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    Book 6 - Chapter 2

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    Chapter 41
    Previous Chapter
    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 him. I hope you

    "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 sometimes, 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. Sometimes 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 very," said Lucy,
    half-penitent at this uncharitable remark. "But _he_ is--at least he
    is generally considered very handsome."

    "Though you are unable to share that opinion?"

    "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, holding 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 languidly as she
    rose from her chair and looked down on her slight, aerial cousin,
    whose figure was quite subordinate to her faultless drapery of silk
    and crape.

    Lucy kept her contemplative attitude a moment or two in silence, and
    then said,--

    "I can't think what witchery it is in you, Maggie, that makes you look
    best in shabby clothes; 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 _I_ 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 Cinderella. 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 money to pay for some lessons; I shall
    never get a better situation without more accomplishments."

    Maggie gave a little sigh.

    "Now, don't put on that sad look again," said Lucy, pinning 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 Maggie'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 people 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 contented. I do feel for
    them when they are in trouble; I don't think I could ever bear to make
    any one _un_happy; 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 selfish. 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 the 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 sleeping 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 renunciation, 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, and hastily wiping away her tears, she began
    to turn over the leaves 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 up your playing again, which
    used to be so much better than mine, 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 than 'Begone, dull

    "I know what a wild state of joy you used to be in when the glee-men
    came round," said Lucy, taking up her embroidery; "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 gentlemen. 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 Maggie, 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 stream.

    "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

    It was too late for Maggie to speak now; the drawingroom 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 unconscious 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. Stephen 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 agreeable 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 triumph. 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 stooping 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 only 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 preconceptions."

    "Now you have proved yourself equal to the occasion," said Maggie,
    "and said what it was incumbent on you to say under the

    She flashed a slightly defiant look at him; it was clear to her that
    he had been drawing a satirical portrait of her beforehand. Lucy had
    said he was inclined to be satirical, and Maggie had mentally supplied
    the addition, "and rather conceited."

    "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 answer,--

    "I suppose all phrases of mere compliment have their turn to be true.
    A man is occasionally grateful when he says 'Thank you.' It's rather
    hard upon him that he must use the same words with which all the world
    declines a disagreeable invitation, don't you think so, Miss

    "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 particular 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
    indifference," said Maggie, flushing a little.

    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 old 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 admire 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 Tulliver," said

    "Thank you; that will be a proof of respect."

    Poor Maggie! She was so unused to society that she could take nothing
    as a matter of course, and had never in her life spoken from the lips
    merely, so that she must necessarily appear 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 instance. It was true she had a theoretic objection
    to compliments, 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 emotion 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; 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 Tulliver," 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 as 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, looking up
    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 will 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 talent 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 together, and the
    corners of the mouth very far apart, the likeness 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 would speak disrespectfully of Dr. Kenn."

    "I say anything disrespectful of Dr. Kenn? Heaven forbid! But I am not
    bound to respect a libellous bust of him. I think Kenn one of the
    finest fellows in the world. I don't care much about the tall
    candlesticks he has put on the communion-table, and I shouldn't like
    to spoil my temper by getting up to early prayers every morning. But
    he's the only 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 because 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
    by accident. He sacrifices more time than a less busy man could spare,
    to save the poor fellow 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."

    "Oh, I think he's a perfect character!" said Lucy, with pretty

    "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

    "Do you really think of that?" said Lucy, her eyes brightening with a
    proud pleasure that made her neglect the argumentative interests of

    "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 himself up, and rubbed his large white
    hands over his hair with playful self-admiration--"gifts like mine
    involve great responsibilities. Don't you think so, Miss Tulliver?"

    "Yes," said Maggie, smiling, but not looking up; "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 impudent. Now superficial
    people never discern that, owing to my manner, I suppose."

    "She doesn't look at me when I talk of myself," he thought, while his
    listeners were laughing. "I must try other subjects."

    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 gradually 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 alumna. He was so fascinated by the clear,
    large gaze that at last he forgot to look away from it occasionally
    toward Lucy; but she, sweet child, was only rejoicing that Stephen was
    proving to Maggie how clever he was, and that they would certainly 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 running 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

    "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 boating and chatting and riding
    and driving; that is the holiday she needs."

    "Apropos!" said Stephen, looking at his watch. "Shall we go out for a
    row on the river now? The tide will suit for us to 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 on her bonnet,
    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 imprudent
    confidences to 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-denyingly 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 unfavorable opinion
    of Stephen's, that he walked down to the boathouse calculating, by the
    aid of a vivid imagination, that Maggie 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 dearest little
    creature in the world; 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 was perfectly natural and safe to admire
    beauty and enjoy looking at it,--at least under such circumstances as
    the present. 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, Stephen admitted, he
    was not fond of women who had any peculiarity 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 intercourse.

    Maggie did not fulfil Stephen's hope by looking at him during 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 presently 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
    made 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 moment for her remark; her foot slipped,
    but happily Mr. Stephen Guest held her hand, and kept her up with a
    firm grasp.

    "You have not hurt yourself at all, I hope?" he said, bending 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 again in the evening.

    "And pray bring with you the volume of Purcell that you took away,"
    said Lucy. "I want Maggie to hear your best songs."

    Aunt Pullet, under the certainty that Maggie would be invited to go
    out with Lucy, probably to Park House, was much shocked at the
    shabbiness of her clothes, which when witnessed 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 alteration; and her arms are beyond
    everything," added Mrs. Pullet, 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 abundance of black lace
    for trimming. Her arms will look beautiful."

    "Maggie's arms _are_ a pretty shape," said Mrs. Tulliver. "They're
    like mine used to be, only mine was never brown; 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 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; "I think that
    will be the end of _my_ brown skin, if it is always to be talked about
    so much."
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