��Well, sister, you��re
late; what��s the matter?�� said Mrs. Glegg, rather
sharply, as they shook hands.
��No,�� said Tom,
slowly, when he had finished his puff, and was eying the third, which was to be
divided between them �� ��no, I
Oh, it was dreadful! Tom
was so hard and unconcerned; if he had been crying on the floor, Maggie would have
cried too. And there was the dinner, so nice; and she was so hungry. It was very
��No, no,�� said Mr. Tulliver,
��the child��s healthy enough; there��s
nothing ails her. There��s red wheat as well as white, for that matter,
and some like the dark grain best. But it ��ud be as well if Bessy
��ud have the child��s hair cut, so as it
��ud lie smooth.��
Lucy,�� she burst out, after kissing her,
��you��ll stay with Tom and me, won��t you?
Oh, kiss her, Tom.��
got a bond for it, I reckon,�� he said; ��and
you��ve had your five per cent, kin or no kin.��
��Why, because the parsons are the best schoolmasters, by what I can
make out,�� said poor Mr. Tulliver, who, in the maze of this puzzling
world, laid hold of any clue with great readiness and tenacity.
��Jacobs at th�� academy��s no parson, and
he��s done very bad by the boy; and I made up my mind, if I send him to
school again, it should be to somebody different to Jacobs. And this Mr. Stelling, by
what I can make out, is the sort o�� man I want. And I mean my boy to
go to him at Midsummer,�� he concluded, in a tone of decision, tapping
his snuff-box and taking a pinch.
��Well,�� said Mr.
Tulliver, speaking all the more cheerfully, that Mrs. Glegg might see he
didn��t mind her, ��if Wakem thinks o��
sending his son to a clergyman, depend on it I shall make no mistake
i�� sending Tom to one. Wakem��s as big a scoundrel as
Old Harry ever made, but he knows the length of every man��s foot
he��s got to deal with. Ay, ay, tell me who��s
Wakem��s butcher, and I��ll tell you where to get your
Mrs. Tulliver was fond of going upstairs with her sister
Pullet, and looking thoroughly at her cap before she put it on her head, and
discussing millinery in general. This was part of Bessy��s weakness
that stirred Mrs. Glegg��s sisterly compassion: Bessy went far too well
dressed, considering; and she was too proud to dress her child in the good clothing
her sister Glegg gave her from the primeval strata of her wardrobe; it was a sin and
a shame to buy anything to dress that child, if it wasn��t a pair of
shoes. In this particular, however, Mrs. Glegg did her sister Bessy some injustice,
for Mrs. Tulliver had really made great efforts to induce Maggie to wear a leghorn
bonnet and a dyed silk frock made out of her aunt Glegg��s, but the
results had been such that Mrs. Tulliver was obliged to bury them in her maternal
bosom; for Maggie, declaring that the frock smelt of nasty dye, had taken an
opportunity of basting it together with the roast beef the first Sunday she wore it,
and finding this scheme answer, she had subsequently pumped on the bonnet with its
green ribbons, so as to give it a general resemblance to a sage cheese garnished with
withered lettuces. I must urge in excuse for Maggie, that Tom had laughed at her in
the bonnet, and said she looked like an old Judy. Aunt Pullet, too, made presents of
clothes, but these were always pretty enough to please Maggie as well as her mother.
Of all her sisters, Mrs. Tulliver certainly preferred her sister Pullet, not without
a return of preference; but Mrs. Pullet was sorry Bessy had those naughty, awkward
children; she would do the best she could by them, but it was a pity they
weren��t as good and as pretty as sister Deane��s child.
Maggie and Tom, on their part, thought their aunt Pullet tolerable, chiefly because
she was not their aunt Glegg. Tom always declined to go more than once during his
holidays to see either of them. Both his uncles tipped him that once, of course; but
at his aunt Pullet��s there were a great many toads to pelt in the
cellar-area, so that he preferred the visit to her. Maggie shuddered at the toads,
and dreamed of them horribly, but she liked her uncle Pullet��s musical
snuff-box. Still, it was agreed by the sisters, in Mrs. Tulliver��s
absence, that the Tulliver blood did not mix well with the Dodson blood; that, in
fact, poor Bessy��s children were Tullivers, and that Tom,
notwithstanding he had the Dodson complexion, was likely to be as
��contrairy�� as his father. As for Maggie, she was the
picture of her aunt Moss, Mr. Tulliver��s sister �� a
large-boned woman, who had married as poorly as could be; had no china, and had a
husband who had much ado to pay his rent. But when Mrs. Pullet was alone with Mrs.
Tulliver upstairs, the remarks were naturally to the disadvantage of Mrs. Glegg, and
they agreed, in confidence, that there was no knowing what sort of fright sister Jane
would come out next. But their tete-a-tete was curtailed by the appearance of Mrs.
Deane with little Lucy; and Mrs. Tulliver had to look on with a silent pang while
Lucy��s blond curls were adjusted. It was quite unaccountable that Mrs.
Deane, the thinnest and sallowest of all the Miss Dodsons, should have had this
child, who might have been taken for Mrs. Tulliver��s any day. And
Maggie always looked twice as dark as usual when she was by the side of Lucy.