GODS, . . 311 



CONTENTS, 

PACK 

III. THE FAMILY COUNCIL, ....... 216 

IV. A VANISHING GLEAM, 282 

V. TOM APPLIES HIS KNIFB TO THE OYSTER, .... 236 

VL TENDING TO REFUTE THE POPULAR PREJUDICE AGAINST 

THE PRESENT OF A POCKET-KNIFE, .... 249 

TIL How A HEN TAKES TO STRATAGEM, ..... 256 

VIII. DAYLIGHT ON THE WRECK, 268 

IX. AN ITEM ADDED TO THE FAMILY REGISTER, . . 277 

BOOK IV. THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 

L A VARIATION OF PROTESTANTISM UNKNOWN TO BOSSCET, . 284 

IL THE TORN NEST is PIERCED BY THE THORNS, . . . 289 

HI. A VOICE FROM THE PAST, 294 

BOOK V. WHEAT AND TABES. 

L I THE RED DEEPS, ........ 810 

II. AUNT GLEGG LEARNS THE BREADTH OF BOB'S THUMB, . 322 

in. THE WAVERING BALANCE, 340 

IV. ANOTHER LOVE-SCENE, ....... 347 

V. THE CLOVEN TREE, 353 

VI. THE HARD-WON TRIUMPH, . .365 

VII. A DAY or RECKONING, . 370 

BOOK VI. THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 

L A DUET IN PARADISE, ....... 378 

II. FIRST IMPRESSIONS, ........ 887 

III. CONFIDENTIAL MOMENTS, ....... 401 

IV. BROTHER AND SISTER, ........ 405 

V. SHOWING THAT TOM HAD OPENED THE OYSTER, . . 413 

VL ILLUSTRATING THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION, .... 417 

VTL PHILIP RE-ENTERS, 428 

<TIIL WAKEM IN A NEW LIGHT, ....... 442 

IX. CHARITY tN FULL-DRESS, ....... 449 

X. THE SPELL SEEMS BROKEN, ...... 459 

XL IN THE LANE, ......... 466 

XII. A FAMILY PARTY, ........ 472 

XHI. BORNE ALONG BY THB TIDB, ...... 479 

WAKIKO, .......... 493 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK vn. THE FINAL RESCUE. 

0KAPTKB fAOl 

I. THE RETURN TO THE MILL, ...... 604 

II. ST. OGO'S PASSES JUDGMENT, ...... 611 

ill. SHOWING THAT OLD ACQUAINTANCES ABB CAPABLE OF 

SURPRISING Us, . . . . . . . . . 620 

iV. MAGGIE AND Leer, ........ 627 

V. THE LAST CONFLICT, 684 

CONCLUSION, ......... Mi 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 



BOOK L-BOY AND GIRL. 
CHAPTER L 

OUTSIDE DORLCOTE MILL. 

A WIDE plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on be- 
tween 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 the last year's golden 
clusters of beehive-ricks rising at intervals beyond the hedge- 
rows ; 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 spread- 
ing sh. Just by the red-roofed town the tributary Eipple 
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 anfl loving. I remember those large dipping willows. 
I remember the stone bridge. 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 thif 
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 chest- 
nuts 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 deli- 
cate 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 thun- 
der of the huge covered wagon coming home with sacks of 
grain. That honest wagoner is thinking of his dinner, get- 
ting 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 tow- 
ard 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 I should like well to hear them neigh 
over their hardly earned feed of corn, and see them, with their 
tnoist necks freed from the harness, dipping their eager nos- 
trils into the muddy pond. Now they are on the bridge, and 
down they go again at a swifter pace, and the arch of the cov- 
ered wagon disappears at the turning behind the trees. 

Now I can turn my eyes toward the mill again, and watak 



BOY AND GIRL. 

the unresting -wheel sending out its diamond jets of water. 
That little girl is watching it too j 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 
Beems to be leaping and barking in ineffectual remonstrance 
with the wheel j 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. 



CHAPTER H. 

MB. TULUVBB, OF DORLCOTE HILL, DECLARES HIS RESOLU- 
TION ABOUT TOM. 

"WHAT I want, you know," said Mr. Tulliver, "what I 
want is to give Tom a good eddication ; an eddication as '11 
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, V 
I'd meant to make a miller and farmer of him, for he's had 
a fine sight more schoolin' nor / 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 
Bcholard, 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 
vi' these lawsuits, and arbitrations, and things. I wouldn't 
make a downright lawyer o' the lad, I should be sorry fag 



W THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

him to be a raskill, but a sort o' engineer, or a surveyor, 01 
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, / 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 sis- 
ter 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. Tulliver, defiantly. 

"Dear heart I" said Mrs. Tulliver, shocked at this sangui- 
nary 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 y allow as th* other before they'd been washed 
half-a-dozen times. And then, when the box is goin' back- 
'ard and f orrard, 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 wa 



BOY AND GIRL. 11 

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?" 

" Xo, 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 to pick." 

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' 
Kiley; 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 man- 
gled beautiful, an' all ready, an' smell o' lavender as it 'ud 
be a pleasure to lay 'em out; ate* they lie at the left-hand 



12 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 sup- 
posed that she drew out the key to aid her imagination in. 
anticipating the moment when he would be in a state to jus- 
tify 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 listen- 
ing 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 busi- 
ness 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 go- 
ing 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, 



BOY AND GIRL. If 

after a pause, "what I'm a bit afraid on is, as Tom han't got 
the right sort o' brains for a smart fellow. I doubt he's a bit 
slowish. He takes after your family, Bessy." 

"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 before him." 

"It seems a bit of a pity, though," said Mr. Tulliver, "as 
the lad should take after the mother's side istead o' the little 
wench. That's the worst on't wi* the crossing o' breeds: 
you can never justly calkilate what'll come on't. The little 
on 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 all 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 go- 
ing 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 retmrned 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 j for if I send her upstairs to fetch anything, she for- 
gets 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 down- 
stairs. That niver run i' my family, thank God! no more 
nor a brown skin as makes her look like a mulatter, I don'* 
tike to fly i f the face o' Providence, but it seem? hard as I 
hould have but one geli, an' her so comical." 

"Pooh, nonsense 1" said Mr. Tulliyer, "she's a straight, 



14 THE MILL OK THE FLOBb- 

black-eyed wench as anybody need wish to see. I don't kno* 
V what she's behind other folks's children} and she can read 
almost as well as the parson. " 

" 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 j 
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 j 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 told you." 

Maggie's hair, as she threw off her bonnet, painfully con- 
firmed 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 Shetland 
pony. 

" 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 little lady." 

"Oh, mother," said Maggie, in a vehemently cross tone, "I 
don't want to do my patchwerk." 

"What! not your pretty patchwork, to make a counterpane 
for your aunt Glegg? " 

" It's foolish work," said Maggie, with a toss of her mane, 
" tearing things to pieces to sew 'em together again. And 



BOY AND GIRL. 15 

f 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 laughs audibly. 

" I wonder at you, as you'll laugh at her, Mr. Tulliver, n 
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 expres- 
sion, 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 re- 
monstrance, getting more and more peevish as it became more 
and more ineffectual. 



CHAPTER IIL 

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. Kiley, 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 re- 
eital of the cool retort by which Eiley had shown himself too 



16 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS, 

many for Dix, and how Wakem had had his comb cut for onc 
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 in- 
tellect, and had arrived at several questionable conclusions; 
among the rest, that rats, weevils, and lawyers were created 
by Old Harry. Unhappily he had no one to tell him that 
this was rampant Manichseism, 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 Eiley. 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 ex- 
actly in the same condition ; and there was another subject, as 
you know, on which Mr. Tulliver was in pressing want of 
Mr. Biley's advice. This was his particular reason for re- 
maining 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. Kiley. 
meanwhile, was not impatient. Why should he be? Even 
Hotspur, one would think, must have been patient in his slip- 
pers on a warm hearth, taking copious snuff, and sipping gra- 
tuitous brandy -and- water. 

" There's a thing I've got i 7 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. Biley, in a tone of mild interest. He was 
a man with heavy waxen eyelids and high-arched eyebrows, 



BOY AND GIRL If 

looking exactly the same under all circumstances. This im- 
movability 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 au 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 Midsum- 
mer," said Mr. Tulliver j "he's comin' away from the 'cad- 
emy 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 bar- 
gain, without much help from the schoolmaster." 

"I believe you," said Mr. Tulliver, winking, and turning 
his head on one sidej "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. Kay, 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 hi iself, 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 fee 
8 



18 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

minutes afterward in a defiant motion of the bead from 



vide to side, and an occasional "Kay, nay," like a subsiding 
growL 

These angry symptoms were keenly observed by Maggie, 
and cat 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 -cry ing, half -indignant voice, 

" Father, Tom wouldn't be naughty to you ever j I know 
He wouldn't." 

Mis. 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 OD 
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. Eiley, as though Maggie 
couldn't hear, M 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, 
M she'll read the books and understand 'em better nor half the 
t'olks as are growed up." 

Maggie's cheeks began to flush with triumphant excite- 
ment. She thought Mr. Biley would have a respect for her 
now; it had been evident that he thought nothing of her 
before. 

Mr. Eiley was turning over the leaves of the book, and she 
could make nothing of his face, with its high-arched eye- 
brows; but he presently looked at her, and said, 



HOT A3fD GTBL. 

Gome, come and tell me something about fins book; 
are some pictures, I want to know what they ; 

Maggie, with deepening enter, went without 
Mr. Biley's elbow and looked over the book, eagerly 
one corner, and tossing back her mane, white she said, 

-Oh, FU tell you what that means. If s a dreadfal 
tare, 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 kilted, 
and not a witch, but only a poor silly old 
good would it do her then, you know, when she was drowaed? 
Only, I suppose, she'd go to heaven, and God would 
up to her. A**l jfr*s dreadful blacksmith, with 
akimbo, laughing, oh, isn't be ugly? IT1 tefl you what he 
is. He's the Devil reuOy" (ben Maggie's voice Ib***^* 
louder and more emphatic), "and not a right bin lib; for 
the Devil takes the shape of wicked men, and walks about 
and sots people doing wicked things, and he's oftener in tho 
shape of a bad man than, any other, hcranne, you know, if 
people saw he was the Devil, and he roared at 'em, tfcej*drsm 
away, and he couldn't make 'em do what he planed.* 

Mr. Tnffiver had listened to this expositioni of Maggie's 



Why, what book is ft the wench has got sold 
:v.:5: : .:: :-.~ .:.'-'. 

tt The 'History of the DevO,* by Daniel 
the right book for a little ghV said Mr. KOsj. 
it among your books, Mr. Tulfiver?' 



"Way, it's one o> the books I bought at 

They was aU bound alike, it's a good 
and I thought they'd be aD good books. There's Jeremy Tay- 
lor's ' Holy lariag and Dring' among 'em. IieadmKofteR 
of a Sunday* (Mr. Tuffiwr felt *whu a famffiarity wiA 
tibat great writer, because his name was Jeremy); * and there's 
a lot more of 'em, sermons mostly, I think, buttkeyNesB 
got the saiK COTIS^ and I thought they were aQo* OMCUT 



20 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

pie, as you may say. But it seems one mustn't judge by th f 
outside. This is a puzzlin 1 world." 

" Well," said Mr. Biley, in an admonitory, patronizing tons 
as he patted Maggie on the head, " I advise you to put by the 
4 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 maka 
stories to the pictures out of my own head, you know. But 
I've got '^sop's Fables,' and a book about Kangaroos and 
things, and the ' Pilgrim's Progress.' n 

"Ah, a beautiful book," said Mr. Kiley; "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. Biley, "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; 
4 shut up the book, and let's hear no more o' such talk. It if 
as I thought the child 'ull learn more mischief nor good wi' 
the books. Go, go and see after your mother." 

Maggie shut up the book at once, with a sense of disgrace, 
but not being inclined to see after her mother, she compro- 
mised 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 waxou 
eheeks had a wasted, unhealthy appearance. 



HOT AND GIRL. 21 

"Did you ever bear 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-look- 
ing 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 pleas- 
ant 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' thing." 

Mr. Eiley'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. Notf, 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 straightforrard you are, the more you're puzzled." 

Mr. Tulliver took a draught, swallowed it slowly, and shook 
his head in a melancholy manner, conscious cf 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. 



23 THE MILL ON TfiB FLOSS, 

Riley. " Better spend an extra hundred or two on your son'i 
education, than leave it him in your will. I know I should 
hare 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, Tulli- 
verj and I have a houseful of daughters into the bargain." 

"I dare say, now, you know of a school as 'ud be just the 
thing for Tom, " said Mr. Tulliver, not diverted from his pur- 
pose by any sympathy with Mr. Riley's deficiency of ready 
eash. 

Mr. Eiley took a pinch of snuff, and kept Mr. Tulliver in 
suspense by a s'lence 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 chool, 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 ate fellow, I know his man. I wouldn't men- 
tion 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 h^s friend's oracular face became quite eager. 

"Ay, now, let's lear," he said, adjusting himself in his 
chair with the omplacency f a person who is thought worthy 
of important communications. 

" He's an Oxf r* nan, " aid Mr. Kiley, sententiously, shut- 
ting his mouth closr, and looking at Mr. Tulliver to observe 
the effect of this st mulatiag information. 

"What! a parson?" said Mr. Tulliver, rather doubtfully. 

"Yes, and an M.A. The bi:hop, I understand, thinks very 
highly of him: why, it was the bishop who got him his pres- 
ent curacy." 

"Ah?" said Mr. Tulliver, to whom one thing was as won- 
derful as another concerning these unfamiliar phenomena. 
" But what can he want wi' Tom, then? " 

" 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 01 



BOY AND GIRL. 23 

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 continually." 

" But do you think they'd give the poor lad twice o* pud- 
ding? " 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 that." 

"A good education, let me tell you, Tulliver, a good edu- 
cation is cheap at the money. But Stelling is moderate in his 
terms; he* 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 
meditative manner. 

"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. Tulli- 
ver," said Mr. Eiley, "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 



24 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

of a good Mudport family, and it's not every offer that would 
have been acceptable in that quarter. But Stalling' s not an 
every -day man j 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 repre- 
sentation." 

" 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. Kiley, 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 with- 
out paying for it." 

" Oh, my dear Tulliver, " said Mr. Biley, " 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 generally." 

** Ay, that Jacobs is, at the 'cademy," interposed Mr. Tul- 
liver. 

"To be sure, men who have failed in other trades, most 
likely. Kow, a clergyman is a gentleman by profession and 
education ; and besides that, he has the knowledge that vill 
ground a boy, and prepare him for entering on any career with 
credit. There may be some clergymen who are mere book- 
men ; 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 arithme- 
tician,' and you may leave the rest to him." 

Mr. Biley paused a moment, while Mr. Tulliver, somewhat 
reassured as to clerical tutorship, was inwardly rehearsing to 



BOY AND GIRL. 25 

an imaginary Mr. Stalling the statement, " I want my son to 
know 'rethmetic." 

"You see, my dear Tulliver," Mr. Kiley 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* Michaelmas- 
day, 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 forestalls 
you." j 

u Ay, there's summat in that, " said Mr. Tulliver. 

" Father, " broke in Maggie, who had stolen un perceived 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 j he knows/' 



26 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Maggie came round promptly in front of Mr. Bfley, 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 haught- 
ily, and turning away, with the tears springing in her eyes. 
She began to dislike Mr. Kiley ; it was evident he thought 
her silly and of no consequence. 

"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. Tul- 
liver, 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. Kiley. "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. Tul- 
liver, sadly. 

The entrance of supper opportunely adjourned this difficulty, 
and relieved Mr. Eiley 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 him- 
self 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 in- 
dications to the contrary which might have misled a too-saga- 
cious 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 dis- 
tinct motives, with a consciously proposed end in view, is 
certain to waste its energies on imaginary game. 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 27 

enough to spoil the lives of our neighbors without taking so 
much trouble; we cau do it by lazy acquiescence and lazy 
omission, by trivial falsities for which we hardly know a rea- 
son, 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 j we do little else than snatch a morsel to 
satisfy the hungry brood, rarely thinking of seed-corn or the 
next year's crop. 

Mr. Biley 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 
private understanding with the Eev. Walter Stelling ; on th 
contrary, he knew very little of that M.A. and his acquire- 
ments, 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. 
Kiley had received a tincture of the classics at the great Mud- 
port 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 " JSneid, " but it had ceased to be distinctly recogniz- 
able 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 re- 
marked, 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 parisl^ and had a good deal of business, 



28 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

which he knew how to put into the right hands. Mr. Bile* 
liked such men, quite aparfr from any money which might b 
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'a 
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. Biley knew of no other schoolmaster whom he 
had any ground for recommending in preference j why, then, 
should he not recommend Stelling? His friend Tulliver had 
asked him for an opinion; it is always chilling, in friendly in- 
tercourse, to say you have no opinion to give. And if you de- 
liver 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. Eiley, knowing no harm of Stelling to begin with, and 
wishing him well, so far as he had any wishes at all concern- 
ing 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. Biley would have thought his 
" friend of the old school n a thoroughly pig-headed fellow. 

If you blame Mr. Riley very severely for giving a recom- 
mendation on such slight grounds, I must say yon 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 
.s not always exhibited by gentlemen of the learned profes- 
sions, 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 29 

* recommendation that was not based on valid evidence, ho 
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 com- 
placencies of standing well with Timpson, of dispensing ad- 
vice when he was asked for it, of impressing his friend Tulli- 
ver 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. 



CHAPTER IV. 

fOM 18 EXPECTED. 

IT was ft 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 brushin gout 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 de- 
termination that there should be no more chance of curls that 
day. 

"Maggie, Maggie!" exclaimed Mrs. Tulliver, sitting stout 
nd 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 1 look at your clean pina- 
fore, wet from top to bottom. Folks 'ull think if a a judg- 
ment on me as I've got such a child, they'll think I've done 
ummat wicked." 

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 froa 



80 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

her Dlack 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 red- 
dest of cheeks; but was now entirely defaced by a long career 
of vicarious suffering. Three nails driven into the head com* 
memorated 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 j 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 griev- 
ance that had caused it. As at last the sobs were getting 
quieter, and the grinding Jess fierce, a sudden beam of sun- 
shine, falling through the wire lattice across the worm-eaten 
shelves, made her throw away the Fetish and run to the win- 
dow. The sun was really breaking out j 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, ana then dashed along the paa- 



BOY AND GIRL. 31 

sage 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 it. 

"Hegh, hegh, Miss! you'll make yourself giddy, an* tum- 
ble down i' the dirt, " said Luke, the head miller, a tall, broad- 
shouldered man of forty, black-eyed and black-haired, sub- 
dued 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 white- 
ness 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 uncontrol- 
lable force ; the meal forever pouring, pouring ; the fine white 
powder softening all surfaces, and making the very spider-nets 
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 recrea- 
tion as she conversed with Luke, to whom she was very com- 
municative, wishing him to think well of her understanding, 
as her father did. 

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 
pitch which was requisite in mill-society, 



32 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

" I think you never lead 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." 

"Kay, 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 fellow-creatures." 

" Not much o' f ellow-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 niyseu 
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 unex- 
pectedly 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 suufish, 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 knew about 
them, Luke?" 

" Nay, Miss, I'n got to keep count o' the flour an* corn ; I 
can't do wr* 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 streets." 

"Why, you're like my brother Tom, Luke," said Maggie, 
wishing to turn the conversation agreeably j " Tom's not fond 



BOY AND GIRL. 83 

of reading. I love Tom so dearly, Luke, better than wiy 
body else in the world. When he grows up I shall keep hia 
house, and we shall always live together. I can tell hin 
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 rab- 
bits are all dead." 

"Dead I" screamed Maggie, jumping up from her sliding 
seat on the corn. "Oh dear, Luke! What I 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; Ae'a 
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 rab- 
bits 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 au agreeable distraction to Maggie ? e 
grief, and her tears gradually subsided as she trotted along by 
loike'a side to his pleasant cottage, which stood with its apple 
9 



34 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

and pear trees, and with the added dignity of a lean-to pig* 
8ty, 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, particu- 
larly 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. 



CHAPTER V. 

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 evea 



BOY AND GIRL. 88 

held her hand on Maggie's offending head, forgetting all the 
griefs of the morning. 

"There he is, my sweet lad I But, Lord ha* mercy I he's 
got never a collar on; it's been lost on the road, I'll be bound, 
and spoilt the set." 

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 ten- 
der 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 fash- 
ion, 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 gos- 
lings, 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 of 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 ap- 
pearance of openness, so that simple people think they can see 
through her quite well, and all the while she is secretly pre- 
paring a refutation of their confident prophecies. Under these 
average boyish physiognomies that she seeir>s to turn off by 
the gross, she conceals some of her most rigid, inflexible pur- 
poses, some of her most unmodifiable characters ; and the dark- 
eyed, demonstrative, rebellious girl may after all turn out toi 
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 cor- 
ner, as soon as his mother was gone out to examine his bov 
and the warm parlor had taken off the chill he had felt from 
th 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 



o THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

marls (marbles) or cobnuts?" Maggie* s heart sank a littl^ 
because Tom always said it was " no good " playing with he* 
at those games, she played so badly. 

"Marls I no; I've swopped all my marls with the little fel- 
lows, 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 notk 
jng but a bit of yellow." 

"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 deter- 
mined. 

"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 
Bound 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 your- 
self? 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 toffee." 

" Oh, dear ! I wish they wouldn't fight at your school, Tom* 
Didn't it hurt you?" 



BOY AND GIRL, ST 

"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 added, 

"I gave Spouncer a black eye, I know; thaf s what he got 
by wanting to leather me; I wasn't going to go halves because 
anybody leathered me." 

"Oh, how brave you are, Tom! I think you're like Sam- 
son. If there came a lion roaring at me, I think you'd fight 
idm, 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 do, Tom? " 

Tom paused, and at last turned away contemptuously, say- 
ing, " But the lion Isn't coming. What's the use of talking?" 

"But I like to fancy how it would be," said Maggie, fol- 
lowing him. "Just think what you would do, Tom." 

"Oh, don't bother, Maggie I you're such a silly. I shall go 
and see my rabbits." 

Maggie's heart began to flutter with fear. She dared not 
tell the sad truth at once, but she walked after Tom in trem- 
bling 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 dif- 
ferent auger from her own. 

"Torn," she said, timidly, when they were out of doors, 
* how much money did you give for your rabbits? n 

"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? n said Tom. " I don't want your money, you 
silly thing. Fve got a great deal more money than you, be 



W THE MILL OH THE FLOSS. 

cause Fm a boy. I always have half-sovereigns and sove* 
eigns 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' 11 pitch into Harry. I' 11 have him turned 
away. And I don't love you, Maggie. You sha'n't go fish- 
ing 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 love you." 

"Yes, you're a silly; but I never do forget things, 1 
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 his shoulder. 

Tom shook her off," and stopped again, saying in a pereinp- 
tory tone, "Now, Maggie, you just listen. Aren't I a good 
brother to you?" 

"Ye-ye-es," sobbed Maggie, her chin rising and falling eon- 
vulsedly. 

" 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-lovo 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 81 

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 min 
ute or twoj 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 any- 
thing if Tom didn't love her? Oh, he was very cruel 1 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 I" 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 



40 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

loved her. not because his father told him. No, she woul 
never go down if Tom didn't come to fetch her. This resolit 
tion lasted in great intensity for five dark minutes behind thv 
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 twi- 
light 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 
toeant to punish her, and that business having been performed, 
he occupied himself with other matters, like a practical per- 
son. 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 afternoon. 

"I don't know," said Tom. He didn't want to "tell" of 
Maggie, though he was angry with her ; for Tom Tulliver wa? 
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 youi 
coming home." 

"I haven't seen her this two hours," says Tom, commenc- 
ing on the plumcake. 

"Goodness heart! she's got drowndedl" exclaimed Mrs. 
Tulliver, rising from her seat and running to the window. 
"How could you let her do so?" she added, as became a fear- 
ful 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. "1 
think she's in the house." 

"Perhaps up in that attic," said Mrs. Tulliver, "a-singing 
and talking to herselfj and forgetting all about meal-times." 



BOY AND GIRL. 41 

" You go ana fetch her down, Tom, " said Mr. Tulliver, 
rather sharply, his perspicacity or his fatherly fondness foi 
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 de- 
Served it. Why, he wouldn't have minded being punished 
kimself if he deserved it ; but, then, ha never did deserve it. 

It was Tom's step, then, that Maggie heard on the stairs, 
fcrhen 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, "Nevermind, 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 vio- 
lently 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, show- 
ing 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 ourselvei 
in every respect like members of a highly civilized society. 
Maggie and Tom were still very much like young animals, and 



42 THE MILL OX THE FLOSS. 

*o she could mb 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 friendly ponies. 

"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 Mag- 
gie was trotting with her own fishing-rod in one hand and a 
handle of the basket in the other, stepping always, by a pecul- 
iar 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 opin- 
ion 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 wonder- 
ful pool, which the floods had made along while ago. No one 



EOT 



fcaev bow deep It vae; and it was my*n~u*n, too, tint it 
boald be alauct a perfect round, fianed in witfc willow ad 
tall reeds, so thai the waia w* <ly to Le seen vfcen jo got 
dose to tbe brink. The sight of tie old favorite spot always 
i i^hli anil TM'I jnnil ., unl Tin rpnfrr fir Migitr flrr 



pn-pared their tackk. He tfarw ker fine for Iwr, ndpot UK 
rod iocitolier band. Mag^ia ttmgfrt it fnbobla fittttiMtaan 
fish raddecMetober book, and tibe large QMS to 
Bttsbebad forgotten aU about tibe fish, 

<ir*a.~' ~ s.1 HT z_i.;.:~ T"i.:^-r. 
per, 'Look, look, Haggler 



: _ :;:r:-r.:.; _:^. i:-"^" 




44 THE MILL ON THE FLOSB. 

a sense of travel, to see tlie rushing spring-tide, the awfrik 
Eagre, 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 pass- 
,ing "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 
np again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny 
fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass j the same 
hips and haws on the autumn 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, 
>ach with a sort of personality given to it by the capricious 
iedgerows, 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 child- 
hood 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 ia us, and 
transform our perception into love, 



BOY AND GIRL, 45 

CHAPTER VL 

THB AUNTS AND UNCLES ABB COMING. 

. IT was Easter week, and Mrs. Tulliver's cheesecakes were 
more exquisitely light than usual. "A puff o' wind 'ud make 
i ; em blow about like feathers," Kezia the housemaid said, 
feeling proud to live under a mistress who could make such 
pastry j 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 Mra. 
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 chil- 
dren 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 I " said Mr. Tulliver. " It takes a big loaf when 
there's many to breakfast. What signifies your sisteis* 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 aunta 
and uncles. Maggie's ten times naughtier when they 



M THE MILL OK THE FLOSS. 

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 Deane'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 be- 
sides 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 uncon- 
nected with her family relations; but she had been a Miss 
Dodson, and the Dodsons were a very respectable family in- 
deed, 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, cur- 
ing 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 Wat- 
son. 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 dis 
agreeable truths that correct family feeling dictated; if tho 



EOT AND GIHL. 7 

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 Dodson s 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 collec- 
tively. 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 Dod- 
son, though a mild one, as small-beer, so long as it is any- 
thing, is only describable as very weak ale : and though she 
had groaned a little in her youth under the yoke of her elder sis- 
ters, 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 fea- 
tures 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, y 
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 gloom- 
iest 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 flight. 



48 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

On Wednesday, the day before the aunts and uncles wer 
coming, there were such various and suggestive scents, as oi 
plumcakes in the oven and jellies in the hot state, mingled 
with the aroma of gravy, that it was impossible to feel alto- 
gether gloomy : there was hope in the air. Tom and Maggie 
made several inroads into the kitchen, and, like other maraud- 
ers, 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-mor- 
tow?" 

"No," said Tom, slowly, when he had finished his puff, and 
was eying the third, which was to be divided between them, 
~no, Isha'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 man- 
ner. (It was a difficult problem to divide that very irregular 
polygon into two equal parts.) " What do /care about Lucy? 
She's only a girl, she can't play at bandy." 

"Is it the tipsy-cake, then?" said Maggie, exerting her 
hypothetic powers, while she leaned forward toward Tom with 
her eyes fixed on the hovering knife. 

"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, foi 
he still eyed the halves doubtfully. At last he said, 

" Shut your eyes, Maggie." 

"What for?" 

" You never mind what for. Shut 'em when I tell you." 

Maggie obeyed. 

"Now, which'll you have, Maggie, right hand or left?" 

'I'll have that with the jam run out," said Maggie, keep- 
ing 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. 
Eight or left, you choose, now. Ha-a-a!" said Tom, in a 



BOY ATTD GIRL. 49 

tone of exasperation, as Maggie peeped. "You keep you! 
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 possi- 
ble 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 this." 

" No, I sha'n't," said Tom, almost crossly, beginning on hia 
own inferior piece. 

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 swal- 
lowed 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 swallowed. 

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 j you know I did," said Mag- 
gie, in an injured tone. 

"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 fer it: and if you choose the best with your eyes shut, he 



60 THE MILL ON THE FLOS8. 

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 atten- 
tion 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 un- 
merited 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 hi 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 wad scold* 



BOY AND GIRL. M 

ing them fiercely, and her heart beat with terror. Maggit 
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 yel- 
low-hammer's; he found out all the wasps' nests, and could 
set all sort of traps j 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 hol- 
low, or wander by the hedgerow, and fancy it was all differ- 
ent, 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 her opium. 

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 



62 THE MILL ON THE FLO8& 

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 un- 
deniably "virtue in rags," which, on the authority even of 
bilious philosophers, who think all well-dressed merit over- 
paid, 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 amphibioi^s animal who foresaw 
occasion for darting in. " He lives up the Kennel Yard at Sut 
Ogg's, he does. He's the bigges ^-catcher anywhere, he is. 
I'd sooner be a rot-catcher nor anyuiiing, I would. The moles 
is nothing to the rots. But Lors ! you inun 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 behind- 
hand 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 
k* 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 
Jew 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 with- 
tut being set on." 



BOY AND GIRL. 53 

" Lors I why, that's the beauty on 'em. If a chap lays hold 
D* your ferret, he won't be long before he hollows out a good 
on, 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 un- 
dergo the most unpleasant consequences. 

"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 pur- 
pose just as well. 

" Ugh ! you coward ! " said Tom, and kicked him over, feel- 
ing 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 op 
position between statements that were really accordant, 
" but there was a big flood once, when the Bound Pool was 
made, /know there was, 'cause father says so. And the 
sheep and cows were all drowned, and the boats went all over 
the fields ever such a way." 

"/ don't care about a flood comin'," said Bobj "I don't 
mind the water, no more nor the land. I'd swim, 1 would." 

" Ah, but if you got nothing to eat for ever so long? " said 
Tom, his imagination becoming quite active under the stimu- 
lus 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," ha added, in 
the tone of a benevolent patron. 



54 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"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, com- 
ing out of the water and tossing his halfpenny io 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 fell. 

"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. 

"You can't make me do nothing, you can't," said Bob. 

"Yes, lean." 

"No, you can't." 

"I'm master." 

"I don't care for you." 

"But I'll make you care, you cheat," said Tom, collaring 
Bob and shaking him. 

" 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 oa the ground for a moment or two, till Tom, pinning 
Bob down by the shoulders, thought he had the mastery. 

" You, say you'll give me the half penny now, " he said, with 
difficulty, while he exerted himself to keep the command of 
Bob's arms. 

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 impunity 
but with honor. The pain from Yap's teeth, instead of sur- 
prising Bob into a relaxation of his hold, gave it a fiercei 
tenacity, and with a new exertion of his force he pushed Tom 



BOY AND GIRL, 85 

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 eha'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 re- 
gret toward the rat-catching and other pleasures which he must 
relinquish along with Bob's society. 

u 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 yoti 
don't. An* you're a nasty fightin' turkey-cock, you are * 

Tom walked on without looking round f 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 /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 was gone. 

He stood still till Tom had passed through the gate and dis- 
appeared behind the hedge. The knife would do no good on 
the ground there; it wouldn't vex IVu; and pride or resent* 



56 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

ment was a feeble passion in Bob's mind compared with the 
love of a pocket-knife. Ilis 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 be- 
yond 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 per- 
sonage, 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 com- 
ing so much sooner than she had expected, and she dared 
hardly speak to him as he stood silently throwing the small 
igravel-stones into the mill-dam. It is not pleasant to give up 
i 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. 



BOY AND GIRL, 5T 

CHAPTER VIL 

ENTEB 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 ad- 
vantages 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 Mi s. Wooll wore her lace before it was paid for. 
So of her curled fronts : Mrs. Glegg had doubtless the glossi- 
est 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 be- 
tween 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 always weak f 

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 
hed tears several times at^sister Glegg's unkindness on the 



08 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

subject of these unmatronly curls, but the consciousness of 
looking the handsomer for them naturally administered sup- 
port. Mrs. Glegg chose to wear her bonnet in the house to- 
day, untied and tilted slightly, of course, a frequent prac- 
tice 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 chevaiix-de-frise of miscellaneous frill- 
ing. 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 constella- 
tions 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 hers. 

" 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 ; Fll 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 percept\Tc3e tc^s of her head* " I should ha' thought 



BOY AND GIRL. 59 

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 earliei 
because o' you." 

"Yes, yes, I know how it is with husbands, they're foi 
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 pro- 
vide 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 spoon- 
ful o' sugar, and no spice, 'ud be far more becoming." 

With sister Glegg in this humor, there was a cheerful pros- 
pect 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, / 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." 



60 THE MTT.T, ON THE FLOSS. 

The sound of wheels while Mrs. Glegg was speaking was wa 
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 four-wheel. 

Mrs. Glegg tossed her head and looked rather sour about 
tibe month at the thought of the "four-wheel." She had a 
strong opinion on that subject. 

Sister Pullet was in tears when the one-horse chaise stopped 
be: re lira. T-;lI:v c :'s c :: :, n4 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 pos- 
sibly broken for the second time. 

There was no reply but a further shake of the head, as Mrs. 
Pallet 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 eves, 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, abun- 
dant 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 com- 
plexity introduced into the emotions by a high state of civili- 
zation, 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 archi- 
tectural 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 



BOY ATTD GIRL. 61 

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 pro- 
duces a composition of forces by which she takes a line that 
just clears the door-post. Perceiving that the tears are hurry- 
ing 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 was seated. 

"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 be- 
hind, before she answered, 

*' 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 sa you might ha* swum in it, if you'd 
liked." 

" Well, Sophy, it's ; mercy she's gone, then, whoever she 
may be, " said Mrs. Gle fe g, with the promptitude and emphasis 
of a mind naturally clear and decided; "but I can't think who 
you're talking of, for my part." 

" But / know," said Mrs. Pullet, sighing and sliaking her 



W THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

head j " and there isn't another such a dropsy in the parish, 
/know as it's old Mrs. Sutton o* the Twenty lands." 

" Well, she's no kin o* yours, nor much acquaintance as I've 
ever heared of," said Mrs. Glegg, who always cried just as 
touch as was proper when anything happened to her own 
"kin," but not on other occasions. 

" 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 man- 
agement to the last, and had her pocket with her keys in 
under her pillow constant. There isn't many old parish' nera 
like her, I doubt." 

"And they say she'd took as much physic as 'ud fill a 
wagon," observed Mr. Pullet. 

"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, fret- 
ting 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 heared of. You 
couldn't fret no more than this, if we'd heared as our cousin 
Abbott had died sudden without making his will." 

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 high- 
est 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 &3 wife's tears j "ours is a ric 



BOY AND GIRL. 63 

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 nevvy." 

"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 leav- 
ing 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 hare- 
skin 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, 
etrong 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 husband. 

Mr. Pullet, by an unaccountable lapse of memory, had for- 
gotten it, and hastened out, with a stricken conscience, to 
remedy the omission. 

"They'll bring it upstairs, sister," said Mrs. Tulliver, wish- 
ing 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 doctor's stuff. 

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 com- 
passion: Bessy went far too well dressed, considering j and 



64 TEE HILL ON THE FLOSS. 

she was too proud to dress her child in the good clothing her 
iiater Glegg gave her from the primeval strata of her ward- 
robe j 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, how- 
ever, 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. Tulli- 
ver 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 rib- 
bons, 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 Mag- 
gie 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 aud 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 Pul- 
let' 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, notwithstand- 
ing he had the Dodson complexion, was likely to be as " con- 
trairy " as his father. As for Maggie, she was the picture of 
her aunt Moss, Mr. Tulliver's sister, a large-boned woman, 
had married as poorly as could bej had no china, and 



EOT AND GIRL. 65 

had a husband who had much ado to pay his rent. But -when 
Mrs. Pullet was alone with Mrs. Tulliver upstairs, the re- 
marks 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 
tete-a-tete was curtailed by the appearance of Mrs. Deane with 
little Lucy; and Mrs. Tulliver had to look on with a sileut 
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 
eide 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 be- 
tween the cousins was conspicuous, and to superficial eyes was 
very much to the disadvantage of Maggie, though a connois- 
seur 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; every thing 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 her 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 etay 
with Tom and me, won't you? Oh, kiss her, Tom." 

Tom, too, had come up to Lucy, but he was not going to 
ciss her no; be came up to her with Maggie, because it 



6 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS, 

seemed easier, on the whole, than saying, "How do you dof * 
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 I" said aunt Glegg, with loud emphasis. "Do 
little boys and gells come into a room without taking notice o* 
their uncles and aunts? That wasn't the way when / 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 chil- 
dren, 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 de- 
clined that pleasure apparently, for he tried to draw his hand 
away. " Put your hair behind your ears, Maggie, and keep 
your frock on your shoulder." 

Aunt Glegg always spoke to them in this loud, emphatio 
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 gel] 
has too much hair. I'd have it thinned and cut shorter, sis- 
ter, 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 j 



BOY AND GIRL. T 

there's nothing a3s 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, BO 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 rea- 
sons for refusal, Mrs. Deane appealed to Lucy herself. 

" 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 t 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 hin 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, ship-owning 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. 



68 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"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 curi- 
osity awakened. 

Maggie answered by seizing her front locks and cutting 
them straight across the middle of her forehead. 

" Oh, my buttons I Maggie, you'll catch itl " exclaimed Torn} 
"you'd better not cut any more off." 

Snip I went the great scissors again while Tom was speaking, 
and he couldn't help feeling it was rather good fun} Maggie 
would look so queer. 

"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 tools 
the scissors. 

"Nevermind, 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 tempt- 
ing 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 shears meet through a duly 
resisting mass of hair. One delicious grinding snip, and 
tnen another and another, and the hinder-locks fell heavily on 



BOY AND OIKL. 

the floor, and Maggie stood cropped in a jagged, uneven moa- 
ner, 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 

Ms knees as he laughed, " Oh, my buttons I what a queer thing 
you look I 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 before- 
hand chiefly of 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 peo- 
ple 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 the idiot, the affair had quite a new aspect. She 
looked in the glass, and still Tom laughed and clapped his 
hands, and Maggie's flushed cheeks began to pale, and her 
lips to tremble a little. 

" Oh, Maggie, you'll have to go down to dinner directly," 
said Tom, "Oh, myl" 

"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 ex 
perience 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 won- 
derful instinctive discernment of what would turn to his ad- 
vantage or disadvantage; and so it happened, that though he 



TO THF- MILL OS THE FLOSS. 

was much more wilful and inflexible than Maggie, his mothef 
hardly ever called him naughty. But if Tom did make a mis- 
take of that sort, he espoused it, and stood by it : he " didn't 
mind." If he broke the lash of his father's gig-whip by lash- 
ing 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 justifi- 
able 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 en- 
dure 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 anti- 
thetically 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 rive 
or ten years ago. Every one of those keen moments has left 
its trace, and lives in us still, but such traces have blent them- 
selves 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 hia 
childhood, not merely with a memory of what he did and 



BOY AND GIRL. tt 

tthat 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 sa 
long from one Midsummer to another; what he felt when his 
schoolfellows shut him out of their game because he would 
pitch the ball wrong out of mere wilf ulness.; 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 defi- 
ance, 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 din: 
guesses, the strangely perspectiveless conception of life that 
gave the bitterness its intensity, we should not pooh-pooh thr 
griefs of our children. 

"Miss Maggie, you're to come down this minute," said 
Kezia, entering the room hurriedly. "Lawks I what have you 
been a-doing? I niver 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 din- 
ner? 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 j 
if lie had been crying on the floor, Maggie would have cried 
too. And there was the dinner, so nice; and she was go 
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 
iaid in a lower, comforting tone, 

" Won't you come, tnen, Magsic? Shall I brio? you a 



ft THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 
tolerable. 

" 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-parlor 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 dinner. 

Mrs. Tulliver's scream made all eyes turn toward the same 
point as her own, and Maggie's cheeks and ears began to burn, 
while uncle Glegg, a kind-looking, white-haired old gentle- 
man, 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. Tul- 
liver in an undertone to Mr. Deane, laughing with much en- 
joyment. Did you ever know such a little hussy as it is? " 

" Why, little miss, you've made yourself look very funny," 
Baid uncle Pullet, and perhaps he never in his life made ac 
observation which was felt to be so lacerating. 



BOY AND GIRL. T3 

"Fie, for shame!" said aunt Glegg, in her loudest, severest 
toiie 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 uncles." 

" 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 f- 
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 brown." 

" 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 brav- 
ing 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, put- 
ting 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'3 domestic sorrows seemed at this moment to 



74 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

hare reached the point at which insensibility begins. She 
took no notice of her sister's remark, but threw back her cap* 
strings 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 disen- 
gaged, 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 them- 
selves talked of as freely as if they were birds, and could un- 
derstand nothing, however they might stretch their necks and 
listen; but on this occasion Mrs. Tulliver manifested an un- 
usual 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 un- 
derstand, as'll put him up to most things." 

There was a rustling demonstration of surprise in the com* 
pany, such as you may have observed in a country congrega- 
tion when they hear an allusion to their week'day affairs 



BOY AND GIRL. 75 

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 uncla 
Pullet belonged to that extinct class of British yoemen 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 remark- 
able results of a great natural faculty under favoring circum- 
stances. And uncle Pullet had a great natural faculty for igno- 
rance. 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 com- 
prehension. 

" 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 sent him to school again, it should be to somebody differ- 
ent to Jacobs. And this Mr. Stelling, by what I can mak( 
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, tap- 
ping 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 vixen 
wishing to maintain a neutral position. 



TB THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" What! do you think tho parson'll te*ach 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 becom- 
ing in him to take a playful view of things. 

" 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 .\im 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 lawyer* 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 pitf and scorn. 

"It 'ud be a fine deal better for some people," she sai4, 
after that introductory note, "if they'd let the lawyers 
alone." 

"Is he at the head of a grammar school, then, this clergy- 
man, such as that at Market Bewley? " said Mr. Deane. 

" No, nothing o' that, " said Mr. Gulliver. " He won't take 
jtiore than two or three pupils, and so he'll have the more time 
-|o attend to 'em, you know." 

"Ah, and get his eddication done tbe 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. Tulli- 
ver, with some pride at his own spirited course. " But then, 
you know, it's an investment; Tom's eddication 'oik be at 
much capital to him.* 



BOY AND GIRL. 77 

"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. 1 

\1 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. i 

"Mr. Glegg, I wonder ayou," 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 head- 
longs 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 
;hiuks o' sending his son to a clergyman, depend on it I shall 
nake 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 
meat." 

"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 observa- 



78 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

tion with erroneous plausibility, "you must consider that, 
neighbor Tulliverj 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 neither. 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, 1 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'v j 
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 divert- 
ing 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 among sisters." 

"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. 



BOY A1STD GIRL. 7S 

But while he was speaking, Mr. Tulliver, who had by n 
deans 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, 
/ 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-tem- 
pered woman in it! " 

"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 j 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 day." 

u Then, sisters, shall we go and look at the children? " said 
Mrs. Tulliver, drying her eyes. 

No proposition could have been more seasonable. Mt. 
Tulliver felt very much as if the air had been cleared of ob- 
trusive flies now the women were out of the room. There were 
few things he liked better than a chat with Mr. Deaue, whose 



60 

close application Co business allowed the pleasure very rarely, 
Mr. Deaue, He considered, was the "knowingest" man of hia 
acquaintance, and he had besides a ready causticity of tongue 
that made an agreeable supplement to Mr. Tulliver's own ten- 
dency 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 Welling- 
ton, 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. Bather 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 im- 
ports, especially in hides and spelter, which soothed Mr. Tul- 
liver's imagination by throwing into more distant perspective 
the period when the country would become utterly the prey of 
Papists and Eadicals, 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 waa no better than he should b& 



BOY AND GIRL. <1 

CHAPTER VHL 

TULLITF.B SHOWS HIS WEAKER 8IDB. 

" 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 day. 

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. Tul- 
liver did not choose. 

Mrs. Tulliver cried a little in a trickling, quiet way as she 
pnt 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 for- 
ward to any distinct issue from that talk; but it seemed ink" 
6 



W THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

possible 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 think- 
ing 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 delibera- 
tions 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 snatch- 
ing hastily at a single thread. It was owing to this prompti- 
tude 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 everyday 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 ad- 
vantages 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 9 



BOY AND GIRL. M 

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 into the world in that superfluous way charac- 
teristic 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. Tul- 
liver 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 trenmlousness 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 lake 
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 fool- 
ishly about his wool this year as he did the last; in fact, Mr. 
Tulliver had been too easy with his brother-in-law, and be- 
cause 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 ep- 
courage such shuffling people any longer; and a ride along the 
Basset lanes was not likely to enervate a man's resolution by 



84 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

softening His temper. The deep-trodden hoof-marks, madt 
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 arid 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 cer- 
tainly 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 dis- 
tant high-road ; but there were many f eet.in Basset which they 
led more frequently to a centre of dissipation, spoken of for- 
merly as the " Markis o 1 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 seduc- 
tive 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 tier 
husband more than once, when her brother was in a mood to 
find fault with him, as he certainly was to-day. And nothing 



EOT AND GIRL. 85 

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 com- 
mand 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? n 

"Oh, pretty well, Mrs. Moss, pretty well," answered the 
brother, with cool deliberation, as if it were rather too for- 
ward 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 com* 
pany. 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 
ron 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 
yoo, and take something?" 



16 THE MILL ON THE 

"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 Mid- 
summer, 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 Lave 
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 him- 
self, 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 87 

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 their brothers." 

"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 half-smothered fire. 

Mr. Tulliver gave his horse a little stroke on the flank, 
then checked it, and said angrily, "Stand still with you I" 
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 ungrate* 
ful," 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 I " 

" While, do you call it? " said Mr. Moss, feeling out ol 
breath and injured. " I've been running all the way. Won't 
you 'light, Mr. Tulliver?" 



88 THE MILL Off THE FLOSS. 

" Well, I'll just get down and have a bit o' talk with yon 
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 conver- 
sation by ooserving, with something like a snarl in his tone, 

" 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 ma- 
chine-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 goawk'ardwith; 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 nse o* that," said Mr. Tulliver, sharply, 
" when a man marries, and's got no capital to work his farm 



BOY AND GIRL. 89 

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 pound." 

"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 de- 
sired, and he was able to say angrily, rising from his seat, 

" Well, you must do as you can. / 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 you can. " 

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 hold- 
ing his horse, and his sister was waiting in a state of wonder- 
ing 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 walk- 
ing 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 
tight of the dilapidated farm-buildings, he appeared to b* 



90 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 melan- 
choly 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 puz- 
zling world. He turned his horse, and rode slowly back, giv 
ing 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 I'm gone." 

Mr. Tulliver 's return into the yard was descried by several 
yxmng 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 ostenta- 
tious 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, dry- 
ing 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 paper parcel. 

" 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 pocket? n 

"Ay, ay," said Mr. Tulliver, putting it carefully in his 
side pocket. " Good-by." 

And so the respectable miller returned along the Basset lanes 
rather more puzzled than before as to ways and means, but 



BOY AND GIRL. 91 

Btill with the sense of a danger escaped. It had come across 
his mind that if he were hard upon his sister, it might some- 
how 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 sister. 



CHAPTER IX. 

TO OARUM PIER. 

WHILE the possible troubles of Maggie's future were occupy- 
ing her father' s mind, she herself was tasting only the bitter- 
ness 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 Gamin 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 1 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. Kappitj 
the hair-dresser, with his well-anointed coronal locks tending 
wavily upward, like the simulated pyramid of flame on a monu- 
mental urn, seemed to her at that moment the most formi- 
dable 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 lay- 
ing out of the best clothes might not be deferred till the last 



3 THE MILL ON THE FLOSB. 

Bioment, 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. Tul- 
liver 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 hex 
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 I" 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 
onft 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 her- 
self 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 peev- 
ish, and if Tom had not inconsiderately laughed when her 
houses fell, and told her she was "a stupid," 



BOY AND GIRL. M 

"Don't laugh at me, Tom!" she burst out angrily; "I'm 
Hot a stupid. I know a great many things you don't. 1 ' 

"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. J 
Hke Lucy better than you; /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 any- 
thing cowardly. 

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 thumb- 
nail 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 individual. 

Thus the morning had been made heavy to Maggie, and 
Tom's persistent coldness to her all through their walk spoiled 
the firesh air and sunshine for her. He called Lucy to look 
at tha half-built bird's nest without caring to show it Maggie, 
and peeled a willow switch for Lucy and himself, without 
cffering 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 0,1 the stackyard wall, just as they reached Garum .Firs, 
was enough to divert the mind temporarily from personal 
grievaicps. And this was only the beginning of beautiful 
sights &t Gaium Firs. All the farmyard life was wonderful 



34 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 won- 
derful 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, noth- 
ing was quite common at Garum Firs; and Tom thought thai 
the unusual size of the toads there was simply due to the gen- 
eral unusualness which characterized uncle Pullet's possession? 
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 wiugs with battlemented turrets, 
and was covered with glittering white stucco. 

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'tlet'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 shoe-wiping, 
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 compan- 
ions; 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 95 

served, in barbarous times, as a trial by ordeal from which 
none but the most spotless virtue could have come off with un- 
broken 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 think- 
ing to herself it was a mercy when she and the children were 
safe on the landing. 

" Mrs. Gray has sent home my new bonnet, Bessy, n 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 con- 
sideration, 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 made you." 

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 the 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 Jinen, 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. Tulli- 
rer, 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 c^iite sol* 



96 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

emn. Aunt Pullet paused and unlocked a door which opened 
on something still more solemn than the passage, a darkened 
loom, in which the outer light, entering feebly, showed what 
looked like the corpses of furniture in white shrouds. Every 
thing 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 de- 
licious 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 bon- 
net 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 
Jooked 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," Baid 
Mrs. Tulliver. 

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 it contemplatively. 

" How much might she charge you for that bonnet, sister?" 
said Mrs Tulliver, whose mind was actively engaged on the 



EOT AND 

possibility of getting a humble imitation of this 
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 woukL" 

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 knows?" 

"Don't talk o* that, sister," answered Mrs. Tulliver. w l 
hope you'll have your health this summer." 

" Ah I 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 sec- 
ond year, especially when the crowns are so chancy, never 
two summers alike." 

"Ah, it's the way i* this world," said Mrs. Pullet, return- 
ing the bonnet to the wardrobe and locking it up. She main- 
tained 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 defi- 
ciency 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 under- 
stand; indignantly conscious, all the while, that she could 
have understood that, as well as everything else, if she had 
teen taken into confidence. 



08 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

When they went down, uncle Pullet observed, with som 
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 di- 
rectly opposite his uncle Pullet, who regarded him with twin- 
kling 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 an- 
swered, "I don't know." It was altogether so embarrassing 
to be seated tete-a-tete with uncle Pullet, that Tom could not 
even look at the prints on the walls, or the fly-cages, 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 over- 
mastering 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 Aris- 
totle. 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 envi- 
able 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 min- 
atory 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, includ- 
ing cockchafers, neighbors' dogs, and small sisters, which in 
all ages has been an attribute of so much promise for the for- 
tunes of our race. Now, Mr. Pullet never rode anything 



BOY AND GIRL. 99 

taller than a low pony, and was the least predatory of men, con* 
sidering 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 tete-a-tete 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 ancle 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, has- 
tily stowed it in his mouth at two bites, and chewed it fur- 
tively. 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 dis- 
grace 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 ask- 
ing 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 blushing 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 tLd thing was viewed in that light by the majority 



100 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 depreci- 
ated 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 confu- 
sion 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 some- 
times 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 un- 
called-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 peev- 
ishly. 

" Little gells mustn't come to see me if they behave in that 
way," said aunt Pullet. 

" 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. 



DOT AND GIRL. 10J 

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 permis- 
sion, 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 run- 
ning 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 
*ares, 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 
or 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 J em," said Mr. Pullet, beginning 
to nurse his knee and shelter it with his pocket-handkerchief, 
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 his tongue. 

" 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. 



102 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Tulliver, who naturally saw the wide subject of medicine 
chiefly in relation to Mrs. Glegg. 

"It's dreadful to think on," said N aunt Pullet, raising hei 
hands and letting them fall again, " people playing with their 
own insides in that way ! And it's flying i' the face o' Provi- 
dence ; 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. Button'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 tj 
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 fortin." 

" 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 be- 
haved 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 
same patterns." 

"I know Tulliver's hasty, and says odd things," said Mrs. 
Tulliver, wiping away one small tear from the corner of her 
e/e: " but I'm sure he's never been the man, since he married 



BOY AND GIRL, 103 

toe, to object to my making the friends o* my side O* the 
family welcome to the house." 

"/ 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 re- 
tributive, to take a 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 bed- 
hangings taken down I did as much as the two gells put to- 
gether; and there's this last elder-flower wine I've made 
beautiful I I allays offer it along with the sherry, though sis- 
ter 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 pork- 
pie, 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 
can." 

"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, 
Tul liver's not a man to be dictated to, not if I was to go tt 



104 THE MILL ON THE FLOS8. 

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 tL it 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've to do with their money. But Jane and me were allays 
contrairy j she would have striped things, and I like spots. 
You like a spot too, Bessy; we allays hung together i' that." 

"Yes, Sophy," said Mrs. Tulliver, "I remember our hav- 
ing 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 in- 
dependent 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 par- 
don," 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. Tul- 
liver. " 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 hus- 
band's irrevocable determination to pay in the five hundred 
pounds ; at least such a determination exceeded her powers ol 
telief. 



BOY AND GIRL. 105 

"Well, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, mournfully, "/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 to- 
morrow, if Pullet doesn't mind. What do you say, Mr. 
Pullet? , 

"I've no objections," said Mr. Pullet, who was perfectlyy 
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 in- 
troduced 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 noted. 



CHAPTER X. 

MAGG1B BEHAVES WORSE THAN 8HB EXPECTED. 

THE startling object which thus made an epoch for uncle 
Pullet was no other than little Lucy, with one side of her per- 
son, from her small foot to her bonnet-crown, wet and discol- 
ored with mud, holding out two tiny blackened hands, and 
making a very piteous face. To account for this unprece- 
dented 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 disagreeablt 



106 THE JCTLL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 oft 
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 \h& 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 j for Lucy 
had a delighted semi-belief 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 I 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 banning to think 
that she should like to make Lucy cry by slipping o* pinching 
her, especially as it might vex Tom, who*n 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 bA-e go* 
friends with her sooner. 



BOY AND GIRL. 107 

Tickling a fat toad who is not highly sensitive is an amuse- 
ment that it is possible to exhaust, and Tom by and by began 
fco 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 poud 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 garden." 

"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 / 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 took you." 

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 mon- 
ster; 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. 



108 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Here, Lucy I " he said in a loud whisper, " come herel 
take care I 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 con- 
ception of a girl included the attribute of being unfit to walk 
|n dirty places. 

Lucy came carefully as she wav> bidden, and bent down to 
look at what seemed a golden arrc .< -hewl dating through the 
water. It was a water-snake, Tom told her; and Lucy at 
last could see the serpentine wave of its hody > 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 -i iilf=.0o$ 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 iuto 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 re- 
pentance came quickly after one rash deed, but now Tom and 
^ucy 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 \r *"*rgive her, how- 
ever sorry she might have been. 

"I shall tell mother, you know, Mis. 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 hin 
riews in that abstract form; be never mentioned "justice," 



BOY AND GIRL. 109 

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 delicti. 

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, leav- 
ing Sally to that pleasure of guessing which active minds no- 
toriously 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 sus- 
tained by a single mind. 

" Goodness gracious ! " aunt Pullet exclaimed, after prelud- 
ing by an inarticulate scream ; " keep her at the door, Sally I 
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 muafc 



110 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

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 chil- 
dren, there's no knowing what they'll come to." 

Mis. 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 ihe 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 hard- 
ened, 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 distressed voice. 

"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, look- 
ing round. 

" Sitting under the tree, against the pond, " said Tom, ap- 
parently indifferent to everything but the string and the tur- 
key-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, 



BOY AND GIRL, 111 

while Tom walked not very quickly on his way toward 
her. 

"They'ie such children for the water, mine are," she said 
aloud, without reflecting that there was no one to hear herj 
"they'll be brought in dead and drownded some day. I wish 
that river was far enough." 

Eat when she not only failed to discern Maggie, but pres* 
ently saw Tom returning from the pool alone, this hovering 
fear entered and took complete possession of her, and she hur- 
ried to meet him. 

" Maggie's nowhere about the pond, mother," said Tom; 
"she's gone away." 

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 un- 
usual 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 car- 
riage ai- a take me home; we shall perhaps find her on the 
road. Lucy can't walk in her dirty clothes," she said, look- 
ing 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 lof^ was a question that predominated ovez 
*very other. 



112 THE MILL ON THE FLO8& 

CHAPTER XL 

MAGGIE TRIES TO BUN AWAY FROM HER SHADOW. 

MAGGIE'S intentions, as usual, were on a larger scale than 
,Tom had imagined. The resolution that gathered in he* 
mind, after Tom and Lucy had walked away, was not so sim 
pie 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 op- 
probrium, 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 hr 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, how- 
ever, Maggie thought her misery had reached a pitch at which 
gypsydorn was her only 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 se- 
cretly 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 



BOY AND GIRL. 

highroad. She stopped to pant a little, reflecting that run- 
ning 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 corn- 
ing 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 antici- 
pated, 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 a bonnet. 
It was clear that she was not likely to make a favorable im- 
pression 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 delight- 
ful 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 
8 



114 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

the highroad. Sometimes she had to climb over high gates, 
but that was a small evil ; she was getting out of reach ver^ 
fast, and she should probably soon come within sight of Dun- 
low 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 Garurn, where there was a great deal of pasture-land, and 
she had only seen one laborer at a distance. That was for- 
tunate in some respects, as laborers might be too ignorant to 
understand the propriety of her wanting to go to Dunlow Com- 
mon j 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 ; per- 
haps 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 with- 
out 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 Mag- 
gie 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, 



BOY A1SD GIRL. 115 

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 up- 
permost, oy the side of a hillock; they seemed something hide- 
ously 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 com- 
mon, where there were sand-pits to hide in, and one was out 
of everybody's reach, had always made part of Maggie's pic- 
ture 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 rathei 
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 coaxing deference. 

It was delightful, and just what Maggie expected ; the gyp- 



116 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

sies saw at once that she was a little lady, and were prepared 
to treat her accordingly. 

"Not any farther," said Maggie, feeliug as if she were say- 
ing 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 they 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 
stolea 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 Mag- 
gie did not understand, while the tall girl, who was feeding 
the donkey, sat up and stared at her without offering any salu- 
tation. 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 things." 

" 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 Mag- 
gie's bonnet and looking at it while she made an observation 
to the old woman, in the unknown language. The tall gm 



BOY AND GIRL. 117 

snatched the "bonnet and put it on her own head hind-fore- 
most with a grin j 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 in- 
teresting. 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 gain- 
ing 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 at" 
tracting her notice. 

" Is that where you live, my little lady? " said the old wom- 
an, 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 1 want my tea so." 

The last words burst from Maggie, in spite of herself, with 
a sudden drop from patronizing instruction to simple peevish- 
ness, 



ri8 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Why, she's hungry, poor little lady," said the youngei 
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 I 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 bacon." 

" 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 lie was sleeping, a rough urchin about the age of Tom. 
He stared at Maggie, and there ensued much incomprehensi- 



BOY AND GIRL. 

ble chattering. Sh< 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 sud- 
den 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 be- 
came 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, coaxing 
tone, 

"This nice little lady's come to live with usj aren't you 
glad? 

" Ay, very glad, " said the younger man, who was looking at 
Maggie's silver thimbie 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. 



120 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS, 

"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 igno- 
rance as well as unexpected knowledge. She could have in- 
formed you that there was such a word as "polygamy," and 
being also acquainted with "polysyllable," she had deduced 
the conclusion that " poly " meant " 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 dreams. 

Her ideas about the gypsies had undergone a rapid modifi* 
cation 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 



BOY ATO> GTRU 121 

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 1 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 bit, come." 

u 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 a lady." 

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 place?" 

"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, put- 
ting 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 



123 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

tnything was better than going with one of the dreadful men 
alone; it would be more cheerful to be murdered by a largei 
party. 

"Ah, you're fondest o' me, aren't you?" said the woman. 
"But I can't goj 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 him- 
self, though no nightmare had ever seemed to her more horri- 
ble. 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 es- 
corted 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 high- 
road, where there was actually a coach passing! And there 
was a finger-post at the corner, she had surely seen that fin- 
ger-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 



BOY AND GIRL. 123 

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, father!" 

The sudden joy was almost painful, and before her father 
reached her, she was sobbing. Great was Mr. Tulliver's won- 
der, 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 arter 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? n 

"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 wench? " 

"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 run- 
ning 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. 



124 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

CHAPTER XIL 

MB. AND MBS. GLEGQ AT HO11B. 

Jx order to see Mr. and Mrs. Glegg at home, we must entet 
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 con- 
tinuation 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 Eoman 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 Nor- 
mans 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 par- 
don at its inconsistencies, and are well content that they who 
built the stone oriel, and they who built the Gothic faqade 
and towers of finest small brickwork with the trefoil orna- 
ment, and the windows and battlements defined with stone, 



EOT AND GIRL. 125 

iid not sacrilegiously 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 ia 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 with 
ered 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. 1 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 straight- 
way 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, aad 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 eon of Beorl was always seen with his 
boat upon the. wide-spreading waters,. and the Blessed Virgin 



126 THE MILL ON THE FLOSb. 

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 visita- 
tion of the floods, which, even when they left human life un- 
touched, 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 th 
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 inuddy 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 smart- 
ness, 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 cus- 
tomers who would go on their way and be seen no more. Ah ! 
even Mrs. Glegg's day seems far back in the past now, sepa- 
rated 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; Eussia was only the place where the 
liaseed came from, the XBOC** the better, making grist for 



BOY AND GIRL. 127 

the great vertical millstones with their scythe-like arms, roar- 
ing 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 
jyes 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 hill- 
tops! 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 be- 
cause they would lay hold of government and property, and 
bum 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, un- 
mindful of schisms, careless of proselytism : Dissent was an 
inheritance along with a superior pew and a business connec- 
tion; 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 Ques- 
tion had come a slight wind of controversy to break the calm: 
the elderly rector had become occasionally historical and argu- 
mentative; and Mr. Spray, the Independent minister, had be- 
gun to preach political sermons, in which he distinguishec"! 
with much subtlety between his fervent belief iu the right of 
the Catholics to the franchise and his fervent belief in their 



128 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

eternal perdition. Most of Mr. Spray's hearers, 
were incapable of following his subtleties, and many old-fash- 
ioned Dissenters were much pained by his " siding with tha 
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 his 
tory when she had had her quarrel with Mr. Tulliver. It was 
a time when ignorauce 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 j 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 car- 
ried such a bone, which she had inherited from her grand- 
mother 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 excel- 
lent 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 windows she could look 
down the Tofton Koad, 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, aud observe the folly of Mr. Glegg in spending his 
time among "them flowers and vegetables,. n For Mr* 



"BOY AND GIRL. 129 

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 EO much more severe than his busi- 
ness, that he had been driven into amateur hard labor as a dis- 
sipation, and habitually relaxed by doing the work of two ordi- 
nary 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 re- 
spect 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 con- 
tained wonderful caterpillars, slugs, and insects, which, so far 
as he had heard, had never before attracted human observa- 
tion ; 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 dis- 
engaged from the wool business, naturally made itself a path- 
way in other directions.) And his second subject of medita 
tion was the " contrairiness " of the female mind, as typically 
exhibited in Mrs. Glegg. That a creature made in a genea- 
logical 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 tc 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 8 
handsome embodiment of female prudence and thrift, and ^ 



130 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

ing himself of a money-getting, money-keeping turn, had cal 
culated on much conjugal harmony. But in that curious com- 
pound, 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 season- 
ing 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 foi 
you, with a good-natured delight in gratifying your palate, 
and he was given to pet all animals which required no appre- 
ciable 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 hia 
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 in- 
duce 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 gen- 
eration, who made their fortunes slowly, almost as the track- 
ing of the fox belongs to the harrier, it constituted them a 
" race, " which is nearly lost in these days of rapid money -get 
ting, 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 excep- 
tional characters j not so the worthy tax-payers, who, having 
once pinched from real necessity, retained even in the midst 
of their comfortable retirement^ with their wall-fruit and wine* 



BOY AND GIRL 151 

bins, the habit of regarding life as an ingenious process of nib- 
bling out one's livelihood without leaving any perceptible de- 
ficit, and who would have been as immediately prompted to 
give up a newly taxed luxury when they 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 impracti- 
cable 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. 
&legg, being of a reflective turn, and no longer occupied with 
wool, had much wondering meditation on the peculiar consti- 
tution of the female mind as unfolded to him in his domestic 
fife; 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 combi- 
nation of grocery and drug-like 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 mys- 
tery. 

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 



153 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

that, now Mrs. Glegg had " slept upon it," her anger might b 
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 milk-porridge, which it was his old fru- 
gal habit to stem his morning hunger with, prudently resolved 
to leave the first remark to Mrs. Glegg, lest, to so delicate aa 
article as a lady's temper, the slightest touch should do mis- 
chief. People who seem to enjoy their ill temper have a way 
of keeping it in fine condition by inflicting privations on them- 
selves. 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 any opportunity, should not meet with a sin- 
gle remark from Mr. Glegg on which to exercise itself. But 
by and by it appeared that his silence would answer the pur- 
pose, 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 yon 
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 1 
gone elsewhere, as the choice was offered me." 

Mr. Glegg paused from his porridge and looked up, not with 



BOY AND GIRL. 183 

any new amazement, bat simply with that quiet, habitual 
wonder with which we regard constant mysteries. 

u 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 re- 
verted to his porridge. 

"There's husbands in the world," continued Mrs.- Glegg, 
after a pause, " as *ud have known how to do something differ- 
ent 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 insult her." 

"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 face- 
tiousness. "You're like a tipsy man as thinks everybody's 
had too much but himself." 

" 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 trou- 
ble. You'd have to set the lawyer to work now to find an 
investment, and make no end o' expense." 



184 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Mrs. Glegg felt there was really something in this, but sht 
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., M 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 tJia n k me, Mr. Glegg. It's little 
thanks / 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 yoar 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 ven- 
geance. "And you know it's, false. I'm not the woman to 
quarrel with my own kin; you may, for I've known you 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 per- 
haps you'd have had me stay and be swore at, Mr. Glegg; 
perhaps you was vexed not to hear more abuse and foul lan- 
guage 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 eud o' expense, and provided for when I die beyond any- 
thing she could expect to go on i' this way, biting and snap- 



BOY AND GIRL. 185 

ping like a mad dog 1 It's beyond everything, as God A'migJity 

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 gruel." 

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 accus- 
tomed 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' Best " and the gruel, may 
have had some influence in gradually calming her feelings, 
and making it possible for her to endure existence 011 the 
ground-floor shortly before tea-time. This was, partly, Mr. 
Glegg' s suggestion that she would do well to let her five hun- 
dred 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 



136 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 insist- 
ence on the subject of snails, would be touching when it was 
once fairly at an end. To survive Mr. Glegg, and talk eulo- 
gistically of him as a man who might have his weaknesses, but 
who had done the right thing by her, notwithstanding 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 neigh- 
borhood, so as no woman can ever hope to be who has not 
the praeterite 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 magnani- 
mously, quite as if she had been an uninjured woman: "Ah I 
then, there'll be a good business for somebody to take to." 

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 pro- 
tracted beyond certain limits. 

Mr. and Mrs. Glegg talked quite amicably about the Tul- 
livers 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 wnile longer, for when she put it out on a mortgage she 
should only get four per cent. 



BOY AND G11U* 137 

CHAPTER XTT1. 

MB. TULLIVEB FURTHER ENTANGLES THE 8KEOT OF LIYft 

OWING to this new adjustment of Mrs. Glegg*s thoughts, 
Mrs. Pullet found her task of mediation the next day surpris- 
ingly easy. Mrs. Glegg, indeed checked her rather sharply 
for thinking it would be necessary to tell her elder sister \vha\, 
was the right mode of behavior in family matters. Mrs. Pul- 
let'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 fam- 
ily name never suffered except through Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Pul- 
let 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 j but I shall bear no malice, and when 
Mr. Tulliver speaks civil to me, I'll speak civil to him. No- 
body 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 yester- 
day 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 chil- 
dren 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 true. 

"Then I may call and tell Bessy you'll bear no malice, and 



133 THE "iim.lt ON THE FLOS& 

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, aud I do it. No- 
tody can say different of me, if they'll keep to the truth." 

Mrs. Glegg being in this state of satisfaction in her own 
'.ofty magnanimity, I leave you to judge what effect was pro- 
duced on her by the reception of a short letter from Mr. Tulli- 
ver that very evening, after Mrs. Pullet's departure, inform- 
ing her that she needn't trouble her mind about her five hun- 
dred 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 03 his 
children. 

It was poor Mrs. Tulliver who had hastened this catastro- 
phe, 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 j still, she thought to-day, if she told him when he came 
in to tea that sister Pullet was gone to try and make every- 
thing up with sister Glegg, so that he needn't think about 
paying in the money, it would give a cheerful effect to tha 
meal. Mr. Tulliver had never slackened in his resolve to rais< 
the money, but now he at once determined to write a letter tr 
Mrs. Glegg, which should cut off all possibility of mistake, 
Mrs. Pullet gone to beg and pray for him indeed! Mr. Tulli- 
ver did not willingly write a letter, and found the rehAior 
between spoken and written language, briefly known as spU 
ing, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world 
Nevertheless, like all fervid writing, the task was done U 
less time than usual, and it the spelling differed from Mrs* 



SOT AND GIRL. 139 

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 let- 
ter, and cut off the Tulliver children from their sixth and sev- 
enth 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 embit- 
tered her life. This had always been a principle in the Dod- 
son family ; it was one form of that sense of honor and recti- 
tude 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 princi- 
ples, 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 j 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 1 
was pitiable. 

That evening Tom observed to Maggie: "Ohmyi Magg> 
aunt Glegg's beginning to come again; I'm glad I'm going to 
school. You'll catch it all now I " 

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 desir- 
ous of lending five hundred founds on bond. M It must be no 



140 THE MILL ON TTTK FLOBR 

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'a 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 CEdipus, and 
in thia case he might plead, like (Edipus, that his deed was 
inflicted on him rather than committed by him. 



BOOK IL-SCHOOL-TIM& 



CHAPTEB L 

TOM'8 " FIB8T HAUT." 

TOM TULLTTEB'S sufferings during the first quarter he wai 
At King's Lorton, under the distinguished care of the Rev. 
Walter Stalling, were rather severe. At Mr. Jacobs's acad 
emy 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 n without bungling, Tom, 
for his part, was glad he was not in danger of those mean ac- 
complishments. He was not going to be a snuffy schoolmas- 
ter, 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 j 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 mas- 
ter 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 ba 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 j and he thought that a clergyman would 



142 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

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 im- 
press 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 King's 
Lorton. 

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. Torn, as you have observed, was never an ex- 
ception among boys for ease of address j 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 Gog- 
gles. If there were anything that was not thoroughly gen- 
uine 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 
more supernal thunder. 

Mr. Stelling was a well-sized, broad-chested man, not yet 
thirty, with flaxen air 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 



SCHOOL-TIME 143 

brazenness. He had entered on his career with great vigor, 
and intended to make a considerable impression on his fellow- 
men. 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 mas- 
terships 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 con- 
gregation 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 preach- 
ing he had chosen was the extemporaneous, which was held lit- 
tle short of the miraculous in rural parishes like King's Lor' 
ton. .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 ap- 
peals of his own were delivered in the same loud and impres- 
sive manner, they were often thought quite as striking by his 
hearers. Mr. Stelling's doctrine was of no particular school j 
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 hun- 
dreds 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 man- 
ner, either that these things must be procmred by some other 
means, or else that the Eev. Mr. Stelling must go without 
them, which last alternative would be an absurd procrastina- 
tion of the fruits of success, where success was certain. Mr. 
Stelling was so broad-chested and resolute that he felt equal to 



144 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

anything; he would become celebrated by shaking the con 
sciences of his hearers, and he would by and by edit a Greek 
play, and invent several new readings. He had not yet se- 
lected the play, for having been married little more than two 
years, his leisure time had been much occupied with atten- 
tions to Mrs. Stelling j 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 an* 
other 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 mysteri- 
ous 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 



8CHOOL-TTMR 

> 

expencive forms of education, either of whici 
may procure for his son by sending him as solitary p 
clergyman : one is the enjoyment of the reverend gent, 
undivided neglect ; the other is the endurance of the re , 
gentleman's undivided attention. It was the latter priv .^e 
for which Mr. Tulliver paid a high price in Tom's initiatory 
months at King's Lorton. 

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 Kiley'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 " j " 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, iu fact; he 
had the same way of sticking his thumbs in the anaholes of 
his waistcoat. Mr. Tulliver was not by any means an excep- 
tion in mistaking brazenness for shrewdness; most laymen 
thought Stelling shrewd, and a man of remarkable powers gen- 
erally ; it was chiefly by his clerical brethren that he was con- 
sidered rather a dull fellow. But he told Mr. Tulliver several 
stories about " Swing n 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 hardl/ 
fair to laugh at him, for I have known much more highly in- 
structed persons than he make inferences quite as wide, and 
not at all v^sc - 

1W 




THE MILL ON THE FLO8& 

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 ; moreoever, 
that Mrs. Stelling, though so young a woman, and only antici- 
pating 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 ex- 
pressed great contentment to her husband, when they drove 
away, at leaving Toiu 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 it." 

"Ah," said Mr. Tulliver, "he's got some income besides the 
curacy, I reckon. Perhaps hei father allows 'eni 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 medita- 
tive 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 ac- 
tions of animals understood to be under the immediate teach- 
ing of nature. Mr. Broderip's amiable beaver, as that charm- 
ing naturalist tells us, busied himself as earnestly in con- 
structing 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 ab- 
sence 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 otner means of education were mere charlatanism, and 
could produce nothing better than smatterers. Fixed on thia 
firm basis, a man might observe the display of various or 



SCHOOL-TIME. 

eial 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 hold- 
ing 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 relig- 
ious 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 provi- 
dential bulwark of Protestantism, and faith in the unseen 
a great support to afflicted minds j 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 vis- 
itors. 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 n 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 stu- 
pidity; 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 set- 
ter, when once he had been told the distinction, and his per- 



148 THE MILL ON THE FLO88. 

ceptive powers were not at all deficient. I fancy they were 
quite as strong as those of the Eev. Mr. Stelling ; for Tom 
could predict with accuracy what number of horses were can- 
tering behind him, he could throw a stone right into the cen- 
tre of a given ripple, he could guess to a fraction how many 
lengths of his stick it would take to reach across the play- 
ground, and could draw almost perfect squares on his slat* 
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 bor- 
dering 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 tvere equal. 
Whence Mr. Stelling concluded that Tom's brain, being pe- 
culiarly 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 rem- 
edy a gastrio 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, and call the 
mind a sheet of white paper or a mirror, in which case one's 
knowledge of the digestive process becomes quite irrelevant, 
It was doubtless an ingenious idea to call the camel the ship 
of the desert, but it would hardly lead one far in training that 
Useful beast. O Aristotle ! if you had had the advantage of 
being " the freshest modern " instead of the greatest ancient, 
would you not have mingled your praise of metaphorical 
speech, as a sign of high intelligence, with a lamentation that 
Intelligence so rarely shows itself in speech without metaphor, 



SCHOOL-TIME, 149 

that we can so seldom declare what a thing is, except by 
saying it is something else? 

Tom Tulliver, being abundant in no form of speech, did not 
use any metaphor to declare his views as to the nature of 
Latin ; he never called it an instrument of torture ; and it was 
not until he had got on some way in the next half-year, and 
in the Delectus, that he was advanced enough to call it a 
"bore" and "beastly stuff." At present, in relation to this 
demand that he should learn Latin declensions and conjuga- 
tions, Tom was in a state of as blank unimaginativeness con- 
cerning the cause and tendency of his sufferings, as if he had 
been an innocent shrewmouse imprisoned in the split trunk of 
an ash-tree in order to cure lameness in cattle. It is doubtless 
almost incredible to instructed minds of the present day that 
a boy of twelve, not belonging strictly to " the masses, " who 
are now understood to have the monopoly of mental darkness, 
should have had no distinct idea how there came to be such a 
thing as Latin on this earth ; yet so it was with Tom. It 
would have taken a long while to make conceivable to him that 
there ever existed a people who bought and sold sheep and 
oxen, and transacted the every -day affairs of life, through the 
medium of this language ; and still longer to make him under- 
stand why he should be called upon to learn it, when its con- 
nection with those affairs had become entirely latent. So far 
as Tom had gained any acquaintance with the Romans at Mr. 
Jacobs's academy, his knowledge was strictly correct, but it 
went no farther than the fact that they were " in the New 
Testament" ; and Mr. Stelling was not the man to enfeeble and 
emasculate his pupil's mind by simplifying and explaining, 
or to reduce the tonic effect of etymology by mixing it with 
smattering, extraneous information, such as is given to girls. 

Yet, strange to say, under this vigorous treatment Tom be*, 
came more like a girl than he had ever been in his life before. 
He haa a large share of pride, which had hitherto found itself 
very comfortable in the world, despising Old Goggles, and re- 
posing in the sense of unquestioned rights; but now this same 
pride met with nothing but bruises and crushings. Tom was 
too clear-sighted not to be aware that Mr. Stelling's standard 
of things was quite different, was certainly something highei 



160 THE MTLT. ON THIS FLOSa 

in the eyea of the world than that of the people he had been 
living amorist, and that, brought in contact with it, he, Tom 
Tulliver, appeared uncouth and stupid; he \vas by no means 
indifferent to this, and his pride got into an uneaay condition 
which quite nullified his boyish self-satisfaction, and gave 
him something of the girl's susceptibility. He was of a very 
firm, not to say obstinate, disposition, but there was no brute- 
like rebellion and recklessness in his nature; the human sen- 
sibilities predominated, and if it had occurred to him that he 
could enable himself to show some quickness at his lessons, 
and so acquire Mr. Stelling's approbation, by standing on one 
leg for an inconvenient length of time, or rapping his head 
moderately against the wall, or any voluntary action of that 
sort, he would certainly have tried it. But no; Tom had 
never heard that these measures would brighten the under- 
standing, or strengthen the verbal memory ; and he was not 
given to hypothesis and experiment. It did occur to him that 
he could perhaps get some help by praying for it ; but as the 
prayers he said every evening were forms learned by heart, he 
rather shrank from the novelty and irregularity of introducing 
an extempore passage on a topic of petition for which he was 
not aware of any precedent. But one day, when he had broken 
down, for the fifth time, in the supines of the third conjuga- 
tion, and Mr. Stelling, convinced that this must be careless- 
ness, since it transcended the bounds of possible stupidity, had 
lectured him very seriously, pointing out that if he failed to 
seize the present golden opportunity of learning supines, he 
would have to regret it when he became a man, Tom, more 
miserable than usual, determined to try his sole resource ; and 
that evening, after his usual form of prayer for his parents and 
" little sister " (he had begun to pray for Maggie when she 
was a baby), and that he might be able always to keep God's 
commandments, he added, in the same low whisper, "and 
please to make me always remember my Latin." He paused 
a little to consider how he should pray about Euclid whether 
he should ask to see what it meant, or whether there was any 
other mental state which would be more applicable to the case. 
But at last he added: " And make Mr. Stelling say I shaVt 
do Euclid any more. Amen." 



SCHOOL-TIME. 151 

The fact that he got through his supines without mistake 
the next day, encouraged him to persevere in this appendix to 
his prayers, and neutralized any scepticism that might have 
arisen from Mr. Stelling's continued demand for Euclid. But 
his faith broke down under the apparent absence of all help 
when he got into the irregular verbs. It seemed clear that 
Tom's despair under the caprices of the present tense did not 
constitute a nodus worthy of interference, and since this was 
the climax of his difficulties, where was the use of praying for 
help any longer? He made up his mind to this conclusion in 
one of his dull, lonely evenings, which he spent in the study, 
preparing his lessons for the morrow. His eyes were apt to 
get dim over the page, though he hated crying, and was 
ashamed of it; he couldn't help thinking with some affection 
even of Spouncer, whom he used to fight and quarrel with ; he 
would have felt at home with Spouncer, and in a condition of 
superiority. And then the mill, and the river, and Yap prick- 
ing up his ears, ready to obey the least sign when Tom said, 
" Hoigh ! " would all come before him in a sort of calenture, 
when his fingers played absently in his pocket with his great 
knife and his coil of whipcord, and other relics of the past. 
Tom, as I said, had never been so much like a girl in his life 
before, and at that epoch of irregular verbs his spirit was fur- 
ther depressed by a new means of mental development which 
had been thought of for him out of school hours. Mrs. Stel- 
ling had lately had her second baby, and as nothing could be 
more salutary for a boy than to feel himself useful, Mrs. Stel- 
ling considered she was doing Tom a service by setting him 
to watch the little cherub Laura while the nurse was occupied 
with the sickly baby. It was quite a pretty employment for 
Tom to take little Laura out in the sunniest hour of the au- 
tumn day; it would help to make him feel that Lorton Par- 
sonage was a home for him, and that he was one of the family. 
The little cherub Laura, not being an accomplished walker at 
present, had a ribbon fastened round her waist, by which Tom 
held her as if she had been a little dog during the minutes in 
which she chose to walk; but as these were rare, he was for 
the nost part carrying this fine child round and round the 
garden, within sight of Mrs. Stelling's window, according to 



152 THE MILL OH THE FLOSS. 

orders. If any one considers this unfair and even oppressive 
toward Tom, I beg him to consider that there are feminine 
virtues which are with difficulty combined, even if they are 
not incompatible. When the wife of a poor curate contrives, 
under all her disadvantages, to dress extremely well, and to 
have a style of coiffure which requires that her nurse shall oc- 
casionally officiate as lady's-maid ; when, moreover, her din 
ner-parties and her drawing-room show that effort at elegance 
and completeness of appointment to which ordinary women 
might imagine a large income necessary, it would be unreason- 
able to expect of her that she should employ a second nurse, 
or even act as a nurse herself. Mr. Stelling knew better ; he 
saw that his wife did wonders already, and was proud of her. 
It was certainly not the best thing in the world for young Tul- 
liver's gait to carry a heavy child, but he had plenty of exer- 
cise in long walks with himself, and next half-year Mr. Stelling 
would see about having a drilling-master. Among the many 
means whereby Mr. Stelling intended to be more fortunate 
than the bulk of his fellow-men, he had entirely given up that of 
having his own way in his own house. What then ? He had 
married "as kind a little soul as ever breathed," according to 
Mr. Biley, who had been acquainted with Mrs. Stelling' s blond 
ringlets and smiling demeanor throughout her maiden life, ana 
on the strength of that knowledge would have been ready any 
day to pronounce that whatever domestic differences might 
arise in her married life must be entirely Mr. Stelling's fault. 
If Tom had had a worse disposition, he would certainly have 
hated the little cherub Laura, but he was too kind-hearted a 
lad for that; there was too much in him of the fibre that turns 
to true manliness, and to protecting pity for the weak. I am 
afraid he hated Mrs. Stelling, and contracted a lasting dislike 
to pale blond ringlets and broad plaits, as directly associated 
with haughtiness of manner, and a frequent reference to other 
people's "duty." But he couldn't help playing with little 
Laura, and liking to amuse her; he even sacrificed his percus- 
sion-caps for her sake, in despair of their ever serving a greatei 
purpose, thinking the small flash and bang would delight her, 
and thereby drawing down on himself a rebuke from Mra, 
Stelling for teaching her child to play with fire. Laura was a 



CHOOL-TIME. 163 

lort of playfellow and oh, how Tom longed for play fellows! 
In his secret heart he yearned to have Maggie with him, and 
was almost ready to dote on her exasperating acts of forgetful- 
ness ; though, when he was at home, he always represented it 
as a great favor on his part to let Maggie trot by his side on 
his pleasure excursions. 

And before this dreary half-year was ended, Maggie actu- 
ally came. Mrs. Stelling had given a general invitation for 
the little girl to come and stay with her brother ; so when Mr. 
Tulliver drove over to King's Lorton late in October, Maggie 
came too, with the sense that she was taking a great journey, 
and beginning to see the world. It was Mr. Tulliver' s first 
visit to see Tom, for the lad must learn not to think too much 
about home. 

"Well, my lad," he said to Tom, when Mr. Stelling had 
left the room to announce the arrival to his wife, and Maggie 
had begun to kiss Tom freely, "you look rarely I School 
agrees with you." 

Tom wished he had looked rather ill. 

"I don't think I am well, father," said Tomj "I wish 
you'd ask Mr. Stelling not to let me do Euclid; it brings on 
the toothache, I think." 

(The toothache was the only malady to which Tom had ever 
been subject.) 

"Euclid, my lad, why, what's that?" said Mr. Tulliver. 

"Oh, I don't know; it's definitions, and axioms, and trian- 
gles, and things. It's a book I've got to learn in there's no 
sense hi it." 

"Go, go I "said Mr. Tulliver, reprovingly; "you mustn't 
say so. You must learn what your master tells you. He 
knows what it's right for you to learn." 

"I'll help you now, Tom," said Maggie, with a little air of 
patronizing consolation. "I'm come to stay ever so long, if 
Mrs. Stelling asks me. I've brought my box and my pina* 
fores, haven't I, father?" 

" You he]p me, you silly little thing I" said Tom, in such 
high spirits at this announcement that he quite enjoyed the 
idea of confounding Maggie by showing her a page of Euclid. 
"I should like to see you doing one of my lessons I Why, 



164 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

I learn Latin, too! Girls never learn such things. They'r* 
too silly." 

"I know what Latin is very well," said Maggie, confident- 
ly. " Latin's a language. There are Latin words in the Dic- 
tionary. There's bonus, a gift." 

"Now, you're just wrong there, Miss Maggie! " said Tom, 
secretly astonished. "You think you're very wisel But. 
'bonus* means ' good,' as it happens, bonus, bona, bonum.*' 

"Well, that's no reason why it shouldn't mean ' gift,' " said 
Maggie, stoutly. " It may mean several things ; almost every 
word does. There's 'lawn,' it means the grass-plot, as 
well as the stuff pocket-handkerchiefs are made of." 

" Well done, little 'un," said Mr. Tulliver, laughing, while 
Tom felt rather disgusted with Maggie's knowingness, though 
beyond measure cheerful at the thought that she was going to 
stay with him. Her conceit would soon be overawed by the 
actual inspection of his books. 

Mrs. Stelling, in her pressing invitation, did not mention a 
longer time than a week for Maggie's stay ; but Mr. Stelling, 
who took her between his knees, and asked her where she stole 
her dark eyes from, insisted that she must stay a fortnight. 
Maggie thought Mr. Stelling was a charming man, and Mr. 
Tulliver was quite proud to leave his little wench where she 
would have an opportunity of showing her cleverness to appre- 
ciating strangers. So it was agreed that she shovild not be 
fetched home till the end of the fortnight. 

"Now, then, come with me into the study, Maggie," said 
Tom, as their father drove away. " What do you shake and 
toss your head now for, you silly?" he continued; for though 
her hair was now under a new dispensation, and was brushed 
smoothly behind her ears, she seemed still in imagination to 
be tossing it out of her eyes. " It makes you look as if you 
were crazy." 

"Oh, I can't help it," said Maggie, impatiently. "Don't 
tease me, Tom. Oh, what books ! " she exclaimed, as she saw 
the bookcases in the study. " How I should like to have as 
many books as that! " 

" Why, you couldn't read one of 'em," said Tom, trium- 
phantly, " They're all Latin." 



