An Item Added to the Family Register

THAT first moment of renunciation and submission was followed by days of violent struggle in the miller's mind, as the gradual access of bodily strength brought with it increasing ability to embrace in one view all the conflicting conditions under which he found himself. Feeble limbs easily resign themselves to be tethered, and when we are subdued by sickness it seems possible to us to fulfil pledges which the old vigour comes back and breaks. There were times when poor Tulliver thought the fulfilment of his promise to Bessy was something quite too hard for human nature: he had promised her without knowing what she was going to say - she might as well have asked him to carry a ton weight on his back. But again, there were many feelings arguing on her side, besides the sense that life had been made hard to her by having married him. He saw a possibility, by much pinching, of saving money out of his salary towards paying a second dividend to his creditors, and it would not be easy elsewhere to get a situation such as he could fill. He had led an easy life, ordering much and working little, and had no aptitude for any new business. He must perhaps take to day-labour, and his wife must have help from her sisters, a prospect doubly bitter to him, now they had let all Bessy's precious things be sold, probably because they liked to set her against him, by making her feel that he had brought her to that pass. He listened to their admonitory talk, when they came to urge on him what he was bound to do for poor Bessy's sake, with averted eyes, that every now and then flashed on them furtively when their backs were turned. Nothing but the dread of needing their help could have made it an easier alternative to take their advice. But the strongest influence of all was the love of the old premises where he had run about when he was a boy, just as Tom had done after him. The Tullivers had lived on this spot for generations, and he had sat listening on a low stool on winter evenings while his father talked of the old half-timbered mill that had been there before the last great floods, which damaged it so that his grandfather pulled it down and built the new one. It was when he got able to walk about and look at all the old objects, that he felt the strain of this clinging affection for the old home as part of his life, part of himself. He couldn't bear to think of himself living on any other spot than this, where he knew the sound of every gate and door, and felt that the shape and colour of every roof and weather stain and broken hillock was good, because his growing senses had been fed on them. Our instructed vagrancy which has hardly time to linger by the hedgerows, but runs away early to the tropics and is at home with palms and banyans, - which is nourished on books of travel and stretches the theatre of its imagination to the Zambesi can hardly get a dim notion of what an old- fashioned man like Tulliver felt for this spot where all his memories centred and where life seemed like a familiar smooth-handled tool that the fingers clutch with loving ease. And just now he was living in that freshened memory of the far-off time which comes to us in the passive hours of recovery from sickness.

`Ay, Luke,' he said, one afternoon, as he stood looking over the orchard gate, `I remember the day they planted those apple trees. My father was a huge man for planting - it was like a merry-making to him to get a cart full o' young trees - and I used to stand i' the cold with him, and follow him about like a dog.'

Then he turned round, and, leaning against the gate post, looked at the opposite buildings.

`The old mill 'ud miss me, I think, Luke. There's a story as when the mill changes hands, the river's angry - I've heard my father say it many a time. There's no telling whether there mayn't be summat in the story, for this is a puzzling world and Old Harry's got a finger in it - it's been too many for me, I know.'

`Ay, sir,' said Luke, with soothing sympathy, `what wi'the rust on the wheat, an' the firin' o' the ricks an' that, as I've seen i' my time - things often looks comical: there's the bacon fat wi' our last pig runs away like butter - it leaves nought but a scratchin'.'

`It's just as if it was yesterday, now,' Mr Tulliver went on, `when my father began the malting. I remember, the day they finished the malt-house, I thought summat great was to come of it; for we'd a plum-pudding that day and a bit of a feast, and I said to my mother - she was a fine dark eyed woman, my mother was - the little wench 'ull be as like her as two peas.' - Here Mr Tulliver put his stick between his legs, and took out his snuff-box, for the greater enjoyment of this anecdote, which dropped from him in fragments, as if he every other moment lost narration in vision. `I was a little chap no higher much than my mother's

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