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    Book 1 - Chapter 9

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    Chapter 9
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    To Garum Firs

    While the possible troubles of Maggie's future were occupying her
    father's mind, she herself was tasting only the bitterness of the
    present. Childhood has no forebodings; but then, it is soothed by no
    memories of outlived sorrow.

    The fact was, the day had begun ill with Maggie. The pleasure of
    having Lucy to look at, and the prospect of the afternoon visit to
    Garum Firs, where she would hear uncle Pullet's musical box, had been
    marred as early as eleven o'clock by the advent of the hair-dresser
    from St. Ogg's, who had spoken in the severest terms of the condition
    in which he had found her hair, holding up one jagged lock after
    another and saying, "See here! tut, tut, tut!" in a tone of mingled
    disgust and pity, which to Maggie's imagination was equivalent to the
    strongest expression of public opinion. Mr. Rappit, the hair-dresser,
    with his well-anointed coronal locks tending wavily upward, like the
    simulated pyramid of flame on a monumental urn, seemed to her at that
    moment the most formidable of her contemporaries, into whose street at
    St. Ogg's she would carefully refrain from entering through the rest
    of her life.

    Moreover, the preparation for a visit being always a serious affair in
    the Dodson family, Martha was enjoined to have Mrs. Tulliver's room
    ready an hour earlier than usual, that the laying out of the best
    clothes might not be deferred till the last moment, as was sometimes
    the case in families of lax views, where the ribbon-strings were never
    rolled up, where there was little or no wrapping in silver paper, and
    where the sense that the Sunday clothes could be got at quite easily
    produced no shock to the mind. Already, at twelve o'clock, Mrs.
    Tulliver had on her visiting costume, with a protective apparatus of
    brown holland, as if she had been a piece of satin furniture in danger
    of flies; Maggie was frowning and twisting her shoulders, that she
    might if possible shrink away from the prickliest of tuckers, while
    her mother was remonstrating, "Don't, Maggie, my dear; don't make
    yourself so ugly!" and Tom's cheeks were looking particularly
    brilliant as a relief to his best blue suit, which he wore with
    becoming calmness, having, after a little wrangling, effected what was
    always the one point of interest to him in his toilet: he had
    transferred all the contents of his every-day pockets to those
    actually in wear.

    As for Lucy, she was just as pretty and neat as she had been
    yesterday; no accidents ever happened to her clothes, and she was
    never uncomfortable in them, so that she looked with wondering pity at
    Maggie, pouting and writhing under the exasperating tucker. Maggie
    would certainly have torn it off, if she had not been checked by the
    remembrance of her recent humiliation about her hair; as it was, she
    confined herself to fretting and twisting, and behaving peevishly
    about the card-houses which they were allowed to build till dinner, as
    a suitable amusement for boys and girls in their best clothes. Tom
    could build perfect pyramids of houses; but Maggie's would never bear
    the laying on the roof. It was always so with the things that Maggie
    made; and Tom had deduced the conclusion that no girls could ever make
    anything. But it happened that Lucy proved wonderfully clever at
    building; she handled the cards so lightly, and moved so gently, that
    Tom condescended to admire her houses as well as his own, the more
    readily because she had asked him to teach her. Maggie, too, would
    have admired Lucy's houses, and would have given up her own
    unsuccessful building to contemplate them, without ill temper, if her
    tucker had not made her peevish, and if Tom had not inconsiderately
    laughed when her houses fell, and told her she was "a stupid."

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

    "Oh, I dare say, Miss Spitfire! I'd never be such a cross thing as
    you, making faces like that. Lucy doesn't do so. I like Lucy better
    than you; _I_ wish Lucy was _my_ sister."

    "Then it's very wicked and cruel of you to wish so," said Maggie,
    starting up hurriedly from her place on the floor, and upsetting Tom's
    wonderful pagoda. She really did not mean it, but the circumstantial
    evidence was against her, and Tom turned white with anger, but said
    nothing; he would have struck her, only he knew it was cowardly to
    strike a girl, and Tom Tulliver was quite determined he would never do
    anything 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 thumbnail against the
    window, vaguely at first, but presently with the distinct aim of
    hitting a superannuated blue-bottle which was exposing its imbecility
    in the spring sunshine, clearly against the views of Nature, who had
    provided Tom and the peas for the speedy destruction of this weak
    individual.