SCHOOL-TIME. 156 

"No, they aren't," said Maggie. "I can read the back o 
this, * History of the Decline and Fall of the Eoman Empire. ' " 

" Well, what does that mean? You don't know," said Tom, 
wagging his head. 

"But 1 could soon find out," said Maggie, scornfully. 

"Why, how?" 

"I should look inside, and see what it was about." 

" You'd better not, Miss Maggie," said Tom, seeing her hand 
on the volume. " Mr. Stelling lets nobody touch his booka 
without leave, and /shall catch it, if you take it out." 

" Oh, very well. Let me see all your books, then, " said 
Maggie, turning to throw her arms round Tom's neck, and rub 
his cheek with her small round nose. 

Tom, in the gladness of his heart at having dear old Maggie 
to dispute with and crow over again, seized her round the 
waist, and began to jump with her round the large library ta- 
ble. Away they jumped with more and more vigor, till Mag- 
gie's hair flew from behind her ears, and twirled about like an 
animated mop. But the revolutions round the table became 
more and more irregular in their sweep, till at last reaching 
Mr. Stelling's reading-stand, they sent it thundering down 
with its heavy lexicons to the floor. Happily it was the 
ground-floor, and the study was a one-storied wing to the 
house, so that the downfall made no alarming resonance, 
though Tom stood dizzy and aghast for a few minutes, dread- 
ing the appearance of Mr. or Mrs. Stelling. 

"Oh, I say, Maggie," said Tom at last, lifting up the stand, 
" we must keep quiet here, you know. If we break anything 
Mrs. Stelling'll make us cry peccavi." 

" What's that? " said Maggie. 

"Oh, it's the Latin for a good scolding," said Tom, not 
without some pride in his knowledge. 

"Is she a cross woman?" said Maggie. 

"I believe you! " said Tom, with an emphatic nod. 

" I think all women are Grosser than men, " said Maggie. 
** Aunt Glegg's a great deal Grosser than uncle Glegg, and 
mother scolds me more than father does." 

"Well, you'll be a woman some day," said Tom, "so 
needn't talk." 



156 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS, 

"But 1 shall be a clever woman," said Maggie, with 
toss. 

" Oh, I dare say, and a nasty conceited thing. Everybody'!! 
hate you." 

" But you oughtn't to hate me, Tom j it'll be very wicked 
of you, for I shall be your sister." 

" Yes, but if you're a nasty disagreeable thing I shall hate 
you." 

"Oh, but, Tom, you won't 1 I sha'n't be disagreeable. I 
shall be very good to you, and I shall be good to everybody. 
You won't hate me really, will you, Tom? " 

"Oh, bother! never mind! Come, it's time for me to learn 
my lessons. See here! what I've got to do," said Tom, draw- 
ing Maggie toward him and showing her his theorem, while 
she pushed her hair behind her ears, and prepared herself to 
prove her capability of helping him in Euclid. She began to 
read with full confidence in her own powers, but presently, 
becoming quite bewildered, her face flushed with irritation. 
It was unavoidable ; she must confess her incompetency, and 
she was not fond of humiliation. 

"It's nonsense I" she said, "and very ugly stuff; nobody 
need want to make it out." 

" Ah, there, now, Miss Maggie! " said Tom, drawing the book 
away, and wagging his head at her, "you see you're not so 
clever as you thought you were." 

"Oh," said Maggie, pouting, "I dare say I could make it 
out, if I'd learned what goes before, as you have." 

" But that's what you just couldn't, Miss Wisdom," said 
Tom. " For it's all the harder when you know what goes be- 
fore ; for then you've got to say what definition 3 is, and what 
axiom V. is. But get along with you now j I must go on with 
this. Here's the Latiu Grammar. See what you can make 
of that." 

Maggie found the Latin Grammar quite soothing after her 
mathematical mortification ; for she delighted in new words, 
and quickly found that there was an English Key at the end, 
which would make her very wise about Latin, at slight ex- 
pense. She presently made up her mind to skip the rules in the 
Syntax* the examples became so absorbing. Thege mysterious 



SCHOOL-TIME. 157 

sentences, snatched from an unknown context, like strange 
horns of beasts, and leaves of unknown plants, brought from 
some far-off region, gave boundless scope to her imagina- 
tion, and were all the more fascinating because they were in a 
peculiar tongue of their own, which she could learn to inter- 
pret. It was really very interesting, the Latin Grammar that 
Tom had said no girls could learn j and she was proud because 
she found it interesting. The most fragmentary examples 
were her favorites. Mors omnibus est communis would have 
been jejune, only she liked to know the Latin; but the for- 
tunate gentleman whom every one congratulated because he 
had a son " endowed with such a disposition " afforded her a 
great deal of pleasant conjecture, and she was quite lost in 
the "thick grove penetrable by no star," when Tom called 
out, 

''Now, then, Magsie, give us the Grammar!" 

''Oh, Tom, it's such a pretty book!" she said, as she 
jumped out of the large arm-chair to give it him ; " it's much 
prettier than the Dictionary. I could learn Latin very soon. 
I don't think it's at all hard." 

. " Oh, I. know what you've been doing," said Tom; "you've 
been reading the English at the end. Any donkey can do 
that." 

Tom seized the book and opened it with a determined and 
business-like air, as much as to say that he had a lesson to 
learn which no donkeys would find themselves equal to. Mag- 
gie, rather piqued, turned to the bookcases to amuse herself 
with puzzling out the titles. 

Presently Tom called to her : " Here, Magsie, come and hear 
if I can say this. Stand at that end of the table, where Mr. 
Stelling sits when he hears me." 

Maggie obeyed, and took the open book. 

"Where do you begin, Tom?" 

"Oh, I begin at l Appellatlva, arborum, 9 because I say all 
orer again what I've been learning this week." 

Tom sailed along pretty well for three lines ; and Maggie 
was beginning to forget her office of prompter in speculating 
as to what mas could mean, which came twice over, when he 
stuck fast at Sunt etiam volucrum. 



158 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 



"Don't tell me, Maggie; Sunt etlam volucrum Sunt etiam 
volucrum ut ostrea, cetus " 

"No," said Maggie, opening her mouth and shaking her 
head. 

"Sunt etlam vohicrum," said Tom, very slowly, as if the 
next words might be expected to come sooner when he gave 
them this strong hint that they were waited for. 

"C, e, u," said Maggie, getting impatient. 

" Oh, I know hold your tongue, " said Tom. " Ceu passer, 

himndo; Ferarum ferarum " Tom took his pencil and 

made several hard dots with it on his book-cover "J "era- 
rum " 

"Oh dear, oh dear, Tom," said Maggie, "what a time you 
are! Ut -" 

" Ut ostrea * 

"No, no," said Maggie, "ut tigris " 

"Oh yes, now I can do," said Tom; "it was tigris, vulpes, 
I'd forgotten: ut tigris vulpes; et Piscium." 

With some further stammering and repetition, Tom got 
through the next few lines. 

" Now, then, " he said, " the next is what I've just learned 
for to-morrow. Give me hold of the book a minute." 

After some whispered gabbling, assisted by the beating of 
his fist on the table, Tom returned the book. 

" Mascula nomina in a," he began. 

"No, Tom," said Maggie, "that doesn't come next. It's 
Nomen non creskens genittivo " 

" Creskens genittivo I " exclaimed Tom, with a derisive 
laugh, for Tom had learned this omitted passage for his yes- 
terday's lesson, and a young gentleman does not require an 
intimate or extensive acquaintance with Latin before he can 
feel the pitiable absurdity of a false quantity. " Creskens 
genittivo I What a little silly you are, Maggie ! " 

" Well, you needn't laugh, Tom, for you didn't remember 
it at all. I'm sure it's spelt so; how was I to know?" 

"Phee-e-e-h! I told you girls couldn't learn Latin. It's 
Nomen non crescens genitivo. " 

" Very well, then," said Maggie, pouting. " I can say that 
as well as you can. And you don't mind your stops. For 



SCHOOL-TIME. 159 

you ought to stop twice as long at a semicolon as yon do at a 
comma, and you make the longest stops where there ought to 
be no stop at all." 

**0h, well, don't chatter. Let me go on." 

They were presently fetched to spend the rest of the even- 
ing in the drawing-room, and Maggie became so animated 
with Mr. Stelling, who, she felt sure, admired her cleverness, 
that Tom was rather amazed and alarmed at her audacity. 
.But she was suddenly subdued by Mr. Stelling's alluding to a 
little girl of whom he had heard that she once ran away to the 
gypsies. 

" What a very odd little girl that must be I " said Mrs. Stel- 
ling, meaning to be playful ; but a playfulness that turned on 
her supposed oddity was not at all to Maggie's taste. She 
feared that Mr. Stelling, after all, did not think much of her, 
and went to bed in rather low spirits. Mrs. Stelling, she felt, 
looked at her as if she thought her hair was very ugly because 
it hung down straight behind. 

Nevertheless it was a very happy fortnight to Maggie, this 
visit to Tom. She was allowed to be in the study while he 
had his lessons, and in her various readings got very deep 
into the examples in the Latin Grammar. The astronomer 
who hated women generally caused her so much puzzling 
speculation that she one day asked Mr. Stelling if all astrono- 
mers hated women, or whether it was only this particular as- 
tronomer. But forestalling his answer, she said, 

" I suppose it's all astronomers ; because, you know, they 
live up in high towers, and if the women came there they 
might talk and hinder them from looking at the stars." 

Mr. Stelling liked her prattle immensely, and they were on 
the best terms. She told Tom she should like to go to school 
to Mr. Stelling, as he did, and learn just the same things. 
She knew she could do Euclid, for she had looked into it 
again, and she saw what ABC meant; they were the names 
of the lines. 

" I'm sure you couldn't do it, now," said Tom; "and I'll 
just ask Mr. Stelling if you could." 

"I don't mind," said the little conceited minx, U J'U ask 
myself." 



160 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Mr. Stelling, " she said, that same evening when they 
were in the drawing-room, "couldn't I do Euclid, and all 
Tom.' 3 lessons, if you were to teach me instead of him?" 

"No, you couldn't," said Tom, indignantly. "Girls can't 
do Euclid j can they, sir?" 

"They can pick up a little of everything, I dare say," said 
Mr. Stelling. " They've a great deal of superficial cleverness ; 
but they couldn't go far into anything. They're quick and 
shallow." 

Tom, delighted with this verdict, telegraphed his triumph 
by wagging his head at Maggie, behind Mr. Stelling' s chair. 
As for Maggie, she had hardly ever been so mortified. She 
had been so proud to be called " quick " all her little life, and 
xiow it appeared that this quickness was the brand of inferi- 
ority. It would have been better to be slow, like Tom. 

"Ha, ha! Miss Maggie! " said Tom, when they were alone; 
"you see it's not such a fine thing to be quick. You'll never 
go far into anything, you know." 

And Maggie was so oppressed by this dreadful destiny that 
she had no spirit for a retort. 

But when this small apparatus of shallow quickness was 
fetched away in the gig by Luke, and the study was once 
more quite lonely for Tom, he missed her grievously. He 
had really been brighter, and had got through his lessons bet- 
ter, since she had been there ; and she had asked Mr. Stelling 
so many questions about the Koman Empire, and whether 
there really ever was a man who said, in Latin, " I would not 
buy it for a farthing or a rotten nut, " or whether that had 
only been turned into Latin, that Tom had actually come to 
a dim understanding of the fact that there had once been peo- 
ple upon the earth who were so fortunate as to know Latin 
without learning it through the medium of the Eton Gram- 
mar. This luminous idea was a great addition to his histori- 
cal acquirements during this half-year, which were otherwise 
confined to an epitomized history of the Jews. 

But the dreary half-year did come to an end. How gla<? 
l.'om ^vas to see the last yellow leaves fluttering before the 
cold wind! The dark afternoons and the first December snovf 
to him far livelier Ihau the August sunshine j and. 



SCHOOL TIME. 161 

tbat he might make himself the surer about the flight of the 
days that were carrying him homeward, he stuck twenty-one 
sticks deep in a corner of the garden, whwi he was three weeks 
from, the holidays, and pulled one up every day with a great 
wrench, throwing it to a distance with a vigor of will which 
would have carried it to limbo, if it had been in the nature of 
sticks to travel so far. 

But it was worth purchasing, even at the heavy price of 
the Latin Grammar, the happiness of seeing the bright light 
in the parlor at home, as the gig passed noiselessly over the 
snow-covered bridge ; the happiness of passing from the cold 
air to the warmth and the kisses and the smiles of that 
familiar hearth, where the pattern of the rug and the grate 
and the fire-irons were " first ideas " that it was no more pos- 
sible to criticise than the solidity and extension of matter. 
There is no sense of ease like the ease we felt in those scenes 
where we were born, where objects became dear to us before 
we had known the labor of choice, and where the outer world 
seemed only an extension of our own personality ; we accepted 
and loved it as we accepted our own sense of existence and 
our own limbs. Very commonplace, even ugly, that furniture 
of our early home might look if it were put up to auction ; an 
improved taste in upholstery scorns it; and is not the striving 
after something better and better in our surroundings the 
grand characteristic that distinguishes man from the brute, or, 
to satisfy a scrupulous accuracy of definition, that distinguishes 
the British man from the foreign brute? But heaven knows 
where that striving might lead us, if our affections had not a 
trick of twining round those old inferior things; if the loves 
and sanctities of our life had no deep immovable roots in 
memory. One's delight in an elderberry bush overhanging 
the confused leafage of a hedgerow bank, as a more gladden- 
ing sight than the finest cistus or fuchsia spreading itself on the 
softest undulating turf, is an entirely unjustifiable preference 
to a nursery-gardener, or to any of those severely regulated 
minds who are free from the weakness of any attachment 
that does not rest on a demonstrable superiority of quali 
ties. And there is no better reason for preferring this elder- 
berry bush than that it stirs an early memory ; that it is uo 
11 



162 THE MILL ON THE FLOS8. 

novelty in my life, speaking to me merely through, my present 
sensibilities to form and color, but the long companion of my 
existence, that wove itself into my joys when joys were vivid. 



OHAPTEB EL 

THB CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY*, 

c IKB old Christmas, with the snowy hair and ruddy face, 
had done his duty that year in the noblest fashion, and had 
set off his rich gifts of warmth and color with all the height- 
ening contrast of frost and snow. 

Snow lay on the croft and river-bank in undulations softer 
than the limbs of infancy ; it lay with the neatliest finished 
border on every sloping roof, making the dark-red gables 
stand out with a new depth of color; it weighed heavily on 
the laurels and fir-trees, till it fell from them with a shud- 
dering sound; it clothed the rough turnip-field with white* 
ness, and made the sheep look like dark blotches ; the gates 
were all blocked up with the sloping drifts, and here and there 
a disregarded four-footed beast stood as if petrified " in un- 
recumbent sadness " ; there was no gleam, no shadow, for the 
heavens, too, were one still, pale cloud ; no sound or motion 
in anything but the dark river that flowed and moaned like 
an unresting sorrow. But old Christmas smiled as he laid 
this cruel-seeming spell on the outdoor world, for he meant to 
light up home with new brightness, to deepen all the richness 
of indoor color, and give a keener edge of delight to the warm 
fragrance of food ; he meant to prepare a sweet imprisonment 
that woald strengthen the primitive fellowship of kindred, 
and make the sunshine of familiar human faces as welcome as 
the hidden day-star. His kindness fell but hardly on the 
homeless, fell but hardly on the homes where the hearth 
w-as not very warm, and where the food had little fragrance} 
where the human faces had no sunshine in them, but rathei 
the leaden, blank-eyed gaze of unexpectant want. But the 
fine old season meant well ; and if he has not learned the se* 
cret how to bless men impartially, it is because his fat&ej 



flOHOOLTIME. 

Time, with ever -unrelenting purpose, still hides that secret in 
his own mighty, slow-beating heart. 

And yet this Christmas day, in spite of Tom's fresh delight 
in home, was not, he thought, somehow or other, quite so 
happy as it had always been before. The red berries were 
just as abundant on the holly, and he and Maggie had dressed 
all the windows and mantelpieces and picture-frames on Christ- 
[mas eve with as much taste as ever, wedding the thick-set 
scarlet clusters with branches of the black-berried ivy. There 1 
had been singing under the windows after midnight, super- 
'natural singing, Maggie always felt, in spite of Tom's con- 
temptuous insistence that the singers were old Patch, the par- 
ish clerk, and the rest of th* church choir ; she trembled with 
awe when their carolling broke iu upon her dreams, and the 
image of men in fustian clothes was always thrust away by 
the vision of angels resting on the parted cloud. The mid- 
night chant had helped as usual to lift the morning above the 
level of common days j and then there were the smell of hot 
toast and ale from the kitchen, at the breakfast hour; the 
favorite anthem, the green boughs, and the short sermon gave 
the appropriate festal character to the church-going ; and aunt 
and uncle Moss, with all their seven children, were looking 
like so many reflectors of the bright parlor-fire, when the 
church-goers came back, stamping the snow from their feet. 
The plum-pudding was of the same handsome roundness as 
ever, and came in with the symbolic blue flames around it, as 
if it had been heroically snatched from the nether fires, into 
which it had been thrown by dyspeptic Puritans ; the dessert 
was as splendid as ever, with its golden oranges, brown nuts, 
and the crystalline light and dark of apple-jelly and damson 
cheese j in all these things Christmas was as it had always 
been since Tom could remember; it was only distinguished, il 
by anything, by superior sliding and snowballs. 

Christmas was cheery, but not so Mr. Tulliver. He was 
irate and defiant; and Tom, though he espoused his father's 
quarrels and shared his father's sense of injury, was not with- 
out some of the feeling that oppressed Maggie when Mr. Tul- 
liver got louder and more angry in narration and assertion 
with the increased leisure of dessert. The attention that Tom 



fHE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

might have concentrated on his nnts and wine was distracted} 
by a sense that there were rascally enemies in the world, and 
that the business of grown-up life could hardly be conducted 
without a good deal of quarrelling. Now, Tom was not fond 
of quarrelling, unless it could soon be put an end to by a fair 
stand-up fight with an adversary whom he had every chance 
of thrashing; and his father's irritable talk made him uncom- 
fortable, though he never accounted to himself for the feel* 
ing, or conceived the notion that his father was faulty in thij 
respect. 

The particular embodiment of the evil principle now excit- 
ing Mr. Tulliver's determined resistance was Mr. Pivart, who, 
having lands higher up the Ripple, was taking measures for 
their irrigation, which either were, or would be, or wer 
bound to be (on the principle that water was water), an infringe- 
ment on Mr. Tulliver's legitimate share of water-power. Dix, 
who had a mill on the stream, was a feeble auxiliary of Old 
Harry compared with Pivart. Dix had been brought to his 
senses by arbitration, and Wakem'a advice had not carried 
him far. No; Dix, Mr. Tulliver considered, had been as 
good as nowhere in point of law ; and in the intensity of his 
indignation against Pivart, his contempt for a baffled adver- 
sary like Dix began to wear the air of a friendly attachment. 
He had no male audience to-day except Mr. Moss, who knew 
nothing, as he said, of the "natur' o* mills/' and could only 
assent to Mr. Tulliver's arguments on the a priori ground of 
family relationship and monetary obligation ; but Mr. Tulliver 
did not talk with the futile intention of convincing his audi- 
ence, he talked to relieve himself; while good Mr. Moss made 
strong efforts to keep his eyes wide open, in spite of the sleepi* 
ness which an unusually good dinner produced in his hard- 
worked frame. Mrs. Moss, more alive to the subject, and 
interested in everything that affected her brother, listened 
and put in a word as often as maternal preoccupations allowed. 

" Why, Pivart's a new name hereabout, brother, isn't it? " 
she said; "he didn't own the land in father's time, nor youra 
either, before I was married." 

" New name? Yes, I should think it is a new name,** said 
Mr. Tulliver, with angry emphasis. " Dorlcote Mill's been ia 



8CHOOLTIME. 168 

wr family a hundred year and better, and nobody ever heard 
of a Pivart meddling with the river, till this fellow came and 
bought Bincome's farm out of hand, before anybody else could 
BO much as say 'snap.' But I'll Pivart him I" added Mr. 
Tulliver, lifting his glass with a sense that he had defined his 
resolution in an unmistakable manner. 

"You won't be forced to go to law with him, I hope, 
fcrother?" said Mrs. Moss, with some anxiety. 

" I don't know what I shall be forced to; but I know what 
I shall force hurt, to, with his dikes and erigations, if there's* 
any law to be brought to bear o* the right side. I know well 
enough who's at the bottom of it; he's got Wakem to back 
him and egg him on. I know Wakem tells him the law can't 
touch him for it, but there's folks can handle the law besides 
Wakem. It takes a big raskil to beat him j but there's bigger 
to be found, as know more o' th' ins and outs o' the law, else 
how came Wakem to lose Bromley's suit for him?" 

Mr. Tulliver was a strictly honest man, and proud of being 
honest, but he considered that in law the ends of justice could 
only be achieved by employing a stronger knave to frustrate 
a weaker. Law was a sort of cock-fight* in which it was the 
business of injured honesty to get a game bird with the best 
pluck and the strongest spurs. 

"Gore's no fool; you needn't tell me that,* he observed 
presently, in a pugnacious tone, as if poor Gritty had been 
urging that lawyer's capabilities; "but, you see, he isn't up 
to the law as Wakem is. And water's a very particular thing; 
you can't pick it up with a pitchfork. That's why it's been 
nuts to Old Harry and the lawyers. It's plain enough what's 
the rights aud the wrongs of water, if you look at it straight- 
forrard; for a river's a river, and if you've got a mill, you 
must have water to turn it j aud it's no use telling me Pivart's 
erigation and nonsense won't stop my wheel j I know what 
belongs to water better than that. Talk to me o' what th' 
engineers say f I say it's common sense, as Pivart's dikes 
must do me an injury. But if that's their engineering, I'll 
put Tom to it by-and-by, and he shall see if he can't find a 
bit more sense in th' engineering business than what that 
comes to.* 



166 THE MILL OR THE FLO88. 

Tom, looking round with some anxiety a* this announce* 
toent of his prospects, unthinkingly withdrew a small rattle 
he was amusing baby Moss with, whereupon she, being a baby 
that knew her own mind with remarkable clearness, instan- 
taneously expressed her sentiments in a piercing yell, and 
was not to be appeased even by the restoration of the rattle, 
feeling apparently that the. original wrong of having it taken 
from her remained in all its force. Mrs. Moss hurried away 
with her into another room, and expressed to Mrs. Tulliver, 
who accompanied her, the conviction that the dear child had 
good reasons for crying; implying that if it was supposed to 
be the rattle that baby clamored for, she was a misunderstood 
baby. The thoroughly justifiable yell being quieted, Mrs. 
Moss looked at her sister-in-law and said, 

" I'm sorry to see brother so put out about this water work." 

"It's your brother's way, Mrs. Moss; I'd never anything 
o' that sort before I was married," said Mrs. Tulliver, with a 
half-implied reproach. She always spoke of her husband as 
" your brother " to Mrs. Moss in any case when his line of con- 
duct was not matter of pure admiration. Amiable Mrs. Tul- 
liver, who was never angry in her life, had yet her mild share 
of that spirit without which she could hardly have been at 
once a Dodson and a woman. Being always on the defensive 
toward her own sisters, it was natural that she should be 
keenly conscious of her superiority, even as the weakest Dod- 
son, over a husband's sister, who, besides being poorly off, 
and inclined to "hang on" her brother, had the good-natured 
submissiveness of a large, easy-tempered, untidy, prolific wo- 
man, with affection enough in her not only for her own hus- 
band and abundant children, but for any number of collateral 
relations. 

"I hope and pray he won't go to law," said Mrs. Moss, 
"for there's never any knowing where that'll end. And the 
right doesn't allays win. This Mr. Pivart's a rich man, by 
what I can make out, and the rich mostly get things theii 
own way." 

"As to that," said Mrs. Tulliver, stroking her dress down, 
"I've seen what riches are in my own family; for my sisters 
have gob husbanda as can afford to do luetty much what they 



SCHOOL-TIME. 167 

Eke. But I think sometimes I shall be drove off my head 
with the talk about this law and erigation; and my sisters 
lay all the fault to me, for they don't know what it is to 
marry a man like your brother; how should they? Sister 
Pullet has her own way from morning till night." 

"Well," said Mrs. Moss, " I don't think I should like my 
husband if he hadn't got any wits of his own, and I had to 
find head-piece for him. It's a deal easier to do what pleases 
one's husband, than to be puzzling what else one should do." 

" If people come to talk o* doing what pleases their hus- 
bands," said Mrs. Tulliver, with a faint imitation of her sis- 
ter Glegg, "I'm sure your brother might have waited a long 
while before he'd have found a wife that 'ud have let him 
have his say in everything, as I do. It's nothing but law 
and erigation now, from when we first get up in the morning 
till we go to bed at night; and I never contradict him; I only 
say, 'Well, Mr. Tulliver, do as you like; but whativer you 
do, don't go to law. ' n 

Mrs. Tulliver, as we have seen, was not without influence 
over her husband. No woman is ; she can always incline him 
to do either what she wishes, or the reverse; and on the com- 
posite impulses that were threatening to hurry Mr. Tulliver 
intVlaw," Mrs. Tulliver's monotonous pleading had doubt- 
less its share of force ; it might even be comparable to that 
proverbial feather which has the credit or discredit of break- 
ing the camel's back; though, on a strictly impartial view, 
the blame ought rather to lie with the previous weight of 
feathers which had already placed the back in such imminent 
peril that an otherwise innocent feather could not settle on it 
without mischief. Not that Mrs. Tulliver's feeble beseeching 
could have had this feather's weight in virtue of her single 
personality ; but whenever she departed from entire assent to 
her husband, he saw in her the representative of the Dodson 
family ; and it was a guiding principle with Mr. Tulliver to 
let the Dodsons know that they were not to domineer over 
him, or more specifically that a male Tulliver was far more 
than equal to four female Dodsons, even though one of them 
was Mrs. Glegg. 

But not even a direct argument from that typical Dodson 



168 THE MILL ON THE PLO8& 

female herself against his going to law could have heightened 
his disposition toward it 60 much as the mere thought of 
Wakem, continually freshened by the sight of the too able 
attorney on market-days. Wakem, to his certain knowledge, 
was (metaphorically speaking) at the bottom of Pivart's irri- 
gation ; Wakem had tried to make Dix stand out, and go to 
law about the dam; it waa unquestionably Wakem who had 
caused Mr. Tulliver to lose the suit about the right of road 
and the bridge that made a thoroughfare of his land for every 
vagabond who preferred an opportunity of damaging private 
property to walking like an honest man along the highroad; 
all lawyers were more or less rascals, but Wakem' s rascality 
was of that peculiarly aggravated kind which placed itself in 
opposition to that form of right embodied in Mr. Tulliver's 
interests and opinions. And as an extra touch of bitterness, 
the injured miller had recently, in borrowing the five hun- 
dred pounds, been obliged to carry a little business to Wakem's 
office on his own account. A hook-nosed glib fellow I as cool 
as a cucumber, always looking so sure of his game I .And it 
was vexatious that Lawyer Gore was not more like him, but 
was a bald, round-featured man, with bland manners and fat 
hands ; a game-cock that you would be rash to bet upon against 
Wakem. Gore was a sly fellow. His weakness did not lie 
on the side of scrupulosity ; but the largest amount of wink- 
ing, however significant, is not equivalent to seeing through a 
stone wallj and confident as Mr. Tulliver was in his principle 
that water was water, and in the direct inference that Pivart 
had not a leg to stand on in this affair of irrigation, be had 
an uncomfortable suspicion that Wakem had more law to show 
against this (rationally) irrefragable inference than Gore could 
show for it. But then, if they went to law, there was a 
chance for Mr. Tulliver to employ Counsellor Wylde on his 
Bide, instead of having that admirable bully against him; and 
the prospect of seeing a witness of Wakem's made to perspire 
and become confounded, as Mr. Tulliver's witness had once 
been, was alluring to the love of retributive justice. 

Much rumination had Mr. Tulliver on these puzzling sub- 
jects during his rides on the gray horse; much turning of the 
bead from aide to side, as the scales dipped alternately ; but 



SCHOOL-TIME. 169 

the probable result was still out of sight, only to be reached 
through much hot argument and iteration in domestic and 
social l : fe. That initial stage of the dispute which consisted 
in the narration of the case and the enforcement of Mr. Tul- 
liver's views concerning it throughout the entire circle of his 
connections would necessarily take time j and at the beginning 
of February, when Tom was going to school again, there were 
scarcely any new items to be detected in his father's state- 
ment of the case against Pivart, or any more specific indica- 
tion of the measures he was bent on taking against that rash 
contravener of the principle that water was water. Iteration, 
like friction, is likely to generate heat instead of progress, and 
Mr. Tulliver's heat was certainly more and more palpable. 
If there had been no new evidence on any other point, there 
had been new evidence that Pivart was as " thick as mud n 
with Wakem, 

" Father, n said Tom, one evening near the end of the holi- 
days, " uncle Glegg says Lawyer Wakem is going to send his 
son to Mr. Stelling. It isn't true, what they said about his 
going to be sent to France. You won't like me to go to school 
with Wakem's son, shall you? n 

"It's no matter for that, my boy," said Mr. Tulliverj 
"don't you learn anything bad of him, that's all. The lad's 
a poor deformed creatur, and takes after his mother in the 
face ; I think there isn't much of his father in him. It's a 
sign Wakem thinks high o' Mr. Stelling, as he sends his son 
to him, and Wakem knows meal from bran." 

Mr. Tulliver in his heart was rather proud of the fact that 
his son was to have the same advantages as Wakem's ; but 
Tom was not at all easy on the point. It would have been 
mnch clearer if the lawyer's son had not been deformed, foi 
then Tom would have had the prospect of pitching into him 
with all that freedom which is derived from a high mor& 
tanction. 



170 THE MILL ON THE FLOSd 

i 

CHAPTER ITL 

TBS ITEW SCHOOLFELLOW. 

IT was a cold, wet January day on which Tom went bad 
to school ; a day quite in keeping with this severe phase of hip 
destiny. If he had not carried in his pocket a parcel of sugar- 
candy and a small Dutch doll for little Laura, there would 
have been no ray of expected pleasure to enliven the general 
gloom. But he liked to think hov Laura would put out her 
lUps and her tiny hands for the bits of sugar-candy j and to 
give the greater keenness to these pleasures of imagination, 
he took out the parcel, made a small hole in the paper, and bit 
off a crystal or two, which had so solacing an effect under the 
confined prospect and damp odors of the gig-umbrella, that he 
repeated the process more than once on his way. 

"Well, Tulliver, we're glad to see you again,** said Mr. 
Stelling, heartily. " Take off your wrappings and come into 
the study till dinner. You'll find a bright fire there, and a 
new companion." 

Tom felt in an uncomfortable flutter as he took off his 
woollen comforter and other wrappings. He had seen Philip 
Wakem at St. Ogg's, but had always turned his eyes away 
from him as quickly as possible. He would have disliked 
having a deformed boy for his companion, even if Philip had 
not been the son of a bad man. And Tom did not see how a 
bad man's son could be very good. His own father was a 
good man, and he would readily have fought any one who said 
the contrary. He was in a state of mingled embarrassment 
and defiance as he followed Mr. Stelling to the study. 

" Here is a new companion for you to shake hands with, 
Tulliver," said that gentleman on entering the study, 
" Master Philip Wakem. I shall leave you to make acquaint- 
ance by yourselves. You already know something of each 
other, I imagine; for you are neighbors at home." 

Tom looked confused and awkward, while Philip rose and 
glanced at him timidly. Tom did not like to go up and put 



SCHOOL-TIME. 171 

out his hand, and he was not prepared to say, a How do you 
do? " on so short a notice. 

Mr. Stelling wisely turned away, and closed the door be- 
hind him j boys' shyness only wears off in the absence of their 
elders. 

Philip was at once too proud and too timid to walk toward 
Tom. He thought, or rather felt, that Tom had an aversion 
to looking at him j every one, almost, disliked looking at him . 
and his deformity was more conspicuous when he walked. So 
they remained without shaking hands or even speaking, while 
Tom went to the fire and warmed himself, every now and 
then casting furtive glances at Philip, who seemed to be draw- 
ing absently first one object and then another on a piece of 
paper he had before him. He had seated himself again, and 
as he drew, was thinking what he could say to Tom, and try- 
ing to overcome his own repugnance to making the first ad- 
vances. 

Tom began to look oftener and longer at Philip's face, for 
he could see it without noticing the hump, and it was really 
not a disagreeable face, very old-looking, Tom thought. He 
wondered how much older Philip was than himself. An 
anatomist even a mere physiognomist would have seen that 
the deformity of Philip's spine was not a congenital hump, 
but the result of an accident in infancy ; but you do not expect 
from Tom any acquaintance with such distinctions ; to him, 
Philip was simply a humpback. He had a vague notion that 
the deformity of Wakem's son had some relation to the law- 
yer's rascality, of which he had so often heard his father talk 
with hot emphasis ; and he felt, too, a half-admitted fear of 
him as probably a spiteful fellow, who, not being able to fight 
you, had cunning ways of doing you a mischief by the sly. 
There was a humpbacked tailor in the neighborhood of Mr 
Jacobs's academy, who was considered a very unamiable char- 
acter, and was much hooted after by public-spirited boys 
solely on the ground of his unsatisfactory moral qualities; so 
that Tom was not without a basis of fact to go upon. Still, 
no face could be more unlike that ugly tailor's than this mel- 
ancholy boy's face, the brown hair round it waved and 
curled at the ends like a girl's; Tom thought that truly piti- 



172 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

able. This Wakem was a pale, puny fellow, and it was quite 
clear he would not be able to play at anything worth speaking 
of; but he handled his pencil in an enviable manner, and was 
apparently making one thing after another without any trou- 
ble. What was he drawing? Tom was quite warm now, and 
wanted something new to be going forward. It was certainly 
mora agreeable to have an ill-natured humpback as a compan- 
ion than to stand looking out of the study window at the rain, 
and kicking his foot against the washboard in solitude; some-^ 
thing would happen every day, "a quarrel or something"; 
and Tom thought he should rather like to show Philip that he 
had better not try his spiteful tricks on him. He suddenly 
walked across the hearth and looked over Philip's paper. 

" Why, that's a donkey with panniers, and a spaniel, and 
partridges in the corn! " he exclaimed, his tongue being com- 
pletely loosed by surprise and admiration. " Oh my buttons ! 
I wish I could draw like that. I'm to learn drawing this 
half} I wonder if I shall learn to make dogs and donkeys! " 

"Oh, you can do them without learning," said Philip; "I 
never learned drawing." 

"Never learned?" said Tom, in amazement. "Why, 
when I make dogs and horses, and those things, the heads 
and the legs won't come right; though I can see how they 
ought to be very well. I can make houses, and all sorts of 
chimneys, chimneys going all down the wall, and- windows 
in the roof, and all that. But I dare say I could do dogs and 
horses if I was to try more," he added, reflecting that Philip 
might falsely suppose that he was going to " knock under, " if 
he were too frank about the imperfection of his accomplish- 
ments. 

r "Oh yes," said Philip, "it's very easy. You've only ta 
Jook well at things, and draw them over and over again. 
What you do wrong once, you can alter the next time." 

" But haven't you been taught anything?" said Tom, be- 
ginning to have a puzzled suspicion that Philip's crooked back 
might be the source of remarkable faculties. "I thought 
you'd been to school a long while." 

" Yes, " said Philip, smiling ; " I've been taught Latin and 
Greek and mathematics, and writing^and such things." 



SCHOOL-TIME. 173 

11 Oh, but I say, you don't like Latin, though, do you?" 

said Tom, lowering his voice confidentially. 

"Pretty well; I don't care much about it," said Philip. 

"Ah, but perhaps you haven't got into the Propria qiM> 
maribus," said Tom, nodding his head sideways, as much as 
to say, "that was the testj it was easy talking till you came 
to that." 

Philip felt some bitter complacency in the promising stu- 
pidity of this well-made, active-looking boy; but made polite 
by his own extreme sensitiveness, as well as by his desire to 
conciliate, he checked his inclination to laugh, and said 
quietly,. 

"I've done with the grammar j I don't learn that any 
more." 

" Then you won't have the same lessons as I shall? " said 
Tom, with a sense of disappointment. 

"Koj but I dare say I can help you. I shall be very glad 
to help you if I can." 

Tom did not say " Thank you," for he was quite absorbed 
in the thought that Wakem's son did not seem so spiteful a 
fellow as might have been expected. 

" I say," he said presently, " do you love your father? " 

"Yes," said Philip, coloring deeply ; "don't you love 
yours? " 

"Oh yes I only wanted to know," said Tom, rather 
ashamed of himself, now he saw Philip coloring and looking 
uncomfortable. He found much difficulty in adjusting his at- 
titude of mind toward the son of Lawyer "Wakem, and it had 
occurred to him that if Philip disliked his father, that fact 
might go some way toward clearing up his perplexity. 

" Shall you learn drawing now?" he said, by way of chang* 
ing the subject. 

"No," said Philip. "My father wishes me to give all 2nJ 
time to other things now." 

"Whatl Latin and Euclid, and those things?" said Tom. 

"Yes," said Philip, who had left off using his pencil, and 
was resting his head on one hand, while Tom was leaning for- 
ward on both elbows, and looking with increasing admiration 
at the dog and the donkey. fc 



174 THE MLL ON THE FLOflft 

"And you don't mind that?" said Tom, with strong curi- 
osity. 

"No; I like to know what everybody else knows. 1 can 
study what I like by -and- by." 

" I can't think why anybody should learn Latin, 1 * said Tom. 
u It's no good." 

* It's part of the education of a gentleman," said Philip. 
"All gentlemen learn the same things." 

" What! do you think Sir John Crake, the master of the 
harriers, knows Latin? " said Tom, who had often though the 
should like to resemble Sir John Crake. 

" He learned it when he was a boy, of course," said Philip. 
"But I dare say he's forgotten it." 

"Oh, well, I can do that, then," said Tom, not with any 
epigrammatic intention, but with serious satisfaction at the 
idea that, as far as Latin was concerned, there was no hin- 
drance to his resembling Sir John Crake. " Only you're obliged 
to remember it while you're at school, else you've got to learn 
ever so many lines of 'Speaker.' Mr. Stelling's very particu- 
lar did you know? He'll have you up ten times if you say 
1 narn* for ' jam,' he won't let you go a letter wrong, /can 
tell you." 

" Oh, I don't mind," said Philip, unable to choke a laugh; 
" I can remember things easily. And there are some lessons 
I'm very fond of. I'm very fond of Greek history, and 
everything about the Greeks. I should liko to have been a 
Greek and fought the Persians, and then have come home and 
have written tragedies, or else have been listened to by every- 
body for my wisdom, like Socrates, and have died a grand 
death." (Philip, you perceive, was not without a wish to 
impress the well-made barbarian with a sense of his mental 
superiority. ) 

"Why, were the Greeks great fighters?" said Tom, who 
saw a vista in this direction. " Is there anything like David 
and Goliath and Samson in the Greek history? Those are 
the only bits I like in the history of the Jews." 

"Oh, there are very fine stories of that sort about the 
Greeks, about the heroes of early times who killed the wild 
beasts, as Samson did. And in the Odyssey that's a beau 



SCHOOLTDDL 178 

tifnl poem there's a more wonderful giant than Goliath, 
Polypheme, who had only one eye in the middle of his fore- 
head ; and Ulysses, a little fellow, but very wise and cunning, 
got a red-hot pine-tree and stuck it into this one eye, and 
made him roar like a thousand bulls." 

" Oh, what fun I n said Tom, jumping away from the table, 
and stamping first with one leg and then the other. " I say, 
can you tell me all about those stories? Because I sha'n't 
learn Greek, you know. Shall I? n he added, pausing in his 
stamping with a sudden alarm, lest the contrary might be 
possible. "Does every gentleman learn Greek? Will Mr. 
Stelling make me begin with it, do yon think? " 

"No, I should think not, very likely not," said Philip, 
"But you may read those stories without knowing Greek. 
I've got them in English." 

"Oh, but I don't like reading; I'd sooner have yon tell 
them me. But only the fighting ones, you know. My sister 
Maggie is always wanting to tell me stories, but they're stupid 
things. Girls' stories always are. Can yon tell a good many 
fighting stories?" 

"Oh yes," said Philip j "lots of them, besides the Greek 
stories. I can tell you about Eichard Cceur-de-Lion and 
Saladin, and about William Wallace and Eobert Bruce and 
James Douglas, I know no end." 

" You're older than I am, aren't you? " said Tom. 

"Why, how old are you ? I'm fifteen." 

"I'm only going in fourteen," said Tom. "But I thrashed 
all the fellows at Jacobs's that's where I was before I came 
here. And I beat 'em all at bandy and climbing. And I 
wish Mr. Stelling would let us go fishing. / could show you 
how to fish. You could fish, couldn't you? It's only stand- 
ing, and sitting still, you know." 

Tom, in his turn, wished to make the balance dip in his 
favor. This hunchback must not suppose that his acquaint- 
ance with fighting stories put him on a par with an actual 
fighting hero, like Tom Tulliver. Philip winced under this 
allusion to his unfitness for active sports, and he answered 
almost peevishly, 

" I can't bear fishing. 1 think people look like fools sitting 



t7 THE MItL ON THE FLOSS, 

watching a line hour after hour, or else throwing and throw- 
ing, and catching nothing." 

"Ah, but you wouldn't say they looked like fools when 
they landed a big pike, I can tell you," said Tom, who had 
never caught anything that was "big" in his life, but whose 
imagination was on the stretch with indignant real for the 
honor of sport. Wakem's son, it was plain, had his disagree- 
*able points, and must be kept in due check. Happily foi 
the harmony of this first interview, they were now called to 
dinner, and Philip was not allowed to develop farther his un- 
sound views on the subject of fishing. But Tom said to him- 
self, that was just what he should have expected from 
hunchback. 



OHAPTEB IV. 

"*HB YOUNG IDEA.* 

THB alternations of feeling in that first dialogn* between 
Tom and Philip continued to make their intercourse even af- 
ter many weeks of schoolboy intimacy. Tom never quite lost 
the feeling that Philip, being the son of a "rascal," was his 
natural enemy; never thoroughly overcame his repulsion to 
Philip's deformity. He was a boy who adhered tenaciously 
to impressions once received; as with all minds in which mere 
perception predominates over thought and Demotion, the ex- 
ternal remained to him rigidly what it was in the first in- 
stance. But then it was impossible not to like Philip's com* 
.pany when he was in a good humor ; he could help one so well 
in one's Latin exercises, which Tom regarded as a kind of 
puzzle that could only be found out by a lucky [chance ; and 
he could tell such wonderful fighting stories about Hal of the 
Wynd, for example, and other heroes who were especial fa- 
vorites with Tom, because they laid about them with heavy 
strokes. He had small opinion of Saladin, whose cimeter 
could cut a cushion in two in an instant; who wanted to cut 
cushions? That was a stupid story, and he didn't care to 
bear it again. But when Eobert Bruce, on the black pony, 



BCHOOL-TTME. 177 

rose In hig stirrups, and lifting his good battle-axe, cracked 
at once the helmet and the skull of the too hasty knight at 
Banuockburn, then Tom felt all the exaltation of sympathy, 
and if he had had a cocoanut at hand, he would have cracked 
it at once with the poker. Philip in his happier moods in- 
dulged Tom to the top of his bent, heightening the crash and 
bang and fury of every fight with all the artillery of epithets 
and similes at his command. But he was not always in a 
good humor or happy mood. The slight spurt of peevish sus- 
ceptibility which had escaped him in their first interview was 
a symptom of a perpetually recurring mental ailment, half of 
it nervous irritability, half of it the heart-bitterness produced 
by the sense of his deformity. In these fits of susceptibility 
every glance seemed to him to be charged either with offensive 
pity or with ill-repressed disgust; at the very least it was an 
indifferent glance, and Philip felt indifference as a child of 
the south feels the chill air of a northern spring. Poor Tom's 
blundering patronage when they were out of doors together 
would sometimes make him turn upon the well-meaning lad 
quite savagely; and his eyes, usually sad and quiet, would 
flash with anything but playful lightning. No wonder Tom 
retained his suspicions of the humpback. 

But Philip's self-taught skill in drawing was another link 
between them ; for Tom found, to his disgust, that his new 
drawing-master gave him no dogs and donkeys to draw, but 
brooks and rustic bridges and ruins, all with a general soft- 
ness of black-lead surface, indicating that nature, if anything, 
was rather satiny; and as Tom's feeling for the picturesque 
in landscape was at present quite latent, it is not surprising 
that Mr. Goodrich' s productions seemed to him an uninterest- 
ing form of art. Mr. Tulliver, having a vague intention 
that Tom should be put to some business which included th<* 
drawing out of plans and maps, had complained to Mr. Riley, 
when he saw him at Mudport, that Tom seemed to be learn- 
ing nothing of that sort ; whereupon that obliging adviser had 
suggested that Tom should have drawing-lessons. Mr. Tul- 
liver must not mind paying extra for drawing; let Tom be 
made a good draughtsman, and he would be able to turn hia 
pencil to any purpose. So it was ordered that Tom should 
13 



178 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

have drawing-lessons; and whom should Mr. Stalling have 
selected as a master if not Mr. Goodrich, who was considered 
quite at the head of his profession within a circuit of twelve 
miles round King's Lorton? By which means Tom learned 
to make an extremely fine point to his pencil, and to represent 
landscape with a " broad generality, " which, doubtless from 
a narrow tendency in his mind to details, he thought ex 
trsmely dull. 

All this, you remember, happened in those dark ages when 
there were no schools of design; before schoolmasters were 
invariably men of scrupulous integrity, and before the clergy 
were all men of enlarged minds and varied culture. In those 
less favored days, it is no fable that there were other clergy- 
men besides Mr. Stelling who had narrow intellects and large 
wants, and whose income, by a logical confusion to which For- 
tune, being a female as well as blindfold, is peculiarly liable, 
was proportioned not to their wants but to their intellect, with 
which income has clearly no inherent relation. The problem 
these gentlemen had to solve was to readjust the proportion 
between their wants and their income; and since wants are 
not easily starved to death, the simpler method appeared to 
be to raise their income. There was but one way of doing this ; 
any of those low callings in which men are obliged to do good 
work at a low price were forbidden to clergymen ; was it their 
fault if their only resource was to turn out very poor work at 
a high price? Besides, how should Mr. Stelling be expected 
to know that education was a delicate and difficult business, 
any more than an animal endowed with a power of boring a 
hole through a rock should be expected to have wide views of 
excavation? Mr. Stelling' s faculties had been early trained 
to boring in a straight line, and he had no faculty to spare. 
But among Tom's contemporaries, whose fathers cast their 
sons on clerical instruction to find them ignorant after many 
days, there were many far less Jucky than Tom Tulliver. 
Education was almost entirely a matter of luck usually of 
ill-luck in those distant days. The state of mind in which 
you take a billiard-cue or a dice-box in your hand is one of 
sober certainty compared with that of old-fashioned fathers, 
like Mr. Tulliver, when they selected a school or a tutor for 



SCHOOL-TIME. 179 

their sons. Excellent men, who had been forced all their 
lives to spell on an impromptu-phonetic system, and having 
carried on a successful business in spite of this disadvantage, 
had acquired money enough to give their sons a better start 
in life than they had had themselves, must necessarily take 
their chance as to the conscience and the competence of the 
schoolmaster Whose circular fell in their way, and appeared to 
promise so much more than they would ever have thought of 
asking for, including the return of linen, fork, and spoon. It 
was happy for them if some ambitious draper of their ac- 
quaintance had not brought up his son to the Church, and if 
that young gentleman, at the age of four-and-twenty, had not 
closed his college dissipations by an imprudent marriage; 
otherwise, these innocent fathers, desirous of doing the best 
for their offspring, could only escape the draper's son by hap- 
pening to be on the foundation of a grammar-school as yet un- 
visited by commissioners, where two or three boys could have, 
all to themselves, the advantages of a large and lofty build* 
ing, together with a head-master, toothless, dim-eyed and deaf, 
whose erudite indistinctness and inattention were engrossed 
by them at the rate of three hundred pounds a-head, a ripe 
scholar, doubtless, when first appointed; but all ripeness 
beneath the sun has a further stage less esteemed in the 
market. 

Tom Tulliver, then, compared with many other British 
youths of his time who have since had to scramble through 
life with some fragments of more or less relevant knowledge, 
and a great deal of strictly relevant ignorance, was not so very 
unlucky. Mr. Stelling was a broad-chested, healthy man, 
with the bearing of a gentleman, a conviction that a growing 
boy required a sufficiency of beef, and a certain hearty kind- 
ness in him that made him like to see Tom looking well and 
enjoying his dinner; not a man of refined conscience, or with 
any deep sense of the infinite issues belonging to every-day 
duties, not quite competent to his high offices; but incompe- 
tent gentlemen must live, and without private fortune it is 
difficult to see how they could all live genteelly if they had 
nothing to do with education or government. Besides, it was 
the fault of Tom's mental constitution that his faculties could 



180 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

not be nourished on the sort of knowledge Mr. Stelling had to 
communicate. A boy born with a deficient power of appre- 
hending signs and abstractions must suffer the penalty of his 
congenital deficiency, just as if he had been born with one 
leg shorter than the other. A method of education sanctioned 
by the long practice of our venerable ancestors was not to 
give way before the exceptional dulness of a boy who was 
merely living at the time then present. And Mr. Stelling 
was convinced that a boy so stupid at signs and abstractions 
must be stupid at everything else, even if that reverend gen- 
tleman could have taught him everything else. It was the 
practice of our venerable ancestors to apply that ingenious in- 
strument the thumb-screw, and to tighten and tighten it in 
order to elicit non-existent facts ; they had a fixed* opinion to 
begin with, that the facts were existent, and what had they 
to do but to tighten the thumb-screw? In like manner, Mr. 
Stelling had a fixed opinion that all boys with any capacity 
could learn what it was the only regular thing to teach ; if 
they were slow, the thumb-screw must be tightened, the ex- 
ercises must be insisted on with increased severity, and a page 
of Virgil be awarded as a penalty, to encourage and stimulate 
a too languid inclination to Latin verse. 

The thumb-screw was a little relaxed, however, during this 
second half-year. Philip was so advanced in his studies, 
and so apt, that Mr. Stelling could obtain credit by his facil- 
ity, which required little help, much more easily than by the 
troublesome process of overcoming Tom's dulness. Gentle- 
men with broad chests and ambitious intentions do sometimes 
disappoint their friends by failing to carry the world before 
them. Perhaps it is that high achievements demand some 
other unusual qualification besides an unusual desire for high 
prizes ; perhaps it is that these stalwart gentlemen are rather 
indolent, their divince particidum aurce being obstructed from 
soaring by a too hearty appetite. Some reason or other there 
was why Mr. Stelling deferred the execution of many spirited 
projects, why he did not begin the editing of his Greek 
play, or any other work of scholarship, in his leisure hours, 
but, after turning the key of his private study with much 
resolution, sat down to one of Theodore Hook's novels. Tom 



SCHOOL-TIME. 181 

was gradually allowed to shuffle through his lessons with less 
rigor, and having Philip to help him, he was able to make 
some show of having applied his mind in a confused and 
blundering way, without being cross-examined into a betrayal 
that his mind had been entirely neutral in the matter. He 
thought school much more bearable under this modification of 
circumstances; and he went on contentedly enough, picking 
up a promiscuous education chiefly from things that were not 
intended as education at all. What was understood to be his 
education was simply the practice of reading, writing, and 
spelling, carried on by an elaborate appliance of unintelligible 
ideas, and by much failure in the effort to learn by rote. 

Nevertheless, there was a visible improvement in Tom un- 
der this training ; perhaps because he was not a boy in the ab- 
stract, existing solely to illustrate the evils of a mistaken edu- 
cation, but a boy made of flesh and blood, with dispositions 
not entirely at the mercy of circumstances. 

There was a great improvement in his bearing, for example; 
and some credit on this score was due to Mr. Poulter, the vil- 
lage schoolmaster, who, being an old Peninsular soldier, was 
employed to drill Tom, a source of high mutual pleasure. 
Mr. Poulter, who was understood by the company at the Black 
Swan to have once struck terror into the hearts of the French, 
was no longer personally formidable. He had rather a 
shrunken appearance, and was tremulous in the mornings, not 
from age, but from the extreme perversity of the King's Lor- 
ton boys, which nothing but gin could enable him to sustain 
with any firmness. Still, he carried himself with martial 
erectness, had his clothes scrupulously brushed, and his 
trousers tightly strapped ; and on the Wednesday and Satur- 
day afternoons, when he came to Tom, he was always inspired 
with gin and old memories, which gave him an exceptionally 
spirited air, as of a superannuated charger who hears the 
drum. The drilling-lessons were always protracted by epi- 
sodes of warlike narrative, much more interesting to Tom 
than Philip's stories out of the Iliad ; for there were no can- 
non in the Iliad, and besides, Tom had felt some disgust on 
learning that Hector and Achilles might possibly never have 
existed. But the Duke of Wellington was really alive, and 



182 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Bony had not been long dead; therefore Mr. Poulter's remi- 
niscences of the Peninsular War were removed from all sus- 
picion of being mythical. Mr. Poulter, it appeared, had been 
a conspicuous figure at Talavera, and had contributed not a 
little to the peculiar terror with which his regiment of infantry 
was regarded by the enemy. On afternoons when his memory 
was more stimulated than usual, he remembered that the 
Duke of Wellington had (in strict privacy, lest jealousies 
should be awakened) expressed his esteem for that fine fellow 
Poulter. The very surgeon who attended him in the hospital 
after he had received his gunshot-wound had been profoundly 
impressed with the superiority of Mr. Poulter 's flesh, no 
other flesh would have healed in anything like the same time. 
On less personal matters connected with the important warfare 
in which he had been engaged, Mr. Poulter was more reticent, 
only taking care not to give the weight of his authority to any 
loose notions concerning military history. Any one who pre- 
tended to a knowledge of what occurred at the siege of Bada- 
jos was especially an object of silent pity to Mr. Poulter; he 
wished that prating person had been run down, and had the 
breath trampled out of him at the first go-off, as he himself 
had, he might talk about the siege Jof ^adajos then! Tom 
did not escape irritating his drilling-master occasionally, by 
his curiosity concerning other military matters than Mr. 
Poulter' s personal experience. 

"And General Wolfe, Mr. Poulter, wasn't he a wonderful 
fighter?" said Tom, who held the notion that all the martial 
heroes commemorated on the public-house signs were engaged 
in the war with Bony. 

" Not at all ! n said Mr. Poulter, contemptuously. " Noth- 
ing o' the sort! Heads up!" he added, in a tone of stern 
command, which delighted Tom, and made him feel as if he 
were a regiment in his own person. 

"No, no!" Mr. Poulter would continue, on coming to a 
pause in his discipline; "they'd better not talk to me about 
General Wolfe. He did nothing but die of his wound; that's 
a poor haction, I consider. Any other man 'ud have died o* 
the wounds I've had. One of my sword-cuts *ud ha* killed 9 
follow like General Wolfe," 



SCHOOL-TIME. 183 

"Mr. Poulter," Tom would say, at any allusion to the sword, 
* I wish you'd bring your sword and do the sword-exercise! " 

For a long while Mr. Poulter only shook his head in a sig- 
nificant manner at this request, and smiled patronizingly, aa 
Jupiter may have done when Semele urged her too ambitious 
request. But one afternoon, when a sudden shower of heavy 
rain had detained Mr. Poulter twenty minutes longer than 
usual at the Black Swan, the sword was brought, just fol 
Tom to look at. 

" And this is the real sword you fought with in all the bat- 
tles, Mr. Poulter?" said Tom, handling the hilt. "Has it 
ever cut a Frenchman's head off?" 

"Head off? Ah I and would, if he'd had three heads." 

" But you had a gun and bayonet besides? " said Tom. " 1 
should like the gun and bayonet best, because you could 
shoot 'em first and spear 'em after. Bang I Ps-s-s-sl" 
Tom gave the requisite pantomime to indicate the double en- 
joyment of pulling the trigger and thrusting the spear. 

"Ah, but the sword's the thing when you come to close 
fighting," said Mr. Poulter, involuntarily falling in with 
Tom's enthusiasm, and drawing the sword so suddenly that 
Tom leaped back with much agility. 

"Oh, but, Mr. Poulter, if you're going to do the exercise," 
said Tom, a little conscious that he had not stood his ground 
as became an Englishman, " let me go and call Philip. He'll 
like to see you, you know." 

"What I the humpbacked lad?" said Mr. Poulter, con- 
temptuously; "what's the use of his looking on?" 

" Oh, but he knows a great deal about fighting," said Tom, 
w and how they used to fight with bows and arrows, and bat- 
tle-axes." 

" Let him come, then. I'll show him something different 
from his bows and arrows," said Mr. Poulter, coughing and 
drawing himself up, while he gave a little preliminary play 
to his wrist. 

Tom ran in to Philip, who was enjoying his afternoon's 
holiday at the piano, in the drawing-room, picking out tunes 
for himself and singing them. He was supremely happy, 
perched like an amorphous bundle on the high stool, with his 



184 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

head thrown back, his eyes fixed on the opposite cornice, and 
his lips wide open, sending forth, with all his might, im- 
promptu syllables to a tune of Arne's which had hit his fancy. 

"Come, Philip," said Tom, bursting in; "don't stay roar- 
ing 'la la ' there ; come and see old Poulter do his sword- 
exercise in the carriage-house ! " 

The jar of this interruption, the discord of Tom's tones 
^coming across the notes to which Philip was vibrating in soul 
and body, would have been enough to unhinge his temper, 
even if there had been no question of Poulter the drilling- 
master j and Tom, in the hurry of seizing something to say to 
prevent Mr. Poulter from thinking he was afraid of the sword 
when he sprang away from it, had alighted on this proposi- 
tion to fetch Philip, though he knew well enough that Philip 
hated to hear him mention his drilling-lessons. Tom would 
never have done so inconsiderate a thing except under the 
severe stress of his personal pride. 

Philip shuddered visibly as he paused from his music. 
Then turning red, he said, with violent passion, 

"Get away, you lumbering idiot! Don't come bellowing 
at me ; you're not fit to speak to anything but a cart-horse ! " 

It was not the first time Philip had been made angry by 
him, but Tom had never before been assailed with verbal mis- 
siles that he understood so well. 

" I'm fit to speak to something better than you, you poor- 
spirited imp! " said Tom, lighting up immediately at Philip's 
fire. " You know I won't hit you, because you're no better 
than a girl. But I'm an honest man's son, and your father's 
a rogue ; everybody says so I n 

Tom flung out of the room, and slammed the door after him, 
made strangely heedless by his anger; for to slam doors 
within the hearing of Mrs. Stelling, who was probably not far 
off, was an offence only to be wiped out by twenty lines of 
Virgil. In fact, that lady did presently descend from her 
room, in double wonder at the noise and the subsequent ces- 
sation of Philip's music. She found him sitting in a heap on 
the hassock, and crying bitterly. 

" What's the matter, Wakem? what was t.hat poie about? 
Who slammed the door?" 



SCHOOL TIME. 1M 

Philip looked up, and hastily dried his eyes. "It was 
Tulliver who came in to ask me to go out with him." 

" And what are you in trouble about? " said Mr. Stelling. 

Philip was not her favorite of the two pupils; he was less 
obliging than Tom, who was made useful in many ways. 
Still, his father paid more than Mr. Tulliver did, and she 
meant him to feel that she behaved exceedingly well to him. 
Philip, however, met her advances toward a good understand- 
jing very much as a caressed mollusk meets an invitation to 
show himself out of his shell. Mrs. Stelling was not a lov- 
ing, tender-hearted woman ; she was a woman whose skirt sat 
well, who adjusted her waist and patted her curls with a pre- 
occupied air when she inquired after your welfare. These 
things, doubtless, represent a great social power, but it is not 
the power of lovej and no other power could win Philip from 
his personal reserve. 

He said, in answer to her question, " My toothache came 
on, and made me hysterical again." 

This had been the fact once, and Philip was glad of the 
recollection ; it was like an inspiration to enable him to excuse 
his crying. He had to accept eau-de-Cologne and to refuse 
creosote in consequence j but that was easy. 

Meanwhile Tom, who had for the first time sent a poisoned 
arrow into Philip's heart, had returned to the carriage -house, 
where he found Mr. Poulter, with a fixed and earnest eye, 
wasting the perfections of his sword-exercise on probably ob- 
servant but inappreciative rats. But Mr. Poulter was a host 
in himself; that is to say, he admired himself more than a 
whole army of spectators could have admired him. He took 
no notice of Tom's return, being too entirely absorbed in the 
cut and thrust, the solemn one, two, three, four; and Tom, 
not without a slight feeling of alarm at Mr. Poulter's fixed 
eye and hungry-looking sword, which seemed impatient for 
something else to cut besides the air, admired the perform- 
ance from as great a distance as possible. It was not until 
Mr. Poulter paused and wiped the perspiration from his fore- 
head, that Tom felt the full charm of the sword-exercise, and 
wished it to be repeated. 

"Mr. Poulter," said Torn,, when the sword was being finally 



186 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

sheathed, "I wish you'd lend me your sword a little while to 



"No no, young gentleman," said Mr. Poulter, shaking his 
head decidedly ; " you might do yourself some mischief with 
if 

"No, I'm sure I wouldn't; I'm sure I'd take care and not 
hurt myself. I shouldn't take it out of the sheath much, but 
I could ground arms with it, and all that." 

"No, no, it won't do, I tell you; it won't do," said Mr- 
Poulter, preparing to depart. "What 'ud Mr. Stelling say 
to me? " 

"Oh, I say, do, Mr. Poulter! I'd give you my five-shilling 
piece if you'd let me keep the sword a week. Look here! " 
said Tom, reaching out the attractively large round of silver. 
The young dog calculated the effect as well as if he had been 
a philosopher. 

"Well," said Mr. Poulter, with still deeper gravity, "you 
must keep it out of sight, you know." 

"Oh yes, I'll keep it under the bed," said Tom, eagerly, 
"or else at the bottom of my large box." 

" And let me see, now, whether you can draw it out of the 
sheath without hurting yourself." 

That process having been gone through more than once, 
Mr. Poulter felt that he had acted with scrupulous conscien- 
tiousness, and said, " Well, now, Master Tulliver, if I take 
the crown-piece, it is to make sure as you'll do no mischief 
with the sword." 

" Oh no, indeed, Mr. Poulter, " said Tom, delightedly hand- 
ing him the crown-piece, and grasping the sword, which, he 
thought, might have been lighter with advantage. 

" But if Mr. Stelling catches you carrying it in? " said Mr. 
Poulter, pocketing the crown-piece provisionally while he 
raised this new doubt. 

" Oh, he always keeps in his upstairs study on Saturday 
afternoons," said Tom, who disliked anything sneaking, but 
was not disinclined to a little stratagem in a worthy cause. 
So he carried off the sword in triumph mixed with dread 
dread that he might encounter Mr. or Mrs. Stelling to his 
bedroom, where, after some consideration, he hid it in the 



SCHOOL-TIME. 18? 

closet behind some hanging clothes. That night he fell asleep 
in the thought that he would astonish Maggie with it when 
she came, tie it round his waist with his red comforter, and 
make her believe that the sword was his own, and that he was 
going to be a soldier. There was nobody but Maggie who 
would be silly enough to believe him, or whom he dared al- 
low to know he had a sword ; and Maggie was really coming 
next week to see Tom, before she went to a boarding-school 
with Lucy. 

If you think a lad of thirteen would have been so childish, 
you must be an exceptionally wise man, who,, although you 
are devoted to a civil calling, requiring you to look bland rather 
than formidable, yet never, since you had a beard, threw your- 
self into a martial attitude, and frowned before the looking- 
glass. It is doubtful whether our soldiers would be main- 
tained if there were not pacific people at home who like to 
fancy themselves soldiers. War, like other dramatic spec- 
tacles, might possibly cease for want of a " public." 



CHAPTEB V. 
MAGGIE'S SECOND visrr. 

THIS last breach between the two lads was not readily 
mended, and for some time they spoke to each other no more 
than was necessary. Their natural antipathy of temperament 
made resentment an easy passage to hatred, and in Philip the 
transition seemed to have begun j there was no malignity in 
his disposition, but there was a susceptibility that made him 
peculiarly liable to a strong sense of repulsion. The ox we 
may venture to assert it on the authority of a great classic 
is not given to use his teeth as aa instrument of attack, and 
Tom was an excellent bovine lad, who ran at questionable ob- 
jects in a truly ingenious bovine manner j but he had blun- 
dered on Philip's tenderest point, and had caused him as much 
acute pain as if he had studied the means with the nicest pre- 
cision and the most envenomed spite. Tom saw no reason 
why they should not make up this quarrel as they had don 



188 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

toany others, "by behaving as if nothing had happened-, ten 
though he had never before said to Philip that his father was 
a rogue, this idea had so habitually made part of his feeling 
as to the relation between himself and his dubious schoolfel- 
low, who he could neither like nor dislike, that the mere ut- 
terance did not make such an epoch to him as it did to Philip. 
And he had a right to say so when Philip hectored over him, 
and called him names. But perceiving that his first advances 
toward amity were not met, he relapsed into his least favor- 
able disposition toward Philip, and resolved never to appeal 
to him either about drawing or exercises again. They were 
only so far civil to each other as was necessary to prevent 
their state of feud from being observed by Mr. Stelling, who 
would have " put down " such nonsense with great vigor. 

When Maggie came, however, she could not help looking 
with growing interest at the new schoolfellow, although he 
was the son of that wicked Lawyer Wakem, who made her 
father so angry. She had arrived in the middle of school- 
hours, and had sat by while Philip went through his lessons 
with Mr. Stelling. Tom, some weeks ago, had sent her word 
that Philip knew no end of stories, not stupid stories like 
hers j and she was convinced now from her own observation 
that he must be very clever ; she hoped he would think her 
rather clever too, when she came to talk to him. Maggie, 
moreover, had rather a tenderness for deformed things; she 
preferred the wry -necked lambs, because it seemed to her that 
the lambs which were quite strong ac.d well made wouldn't 
mind so much about being petted; and she was especially 
fond of petting objects that would think it very delightful to 
be petted by her. She loved Tom very dearly, but she often 
wished that he cared more about her loving him. 

"I think Philip Wakem seems a nice boy, Tom," she said, 
when they went out of the study together into tha garden, to 
pass the interval before dinner. "He couldn't choose his 
father, you know ; and I've read of very bad men who had good 
sons, as well as good parents who had bad children. And if 
Philip is good, I think we ought to be the more sorry for him be- 
cause his father is not a good man. You like him, don't you? " 

"Oh, he's a queer fellow^" said Tom, curtly, "an4 toe's as 



SCHOOL-TIME. 189 

sulky as can be with me, because I told him his father was a 
rogue. And I'd a right to tell him so, for it was true; and 
he began it, with calling ine names. But you stop here by 
yourself a bit, Magsie, will you? I've got something I want 
to do upstairs." 

"Can't I go too?" said Maggie, who in this first day of 
meeting again loved Tom's shadow. 

"No, it's something I'll tell you about by-and-by, not yet,* 
said Tom, skipping away. I 

In the afternoon the boys were at their books in the study, 
preparing the morrow's lessons, that they might have a holi- 
day in the evening in honor of Maggie's arrival. Tom was 
hanging over his Latin grammar, moving his lips inaudibly 
like a strict but impatient Catholic repeating his tale of 
paternosters ; and Philip, at the other end of the room, was 
busy with two volumes, with a look of contented diligence 
that excited Maggie's curiosity ; he did not look at all as if he 
were learning a lesson. She sat on a low stool at nearly a 
right angle with the two boys, watching first one and then the 
other ; and Philip, looking off his book once toward the fire- 
place, caught the pair of questioning dark eyes fixed upon 
him. He thought this sister of Tulliver's seemed a nice little 
thing, quite unlike her brother; he wished he had a little 
sister. What was it, he wondered, that made Maggie's dark 
eyes remind him of the stories about princesses being turned 
into animals? I think it was that her eyes were full of un- 
satisfied intelligence, and unsatisfied, beseeching affection. 

"I say, Magsie," said Tom at last, shutting his books and 
putting them away with the energy and decision of a perfect 
master in the art of leaving off, " I've done my lessons now. 
Come upstairs with me." 

u What is it? " said Maggie, when they were outside the 
door, a slight suspicion crossing her mind as she remembered 
Tom's preliminary visit upstairs. "It isn't a trick you're 
going to play me, now? n 

"No, no, Maggie," said Tom, in his most coaxing tonej 
"it's something you'll like ever so." 

He put his arm round her neck, and she put hers round hts 
waist* and twined together in this way, they went upstairs. 



190 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"I say, Magsie, you must not tell anybody, you know," 
aid Tom, " else I shall get fifty lines." 

"Is it alive?" said Maggie, whose imagination had settled 
for the moment ou the idea that Tom kept a ferret clandes- 
tinely. 

" Oh, I sha'n't tell you," said he. "How you go into that 
corner and hide your face, while I reach it out," he added, as 
he locked the bedroom door behind them. " I'll tell you wheo 
to turn round. You mustn't squeal out, you know." 

" Oh, but if you frighten me, I shall," said Maggie, begin* 
ning to look rather serious. 

"You won't be frightened, you silly thing," said Tom. 
" Go and hide your face, and mind you don't peep." 

"Of course I sha'n't peep," said Maggie, disdainfully; and 
she buried her face in the pillow like a person of strict honor. 

But Tom looked round warily as he walked to the closet ; 
then he stepped into the narrow space, and almost closed the 
door. Maggie kept her face buried without the aid of prin- 
ciple, for in that dream-suggestive attitude she had soon for- 
gotten where she was, and her thoughts were busy with the 
poor deformed boy, who was so clever, when Tom called out, 
" Now then, Magsie ! " 

Nothing but long meditation and preconcerted arrangement 
of effects could have enabled Tom to present so striking a fig- 
ure as he did to Maggie when she looked up. Dissatisfied 
with the pacific aspect of a face which had no more than the 
faintest hint of flaxen eyebrow, together with a pair of ami- 
able blue-gray eyes and round pink cheeks that refused to 
look formidable, let him frown as he would before the looking- 
glass (Philip had once told him of a man who had a horseshoe 
frown, and Tom had tried with all his frowning might to 
make a horseshoe on his forehead), he had had recourse to 
that unfailing source of the terrible, burnt cork, and had made 
himself a pair of black eyebrows that met in a satisfactory 
manner over his nose, and were matched by a less carefully 
adjusted blackness about the chin. He had wound a red 
handkerchief round his cloth cap to give it the air of a tur- 
ban, and his red comforter across his breast as a scarf, an 
amount of red which, wit]) tfc* tremendous frown on bis brow. 



SCHOOL-TIME. 191 

and the decision with which he grasped the sword, as he hell 
it with its point resting on the ground, would suffice to convey 
an approximative idea of his fierce and bloodthirsty disposition. 

Maggie looked bewildered for a moment, and Tom enjoyed 
that moment keenly j but in the next she laughed, clapped 
her hands together, and said, "Oh, Tom, you've made your- 
self like Bluebeard at the show." 

It was clear she had not been struck with the presence of 
the sword, it was not unsheathed. Her frivolous mind re- 
quired a more direct appeal to its sense of the terrible, and 
Tom prepared for his master-stroke. Frowning with a double 
amount of intention, if not of corrugation, he (caiefully) drew 
the sword from its sheath, and pointed it at Maggie. 

"Oh, Tom, please don't!" exclaimed Maggie, in a tone of 
suppressed dread, shrinking away from him into the opposite 
corner. " I shall scream I'm sure I shall! Oh, don't! J 
wish I'd never come upstairs! " 

The corners of Tom's mouth showed an inclination to a 
srnile of complacency that was immediately checked as incon- 
sistent with the severity of a great warrior. Slowly he let 
down the scabbard on the floor, lest it should make too much 
noise, and then said sternly, 

"I'm the Duke of Wellington! March!" stamping for- 
ward with the right leg a little bent, and the sword still point- 
ing toward Maggie, who, trembling, and with tear-filled eyes, 
got upon the bed, as the only means of widening the space be 
tween them. 

Tom, happy in this spectator of his military performancei, 
even though the spectator was only Maggie, proceeded, with 
the utmost exertion of his force, to such an exhibition of the 
cut and thrust as would necessarily be expected of the Duke 
of "Wellington. 

"Tom, I wiil not bear it, I will scream," said Maggie, at 
the first movement of the sword. "You'll hurt yourself; 
you'll cut your head off I" 

"One two," said Tom, resolutely, though at "two" his 
wrist trembled a little. "Three" came more slowly, and 
with it the sword swung downward, and Maggie gave a Ion J 
shriek. The sword had fallen, with its edg ora Tom'f fotf. 



192 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

and in a moment after he had fallen too. Maggie leaped 
from the bed, still shrieking, and immediately there was a 
rush of footsteps toward the room. Mr. Stelling, from his 
upstairs study, was the first to enter. He found both the 
children on the floor. Tom had fainted, and Maggie was 
shaking him by the collar of his jacket, screaming, with wild 
eyes. She thought he was dead, poor child! and yet she 
shook him, as if that would bring him back to life. In another 
minute she was sobbing with joy because Tom opened his eyes. 
She couldn't sorrow yet that he had hurt his foot j it seemed 
as if all happiness lay in his being alive. 



CHAPTER VL 

A LOVE SCENE. 

POOR Tom bore his severe pain heroically, and was resolute 
in not " telling " of Mr. Poulter more than was unavoidable ; 
the five-shilling piece remained a secret even to Maggie. But 
there was a terrible dread weighing on his mind, so terrible 
that he dared not even ask the question which might bring the 
fatal " yes " j he dared not ask the surgeon or Mr. Stelling, 
" Shall I be lame, sir? " He mastered himself so as not to cry 
out at the pain ; but when his foot had been dressed, and he 
was left alone with Maggie seated by his bedside, the children 
sobbed together, with their heads laid on the same pillow. 
Tom was thinking of himself walking about on crutches, like 
the wheelwright's son ; and Maggie, who did not guess what 
was in his mind, sobbed for company. It had not occurred to 
the surgeon or to Mr. S telling to anticipate this dread in Tom's 
mind, and to reassure him by hopeful words. But Philip 
watched the surgeon out of the house, and waylaid Mr. Stel- 
ling to ask the very question that Tom had not dared to ask 
for himself. 

"I beg your pardon, sir, but does Mr. Askern say Tullivei 
will be lame? " 

"Oh, no; oh, no," said Mr, Stelling, "not permanently j 
only for a little while." 



SCHOOL-TIME. 193 

Did he tell Tulliver so, sir, do you think?* 

**No; nothing was said to him on the subject,* 

" Then may I go and tell him, sir? " 

" Yes, to be sure ; now you mention it, I dare say he may be 
troubling about that. Go to his bedroom, but be very quiet at 
present." 

It had been Philip's first thought when he heard of the ac- 
cident, " Will Tulliver be lame? It will be very hard for 
him if he is"; and Tom's hitherto unforgiven offences were 
washed out by that pity. Philip felt that they were no longer 
in a state of repulsion, but were being drawn into a common 
current of suffering and sad privation. His imagination did 
not dwell on the outward calamity and its future effect on 
Tom's life, but it made vividly present to him the probable 
state of Tom's feeling. Philip had only lived fourteen years, 
but those years had, most of them, been steeped in the sense 
of a lot irremediably hard. 

" Mr. Askern says you'll soon be all right again, Tulliver, 
did you know? " he said rather timidly, as he stepped gently 
up to Tom's bed. " I've just been to ask Mr. Stelling, and 
he says you'll walk as well as ever again by-and-by." 

Tom looked up with that momentary stopping of the breath 
which comes with a sudden joy ; then he gave a long sigh, and 
turned his blue-gray eyes straight on Philip's face, as he had 
not done for a fortnight or more. As for Maggie, this inti- 
mation of a possibility she had not thought of before affected 
her as a new trouble; the bare idea of Tom's being always 
lame overpowered the assurance that such a misfortune 
was not likely to befall him, and she clung to him and cried 
afresh. 

"Don't be a little silly, Magsie," said Tom, tenderly, feel* 
ing very brave now. " I shall soon get well." 

"Good-by, Tulliver," said Philip, putting out his small, 
delicate hand, which Tom clasped immediately with his more 
substantial fingers. 

"I say," said Tom, "ask Mr. Stelling to let you come and 
Bit with me sometimes, till I get up again, Wakemj and tell 
me about Robert Bruce, you know." 

After that, Philip spent all his time put of school-hours wftb 
13 



194 THE MILL OK THE FLOSS. 

Tom and Maggie- Tom liked to hear fighting stories as much 
as ever, but he insisted strongly on the fact that those great 
fighters, who did so many wonderful things and came off un- 
hurt, wore excellent armor from head to foot, which made 
fighting easy work, he considered. He should not have hurt 
his foot if he had had an iron shoe on. He listened with great 
interest to a new story of Philip's about a man who had a 
very bad wound in his foot, and cried out so dreadfully with 
'the pain that his friends could bear with him no longer, but 
put him ashore on a desert island, wiUj nothing but some won- 
derful poisoned arrows to kill animals with for food. 

" I didn't roar out a bit, you know, " Tom said, " and I dare 
say my foot was as bad as his. It's cowardly to roar." 

But Maggie would have it that when anything hurt you very 
much, it was quite permissible to cry out, and it was cruel of 
people not to bear it. She wanted to know if Philoctetes had 
a sister, and why she didn't go with him on the desert island 
and take care of him. 

One day, soon after Philip had told this story, he and Mag- 
gie were in the study alone together while Tom's foot was 
being dressed. Philip was at his books, and Maggie, after 
sauntering idly round the room, not caring to do anything in 
particular, because she would soon go to Tom again, went and 
leaned on the table near Philip to see what he was doing, for 
they were quite old friends now, and perfectly at home with 
each other. 

" What are you reading about in Greek? " she said. " It's 
poetry, I can see that, because the lines are so short." 

" It's about Philoctetes, the lame man I was telling you of 
yesterday," he answered, resting his head on his hand, and 
locking at her as if he were not at all sorry to be interrupted. 
Maggie, in her absent way, continued to lean forward, resting 
on her arms and moving her feet about, while her dark eyes 
got more and more fixed and vacant, as if she had quite for- 
gotten Philip and his book. 

"Maggie," said Philip, after a minute or two, still leaning 
on his elbow and looking at her, " if you had had a brother 
like me, do you think you should have loved him as well a 
Torn?" 



SCHOOL-TIME. 193 

i-Taggie started a little on being roused from her aeverie, 
and said, " What? " Philip repeated his question. 

"Oh, yes, better," she answered immediately. "No, not 
better ; because I don't think I could love you better than Tom. 
But I should be so sorry, so sorry for you." 

Philip colored} he had meant to imply, would she love him 
as well in spite of his deformity, and yet when she alluded to 
it so plainly, he winced under her pity. Maggie, young as she 
was, felt her mistake. Hitherto she had instinctively behaved 
as if she were quite unconscious of Philip's deformity ; her 
own keen sensitiveness and experience under family criticism 
sufficed to teach her this as well as if she had been directed by 
the most finished breeding. 

" But you are so very clever, Philip, and you can play and 
sing," she added quickly. " I wish you were my brother. I'm 
very fond of you. And you would stay at home with me when 
Tom went out, and you would teach me everything; wouldn't 
you, Greek and everything?" 

" But you'll go away soon, and go to school, Maggie, " said 
Philip, " and then you'll forget all about me, and not care for 
me any more. And then I shall see you when you're grown 
up, and you'll hardly take any notice of me." 

"Oh, no, I sha'n't forget you, I'm sure," said Maggie, 
shaking her head very seriously. " I never forget anything, 
and I think about everybody when I'm away from them. I 
think about poor Yap; he's got a lump in his throat, and 
Luke says he'll die. Only don't you tell Tom, because it will 
vex him so. You never saw Yap; he's a queer little dog, 
nobody cares about him but Tom and me." 

" Do you care as much about me as you dp about Yap, Mag- 
gie?" said Philip, smiling rather sadly. 

" Oh, yes, I should think so, " said Maggie, laughing. 

"I'm very fond ott/on," Maggie; I shall never forget you t " 
said Philip, " and when I'm very unhappy, I shall always 
think of you, and wish I had a sister with dark eyes, just lika 
yours." 

"Why do you like my eyes?" said Maggie, well pleased. 
She had never heard any one but her father speak of her eyea 
as if they had merit. 



196 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"I don't know," said Philip. " They're not like any othel 
eyes. They seem trying to speak, trying to speak kindly. 
I don't like other people to look at me much, but I like you to 
look at me, Maggie." 

" Why, I think you're fonder of me than Tom is," said Mag- 
gie, rather sorrowfully. Then, wondering how she could con- 
vince Philip that she could like him just as well, although he 
was crooked, she said: 

" Should you like me to kiss you, as I do Tom ? I will, if 
you like." 

"Yes, very muchj nobody kisses me." 

Maggie put her arm round his neck and kissed him quite 
earnestly. 

" There now," she said, "I shall always remember you, and 
kiss you when I see you again, if it's ever so long. But I'll 
go now, because I think Mr. Askern's done with Tom's foot." 

When their father came the second time, Maggie said to 
him, "Oh, father, Philip Wakem is so very good to Tom; he 
is such a clever boy, and I do love him. And you love him 
too, Tom, don't you? Say you love him," she added entreat- 
ingly. 

Tom colored a little as he looked at his father, and said: 
" I sha'n't be friends with him when I leave school, father ; 
but we've made it up now, since my foot has been bad, and 
he's taught me to play at draughts, and I can beat him." 

"Well, well," said Mr. Tulliver, "if he's good to you, try 
and make him amends, and be good to him. He's a poor 
crooked creature, and takes after his dead mother. But don't 
you be getting too thick with him ; he's got his father's blood 
in him too. Ay, ay, the gray colt may chance to kick like his 
black sire." 

The jarring natures of the two boys effected what Mr. Tul- 
liver's admonition alone might have failed to effect; in spite 
of Philip's new kindness, and Tom's answering regard in this 
time of his trouble, they never became close friends. When 
Maggie was gone, and when Tom b} 7 -and-by began to walk about 
as usual, the friendly warmth that had been kindled by pity 
and gratitude died out by degrees, and left them in their old 
relation to each other. Philip was often peevish and contemp* 



SCHOOL-TIME. 19T 

tuous; and Tom* s more specific and kindly impressions gradu- 
ally melted into the old background of suspicion and dislike 
toward him as a queer fellow, a humpback, and the son of a 
rogue. If boys and men are to be welded together in the glow 
of transient feeling, they must be made of metal that will mix, 
else they inevitably fall asunder when the heat dies out. 



CHAPTER TO. 

THE GOLDEN 1 GATES ABB PASSED. 

So Tom went on even to the fifth half-year till he 
'turned sixteen at King's Lorton, while Maggie was growing 
with a rapidity which her aunts considered highly reprehensi- 
ble, at Miss Firniss's boarding-school in the ancient town of 
Laceham on the Floss, with cousin Lucy for her companion. 
In her early letters to Tom she had always sent hbr love to 
Philip, and asked many questions about him, which were ar- 
swered by brief sentences about Tom's toothache, and a turf- 
house which he was helping to build in the garden^, with other 
items of that kind. She was pained to hear Tom say in the 
holidays that Philip was as queer as ever again, and often 
cross. They were no longer very good friends, she perceived ; 
and when she reminded Tom that he ought always o love 
Philip for being so good to him when his foot was bad, ho 
answered: "Well, it isn't my fault; 1 don't do anything to 
him." She hardly ever saw Philip during the remainder of 
their school-life ; in the Midsummer holidays he was always 
away at the seaside, and at Christmas she could only meet 
him at long intervals in the streets of St. Ogg's. When they 
did meet, she remembered her promise to kiss him, but, as a 
young lady who had been at a boarding-school, she knew now 
that such a greeting was out of the question, and Philip would 
not expect it. The promise was void, like so many other 
sweet, illusory pr raises of our childhood; void as promises 
made in Eden before the seasons vcere divided, and when thf 
Btarry blossoms grew side by side with the ripening peach, 



198 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

impossible to be fulfilled when the golden gates had been 
passed. 

But when their father was actually engaged in the long- 
threatened lawsuit, and Wakem, as the agent at once of Pivart 
and Old Harry, was acting against him, even Maggie felt, with 
some sadness, that they were not likely ever to have any inti- 
macy with Philip again ; the very name of Wakem made her 
father angry, and she had once heard him say that if that 
crook-backed son lived to inherit his father's ill-gotten gains, 
there would be a curse upon him. " Have as little to do with 
him at school as you can, my lad," he said to Tom; and the 
command was obeyed the more easily because Mr. Stelling by 
this time had two additional pupils; for though this gentle- 
man's rise in the world was not of that meteor-like rapidity 
which the admirers of his extemporaneous eloquence had ex- 
pected for a preacher whose voice demanded so wide a sphere, 
he had yet enough of growing prosperity to enable him to in- 
crease his expenditure in continued disproportion to his income. 

As for Tom's school course, it went on with mill-like monot- 
ony, his mind continuing to move with a slow, half-stifled 
pulse in a medium uninteresting or unintelligible ideas. But 
each vacation he brought home larger and larger drawings 
with the satiny rendering of landscape, and water-colors in 
vivid greens, together with manuscript books full of exercises 
and problems, in which the handwriting was all the finer be- 
cause he gave his whole mind to it. Each vacation he brought 
home a new book or two, indicating his progress through dif- 
ferent stages of history, Christian doctrine, and Latin litera- 
ture ; and that passage was not entirely without result, besides 
the possession of the books. Tom's tar and tongue had be- 
come accustomed to a great many words and phrases which 
are understood to be signs of an educated condition; and 
though he had never really applied his mind to any one of his 
lessons, the lessons had left a deposit of vague, fragmentary, 
ineffectual noti ns. Mr. Tulliver, seeing signs of acquirement 
beyond the reach of his own criticism, thought it was proba- 
bly all right with Tom's education ; he observed, indeed, that 
there were no maps, and not enough " summing "; but he made 
no formal complaint to Mr* Stelling. It was a puzzling busi - 



SCHOOL-TIME. 199 

this schooling; and if he took Tom away, where could 
he send him \vith better effect? 

By the time Tom hacl reached his last quarter at King's 
Lorton, the years had made striking changes in him since the 
day we saw him returning from Mr. Jacobs's academy. He 
was a tall youth now, carrying himself without the least awk- 
wardness, and speaking without more shyness than was a be- 
coming symptom of blended diffidence and pride; he wore his 
tail-coat and his stand-up collars, and watched the down on 
his lip with eager impatience, looking every day at his virgin 
razor, with whijh he had provided himself in the last holi- 
days. Philip had already left, at the autumn quarter, 
that he might go to the south for the winter, for the sake of 
his health ; and this change helped to give Tom the unsettled, 
exultant feeling that usually belongs to the last months before 
leaving school. This quarter, too, there was some hope of his 
father's lawsuit being decided j that made the prospect of 
home more entirely pleasurable. For Tom, who had gathered 
his view of the case from his father's conversation, had no 
doubt that Pivart would be beaten. 

Tom had not heard anything from home for some weeks, 
a fact which did not surprise him, for his father and mother 
were not apt to manifest their affection in unnecessary letters, 
when, to his great surprise, on the morning of a dark, cold 
day near the end of November, he was told, soon after entering 
the study at nine o'clock, that his sister was in the drawing- 
room. It was Mrs. Stelling who had come into the study to 
tell him, and she left him to enter the drawing-room alone. 

Maggie, too, was tall now, with braided and coiled hair ; she 
was almost as tall as Tom, though she was only thirteen ; and 
she really looked older than he did at that moment. She had 
thrown off her bonnet, her heavy braids were pushed back 
from her forehead, as if it would not bear that extra load, and 
her young face had a strangely worn look, as her eyes turned 
anxiously toward the door. When Tom entered she did not 
speak, but only went up to hhr< put her arms round his neck, 
and kissed him earnestly. He was used to various moods of 
hers, and felt no alarm at the unusual seriousness of her ereet 
ing. 



200 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Why, how is it you're come so early this cold morning, 
Maggie? Did you come in the gig? " said Tom, as she backed 
toward the sofa, and drew him to her side. 

"No, I came by the coach. I've walked from the turn- 
pike." 

" But how is it you're not at school? The holidays have 
not begun yet? " 

" Father wanted me at home, " said Maggie, with a slight 
trembling of the lip. "I caine home three or four days 
ago." 

