give Tom an eddication an' put him to a business, as he may make a nest for himself an' not want to push me out o' mine. Pretty well if he gets it when I'm dead an' gone. I shan't be put off wi' spoon-meat afore I've lost my teeth.'

This was evidently a point on which Mr Tulliver felt strongly, and the impetus which had given unusual rapidity and emphasis to his speech showed itself still unexhausted for some minutes afterwards in a defiant motion of the head from side to side, and an occasional `Nay, nay,' like a subsiding growl.

These angry symptoms were keenly observed by Maggie, and cut her to the quick: Tom, it appeared, was supposed capable of turning his father out of doors, and of making the future in some way tragic by his wickedness. This was not to be borne, and Maggie jumped up from her stool, forgetting all about her heavy book, which fell with a bang within the fender; and going up between her father's knees, said, in a half crying, half indignant voice,

`Father, Tom wouldn't be naughty to you ever, I know he wouldn't.'

Mrs Tulliver was out of the room superintending a choice supper-dish, and Mr Tulliver's heart was touched, so Maggie was not scolded about the book. Mr Riley quietly picked it up and looked at it while the father laughed with a certain tenderness in his hard lined face, and patted his little girl on the back, and then held her hands and kept her between his knees.

`What, they mustn't say no harm o' Tom, eh?' said Mr Tulliver, looking at Maggie with a twinkling eye. Then, in a lower voice, turning to Mr Riley, as though Maggie couldn't hear, `She understands what one's talking about so as never was. And you should hear her read - straight off, as if she knowed it all beforehand. An' allays at her book!But it's bad - it's bad,' Mr Tulliver added, sadly, checking this blamable exultation, `a woman's no business wi' being so clever; it'll turn to trouble, I doubt. But, bless you!' - here the exultation was clearly recovering the mastery - `she'll read the books and understand 'em, better nor half the folks as are growed up.'

Maggie's cheeks began to flush with triumphant excitement: she thought Mr Riley would have a respect for her now; it had been evident that he thought nothing of her before.

Mr Riley was turning over the leaves of the book and she could make nothing of his face with its high- arched eye-brows; but he presently looked at her and said,

`Come, come and tell me something about this book; here are some pictures - I want to know what they mean.'

Maggie with deepening colour went without hesitation to Mr Riley's elbow and looked over the book, eagerly seizing one corner and tossing back her mane, while she said,

`O, I'll tell you what that means. It's a dreadful picture, isn't it? But I can't help looking at it. That old woman in the water's a witch - they've put her in, to find out whether she's a witch or no, and if she swims she's a witch, and if she's drowned - and killed, you know, - she's innocent, and not a witch, but only a poor silly old woman. But what good would it do her then, you know, when she was drowned? Only, I suppose she'd go the heaven, and God would make it up to her. And this dreadful blacksmith with his arms akimbo, laughing - oh, isn't he ugly? - I'll tell you what he is. He's the devil really' (here Maggie's voice became louder and more emphatic) `and not a right blacksmith; for the devil takes the shape of wicked men, and walks about and sets people doing wicked things, and he's oftener in the shape of a bad man than any other, because, you know, if people saw he was the devil, and he roared at 'em, they'd run away, and he couldn't make 'em do what he pleased.'

Mr Tulliver had listened to this exposition of Maggie's with petrifying wonder.

`Why, what book is it the wench has got hold on?' he burst out, at last.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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