    Thus the morning had been made heavy to Maggie, and Tom's persistent
    coldness to her all through their walk spoiled the fresh air and
    sunshine for her. He called Lucy to look at the half-built bird's nest
    without caring to show it Maggie, and peeled a willow switch for Lucy
    and himself, without offering one to Maggie. Lucy had said, "Maggie,
    shouldn't _you_ like one?" but Tom was deaf.

    Still, the sight of the peacock opportunely spreading his tail on the
    stackyard wall, just as they reached Garum Firs, was enough to divert
    the mind temporarily from personal grievances. And this was only the
    beginning of beautiful sights at Garum Firs. All the farmyard life was
    wonderful there,--bantams, speckled and top-knotted; Friesland hens,
    with their feathers all turned the wrong way; Guinea-fowls that flew
    and screamed and dropped their pretty spotted feathers; pouter-pigeons
    and a tame magpie; nay, a goat, and a wonderful brindled dog, half
    mastiff, half bull-dog, as large as a lion. Then there were white
    railings and white gates all about, and glittering weathercocks of
    various design, and garden-walks paved with pebbles in beautiful
    patterns,--nothing was quite common at Garum Firs; and Tom thought
    that the unusual size of the toads there was simply due to the general
    unusualness which characterized uncle Pullet's possessions as a
    gentleman farmer. Toads who paid rent were naturally leaner. As for
    the house, it was not less remarkable; it had a receding centre, and
    two wings with battlemented turrets, and was covered with glittering
    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't
    let 'em come up the door-steps; Sally's bringing the old mat and the
    duster, to rub their shoes."

    Mrs. Pullet's front-door mats were by no means intended to wipe shoes
    on; the very scraper had a deputy to do its dirty work. Tom rebelled
    particularly against this shoewiping, which he always considered in
    the light of an indignity to his sex. He felt it as the beginning of
    the disagreeables incident to a visit at aunt Pullet's, where he had
    once been compelled to sit with towels wrapped round his boots; a fact
    which may serve to correct the too-hasty conclusion that a visit to
    Garum Firs must have been a great treat to a young gentleman fond of
    animals,--fond, that is, of throwing stones at them.

    The next disagreeable was confined to his feminine companions; it was
    the mounting of the polished oak stairs, which had very handsome
    carpets rolled up and laid by in a spare bedroom, so that the ascent
    of these glossy steps might have served, in barbarous times, as a
    trial by ordeal from which none but the most spotless virtue could
    have come off with unbroken limbs. Sophy's weakness about these
    polished stairs was always a subject of bitter remonstrance on Mrs.
    Glegg's part; but Mrs. Tulliver ventured on no comment, only thinking
    to herself it was a mercy when she and the children were safe on the
    landing.

    "Mrs. Gray has sent home my new bonnet, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, in a
    pathetic tone, as Mrs. Tulliver adjusted her cap.

    "Has she, sister?" said Mrs. Tulliver, with an air of much interest.
    "And how do you like it?"

    "It's apt to make a mess with clothes, taking 'em out and putting 'em
    in again," said Mrs. Pullet, drawing a bunch of keys from her pocket
    and looking at them earnestly, "but it 'ud be a pity for you to go
    away without seeing it. There's no knowing what may happen."

    Mrs. Pullet shook her head slowly at this last serious consideration,
    which determined her to single out a particular key.

    "I'm afraid it'll be troublesome to you getting it out, sister," said
    Mrs. Tulliver; "but I _should_ like to see what sort of a crown she's
    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 a
    new bonnet. Not at all. Such a supposition could only have arisen from
    a too-superficial acquaintance with the habits of the Dodson family.
    In this wardrobe Mrs. Pullet was seeking something small enough to be
    hidden among layers of linen,--it was a door-key.

    "You must come with me into the best room," said Mrs. Pullet.

    "May the children come too, sister?" inquired Mrs. Tulliver, who saw
    that Maggie and Lucy were looking rather eager.

    "Well," said aunt Pullet, reflectively, "it'll perhaps be safer for
    'em to come; they'll be touching something if we leave 'em behind."

    So they went in procession along the bright and slippery corridor,
    dimly lighted by the semi-lunar top of the window which rose above the
    closed shutter; it was really quite solemn. Aunt Pullet paused and
    unlocked a door which opened on something still more solemn than the
    passage,--a darkened room, in which the outer light, entering feebly,
    showed what looked like the corpses of furniture in white shrouds.
    Everything that was not shrouded stood with its legs upward. Lucy laid
    hold of Maggie's frock, and Maggie's heart beat rapidly.