"Isn't my father well?" said Tom, rather anxiously. 

"Not quite," said Maggie. "He's very unhappy, Tom. 
The lawsuit is ended, and I came to tell you because I thought 
it would be better for you to know it before you came home, 
and I didn't like only to end you a letter." 

""Vy father hasn't lost? " said Tom, hastily, springing from 
tht> sofa, and standing before Maggie with his hands suddenly 
thrust in his pockets. 

"Yes, dear Tom," said Maggie, looking up at him with 
trembling. 

Tom was silent a minute or two, with his eyes fixed on the 
floor. Then he said : 

" My father will have to pay a good deal of money, then? '' 

"Yes," said Maggie, rather faintly. 

" Well, it can't be helped," said Tom, bravely, not translat- 
ing the loss of a large sum of money into any tangible results. 
"But my father's very much vexed, I dare say?" he added, 
looking at Maggie, and thinking that her agitated face was only 
part of her girlish way of taking things. 

"Yes," said Maggie, again faintly. Then, urged to fuller 
speech by Tom's freedom from apprehension, she said loudly 
and rapidly, as if the words would burst from her: "Oh, 
Tom, he will lose the mill and the land and everything; he 
will have nothing left." 

Tom's eyes flashed out one look of surprise at her, before 
he turned pale, and trembled visibly. He said nothing, but 
sat down on the sofa again, looking vaguely out of the oppo- 
site window. 

Anxiety about the future had never entered Tom's mind, 



SCHOOL-TIME. 201 

His father had always ridden a good horse, kept a good house, 
and had the cheerful, confident air of a man who has plenty of 
property to fall back upon. Tom had never dreamed that his 
father would " fail " ; that was a form of misfortune which he 
had always heard spoken of as a deep disgrace, and disgrace 
was an idea that he could not associate with any of his rela- 
tions, least of all with his father. A proud sense of family 
respectability was part of the very air Tom had been born and 
brought up in. He knew there were people in St. Ogg's whc 
made a show without money to support it, and he had always 
heard such people spoken of by his own friends with contempt 
and reprobation. He had a strong belief, which was a life- 
long habit, and required no definite evidence to rest on, that 
his father could spend a great deal of money if he chose ; and 
since his education at Mr. Stelling's had given him a more ex- 
pensive view of life, he had often thought that when he got 
older he would make a figure in the world, with his horse and 
, dogs and saddle, and other accoutrements of a fine young man, 
and show himself equal to any of his contemporaries at St. 
Ogg's, who might consider themselves a grade above him in 
society, because their fathers were professional men, or had 
large oil-mills. As to the prognostics and headshaking of his 
aunts and uncles, they had never produced the least effect on 
him, except to make him think that aunts and uncles were 
disagreeable society ; he had heard them find fault in much 
the same way as long as he could remember. His father knew 
better than they did. 

The down had come on Tom's lip, yet his thoughts and ex- 
pectations had been hitherto only the reproduction, in changed 
forms, of the boyish dreams in which he had lived three years 
ago. He was awakened now with a violent shock. 

Maggie was frightened at Tom's pale, trembling silence.' 
There was something else to tell him, something worse. 
She threw her arms round him at last, and said, with a half 
sob: 

"Oh, Tom dear, dear Tom, don't fret too much; try and 
bear it vrelL" 

Tom turned his cheek passively to meet her entreating 
kisses, and there gathered a moisture in his eyes, which he 



202 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

just rubbed away with his hand. The action seemed to rouse 
him, for he shook himself and said : " I shall go home with 
you, Maggie. Didn't my father say I was to go?" 

"No, Tom, father didn't wish it," said Maggie, her anxiety 
about his feeling helping her to master her agitation. What 
would he do when she told him all? " But mother wants you 
to come, poor mother! she cries so. Oh, Tom, it's very 
dreadful at home." 

Maggie's lips grew whiter, and she began to tremble almost 
as Tom had done. The two poor things clung closer to each 
other, both trembling, the one at an unshapen fear, the other 
at the image of a terrible certainty. When Maggie spoke, it 
was hardly above a whisper. 

" And and poor father " 

Maggie could not utter it. But the suspense was intoler- 
able to Tom. A vague idea of going to prison, as a conse- 
quence of debt, was the shape his fears had begun to take. 

"Where's my father?" he said impatiently. "Tell me, 
Maggie." 

"He's at home," said Maggie, finding it easier to reply to 
that question. " But," she added, after a pause, " not himself 
he fell off his horse. He has known nobody but me ever 
since he seems to have lost his senses. father, father n 

With these last words, Maggie's sobs burst forth with the 
more violence for the previous struggle against them. Tom 
felt that pressure of the heart which forbids tears; he had no 
distinct vision of their troubles as Maggie had, whp had been 
at home ; he only felt the crushing weight of what seemed un- 
mitigated misfortune. He tightened his arm almost convul- 
sively round Maggie as she sobbed, but his face looked rigid 
and tearless, his eyes blank, as if a black curtain of cloud 
had suddenly fallen on his path. 

But Maggie soon checked herself abruptly ; a single thought 
had acted on her like a startling sound. 

" We must set out, Tom, we must not stay. Fathei will 
miss me; we must be at the turnpike at ten to meet the coach." 
She said this with hasty decision, rubbing her eyes, and rising 
to seize her bonnet. 

Tom at once felt the same impulse, and rose too. '* Wait a 



SCHOOL-TIME. 203 

minute, Maggie," he said. "I must speak to Mr. Stelling, 
and then we'll go." 

He thought he must go to the study where the pupils were 
but on his way he met Mr. Stelling, who had heard from his 
wife that Maggie appeared to be in trouble when she asked for 
her brother, and now that he thought the brother and sister 
had been alone long enough, was coming to inquire and offer 
his sympathy. 

"Please, sir, I must go home," Tom said abruptly, as he 
met Mr. Stelling in the passage. " I must go back with my 
sister directly. My father's lost his lawsuit he's lost all his 
property and he's very ill." 

Mr. Stelling felt like a kind-hearted man; he foresaw a 
probable money loss for himself, but this had no appreciable 
share in his feeling, while he looked with grave pity at the 
brother and sister for whom youth and sorrow had begun to- 
gether. When he knew how Maggie had come, and how eager 
she was to get home again, he hurried their departure, only 
whispering something to Mrs. Stelling, who had followed him, 
and who immediately left the room. 

Tom and Maggie were standing on the door-step, ready to 
set out, when Mrs. Stelling came with a little basket, which 
she hung on Maggie's arm, saying: "Do remember to eat 
something on the way, dear." Maggie's heart went out toward 
this woman whom she had never liked, and she kissed her 
silently. It was the first sign within the poor child of that 
new sense which is the gift of sorrow, that susceptibility to 
the bare offices of humanity which raises them into a bond of 
loving fellowship, as to haggard men among the icebergs the 
mere presence of an ordinary comrade stirs the deep fountains 
of affection. 

Mr. Stelling put his hand on Tom's shoulder and said: 
"God bless you, my boy; let me know how you get on." 
Then he pressed Maggie's hand; but there were no audible 
good-byes. Tom had so often thought how joyful he should 
be the day he left school " for good " I And now his school 
years seemed like a holiday that had come to an end. 

The two slight youthful figures soon grew indistinct on the 
distant road, were soon lost behind the projecting hedgerow. 



204 THE MILL ON THE PLO6& 

They had gone forth together into their new life of sorrow, 
and they would never more see the sunshine undimmed by re- 
membered cares. They had entered the thorny wilderness, 
and the golden gates of their childhood had forever closed be* 
hind 



BOOK HI.-THE DOWKFAUL 
CHAPTEB L 

WHAT HAD HAPPENED AT BOMB. 

WHEN Mr. Tulliver first knew the fact that the lawsuit was 
decided against him, and that Pivart and Wakem were tri- 
umphant, every one who happened to observe him at the time 
thought that, for so confident and hot-tempered a man, he bore 
the blow remarkably well. He thought so himself; he thought 
he was going to show that if Wakem or anybody else consid- 
ered him crushed, they would find themselves mistaken. He 
could not refuse to see that the costs of this protracted suit 
would take more than he possessed to pay them ; but he ap- 
peared to himself to be full of expedients by which he could 
ward off any results but such as were tolerable, and could 
avoid the appearance of breaking down in the world. All the 
obstinacy and defiance of his nature, driven out of their old 
channel, found a vent for themselves in the immediate forma- 
tion of plans by which he would meet his difficulties, and re- 
main Mr. Tulliver of Dorlcote Mill in spite of them. There 
was such a rush of projects in his brain, that it was no wonder 
his face was flushed when he came away from his talk with 
his attorney, Mr. Gore, and mounted his horse to ride home 
from Lindum. There was Furley, who held the mortgage on 
the land, a reasonable fellow, who would see his own inter- 
est, Mr. Tulliver was convinced, and who would be glad not 
only to purchase the whole estate, including the mill and 
homestead, but would accept Mr. Tulliver as tenant, and be 
willing to advance money to be repaid with high interest out 
of the profits of the business, which would be made over to 
him, Mr. Tulliver only taking enough barely to maintain him- 
elf and his family. Who would neglect such a profitable 



206 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

investment? Certainly not Furley, for Mr. Tulliver had de 
termined that Furley should meet his plans with the utmost 
alacrity; and there are men whose brains have not yet been 
dangerously heated by the loss of a lawsuit, who are apt to see 
in their own interest or desires a motive for other men' s ac- 
tions. There was no doubt (in the miller's mind) that Furley 
would do just what was desirable ; and if he did why, things 
would not be so very much worse. Mr. Tulliver and his fam- 
ily must live more meagrely and humbly, but it would only be 
till the profits of the business had paid off Furley's advances, 
and that might be while Mr. Tulliver had still a good many 
years of life before him. It was clear that the costs of the 
suit could be paid without his being obliged to turn out of his 
old place, and look like a ruined man. It was certainly an 
awkward moment in his affairs. There was that suretyship 
for poor Eiley, who had died suddenly last April, and left his 
friend saddled with a debt of two hundred and fifty pounds, 
a fact which had helped to make Mr. Tulliver' s banking 
book less pleasant reading than a man might desire toward 
Christmas. Well! he had never been one of those poor-spir- 
ited sneaks who would refuse to give a helping hand to a fel- 
low-traveller in this puzzling world. The really vexatious 
business was the fact that some months ago the creditor who 
had lent him the five hundred pounds to repay Mrs. Glegg 
had become uneasy about his money (set on by Wakem, of 
course), and Mr. Tulliver, still confident that he should gain 
his suit, and finding it eminently inconvenient to raise the said 
sum until that desirable issue had taken place, had rashly ac- 
ceeded to the demand that he should give a bill of sale on his 
household furniture and some other effects, as security in lieu 
of the bond. It was all one, he had said to himself; he should 
soon pay off the money, and there was no harm in giving that 
security any more than another. But now the consequences of 
this bill of sale occurred to him in a new light, and he remem- 
bered that the time was close at hand when it would be en- 
forced unless the money were repaid. Two months ago he 
would have declared stoutly that he would never be beholden 
to his wife's friends; but now he told himself as stoutly that 
it was nothing but right and natural that Bessy should go to 



THE DOWNFALL. 207 

the Pullets and explain the thing to them ; they would hardly 
let Bessy's furniture be sold, and it might be security to Pul- 
iet if he advanced the money, there would, after all, be no 
gift or favor in the matter. Mr. Tulliver would never have 
asked for anything from so poor-spirited a fellow for himself^ 
but Bessy might do so if she liked. 

It is precisely the proudest and most obstinate men who are 
the most liable to shift their position and contradict themselves 
in this sudden manner; everything is easier to them than to 
face the simple fact that they have been thoroughly defeated, 
and must begin life anew. And Mr. Tulliver, you perceive, 
though nothing more than a superior miller and maltster, was 
as proud and obstinate ao if he had been a very lofty person- 
age, in whom such dispositions might be a source of that con- 
spicuous, far-echoing tragedy, which sweeps the stage in regal 
robes, and makes the dullest chronicler sublime. The pride 
and obstinacy of millers and other insignificant people, whom 
you pass unnoticingly on the road every day, have their tragedy 
too ; but it is of that unwept, hidden sort that goes on from 
generation to generation, and leaves no record, such tragedy, 
perhaps, as lies in the conflicts of young souls, hungry for joy, 
under a lot made suddenly hard to them, under the djeariness 
of a home where the morning brings no promise with it, and 
where the unexpectant discontent of worn and disappointed 
parents weighs on the children like a damp, thick air, in 
which all the functions of life are depressed ; or such tragedy 
as lies in the slow or sudden death that follows on a bruised 
passion, though it may be a death that finds only a parish 
funeral. There are certain animals to which tenacity of posi- 
tion is a law of life, they can never flourish again, after a 
single wrench : and there are certain human beings to whom 
predominance is a law of life, they can only sustain humili- 
ation so long as they can refuse to believe in it, and, in their 
o\rn conception, predominate still. 

Mr. Tulliver was still predominating, in his own imagina- 
tion, as he approached St. Ogg's, through which he had to 
pass on his way homeward. But what was it that suggested 
to him, as he saw the Laceharn coach entering the town, to 
follow it to the coach-office, and get the clerk there to write a 



208 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

letter, requiring Maggie to come home the very next day? 
Mr. Tulliver's own hand shook too much under his excitement 
for him to write himself, and he wanted the letter to be given 
to the coachman to deliver at Miss Firniss's school in the 
morning. There was a craving which he would not account 
for to himself, to have Maggie near him, without delay, she 
must come back by the coach to-morrow. 

To Mrs. Tulliver, when he got home, he would admit no 
difficulties, and scolded down her burst of grief on hearing 
that the lawsuit was lost, by angry assertions that there was 
nothing to grieve about. He said nothing to her that night 
about the bill of sale and the application to Mrs. Pullet, for 
he had kept her in ignorance of the nature of that transaction, 
and had explained the necessity for taking an inventory of the 
goods as a matter connected with his will. The possession of 
a wife conspicuously one's inferior in intellect is, like other 
high privileges, attended with a few inconveniences, and, 
among the rest, with the occasional necessity for using a little 
deception. 

The next day Mr. Tulliver was again on horseback in the 
afternoon, on his way to Mr. Gore's office at St. Ogg's. Gore 
was to have seen Furley in the morning, and to have sounded 
him in relation to Mr. Tulliver's affairs. But he had not gone 
half-way when he met a clerk from Mr. Gore's office, who was 
bringing a letter to Mr. Tulliver. Mr. Gore had been pre- 
vented by a sudden call of business from waiting at his office 
to see Mr. Tulliver, according to appointment, but would be at 
his office at eleven to-morrow morning, and meanwhile had 
sent some important information by letter. 

"Oh!" said Mr. Tulliver, taking the letter, but not opening 
it. " Then tell Gore I'll see him to-morrow at eleven " ; and 
he turned his horse. 

The clerk, struck with Mr. Tulliver's glistening, excited 
glance, looked after him for a few moments, and then rode 
away. The reading of a letter was not the affair of an in- 
stant to Mr. Tulliver; he took in the sense of a statement very 
slowly through the medium of written or even printed charac- 
ters ; so he had put the letter in his pocket, thinking he would 
open it in his armchair at home. But by-and-by it occurred 



THE DOWNFALL. 208 

to him that there might be something in the letter Mrs. Tul* 
liver must not know about, and if so, it would be better to 
keep it out of her sight altogether. He stopped his horse, 
took out the letter, aud read it. It was only a short letter; 
the substance was, that Mr. Gore had ascertained, on secret 
but sure authority, that Furley had been lately much straitened 
for money, and had parted with his securities, among the 
rest, the mortgage on Mr. Tulliver's property, which he had 
transferred to Wakem. 

In half an hour after this Mr. Tulliver's own wagoner found 
1 im lying by the roadside insensible, with an open letter near 
LJm, and his gray horse snuffing uneasily about him. 

When Maggie reached home that evening, in obedience to 
ier father's call, he was no longer insensible. About an hour 
before he had become conscious, and after vague, vacant looks 
around him, had muttered something about "a letter," which 
he presently repeated impatiently. At the instance of Mr. 
Turnbull, the medical man, Gore's letter was brought and laid 
on the bed, and the previous impatience seemed to be allayed. 
The stricken man lay for some time with his eyes fixed on the 
letter, as if he were trying to knit up his thoughts by its help, 
But presently a new wave of memory seemed to have come 
and swept the other away ; he turned his eyes from the letter 
to the door, and after looking uneasily, as if striving to see 
something his eyes were too dim for, he said, "The little 
wench." 

He repeated the words impatiently from time to time, 
appearing entirely unconscious of everything except this one 
importunate want, and giving no sign of knowing his wife or 
any one else; and poor Mrs. Tulliver, her feeble faculties 
almost paralyzed by this sudden accumulation of troubles, 
went backward and forward to the gate to see if the Laceharo 
coach were coming, though it was not yet time. 

But it came at last, and set down the poor anxious girl, no 
longer the " little wench, " except to her father's fond memory. 

" Oh, mother, what is the matter? " Maggie said, with pale 
tfps, as her mother came toward her crying. She didn't think 
ier father was ill, because the letter had come at his dictation 
from the office at St. Ogg'i. 
14 



WO THE MILL ON THE FLO8& 

But Mr. Turnbull caine now to meet her; a medical man is 
the good angel of the troubled house, and Maggie ran toward 
the kind old friend, whom she remembered as long as she could 
remember anything, with a trembling, questioning look. 

"Don't alarm yourself too much, my dear," he said, taking 
her hand. " Your father has had a sudden attack, and has 
not quite recovered his memory. But he has been asking for 
you, and it will do him good to see you. Keep as quiet as you 
can; take off your things, and come upstairs with me." 

Maggie obeyed, with that terrible beating of the heart which 
makes existence seem simply a painful pulsation. The very 
quietness with which Mr. Turnbull spoke had frightened her 
susceptible imagination. Her father's eyes were still turned 
uneasily toward the door when she entered and met the strange, 
yearning, helpless look that had been seeking her in vain. 
With a sudden flash and movement, he raised himself in th 
bed; she rushed toward him, and clasped him with agonized 
kisses. 

Poor child I it was very early for her to know one of those 
supreme moments in life when all we have hoped or delighted 
in, all we can dread or endure, falls away from our regard as 
insignificant; is lost, like a trivial memory, in that simple, 
primitive love which knits us to the beings who have been 
nearest to us, in their times of helplessness or of anguish. 

But that flash of recognition had been too great a strain on 
the father's bruised, enfeebled powers. He sank back again 
in renewed insensibility and rigidity, which lasted for many 
hours, and was only broken by a flickering return of conscious- 
ness, in which he took passively everything that was given to 
him, and seemed to have a sort of infantine satisfaction in 
Maggie's near presence, such satisfaction as a baby has when 
it is returned to the nurse's lap. 

Mrs. Tulliver sent for her sisters, and there was much wail- 
ing and lifting up of hands below stairs. Both uncles and 
aunts saw that the ruin of Bessy and her family was as com- 
plete as they had ever foreboded it, and there was a general 
family sense that a judgment had fallen on Mr. Tulliver, which 
it would be an impiety to counteract by too much kindness. 
But Maggie heard little of this, scarcely ever leaving hex 



THE DOWOTALL. 211 

father's bedside, where she sat opposite him with her hand on 
his. Mrs. Tulliver wanted to have Tom fetched home, and 
seemed to be thinking more of her boy even than of her hus- 
band ; but the aunts and uncles opposed this. Tom was bet- 
ter at school, since Mr. Turnbull said there was no immediate 
danger, he believed. But at the end of the second day, when 
Maggie had become more accustomed to her father's fits of insen- 
sibility, and to the expectation that he would revive from them, 
the thought of Tom had become urgent with her too ; and when 
her mother sate crying at night and saying, " My poor lad 
it's nothing but right he should come home," Maggie said, 
"Let me go for him, and tell him, mother; I'll go to-morrow 
morning if father doesn't know me and want me. It would 
be so hard for Tom to come home and not know anything about 
it beforehand." 

And the next morning Maggie went, as we have seen. Sit- 
ting on the coach on their way home, the brother and sister 
talked to each other in sad, interrupted whispers. 

" They say Mr. Wakem has got a mortgage or something on 
the land, Tom," said Maggie. "It was the letter with that 
news in it that made father ill, they think." 

" I believe that scoundrel's been planning all along to ruin 
my father, " said Tom, leaping from the vaguest impressions 
to a definite conclusion. " I'll make him feel for it when I'm 
a man. Mind you never speak to Philip again." 

" Oh, Tom ! " said Maggie, in a tone of sad remonstrance ; 
but she had no spirit to dispute anything then, still less to vex 
Tom by opposing him. 



CHAPTER IL 
i 

MRS. TULMVER'S TERAPHIM, OB HOUSEHOLD GODS. 

WHEN 1 the coach set down Tom and Maggie, it was five 
hours since she had started from home, and she was thinking 
with some trembling that her father had perhaps missed her, 
and asked for " the little wench " in vain. She thought of QQ 
other change that might have happened. 



t!2 THE MILL ON THE FLO88. 

She hurried along the gravel-walk and entered the tons* 
before Tom ; but in the entrance she was startled by a strong 
smell of tobacco. The parlor door was ajar j that was where 
the smell came from. It was very strange; could any visitor 
be smoking at a time like this? Was her mother there? If 
so, she must be told that Tom was come. Maggie, after this 
pause of surprise, was only in the act of opening the door when 
Tom came up, and they both looked into the parlor together. 
There was a coarse, dingy man, of whose face Tom had some 
vague recollection, sitting in his father's chair, smoking, with 
a jug and glass beside him. 

The truth flashed on Tom's mind in an instant. To " have 
the bailiff in the house," and "to be sold up," were phrases 
which he had been used to, even as a little boy j they were 
part of the disgrace and misery of "failing," of losing all one's 
money, and being ruined, sinking into the condition of poor 
working people. It seemed only natural this should happen, 
since his father had lost all his property, and he thought of 
no more special cause for this particular form of misfortune 
than the loss of the lawsuit. But the immediate presence of 
this disgrace was so much keener an experience to Tom than 
the worst form of apprehension, that he felt at this moment 
as if his real trouble had only just begun ; it was a touch on 
the irritated nerve compared with its spontaneous dull aching. 

"How do you do, sir? " said the man taking the pipe out of 
his mouth, with rough, embarrassed civility. The two young 
startled faces made him a little uncomfortable. 

But Tom turned away hastily without speaking ; the sight 
was too hateful. Maggie had not understood the appearance 
of this stranger, as Tom had. She followed him, whispering : 
" Who can it be, Tom? What is the matter? " Then, with a 
sudden undefined dread lest this stranger might have some- 
thing to do with a change in her father, she rushed upstairs, 
checking herself at the bedroom door to throw off her bonnet, 
and enter on tiptoe. All was silent there ; her father was lying, 
heedless of every thing around him, with his eyes closed as when 
she had left him. A servant was there, but not her mother. 

" Where's my mother? " she whispered. The servant did 
not know. 



THE DOWNFALL. 213 

Maggie hastened out, and said to Tom : u Father is lying 
quiet; let us go and look for my mother. I wonder where 
she is." 

Mrs. Tulliver was not downstairs, not in any of the bed- 
rooms. There was but one room below the attic which Maggie 
had left unsearched ; it was the storeroom, where her mother 
kept all her linen and all the precious " best things " that were 
only unwrapped and brought out on special occasions. Tom, 
preceding Maggie as they returned along the passage, opened 
the door of this room, and immediately said, " Mother I " 

Mrs. Tulliver was seated there with all her laid-up treas- 
ures. One of the linen chests was open; the silver teapot was 
unwrapped from its many folds of paper, and the best china 
was laid out on the top of the closed linen-chest; spoons and 
skewers and ladles were spread in rows on the shelves ; and 
the poor woman was shaking her head and weeping, with a 
bitter tension of the mouth, over the mark, " Elizabeth Dod- 
son," on the corner of some tablecloths she held in her lap. 

She dropped them, and started up as Tom spoke. 

" Oh, my boy, my boy I " she said, clasping him round the 
neck. " To think as I should live to see this day ! We're 
ruined everything's going to be sold up to think as your 
father should ha* married me to bring me to this! We've got 
aothing we shall be beggars we must go to the work- 
house n 

She kissed him, then seated herself again, and took another 
tablecloth on her lap, unfolding it a little way to look at the 
pattern, while the children stood by in mute wretchedness, 
their minds quite filled for the moment with the words " beg- 
gars " and " workhouse." 

"To think o* these cloths as I spun myself," she went on, 
lifting things out and turning them over with an excitement 
all the more strange and piteous because the stout blond 
woman was usually so passive, if she had been ruffled before, 
it was at the surface merely, "and Job Haxey wove'em, and 
brought the piece home on his back, as I remember standing 
at the door and seeing him come, before I ever thought o 1 
marrying your father I And the pattern as I chose myself, and 
bleached so beautiful, and I marked 'em ST as nobody ever sar 



214 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

such marking, they must cut the cloth to get it out, for it's 
a particular stitch. And they're all to be sold, and go into 
strange people's houses, and perhaps be cut with the knives, 
and wore out before I'm dead. You'll never have one of 'em, 
my boy," she said, looking up at Tom with her eyes full of 
tears, " and I meant 'em for you. I wanted you to have all 
o' this pattern. Maggie could have had the large check it 
never shows so well when the dishes are on it." 

Tom was touched to the quick, but there was an angry reac- 
turn immediately. His face flushed as he said : 

" But will my aunts let them be sold, mother? Do they 
know about it? They'll never let your linen go, will they? 
Haven't you sent to them? " 

" Yes, I sent Luke directly they'd put the bailies in, and 
your aunt Pullet's been and, oh dear, oh dear, she cries so 
and says your father's disgraced my family and made it the 
talk o' the country ; and she'll buy the spotted cloths for her- 
self, because she's never had so many as she wanted o' that 
pattern, and they sha'n't go to strangers, but she's got more 
checks a' ready nor she can do with." (Here Mrs. Tulliver 
began to lay back the tablecloths in the chest, folding and 
stroking them automatically.) " And your uncle Glegg's been 
too, and he says things must be bought in for us to lie down 
on, but he must talk to your aunt; and they're all coming to 
consult. But 1 know they'll none of 'em take rny chany," she 
added, turning toward the cups and saucers, "for they all 
found fault with 'em when I bought 'em, 'cause o' the small 
gold sprig all over 'em, between the flowers. But there's none 
of 'em got better chany, not even your aunt Pullet herself; 
and I bought it wi' my own money as I'd saved ever since I 
was turned fifteen ; and the silver teapot, too, your father 
never paid for 'em. And to think as he should ha' married 
me, and brought me to this." 

Mrs. Tulliver burst out crying afresh, and she sobbed with 
her handkerchief at her eyes a few moments, but then remov- 
ing it, she said in a deprecating way, still half sobbing, as if 
she were called upon to speak before she could command her 
voice, 

"And I did say to him ti*nes and times, 'Whativer you do, 



THE DOWNFALL, 

don't go to law, 1 and what more could I do? I've had to sit 

by while my own fortin's been spent, and what should ha* 
been my children's, too. You'll have niver a penny, my boy 
but it isn't your poor mother's fault." 

She put out one arm toward Tom, looking up at him pite- 
ously with her helpless, childish blue eyes. The poor lad 
went to her and kissed her, and she clung to him. For the 
first time Tom thought of his father with some reproach. His 
natural inclination to blame, hitherto kept entirely in abey- 
ance toward his father by the predisposition to think him 
always right, simply on the ground that he was Tom Tulliver's 
father, was turned into this new channel by his mother's 
plaints ; and with his indignation against Wakem there began 
to mingle some indignation of another sort. Perhaps his father 
might have helped bringing them all down in the world, and 
making people talk of them with contempt, but no one should 
talk long of Tom Tulliver with contempt. The natural strength 
and firmness of his nature was beginning to assert itself, urged 
by the double stimulus of resentment against his aunts, and 
the sense that he must behave like a man and take care of his 
mother. 

"Don't fret, mother," he said tenderly. "I shall soon be 
able to get money; I'll get a situation of some sort." 

" Bless you, my boy ! " said Mrs. Tulliver, a little soothed. 
Then, looking round sadly, " But I shouldn't ha* minded so 
much if we could ha' kept the things wi* my name on 'em." 

Maggie had witnessed this scene with gathering anger. The 
implied reproaches against her father her father, who was 
lying there in a sort of living death neutralized all her pity 
for griefs about tablecloths and china; and her anger on her 
father's account was heightened by some egoistic resentment 
at Tom's silent concurrence with her mother in shutting her 
out from the common calamity. She had become almost in- 
different to her mother's habitual depreciation of her, but she 
was keenly alive to any sanction of it, however passive, that 
she might suspect in Tom. Poor Maggie was by no means 
made up of unalloyed devotedness, but put forth large claims 
for herself where she loved strongly. She burst out at last in 
an agitated, almost violent tone : " Mother, how can you talk 



16 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

so; as if you cared only for things with your name on, and not 
for what has my father's name too; and to care about anything 
but dear father himself! when he's lying there, and may 
never speak to us again. Tom, you ought to say so too ; you 
ought not to let any one find fault with my father." 

Maggie, almost choked with mingled grief and anger, left 
ithe room, and took her old place on her father's bed. Her 
heart went out to him with a stronger movement than ever, at 
the thought that people would blame him. Maggie hated 
blame; she had been blamed all her life, and nothing had 
come of it but evil tempers. Her father had always defended 
and excused her, and her loving remembrance of his tender- 
ness was a force within her that would enable her to do or 
bear anything for his sake. 

Tom was a little shocked at Maggie's outburst, telling him 
as well as his mother what it was right to do! She ought to 
have learned better than have those hectoring, assuming man- 
ners, by this time. But he presently went into his father's 
room, and the sight there touched him in a way that effaced 
the slighter impressions of the previous hour. When Maggie 
saw how he was moved, she went to him and put her arm 
round his neck as he sat by the bed, and the two children for- 
got everything else ia the sense that they had one father and 
one sorrow. 



CHAPTER IIL 

THE FAMILY COUXCtU 

I'' IT was at eleven o'clock the next morning that the aunts 
and uncles came to hold their consultation. The fire was 
lighted in the large parlor, and poor Mrs. Tulliver, with a 
confused impression that it was a great occasion, like a fu- 
neral, unbagged the bell-rope tassels, and unpinned the cur- 
tains, adjusting them in proper folds, looking round and 
shaking her head sadly at the polished tops and legs of the 
tables, which sister Pullet herself couitl not accuse of insuffi 
cient brightness. 



THE DOWNFALL, 21? 

Mr. Deane was not coining, he was away on business ; but 
Mrs. Deane appeared punctually in that handsome new gig 
with the head to it, and the livery-servant driving it, which 
had thrown so clear a light on several traits in her character 
to some of her female friends in St. Ogg's. Mr. Deane had 
been advancing in the world as rapidly as Mr. Tulliver had 
been going down in it j and in Mrs. Deane's house the Dodsou 
linen and plate were beginning to hold quite a subordinate po- 
sition, as a mere supplement to the handsomer articles of the 
same kind, purchased in recent years, a change which had 
caused an occasional coolness in the sisterly intercourse between 
her and Mrs. Glegg, who felt that Susan was getting " like the 
rest, " and there would soon be little of the true Dodson spirit 
surviving except in herself, and, it might be hoped, in those 
nephews who supported the Dodson name on the family land, 
far away in the Wolds. People who live at a distance are 
naturally less faulty than those immediately under our own 
eyes; and it seems superfluous, when we consider the remote 
geographical position of the Ethiopians, and how very little 
the Greeks had to do with them, to inquire further why Homer 
calls them "blameless." 

Mrs. Deane was the first to arrive ; and when she had taken 
her seat in the large parlor, Mrs. Tulliver came down to her 
with her comely face a little distorted, nearly as it would have 
been if she had been crying. She was not a woman who could 
shed abundant tears, except in moments when the prospect 
of losing her furniture became unusually vivid, but she felt 
how unfitting it was to be quite calm under present circum- 
stances. 

" Oh, sister, what a world this is ! n she exclaimed as she en- 
tered; "what trouble, oh dear! n 

Mrs. Deane was a thin-lipped woman, who made small well- 
tonsidered speeches on peculiar occasions, repeating them 
afterward to her husband, and asking him if she had not 
spoken very properly. 

"Yes, sister," she said deliberately, "this is a changing 
world, and we don't know to-day what may happen to-morrow. 
But it's light to be prepared for all things, and if troubled 
sent, to remember as it isn't sent without a cause. I'm. very 



218 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

sorry for you as a sister, and if the doctor orders jelly for Mr 
Tulliver, I hope you'll let me know. I'll send it willingly j 
for it is but right he should have proper attendance while he's 
ill." 

"Thank you, Susan, n said Mrs. Tulliver, rather faintly, 
withdrawing her fat hand from her sister's thin one. " But 
there's been no talk o' jelly yet." Then after a moments" 
pause she added, " There's a dozen o' cut jelly-glasses up- 
stairs I shall never put jelly into 'em no more." 

Her voice was rather agitated as she uttered the last words, 
but the sound of wheels diverted her thoughts. Mr. and Mrs. 
Glegg were come, and were almost immediately followed by 
Mr. and Mrs. Pullet. 

Mrs. Pullet entered crying, as a compendious mode, at all 
times, of expressing what were her views of life in general, 
and what, in brief, were the opinions she held concerning the 
particular case before her. 

Mrs. Glegg had on her fuzziest front, and garments which 
appeared to have had a recent resurrection from rather a creasy 
form of burial ; a costume selected with the high moral pur- 
pose of instilling perfect humility into Bessy and her children. 

"Mrs. G., won't you come nearer the fire?" said her hus- 
band, unwilling to take the more comfortable seat without 
offering it to her. 

" You see I've seated myself here, Mr. Glegg," returned this 
superior woman; "you can roast yourself, if you like." 

"Well, "said Mr. Glegg, seating himself good-humoredly, 
"and how's the poor man upstairs?" 

"Dr. Turnbull thought him a deal better this morning," 
said Mrs. Tulliver j " he took more notice, and spoke to me; 
but he's never known Tom yet, looks at the poor lad as if he 
was a stranger, though he said something once about Tom and 
the pony. The doctor says his memory's gone a long way 
back, and he doesn't know Tom because he's thinking of him 
when he was little. Eh dear, eh dear I " 

" I doubt it's the water got on his brain," said aunt Pullet, 
turning round from adjusting her cap in a melancholy way at 
the pier-glass. " It's much if he ever gets up again ; and if 
he does* he'll most like ^ be hildJsh, as Mr. Carr was, poci 



THE DOWNFALL. 219 

man ! They fed him with a spoon as if he'd been a babby for 
three year. He'd quite lost the use of his limbs ; but then 
he'd got a Bath chair, and somebody to draw him; and that's 
what you won't have, J doubt, Bessy." 

" Sister Pullet," said Mrs. Glegg, severely, "if I understand 
right, we've come together this morning to advise and consult 
about what's to be done in this disgrace as has fallen upon the 
family, and not to talk o' people as don't belong to us. Mr. 
Carr was none of our blood, nor noways connected with us, as 
I've ever heared." 

" Sister Glegg," said Mrs. Pullet, in a pleading tone, draw- 
ing on her gloves again, and stroking the fingers in an agitated 
manner, " if you've got anything disrespectful to say o* Mr. 
Carr, I do beg of you as you won't say it to me. I know what 
he was," she added, with a sigh ; " his breath was short to that 
degree as you could hear him two rooms off." 

"Sophy!" said Mrs. Glegg, with indignant disgust, "you 
do talk o' people's complaints till it's quite undecent. But I 
say again, as I said before, I didn't come away from home to 
talk about acquaintances, whether they'd short breath or long. 
If we aren't come together for one to hear what the other 'till 
do to save a sister and her children from the parish, 1 ahal! go 
back. One can't act without the other, I suppose j it isn't to 
be expected as 1 should do everything." 

"Well, Jane," said Mrs. Pullet, "I don't see as you've 
been so very forrard at doing. So far as I know, this is the 
first time as here you've been, since it's been known as the 
bailiff's in the house j and I was here yesterday, and looked at 
all Bessy's linen and things, and I told her I'd buy in the 
spotted tablecloths. I couldn't speak fairer; for as for the 
teapot as she doesn't want to go out o' the family, it stands to 
sense I can't do with two silver teapots, not if it hadn't a 
straight spout, but the spotted damask I was allays fond 
on." 

" I wish it could be managed so as my teapot and chany and 
the best castors needn't be put up for sale, " said poor Mrs. 
Tulliver, beseechingly, M and the sugar-tongs the first things 
ever I bought." 

u But that can't be helped, yon know," said Mr. Glegg. If 



120 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

one o the family chooses to buy 'em in, they can, but ont 
thing must be bid for as well as another." 

" And it isn't to be looked for, " said uncle Pullet, with un- 
wonted independence of idea, " as your own family should pay 
more for things nor they'll fetch. They may go for an old 
song by auction." 

"Oh dear, oh dear," said Mrs. Tulliver, "to think o' my 
chany being sold i' that way, and I bought it when I was mar- 
ried, just as you did yours, Jane and Sophy; and I know you 
didn't like mine, because o' the sprig, but I was fond of it; 
and there's never been a bit broke, for I've washed it myself; 
and there's the tulips on the cups, and the roses, as anybody 
might go and look at 'em for pleasure. You wouldn't like 
your chany to go for an old song and be broke to pieces, though 
yours has got no color in it, Jane, it's all white and fluted, 
and didn't cost so much as mine. And there's the castors, 
sister Deane, I can't think but you'd like to have the castors, 
for I've heard you say they're pretty." 

" Well, I've no objection to buy some of the best things," 
said Mrs. Deane, rather loftily ; " we can do with extra things 
in our house." 

"Best things! " exclaimed Mrs. Glegg, with severity, which 
had gathered intensity from her long silence. " It drives me 
past patience to hear you all talking o' best things, and buy- 
ing iu this, that, and the other, such as silver and chany. 
You must bring your mind to your circumstances, Bessy, and 
not be thinking o' silver and chany j but whether you shall 
get so much as a flock-bed to lie on, and a blanket to cover 
you, and a stool to sit on. You must remember, if you get 
'em, it'll be because your friends have bought 'era for you, 
for you're dependent upon them for everything; for your hus- 
band lies there helpless, and hasn't got a penny i' the world 
to call his own. And it's for your own good I say this, 
for it's right you should feel what your state is, and what 
disgrace your husband's brought on your own family, as 
you've got to look to for everything, and be humble in your 
mind." 

Mrs. Glegg paused, for speaking with much energy for the 
good of others is naturally exhausting. Mrs. Tulliver, always 



THE DOWNFALL. 221 

borne down by the family predominance of sister Jane, -who. 
had made her wear the yoke of a younger sister in very tender 
years, said pleadingly : 

" I'm sure, sister, I've never asked anybody to do anything, 
only buy things as it 'ud be a pleasure to 'em to have, so as 
they mightn't go and be spoiled i' strange houses. I never 
asked anybody to buy the things in for me and my children; 
though there's the linen I spun, and I thought when Tom was 
born, I thought one o' the first things when he was lying i' 
the cradle, as all the things I'd bought wi' my own money, 
and been so careful of, 'ud go to him. But I've said nothing 
as I wanted my sisters to pay their money for me. What nvj> 
husband has done for his sister 's unknown, and we should ha 1 
been better off this day if it hadn't been as he's lent money 
and never asked for it again." 

"Come, come," said Mr. Glegg, kindly, "don't let us make 
things too dark. What's done can't be undone. We shall 
make a shift among us to buy what's sufficient for you; 
though, as Mrs. G. says, they must be useful, plain things. 
We mustn't be thinking o* what's unnecessary. A table, and 
a chair or two, and kitchen things, and a good bed, and such- 
like. Why, I've seen the day when I shouldn't ha' known 
myself if I'd lain on sacking i'stead o' the floor. We get a 
deal o' useless things about us, only because we've got the 
money to spend." 

" Mr. Glegg," said Mrs. G., " if you'll be kind enough to let 
me speak, i'stead o' taking the words out o' my mouth, I was 
going to say, Bessy, as it's fine talking for you to say as you've 
never asked us to buy anything for you ; let me tell you, you 
ought to have asked us. Pray, how are you to be purvided 
for, if your own family don't help you? You must go to the 
parish, if they didn't. And you ought to know that, and 
keep it in mind, and ask us humble to do what we can for you, 
i'stead o' saying, and making a boast, as you've never asked 
us for anything." 

" You talked o' the Mosses, and what Mr. Tulliver's done 
for 'em," said uncle Pullet, who became unusually suggestive 
where advances of money were concerned. "Haven't tuey 
been anear you? They ought to do something as well as othe? 



122 THB HILL ON THE FLOS& 

folks; and if he's lent 'em money, they ought to be made to 
pay it back." 

"Yes, to be sure," said Mrs. Deane; "I've been thinking 
so. How is it Mr. and Mrs. Moss aren't here to meet us? It 
is but right they should do their share." 

" Oh, dear ! " said Mrs. Tulliver, " I never sent 'ein word 
about Mr. Tulliver, and they live so backward among the lanes 
at Basset, they niver hear anything only when Mr. Moss comes 
to market. But I niver gave 'em a thought. I wonder Mag- 
Igie didn't, though, for she was allays so fond of her aunt Moss." 

" Why don't your children come in, Bessy?" said Mrs. Pul- 
let, at the mention of Maggie. " They should hear what their 
aunts and uncles have got to say; and Maggie, when it's me 
as have paid for half her schooling, she ought to think more of 
her aunt Pullet than of aunt Mosses. I may go off sudden 
when I get home to-day; there's no telling." 

"If I'd had my way," said Mrs. Glegg, "the children 'ud 
ha' been in the room from the first. It's time they knew who 
they've to look to, and it's right as somebody should talk to 
'em, and let 'em know their condition i' life, and what they're 
come down to, and make 'em feel as they've got to suffer for 
their father's faults." 

"Well, I'll go and fetch 'em, sister," said Mrs. Tulliver, 
resignedly. She was quite crushed now, and thought of the 
treasures in the storeroom with no other feeling than blank 
despair. 

She went upstairs to fetch Tom and Maggie, who were both 
in their father's room, and was on her way down again, when 
the sight of the storeroom door suggested a new thought to 
her. She went toward it, and left the children to go down by 
themselves. 

The aunts and uncles appeared to have been in warm dis- 
cussion when the brother and sister entered, both with 
shrinking reluctance ; for though Tom, with a practical sagac- 
ity which had been roused into activity by the strong stimu- 
lus of the new emotions he had undergone since yesterday, had 
been turning over in his mind a plan which he meant to pro- 
pose to one of his aunts or uncles, he felt by no means ami- 
sably toward them, and dreaded meeting them all at once as hd 



THE DOWNFALL. 223 

would have dreaded a large dose of concentrated physic, which 
was but just endurable in small draughts. As for Maggie, 
she was peculiarly depressed this morning ; she had been called 
up, after brief rest, at three o'clock, and had that strange 
dreamy weariness which comes from watching in a sick-rooin 
through the chill hours of early twilight and breaking day, 
in which the outside daylight life seems to have no importance, 
and to be a mere margin to the hours in the darkened chamber. 
Their entrance interrupted the conversation. The shaking of 
hands was a melancholy and silent ceremony, till uncle Pullet 
observed, as Tom approached him: 

" Well, young sir, we've been talking as we should want 
your pen and ink ; you can write rarely now, after all your 
schooling, I should think." 

"Ay, ay," said uncle Glegg, with admonition which he 
meant to be kind, " we must Jook to see the good of all this 
schooling, as your father's sunk so much money in, now, 

When land is gone and money's spent, 
Then learning is most excellent. ' 

Now* s the time, Tom, to let us see the good o 1 your learning. 
Let us see whether you can do better than I can, as have made 
my fortin without it. But I began wi' doing with little, you 
see ; I could live on a basin o' porridge and a crust o' bread- 
and-cheese. But I doubt high living and high learning 'ull 
make it harder for you, young man, nor it was for me." 

"But he must do it," interposed aunt Glegg, energetically, 
" whether it's hard or no. He hasn't got to consider what's 
hard ; he must consider as he isn't to trusten to his friends to 
keep him in idleness and luxury ; he's got to bear the fruits of 
his father's misconduct, and bring his mind to fare hard and 
l o work hard. And he must be humble and grateful to his 
aunts and uncles for what they're doing for his mother and 
father, as must be turned out into the streets and go to the 
workhouse if they didn't help 'em. And his sister, too," con- 
tinued Mrs. Glegg, looking severely at Maggie, who had sat 
down on the sofa by her aunt Deane, drawn to her by the 
sense that she was Lucy's mother, " she must make up her 
mind to be humble and work; for there'll be ao servants to 



224 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

wait on her any more, she must remember that. She must 
do the work o' the house, and she must respect and love her 
aunts as have done so much for her, and saved their money to 
leave to their nepheys and nieces." 

Tom was still standing before the table in the centre of the 
group. There was a heightened color in his face, and he was 
very far from looking humbled, but he was preparing to say, 
in a respectful tone, something he had previously meditated, 
when the door opened and his mother re-entered. 

Poor Mrs. Tulliver had in her hands a small tray, on which 
she had placed her silver teapot, a specimen teacup and saucer, 
the castors, and sugar-tongs. 

" See here, sister, " she said, looking at Mrs. Deane, as she 
set the tray on the table, " I thought, perhaps, if you looked 
at the teapot again, it's a good while since you saw it, you 
might like the pattern better; it makes beautiful tea, and 
there's a stand and everything; you might use it for every 
day, or else lay it by for Lucy when she goes to housekeeping. 
I should be so loath for 'em to buy it at the Golden Lion," 
said the poor woman, her heart swelling, and the tears com- 
ing, "my teapot as I bought when I was married, and to 
think of its being scratched, and set before the travellers and 
folks, and my letters on it, see here, E. D., and everybody 
to see 'em." 

" Ah, dear, dear! " said aunt Pullet, shaking her head with 
deep sadness, "it's very bad, to think o' the family initials 
going about everywhere, it niver was so before; you're a 
very unlucky sister, Bessy. But what's the use o' buying the 
teapot, when there's the linen and spoons and everything to 
go, and some of 'em with your full name, and when it's got 
that straight spout, too." 

" As to disgrace o' the family," said Mrs. Glegg, " that can't 
be helped wi' buying teapots. The disgrace is, for one o' the 
family to ha' married a man as has brought her to beggary. 
The disgrace is, as they're to be sold up. We can't hinder 
the country from knowing that." 

Maggie had started up from the sofa at the allusion to her 
father, but Tom saw her action and flushed face in time to 
prevent her from speaking. " Be quiet^ Maggie," be said au- 



THE DOWNFALL. 225 

thoritatively, pushing her aside. It was a remarkable mani- 
festation of self-command and practical judgment in a lad of 
fifteen, that when his aunt Glegg ceased, he began to speak in 
a quiet and respectful manner, though with a good deal of 
trembling in his voice; for his mother's words had cut him to 
the quick. 

"Then, aunt," he said, looking straight at Mrs. Glegg, "if 
jrou think it's a disgrace to the family that we should be sold 
up, wouldn't it be better to prevent it altogether? And if 
you and my aunt Pullet," he continued, looking at the latter, 
" think of leaving any money to me and Maggie, wouldn't it 
be better to give it now, and pay the debt we're going to be 
sold up for, and save my mother from parting with her furni- 
ture? " 

There was silence for a few moments, for every one, includ- 
ing Maggie, was astonished at Tom's sudden manliness of tone. 
Uncle Glegg was the first to speak. 

" Ay, ay, young man, come now! You show some notion o' 
things. But there's the interest, you must remember; your 
aunts get five per cent on their money, and they'd lose that if 
they advanced it; you haven't thought o' that." 

" I could work aud pay that every year, " said Tom, promptly. 
"I'd do anything to save my mother from parting with her 
things." 

" Well done! " said uncle Glegg, admiringly. He had been 
drawing Tom out, rather than reflecting on the practicability 
of his proposal. But he had produced the unfortunate result 
of irritating his wife. 

"Yes, Mr. Glegg l n said that lady, with angry sarcasm. 
" It's pleasant work for you to be giving my money away, as 
you've pretended to leave at my own disposal. And my 
money, as was my own father's gift, and not yours, Mr. 
Glegg; and I've saved it, and added to it myself, and had 
more to put out almost every year, and it's to go and be sunk 
in othei folks' furniture, and encourage 'em in luxury and ex- 
travagance as they've no means of supporting; and I'm to 
alter my will, or have a codicil made, and leave two or three 
hundred less behind me when I die, me as have allays done 
right and been careful, and the eldest o' the family ; and my 
15 



226 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

money's to go and be squandered on them as have had the 
same chance as me, only they've been wicked and wasteful. 
Sister Pullet, you may do as you like, and you may let your 
husband rob you back again o' the money he's given you, but 
that isn't my sperrit." 

"La, Jane, how fiery you are !" said Mrs. Pullet. "Fm 
sure you'll have the blood in your head, and have to be cupped. 
I'm sorry for Bessy and her children, I'm sure I think of 
'em o' nights dreadful, for I sleep very bad wi' this new medi- 
cine, but it's no use for me to think o' doing anything, if 
you won't meet me half-way." 

"Why, there's this to be considered," said Mr. Glegg. 
"It's no use to pay off this debt and save the furniture, when 
there's all the law debts behind, as 'ud take every shilling, 
and more than could be made out o' land and stock, for I've 
made that out from Lawyer Gore. We'd need save our money 
to keep the poor man with, instead o' spending it on furniture 
as he can neither eat nor drink. You will be so hasty, Jane, 
as if I didn't know what was reasonable." 

" Then speak accordingly, Mr. Glegg ! " said his wife, with 
slow, loud emphasis, bending her head toward him signifi- 
cantly. 

Tom's countenance had fallen during this conversation, and 
his lip quivered; but he was determined not to give way. He 
would behave like a man. Maggie, on the contrary, after her 
momentary delight in Tom's speech, had relapsed into her 
state of trembling indignation. Her mother had been stand- 
ing close by Tom's side, and had been clinging to his arm ever 
since he had last spoken ; Maggie suddenly started up and stood 
in front of them, her eyes flashing like the eyes of a young 
lioness. 

"Why do you come, then," she burst out, "talking and in- 
terfering with us and scolding us, if you don't mean to do any- 
thing to help my poor mother your own sister, if you've no 
feeling for her when she's in trouble, and won't part with any- 
thing, though you would never miss it, to save her from pain? 
Keep away from us then, and don't come to find fault with my 
father, he was better than any of you; he was kind, he 
would have helped you, if you had been in trouble. Tojn and 



THE DGWNTALL. 227 

I don't ever want to have any of your money, if you -won't 
help my mother. We'd rather not have it! We'll do with- 
out you." 

Maggie, having hurled her defiance at aunts and uncles in 
this way, stood still, with her large dark eyes glaring at them, 
as if she were ready to await all consequences. 

Mrs. Tulliver was frightened ; there was something porten- 
tous in this mad outbreak j she did not see how life could go 
on after it. Tom was vexed ; it was no use to talk so. The 
'aunts were silent with surprise for some moments. At length, 
,in a case of aberration such as this, comment presented itself 
as more expedient than any answer. 

" You haven't seen the end o' your trouble wi' that child, 
Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet; "she's beyond everything for bold- 
ness and unthankfulness. It's dreadful. I might ha' let 
alone paying for her schooling, for she's worse nor ever." 

"It's no more than what I've allays said," followed Mrs. 
Glegg. " Other folks may be surprised, but I'm not. I've 
said over and over again, years ago I've said, 'Mark my 
words ; that child 'ull come to no good ; there isn't a bit of 
our family in her.' And as for her having so much school- 
ing, I never thought well o' that. I'd my reasons when I said 
/wouldn't pay anything toward it." 

" Come, come, " said Mr. Glegg, " let's waste no more time 
in talking, let's go to business. Tom, now, get the pen and 
ink " 

While Mr. Glegg was speaking, a tall dark figure was seen 
hurrying past the window. 

"Why, there's Mrs. Moss," said'Mrs. Tulliver. "The bad 
news must ha' reached her, then " j and she went out to open 
the door, Maggie eagerly following her. 

"That's fortunate," said Mrs. Glegg. "She can agree to 
the list o' things to be bought in. It's but right she should 
do her share when it's her own brother." 

Mrs. Moss was in too much agitation to resist Mrs. Tulli- 
ver's movement, as she drew her into the parlor automatically, 
without reflecting that it was hardly kind to take her among 
so many persons in the first painful moment of arrival. The 
tall, worn, dark-haired woman was a strong contrast to the 



228 THE MILL ON THE PLOSa 

Dodson sisters as she entered in her shabby dress, wi > h6 
shawl -and bonnet looking as if they had been hastily huddled 
on, and with that entire absence of self-consciousness which 
belongs to keenly felt trouble. Maggie was clinging to her 
arm ; and Mrs. Moss seemed to notice no one else except Tom, 
whom she went straight up to and took by the hand. 

"Oh, my dear children," she burst out, "you've no call to 
think well o' me ; I'm a poor aunt to you, for I'm one o' them 
as take all and give nothing. How's my poor brother? " 

" Mr. Turnbull thinks he'll get better," said Maggie. " Sit 
down, aunt Gritty. Don't fret." 

"Oh, my sweet child, I feel torn i' two," said Mrs. Moss, 
allowing Maggie to lead her to the sofa, but still not seeming 
to notice the presence of the rest. " We've three hundred 
pounds o' my brother's money, and now he wants it, and you 
all want it, poor things ! and yet we must be sold up to pay 
it, and there's my poor children, eight of 'em, and the little 
un of all can't speak plain. And I feel as if I was a robber. 
But I'm sure I'd no thought as my brother " 

The poor woman was interrupted by a rising sob. 

" Three hundred pounds! oh dear, dear," said Mrs. Tulliver, 
who, when she had said that her husband had done " unknown * 
things for his sister, had not had any particular sum in he> 
mind, and felt a wife's irritation at having been kept in thi 
dark. 

"What madness, to be sure!" said Mrs. Glegg. "A man 
with a family I He'd no right to lend his money i' that 
way; and without security, I'll be bound, if the truth was 
known." 

Mrs. Glegg's voice had arrested Mrs. Moss's attention, and 
looking up, she said : 

" Yes, there icas security ; my husband gave a note for it. 
We're not that sort o' people, neither of us, as 'ud rob my 
brother's children ; and we looked to paying back the money, 
when the times got a bit better." 

"Well, but now," said Mr. Glegg, gently, " hasn't you.r hus- 
band no way o' raising this money ? Because it 'ud be a little 
fortin, like, for these folks, if we can do without Tulliver's 
being made a bankrupt. Your husband's got stock ; it is but 



THE DOWNFALL 229 

right he should raise the money, as it seems to me, not but 
what I'm sorry for you, Mrs. Moss." 

" Oh, sir, you don't know what bad luck my husband's had 
with his stock. The farm's suffering so as never was for want 
o' stock; and we've sold all the wheat, and we're behind 
with our rent, not but what we'd like to do what's right, 
and I'd sit up and work half the night, if it 'ud be any good ; 
but there's them poor children, four of 'em such little 
uns " 

"Don't cry so, aunt; don't fret," whispered Maggie, who 
had kept hold of Mrs. Moss's hand. 

" Did Mr. Tulliver let you have the money all at once? " said 
Mrs. Tulliver, still lost in the conception of things which haft 
been " going on " without her knowledge. 

" No ; at twice, " said Mrs. Moss, rubbing her eyes and mak- 
ing an effort to restrain her tears. " The last was after my 
bad illness four years ago, as everything went wrong, and 
there was a new note made then. What with illness and bad 
luck, I've been nothing but cumber all my life." 

"Yes, Mrs. Moss," said Mrs. Glegg, with decision, "yours 
is a very unlucky family; the more's the pity for my sister." 

" I set off in the cart as soon as ever I heard o* what had 
happened," said Mrs. Moss, looking at Mrs. Tulliver. "I 
should never ha' stayed away all this while, if you'd thought 
well to let me know. And it isn't as I'm thinking all about 
ourselves, and nothing about my brother, only the money was 
so on my mind, I couldn't help speaking about it. And my 
husband and me desire to do the right thing, sir, " she added, 
looking aV Mr. Glegg, "and we'll make shift and pay the 
money, come what will, if that's all my brother's got to trust 
to. We've been used to trouble, and don't look for much else. 
It's only the thought o' my poor children pulls me i* two. " 

"Why, there's this to be thought on, Mrs. Moss," said Mr. 
Glegg, "and it's right to warn you, if Tulliver's made a 
bankrupt, and he's got a note-of-hand of your husband's for 
three hundred pounds, you'll be obliged to pay it; th' assignees 
'ull come on you for it." 

"Oh dear, oh dear!" said Mrs. Tulliver, thinking of the 
bankruptcy, and not of Mrs. Moss's concern in it. Poor Mrs. 



230 THE MILL Orf THE FLOSS. 

Moss herself listened in trembling submission, while Maggie 
looked with bewildered distress at Tom to see if he showed any 
signs of understanding this trouble, and caring about poor aunt 
Moss. Tom was only looking thoughtful, with his eyes on the 
tablecloth. 

"And if he isn't made bankrupt," continued Mr. Glegg, " as 
I said before, three hundred pounds 'ud be a little fortin for' 
him, poor man. We don't know but what he may be partly 
helpless, if he ever gets up again. I'm very sorry if it goes 
hard with you, Mrs. Moss, but my opinion is, looking at it 
one way, it'll be right for you to raise the money; and look- 
ing at it th' other way, you'll be obliged to pay it. You won't 
think ill o' me for speaking the truth." 

"Uncle," said Tom, looking up suddenly from his medita- 
tive view of the tablecloth, " I don't think it would be right 
for my aunt Moss to pay the money if it would be against my 
father's will for her to pay it; would it? " 

Mr. Glegg looked surprised for a moment or two before he 
said: "Why, no, perhaps not, Tom; but then he'd ha' de- 
stroyed the note, you know. We must look for the note. 
What makes you think it 'ud be against his will? " 

" Why," said Tom, coloring, but trying to speak firmly, in 
spite of a boyish tremor, " I remember quite well, before I 
went to school to Mr. Stelling, my father said to me one night, 
when we were sitting by the fire together, and no one else was 
in the room " 

Tom hesitated a little, and then went on. 

" He said something to me about Maggie, and then he said : 
'I've always been good to my sister, though she married against 
my will, and I've lent Moss money; but I shall never think of 
distressing him to pay it; I'd rather lose it. My children 
must not mind being the poorer for that.' And now my 
father's ill, and not able to speak for himself, I shouldn't lika 
anything to be done contrary to what he said to me." 

"Well, but then, my boy," said uncle Glegg, whose good 
feeling led him to enter into Tom's wish, but who could not at 
once shake off his habitual abhorrence of such recklessness ai 
destroying securities, or alienating anything important enough 
to make an appreciable difference in a man's property, "w 



THIS DOWNFALL. 

should have to make away wi f the note, you know, if we're 
to guard against what may happen, supposing your father's 
made bankrupt " 

"Mr. Glegg," interrupted his wife, severely, "mind what 
you're saying. You're putting yourself very forrard in other 
folks's business. If you speak rash, don't say it was my 
fault." 

"That's such a thing as I never beared of before," said 
uncle Pullet, who had been making haste with his lozenge in 
order to express his amazement, "making away with a 
note I I should think anybody could set the constable on 
you for it." 

"Well, but, ' said Mrs. Tulliver, "if the note's worth all 
that money, why can't we pay it away, and save my things 
from going away? We've no call to meddle with your uncle 
and aunt Moss, Tom, if you think your father 'ud be angry 
when he gets well.*' 

Mrs. Tulliver had not studied the question of exchange, and 
was straining her mind after original ideas on the subject. 

"Pooh, pooh, pooh! you women don't understand these 
things," said uncle Glegg. "There's no way o' making it 
safe for Mr. and Mrs. Moss but destroying the note." 

"Then I hope you'll help me to do it, uncle," said Tom, 
earnestly. " If my father shouldn't get well, I should be very 
unhappy to think anything had been done against his will that 
I could hinder. And I'm sure he meant me to remember what 
he said that evening. I ought to obey my father's wish about 
his property." 

Ev^n Mrs. Glegg could not withhold her approval from 
Tom's words; .she felt that the Dodson blood was certainly 
speaking in him, though, if his father had been a Dodson, 
there would never have been this wicked alienation of money. 
Maggie would hardly have restrained herself from leaping on 
Tom's neck, if her aunt Moss had not prevented her by her- 
self rising and taking Tom's hand, while she said, with rather 
a choked voice : 

" You'll never be the poorer for this, my dear boy, if there's 
a God above; and if the money's wanted for your father, Mosa 
and xie 'ull pay it, the same as if there was ever such security. 



THE MILL OK THE FLOSS. 

We'll do as we'd be done byj for if my children have got no 
other luck, they've got an honest father and mother." 

"Well, "said Mr. Glegg, who had been meditating after 
Tom's words, " we shouldn't be doing any wrong by the cred- 
itors, supposing your father was bankrupt. I've been think- 
ing o* that, for I've been a creditor myself, and seen no end o' 
cheating. If he meant to give your aunt the money before 
ever he got into this sad work o' lawing, it's the same as if 
he'd made away with the note himself j for he'd made up his 
mind to be that much poorer. But there's a deal o' things tc 
be considered, young man, " Mr. Glegg added, looking admon- 
ishingly at Tom, " when you come to money business, and you 
may be taking one man's dinner away to make another man's 
breakfast. You don't understand that, I doubt?" 

"Yes, I do," said Tom, decidedly. "I know if I owe 
money to one man, I've no right to give it to another. But 
if my father had made up his mind to give my aunt the money 
before he was in. debt, he had a right to do it." 

"Well done, young man! I didn't think you'd been so 
sharp," said uncle Glegg, with much candor. "But perhaps 
your father did make away with the note. Let us go and see 
if we can find it in the chest." 

"It's in my father's room. Let us go too, aunt Gritty," 
whispered Maggie. 



OHAPTEB IV. 

A VANISHING GLEAM. 

MB. TULLIVEB, even between the fits of spasmodic rigidity 
which had recurred at intervals ever since he had been found 
fallen from his horse, was usually in so apathetic a condition 
that the exits and entrances into his room were not felt to 
be of great importance. He had lain so still, with his eyes 
closed, all this morning, that Maggie told her aunt Moss she 
must not expect her father to take any notice of them. 

They entered very quietly, and Mrs. Moss took her seat 
near the head of the bed, while Maggie sat in her old place 



*HE DOWNFALL. 233 

OL tne bed, and put her hand on her father's without causing 
any change in his face. 

Mr. Glegg and Tom had also entered, treading softly, and 
were busy selecting the key of the old oak chest from the 
bunch which Tom had brought from his father's bureau. 
They succeeded in opening the chest, which stood opposite 
the foot of Mr. Tulliver's bed, and propping the lid with 
the iron holder, without much noise. 

"There's a tin box," whispered Mr. Glegg; " he'd most liks 4 
put a small thing like a note in there. Lift it out, Tom ; but 
I'll just lift up these deeds, they're the deeds o' the house 
And mill, I suppose, and see what there is under 'em." 

Mr. Glegg had lifted out the parchments, and had fortu- 
nately drawn back a little, when the iron holder gave way, and 
the heavy lid fell with a loud bang that resounded over the 
house. 

Perhaps there was something in that sound more than the 
mere fact of the strong vibration that produced the instan- 
taneous effect on the frame of the prostrate man, and for the 
time completely shook off the obstruction of paralysis. The 
chest had belonged to his father and his father's father, and 
it had always been rather a solemn business to visit it. All 
long-known objects, even a mere window fastening or a par- 
ticular door-latch, have sounds which are a sort of recognized 
voice to us, a voice that will thrill and awaken, when it has 
been used to touch deep-lying fibres. In the same moment, 
when all the eyes in the room were turned upon him, he 
started up and looked at the chest, the parchments in Mr. 
Glegg's hand, and Tom holding the tin box, with a glance of 
perfect consciousness and recognition. 

" What are you going to do with those deeds? n he said, in 
his ordinary tone of sharp questioning whenever he was irri- 
tated. "Come here, Tom. What do you do, going to my 
chest?* 

Tom obeyed, with some trembling ; it was the first time his 
father had recognized him. But instead of saying anything 
more to aim, his father continued to lo >k with a growing dis- 
tinctness of suspicion at Mr. Glogg aud the deeds. 

" What's been h opening, then? " he & d shi.' ;: Jy " VTjat 



234 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

are you meddling with my deeds for? Is Wakem laying hold 
of everything? Why don't you tell me what you've beea 
a-doing?" he added impatiently, as Mr. Glegg advanced to 
the foot of the bed before speaking. 

"No, no, friend Tulliver," said Mr. Glegg, in a soothing 
tone. "Nobody's getting hold of anything as yet. We only 
came to look and see what was in the chest. You've been ill, 
you know, and we've had to look after things a bit. But 
let's hope you'll soon be well enough to attend to everything 
yourself. " 

Mr. Tulliver looked round him meditatively, at Tom, at 
Mr. Glegg, and at Maggie; then suddenly appearing aware 
that some one was seated by his side at the head of the bed 
he turned sharply round and saw his sister. 

" Eh, Gritty 1 " he said, in the half -sad, affectionate tone in 
which he had been wont to speak to her. "What I you're 
there, are you? How could you manage to leave the chil- 
dren?" 

"Oh, brother!" said good Mrs. Moss, too impulsive to be 
prudent, " I'm thankful I'm come now to see you yourself 
again ; I thought you'd never know us any more." 

" What! have I had a stroke? " said Mr. Tulliver, anxiously, 
looking at Mr. Glegg. 

" A fall from your horse shook you a bit, that's all, I 
think," said Mr. Glegg. "But you'll soon get over it, let's 
hope." 

Mr. Tulliver fixed his eyes on the bed-clothes, and remained 
silent for two or three minutes. A new shadow came over 
his face. He looked up at Maggie first, and said in a lower 
tone, " You got the letter, then, my wench? " 

" Yes, father/' she said, kissing him with a full heart. She 
felt as if her father were come back to her from the dead, and 
her yearning to show him how she had always loved him 
could be fulfilled. 

" Where's your mother? " he said, so preoccupied that he 
received the kiss as passively as some quiet animal might have 
received it. 

" She's downstairs with iny aunts, father. " Shall I fetcb 
her?" 



THE DOWNFALL 233 

* Ay, ay ; poor Bessy ! n and his eyes turned toward Tom 
M Maggie left the room. 

" You'll have to take care of 'em both if I die, you know, 
Tom. You'll be badly off, I doubt. But you must see and 
pay everybody. And mind, there's fifty pound o' Luke's 
as I put into the business, he gave it me a bit at a time, and 
he's got nothing to show for it. You must pay him first thing. " 

Uncle Glegg involuntarily shook his head, and looked more 
concerned than ever, but Tom said firmly : 

" Yes, father. And haven't you a note from my uncle Moss 
for three hundred pounds? We came to look for that What 
do you wish to be done about it, father? " 

" Ahl I'm glad you thought o' that, my lad," said Mr. Tul- 
liver. " I allays meant to be easy about that money, because 
o' your aunt. You mustn't mind losing the money, if they 
can't pay it, and it's like enough they can't The note's in 
that box, mindt I allays meant to be good to you, Gritty," 
said Mr. Tulliver, turning to his sister; "but you know you 
aggravated me when you would have Moss." 

At this moment Maggie re-entered with her mother, who 
came in much agitated by the news that her husband waa 
quite himself again. 

" Well, Bessy," he said, as she kissed him, "you must for- 
give me if you're worse off than you ever expected to be. But 
it's the fault o' the law, it's none o' mine," he added 
angrily. " It's the fault o' raskills. Tom, you mind this : 
if ever you've got the chance, you make Wakem smart. If 
you don't, you're a good-for-nothing son. You might horse- 
whip him, but he'd set the law on you, the law's made to 
take care o' raskills. " 

Mr. Tulliver was getting excited, and an alarming flush 
was on his face. Mr. Glegg wanted to say something sooth- 
ing, but he was prevented by Mr. Tulliver's speaking again 
to his wife. " They'll make a shift to pay everything, Bessy," 
he said, "and yet leave you your furniture; and your sis- 
ters'll do something for you and Tom'll grow up though 
what he's to be I don't know I've done what I could I've 
given him a education and there's the little wench, sho'li 
get married but it's a poor tale * 



236 TEE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

The sanative effect of the strong vibration was exhausted, 
and with the last words the poor man fell again, rigid and in- 
sensible. Though this was only a recurrence of what had hap- 
pened before, it struck all present as if it had been death, not 
only from its contrast with the completeness of the revival, but 
because his words had all had reference to the possibility that 
his death was near. But with poor Tulliver death was not 
to be a leap; it was to be a long descent under thickening 
shadows. 

Mr. Turnbull was sent for; but when he heard what had 
passed, he said this complete restoration, though only tem- 
porary, was a hopeful sign, proving that there was no perma- 
nent lesion to prevent ultimate recovery. 

Among the threads of the past which the stricken man had 
gathered up, he had omitted the bill of sale; the flash of 
memory had only lit up prominent ideas, and he sank into 
forgetfulness again with half his humiliation unlearned. 

But Tom was clear upon two points, that his uncle Moss's 
note must be destroyed ; and that Luke's money must be paid, 
if in no other way, out of his own and Maggie's money now 
in the savings bank. There were subjects, you perceive, on 
which Tom was much quicker than on the niceties of classical 
construction, or the relations of a mathematical demonstration. 



CHAPTER V. 

TOM APPLIES BIS KNIPB TO THB OTOTKB. 

THE next day, at ten o'clock, Tom was on his way to St 

Ogg's, to see his uncle Deane, who was to come home last 
night, his aunt had said; and Tom had made up his mind 
that his uncle Deane was the right person to ask for advice 
about getting some employment. He was in a great way of 
business; he had not the narrow notions of uncle Glegg; and 
he had risen in the world on a scale of advancement which 
accorded with Tom's ambition. 
It was a dark, chill, misty morning, likely to end in rain, 



THE DOWNFALL. 2S7 

one of those mornings when even happy people take refuga 
in their hopes. And Tom was very unhappy ; he felt the hu- 
miliation as well as the prospective hardships of his lot with 
all the keenness of a proud nature; and with all his reso- 
lute dutif ulness toward his father there mingled an irrepressi 
ble indignation against him which gave misfortune the les? 
endurable aspect of a wrong. Since these were the conse- 
quences of going to law, his father was really blamable, as 
his aunts and uncles had always said he was; and it was a 
significant indication of Tom's character, that though he 
thought his aunts ought to do something more for his mother, 
he felt nothing like Maggie's violent resentment against them 
for showing no eager tenderness and generosity. There were 
no impulses in Tom that led him to expect what did not pre- 
sent itself to him as a right to be demanded. Why should 
people give away their money plentifully to those who had 
not taken care of their own money? Tom saw some justice in 
severity ; and all the more, because he had confidence in him- 
self that he should never deserve that just severity. It was 
very hard upon him that he should be put at this disadvan- 
tage in life by his father's want of prudence; but he was not 
going to complain and to find fault with people because they 
did not make everything easy for him. He would ask no one 
to help him, more than to give him work and pay him for it. 
Poor Tom was not without his hopes to take refuge in under 
the chill damp imprisonment of the December fog, which 
seemed only like a part of his home troubles. At sixteen, the 
mind that has the strongest affinity for fact cannot escape 
illusion and self -flattery ; and Tom, in sketching his future, 
had no other guide in arranging his facts than the suggestions 
of his own brave self-reliance. Both Mr. Glegg and Mr 
Deane, he knew, had been very poor once; he did not wani 
to save money slowly and retire on a moderate fortune like 
his uncle Glegg, but he would be like his uncle Deane, get 
a situation in some great house of business and rise fast. He 
had scarcely seen anything of his uncle Deane for the last 
three years, the two families had been getting wider apart; 
but for this very reason Tom was the more hopeful about ap- 
plying to him. His uncle Gkggi he felt sure, would never 



838 THE MILL ON THE FLO8& 

encourage any spirited project, but he had a vague imposing 
idea of the resources at his uncle Deane's command. He had 
heard his father say, long ago, how Deane had made himself 
BO valuable to Guest & Co. that they were glad enough to offer 
him a share in the business; that was what Tom resolved he 
would do. It was intolerable to think of being poor and 
looked down upon all one's life. He would provide for his 
mother and sister, and make every one say that he was a man 
of high character. He leaped over the years in this way, 
and, in the haste of strong purpose and strong desire, did not 
see how they would be made up of slow days, hours, and 
minutes. 

By the time he had crossed the stone bridge over the Floss 
and was entering St. Ogg's, he was thinking that he would 
buy his father's mill and land again when he was rich enough, 
and improve the house and live there; he should prefer it to 
any smarter, newer place, and he could keep as many horses 
and dogs as he liked. 

Walking along the street with a firm, rapid step, at this 
point in his reverie he was startled by some one who had 
crossed without his notice, and who said to him in a rough, 
familiar voice : 

" Why, Master Tom, how's your father this morning? " It 
was a publican of St. Ogg's, one of his father's customers. 

Tcm disliked being spoken to just then; but he said civilly, 
"He s still very ill, thank you." 

" Ay, it's been a sore chance for you, young man, hasn't it, 
this lawsuit turning out against him?" said the publican, 
\rith a confused, beery idea of being good-natured. 

Tom reddened and passed on; he would have felt it like the 
handling of a bruise, even if there had been the most polite 
ana delicate reference to his position. 

"That's Tulliver's son, "said the publican to a grocer stand- 
ing on the adjacent door-step. 

"Ah I" said the grocer, "I thought I knew his features. 
He takes after his mother's family; she was a Dodson. He's 
a fine, straight youth; what's he been brought up to?" 

"Oh! to turn up his nose at his father's customers, and be 
a fine gentleman, not much else. I think." 



THE DOWNFALL^ 239 

Tom, roused from his dream of the future to a thorough 
consciousness of the present, made all the greater haste to 
reach the warehouse offices of Guest & Co., where he expected 
to find his uncle Deane. But this was Mr. Deane' s morning 
at the bank, a clerk told him, with some contempt for his 
ignorance} Mr. Deane was not to be found in Kiver Street on 
a Thursday morning. / 

At the bank Tom was admitted into the private room 
where his uncle was, immediately after sending in his name. 
Mr. Deane was auditing accounts; but he looked up as 
Tom entered, and putting out his hand, said, "Well, Tom, 
nothing fresh the matter at home, I hope? How's your 
father?" 

**Much the same, thank you, uncle," said Tom, feeling ner- 
vous. "But I want to speak to you, please, when you're at 
liberty." 

"Sit down, sit down," said Mr. Deane, relapsing into his 
accounts, in which he and the managing-clerk remained so 
absorbed for the next half -hour that Tom began to wonder 
whether he should have to sit in this way till the bank closed, 
there seemed so little tendency toward a conclusion in the 
quiet, monotonous procedure of these sleek, prosperous men 
of business. Would his uncle give him a place in the bank? 
It would be very dull, prosy work, he thought, writing there 
forever to the loud ticking of a timepiece. He preferred 
some other way of getting rich. But at last there was a 
change ; his uncle took a pen and wrote something with a 
flourish at the end. 

"You'll just step up to Terry's now, Mr. Spence, wfll 
you?" said Mr Deane, and the clock suddenly became les 
loud and deliberate in Tom's ears. 

"Well, Tom," said Mr. Deane, when they were alone, turn- 
ing his substantial person a little in his chair, and taking oufr 
his snuff-box, "what's the business, my boy; what's the 
business?" Mr. Deane, who had heard from his wife what 
had passed the day before, thought Tom was come to appeal 
to him for some means of averting the sale. 

<% T nope you'll excuse ir>e for troubling you, uacle," said 
Tom, coloring, but speaking Ji^a tone which, thougfc treinu- 



240 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

lous, had a certain proud independence in it; "bat I thought 
you were the best person to advise me what to do." 

"Ah! w said Mr. Deane, reserving his pinch of snuff, and 
looking at Tom with new attention, " let us hear." 

" I want to get a situation, uncle, so that I may earn some 
money," said Tom, who never fell into circumlocution. 

"A situation?" said Mr. Deane, and then took his pinch of 
snuff with elaborate justice to each nostril. Tom thought 
snuff -taking a most provoking habit. 

" Why, let me see, how old are you? " said Mr. Deane, aa 
he threw himself backward again. 

"Sixteen; I mean, I am going in seventeen," said Tom, 
hoping his uncle noticed how much beard he had. 

"Let me see; your father had some notion of making you 
tin engineer, I think ?" 

" But I don't think I could get any money at that for a long 
while, could I?" 

"That's true; but people don't get much money at any- 
thing, my boy, when they're only sixteen. You've had a 
good deal of schooling, however; I suppose you're pretty well 
up in accounts, eh? You understand book-keeping? " 

"No," said Tom, rather falteringly. "I was in Practice. 
But Mr. Stelling says I write a good hand, uncle. That's my 
writing," added Tom, laying on the table a copy of the list 
he had made yesterday. 

"Ah! that's good, that's good. But, you see, the best 
hand in the world' 11 not get you a better place than a copy- 
ing-clerk's, if you know nothing of book-keeping, nothing of 
accounts. And a copying-clerk's a cheap article. But what 
have you been learning at school, then?" 

Mr. Deane had not occupied himself with methods of edu- 
cation, and had no precise conception of what went forward 
in expensive schools. 

" We learned Latin, " said Tom, pausing a little between 
each item, as if he were turning over the books in his school- 
desk to assist his memory, "a good deal of Latin; and the 
last year I did Themes, one week in Latin and one in English ; 
and Greek and Eoman history; and Euclid; and I began 
Algebra, but I left it off again; and we had one day every 



THE DOWNFALL Ml 

week for Arithmetic. Then I used to have drawing-lessons; 
and there were several other books we either read or learned 
out of, English Poetry, and Hora9 Paulinse, and Blair's 
Ehetoric, the last half." 

Mr. Deane tapped his snuff-box again and screwed up his 
mouth; he felt in the position of many estimable persona 
when they had read tho New Tariff, and found how many 
commodities were imported of which they knew nothing; like 
a cautious man of business, he was not going to speak rashly 
of a raw material in which he had had no experience. But 
the presumption was, that if it had been good for anything, 
so successful a man as himself would hardly have been igno- 
rant of it. About Latin he had an opinion, and thought that 
in case of another war, since people would no longer wear hair- 
powder, it would be well to put a tax upon Latin, as a luxury 
much run upon by the higher classes, and not telling at all on 
the ship-owning department. But, for what he knew, the 
Horse Paulinse might be something less neutral. On the 
whole, this list of acquirements gave him a sort of repulsion 
toward poor Tom. 

"Well," he said at last, in rather a cold, sardonic tone, 
"you've had three years at these things, you must be pretty 
strong in 'em. Hadn't you better take up some line where 
they'll come in handy?" 

Tom colored, and burst out with new energy : 

" I'd rather not have any employment of that sort, uncle. 
I don't like Latin and those things. I don't know what I 
could do with them unless I went as usher in a school; and I 
don't know them well enough for that ; besides, I would as 
soon carry a pair of panniers. I don't want to be that sort of 
person. I should like to enter into some business where 1 
can get on, a manly business, where I should have to look 
after things, and get credit for what I did. And I shall want 
to keep my mother and sister." 

"Ah, young gentleman," said Mr. Deane, with that ten- 
dency to repress youthful hopes which stout and successful 
men of fifty find one of tfeeir easiest duties, "that's soonei 
said than done, sooner said than done." 

"But didn't you get on in that way, uncle?" said Tom, a 
16 



242 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

little irritated that Mr. Deane did not enter more rapidly inta 
his views. " I mean, didn't you rise from one place to anothei 
through your abilities and good conduct? " 

"Ay, ay, sir," said Mr. Deane, spreading himself in his 
chair a little, and entering with great readiness into a retro- 
spect of his own career. " But I'll tell you how I got on. It 
wasn't by getting astride a stick and thinking it would turn 
into a horse if I sat on it long enough. I kept my eyes and 
ears open, sir, and I wasn't too fond of my own back, and I 
made my master's interest my own. Why, with only look- 
ing into what went on in the mill, I found out how there was 
a waste of five hundred a-year that might be hindered. 
Why, sir, I hadn't more schooling to begin with than a char- 
ity boy; but I saw pretty soon that I couldn't get on far 
enough without mastering accounts, and I learned 'em be- 
tween working hours, after I'd been unlading. Look here." 
Mr. Deane opened a book and pointed to the page. " I write 
a good hand enough, and I'll match anybody at all sorts of 
reckoning by the head; and I got it all by hard work, and 
paid for it out of my own earnings, often out of my own din- 
ner and supper. And I looked into the nature of all the things 
we had to do with in the business, and picked up knowledge as 
I went about my work, and turned it over in my head. Why, 
I'm no mechanic, I never pretended to be but I've thought 
of a thing or two that the mechanics never thought of, and 
it's made a fine difference in our returns. And there isn't an 
article shipped or unshipped at our wharf but I know the 
quality of it. If I got places, sir, it was because I made 
myself fit for 'em. If you want to slip into a round hole,' 
you must make a ball of yourself; that's where it is." 

Mr. Deane tapped his box again. He had been led on by 
pure enthusiasm in his subject, and had really forgotten what 
bearing this retrospective survey had on his listener. He had 
found occasion for saying the same thing more than once be- 
fore, and was not distinctly aware that he had not his port- 
wine before him. 

"Well, uncle," said Tom, with a slight complaint in his 
tone, " that's what I should like to do. Can't /"get on ia the 
same way?" 



THE DOWNFALL. 243 

"In the same way?" said Mr. Deane, eyeing Tom with 
ipiiet deliberation. " There go two or three questions to that, 
Master Tom. That depends on what sort of material you are, 
to begin with, and whether you've been put into the right 
mill. But I'll tell you what it is. Your poor father went 
the wrong way to work in giving you an education. It wasn't 
my business, and I didn't interfere; but it is as I thought it 
would be. You've had a sort of learning that's all very well 
for a young fellow like our Mr. Stephen Guest, who'll have 
nothing to do but sign checks all his life, and may as well 
have Latin inside his head as any other sort of stuffing." 

"But, uncle," said Tom, earnestly, "I don't see why the 
Latin need hinder me from getting on in business. I shall 
soon forget it all; it makes no difference to me. I had to do 
my lessons at school, but I always thought they'd never be of 
any use to me afterward; I didn't care about them." 

"Ay, ay, that's all very well," said [Mr. Deane; "but it 
ioesn't alter what I was going to say. Your Latin and rig- 
marole may soon dry off you, but you'll be but a bare stick 
after that. Besides, it's whitened your hands and taken the 
rough work out of you. And what do you know? Why, you 
know nothing about book-keeping, to begin with, and not so 
much of reckoning as a common shopman. You'll have to 
begin at a low round of the ladder, let me tell you, if you 
mean to get on in life. It's no use forgetting the education 
your father's been paying for, if you don't give yourself a 
new un." 

Tom bit his lips hard; he felt as if the tears were rising^ 
and he would rather die than let them. 

" You want me to help you to a situation," Mr. Deane went 
on ; " well, I've no fault to find with that. I'm willing to do 
something for you. But you youngsters nowadays think 
you're to begin with living well and working easy; you've no 
notion of running afoot before you get on horseback. Now, 
you must remember what you are, you're a lad of sixteen, 
trained to nothing particular. There's heaps of your sort, 
like so many pebbles, made to fit in nowhere. Well, you 
might be apprenticed to some business, a chemist's and drug- 
gist's perhaps; year Latin might come in a bit there" 



244 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

Tom was going to speak, but Mr. Deane put up his hand 
and said: 

" Stop! hear what I've got to say. You don't want to be a 
'prentice, I know, I know, you want to make more haste, 
and you don't want to stand behind a counter. But if you're 
a copying-clerk, you'll have to stand behind a desk, and stara 
at your ink and paper all day; there isn't much outlook 
there, and you won't be much wiser at the end of the year 
than at the beginning. The world isn't made of pen, ink, 
and paper, and if you're to get on in the world, young man, 
you must know what the world's made of. Now the best 
chance for you 'ud be to have a place on a wharf, or in a 
warehouse, where you'd learn the smell of things, but you 
wouldn't like that, I'll be bound; you'd have to stand cold 
and wet, and be shouldered about by rough fellows. You're 
too fine a gentleman for that." 

Mr. Deane paused and looked hard at Tom, who certainly 
felt some inward struggle before he could reply. 

" I would rather do what will be best for me in the end, sir ; 
I would put up with what was disagreeable." 

" Tkat's well, if you can carry it out. But you must re- 
member it isn't only laying hold 01 a rope, you must go on 
pulling. It's the mistake you lads make that have got noth- 
ing either in your brains or your pocket, to think you've got a 
better start in the world if you stick yourselves in a place 
where you can keep your coats clean, and have the shop- 
wenches take you for fine gentlemen. That wasn't the way 1 
started, young man ; when I was sixteen, my jacket smelt 01 
tar, and I wasn't afraid of handling cheeses. That's the rea- 
son I can wear good broadcloth now, and have my legs under 
the same table With the heads of the best firms in St. Ogg's." 

Uncle Deane tapped his box, and seemed to expand a little 
under his waistcoat and gold chain, as he squared his shoul- 
ders in the chair. 

" Is there any place at liberty that you know of now, uncle, 
that I should do for? I should like to set to work at once," 
said Tom, with a slight tremor in his voice. 

" Stop a bit, stop a bit; we mustn't be in too great a hurry. 
You must bear in mind, if I put you in a place you're a bit 



THE DOWNFALL. 243 

young for, because you happen to be my nephew, I shall be 
responsible for you. And there's no better reason, you know, 
than your being my nephew ; because it remains to be seen 
whether you're good for anything." 

"I hope I shall never do you any discredit, uncle," said 
Tom, hurt, as all boys are at the statement of the unpleasant 
truth that people feel no ground for trusting them. " I care 
about my own credit too much for that." 

"Well done, Tom, well done! That's the right spirit, and 
T never refuse to help anybody if they've a mind to do them- 
selves justice. There's a young man of two-and-twenty I've 
got my eye on now. I shall do what I can for that young 
man; he's got some pith in him. But then, you see, he's 
made good use of his time, a first-rate calculator, can tell 
you the cubic contents of anything in no time, and put me up 
the other day to a new market for Swedish bark ; he's uncom- 
monly knowing in manufactures, that young fellow." 

" I'd better set about learning book-keeping, hadn't I, un- 
cle?" said Tom, anxious to prove his readiness to exert him- 
self. 

"Yes, yes, you can't do amiss there. But Ah, Spence, 
you're back again. Well, Tom, there's nothing more to be 
said just now, I think, and I must go to business again. 
Good-by. Remember me to your mother." 

Mr. Deane put out his hand, with an air of friendly dis- 
missal, and Tom had not courage to ask another question, es- 
pecially in the presence of Mr. Spence. So he went out again 
into the cold damp air. He had to call at his uncle Glegg's 
about the money in the Savings Bank, and by the time he set 
out again the mist had thickened, and he could not see very 
far before him ; but going along River Street again, he was 
startled, when he was within two yards of the projecting side 
of a shop- window, by the words " Dorlcote Mill " in large letters 
on a hand-bill, placed as if on purpose to stare at him. It 
was the catalogue of the sale to take place the next week; it 
was a reason for hurrying faster out of the town. 

Poor Tom formed no visions of the distant future as he made 
his way homeward; he only felt that the present was very 
hard. It seemed a wrong toward him that his uncle Dearie 



24 THE MTT.T, ON THE FTO68. 

had no confidence in him, did not see at once that y -eld 
acquit himself well, which Tom himself was as certain .f as 
of the daylight. Apparently he, Tom Tulliver, was likely to 
be held of small account in the world ; and for the first time 
he felt a sinking of heart under the sense that he really was 
very ignorant, and could do very little. Who was that envi- 
able young man that could tell the cubic contents of things in 
no time, and make suggestions about Swedish bark! Tom had 
been used to be so entirely satisfied with himself, in spite of 
his breaking down in a demonstration, and construing nunc 
illas promite vires as " now promise those men " ; but now he 
suddenly felt at a disadvantage, because he knew less than 
some one else knew. There must be a world of things con- 
nected with that Swedish bark, which, if he only knew them, 
might have helped him to get on. It would have been much 
easier to make a figure with a spirited horse and a new 
saddle. 

