Read Tom and Maggie Tulliver Page 2

  "No, no," said Mr. Tulliver; "I've no thoughts of his going to Mudport:I mean him to set up his office at St. Ogg's, close by us, an' live athome. I doubt Tom's a bit slowish. He takes after your family, Bessy."

  "Yes, that he does," said Mrs. Tulliver; "he's wonderful for liking adeal o' salt in his broth. That was my brother's way, and my father'sbefore him."

  "It seems a bit of a pity, though," said Mr. Tulliver, "as the ladshould take after the mother's side instead o' the little wench. Thelittle un takes after my side, now: she's twice as 'cute as Tom."

  "Yes, Mr. Tulliver, and it all runs to naughtiness. How to keep her ina clean pinafore two hours together passes my cunning. An' now you putme i' mind," continued Mrs. Tulliver, rising and going to the window,"I don't know where she is now, an' it's pretty nigh tea-time. Ah, Ithought so--there she is, wanderin' up an' down by the water, like awild thing. She'll tumble in some day."

  Mrs. Tulliver rapped the window sharply, beckoned, and shook her head.

  "You talk o' 'cuteness, Mr. Tulliver," she said as she sat down; "butI'm sure the child's very slow i' some things, for if I send herupstairs to fetch anything, she forgets what she's gone for."

  "Pooh, nonsense!" said Mr. Tulliver. "She's a straight, black-eyedwench as anybody need wish to see; and she can read almost as well asthe parson."

  "But her hair won't curl, all I can do with it, and she's so franzyabout having it put i' paper, and I've such work as never was to makeher stand and have it pinched with th' irons."

  "Cut it off--cut it off short," said the father rashly.

  "How can you talk so, Mr. Tulliver? She's too big a gell--gone nine,and tall of her age--to have her hair cut short.--Maggie, Maggie,"continued the mother, as the child herself entered the room, "where'sthe use o' my telling you to keep away from the water? You'll tumblein and be drownded some day, and then you'll be sorry you didn't do asmother told you."

  Maggie threw off her bonnet. Now, Mrs. Tulliver, desiring her daughterto have a curled crop, had had it cut too short in front to be pushedbehind the ears; and as it was usually straight an hour after it hadbeen taken out of paper, Maggie was incessantly tossing her head tokeep the dark, heavy locks out of her gleaming black eyes.

  "Oh dear, oh dear, Maggie, what are you thinkin' of, to throw yourbonnet down there? Take it upstairs, there's a good gell, an' let yourhair be brushed, an' put your other pinafore on, an' change yourshoes--do, for shame; an' come and go on with your patchwork, like alittle lady."

  "O mother," said Maggie in a very cross tone, "I don't want to do mypatchwork."

  "What! not your pretty patchwork, to make a counterpane for your AuntGlegg?"

  "It's silly work," said Maggie, with a toss of her mane--"tearingthings to pieces to sew 'em together again. And I don't want to sewanything for my Aunt Glegg; I don't like her."

  Exit Maggie, drawing her bonnet by the string, while Mr. Tulliverlaughs audibly.

  "I wonder at you as you'll laugh at her, Mr. Tulliver," said themother. "An' her aunts will have it as it's _me_ spoils her."