of speculation with her: she wondered if they had any relations outside the mill, for in that case there must be a painful difficulty in their family intercourse: a fat and floury spider, accustomed to take his fly well dusted with meal, must suffer a little at a cousin's table where the fly was au naturel, and the lady spiders must be mutually shocked at each other's appearance. But the part of the mill she liked best was the topmost story - the corn-hutch where there were the great heaps of grain which she could sit on and slide down continually. She was in the habit of taking this recreation as she conversed with Luke, to whom she was very communicative, wishing him to think well of her understanding, as her father did.
Perhaps she felt it necessary to recover her position with him on the present occasion, for, as she sat sliding on the heap of grain near which he was busying himself, she said, at that shrill pitch which was requisite in mill-society,
`I think you never read any book but the Bible, did you, Luke?'
`Nay, Miss - an' not much o' that,' said Luke, with great frankness. `I'm no reader, I arn't.'
`But if I lent you one of my books, Luke? I've not got any very pretty books that would be easy for you to read; but there's "Pug's Tour of Europe" - that would tell you all about the different sorts of people in the world, and if you didn't understand the reading, the pictures would help you - they show the looks and ways of the people and what they do. There are the Dutchmen, very fat, and smoking, you know - and one sitting on a barrel.'
`Nay, Miss, I'n no opinion o' Dutchmen. There ben't much good i' knowin' about them.'
`But they're our fellow-creatures, Luke - we ought to know about our fellow-creatures.'
`Not much o' fellow-creaturs, I think, Miss: all I know - my old master, as war a knowin' man, used to say, says he, `If e'er I sow my wheat wi'out brinin', I'm a Dutchman,' says he; an' that war as much as to say as a Dutchman war a fool, or next door. Nay, nay, I arn't goin' to bother mysen about Dutchmen. There's fools enoo - an' rogues enoo - wi'out lookin' i' books for 'em.'
`O well,' said Maggie, rather foiled by Luke's unexpectedly decided views about Dutchmen, `perhaps you would like "Animated Nature" better - that's not Dutchmen, you know, but elephants, and kangaroos, and the civet cat, and the sun-fish, and a bird sitting on its tail - I forget its name. There are countries full of those creatures, instead of horses and cows, you know. Shouldn't you like to know about them, Luke?'
`Nay, Miss, I'n got to keep 'count o' the flour an' corn - I can't do wi' knowin' so many things besides my work. That's what brings folk to the gallows - knowin' everything but what they'n got to get their bread by. An' they're mostly lies, I think, what's printed i' the books: them printed sheets are, anyhow, as the men cry i' the streets.'
`Why you're like my brother Tom, Luke,' said Maggie, wishing to turn the conversation agreeably, `Tom's not fond of reading. I love Tom so dearly, Luke - better than any-body else in the world. When he grows up, I shall keep his house, and we shall always live together. I can tell him everything he doesn't know. But I think Tom's clever, for all he doesn't like books: he makes beautiful whip-cord and rabbit-pens.'
`Ah,' said Luke, `but he'll be fine an' vexed as the rabbits are all dead.'
`Dead!' screamed Maggie, jumping up from her sliding seat on the corn. `O, dear Luke! What, the lop- eared one, and the spotted doe, that Tom spent all his money to buy?'
`As dead as moles,' said Luke, fetching his comparison from the unmistakable corpses nailed to the stable wall.
`O dear Luke,' said Maggie, in a piteous tone, while the big tears rolled down her cheek, `Tom told me to take care of'em, and I forgot. What shall I do?'
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