Two hours ago, as Tom was walking to St. Ogg's, he saw 
the distant future before him as he might have seen a tempt- 
ing stretch of smooth sandy beach beyond a belt of flinty 
shingles; he was on the grassy bank then, and thought the 
shingles might soon be passed. But now his feet were on the 
sharp stones; the belt of shingles had widened, and the 
stretch of sand had dwindled into narrowness. 

" What did my uncle Deane say, Tom? " said Maggie, put- 
ting her arm through Tom's as he was warming himself rather 
drearily by the kitchen fire. " Did he say he would give you 
a situation?" 

" No, he didn't say that. He didn't quite promise me any- 
thing ; he seemed to think I couldn't have a very good situa- 
tion. I'm too young. " 

" But didn't he speak kindly, Tom? 

"Kindly? Pooh! what's the use of talking about that? I 
wouldn't care about his speaking kindly, if I could get a situ- 
ation. But it's such a nuisance and bother; I've been at 
school all this while learning Latin and things, not a bit of 
good to me, and now my uncle says I must set about learn- 
ing book-keeping and calculation, and those things. He 
seems to make out I'm good for nothing." 



THE DOWNFALL. S4T 

Torn' a mouth twitched with a bitter expression as he looked 
it the fire. 

"Oh, what a pity we haven't got Dominie Sampson 1 " said 
Maggie, who couldn't help mingling some gayety with their 
sadness. " If he had taught me book-keeping by double entry 
and after the Italian method, as he did Lucy Bertram, I could 
teach you, Tom." 

" You teach! Yes, I dare say. That's always the tone yon 
take," said Tom. 

"Dear Tom, I was only joking, * said Maggie, putting hei 
cheek against his coat-sleeve. 

"But it's always the same, Maggie," said Tom, with the 
little frown he put on when he was about to be justifiably 
severe. "You're always setting yourself up above me and 
every one else, and I've wanted to tell you about it several 
times. You ought not to have spoken as you did to my un- 
cles and aunts; you should leave it to me to take care of my 
mother and you, and not put yourself forward. You think 
you know better than any one, but you're almost always 
wrong. I can judge much better than you can." 

Poor Tom ! he had just come from being lectured and made 
to feel his inferiority ; the reaction of his strong, self -assert- 
ing nature must take place somehow; and here was a case 
in which he could justly show himself dominant. Maggie's 
cheek flushed and her lip quivered with conflicting resentment 
and affection, and a certain awe as well as admiration of 
Tom's firmer and more effective character. She did not an- 
swer immediately} very angry words rose to her lips, but 
they were driven back again, and she said at last : 

"You often think I'm conceited, Tom, when I don't mean 
what I say at all in that way. I don't mean to put myself 
above you; I know you behaved better than I did yesterday. 
But you are always so harsh to me, Tom." 

With the last words the resentment was rising again. 

"No, I'm not harsh," said Tom, with severe decision. 
"I'm always kind to you, and so I shall be; I shall always 
take care of you. But you must mind what I say." 

Their mother came in now, and Maggie rushed away, that 
her burst of tears, which she felt must come, might not hap* 



248 TEE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

pen till she was sate upstairs. T^ey were very bitten frars, 
everybody in the world seemed so hard and unkind to Maggie; 
there was no indulgence, no fondness, such as she imagined 
when she fashioned the world afresh in her own thoughts. 
In books there were people who were always agreeable or 
tender, and delighted to do things that made one happy, and 
'who did not show their kindness by finding fault. The world 
'outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt; it seemed 
to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did 
not pretend to love, and that did not belong to them. And 
if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie? 
Nothing but poverty and the companionship of her mother's 
narrow griefs, perhaps of her father's heart-cutting childish 
dependence. There is no hopelessness so sad as that of early 
youth, when the soul is made up of wants, and has no long 
memories, so superadded life in the life of others ; though we 
who look on think lightly of such premature despair, as if our 
vision of the future lightened the blind sufferer's present. 

Maggie, in her brown frock, with her eyes reddened and her 
heavy hair pushed back, looking from the bed where her f athe? 
lay to the dull walls of this sad chamber which was the centre 
of her world, was a creature full of eager, passionate longings 
for all that was beautiful and glad ; thirsty for all knowledge ; 
with an ear straining after dreamy music that died away and 
would not come near to her ; with a blind, unconscious yearn- 
ing for something that would link together the wonderful im- 
pressions of this mysterious life, and give her soul a sense of 
home in it. 

No wonder, when there is this contrast between the outvravd 



'and t.b inward, that painful collisions come of i* 



THE DOWNFALL. 249 



OHAFTifiB YL 

UT< TO BKFUTB THB POPULAE PREJUDICE AGALHTST TH 
PRESENT OV A POCKET-KNIFE. 

lar that dark time of December, the sale of the household 
*urniture lasted beyond the middle of the second day. Mr. 
yTulliver, who had begun, in his intervals of consciousness, to 
manifest an irritability which often appeared to have as a di- 
rect effect the recurrence of spasmodic rigidity and insensibil- 
ity, had lain in this living death throughout the critical hours 
when the noise of the sale came nearest to his chamber. Mr. 
Turnbull had decided that it would be a less risk to let him 
remain where he was than to remove him to Luke's cottage, 
a plan which the good Luke had proposed to Mrs. Tulliver, 
thinking it would be very bad if the master were " to waken 
up " at the noise of the sale ; and the wife and children had 
sat imprisoned in the silent chamber, watching the large pros- 
trate figure on the bed, and trembling lest the blank face 
should suddenly show some response to the sounds which fell 
on their own ears with such obstinate, painful repetition. 

But it was over at last, that time of importunate certainty 
and eye-straining suspense. The sharp sound of a voice, 
almost as metallic as the rap that followed it, had ceased ; the 
tramping of footsteps on the gravel had died out. Mrs. Tul- 
liver's blond face seemed aged ten years by the last thirty 
hours; the poor woman's mind had been busy divining when 
her favorite things were being knocked down by the terrible 
hammer; her heart had been fluttering at the thought that 
first one thing and then another had gone to be identified as 
hers in the hateful publicity of the Golden Lion ; and all the 
while she had to sit and make no sign of this inward agi- 
tation. Such things bring lines in well-rounded faces, and 
broaden the streaks of white among the hairs that once looked 
as if they had been dipped in pure sunshine. Already, at 
three o'clock, Kezia, the good-hearted, bad-tempered house- 
maid, who regarded all people that came to the sale as her 
personal enemies, the dirt on whose feet was of a peculiarly 



250 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

vile quality, had begun to scrub and swill with an energy 
much assisted by a continual low muttering against " folks as 
came to buy up other folks's things," and made light of 
" scrazing " the tops of mahogany tables over which better folks 
than themselves had had to suffer a waste of tissue through 
evaporation. She was not scrubbing indiscriminately, for 
there would be further dirt of the same atrocious kind made 
by people who had still to fetch away their purchases; but 
she was bent on bringing the parlor, where that " pipe-smok- 
ing pig, " the bailiff, had sat, to such an appearance of scant 
comfort as could be given to it by cleanliness and the few 
articles of furniture bought in for the family. Her mistress 
and the young folks should have their tea in it that night, 
Kezia was determined. 

It was between five and six o'clock, near the usual tea-time, 
when she came upstairs and said that Master Tom was wanted. 
The person who wanted him was in the kitchen, and in the 
first moments, by the imperfect fire and candle light, Tom 
had not even an indefinite sense of any acquaintance with the 
rather broad-set but active figure, perhaps two years older 
than himself, that looked at him with a pair of blue eyes set 
in a disc of freckles, and pulled some curly red locks with a 
strong intention of respect. A low-crowned oilskin-covered 
hat, and a certain shiny deposit of dirt on the rest of the cos- 
tume, as of tablets prepared for writing upon, suggested a 
calling that had to do with boats; but this did not help Tom' a 
memory. 

"Sarvant, Mister Tom," said he of the red locks, with a 
emile which seemed to break through a self-imposed air of 
melancholy. "You don't know me again, I doubt," he went 
on, as Tom continued to look at him inquiringly; "but I'd 
like to talk to you by yourself a bit, please. " 

"There's a fire i' the parlor, Master Tom," said Kezia, 
who objected to leaving the kitchen in the crisis of toasting. 

" Come this way, then, " said Tom, wondering if this young 
fellow belonged to Guest & Co. 's Wharf, for his imagination 
ran continually toward that particular spot ; and uncle Deane 
might any time be sending for him to Bay that there was a 
situation at liberty. 



THE DOWNFALL. 251 

The bright fire in the parlor was the only light that showed 
the few chairs, the bureau, the carpetless floor, and the one 
table no, not the one table; there was a second table, in a 
corner, with a large Bible and a few other books upon it. It 
was this new strange bareness that Tom felt first, before he 
thought of looking again at the face which was also lit up by 
the fire, and which stole a half -shy, questioning glance at him 
as the entirely strange voice said : 

"Why! you don't remember Bob, then, as you gen the 
pocket-knife to, Mr. Tom? " 

The rough-handled pocket-knife was taken out in the sam3 
moment, and the largest blade opened by way of irresistible 
demonstration. 

"What! Bob Jakin?" said Tom, not with any cordial de- 
light, for he felt a little ashamed of that early intimacy sym- 
bolized by the pocket-knife, and was not at all sure that Bob's 
motives for recalling it were entirely admirable. 

" Ay, ay, Bob Jakin, if Jakin it must be, 'cause there's so 
many Bobs as you went arter the squerrils with, that day as 
I plumped right down from the bough, and bruised my shins 
a good uu but I got the squerril tight for all that, an* a 
scratter it was. An' this littlish blade's broke, you see, but I 
wouldn't hev a new un put in, 'cause they might be cheatin' 
me an' givin' me another knife istid, for there isn't such a 
blade i' the country, it's got used to my hand, like. An' 
there was niver nobody else gen me nothin' but what I got by 
my own sharpness, only you, Mr. Tom; if it wasn't Bill 
Fawks as gen me the terrier pup istid o' drowndin' it, an' I 
had to jaw him a good un afore he'd give it me." 

Bob spoke with a sharp and rather treble volubility, and got 
through his long speech with surprising despatch, giving the 
blade of his knife an affectionate rub on his sleeve when he 
had finished. 

"Well, Bob," said Tom, with a slight air of patronage, the 
foregoing reminiscences having disposed him to be as friendly 
as was becoming, though there was no part of his acquaintance 
with Bob that he remembered better than the cause of their 
parting quarrel ; " is there anything I can do for you? " 

" Why, 10, Mr. Ton," answered Bofy shutting up his knife 



262 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

with a click and returning it to his pocket, where he seemed 
to be feeling for something else. " I shouldn't ha' come back 
upon you now ye're i' trouble, an' folks say as the master, as I 
used to frighten the birds for, an' he flogged me a bit for fun 
when he catched me eatin' the turnip, as they say he'll niver 
lift up his head no more, I shouldn't ha' come now to ax 
you to gi' me another knife 'cause you gen me one afore. If 
a chap gives me one black eye, that's enough for me; I 
sha'n't ax him for another afore I sarve him out; an' a good' 
turn's worth as much as a bad un, anyhow. I shall niver 
grow down'ards again, Mr. Tom, an' you war the little chap 
as I liked the best when I war a little chap, for all you leath- 
ered me, and wouldn't look at me again. There's Dick 
Brumby, there, I could leather him as much as I'd a mind; 
but lors! you get tired o' leatherin' a chap when you can 
niver make him see what you want him to shy at. I'n seen 
chaps as 'ud stand starin' at a bough till their eyes shot out, 
afore they'd see as a bird's tail warn't a leaf. It's poor work 
goin' wi ; such raff. But you war allays a rare un at shying, 
Mr. Tom, an' I could trusten to you for droppin* down wi* 
your stick in the nick o' time at a runnin* rat, or a stoat, or 
that, when I war a-beatin' the bushes." 

Bob had drawn out a dirty canvas bag, and would perhaps 
not have paused just then if Maggie had not entered the room 
and darted a look of surprise and curiosity at him, whereupon 
he pulled his red locks again with due respect. But the next 
moment the sense of the altered room came upon Maggie with 
a force that overpowered the thought of Bob's presence. Her 
eyes had immediately glanced from him to the place where the 
bookcase had hung ; there was nothing now but the oblong un- 
faded space on the wall, and below it the small table with the 
Bible and the few other books. 

" Oh, Tom ! " she burst out, clasping her hands, " where are 
the books? I thought my uucle Glegg said he would buy 
them. Didn't he? Are those all they've left us?" 

"I suppose so," said Tom, with a sort of desperate indiffer- 
ence, " Why should they buy many books when they bought 
BO little furniture?" 

"Oh, but, Tom," said Maggie, her eyes filling with tears, 



THE DOWNFALL. 253 

as she rushed up to the table to see what books had been res- 
cued. "Our dear old Pilgrim's Progress that you colored 
with your little paints; and that picture of Pilgrim with a 
mantle on, looking just like a turtle oh dear! " Maggie went 
on, half sobbing as she turned over the few books. " I thought 
we should never part with that while we lived ; everything is 
going away from us ; the end of our lives will have nothing in 
it like the beginning! " 

Maggie turned away from the table and threw herself into 
a chair, with the big tears ready to roll down her cheeks, 
quite blinded to the presence of Bob, who was looking at her 
with the pursuant gaze of an intelligent dumb animal, with 
perceptions more perfect than his comprehension. 

"Well, Bob," said Tom, feeling that the subject of the 
books was unseasonable, " I suppose you just came to see me 
because we're in trouble? That was very good-natured of 
you." 

" I'll tell you how it is, Master Tom," said Bob, beginning 
to untwist his canvas bag. '' You see, I'n been with a barge 
this two 'ear; that's how I'n been gettin' my livin', if it 
wasn't when I was tentin' the furnace, between whiles, at 
Torry's mill. But a fortni't ago I'd a rare bit o' luck, I 
allays thought I was a lucky chap, for I niver set a trap but 
what I catched something; but this wasn't a trap, it was a 
fire i' Torry's mill, an' I doused it, else it 'ud ha' set th' oil 
alight, an' the genelman gen me ten suvreigns ; he gen me 'em 
himself last week. An' he said first, I was a sperrited chap, 
but I knowed that afore, but then he outs wi' the ten 
suvreigns, an' that war summat new. Here they are, all but 
one ! " Here Bob emptied the canvas bag on the table. " An' 
when I'd got 'em, my head was all of a boil like a kettle o' 
broth, thinkin* what sort o' life I should take to, for there 
rar a many trades I'd thought on; for as for the barge, I'm 
clean tired out wi't, for it pulls the days out till they're as 
long as pigs' chitterlings. An* I thought first I'd ha' ferrets 
an' dogs, an' be a rat-catcher; aia' then I thought as I should 
like a bigger way o' life, as I didn't know so well; for I'n 
seen to the bottom o' rat-catching ; an' I thought, an' thought, 
till at last I settled I'd be a packman, ~-fpr they're knowin' 



854 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

fellers, the packmen are, an* I'd carry the lightest things 1 
could i* my pack; an* there' d be a use for a feller's tongue, 
as is no use neither wi' rats nor barges. An' I should go 
about the country far an* wide, an' come round the women 
wi' my tongue, an* get my dinner hot at the public, lors ! it 
'ud be a lovely life! " 

Bob paused, and then said, with defiant decision, as if reso* 
lutely turning his back on that paradisaic picture : 

" But I don't mind about it, not a chip! An* I'n changed 
one o' the suvreigns to buy my mother a goose for dinner, an 1 
J'n bought a blue plush wescoat, an' a sealskin cap, for if I 
meant to be a packman, I'd do it respectable. But I don't 
mind about it, not a chip! My yead isn't a turnip, an' I 
shall p'r'aps have a chance o' dousing another fire afore long. 
I'm a lucky chap. So I'll thank you to take the nine suv- 
reigns, Mr. Tom, and set yoursen up with 'em somehow, if 
it's true as the master's broke. They mayn't go fur enough, 
but they'll help." 

Tom was touched keenly enough to forget his pride and sus- 
picion. 

"You're a very kind fellow, Bob," he said, coloring, with 
that little diffident tremor in his voice which gave a certain 
charm even to Tom's pride and severity, "and I sha'n't for- 
get you again, though I didn't know you this evening. But 
I can't take the nine sovereigns ; I should be taking your little 
fortune from you, and they wouldn't do me much good 
either." 

" Wouldn't they, Mr. Tom? " said Bob, regretfully. " Now 
don't say so 'cause you think I want J em. I aren't a poor 
chap. My mother gets a good penn'orth wi' picking feathers 
an' things; an' if she eats nothin' but bread-an'- water, it runs 
*to f at. An' I'm such a lucky chap; an' I doubt you aren't 
'quite so lucky, Mr. Tom, th' old master isn't, anyhow, an' 
so you might take a slice o' my luck, an' no harm done. Lors ! 
I found a leg o' pork i' the river one day ; it had tumbled out 
o* one o' them round-sterned Dutchmen, I'll be bound. Come, 
think better on it, Mr. Ton, for old 'quinetance' sake, else I 
shall think you bear me a grudge. " 

Bob pushed the sovereigns forward, but before TSCJ could 



THE DOWNFALL. 

speak Maggie, clasping her hands, and looking penitently a* 
Boh, said: 

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Bob; I never thought yon were so good. 
Why, I think you're the kindest person in the world I " 

Bob had not been aware of the injurious opinion for which 
Maggie was performing an inward act of penitence, but he 
smiled with pleasure at this handsome eulogy, especially 
from a young lass who, as he informed his mother that even* 
tog, had " such uncommon eyes, they looked somehow as they 
made him feel nohow." 

"Xo, indeed, Bob, I can't take them," said Tom; "but 
don't think I feel your kindness less because I say no. I 
don't want to take anything from anybody, but to work my 
own way. And those sovereigns wouldn't help me much 
they wouldn't really if I were to take them. Let me shake 
hands with you instead." 

Tom put out his pink palm, and Bob was not slow to placo 
his hard, grimy hand within it. 

"Let me put the sovereigns in the bag again," said Maggie j 
"and you'll come and see us when you've bought your pack, 
Bob." 

"It's like as if I'd come out o' make believe, o' purpose to 
show 'em you," said Bob, with an air of discontent, as Maggie 
gave him the bag again, "a- taking 'em bach, i' this way. I 
am a bit of a Do, you know j but it isn't that sort o' Do, it's 
on'y when a feller's a big rogue, or a big flat, I like to let him 
in a bit, that's all." 

"Now, don't you be up to any tricks, Bob," said Tom, 
"else you'll get transported some day." 

"No, no; not me, Mr. Tom," said Bob, with an air of 
cheerful confidence. "There's no law again* flea-bites. If I 
wasn't to take a fool in now and then, he'd n'ver get any 
wiser. But, lors 1 hev a suvreign to buy you and . ss sum- 
mat, on'y for a token just to match my pocket-knife." 

While Bob was speaking he laid down the sovereign, and 
resolutely twisted up his bag again. Tom pushed back the 
gold, and said, "No, indeed, Bob; thank you heartily, but 1 
can't take it." And Ai ^gie, taking it between her fingers, 
held '* up to Bob a. ..'. suiu, more persuasively: 



256 THE MTLL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Not now, but perhaps another tune. If ever Tom or my 
father wants help that you can give, we'll let you know; 
won't we, Tom? That's what you would like, to have us 
always depend on you as a friend that we can go to, isn't it, 
Bob?" 

"Yes, Miss, and thank you," said Bob, reluctantly taking 
the money ; " that's what I'd like, anything as you like. An' 
I wish you good-by, Miss, and good-luck, Mr. Tom, and 
thank you for shaking hands wi* me, though you wouldn't 
take the money." 

Kezia's entrance, with very black looks, to inquire if she 
shouldn't bring in the tea now, or whether the toast was to 
get hardened to a brick, was a seasonable check ou Bob's 
flux of words, and hastened his parting bow. 



CHAPTER VIL 

BOW A BEN TAKES TO STRATAGEM. 

THE days passed, and Mr. Tulliver showed, at least to the 
eyes of the medical man, stronger and stronger symptoms of a 
gradual return to his normal condition; the paralytic obstruc- 
tion was, little by little, losing its tenacity, and the mind was 
rising from under it with fitful struggles, like a living creating 
making its way from under a great snowdrift, that slides and 
slides again, and shuts up the newly made opening. 

Time would have seemed to creep to the watchers by the 
bed, if it had only been measured by the doubtful, distant 
hope which kept count of the moments within the chamber; 
but it was measured for them by a fast-approaching dread 
which made the nights come too quickly. While Mr. Tulliver 
was slowly becoming himself again, his lot was hastening 
toward its moment of most palpable change. The taxing- 
masters had done their work like any respectable gunsmith 
conscientiously preparing the musket, that, duly pointed by a 
brave arm, will spoil a life or two. Allocaturs, filing of bills 
in Chancery, decrees of sale, are legal chainshot or bomb- 



THE DOWNFALL. 197 

sheila that can never hit a solitary mark, hot moat fall with 
widespread shattering. So deeply inherent is it in this life oi 
ours that men have to suffer for each other's sins, so inevitably 
diffusive ia human suffering, that even justice makes its vic- 
tims, and we can conceive no retribution that does not spread 
beyond its mark in pulsations of unmerited pain. 

By the beginning of the second week in January, the bills 
were out advertising the sale, under a decree of Chancery, of 
Mr. Tulliver's farming and other stock, to be followed by a 
sale of the mill and land, held in the proper after-dinner houi 
at the Golden Lion. The miller himself, unaware of the lapse 
of time, fancied himself still in that first stage of his misfortunes 
when expedients might be thought of ; and often in his conscious 
hours talked in a feeble, disjointed manner of plans he would 
carry out when he "got well." The wife and children were 
cot without hope of an issue that would at least save Mr. Tui* 
liver from leaving the old spot, and seeking an entirely strange 
life. For uncle Deane had been induced to interest himseli 
in this stage of the business. It would not, he acknowledged, 
be a bad speculation for Guest & Co. to buy Dorlcote Mill, and 
carry on the business, which was a good one, and might be in- 
creased by the addition of steam power; in which case Tulli* 
ver might be retained as manager. Still, Mr. Deane would 
say nothing decided about the matter; the fact that Wakem 
held the mortgage on the land might put it into his head to 
bid for the whole estate, and further, to outbid the cautious 
firm of Guest & Co., who did not carry on business on senti* 
mental grounds. Mr. Deane was obliged to tell Mrs. Tulliver 
something to that effect, when he rode over to the mill to in- 
spect the books in company with Mrs. Glegg ; for she had ob- 
served that " if Guest & Co. would only think about it, Mr. 
Tulliver* s father and grandfather had been carrying on 
Dorlcote Mill long before the oil-mill of that firm had been so 
much as thought of." 

Mr. Deane, in reply, doubted whether that was precisely 
(the relation between the two mills which would determine 
their value as investments. As for uncle Glegg, the thing 
lay quite beyond his imagination ; the good-natured man felt 
sincere pity for the Tulliver family, bu.t bis money was all 
17 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

locked up in excellent mortgages, and he could ran no risk} 
that would be unfair to his own relatives ; but he had made up 
his mind that Tulliver should have some new flannel waistcoats 
which he had himself renounced in favor of a more elastic 
commodity, and that he would buy Mrs. Tulliver a pound of 
tea now and then ; it would be a journey which his benevo- 
lence delighted in beforehand, to carry the tea, and see her 
pleasure on being assured it was the best black. 

Still, it was clear that Mr. Deane was kindly disposed tow 
ard the Tullivers. One day he had brought Lucy, who was 
come home ^for the Christmas holidays, and the little blond 
angel-head had pressed itself against Maggie's darker cheek 
with many kisses and some tears. These fair slim daughters 
keep up a tender spot in the heart of many a respectable part- 
ner in a respectable firm, and perhaps Lucy's anxious, pity- 
ing questions about her poor cousins helped to make uncle 
Deane more prompt in finding Tom a temporary place in the 
warehouse, and in putting him in the way of getting evening 
lessons in book-keeping and calculation. 

That might have cheered the lad and fed his hopes a little, 
if there had not come at the same time the much-dreaded blow 
of finding that his father must be a bankrupt, after all} at 
least, the creditors must be asked to take less than their due, 
which to Tom's untechnical mind was the same thing as bank- 
ruptcy. His father must not only be said to have " lost his 
property," but to have "failed," the word that carried the 
worst obloquy to Tom's mind. For when the defendant's 
claim for costs had been satisfied, there would remain the 
friendly bill of Mr. Gore, and the deficiency at the bank, as 
well as the other debts which would make the assets shrink 
into unequivocal disproportion j "not more than ten or twelve 
shillings in the pound," predicted Mr. Deane, in a decided 
tone, tightening his lips ; and the words fell on Tom like & 
scalding liquid, leaving a continual smart. 

He was sadly in want of something to keep up his spirits A 
little in the unpleasant newness of his position, suddenly 
transported from the easy carpeted ennui of study-hours at 
Mr. Stelling's, and the busy idleness of castle-building in a 
" last half " at school, to the companionship of sacks and hides, 



THE DOWNFALL. 259 

and bawling men thundering down heavy weights at his elbow. 
The first step toward getting on in the world was a chill, dusty, 
noisy affair, and implied going without one's tea in order to 
stay in St. Ogg's and have an evening lesson from a one-armed 
elderly clerk, in a room smelling strongly of bad tobacco. 
Tom's young pink-aud-white face had its colors very much 
deadened by the time he took off his hat at home, and sat 
down with keen hunger to his supper. No wonder he was a 
little cross if his mother or Maggie spoke to him. 

But all this while Mrs. Tulliver was brooding over a scheme 
by which she, and no one else, would avert the result most to 
be dreaded, and prevent Wakem from entertaining the purpose 
of bidding for the mill. Imagine a truly respectable and ami- 
able hen, by some portentous anomaly, taking to reflection 
and inventing combinations by which she might prevail on 
Hodge not to wring her neck, or send her and her chicks to 
market ; the result could hardly be other than much cackling 
and fluttering. Mrs. Tulliver, seeing that everything had 
gone tfrong, had begun to think she had been too passive in 
life ; and that, if she had applied her mind to business, and 
taken a strong resolution novr and then, it would have been 
all the better for her and her family. Nobody, it appeared, 
had thought; of going to speak to Wakem on this business of 
the mill ; and yet, Mrs. Tulliver reflected, it would have been 
quite the snovtest method of securing the right end. It would 
have been of no use, to be sure, for Mr. Tulliver to go, even 
if he had been able and willing, for he had been "going to 
law against Wakem " and abusing him for the last ten years ; 
Waken, was always likely to have a spite against him. And 
now that Mrs. Tulliver had come to the conclusion that her 
husband was very much in the wrong to bring her into this 
trouble, she was inelined to think that his opinion of Wakem 
was wrong too. To be sure, Wakem had " put the bailies in 
the house, and sold them up " ; but she supposed he did that 
to please the man that lent Mr. Tulliver the money, for a law- 
yer had more folks to please than one, and he wasn't likely 
to put Mr. Tulliver, who had gone to law with him, above 
everybody else in the world. The attorney might be a very 
reasonable man j why not ? He had married a Miss Clint, and 



260 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

at the time Mrs. Tulliver had heard of that marriage, the sum- 
mer when she wore her blue satin spencer, and had not yet 
any thoughts of Mr. Tulliver, she knew no harm of Wakem. 
And certainly toward herself, whom he knew to have been a 
Miss Dodson, it was out of all possibility that he could enter- 
tain anything but good-will, when it was once brought home 
to his observation that she, for her part, had never wanted to 
go to law, and indeed was at present disposed to take Mr.. 
Wakem' s view of all subjects rather than her husband's. In 
fact, if that attorney saw a respectable matron like herself 
disposed "to give him good words," why shouldn't he listen 
to her representations? For she would put the matter clearly 
before him, which had never been done yet. And he would 
never go and bid for the mill on purpose to spite her, an inno- 
cent woman, who thought it likely enough that she had danced 
with him in their youth at Squire Darleigh's, for at those big 
dances she had often and often danced with young men whose 
names she had forgotten. 

Mrs. Tulliver hid these reasonings in her own bosom; for 
when she had thrown out a hint to Mr. Deane and Mr. Glegg 
that she wouldn't mind going to speak to Wakem herself, 
they had said, " No, no, no, " and " Pooh, pooh, " and " Let 
Wakem alone," in the tone of men who were not likely to give 
a candid attention to a more definite exposition of her project; 
still less dared she mention the plan to Tom and Maggie, for 
" the children were always so against everything their mother 
said " ; and Tom, she observed, was almost as much set against 
Wakem as his father was. But this unusual concentration of 
thought naturally gave Mrs. Tulliver an unusual power of device 
and determination ; and a day or two before the sale, to be 
held at the Golden Lion, when there was no longer any time 
to be lost, she carried out her plan by a stratagem. There 
were pickles in question, a large stock of pickles and ketchup 
which Mrs. Tulliver possessed, and which Mr. Hyndmarsh, 
the grocer, would certainly purchase if she could transact the 
business in a personal interview, so she would walk with 
Tom to St. Ogg's that morning; and when Tom urged that 
she might let the pickles be at present, he didn't like her to 
go about just yet, she appeared so hurt at this conduct in hex 



THE DOWNFALL 261 

eon, contradicting her about pickles which she had made after 
the family receipts inherited from his own grandmother, who 
had died when his mother was a little girl, that he gave way, 
and they walked together until she turned toward Danish 
Street, where Mr. Hyndmarsh retailed his grocery, not far 
from the offices of Mr. Wakem. 

That gentleman was not yet come to his office; would Mrs. 
Tulliver sit down by the fire in his private room and wait for 
him? She had not long to wait before tha punctual attorney 
entered, knitting his brow with an examining glance at the 
stout blond woman who rose, curtsying deferentially, a tall- 
ish man, with an aquiline nose and abundant iron-gray hair. 
You have never seen Mr. Wakem before, and are possibly 
wondering whether he was really as eminent a rascal, and as 
crafty, bitter an enemy of honest humanity in general, and of 
Mr. Tulliver in particular, as he is represented to be in that 
eidolon or portrait of him which we have seen to exist in the 
miller's mind. 

It is clear that the irascible miller was a man to interpret 
any chance-shot that grazed him as an attempt on his own life, 
and was liable to entanglements in this puzzling world, which, 
due consideration had to his own infallibility, required the 
hypothesis of a very active diabolical agency to explain them. 
It is still possible to believe that the attorney was not more 
guilty toward him than an ingenious machine, which performs 
its work with much regularity, is guilty toward the rash man 
who, venturing too near it, is caught up by some fly-wheel or 
other, and suddenly converted into unexpected mince-meat. 

But it is really impossible to decide this question by a 
glance at his person; the lines and lights of the human 
countenance are like other symbols, not always easy to read 
without a key. On an a priori view of Wakem's aquil* * 
nose, which offended Mr. Tulliver, there was not more ra-c 
ity than in the shape of his stiff shirt-collar, though this t > 
along with his nose, might have become fraught with damna- 
tory meaning when once the rascality was ascertained. 

"Mrs. Tulliver, I think?" said Mr. Wakem. 

"Yes, sir; Miss Elizabeth Dodson as was." 

** Pray be seated. You have sonje business with me? " 



262 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

'Well, sir, yes," said Mrs. Tulliver, beginning to feel 
alarmed at her own courage, now she was really in presence 
of the formidable man, and reflecting that she had not settled 
with herself how she should begin. Mr. Wakeni felt in his 
waistcoat pockets, and looked at her in silence. 

"I hope, sir," she began at last, "I hope, sir, you're not 
a-thinking as /bear you any ill-will because o* my husband's 
losing his lawsuit, and the bailies being put in, and the linen 
being sold, oh dear! for I wasn't brought up in that way, 
I'm sure you remember my father, sir, for he was close friends 
with Squire Darleigh, and we allays went to the dances there, 
the Miss Dodsons, nobody could be more looked on, and 
justly, for there was four of us, and you're quite aware as 
Mrs. Glegg and Mrs. Deane are niy sisters. And as for going 
to law and losing money, and having sales before you're dead, 
I never saw anything o' that before I was married, nor for a 
long while after. And I'm not to be answerable for my bad 
luck i' marrying out o' my own family into one where the go- 
ings-on was different. And as for being drawn in t' abuse 
you as other folks abuse you, sir, that I niver was, and nobody 
can say it of me." 

Mrs. Tulliver shook her head a little, and looked at the 
hem of her pocket-handkerchief. 

"I've no doubt of what you say, Mrs. Tulliver," said Mr. 
Wakem, with cold politeness. " But you have some question 
to ask mo?" 

" Well, sir, yes. But that's what I've said to myself, 
I've said you'd had some nat'ral feeling; and as for my hus* 
band, as hasn't been himself for this two mouths, I'm not 
a-defending him, in no way, for being so hot about th' eriga- 
tion, not but what there's worse men, for he never wronged 
nobody of a shilling nor a penny, not willingly ; and as for 
his fieriness and lawing, what could I do? And him struck 
as if it was with death when he got the letter as said you'd 
the hold upo' the land. But I can't believe but what you'll 
behave as a gentleman." 

"What does all this mean. Mrs. Tulliver?" said Mr. Wa- 
kem, rather sharply. " What do you want to ask me? " 

"Why, sir, if you' 11 be so good, "said Mrs. Tulliver, starting 



THE DOWNYAta*. 263 



a little, and speaking more hurriedly, " if you'll be so good 
not to buy the mill an* the land, the land wouldn't so much 
matter, only my husband 'ull be like mad at your having it." 

Something like a new thought flashed across Mr. Wakem'fl 
face as he said, " Who told you I meant to buy it? " 

44 Why, sir, it's none o' my inventing, and I should never 
ha' thought of it ; for my husband, as ought to know about 
the law, he allays used to say as lawyers had never no call to 
buy anything, either lands or houses, for they allays got 
'em into their hands other ways. An' I should think that 
'ud be the way with you, sir; and I niver said as you'd be 
the man to do contrairy to that." 

"Ah, well, who was it that did say so?" said Wakem, 
opening his desk, and moving things about, with the accom- 
paniment of an almost inaudible whistle. 

" Why, sir, it was Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane, as have all 
the management; and Mr. Deane thinks as Guest & Co. 'ud 
buy the mill and let Mr. Tulliver work it for 'em, if you didn't 
bid for it and raise the price. And it 'ud be such a thing for 
my husband to stay where he is, if he could get his living j 
for it was his father's before him, the mill was, and his 
grandfather built it, though I wasn't fond o' the noise of it, 
when first I was married, for there was no mills in our family, 
not the Dodsons', and if I'd known as the mills had so 
much to do with the law, it wouldn't have been me as 'ud have 
been the first Dodson to marry one ; but I went into it blind- 
fold, that I did, erigation and everything." 

" What ! Guest & Co. would keep the mill in their own 
hands, I suppose, and pay your husband wages? " 

"Oh dear, sir, it's hard to think of," said poor Mrs. Tulli- 
ver, a little tear making its way, " as my husband should take 
wage. But it 'ud look more like what used to be, to stay at 
the mill than to go anywhere else; and if you'll only think 
if you was to bid for the mill and buy it, my husband might 
be struck worse than he was before, and niver get better again 
as he's getting now." 

" Well, but if I bought the rail 1 , and allowed your husband 
to act as my manager in the same way, how then? " said Mr, 
Wakem. 



864 THE MILL ON THE FLOSi. 

" Oh, sir, I doubt he could niver be got to do it, not if the 
very mill stood still to beg and pray of him. For your name's 
like poison to him, it' s so as never was ; and he looks upon it 
&s you've been the ruin of him all along, ever since you set 
the law on him about the road through the meadow, that's 
eight year ago, and he's been going on ever since as I've 
allays told him he was wrong " , 

"He's a pig-headed, foul-mouthed fool I" burst out MiJ 
Wakem, forgetting himself. 

"Oh dear, sirl" said Mrs. Tulliver, frightened at a result 
60 different from the one she had fixed her mind on; "I 
wouldn't wish to contradict you, but it's like enough he's 
changed his mind with this illness, he's forgot a many 
things he used to talk about. And you wouldn't like to have 
a corpse on your mind, if he was to die ; and they do say as 
it's allays unlucky when Dorlcote Mill changes hands, and the 
water might all run away, and then not as I'm wishing you 
any ill-luck, sir, for I forgot to tell you as I remember your 
wedding as if it was yesterday; Mrs. Wakem was a Miss 
Clint, I know that ; and my boy, as there isn't a nicer, hand- 
somer^ straighter boy nowhere, went to school with your 
son " 

Mr. Wakem rose, opened the door, and called to one of his 
clerks. 

"You must excuse me for interrupting you, Mrs. Tulliver j 
I have business that must be attended to ; and I think there is 
nothing more necessary to be said." 

" But if you would bear it in mind, sir, " said Mrs. Tulliver, 
rising, "and not run against me and my children; and I'm 
not denying Mr. Tulliver's been in the wrong, but he's been 
punished enough, and there's worse men, for it's been giving 
to other folks has been his fault. He's done nobody any 
harm but himself and his family, the more's the pity, and 
I go and iook at the bare shelves every day, and think where 
all my things used to stand." 

"Yes, yes, I'll bear it in mind," said Mr. Wakem, hastily, 
looking toward the open door. 

'* And if you'd please not to say as I've been to speak to 
you, for my son *ud be very angry with me for demeaning 



THE DOWNFALL. 2*5 

myself, I know he would, and I've trouble enough without 
being scolded by my children." 

Poor Mrs. Tulliver's voice trembled a little, and she could 
make no answer to the attorney's "good morning,** but curt- 
sied and walked out in silence. 

" Which day is it that Dorlcote Mill is to be sold? Where's 
the bill?" said Mr. Wakem to his clerk when they we-* 
alone. 

"Next Friday is the day, Friday at six o'clock." 

* Oh, just run to Winship*s the auctioneer, and see if he 't 
at home. I have some business for him ; ask him to come 
up." 

Although, when Mr. Wakem entered his office that morn- 
ing, he had had no intention of purchasing Dorlcote Mill, his 
mind was already made up. Mrs. Tulliver had suggested to 
him several determining motives, and his mental glance was 
very rapid; he was one of those men who can be prompt 
without being rash, because their motives run in fixed tracks, 
and they have no need to reconcile conflicting aims. 

To suppose that Wakem had the same sort of inveterate 
hatred toward Tulliver that Tulliver had toward him would 
be like supposing that a pike and a roach can look at each 
other from a similar point of view. The roach necessarily 
abhors the mode in which the pike gets his living, and the 
pike is likely to think nothing further even of the most indig- 
nant roach than that he is excellent good eating; it could only 
be when the roach choked him that the pike could entertain 
a strong personal animosity. If Mr. Tulliver had ever serious- 
ly injured or thwarted the attorney, Wakem would not have 
refused him the distinction of being a special object of his 
vindictiveness. But when Mr. Tulliver called Wakem a ras- 
cal at the market dinner-table, the attorney's clients were not 
a whit inclined to withdraw their business from Kim ; and if, 
when Waken himself happened to be present, some jocose cat- 
tle-feeder, stimulated by opportunity and brandy, made a 
thrust at him by alluding to old ladies' wJls, he maintained 
perfect sang froid, and knew quite well that the majority of 
substantial men then present were perfectly contented with 
the fact that " Waken was Wakem " j that is to say, a man 



266 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

who always knew the stepping-stones that would carry him 
through very muddy bits of practice. A man who had made 
a large fortune, had a handsome house among the trees at 
Tofton, and decidedly the finest stock of port-wine in the 
neighborhood of St. Ogg's, was likely to feel himself on a 
level with public opinion. And I am not sure that even hon- 
est Mr. Tulliver himself, with his general view of law as a 
cockpit, might not, under opposite circumstances, have seen a 
fine appropriateness in the truth that " Wakem was Wakem " j 
since I have understood from persons versed in history, that 
mankind is not disposed to look narrowly into the conduct of 
great victors when their victory is on the right side. Tulli- 
ver, then, could be no obstruction to Wakem ; on the contrary, 
he was a poor devil whom the lawyer had defeated several 
times ; a hot-tempered fellow, who would always give you a 
handle against him. Wakem's conscience was not uneasy be- 
cause he had used a few tricks against the miller; why should 
he hate that unsuccessful plaintiff, that pitiable, furious bull 
entangled in the meshes of a net ? 

Still, among the various excesses to which human nature is 
subject, moralists have never numbered that of being too fond 
of the people who openly revile us. The successful Yellow 
candidate for the borough of Old Topping, perhaps, feels no 
pursuant meditative hatred toward the Blue editor who con- 
soles his subscribers with vituperative rhetoric against Yel- 
low men who sell their country, and are the demons of private 
life ; but he might not be sorry, if law and opportunity fa- 
vored, to kick that Blue editor to a deeper shade of his favor- 
ite color. Prosperous men take a little vengeance now and 
then, as they take a diversion, when it comes easily in their 
way, and is no hindrance to business; and such small unim- 
passioned revenges have an enormous effect in life, running 
through all degrees of pleasant infliction, blocking the fit men 
out of places, and blackening characters in unpremeditated 
talk. Still more, to see people who have been only insignifi- 
cantly offensive to us reduced in life and humiliated, without 
any special effort of ours, is apt to have a soothing, flattering 
influence. Providence or some other prince of this world, it 
appears, has undertaken the task of retribution for us; and 



TTTE DOWNFALL. 267 

really, by aii agreeable constitution of things, our enemies 
somehow don't prosper. 

Wakem was not without this parenthetic vindictivtness 
toward the uncomplimentary miller; and now Mrs. Tulliver 
had put the notion into his head, it presented itself to him as 
a pleasure to do the very thing that would cause Mr. Tulliver 
the most deadly mortification, and a pleasure of a complex 
kind, not made up of crude malice, but mingling with it the 
xelish of self -approbation. To see an enemy humiliated gives 
a certain contentment, but this is jejune compared with the 
highly blent satisfaction of seeing him humiliated by your 
benevolent action or concession on his behalf. That is a sort 
of revenge which falls into the scale of virtue, and Wakem 
was not without an intention of keeping that scale respectably 
filled. He had once had the pleasure of putting an old enemy 
of his into one of the St. Ogg's alms-houses, to the rebuilding 
of which he had given a large subscription; and here was an 
opportunity of providing for another by making him his own 
servant. Such things give a completeness to prosperity, and 
contribute elements of agreeable consciousness that are not 
dreamed of by that short-sighted, overheated vindictivenesa 
which goes out of its way to wreak itself in direct injury. 
And Tulliver, with his rough tongue filed by a sense of obli- 
gation, would make a better servant than any chance-fellow 
who was cap-in-hand for a situation Tulliver was known to 
be a man of proud honesty, and Wakem was too acute not to 
believe in the existence of honesty. He was given to observ- 
ing individuals, not to judging of them according to maxims, 
and no one knew better than he that all men were not like 
himself. Besides, he intended to overlook the whole business 
of land and mill pretty closely ; he was fond of these practical 
rural matters. But there were good reasons for purchasing 
Dorlcote Mill, quite apart from any benevolent vengeance 
on the miller. It was really a capital investment; besides, 
Guest & Co. were going to bid for it. Mr. Guest and Mr. 
Wakem were on friendly dining terms, and the attorney liked 
to predominate over a ship-owner and mill-owner who was a 
little too loud in the town affairs as well as in his table-talk. 
For Wakem was not a mere man of business; he was cou- 



THE MILL ON THE PLO88. 

eidered a pleasant fellow in the upper circles of St. Ogg's 
chatted amusingly over his port-wine, did a little amateur 
farming, and had certainly been an excellent husband and 
father; at church, when he went there, he sat under the hand- 
somest of mural monuments erected to the memory of his wife. 
( Most men would have married again under his circumstances, 
tut he was said to be more tender to his deformed son than 
most men were to their best-shapen offspring. Not that Mr. 
Wakem had not other sons beside Philip ; but toward them 
he held only a chiaroscuro parentage, and provided for them 
in a grade of life duly beneath his own. In this fact, indeed, 
thue lay the clenching motive to the purchase of Dorlcote 
MilL While Mrs. Tulliver was talking, it had occurred to 
the rapid-minded lawyer, among all the other circumstances 
of the case, that this purchase would, in a few years to come, 
furnish a highly suitable position for a certain favorite lad 
whom he meant to bring on in the world. 

These were the mental conditions on which Mrs. Tulliver 
had undertaken to act persuasively, and had failed; a fact 
which may receive some illustration from the remark of a 
great philosopher, that fly-fishers fail in preparing their bait 
BO as to make it alluring in the right quarter, for want of a 
due acquaintance with the subjectivity of fishes. 



OHAPTEB 

DAYLIGHT ON THB WBBCK. 

IT was a clear frosty January day on which Mr. TnlUver 

"first came downstairs. The bright sun on the chestnut boughs 
and the roofs opposite his window had made him impatiently 
declare that he would be caged up no longer; he thought 
everywhere would be more cheery under this sunshine than 
his bedroom; for he knew nothing of the bareness below, 
which made the flood of sunshine importunate, as if it had 
an unfeeling pleasure in showing the empty places, and the 
marks where well-known objects once had been. The impres- 



THE DOWNFALL. 2C9 

rion on Ms mind that it was but yesterday when he received 
the letter from Mr. Gore was so continually implied in hia 
talk, and the attempts to convey to him the idea that many 
weeks had passed and much had happened since then had been 
BO soon swept away by recurrent forgetfulness, that even Mr. 
Turnbull had begun to despair of preparing him to meet the 
facts by previous knowledge. The full sense of the present 
could only be imparted gradually by new experience, not by 
mere words, which must remain weaker than the impressions 
left by the old experience. This resolution to come down- 
stairs was heard with trembling by the wife and children. 
Mrs. Tulliver said Tom must not go to St. Ogg's at the usual 
hour, he must wait and see his father downstairs; and Tom 
complied, though with an intense inward shrinking from the 
painful scene. The hearts of all three had been more deeply 
dejected than ever during the last few days. For Guest & 
Co. had not bought the mill; both mill and land had been 
knocked down to Wakem, who had been over the premises, 
and had laid before Mr. Deane and Mr. Glegg, in Mrs. Tulli- 
ver 's presence, his willingness to employ Mr. Tulliver, in case 
of his recovery, as a manager of the business. This proposi- 
tion had occasioned much family debating. Uncles and aunts 
were almost unanimously of opinion that such an offer ought 
not to be rejected when there was nothing in the way but a 
feeling in Mr. Tulliver's mind, which, as neither aunts nor 
uncles shared it, was regarded as entirely unreasonable and 
childish, indeed, as a transferring toward Wakem of that 
indignation and hatred which Mr. Tulliver ought properly to 
have directed against himself for his general quarrelsomeness, 
and his special exhibition of it in going to law. Here was an 
opportunity for Mr. Tulliver to provide for his wife and 
daughter without any assistance from his wife's relations, and 
without that too evident descent into pauperism which makes 
it annoying to respectable people to meet the degraded mem-' 
ber of the family by the wayside. Mr. Tulliver, Mrs. Glegg 
considered, must be made to feel, when he came to his right 
mind, that he could never humble himself enough ; for that 
had come which she had always foreseen would come of hia 
insolence in time past " to them as were the best friends Wd 



270 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

got to look to." Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane were less stern in 
their views, but they both of them thought Tulliver had done 
enough harm by his hot-tempered crotchets, and ought to put 
them out of the question when a livelihood was offered him ; 
Wakem showed a right feeling about the matter, h e had no 
grudge against Tulliver. Tom had protested against entertain- 
ing the proposition. He shouldn't like his father to be under 
Wakem; he thought it would look mean-spirited; but hia 
mother's main distress was the utter impossibility of ever 
"turning Mr. Tulliver round about Wakem," or getting him 
to hear reason; no, they would all have to go and live in a 
pigsty on purpose to spite Wakem, who spoke " so as nobody 
could be fairer." Indeed, Mrs. Tulliver's mind was reduced 
to such confusion by living in this strange medium of unac- 
countable sorrow, against which she continually appealed by 
asking, "Oh dear, what have I done to deserve worse than 
other women? " that Maggie began to suspect her poor moth- 
er's wits were quite going. 

"Tom," she said, when they were out of their father's 
room together, " we must try to make father understand a lit- 
tle of what has happened before he goes downstairs. But we 
must get my mother away. She will say something that will 
do harm. Ask Kezia to fetch her down, and keep her en- 
gaged with something in the kitchen." 

Kezia was equal to the task. Having declared her inten- 
tion of staying till the master could get about again, " wage 
or no wage," she had found a certain recompense in keeping 
a strong hand over her mistress, scolding her for " moither- 
ing " herself, and going about all day without changing her 
2ap, and looking as if she was "mushed." Altogether, this 
time of trouble was rather a Saturnalian time to Kezia; she 
could scold her betters with unreproved freedom. On this 
particular occasion there were drying clothes to be fetched in j 
she wished to know if one pair of hands could do everything 
in-doors and out, and observed that she should have thought 
it would be good for Mrs. Tulliver to put on her bonnet, and 
get a breath of fresh air by doing that needful piece of work. 
i*oor Mrs. Tulliver went submissively downstairs; to be or- 
dered about by a servant was the last remnant of her house' 



THE DOWNFALL. 271 

hold dignities, she would soon have no servant to scold 
her. Mr. Tulliver was resting in his chair a little after the 
fatigue of dressing, and Maggie and Tom were seated near 
him, when Luke entered to ask if he should help master down- 
stairs. 

"Ay, ay, Luke; stop a bit, sit down," said Mr. Tulliver 
pointing his stick toward a chair, and looking at him with 
that pursuant gaze which convalescent persons often have for 
those who have tended them, reminding one of an infant gaz- 
ing about after its nurse. For Luke had been a constant 
night-watcher by his master's bed. 

"How's the water now, eh, Luke?" said Mr. Tulliver. 
"Dix hasn't been choking you up again, eh?" 

"No, sir, it's all right." 

" Ay, I thought not ; he won't be in a hurry at that again, 
now Riley's been to settle him. That was what I said to 
Riley yesterday I said " 

Mr. Tulliver leaned forward, resting his elbows on the arm- 
chair, and looking on the ground as if in search of something, 
striving after vanishing images like a man struggling against 
a doze. Maggie looked at Tom in mute distress, their father's 
mind was so far off the present, which would by-and-by thrust 
itself on his wandering consciousness ! Tom was almost ready 
to rush away, with that impatience of painful emotion which 
makes one of the differences between youth and maiden, man 
and woman. 

" Father, " said Maggie, laying her hand on his, " don't you 
remember that Mr. Eiley is dead? " 

"Dead?" said Mr. Tulliver, sharply, looking in her face 
with a strange, examining glance. 

" Yes, he died of apoplexy nearly a year ago. I remember 
hearing you say you had to pay money for him ; and he left 
his daughters badly off; one of them is under-teacher at Miss 
Firniss's, where I've been to school, you know." 

" Ah? " said her father, doubtfully, still looking in her face. 
But as soon as Tom began to speak he turned to look at /< im 
with the same inquiring glances, as if he were rather surprised 
at the presence of these two young people. Whenever his 
mind was wandering in the far past, he fell into this oblivion 



272 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

of their actual faces ; they were not those of the lad and th 
little wench who belonged to that past. 

"It's a long while since you had the dispute with Dix, 
father/' said Tom. "I remember your talking about it three 
years ago, before I went to school at Mr. Stelling's. I've 
been at school there three years; don't you remember?" 

Mr. Tulliver threw himself backward again, losing the 
childlike outward glance under a rush of new ideas, which 
diverted him from external impressions. 

" Ay, ay," he said, after a minute or two, " I've paid a deal 
o* money I was determined my son should have a good eddi' 
cation; I'd none myself, and I've felt the miss of it. And 
he'll want no other fortin, that's what I say if Wakem was 
to get the better of me again " 

The thought of Wakem roused new vibrations, and after a 
moment's pause he began to look at the coat he had on, and 
to feel in his side-pocket. Then he turned to Tom, and said 
in his old sharp way, " Where have they put Gore's letter?" 

It was close at hand in a drawer, for he had often asked for 
it before. 

" You know what there is in the letter, father? " said Tom, 
as he gave it to him. 

"To be sure I do," said Mr. Tulliver, rather angrily. 
" What o' that? If Furley can't take to the property, some- 
body else can; there's plenty o' people in the world besides 
Furley. But it's hindering my not being well go and tell 
'em to get the horse in the gig, Luke ; I can get down to St. 
Ogg's well enough Gore's expecting me." 

" No, dear father ! " Maggie burst out entreatingly ; " it's a 
very long while since all that; you've been ill a great many 
weeks, more than two months; everything is changed." 

Mr. Tulliver looked at them all three alternately with a 
startled gaze ; the idea that much had happened of which he 
knew nothing had often transiently arrested him before, but 
it came upon him now with entire novelty. 

"Yes, father," said Tom, in answer to the gaze. "You 
needn't trouble your mind about business until you are quite 
well; everything is settled about that for the present, about 
the mill and the land and the deota.- 



THE DOWNFALL 273 

"What's settled, then?" said his father, angrily. 

"Don't you take on too much about it, sir," said Luke. 
* You'd ha* paid iverybody if you could, that's what I said 
to Master Tom, I said you'd ha' paid iverybody if you 
could." 

Good Luke felt, after the manner of contented hard-work- 
ing men whose lives have been spent in servitude, that sense 
of natural fitness in rank which made his master's downfall 
a tragedy to him. He was urged, in his slow way, to say 
something that would express his share in the family sorrow ; 
and these words, which he had used over and over again to 
Tom when he wanted to decline the full payment of his fifty 
pounds out of the children's money, were the most ready to 
his tongue. They were just the words to lay the most painful 
hold on his master's bewildered mind. 

"Paid everybody?" he said, with vehement agitation, his 
face flushing, and his eye lighting up. " Why what have 
they made me a bankrupt ? " 

"Oh, father, dear father I" said Maggie, who thought that 
terrible word really represented the fact; "bear it well, 
because we love you; your children will always love you. 
Tom will pay them all; he says he will, when he's a 
man." 

She felt her father beginning to tremble; his voice trembled 
too, as he said, after a few moments : 

"Ay, my little wench, but I shall never live twice o'er." 

"But perhaps you will live to see me pay everybody, 
father, " said Tom, speaking with a great effort. 

"Ah, my lad," said Mr. Tulliver, shaking his head slowly, 
^but what's broke can never be whole again; it 'ud be your 
doing, not mine." Then looking up at him, "You're only 
sixteen; it's an up-hill fight for you, but you mustn't throw 
it at your father; the raskills have been too many for him. 
I've given you a good eddication, that'll start you." 

Something in his throat half choked the last words; the 
flush, which had alarmed his children because it had so often 
preceded a recurrence of paralysis, had subsided, and his face 
looked pale and tremulous. Tom said nothing; he was still 
struggling against his inclination to rush away. His father 
18 



274 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

remained quiet a minute or two, but his mind did not seem 
to be wandering again. 

"Have they sold me up, then?" he said more calmly, as if 
he were possessed simply by the desire to know what had 
happened. 

"Everything is sold, father; but we don't know all about 
the mill and the land yet," said Tom, anxious to ward off 
any question leading to the fact that Wakem was the pur- 
chaser. 

" You must not be surprised to see the room look very bare 
downstairs, father," said Maggie; " but there's your chair and 
the bureau; they're not gone." 

11 Let us go ; help me down, Luke, I'll go and see every- 
thing," said Mr. Tulliver, leaning on his stick, and stretching 
out his other hand toward Luke. 

"Ay, sir," said Luke, as he gave his arm to his master, 
"you'll make up your mind to't a bit better when you've seen 
ivery thing; you'll get used to't. That's what my mother 
says about her shortness o' breath, she says she's made 
friends wi't now, though she fought again' it sore when it 
just come on." 

Maggie ran on before to see that all was right in the dreary 
parlor, where the fire, dulled by the frosty sunshine, seemed 
part of the general shabbiness. She turned her father's chair, 
and pushed aside the table to make an easy way for him, and 
then stood with a beating heart to see him enter and look 
round for the first time. Tom advanced before him, carrying 
the leg-rest, and stood beside Maggie on the hearth. Of those 
two young hearts Tom's suffered the most unmixed pain, for 
Maggie, with all her keen susceptibility, yet felt as if the sor* 
row made larger room for her love to flow in, and gave breath- 
ing-space to her passionate nature. No true boy feels that; he 
would rather go and slay the Nemean lion, or perform any- 
round of heroic labors, than endure perpetual appeals to his 
pity, for evils over which he can make no conquest. 

Mr. Tulliver paused just inside the door, resting on Luke, 
and looking round him at all the bare places, which for him were 
filled with the shadows or departed objects, the daily com* 
panions of his life. His faculties seemed to be renewing 



THE DOWNFALL. 275 

their strength from getting a footing on this demonstration of 
the senses. 

"Ah! " he said slowly, moving toward his chair, "they've 
sold me up they've sold me up." 

Then seating himself, and laying down his stick, while 
Luke left the room, he looked round again. 

"They've left the big Bible," he said. "It's got every- 
thing in, when I was born and married; bring it me, 
Tom." 

The quarto Bible was laid open before him at the fly-leaf, 
and while he was reading with slowly travelling eyes, Mrs. 
Tulliver entered the room, but stood in mute surprise to find 
her husband down already, and with the great Bible before 
him. 

" Ah, " he said, looking at a spot where his finger rested, 
"my mother was Margaret Beaton; she died when she was 
forty-seven, hers wasn't a long-lived family; we're our 
mother's children, Gritty and me are, we shall go to our last 
bed before long." 

He seemed to be pausing over the record of his sister's birth 
and marriage, as if it were suggesting new thoughts to him ; 
then he suddenly looked up at Tom, and said, in a sharp tone 
of alarm : 

" They haven't come upo' Moss for the money as I lent him, 
have they?" 

"No, father," said Tom; "the note was burnt." 

Mr. Tulliver turned his eyes on the page again, and pres- 
ently said: 

" Ah Elizabeth Dodson it's eighteen year since I married 
her " 

"Come next Lady day," said Mrs. Tulliver, going up to hit 
side and looking at the page. 

Her husband fixed his eyes earnestly on her face. 

"Poor Bessy," he said, "you was a pretty lass then, every- 
body said so, and I used to think you kept your good looks 
rarely. But you're sorely aged; don't you bear me ill-will 
I meant to do well by you we promised one another for bet 
ter or for worse 

"But I never thought it 'ud be so for worse as this," said 



276 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

poor Mrs. Tulliver, with the strange, scared look that had 
come over her of late ; " and my poor father gave me away 
and to come on so all at once " 

"Oh, mother! " said Maggie, "don't talk in that way." 

" No, I know you won't let your poor mother speak that's 
been the way all my life your father never minded what I 
said it 'ud have been o' no use for me to beg and pray and 
it 'ud be no use now, not if I was to go down o' my hands and 
knees " 

"Don't say so, Bessy," said Mr. Tulliver, whose pride, in 
these first moments of humiliation, was in abeyance to the 
sense of some justice in his wife's reproach. " If there's any- 
thing left as I could do to make you amends, I wouldn't say 
you nay." 

" Then we might stay here and get a living, and I might 
keep among my own sisters, and me been such a good wife to 
you, and never crossed you from week's end to week's end 
and they all say so they say it 'ud be nothing but right, only 
you're so turned against Wakem." 

" Mother," said Tom, severely, " this is not the time to talk 
about that." 

"Let her be," said Mr. Tulliver. "Say what you mean, 
Bessy." 

"Why, now the mill and the land's all Wakem' s, and he's 
got everything in his hands, what's the use o' setting your 
face against him, when he says you may stay here, and 
speaks as fair as can be, and says you may manage the 
business, and have thirty shilling a-week, and a horse to 
ride about to market? And where have we got to put our 
heads? We must go into one o' the cottages in the vil- 
lage, and me and my children brought down to that, and 
all because you must set your mind against folks till there's 
no turning you." 

Mr. Tulliver had sunk back in his chair, trembling. 

" You may do as you like wi' me, Bessy," he said, in a low 
voice; "I've been the bringing of you to poverty this 
world's too many for me I'm nought but a bankrupt; it's no 
ttse standing up for anything now." 

"Father," said Tom, "I don't agree with my mother or my 



THE DOWNFALL. 277 

ancles, and I don't think you ought to submit to be under 
Wakem. I get a pound a-week now, and you can find some- 
thing else to do when you get well." 

" Say no more, Tom, say no more; I've had enough for this 
day. Give me a kiss, Bessy, and let us bear one another no 
ill-will; we shall never be young again this world's been too 
many for me." 



CHAPTEB IX. 

AX ITEM ADDED TO THE FAMILY REGISTER, 

THAT first moment of renunciation and submission was fol- 
lowed by days of violent struggle in the miller's mind, as the 
gradual access of bodily strength brought with it increasing 
ability to embrace in one view all the conflicting conditions 
under which he found himself. Feeble limbs easily resign 
themselves to be tethered, and when we are subdued by sick- 
ness it seems possible to us to fulfil pledges which the old 
vigor comes back and breaks. There were times when poor 
Tulliver thought the fulfilment of his promise to Bessy was 
something quite too hard for human nature ; he had promised 
her without knowing what she was going to say, she might as 
well have asked him to carry a ton weigLt on his back. But 
again, there were many feelings arguing on her side, besides 
the sense that life had been made hard to her by having mar- 
ried him. He saw a possibility, by much pinching, of saving 
money out of his salary toward paying a second dividend to 
his creditors, and it would not be easy elsewhere to get a situ- 
ation such as he could fill. He had led an easy life, ordering 
much and working little, and had no aptitude for any new 
business. He must perhaps take to day-labor, and his wife 
must have help from her sisters, a prospect doubly bitter to 
him, now they had let all Bessy's precious things be sold, prob- 
ably because they liked to set her against him, by making her 
feel that he had brought her to that pass. He listened to 
their admonitory talk, when they came to urge on him what 
he was bound to do for poor Bessy's sake, with averted eyes, 



278 THE MILL ON THE FLOSfc 

that every now and then flashed on them furtively when theil 
backs were turned. Nothing but the dread of needing theh 
help could have made it an easier alternative to take their ad- 
vice. 

But the strongest influence of all was the love of the old 
premises where he had run about when he was a boy, just as 
Tom had done after him. The Tullivers had lived on this 
spot for generations, and he had sat listening ou a low stool on 
winter evenings while his father talked of the old half-tim- 
bered mill that had been there before the last great floods 
which damaged it so that his grandfather pulled it down and 
built the new one. It was when he got able to walk about and 
look at all the old objects that he felt the strain of his cling- 
ing affection for the old home as part of his life, part of him- 
self. He couldn't bear to think of himself living on any other 
spot than this, where he knew the sound of every gate door, 
and felt that the shape and color of every roof and weather- 
stain and broken hillock was good, because his growing senses 
had been fed on them. Our instructed vagrancy, which was 
hardly time to linger by the hedgerows, but runs away early 
to the tropics, and is at home with palms and banyans, 
which is nourished on books of travel and stretches the theatre 
of its imagination to the Zambesi, can hardly get a dim no* 
tion of what an old-fashioned man like Tulliver felt for this 
spot, where all his memories centred, and where life seemed 
like a familiar smooth-handled tool that the fingers clutch with 
loving ease. And just now he was living in that freshened 
memory of the far-off time which comes to us in the passive 
hours of recovery from sickness. 

" Ay, Luke, " he said one afternoon, as he stood looking over 
the orchard gate, "I remember the day they planted those 
apple-trees. My father was a huge man for planting, it was 
like a merry-making to him to get a cart full o* young trees ; 
and I used to stand i* the cold with him, and follow him about 
like a dog." 

Then he turned round, and leaning against the gate-post, 
looked at the opposite buildings. 

"The old mill 'ud miss me, I think, Luke. There's a story 
tfi when the mill changes hands, the river's angry} I've heard 



THE DOWNFALL. 279 

my father say it many a time. There's no telling whethei 
there mayn't be summat in the story, for this is a puzzling 
world, and Old Harry's got a finger in it it's been too many 
for me, I know." 

" Ay, sir, " said Luke, with soothing sympathy, " what wi' 
the rust on the wheat, an* the firin' o' the ricks an' that, as 
I've seen i' my time, things often looks comical; there's the 
bacon fat wi' our last pig run away like butter, it leaves 
nought but a scratchin'." 

" It's just as if it was yesterday, now," Mr. Tulliver went 
on, " when my father began the malting. I remember, the 
day they finished the malt-house, I thought summat great was 
to come of it; for we'd a plurn-pudding that day and a bit of 
a feast, and I said to my mother, she was a fine dark-eyed 
woman, my mother was, the little wench 'ull be as like her 
as two peas." Here Mr. Tulliver put his stick between his 
legs, and took out his snuff-box, for the greater enjoyment of 
this anecdote, which dropped from him in fragments, as if he 
every other moment lost narration in vision. " I was a little 
chap no higher much than my mother's knee,- -she was sore 
fond of us children, Gritty and me, and so I said to her, 
' Mother,' I said, * shall we have plum-pudding every day be- 
cause o' the malt-house? ' She used to tell me o' that till her 
dying day. She was but a young woman when she died, my 
mother was. But it's forty good year since they finished the 
malt-house, and it isn't many days out of 'em all as I haven't 
looked out into the yard there, the first thing in the morning, 
-all weathers, from year's end to year's end. I should go off 
my head in a new place. I should be like as if I'd lost my 
way. It's all hard, whichever way I look at it, the harness 
'ull gall me, but it 'ud be summat to draw along the old road, 
instead of a new un." 

"Ay, sir," said Luke, "you'd be a deal better here nor in 
some new place. I can't abide new places my sen: things is 
allays awk'ard, narrow-wheeled waggins, belike, and the 
stiles all another sort, an* oat-cake i' some places, tow'rt th* 
head o' the Floss, there. It's poor work, changing your coun- 
try-side." 

"But I doubt, Luke, they'll be for getting rid o' Ben, and 



280 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

making you do with a lad ; and I must help a bit wr* the mitt 
You'll have a worse place." 

"Ne'er mind, sir," said Luke, "I sha'n't plague mysen. 
I'n been wi' you twenty year, an* you can't get twenty year 
wi' whistlin' for 'em, no more nor you can make the trees 
grow : you mun wait till God A'mighty sends 'em. I can't 
(abide new victual nor new faces, /can't, you niver know but 
twhat they'll gripe you." 

The walk was finished in silence after this, for Luke had 
disburthened himself of thoughts to an extent that left his 
conversational resources quite barren, and Mr. Tulliver had 
relapsed from his recollections into a painful meditation on the 
choice of hardships before him. Maggie noticed that he was 
unusually absent that evening at tea; and afterward he sat 
leaning forward in his chair, looking at the ground, moving 
his lips, and shaking his head from time to time. Then he 
looked hard at Mrs. Tulliver, who was knitting opposite him, 
then at Maggie, who, as she bent over her sewing, was intensely 
conscious of some drama going forward in her father's mind. 
Suddenly he took up the poker and broke the large coal 
fiercely. 

" Dear heart, Mr. Tulliver, what can you be thinking of? " 
said his wife, looking up in alarm; " it's very wasteful, break- 
ing the coal, and we've got hardly any large coal left, and I 
don't know where the rest is to come from." 

" I don't think you're quite so well to-night, are you, fa- 
ther?" said Maggie; "you seem uneasy." 

" Why, how is it Tom doesu't come? " said Mr. Tulliver, 
impatiently. 

> "Dear heart I is it time? I must go and get his supper," 
\ said Mrs. Tulliver, laying down her knitting, and leaving the 
room. 

"It's nigh upon half -past eight," said Mr. Tulliver. 
" He'll be here soon. Go, go and get the big Bible, and open 
it at the beginning, where everything's set down. And get 
the pen and ink." 

Maggie obeyed, wondering ; but her father gave no further 
orders, and only sat listening for Tom's footfall on the gravel, 
apparently irritated by the wind, which had risen, and waa 



THE DOWNFALL. 291 

roaring so as to drown all other sounds. There was a strange 
light in his eyes that rather frightened Maggie; she began to 
wish that Tom would come, too. 

"There he is, then," said Mr. Tulliver, in an excited way, 
when the knock came at last. Maggie went to open the door, 
but her mother came out of the kitchen hurriedly, saying, 
"Stop a bit, Maggie; I'll open it." 

Mrs. Tulliver had begun to be a little frightened at her boy, 
but she was jealous of every office others did for him. 

"Your supper's ready by the kitchen-fire, my boy," she 
said, as he took off his hat and coat. " You shall have it by 
yourself, just as you like, and I won't speak to you." 

" I think my father wants Tom, mother," said Maggie; "he 
must come into the parlor first." 

Tom entered with his usual saddened evening face, but his 
a/es fell immediately on the open Bible and the inkstand, and 
he glanced with a look of anxious surprise at his father, who 
was saying, 

"Come, come, you're late; I want you." 

"Is there anything the matter, father?" said Tom. 

"You sit down, all of you," said Mr. Tulliver, peremptorily. 
"And, Tom, sit down here; I've got something for you to 
write i' the Bible." 

They all three sat down, looking at him. He began to 
speak slowly, looking first at his wife. 

" I've made up my mind, Bessy, and I'll be as good as my 
word to you. There'll be the same grave made for us to lie 
down in, and we mustn't be bearing one another ill-will. I'll 
stop in the old place, and I'll serve under Wakem, and I'll 
serve him like an honest man ; there's no Tulliver but what's 
honest, mind that, Tom," here his voice rose, " they'll have 
it to throw up against me as I paid a dividend, but it wasn't 
my fault; it was because there's raskills in the world. 
They've been too many for me, and I must give in. I'll put 
my neck in harness, for you've a right to say as I've brought 
you into trouble, Bessy, and I'll serve him as honest as if he 
was no raskill; I'm an honest man, though I shall never hold 
my head up no more. I'm a tree as is broke a tree as is 
broke." 



282 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

He paused, and looked on the ground. Then suddenly rais* 
ing his head, he said, in a louder yet deeper tone : 

"But I won't forgive him! I know what they say, he 
never meant me any harm. That's the way Old Harry prop 
up the raskills. He's been at the bottom of everything; but 
he's a fine gentleman, I know, I know. I shouldn't ha' 
gone to law, they say. But who made it so as there was no 
arbitrating and no justice to be got? It signifies nothing to 
him, I know thatj he's one o' them fine gentlemen as get 
jnoney by doing business for poorer folks, and when he's made 
beggars of 'em he'll give 'em charity. I won't forgive him! 
I wish he might be punished with shame till his own son 'ud 
like to forget him. I wish he may do summat as they'd make 
him work at the treadmill! But he won't, he's too big a 
raskill to let the law lay hold on him. And you mind this, 
Tom, you never forgive him neither, if you mean to be my 
son. There'll maybe come a time when you may make him 
feel ; it'll never come to me ; I'n got my head under the yoke. 
Now write write it i' the Bible. " 

" Oh, father, what? " said Maggie, sinking down by his 
knee, pale and trembling. "It's wicked to curse and bear 
malice." 

"It isn't wicked, I tell you," said her father, fiercely. 
"It's wicked as the raskills should prosper; it's the Devil's 
doing. Do as I tell you, Tom. Write." 

"What am I to write?" said Tom, with gloomy submission. 

" Write as your father, Edward Tulliver, took service under 
John Wakem, the man as had helped to ruin him, because I'd 
promised my wife to make her what amends I could for her 
trouble, and because I wanted to die in th' old place wher I 
was born and my father was born. Put that i' the right 
words you know how and then write, as I don't forgive 
Wakem for all that; and for all I'll serve him honest, I wish 
evil may befall him. Write that." 

There was a dead silence as Tom's pen moved along the 
paper ; Mrs. Tulliver looked scared, and Maggie trembled like 
a leaf. 

"Now let me hear what you've wrote," said Mr, Tulliver. 
Tom read aloud slowly 



THE DOWNFALL. 283 

"Now write write as you'll remember what Wakem's done 
to your father, and you' 11 make him and his feel it, if ever the 
day comes. And sign your name Thomas Tulliver." 

" Oh no, father, dear father ! " said Maggie, almost choked 
with fear. " You shouldn't make Tom write that." 

" Be quiet, Maggie I " said Tom. " I shall write it." 



BOOK IV. THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION 

CHAPTER L 

A VARIATION OF PBOTESTANTISM UXKNOWtf TO BOSSUE1. 

JOURNEYING down the Rhone on a summer's day, you have 
perhaps felt the sunshine made dreary by those ruined villages 
which stud the banks in certain parts of its course, telling how 
the swift river once rose, like an angry, destroying god, ^weep- 
ing down the feeble generations whose breath is in their nostrils, 
and making their dwellings a desolation. Strange contrast, 
you may have thought, between the effect produced on us by 
these dismal remnants of commonplace houses, which in their 
best days were but the sign of a sordid life, belonging in all its 
details to our own vulgar era, and the effect produced by those 
ruins on the castled Rhine, which have crumbled and mellowed 
into such harmony with the green and rocky steeps that they 
seem to have a natural fitness, like the mountain-pine ; nay, 
even in the day when they were built they must have had this 
fitness, as if they had been raised by an earth-born race, who 
had inherited from their mighty parent a sublime instinct of 
form. And that was a day of romance I If those robber- 
barons were somewhat grim and drunken ogres, they had a 
certain grandeur of the wild beast in them, they were forest 
boars with tusks, tearing and rending, not the ordinary domes- 
tic grunter ; they represented the demon forces forever in col- 
lision with beauty, virtue, and the gentle uses of life ; they 
made a fine contrast in the picture with the wandering min- 
strel, the soft-lipped princess, the pious recluse, and the timid 
Israelite. That was a time of color, when the sunlight fell on 
glancing steel and floating banners ; a time of adventure and 
fierce struggle, nay, of living, religious art and religious ea 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 285 

fchusiasm; for were Dot cathedrals built in those days, and did 
not great emperors leave their Western palaces to die before 
the infidel strongholds in the sacred East? Therefore it is 
that these Rhine castles thrill me with a sense of poetry ; they 
belong to the grand historic life of humanity, and raise up for 
me the vision of an echo. But these dead-tinted, hollow-eyed, 
angular skeletons of villages on the Rhone oppress me with the 
feeling that human life very much of it is a narrow, ugly } 
grovelling existence, which even calamity does not elevate, but 
rather tends to exhibit in all its bare vulgarity of conception . 
and I have a cruel conviction that the lives these ruins are the 
traces of were part of a gross sum of obscure vitality, that will 
be swept into the same oblivion with the generations of ants 
and beavers. 

Perhaps something akin to this oppressive feeling may have 
weighed upon you in watching this old-fashioned family life 
on the banks of the Floss, which even sorrow hardly suffices 
to lift above the level of the tragi-comic. It is a sordid life, 
you say, this of the Tullivers and Dodsons, irradiated by no 
sublime principles, no romantic visions, no active, self -renounc- 
ing faith ; moved by none of those wild, uncontrollable pas- 
sions which create the dark shadows of misery and crime j 
without that primitive, rough simplicity of wants, that hard, 
submissive, ill-paid toil, that childlike spelling-out of what 
nature has written, which gives its poetry to peasant life. 
Here one has conventional worldly notions and habits without 
instruction and without polish, surely the most prosaic form 
of human life ; proud respectability in a gig of unfashionable 
build ; worldliness without side-dishes. Observing these peo- 
ple narrowly, even when the iron hand of misfortune has shak- 
en them from their unquestioning hold on the world, one sees 
little trace of religion, still less of a distinctively Christian 
creed. Their belief in the Unseen, so far as it manifests 
itself at all-, seems to be rather a pagan kind; their moral 
notions, though held with strong tenacity, seem to have 
no standard beyond hereditary custom. You could not live 
among such people; you are stifled for want of an outlet 
toward something beautiful, great, or noble ; you are irritated 
with these dull men and women, as a kind pf population oui 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

of keeping with tho earth on which they live, with this rich 
plain where the great river flows forever onward, and links 
the small pulse of the old English town with the beatings of 
the world's mighty heart. A vigorous superstition, that lashea 
its gods or lashes its own back, seems to be more congruous 
with the mystery of the human lot, than the mental condition 
of these emmet-like Dodsons and Tullivers. 

I share with you this sense of oppressive narrowness j but it 
is necessary that we should feel it, if we care to understand 
how it acted on the lives of Tom and Maggie, how it has 
acted on young natures in many generations, that in the on- 
ward tendency of human things have risen above the menta\ 
level of the generation before them, to which they have been 
pevertheless tied by the strongest fibres of their hearts. The 
suffering, whether of martyr or victim, which belongs to every 
historical advance of mankind, is represented in this way in 
every town, and by hundreds of obscure hearths j and we need 
not shrink from this comparison of small things with great; 
for does not science tell us that its highest striving is after 
the ascertainment of a unity which shall bind the smallest 
things with the greatest? In natural science, I have under- 
stood, there is nothing petty to the mind that has a large 
vision of relations, and to which every single object suggests 
A vast sum of conditions. It is surely the same with the ob- 
servation of human life. 

Certainly the religious and moral ideas of the Dodsons and 
Tullivers were of too specific a kind to be arrived at deduc- 
tively, from the statement that they were part of the Protes- 
tant population of Great Britain. Their theory of life had its 
core of soundness, as all theories must have on which decent 
and prosperous families have been reared and have flourished; 
but it had the very slightest tincture of theology. If^ in the 
maiden days of the Dodson sisters, their Bibles opened more 
easily at some parts than others, it was because of dried tulip- 
petals, which had been distributed quite impartially, without 
preference for the historical, devotional, or doctrinal. Their 
religion was of a simple, semi-pagan kind, but there was no 
heresy in it, if heresy properly means choice, for they 
fcnow there was any other religion, except that of 



THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION. 287 

ehapel-goers, which appeared to run in families, like asthma. 
How should they know? The vicar of their pleasant rural 
parish was not a controversialist, but a good hand at whist, 
and one who had a joke always ready for a blooming female 
parishioner. The religion of the Dodsons consisted in rever- 
ing whatever was customary and respectable : it was necessary 
to be baptized, else one could not be buried in the church-yard, 
and to take the sacrament before death, as a security against 
more dimly understood perils j but it w, as of equal necessity to 
have the proper pall-bearers and well-cured hams at one's fu- 
neral, and to leave an unimpeachable will. A Dodson would 
not be taxed with the omission of anything that was becoming, 
or that belonged to that eternal fitness of things which was 
plainly indicated in the practice of the most substantial parish- 
ioners, and in the family traditions, such as obedience to par- 
ents, faithfulness to kindred, industry, rigid honesty, thrift, 
the thorough scouring of wooden and copper utensils, the 
hoarding of coins likely to disappear from the currency, the 
production of first-rate commodities for the market, and the 
general preference of whatever was home-made. The Dod- 
sous were a very proud race, and their pride lay in the utter 
frustration of all desire to tax them with a breach of tra- 
ditional duty or propriety. A wholesome pride in many 
respects, since it identified honor with perfect integrity, 
thoroughness of work, and faithfulness to admitted rules ; and 
society owes some worthy qualities in many of her members to 
mothers of the Dodson class, who made their butter and their 
fromenty well, and would have felt disgraced to make it other- 
wise. To be honest and poor was never a Dodson motto, still 
less to seem rich though being poor ; rather, the family badge 
was to be honest and rich, and not only rich, but richer than 
was supposed. To live respected, and have the proper bearers 
at your funeral, was an achievement of the ends of existence 
that would be entirely nullified if, on the reading of your will, 
you sank in the opinion of your fellow-men, either by turning 
out to be poorer than they expected, or by leaving your money 
in a capricious manner, without strict regard to degrees of 
kin. The right thing must always be done toward kindred. 
The right thing was to correct them severely, if they 



288 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

other than a credit to the family, bu f , still not to alienate from 
them the smallest rightful share in the family shoe-buckles 
and other property. A conspicuous quality in the Dodson 
character was its genuineness ; its vices and virtues alike were 
phases of a proud honest egoism, which had a hearty dislike 
to whatever made against its own credit and interest, and 
would be frankly hard of speech to inconvenient "kin," but 
would never forsake or ignore them, would not let them want 
bread, but only require them to eat it with bitter herbs. 

The same sort of traditional belief ran. in the Tulliver veins 
but it was carried in richer blood, having elements of generous 
imprudence, warm affection, and hot-tempered rashness. Mr. 
Tulliver's grandfather had been heard to say that he was de- 
scended from one Ralph Tulliver, a wonderfully clever fellow, 
who had ruined himself. It is likely enough that the clever 
Ealph was a high liver, rode spirited horses, and was very 
decidedly of his own opinion. On the other hand, nobody 
had ever heard of [a Dodson who had ruined himself; it was 
not the way of that family. 

If such were the views of life on which the Dodsons and 
Tullivers had been reared in the praiseworthy past of Pitt 
and high prices, you will infer from what you already know 
concerning the state of society in St. Ogg's, that there had 
been no highly modifying influence to act on them in their 
maturer life. It was still possible, even in that later time of 
anti-Catholic preaching, for people to hold many pagan ideas, 
and believe themselves good church-people, notwithstanding ; 
BO we need hardly feel any surprise at the fact that Mr. Tulli- 
ver, though a regular church-goer, recorded his vindictiveness 
on the fly-leaf of his Bible. It was not that any harm could 
be said concerning the vicar of that charming rural parish to 
which Dorlcote Mill belonged ; he was a man of excellent fam- 
ily, an irreproachable bachelor, of elegant pursuits, had tak- 
en honors, and held a fellowship. Mr. Tulliver regarded him 
with dutiful respect, as he did everything else belonging to the 
church-service ; but he considered that church was one thing 
and common-sense another, and he wanted nobody to tell him 
what common-sense was. Certain seeds which are required to 
find a nidus fop themselves under unfavorable circumstances, 



THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION. 289 

have been supplied by nature with an apparatus of hooks, so 
that they will get a hold on very unreceptive surfaces. The 
spiritual seed which had been scattered over Mr. Tulliver had 
apparently been destitute of any corresponding provision, and 
had slipped off to the winds again, from a total absence of 
hooks. 



CHAPTER IL 

THE TOBK NEST 18 PIERCED BT THB THOB3TB. 

THERE is something sustaining in the very agitation that ac- 
companies the first shocks of trouble, just as an acute pain is 
often a stimulus, and produces an excitement which is tran- 
sient strength. It is in the slow, changed life that follows ; in 
the time when sorrow has become stale, and has no longer an 
emotive intensity that counteracts its pain ; in the time when 
day follows day in dull, unexpectant sameness, and trial is a 
dreary routine, it is then that despair threatens; it is then 
that the peremptory hunger of the soul is felt, and eye and ear 
are strained after some unlearned secret of our existence, which 
shall give to endurance the nature of satisfaction. 

This time of utmost need was come to Maggie, with her 
short span of thirteen yeare. To the usual precocity of the 
girl, she added that early experience of struggle, of conflict 
between the inward impulse and outward fact, which is the 
lot of every imaginative and passionate nature ; and the years 
since she hammered the nails into her wooden Fetish among 
the worm-eaten shelves of the attic had been filled with so 
eager a life in the triple world of Reality, Books, and Waking 
Dreams, that Maggie was strangely old for her years in every- 
thing except in her entire want of that prudence and self-com- 
mand which were the qualities that made Tom manly in the 
midst of his intellectual boyishness. And now her lot was 
beginning to have a still, sad monotony, which threw her more 
than ever on her inward self. Her father was able to attend 
to business again, his affairs were settled, and he was acting 
as Wakem's manager on the old spot- Tom went to and fig 
19 



290 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

every morning and evening, and became more and more silent 
in the short intervals at home; what was there to say? One 
day was like another; and Tom's interest in life, driven back 
and crushed on every other side, was concentrating itself into 
the one channel of ambitious resistance to misfortune. The 
peculiarities of his father and mother were very irksome to 
him, now they were laid bare of all the softening accompani- 
ments of an easy, prosperous home ; for Tom had very clear, 
prosaic eyes, not apt to be dimmed by mists of feeling or imag- 
ination. Poor Mrs. Tulliver, it seemed, would never recovei 
her old self, her placid household activity; how could she> 
The objects among which her mind had moved complacently 
were all gone, all the little hopes and schemes and specula- 
tions, all the pleasant little cares about her treasures which 
had made the world quite comprehensible to her for a quarter 
of a century, since she had made her first purchase of the 
sugar-tongs, had been suddenly snatched away from her, and 
she remained bewildered in this empty life. Why that should 
have happened to her which had not happened to other women 
remained an insoluble question by which she expressed her 
perpetual ruminating comparison of the past with the present. 
It was piteous to see the comely woman getting thinner and 
more worn under a bodily as well as mental restlessness, which 
made her often wander about the empty house after her work 
was done, until Maggie, becoming alarmed about her, would 
seek her, and bring her down by telling her how it vexed Tom 
that she was injuring her health by never sitting down and 
resting herself. Yet amidst this helpless imbecility there was 
a touching trait of humble, self-devoting maternity, which 
made Maggie feel tenderly toward her poor mother amidst all 
the little wearing griefs caused by her mental feebleness. 
She - w ould let Maggie do none of the work that was heaviest 
and most soiling to the hands, and was quite peevish when 
Maggie attempted to relieve her from her grate-brushing and 
scouring : " Let it alone, my dear ; .your hands 'ull get as hard 
as hard," she would say; " it's your mother's place to do that. 
I can't do the sewing my eyes fail me." And she would still 
brush and carefully tend Maggie's hair, which she had become 
reconciled to, in spite of ita refusal to curl, now it was 0. long 



THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATIOTT. 291 

and massy. Maggie was not her pet child, and, in general, 
would have been much better if she had been quite different; 
yet the womanly heart, so bruised in its small personal de- 
sires, found a future to rest on in the life of this young thing, 
and the mother pleased herself with wearing out her own 
hands to save the hands that had so much more life in them. 

But the constant presence of her mother's regretful bewil- 
derment was less painful to Maggie than that of her father's 
sullen, incommunicative depression. As long as the paralysis'* 
was upon him, and it seemed as if he might always be in a 
childlike condition of dependence, as long as he was still 
'only half awakened to his trouble, Maggie had felt the strong 
tide of pitying love almost as an inspiration, a new power, that 
would make the most difficult life easy for his sake; but now, 
instead of childlike dependence, there had come a taciturn, 
hard concentration of purpose, in strange contrast with his old 
vehement communicativeness and high spirit; and this lasted 
from day to day, and from week to week, the dull eye never 
brightening with any eagerness or any joy. It is something 
cruelly incomprehensible to youthful natures, this sombre 
sameness in middle-aged and elderly people, whose life has 
resulted in disappointment and discontent, to whose faces a 
smile becomes so strange that the sad lines all about the lips 
and brow seem to take no notice of it, and it hurries away 
again for want of a welcome. " Why will they not kindle up 
and be glad sometimes? " thinks young elasticity. " It would 
be so easy if they only liked to do it." And these leaden 
' clouds that never part are apt to create impatience even in the 
filial affection that streams forth in nothing but tenderness 
and pity in the time of more obvious affliction. 

Mr. Tulliver lingered nowhere away from home ; he hurried 
away from market, he refused all invitations to stay and chat, 
as in old times, in the houses where he called on business. He 
could not be reconciled with his lot. There was no attitude 
in which his pride did not feel its bruises ; and in all behavior 
toward him, whether kind or cold, he detected an allusion to 
the change in his circumstances. Even the days on which 
Wakem came to ride round the land and inquire into the busi- 
ness were not so black to him as those market-days on which 



292 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

he had met several creditors who had accepted a composition 
from him. To save something toward the repayment of those 
creditors was the object toward which he was now bending all 
his thoughts and efforts ; and under the influence of this all- 
compelling demand of his nature, the somewhat profuse man, 
who hated to be stinted or to stint any one else in his own 
house, was gradually metamorphosed into the keen-eyed 
grudger of morsels. Mrs. Tulliver could not economize enough 
to satisfy him, in their food and firing; and he would eat 
nothing himself but what was of the coarsest quality. Tom, 
though depressed and strongly repelled by his father's sullen- 
ness, and the dreariness of home, entered thoroughly into his 
father's feelings about paying the creditors ; and the poor lad 
brought his first quarter's money, with a delicious sense of 
achievement, and gave it to hii father to put into the tin box 
which held the savings. The little store of sovereigns in the 
tin box seemed to be the only sight that brought a faint beam 
of pleasure into the miller's eyes, faint and transient, for ii 
was soon dispelled by the thought that the time would be long 
perhaps longer than his life, before the narrow savings could 
remove the hateful incubus of debt. A deficit of more than 
five hundred pounds, with the accumulating interest, seemed 
a deep pit to fill with the savings from thirty shillings a- week, 
even when Tom' s probable savings were to be added. On this 
one point there was entire community of feeling in the four 
widely differing beings who sat round the djdng fire of sticks, 
which made a cheap warmth for them on the verge of bed- 
time. Mrs. Tulliver carried the proud integrity of the Dod- * 
sons in her blood, and had been brought up to think that to 
wrong people of their money, which was another phrase for 
debt, was a sort of moral pillory; it would have been wicked- 
ness, to her mind, to have run counter to her husband's desire 
to " do the right thing, " and retrieve his name. She had a 
confused, dreamy notion that, if the creditors were all paid, 
her plate and linen ought to come back to her ; but she had an 
inbred perception that while people owed money they were 
unable to pay, they couldn't rightly call anything their own. 
She murmured a little that Mr. Tulliver so peremptorily re- 
fused to receive anything in repayment from Mr. and Mrs, 



THE VALLEY OF HOULIATIOH. 293 

Moss ; but to all his requirements of household economy sh 
was submissive to the point of denying herself the cheapest 
indulgences of mere flavor ; her only rebellion was to smuggle 
into the kitchen something that would make rather a better 
supper than usual for Tom. 

