`To think o' these cloths as I spun myself,' she went on, lifting things out and turning them over with an excitement all the more strange and piteous because the stout lymphatic woman was usually so passive: - if she had been ruffled before, it was at the surface merely - `and Job Haxey wove 'em, and brought the piece home on his back, as I remember standing at the door and seeing him come, before I ever thought o' marrying your father! And the pattern as I chose myself - and bleached so beautiful - and I marked 'em so as nobody ever saw such marking - they must cut the cloth to get it out, for it's a particular stitch. And they're all to be sold - and go into strange people's houses, and perhaps be cut with the knives, and wore out before I'm dead. You'll never have one of 'em, my boy,' she said, looking up at Tom with her eyes full of tears, `and I meant 'em for you. I wanted you to have all o' this pattern. Maggie could ha' had the large check - it never shows so well when the dishes are on it.'

Tom was touched to the quick, but there was an angry reaction immediately. His face flushed as he said.

`But will my aunts let them be sold, mother? Do they know about it? They'll never let your linen go, will they? Haven't you sent to them?'

`Yes, I sent Luke directly they'd put the bailies in, and your aunt Pullet's been - and O dear, O dear, she cries so, and says your father's disgraced my family and made it the talk o' the country: and she'll buy the spotted cloths for herself because she's never has so many as she wanted o'that pattern, and they shan't go to strangers, but she's got more checks a'ready nor she can do with.' (Here Mrs Tulliver began to lay back the table cloths in the chest, folding and stroking them automatically.) `And your uncle Glegg's been too, and he says things must be bought in for us to lie down on, but he must talk to your aunt; and they're all coming to consult... . But I know they'll none of 'em take my chany' she added, turning towards the cups and saucers - `for they all found fault with 'em when I bought 'em, 'cause o' the small gold sprig all over 'em, between the flowers. But there's none of 'em got better chany, not even your aunt Pullet herself, - and I bought it wi' my own money as I'd saved ever since I was turned fifteen, and the silver tea-pot, too - your father never paid for 'em. And to think as he should ha' married me and brought me to this.'

Mrs Tulliver burst out crying afresh, and she sobbed with her handkerchief at her eyes a few moments, but then removing it, she said in a deprecating way, still half sobbing as if she were called upon to speak before she could command her voice,

`And I did say to him times and times, `Whativer you do, don't go to law' - and what more could I do? I've had to sit by while my own fortin's been spent, and what should ha' been my children's too. You'll have niver a penny, my boy... but it isn't your poor mother's fault.

She put out one arm towards Tom, looking up at him piteously with her helpless, childish blue eyes. The poor lad went to her and kissed her and she clung to him. For the first time Tom thought of his father with some reproach. His natural inclination to blame, - hitherto kept entirely in abeyance towards his father by the predisposition to think him always right, simply on the ground that he was Tom Tulliver's father - was turned into this new channel by his mother's plaints, and with his indignation against Wakem there began to mingle some indignation of another sort. Perhaps his father might have helped bringing them all down in the world, and making people talk of them with contempt: but no one should talk long of Tom Tulliver with contempt. The natural strength and firmness of his nature was beginning to assert itself, urged by the double stimulus of resentment against his aunts, and the sense that he must behave like a man and take care of his mother.

`Don't fret, mother,' he said, tenderly. `I shall soon be able to get money: I'll get a situation of some sort.'

`Bless you, my boy!' said Mrs Tulliver, a little soothed. Then, looking round sadly, `But I shouldn't ha' minded so much if we could ha' kept the things wi' my name on 'em.'

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