    Aunt Pullet half-opened the shutter and then unlocked the wardrobe,
    with a melancholy deliberateness which was quite in keeping with the
    funereal solemnity of the scene. The delicious scent of rose-leaves
    that issued from the wardrobe made the process of taking out sheet
    after sheet of silver paper quite pleasant to assist at, though the
    sight of the bonnet at last was an anticlimax to Maggie, who would
    have preferred something more strikingly preternatural. But few things
    could have been more impressive to Mrs. Tulliver. She looked all round
    it in silence for some moments, and then said emphatically, "Well,
    sister, I'll never speak against the full crowns again!"

    It was a great concession, and Mrs. Pullet felt it; she felt something
    was due to it.

    "You'd like to see it on, sister?" she said sadly. "I'll open the
    shutter a bit further."

    "Well, if you don't mind taking off your cap, sister," said Mrs.
    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 possibility of
    getting a humble imitation of this _chef-d'Å“uvre_ made from a piece
    of silk she had at home.

    Mrs. Pullet screwed up her mouth and shook her head, and then
    whispered, "Pullet pays for it; he said I was to have the best bonnet
    at Garum Church, let the next best be whose it would."

    She began slowly to adjust the trimmings, in preparation for returning
    it to its place in the wardrobe, and her thoughts seemed to have taken
    a melancholy turn, for she shook her head.

    "Ah," she said at last, "I may never wear it twice, sister; who
    knows?"

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

    "Ah! but there may come a death in the family, as there did soon after
    I had my green satin bonnet. Cousin Abbott may go, and we can't think
    o' wearing crape less nor half a year for him."

    "That _would_ be unlucky," said Mrs. Tulliver, entering thoroughly
    into the possibility of an inopportune decease. "There's never so much
    pleasure i' wearing a bonnet the second year, especially when the
    crowns are so chancy,--never two summers alike."

    "Ah, it's the way i' this world," said Mrs. Pullet, returning the
    bonnet to the wardrobe and locking it up. She maintained a silence
    characterized by head-shaking, until they had all issued from the
    solemn chamber and were in her own room again. Then, beginning to cry,
    she said, "Sister, if you should never see that bonnet again till I'm
    dead and gone, you'll remember I showed it you this day."

    Mrs. Tulliver felt that she ought to be affected, but she was a woman
    of sparse tears, stout and healthy; she couldn't cry so much as her
    sister Pullet did, and had often felt her deficiency at funerals. Her
    effort to bring tears into her eyes issued in an odd contraction of
    her face. Maggie, looking on attentively, felt that there was some
    painful mystery about her aunt's bonnet which she was considered too
    young to understand; indignantly conscious, all the while, that she
    could have understood that, as well as everything else, if she had
    been taken into confidence.

    When they went down, uncle Pullet observed, with some acumen, that he
    reckoned the missis had been showing her bonnet,--that was what had
    made them so long upstairs. With Tom the interval had seemed still
    longer, for he had been seated in irksome constraint on the edge of a
    sofa directly opposite his uncle Pullet, who regarded him with
    twinkling gray eyes, and occasionally addressed him as "Young sir."

    "Well, young sir, what do you learn at school?" was a standing
    question with uncle Pullet; whereupon Tom always looked sheepish,
    rubbed his hands across his face, and answered, "I don't know." It was
    altogether so embarrassing to be seated _tête-à -tête_ with uncle
    Pullet, that Tom could not even look at the prints on the walls, or
    the flycages, or the wonderful flower-pots; he saw nothing but his
    uncle's gaiters. Not that Tom was in awe of his uncle's mental
    superiority; indeed, he had made up his mind that he didn't want to be
    a gentleman farmer, because he shouldn't like to be such a
    thin-legged, silly fellow as his uncle Pullet,--a molly-coddle, in
    fact. A boy's sheepishness is by no means a sign of overmastering
    reverence; and while you are making encouraging advances to him under
    the idea that he is overwhelmed by a sense of your age and wisdom, ten
    to one he is thinking you extremely queer. The only consolation I can
    suggest to you is, that the Greek boys probably thought the same of
    Aristotle. It is only when you have mastered a restive horse, or
    thrashed a drayman, or have got a gun in your hand, that these shy
    juniors feel you to be a truly admirable and enviable character. At
    least, I am quite sure of Tom Tulliver's sentiments on these points.
    In very tender years, when he still wore a lace border under his
    outdoor cap, he was often observed peeping through the bars of a gate
    and making minatory gestures with his small forefinger while he
    scolded the sheep with an inarticulate burr, intended to strike terror
    into their astonished minds; indicating thus early that desire for
    mastery over the inferior animals, wild and domestic, including
    cockchafers, neighbors' dogs, and small sisters, which in all ages has
    been an attribute of so much promise for the fortunes of our race.
    Now, Mr. Pullet never rode anything taller than a low pony, and was
    the least predatory of men, considering firearms dangerous, as apt to
    go off of themselves by nobody's particular desire. So that Tom was
    not without strong reasons when, in confidential talk with a chum, he
    had described uncle Pullet as a nincompoop, taking care at the same
    time to observe that he was a very "rich fellow."