These nariow notions about deht, held by the old-fashioned 
Tullivers, may perhaps excite a smile on the faces of many 
readers in these days of wide commercial views and wide phi- 
losophy, according to which everything rights itself without 
any trouble of ours. The fact that my tradesman is out of 
pocket by me is to be looked at through the serene certainty 
that somebody else's tradesman is in pocket by somebody else; 
and since there must be bad debts in the world, why, it is 
mere egoism not to like that we in particular should make 
them instead of our fellow-citizens. I am telling the history 
of very simple people, who had never had any illuminating 
doubts as to personal integrity and honor. 

Under all this grim melancholy and narrowing concentra- 
tion of desire, Mr. Tulliver retained the feeling toward his 
" little wench " which made her presence a need to him, though 
it would not suffice to cheer him. She was still the desire of 
his eyes ; but the sweet spring of fatherly love was now min- 
gled with bitterness, like everything else. When Maggie laid 
down her work at night, it was her habit to get a low stool 
and sit by her father's knee, leaning her cheek against it. 
How she wished he would stroke her head, or give some sign 
that he was soothed by the sense that he had a daughter who 
loved him ! But now she got no answer to her little caresses, 
either from her father or from Tom, the two idols of her life. 
Tom was weary and abstracted in the short intervals when hs 
was at home, and her father was bitterly preoccupied with th 
thought that the girl was growing up, was shooting up into a 
woman; and how was she to do well in life? She had a poor 
chance for marrying, down in the world as they were. And 
he hated the thought of her marrying poorly, as her aunt Grit- 
ty had done; that would be a thing to make him turn in his 
grave, the little wench so pulled down by children and toil, 
s her aunt Moss was. When uncultured minds, confined to a 
narrow range of personal experience, are under the pressure of 



294 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

continued misfortune, their inward life is apt to become a per* 
petually repeated round of sad and bitter thoughts ; the same 
words, the same scenes, are revolved over and over again, the 
same mood accompanies them ; the end of the year finds them 
as much what they were at the beginning as if they were ma- 
chines set to a recurrent series of movements. 
1 The sameness of the days was broken by few visitors. Un- 
cles and aunts paid only short visits now; of course, they 
could not stay to meals, and the constraint caused by Mr. Tul- 
liver's savage silence, which seemed to add to the hollow reso- 
nance of the bare, uncarpeted room when the aunts were talk- 
ing, heightened the unpleasantness of these family visits on 
all sides, and tended to make them rare. As for other ac- 
quaintances, there is a chill air surrounding those who are 
down in the world, and people are glad to get away from 
them, as from a cold room; human beings, mere men and 
women, without furniture, without anything to offer you, who 
have ceased to count as anybody, present an embarrassing 
negation of reasons for wishing to see them, or of subjects on 
which to converse with them. At that distant day, there 
was a dreary isolation in the civilized Christian society of 
these realms for families that had dropped below their origi- 
nal level, unless they belonged to a sectarian church, which 
gets some warmth of brotherhood by walling in the sacred fire. 



CHAPTER III. 

A VOICE FROM THE PAST. 

Osns afternoon, when the chestnuts were coming irto flower,' 
Maggie had brought her chair outside the front door, and was 
seated there with a book on her knees. Her dark eyes had 
wandered from the book, but they did not ieem to be enjoying 
the sunshine which pierced the screen of jasmine on the pro- 
jecting porch at her right, and thrsw leafy shadows on her 
pale round cheek; they seemed rather to be searching for 
something thi* ^as uot disclosed by the sunshine. It had 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 295 

been a more miserable day than usual; her father, after a 
visit of Wakem's, had had a paroxysm of rage, in which for 
some trifling fault he had beaten the boy who served in the 
mill. Once before, since his illness, he had had a similar 
paroxysm, in which he had beaten his horse, and the scene 
had left a lasting terror in Maggie's mind. The thought had 
risen, that some time or other he might beat her mother if she 
happened to speak in her feeble way at the wrong moment. 
'The keenest of all dread with her was lest her father should 
add to his present misfortune the wretchedness of doing some- 
thing irretrievably disgraceful. The battered school-book of 
Tom's which she held on her knees could give her no forti- 
tude under the pressure of that dread; and again and again 
her eyes had rilled with tears, as they wandered vaguely, see- 
ing neither the chestnut-trees, nor the distant horizon, but 
only future scenes of home-sorrow. 

Suddenly she was roused by the sound of the opening gate 
and of footsteps on the gravel. It was not Tom who was en- 
tering, but a man in a sealskin cap and a blue plush waistcoat, 
carrying a pack on his back, and followed closely by a bull- 
terrier of brindled coat and defiant aspect. 

" Oh, Bob, it's you! " said Maggie, starting up with a smile 
of pleased recognition, for there had been no abundance of 
kind acts to efface the recollection of Bob's generosity; "I'm 
so glad to see you." 

" Thank you, Miss, " said Bob, lifting his cap and showing 
a delighted face, but immediately relieving himself of some 
accompanying embarrassment by looking down at his dog, and 
saying in a tone of disgust, " Get out wr* you, you thunderin* 
sawney ! " 

" My brother is not at home yet, Bob," said Maggie; "he is 
always at St. Ogg's in the daytime." 

" Well, Miss," said Bob, " I should be glad to see Mr. Tom, 
but that isn't just what I'm come for, look here! " 

Bob was in the act of depositing his pack on the door-step, 
and with it a row of small books fastened together with string. 
Apparently, however, they were not the object to which ha 
wished to call Maggie's attention, but rather something which 
he had carried under his arm, wrapped in a red handkerchief. 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"See here!" he said again, laying the red parcel on th 
Others and unfolding it; "you won't think I'm a-makin' too 
free, Hiss, I hope, bat I lighted on these books, and I thought 
they might make up to you a bit for them as you've lost; for 
I beared you speak o' picture, an' as for picture, look here! " 

The opening of the red handkerchief had disclosed a super- 
annuated **' Keepsake " and six or seven numbers of a " Portrait 
Gallery," in royal octavo; and the emphatic request to look.- 
referred to a portrait of George the Fourth in all the majesty' 
of his depressed cranium and voluminous neckcloth. 

* There's all aorta o' genelmen here," Bob went on, turning 
over the leaves with some excitement, " wi' all sorts o' nose 
an' some bald an' some wi' wigs, Parlament genelmen, I 
reckon. An' here," he added, opening the "Keepsake," 
*hert? ladies for you, some wi' curly hair and some wi' 
smooth, an' some a-smiling wi' their heads o* one side, an' 
some as if they were goin' to cry, look here, a-sittin' on 
the ground out o' door, dressed like the ladies I'n seen get out 
o' the carriages at the balls in th' Old Hall there. My eyes ! 
I wonder what the chaps wear as go a-courtin* 'em! I sot up 
till *he cl ck was gone twelve last night, a-lookin' at 'em, I 
did, tall they stared at me out o' the picture as if they'd 
know when I spoke to 'em. But, lore! I shouldn't know 
what to say to 'em. They'll be more fittin' company for you, 
Miss; and the man at the book-stall, he said they banged 
iverything for picture; he said they was a fust-rate article." 

"And you've bought them for me, Bob?" said Maggie, 
deeply touched by this simple kindness. " How very, very 
good of you! But I'm afraid you gave a great deal of money 
for them," 

"Not me!" said Bob. "Fd ha' gev three times the 
money if they'll make up to you a bit for them as was sold 
away from you, Miss. For I'n niver forgot how you looked 
when you fretted about the botks bein' gone: it's stuck by me 
as if it was a pictur hingin' before me. An' when I see'd the 
book open upo* the stall, wi' the lady lookin' out of it wi' eyes 
a bit like your'n when you was frettin', you'll excuse my 
takin' the liberty, Miss, I thought I'd make free to buy it for 
you, an' then I bought the books full o' genelmeu to match; 



THB VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 

n* then " here Bob took tip the small stringed packet of 
books " I thought you might like a bit more print as well as 
the picture, an' I got these for a sayso, they're cram-full o* 
print, an' I thought they'd do no harm comin' along wr* these 
bettermost books. An 9 1 hope yon won't say me nay, an' taQ 
me as you won't have 'em, like Mr. Tom did wi' the BUT- 
reigns." 

"2s~o, indeed, Bob, 9 said Maggie, "I'm very thankful to 
you for thinking of me, and being so good to me and Tom. 
I don' t think any one ever did such a kind thing for me before. 
I haven't many friends who care for me." 

" Her a dog, Miss I they're better friends nor any Chris- 
tian," said Bob, laying down his pack again, which he had 
taken np with the intention of harrying away ; for he felt con- 
siderable shyness in talking to a young lass lifca llaggw^ 
tVmghj as he usually said of frimwlf, " his tongue overrun 
him " when he began to speak. " I can't give you Mumps, 
'cause he'd break his heart to go away from me eh, Mumps, 
what do you say, you riff-raff? " (Mumps declined to express 
himself more diffusely than by a single affirmative movement 
of his tail.) " But I'd get you a pup, Miss, an* welcome.* 

"No, thank you, Bob. TTe have a yard dog, and I mayn't 
keep a dog of my own." 

" Eh, that's a pity; else there's a pup, if you didn't mind 
about it not being thoroughbred; its mother acts in the 
Punch show, an uncommon sensible bitch; she means more 
sense wi' her bark nor hylf tfu> chaps *^ an put into their talk 
from breakfast to sundown. There's one chap carries pots, 
a poor, low trade as any on the road, he says, ' Why, Toby's 
nought but a mongrel ; there's nought to look at in her.' But 
I says to him, 4 Why, what are you yoursen but a mongrelf 
There wasn't much pickin' o* your feyther an' mother, to look 
at you.' Xot but I like a bit o' breed myself, but I can't 
abide to see one cur grinnin* at another. I wish you gocd- 
evenin', Miss," said Bob, abruptly taking up his pack again, 
under the consciousness that his tongue was acting in an un- 
disciplined manner. 

a Won't you come in the evening some time, and see my 
brother, Bob? " said Maggie. 



298 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Yes, Miss, thank you another time. You'll give my 
duty to him, if you please. Eh, he's a fine growed chap, Mr. 
Tom is; he took to growin' i* the legs, an' /didn't." 

The pack was down again, now, the hook of the stick hav- 
ing somehow gone wrong. 

"You don't call Mumps a cur, I suppose?" said Maggie, 
divining that any interest she showed in Mumps would be 
gratifying to his master. 

"No, Miss, a fine way off that," said Bob, with pitying 
smile ; " Mumps is as fine a cross as you'll see anywhere along 
the Floss, an' I'n been up it wi' the barge times enow. Why, 
the gentry stops to look at him; but you won't catch Mumps 
a-looking at the gentry much, he minds his own business, he 
does." 

The expression of Mumps's face, which seemed to be tol- 
erating the superfluous existence of objects in general, was 
strongly confirmatory of this high praise. 

" He looks dreadfully surly," said Maggie. "Would he let 
me pat him?" 

" Ay, that would be, and thank you. He knows his com- 
pany, Mumps does. He isn't a dog as 'ull be caught wi' gin- 
gerbread; he'd smell a thief a good deal stronger nor the gin- 
gerbread, he would. Lors, I talk to him by th' hour together, 
when I'm walking i' lone places, and if I'n done a bit o' mis- 
chief, I allays tell him. I'n got no secrets but what Mumps 
knows 'em. He knows about my big thumb, he does." 

"Your big thumb what's that, Bob?" said Maggie. 

"That's what it is, Miss," said Bob, quickly, exhibiting a 
singularly broad specimen of that difference between the man 
and the monkey. " It tells i' measuring out the flannel, you 
see. I carry flannel, 'cause it's light for my pack, an' it's 
dear stuff, you see, so a big thumb tells. I clap my thumb 
at the end o' the yard and cut o' the hither side of it, and the 
old women aren't up to't." 

"But, Bob," said Maggie, looking serious, "that's cheating j 
I don't like to hear you say that." 

"Don't you, Miss?" said Bob, regretfully. "Then I'm 
sorry I said it. But I'm o used to talking to Mumps, an' he 
doesn't mind a bit o' cheating, wheu it's them skinflint wo* 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 299 

men, as haggle an' baggie, an' 'ud like to get their flannel for 
nothing, an' 'ud niver ask theirselves how I got my dinner out 
on't. I niver cheat anybody as doesn't want to cheat me, 
Miss, lors, I'm a honest chap, I am; only I must hev a bit 
o' sport, an' now I don't go wi* th' ferrets, I'n got no varmint 
to come over but them haggling women. I wish you good- 
evening, Miss." 

" Good-by, Bob. Thank you very much for bringing me 
the books. And come again to see Tom." 

" Yes, Miss, " said Bob, moving on a few steps ; then turn- 
ing half round he said, "I'll leave off that trick wi' my big 
thumb, if you don't think well on me for it, Miss; but it 7 ud 
be a pity, it would. I couldn't find another trick so good, 
an* what 'ud be the use o' havin* a big thumb? It might as 
well ha' been narrow." 

Maggie, thus exalted into Bob's directing Madonna, laughed 
in spite of herself; at which her worshipper's blue eyes twin- 
kled too, and under these favoring auspices he touched his 
cap and walked away. 

The days of chivalry are not gone, notwithstanding Burke's 
grand dirge over them ; they live still in that far-off worship 
paid by many a youth and man to the woman of whom he 
never dreams that he shall touch so much as her little finger 
or the hem of her robe. Bob, with the pack on his back, had 
as respectful an adoration for this dark-eyed maiden as if he 
had been a knight in armor calling aloud on her name as he 
pricked on to the fight. 

That gleam of merriment soon died away from Maggie's 
face, and perhaps only made the returning gloom deeper by 
contrast. She was too dispirited even to like answering ques-1 
iions about Bob's present of books, and she carried them away, 
to her bedroom, laying them down there and seating herself 
on her one stool, without caring to look at them just yet. She 
leaned her cheek against the window-frame, and thought that 
the light-hearted Bob had a lot much happier than hers. 

Maggie's sense of loneliness, and utter privation of joy, had 
deepened with the brightness of advancing spring. All the 
favorite outdoor nooks about home, which seemed to have done 
their part with her parents in nurturing and cherishing her, 



800 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

were now mixed up with the home-sadness, and gathered no 
smile from the sunshine. Every affection, every delight the 
poor child had had, was like an aching nerve to her. There 
was no music for her any more, no piano, no harmonized 
voices, no delicious stringed instruments, with their passionate 
cries of imprisoned spirits sending a strange vibration through 
her frame. And of all her school-life there was nothing left 
her now but her little collection of school-books, which she 
turned over with a sickening sense that she knew them all, and 
they were all barren of comfort. Even at school she had often 
wished for books with more in them ; everything she learned 
there seemed like the ends of long threads that snapped im- 
mediately. And now without the indirect charm of school- 
emulation Te'le'maque was mere bran ; so were the hard, dry 
questions on Christian Doctrine ; there was no flavor in them, 
no strength. Sometimes Maggie thought she could have been 
contented with absorbing fancies; if she could have had all 
Scott's novels and all Byron's poems! then, perhaps, she 
might have found happiness enough to dull her sensibility to 
her actual daily life. And yet they were hardly what she 
wanted. She could make dream-worlds of her own, but no 
dream-world would satisfy her now. She wanted some expla- 
nation of this hard, real life, the unhappy -look ing father, 
seated at the dull breakfast-table; the childish, bewildered 
mother ; the little sordid tasks that filled the hours, or the 
more oppressive emptiness of weary, joyless leisure ; the need 
of some tender, demonstrative love ; the cruel sense that Tom 
didn't mind what she thought or felt, and that they were no 
onger playfellows together; the privation of all pleasant 
filings that had come to her more than to others, she wanted 
-some key that would enable her to understand, and in under- 
standing, to endure, the heavy weight that had fallen on her 
young heart. If she had been taught " real learning and wis- 
dom, such as great men knew, " she thought she should have 
held the secrets of life ; if she had only books, that she might 
learn for herself what wise men knew ! Saints and martyrs 
had never interested Maggie so much as sages and poets. She 
knew little of saints and martyrs, and had gathered, as a gen- 
eral result of Her teaching, tliat they, were a temporary pro* 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 301 

vision against the spread of Catholicism, and had all died at 
Smithfield. 

In one of these meditations it occurred to her that she had 
forgotten Tom's school-books, which had been sent home in 
his trunk. But she found the stock unaccountably shrunk 
down to the few old ones which had been well thumbed, the 
Latin Dictionary and Grammar, a Delectus, a torn Eutropius, 
the well-worn Virgil, Aldrich's Logic, and the exasperating 
Euclid. Still, Latin, Euclid, and Logic would surely be a con- 
siderable step in masculine wisdom, in that knowledge which 
made men contented, and even glad to live. Not that the 
yearning for effectual wisdom was quite unmixed ; a certain 
mirage would now and then rise on the desert of the future, in 
which she seemed to see herselt honored for her surprising at- 
tainments. And. so the poor child, with her soul's hunger and 
her illusions of self-flattery, began to nibble at this thick- 
rinded fruit of the tree of knowledge, filling her vacant hours 
with Latin, geometry, and the forms of the syllogism, and 
feeling a gleam of triumph now and then that her understand- 
ing was quite equal to these peculiarly masculine studies. 
For a week or two she went on resolutely enough, though with 
an occasional sinking of heart, as if she had set out toward 
the Promised Land alone, and found it a thirsty, trackless, 
uncertain journey. In the severity of her early resolution, 
she would take Aldrich out into the fields, and then look off 
her book toward the sky, where the lark was twinkling, or to 
the reeds and bushes by the river, from which the water-fowl 
rustled forth on its anxious, awkward flight, with a startled 
sense that the relation between Aldrich and this living world 
,vas extremely remote for her. The discouragement deepened 
as the days went on, and the eager heart gained faster and 
faster on the patient mind. Somehow, when she sat at the 
window with her book, her eyes would fix themselves blankly 
on the outdoor sunshine ; then they would fill with tears, and 
sometimes, if her mother was not in the room, the studies 
would all end in sobbing. She rebelled against her lot, she 
fainted under its loneliness, and fits even of anger and hatred 
toward her father and mother, who were so unlike what she 
would have them to be; toward Tom, who checked her, and 



802 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

met her thought or feeling always by some thwarting differ 
ence, would flow out over her affections and conscience like 
a lava stream, and frighten her with a sense that it was not 
difficult for her to become a demon. Then her brain would 
be busy with wild romances of a flight from, home in search of 
something less sordid and dreary; she would go to some great 
man Walter Scott, perhaps and tell him how wretched and 
how clever she was, and he would surely do something for her. 
But, in the middle of her vision, her father would perhaps en- 
ter the room for the evening, and, surprised that she sat still 
without noticing him, would say complainingly, "Come, am I 
to fetch my slippers myself? " The voice pierced through 
Maggie like a sword; there was another sadness besides her 
own, and she had been thinking of turning her back on it and 
forsaking it. 

This afternoon, the sight of Bob's cheerful freckled face had 
given her discontent a new direction. She thought it was 
part of the hardship of her life that there was laid upon her 
the burthen of larger wants than others seemed to feel, that 
she had to endure this wide, hopeless yearning for that some- 
thing, whatever it was, that was greatest and best on this 
earth. She wished she could have been like Bob, with his 
easily satisfied ignorance, or like Tom, who had something to 
do on which he could fix his mind with a steady purpose, and 
disregard everything else. Poor child ! as she leaned her head 
against the window-frame, with her hands clasped tighter and 
tighter, and her foot beating the ground, she was as lonely in 
her trouble as if she had been the only girl in the civilized 
world of that day who had come [out of her school-life with a 
soul untrained for inevitable struggles, with no other part of 
her inherited share in the hard- won treasures of thought which 
generations of painful toil have laid up for the race of men, 
than shreds and patches of feeble literature and false history, 
with much futile information about Saxon and other kings of 
doubtful example, but unhappily quite without that knowledge 
of the irreversible laws within and without her, which, govern- 
ing the habits, becomes morality, and developing the feelinga 
of submission and dependence, becomes religion, as lonely 
in her trouble as if every other girl besides herself had been 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 303 

cherished and watched over by elder minds, not forgetful oi 
their own early time, when need was keen and impulse strong. 
At last Maggie's eyes glanced down on the books that lay 
on the window-shelf, and she half forsook her reverie to turn 
over listlessly the leaves of the "Portrait Gallery," but she 
soon pushed this aside to examine the little row of books tied 
together with string. "Beauties of the Spectator," "Rasse- 
las," "Economy of Human Life," "Gregory's Letters," she 
knew the sort of matter that was inside all these j the " Chris- 
tian Year," that seemed to be a hymn-book, and she laid 
it down again; but Thomas a Kempis? the name had come 
across her in her reading, and she felt the satisfaction, which, 
every one knows, of getting some ideas to attach to a name 
that strays solitary in the memory. She took up the little, 
old, clumsy book with some curiosity; it had the corners 
turned down in many places, and some hand, now forever 
quiet, had made at certain passages strong pen-and-ink marks, 
long since browned by time. Maggie turned from leaf to leaf, 
and read where the quiet hand pointed : " Know that the love 
of thyself doth hurt thee more than anything in the world. 
... If thou seekest this or that, and wouldst be here or 
there to enjoy thy own will and pleasure, thou shalt never be 
quiet nor free from care ; for in everything somewhat will be 
wanting, and in every place there will be some that will cross 
thee. . . . Both above and below, which way soever thou dost 
turn thee, everywhere thou shalt find the Cross ; and every- 
where of necessity thou must have patience, if thou wilt have 
inward peace, and enjoy an everlasting crown. ... If thou 
desire to mount unto this height, thou must set out coura- 
geously, and lay the axe to the root, that thou mayest pluck up 
and destroy that hidden inordinate inclination to thyself, and 
unto all private and earthly good. On this sin, that a man 
inordinately loveth himself, almost all dependeth, whatsoever 
is thoroughly to be overcome; which evil being once over- 
come and subdued, there will presently ensue great peace and 
tranquillity. ... It is but little thou sufferest in comparison 
of them that have suffered so much, were so strongly tempted, 
BO grievously afflicted, so many ways tried and exercised. 
Thou oughtest therefore to call to mind the more heavy suffer 



804 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

ings of others, that thou mayest the easier bear thy little ad- 
versities. And if they seem not little unto thee, beware lest 
thy impatience be the cause thereof. . . . Blessed are those 
ears that receive the whispers of the divine voice, and listen 
not to the whisperings of the world. Blessed are those ears 
which hearken not unto the voice which soundeth outwardly, 
but unto the Truth, which teacheth inwardly." 

A strange thrill of awe passed through Maggie while she 
read, as if she had been wakened in the night by a strain of 
solemn music, telling of beings whose souls had been astir 
while hers was in stupor. She went on from one brown mark 
to another, where the quiet hand seemed to point, hardly con- 
scious that she was reading, seeming rather to listen while a 
low voice said : 

" Why dost thou here gaze about, since this is not the place 
of thy rest? In heaven ought to be thy dwelling, and all 
earthly things are to be looked on as they forward thy journey 
thither. All things pass away, and thou together with them. 
Beware thou cleave not unto them, lest thou be entangled and 
perish. ... If a man should give all his substance, yet it is 
as nothing. And if he should do great penances, yet are they 
but little. And if he should attain to all knowledge, he is yet 
far off. And if he should be of great virtue, and very fervent 
devotion, yet is there much wanting ; to wit, one thing, which 
is most necessary for him. What is that? That having left 
all, he leave himself, and go wholly out of himself, and retain 
nothing of self-love. ... I have often said unto thee, and 
now again I say the same, Forsake thyself, resign thyself, and 
thou shalt enjoy much inward peace. . . . Then shall all vain 
imaginations, evil perturbations, and superfluous cares fly 
away ; then shall immoderate fear leave thee, and inordinate 
love shall die." 

Maggie drew a long breath and pushed her heavy hair back, 
as if to see a sudden vision more clearly. Here, then, was a 
secret of life that would enable her to renounce all other se- 
crets ; here was a sublime height to be reached without the 
help of outward things ; here was insight, and strength, and 
conquest, to be won by means entirely within her own soul, 
where a supreme Teacher was waiting to be heard. It flashed 



THE VALLEY OP HUMILIATION. 306 

through her like the suddenly apprehended solution of a prob- 
lem, that all the miseries of her young life had come from 
fixing her heart on her own pleasure, as if that were the cen- 
tral necessity of the universe ; and for the first time she saw 
the possibility of shifting the position from which she looked 
at the gratification of her own desires, of taking her stand 
'out of herself, and looking at her own life as an insignificant 
part of a divinely guided whole. She read on and on in the 
old book, devouring eagerly the dialogues with the invisible 
Teacher, the pattern of sorrow, the source of all strength j re- 
turning to it after she had been called away, and reading till 
the sun went down behind the willows. With all the hurry 
of an imagination that could never rest in the present, she sat 
in the deepening twilight forming plans of self-humiliation 
and entire devotedness ; and in the ardor of first discovery, re- 
nunciation seemed to her the entrance into that satisfaction 
which she had so long been craving in vain. She had not 
perceived how could she until she had lived longer? the in- 
most truth of the old monk's outpourings, that renunciation 
remains sorrow, though a sorrow borne willingly. Maggie was 
still panting for happiness, and was in ecstasy because she had 
found the key to it. She knew nothing of doctrines and sys- 
tems, of mysticism or quietism ; but this voice out of the far- 
off middle ages was the direct communication of a human soul's 
belief and experience, and came to Maggie as an unquestioned 
message. 

I suppose that is the reason why the small old-fashioned 
book, for which you need only pay sixpence at a book-stall, 
works miracles to this day, turning bitter waters into sweet- 
ness ; while expensive sermons and treatises, newly issued, 
leave all things as they were before. It was written down by 
a hand that waited for the heart's prompting; it is the chron- 
icle of a solitary, hidden anguish, struggle, trust, and triumph, 
not written on velvet cushions to teach endurance to those who 
are treading with bleeding feet on the stones. And so it re- 
mains to all time a lasting record of human needs and human 
consolations ; the voice of a brother who, ages ago, felt and 
suffered and renounced, in the cloister, perhaps, with serge 
gown and tonsured head, with tnugh chanting and long fasts, 
20 



BOO THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

and with a fashion of speech different from ours, but undo* 
the same silent far-off heavens, and with the same passionate 
desires, the same strivings, the same failures, the same weari- 
ness. 

In writing the history of unfashionable families, one is apt 
to fall into a tone of emphasis which is very far from being 
the tone of good society, where principles and beliefs are 
not only of an extremely moderate kind, but are always pre- 
supposed, no subjects being eligible but such as can be touched 
with a light and graceful irony. But then good society has 
its claret and its velvet carpets, its dinner-engagements six 
weeks deep, its opera and its fae'ry ball-rooms ; rides off its 
ennui on thoroughbred horses ; lounges at the club j has to 
keep clear of crinoline vortices; gets its science done by Fara- 
day, and its religion by the superior clergy who are to be met 
in the best houses, how should it have time or need for belief 
and emphasis? But good society, floated on gossamer wings 
of light irony, is of very expensive production; requiring 
nothing less than a wide and arduous national life condensed 
in unfragrant deafening factories, cramping itself in mines, 
sweating at furnaces, grinding, hammering, weaving under 
more or less oppression of carbonic acid, or else, spread over 
sheep walks, and scattered in lonely houses and huts on the 
clayey or chalky corn-lands, where the rainy days look dreary. 
This wide national life is based entirely on emphasis, the 
emphasis of want, which urges it into all the activities neces- 
sary for the maintenance of good society and light irony ; it 
spends its heavy years often in a chill, uncarpeted fashion,, 
amidst family discord unsoftened by long corridors. Under 
such circumstances, there are many among its myriads of souls 
who have absolutely needed an emphatic belief, life in this 
unpleasurable shape demanding some solution even to uuspecu- 
lative minds, just as you inquire into the stuffing of your 
couch when anything galls you there, whereas eider-down and 
perfect French springs excite no question. Some have an em- 
phatic belief in alcohol, and seek their ekstasis or outside 
standing-ground in gin ; but the rest require something that 
good society calls " enthusiasm, " something that will present 
motives in an entire absence of high prizes ; something that 



TflB VALLEY OP HUMLIATIO11. 307 

will give patience and feed human love when the limbs ache 
with weariness, and human looks are hard upon us; some- 
thing, clearly, that lies outside personal desires, that includes 
resignation for ourselves and active love for what is not our- 
selves. Now and then that sort of enthusiasm finds a far- 
echoing voice that comes from an experience springing out of 
the deepest need ; aud it was by being brought within the long 
lingering vibrations of such a voice that Maggie, with her girl's 
face and unnoted sorrows, found an effort and a hope that helped 
her through years of loneliness, making out a faith for herself 
without the aid of established authorities and appointed 
guides ; for they were not at hand, and her need was pressing. 
From what you know of her, you will not be surprised that she 
threw some exaggeration and wilfulness, some pride and im- 
petuosity, even into her self-renunciation; her own life was 
still a drama for her, in which she demanded of herself that 
her part should be played with intensity. And so it came to 
pass that she often lost the spirit of humility by being exces- 
sive in the outward act; she often strove after too high a 
flight, and came down with her poor little half -fledged wings 
dabbled in the mud. For example, she not only determined 
to work at plain sewing, that she might contribute something 
toward the fund in the tin box, but she went, in the first in- 
stance, in her zeal of self-mortification, to ask for it at a linen 
shop in St. egg's, instead of getting it in a more quiet and in- 
direct way; and could see nothing but what was entirely 
wrong and unkind, nay, persecuting, in Tom's reproof of her 
for this unnecessary act. "I don't like my sister to do such 
things," said Tom; "I'll take care that the debts are paid, 
iwithout your lowering yourself in that way." Surely there 
'was some tenderness and bravery mingled with the worldliness 
and self-assertion of that little speech ; but Maggie held it as 
dross, overlooking the grains of gold, and took Tom' s rebuke 
its one of her outward crosses. Tom was very hard to her, she 
used to think, in her long night-watchings, to her who had 
always loved him so ; and then she strove to be contented with 
that hardness, and to require nothing. That is the path we 
all like when we set out on our abandonment of egoism, the 
path of martyrdom and endurance, where the palin-branchw 



308 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

grow, rather titan the steep highway of tolerance, just allow 
auce, and self 'blame, where there are no leafy honors to ba 
gathered and worn. 

The old books, Virgil, Euclid, and Aldrich that wrinkled 
fruit of the tree of knowledge had been all laid by ; for Mag- 
gie had turned her back on the vain ambition to share the 
thoughts of the wise. In her first ardor she flung away the, 
books with a sort of triumph that she had risen above the need 
of them ; and if they had been her own, she would have burned' 
them, believing that she would never repent. She read bo 
eagerly and constantly in her three books, the Bible, Thomas 
a Kempis, and the " Christian Year " (no longer rejected as a 
"hymn-book"), that they filled her mind with a continual 
stream of rhythmic memories ; and she was too ardently learn- 
ing to see all nature and life in the light of her new faith, to 
need any other material for her mind to work on, as she sat 
with her well-plied needle, making shirts and other compli- 
cated stitchings, falsely called " plain," by no means plain to 
Maggie, since wristband and sleeve and the like had a capabil- 
ity of being sewed in wrong side outward in moments of men- 
tal wandering. 

Hanging diligently over her sewing, Maggie was a sight 
any one might have been pleased to look at. That new inward 
life of hers, notwithstanding some volcanic upheavings of im- 
prisoned passions, yet shone out in her face with a tender soft 
light that mingled itself as added loveliness with the gradually 
enriched color and outline of her blossoming youth. Her 
mother felt the change in her with a sort of puzzled wonder 
that Maggie should be "growing up so good " ; it was amazing 
that this once " contrairy " child was become so submissive, so 
backward to assert her own will. Maggie used to look up 
from her work and find her mother's eyes fixed upon her; they 
were watching and waiting for the large young glance, as ii 
her elder frame got some needful warmth from it. Tha 
mother was getting fond of her tall, brown girl, the only bit 
of furniture now on which she could bestow her anxiety and 
pride ; and Maggie, in spite of her own ascetic wish to have 
DO personal adornment, was obliged to give way to her mothej 
about her hair, and submit to have the abundant black lock* 



THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION. 309 

plaited into a coronet on the summit of her head, after the 
pitiable fashion of those antiquated times. 

" Let your mother have that bit o' pleasure, my dear," said 
Mrs. Tulliver j " I'd trouble enough with your hair once." 

So Maggie, glad of anything that would soothe her mother, 
and cheer their long day together, consented to the vain deco- 
ration, and showed a queenly head above her old frocks, stead- 
ily refusing, however, to look at herself in the glass. Mrs. 
Tulliver liked to call the father's attention to Maggie's hair 
and other unexpected virtues, but he had a brusk reply to 
give. 

" I knew well enough what she'd be, before now, it's noth- 
ing new to me. But it's a pity she isn't made o* commoner 
stuff; she'll be thrown away, I doubt, there'll be nobody to 
marry her as is fit for her." 

And Maggie's graces of mind and body fed his gloom. He 
sat patiently enough while she read him a chapter, or said 
something timidly when they were alone together about trou- 
ble being turned into a blessing. He took it all as part of his 
daughter's goodness, which madeliis misfortunes the sadder 
to him because they damaged her chance in life. In a mind 
charged with an eager purpose and an unsatisfied vindictive- 
ness, there is no room for new feelings; Mr. Tulliver did not 
want spiritual consolation he wanted to shake off the degra- 
dation of debt, and to have his revenge. 



BOOK V.-WHEAT AND TARES 
CHAPTEE L 

XK THE BED DEEPS. 

THB tamily sitting-room was a long room with a window at 
each end; one looking toward the croft and along tl?<* Kipple 
to the banks of the Floss, the other into the mill-yard, Mag- 
gie was sitting with her work against the latter window when 
she saw Mr. Wakem entering the yard, as usual, on his fine 
black horse; but not alone, as usual. Some one vas with 
him, a figure in a cloak, on a handsome pony. Maggie had 
hardly time to feel that it was Philip come back, befo'Q they 
were in front of the window, and he was raising his hat to 
her; while his father, catching the movement by a side-glance, 
looked sharply round at them both. 

Maggie hurried away from the window and carried her work 
upstairs j for Mr. Wakem sometimes came in and inspected 
the books, and Maggie felt that the meeting with Philip would 
be robbed of all pleasure in the presence of the two fathers. 
Some day, perhaps, she could see him when they could just 
shake hands, and she could tell him that she remembered bis 
goodness to Tom, and the things he had said to her i the o?4 
days, though they could never be friends any more. It was 
not at all agitating to Maggie to see Philip again ; she retained 
her childish gratitude and pity toward him, and remembered 
his cleverness ; and in the early weeks of her loneliness she 
had continually recalled the image of him among the people 
who had been kind to her in life, often wishing she had him 
for a brother and a teacher, as they had fancied it might have 
been, in their talk together. But that sort of wishing had 
been banished along with other dreams that savored of seeking 



WHEAT AND TARES, 311 

her own will; and she thought, besides, that Philip might be 
altered by his life abroad, he might have become worldly, 
and really not care about her saying anything to him now. 
And yet his face was wonderfully little altered, it was only 
a larger, more inanly copy of the pale, email-featured boy's 
face, with the gray eyes, and the boyish waving brown hairj 
there was the old deformity to awaken the old pity ; and after 
all her meditations, Maggie felt that she really should like to 
eay a few words to him. He might still be melancholy, as he 
always used to be, and like her to look at him kindly. She 
wondered if he remembered how he used to like her eyesj 
with that thought Maggie glanced toward the square looking- 
glass which was condemned to hang with its face toward the 
wall, and she half started from her seat to reach it down; but 
she checked herself and snatched up her work, trying to re- 
press the rising wishes by forcing her memory to recall 
snatches of hymns, until she saw Philip and his father return, 
ing along the road, and she could go down again. 

It was far on in June now, and Maggie was inclined to 
lengthen the daily walk which was her one indulgence ; but this 
day and the following she was so busy with work which must 
be finished that she never went beyond the gate, and satisfied 
her need of the open air by sitting out of doors. One of her 
frequent walks, when she was not obliged to go to St. Ogg's, 
was to a spot that lay beyond what was called the "Hill," 
an insignificant rise of ground crowned by trees, lying along 
the side of the road which ran by the gates of Dorlcote Mill. 
Insignificant I call it, because in height it was hardly more 
than a bank; but there may come moments when Nature 
makes a mere bank a means toward a fateful result ; and that 
is why I ask you to imagine this high bank crowned with 
trees, making an uneven wall for some quarter of a mile along 
the left side of Dorlcote Mill and the pleasant fields behind it, 
bounded by the murmuring Ripple. Just where this line of 
bank sloped down again to the level, a by-road turned off and 
led to the other side of the rise, where it was broken into very 
capricious hollows and mounds by the working of an exhausted 
dtone-quarry, so long exhausted that both mounds and hollows 
were now clothed with brambles and trees, and here and there 



312 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

by a stretch of grass which a few sheep kept close-nibbled. In 
her childish days Maggie held this place, called the Bed 
Deeps, in very great awe, and needed all her confidence in 
Tom's bravery to reconcile her to an excursion thither, vis- 
ions of robbers and fierce animals haunting every hollow. But 
now it had the charm for her which any broken ground, any 
mimic rock and ravine, have for the eyes that rest habitually 
ton the level j especially in summer, when she could sit on & 
grassy hollow under the shadow of a branching ash, stooping 
aslant from the steep above her, and listen to the hum of in- 
sects, like tiniest bells on the garment of Silence, or see the 
sunlight piercing the distant boughs, as if to chase and drive 
home the truant heavenly blue of the wild hyacinths. In this 
June time, too, the dog-roses were in their glory, and that was 
an additional reason why Maggie should direct her walk to the 
Eed Deeps, rather than to any other spot, on the first day she 
was free to wander at her will, a pleasure she loved so well, 
that sometimes, in her ardors of renunciation, she thought she 
ought to deny herself the frequent indulgence in it. 

You may see her now, as she walks down the favorite turn- 
ing and enters the Deeps by a narrow path through a group 
of Scotch firs, her tall figure and old lavender gown visible 
through an hereditary black silk shawl of some wide-meshed 
net-like material; and now she is sure of being unseen she 
takes off her bonnet and ties it over her arm. One would cer- 
tainly suppose her to be farther on in life than her seventeenth 
year perhaps because of the slow resigned sadness of the 
glance from which all search and unrest seem to have departed; 
perhaps because her broad-chested figure has the mould of 
early womanhood. Youth and health have withstood well the 
involuntary and voluntary hardships of her lot, and the nights 
in which she has lain on the hard floor for a penance have left 
no obvious trace ; the eyes are liquid, the brown cheek is firm 
and round, the full lips are red. With her dark coloring and 
jet crown surmounting her tall figure, she seems to have a sort 
of kinship with the grand Scotch firs, at which she is looking 
up as if she loved them well. Yet one has a sense of uneasi- 
ness in looking at her, a sense of opposing elements, of which 
a fierce collision is imminent; surely there is a hushed expres- 



WHEAT AND TAKBSL 313 

sion, such as one often sees in older faces under borderless 
caps, out of keeping with the resistant youth, which one ex- 
pects to flash out in a sudden, passionate glance, that will dis- 
sipate all the quietude, like a damp fire leaping out again when 
all seemed safe. 

But Maggie herself was not uneasy at this moment. She 
was calmly enjoying the free air, while she looked up at the 
old fir-trees, and thought that those broken ends of branches 
were the records of past storms, which had only made the red 
stems soar higher. But while her eyes were still turned up- 
ward, she became conscious of a moving shadow cast by the 
evening sun on the grassy path before her, and looked down 
with a startled gesture to see Philip Wakem, who first raised 
his hat, and then, blushing deeply, came forward to her and 
put out his hand. Maggie, too, colored with surprise, which 
soon gave way to pleasure. She put out her hand and looked 
down at the deformed figure before her with frank eyes, filled 
for the moment with nothing but the memory of her child's 
feelings, a memory that was always strong in her. She was 
the first to speak. 

" You startled me, " she said, smiling faintly ; " I never meet 
any one here. How came you to be walking here? Did you 
come to meet me ? " 

It was impossible not to perceive that Maggie felt herself a 
child again. 

" Yes, I did, " said Philip, still embarrassed ; " I wished to 
see you very much. I watched a long while yesterday on the 
bank near your house to see if you would come out, but you 
never came. Then I watched again to-day, and when I saw the 
way you took, I kept you in sight and came down the bank, 
behind there. I hope you will not be displeased with me." 

" No, " said Maggie, with simple seriousness, walking on as 
if she meant Philip to accompany her, " I'm very glad you 
came, for I wished very much to have an opportunity of speak- 
ing to you. I've never forgotten how good you were long ago 
to Tom, and me too; but I was not sure that you would re- 
member us so well. Tom and I have had a great deal of 
trouble since then, and I think tit at makes one think more of 
what happened before the trouble came." 



314 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" I can't believe that you have thought of me so much as 1 
have thought of you, " said Philip, timidly. " Do you know, 
when I was away, I made a picture of you as you looked that 
morning in the study -when you said you would not forget me." 

Philip drew a large miniature-case from his pocket, and 
opened it. Maggie saw her old self leaning on a table, with 
her black locks hanging down behind her ears, looking into 
.space with strange, dreamy eyes. It was a water-color sketch, 
of real merit as a portrait. 

" Oh dear," said Maggie, smiling, and flushed with pleasure, 
" what a queer little girl I was ! I remember myself with my 
hair in that way, in that pink frock. I really was like a gypsy. 
I dare say I am. now, " she added, after a little pause ; " am 1 
like what you expected me to be? " 

The words might have been those of a coquette, but the full, 
bright glance Maggie turned on Philip was not that of a co- 
quette. She really did hope he liked her face as it was now, 
but it was simply the rising again of her innate delight in ad- 
miration and love. Philip met her eyes and looked at her in 
silence for a long moment, before he said quietly, "No, Mag 
gie." 

The light died out a little from Maggie's face, and there 
was a slight trembling of the lip. Her eyelids fell lower, but 
she did not turn away her head, and Philip continued to look 
at her. Then he said slowly : 

" You are very much more beautiful than I thought you 
would be." 

"Am I?" said Maggie, the pleasure returning in a deeper 
flush. She turned her face away from him and took some 
steps, looking straight before her in silence, as if she were 
adjusting her consciousness to this new idea. Girls are so ac- 
customed to think of dress as the main ground of vanity, that, 
in abstaining from the looking-glass, Maggie had thought more 
of abandoning all care for adornment than of renouncing the 
contemplation of her face. Comparing herself with elegant, 
wealthy young ladies, it had not occurred to her that she could 
produce any effect with her person. Philip seemed to like the 
silence well. He walked by her side, watching her face, as if 
that sight left no room for any other wish. They had passed 



WHEAT AND TARES. Slfl 

from among the fir-trees, and had now come to a green hollo* 
almost surrounded by an amphitheatre of the pale pink dog- 
roses. But as the light about them had brightened, Maggie's 
face had lost its glow. She stood still when they were in the 
hollows, and looking at Philip again, she said in a serious, sad 
voice : 

" I wish we could have been friends, I mean, if it would 
have been good and right for us. But that is the trial I have 
to bear in everything ; I may not keep anything I used to love 
when I was little. The old books went; and Tom is different, 
and my father. It is like death. I must part with every- 
thing I cared for when I was a child. And I must part with 
you; we must never take any notice of each other again. 
That was what I wanted to speak to you for. I wanted to 
let you know that Tom and I can't do as we like about 
euch things, and that if I behave as if I had forgotten all 
about you, it is not out of envy or pride or or any bad 
feeling. " 

Maggie spoke with more and more sorrowful gentleness as 
she went on, and her eyes began to fill with tears. The deep- 
ening expression of pain on Philip's face gave him a stronger 
resemblance to his boyish self, and made the deformity appeal 
more strongly to her pity. 

" I know; I see all that you mean," he said, in a voice that 
had become feebler from discouragement ; " I know what there 
is to keep us apart on both sides. But it is not right, Maggie, 
don't you be angry with me, I am so used to call you Mag- 
gie in my thoughts, it is not right to sacrifice everything to 
other people's unreasonable feelings. I would give up a great 
deal for my father ; but I would not give up a friendship or 
or an attachment of any sort, in obedience to any wish of his 
that I didn't recognize as right." 

"I don't know," said Maggie, musingly. "Often, when I 
have been angry and discontented, it has seemed to me that I 
was not bound to give up anything ; and I have gone on think- 
ing till it has seemed to me that I could think away all my 
duty. But no good has ever come of that; it was an evil 
state of mind. I'm quite sure that whatever I might do, I 
should wish in the end that I had gone without anything for 



316 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

myself, rather than have made my father's life harder t* 
him." 

" But would it make his life harder if we were to see each 
other sometimes? " said Philip. He was going to say some- 
thing else, but checked himself. 

" Oh, I'm sure he wouldn't like it. Don't ask me why, or 
anything about it, " said Maggie, in a distressed tone. " My 
father feels so strongly about some things. He is not at all 
happy." 

" No more am I, " said Philip, impetuously ; " I am not 
happy." 

"Why?" said Maggie, gently. "At least I ought not to 
ask but I'm very, very sorry." 

Philip turned to walk on, as if he had not patience to stand 
still any longer, and they went out of the hollow, winding 
amongst the trees and bushes in silence. After that last word 
of Philip's, Maggie could not bear to insist immediately on 
their parting. 

"I've been a great deal happier," she said at last, timidly, 
" since I have given up thinking about what is easy and 
pleasant, and being discontented because I couldn't have 
my own will. Our life is determined for us ; and it makes 
the mind very free when we give up wishing, and only think 
of bearing what is laid upon us, and doing what is given us 
to do." 

"But I can't give up wishing," said Philip, impatiently. 
" It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing 
while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we 
feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them. 
How can we ever be satisfied without them until our feelings 
are deadened? I delight in fine pictures; I long to be able to 
paint such. I strive and strive, and cap't produce what I 
want. That is pain to me, and always u-ill be pain, until my 
faculties lose their keenness, like aged eyes. Then there are 
many other things I long for, " here Philip hesitated a little, 
and then said, "things that other men have, and that will 
always be denied me. My life will have nothing great or 
beautiful in it ; I would rather not have lived. " 

"Oh, Philip," said Maggie, "I wish you didn't feel so." 



WHEAT AND TARES. 317 

Bnt her heart began to beat with something of Philip's discon* 
tent. 

" Well, then, " said he, turning quickly round and fixing his 
gray eyes entreatingly on her face, " I should be contented to 
live, if you would let me see you sometimes." Then, checked 
by a fear which her face suggested, he looked away again and 
said more calmly, " I have no friend to whom I can tell every- 
thing, no one who cares enough about me ; and if I could only 
see you now and then, and you would let me talk to you a lit 
tie, and show me that you cared for me, and that we may al- 
ways be friends in heart, and help each other, then I might 
come to be glad of life." 

" But how can I see you, Philip? n said Maggie, falteringly. 
(Could she really do him good? It would be very hard to say 
" good-by " this day, and not speak to him again. Here was 
a new interest to vary the days ; it was so much easier to re- 
nounce the interest before it came.) 

"If you would let me see you here sometimes, walk with 
you here, I would be contented if it were only once or twice 
in a month. That could injure no one's happiness, and it 
would sweeten my life. Besides," Philip went on, with all 
the inventive astuteness of love at one-and-twenty, " if there 
is any enmity between those who belong to us, we ought all 
the more to try and quench it by our friendship ; I mean, that 
by our influence on both sides we might bring about a healing 
of the wounds that have been made in the past, if I could 
know everything about them. And I don't believe there is 
any enmity in my own father's mind ; I think he has proved 
the contrary." 

Maggie shook her head slowly, and was silent, under eon* 
flicting thoughts. It seemed to her inclination, that to see 
Philip now and then, and keep up the bond of friendship with 
him, was something not only innocent, but good; perhaps she 
might really help him to find contentment as she had found it 
The voice that said this made sweet music to Maggie; but 
athwart it there came an urgent, monotonous warning from an- 
other voice which she had been learning to obey, the warning 
that such interviews implied secrecy ; implied doing something 
ahe would dread to be discovered in, something that if discov- 



518 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

ered, must cause anger and pain; and that the admission ol 
anything so near doubleness would act as a spiritual blight. 
Yet the music woud swell out again, like chimes borne onward 
by a recurrent breeze, persuading her that the wrong lay all in 
the faults and weaknesses of others, and that there was such a 
thing as futile sacrifice for one to the injury of another. It 
was very cruel for Philip that he should be shrunk from, be- 
cause of an unjustifiable vindictiveness toward his father, 
poor Philip, whom some people would shrink from only be- 
cause he was deformed. The idea that he might become her 
lover, or that her meeting him could cause disapproval in that 
light, had not occurred to her ; and Philip saw the absence ot 
this idea clearly enough, saw it with a certain pang, although 
it made her consent to his request the less unlikely. There 
was bitterness to him in the perception that Maggie was almost 
as frank and unconstrained toward him as when she was a 
child. 

" I can't say either yes or no, " she said at last, turning 
round and walking toward the way she comej "I must wait, 
lest I should decide wrongly. I must seek for guidance." 

" May I come again, then, to-morrow, or the next day, o* 
next week?" 

"I think I had better write," said Maggie, faltering again. 
" I have to go to St. Ogg's sometimes, and I can put the letter 
in the post." 

"Oh no," said Philip, eagerly; "that would not be so 
well. My father might see the letter and he has not 
any enmity, I believe, but h& views things differently from 
me j he thinks a great deal about wealth and position. Pray 
let me come here once more. Tell me when it shall be; or 
if you can't tell me, I will come as often as I can till I do 
see you." 

" I think it must be so, then, " said Maggie, " for I can't be 
quite certain of coming here any particular evening." 

Maggie felt a great relief in adjourning the decision. She 
was free now to enjoy the minutes of companionship; she 
almost thought she might linger a little ; the next time they 
met she should have to pain Philip by telling him hw deter- 
mination, 



WHEAT AND TARES. 319 

*I can't help thinking, " she said, looking smilingly at Mm, 
After a few moments of silence, " how strange it is that we 
should have met and talked to each other, just as if it had 
been only yesterday when we parted at Lorton. And yet we 
must both be very much altered in those five years, I think 
it is five years. How was it you seemed to have a sort of feel- 
ing that I was the same Maggie? I was not quite so sure that 
you would be the same j I know you are so clever, and you 
must have seen and learnt so much to fill your mind ; I was not 
quite sure you would care about me now." 

" I have never had any doubt that you would be the same, 
whenever I might see you," said Philip, "I mean, the same 
in everything that made me like you better than any one else. 
I don't want to explain that; I don't think any of the strong- 
est effects our natures are susceptible of can ever be explained. 
We can neither detect the process by which they are arrived 
at, nor the mode in which they act on us. The greatest of 
painters only once painted a mysteriously divine child; he 
couldn't have told how he did it, and we can't tell why we 
feel it to be divine. I think there are stores laid up in our 
human nature that our understandings can make no complete 
inventory of. Certain strains of music affect me so strangely ^ 
I can never hear them without their changing my whole atti- 
tude of mind for a time, and if the effect vould last, I might 
be capable of heroisms." 

"Ah! I know what you mean about music; /feel so," said 
Maggie, clasping her hands with her old impetuosity. " At 
^east, " she added, in a saddened tone, " I used to feel so when 
I had any music ; I never have any now except the organ at 
church." 

" And you long for it, Maggie? n said Philip, looking at her 
with affectionate pity. " Ah, you can have very little that is 
beautiful in your life. Have you many books? You were so 
fond of them when you were a little girl. " 

They were come back to the hollow, round which the dog- 
roses grew, and they both paused under the charm of the fae'ry 
evening light, reflected from the pale pink clusters. 

" Xo, I have given up books," said Maggie, qu ; et^ " except 
ft vwjr, very few," 



320 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Philip had already taken from hia pocket a small volume, 
and was looking at the back as he said : 

u Ah, this is the second volume, I see, else you might have 
liked to take it home with you. I put it in my pocket because 
I am studying a scene for a picture." 

Maggie had looked at the back too, and saw the title ; it 
revived an old impression with overmastering force. 

" ' The Pirate,' " she said, taking the book from Philip's 
hands. "Oh, I began that once; I read to where Minna is 
walking with Cleveland, and I could never get to read the rest. 
I went on with it in my own head, and I made several endings; 
but they were all unhappy. I could never make a happy end- 
ing out of that beginning. Poor Minna! I wonder what is 
the real end. For a long while I couldn't get my mind away 
from the Shetland Isles, I used to feel the wind blowing on 
me from the rough sea." 

Maggie spoke rapidly, with glistening eyes. 

"Take that volume home with you, Maggie," said Philip, 
watching her with delight. " I don't want it now. I shall 
make a picture of you instead, you, among the Scotch firs 
and the slanting shadows." 

Maggie had not heard a word he had said ; she was absorbed 
in a page at which she had opened. But suddenly she closed 
the book, and gave it back to Philip, shaking her head with a 
backward movement, as if to say " avaunt " to floating visions. 

"Do keep it, Maggie," said Philip, entreatingly j "it will 
give you pleasure." 

"No, thank you," said Maggie, putting it aside with her 
hand and walking on. " It would make me in love with this 
world again, as I used to be ; it would make me long to see 
and know many things ; it would make me long for a full life. " 

" But you will not always be shut up in your present lot ; 
why should you starve your mind in that way? It is narrow 
asceticism; I don't like to see you persisting in it, Maggie. 
Poetry and art and knowledge are sacred and pure. " 

" But not for me, not for me, " said Maggie, walking more 
hurriedly; "because I should want too much. I must wait; 
this life will not last long. " 

"Don't hurry away frsm me without saying ' 



WHEAT AND TARES. 321 

Maggie," said Philip, as they reached the group of Scotch firs, 
and she continued still to walk along without speaking. " I 
must not go any farther, I think, must I?" 

"Oh no, I forgot; good-by," said Maggie, pausing, and 
putting out her hand to him. The action brought her feeling 
back in a strong current to Philip ; and after they had stood 
looking at each other in silence for a few moments, with their 
hands clasped, she said, withdrawing her hand : 

" I'm very grateful to you for thinking of me all those years. 
It is very sweet to have people love us. What a wonderful, 
beautiful thing it seems that God should have made your heart 
so that you could care about a queer little girl whom you only 
knew for a few weeks ! I remember saying to you that I 
thought you cared for me more that Tom did." 

"Ah, Maggie," said Philip, almost fretfully, "you would 
never love me so well as you love your brother. n 

" Perhaps not, " said Maggie, simply ; " but then, you know, 
the first think I ever remember in my life is standing with 
Tom by the side of the Floss, while he held my hand; every- 
thing before that is dark to me. But I shall never forget you, 
though we must keep apart." 

. "Don't say so, Maggie," said Philip. "If I kept that lit- 
tle girl in my mind for five years, didn't I earn some part in 
her? She ought not to take herself quite away from me." 

"Not if I were free," said Maggie; "but I am not, I must 
submit. " She hesitated a moment, and then added, "And I 
wanted to say to you, that you had better not take more notice 
of my brother than just bowing to him. He once told me not 
to speak to you again, and he doesn't change his mind Oh 
dear, the sun is set. I am too long away. Good-by." She 
gave him her hand once more. 

"I shall come here as often as I can till I see you again, 
Maggie. Have some feeling for me as well as for others." 

"Yes, yes, I have," said Maggie, hurrying away, and 
quickly disappearing behind the last fir-tree ; though Philip'3 
gaze after her remained immovable for minutes as if he saw 
her still. 

Maggie went home, with an inward conflict already begun j 
Philip went home to do nothing but remember an4 tope. 
31 



322 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

You can hardly help blaming him severely. He was four on 
five years older than Maggie, and had a full consciousness of hia 
feeling toward her to aid him in foreseeing the character his 
contemplated interviews with her would bear in the opinion of 
a third person. But you must not suppose that he was capable 
of a gross selfishness, or that he could have been satisfied with- 
out persuading himself that he was seeking to infuse some 
happiness into Maggie's life, seeking this even more than any 
direct ends for himself. He could give her sympathy; he 
could give her help. There was not the slightest promise of 
love toward him in her manner ; it was nothing more than the 
sweet girlish tenderness she had shown him when she was 
twelve. Perhaps she would never love him ; perhaps no wo- 
man ever could love him. Well, then, he would endure that; 
he should at least have the happiness of seeing her, of feeling 
some nearness to her. And he clutched passionately the pos- 
sibility that she might love him; perhaps the feeling would 
grow, if she could come to associate him with that watchful 
tenderness which her nature would be so keenly alive to. If 
any woman could love him, surely Maggie was that woman ; 
there was such wealth of love in her, and there was no one to 
claim it all. Then, the pity of it, that a mind like hers should 
be withering in its very youth, like a young forest-tree, for 
want of the light and space it was formed to flourish in! 
Could he not hinder that, by persuading her out of her system 
of privation? He would be her guardian angel j he would do 
anything, bear anything, for her sake except not seeing her. 



CHAPTEB IL 

AUNT GLEGO LEABNS THE BREADTH OP BOB*S THUMB. 

WHILE Maggie's life-struggles had lain almost entirely 
within her own soul, one shadowy army fighting another, and 
the slain shadows forever rising again, Tom was engaged in a 
dustier, noisier warfare, grappling with more substantial ob- 
stacles, and gaining more defiaite conquests. So it i& beep 



WHEAT AND TARES. 323 

since the days of Hecuba, and of Hector, Tamer of horses; in 
side the gates, the women with streaming hair and uplifted 
hands offering prayers, watching the world's combat from afar, 
filling their long, empty days with memories and fears j out- 
side, the men, in fierce struggle with things divine and human, 
quenching memory in the stronger light of purpose, losing the 
sense of dread and even of wounds in the hurrying ardor of 
action. 

From what you have seen of Tom, I think he is not a youth 
of whom you would prophesy failure in anything he had thor- 
oughly wished; the wagers are likely to be on his side, not- 
withstanding his small success in the classics. For Tom had 
never desired success in this field of enterprise ; and for get- 
ting a fine flourishing growth of stupidity there is nothing like 
pouring out on a mind a good amount of subjects in which it 
feels no interest. But now Tom's strong will bound together 
hia integrity, his pride, his family regrets, and his personal 
ambition, and made them one force, concentrating his efforts 
and surmounting discouragements. His uncle Deane, who 
watched him closely, soon began to conceive hopes of him, and 
to be rather proud that he had brought into the employment of 
the firm a nephew who appeared to be made of such good com- 
mercial stuff. The real kindness of placing him in the ware- 
house first was soon evident to Tom, in the hints his uncle 
began to throw out, that after a time he might perhaps be 
trusted to travel at certain seasons, and buy in for the firm 
various vulgar commodities with which I need not shock re- 
fined ears in this place ; and it was doubtless with a view to 
this result that Mr. Deane, when he expected to take his wine 
alone, would tell Tom to step in and sit with him an hour, and 
would pass that hour in much lecturing and catechising con- 
cerning articles of export and import, with an occasional ex- 
cursus of more indirect utility on the relative advantages to 
the merchants of St. Ogg's of having goods brought in their 
own and in foreign bottoms, a subject on which Mr. Deane, 
as a ship-owner, naturally threw off a few sparks when he got 
warmed with talk and wine. Already, in the second year, 
Tom's salary was raised ; but all, except the price of his din- 
ner and clothes, went home into the tin box ; and he shunned 



824 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

comradeship, lest it should lead him into expenses in spite of 
himself. Not that Tom was moulded on the spoony type of 
the Industrious Apprentice; he had a very strong appetite 
for pleasure, "would have liked to be a Tamer of horses and 
to make a distinguished figure in all neighboring eyes, dis 
pensing treats and benefits to others with well-judged liberal- 
ity, and being pronounced one of the finest young fellows of 
those parts ; naj', he determined to achieve these things soonei 
or later ; but his practical shrewdness told him that the means 
to such achievements could only lie for him in present absti- 
nence and self-denial} there were certain milestones to be 
passed, and one of the first was the payment of his father's 
debts. Having made up his mind on that point, he strode 
along without swerving, contracting some rather saturnine 
sternness, as a young man is likely to do who has a premature 
call upon him for self-reliance. Tom felt intensely that com- 
mon cause with his father which springs from family pride, 
and was bent on being irreproachable as a son ; but his grow- 
ing experience caused him to pass much silent criticism on the 
rashness and imprudence of his father's past conduct; theif 
dispositions were not in sympathy, and Tom's face showed lit- 
tle radiance during his few home hours. Maggie had an awe 
of him, against which she struggled as something unfair to 
her consciousness of wider thoughts and deeper motives ; but 
it was of no use to struggle. A character at unity with itself 
that performs what it intends, subdues every counteracting 
impulse, and has no visions beyond the distinctly possible ia 
strong by its very negations. 

You may imagine that Tom's more and more obvious unlike- 
ness to his father was well fitted to conciliate the matemaf 
aunts and uncles; and Mr. Deane's favorable reports and pre- 
dictions to Mr. Glegg concerning Tom's qualifications for busi- 
ness began to be discussed amongst them with various accept- 
ance. He was likely, it appeared, to do the family credit 
without causing it any expense and trouble. Mrs. Pullet had 
always thought it strange if Tom's excellent complexion, so 
entirely that of the Dodsons, did not argue a certainty that he 
would turn out well ; his juvenile errors of running down the 
peacock, and general disrespect to his aunts, only indicating a 



WHEAT AND T.\RE8. 325 

tinge of Tulliver blood which he had doubtless outgrown. Mr. 
Glegg, who had contracted a cautious liking for Tom ever since 
his spirited and sensible behavior when the execution was in 
the house, was now warming into a resolution to further his 
prospects actively, some time, when an opportunity offered 
of doing so La a prudent manner, without ultimate loss ; but 
Mrs. Glegg observed that she was not given to speak without 
book, as some people were; that those who said least were 
most likely to find their words made good; and that when the 
right moment came, it would be seen who could do something 
better than talk. Uncle Pullet, after silent meditation for a 
period of several lozenges, came distinctly to the conclusion, 
that when a young man was likely to do well, it was better 
not to meddle with him. 

Tom, meanwhile, had shown no disposition to rely on any 
one but himself, though, with a natural sensitiveness toward 
all indications of favorable opinion, he was glad to see his 
uncle Glegg look in on him sometim&s in a friendly way dur- 
ing business hours, and glad to be iiivited to dine at his house, 
though he usually preferred declining on the ground that he 
was not sure of being punctual. But about a year ago, some- 
thing had occurred which induced Tom to test his uncle Glegg's 
friendly disposition. 

Bob Jakin, who rarely returned from one of his rounds 
without seeing Tom and Maggie, awaited him on the bridge as 
he was coming home from St. Ogg's one evening, that they 
might have a little private talk. He took the liberty of ask- 
ing if Mr. Tom had ever thought of making money by trading 
a bit on his own account. Trading, how? Tom wished to 
know. Why, by sending out a bit of a cargo to foreign ports ; 
because Bob had a particular friend who had offered to do a 
little business for him in that way in Laceham goods, and 
would be glad to serve Mr. Tom on the same footing. Tom 
was interested at once, and begged for full explanation, won- 
dering he had not thought of this plan before. He was so 
well pleased with the prospect of a speculation that might 
change the slow process of addition into multiplication, that 
he at once determined to mention the matter to his father, and 
get his consent to appropriate some of the savings in the tia 



826 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

box to the purchase of a small cargo. He would rather not 
have consulted his father, but he had just paid his last quar- 
ter's money into the tin box, and there was no other resource. 
All the savings were there ; for Mr. Tulliver would not con- 
sent to put the money out at interest lest he should lose it. 
Since he had speculated in the purchase of some corn, and had 
lost by it, he could not be easy without keeping the money 
under his eye. 

Tom approached the subject carefully, as he was seated on 
the hearth with his father that evening, and Mr. Tulliver lis- 
tened, leaning forward in his arm-chair and looking up in 
Tom's face with a sceptical glance. His first impulse was to 
give a positive refusal, but he was in some awe of Tom's wish- 
es, and since he had had the sense of being an " unlucky n 
father, he had lost some of his old peremptoriness and deter- 
mination to be master. He took the key of the bureau from 
his pocket, got out the key of the large chest, and fetched 
down the tin box, slowly, as if he were trying to defer the 
moment of a painful parting. Then he seated himself against 
the table, and opened the box with that little padlock-key 
which he fingered in his waistcoat pocket in all vacant mo- 
ments. There they were, the dingy bank-notes and the bright 
sovereigns, and he counted them out on the table only a hun- 
dred and sixteen pounds in two years, after all the pinching. 

" How much do you want, then? " he said, speaking as if 
the words burnt his lips. 

" Suppose I begin with the thirty-six pounds, father? " said 
Tom. 

Mr. Tulliver separated this sum from the rest, and keeping 
his hand over it, said : 

"It's as much as I can save out o' my pay in a year." 

"Yes, father; it is such slow work, saving out of the little 
money we get. And in this way we might double our sav- 
ings." 

"Ay, my lad," said the father, keeping his hand on the 
money, " but you might lose it, you might lose a year o' my 
life, and I haven't got many." 

Tom vras silent. 

* And you know I wouldn't pay a dividend with the first 



WHEAT AND TARES. 327 

hundred, because I wanted to see it all in a lump, and when 
I see it, I'm sure on't. If you trust to luck, it's sure to be 
against me. It's Old Harry's got the luck in his hands; and 
if I lose one year, I shall never pick it up again; death 'ull 
o'ertake me." 

Mr. Tulliver's voice trembled, and Tom was silent for a few 
minutes before he said : 

"I'll give it up, father, since you object to it so strongly." 

But, unwilling to abandon the scheme altogether, he deter- 
mined to ask his uncle Glegg to venture twenty pounds, on '' 
condition of receiving five per cent, of the profits. That was 
really a very small thing to ask. So when Bob called the next 
day at the wharf to know the decision, Tom proposed that they 
should go together to his uncle Glegg's to open the business; 
for his diffident pride clung to him, and made him feel that 
Bobs' tongue would relieve him from some embarrassment. 

Mr. Glegg, at the pleasant hour of four in the afternoon of 
a hot August day, was naturally counting his wall-fruit to as- 
sure himself that the sum total had not varied since yesterday. 
To him entered Tom, in what appeared to Mr. Glegg very 
questionable companionship, that of a man with a pack on 
his back, for Bob was equipped for a new journey, and of 
a huge brindled bull-terrier, who walked with a slow, swaying 
movement from side to side, and glanced from under his eye- 
lids with a surly indifference which might after all be a cover 
to the most offensive designs. Mr. Glegg's spectacles, which 
had been assisting him in counting the fruit, made these sus- 
picious details alarmingly evident to him. 

" Heigh ! heigh ! keep that dog back, -will you? " he shout- 
ed, snatching up a stake and holding it before him as a shield 
when the visitors were within three yards of him. 

" Get out wi' you, Mumps," said Bob, with a kick. " He's 
as quiet as a lamb, sir," an observation which Mumps cor- 
roborated by a low growl as he retreated behind his master's 
legs. 

" Why, what ever does this mean, Tom? " said Mr. Glegg, 
" Have you brought information about the scoundrels as cut my 
trees? " If Bob came in the character of " information," Mr. 
Glegg saw reasons for tolerating some irregularity. 



328 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

"No, sir," said Tom; "I came to speak to you about a lit 

tie matter of business of my own." 

"Ay well; but what has this dog got to do with it?" said 
the old gentleman, getting mild again. 

"It's my dog, sir," said the ready Bob. "An* it's me as 
put Mr. Tom up to the bit o' business; for Mr. Tom's been a 
friend o* mine iver since I was a little chap ; fust thing iver I 
did was frightenin' the birds for th' old master. An' if a lifc 
o* luck turns up, I'm allays thinkin' if I can let Mr. Tom have 
a pull at it. An' it's a downright roarin' shame, as when he's 
got the chance o' making a bit o' money wi' sending goods out, 
ten or twelve per zent clear, when freight an' commission's 
paid, as he shouldn't lay hold o' the chance for want o' mon- 
ey. An' when there's the Laceham goods, lorst they're 
made o' purpose for folks as want to send out a little carguy ; 
light, an* take up no room, you may pack twenty pound so 
as you can't see the passill; an* they're manifacturs as please 
fools, so I reckon they aren't like to want a market. An* I'd 
go to Laceham an' buy in the goods for Mr. Tom along wi' 
my own. An' there's the shupercargo o' the bit of a vessel as 
is goin' to take 'e<n out. I know him partic'lar; he's a solid 
man, an' got a family i* the town here. Salt, his name is, 
an* a' briny chap he is too, an' if you don't believe me, I can 
take you to him." 

Uncle Glegg stood open-mouthed with astonishment at this 
unembarrassed loquacity, with which his understanding could 
'hardly keep pace. He looked at Bob, first over his spectacles, 
then through them, then over them again ; while Tom, doubt- 
ful of his uncle's impression, began to wish he had not brought 
this singular Aaron, or mouthpiece. Bob's talk appeared less 
seemly, now some one besides himself was listening to it. 

" You seem to be a knowing fellow," said Mr. Glegg, at last. 

"Ay, sir, you say true," returned Bob, nodding his head 
aside; "I think my head's all alive inside like an old cheese, 
for I'm so full o* plans, one knocks another over. If I hadn't 
Mumps to talk to, I should get top-heavy an* tumble in a fit. 
I suppose it's because I niver went to school much. That's 
what I jaw my old mother for. I says, ' You should ha 1 sent 
me to school a bit more,' I says, ' an' then I could ha* read i' 



WHEAT AND TARES. 829 

the books like fun, an* kep* my head cool an* empty.' Lora, 
she's fine an* comior'ble now, my old mother is; she ates her 
baked meat an* taters as often as she likes. For I'm gettin* 
so full o' money, I must hev a wife to spend it for me. But 
it's bothering a wife is, and Mumps mightn't like her." 

Uncle Glegg, who regarded himself as a jocose man since he 
had retired from business, was beginning to find Bob amusing, 
but he had still a disapproving observation to make, which 
kept his face serious. 

" Ah, " he said, " I should think you're at a loss for ways o' 
spending your money, else you wouldn't keep that big dog, to 
eat as much as two Christians. It's shameful shameful! " 
But he spoke more in sorrow than in anger, and quickly 
added : 

" But, come now, let's hear more about this business, Tom. 
I suppose you want a little sum to make a venture with. But 
where's all your own money? You don't spend it all eh? " 

" No, sir," said Tom, coloring; " but my father is unwilling 
to risk it, and I don't like to press him. If I could get twen- 
ty or thirty pounds to begin with, I could pay five per cent for 
it, and then I could gradually make a little capital of my own, 
and do without a loan." 

"Ay ay," said Mr. Glegg, in an approving tone; "that's 
not a bad notion, and I won't say as I wouldn't be your man. 
But it 'ull be as well for me to see this Salt, as you talk on. 
And then here's this friend o' yours offers to buy the goods 
for you. Perhaps you've got somebody to stand surety for 
you if the money's put into your hands? " added the cautious 
old gentleman, looking over his spectacles at Bob. 

"I don't think that's necessary, uncle," said Tom. "At 
least, I mean it would not be necessary for me, because I know 
Bob well ; but perhaps it would be right for you to have some 
security." 

" You get your percentage out o' the purchase, I suppose? * 
said Mr. Glegg, looking at Bob. 

"No, sir," said Bob, rather indignantly; "I didn't offer to 
^et a apple for Mr. Tom, o' purpose to hev a bite out of it my- 
rielf. When I play folks tricks, there'll be more fun in 'era 
nor that." 



330 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Well, but it's nothing but right you should have a smat 
percentage," said Mr. Glegg. "I've no opinion o' transac- 
tions where folks do things for nothing. It allays looks bad." 

" Well, then," said Bob, whose keenness saw at once whafi 
was implied, " I'll tell you what I get by't, an' it's money in 
my pocket in the end, I make myself look big, wi' makin' a 
bigger purchase. That's what I'm thinking on. Lors I I'm 
a 'cute chap, I am." 

"Mr. Glegg, Mr. Glegg! " said a severe voice from the open 
parlor window, " pray are you coming in to tea, or are you 
going to stand talking with packmen till you get murdered in 
the open daylight? " 

"Murdered?" said Mr. Glegg} "what* s the woman talk- 
ing of? Here's your nephey Tom come about a bit o' busi- 
ness." 

" Murdered, yes, it isn't many 'sizes ago since a packman 
murdered a young woman in a lone place, and stole her thim- 
ble, and threw her body into a ditch." 

"Nay, nay," said Mr. Glegg, soothingly, "you're thinking 
o' the man wi' no legs, as drove a dog-cart." 

" Well, it's the same thing, Mr. Glegg, only you're fond o' 
contradicting what I say; and if my nephey's come about 
business, it 'ud be more fitting if you'd bring him into the 
house, and let his aunt know about it, instead o' whispering 
in corners, in that plotting, underminding way." 

" Well, well," said Mr. Glegg, "we'll come in now." 

"You needn't stay here," said the lady to Bob, in a loud 
voice, adapted to the moral, not the physical, distance between 
them. " We don't want anything. I don't deal wi' packmen. 
Mind you shut the gate after you." 

" Stop a bit; not so fast," said Mr. Glegg; "I haven't done 
with this young man yet. Come in, Tom; come in," he add- 
ed, stepping in at the French window. 

"Mr. Glegg," said Mrs. G., in a fatal tone, "if you're 
going to let that man and his dog in on my carpet, before my 
very face, be so good as to let me know. A wife's got a right 
to ask that, I hope." 

"Don't you be uneasy, mum," said Bob, touching his cap. 
He saw at once that Mrs. Glegg was a bit of game worth run* 



WHEAT AOT) TARES. 333 

fcing down, and longed to be at the sport; " we'll stay out upo' 
the gravel here, Mumps and me will. Mumps knows hia com- 
pauy, he does. I might hish at him by th' hour together, 
before he'd fly at a real gentlewoman like you. It's wonder- 
ful how he knows which is the good-looking ladies ; and'spar- 
tic'lar fond of 'em when they've good shapes. Lors! " added 
Bob, laying down his pack on the gravel, " it's a thousand pit- 
ies such a lady as you shouldn't deal with a packman, i' stead 
o' goin' into these newfangled shops, where there's half-a- 
dozen fine gents wi' their chins propped up wi' a stiff stock, 
a-looking like bottles wi' ornamental stoppers, an' all got to 
get their dinner out of a bit o' calico; it Stan's to reason you 
must pay three times the price you pay a packman, as is the 
nat'ral way o' gettin' goods, an' pays no rent, an' isn't forced 
to throttle himself till the lies are squeezed out on him, wheth- 
er he will or no. But lors ! mum, }"ou know what it is better 
nor I do, you can see through them shopmen, I'll be bound." 

"Yes, I reckon I can, and through the packmen too," ob- 
served Mrs. Glegg, intending to imply that Bob's flattery had 
produced no effect on her ; while her husband, standing behind 
her with his hands in his pockets and legs apart, winked and 
smiled with conjugal delight at the probability of hia wife's 
being circumvented. 

"Ay, to be sure, mum,*' said Bob. "Why, you must ha' 
dealt wi' no end o' packmen when you war a young lass be- 
fore the master here had the luck to set eyes on you. I know 
where you lived, I do, seen th' house many a time, close 
upon Squire Darleigh's, a stone house wi' steps " 

"Ah, that it had," said Mrs. Glegg, pouring out the tea. 
" You know something o' my family, then? Are you akin to 
that packman with a squint in his eye, as used to bring th' 
Irish linen? " 

"Look you there now I" said Bob, evasively. "Didn't I 
know as you'd remember the best bargains you've made in 
your life was made wi' packmen? Why, you see even a 
squintin' packman's better nor a shopman as can see straight. 
Lors! if I'd had the luck to call at the stone house wi' my 
pack, as lies here," stooping and thumping the bundle em- 
phatically with his fist,-^' W* th' handsome young lasses all 



832 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS 

stannin* out on the stone steps, it 'ud ha' been summat likt 
openin' a pack, that would. It's on'y the poor houses now as 
a packman calls on, if it isn't fop the sake o' the sarvant- 
maids. They're paltry times, these are. Why, mum, look at 
the printed cottons now, an* what they was when you wora 
'em, why, you wouldn't put such a thing on now, I can see. 
It must be first-rate quality, the manifactur as you'd buy, 
summat as 'ud wear as well as your own faitures." 

"Yes, better quality nor any you're like to carry; you've 
got nothing first-rate but brazenness, I'll be bound," said Mrs. 
Glegg, with a triumphant sense of her insurmountable sagac- 
ity. " Mr. Glegg, are you going ever to sit down to your tea? 
Tom, there's a cup for you." 

"You speak true there, mum," said Bob. "My pack isn't 
for ladies like you. The time's gone by for that. Bargains 
picked up dirt cheap I A bit o' damage here an' there, as can 
be cut out, or else niver seen i' the weariu', but not fit to offer 
to rich folks as can pay for the look o' things as nobody sees. 
I'm not the man as 'ud offer t' open my pack to you, mum; 
no, no; I'm a imperent chap, as you say, these times makea 
folks imperent, but I'm not up to the mark o' that." 

"Why, what goods do you carry in your pack?" said 
Mrs. Glegg. "Fine-colored things, I suppose, shawls an' 
that?" 

"All sorts, mum, all sorts," said Bob, thumping his bun- 
dle; "but let us say no more about that, if you please. I'm 
here upo* Mr. Tom's business, an' I'm not the man to take 
up the time wi' my own." 

" And pray, what is this business as is to be kept from me? * 
said Mrs. Glegg, who, solicited by a double curiosity, was 
obliged to let the one-half wait. 

"A little plan o' nephey Tom's here," said good-natured 
Mr. Glegg ; " and not altogether a bad 'un, I think. A little 
plan for making money ; that's the right sort o' plan for young 
folks as have got their fortin to make, eh, Jane?" 

" But I hope it isn't a plan where he expects iverything to 
be done for him by his friends ; that' s what the young folks 
think of mostly nowadays. And pray, what has this packman 
got to do wi' what eoca on ; n our family? Can't you speak 



WHEAT AND TARES. 833 

for yourself, Tom, and let your aunt know things, as a nephey 
should?" 

" This is Bob Jakin, aunt," said Tom, bridling the irritation 
that aunt Glegg's voice always produced. "I've known him 
ever since we were little boys. He's a very good fellow, and 
always ready to do me a kindness. And he has had some ex- 
perience in sending goods out, a small part of a cargo as a 
private speculation; and he thinks if I could begin to do a lit- 
tle in the same way, I might make some money. / large in- 
terest is got in that way." 

" Large interest? " said aunt Glegg, with eagerness j "and 
what do you call large interest? n 

"Ten or twelve per cent* Bob says, after expenses are 
paid." 

u Then why wasn't I let to know o' such things before, Mr. 
Glegg?" said Mrs. Glegg, turning to her husband, with a deep 
grating tone of reproach. " Haven't you allays told me as 
there was no getting more nor five per cent? n 

"Pooh, pooh, nonsense, my good woman," said Mr. Glegg. 
"You couldn't go into trade, could you? You can't get more 
than five per cent with security." 

" But lean turn a bit o' money for you, an* welcome, mum," 
said Bob, "if you'd like to risk it, not as there's any risk to 
speak on. But if you'd a mind to lend a bit o' money to Mr. 
Tom, he'd pay you six or seven per zent, an 1 get a trifle for 
himself as well; an* a good-natur'd lady like you 'ud like the 
feel o* the money better if your nephey took part on it." 

"What do you say, Mrs. G.?" said Mr. Glegg. "I've a 
notion, rhen I've made a bit more inquiry, as I shall perhaps 
start Torn here with a bit of a nest-egg, he'll pay me int'rest, 
you know., an' if you've got some little sums lyin* idle 
twisted up in a stockin' toe, or that 

"Mr. Glegg, it's beyond iverything! You'll go and give 
information to the tramps next, as they may come and rob 
me." 

" Well, well, as I was say in', if you like to join me wi* 
twenty pounds, you can I'll make it fifty. That'll be a 
pretty good nest-egg, eh, Tom? " 

"You're not counting on me, Mr. Glegg, I hope," said his 



834 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

wife. "You could do fine things wi' my money, I don* I 
doubt" 

"Very well," said Mr. Glegg, rather snappishly, "then 
we'll do without you. I shall go with you to see this Salt," 
he added, turning to Bob. 

"And now, I suppose, you'll go all the other way, Mr. 
Glegg," said Mrs. G., "and want to shut me out o' my own 
nephey's business. I never said I wouldn't put money into 
it, I don't say as it shall be twenty pounds, though you're 
BO ready to say it for me, but he'll see some day as his aunt's 
in the right not to risk the money she's saved for him till it's 
proved as it won't be lost." 

"Ay, thafs a pleasant sort o' risk, that is," said Mr. Glegg, 
indiscreetly winking at Tom, who couldn't avoid smiling. 
But Bob stemmed the injured lady's outburst. 

"Ay, mum," he said admiringly, "you know what's what 
you do. An' it's nothing but fair. You see how the first 
bit of a job answers, an' then you'll come down handsome. 
Lors, it's a fine thing.to hev good kin. I got my bit of a nest- 
egg, as the master calls it, all by my own sharpness, ten 
suvreigns it was, wi' dousing the fire at lorry's mill, an' it's 
growed an' growed by a bit an' a bit, till I'n got a matter o' 
thirty pound to lay out, besides niakin' my mother comf or' ble. 
I should get more, on'y I'm such a soft wi' the women, 1 
can't help lettin' 'em hev such good bargains. There's this 
bundle, now," thumping it lustily, "any other chap 'ud make 
a pretty penny out on it. But me! lors, I shall sell 'em for 
pretty near what I paid for 'em." 

" Have you got a bit of good net, now? " said Mrs. Glegg, 
in a patronizing tone, moving from the tea-table, and folding 
her napkin. 

"Eh, mum, not what you'd think it worth your while to 
look at. I'd scorn to show it you. It 'ud be an insult to 
you." 

"But let me see," said Mrs. Glegg, still patronizing. "If 
they're damaged goods, they're like enough to be a bit the 
better quality." 

"No, mum. I know my place," said Bob, lifting up his 
pack and shouldering it. " I'm not going t' exDose the low- 



WHEAT AND TARES 3311 

ness o' my trade to a lady like you. Packs is come down i* 
the world; it 'ud cut you to th' heart to see the difference. 
I'm at your sarvice, sir, when you've a mind to go and see 

Salt." 

"All in good time,** said Mr. Glegg, really unwilling to 
cut short the dialogue. "Are yon wanted at the wharfs 
Tom?" 

"No, sir; I left Stowe in my place." 

" Come, put down your pack, and let me see," said Mrs. 
Glegg, drawing a chair to the window, and seating herself 
with much dignity. 

"Don't you ask it, mum," said Bob, entreatingly. 

"Make no more words," said Mrs. Glegg, severely, "but do 
as I tell you." 

" Eh, mum, I'm loth, that I am," said Bob, slcwly depositing 
his pack ou the step, and beginning to untie it with unwilling 
fingers. " But what you order shall be done " (much fumbling 
iu pauses between the sentences) . " It's not as you'll buy a 
single thing on me, I'd be sorry for you to do it, for think 
o' them poor women up i' the villages there, as niver stir a 
hundred yards from home, it 'ud be a pity for anybody to 
buy up their bargains. Lors, it's as good as a junketing to 
'em when they see me wi' my pack, an' I shall niver pick up 
such bargains for 'em again. Least ways, I've no time now, 
for I'm off to Laceham. See here now," Bob went on, be- 
coming rapid again, and holding up a scarlet woollen kerchief 
with an embroidered wreath in the corner ; " here's a thing to 
make a lass's mouth water, an' on'y two shillin' an' why? 
Why, 'cause there's a bit of a moth-hole i' this plain end. 
Lors, I think the moths an' the mildew was sent by Provi- 
dence o' purpose to cheapen the goods a bit for the good-look- 
in' women as han't got much money. If it hadu't been foi 
the moths, now, every hankicher on 'em 'ud ha* gone to the 
rich, handsome ladies, like you, mum, at five shillin' apiece, 
not a farthin' less; but what does the moth do? Why, it 
nibbles off three shillin' o' the price i' no time ; an* then a 
packman like me can carry 't to the poor lasses as live under 
the dark thack, to make a hit of a blaze for 'em. Lors, it's 
as good as a fire, to look at such a hankicher 1 " 



536 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS 

Bob held it at a distance for admiration, but Mrs. Glegg 
Mid sharply : 

" Yes, but nobody wants a fire tMs time o* year. Put these 
colored things by; let me look at your nets, if you've got 'em." 

" Eh, mum, I told you how it 'ud be, " said Bob, flinging 
aside the colored things with an air of desperation. " I knowed 
it 'ud turn again' you to look at such paltry articles as I carry. 
Here's a piece o' figured muslin now, what's the use o* you 
lookin' at it? You might as well look at poor folks's victual, 
mum ; it 'ud on'y take away your appetite. There's a yard i' 
the middle on't as the pattern's all missed, --lors, why, it's a 
muslin as the Princess Victoree might ha* wore; but," added 
Bob, flinging it behind him on to the turf, as if to save Mrs. 
Glegg's eyes, " it'll be bought up by the huckster's wife at 
Fibb's End, that's where it'll go ten shillin* for the whole 
lot ten yards, countin* the damaged un five-an' -twenty shil- 
lin' 'ud ha* been the price, not a penny less. But I'll say no 
more, mum; it's nothing to you, a piece o' muslin like that; 
you can afford to pay three times the money for a thing as 
isn't half so good. It's nets you talked on ; well, P^e got a 
piece as 'ull serve you to make fun on " 

"Bring me that muslin," said Mrs. Glegg. "It's*- buffj 
I'm partial to buff." 

u Eh, but a damaged thing, " said Bob, in a tone of depre- 
cating disgust. " You'd do nothing with it, mum ; you'd give 
it to the cook, I know you would, an* it 'ud be a pity, she'd 
look too much like a lady in it; it's UP becoming for servants." 

"Fetch it, and let me see you measure it," said Mrs. 
Glegg, authoritatively. 

Bob obeyed with ostentatious reluctance. 

" See what there is over measure I " he said, holding forth 
the extra half-yard, while Mrs. Glegg was busy examining the 
damaged yard, and throwing her head back to see how far the 
fault would be lost on a distant view. 

" I'll give you six shilling for it," she said, throwing it down 
with the air of a person who mentions an ultimatum. 

" Didn't I tell you now, mum, as it 'ud hurt your feelings 
to look at my pack? That damaged bit's turned your stoinajli 
now; I see it has," said Bob, wrapping the muslin tip with the 



WHEAT AND TARES. 837 

utmost quickness, and apparently about to fasten up his pack. 
" YoVre used to seein* a different sort o' article carried by 
packmen, when you lived at the stone house. Packs is come 
down i' the world ; I told you that : my goods are for common 
folks. Mrs. Pepper 'ull give me ten shillin' for that muslin, 
an* be sorry as I didn't ask her more. Such articles answer 
i' the wearin', they keep their color till the threads melt 
away i' the wash-tub, an' that won't be while I'm a young 
un. r 

"Well, seven shilling," said Mrs. Glegg. 

"Put it out o' your mind, mum, now do," said Bob. 
" Here's a bit o' net, then, for you to look at before I tie up 
my pack, just for you to see what my trade's come to, spotted 
and sprigged, you see, beautiful but yallow, 's been lyin' by 
an' got the wrong color. I could niver ha* bought such net, 
if it hadn't been yallow. Lors, it's took me a deal o* study 
to know the vally o' such articles; when I begun to carry a 
pack, I was as ignirant as a pig; net or calico was all the same 
to me. I thought them things the most vally as was the thick- 
est. I was took in dreadful, for I'm a straightforrard chap, 
up to no tricks, mum. I can on'y say my nose is my own, 
for if I went beyond, I should lose myself pretty quick. An' 
I gev five-an'-eightpence for that piece o' net, if I was to tell 
y' anything else I should be tellin' you fibs, an' five-an'-eight- 
pence I shall ask for it, not a penny more, for it's a woman's 
article, an' I like to 'commodate the women. Five-an'-eight- 
pence for six yards, as cheap as if it was only the dirt on it 
as was paid for." 

