��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.
��Tom,�� said Maggie, as they sat on the boughs of the
elder-tree, eating their jam-puffs, ��shall you run away
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.
The black locks were so thick, nothing could be more tempting 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 scissors meet through
a duly resisting mass of hair. One delicious grinding snip, and then another and
another, and the hinder-locks fell heavily on the floor, and Maggie stood cropped in
a jagged, uneven manner, but with a sense of clearness and freedom, as if she had
emerged from a wood into the open plain.
��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!��
No proposition could have been
more seasonable. Mr. Tulliver felt very much as if the air had been cleared of
obtrusive flies now the women were out of the room. There were few things he liked
better than a chat with Mr. Deane, whose close application to business allowed the
pleasure very rarely. Mr. Deane, he considered, was the
��knowingest�� man of his acquaintance, and he had
besides a ready causticity of tongue that made an agreeable supplement to Mr.
Tulliver��s own tendency 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 Wellington, 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. Rather 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 imports, especially in hides and spelter, which soothed Mr.
Tulliver��s imagination by throwing into more distant perspective the
period when the country would become utterly the prey of Papists and Radicals, and
there would be no more chance for honest men.
Maggie turned quite pale.
��Oh, Tom, why didn��t you ask me?��
��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 either.
There��s folks in the world as know better than everybody