knee - she was sore fond of us children, Gritty and me - and so I said to her, "Mother," I said, "shall we have plum-pudding every day because o' the malthouse?" She used to tell me o' that till her dying day - she was but a young woman when she died, my mother was. But it's forty good year since they finished the malthouse, and it isn't many days out of 'em all as I haven't looked out into the yard there, the first thing in the morning - all weathers, from year's end to year's end. I should go off my head in a new place - I should be like as if I'd lost my way. It's all hard, whichever way I look at it - the harness 'ull gall me - but it 'ud be summat to draw along the old road, istead of a new un.'

`Ay, sir,' said Luke, `you'd be a deal better here nor in some new place. I can't abide new plazen mysen: things is allays awk'ard - narrow-wheeled waggins, belike, and the stiles all another sort, an' oat-cake i' some plazen, tow'rt th' head o' the Floss, there. It's poor work, changing your country side.'

`But I doubt, Luke, they'll be for getting rid o' Ben, and making you do with a lad - and I must help a bit wi' the mill. You'll have a worse place.'

`Ne'er mind, sir,' said Luke, `I shan't plague mysen. I'n been wi' you twenty year, an' you can't get twenty year wi' whistlin' for 'em, no more nor you can make the trees grow: you mun wait till God A'mighty sends 'em. I can't abide new victual nor new fazen, I can't - you niver know but what they'll gripe you.'

The walk was finished in silence after this, for Luke had disburthened himself of thoughts to an extent that left his conversational resources quite barren, and Mr Tulliver had relapsed from his recollections into a painful meditation on the choice of hardships before him. Maggie noticed that he was unusually absent that evening at tea; and afterwards he sat leaning forward in his chair, looking at the ground, moving his lips, and shaking his head from time to time. Then he looked hard at Mrs Tulliver, who was knitting opposite him, then at Maggie, who as she bent over her sewing was intensely conscious of some drama going forward in her father's mind. Suddenly he took up the poker and broke the large coal fiercely.

`Dear heart, Mr Tulliver, what can you be thinking of?' said his wife, looking up in alarm. `It's very wasteful, breaking the coal, and we've got hardly any large coal left, and I don't know where the rest is to come from.'

`I don't think you're quite so well to-night, are you, father?' said Maggie; `you seem uneasy.'

`Why, how is it Tom doesn't come?' said Mr Tulliver, impatiently.

`Dear heart! is it time? I must go and get his supper,' said Mrs Tulliver, laying down her knitting, and leaving the room.

`It's nigh upon half past eight,' said Mr Tulliver. `He'll be here soon. Go, go and get the big Bible, and open it at the beginning where everything's set down. And get the pen and ink.'

Maggie obeyed, wondering: but her father gave no further orders, and only sat listening for Tom's footfall on the gravel, apparently irritated by the wind, which had risen and was roaring so as to drown all other sounds. There was a strange light in his eyes that rather frightened Maggie: she began to wish that Tom would come, too.

`There he is, then,' said Mr Tulliver, in an excited way, when the knock came at last. Maggie went to open the door, but her mother came out of the kitchen hurriedly, saying, `Stop a bit, Maggie, I'll open it.'

Mrs Tulliver had begun to be a little frightened at her boy, but she was jealous of every office others did for him.

`Your supper's ready by the kitchen fire, my boy,' she said as he took off his hat and coat. `You shall have it by yourself, just as you like, and I won't speak to you.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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