"I don't mind having three yards of it," said Mrs. Glegg. 

"Why, there's but six altogether," said Bob. "No, mum, 
it isn' t worth your while ; you can go to the shop to-morrow 
an' get the same pattern ready whitened. It's on'y three 
times the money; what's that to a lady like you? " He gave 
an emphatic tie to his bundle. 

" Come, lay me out that muslin, " said Mrs. Glegg. " Here's 
eight shilling for it." 

" You will be jokin'," said Bob, looking up with a laughing 
face ; " I see'd you was a pleasant lady when I fust come to the 
winder, " 

22 



838 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Well, put it me out, " said Mrs. Glegg, peremptorily. 

" But if I let you have it for ten shilling inum, you'll be so 
good as not tell nobody. I should be a laughin' -stock j the 
trade *ud hoot me, if they knowed it. I'm obliged to make 
believe as I ask more nor I do for my goods, else they'd find 
out I was a flat. I'm glad you don't insist upo' buyin' the 
net, for then I should ha' lost my two best bargains for Mrs. 
Pepper o' Fibb's End, an* she's a rare customer." 

"Let me look at the net again," said Mrs. Glegg, yearning 
after the cheap spots and sprigs, now they were vanishing. 

"Well, I can't deny you, mum," said Bob, handing it out, 
" Eh I see what a pattern now ! Real Laceham goods. Now, 
this is the sort o* article I'm recommendin* Mr. Tom to send 
out. Lors, it's a fine thing for anybody as has got a bit o' 
money; these Laceham goods 'ud make it breed like mag- 
gits. If I was a lady wi' a bit o' money ! why, I know one as 
put thirty pound into them goods, a lady wi' a cork leg, but 
as sharp, you wouldn't catch her runnin' her head into a 
sack; she'd see her way clear out o' anything afore she'd be 
in a hurry to start. Well, she let out thirty pound to a young 
man in the drapering line, and he laid it out i' Laceham goods, 
an' a shupercargo o' my acquinetance (not Salt) took 'em out, 
an' she got her eight per zent fust go off; an' now you can't 
hold her but she must be sendin' out carguies wi' every ship, 
till she's gettin' as rich as a Jew. Bucks her name is, she 
doesn't live i' this town. Now then, mum, if you'll please tc 
give me the net " 

" Here's fifteen shilling, then, for the two," said Mrs. Glegg. 
"But it's a shameful price." 

"Nay, mum, you'll niver say that when you're upo' your 
knees i' church i' five years' time. I'm makin' you a present 
o' th' articles ; I am, indeed. That eightpence shaves off my 
profit as clean as a razor. Now then, sir," continued Bob, 
shouldering his pack, "if you please, I'll be glad to go and 
see about makin' Mr. Tom's fortin. Eh, I wish I'd got an- 
other twenty pound to lay out mi/sen ; I shouldn't stay to say 
my Catechism afore I knowed what to do wi't." 

" Stop a bit, Mr. Glegg, " said the lady, as her husband took 
his hat, "you never will give me the chance o' speaking. 



WHEAT AND TARES. 339 

You'll go away now, and finish everything about this business, 
and come back and tell me it's too late for me to speak. As if 
I wasn't my nephey's own aunt, and th' head o' the family 
on his mother's side I and laid by guineas, all full weight 
for him, as he'll know who to respect when I'm laid in my 
coffin." 

"Well, Mrs. G., say what you mean," said Mr. G., hastily. 

" Well, then, I desire as nothing may be done without my 
knowing. I don't say as I sha'n't venture twenty pounds, il 
you make out as everything's right and safe. And if I do, 
Tom," concluded Mrs. Glegg, turning impressively to her 
nephew, "I hope you'll allays bear it in mind and be grateful 
for such an aunt. I mean you to pay me interest, you know; 
I don't approve o* giving; we niver looked for that in my 
family." 

"Thank you, aunt," said Tom, rather proudly. "I prefer 
having the money only lent to me." 

"Very well; that's the Dodson sperrit," said Mrs. Glegg, 
rising to get her knitting with the sense that any further re- 
mark after this would be bathos. 

Salt that eminently "briny chap" having been discov- 
ered in a cloud of tobacco-smoke at the Anchor Tavern, Mr. 
Glegg commenced inquiries which turned out satisfactorily 
enough to warrant the advance of the " nest-egg, " to which 
aunt Glegg contributed twenty pounds ; and in this modest be- 
ginning you see the ground of a fact which might otherwise 
surprise you; namely, Tom's accumulation of a fund, un- 
known to his father, that promised in no very long time to 
meet the more tardy process of saving, and quite cover the 
deficit. When once his attention had been turned to this 
source of gain, Torn determined to make the most of it, and 
lost no opportunity of obtaining information and extending his 
small enterprises In not telling his father, he was influenced 
by that strange mixture of opposite feelings which often gives 
equal truth to those who blame an action and those who ad- 
mire it, partly, it was that disinclination to confidence which 
is seen between near kindred, that family repulsion which 
spoils the most sacred relations of our lives ; partly, it was the 
desire to surprise his father with a great joy. He did not see 



140 THE MILL ON THE FL08& 

that it would have been better to soothe the interval with 4 
new hope, and prevent the delirium of a too sudden elation. 

At the time of Maggie's first meeting with Philip, Tom had 
already nearly a hundred and fifty pounds of his own capital ; 
and while they were walking by the evening light in the Red 
Deeps, he, by the same evening light, was riding into Lace- 
ham, proud of being on his first journey on behalf of Guest & 
Co., and revolving in his mind all the chances that by the end 
of another year he should have doubled his gains, lifted off the 
obloquy of debt from his father's name, and perhaps ior he 
should be twenty-one have got a new -start for himself, on a 
higher platform of employment. Did he not deserve it? He 
was quite sure that he did. 



CHAPTER 

THE WAVERING BALANCE. 

I SAID that Maggie went home that evening from the Red 
Deeps with a mental conflict already begun. You have seen 
clearly enough, in her interview with Philip, what that conflict 
was. Here suddenly was an opening in the rocky wall which 
shut in the narrow valley of humiliation, where all her pros- 
pect was the remote, unfathoined sky; and some of the niem- 
ory-haiinting earthly delights were no longer out of her reach. 
She might have books, converse, affection ; she might hear 
tidings of the world from which her mind had not yet lost its 
sense of exile ; and it would be a kindness to Philip too, who 
was pitiable, clearly not happy. And perhaps here was an 
opportunity indicated for making her mind more worthy of its 
highest service; perhaps the noblest, completest devoutness 
could hardly exist without some width of knowledge ; must she 
always live in this resigned imprisonment? It was so blame- 
less, so good a thing that there should be friendship between 
her and Philip ; the motives that forbade it were so unreason- 
able, so unchristian ! But the severe monotonous warning came 
again and again, that she was losing the simplicity and clear* 



WHEAT AND TARES. 341 

ness of her life by admitting a ground of concealment j and 
that, by forsaking the simple rule of renunciation, she was 
throwing herself under the seductive guidance of illimitable 
wants. She thought she had won strength to obey the warn- 
ing before she allowed herself the next week to turn her steps 
in the evening to the Eed Deeps. But while she was resolved 
to say an affectionate farewell to Philip, how she looked for- 
ward to that evening walk in the still, fleckered shade of the 
hollows, away from all that was harsh and unlovely ; to the 
affectionate, admiring looks that would meet her ; to the sense 
of comradeship that childish memories would give to wiser, 
older talk ; to the certainty that Philip would care to hear 
everything she said, which no one else cared for 1 It was a 
half -hour that it would be very hard to turn her back upon, 
with the sense that there would be no other like it. Yet she 
said what she meant to say ; she looked firm as well as sad. 

" Philip, I have made up my mind ; it is right that we should 
give each other up, in everything but memory. I could not 
see you without concealment stay, I know what you are going 
to say, it is other people's wrong feelings that make conceal- 
ment necessary ; but concealment is bad, however it may be 
caused. I feel that it would be bad for me, for us both. And 
then, if our secret were discovered, there would be nothing but 
misery, dreadful anger; and then we must part after all, 
and it would be harder, when we were used to seeing each 
other." 

Philip's face had flushed, and there was a momentary eager- 
ness of expression, as if he had been about to resist this deci- 
sion with all his might. But he controlled himself, and said, 
with assumed calmness, " Well, Maggie, if we must part, let 
us try and forget it for one half -hour j let us talk together a 
little while, for the last time." 

He took her hand, and Maggie felt no reason to withdraw 
it ; his quietness made her all the more sure she had given him 
great pain, and she wanted to show him how unwillingly she 
had given it. They walked together hand in hand in silence. 

"Let us sit down in the hollow," said Philip, "where we 
stood the last time. See how the dog-roses have strewed the 
ground, and spread their opal petals over it." 



842 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

They sat down at the roots of the slanting ash. 

" I've begun my picture of you among the Scotch firs, Mag* 
gie," said Philip, " so you must let me study your face a lit- 
tle, while you stay, since I am not to see it again. Please 
turn your head this way. " 

This was said in an entreating voice, and it would have been 
very hard of Maggie to refuse. The full, lustrous face, with 
the bright black coronet, looked down like that of a divinity 
well pleased to be worshipped, on the pale-hued, small-featured 
face that was turned up to it. 

" I shall be sitting for my second portrait, then, " she said, 
smiling. " Will it be larger than the other? " 

"Oh yes, much larger. It is an oil-painting. You will 
look like a tall Hamadryad, dark and strong and noble, just 
issued from one of the fir-trees, when the stems are casting 
their afternoon shadows on the grass. " 

" You seem to think more of painting than of anything now, 
Philip?" 

" Perhaps I do, " said Philip, rather sadly j " but I think of 
too many things, sow all sorts of seeds, and get no great 
harvest from any one of them. I'm cursed with susceptibility 
in every direction, and effective faculty in none. I care for 
painting and music ; I care for classic literature, and mediaeval 
literature, and modern literature j I flutter all ways, and fly 
in none. " 

"But surely that is a happiness to have so many tastes, 
to enjoy so many beautiful things, when they are within your 
reach," said Maggie, musingly. "It always seemed tome a 
sort of clever stupidity only to have one sort of talent, almost 
like a carrier-pigeon." 

" It might be a happiness to have many tastes if I were like 
other men, " said Philip, bitterly. " I might get some power 
and distinction by mere mediocrity, as they do ; at least I 
should get those middling satisfactions which make men con- 
tented to do without great ones. I might think society at St. 
Ogg's agreeable then. But nothing could make life worth the 
purchase-money of pain to me, but some faculty that would 
lift me above the dead level of provincial existence. Yes, 
there 13 one thing, a passion answers as well as a f acuity. " 



WHEAT AND TAKER 343 

Maggie did not hear the last words; she was struggling 
against the consciousness that Philip's words had set her own 
discontent vibrating again as it used to do. 

" I understand what you mean," she said, "though I know 
so much less than you do. I used to think I could never bear 
life if it kept on being the same every day, and I must always 
be doing things of no consequence, and never know anything 
greater. But, dear Philip, I think we are only like children, 
that some one who is wiser is taking care of. la it not right 
to resign ourselves entirely, whatever may be denied us? I 
have found great peace in that for the last two or three years, 
even joy in subduing my own will." 

" Yes, Maggie, " said Philip, vehemently ; " and you are shut- 
ting yourself up in a narrow, self -delusive fanaticism, which 
is only a way of escaping pain by starving into dulness all the 
highest powers of your nature. Joy and peace are not resig- 
nation j resignation is the willing endurance of a pain that is 
not allayed, that you don' t expect to be allayed. Stupefaction 
is not resignation ; and it is stupefaction to remain in igno- 
rance, to shut up all the avenues by which the life of your 
fellow-men might become known to you. I am not resigned ; I 
am not sure that life is long enough to learn that lesson. You 
are not resigned; you are only trying to stupefy yourself." 

Maggie's lips trembled; she felt there was some truth in 
what Philip said, and yet there was a deeper consciousness 
that, for any immediate application it had to her conduct, it 
was no better than falsity. Her double impression corre- 
sponded to the double impulse of the speaker. Philip serious- 
ly believed what he said, but he said it with vehemence be- 
cause it made an argument against the resolution that opposed 
his wishes. But Maggie's face, made more childlike by the 
gathering tears, touched him with a tenderer, less egoistic 
feeling. He took her hand and said gently : 

"Don't let us think of such things in this short half -hour, 
Maggie. -Let us only care about being together. We shall be 
friends in spite of separation. We shall always think of each 
other. I shall be glad to live as long as you are alive, because 
I shall think there may always come a time when I can when 
will let me help you in some way." 



344 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" What a dear, good brother you would have been, Philip," 
said Maggie, smiling through the haze of tears. " I think you 
would have made as much fuss about me, and been as pleased 
for me to love you, as would have satisfied even me. You 
would have loved me well enough to bear with me, and forgive 
^me everything. That was what I always longed that Tom 
should do. I was never satisfied with a little of anything, 
That is why it is better for me to do without earthly happi- 
ness altogether. I never felt that I had enough music, I 
wanted more instruments playing together j I wanted voices to 
be fuller and deeper. Do you ever sing now, Philip?" she 
added abruptly, as if she had forgotten what went before. 

"Yes," he said, "every day, almost. But my voice is only 
middling, like everything else in me." 

"Oh, sing me something, just one song. I may listen to 
that before I go, something you used to sing at Lorton on a 
Saturday afternoon, when we had the drawing-room all to our- 
selves, and I put my apron over my head to listen." 

"/know," said Philip; and Maggie buried her face in her 
hands while he sang sotto voce, " Love in her eyes sits play- 
ing," and then said, "That's it, isn't it?" 

" Oh no, I won't stay," said Maggie, starting up. " It will 
only haunt me. Let us walk, Philip. I must go home. " 

She moved away, so that he was obliged to rise and follow 
her. 

"Maggie," he said, in a tone of remonstrance, "don't per- 
sist in this wilful, senseless privation. It makes me wretched 
to see you benumbing and cramping your nature in this way. 
You were so full of life when you were a child ; I thought 
you would be a brilliant woman, all wit and bright imagina- 
tion. And it flashes out in your face still, until you draw 
that veil of dull quiescence over it." 

" Why do you speak so bitterly to me, Philip? " said Mag- 
gie. 

" Because I foresee it will not end well ; you can never carry 
on this self-torture." 

"I shall have strength given me," said Maggie, tremu- 
lously. 

"No, you will not, Maggie; no one has strength given to do 



WHEAT AND TARES. 845 

what is unnatural. It is mere cowardice to seek safety in 
negations. No character becomes strong in that way. You 
will be thrown into the world some day, and then every 
rational satisfaction of your nature that you deny now will 
assault you like a savage appetite." 

Maggie started and paused, looking at Philip with alarm in 
her face. 

"Philip, how dare you shake me in this way? You are a 
tempter." 

"No, I am not; but love gives insight, Maggie, and insight 
often gives foreboding. Listen to me, let me supply you 
with books; do let me see you sometimes, be your brother 
and teacher, as you said at Lorton. It is less wrong that you 
should see me than that you should be committing this long 
suicide." 

Maggie felt unable to speak. She shook her head and 
walked on in silence, till they came to the end of the Scotch 
firs, and she put out her hand in sign of parting. 

" Do you banish me from this place forever, then, Maggie? 
Surely I may come and walk in it sometimes? If I meet you 
by chance, there is no concealment in that? " 

It is the moment when our resolution seems about to be- 
come irrevocable when the fatal iron gates are about to close 
upon us that tests our strength. Then, after hours of clear 
reasoning and firm conviction, we snatch at any sophistry 
that will nullify our long struggles, and bring us the defeat 
that we love better than victory. 

Maggie felt her heart leap at this subterfuge of Philip* s, 
and there passed over her face that almost imperceptible shock 
which accompanies any relief. He saw it, and they parted 
in silence. 

Philip's sense of the situation was too complete for him not 
to be visited with glancing fears lest he had been intervening 
too presumptuously in the action of Maggie's conscience, per- 
haps for a selfish end. But no! he persuaded himself his 
end was not selfish. He had little hope that Maggie would 
ever return the strong feeling he had for her ; and it must be 
better for Maggie's future life, when these petty family ob- 
stacles to her freedom had disappeared, that the present 



346 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

should not be entirely sacrificed, and that she should hav 
some opportunity of culture, some interchange with a mind 
above the vulgar level of those she was now condemned to live 
with. If we only look far enough off for the consequence of 
our actions, we can always find some point in the combination 
of results by which those actions can be justified; by adopt- 
ing the point of view of a Providence who arranges results, 
or of a philosopher who traces them, we shall find it possible 
to obtain perfect complacency in choosing to do what is most 
agreeable to us in the present moment. And it was in this 
way that Philip justified his subtle efforts to overcome Mag- 
gie's true prompting against a concealment that would intro- 
duce doubleness into her own mind, and might cause new 
misery to those who had the primary natural claim on her. 
But there was a surplus of passion in him that made him half 
independent of justifying motives. His longing to see Mag- 
gie, and make an element in her life, had in it some of that 
savage impulse to snatch an offered joy which springs from a 
life in which the mental and bodily constitution have made 
pain predominate. He had not his full share in the common 
good of men; he could not even pass muster with the insigni- 
ficant, but must be singled out for pity, and excepted from 
what was a matter of course with others. Even to Maggie he 
was an exception ; it was clear that the thought of his being 
her lover had never entered her mind. 

Do not think too hardly of Philip. Ugly and deformed 
people have great need of unusual virtues, because they are 
likely to be extremely uncomfortable without them; but the 
theory that unusual virtues spring by a direct consequence 
out of personal disadvantages, as animals get thicker wool in 
severe climates, is perhaps a little overstrained. The tempta- 
tions of beauty are much dwelt upon, but I fancy they only 
bear the same relation to those of ugliness, as the temptation 
to excess at a feast, where the delights are varied for eye and 
ear as well as palate, bears to the temptations that assail the 
desperation of hunger. Does not the Hunger Tower stand as 
the type of the utmost trial to what is human in us? 

Philip had never been soothed by that mother's love which 
flows out to us in the greater abundance because our need is 



WHEAT AND TARES. 347 

greater, which clings to us the more tenderly because we are 
the less likely to be winners in the game of life; and the sense 
of his father's affection and indulgence toward him was marred 
by the keener perception of his father's faults. Kept aloof 
from all practical life as Philip had been, and by nature half 
feminine in sensitiveness, he had some of the woman's intoler 
ant repulsion toward worldliness and the deliberate pursuit of 
sensual enjoyment ; and this one strong natural tie in his life, 
his relation as a son, was like an aching limb to him. 
Perhaps there is inevitably something morbid in a human 
being who is in any way unfavorably excepted from ordinary 
conditions, until the good force has had time to triumph; and 
it has rarely had time for that at two-and-twenty. That 
force was present in Philip in much strength, but the sun 
himself looks feeble through the morning mists. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ANOTHER LOVE-SCENTS. 

EABLT in the following April, nearly a year after that du- 
bious parting you have just witnessed, you may, if you like, 
again see Maggie entering the Red Deeps through the group 
of Scotch firs. But it is early afternoon and not evening, and 
the edge of sharpness in the spring air makes her draw her 
large shawl close about her and trip along rather quickly ; 
though she looks round, as usual, that she may take in the 
sight of her beloved trees. There is a more eager, inquiring 
look in her eyes than there was last June, and a smile is hov- 
ering about her lips, as if some playful speech were awaiting 
the right hearer. The hearer was not long in appearing. 

"Take back your Corinne," said Maggie, drawing a book 
from under her shawl. "You were right in telling me she 
would do me no good ; but you were wrong in thinking I should 
wish to be like her." 

"Wouldn't you really like to be a tenth Muse, then, Mag- 
gie? " said Philip, looking up in her face as we look at a first 



S48 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

parting in the clouds that promises us a bright heaven onoe 
more. 

" Not at all, " said Maggie, laughing. " The Muses were 
uncomfortable goddesses, I think, obliged always to carry 
rolls and musical instruments about with them. If I carried 
a harp in this climate, you know, I must have a green baize 
cover for it; and I should be sure to leave it behind me by 
mistake." 

" You agree with me in not liking Corinne, then? " 

"I didn't finish the book," said Maggie. "As soon as I 
came to the blond-haired young lady reading in the park, I 
shut it up, and determined to read no further. I foresaw 
that that light-complexioned girl would win away all the love 
from Corinne and make her miserable. I'm determined to 
read no more books where the blond-haired women carry away 
all the happiness. I should begin to have a prejudice against 
them. If you could give me some story, now, where the dark 
woman triumphs, it would restore the balance. I want to 
avenge Kebecca and Flora Maclvor and Minna, and all the 
rest of the dark unhappy ones. Since you are my tutor, you 
ought to preserve my mind from prejudices; you are always 
arguing against prejudices." 

" Well, perhaps you will avenge the dark women in your 
own person, and carry away all the love from your cousin 
Lucy. She is sure to have some handsome young man of St. 
Ogg' s at her feet now ; and you have only to shine upon him, 
your fair little cousin will be quite quenched in your beams." 

" Philip, that is not pretty of you, to apply my nonsense to 
anything real," said Maggie, looking hurt. "As if I, with 
my old gowns and want of all accomplishments, could be 
a rival of dear little Lucy, who knows and does all sorts of 
charming things, and is ten times prettier than I am, even 
if I were odious and base enough to wish to be her rival. 
Besides, I never go to aunt Deane's when any one is there; it 
is only because dear Lucy is good, and loves me, that she 
comes to see me, and will have me go to see her sometimes." 

" Maggie," said Philip, with surprise, " it is not like you to 
take playfulness literally. You must have been in St. Ogg's 
this morning, and brought away a slight infection of dulness." 



WHEAT AND TARE& 349 

"Well," said Maggie, smiling, "if you meant that for a 
joke, it was a poor one; but I thought it wa* a very good re- 
proof. I thought you wanted to remind me that I am vain, 
and wish every one to admire me most. But it isn't for that 
that I'm jealous for the dark women, not because I'm dark 
myself; it's because I always care the most about the un- 
happy people. If the blond girl were forsaken, I should like 
her best. I always take the side of the rejected lover in thet 
stories." 

" Then you would never have the heart to reject one your- 
self, should you, Maggie?" said Philip, flushing a little. 

"I don't know," said Maggie, hesitatingly. Then with a 
bright smile, " I think perhaps I could if he were very con- 
ceited ; and yet, if he got extremely humiliated afterward, I 
should relent." 

"I've often wondered, Maggie," Philip said, with some 
effort, " whether you wouldn't really be more likely to love a 
man that other women were not likely to love." 

"That would depend on what they didn't like him for," 
said Maggie, laughing. "He might be very disagreeable. 
He might look at me through an eye-glass stuck in his eye, 
making a hideous face, as young Torry does. I should think 
other women are not fond of that ; but I never felt any pity 
for young Torry. I've never any pity for conceited people, 
because I think they carry their comfort about with them." 

" But suppose, Maggie, suppose it was a man who was not 
conceited, who felt he had nothing to be conceited about ; who 
had been marked from childhood for a peculiar kind of suffer- 
ing, and to whom you were the day-star of his life ; who loved 
you, worshipped you, so entirely that he felt it happiness 
enough for him if you would let him see you at rare mo- 
ments " 

Philip paused with a pang of dread lest his confession 
should cut short this very happiness, a pang of the same 
dread that had kept his love mute through long months. A 
rush of self -consciousness told him that he was besotted to 
have said all this. Maggie's manner this morning had been 
as unconstrained and indifferent as ever. 

Bui she was not looking indifferent now. Struck with & 



350 THE MTT.T. ON THE FLOSS, 

unusual emotion in Philip's tone, she had turned quicklj to 
look at him ; and as he went on speaking, a great change came 
over her face, a flush and slight spasm of the features. 
as we see in people who hear some news that will require them 
to readjust their conceptions of the past. She was quite si- 
lent, and walking on toward the trunk of a fallen tree, she 
sat down, as if she had no strength to spare for her muscles. 
She was trembling. 

' Maggie," said Philip, getting more and more alarmed in 
every fresh moment of silence, " I was a fool to say it; forget 
that I've said it. I shall be contented if things can be as they 
were." 

The distress with which he spoke urged Maggie to say some- 
thing. "I am so surprised, Philip; I had not thought of it." 
And the effort to say this brought the tears down too. 

"Has it made you hate me, Maggie?" said Philip, impetu- 
ously. " Do you think I'm a presumptuous fool? " 

" Oh, Philip ! " said Maggie, " how can you think I hare 
such feelings? As if I were not grateful for any love. But 
but I had never thought of your being my lover. It seemed 
so far off like a dream only like one of the stories one im- 
agines that I should ever have a lover." 

u Then can you bear to think of me as your lover, Mag- 
gie?" said Philip, seating himself by her, and taking her 
hand, in the elation of a sudden hope. " Do you love me? " 

Maggie turned rather pale; this direct question seemed not 
easy to answer. But her eyes met Philip's, which were in 
this moment liquid and beautiful with beseeching love. She 
spoke with hesitation, yet with sweet, simple, girlish tender- 
ness. 

"I think I could hardly love any one better; there is noth- 
ing but what I love you for." She paused a little while, and 
then added : " But it win be better for us not to say any more 
about it^ won't it, dear Philip? You know we couldn't even 
be friends, if our friendship were discovered. I have never 
felt that I was right in giving way about seeing you, though 
it has been so precious to me in some ways; and now the fear 
comes upon me strongly again, that it will lead to eviL" 

" Ifcit so aril has come, Maggie; and if you had been gtuded 



WHEAT AND TARES. 851 

67 tliat fear before, you would only have lived through another 
dreary, benumbing year, instead of reviving into your real 
self." 

Maggie shook her head. " It has been very sweety I know, 
all the talking together, and the books, and the feeling that 
I had the walk to look forward to, when I could tell you the 
thoughts that had come into my head while I was away from 
you. But [it has made me restless; it has made me think a 
great deal about the world; and I have impatient thoughts 
again, I get weary of my home j and then it cuts me to the 
heart afterward, that I should ever have felt weary of my fa- 
ther and mother. I think what you call being benumbed was 
better better for me for then my selfish desires were be- 
numbed." 

Philip had risen again, and was walking backward and for- 
ward impatiently. 

"Xo, Maggie, you have wrong ideas of self -conquest, as 
I've often told you. What you call self-conquest blinding 
and deafening yourself to all but one train of impressions is 
only the culture of monomania in a nature like yours. n 

He had spoken with some irritation, but now he sat down 
by her again and took her hand. 

"Don't think of the past now, Maggie; think only of our 
love. If you can really cling to me with all your heart, every 
obstacle will be overcome in time ; we need only wait. I can 
live on hope. Look at me, Maggie ; tell me again it is pos- 
sible for you to love me. Don't look away from me to that 
cloven treej it is a bad omen." 

She turned her large dark glance upon him with a sad 
smile. 

" Come, Maggie, say one kind word, 01 else you were better 
to me at Lorton. You asked me if I should like you to kiss 
me, don't you remember? and you promised to kiss me 
when you met me again. You never kept the promise-* 

The recollection of that childish time came as a sweet relief 
4 > Maggie. It made the present moment less strange to her. 
She kissed him almost as simply and quietly as she had done 
when she was twelve years old. Philip's eyes flashed witij 
delight* but h|a nejt words were words of discontent* 



082 THE HILL ON THE FLOS& 

w You don't seem happy enough, Maggie; you are forcing 
yourself to say you love me, out of pity." 

"No, Philip," said Maggie, shaking her head, in her old 
childish way; "I'm telling you the truth. It is all new and 
strange to mej but I don't think I could love any one better 
than I love you. I should like always to live with you to 
make you happy. I have always been happy when I have 
been with you. There is only one thing I will not do for your 
sake; I will never do anything to wound my father. You 
must never ask that from me." 

"No, Maggie, I will ask nothing; I will bear everything; 
I'll wait another year only for a kiss, if you will only give me 
the first place in your heart." 

"No," said Maggie, smiling, "I won't make you wait so 
long as that." But then, looking serious again, she added, 
as she rose from her seat, 

" But what would your own father say, Philip? Oh, it is 
quite impossible we can ever be more than friends, brother 
and sister in secret, as we have been. Let us give up think- 
ing of everything else." 

"No, Maggie, I can't give you up, unless you are deceiv- 
ing me ; unless you really only care for me as if I were your 
brother. Tell me the truth." 

" Indeed I do, Philip. What happiness have I ever had so 
great as being with you, since I was a little girl, the days 
Tom was good to me? And your mind is a sort of world to 
me; you can tell me all I want to know. I think I should 
never be tired of being with you." 

They were walking hand in hand, looking at each other; 
Maggie, indeed, was hurrying along, for she felt it time to be 
gone. But the sense that their parting was near made her 
more anxious lest she should have unintentionally left some 
painful impression on Philip's mind. It was one of those 
dangerous moments when speech is at once sincere and decep- 
tive; when feeling, rising high above its average depth, leases 
floodmarks which are never reached again. 

They stopped to part among the Scotch firs. 

"Then my life will be filled with hope, Maggie, and 1 
hall be happier than other men, in spite of all? We d* 



WHEAT AND TARES. 353 

belong to each other for always whether we are apart or 
together? " 

"Yes, Philip; I should like never to part} I should like to 
make your life very happy." 

"I am waiting for something else. I wonder whether it 
will come." 

Maggie smiled, with glistening tears, and then stooped her 
tall head to kiss the pale face that was full of pleading, timid 
love, like a woman's. 

She had a moment of real happiness then, a moment of 
belief that, if there were sacrifice in this love, it was all the 
richer and more satisfying. 

She turned away and hurried home, feeling that in the hour 
since she had trodden this road before, a new era had begun 
for her. The tissue of vague dreams must now get narrower 
and narrower, and all the threads of thought and emotion be 
gradually absorbed in the woof of her actual daily life. 



CHAPTER y. 

THB CLOVEN TREE. 

SECRETS are rarely betrayed or discovered according to any 
programme our fear has sketched out. Fear is almost always 
daunted by terrible dramatic scenes, which recur in spite of the 
best-argued probabilities against them; and during a year that 
Maggie had had the burthen of concealment on her mind, the 
possibility of discovery had continually presented itself under 
the form of a sudden meeting with her father or Tom when 
she was walking with Philip in the Bed Deeps. She was 
aware that this was not one of the most likely events j but it 
was the scene that most completely symbolized her inward 
dread. Those slight indirect suggestions which are dependent 
on apparently trivial coincidences and incalculable states of 
mind, are the favorite machinery of "Fact, but are uot tb* 
tuff in which Imagination is apt to work. 

Certainly one of the persons about whom Maggie's f art 
23 



864 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

were furtherest from troubling themselves was her aunt Pol- 
let, on whom, seeing that she did not live in St. Ogg's, and 
was neither sharp-eyed nor sharp-tempered, it would surely 
have been quite whimsical of them to fix rather than on aunt 
Glegg. And yet the channel of fatality the pathway of the 
lightning was no other than aunt Pullet. She did not live 
at St. Ogg's, but the road from Garum Firs lay by the Eed 
Deeps, at the end opposite that by which Maggie entered. 

The day after Maggie's last meeting with Philip, being a 
Sunday on which Mr. Pullet was bound to appear in funeral hat- 
band and scarf at St. Ogg's church, Mrs. Pullet made this the 
occasion of dining with sister Glegg, and taking tea with poor 
sister Tulliver. Sunday was the one day in the week on which 
Tom was at home in the afternoon ; and to-day the brighter 
spirits he had been in of late had flowed over in unusually 
cheerful open chat with his father, and in the invitation, 
"Come, Magsie, you come tool" when he strolled out with 
his mother in the garden to see the advancing cherry-blos- 
soms. He had been better pleased with Maggie since she 
had been less odd and ascetic ; he was even getting rather 
proud of her; several persons had remarked in his hearing 
that his sister was a very fine girl. To-day there was a pe- 
culiar brightness in her face, due in reality to an undercur- 
rent of excitement, which had as much doubt and pain as 
pleasure in it j but it might pass for a sign of happiness. 

"You look very well, my dear," said aunt Pullet, shaking 
her head sadly, as they sat round the tea-table. "I niver 
thought your girl 'ud be so good-looking, Bessy. But you 
must wear pink, my dear; that blue thing as your aunt Glegy 
gave you turns you into a crowflower. Jane never was tasty. 
Why don't you wear that gown o* mine? n 

" It is eo pretty and so smart, aunt. I think it's too showy 
for me, at least for my other clothes, that I must wear 
with it" 

" To be sure, it 'ud be unbecoming if it wasn't well knows 
you' ve got them belonging to you as can afford to give you 
such things when they've done with 'em themselves. It 
stands to reason I must give my own niece clothes now and 
then, such things as 1 buy every year, and nevgr 



WHEAT AND TARES. 355 

thing out. And as for Lucy, there's no giving to her, for 
she's got everything o' the choicest; sister Deane may well 
hold her head up, though she looks dreadful yallow, poor 
thing I doubt this liver complaint 'ull carry her off. That's 
what this new vicar, this Dr. Kenn, said in the funeral ser- 
mon to-day." 

"Ah, he's a wonderful preacher, by all account, isn't he, 
Sophy?" said Mrs. Tulliver. 

" Why, Lucy had got a collar on this blessed day, " contin- 
ued Mrs. Pullet, with her eyes fixed in a ruminating manner, 
" as I don't say I haven't got as good, but I must look out my 
best to match it." 

"Miss Lucy's called the bell o' St. Ogg's, they say; that's 
a cur'ous word," observed Mr. Pullet, on whom the mysteries 
of etymology sometimes fell with an oppressive weight. 

"Pooh!" said Mr. Tulliver, jealous for Maggie, "she's a 
small thing, not much of a figure. But fine feathers make 
fine birds. I see nothing to admire so much in those dimin- 
utive women; they look silly by the side o' the men, out o' 
proportion. When I chose my wife, I chose her the right 
size, neither too little nor too big." 

The poor wife, with her withered beauty, smiled compla- 
cently. 

" But the men aren't all big," said uncle Pullet, not without 
some self-ref erence ; " a young fellow may be good-looking and 
yet not be a six-foot, like Master Tom here." 

"Ah, it's poor talking about littleness and bigness, any- 
body may think it's a mercy they're straight," said aunt Pul- 
let. "There's that mismade son o' Lawyer Wakem's, I saw 
him at church to-day. Dear, dear! to think o' the property 
he's like to have; and they say he's very queer and lonely, 
doesn't like much company. I shouldn't wonder if he goes 
out of his mind; for we never come along the road but he's 
a-scrambling out o' the trees and brambles at the Red Deeps. " 

This wide statement, by which Mrs. Pullet represented the 
fact that she had twice seen Philip at the spot indicated, pro- 
duced an effect on Maggie which was all the stronger because 
Tom sate opposite her, and she was intensely anxious to look 
indifferent. At Philip's name she had blushed, and the blush 



566 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

deepened every instant from consciousness, until the mention 
of the Red Deeps made her feel as if the whole secret were 
betrayed, and she dared not even hold her tea-spoon lest she 
should show how she trembled. She sat with her hands 
clasped under the table, not daring to look round. Happily, 
her father was seated on the same side with herself, beyond 
her uncle Pullet, and could not see her face without stooping 
forward. Her mother's voice brought the first relief, turning 
the conversation ; for Mrs. Tulliver was always alarmed when 
the name of Wakem was mentioned in her husband's presence. 
Gradually Maggie recovered composure enough to look up; 
her eyes met Tom's, but he turned away his head immedi- 
ately ; and she went to bed that night wondering if he had 
gathered any suspicion from her confusion. Perhaps not; 
perhaps he would think it was only her alarm at her aunt's 
mention of Wakem before her father ; that was the interpre- 
tation her mother had put on it. To her father, Wakem was 
like a disfiguring disease, of which he was obliged to endure 
the consciousness, but was exasperated to have the existence 
recognized by others ; and no amount of sensitiveness in her 
about her father could be surprising, Maggie thought. 

But Tom was too keen-sighted to rest satisfied with such an 
interpretation; he had seen clearly enough that there was 
something distinct from anxiety about her father in Maggie's 
excessive confusion. In trying to recall all the details that 
could give shape to his suspicions, he remembered only lately 
hearing his mother scold Maggie for walking in the Red 
Deeps when the ground was wet, and bringing home shoes 
clogged with red soil ; still Tom, retaining all his old repul- 
sion for Philip's deformity, shrank from attributing to his 
sister the probability of feeling more than a friendly interest 
in such an unfortunate exception to the common run of men. 
Tom's was a nature which had a sort of superstitious repug- 
nance to everything exceptional. A love for a deformed man 
would be odious in any woman, in a sister intolerable. But 
if she had been carrying on any kind of intercourse whatever 
with Philip, a stop must be put to it at once ; she was dis- 
obeying her father's strongest feelings and her brother's ex- 
press commands, besides compromising herself by secret meet' 



WHEAT AND TARES. SOT 

ings. He left home the next morning in that watchful state 
of mind which turns the most ordinary course of things into 
pregnant coincidences. 

That afternoon, about half-past three o'clock, Tom was 
standing on the wharf, talking with Bob Jakin about the 
probability of the good ship Adelaide coming in, in a day or 
two, with results highly important to both of them. 

" Eh, " said Bob, parenthetically, as he looked over the fields 
on the other side of the river, " there goes that crooked young 
Wakem. I know him or his shadder as far off as I can see 
'em; I'm allays lighting on him o' that side the river." 

A sudden thought seemed to have darted through Tom's 
mind. " I must go, Bob," he said j " I've something to attend 
to, " hurrying off to the warehouse, where he left notice for 
some one to take his place; he was called away home on per- 
emptory business. 

The swiftest pace and the shortest road took him to the 
gate, and he was pausing to open it deliberately, that he 
might walk into the house with an appearance of perfect 
composure, when Maggie came out at the front door in bonnet 
and shawl. His conjecture was fulfilled, and he waited for 
her at the gate. She started violently when she saw him. 

" Tom, how is it you are come home? Is there anything 
the matter? " Maggie spoke in a low, tremulous voice. 

"I'm come to walk with you to the Red Deeps, and meet 
Philip Wakem," said Tom, the central fold in his brow, which 
had become habitual with him, deepening as he spoke. 

Maggie stood helpless, pale and cold. By some means, 
then, Tom knew everything. At last she said, "I'm not 
going, " and turned round. 

" Yes, you are; but I want to speak to you first. Where 
is my father? " 

" Out on horseback." 

" And my mother? " 

" In the yard, I think, with the poultry.* 

" I can go in, then, without her seeing me? n 

They walked in together, and Tom, entering the parlor, said 
to Maggie, " Come in here." 

She obeyed, and he closed the door behind her. 



853 THE MILL ON THE PLOS8. 

"Now, Maggie, tell me this instant everything that haa 
passed between you and Philip Wakem." 

"Does my father know anything?" said Maggie, still trem- 
bling, 

" No," said Tom, indignantly. " But he shall know, if yon 
attempt to use deceit toward me any further." 

"I don't wish to use deceit," said Maggie, flushing into re-) 
sentment at hearing this word applied to her conduct. 

"Tell me the whole truth, then," 

"Perhaps you know it." 

" Never mind whether I know it or not. Tell me exactly 
what has happened, or my father shall know everything." 

"I tell it for my fathers sake, then." 

u Yes, it becomes you to profess affection for your father, 
wnen you have despised his strongest feelings." 

" You never do wrong, Tom, " said Maggie, tauntingly. 

"Not if I know it," answered Tom, with proud sincerity. 
" But I have nothing to say to you beyond this : tell me what 
has passed between you and Philip Wakein. When did you 
first meet him in the Red Deeps? " 

"A year ago," said Maggie, quietly. Tom's severity gave 
her a certain fund of defiance, and kept her sense of error in 
abeyance. " You need ask me no more questions. We have 
been friendly a year. We have met and walked together 
often. He has lent me books." 

"Is that all?" said Tom, looking straight at her with his 
frown. 

Maggie paused a moment ; then, determined to make an end 
of Tom's right to accuse her of deceit, she said haughtily: 

"No, not quite all. On Saturday he told me that he loved 
me. I didn't think of it before then; I had only thought of 
him as an old friend." 

"And you encouraged him?" said Tom, with an expression 
of disgust. 

"I told him that I loved him too." 

Tom was silent a few moments, looking on the ground and 
frowning, with his hands in his pockets. At last he looked 
up and said coldly, 

" Now, then, Maggie, there are but two courses for you to 



WHEAT AND TARB& 359 

take, either you vow solemnly to me, with your hand on my 
father's Bible, that you will never have another meeting or 
speak another word in private with Philip Wakem, or you re- 
fuse, and I tell my father everything; and this month, when 
by my exertions he might be made happy once more, you will 
cause him the blow of knowing that you are a disobedient, de- 
ceitful daughter, who throws away her own respectability by 
clandestine meetings with the son of a man that has helped to 
ruin her father. Choose ! " Tom ended with cold decision, 
going up to the large Bible, drawing it forward, and opening 
it at the fly-leaf, where the writing was. 

It was a crushing alternative. to Maggie. 

"Tom," she said, urged out of pride into pleading, "don't 
ask me that. I will promise you to give up all intercourse 
with Philip, if you will let me see him once, or even only 
write to him and explain everything, to give it up as long 
as it would ever cause any pain to my father. I feel some- 
thing for Philip too. He is not happy." 

"I don't wish to hear anything of your feelings; I have 
said exactly what I mean. Choose, and quickly, lest my 
mother should come in." 

" If I give you my word, that will be as strong a bond to 
*ne as if I laid my hand on the Bible. I don't require that 
to bind me." 

"Do what /require," said Tom. "I can't trust you, Mag- 
gie. There is no consistency in you. Put your hand on this 
Bible, and say, ' I renounce all private speech and intercourse 
with Philip Wakem from this time forth.' Else you will 
bring shame on us all, and grief on my father ; and what is 
the use of my exerting myself and giving up everything els 
for the sake of paying my father's debts, if you are to bring 
madness and vexation on him, just when he might be easy 
and hold up his head once more? " 

"Oh, Tom, will the debts be paid soon?* said Maggie, 
lasping her hands, with a sudden flash of joy across her 
wretchedness. 

"If things turn out as I expect," said Tom. "But, "he 
added, his voice trembling with indignation, "\hile I have 
been contriving and working that my father maj have some 



860 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

peace of mind before he dies, working for the respectability 
of our family, you have done all you can to destroy both." 

Maggie felt a deep movement of compunction; for the mo- 
ment, her mind ceased to contend against what she felt to be 
cruel and unreasonable, and in her self-blame she justified her 
brother. 

" Tom, M she said in a low voice, " it was wrong of me ; but 
I was so lonely, and I was sorry for Philip. And I think 
enmity and hatred are wicked." 

" Nonsense ! " said Tom. " Your duty was clear enougn. 
Say no more; but promise, in the words I told you." 

"I must speak to Philip once more." 

"You will go with me now and speak to him." 

" I give you my word not to meet him or write to him again 
without your knowledge. That is the only thing I will say. 
J will put my hand on the Bible if you like. " 

" Say it, then." 

Maggie laid her hand on the page of manuscript and re- 
peated the promise. Tom closed the book, and said, " Now 
let us go." 

Not a word was spoken as they walked along. Maggie was 
suffering in anticipation of what Philip was about to suffer, 
and dreading the galling words that would fall on. him from 
Tom's lips ; but she felt it was in vain to attempt anything 
but submission. Tom had his terrible clutch on her con- 
science and her deepest dread ; she writhed under the demon- 
strable truth of the character he had given to her conduct, and 
yet her whole soul rebelled against it as unfair from its incom- 
pleteness. He, meanwhile, felt the impetus of his indigna- 
tion diverted toward Philip. He did not know how much of 
an old boyish repulsion and of mere personal pride and ani- 
mosity was concerned in the bitter severity of the words by 
which he meant to do the duty of a son and a brother. Tom 
was not given to inquire subtly into his own motives any more 
than into other matters of an intangible kind ; he was quite 
sure that his own motives as well as actions were good, else 
he would have had nothing to do with them. 

Maggie's only hope was that something might, for the first 
time, have prevented Philip from coming. Then there would 



WHEAT AND TARES. 861 

I 

be delay, then she might get Tom's permission to write to 
him. Her heart beat with double violence when they got un- 
der the Scotch firs. It was the last moment of suspense, she 
thought; Philip always met her soon after she got beyond 
them. But they passed across the more open green space, 
and entered the narrow bushy path by the mound. Another 
turning, and they came so close upon him that both Tom and 
Philip stopped suddenly within a yard of each other. There 
was a moment's silence, in which Philip darted a look of in- 
quiry at Maggie's face. He saw an answer there, in the pale, 
parted lips, and the terrified tension of the large eyes. Her 
imagination, always rushing extravagantly beyond an immedi- 
ate impression, saw her tall, strong brother grasping the feeble 
Philip bodily, crushing him and trampling on him. 

" Do you call this acting the part of a man and a gentle- 
man, sir?" Tom said, in a voice of harsh scorn, as soon as 
Philip's eyes were turned on him again. 

" What do you mean? " answered Philip, haughtily. 

" Mean? Stand farther from me, lest I should lay hands on 
you, and I'll tell you what I mean. I mean, taking advantage 
of a young girl's foolishness and ignorance to get her to have 
secret meetings with you. I mean, daring to trifle with the 
respectability of a family that has a good and honest name to 
support." 

"I deny that," interrupted Philip, impetuously. "I could 
never trifle with anything that affected your sister's happi- 
ness. She is dearer to me than she is to you ; I honor her 
more than you can ever honor her ; I would give up my life 
to her." 

"Don't talk high-flown nonsense to me, sir! Do you mean 
to pretend that you didn't know it would be injurious to her 
to meet you here week after week? Do you pretend you had 
any right to make professions of love to her, even if you had 
been a fit husband for her, when neither her father nor your 
father would over consent to a marriage between you? And 
you, you to try and worm yourself into the affections of a 
handsome girl who is not eighteen, and has been shut out 
from the world by her father's misfortunes! That's your 
t rooked notion of honor, is it? I call it base treachery} I call 



362 THE MILL ON THE FLOSa 

it taking advantage of circumstances to win what's too good 
for you, what you'd never get by fair means." 

" It is manly of you to talk in this way to me, " said Philip, 
bitterly, his whole frame shaken by violent emotions. " Giants 
have an immemorial right to stupidity and insolent abuse. 
You are incapable even of understanding what I feel for your 
sister. I feel so much for her that I could even desire to b 
at friendship with you." 

"I should be very sorry to understand your feelings," said 
Tom, with scorching contempt. " What I wish is that you 
should understand me, that I shall take care of my sister, 
and that if you dare to make the least attempt to come near 
her, or to write to her, or to keep the slightest hold on her 
mind, your puny, miserable body, that ought to have put some 
modesty into your mind, shall not protect you. I'll thrash 
you ; I'll hold you up to public scorn. Who wouldn't laugh 
at the idea of your turning lover to a fine girl? " 

"Tom, I will not bear it; I will listen no longer," Maggie 
burst out, in a convulsed voice. 

" Stay, Maggie ! " said Philip, making a strong effort to 
speak. Then looking at Tom, " You have dragged your sis- 
ter here, I suppose, that she may stand by while you threaten 
and insult me. These naturally seemed to you the right means 
to influence me. But you are mistaken. Let your sister 
speak. If she says she is bound to give me up, I shall abide 
by her wishes to the slightest word." 

"It was for my father's sake, Philip," said Maggie, implor- 
ingly. "Tom threatens to tell my father, and he couldn't 
bear it; I have promised, I have vowed solemnly, that we 
will not have any intercourse without my brother's knowl- 
edge." 

" It is enough, Maggie. I shall not change ; but I wish you 
u o hold yourself entirely free. But trust me ; remember that 
I can never seek for anything but good to what belongs to 
you." 

"Yes," said Tom, exasperated by this attitude of Philip's, 
" you can talk of seeking good for her and what belongs to her 
now; did you seek her good before? " 

" I did, at some risk, perhaps. But I wished her to have 



WHEAT AND TARES. 363 

a frfcnd for life, who would cherish her, who would do her 
more justice than a coarse and narrow-minded brother, that 
she has always lavished her affections on." 

" Yes, my way of befriending her is different from yours ; 
and I'll tell you what is my way. I'll save her from disobey- 
ing and disgracing her father; I'll save her from throwing 
herself away on you, from making herself a laughing-stock, 
from being flouted by a man like your father, because she's 
not good enough for his son. You know well enough what 
sort of justice and cherishing you were preparing for her. 
I'm not to be imposed upon by fine words; I can see what 
actions mean. Come away, Maggie." 

He seized Maggie's right wrist as he spoke, and she put out 
her left hand. Philip clasped it an instant, with one eager 
look, and then hurried away. 

Tom and Maggie walked on in silence for some yards. He 
was still holding her wrist tightly, as if he were compelling 
a culprit from the scene of action. At last Maggie, with a 
violent snatch, drew her hand away, and her pent-up, long- 
gathered irritation burst into utterance. 

"Don't suppose that I think you are right, Tom, or that I 
bow to your will. I despise the feelings you have shown in 
speaking to Philip; I detest your insulting, unmanly allusions 
to his deformity. You have been reproaching other people all 
your life; you have been always sure you yourself are right. 
It is because you have not a mind large enough to see that 
there is anything better than your own conduct and your own 
petty aims." 

"Certainly," said Tom, coolly. "I don't see that your 
conduct is better, or your aims either. If your conduct, and 
Philip Wakem's conduct, has been right, why are you ashamed 
of its being known? Answer me that. I know what I have 
aimed at in my conduct, and I've succeeded; pray, what good 
has your conduct brought to you or any one else?" 

"I don't want to defend myself," said Maggie, still with 
vehemence: "I know I've been wrong, often, continually. 
But yet, sometimes when I have done wrong, it has been be* 
cause 1 have feelings that you would be the better for, if you 
had them. If you were in fault ever, if you had done any- 



564 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

thing very -wrong, I should be sorry for the pain it brought 
youj I should not want punishment to be heaped on you. 
But you have always enjoyed punishing me ; you have always 
been hard and cruel to me; even when I was a little girl, and 
alwayu loved you better than any one else in the world, you 
w "* let me go crying to bed without forgiving me. You 
have no pity ; you have no sense of your own imperfection and 
your ovn s'ns. It is a sin to be hard; it is not fitting for a 
mortal, for a Christian. You are nothing but a Pharisee. 
You thank God for nothing but your own virtues; you think 
they are great enough to win you everything else. You have 
not even a vision of feelings by the side of which your shining 
virtues are mere darkness I " 

" Well, " said Tom, with cold scorn, " if your feelings are 
so much better than mine, let me see you show them in some 
other way than by conduct that's likely to disgrace us all, 
than by ridiculous flights first into one extreme and then into 
another. Pray, how have you shown your love, that you 
talk of, either to me or my father? By disobeying and de- 
ceiving us. I have a different way of showing my affection." 

" Because you are a man, Tom, and have power, and can do 
something in the world." 

" Then, if you can do nothing, submit to those that can." 

u So I will submit to what I acknowledge and feel to be 
right. I will submit even to what is unreasonable from my 
father, but I will not submit to it from you. You boast of 
your virtues as if they purchased you a right to be cruel and 
unmanly, as you've been to-day. Don't suppose I would give 
ftp Philip Wakem in obedience to you. The deformity you 
insult would make me cling to him and care for him the 
[more." 

"Very well; that is your view of things," said Tom, more 
coldly than ever ; " you need say no more to show me what a 
wide distance there is between us. Let us remember that in 
future, and be silent." 

Tom went back to St. Ogg's, to fulfil an appointment with 
his uncle Deane, and receive directions about a journey on 
which he was to set out the next morning. 

Maggie went up to her owe room to pour out all that ia 



WflfiAT AND TARES. 869 

rilgnant remonstrance, against which Tom's mind was close 
barred, in bitter tears. Then, when the first burst of unsat- 
isfied anger was gone by, came the recollection of that quiet 
time before the pleasure which had ended in to-day's misery 
had perturbed the clearness and simplicity of her life. She 
used to think in that time that she had made great conqneste, 
and won a lasting stand on serene heights above worldly temp- 
tations and conflict. And here she was down again ia the 
thick of a hot strife with her own and others' passions. Life 
was not so short, then, and perfect rest was not so near as she 
had dreamed when she was two years younger. There was 
more struggle for her, perhaps more falling. If she had felt 
that she was entirely wrong, and that Tom had been entirely 
right, she could sooner have recovered more inward harmony; 
but now her penitence and submission were constantly ob- 
structed by resentment that would present itself to her no 
otherwise than as a just indignation. Her heart bled for 
Philip; she went on recalling the insults that had been flung 
at him with so vivid a conception of what he had felt under 
them, that it was almost like a sharp bodily pain to her, mak* 
ing her beat the floor with her foot, and tighten her fingers on 
her palm. 

And yet, how was it that she was now and then conscious 
of a certain dim background of relief in the forced separation 
from Philip? Surely it was only because the sense of a deliv- 
erance from concealment was welcome at any cost. 



CHAPTER VL 

THB HARD-WON TRIUMPH. 

THKEB weeks later, when Dorlcote Mill was at its prettiest 
moment in all the year, the great chestnuts in blossom, and 
the grass all deep and daisied, Tom Tulliver came home to 
it earlier than usual in the evening, and as he passed over the 
bridge, he looked with the old deep-rooted affection afc the re- 
spectable red brick house, which always seemed cheerful and 



366 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

inviting outside, let the rooms be as bare and the hearts as sad 
as they might inside. There is a very pleasant light in Tom's 
blue-gray eyes as he glances at the house-windows j that fold 
in his brow never disappears, but it is not unbecoming; it 
seems to imply a strength of will that may possibly be with- 
out harshness, when the eyes and mouth have their gentlest 
expression. His firm step becomes quicker, and the corners 
of his mouth rebel against the compression which is meant 
to forbid a smile. 

The eyes in the parlor were not turned toward the bridge 
just then, and the group there was sitting in unexpectant 
silence, Mr. Tulliver in his arm-chair, tired with a long ride, 
and ruminating with a worn look, fixed chiefly on Maggie, 
who was bending over her sewing while her mother was mak- 
ing the tea. 

They all looked up with surprise when they heard the well- 
known foot. 

"Why, what's up now, Tom?" said his father. "You're 
a bit earlier than usual." 

" Oh, there was nothing more for me to do, so I came away. 
Well, mother!" 

Tom went up to his mother and kissed her, a sign of un- 
usual good-humor with him. Hardly a word or look had 
passed between him and Maggie in all the three weeks ; but 
his usual incommunicativeness at home prevented this from 
being noticeable to their parents. 

"Father," said Tom, when they had finished tea, "do you 
know exactly how much money there is in the tin box? " 

" Only a hundred and ninety -three pound, " said Mr. Tul- 
liver. "You've brought less o' late; but young fellows like 
to have their own way with their money. Though I didn't 
do as I liked before I was of age." He spoke with rather 
timid discontent. 

"Are you quite sure that's the sum, father?" said Tom. 
" I wish you would take the trouble to fetch the tin box down. 
I think you have perhaps made a mistake." 

" How should I make a mistake? " said his father, sharply. 
" I've counted it often enough ; but I can fetch it, if you won't 
believe me." 



WHEAT AND TARES. 367 

It was always an incident Mr. Tulliver liked, in his gloomy 
life, to fetch tie tin box and count the money. 

"Don't go out of the room, mother," said Tom, as he saw 
her moving when his father was gone upstairs. 

''And isn't Maggie to go?" said Mrs. Tulliver j "because 
somebody must take away the things." i 

" Just as she likes, " said Tom, indifferently. 

That was a cutting word to Maggie. Her heart had leaped 
with the sudden conviction that Tom was going to tell their 
father the debts could be paid j and Tom would have let her 
be absent when that news was told! But she carried away 
the tray and came back immediately. The feeling of injury 
on her own behalf could not predominate at that moment. 

Tom drew to the corner of the table near his father when 
the tin box was set down and opened, and the red evening 
light falling on them made conspicuous the worn, sour gloom 
of the dark-eyed father and the suppressed joy in the face of 
the fair-complexioned son. The mother and Maggie sat at 
the other end of the table, the one in blank patience, the other 
in palpitating expectation. 

Mr. Tulliver counted out the money, setting it in order on 
the table, and then said, glancing sharply at Tom : 

"There now! you see I was right enough." 

He paused, looking at the money with bitter despondency. 

"There's more nor three hundred wanting; it'll be a fine 
while before I can save that. Losing that forty-two pound 
wi' the corn was a sore job. This world's been too many for 
me. It's took four year to lay this by; it's much if I'm 
above ground for another four year. I must trusten to you 
to pay 'em," he went on, with a trembling voice, "if you keep 
i' the same mind now you're coming o* age. But you're like 
enough to bury me first." 

He looked up in Tom's face with a querulous desire for 
some assurance. 

"No, father," said Tom, speaking with energetic decision, 
though there was tremor discernible in his voice too, "you 
will live to see the debts all paid. You shall pay them with 
your own hand." 

His tone implied something more than mere hopefulness 01 



S68 THE MILL OX THE FLOSS. 

resolution. A slight electric shock seemed to pass through 
Mr. Tulliver, and he kept his eves fixed on Tom with a look 
of eager inquiry, whild Maggie, unable to restrain herself, 
rushed to her father's side and knelt down by him. Tom was 
silent a little while before he went on. 

* A good while ago, my uncle Glegg lent me a little money 
to trade with, and that has answered. I have three hundred 
and twenty pounds in the bank.* 

His mother's arms were round his neck as soon as the last 
words were uttered, and she said, half crying: 

"Oh, my boy, I knew you'd make iverything right again, 
when you got a man." 

But his father was silent j the flood of emotion hemmed in 
all power of speech. Both Tom and Maggie were struck with 
fear lest the shook of joy might even be fatal. But the 
blessed relief of tears came. The broad chest heaved, the 
muscles of the face gave way, and the gray-haired man 
burst into loud sobs. The fit of weeping gradually subsided, 
and he sat quiet, recovering the regularity of his breath- 
Ing. At last he looked up at his wife and said, in a gentle- 
tone: 

* Bessy, you must come and kiss me now the lad has made 
you amends. You'll see a bit o* comfort again, belike." 

When she had kissed him, and he had held her hand a 
minute, his thoughts went back to the money. 

"I wish you'd brought me the money to look at, Tom," he 
said, fingering the sovereigns on the table ; " I should ha* felt 
surer." 

"You shall see it to-morrow, father," said Tom. "My 
uncle Deane has appointed the creditors to meet to-morrow 
at the Golden Lion, and he has ordered a dinner for them at 
two o'clock. My uncle Glegg and he will both be there. It 
was advertised in the ' Messenger* on Saturday." 

"Then Wakem knows on'tl" said Mr. Tulliver, his eye 
kindling with triumphant fire. " Ah ! " he went on, with a 
long-drawn guttural enunciation, taking out his snuff-box, the 
only luxury he had left himself, and tapping it with some- 
thing oi his old air of defiance. "I'll get from under hi-s 
thumb now, though I mutt leave the old mill. I thought I 



WHEAT AND TARES. 369 

could ha' held out to die here but I can't We've got a 

glass o' nothing in the house, have we, Bessy ?" 

" Yes, " said Mrs. Tulliver, drawing out her much-reduced 
bunch of keys, " there's some brandy sister Deane brought me 
when I was ill." 
, " Get it me, then ; get it me. I feel a bit weak." 

" Tom, my lad, " he said, in a stronger voice, when he had 
taken some brandy-and-water, " you shall make a speech to 'em. 
I'll tell 'em it's you as got the best part o' the money. 
They'll see I'm honest at last, and ha' got an honest son. 
Ah! Wakem 'ud be fine and glad to have a son like mine, a 
fine straight fellow, i'stead o' that poor crooked creatur! 
You'll prosper i' the world, my lad; you'll maybe see the day 
when Wakem and his son 'ull be a round or two below you. 
You'll like enough be ta'en into partnership, as your uncle 
Deane was before you, you're in the right way for' t; and 
then there's nothing to hinder your getting rich. And if ever 
you're rich enough mind this try and get th' old mill 
again." 

Mr. Tulliver threw himself back in his chair; his mind, 
which had so long been the home of nothing but bitter dis- 
content and foreboding, suddenly filled, by the magic of joy, 
with visions of good fortune. But some subtle influence pre- 
vented him from foreseeing the good fortune as happening to 
himself. 

" Shake hands wi* me, my lad, " he said, suddenly putting 
out his hand. " It's a great thing when a man can be proud 
as he's got a good son. I've had that luck." 

Tom never lived to taste another moment so delicious as 
that; and Maggie couldn't help forgetting her own griev- 
ances. Tom was good ; and in the sweet humility that springs 
in us all in moments of true admiration and gratitude, she felt 
that the faults he had to pardon in her had never been re- 
deemed, as his faults were. She felt no jealousy this evening 
that, for the first time, she seemed to be thrown into the 
background in her father's mind. 

There was much more talk before bedtime. Mr. Tulliver 
naturally wanted to hear all the particulars of Tom's trading 
adventures, and he listened wi+h growing excitement and de- 
24 



670 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

light. He was curious to know what had been said on every 
occasion; if possible, what had been thought; and Bob Ja- 
kin's part in the business threw him into peculiar outbursts 
of sympathy with the triumphant knowingness of that remark- 
able packman. Bob's juvenile history, so far as it had come 
under Mr. Tulliver's knowledge, was recalled with that sense 
of astonishing promise it displayed, which is observable in all 
reminiscences of the childhood of great men. 

It was well that there was this interest of narrative to keep 
under the vague but fierce sense of triumph over Wakem, 
which would otherwise have been the channel his joy would 
have rushed into with dangerous force. Even as it was, that 
feeling from time to time gave threats of its ultimate mastery, 
in sudden bursts of irrelevant exclamation. 

It was long before Mr. Tulliver got to sleep that night; and 
the sleep, when it came, was filled with vivid dreams. At 
half -past five o'clock in the morning, when Mrs. Tulliver was 
already rising, he alarmed her by starting up with a sort of 
smothered shout, and looking round in a bewildered way at 
the walls of the bedroom. 

"What's the matter, Mr. Tulliver?" said his wife. He 
looked at her, still with a puzzled expression, and said at 
last: 

"Ah! I was dreaming did I make a noise? I thought 
I'd got hold of him." 



CHAPTER VIL 

A DAY OP RECKONING. 

MB. TTJLLIVER was an essentially sober man, able to take 
his glass and not averse to it, but never exceeding the bounds 
of moderation. He had naturally an active Hotspur tempera- 
ment, which did not crave liquid fire to set it aglow ; his im- 
petuosity was usually equal to an exciting occasion without 
any such reinforcements; and his desire for the brandy-and- 
water implied that the too sudden joy had fallen with a dan- 
gerous shock on a frame depressed by four years of gloom and 



WHEAT AND TARES. 371 

unaccustomed hard fare. But that first doubtful tottering mo- 
ment passed, he seemed to gather strength with his gathering 
excitement; and the next day, when he was seated at table 
with his creditors, his eye kindling and his cheek flushed with 
the consciousness that he was about to make an honorable fig- 
ure once more, he looked more like the proud, confident, warm- 
hearted, and warm-tempered Tulliver of old times than might 
have seemed possible to any one who had met him a week be* 
fore, riding along as had been his wont for the last four years 
since the sense of failure and debt had been upon him, with 
his head hanging down, casting brief, unwilling looks on those 
who forced themselves on his notice. He made his speech, 
asserting his honest principles with his old confident eager- 
ness, alluding to the rascals and the luck that had been against 
him, but that he had triumphed over, to some extent, by 
hard efforts and the aid of a good son; and winding up 
with the story of how Tom had got the best part of the need- 
ful money. But the streak of irritation and hostile triumph 
seemed to melt for a little while into purer fatherly pride and 
pleasure, when, Tom's health having been proposed, and uncle 
Deane having taken occasion to say a few words of eulogy on 
his general character and conduct, Tom himself got up and 
made the single speech of his life. It could hardly have 
been briefer. He thanked the gentlemen for the honor 
they had done him. He was glad that he had been able 
to help his father in proving his integrity and regaining 
his honest name; and, for his own part, he hoped he should 
never undo that work and disgrace that name. But the ap- 
plause that followed was so great, and Tom looked so 
gentlemanly as well as tall and straight, that Mr. Tulliver 
remarked, in an explanatory manner, to his friends on his 
right and left, that he had spent a deal of money on his 
son's education. 

The party broke up in very sober fashion at five o'clock. 
Tom remained in St. egg's to attend to some business, and 
Mr. Tulliver mounted his horse to go home, and describe the 
memorable things that had been said and done, to "poor 
Bessy and the little wench." The air of excitement that hung 
about him was but faintly due to good cheer or any stimulus 



872 THE MTT.T. ON THE FLOS& 

bat the potent wine of triumphant joy. He did not chocs* 
any back street to-day, but rode slowly, with uplifted head 
and free glances, along the principal street all the way to the 
bridge. Why did he not happen to meet \Yakem? The want 
of that coincidence vexed him, and set his mind at work in an 
irritating way. Perhaps Wakem was gone out of town to-da}- 
on purpose to avoid seeing or hearing anything of an honor- 
able action which might well cause him some unpleasaiiS 
twinges. If Wakeni were to meet him then, Mr. Tulliver 
would look straight at him, and the rascal would perhaps be 
forsaken a little by his cool, domineering impudence. He 
would know by and by that an honest man was not going to 
serve hint any longer, and lend his honesty to fill a pocket al- 
ready over-full of dishonest gains. Perhaps the luck was be- 
ginning to turn; perhaps the Devil didn't always hold the best 
cards in this world. 

Simmering in this way, Mr. Tulliver approached the yard- 
gates of Dorlcote MiH, near enough to see a well-known figure 
coming out of them on a fine black horse. They met about 
fifty yards from the gates, between the great chestnuts and 
elms and the high bank. 

"Tulliver," said Wakem, abruptly, in a haughtier tone than 
usual, "what a fool's trick you did, spreading those hard 
lumps on that Far Close 1 I told you how it would be; but 
you men never learn to farm with any method." 

"Oh!" said Tulliver, suddenly boiling up; "get somebody 
else to farm for you, then, as'll ask you to teach him." 

"You have been drinking, I suppose," said Wakem, really 
believing that this was the meaning of Tulliver's flushed face 
and sparkling eyes. 

"No, Pve not been drinking," said Tulliver; "I want no 
drinking to help me make up my mind as Pll serve no longer 
under a scoundrel." 

" Very well I you may leave my premises to-morrow, then ; 
bold your insolent tongue and let me pass." {Tulliver was 
backing his horse across the road to hem Wakem in.) 

"Xo, I gJia'n't let you pass," said Tulliver, getting fiercer. 
" I shall tell you what I think of you first You're too big | 
raskill to get hanged you're * 



WHEAT AND TARES. 373 

"Let me pass, you ignorant brute, or I'll ride over you." 

Mr. Tulliver, spurring his horse and raising his whip, made 
a rush forward; and Wakem' s horse, rearing and staggering 
backward, threw his rider from the saddle and sent him side- 
ways on the ground. Wakem had had the presence of mind 
to loose the bridle at once, and as the horse only staggered a 
few paces and then stood still, he might have risen and re- 
mounted without more inconvenience than a bruise and a 
shake. But before he could rise, Tulliver was off his horse 
too. The sight of the long-hated predominant man down, 
and In his power, threw him into a frenzy of triumphant ven- 
geance, which seemed to give him preternatural agility and 
strength. He rushed on Wakem, who was in the act of try- 
ing to recover his feet, grasped him by the left arm so as to 
press Wakem's whole weight on the right arm, which rested 
on the ground, and flogged him fiercely across the back with 
his riding-whip. "Wakem shouted for help, but no help came, 
until a woman's scream was heard, and the cry of "Father, 
father!" 

Suddenly, Wakem felt, something had arrested Mr. Tulli- 
ver's arm ; for the flogging ceased, and the grasp on his own 
arm was relaxed. 

" Get away with you go ! n said Tulliver, angrily. But 
it was not to Wakem that he spoke. Slowly the lawyer rose, 
and, as he turned his head, saw that Tulliver's arms were 
being held by a girl, rather by the fear of hurting the girl 
that clung to him with all her young might. 

"Oh, Luke mother come and help Mr. Wakem!" Mag- 
gie cried, as she heard the longed-for footsteps. 

"Help me on to that low horse," said Wakem to Luke, 
" then I shall perhaps manage j though conf Gun** it I thint 
this arm is sprained." 

With some difficulty, Wakem was heaved on to Tulliver's 
horse. Then he turned toward the miller and said, with 
white rage, " You r 11 suffer for this, sir. Your daughter is a 
witness thac you've assaulted me." 

"I don't care," said Mr. Tulliver, in a thick, fierce voice; 
* go and show your back, and tell 'em I thrashed you. Tel] 
'em I've made things a bit more even i' the world." 



874 THE MILL ON THE FLOS3. 

"Bide my horse home with me," said Wakem to Luke, 
"By the Tofton Ferry, not through the town." 

" Father, come in ! " said Maggie, imploringly. Then, see- 
ing that Wakem had ridden off, and that no further violence 
was possible, she slackened her hold and burst into hysteric 
sobs, while poor Mrs. Tulliver stood by in silence, quivering 
with fear. But Maggie became conscious that as she was 
slackening her hold her father was beginning to grasp he: 
and lean on her. The surprise checked her sobs. 

" I feel ill f aintish, " he said. " Help me in, Bessy I'm 
giddy I've a pain i' the head." 

He walked in slowly, propped by his wife and daughter, 
and tottered into his arm-chair. The almost purple flush had 
given way to paleness, and his hand was cold. 

"Hadn't we better send for the doctor?" said Mrs. Tul- 
liver. 

He seemed to be too faint and suffering to hear her; but 
presently, when she said to Maggie, " Go and seek for some- 
body to fetch the doctor, " he looked up at her with full com- 
prehension, and said, "Doctor? No no doctor. It's my 
head, that's all. Help me to bed." 

Sad ending to the day that had risen on them all like a 
beginning of better times I But mingled seed must bear a 
mingled crop. 

In half an hour after his father had lain down Tom came 
home. Bob Jakin was with him, come to congratulate " the 
old master, " not without some excusable pride that he had 
had his share in bringing about Mr. Tom's good luck; and Tom 
had thought his father would like nothing better, as a finish 
to the day, than a talk with Bob. But now Tom could only 
spend the evening in gloomy expectation of the unpleasant 
consequences that must follow on this mad outbreak of his 
father's long-smothered hate. After the painful news had 
been told, he sat in silence; he had not spirit or inclination 
to tell his mother and sister anything about the dinner; they 
hardly cared to ask it. Apparently the mingled thread in the 
web of their life was so curiously twisted together that there 
could be no joy without a sorrow coming close upon it. Tom 
*ras dejected by the thought that his exemplary effort must 



WHEAT AND TARES. 875 

always be baffled by the wrong-doing of others ; Maggie was 
living through, over and over again, the agony of the moment 
in which she had rushed to throw herself on her father's arm, 
with a vague, shuddering foreboding of wretched scenes to 
come. Not one of the three felt any particular alarm about 
Mr. Tulliver's health; the symptoms did not recall his former 
dangerous attack, and it seemed only a necessary consequence 
that his violent passion and effort of strength, after many 
hours of unusual excitement, should have made him feel ill. 
Eest would probably cure him. 

Tom, tired out by his active day, fell asleep soon, and slept 
soundly ; it seemed to him as if he had only just come to bed, 
when he waked to see his mother standing by him in the gray 
light of early morning. 

"My boy, you must get up this minute; I've sent for the 
doctor, and your father wants you and Maggie to come to 
him." 

" Is he worse, mother? " 

" He's been very ill all night with his head, but he doesn't 
say it's worse; he only said suddenly, ' Bessy, fetch the boy 
and girl. Tell 'em to make haste. ' " 

Maggie and Tom threw on their clothes hastily in the chill 
gray light, and reached their father's room almost at the same 
moment. He was watching for them with an expression of 
pain on his brow, but with sharpened, anxious consciousness 
in his eyes. Mrs. Tulliver stood at the foot of the bed, fright- 
ened and trembling, looking worn and aged from disturbed 
rest. Maggie was at the bedside first, but her father's glance 
was toward Tom. who came and stood next to her. 

"Tom, my lad, it's come upon me as I sha'n't get up again. 
This world's been too many for me, my lad, but you've done 
what you could to make things a bit even. Shake hands wi' 
me again, my lad, before I go away from you." 

The father and son clasped hands and looked at each other 
an instant. Then Tom said, trying to speak firmly, 

" Have you any wish, father that I can fulfil, when * 

"Ay, my lad you'll try and get the old mill back." 

"Yes, father." 

"And there's your mother YOU' 11 try and make bet 



376 THE MILL OX THE FLOSS. 

amends, all you can, for my bad luck and there's the little 
wench 

The father turned his eyes on Maggie with a still more 
eager look, while she, with a bursting heart, sank on her 
knees, to be closer to the dear, time-worn face which had 
been present with her through long years, as the sign of her 
deepest love and hardest trial. 

" You must take care of her, Tom don't you fret, my 
wench there'll come somebody as'll love you and take your 
part and you must be good to her, my lad. I was good to 
my sister. Kiss me, Maggie. Come, Bessy. You'll manage 
to pay for a brick grave, Tom, so as your mother and me can 
lie together." 

He looked away from them all when he had said this, and 
lay silent for some minutes, while they stood watching him, 
not daring to move. The morning light was growing clearer 
for them, and they could see the heaviness gathering in his 
face, and the dulness in his eyes. But at last he looked tow- 
ard Torn and said, 

"I had my turn I beat him. That was nothing but fair 
I never wanted anything but what was fair." 

"But, father, dear father," said Maggie, an unspeakable 
anxiety predominating over her grief, " you forgive him you 
forgive every one now? " 

He did not move his eyes to look at her, but he said, 

"No, my wench. I don't forgive him. What's forgiving 
to do? I can't love a raskill " 

His voice had become thicker ; but he wanted to say more, 
and moved his lips again and again, struggling in vain to 
speak. At length the words forced their way. 

"Does God forgive raskills? but if He does, He won't be 
hard wi' me." 

His hands moved uneasily, as if he wanted them to remove 
some obstruction that weighed upon him. Two or three times 
there fell from him some broken words, 

"This world's too many honest man puzzling " 

Soon they merged into mere mutterings; the eyes had 
ceased to discern; and then came the final silence. 

But not of death. For an hour or more the chest heaved, 



WHEAT AND TARES. 377 

tne loud, hard breathing continued, getting gradually slower, 
as the cold dews gathered on the brow. 

At last there was total stillness, and poor Tulliver's dimly 
lighted soul had forever ceased to be vexed with the painful 
riddle of this world. 

Help was come now; Luke and his wife were there, and 
Mr. Turubull had arrived, too late for everything but u> say, 
"This is death." 

Tom and Maggie went downstairs together into the room 
where their father's place was empty. Their eyes turned to 
the same spot, and Maggie spoke, 

"Tom, forgive me let us always love each other "j and 
they clung and wept together. 



BOOK VL-THE GREAT TEMPTAllO* 

CHAPTKK L 

A DUCT IN PAHADWB. 

THE weU-furnislied drawing-room, with the open grand 
piano, and the pleasant outlook down a sloping garden to a 
boat-house by the side of the Floss, is Mr. Deane's. The neat 
little lady in mourning, whose light-brown ringlets are falling 
over the colored embroidery with which her fingers are busy, 
is of course Lucy Deane j and the fine young man who is lean- 
ing down from his chair to snap the scissors in the extremely 
abbreviated face of the " King Charles " lying on the young 
lady's feet is no other than Mr. Stephen Guest, whose dia- 
mond ring, attar of roses, and air of nonchalant leisure, at 
twelve o'clock in the day, are the graceful and odoriferous re- 
sult of the largest oil-mill and the most extensive wharf in St. 
Ogg's. There is an apparent triviality in the action with the 
scissors, but your discernment perceives at once that there is 
a design in it which make* it eminently worthy of a large- 
headed, long-limbed young man; for you see that Lucy wants 
the scissors, and is compelled, reluctant as she may be, to 
shake her ringlets back, raise her soft hazel eyes, smile play- 
fully down on the face that is so very nearly on a level with 
her knee, and holding out her little shell-pink palm, to say, 

" My scissors, please, if you can renounce the great pleasure 
of persecuting my poor Minny." 

The foolish scissors have slipped too far over the knuckles, 
it seems, and Hercules holds out his entrapped fingeis hope- 
lessly. 

"Confound the scissors! The oval lies the wrong way 
Please draw them off for me." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 

"Draw them off with your other hand," says Miss Lucy, 
roguishly 

"Oh, but that's my left hand; I'm not left-handed." 

Lucy laughs, and the scissors are drawn off with gentle 
touches from tiny tips, which naturally dispose Mr. Stephen 
for a repetition da capo. Accordingly, he watches for the 
release of the scissors, that he may get them into his posses- 
sion again. 

"No, no, "said Lucy, sticking them in her band, "you shall 
not have my scissors again, you have strained them already. 
Now don't set Minny growling again. Sit up and behavfi 
properly, and then I will tell you some news." 

" What is that? " said Stephen, throwing himself back an<? 
hanging his right arm over the corner of his chair. He might 
have been sitting for his portrait, which would have repre- 
sented a rather striking young man of five-and-twenty, with a 
square forehead, short dark-brown hair, standing erect, with a 
alight wave at the end, like a thick crop of corn, and a half- 
ardent, half -sarcastic glance from under his well-marked hori- 
zontal eyebrows. " Is it very important news? " 

"Yes, very. Guess." 

"You are going to change Minny 's diet, and give him three 
ratafias soaked in a dessertspoonful of cream daily?" 

" Quite wrong." 

" Well, then, Dr. Kenn has been preaching against buckram, 
and you ladies have all been sending him a round-robin, say- 
ing, * This is a hard doctrine; who can bear it?' " 

"For shame! " said Lucy, adjusting her little mouth grave 
ly. " It is rather dull of you not to guess my news, because 
it is about something I mentioned to you not very long ago. " 
) " But you have mentioned many things to me not long ago. 
Does your feminine tyranny require that when you say the 
thing you mean is one of several things, I should know it im- 
mediately by that mark?" 

"Yes, I know you think I am silly." 

"I think you are perfectly charming." 

" And my silliness is part of my charm? " 

"I didn't say that." 

* But I fcnow you like women to be rather insipid. Philip 



380 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Wakem betrayed you ; he said so one day when you were not 
here." 

" Oh, I know Phil is fierce on that point ; he makes it quite 
a personal matter. I think he must be love-sick for some un- 
known lady, some exalted Beatrice whom he met abroad." 

" By the by," said Lucy, pausing in her work, "it has just 
occurred to me that I never found out whether my cousin 
Maggie will object to see Philip, as her brother does. Tom 
will not enter a room where Philip is, if he knows it ; perhaps 
Maggie may be the same, and then we sha'n't be able to sing 
our glees, shall we?" 

" What! is your cousin coming to stay with you? " said Ste- 
phen, with a look of slight annoyance! 

" Yes ; that was my news, which you have forgotten. She's 
going to leave her situation, where she has been nearly two 
years, poor thing, ever since her father's death; and she will 
stay with me a month or two, many months, I hope." 

"And am I bound to be pleased at that news?" 

" Oh no, not at all, " said Lucy, with a little air of pique. 
" 1 am pleased, but that, of course, is no reason why you 
should be pleased. There is no girl in the world I love so 
well as my cousin Maggie." 

" And you will be inseparable, I suppose, when she comes. 
There will be no possibility of a tete-a-tete with you any more, 
unless you can find an admirer for her, who will pair off with 
her occasionally. What is the ground of dislike to Philip? 
He might have been a resource." 

"It is a family quarrel with Philip's father. There were 
very painful circumstances, I believe. I never quite under- 
stood them, or knew them all. My uncle Tulliver was unfor- 
tunate and lost all his property, and I think he considered Mr. 
Wakem was somehow the cause of it. Mr. Wakem bought 
Dorlcote Mill, my uncle's old place, where he always lived. 
You must remember my uncle Tulliver, don't you?" 

"No," eaid Stephen, with rather supercilious indifference. 
" I've always known the name, and I dare say I knew the man 
by sight, apart from his name. I know half the names and 
faces in the neighborhood in that detached, disjointed way." 

" He was a very hot-tempered man, I remember, 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 381 

was a little girl and used to go to see my cousins, he often 
frightened me by talking as if he were angry. Papa told me 
there was a dreadful quarrel, the very day before my uncle's 
death, between him and Mr. Wakem, but it was hushed up. 
That was when you were in London. Papa says my uncle was 
quite mistaken in many ways ; his mind had become embit- 
tered. But Tom and Maggie must naturally feel it very pain- 
ful to be reminded of these things. They have had so much, 
so very much trouble. Maggie was at school with me six yeaie 
ago, when she was fetched away because of her father's mis' 
fortunes, and she has hardly had any pleasure since, I think. 
She has been in a dreary situation in a school since uncle's 
death, because she is determined to be independent, and not 
live with aunt Pullet ; and I could hardly wish her to come to 
me then, because dear mamma was ill, and everything was so 
sad. That is why I want her to come to me now, and have a 
long, long holiday." 

"Very sweet and angelic of you," said Stephen, looking at 
her with an admiring smile ; " and all the more so if she has 
the conversational qualities of her mother." 

" Poor aunty ! You are cruel to ridicule her. She is very 
valuable to me, I know. She manages the house beautifully, 
much better than any stranger would, and she was a great 
comfort to me in mamma's illness." 

" Yes, but in point of companionship one would prefer that 
she should be represented by her brandy-cherries and cream, 
cakes. I think with a shudder that her daughter will always 
be present in person, and have no agreeable proxies of that 
kind, a fat, blond girl, with round blue eyes, who will stare 
at us silently." 

" Oh yes ! " exclaimed Lucy, laughing wickedly, and clap- 
ping her hands, " that is just my cousin Maggie. You must 
have seen her ! " 

"No, indeed; I'm only guessing what Mrs. Tulliver's 
daughter must be ; and then if she is to banish Philip, our only 
apology for a tenor, that will be an additional bore." 

" But I hope that may not be. I think I will ask you to 
call on Philip and tell him Maggie is coming to-morrow. He 
ia quite aware of Tom's feeling, and always keens out- of bis 



382 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

way; BO lie will understand, if you tell him, tliat I asked yon 
to warn him not to come until I write to ask him. " 

" I think you had better write a pretty note for me to take; 
Phil is so sensitive, you know, the least thing might frighten 
him off coming at all, and we had hard work to get him. I 
can never induce him to come to the parkj he doesn't like my 
sisters, I think. It is only your faery touch that can lay hia 
ruffled feathers." 

Stephen mastered the little hand that was straying toward 
the table, and touched it lightly with his lips. Little Lucy 
felt very proud and happy. She and Stephen were in that 
stage of courtship which makes the most exquisite moment of 
youth, the freshest blossom-time of passion, when each is 
sure of the other's love, but no formal declaration has been 
made, and all is mutual divination, exalting the most trivial 
word, the lightest gesture, into thrills delicate and delicious 
as wafted jasmine scent. The explicitness of an engagement 
wears off this finest edge of susceptibility; it is jasmine gath- 
ered and presented in a large bouquet. 

" But it is really odd that you should have hit so exactly on 
Maggie's appearance and manners," said the cunning Lucy, 
moving to reach her desk, " because she might have been like 
her brother, you know j and Tom has not round eyes j and he 
is as far as possible from staring at people." 

" Oh, I suppose he is like the father ; he seems to be as 
proud as Lucifer. Not a brilliant companion, though, I should 
think." 

M I like Tom. He gave me my Minny when I lost Lolo ; and 
papa is very fond of him : he says Tom has excellent princi- 
ples. It was through him that his father was able to pay all 
his debts before he died." 

"Oh, ah; I've heard about that. I heard your father and 
mine talking about it a little while ago, after dinner, in one of 
their interminable discussions about business. They think of 
doing something for young Tulliver; he saved them from a 
considerable loss by riding home in some marvellous way, like 
Turpin, to bring them news about the stoppage of a bank, 
or something of that sort. But I was rather drowsy at the 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 383 

Stephen rose from his seat, and sauntered to the piano, hum- 
ming in falsetto, " Graceful Contort, " as he turned over the 
volume of " The Creation, " which stood open on the desk. 

" Come and sing this, " he said, when he saw Lucy rising. 

"What, ' Graceful Consort' ? I don't think it suits your 
voice." 

"Never mindj it exactly suits my feeling, which, Philip 
will have it, is the grand element of good singing. I notice 
men with indifferent voices are usually of that opinion." 

" Philip burst into one of his invectives against * The Crea* 
tion ' the other day, " said Lucy, seating herself at the piano. 
" He says it has a sort of sugared complacency and flattering 
make-believe in it, as if it were written for the birthday fete 
of a German Grand-Duke." 

" Oh, pooh ! He is the fallen Adam with a soured temper. 
We are Adam and Eve unf alien, in Paradise. Now, then, 
the recitative, for the sake of the moral. You will sing the 
whole duty of woman, * And from obedience grows my pride 
and happiness.' " 

" Oh no, I shall not respect an Adam who drags the tempo, 
as you will, " said Lucy, beginning to play the duet. 

Surely the only courtship unshaken by doubts and fears 
must be that in which the lovers can sing together. The sense 
of mutual fitness that springs from the two deep notes fulfill- 
ing expectation just at the right moment between the notes of 
the silvery soprano, from the perfect accord of descending 
thirds and fifths, from the preconcerted loving chase of a 
fugue, is likely enough to supersede any immediate demand 
for less impassioned forms of agreement. The contralto will 
not care to catechise the bass ; the tenor will foresee no em- 
barrassing dearth of remark in evenings spent with the lovely 
soprano. In the provinces, too, where music was so scarce in 
that remote time, how could the musical people avoid falling 
in love with each other? Even political principle must have 
been in danger of relaxation under such circumstances ; and 
the violin, faithful to rotten boroughs, must have been tempted 
to fraternize in a demoralizing way with a reforming violin- 
cello. In this case, the linnet-throated soprano and the fall- 
toned hflps sine inc. 



384 THE MILL ON THE FLOS& 

** With thee delight Is ever new, 
Witb tbee is life Incessant bliss,** 

believed what they sang all the more because they sang it. 

"Now for KaphaeF s great song," said Lucy, when they had 
finished the duet. " You do the * heavy beasts ' to perfection." 

"That sounds complimentary," said Stephen, looking at his 
watch. "By Jove, it's nearly half- past one! Well, I can. 
just sing this." | 

Stephen delivered with admirable ease the deep notes repre- 
senting the tread of the heavy beasts; but when a singer 
has an audience of two, there is room for divided sentiments. 
Minny's mistress was charmed; but Minny, who had in- 
trenched himself, trembling, in his basket as soon as the mu- 
sic began, found this thunder so little to his taste that he 
leaped out and scampered under the remotest chiffonnier, as 
the most eligible place in which a small dog could await the 
crack of doom. 

"Adieu, "graceful consort,'" said Stephen, buttoning his 
coat across when he had done singing, and smiling down from, 
his tall height, with the air of rather a patronizing lover, at 
the little lady on the music-stool. " My bliss is not incessant, 
for I must gallop home. I promised to be there at lunch." 

"You will not be able to call on Philip, then? It is of no 
consequence; I have said everything in my note." 

" You will be engaged with your cousin to-morrow, I sup- 
pose?" 

" Yes, we are going to have a little family-party. My cou- 
sin Tom will dine with us ; and poor aunty will have her two 
children together for the first time. It will be very pretty ; 
I think a great deal about it." 

" But I may come the next day? " 

"Oh yes I Come and be introduced to my cousin Maggie; 
though you can hardly be said not to have seen her, you have 
described her so well." 

