`No. I never told her I loved her till just before we parted, and she promised her brother not to see me again or to correspond with me. I am not sure that she loves me, or would consent to marry me. But if she would consent - if she did love me well enough - I should marry her.'

`And this is the return you make me for all the indulgences I've heaped on you?' said Wakem, getting white and beginning to tremble under an enraged sense of impotence before Philip's calm defiance and concentration of purpose.

`No, father,' said Philip, looking up at him for the first time. `I don't regard it as a return. You have been an indulgent father to me - but I have always felt that it was because you had an affectionate wish to give me as much happiness as my unfortunate lot would admit of - not that it was a debt you expected me to pay by sacrificing all my chances of happiness to satisfy feelings of yours which I can never share.'

`I think most sons would share their father's feelings in this case,' said Wakem, bitterly. `The girl's father was an ignorant mad brute, who was within an inch of murdering me - the whole town knows it. And the brother is just as insolent: only in a cooler way. He forbade her seeing you, you say: he'll break every bone in your body, for your greater happiness, if you don't take care. But you seem to have made up your mind: you have counted the consequences, I suppose. Of course you are independent of me: you can marry this girl tomorrow, if you like: you are a man of six-and-twenty - you can go your way, and I can go mine. We need have no more to do with each other.'

Wakem rose and walked towards the door, but something held him back, and instead of leaving the room he walked up and down it. Philip was slow to reply, and when he spoke, his tone had a more incisive quietness and clearness than ever.

`No: I can't marry Miss Tulliver, even if she would have me - if I have only my own resources to maintain her with. I have been brought up to no profession. I can't offer her poverty as well as deformity.'

`Ah, there is a reason for your clinging to me, doubtless,' said Wakem, still bitterly, though Philip's last words had given him a pang - they had stirred a feeling which had been a habit for a quarter of a century. He threw himself into the chair again.

`I expected all this,' said Philip. `I know these scenes are often happening between father and son. If I were like other men of my age, I might answer your angry words by still angrier - we might part - I should marry the woman I love and have a chance of being as happy as the rest. But if it will be a satisfaction to you to annihilate the very object of everything you've done for me, you have an advantage over most fathers: you can completely deprive me of the only thing that would make my life worth having.'

Philip paused, but his father was silent.

`You know best what satisfaction you would secure beyond that of gratifying a ridiculous rancour worthy only of wandering savages.'

`Ridiculous rancour!' Wakem burst out. `What do you mean? Damn it! is a man to be horse-whipped by a boor and love him for it? Besides, there's that cold, proud devil of a son, who said a word to me I shall not forget when we had the settling. He would be as pleasant a mark for a bullet as I know - if he were worth the expense.'

`I don't mean your resentment towards them,' said Philip, who had his reasons for some sympathy with this view of Tom, `though a feeling of revenge is not worth much, that you should care to keep it. I mean your extending the enmity to a helpless girl, who was too much sense and goodness to share their narrow prejudices. She has never entered into the family quarrels.'

`What does that signify? We don't ask what a woman does - we ask whom she belongs to. It's altogether a degrading thing to you - to think of marrying old Tulliver's daughter.'

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