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    Book 1 - Chapter 13

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    Chapter 13
    Previous Chapter
    Mr. Tulliver Further Entangles the Skein of Life

    Owing to this new adjustment of Mrs. Glegg's thoughts, Mrs. Pullet
    found her task of mediation the next day surprisingly easy. Mrs.
    Glegg, indeed checked her rather sharply for thinking it would be
    necessary to tell her elder sister what was the right mode of behavior
    in family matters. Mrs. Pullet's argument, that it would look ill in
    the neighborhood if people should have it in their power to say that
    there was a quarrel in the family, was particularly offensive. If the
    family name never suffered except through Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Pullet
    might lay her head on her pillow in perfect confidence.

    "It's not to be expected, I suppose," observed Mrs. Glegg, by way of
    winding up the subject, "as I shall go to the mill again before Bessy
    comes to see me, or as I shall go and fall down o' my knees to Mr.
    Tulliver, and ask his pardon for showing him favors; but I shall bear
    no malice, and when Mr. Tulliver speaks civil to me, I'll speak civil
    to him. Nobody has any call to tell me what's becoming."

    Finding it unnecessary to plead for the Tullivers, it was natural that
    aunt Pullet should relax a little in her anxiety for them, and recur
    to the annoyance she had suffered yesterday from the offspring of that
    apparently ill-fated house. Mrs. Glegg heard a circumstantial
    narrative, to which Mr. Pullet's remarkable memory furnished some
    items; and while aunt Pullet pitied poor Bessy's bad luck with her
    children, and expressed a half-formed project of paying for Maggie's
    being sent to a distant boarding-school, which would not prevent her
    being so brown, but might tend to subdue some other vices in her, aunt
    Glegg blamed Bessy for her weakness, and appealed to all witnesses who
    should be living when the Tulliver children had turned out ill, that
    she, Mrs. Glegg, had always said how it would be from the very first,
    observing that it was wonderful to herself how all her words came
    true.

    "Then I may call and tell Bessy you'll bear no malice, and everything
    be as it was before?" Mrs. Pullet said, just before parting.

    "Yes, you may, Sophy," said Mrs. Glegg; "you may tell Mr. Tulliver,
    and Bessy too, as I'm not going to behave ill because folks behave ill
    to me; I know it's my place, as the eldest, to set an example in every
    respect, and I do it. Nobody can say different of me, if they'll keep
    to the truth."

    Mrs. Glegg being in this state of satisfaction in her own lofty
    magnanimity, I leave you to judge what effect was produced on her by
    the reception of a short letter from Mr. Tulliver that very evening,
    after Mrs. Pullet's departure, informing her that she needn't trouble
    her mind about her five hundred pounds, for it should be paid back to
    her in the course of the next month at farthest, together with the
    interest due thereon until the time of payment. And furthermore, that
    Mr. Tulliver had no wish to behave uncivilly to Mrs. Glegg, and she
    was welcome to his house whenever she liked to come, but he desired no
    favors from her, either for himself or his children.

    It was poor Mrs. Tulliver who had hastened this catastrophe, entirely
    through that irrepressible hopefulness of hers which led her to expect
    that similar causes may at any time produce different results. It had
    very often occurred in her experience that Mr. Tulliver had done
    something because other people had said he was not able to do it, or
    had pitied him for his supposed inability, or in any other way piqued
    his pride; still, she thought to-day, if she told him when he came in
    to tea that sister Pullet was gone to try and make everything up with
    sister Glegg, so that he needn't think about paying in the money, it
    would give a cheerful effect to the meal. Mr. Tulliver had never
    slackened in his resolve to raise the money, but now he at once
    determined to write a letter to Mrs. Glegg, which should cut off all
    possibility of mistake. Mrs. Pullet gone to beg and pray for _him_
    indeed! Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the
    relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as
    spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world.
    Nevertheless, like all fervid writing, the task was done in less time
    than usual, and if the spelling differed from Mrs. Glegg's,--why, she
    belonged, like himself, to a generation with whom spelling was a
    matter of private judgment.

    Mrs. Glegg did not alter her will in consequence of this letter, and
    cut off the Tulliver children from their sixth and seventh share in
    her thousand pounds; for she had her principles. No one must be able
    to say of her when she was dead that she had not divided her money
    with perfect fairness among her own kin. In the matter of wills,
    personal qualities were subordinate to the great fundamental fact of
    blood; and to be determined in the distribution of your property by
    caprice, and not make your legacies bear a direct ratio to degrees of
    kinship, was a prospective disgrace that would have embittered her
    life. This had always been a principle in the Dodson family; it was
    one form if that sense of honor and rectitude which was a proud
    tradition in such families,--a tradition which has been the salt of
    our provincial society.

    But though the letter could not shake Mrs. Glegg's principles, it made
    the family breach much more difficult to mend; and as to the effect it
    produced on Mrs. Glegg's opinion of Mr. Tulliver, she begged to be
    understood from that time forth that she had nothing whatever to say
    about him; his state of mind, apparently, was too corrupt for her to
    contemplate it for a moment. It was not until the evening before Tom
    went to school, at the beginning of August, that Mrs. Glegg paid a
    visit to her sister Tulliver, sitting in her gig all the while, and
    showing her displeasure by markedly abstaining from all advice and
    criticism; for, as she observed to her sister Deane, "Bessy must bear
    the consequence o' having such a husband, though I'm sorry for her,"
    and Mrs. Deane agreed that Bessy was pitiable.

    That evening Tom observed to Maggie: "Oh my! Maggie, aunt Glegg's
    beginning to come again; I'm glad I'm going to school. _You'll_ catch
    it all now!"

    Maggie was already so full of sorrow at the thought of Tom's going
    away from her, that this playful exultation of his seemed very unkind,
    and she cried herself to sleep that night.

    Mr. Tulliver's prompt procedure entailed on him further promptitude in
    finding the convenient person who was desirous of lending five hundred
    pounds on bond. "It must be no client of Wakem's," he said to himself;
    and yet at the end of a fortnight it turned out to the contrary; not
    because Mr. Tulliver's will was feeble, but because external fact was
    stronger. Wakem's client was the only convenient person to be found.
    Mr. Tulliver had a destiny as well as Oedipus, and in this case
    he might plead, like Oedipus, that his deed was inflicted on him
    rather than committed by him.
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