"Good-bye, then." And there was that slight pressure of 
the hands, and momentary meeting of the eyes, which will 
often leave a little lady with a slight flush and smile on her 
face that do not subside immediately when the door is closed, 
sud with &a iflpliqa^nrt to walk up and down tbo room rather 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 385 

than to seat herself quietly at her embroidery, or other rational 
and improving occupation. At least this was the effect on 
Lucy j a.ad you will not, I hope, consider it an indication of 
vanity predominating over more tender impulses, that she just 
glanced in the chimney-glass as her walk brought her near it. 
The desire to know that one has not looked an absolute fright 
during a few hours of conversation may be construed as lying 
within the bounds of a laudable benevolent consideration for 
others. And Lucy had so much of this benevolence in her 
nature that I am inclined to think her small egoisms were im- 
pregnated with it, just as there are people not altogether un- 
known to you whose small benevolences have a predominant 
and somewhat rank odor of egoism. Even now, that she is 
walking up and down with a little triumphant flutter of her 
girlish heart at the sense that she is loved by the person of 
chief consequence in her small world, you may see in her ha- 
zel eyes an ever-present sunny benignity, in which the momen- 
tary harmless flashes of personal vanity are quite lost ; and if 
she is happy in thinking of her lover, it is because the thought 
of him mingles readily with all the gentle affections and good- 
natured offices with which she fills her peaceful days. Even 
now, her mind, with that instantaneous alternation which makes 
two currents of feeling or imagination seem simultaneous, is 
glancing continually from Stephen to the preparations she has 
only half finished in Maggie's room. Cousin Maggie should 
be treated as well as the grandest lady- visitor, nay, better, 
for she should have Lucy's best prints and drawings in her 
bedroom, and the very finest bouquet of spring flowers on her 
table. Maggie would enjoy all that, she was so fond of pretty 
things I And there was poor aunt Tulliver, that no one made 
any account of, she was to be surprised with the present of a 
cap of superlative quality, and to have her health drunk in a 
gratifying manner, for which Lucy was going to lay a plot 
with her father this evening. Clearly, she had not time to 
indulge in long reveries about her own happy love-affairs. 
With this thought she walked toward the door, but paused 
there, 

"What's the matter, then, Minny?" she said, stooping in 
answer to some whimpering of that small OjUadruped, and lift' 

mi 



386 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

ing his glossy head against her pink cheek. " Did you think 
I was going without you? Come, then, let us go and see Sin- 
bad." 

Sinbad was Lucy's chestnut horse, that she always fed with 
her own hand when he was turned out in the paddock. She 
was fond of feeding dependent creatures, and knew the private 
tastes of all the animals about the house, delighting in the lit- 
tle rippling sounds of her canaries when their beaks were busy 
with fresh seed, and in the small nibbling pleasures of certain 
animals which, lest she should appear too trivial, I will here 
call " the more familiar rodents. " 

Was not Stephen Guest right in his decided opinion that 
this slim maiden of eighteen was quite the sort of wife a man 
would not be likely to repent of marrying, a woman who was 
loving and thoughtful for other women, not giving them Judas- 
kisses with eyes askance on their welcome defects, but with 
real care and vision for their half -hidden pains and mortifica- 
tions, with long ruminating enjoyment of little pleasures pre- 
pared for them? Perhaps the emphasis of his admiration did 
not fall precisely on this rarest quality in her; perhaps he ap- 
proved his own choice of her chiefly because she did not strike 
him as a remarkable rarity. A man likes his wife to be pret- 
ty ; well, Lucy was pretty, but not to a maddening extent. A 
man likes his wife to be accomplished, gentle, affectionate, 
and not stupid ; and Lucy had all these qualifications. Ste 
phen was not surprised to find himself in love with her, and 
was conscious of excellent judgment in preferring her to Miss 
Leyburn, the daughter of the county member, although Lucy 
was only the daughter of his father's subordinate partner ; be 
sides, he had had to defy and overcome a slight unwillingness 
and disappointment in his father and sisters, a circumstance 
which gives a young man an agreeable consciousness of his own 
dignity. Stephen was aware that he had sense and independ- 
ence enough to choose the wife who was likely to make him 
happy, unbiassed by any indirect considerations. He meant 
to choose Lucy; she was a little darling, and exactly the sort 
of woman he had always most admired. 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 88t 

CHAPTER IL 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 

" HE is very clever, Maggie," said Lucy. She was kneeling 
on a footstool at Maggie's feet, after placing that dark lady in 
the large crimson-velvet chair. " I feel sure you will like 
.Mm. I hope you will." 

" I shall be very difficult to please, " said Maggie, smiling, 
and holding up one of Lucy's long curls, that the sunlight 
might shine through it. " A gentleman who thinks he is good 
enough for Lucy must expect to be sharply criticised." 

"Indeed, he's a great deal too good for me. And some- 
times, when he is away, I almost think it can't really be that 
he loves me. But I can never doubt it when he is with me, 
though I couldn't bear any one but you to know that I feel in 
that way, Maggie." 

" Oh, then, if I disapprove of him you can give him up, 
since you are not engaged, " said Maggie, with playful gravity. 

" I would rather not be engaged. When people are engaged, 
they begin to think of being married soon," said Lucy, too 
thoroughly preoccupied to notice Maggie's joke ; " and I should 
like everything to go on for a long while just as it is. Some- 
times I am quite frightened lest Stephen should say that he 
has spoken to papa ; and from something that fell from papa 
the other day, I feel sure he and Mr. Guest are expecting 
that. And Stephen's sisters are very civil to me now. At 
first, I think they didn't like his paying me attention; and 
that was natural. It does seem out of keeping that I should 
ever live in a great place like the Park House, such a little 
insignificant thing as I am." 

" But people are not expected to be large in proportion to 
the houses they live in, like snails, " said Maggie, laughing. 
"Pray, are Mr. Guest's sisters giantesses?" 

" Oh no; and not handsome, that is, not Tery," said Lucy, 
half-penitent at this uncharitable remark. "But ha is aft 
leaat he is generally considered verv handsome." 



388 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Though you are unable to share that opinion? n 

"Oh, I don't know," said Lucy, blushing pink over brow 
and neck. " It is a bad plan to raise expectation ; you will 
perhaps be disappointed. But I have prepared a charming 
surprise for him ; I shall have a glorious laugh against him. 
I shall not tell you what it is, though." 

Lucy rose from her knees and went to a little distance, hold- 
ing her pretty head on one side, as if she had been arranging 
Maggie for a portrait, and wished to judge of the general 
effect. 

"Stand up a moment, Maggie." 

"What is your pleasure now?" said Maggie, smiling lan- 
guidly as she rose from her chair and looked down on her slight, 
aerial cousin, whose figure was quite subordinate to her fault- 
less drapery of silk and crape. 

Lucy kept her contemplative attitude a moment or two hi 
silence, and then aaid, 

" I can't think what witchery it is in you, Maggie, that 
makes you look best in shabby clothes j though you really must 
have a new dress now. But do you know, last night I was 
trying to fancy you in a handsome, fashionable dress, and do 
what I would, that old limp merino would come back as the 
only right thing for you. I wonder if Marie Antoinette looked 
all the grander when her gown was darned at the elbows. 
Now, if / were to put anything shabby on, I should be quite 
unnoticeable. I should be a mere rag." 

" Oh, quite, " said Maggie, with mock gravity. " You would 
be liable to be swept out of the room with the cobwebs and 
carpet-dust, and to find yourself under the grate, like Cinder- 
ella. Mayn't I sit down now? " 

" Yes, now you may, " said Lucy, laughing. Then, with an 
air of serious reflection, unfastening her large jet brooch, " But 
you must change brooches, Maggie ; that little butterfly looks 
silly on you." 

" But won't that mar the charming effect of my consistent 
shabbiness? " said Maggie, seating herself submissively, while 
Lucy knelt again and unfastened the contemptible butterfly. 
" I wish my mother were of your opinion, for she was fretting 
last night because this is my best frock- I've been saving my 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 389 

money to pay for some lessons; I shall never get a better situ- 
ation without more accomplishments." 

Maggie gave a little sigh. 

"Now, don't put on that sad look again," said Lucy, pin- 
ning the large brooch below Maggie's fine throat. " You're 
forgetting that you've left that dreary schoolroom behind you, 
and have no little girls' clothes to mend. " 

"Yes," said Maggie. "It is with me as I used to think it 
would be with the poor uneasy white bear I saw at the show. 
I thought he must have got so stupid with the habit of turning 
backward and forward in that narrow space that he would 
keep doing it if they set him, free. One gets a bad habit of 
being unhappy." 

" But I shall put you under a discipline of pleasure that will 
make you lose that bad habit, " said Lucy, sticking the black 
butterfly absently in her own collar, while her eyes met Mag- 
gie's affectionately. 

" You dear, tiny thing, " said Maggie, in one of her bursts 
of loving admiration, " you enjoy other people's happiness so 
much, I believe you would do without any of your own. I 
wish I were like you." 

"I've never been tried in that way," said Lucy. "I've 
always been so happy. I don't know whether I could bear 
much trouble ; I never had any but poor mamma's death. You 
have been tried, Maggie; and I'm sure you feel for other peo- 
ple quite as much as I do." 

"No, Lucy, "said Maggie, shaking her head slowly, "I don't 
enjoy their happiness as you do, else I should be more content- 
ed. I do feel for them when they are in trouble; I don't 
think I -sould ever bear to make any one wnhappy ; and yet I 
often hate myself, because I get angry sometimes at the sight 
of happy people. I think I get worse as I get older, more self- 
ish. That seems very dreadful." 

" Now, Maggie ! " said Lucy, in a tone of remonstrance, " I 
don't believe a word of that. It is all a gloomy fancy, just 
because you are depressed by a dull, wearisome life." 

" Well, perhaps it is, " said Maggie, resolutely clearing away 
the clouds from her face with a bright smile, and throwing 
herself backward in her chair. " Perhaps it comes from tha 



390 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

school diet, watery rice-pudding spiced with Pinnock. Let 
us hope it will give way before my mother's custards and this 
charming Geoffrey Crayon." 

Maggie took up the " Sketch Book, " which lay by her on 
the table. 

" Do I look fit to be seen with this little brooch? " said Lucy, 
going to survey the effect in the chimney-glass. 

" Oh no, Mr. Guest will be obliged to go out of the room 
again if he sees you in it. Pray make haste and put another 
on." 

Lucy hurried out of the room, but Maggie did not take the 
opportunity of opening her book; she let it fall on her knees, 
while her eyes wandered to the window, where she could see 
the sunshine falling on the rich clumps of spring flowers and 
on the long hedge of laurels, and beyond, the silvery breadth 
of the dear old Floss, that at this distance seemed to be sleep- 
ing in a morning holiday. The sweet fresh garden-scent came 
through the open window, and the birds were busy flitting and 
alighting, gurgling and singing. Yet Maggie's eyes began to 
fill with tears. The sight of the old scenes had made the rush 
of memories so painful that even yesterday she had only been 
able to rejoice in her mother's restored comfort and Tom's 
brotherly friendliness as we rejoice in good news of friends at 
a distance, rather than in the presence of a happiness which 
we share. Memory and imagination urged upon her a sense 
of privation too keen, to let her taste what was offered in the 
transient present. Her future, she thought, was likely to be 
worse than her past, for after her years of contented renunci- 
ation, she had slipped back into desire and longing ; she found 
joyless days of distasteful occupation harder and harder; she 
found the image of the intense and varied life she yearned 
for, and despaired of, becoming more and more importunate. 
The sound of the opening door roused her, atd hastily wiping 
away her tears, she began to turn ove*. the leares of her 
book. 

" There is one pleasure, I know, Maggie, that your deepest 
dismalness will never resist, " said Lucy, beginning to speak 
as soon as she entered the room. " That is music, and I mean 
you to have quite a riotous feast of it. I mean you to get uy 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. Stl 



your playing again, which used to be so muck bettor 
dine, when we were at Laceham. " 

" You would have laughed to see me playing the little girls' 
tunes over and over to them, when I took them to practise," 
said Maggie, "just for the sake of fingering the dear keys 
again. But I don't know whether I could play anything more 
difficult now tiiaii * Begone, dull care! ' " 

" I know what a wild state of joy you used to be in when ( 
the glee-ruen came round," said Lucy, taking up her embroid- 
ery ; " and we might have all those old glees that you used to 
love so, if I were certain that you don't feel exactly as Tom 
does about some things." 

" I should have thought there was nothing you might be 
more certain of," said Maggie, smiling. 

" I ought rather to have said, one particular thing. Because 
if you feel just as he does about that, we shall want our third 
voice. St. Ogg's is so miserably provided with musical gen- 
tlemen. There are really only Stephen and Philip Wakem 
who have any knowledge of music, so as to be able to sing a 
part." 

Lucy had looked up from her work as she uttered the last 
sentence, and saw that there was a change in Maggie's face. 

" Does it hurt you to hear the name mentioned, Maggie? If 
it does, I will not speak of him again. I know Tom will not 
see him if he can avoid it." 

" I don't feel at all as Tom does on that subject," said Mag- 
gie, rising and going to the window as if she wanted to see 
more of the landscape. " I've always liked Philip Wakem 
ever since I was a little girl, and saw him at Lorton. He was 
so good when Tom hurt his foot." 

" Oh, I'm so glad! " said Lucy. " Then you won't mind his 
coming sometimes, and we can have much more music than 
we could without him. I'm very fond of poor Philip, only I 
wish he were not so morbid about his deformity. I suppose it 
is his deformity that makes him so sad, and sometimes bitter. 
It is certainly very piteous to see his poor little crooked body 
and pale face among great, strong people." 

" But, Lucy " said Maggie, trying to arrest the prattling 

gtream. 



992 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Ah, there is the door-bell. That must be Stephen," Lucy 
went on, not noticing Maggie's faint effort to speak. " One of 
the things I most admire in Stephen is that he makes a greater 
friend of Philip than any one." 

It was too late for Maggie to speak now; the drawing-room 
door was opening, and Minny was already growling in a small 
way at the entrance of a tall gentleman, who went up to Lucy 
and took her hand with a half-polite, half -tender glance and 
tone of inquiry, which seemed to indicate that he was uncon- 
scious of any other presence. 

"Let me introduce you to my cousin, Miss Tulliver," said 
Lucy, turning with wicked enjoyment toward Maggie, who 
now approached from the farther window. " This is Mr. Ste- 
phen Guest." 

For one instant Stephen could not conceal his astonishment 
at the sight of this tall, dark-eyed nymph with her jet-black 
coronet of hair ; the next, Maggie felt herself, for the first time 
in her life, receiving the tribute of a very deep blush and a 
very deep bow from a person toward whom she herself was 
conscious of timidity. This new experience was very agree- 
able to her, so agreeable that it almost effaced her previous 
emotion about Philip. There was a new brightness in her 
eyes, and a very becoming flush on her cheek, as she seated 
herself. 

" I hope you perceive what a striking likeness you drew the 
day before yesterday," said Lucy, with a pretty laugh of tri- 
umph. She enjoyed her lover's confusion ; the advantage was 
usually on his side. 

" This designing cousin of yours quite deceived me, Miss 
Tulliver," said Stephen, seating himself by Lucy, and stoop- 
ing to play with Minny, only looking at Maggie furtively. 
" She said you had light hair and blue eyes." 

"Nay, it was you who said so," remonstrated Lucy. "I 
>nly refrained from destroying your confidence in your own 
second- sight." 

"I wish I could always err in the same way," said Stephen, 
"and find reality so much more beautiful than my preconcep 
lions." 

"Now you have proved yourself equal to the occasion," said 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 393 

Maggie, " and said what it was incumbent on you to say under 
the circumstances." 

She flashed a slightly defiant look at him ; it was clear to 
her that he had been drawing a satirical portrait of her be- 
forehand. Lucy had said he was inclined to be satirical, and 
Maggie had mentally supplied the addition, " and rather con- 
ceited." 

"An alarming amount of devil there," was Stephen's first 
thought. The second, when she had bent over her work, was, 
" I wish she would look at me again." The next was to an- 
swer, 

" I suppose all phrases of mere compliment have their turn 
to be true. A man is occasionally grateful when he says 
4 Thank you.' It's rather hard upon him that he must use 
the same words with which all the world declines a disagree- 
able invitation, don't you think so, Miss Tulliver? n 

"No," said Maggie, looking at him with her direct glance; 
" if we use common words on a great occasion, they are the 
more striking, because they are felt at once to have a particu- 
lar meaning, like old banners, or every-day clothes, hung up 
in a sacred place." 

" Then my compliment ought to be eloquent," said Stephen, 
really not quite knowing what he said while Maggie looked at 
<him, " seeing that the words were so far beneath the occasion." 

" No compliment can be eloquent, except as an expression of 
3&diff erence, " said Maggie, flushing a little. 
6i Lucy was rather alarmed ; she thought Stephen and Maggie 
were not going to like each other. She had always feared lest 
Maggie should appear too odd and clever to please that critical 
gentleman. " Why, dear Maggie," she interposed, " you have 
always pretended that you are too fond of being admired; and 
now, I think, you are angry because some one ventures to ad- 
mire you." 

" Not at all, " said Maggie ; " I like too well to feel that I am 
admired, but compliments never make me feel that." 

" I will never pay you a compliment again, Miss Tnlliver," 
said Stephen. 

" Thank you ; that will be a proof of respect. " 

Poor Maggie! She was so unused to society that she could 



594 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

take nothing as a matter of course, and had never in hei life 
spoken from the lips merely, so that she must necessarily ap- 
pear absurd to more experienced ladies, from the excessive 
feeling she was apt to throw into very trivial incidents. But 
she was even conscious herself of a little absurdity in this in- 
stance. It was true she had a theoretic objection to compli- 
ments, and had once said impatiently to Philip that she 
didn't see why women were to be told with a simper that they 
were beautiful, any more than old men were to be told that 
they were venerable; still, to be so irritated by a common 
practice in the case of a stranger like Mr. Stephen Guest, and 
to care about his having spoken slightingly of her before he 
had seen her, was certainly unreasonable, and as soon as she 
was silent she began to be ashamed of herself. It did not 
occur to her that her irritation was due to the pleasanter emo- 
tion which preceded it, just as when we are satisfied with a 
sense of glowing warmth an innocent drop of cold water may 
fall upon us as a sudden smart. 

Stephen was too well bred not to seem unaware that the 
previous conversation could have been felt embarrassing, and 
at once began to talk of impersonal matters, asking Lucy if 
she knew when the bazaar was at length to take place, so that 
there might be some hope of seeing her rain the influence of 
her eyes on objects more grateful than those worsted flowers 
that were growing under her fingers. 

"Some day next month, I believe," said Lucy. "But your 
sisters are doing more for it than I am j they are to have the 
largest stall." 

" Ah yes ; but they carry on their manufactures in their own 
sitting-room, where I don't intrude on them. I see you are 
not addicted to the fashionable vice of fancy-work, Miss Tul 
liver," said Stephen, looking at Maggie's plain hemming. 

"No," said Maggie, "I can do nothing more difficult or 
more elegant than shirt-making." 

** And your plain sewing is so beautiful, Maggie, " said Lucy, 
" that I think I shall beg a few specimens of you to show aa 
fancy-work. Your exquisite sewing is quite a mystery to me, 
you used to dislike that sort of work so much in old days." 

" It is a mystery easily explained, dear," said Maggie, loot 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 393 

fag tip quietly. " Plain sewing was the only thing I could get 
money by, so I was obliged to try and do it well." 

Lucy, good and simple as she was, could not help blushing 
a little. She did not quite like that Stephen should know 
that; Maggie need not have mentioned it. Perhaps there was 
some pride in the confession, the pride of poverty that w ; ll, 
not be ashamed of itself. But if Maggie had been the queen 
of coquettes she could hardly have invented a means of giving 
greater piquancy to her beauty in Stephen's eyes; I am not 
sure that the quiet admission of plain sewing and poverty 
would have done alone, but assisted by the beauty, they made 
Maggie more unlike other women even than she had seemed at 
first. 

"But I can knit, Lucy," Maggie went on, "if that will be 
of any use for your bazaar. " 

"Oh yes, of infinite use. I shall set you to work with 
scarlet wool to-morrow. But your sister is the most enviable 
person, " continued Lucy, turning to Stephen, "to have the tal- 
ent of modelling. She is doing a wonderful bust of Dr. Kenn 
entirely from memory." 

" Why, if she can remember to put the eyes very near to- 
gether, and the corners of the mouth very far apart, the like- 
ness can hardly fail to be striking in St. Ogg's." 

"Now that is very wicked of you," said Lucy, looking rather 
hurt. " I didn't think you woula speak disrespectfully of Dr. 
Kenn." 

"I say anything disrespectful of Dr. Kenn? Heaven for- 
bid ! But I am not bound to respect a libellous bust of him. 
1 think Kenn one of the finest fellows in the world. I don't 
care much about the tall candlesticks he has put on the com- 
munion-table, and I shouldn't like to spoil my temper by get' 
ting up to early prayers every morning. But he's the onlj 
man I ever knew personally who seems to me to have anything 
of the real apostle in him, a man who has eight hundred a- 
year and is contented with deal furniture and boiled beef be- 
cause he gives away two-thirds of his income. That was a 
very fine thing of him, taking into his house that poor lad 
Grattan, who shot his mother jy accident. He sacrifices more 
time than a less busy man could spare, to save the poor fellow 



396 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

from getting into a morbid state of mind about it. He takes 
the lad out with him constantly, I see." 

"That is beautiful," said Maggie, who had let her work fall, 
and was listening with keen interest. " I never knew any one 
who did such things." 

"And one admires that sort of action in Kenn all the more," 
said Stephen, " because his manners in general are rather cold 
and severe. There's nothing sugary and maudlin about him. 5 ' 

"Oh, I think he's a perfect character I" said Lucy, witl 
pretty enthusiasm. 

"No; there I can't agree with you," said Stephen, shaking 
his head with sarcastic gravity. 

" Now, what fault can you point out in him? * 

"He's an Anglican." 

"Well, those are the right views, I think," said Lucy, 
gravely. 

"That settles the question in the abstract," said Stephen, 
" but not from a parliamentary point of view. He has set the 
Dissenters and the Church people by the ears ; and a rising 
senator like myself, of whose services the country is very 
much in need, will find it inconvenient when he puts up for 
the honor of representing St. Ogg's in Parliament." 

" Do you really think of that? " said Lucy, her eyes bright- 
ening with a proud pleasure that made her neglect the argu- 
mentative interests of Anglicanism. 

" Decidedly, whenever old Mr. Leyburn's public spirit and 
gout induce him to give way. My father's heart is set on it; 
and gifts like mine, you know" here Stephen drew him- 
self up, and rubbed his large white hands over his hair with 
playfuj self -admiration "gifts like mine involve great re- 
sponsibilities. Don't you think so, Miss Tulliver?" 

" Yes," said Maggie, smiling, but not looking up j " so much 
fluency and self-possession should not be wasted entirely on 
private occasions." 

" Ah, I see how much penetration you have," said Stephen. 
" You have discovered already that I am talkative and impu- 
dent. Now superficial people never discern that^ owing to my 
manner, I suppose." 

" She doesn't look at me when 1 talk of myself," he thought, 



THE GREAT .TEMPTATION. 391 

irhile his listeners were laughing. " I must try other sub- 
jects." 

Did Lucy intend to be present at the meeting of the Book 
Club next week? was the next question. Then followed the 
recommendation to choose Southey's " Life of Cowper," unless 
she were inclined to be philosophical, and startle the ladies of 
St. Ogg's by voting for one of the Bridgewater Treatises. Of 
course Lucy wished to know what these alarmingly learned 
books were ; and as it is always pleasant to improve the minds 
of ladies by talking to them at ease on subjects of which they 
know nothing, Stephen became quite brilliant in an account of 
Buckland's Treatise, which he had just been reading. He 
was rewarded by seeing Maggie let her work fall, and gradu- 
ally get so absorbed in his wonderful geological story that she 
sat looking at him, leaning forward with crossed arms, and 
with an entire absence of self-consciousness, as if he had been 
the snuffiest of old professors, and she a downy-lipped alum- 
nus. He was so fascinated by the clear, large gaze that at 
last he forgot to look away from it occasionally toward Lucy j 
but she, sweet child, was only rejoicing that Stephen was 
proving to Maggie how clever he was, and that they would cer- 
tainly be good friends after all. 

" I will bring you the book, shall I, Miss Tulliver ? " said 
Stephen, when he found the stream of his recollections run- 
ning rather shallow. *' There are many illustrations in it that 
you will like to see." 

"Oh, thank you," said Maggie, blushing with returning 
self-consciousness at this direct address, and taking up her 
work again. 

" No, no," Lucy interposed. " I must forbid your plunging 
Maggie in books. I shall never get her away from them ; and 
I want her to have delicious do-nothing days, filled with boat- 
ing and chatting and riding and driving j that is the holiday 
she needs. " 

"Apropos I n said Stephen, looking at his watch. "Shall 
we go out for a row on the river now? The tide will suit for 
us to go the Tofton way, and we can walk back." 

That was a delightful proposition to Maggie, for it was years 
since she had been on the river. When she was gone to put 



898 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

on her oonnet, Lucy lingered to give an order to the servant, 
and took the opportunity of telling Stephen that Maggie had 
no objection to seeing Philip, so that it was a pity she had 
sent that note the day before yesterday. But she would write 
another to-morrow and invite him. 

"I'll call and beat him up to-morrow," said Stephen, "and 
bring him with me in the evening, shall I? My sisters will 
want to call on you when I tell them your cousin is with you. 
I must leave the field clear for them in the morning." 

" Oh yes, pray bring him," said Lucy. " And you will like 
Maggie, sha'n't you?" she added, in a beseeching tone. 
"Isn't she a dear, noble-looking creature?" 

" Too tall, " said Stephen, smiling down upon her, " and a 
little too fiery. She is not my type of woman, you know." 

Gentlemen, you are aware, are apt to impart these impru- 
dent confidenceoto ladies concerning their unfavorable opinion 
of sister fair ones. That is why so many women have the 
advantage of knowing that they are secretly repulsive to men 
who have self-denymgly made ardent love to them. And 
hardly anything could be more distinctively characteristic of 
Lucy than that she both implicitly believed what Stephen 
said, and was determined that Maggie should not know it. 
But you, who have a higher logic than the verbal to guide you, 
have already foreseen, as the direct sequence to that unfavor- 
able opinion of Stephen's, that he walked down to the boat- 
house calculating, by the aid of a vivid imagination, that Mag- 
gie must give him her hand at least twice in consequence of 
this pleasant boating plan, and that a gentleman who wishes 
ladies to look at him is advantageously situated when he is 
rowing them in a boat. What then? Had he fallen in love 
with this surprising daughter of Mrs. Tulliver at first sight? 
Certainly not. Such passions are never heard of in real life. 
Besides, he was in love already, and half-engaged to the dear- 
est little creature in the world j and he was not a man to make 
a fool of himself in any way. But when one is five-and- 
twenty, one has not chalk-stones at one's finger-ends that the 
touch of 'a handsome girl should be entirely indifferent. It 
toa.3 perfectly natural and safe to admire beauty and enjoy 
looking at it, at least under such circumstances as the pres- 



THE GREAT TEMPTATTOff. 399 

ent. And there was really something very interesting about 
this girl, with her poverty and troubles; it was gratifying to 
see the friendship between the two cousins. Generally, Ste- 
phen admitted, he was not fond of women who had any pecu- 
liarity of character, but here the peculiarity seemed really of 
a superior kind ; and provided one is not obliged to marry such 
women, why, they certainly make a variety in social inter- 
course. 

Maggie did not fulfil Stephen's hope by looking at him dur- 
ing the first quarter of an hour; her eyes were too full of the 
old banks that she knew so well. She felt lonely, cut off from 
Philip, the only person who had ever seemed to love her 
devotedly, as she had always longed to be loved. But pres- 
ently the rhythmic movement of the oars attracted her, and 
she thought she should like to learn how to row. This roused 
her from her reverie, and she asked if she might take an oar. 
It appeared that she required much teaching, and she became 
ambitious. The exercise brought the warm blood into her 
cheeks, and r ade her inclined to take her lesson merrily. 

" I shall not be satisfied until I can manage both oars, and 
row you and Lucy, " she said, looking very bright as she stepped 
out of the boat. Maggie, we know, was apt to forget the 
thing she was doing, and she had chosen an inopportune mo- 
ment for her remark ; her foot slipped, but happily Mr. Ste- 
phen Guest held her hand, and kept her up with a firm grasp. 

" You have not hurt yourself at all, I hope? " he said, bend* 
ing to look in her face with anxiety. It was very charming to 
be taken care of in that kind, graceful manner by some one 
taller and stronger than one's self. Maggie had never felt 
just in the same way before. 

When they reached home again, they found uncle and aunt 
Pullet seated with Mrs. Tulliver in the drawing-room, and 
Stephen hurried away, asking leave to come qgain in the even- 
ing. 

" And pray bring with you the volume of Purcell that yon 
took away," said Lucy. "I want Maggie to hear your best 
songs." 

Aunt Pullet, under the certainty that Maggie would be in- 
vited to go out with Lucy, probably to Park House^ was much 



400 THE MILL Off THE FLOSS. 

shocked at the shabbiness of her clothes, which, when wit 
nessed by the higher society of St. Ogg's, would be a discredit 
to the family, that demanded a strong and prompt remedy ; 
and the consultation as to what would be most suitable to this 
end from among the superfluities of Mrs. Pullet's wardrobe 
was one that Lucy as well as Mrs. Tulliver entered into with 
some zeal. Maggie must really have an evening dress as soon, 
,as possible, and she was about the same height as aunt Pullet. 

" But she's so much broader across the shoulders than I am, 
it's very ill-convenient," said Mrs. Pullet, "else she might' 
wear that beautiful black brocade o* mine without any altera- 
tion j and her arms are beyond everything," added Mrs. Pul- 
let, sorrowfully, as she lifted Maggie's large round arm. 
"She'd never get my sleeves on." 

"Oh, never mind that, aunt; send us the dress," said Lucy. 
"I don't mean Maggie to have long sleeves, and I have abun- 
dance of black lace for trimming. Her arms will look beauti- 
ful." 

"Maggie's arms are a pretty shape," said Mrs. Tulliver. 
"They're like mine used to be, only mine was never brown j I 
wish she'd had our family skin." 

" Nonsense, aunty ! " said Lucy, patting her aunt Tulliver's 
shoulder, "you don't understand those things. A painter 
would think Maggie's complexion beautiful." 

" Maybe, my dear, " said Mrs. Tulliver, submissively. " You' 
know better than I do. Only when I was young a brown 1 
skin wasn't thought well on among respectable folks." 

"No," said uncle Pullet, who took intense interest in the 
ladies' conversation as he sucked his lozenges. "Though 
there was a song about the ' Nut-brown Maid ' too ; I think 
she was crazy, crazy Kate, but I can't justly remember." 

"Oh dear, dear!" said Maggie, laughing, but impatient;' 
u I think that will be the end of my brown skin, if it is alwayg 
to be talked about so much." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 401 

CHAPTER IIL 

CONFIDENTIAL MOMENTS. 

WEEK Maggie went up to her bedroom that night, it ap 
peared that she was not at all inclined to undress. She set 
down her candle on the first table that presented itself, and 
began to walk up and down her room, which was a large one, 
with a firm, regular, and rather rapid step, which showed 
that the exercise was the instinctive vent of strong excitement. 
Her eyes and cheeks had an almost feverish brilliancy ; her 
head was thrown backward, and her hands were clasped with 
the palms outward, and with that tension of the arms which is 
apt to accompany mental absorption. 

Had anything remarkable happened? 

Nothing that you are not likely to consider in the highest 
degree unimportant. She had been hearing some fine music 
sung by a fine bass voice, but then it was sung in a provin- 
cial, amateur fashion, such as would have left a critical ear 
much to desire. And she was conscious of having been looked 
at a great deal, in rather a furtive manner, from beneath a 
pair of well-marked horizontal eyebrows, with a glance that 
seemed somehow to have caught the vibratory influence of the 
voice. Such things could have had no perceptible effect on a 
thoroughly well-educated young lady, with a perfectly balanced 
mind, who had had all the advantages of fortune, training, and 
refined society. But if Maggie had been that young lady, you 
would probably have known nothing about her : her life would 
have had so few vicissitudes that it could hardly have been 
written ; for the happiest women, like the happiest nations, 
have no history. 

In poor Maggie's highly-strung, hungry nature, just come 
away from a third-rate schoolroom, with all its jarring sounds 
and petty round of tasks, these apparently trivial causes had 
the effect of rousing and exalting her imagination in a way 
that was mysterious to herself. It was not that she thought 
distinctly of Mr. Stephen Guest. 0* dwelt on the indications 



402 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

that he looked at her with admiration; it was rather that she 
felt the half -remote presence of a world of love and beauty 
and delight, made up of vague, mingled images from all the 
poetry and romance she had ever read, or had ever woven in 
her dreamy reveries. Her mind glanced back once or twice to 
the time when she had courted privation, when she had thought 
all longing, all impatience was subdued ; but that condition 
seemed irrecoverably gone, and she recoiled from the remem- 
brance of it. No prayer, no striving now, would bring back 
that negative peace ; the battle of her life, it seemed, was not 
to be decided in that short and easy way, by perfect renunci- 
ation at the very threshold of her youth. The music was vi- 
brating in her still, Purcell's music, with its wild passion and 
fancy, and she could not stay in the recollection of that bare, 
lonely past. She was in her brighter aerial world again, 
when a little tap came at the door ; of course it was her cousin, 
who entered in ample white dressing-gown, 

"Why, Maggie, you naughty child, haven't you begun to 
undress?" said Lucy, in astonishment. "I promised not to 
come and talk to you, because I thought you must be tired. 
But here you are, looking as if you were ready to dress for 
a ball. Come, come, get on your dressing-gown and unplait 
your hair." 

" Well, you are not very forward, " retorted Maggie, hastily 
reaching her own pink cotton gown, and looking at Lucy's 
light- brown hair brushed back in curly disorder. 

" Oh, I have not much to do. I shall sit down and talk to 
you till I see you are really on the way to bed." 

While Maggie stood and unplaited her long black hair over 
her pink drapery, Lucy sat down near the toilette-table, watch- 
ing her with affectionate eyes, and head a little aside, like a 
pretty spaniel. If it appears to you at all incredible that 
young ladies should be led on to talk confidentially in a situa- 
tion of this kind, I will beg you to remember that human life 
furnishes many exceptional cases. 

" You really have enjoyed the music to-night, haven't you 
Maggie?" 

" Oh yes, that is what prevented me from feeling sleepy. I 
think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 403 

have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my 
limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without 
effort, when I am filled with music. At other times one is 
conscious of carrying a weight." 

"And Stephen has a splendid voice, hasn't he?" 

" Well, perhaps we are neither of us judges of that," said 
Maggie, laughing, as si e seated herself and tossed her long 
hair back. " You are not impartial, and / think any barrel* 
organ splendid." 

" But tell me what you think of him, now. Tell me exactly; 
good and bad too." 

" Oh, I think you should humiliate him a little. A lover 
should not be so much at ease, and so self-confident. He ought 
to tremble more." 

"Nonsense, Maggie! As if anyone could tremble at me! 
You think he is conceited, I see that. But you don't dislike 
him, do you?" 

"Dislike him! No. Am I in the habit of seeing such 
charming people, that I should be very difficult to please? 
Besides, how could I dislike any one that promised to make 
you happy, my dear thing! " Maggie pinched Lucy's dimpled 
chin. 

" We shall have more music to-morrow evening, " said Lucy, 
looking happy already, " for Stephen will bring Philip Wakem 
with him." 

" Oh, Lucy, I can't see him, " said Maggie, turning pale. 
"At least, I could not see him without Tom's leave." 

"Is Tom such a tyrant as that?" said Lucy, surprised. 
"I'll take the responsibility, then, tell him it was my fault." 

"But, dear," said Maggie, falteringly, "I promised Tom 
very solemnly, before my father's death, I promised him I 
would not speak to Philip without his knowledge and consent. 
And I have a great dread of opening the subject with Tom, 
of getting into a quarrel with him again." 

" But I never heard of anything so strange and unreason- 
able. What harm can poor Philip have done? May I speak 
to Tom about it? " 

"Oh no, pray don't, dear," said Maggie. "I'll go to him 
myself to-morrow, and tell him that you wish Philip to come. 



404 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS 

I've thought before of asking him to absolve me from my 
promise, but I've not had the courage to determine on it." 
" They were both silent for some moments, and then Lucy 
said, 

" Maggie, you have secrets from me, and I have none from 
you." 

Maggie looked meditatively away from Lucy. Then she 
turned to her and said, " I should like to tell you about Philip. , 
But, Lucy, you must not betray that you know it to any one, 
least of all to Philip himself, or to Mr. Stephen Guest. " 

The narrative lasted long, for Maggie had never before 
known the relief of such an outpouring; she had never before 
told Lucy anything of her inmost life; and the sweet face bent 
toward her with sympathetic interest, and the little hand 
pressing hers, encouraged her to speak on. On two points 
only she was not expansive. She did not betray fully what 
still rankled in her mind as Tom's great offence, the insults 
he had heaped on Philip. Angry as the remembrance still 
made her, she could not bear that any one else should know it 
at all, both for Tom's sake and Philip's. And she could not 
bear to tell Lucy of the last scene between her father and 
Wakem, though it was this scene which she had ever since felt 
to be a new barrier between herself and Philip. She merely 
said, she saw now that Tom was, on the whole, right in regard- 
ing any prospect of love and marriage between her and Philip 
as put out of the question by the relation of the two families. 
Of course Philip's father would never consent. 

"There, Lucy, you have had my story," said Maggie, smil- 
ing, with the tears in her eyes. "You see I am like Sir 
Andrew Aguecheek. /was adored once." 

"Ah, now I see how it is you know Shakespeare and every- 
thing, and have learned so much since you left school ; which 
always seemed to me witchcraft before, part of your general 
uncanniness," said Lucy. 

She mused a little with her eyes downward, and then added, 
looking at Maggie, " It is very beautiful that you should love 
Philip ; I never thought such a happiness would befall him. 
And in my opinion, you ought not to give him up. There art 
obstacles now; but they may be done away with in time." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 405 

Maggie shook her head. 

"Yes, yes," persisted Lucy; "I can't help being hopeful 
about it. There is something romantic in it, out of the 
common way, just what everything that happens to you ought 
to be. And Philip will adore you like a husband in a fairy 
tale. Oh, I shall puzzle my small brain to contrive some plot 
that will bring everybody into the right mind, so that you 
may marry Philip when I marry somebody else. Wouldn't 
that be a pretty ending to all my poor, poor Maggie' s troubles? " 

Maggie tried to smile, but shivered, as if she felt a sudden 
chill. 

"Ah, dear, you are cold," said Lucy. "You must go to 
bed; and so must I. I dare not think what time it is." 

They kissed each other, and Lucy went away, possessed of 
a confidence which had a strong influence over her subsequent 
impressions. Maggie had been thoroughly sincere ; her nature 
had never found it easy to be otherwise. But confidences are 
sometimes blinding, even when they are sincere. 



CHAPTER IV. 

BKOTHEB AND SISTER. 

MAGGIE was obliged to go to Tom's lodgings in the middle 
of the day, when he would be coming in to dinner, else she 
would not have found him at home. He was not lodging with 
entire strangers. Our friend Bob Jakin had, with Mumps's 
tacit consent, taken not only a wife about eight months ago, 
fiut also one of those queer old houses, pierced with surprising 
passages, by the water-side, where, as he observed, his wife 
and mother could keep themselves out of mischief by letting 
out two "pleasure-boats," in which he had invested some of 
his savings, and by taking in a lodger for the parlor and 
spare bedroom. Under these circumstances, what could be 
better for the interests of all parties, sanitary considerations 
apart, than that the lodger should be Mr. Tom f 

It was Bob's wife who opened the door to Maggie. She 



406 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

was a tiny woman, with the general physiognomy of a Dutci. 
doll, looking, in comparison with Bob' s mother, who filled up 
the passage in the rear, very much like one of those human 
figures which the artist finds conveniently standing near a 
colossal statue to show the proportions. The tiny woman 
curtsied and looked up at Maggie with some awe as soon as 
she had opened the door ; but the words, " Is my brother at 
home?" which Maggie uttered smilingly, made her turn round 
with sudden excitement, and say, 

"Eh, mother, mother tell Bob! it's Miss Maggie! Come 
in, Miss, for goodness do, " she went on, opening a side door, 
and endeavoring to flatten her person against the wall to 
make the utmost space for the visitor. 

Sad recollections crowded on Maggie as she entered the 
small parlor, which was now all that poor Tom had to call by 
the name of " home, " that name which had once, so many 
yea*s ago, meant for both of them the same sum of dear 
familiar objects. But everything was not strange to her in 
this new room; the first thing her eyes dwelt on was the large 
old Bible, and the sight was not likely to disperse the old 
memories. She stood without speaking. 

"If you please to take the privilege o' sitting down, Miss," 
said Mrs. Jakin, rubbing her apron over a perfectly clean 
chair, and then lifting up the corner of that garment and hold- 
ing it to her face with an air of embarrassment, as she looked 
wonderingly at Maggie. 

"Bob is at home, then?" said Maggie, recovering herself, 
and smiling at the bashful Dutch doll. 

" Yes, Miss ; but I think he must be washing and dressing 
himself; I'll go and see," said Mrs. Jakin, disappearing. 

But she presently came back walking with new courage a 
little way behind her husband, who showed the brilliancy of 
his blue eyes and regular white teeth in the doorway, bowing 
respectfully. 

" How do you do, Bob? " said Maggie, coming forward and 
putting out her hand to him ; " I always meant to pay your 
wife a visit, and I shall come another day on purpose for 
that, if she will let me. But I was obliged to come to-day to 
speak to my brother," 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 407 

" He'll be in before long, Miss. He's doin* finely, Mr. Tom 
is; he'll be one o' the first men hereabouts, you'll see that." 

" Well, Bob, I'm sure he'll be indebted to you, whatever 
he becomes ; he said so himself only the other night, when he 
was talking of you." 

" Eh, Miss, that's his way o' takin* it. But I think the 
more on't when he says a thing, because his tongue doesn't 
overshoot him as mine does. Lors! I'm no better nor a tilted 
bottle, I ar'n't, I can't stop mysen when once I begin. But 
you look rarely, Miss ; it does me good to see you. What do 
you say now, Prissy?" here Bob turned to his wife, "Isn't 
it all come true as I said? Though there isn't many sorts o' 
goods as I can't over-praise when I set my tongue to't." 

Mrs. Bob's small nose seemed to be following the example 
of her eyes in turning up reverentially toward Maggie, but she 
was able now to smile and curtsy, and say, " I'd looked forrard 
like aenything to seein' you, Miss, for my husband's tongue' a 
been runnin' on you, like as if he was light-headed, iver since 
first he come a-courtin' on me." 

" Well, well, " said Bob, looking rather silly. " Go an' see 
after the taters, else Mr. Tom 'ull have to wait for *em." 

"I hope Mumps is friendly with Mrs. Jakin, Bob," said 
Maggie, smiling. " I remember you used to say he wouldn't 
like your marrying." 

"Eh, Miss," said Bob, "he made up his mind to't when he 
see'd what a little un she was. He pretends not to see her 
mostly, or else to think as she isn't full-growed. But about 
Mr. Tom, Miss," said Bob, speaking lower and looking seri- 
ous, "he's as close as a iron biler, he is; but I'm a 'cutish 
chap, an' when I've left off carrying my pack, an* am at a 
loose end, I've got more brains nor I know what to do wi', an' 
I'm forced to busy myself wi' other folks's insides. An* it 
worrets me as Mr. Tom'll sit by himself so glumpish, a-knit- 
tin' his brow, an' a-lookin' at the fire of a night. He should 
be a bit livelier now, a fine young fellow like him. My wife 
says, when she goes in sometimes, an' he takes no notice of 
her, he sits lookin' into the fire, and frownin* as if he waf 
watchin' folks at work in it." 

" He thinks so much about business, " said Maggie. 



408 THE MILL OK THE FLOSS. 

"Ay, "said Bob, speaking lower j "but do you think it's 
nothin' else, Miss? He's close, Mr. Tom is; but I'm a 'cute 
chap, I am, an' I thought tow'rt last Christmas as I'd found 
out a soft place in him. It was about a little black spaniel 
a rare bit o' breed as he made a fuss to get. But since then 
summat's come over him, as he's set his teeth again' things 
more nor iver, for all he's had such good luck. An' I wanted 
to tell you. Miss, 'cause I thought you might work it out of 
him a bit, now you're come. He's a deal too lonely, and 
doesn't go into company enough." 

"I'm afraid I have very little power over him, Bob," 
said Maggie, a good deal moved by Bob's suggestion. It 
was a totally new idea to her mind that Tom could have 
his love troubles. Poor fellow ! and in love with Lucy too ! 
But it was perhaps a mere fancy of Bob's too officious brain. 
The present of the dog meant nothing more than cousinship 
and gratitude. But Bob had already said, "Here's Mr. 
Tom, " and the outer door was opening. 

"There's no time to spare, Tom," said Maggie, as soon as 
Bob left the room. " I must tell you at once what. I came 
about, else I shall be hindering you from taking your dinner." 

Tom stood with his back against the chimney-piece, and 
Maggie was seated opposite the light. He noticed that she 
was tremulous, and he had a presentiment of the subject she 
was going to speak about. The presentiment made his voice 
colder and harder as he said, " What is it? " 

This tone roused a spirit of resistance in Maggie, and she 
put her request in quite a different form from the one she had 
predetermined on. She rose from her seat, and looking 
straight at Tom, said, 

" I want you to absolve me from my promise about Philip 
Wakem. Or rather, I promised you not to see him without 
telling you. I am come to tell you that I wish to see him." 

" Very well, " said Tom, still more coldly. 

But Maggie had hardly finished speaking in that chill, de- 
fiant manner, before she repented, and felt the dread of alien- 
ation from her brother. 

" Not for myself, dear Tom. Don't be angry. I shouldn't 
have asked it, only that Philip, you know, is a friend of Lucy'Sj 



THE GflEAT TEMPTATION. 409 

and slie wishes him to come, has invited him to come this even- 
ing} and I told her I couldn't see him without telling you. 
I shall only see him in the presence of other people. There 
will never be anything secret between us again. " 

Tom looked away from Maggie, knitting his brow more 
strongly for a little while. Then he turned to her and said, 
slowly and emphatically, 

" You know what is my feeling on that subject, Maggie. 
There is no need for my repeating anything I said a year ago. 
While my father was living, I felt bound to use the utmost 
power over you, to prevent you from disgracing him as well as 
yourself, and all of us. But now I must leave you to your 
own choice. You wish to be independent ; you told me so 
after my father's death. My opinion is not changed. If you 
think of Philip Wakem as a lover again, you must give up 
me." 

" I don't wish it, dear Tom, at least as things are ; I see 
that it would lead to misery. But I shall soon go away to 
another situation, and I should like to be friends with him 
again while I am here. Lucy wishes it." 

The severity of Tom's face relaxed a little. 

"I shouldn't mind your seeing him occasionally at my 
uncle's I don't want you to make a fuss on the subject. But 
I have no confidence in you, Maggie. You would be led away 
to do anything." 

That was a cruel word. Maggie's lip began to tremble. 

"Why will you say that, Tom? It is very hard of you. 
Have I not done and borne everything as well as I could? 

And I kept my word to you when when My life has not 

been a happy one, any more than yours." 

She was obliged to be childish; the tears would come. 
When Maggie was not angry, she was as dependent on kind 
or cold words as a daisy on the sunshine or the cloud ; the 
need of being loved would always subdue her, as, in old days, 
it subdued her in the worm-eaten attic. The brother's good- 
ness came uppermost at this appeal, but it could only show 
itself in Tom's fashion. He put his hand gently on her arm, 
and said, in the tone of a kind pedagogue, 

" Now listen to me, Maggie. I'll tell you what I 



410 THE MILL ON TfiE -FLO8& 

You're always in extremes; you have no judgment and self- 
command j and yet you think you know best, and will not sub- 
mit to be guided. You know I didn't wish you to take a situ- 
ation. My aunt Pullet was willing to give you a good home, 
and you might have lived respectably amongst your relations, 
until I could have provided a home for you with my mother. 
And that is what I should like to do. I wished my sister to 
be a lady, and I always have taken care of you, as my father 
desired, until you were well married. But your ideas and 
mine never accord, and you will not give way. Yet you might 
have sense enough to see that a brother, who goes out into the 
world and mixes with men, necessarily knows better what is 
right and respectable for his sister than she can know herself. 
You think I am not kind; but my kindness can only be di- 
rected by what I believe to be good for you." 

" Yes, I know, dear Tom, " said Maggie, still half-sobbing, 
but trying to control her tears. " I know you would do a 
great deal for me; I know how you work, and don't spare 
yourself. I am grateful to you. But, indeed, you can't 
quite judge for me ; our natures are very different. You don't 
know how differently things affect me from what they do you." 

"Yes, I do know; I know it too well. I know how differ- 
ently you must feel about all that affects our family, and your 
own dignity as a young woman, before you could think of re- 
ceiving secret addresses from Philip Wakem. If it was not 
disgusting to me in every other way, I should object to my sis- 
ter's name being associated for a moment with that of a young 
man whose father must hate the very thought of us all, and 
would spurn you. With any one but you, I should think it 
quite certain that what you witnessed just before my father's 
death would secure you from ever thinking again of Philip 
Wakem as a lover. But I don't feel certain of it with you; 
T never feel certain about anything with you. At one time 
you take pleasure in a sort of perverse self-denial, and at an- 
other you have not resolution to resist a thing that you know 
to be wrong." 

There was a terrible cutting truth in Tom's words, that 
hard rind of truth which is discerned by unimaginative, un- 
sympathetic minds. Maggie always writhed under this judg- 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 411 

ment of Tom's; she rebelled and was humiliated in the same 
moment; it seemed as if he held a glass before her to show 
her her own folly and weakness, as if he were a prophetic 
voice predicting her future fallings; and yet, all the while, 
she judged him in return; she said inwardly that he was nar- 
row and unjust, that he was below feeling those mental need? 
which were often the source of the wrong-doing or absurdity 
that made her life a planless riddle to him. 

She did not answer directly; her heart was too full, and 
she sat down, leaning her arm on the table. It was no usf 
trying to make Tom feel that she was near to him. He always 
repelled her. Her feeling under his words was complicated 
by the allusion to the last scene between her father and 
Wakem; and at length that painful, solemn memory sur- 
mounted the immediate grievance. No ! She did not think 
of such things with frivolous indifference, and Tom must not 
accuse her of that. She looked up at him with a grave, ear- 
nest gaze and said, 

" I can't make you think better of me, Tom, by anything I 
can say. But I am not so shut out from all your feelings as 
you believe me to be. I see as well as you do that from our 
position with regard to Philip's father not on other grounds 
it would be unreasonable, it would be wrong, for us to enter- 
tain the idea of marriage ; and I have given up thinking of 
him as a lover. I am telling you the truth, and you have no 
right to disbelieve me ; I have kept my word to you, and you 
have never detected me in a falsehood. I should not only not 
encourage, I should carefully avoid, any intercourse with 
Philip on any other footing than of quiet friendship. You 
may think that I am unable to keep my resolutions ; but at 
least you ought not to treat me with hard contempt on the 
ground of faults that I have not committed yet." 

" Well, Maggie, " said Tom, softening under this appeal, " I 
don't want to overstrain matters. I think, all things consid- 
ered, it will be best for you to see Philip Wakem, if Lucy 
wishes him to come to the house. I believe what you say, 
at least you believe it yourself, I know ; I can only warn you. 
I wish to be as good a brother to you as you will let me." 

There was a little tremor ia Tom's voice as he uttered the 



412 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

last words, and Maggie's ready affection came back with as 
sudden a glow as when they were children, and bit their cake 
together as a sacrament of conciliation. She rose and laid her 
hand on Tom's shoulder. 

" Dear Tom, I know you mean to be good. I know you 
have had a great deal to bear, and have done a great deal. I 
should like to be a comfort to you, not to vex you. You don't 
think I'm altogether naughty, now, do you? " 

Tom smiled at the eager face ; his smiles were very pleasant' 
to see when they did come, for the gray eyes could be tender 
underneath the frown. 

"No, Maggie." 

" I may turn out better than you expect." 

" I hope you will. " 

" And may I come some day and make tea for you, and see 
this extremely small wife of Bob's again?" 

"Yes; but trot away now, for I've no more time to spare," 
said Tom, looking at his watch. 

"Not to give me a kiss?" 

Tom bent to kiss her cheek, and then said, 

"There! Be a good girl. I've got a great deal to think of 
to-day. I'm going to have a long consultation with my uncle 
Deane this afternoon." 

" You'll come to aunt Glegg's to-morrow? We're going all 
to dine early, that we may go there to tea. You inust come ; 
Lucy told me to say so." 

"Oh, pooh! I've plenty else to do," said Tom, pulling his 
bell violently, and bringing down the small bell-rope. 

"I'm frightened; I shall run away," said Maggie, making 
a laughing retreat; while Tom, with masculine philosophy, 
flung the bell-rope to the farther end of the room ; not very 
far either, a touch of human experience which I flatter my- 
self will come home to the bosoms of not a few substantial or 
distinguished men who were once at an early stage of their 
rise in the world, and were cherishine; very large hope? in rery 
small lodgings* 



THE GREAT TEMPTATIOH. 413 

CHAPTER V. 

SHOWING THAT TOM HAD OPENED THE OYSTER. 



now we've settled this Newcastle business, Tom," 
said Mr. Deane, that same afternoon, as they were seated in 
the private room at the Bank together, " there's another mat- 
ter I want to talk to you about. Since you're likely to have 
rather a smoky, unpleasant time of it at Newcastle for the 
next few weeks, you'll want a good prospect of some sort to 
keep up your spirits." 

Tom waited less nervously than he had done on a former 
occasion in this apartment, while his uncle took out his snuff- 
box and gratified each nostril with deliberate impartiality. 

" You see, Tom, " said Mr. Deane at last, throwing himself 
backward, " the world goes on at a smarter pace now than it 
did when I was a.young fellow. Why, sir, forty years ago, 
when I was much such a strapping youngster as you, a man 
expected to pull between the shafts the best part of his life, 
before he got the whip in his hand. The looms went slowish, 
and fashions didn't alter quite so fast; I'd a best suit that 
lasted me six years. Everything was on a lower scale, sir, 
in point of expenditure, I mean. It's this steam, you see, 
that has made the difference ; it drives on every wheel double 
pace, and the wheel of fortune along with 'em, as our Mr. 
Stephen Guest said at the anniversary dinner ^(he hits these 
things off wonderfully, considering he's seen nothing of busi- 
ness). I don't find fault with the change, as some people do. 
Trade, sir, opens a man's eyes; and if the population is to 
get thicker upon the ground, as it's doing, the world must use 
its wits at inventions of one sort or other. I know I've done 
my share as an ordinary man of business. Somebody has said 
it's a fine thing to make two ears of corn grow where only one 
grew before; but, sir, it's a fine thing, too, to further the 
exchange of commodities, and brmg the grains of corn to the 
mouths that are hungry. And that's our line ot business; 
and I consider it as honorable a position as a man can hold, to 
be connected with it." 



414 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

Tom knew that the affair his uncle had to speak of was not 
urgent; Mr. Deane was too shrewd and practical a man to al- 
low either his reminiscences or his snuff to impede the progress 
of trade. Indeed, for the last month or two, there had been 
hints thrown out to Tom which enabled him to guess that he 
was going to hear some proposition for his own benefit. With 
the beginning of the last speech he had stretched out his legs, 
thrust his hands in his pockets, and prepared himself for some 
introductory diffuseness, tending to show that Mr. Deane had 
succeeded by his own merit, and that what he had to say to 
young men in general was, that if they didn't succeed too it 
was because of their own demerit. He was rather surprised, 
then, when his uncle put a direct question to him. 

"Let me see, it's going on for seven years now since you 
applied to me for a situation, eh, Tom?" 

"Yes, sir; I'm three-and-twenty now," said Tom. 

" Ah, it's as well not to say that, though ; for you'd pass for 
a good deal older, and age tells well in business. I remem- 
ber your coming very well; I remember I saw there was some 
pluck in you, and that was what made me give you encourage- 
ment. And I'm happy to say I was right; I'm not often de- 
ceived. I was naturally a little shy at pushing my nephew, 
but I'm happy to say you've done me credit, sir; and if I'd 
had a son o' my own, I shouldn't have been sorry to see him 
like you." 

Mr. Deane tapped his box and opened it again, repeating in 
a tone of some feeling, " No, I shouldn't have been sorry to 
see him like you." 

"I'm very glad I've given you satisfaction, sir; I've done 
my best," said Tom, in his proud, independent way. 

" Yes, Tom, you've given me satisfaction. I don't speak 
of your conduct as a son ; though that weighs with me in my 
opinion of you. But what I have to do with, as a partner in 
our firm, is the qualities you've shown as a man o' business. 
Ours is a fine business, a splendid concern, sir, and there's 
no reason why it shouldn't go on growing; there's a growing 
capital, and growing outlets for it; but there's another thing 
that's wanted for the prosperity of every concern, large or 
l, and that's men to conduct it, men of the right habits; 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 415 

none o* your flashy fellows, but such as are to be depended on. 
Now this is what Mr. Guest and I see clear enough. Three 
years ago we took Gell into the concern ; we gave him a share 
in the oil-mill. And why ? Why, because Gell was a fellow 
whose services were worth a premium. So it will always be, 
sir. So it was with me. And though Gell is pretty near ten 
years older than you, there are other points in your favor." 

Torn was getting a little nervous as Mr. Deane went on 
speaking; he was conscious of something he had in his mind 
to say, which might not be agreeable to his uncle, simply be- 
cause it was a new suggestion rather than an acceptance of 
the proposition he foresaw. 

"It stands to reason," Mr. Deane went on, when he had 
finished his new pinch, " that your being my nephew weighs 
in your favor; but I don't deny that if you'd been no relation 
of mine at all, your conduct in that affair of Pelley's bank 
would have led Mr. Guest and myself to make some acknowl- 
edgment of the service you've been to us; and, backed by your 
general conduct and business ability, it has made us determine 
on giving you a share in the business, a share whicb we shall 
be glad to increase as the years go on. We think that'll be 
better, on all grounds, than raising your salary. It'll give 
you more importance, and prepare you better for taking some 
of the anxiety off my shoulders by and by. I'm equal to a 
good deal o' work at present, thank God; but I'm getting 
older, there's no denying that. I told Mr. Guest I would 
open the subject to you; and when you come back from this 
northern business, we can go into particulars. This is a great 
stride for a young fellow of three -and-twenty, but I'm bound 
to say you've deserved it." 

"I'm very grateful to Mr. Guest and you, sir; of course I 
feel the most indebted to you, who first took me into the 
business, and have taken a good deal of pains with me 
since." 

Tom spoke with a slight tremor, and paused after he had 
said this. 

" Yes, yes," said Mr. Deane. "I don't spare pains when I 
see they'll be of any use. I gave myself some trouble with 
Gel!, else he wouldn't have been what he is," 



*16 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"But there's one thing I should like to mention to you, 
ancle. I've never spoken to you of it before. If you remem- 
ber, at the time my father's property was sold, there was 
some thought of your firm buying the Mill; I know you 
thought it would be a very good investment, especially if 
steam were applied." 

"To be sure, to be sure. But Wakem outbid us; he'd made 
up liia mind to that. He's rather fond of carrying everything 
ever other people's heads." 

"Perhaps it's of no use my mentioning it at present," Tom 
went on, " but I wish you to know what I have in my mind 
about the Mill. I've a strong feeling about it. It was my 
father's dying wish that I should try and get it back again 
whenever I could; it was in his family for five generations. I 
promised my father; and besides that, I'm attached to the 
place. I shall never like any other so well. And if it should 
ever suit your views to buy it for the firm, I should have a 
better chance of fulfilling my father's wish. I shouldn't have 
liked to mention the thing to you, only you've been kind 
enough to say my services have been of some value. And I'd 
give up a much greater chance in life for the sake of having 
the Mill again, I mean having it in my own hands, and 
gradually working off the price." 

Mr. Deane had listened attentively, and now looked thought- 
ful. 

"I see, I see," he said, after a while; "the thing would be 
possible if there were any chance of Wakem's parting with 
the property. But that I don't see. He's put that young 
Jetsome in the place ; and he had his reasons when he bought 
it, I'll be bound." 

" He's a loose fish, that young Jetsome, " said Tom. " He's 
taking to drinking, and they say he's letting the business go 
down. Luke told me about it, our old miller. He says he 
sha'n't stay unless there's an alteration. I was thinking, if 
things went on that way, Wakem might be more willing to 
part with the Mill. Luke says he's getting very sour about 
the way things are going on." 

" Well, I'll turn it over, Tom. I must inquire into the mat- 
ter, and $o into it with Mr, Guest. But, you see, it's rather 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 417 

striking out a new branch, and putting you to that, instead of 
keeping you where you are, which was what we'd wanted." 

" I should be able to manage more than the Mill when things 
were once set properly going, sir. I want to have plenty of 
work. There's nothing else I care about much." 

There was something rather sad in that speech from a young 
man of three-and-twenty, even in uncle Deane's business- 
loving ears. 

"Pooh, pooh! you'll be having a wife to care about one of 
these days, if you get on at this pace in the world. But as to 
this Mill, we mustn't reckon on our chickens too early. How- 
ever, I promise you to bear it in mind, and when you come 
back we'll talk of it again. I am going to dinner now. Come 
and breakfast with us to-morrow morning, and say good-byf 
to your mother and sister before you start." 



CHAPTER VL 

ILLUSTRATING THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION. 

IT is evident to you now that Maggie had arrived at a mo- 
ment in her life which must be considered by all prudent per- 
sons as a great opportunity for a young woman. Launched 
into the higher society of St. Ogg's, with a striking person, 
which had the advantage of being quite unfamiliar to the ma- 
jority of beholders, and with such moderate assistance of cos- 
tume as you have seen foreshadowed in Lucy's anxious colloquy 
with aunt Pullet, Maggie was certainly at a new starting-point 
in life. At Lucy's first evening party, young Torry fatigued 
his facial muscles more than usual in order that " the dark- 
eyed girl there in the corner " might see him in all the addi- 
tional style conferred by his eyeglass; and several young ladies 
went home intending to have short sleeves with black lace, 
and to plait their hair in a broad coronet at the back of their 
head, "That cousin of Miss Deane's looked so very well." 
In fact, poor Maggie, with all her inward consciousness of a 
painful past and her presentiment of a trgublpus future, waj 
27 



418 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

on the way to become an object of some envy, a topic of dis 
eussion in the newly established billiard-room, and between 
fair friends who had no secrets from each other on the subject 
of trimmings. The Miss Guests, who associated chiefly on 
terms of condescension with the families of St. Ogg's, and 
were the glass of fashion there, took some exception to Mag- 
gie's manners. She had a way of not assenting at once to the 
observations current in good society, and of saying that she 
didn't know whether those observations were true or not, which 
gave her an air of gaucherie, and impeded the even flow oi 
conversation ; but it is a fact capable of an amiable interpreta- 
tion that ladies are not the worst disposed toward a new ac- 
quaintance of their own sex because she has points of inferior- 
ity. And Maggie was so entirely without those pretty airs of 
coquetry which have the traditional reputation of driving gen- 
tlemen to despair that she won some feminine pity for being 
so ineffective in spite of her beauty. She had not had many 
advantages, poor thing! and it must be admitted there was no 
pretension about her ; her abruptness and unevenness of man- 
ner were plainly the result of her secluded and lowly circum- 
stances. It was only a wonder that there was no tinge of 
vulgarity about her, considering what the rest of poor Lucy's 
relations were an allusion which always made the Miss Guests 
shudder a little. It was not agreeable to think of any connec- 
tion by marriage with such people as the Gleggs and the Pul- 
lets ; but it was of no use to contradict Stephen when once he 
had set his mind on anything, and certainly there was no pos- 
sible objection to Lucy in herself, no one could help liking 
her. She would naturally desire that the Miss Guests should 
behave kindly to this cousin of whom she was so fond, aud 
Stephen would make a great fuss if they were deficient in 
civility. Under these circumstances the invitations to Park 
House were not wanting ; and elsewhere, also, Miss Deane was 
too popular and too distinguished a member of society in St. 
Ogg's for any attention toward her to be neglected. 

Thus Maggie was introduced for the first time to the young 
lady's life, and knew what it was to get up in the morning 
without any imperative reason for doing one thing more than 
another. This new sense of leisure and unchecked enjoyment 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 419 

amidst the soft-breathing airs and garden-scents of advancing 
spring amidst the new abundance of music, and lingering 
strolls in the sunshine, and the delicious dreaminess of gliding 
on the river could hardly be without some intoxicating effect 
ou her, after her years of privation ; and even in the first week 
Maggie began to be less haunted by her sad memories and an- 
ticipations. Life was certainly very pleasant just now; it was 
becoming very pleasant to dress in the evening, and to feel 
that she was one of the beautiful things of this spring-time. 
And there were admiring eyes always awaiting her now; she 
was no longer an unheeded person, liable to be chid, from 
whom attention was continually claimed, and on whom no one 
felt bound to confer any. It was pleasant, too, when Stephen 
and Lucy were gone out riding, to sit down at the piano alone, 
and find that the old fitness between her fingers and the keys 
remained, and revived, like a sympathetic kinship not to be 
worn out by separation ; to get the tunes she had heard the 
evening before, and repeat them again and again until she 
had found out a way of producing them so as to make them a 
more pregnant, passionate language to her. The mere con- 
cord of octaves was a delight to Maggie, and she would often 
take up a book of studies rather than any melody, that she 
might taste more keenly by abstraction the more primitive 
sensation of intervals. Not that her enjoyment of music was 
of the kind that indicates a great specific talent ; it was rather 
that her sensibility to the supreme excitement of music was 
only one form of that passionate sensibility which, belonged 
to her whole nature, and made her faults and virtues all merge 
in each other ; made her affections sometimes an impatient 
demand, but also prevented her vanity from taking the form of 
mere feminine coquetry and device, and gave it the poetry of 
ambition. But you have known Maggie a long while, and 
need to be told, not her characteristics, but her history, which 
is a thing hardly to be predicted even from the completest 
knowledge of characteristics. For the tragedy of our lives is 
not created entirely from within. "Character," says Nova- 
lis, in one of his questionable aphorisms, "character is des- 
tiny." But not the whole of our destiny. Hamlet, Prince 
of Denmark, was speculative aud irresolute* and we have a 



420 THE MILL OX THE FLOSS. 

great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had lived to 
a good old age, and his uncle had died an early death, we 
can conceive Hamlet's having married Ophelia, and got 
through life with a reputation of sanity, notwithstanding 
many soliloquies, and some moody sarcasms toward the fair 
daughter of Polonius, to say nothing of the frankest incivility 
to his father-in-law. 

Maggie's destiny, then, is at present hidden, and we must 
wait for it to reveal itself like the course of an unmapped 
river ; we only know that the river is full and rapid, and that 
for all rivers there is the same final home. Under the charm 
of her new pleasures, Maggie herself was ceasing to think, 
with her eager prefiguring imagination, of her future lot ; and 
her anxiety about her first interview with Philip was losing 
its predominance; perhaps, unconsciously to herself, she was 
not sorry that the interview had been deferred. 

For Philip had not come the evening he was expected, and 
Mr. Stephen Guest brought word that he was gone to the 
coast, probably, he thought, on a sketching expedition; but 
it was not certain when he would return. It was just like 
Philip, to go off in that way without telling any one. It was 
not until the twelfth day that he returned, to find both Lucy's 
notes awaiting him ; he had left before he knew of Maggie's 
arrival. 

Perhaps one had need be nineteen again to be quite con- 
vinced of the feelings that were crowded for Maggie into those 
twelve days ; of the length to which they were stretched for 
her by the novelty of her experience in them, and the varying 
attitudes of her mind. The early days of an acquaintance, 
almost always have this importance for us, and fill up a larger' 
space in our memory than longer subsequent periods, which 
have been less filled with discovery and new impressions.' 
There were not many hours in those ten days in which Mr. 
Stephen Guest was not seated by Lucy's side, or standing near 
her at the piano, or accompanying her on some outdoor ex- 
cursion ; his attentions were clearly becoming more assiduous, 
and that was what every one had expected. Lucy was very 
happy, all the happier because Stephen's society seemed to 
have become much more interesting and amusing since Mag- 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 421 

gie had been there. Playful discussions sometimes serious 
ones were going forward, in which both Stephen and Maggie 
revealed themselves, to the admiration of the gentle, unobtru- 
sive Lucyj and it more than once crossed her mind what a 
charming quartet they should have through life when Maggie 
married Philip. Is it an inexplicable thing that a girl should 
enjoy her lover's society the more for the presence of a third 
person, and be without the slightest spasm of jealousy that 
the third person had the conversation habitually directed to 
her? Not when that girl is as tranquil-hearted as Lucy, thor- 
oughly possessed with a belief that she knows the state of her 
companions' affections, and not prone to the feelings which 
.shake such a belief in the absence of positive evidence against 
it. Besides, it was Lucy by whom Stephen sat, to whom he 
gave his arm, to whom he appealed as the person sure to agree 
with him ; and every day there was the same tender politeness 
toward her, the same consciousness of her wants and care 
to supply them. Was there really the same? It seemed to 
Lucy that there was more ; and it was no wonder that the real 
significance of the change escaped her. It was a subtle act of 
conscience in Stephen that even he himself was not aware of. 
His personal attentions to Maggie were comparatively slight, 
and there had even sprung up an apparent distance between 
them, that prevented the renewal of that faint resemblance to 
gallantry into which he had fallen the first day in the boat. 
If Stephen came in when Lucy was out of the room, if Lucy 
left them together, they never spoke to each other; Stephen, 
perhaps, seemed to be examining books or music, and Maggie 
bent her head assiduously over her work. Each was oppres- 
sively conscious of the other's presence, even to the finger- 
ends. Yet each looked and longed for the same thing to hap- 
pen the next day. Neither of them had begun to reflect on 
the matter, or silently to ask, "To what does all this tend?" 
Maggie only felt that life was revealing something quite 
new to her ; and she was absorbed in the direct, immediate ex- 
perience, without any energy left for taking account of it and 
reasoning about it. Stephen wilfully abstained from self- 
questioning, and would not admit to himself that he felt an 
influence which was to have any determining effect on his con- 



422 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

duct. And when Lucy came into the room again, they were 
once more unconstrained; Maggie could contradict Stephen, 
and laugh at him, and he could recommend to her considera- 
tion the example of that most charming heroine, Miss Sophia 
Western, who had a great " respect for the understandings of 
men." Maggie could look at Stephen, which, for some rea- 
son or other, she always avoided when they were alone ; and 
he could even ask her to play his accompaniment for him, 
since Lucy's fingers were so busy with that bazaar-work, and 
lecture her on hurrying the tempo, which was certainly Mag- 
gie's weak point. 

One day it was the day of Philip's return Lucy had 
formed a sudden engagement to spend the evening with Mrs. 
Kenn, whose delicate state of health, threatening to become 
confirmed illness through an attack of bronchitis, obliged her 
to resign her functions at the coining bazaar into the hands of 
other ladies, of whom she wished Lucy to be one. The en- 
gagement had been formed in Stephen's presence, and he had 
heard Lucy promise to dine early and call at six o'clock for 
Miss Torry, who brought Mrs. Kenn's request. 

" Here is another of the moral results of this idiotic bazaar, " 
Stephen burst forth, as soon as Miss Torry had left the room, 
" taking young ladies from the duties of the domestic hearth 
into scenes of dissipation among urn-rugs and embroidered 
reticules! I should like to know what is the proper function 
of women, if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at 
home, and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out. If this 
goes on much longer, the bonds of society will be dissolved." 

" Well, it will not go on much longer, " said Lucy, laughing, 
'for the bazaar is to take place on Monday week." 

" Thank Heaven ! " said Stephen. " Kenn himself said the 
other day that he didn't like this plan of making vanity do 
the work of charity; but just as the British public is not rea- 
sonable enough to bear direct taxation, so St. Ogg's has not 
got force of motive enough to build and endow schools without 
calling in the force of folly." 

"Did he say so?" said little Lucy, her hazel eyes opening 
wide with anxiety. " I never heard him say anything of that 
kind; I thought he approved of what we were doing." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 423 

"I'm sure lie approves you," said Stephen, smiling at her 
affectionately; "your conduct in going out to-night looks 
vicious, I own, but I know there is benevolence at the bottom 
of it." 

"Oh, you think too well of me," said Lucy, shaking her 
head, with a pretty blush, and there the subject ended. But 
it was tacitly understood that Stephen would not come in the 
evening ; and on the strength of that tacit understanding he 
made his morning visit the longer, not saying good-bye until 
after four. 

Maggie was seated in the drawing-room, alone, shortly after 
dinner, with Minny on her lap, having left her uncle to his 
wine and his nap, and her mother to the compromise between 
knitting and nodding, which, when there was no company, 
she always carried on in the dining-room till tea-time. Mag- 
gie was stooping to caress the tiny silken pet, and comforting 
him for his mistress's absence, when the sound of a footstep 
on the gravel made her look up, and she saw Mr. Stephen 
Guest walking up the garden, as if he had come straight from 
the river. It was very unusual to see him so soon after din- 
ner! He often complained that their dinner-hour was late at 
Park House. Nevertheless, there he was, in his black dress j 
he had evidently been home, and must have come again by 
the river. Maggie felt her cheeks glowing and her heart beat' 
ing ; it was natural she should be nervous, for she was not ac- 
customed to receive visitors alone. He had seen her look up 
through the open window, and raised his hat as he walked 
toward it, to enter that way instead of by the door. He 
blusl.ed too, and certainly looked as foolish as a young man 
of some wit and self-possession can be expected to look, as he 
walked in with a roll of music in his hand, and said, with an 
air of hesitating improvisation, 

" You are surprised to see me again, Miss Tulliver ; I ought 
to apologize for coming upon you by surprise, but I wanted to 
come into the town, and I got our man to row me; so I 
thought I would bring these things from the ' Maid of Artois ' 
for your cousin ; I forgot them this morning. Will you give 
them to her? " 

" Yes, " said Maggie, who had risen confusedly with Miiwv 



424 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

in her arms, and now ; not quite knowing what else to do, sat 
down again. 

Stephen laid down his hat, with the music, which rolled on 
the floor, and sat down in the chair close by her. He had 
never done so before, and both he and Maggie were quite aware 
that it was an entirely new position. 

" Well, you pampered minion ! " said Stephen, leaning to 
pull the long curly ears that drooped over Maggie's arm. It 
was not a suggestive remark, and as the speaker did not fol- 
low it up by further development, it naturally left the conver- 
sation at a standstill. It seemed to Stephen like some action 
in a dream that he was obliged to do, and wonder at himself 
all the while, to go on stroking Minny's head. Yet it was 
very pleasant; he only wished he dared look at Maggie, and 
that she would look at him, let him have one long look into 
those deep, strange eyes of hers, and then he would be satis- 
fied and quite reasonable after that. He thought it was be- 
coming a sort of monomania with him, to want that long look 
from Maggie; and he was racking his invention continually to 
find out some means by which he could have it without its ap- 
pearing singular and entailing subsequent embarrassment. As 
ior Maggie, she had no distinct thought, only the sense of a 
presence like that of a closely hovering broad-winged bird in 
the darkness, for she was unable to look up, and saw nothing 
but Minny's black wavy coat. 

But this must end some time, perhaps it ended very soon, 
and only seemed long, as a minute's dream does. Stephen at 
last sat upright sideways in his chair, leaning one hand and 
arm over the back and looking at Maggie. What should he 
say? 

" We shall have a splendid sunset, I think ; sha'n't you go 
out and see it?" 

" I don't know, " said Maggie. Then courageously raising 
her eyes and looking out of the window, " if I'm not playing 
cribbage with my uncle." 

A pause; during which Minny is stroked again, but has 
sufficient insight not to be grateful for it, to growl rather. 

"Do you like sitting alone?" 

A rather arch look came over Maggie's face, and, jusfc 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 425 

glancing at Stephen, she said, " Would it be quite civil to 
say ' yes ' ? " 

" It was rather a dangerous question for an intruder to ask, " 
said Stephen, delighted with that glance, and getting deter- 
mined to stay for another. " But you will have more than 
half an hour to yourself after I am gone," he added, taking 
out his watch. " I know Mr. Deane never comes in till half- 
past seven." ( 

Another pause, during which Maggie looked steadily out of 
the window, till by a great effort she moved her head to look 
down at Minny's back again, and said, 

" I wish Lucy had not been obliged to go out. "We lose 
our music. " 

"We shall have a new voice to-morrow night," said 
Stephen. " Will you tell your cousin that our friend Philip 
Wakem is come back? I saw him as I went home." 

Maggie gave a little start, it seemed hardly more than a 
vibration that passed from head to foot in an instant. But 
the new images summoned by Philip's name dispersed half 
the oppressive spell she had been under. She rose from her 
chair with a sudden resolution, and laying Minny on his cush- 
ion, went to reach Lucy's large work- basket from its corner. 
Stephen was vexed and disappointed ; he thought perhaps Mag- 
gie didn't like the name of Wakem to be mentioned to her in 
that abrupt way, for he now recalled what Lucy had told him 
of the family quarrel. It was of no use to stay any longer. 
Maggie was seating herself at the table with her work, and 
looking chill and proud ; and he he looked like a simpleton 
for having come. A gratuitous, entirely superfluous visit of 
that sort was sure to make a man disagreeable and ridiculous. 
Of course it was palpable to Maggie's thinking that he had 
dined hastily in his own room for the sake of setting off again 
and finding her alone. 

A boyish state of mind for an accomplished young gentle- 
man of five-and-twenty, not without legal knowledge! But a 
reference to history, perhaps, may make it not incredible. 

At this moment Maggie's ball of knitting-wool rolled along 
the ground, and she started up to reach it. Stephen rose too, 
and picking up the ball, met her with a vexed, complaining 



426 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

look that gave his eyes quite a new expression to Maggie, 
whose own eyes met them as he presented the ball to her. 

" Good-bye, " said Stephen, in a tone that had the same be 
seeching discontent as his eyes. He dared not put out hia 
hand ; he thrust both hands into his tail-pockets as he spoke. 
Maggie thought she had perhaps been rude. 

" Won't you stay ? " she said timidly, not looking away, for 
that would have seemed rude again. 

"No, thank you," said Stephen, looking still into the half- 
unwilling, half -fascinated eyes, as a thirsty man looks toward 
the track of the distant brook. " The boat is waiting for me. 
You'll tell your cousin?" 

"Yes." " 

" That I brought the music, I mean? " 

"Yes." 

"And that Philip is come back? " 

"Yes." (Maggie did not notice Philip's name this time.) 

"Won't you come out a little way into the garden?" said 
Stephen, in a still gentler tone ; but the next moment he was 
vexed that she did not say " No, " for she moved away now 
toward the open window, and he was obliged to take his hat 
and walk by her side. But he thought of something to make 
him amends. 

" Do take my arm, " he said, in a low tone, as if it were a 
secret. 

There is something strangely winning to most women in that 
offer of the firm arm ; the help is not wanted physically at 
that moment, but the sense of help, the presence of strength 
that is outside them and yet theirs, meets a continual want of 
the imagination. Either on that ground or some other, Mag- 
gie took the arm. And they walked together round the grass- 
plot and under the drooping green of the laburnums, in the 
same dim, dreamy state as they had been in a quarter of an 
hour before; only that Stephen had had the look he longed 
for, without yet perceiving in himself the symptoms of return- 
ing reasonableness, and Maggie had darting thoughts across 
the dimness, how came he to be there? Why had she come 
out? Not a word was spoken. If it had been, each would 
have been less intensely conscious of the other. 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 427 

"Take care of this step," said Stephen at last. 

"Oh, I will go in now," said Maggie, feeling that the step 
had come like a rescue. " Good-evening." 

In an instant she had withdrawn her arm, and was running 
back to the house. She did not reflect that this sudden action 
would only add to the embarrassing recollections of the last 
half -hour. She had no thought left for that. She only threw 
herself into the low arm-chair, and burst into tears. 

"Oh, Philip, Philip, I wish we were together again so 
quietly in the Eed Deeps." 

Stephen looked after her a moment, then went on to the 
boat, and was soon landed at the wharf. He spent the even- 
ing in the billiard-room, smoking one cigar after another, and 
losing " lives " at pool. But he would not leave off. He was 
determined not to think, not to admit any more distinct re- 
membrance than was urged upon him by the perpetual presence 
of Maggie. He was looking at her, and she was on his arm. 

But there came the necessity of walking home in the cool 
starlight, and with it the necessity of cursing his own folly, 
and bitterly determining that he would never trust himself 
alone with Maggie again. It was all madness ; he was in love, 
thoroughly attached to Lucy, and engaged, engaged as 
strongly as an honorable man need be. He wished he had 
never seen this Maggie Tulliver, to be thrown into a fever by 
her in this way ; she would make a sweet, strange, tioublesome, 
adorable wife to some man or other, but he would never have 
chosen her himself. Did she feel as he did? He hoped she did 
not. He ought not to have gone. He would master himself 
in future. He would make himself disagreeable to her, quar- 
rel with her perhaps. Quarrel with her? Was it possible to 
quarrel with a creature who had such eyes, defying and depre- 
cating, contradicting and clinging, imperious and beseeching, 
full of delicious opposites? To see such a creature subdued 
by love for one would be a lot worth having to another man. 

There was a muttered exclamation which ended this inward 
soliloquy, as Stephen threw away the end of his last cigar, 
and thrusting his hands into his pockets, stalked along at a 
quieter pace through, the shrubbery. It was not of a bene 
factory kind 



128 THE MILL ON THE PLOSa 

CHAPTER VU. 

PHILIP RE-ENTERS. 

THE next morning was very wet, the sort of morning o 
which male neighbors who have no imperative occupation at 
home are likely to pay their fair friends an illimitable visit. 
The rain, which has been endurable enough for the walk or 
ride one way, is sure to become so heavy, and at the same 
time so certain to clear up by and by, that nothing but an 
open quarrel can abbreviate the visit; latent detestation will 
not do at all. And if people happen to be lovers, what can be 
so delightful, in England, as a rainy morning? English sun- 
shine is dubious ; bonnets are never quite secure ; and if you 
sit down on the grass, it may lead to catarrhs. But the rain 
is to be depended on. You gallop through it in a mackintosh, 
and presently find yourself in the seat you like best, a little 
above or a little below the one on which your goddess sits (it 
is the same thing to the metaphysical mind, and that is the 
reason why women are at once worshipped and looked down 
upon), with a satisfactory confidence that there will be no 
lady-callers. 

"Stephen will come earlier this morning, I know," said 
Lucy; "he always does when it's rainy." 

Maggie made no answer. She was angry with Stephen ; she 
began to think she should dislike him ; and if it had not been 
for the rain, she would have gone to her aunt Glegg's this 
morning, and so have avoided him altogether. As it was, she 
must find some reason for remaining out of the room with her 
mother. 

But Stephen did not come earlier, and there was another 
visitor a nearer neighbor who preceded him. When Philip 
entered the room, he was going merely to bow to Maggie, feel- 
ing that their acquaintance was a secret which he was bound 
not to betray ; but when she advanced toward him and put out 
her hand, he guessed at once that Lucy had been taken into 
her confidence. It was a moment of some agitation to both, 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 42S 

though Philip had spent many hours in preparing for it; but 
like all persons who have passed through life with little ex- 
pectation of sympathy, he seldom lost his self-control, and 
shrank with the most sensitive pride from any noticeable be- 
trayal of emotion. A little extra paleness, a little tension of 
the nostril when he spoke, and the voice pitched in rather a 
higher key, that to strangers would seem expressive of cold 
indifference, were all the signs Philip usually gave of an in- 
ward drama that was not without its fierceness. But Maggie, 
who had little more power of concealing the impressions made 
ipon her than if she had been constructed of musical strings, 
felt her eyes getting larger with tears as they took each 
other's hands in silence. They were not painful tears; they 
had rather something of the same origin as the tears women 
and children shed when they have found some protection to 
cling to and look back on the threatened danger. For Philip, 
who a little while ago was associated continually in Maggie's 
mind with the sense that Tom might reproach her with some 
justice, had now, in this short space, become a sort of out- 
ward conscience to her, that she might fly to for rescue and 
strength. Her tranquil, tender affection for Philip, with its 
root deep down in her childhood, and its memories of long 
quiet talk confirming by distinct successive impressions the 
first instinctive bias, the fact that in him the appeal was 
more strongly to her pity and womanly devotedness than 
to her vanity or other egoistic excitability of her nature, 
seemed now to make a sort of sacred place, a sanctuary where 
she could find refuge from an alluring influence which the best 
part of herself must resist; which must bring horrible tumult 
within, wretchedness without. This new sense of her rela* 
tion to Philip nullified the anxious scruples she would other- 
wise have felt, lest she should overstep the limit of intercourse 
with him that Tom would sanction ; and she put out her hand 
to him, and felt the tears in her eyes without any conscious- 
ness of an inward check. The scene was just what Lucy ex- 
pected, and her kind heart delighted in bringing Philip and 
Maggie together again ; though, even with all her regard for 
Philip, she could not resist the impression that her cousin 
Tom had some excuse for feeling shocked at the physical ia- 



430 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

eongruity "between the two, a prosaic person like cousin Ton\ 
who didn't like poetry and fairy tales. But she began to 
speak as soon as possible, to set them at ease. 

" This was very good and virtuous of you, " she said, in her 
pretty treble, like the low conversational notes of little birds, 
ft to come so soon after your arrival. And as it is, I think I 
will pardon you for running away in an inopportune manner, 
and giving your friends no notice. Come and sit down here," 
she went on, placing the chair that would suit him best, " and 
you shall find yourself treated mercifully." 

"You will never govern well, Miss Deane," said Philip, as 
he seated himself, " because no one will ever believe in your 
severity. People will always encourage themselves in misde- 
meanors by the certainty that you will be indulgent." 

Lucy gave some playful contradiction, but Philip did not 
hear what it was, for he had naturally turned toward Maggie, 
and she was looking at him with that open, affectionate scru- 
tiny which we give to a friend from whom we have been long 
separated. What a moment their parting had been! And 
Philip felt as if he were only in the morrow of it. He felt 
this so keenly, with such intense, detailed remembrance, 
with such passionate revival of all that had been said and 
looked in their last conversation, that with that jealousy and 
distrust which in diffident natures is almost inevitably linked 
with a strong feeling, he thought he read in Maggie's glance 
and manner the evidence of a change. The very fact that he 
feared and half expected it would be sure to make this thought 
rush in, in the absence of positive proof to the contrary. 

" I am having a great holiday, am I not? " said Maggie. 
* Lucy is like a fairy godmother ; she has turned me from a 
drudge into a princess in no time. I do nothing but indulge 
myself all day long, and she always finds out what I want be- 
fore I know it myself." 

"I am sure she is the happier for having you, then," said 
Philip. "You must be better than a whole menagerie of 
pets to her. And you look well. You are benefiting by the 
change. " 

Artificial conversation of this sort went on a little while, 
till Lucy, determined to put an end to it, exclaimed, with a 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 431 

good imitation of annoyance, that she had forgotten some* 
thing, and was quickly out of the room. 

In a moment Maggie and Philip leaned forward, and the 
hands were clasped again, with a look of sad contentment, 
like that of friends who meet in the memory of recent sorrow. 

"I told my brother I wished to see you, Philip; I asked 
him to release me from my promise, and he consented." i 

Maggie, in her impulsiveness, wanted Philip to know at 
once the position they must hold toward each other; but she 
. checked herself. The things that had happened since he had 
spoken of his love for her were so painful that she shrank 
from being the first to allude to them. It seemed almost like 
an injury toward Philip even to mention her brother, her 
brother, who had insulted him. But he was thinking too en- 
tirely of her to be sensitive on any other point at that moment. 

" Then we can at least be friends, Maggie? There is noth- 
ing to hinder that now?" 

" Will not your father object? " said Maggie, withdrawing 
her hand. 

" L should not give you up on any ground but your own 
wish, Maggie," said Philip, coloring. "There are points on 
which I should always resist my father, as I used to tell you. 
That is one." 

" Then there is nothing to hinder our being friends, Philip, 
seeing each other and talking to each other while I am here ; 
I shall soon go away again. I mean to go very soon, to a 
new situation." 

"Is that inevitable, Maggie?" 

"Yes; I must not stay here long. It would unfit me for 
the life I must begin again at last. I can't live in depend- 
ence, I can't live with my brother, though he is very good 
to me. He would like to provide for me ; but that would be 
intolerable to aie." 