    The only alleviating circumstance in a _tête-à -tête_ with uncle Pullet
    was that he kept a variety of lozenges and peppermint-drops about his
    person, and when at a loss for conversation, he filled up the void by
    proposing a mutual solace of this kind.

    "Do you like peppermints, young sir?" required only a tacit answer
    when it was accompanied by a presentation of the article in question.

    The appearance of the little girls suggested to uncle Pullet the
    further solace of small sweet-cakes, of which he also kept a stock
    under lock and key for his own private eating on wet days; but the
    three children had no sooner got the tempting delicacy between their
    fingers, than aunt Pullet desired them to abstain from eating it till
    the tray and the plates came, since with those crisp cakes they would
    make the floor "all over" crumbs. Lucy didn't mind that much, for the
    cake was so pretty, she thought it was rather a pity to eat it; but
    Tom, watching his opportunity while the elders were talking, hastily
    stowed it in his mouth at two bites, and chewed it furtively. As for
    Maggie, becoming fascinated, as usual, by a print of Ulysses and
    Nausicaa, which uncle Pullet had bought as a "pretty Scripture thing,"
    she presently let fall her cake, and in an unlucky movement crushed it
    beneath her foot,--a source of so much agitation to aunt Pullet and
    conscious disgrace to Maggie, that she began to despair of hearing the
    musical snuff-box to-day, till, after some reflection, it occurred to
    her that Lucy was in high favor enough to venture on asking for a
    tune. So she whispered to Lucy; and Lucy, who always did what she was
    desired to do, went up quietly to her uncle's knee, and blush-all over
    her neck while she fingered her necklace, said, "Will you please play
    us a tune, uncle?"

    Lucy thought it was by reason of some exceptional talent in uncle
    Pullet that the snuff-box played such beautiful tunes, and indeed the
    thing was viewed in that light by the majority of his neighbors in
    Garum. Mr. Pullet had _bought_ the box, to begin with, and he
    understood winding it up, and knew which tune it was going to play
    beforehand; altogether the possession of this unique "piece of music"
    was a proof that Mr. Pullet's character was not of that entire nullity
    which might otherwise have been attributed to it. But uncle Pullet,
    when entreated to exhibit his accomplishment, never depreciated it by
    a too-ready consent. "We'll see about it," was the answer he always
    gave, carefully abstaining from any sign of compliance till a suitable
    number of minutes had passed. Uncle Pullet had a programme for all
    great social occasions, and in this way fenced himself in from much
    painful confusion and perplexing freedom of will.

    Perhaps the suspense did heighten Maggie's enjoyment when the fairy
    tune began; for the first time she quite forgot that she had a load on
    her mind, that Tom was angry with her; and by the time "Hush, ye
    pretty warbling choir," had been played, her face wore that bright
    look of happiness, while she sat immovable with her hands clasped,
    which sometimes comforted her mother with the sense that Maggie could
    look pretty now and then, in spite of her brown skin. But when the
    magic music ceased, she jumped up, and running toward Tom, put her arm
    round his neck and said, "Oh, Tom, isn't it pretty?"

    Lest you should think it showed a revolting insensibility in Tom that
    he felt any new anger toward Maggie for this uncalled-for and, to him,
    inexplicable caress, I must tell you that he had his glass of cowslip
    wine in his hand, and that she jerked him so as to make him spill half
    of it. He must have been an extreme milksop not to say angrily, "Look
    there, now!" especially when his resentment was sanctioned, as it was,
    by general disapprobation of Maggie's behavior.

    "Why don't you sit still, Maggie?" her mother said peevishly.

