like the family than others - that was admitted - but in so far as they were `kin,' they were of necessity better than those who were `no kin.' And it is remarkable that while no individual Dodson was satisfied with any other individual Dodson, each was satisfied, not only with him or herself, but with the Dodsons collectively. The feeblest member of a family - the one who has the least character - is often the merest epitome of the family habits and traditions, and Mrs Tulliver was a thorough Dodson, though a mild one, as small beer, so long as it is anything, is only describable as very weak ale. And though she had groaned a little in her youth under the yoke of her elder sisters, and still shed occasional tears at their sisterly reproaches, it was not in Mrs Tulliver to be an innovator on the family ideas: she was thankful to have been a Dodson, and to have one child who took after her own family, at least in his features and complexion, in liking salt, and in eating beans, which a Tulliver never did.
In other respects the true Dodson was partly latent in Tom, and he was as far from appreciating his `kin' on the mother's side as Maggie herself, generally absconding for the day with a large supply of the most portable food when he received timely warning that his aunts and uncles were coming: a moral symptom from which his aunt Glegg deduced the gloomiest views of his future. It was rather hard on Maggie that Tom always absconded without letting her into the secret, but the weaker sex are acknowledged to be serious impedimenta in cases of flight.
On Wednesday, the day before the aunts and uncles were coming, there were such various and suggestive scents, as of plumcakes in the oven and jellies in the hot state, mingled with the aroma of gravy, that it was impossible to feel altogether gloomy: there was hope in the air. Tom and Maggie made several inroads into the kitchen, and, like other marauders, were induced to keep aloof for a time only by being allowed to carry away a sufficient load of booty.
`Tom,' said Maggie, as they sat on the boughs of the elder tree, eating their jam puffs, `shall you run away tomorrow?'
`No,' said Tom, slowly, when he had finished his puff, and was eyeing the third, which was to be divided between them. `No. I shan't.'
`Why, Tom? Beause Lucy's coming?'
`No, said Tom, opening his pocket-knife and holding it over the puff, with his head on one side in a dubitative manner. (It was a difficult problem to divide that very irregular polygon into two equal parts.) `What do I care about Lucy? She's only a girl - she can't play at bandy.'
`Is it the tipsy-cake, then?' said Maggie, exerting her hypothetic powers, while she leaned forward towards Tom with her eyes fixed on the hovering knife.
`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!'
With his interjection, the knife descended on the puff and it was in two, but the result was not satisfactory to Tom, for he still eyed the halves doubtfully. At last he said,
`Shut your eyes, Maggie.'
`You never mind what for. Shut 'em when I tell you.'
`Now, Which'll you have Maggie - right hand or left?'
`I'll have that with the jam run out,' said Maggie, keeping her eyes shut to please Tom.
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