Philip was silent a few moments, and then said, in that 
high, feeble voice which with him indicated the resolute sup- 
pression of emotion, 

" Is there no other alternative, Maggie? Is that life, away 
from those who love you, the only one you will allow yourself 
to look forward to? " 



432 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Yes, Philip," she said, looking at him pleadingly as il 
she entreated him to believe that she was compelled to this 
course. "At least, as things are; I don't know what may be 
in years to come. But I begin to think there can never come 
much happiness to me from loving; I have always had so 
much pain mingled with it. I wish I could make myself a 
I world outside it, as men do." 

"Now you are returning to your old thought in a new 
form, Maggie, the thought I used to combat," said Philip, 
with a slight tinge of bitterness. " You want to find out a 
mode of renunciation that will be an escape from pain. I tell 
you again, there is no such escape possible except by pervert- 
ing or mutilating one's nature. What would become of me, 
if I tried to escape from pain? Scorn and cynicism would be 
my only opium ; unless I could fall into some kind of con- 
ceited madness, and fancy myself a favorite of Heaven be- 
cause I am not a favorite with men." 

The bitterness had taken on some impetuosity as Philip 
went on speaking; the words were evidently an outlet fop 
some immediate feeling of his own, as well as an answer to 
Maggie. There was a pain pressing on him at that moment. 
He shrank with proud delicacy from the faintest allusion to 
the words of love, of plighted love that had passed between 
them. It would have seemed to him like reminding Maggie 
of a promise ; it would have had for him something of the 
baseness of compulsion. He could not dwell on the fact that 
he himself had not changed ; for that too would have had the 
air of an appeal. His love for Maggie was stamped, even 
more than the rest of his experience, with the exaggerated 
sense that he was an exception, that she, that every one, 
saw him in the light of an exception. 

But Maggie was conscience-stricken. 

"Yes, Philip," she said, with her childish contrition when 
he used to chide her, " you are right, I know. I do always 
think too much of my own feelings, and not enough of others', 
not enough of yours. I had need have you always to find 
fault with me and teach me ; so many things have come true 
that you used to tell me." 

Maggie was resting her elbow on the table, leaning her head 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 433 

on her hand and looking at Philip with half-penitent depend- 
ent affection, as she said this; while he was returning her 
gaze with an expression that, to her consciousness, gradually 
became less vague, became charged with a specific recollec- 
tion. Had his mind flown back to something that she now 
remembered, something about a lover of Lucy's? It was a 
thought that made her shudder ; it gave new definiteness tc 
her present position, and to the tendency of what had hap 
pened the evening before. She moved her arm from the table, 
urged to change her position by that positive physical oppres- 
sion at the heart that sometimes accompanies a sudden mental 
pang. 

" What is the matter, Maggie? Has something happened? " 
Philip said, in inexpressible anxiety, his imagination being 
only too ready to weave everything that was fatal to them 
both. 

" No, nothing, " said Maggie, rousing her latent will. Philip 
must not have that odious thought in his mind; she would 
banish it from her own. "Nothing," she repeated, "except 
in my own mind. You used to say I should feel the effect of 
my starved life, as you called it; and I do. 1 am too eager 
in my enjoyment of music and all luxuries, now they are come 
to me." 

She took up her work and occupied herself resolutely, while 
Philip watched her, really in doubt whether she had anything 
more than this general allusion in her mind. It was quite 
in Maggie's character to be agitated by vague self-reproach. 
But soon there came a violent well-known ring at the door-beH 
resounding through the house. 

" Oh, what a startling announcement ! " said Maggie, quite 
mistress of herself, though not without some inward flutter. 
"I wonder where Lucy is." 

Lucy had not been deaf to the signal, and after an interval 
iong enough for a few solicitous but not hurried inquiries, she 
herself ushered Stephen in. 

"Well, old fellow," he said, going straight up to Philip 

and shaking him heartily by the hand, bowing to Maggie in 

passing, "it's glorious to have you back again; only I wish 

you'd conduct yourself a little less like a sparrow with a resi- 

28 



434 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

dence on the house-top, and not go in and out constantly with* 
out letting the servants know. This is about the twentieth 
time I've had to scamper up those countless stairs to that 
painting-room of yours, all to no purpose, because your people 
thought you were at home. Such incidents embitter friend- 
ship." 

"I've so few visitors, it seems hardly worth while to leave 
notice of my exit and entrances, " said Philip, feeling rather 
oppressed just then by Stephen's bright strong presence and 
strong voice. 

"Are you quite well this morning, Miss Tulliver?" said 
Stephen, turning to Maggie with stiff politeness, and putting 
out his hand with the air of fulfilling a social duty. 

Maggie gave the tips of her fingers, and said, " Quite well, 
thank you, "in a tone of proud indifference. Philip's eyes 
were watching them keenly j but Lucy was used to seeing va- 
riations in their manner to each other, and only thought with 
regret that there was some natural antipathy which every now 
and then surmounted their mutual good-will. " Maggie is 
not the sort of woman Stephen admires, and she is irritated 
by something in him which she interprets as conceit, " was 
the silent observation that accounted for everything to guile- 
less Lucy. Stephen and Maggie had no sooner completed this 
studied greeting than each felt hurt by the other's coldness. 
And Stephen, while rattling on in questions to Philip about 
his recent sketching expedition, was thinking all the more 
about Maggie because he was not drawing her into the con- 
versation as he had invariably done before. " Maggie and 
Philip are not looking happy, " thought Lucy ; " this first in- 
terview has been saddening to them." 

" I think we people who have not been galloping, " she said 
to Stephen, " are all a little damped by the rain. Let us have 
some music. We ought to take advantage of having Philip 
and you together. Give us the duet in ' Masaniello ' j Maggie 
has not heard that, and I know it will suit her." 

"Come, then," said Stephen, going toward the piano, and 
giving a foretaste of the tune in his deep " brum-brum, " very 
pleasant to hear. 

"You, please, Philip, you play the accompaniment," said 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 435 

Lucy, " and then I can go on with my work. You will like 
to play, sha'n'tyou?" she added, with a pretty, inquiring 
look, anxious, as usual, lest she should 'have proposed what 
was not pleasant to another ; but with yearnings toward her 
unfinished embroidery. 

Philip had brightened at the proposition, for there is no 
feeling, perhaps, except the extremes of fear and grief, that 
does not find relief in music, that does not make a man sing 
or play the better ; and Philip had an abundance of pent-up 
feeling at this moment, as complex as any trio or quartet that 
was ever meant to express love and jealousy and resignation 
and fierce suspicion, all at the same time. 

"Oh, yes," he said, seating himself at the piano, "it is a 
way of eking out one' s imperfect life and being three people 
at once, to sing and make the piano sing, and hear them 
both all the while, or else to sing and paint." 

" Ah, there you are an enviable fellow. I can do nothing 
with my hands," said Stephen. "That has generally been 
observed -in men of great administrative capacity, I believe, 
a tendency to predominance of the reflective powers in me! 
Haven't you observed that, Miss Tulliver?" 

Stephen had fallen by mistake into his habit of playful ap- 
peal to Maggie, and she could not repress the answering flush 
and epigram. 

"I have observed a tendency to predominance," she said, 
smiling ; and Philip at that moment devoutly hoped that she 
found the tendency disagreeable. 

" Come, come, " said Lucy ; " music, music ! We will dis- 
cuss each other's qualities another time." 

Maggie always tried in vain to go on with her work when 
music began. She tried harder than ever to-day; for the 
thought that Stephen knew how much she cared for his sing- 
ing was one that no longer roused a merely playful resistance ; 
and she knew, too, that it was his habit always to stand so 
that he could look at her. But it was of no use ; she soon 
threw her work down, and all her intentions were lost in the 
vague state of emotion produced by the inspiring duet, emo- 
tion that seemed to make her at once strong and weak; strong 
for all enjoyment, weak for all resistance. When the strain 



436 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

passed into the minor, she half started from her seat with thj 
sudden thrill of that change. Poor Maggie! She looked 
very beautiful when her soul was being played on in this way 
by the inexorable power of sound. You might have seen the 
slightest perceptible quivering through her whole frame as she 
leaned a little forward, clasping her hands as if to steady her- 
self; while her eyes dilated and brightened into that wide- 
open, childish expression of wondering delight which always 
came back iu her happiest moments. Lucy, who at other 
times had always been at the piano when Maggie was looking 
in this way, could not resist the impulse to steal up to her 
and kiss her. Philip, too, caught a glimpse of her now and 
then round the open book on the desk, and felt that he had 
never before seen her under so strong an influence. 

"More, morel" said Lucy, when the duet had been en- 
cored. " Something spirited again. Maggie always says she 
likes a great rush of sound." 

" It must be ' Let us take the road,' then," said Stephen, 
" so suitable for a wet morning. But are you prepared to 
abandon the most sacred duties of life, and come and sing 
with us?" 

"Oh yes," said Lucy, laughing. "If you will look out the 
' Beggar's Opera ' from the large canterbury. It has a dingy 
cover." 

" That is a great clue, considering there are about a score 
covers here of rival dinginess," said Stephen, drawing out the 
canterbury. 

" Oh, play something the while, Philip, " said Lucy, notic- 
ing that his fingers were wandering over the keys. " What is 
that you are falling into? something delicious that I don't 
know." 

" Don't you know that? " said Philip, bringing out the tune 
more definitely. " It's from the ' Sonnambula ' 'Ah ! perche 
non posso odiarti.' I don't know the opera, but it appears the 
tenor is telling the heroine that he shall always love her 
though she may forsake him. You've heard me sing it to tka 
English words, * I love thee still.' ' 

It was not quite unintentionally that Philip had wandered 
into this song, which might be an indirect expression to Mag 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 437 

gie of what he could not prevail on himself to say to her di- 
rectly. Her ears had been open to what he was saying, and 
when he began to sing, she understood the plaintive passion 
of the music. That pleading tenor had no very fine qualities 
as a voice, but it was not quite new to her; it had sung to her 
by snatches, in a subdued way, among the grassy walks and 
hollows, and underneath the leaning ash-tree in the Ked 
Deeps. There seemed to be some reproach in the words ; did 
Philip mean that? She wished she had assured him more dis- 
tinctly in their conversation that she desired not to renew the 
hope of love between them, only because it clashed with her 
inevitable circumstances. She was touched, not thrilled by 
the song j it suggested distinct memories and thoughts, and 
brought quiet regret in the place of excitement. 

"That's the way with you tenors," said Stephen, who was 
waiting with music in his hand while Philip finished the song. 
" You demoralize the fair sex oy warbling your sentimental 
love and constancy under all sorts of vile treatment. Nothing 
short of having your heads served up in a dish like that me- 
diaeval tenor or troubadour, would prevent you from express- 
ing your entire resignatiom. I must administer an antidote, 
while Miss Deane prepares to tear herself away from her 
bobbins." 

Stephen rolled out, with saucy energy, 

"Shall I, wasting In despair. 
Die because a woman's lair?** 

and seemed to make all the air in the room alive with a new 
influence. Lucy, always proud of what Stephen did, went 
toward the piano with laughing, admiring looks at him; and 
Maggie, in spite of her resistance to the spirit of the song and 
to the singer, was taken hold of and shaken by the invisible 
influence, was borne along by a wave too strong for her. 

But, angrily resolved not to betray herself, she seized her 
work, and went on making false stitches and pricking her fin- 
gers with much perseverance, not looking up or taking notice 
of what was going forward, until all the three voices united in 
" Let us take the road." 

I am afraid there would have been a subtle, stealing grati- 



438 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

fication in her mind if she had known how entirely this saucy, 
defiant Stephen was occupied with her; how he was passing 
rapidly from a determination to treat her with ostentatious in* 
difference to an irritating desire for some sign of inclination 
from her, some interchange of subdued word or look with 
her. It was not long before he found an opportunity, when 
they had passed to the music of " The Tempest. " Maggie, 
feeling the need of a footstool, was walking across the room 
to get one, when Stephen, who was not singing just then, and 
was conscious of all her movements, guessed her want, and 
flew to anticipate her, lifting the footstool with an entreating 
look at her, which made it impossible not to return a glance 
of gratitude. And then, to have the footstool placed carefully 
by a too self-confident personage, not any self-confident per- 
sonage, but one in particular, who suddenly looks humble 
and anxious, and lingers, bending still, to ask if there is not 
some draught in that position between the window and the 
fireplace, and if he may not be allowed to move the work-table 
for her, these things will summon a little of the too ready, 
traitorous tenderness into a woman's eyes, compelled as she 
is in her girlish time to learn her life-lessons in very trivial 
language. And to Maggie such things had not been everyday 
incidents, but were a new element in her life, and found her 
keen appetite for homage quite fresh. That tone of gentle 
solicitude obliged her to look at the face that was bent toward 
her, and to say, "No, thank you"; and nothing could prevent 
that mutual glance from being delicious to both, as it had been 
the evening before. 

It was but an ordinary act of politeness in Stephen; it 
had hardly taken two minutes ; and Lucy, who was singing, 
scarcely noticed it. But to Philip's mind, filled already with 
a vague anxiety that was likely to find a definite ground for 
itself in any trivial incident, this sudden eagerness in Stephen, 
and the change in Maggie's face, which was plainly reflecting 
a beam from his, seemed so strong a contrast with the pre- 
vious overwrought signs of indifference, as to be charged with 
painful meaning. Stephen's voice, pouring in again, jarred 
upon his nervous susceptibility as if it had been the clang of 
sheet 'iron, and he felt inclined to make the piano shriek in 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION 439 

ntter discord. He had really seen no communicable ground 
for suspecting any unusual feeling between Stephen and Mag- 
gie; his own reason told him so, and he wanted to go home at 
once that he might reflect coolly on these false images, till he 
had convinced himself of their nullity. But then, again, he 
wanted to stay as long as Stephen stayed, always to be pres- 
ent when Stephen was present with Maggie. It seemed to 
poor Philip so natural, nay, inevitable, that any man who was 
near Maggie should fall in love with her ! There was no prom- 
ise of happiness for her if she were beguiled into loving Stephen 
Guest; and this thought emboldened Philip to view his own 
love for her in the light of a less unequal offering. He was 
beginning to play very falsely under this deafening inward 
tumult, and Lucy was looking at him in astonishment, when 
Mrs. Tulliver's entrance to summon them to lunch came as an 
excuse for abruptly breaking off the music. 

" Ah, Mr. Philip ! " said Mr. Deane, when they entered the 
dining-room, "I've not seen you for a long while. Your 
father's not at home, I think, is he? I went after him to 
the office the other day, ?nd they said he n^as out of town." 

" He' s been to Mudport on business for several days, " said 
Philip; " but he's come back now." 

"As fond of his farming hobby as ^ver, eh?" 

"I believe so," said Philip, rather wondering at this sud- 
den interest in his father's pursuits. 

"Ah!" said Mr. Deane, "he's got some land in his own 
hands on this side the river as well as the other, I think?" 

"Yes, he has." 

" Ah ! " continued Mr. Deane, as he dispensed the pigeon- 
pie, "he must find farming a heavy item, an expensive 
hobby. I never had a hobby myself, never would give in to 
that. And the worst of all hobbies are those that people 
think they can get money at. They shoot their money down 
like corn out of a sack then." 

Lucy felt a little nervous under her father's apparently gra- 
tuitous criticism of Mr. Wakem's expenditure. But it ceased 
there, and Mr. Deane became unusually silent and meditative 
during his luncheon. Lucy, accustomed to watch all indica- 
tions in her father, and having reasons, which had recently 



440 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

become strong, for an extra interest in what referred to thi 
Wakems, felt an unusual curiosity to know what had prompted 
her father's questions. His subsequent silence made her sus- 
pect there, had been some special reason for them in his mind. 

With this idea in her head, she resorted to her usual plan 
when she wanted to tell or ask her father anything particular: 
she found a reason for her aunt Tulliver to leaving the din- 
ing-room after dinner, and seated herself on a small stool at 5 
her father's knee. Mr. Deane, under those circumstances. 
considered that he tasted some of the most agreeable moments 
his merits had purchased him in life, notwithstanding that 
Lucy, disliking to have her hair powdered with snuff, usually 
began by mastering his snuff-box on such occasions. 

"You don't want to go to sleep yet, papa, do you?" she 
said, as she brought up her stool and opened the large fingers 
that clutched the snuff-box. 

"Not yet," said Mr. Deane, glancing at the reward of merit 
in the decanter. " But what do you want? " he added, pinch- 
ing the dimpled chin fondly, "to coax some more sovereigns 
out of my pocket for your bazaar? Eh? " 

" No, I have no base motives at all to-day. I only want to 
talk, not to beg. I want to know what made you ask Philip 
Wakem about his father's farming to-day, papa? It seemed 
rather odd, because you never hardly say anything to him 
about his father; and why should you care about Mr. Wakem' s 
losing money by his hobby?" 

" Something to do with business, " said Mr. Deane, waving 
*iis hands, as if to repel intrusion into that mystery. 

" But, papa, you always say Mr. Wakem has brought Philip 
up like a girl ; how came you to think you should get any 
business knowledge out of him? Those abrupt questions 
sounded rather oddly. Philip thought them queer." 

"Nonsense, child!" said Mr. Deane, willing to justify his 
social demeanor, with which he had taken some pains in his 
upward progress. "There's a report that Wakem's mill and 
farm on the other side of the river Dorlcote Mill, your uncle 
Tulliver' s, you know isn't answering so well as it did. I 
wanted to see if your friend Philip would let anything out 
about his father's being tired of farming." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 441 

"Why? Would you buy the mill, papa, if he would part 
with it? " said Lucy, eagerly. " Oh, tell me everything; here, 
you shall have 3* our snuff-box if you'll tell me. Because 
Maggie says all their hearts are set on Tom's getting back the 
mill some time. It was one of the last things her father said 
to Tom, that he must get back the mill." 

"Hush, you little puss," said Mr. Deane, availing himself 
of the restored snu.ff-box. " You must not say a word about 
this thing; do you hear? There's very little chance of their 
getting the mill, or of anybody's getting it out of Wakem's 
hands. And if he knew that we wanted it with a view to the 
Tullivers* getting it again, he'd be the less likely to part with 
it. It's natural, after what happened. He behaved well 
enough to Tulliver before; but a horsewhipping is not likely 
to be paid for with sugar-plums." 

"Now, papa," said Lucy, with a little air of solemnity, 
" will you trust me? You must not ask me all my reasons for 
what I'm going to say, but I have very strong reasons. And 
I'm very cautious; I am, indeed." 

"Well, let us hear." 

" Why, I believe, if you will let me take Philip Wakem 
into our confidence, let me tell him all about your wish to 
buy, and what it' s for ; that my cousins wish to have it, and 
why they wish to have it, I believe Philip would help to 
bring it about. I know he would desire to do it." 

" I don't see how that can be, child," said Mr. Deane, look- 
ing puzzled. " Why should he care? " then, with a sudden 
penetrating look at his daughter, "You don't think the poor 
lad's fond of you, and so you can make him do what you 
like?" (Mr. Deane felt quite safe about his daughter's af- 
fections.) 

"No, papa; he cares very little about me, not so much as 
I care about him. But I have a reason for being quite sure of 
what I say. Don't you ask me. And if you ever guess, don't 
tell me. Only give me leave to do as I think fit about it." 

Lucy rose from her stool to seat herself on her father's 
knee, and kissed him with that last request. 

" Are you sure you won't do mischief, now? " he said, look- 
ing at her with delight. 



442 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

"Yes, papa, quite sure. I'm very wise; I've got all you'i 
business talents. Didn't you admire my accompt-book, now, 
when I showed it you? " 

" Well, well, if this youngster will keep his counsel, there 
won't be much harm done. And to tell the truth, I think 
there's not much chance for us any other way. Now, let me 
go off to sleep." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

WAKEM IN A NEW LIGHT. 

BEFORE three days had passed after the conversation you 
have just overheard between Lucy and her father, she had 
contrived to have a private interview with Philip during a 
visit of Maggie's to her aunt Glegg. For a day and a night 
Philip turned over in his mind with restless agitation all that 
Lucy had told him in that interview, till he had thoroughly 
resolved on a course of action. He thought he saw before 
him now a possibility of altering his position with respect to 
Maggie, and removing at least one obstacle between them. 
He laid his plan and calculated all his moves with the fervid 
deliberation of a chess-player in the days of his first ardor, and 
was amazed himself at his sudden genius as a tactician. His 
plan was as bold as it was thoroughly calculated. Having 
watched for a moment when his father had nothing more 
urgent on his hands than the newspaper, he went behind him^ 
laid a hand on his shoulder, and said, 

" Father, will you come up into my sanctum, and look at 
my new sketches? I've arranged them now." 

" I'm getting terribly stiff in the joints, Phil, for climbing 
those stairs of yours," said Wakem, looking kindly at his son 
as he laid down his paper. " But come along, then." 

" This is a nice place for you, isn't it, Phil? a capital light 
that from the roof, eh?" was, as usual, the first thing he said 
on entering the painting-room. He liked to remind himself 
and his son too that his fatherly indulgence had provided 
the accommodation. He had been a good father. Emily 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 443 

would have nothing to reproach him with there, if she came 
back again from her grave. 

" Come, come, " he said, putting his double eye-glass over 
his nose, and seating himself to take a general view while he 
rested, "you've got a famous show here. Upon my word, I 
don't see that your things aren't as good as that London ar- 
tist's what's his name that Ley burn gave so much money 
for." 

Philip shook his head and smiled. He had seated himself! 
on his painting- stool, and had taken a lead pencil in his hand, 
with which he was making strong marks to counteract the 
sense of tremulousness. He watched his father get up, and 
walk slowly round, good-naturedly dwelling on the pictures 
much longer than his amount of genuine taste for landscape 
would have prompted, till he stopped before a stand on which 
two pictures were placed, one much larger than the other, 
the smaller one in a leather case. 

" Bless me! what have you here? " said Wakem, startled by 
a sudden transition from landscape to portrait. " I thought 
you'd left off figures. Who are these? " 

" They are the same person, " said Philip, with calm prompt- 
ness, "at different ages." 

" And what person ? " said Wakem, sharply fixing his eyes 
with a growing look of suspicion on the larger picture. 

" Miss Tulliver. The small one is something like what she 
was when I was at school with her brother at King' s Lorton ; 
the larger one is not quite so good a likeness of what she was 
when I came from abroad." 

Wakem turned round fiercely, with a flushed face, letting 
his eye-glass fall, and looking at his son with a savage ex- 
pression for a moment, as if he was ready to strike that dar 
ing feebleness from the stool. But he threw himself into the 
armchair again, and thrust his hands into his trouser-pockets, 
still looking angrily at his son, however. Philip did not 
return the look, but sat quietly watching the point of his 
pencil. 

" And do you mean to say, then, that you have had any ac- 
quaintance with her since you came from abroad? " said 
Wakem, at last, with that vain effort which rage always makes 



444 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

to throw as much punishment as it desires to inflict into wordi 
and tones, since blows are forbidden. 

" Yes ; I saw a great deal of her for a whole year before her 
father's death. We met often in that thicket the Red 
Deeps near Dorlcote Mill. I love her dearly ; I shall never 
love any other woman. I have thought of her ever since she 
was a little girl." 

" Go on, sir ! And you have corresponded with her all this 
while?" 

" No. I never told her I loved her till just before we parted, 
and she promised her brother not to see me again or to corre- 
spond with me. I am not sure that she loves me or would 
consent to marry me. But if she would consent, if she did 
love me well enough, I should marry her." 

" And this is the return you make me for all the indulgences 
I've heaped on you? " said Wakem, getting white, and begin- 
ning to tremble under an enraged sense of impotence before 
Philip's calm defiance and concentration of purpose. 

"No, father," said Philip, looking up at him for the first 
time; " I don't regard it as a return. You have been an in- 
dulgent father to me ; but I have always felt that it was be- 
cause you had an affectionate wish to give me as much happi- 
ness as my unfortunate lot would admit of, not that it was a 
debt you expected me to pay by sacrificing all my chances of 
happiness to satisfy feelings of yours which I can never share." 

"I think most sons would share their father's feelings in 
this case," said Wakem, bitterly. "The girl's father was an 
ignorant mad brute, who was within an inch of murdering 
toe. The whole town knows it. And the brother is just as 
insolent, only in a cooler way. He forbade her seeing you, 
you say ; he'll break every bone in your body, for your greater 
happiness, if you don't take care. But you seem to have 
made up your mind ; you have counted the consequences, I 
suppose. Of course you are independent of me; you can 
marry this girl to-morrow, if you like; you are a man of five- 
and-twenty, you can go your way, and I can go mine. We 
need have no more to do with each other." 

Wakem rose and walked toward the door, but something 
held him back, and instead of leaving the room, he walked u? 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 445 

and down it. Philip was slow to reply, and when he spoke, 
his tone had a more incisive quietness and clearness than 
ever. 

"No; I can't marry Miss Tulliver, even if she would have 
me, if I have only my own resources to maintain her with. 
I have been brought up to no profession. I can't offer her 
poverty as well as deformity." 

"Ah, there is a reason for your clinging to me, doubtless," 
said Wakem, still bitterly, though Philip's last words had 
given him a pang; they had stirred a feeling which had been 
a habit for a quarter of a century. He threw himself into 
the chair again. 

"I expected all this," said Philip. "I know these scenes 
are often happening between father and son. If I were like 
other men of my age, I might answer your angry words by still 
angrier; we might part; 1 should marry the woman I love, 
and have a chance of being as happy as the rest. But if it 
will be a satisfaction to you to annihilate the very object of 
everything you've done for me, you have an advantage over 
most fathers; you can completely deprive me of the only thing 
that would make my life worth having." 

Philip paused, but his father was silent. 

" You know best what satisfaction you would have, beyond 
that of gratifying a ridiculous rancor worthy only of wander* 
ing savages." 

" Eidiculous rancor I " Wakem burst out. ** What do you 
mean? Damn it! is a man to be horsewhipped by a boor and 
love him for it? Besides, there's that cold, proud devil of a 
son, who said a word to me I shall not forget when we had 
the settling. He would be as pleasant a mark for a bullet as 
I know, if he were worth the expense." 

"I don't mean your resentment toward them," said Philip, 
who had his reasons for some sympathy with this view of Tom, 
" though a f eeling of revenge is not worth much, that you 
should care to keep it. I mean your extending the enmity to 
a helpless girl, who has too much sense and goodness to share 
their narrow prejudices. Shd has never entered into the fam- 
ily quarrels." 

a What does that signify? We don't ask what a 



446 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

does; we ask whom she belongs to. It's altogether a degrad- 
ing thing to you, to think of marrying old Tulliver' s daughter. " 

For the first time in the dialogue, Philip lost some of his 
self-control, and colored with anger. 

" Miss Tulliver, " he said, with bitter incisiveness, " has the 
only grounds of rank that anything but vulgar folly can sup- 
pose to belong to the middle class ; she is thoroughly refined, 
and her friends, whatever else they may be, are respected for 
irreproachable honor and integrity. All St. Ogg's, I fancy, 
would pronounce her to be more than my equal." 

Wakem darted a glance of fierce question at his son ; but 
Philip was not looking at him, and with a certain penitent 
consciousness went on, in a few moments, as if in amplifica- 
tion of his last words, 

" Find a single person in St. Ogg's who will not tell you 
that a beautiful creature like her would be throwing herself 
fway on a pitiable object like me." 

" Not she ! " said Wakem, rising again, and forgetting every- 
thing else in a burst of resentful pride, half fatherly, half per- 
sonal. " It would be a deuced fine match for her. It's all 
stuff about an accidental deformity, when a girl's really at- 
tached to a man." 

" But girls are not apt to get attached under those circum 
stances, " said Philip. 

"Well, then," said Wakem, rather brutally, trying to re- 
cover his previous position, "if she doesn't care for you, you 
might have spared yourself the trouble of talking to me about 
her, and you might have spared me the trouble of refusing my 
consent to what was never likely to happen." 

Wakem strode to the door, and without looking round 
'again, banged it after him. 

Philip was not without confidence that his father would be 
ultimately wrought upon as he had expected, by what had 
passed; but the scene had jarred upon his nerves, which were 
as sensitive as a woman's. He determined not to go down to 
dinner ; he couldn't meet his father again that day. It was 
Wakem's habit, when he had no company at home, to go out 
in the evening, often as early as half-past seven ; and as it 
was far oa in the afternoon *ow, Philip locked up his room 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 447 

and went out for a long ramble, thinking he would not return 
until his father was out of the house again. He got into a 
boat, and went down the river to a favorite village, where he 
dined, and lingered till it was late enough for hi*"i to return. 
He had never had any sort of quarrel with his father before, 
and had a sickening fear that this contest, just begun, might 
goon for weeks; and what might not happen iv- that time? 
He would not allow himself to define what that involuntary 
question meant. But if he could once be in the position of 
Maggie's accepted, acknowledged lover, there wou*d be less 
room for vague dread. He went up to his painting-room 
again, and threw himself with a sense of fatigue into the 
armchair, looking round absently at the views of w<rter and 
rock that were ranged around, till he fell into a doze, in 
which he fancied Maggie was slipping down a glistening, 
green, slimy channel of a waterfall, and he was lootvng on 
helpless, till he was awakened by what seemed a smdden, 
awful crash. 

It was the opening of the door, and he could hardly have 
dozed more than a few moments, for there was no perceptible 
change in the evening light. It was his father who entered; 
and when Philip moved to vacate the chair for him, he said, 

" Sit still. I'd rather walk about." 

He stalked up and down the room once or twice, and then, 
standing opposite Philip with his hands thrust in his side 
pockets, he said, as if continuing a conversation that had not 
been broken off, 

" But this girl seems to have been fond of you, Phil, else 
she wouldn't have met you in that way." 

Philip's heart was beating rapidly, and a transient flush 
passed over his face like a gleam. It was not quite easy to 
speak at once. 

" She liked me at King's Lorton, when she was a little girl, 
because I used to sit with her brother a great deal when he 
had hurt his foot. She had kept that in her memory, and 
thought of me as a friend of a long while ago. She didn't 
think of me as a lover when she met me." 

" Well, but you made love to her at last. What did she s*yr 
then? " said Wakem, walking about again, 



THE MILL ON THB FLO88. 

" She said she did love me then." 

* Confound it, then ; what else do you want? Is she a jilt? * 

"She was very young then/' said Philip, hesitatingly. 
" I'm afraid she hardly knew what she felt. I'm afraid out 
long separation, and the idea .that events must always divide 
us, may have made a difference." 

* But she' s in the town. I' ve seen her at church. Haven'^ 
you spoken to her since you came back? " 

" Yes, at Mr. Deane's. But I couldn't renew my proposals 
to her on several grounds. One obstacle would be removed 
if you would give your consent, if you would be willing to 
think of her as a daughter-in-law." 

Wakem was silent a little while, pausing before Maggie's 
picture. 

" She's not the sort of woman your mother was, though, 
Phil," he said, at last. "I saw her at church, she's hand- 
somer than this, deuced fine eyes and fine figure, I saw} but 
rather dangerous and unmanageable, eh?" 

" She's very tender and affectionate, and so simple, with- 
out the airs and petty contrivances other women have." 

" Ah? " said Wakem. Then looking round at his son, " But 
your mother looked gentler; she had that brown wavy hair 
and gray eyes, like yours. You can't remember her very well. 
It was a thousand pities I'd no likeness of her." 

" Then, shouldn't you be glad for me to have the same sort 
of happiness, father, to sweeten my life for me? There can 
never be another tie so strong to you as that which began 
eight-and-twenty years ago, when you married my mother, 
and you have been tightening it ever since." 

" Ah, Phil, you're the only fellow that knows the best of 
me," said Wakem, giving his hand to his son. "We must 
keep together if we can. And now, what ani I to do? You 
must come downstairs and tell me. Am I to go and call on 
this dark-eyed damsel?" 

The barrier once thrown down in this way, Philip could 
talk freely to his father of their entire relation with the Tul- 
Hvers, of the desire to get the mill and land back into the 
family, ani of its transfer to Guest & Co. as an intermediate 
step. He could venture now to be persuasive and urgent, 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 449 

and his father yielded with more readiness than he had cal- 
culated on. 

"/don't care about the mill," he said at last, with a sort 
of angry compliance. " I've had an infernal deal of bother 
lately about the mill. Let them pay me for my improve- 
ments, that's all. But there's one thing you needn't ask me. 
I shall have no direct transactions with young Tulliver. If 
you like to swallow him for his sister's sake, you may; but 
I've no sauce that will make him go down." 

I leave you to imagine the agreeable feelings with which 
Philip went to Mr. Deane the next day, to say that Mr. 
Wakem was ready to open the negotiations, and Lucy's pretty 
triumph as she appealed to her father whether she had not 
proved her great business abilities. Mr. Deane was rather 
puzzled, and suspected that there had been something " going 
on " among the young people to which he wanted a clew. But 
to men of Mr. Deane's stamp, what goes on among the young 
people is as extraneous to the real business of life as what 
goes on among the birds and butterflies, until it can be shown 
to have a malign bearing on monetary affairs. And in this 
case the bearing appeared to be entirely propitious. 



CHAPTER IX. 

OHABTTT IN FULL-DRESS. 

THE culmination of Maggie's career as an admired member 
of society in St. Ogg's was certainly the day of the bazaar, 
when her simple noble beauty, clad in a white muslin of some 
soft-floating kind, which I suspect must have come from the 
stores of aunt Pullet's wardrobe, appeared with marked dis- 
tinction among the more adorned and conventional women 
around her. We perhaps never detect how much of our social 
demeanor is made up of artificial airs until we see a person 
who is at once beautiful and simple ; without the beauty, we 
are apt to call simplicity awkwardness. The Miss Guests 
were much too well-bred to have any of the grimaces and 
29 



460 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

affected tones that belong to pretentious vulgarity j but theii 
stall being next to the one where Maggie sat, it seemed newly 
obvious to-day that Miss Guest held her chin too high, and that 
Miss Laura spoke and moved continually with a view to effect. 
All well-dressed St. Ogg'sand its neighborhood were there j 
and it would have been worth while to come even from a dis- 
tance, to see the fine old hall, with its open roof and arved 
oaken rafters, and great oaken folding-doors, and light shed 
down from a height on the many-colored show beneath; a 
very quaint place, with broad faded stripes painted on the 
walls, and here and there a show of heraldic animals of a 
bristly, long-snouted character, the cherished emblems of a 
noble family once the seigniors of this now civic halL A 
grand arch, cut in the upper wall at one end, surmounted an 
oaken orchestra, vrith an open room behind it, where hot- 
house plants and stalls for refreshments were disposed; an 
agreeable resort for gentlemen disposed to loiter, and yet to 
exchange the occasional crush down below for a more com- 
modious point of view. In fact, the perfect fitness of this 
ancient building for an admirable modern purpose, that made 
charity truly elegant, and led through vanity up to the supply 
of a deficit, was so striking that hardly a person entered the 
room without exchanging the remark more than once. Near 
the great arch over the orchestra was the stone oriel with 
painted glass, which was one of the venerable inconsistencies 
of the old hall ; and it was close by this that Lucy had her 
stall, for the convenience of certain large plain articles which 
she had taken charge of for Mrs. Kenn. Maggie had begged 
to sit at the open end of the stall, and to have the sale of these 
articles rather than of bead-mats and other elaborate products 
of which she had but a dim understanding. But it soon ap- 
peared that the gentlemen's dressing-gowns, which were among 
her commodities, were objects of such general attention and 
inquiry, and excited so troublesome a curiosity as to their 
lining and comparative merits, together with a determination 
to test them by trying on, as to make her post a very con- 
spicuous one. The ladies who had commodities of their own 
to sell, and did not want dressing-gowns, saw at once the 
frivolity and bad taste of this masculine preference for good* 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 451 

which any tailor could furnish ; and it is possible that the em- 
phatic notice of various kinds which was drawn toward Miss 
Tulliver on this public occasion, threw a very strong and un- 
mistakable light on her subsequent conduct in many minds 
then present. Not that anger, on account of spurned beauty 
can dwell in the celestial breasts of charitable ladies, but 
rather that the errors of persons who have once been much 
admired necessarily take a deeper tinge from the mere force 
of contrast; and also, that to-day Maggie's conspicuous posi- 
tion, for the first time, made evident certain characteristics 
which were subsequently felt to have an explanatory bearing. 
There was something rather bold in Miss Tulliver's direct 
gaze, and something uudefinably coarse in the style of her 
beauty, which placed her, in the opinion of all feminine judges, 
far below her cousin Miss Deane; for the ladies of St. Ogg's 
had now completely ceded to Lucy their hypothetic claims on 
the admiration of Mr. Stephen Guest. 

As for dear little Lucy herself, her late benevolent triumph 
about the Mill, and all the affectionate projects she was cher- 
ishing for Maggie and Philip, helped to give her the highest 
spirits to-day, and she felt nothing but pleasure in the evidence 
of Maggie's attractiveness. It is true, she was looking very 
charming herself, and Stephen was paying her the utmost 
attention on this public occasion; jealously buying up the 
articles he had seen under her fingers in the process of mak- 
ing, and gayly helping her to cajole the male customers into 
the purchase of the most effeminate futilities. He chose to 
lay aside his hat and wear a scarlet fez of her embroidering ; 
but by superficial observers this was necessarily liable to be 
interpreted less as a compliment to Lucy than as a mark of 
coxcombry. " Guest is a great coxcomb, " young Torry ob- 
served; "but then he is a privileged person in St. Ogg's he 
carries all before him; if another fellow did such things, 
everybody would say he made a fool of himself." 

And Stephen purchased absolutely nothing from Maggie, 
until Lucy said, in rather a vexed undertone, 

"See, now; all the things of Maggie's knitting will be 
gone, and you will not have bought oue. There are those d' 
liciously soft warm things for the wrists, do buy them." 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" Oh no, " said Stephen, " they must be intended for imagina 
tive persons, who can chill themselves on this warm day by 
thinking of the frosty Caucasus. Stern reason is my forte, you 
know. You must get Philip to buy those. By the way, why 
doesn't he come? " 

" He never likes going where there are many people, though 
I enjoined him to come. He said he would buy up any of my 
goods that the rest of the world rejected. But now, do go and 
buy something of Maggie." 

"No, no; see, she has got a customer; there is old Wakem 
himself just coming up." 

Lucy's eyes turned with anxious interest toward Maggie to 
see how she went through this first interview, since a sadly 
memorable time, with a man toward whom she must have so 
strange a mixture of feelings ; but she was pleased to notice 
that Wakem had tact enough to enter at once into talk about 
the bazaar wares, and appear interested in purchasing, smil- 
ing now and then kindly at Maggie, and not calling on her to 
speak much, as if he observed that she was rather pale and 
tremulous. 

" Why, Wakem is making himself particularly amiable to 
your cousin, " said Stephen, in an undertone to Lucy ; "is it 
pure magnanimity? You talked of a family quarreL" 

"Oh, that will soon be quite healed, I hope," said Lucy, 
becoming a little indiscreet in her satisfaction, and speaking 
with an air of significance. But Stephen did not appear to 
notice this, and as some lady-purchasers came up, he lounged 
on toward Maggie's end, handling trifles and standing aloof 
until Wakem, who had taken out his purse, had finished his 
transactions. 

" My son came with me, " he overheard Wakem saying, " but 
he has vanished into some other part of the building, and has 
left all these charitable gallantries to me. I hope you'll re- 
proach him for his shabby conduct." 

She returned his smile and bow without speaking, and he 
turned away, only then observing Stephen, and nodding to 
him. Maggie, conscious that Stephen was still there, busied 
herself with counting money, and avoided looking up. She 
had been well pleased that he had devoted himself to Lucy 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION 453 

to-day, and had not come near her. They had begun the 
morning with an indifferent salutation, and both had rejoiced 
in being aloof from each other, like a patient who has actually 
done without his opium, in spite of former failures in resolu- 
tion. And during the last few days they had even been mak- 
ing up their minds to failures, looking to the outward events 
that must soon come to separate them, as a reason for dispens- 
ing with self-conquest in detail. 

Stephen moved step by step as if he were being unwillingly 
dragged, until he had got round the open end of the stall, and 
was half hidden by a screen of draperies. Maggie went on 
counting her money till she suddenly heard a deep gentle voice 
saying, "Aren't you very tired? Do let me bring you some- 
thing, some fruit or jelly, mayn't I? " 

The unexpected tones shook her like a sudden accidental 
vibration of a harp close by her. 

" Oh no, thank you," she said faintly, and only half looking 
up for an instant. 

" You look so pale, " Stephen insisted, in a more entreating 
tone. " I'm sure you're exhausted. I must disobey you, and 
bring something." 

"No, indeed, I couldn't take it.* 

"Are you angry with me? What have I done? Do look 
at me." 

"Pray, go away," said Maggie, looking at him helplessly, 
her eyes glancing immediately from him to the opposite corner 
of the orchestra, which was half hidden by the folds of the old 
faded green curtain. Maggie had no sooner uttered this en- 
treaty than she was wretched at the admission it implied ; but 
Stephen turned away at once, and following her upward glance, 
he saw Philip Wakem seated in the half-hidden corner, so that 
he could command little more than that angle of the hall in 
which Maggie sat. An entirely new thought occurred to 
Stephen, and linking itself with what he had observed of 
Wakem's manner, and with Lucy's reply to his observation, 
it convinced him that there had been some former relation be- 
tween Philip and Maggie beyond that childish one of which 
he had heard. More than one impulse made him immediately 
leave the hall and go upstairs to the refreshment-room, where, 



454 THE MILL OIT THE FLOSS. 

walking up to Philip, he sat down behind him, and put bis 
hand on his shoulder. 

"Are you studying for a portrait, Phil," he said, "or for a 
sketch of that oriel window? By George, it makes a capital 
bit from this dark corner, with the curtain just marking it off." 

"I have been studying expression/' said Philip, curtly. 

"What! MissTulliver's? It's rather of the savage-moody 
order to-day, I think, something of the fallen princess serv- 
ing behind a counter. Her cousin sent me to her with a civil 
offer to get her some refreshment, but I have been snubbed, 
as usual. There's a natural antipathy between us, I suppose; 
I have seldom the honor to please her." 

"What a hypocrite you are! " said Philip, flushing angrily. 

"What! because experience must have told me that I'm 
universally pleasing? I admit the law, but there's some dis- 
turbing force here." 

"I am going," said Philip, rising abruptly. 

"So am I to get a breath of fresh air; this place gets 
oppressive. I think I have done suit and service long 
enough." 

The two friends walked downstairs together without speak- 
ing. Philip turned through the outer door into the courtyard ; 
but Stephen, saying, " Oh, by the by, I must call in here, " 
went on along the passage to one of the rooms at the other 
end of the building, which were appropriated to the town 
library. He had the room all to himself, and a man requires 
nothing less than this when he wants to dash his cap on the 
table, throw himself astride a chair, and stare at a high brick 
wall with a frown which would not have been beneath the 
occasion if he had been slaying "the giant Python." The 
conduct that issues from a moral conflict has often so close a? 
resemblance to vice that the distinction escapes all outward 
judgments founded on a mere comparison of actions. It is 
clear to you, I hope, that Stephen was not a hypocrite, 
capable of deliberate doubleness for a selfish end ; and yet his 
fluctuations between the indulgence of a feeling and the syste- 
matic concealment of it might have made a good case in sup- 
port of Philip's accusation. 

Meanwhile, Maggie sat M he* stall cold and trembliag, with 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 465 

that painful sensation in the eyes which comes from resolutely 
repressed tears. Washer lifo to be always like this, always 
wringing some new source of inward strife? She heard con- 
fusedly the busy, indifferent voices around her, and wished 
her mind could flow into that easy babbling current. It was 
at this moment that Dr. Kenn, who had quite lately corie 
into the hall, and was now walking down the middle with his 1 
hands behind him, taking i, general view, fixed his eyes on 
Maggie for the first time, and was struck with the expression 
of pain on her beautiful face. She was sitting quite still, for 
the stream of customers had lessened at this late hour in the 
afternoon ; the gentlemen had chiefly chosen the middle of J he 
day, and Maggie's stall was looking rather bare. This, with 
her absent, pained expression, finished the contrast between 
her and her companions, who were all bright, eager, and busy. 
He was strongly arrested. Her face had naturally drawn his 
attention as a new and striking one at church, and he had 
been introduced to her during a short call on business at Mr. 
Deane's, but he had never spoken more than three words to 
her. He walked toward her now, and Maggie, perceiving 
some one approaching, roused herself to look up and be pre- 
pared to speak. She felt a childlike, instinctive relief from 
the sense of uneasiness in this exertion, when she saw it was 
Dr. Kenn's face that was looking at her ; that plain, middle- 
aged face, with a grave, penetrating kindness in it, seeming 
to tell of a human being who had reached a firm, safe strand, 
but was looking with helpful, pity toward the strugglers still 
tossed by the waves, had an effect on Maggie at this moment 
which was afterward remembered by her as if it had been a 
promise. The middle-aged, who have lived through their 
strongest emotions, but are yet in the time when memory is 
still half passionate and not merely contemplative, should 
surely be a sort of natural priesthood, whom life has dis- 
ciplined and consecrated to be the refuge and rescue of early 
stumblers and victims of self -despair. Most of us, at some 
moment in our young lives, would have welcomed a priest ot 
that natural order in any sort of canonicals or uncanonicals, 
but had to scramble upward into all the difficulties oi nineteen 
entirely without such aid, as Maggio did. 



THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

" You find your office rather a fatiguing one, I fear, Mist 
Tulliver," said Dr. Kenn. 

"It is, rather," said Maggie, simply, not being accustomed 
to simper amiable denials of obvious f a< 

" But I can tell Mrs. Kenn that you have disposed of hex 
goods very quickly," he added; "she will be very much 
obliged to you." 

"Oh, I have done nothing; the gentlemen came very faifc! 
to buy the dressing-gowns and embroidered waistcoats, but I 
think any of the other ladies would have sold more; I didn't 
know what to say about them." 

Dr. Kenn smiled. " I hope I'm going to have you as a 
permanent parishioner now, Miss Tulliver; ami? You have 
been at a distance from us hitherto." 

" I have been a teacher in a school, and I'm going into an- 
other situation of the same kind very soon." 

" Ah? I was hoping you would remain among your friends, 
who are all in this neighborhood, I believe." 

"Oh, / must go," said Maggie, earnestly, looking at Dr. 
Kenn with au expression of reliance, as if she had told him 
her his ory in those three words. It was one of those moments 
of implicit revelation which will sometimes happen even be- 
tween people who meet quite transiently, on a mile's journey, 
perhaps, or when resting by the wayside. There is always 
this possibility of a word or look from a stranger to keep alive 
the sense of human brotherhood. 

Dr. Kern's ear and eye took in all the signs that this brief 
confidence of Maggie's was charged with meaning. 

"I understand," he said; "you feel it right to go. But 
that will not prevent our meeting again, I hope; it will not 
prevent my knowing you bette r , if I can be of any service to 
you." 

He put out his band and pressed hers kindly before be 
turned away. 

"She has some trouble or other at heart," he thought 
Poor child 1 she looks as if she mig'it turn out to be one of 

The soul's by nanr pi..hed too blgb. 
B sa&Jtl e pi ~ed too lov.' 

There's something woaderf ally honest in th se beautiful eyes,* 



THE GREAT TEMPTATI05. 

It may be surprising that Maggie, among whose many im 
perfections an excessive delight iu admiration and acknowl- 
edged supremacy were not absent now, any more than when 
she was instructing the gypsies with a view toward achieving 
a royal position among them, was not more elated on a day 
when she had had the tribute of BO many looks and smiles, 
together with that satisfactory consciousness which had neces- 
sarily come from being taken before Lucy's cheval-glass, and 
made to look at the full length of her tall beauty, crowned by 
the night of her massy hair. Maggie had smiled at herself 
then, and for the moment had forgotten everything in the sense 
of her own beauty. If that state of mind could have lasted, 
her choice would have been to have Stephen Guest at her feet 
offering her a life filled with all luxuries, with daily incense 
of adoration near and distant, and with all possibilities of cul- 
ture at her command. But there were things in her stronger 
than vanity, passion and affection, and long, deep memories 
of early discipline and effort, of early claims on her love and 
pity; and the stream of vanity was soon swept along and 
mingled imperceptibly with that wider current which was as 
its highest force to-day, under the double urgency of the events 
and inward impulses brought by the last week. 

Philip had not spoken to her himself about the removal of 
obstacles between them on his father's side, he shrank from 
that ; but he had told everything to Lucy, with the hope that 
Maggie, being informed through her, might give him some 
encouraging sign that their being brought thus much nearer 
to each other was a happiness to her. The rush of conflicting 
feelings was too great for Maggie to say much when Lucy, 
with a face breathing playful joy, like one of Correggio'p 
cherubs, poured forth her triumphant revelation; and Lucy 
could hardly be surprised that she could do little more than 
cry with gladness at the thought of her father's wish being 
fulfilled, and of Tom's getting the Mill again in reward for 
all his hard striving. The details of preparation for tha 
bazaar had then come to usurp Lucy's attention for the next 
few days, and nothing had been said by the cousins on subjects 
that were likely to rouse deeper feelings. Philip had been to 
f ie house more than once, but Maggie had had no private ooji- 



458 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

versatiou with him, and thus she had been left to fight bet 
inward battle without interference. 

But when the bazaar was fairly ended, and the cousins were 
alone again, resting together at home, Lucy said, 

" You must give up going to stay with your aunt Moss the 
day after to-morrow, Maggie ; write a note to her, and tell her 
you have put it off at my request, and I'll send the man with 
it. She won't be displeased ; you'll have plenty of time to 
go by-and-by ; and I don't want you to go out of the way just 
now." 

" Yes, indeed I must go, dear j I can't put it off. I wouldn't 
leave aunt Gritty out for the world. And I shall have very 
little time, for I'm going away to a new situation on the 25th 
of June." 

"Maggie! " said Lucy, almost white with astonishment 

"I didn't tell you, dear," said Maggie, making a great effort 
to command herself, " because you've been so busy. But some 
time ago I wrote to our old governess, Miss Firniss, to ask her 
to let me know if she met with any situation that I could fill, 
and the other day I had a letter from her telling me that I could 
take three orphan pupils of hers to the coast during the holi- 
days, and then make trial of a situation with her as teacher. 
I wrote yesterday to accept the offer." 

Lucy felt so hurt that for some moments she was uable to 
speak. 

" Maggie, " she said at last, tl how could you be so unkind 
to me not to tell me to take such a step and now I n She 
hesitated a little, and then added, " And Philip? I thought 
everything was going to be so happy. Oh, Maggie, what is 
the reason? Give it up; let me write. There is nothing now 
to keep you and Philip apart." 

"Yes," said Maggie, faintly. "There is Tom's feeling. 
He said I must give him up if I married Philip. And I know 
he will not change at least not for a long while unless 
something happened to soften him." 

" But I will talk to him ; he's coming back this week. And 
this good news about the Mill will soften him. And I'll talk 
to him about Philip. Tom's always very compliant to mej I 
don't think he's so obstinate." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 459 

"But I must go," said Maggie, in a distressed voice. "I 
must leave some time to pass. Don't press me to stay, dear 
Lucy." 

Lucy was silent for two or three minutes, looking away and 
ruminating. At length she knelt down by her cousin, and 
looking up in her face with anxious seriousness, said, 

" Maggie, is it that you don't love Philip well enough to 
marry him? Tell me trust me." 

Maggie held Lucy's hands tightly in silence a little while 
Her own hands were quite cold. But when she spoke, her 
voice was quite clear and distinct. 

"Yes, Lucy, I would choose to marry him. I think it 
would be the best and highest lot for me, to make his life 
happy. He loved me first. No one else could be quite what 
he is to me. But I can't divide myself from my brother for 
life. I must go away, and wait. Pray don't speak to me 
again about it." 

Lucy obeyed in pain and wonder. The next word she said 
was, 

" Well, dear Maggie, at least you will go to the dance at 
Park House to-morrow, and have some music and brightness, 
before you go to pay these doll dutiful visits. Ah I here come 
aunty and the tea." 



CHAPTER X 

THIS SPELL SEEMS BROKEN. 

THE suite of rooms opening into each other at Park House 
looked duly brilliant with lights and flowers and the personal 
splendors of sixteen couples, with attendant parents and 
guardians. The focus of brilliancy was the long drawing- 
room, where the dancing weDt forward, under the inspiration 
of the grand piano j the library, into which it opened at one 
end, had the more sober illumination of maturity, with caps 
and cards ; and at the other end the pretty sitting-room, with 
a conservatory attached, was left as au occasional cool retreat. 
Lucy, who had laid aside her black for the first time, and had 



460 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

her pretty slimness set off by an abundant dress of white 
crape, was the acknowledged queen of the occasion; for this 
was one of the Miss Guests' thoroughly condescending parties, 
including no member of any aristocracy higher than that of 
St. Ogg's, and stretching to the extreme limits of commercial 
and professional gentility. 

Maggie at first refused to dance, saying that she had for- 
'gotten all the figures it was so many years since she had 
danced at school; and she was glad to have that excuse, for it 
is ill dancing with a heavy heart. But at length the music 
wrought in her young limbs, and the longing came; even 
though it was the horrible young Tony, who walked up a 
second time to try and persuade her. She warned him that 
she could not dance anything but a country-dance j but he, of 
course, was willing to wait for that high felicity, meaning only 
to be complimentary when he assured her at several intervals 
that it was a " great bore " that she couldn't waltz, he would 
have liked so much to waltz with her. But at last it was the 
turn of the good old-fashioned dance which has the least of 
vanity and the most of merriment in it, and Maggie quite for- 
got her troublous life in a childlike enjoyment of that half- 
rustic rhythm which seems to banish pretentious etiquette. 
She felt quite charitably toward young Torry, as his Hand 
bore her along and held her up in the dance ; her eyes and 
cheeks had that fire of young joy in them which will flame out 
if it can find the least breath to fan it; and her simple black 
dress, with its bit of black lace, seemed like the dim setting 
of a jewel. 

Stephen had not yet asked her to dance; had not yet paid 
her more than a passing civility. Since yesterday, that inward 
vision of her which perpetually made part of his conscious- 
ness, had been half screened by the image of Philip Wakem, 
which came across it like a blot ; there was some attachment 
between her and Philip; at least there was an attachment on 
his side, which made her feel in some bondage. Here, then, 
Stephen told himself, was another claim of honor which called 
on him to resist the attraction that was continually threaten- 
ing to overpower him. He told himself so ; and yet he had 
once or twice felt a certain savage resistance, and at another 



THE GHEAT TEMJTATION. 461 

moment a shuddering repugnance, to this intrusion of Philip's 
image, which almost made it a new incitement to rush toward 
Maggie and claim her for himself. Nevertheless, he had done 
what he meant to do this evening, he had kept aloof from 
her; he had hardly looked at her; and he had been gayly as- 
siduous to Lucy. But now his eyes were devouring Maggie ; 
he felt inclined to kick young Torry out of the dance, and take 
his place. Then he wanted the dance to end that he might 
get rid of his partner. The possibility that he too should 
dance with Maggie, and have her hand in his so long, was be- 
ginning to possess him like a thirst. But even now their 
hands were meeting in the dance, were meeting still to the 
very end of it, though they were far off each other. 

Stephen hardly knew what happened, or in what automatic 
way he got through the duties of politeness in the interval, 
until he was free and saw Maggie seated alone again, at the 
farther end of the room. He made his way toward her round 
the couples that were forming for the waltz; and when Maggie 
became conscious that she was the person he sought, she felt, 
in spite of all the thoughts that had gone before, a glowing 
gladness at heart. Her eyes and cheeks were still brightened 
with her childlike enthusiasm in the dance; her whole frame 
was set to joy and tenderness ; even the coming pain could not 
seem bitter, she was ready to welcome it as a part of life, 
for life at this moment seemed a keen, vibrating consciousness 
poised above pleasure or pain. This one, this last night, she 
might expand unrestrainedly in the warmth of the present, 
without those chill, eating thoughts of the past and the future. 

" They're going to waltz again," said Stephen, bending to 
speak to her, with that glance and tone of subdued tenderness 
which young dreams create to themselves in the summer woods 
when low, cooing voices fill the air. Such glances and tones 
bring the breath of poetry with them into a room that is half 
stifling with glaring gas and hard flirtation. 

" They are going to waltz again. It is rather dizzy work 
to look on, and the room is very warm ; shall we walk about 
a little?" 

He took her hand and placed it within his arm, and they 
walked on into the sitting-room, where the tables were strewn 



462 THE MILL ON THB FLOSa 

with engravings for the accommodation of visitors who would 
not want to look at them. But no visitors were here at this 
moment. They passed on into the conservatory. 

" How strange and unreal the trees and flowers look with 
the lights among them ! " said Maggie, in a low voice. " They 
look as if they belonged to an enchanted land, and would 
never fade away; I could fancy they were all made of jewels." 

She was looking at the tier of geraniums as she spoke, and 
Stephen made no answer; but he was looking at her; and does 
not a supreme poet blend light and sound into one, calling 
darkness mute, and light eloquent? Something strangely 
powerful there was in the light of Stephen's long gaze, for it 
made Maggie's face turn toward it and look upward at it, 
slowly, like a flower at the ascending brightness. And they 
walked unsteadily on, without feeling that they were walking; 
without feeling anything but that long, grave, mutual gaze 
which has the solemnity belonging to all deep human passion. 
The hovering thought that they must and would renounce each 
other made this moment of mute confession more intense in 
its rapture. 

But they had reached the end of the conservatory, and were 
obliged to pause and turn. The change of movement brought 
a new consciousness to Maggie ; she blushed deeply, turned 
away her head, and drew her arm from Stephen's, going up 
to some flowers to smell them. Stephen stood motionless, and 
still pale. 

" Oh, may I get this rose?" said Maggie, making a great 
effort to say something, and dissipate the burning sense of 
irretrievable confession. "I think I am quite wicked with 
roses ; I like to gather them and smell them till they have no 
scent left." 

Stephen was mute ; he was incapable of putting a sentence 
together, and Maggie bent her arm a little upward toward the 
large half -opened rose that had attracted her. Who has not 
felt the beauty of a woman's arm? The unspeakable sugges- 
tions of tenderness that lie in the dimpled elbow, and all the 
varied gently lessening curves, down to the delicate wrist, 
with its tiniest, almost imperceptible nicks in the firm soft- 
ness. A woman's arm touched the soul of a great sculptor two 



THE GREAT TEMPTATIOH. 463 

thousand years ago, so that he wrought an image of it for th 
Parthenon which moves us still as it clasps lovingly the time- 
worn marble of a headless trunk. Maggie's was such an arm 
as that, and it had the warm tints of life. 

A mad impulse seized on Stephen ; he darted toward the 
arm, and showered kisses on it, clasping the wrist. 

But the next moment Maggie snatched it from him, and 
glared at him like a wounded war-goddess, quivering with 
rage and humiliation. 

" How dare you? n She spoke in a deeply shaken, half- 
smothered voice. " What right have I given you to insult 
me?" 

She darted from him into the adjoining room, and threw 
herself on the sofa, panting and trembling. 

A horrible punishment was come upon her for the sin of 
allowing a moment's happiness that was treachery to Lucy, to 
Philip, to her own better soul. That momentary happiness 
had been smitten with a blight, a leprosy; Stephen thought 
more lightly of her than he did of Lucy. 

As for Stephen, he leaned back against the framework of 
the conservatory, dizzy with the conflict of passions, love, 
rage, and confused despair; despair at his want of self-mas- 
tery, and despair that he had offended Maggie. 

The last feeling surmounted every other; to be by her side 
again and entreat forgiveness was the only thing that had the 
force of a motive for him, and she had not been seated more 
than a few minutes when he came and stood humbly before 
her. But Maggie's bitter rage was unspent, 

"Leave me to myself, if you please," she said, with impeto* 
ous haughtiness, " and for the future avoid me." 

Stephen turned away, and walked backward and forward at 
the other end of the room. There was the dire necessity of 
going back into the dancing-room again, and he was begin- 
ning to be conscious of that. They had been absent so short 
a time, that when he went in again the waltz was not ended. 

Maggie, too, was not long before she re-entered. All* the 
pride of her nature was stung into activity ; the hateful weak- 
ness which had dragged her within reach of this wound to her 
self-respect had at least wrought its own cure. The thoughts 



164 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

and temptations of the last month should all be flung away into 
an unvisited chamber of memory. There was nothing to al- 
lure her now ; duty would be easy, and all the old calm pur- 
poses would reign peacefully once more. She re-entered the 
drawing-room still with some excited brightness in her face, 
but with a sense of proud self-command that defied anything 
(to agitate her. She refused to dance again, but she talked 
quite readily and calmly with every one who addressed her. 
And when they got home that night, she kissed Lucy with a 
free heart, almost exulting in this scorching moment, which 
had delivered her from the possibility of another word or look 
that would have the stamp of treachery toward that gentle, 
unsuspicious sister. 

The next morning Maggie did not set off to Basset quite so 
soon as she had expected. Her mother was to accompany her 
in the carriage, and household business could not be despatched 
hastily by Mrs. Tulliver. So Maggie, who had been in a 
hurry to prepare herself, had to sit waiting, equipped for the 
drive, in the garden. Lucy was busy in the house wrapping 
up some bazaar presents for the younger ones at Basset, and 
when there was a loud ring at the door-bell, Maggie felt some 
alarm lest Lucy should bring out Stephen to her ; it was sure 
to be Stephen. 

But presently the visitor came out into the garden alone, 
and seated himself by her on the garden -chair. It was not 
Stephen. 

" We can just catch the tips of the Scotch firs, Maggie, from 
this seat, " said Philip. 

They had taken each other's hands in silence, but Maggie 
had looked at him with a more complete revival of the old 
childlike affectionate smile than he had seen before, and he 
felt encouraged. 

" Yes, " she said, " I often look at them, and wish I could 
see the low sunlight on the stems again. But I have never 
been that way but once, to the churchyard with my mother." 

""I have been there, I go there, continually," said Philip. 
"I have nothing but the past to live upon." 

A keen remembrance and keen pity impelled Maggie to put 
her hand in Philip's. They had so often walked hand in haad( 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 465 

rt l remember all the spots," she said, "just where you 
told me of particular things, beautiful stories that I had never 
heard of before." 

"You will go there again soon, won't you, Maggie?" said 
Philip, getting timid. " The Mill will soon be your brother's 
home again." 

"Yes; but I shall not be there," said Maggie. "I shall 
only hear of that happiness. I am going away again ; Lucy 
has not told you, perhaps?" 

" Then the future will never join on to the past again, Mag- 
gie? That book is quite closed? " 

The gray eyes that had so often looked up at her with en- 
treating worship, looked up at her now, with a last struggling 
ray of hope in them, and Maggie met them with her large 
sincere gaze. 

"That book never will be closed, Philip," she said, wii,h 
grave sadness ; " I desire no future that will break the ties of 
the past. But the tie to my brother is one of the strongest. 
I can do nothing willingly that will divide me always from 
him." 

" Is that the only reason that would keep ns apart forever, 
Maggie? " said Philip, with a desperate determination to have 
a definite answer. 

" The only reason," said Maggie, with calm decision. And 
she believed it. At that moment she felt as if the enchanted 
cup had been dashed to the ground. The reactionary excite- 
ment that gave her a proud self-mastery had not subsided, 
and she looked at the future with a sense of calm choice. 

They sat hand in hand without looking at each other or 
ispeaking for a few minutes ; in Maggie's mind the first scenes 
of love and parting were more present than the actual moment, 
and she was looking at Philip in the Red Deeps. 

Philip felt that he ought to have been thoroughly happy in 
that answer of hers ; she was as open and transparent as a 
rock-pool. Why was he not thoroughly happy? Jealousy 
is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that 
would detect the subtlest fold of the heart 



466 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS 

CHAPTER XL 

IN THE LANE. 

MAGGIE had been four days at her aunt Moss's, giving the 
early June sunshine quite a new brightness in the care* 
dimmed eyes of that affectionate woman, and making an epoch 
for her cousins great and small, who were learning her words 
and actions by heart, as if she had been a transient avatar of 
perfect wisdom and beauty. 

She was standing on the causeway with her aunt and a 
group of cousins feeding the chickens, at that quiet moment 
in the life of the farmyard before the afternoon milking- time. 
The great buildings round the hollow yard were as dreary and 
tumbledown as ever, but over the old garden -wall the strag- 
gling rose-bushes were beginning to toss their summer weight, 
and the gray wood and old bricks of the house, on its higher 
level, had a look of sleepy age in the broad afternoon sun- 
light, that suited the quiescent time. Maggie, with her bon- 
net over her arm, was smiling down at the hatch, of small 
fluffy chickens, when her aunt exclaimed, 

"Goodness me! who is that gentleman coming in at the 
gate? " 

It was a gentleman on a tall bay horse j and the flanks and 
neck of the horse were streaked black with fast riding. Mag- 
gie felt a beating at head and heart, horrible as the sudden 
leaping to life of a savage enemy who had feigned death. 

" Who is it, my dear? " said Mrs. Moss, seeing in Maggie'^ 
lace the evidence that she knew. 

"It is Mr. Stephen Guest," said Maggie, rather faintly. 
M My cousin Lucy's a gentleman who is very intimate at my 
cousin's." 

Stephen was already close to them, had jumped off his 
horse, and now raised his hat as he advanced. 

"Hold the horse, Willy," said Mrs. Moss to the twelve- 
year-old boy. 

"No, thank you," said Stephen, pulling at the horse's im- 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 467 

patiently tossing head. " I must be going again immediately. 
I have a message to deliver to you, Miss Tulliver, on private 
business. May I take the liberty of asking you to walk a 
few yards with me? " 

He had a half -jaded, half -irritated look, such as a man gets 
when he has been dogged by some care or annoyance that 
makes his bed and his dinner of little use to him. He spoke 
almost abruptly, as if his errand were too pressing for him to 
trouble himself about what would be thought by Mrs. Moss of 
his visit and request. Good Mrs. Moss, rather nervous in the 
presence of this apparently haughty gentleman, was inwardly 
wondering whether she would be doing right or wrong to in- 
vite him again to leave his horse and walk in, when Maggie, 
feeling all the embarrassment of the situation, and unable to 
say anything, put on her bonnet, and turned to walk toward 
the gate. 

Stephen turned too, and walked by her side, leading his 
horse. 

Not a word was spoken till they were out in the lane, and 
had walked four or five yards, when Maggie, who had been 
looking straight before her all the while, turned again to walk 
back, saying, with haughty resentment, 

" There is no need for me to go any farther. I don't know 
whether you consider it gentlemanly and delicate conduct to 
place me in a position that forced me to come out with you, 
or whether you wished to insult me still further by thrusting 
an interview upon me in this way." 

" Of course you are angry with me for coming, " said 
Stephen, bitterly. " Of course it is of no consequence what a 
man has to suffer; it is only your woman's dignity that you 
care about." 

Maggie gave a slight start, such as might have come from 
the slightest possible electric shock. 

" As if it were not enough that I'm entangled in this way ; 
that I'm mad with love for you; that I resist the strongest 
passion a man can feel, because I try to be true to other 
claims; but you must treat me as if I were a coarse brute, 
who would willingly offend you. And when, if I had my own 
choice, I should ask you to take my hand and my fortune and 



468 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

my whole life, and do what you liked with them ! I know I 
forgot myself. I took an unwarrantable liberty. I hate my- 
self for having done it. But I repented immediately; I've 
been repenting ever since. You ought not to think it unpar- 
donable ; a man who loves with his whole soul, as I do you, 
is liable to be mastered by his feelings for a moment ; but you 
know you must believe that the worst pain I could have 
is to have pained you; that I would give the world to recall 
the error." 

Maggie dared not speak, dared not turn her head. The 
strength that had come from resentment was all gone, and her 
lips were quivering visibly. She could not trust herself to 
utter the full forgiveness that rose in answer to that confession. 

They were come nearly in front of the gate again, and she 
paused, trembling. 

" You must not say these things ; I must not hear them, " 
she said, looking down in misery, as Stephen came in front of 
her, to prevent her from going farther toward the gate. " I'm 
very sorry for any pain you have to go through ; but it is of 
no use to speak." 

" Yes, it is of use, " said Stephen, impetuously. " It would 
be of use if you would treat me with some sort of pity and 
consideration, instead of doing me vile injustice in your mind. 
I could bear everything more quietly if I knew you didn't hate 
me for an insolent coxcomb. Look at me ; see what a hunted 
devil I am; I've been riding thirty miles every day to get 
away from the thought of you. " 

Maggie did not dared not look. She had already seen 
the harassed face. But she said gently, 

"I don't think any evil of you." 

"Then, dearest, look at me," said Stephen, in deepest, 
tenderest tones of entreaty. " Don't go away from me yet. 
Give me a moment's happiness; make me feel you've forgiven 
me." 

"Yes, I do forgive you," said Maggie, shaken by those 
tones, and all the more frightened at herself. " But pray let 
me go in again. Pray go away." 

A great tear fell from under her lowered eyelids. 

"I can't go away from you; I can't leave you," said 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 469 

Stephen, with still more passionate pleading. " I shall come 
back again if you send me away with this coldness; I can't 
answer for myself. But if you will go with me only a little 
way I can live on that. You see plainly enough that your 
anger has only made me ten times more unreasonable." 

Maggie turned. But Tancred, the bay horse, began to 
make such spirited remonstrances against this frequent change 
of direction, that Stephen, catching sight of Willy Moss peep- 
ing through the gate, called out, " Here ! just come and hold 
my horse for five minutes." 

" Oh, no, " said Maggie, hurriedly, " my aunt will think it 
so strange." 

"Xever mind," Stephen answered impatiently; "they 
don't know the people at St. Ogg's. Lead him up and down 
just here for five minutes," he added to Willy, who was now 
close to them; and then he turned to Maggie's side, and they 
walked on. It was clear that she must go on now. 

" Take my arm, " said Stephen, entreatingly ; and she took 
it, feeling all the while as if she were sliding downward in a 
nightmare. 

" There is no end to this misery, n she began, struggling to 
repel the influence by speech. "It is wicked base ever 
allowing a word or look that Lucy that others might not 
have seen. Think of Lucy." 

"I do think of her bless her. If I didn't " Stephen 

had laid his hand on Maggie's that rested on his arm, and 
they both felt it difficult to speak. 

"And I have other ties," Maggie went on, at last, with a 
desperate effort, "even if Lucy did not exist." 

"You are engaged to Philip Wakem?" said Stephen, hast- 
ily. " Is it so? " 

"I consider myself engaged to him; I don't mean to marry, 
any one else." 

Stephen was silent again until they had turned out of the 
sun into a side lane, all grassy and sheltered. Then he burst 
out impetuously, 

" It is unnatural, it is horrible. Maggie, if you loved me 
*s I love you, we should throw everything else to the winds 
for the sake of belonging to each other. We should break all 



4TO THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

these mistaken ties that were made in blindness, and determine 
to marry each other." 

" I would rather die than fall into that temptation, " said 
Maggie, with deep, slow distinctness, all the gathered spiritual 
force of painful years coming to her aid in this extremity. 
She drew her arm from his as she spoke. 

" Tell me, then, that you don't care for me," he said, almost 
violently. "Tell me that you love some one else better." 

It darted through Maggie's mind that here was a mode ef 
releasing herself from outward struggle, to tell Stephen that 
her whole heart was Philip's. But her lips would not utter 
that, and she was silent. 

" If you do love me, dearest, " said Stephen, gently, taking 
up her hand again and laying it within his arm, " it is better 
it is right that we should marry each other. We can't help 
the pain it will give. It is come upon us without our seeking; 
it is natural ; it has taken hold of me in spite of every effort 
I have made to resist it. God knows, I've been trying to be 
faithful to tacit engagements, and I've only made things worse ; 
I'd better have given way at first." 

Maggie was silent. If it were not wrong if she were once 
convinced of that, and need no longer beat and struggle against 
this current, soft and yet strong as the summer stream ! 

"Say * yes/ dearest," said Stephen, leaning to lookentreat- 
ingly in her face. " Wh at could we care about in the whole 
world beside, if we belonged to each other? " 

Her breath was on his face, his lips were very near hers, 
but there was a great dread dwelling in his love for her. 

Her lips and eyelids quivered ; she opened her eyes full on 
his for an instant, like a lovely wild animal timid and strug- 
gling under caresses, and then turned sharp round toward 
home again. 

"And after all," he went on, in an impatient tone, trying 
to defeat his own scruples as well as hers, " I am breaking no 
positive engagement; if Lucy's affections had been withdrawn 
from me and given to some one else, I should have felt no 
right to assert a claim on her. If you are not absolutely 
pledged to Philip, we are neither of us bound." 

"You don't believe that; it is not your real feeling," said 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 

Maggie, earnestly. " You feel, as I do, that the real tie lies 
in the feelings and expectations we have raised in other minds. 
Else all pledges might be broken, when there was no outward 
penalty. There would be no such thing as faithfulness." 

Stephen was silent; he could not pursue that argument; 
the opposite conviction had wrought in him too strongly 
through his previous time of struggle. But it soon presented 
itself in a new form. 

" The pledge can't be fulfilled," he said, with impetuous 
insistence. " It is unnatural ; we can only pretend to give 
ourselves to any one else. There is wrong in that too; there 
may be misery in it for them as well as for us. Maggie, you 
must see that; you do see that." 

He was looking eagerly at her face for the least sign of 
compliance; his large, firm, gentle grasp was on her hand. 
She was silent for a few moments, with her eyes fixed on the 
ground ; then she drew a deep breath, and said, looking up at 
him with solemn sadness, 

"Oh, it is difficult, life is very difficult! It seems right 
to me sometimes that we should follow our strongest feeling ; 
but then, such feelings continually come across the ties that 
all our former life has made for us, the ties that have made 
others dependent on us, and would cut them in two. If life 
were quite easy and simple, as it might have been in Para- 
dise, and we could always see that one being first toward 
whom I mean, if life did not make duties for us before love 
comes, love would be a sign that two people ought to belong 
to each other. But I see I feel it is not so now ; there are 
things we must renounce in life ; some of us must resign love. 
Many things are difficult and dark to me; but I see one thing 
quite clearly, that I must not, cannot, seek my own happi- 
ness by sacrificing others. Love is natural ; but surely pity 
and faithfulness and memory are natural too. And they would 
live in me still, and punish me if I did not obey them. I 
should be haunted by the suffering I had caused. Our love 
would be poisoned. Don't urge me; help me, help me, be~ 
cause I love you." 

Maggie had become more and more earnest as she went on; 
her face had become flushed, and her eyes fuller and fuller of 



*T2 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

appealing love. Stephen had the fibre of nobleness in him 
that vibrated to her appeal; but in the same moment how 
could it be otherwise? that pleading beauty gained new 
power over him. 

"Dearest," he said, in scarcely more than a whisper, while 
his arm stole round her, "I'll do, I'll bear anything you wish. 
But one kiss one the last before we part." 
i One kiss, and then a long look, until Maggie said tremu- 
lously, "Let me go, let me make haste back." 

She hurried along, and not another word was spoken. 
Stephen stood still and beckoned when they came within 
sight of Willy and the horse, and Maggie went on through 
the gate. Mrs. Moss was standing alone at the door of the 
old porch ; she had sent all the cousins in, with kind thought- 
fulness. It might be a joyful thing that Maggie had a rich 
and handsome lover, but she would naturally feel embarrassed 
at coming in again ; and it might not be joyful. In either 
case Mrs. Moss waited anxiously to receive Maggie by herself. 
The speaking face told plainly enough that, if there was joy, 
it was of a very agitating, dubious sort. 

"Sit down here a bit, my dear." She drew Maggie into 
the porch, and sat down on the bench by her ; there was no 
privacy in the house. 

"Oh, aunt Gritty, I'm very wretched I I wish I could 
have died when I was fifteen. It seemed so easy to give 
things up then; it is so hard now." 

The poor child threw her arms round her aunt's neck, and 
fell into long, deep sobs. 



CHAPTER XH. 

A FAMILY PARTY. 

MAGGIE left her good aunt Gritty at the end of the week, 
and went to Garum Firs to pay her visit to aunt Pullet ac- 
cording to agreement. In the mean time very unexpected 
things had happened, and there was to be a family party at 
Garum to discuss and celebrate a change in the fortunes of the 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 473 

Tullivers, which was likely finally to carry away the shadow 
of their demerits like the last limb of an eclipse, and cause 
their hitherto obscured virtues to shine forth in full-rounded 
splendor. It is pleasant to know that a new ministry just 
come into office are not the only fellow-men who enjoy a period 
of high appreciation and full-blown eulogy ; in many respec- 
table families throughout this realm, relatives becoming cred- 
itable meet with a similar cordiality of recognition, which in 
its fine freedom from the coercion of any antecedents, sug- 
gests the hopeful possibility that we may some day without 
any notice find ourselves in full millennium, with cockatrices 
who have ceased to bite, and wolves that no longer show their 
teeth with any but the blandest intentions. 

Lucy came so early as to have the start even of aunt Glegg ; 
for she longed to have some undisturbed talk with Maggie 
about the wonderful news. It seemed, did it not? said Lucy, 
with her prettiest air of wisdom, as if everything, even other 
people's misfortunes (poor creatures!) were conspiring now to 
make poor dear aunt Tulliver, and cousin Tom, and naughty 
Maggie too, if she were not obstinately bent on the contrary, as 
happy as they deserved to be after all their troubles. To think 
that the very day the very day after Tom had come back 
from Newcastle, that unfortunate young Jetsome, whom Mr. 
Wakem had placed at the Mill, had been pitched off his horse 
in a drunken fit, and was lying at St. Ogg's [in a dangerous 
state, so that Wakem had signified his wish that the new pur- 
chasers should enter on the premises at once ! It was very 
dreadful for that unhappy young man, but it did seem as if 
the misfortune had happened then, rather than at any other 
time, in order that cousin Tom might all the sooner have the 
fit reward of his exemplary conduct, papa thought so very 
highly of him. Aunt Tulliver must certainly go to the Mill 
now, and keep house for Tom ; that was rather a loss to Lucy 
in the matter of household comfort} but then, to think of poor 
aunty being in her old place again, and gradually getting com- 
forts about her there ! 

On this last point Lucy had her cunning projects, and when 
she and Maggie had made their dangerous way down the 
bright stairs into the handsome parlor, where the very sun- 



474 THE MILL OX TTTE FLOSS. 

beams seemed cleaner than elsewhere, she directed her ma- 
noeuvres, as any other great tactician would have done, against 
the weaker side of the enemy. 

" Aunt Pullet, " she said, seating herself on the sofa, and 
caressingly adjusting that lady's floating cap-string, " I want 
you to make up your mind what linen and things you will 
give Tom toward housekeeping; because you are always so* 1 
generous, you give such nice things, you know; and if you 
set the example, aunt Glegg will follow." 

"That she never can, my dear," said Mrs. Pullet, with un- 
usual vigor, "for she hasn't got the linen to follow suit wi' 
mine, I can tell you. She'd niver the taste, not if she'd spend 
the money. Big checks and live things, like stags and foxes, 
all her table-linen is, not a spot nor a diamond among 'em. 
But it's poor work dividing one's linen before one dies, 1 
niver thought to ha* done that, Bessy," Mrs. Pullet con- 
tinued, shaking her head and looking at her sister Tulliver, 
" when you and me chose the double diamout, the first flax 
iver we'd spun, and the Lord knows where yours is gone." 

"I'd no choice, I'm sure, sister," said poor Mrs. Tulliver, 
accustomed to consider herself in the light of an accused per- 
son. " I'm sure it was no wish o' mine, iver, as I should lie 
awake o' nights thinking o' my best bleached linen all over 
the country." 

"Take a peppermint, Mrs. Tulliver," said uncle Pullet, 
feeling that he was offering a cheap and wholesome form of 
comfort, which he was recommending by example. 

"Oh, but, aunt Pullet," said Lucy, "you've so much beau- 
tiful linen. And suppose you had had daughters ! Then you 
must have divided it when they were married." 

" Well, I don't say as I won't do it," said Mrs. Pullet, 
"for now Tom's so lucky, it's nothing but right his friends 
should look on him and help him. There's the tablecloths I 
bought at your sale, Bessy ; it was nothing but good natur' 
o' me to buy 'em, for they've been lying in the chest ever 
since. But I'm not going to give Maggie any more o' my 
Indy muslin and things, if she's to go into service again, 
when she might stay and keep me company, and do my sew 
ing for me, if she wasn't wanted at her brother's." 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 475 

" Going into service " was the expression by which the Bod- 
son mind represented to itself the position of teacher or gov- 
erness; and Maggie's return to that menial condition, now 
circumstances offered her more eligible prospects, was likely 
to be a sore point with all her relatives, besides Lucy. Mag- 
gie in her crude form, with her hair down her back, and alto- 
gether in a state of dubious promise, was a most undesirable, 
niece ; but now she was capable of being at once ornamental 
and useful. The subject was revived in aunt and uncle) 
Glegg's presence, over the tea and muffins. 

"Hegh, hegh!" said Mr. Glegg, good-naturedly patting^ 
Maggie on the back, "nonsense, nonsense I Don't let us hear/ 
of you taking a place again, Maggie. Why, you must ha* 
picked up half-a-dozen sweethearts at the bazaar; isn't there 
one of 'em the right sort of article? Come, now?" 

" Mr. Glegg, " said his wife, with that shade of increased 
politeness in her severity which she always put on with her 
erisper fronts, "you'll excuse me, but you're far too light for 
a man of your years. It's respect and duty to her aunts, and 
the rest of her kin as are so good to her, should have kept my 
niece from fixing about going away again without consulting 
us ; not sweethearts, if I'm to use such a word, though it was 
never heared in -my family." 

" Why, what did they call us, when we went to see 'em, 
then, eh, neighbor Pullet? They thought us sweet enough 
then, " said Mr. Glegg, winking pleasantly ; while Mr. Pullet, 
at the suggestion of sweetness, took a little more sugar. 

"Mr. Glegg," said Mrs. G., "if you're going to be undeli- 
cate, let me know." 

"La, Jane, your husband's only joking," said Mrs. Pullet; 
"let him joke while he's got health and strength. There's: 
poor Mr. Tilt got his mouth drawn all o* one side, and 
couldn't laugh if he was to try." 

"I'll trouble you for the muffineer, !>hen, Mr. Glegg," said 
Mrs. G., "if I may be so bold to interrupt your joking. 
Though it's other people must see the joke in a niece's put- 
ting a slight on her mother's eldest sister, as is the head o' 
the family ; and only coming in and out on short visits, all the 
time she's been in the town, and, then settling to go away 



476 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. 

without my knowledge, as I'd laid caps out on purpose fof 
her to make 'em up for me, and me as have divided my 
money so equal " 

"Sister," Mrs. Tulliver broke in anxiously, "I'm sure 
Maggie never thought o' going away without staying at your 
house as well as the others. Not as it's my wish she should 
go away at all, but quite contrairy. I'm sure I'm innocent. 
I've said over and over again, * My dear, you've no call to go 
away.' But there's ten days or a fortnight Maggie'll hart) 
before she's fixed to go; she can stay at your house just as 
well, and I'll step in when I can, and so will Lucy." 

"Bessy," said Mrs. Glegg, "if you'd exercise a little more 
thought, you might know I should hardly think it was worth 
while to unpin a bed, and go to all that trouble now, just at 
the end o' the time, when our house isn't above a quarter of 
an hour's walk from Mr. Deane's. She can come the first 
thing in the morning, and go back the last at night, and be 
thankful she's got a good aunt so close to her to come and sit 
with. I know /should, when I was her age." 

" La, Jane," said Mrs. Pullet, " it 'ud do your beds good to 
have somebody to sleep in 'em. There's that striped room 
smells dreadful mouldy, and the glass mildewed like anything. 
I'm sure I thought I should be struck with death when you 
took me in." 

" Oh, there is Tom I " exclaimed Lucy, clapping her hands. 
" He's come on Sindbad, as I told him. I was afraid he was 
not going to keep his promise." 

Maggie jumped up to kiss Tom as he entered, with strong 
feeling, at this first meeting since the prospect of returning 
to the Mill had been opened to him ; and she kept his hand, 
leading him to the chair by her side. To have no cloud be- 
tween herself and Tom was still a perpetual yearning in her, 
that had its root deeper than all change. He smiled at her 
very kindly this evening, and said, " Well, Magsie, how's 
aunt Moss?" 

* Come, come, sir," said Mr. Glegg, putting out his hand. 
" Why, you're such a big man, yon carry all before you, it 
seems. You're come into your luck a good deal earlier than 
us old folks didj but I wish you joy, \ wish you joy, You'U 



THE GREAT TEMPTATION. 477 

get the Mill all for your own again some day, I'll be bound. 
You won't stop half-way up the hill." 

" But I hope he'll bear in mind as it's his mother's family 
as he owes it to," said Mrs. Glegg. " If he hadn't had them 
to take after, he'd ha' been poorly off. There was never any 
failures, nor lawing, nor wastefulness in our famDy, nor dying 
without wills " 

"No, nor sudden deaths," said aunt Pullet; "allays the 
doctor called in. But Tom had the Dodson skin; I said that' 
from the first. And I don't know what you mean to do, sister 
Glegg, but I mean to give him a tablecloth of all my three 
biggest sizes but one, besides sheets. I don't say what more 
I shall do ; but that I shall do, and if I should die to-morrow, 
Mr. Pullet, you'll bear it in mind, though you'll be blunder- 
ing with the keys, and never remember as that on the third 
shelf o* the left-hand wardrobe, behind the night-caps with 
the broad ties, not the narrow-frilled uns, is the key o* 
the drawer in the Blue Boom, where the key o' the Blue 
Closet is. You'll make a mistake, and I shall niver be worthy 
to know it. You've a memory for my pills and draughts, 
wonderful, I'll allays say that of you, but you're lost among 
the keys." This gloomy prospect of the confusion that would 
ensue on her decease was very affecting to Mrs. Pullet. 

"You carry it too far, Sophy, that locking in and out," 
said Mrs. Glegg, in a tone of some disgust at this folly. " You 
go beyond your own family. There's nobody can say I don't 
lockup; but I do what's reasonable, and no more. And as 
for the linen, I shall look out what's serviceable, to make a 
present of to my nephey ; I've got cloth as has never been 
whitened, better worth having than other people's fine hoi- 
land; and I hope he'll lie down in it and think of his aunt." 

Tom thanked Mr. Glegg, but evaded any promise to medi- 
tate nightly on her virtues; and Mrs. Glegg effected a diver- 
sion for him by asking about Mr. Deane's intentions concern- 
ing steam. 

Lucy had had her far-sighted views in begging Tom to come 
on Sindbad. It appeared, when it was time to go home, that 
the man-servant was to ride the horse, and cousin Tom was to 
drive home his mother and ucy . ". YOU must sit by yourself, 



178 THE MILL OK THE FLOSS. 

aunty," said that contriving young lady, "because I must sit 
by Tom; I've a great deal to say to him." 

In the eagerness of her affectionate anxiety for Maggie, 
Lucy could not persuade herself to defer a conversation about 
her with Tom, who, she thought, with such a cup of joy be- 
fore him as this rapid fulfilment of his wish about the Mill, 
must become pliant and flexible. Her nature supplied her 
with no key to Tom's; and she was puzzled as well as pained 
to notice the unpleasant change on his countenance when she 
gave him the history of the way in which Philip had used 
his influence with his father. She had counted on this reve- 
lation as a great stroke of policy, which was to turn Tom's 
heart toward Philip at once, and, besides that, prove that the 
elder Wakem was ready to receive Maggie with all the honors 
of a daughter-in-law. Kothing was wanted, then, but for 
dear Tom, who always had that pleasant smile when he looked 
at cousin Lucy, to turn completely round, say the opposite of 
what he had always said before, and declare that he, for his 
part, was delighted that all the old grievances should be 
healed, and that Maggie should have Philip with all suitable 
despatch; in cousin Lucy's opinion nothing could be easier. 

But to minds strongly marked by the positive and negative 
qualities that create severity, strength of will, conscious rec- 
titude of purpose, narrowness of imagination and intellect, 
great power of self-control, and a disposition to exert control 
over others, prejudices come as the natural food of tenden- 
cies which can get no sustenance out of that complex, frag- 
mentary, doubt-provoking knowledge which we call truth. 
Let a prejudice be bequeathed, carried in the air, adopted by- 
hearsay, caught in through the eye, however it may come, 
these minds will give it a habitation ; it is something to assert 
strongly and bravely, something to fill up the void of spon- 
taneous ideas, something to impose on others with the author- 
ity of conscious right; it is at once a staff and a baton. Every 
prejudice that will answer these purposes is self-evident. Our