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

    Mrs. Tulliver, foreseeing nothing but misbehavior while the children
    remained indoors, took an early opportunity of suggesting that, now
    they were rested after their walk, they might go and play out of
    doors; and aunt Pullet gave permission, only enjoining them not to go
    off the paved walks in the garden, and if they wanted to see the
    poultry fed, to view them from a distance on the horse-block; a
    restriction which had been imposed ever since Tom had been found
    guilty of running after the peacock, with an illusory idea that fright
    would make one of its feathers drop off.

    Mrs. Tulliver's thoughts had been temporarily diverted from the
    quarrel with Mrs. Glegg by millinery and maternal cares, but now the
    great theme of the bonnet was thrown into perspective, and the
    children were out of the way, yesterday's anxieties recurred.

    "It weighs on my mind so as never was," she said, by way of opening
    the subject, "sister Glegg's leaving the house in that way. I'm sure
    I'd no wish t' offend a sister."

    "Ah," said aunt Pullet, "there's no accounting for what Jane 'ull do.
    I wouldn't speak of it out o' the family, if it wasn't to Dr.
    Turnbull; but it's my belief Jane lives too low. I've said so to
    Pullet often and often, and he knows it."

    "Why, you said so last Monday was a week, when we came away from
    drinking tea with 'em," said Mr. Pullet, beginning to nurse his knee
    and shelter it with his pocket-hand-kerchief, as was his way when the
    conversation took an interesting turn.

    "Very like I did," said Mrs. Pullet, "for you remember when I said
    things, better than I can remember myself. He's got a wonderful
    memory, Pullet has," she continued, looking pathetically at her
    sister. "I should be poorly off if he was to have a stroke, for he
    always remembers when I've got to take my doctor's stuff; and I'm
    taking three sorts now."

    "There's the 'pills as before' every other night, and the new drops at
    eleven and four, and the 'fervescing mixture 'when agreeable,'"
    rehearsed Mr. Pullet, with a punctuation determined by a lozenge on
    his tongue.

    "Ah, perhaps it 'ud be better for sister Glegg if _she'd_ go to the
    doctor sometimes, instead o' chewing Turkey rhubard whenever there's
    anything the matter with her," said Mrs. Tulliver, who naturally saw
    the wide subject of medicine chiefly in relation to Mrs. Glegg.

    "It's dreadful to think on," said aunt Pullet, raising her hands and
    letting them fall again, "people playing with their own insides in
    that way! And it's flying i' the face o' Providence; for what are the
    doctors for, if we aren't to call 'em in? And when folks have got the
    money to pay for a doctor, it isn't respectable, as I've told Jane
    many a time. I'm ashamed of acquaintance knowing it."

    "Well, _we've_ no call to be ashamed," said Mr. Pullet, "for Doctor
    Turnbull hasn't got such another patient as you i' this parish, now
    old Mrs. Sutton's gone."

    "Pullet keeps all my physic-bottles, did you know, Bessy?" said Mrs.
    Pullet. "He won't have one sold. He says it's nothing but right folks
    should see 'em when I'm gone. They fill two o' the long store-room
    shelves a'ready; but," she added, beginning to cry a little, "it's
    well if they ever fill three. I may go before I've made up the dozen
    o' these last sizes. The pill-boxes are in the closet in my
    room,--you'll remember that, sister,--but there's nothing to show for
    the boluses, if it isn't the bills."

    "Don't talk o' your going, sister," said Mrs. Tulliver; "I should have
    nobody to stand between me and sister Glegg if you was gone. And
    there's nobody but you can get her to make it up with Mr. Tulliver,
    for sister Deane's never o' my side, and if she was, it's not to be
    looked for as she can speak like them as have got an independent
    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 behaved quite so pretty to our
    family as he should do, and the children take after him,--the boy's
    very mischievous, and runs away from his aunts and uncles, and the
    gell's rude and brown. It's your bad luck, and I'm sorry for you,
    Bessy; for you was allays my favorite sister, and we allays liked the
    same patterns."

    "I know Tulliver's hasty, and says odd things," said Mrs. Tulliver,
    wiping away one small tear from the corner of her eye; "but I'm sure
    he's never been the man, since he married me, to object to my making
    the friends o' my side o' the family welcome to the house."

    "_I_ don't want to make the worst of you, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet,
    compassionately, "for I doubt you'll have trouble enough without that;
    and your husband's got that poor sister and her children hanging on
    him,--and so given to lawing, they say. I doubt he'll leave you poorly
    off when he dies. Not as I'd have it said out o' the family."

    This view of her position was naturally far from cheering to Mrs.
    Tulliver. Her imagination was not easily acted on, but she could not
    help thinking that her case was a hard one, since it appeared that
    other people thought it hard.

    "I'm sure, sister, I can't help myself," she said, urged by the fear
    lest her anticipated misfortunes might be held retributive, to take
    comprehensive review of her past conduct. "There's no woman strives
    more for her children; and I'm sure at scouring-time this Lady-day as
    I've had all the bedhangings taken down I did as much as the two gells
    put together; and there's the last elder-flower wine I've
    made--beautiful! I allays offer it along with the sherry, though
    sister Glegg will have it I'm so extravagant; and as for liking to
    have my clothes tidy, and not go a fright about the house, there's
    nobody in the parish can say anything against me in respect o'
    backbiting and making mischief, for I don't wish anybody any harm; and
    nobody loses by sending me a porkpie, for my pies are fit to show with
    the best o' my neighbors'; and the linen's so in order as if I was to
    die to-morrow I shouldn't be ashamed. A woman can do no more nor she
    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. Tulliver's not a
    man to be dictated to,--not if I was to go to the parson and get by
    heart what I should tell my husband for the best. And I'm sure I don't
    pretend to know anything about putting out money and all that. I could
    never see into men's business as sister Glegg does."

    "Well, you're like me in that, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet; "and I think
    it 'ud be a deal more becoming o' Jane if she'd have that pier-glass
    rubbed oftener,--there was ever so many spots on it last
    week,--instead o' dictating to folks as have more comings in than she
    ever had, and telling 'em what they're to do with their money. But
    Jane and me were allays contrairy; she _would_ have striped things,
    and I like spots. You like a spot too, Bessy; we allays hung together
    i' that."

    "Yes, Sophy," said Mrs. Tulliver, "I remember our having a blue ground
    with a white spot both alike,--I've got a bit in a bed-quilt now; and
    if you would but go and see sister Glegg, and persuade her to make it
    up with Tulliver, I should take it very kind of you. You was allays a
    good sister to me."

    "But the right thing 'ud be for Tulliver to go and make it up with her
    himself, and say he was sorry for speaking so rash. If he's borrowed
    money of her, he shouldn't be above that," said Mrs. Pullet, whose
    partiality did not blind her to principles; she did not forget what
    was due to people of independent fortune.

    "It's no use talking o' that," said poor Mrs. Tulliver, almost
    peevishly. "If I was to go down on my bare knees on the gravel to
    Tulliver, he'd never humble himself."

    "Well, you can't expect me to persuade _Jane_ to beg pardon," said
    Mrs. Pullet. "Her temper's beyond everything; it's well if it doesn't
    carry her off her mind, though there never _was_ any of our family
    went to a madhouse."

    "I'm not thinking of her begging pardon," said Mrs. Tulliver. "But if
    she'd just take no notice, and not call her money in; as it's not so
    much for one sister to ask of another; time 'ud mend things, and
    Tulliver 'ud forget all about it, and they'd be friends again."

    Mrs. Tulliver, you perceive, was not aware of her husband's
    irrevocable determination to pay in the five hundred pounds; at least
    such a determination exceeded her powers of belief.

    "Well, Bessy," said Mrs. Pullet, mournfully, "_I_ don't want to help
    you on to ruin. I won't be behindhand i' doing you a good turn, if it
    is to be done. And I don't like it said among acquaintance as we've
    got quarrels in the family. I shall tell Jane that; and I don't mind
    driving to Jane's tomorrow, if Pullet doesn't mind. What do you say,
    Mr. Pullet?"

    "I've no objections," said Mr. Pullet, who was perfectly contented
    with any course the quarrel might take, so that Mr. Tulliver did not
    apply to _him_ for money. Mr. Pullet was nervous about his
    investments, and did not see how a man could have any security for his
    money unless he turned it into land.

    After a little further discussion as to whether it would not be better
    for Mrs. Tulliver to accompany them on a visit to sister Glegg, Mrs.
    Pullet, observing that it was tea-time, turned to reach from a drawer
    a delicate damask napkin, which she pinned before her in the fashion
    of an apron. The door did, in fact, soon open, but instead of the
    tea-tray, Sally introduced an object so startling that both Mrs.
    Pullet and Mrs. Tulliver gave a scream, causing uncle Pullet to
    swallow his lozenge--for the fifth time in his life, as he afterward
    noted.
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