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Hard Times

BOOK I: 2. Murdering The Innocents
THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man
who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who
is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. Thomas Gradgrind, sir - peremptorily
Thomas - Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication
table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature,
and tell you exactly what it comes to. It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple
arithmetic. You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George
Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all
supposititious, non-existent persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind - no, sir!
In such terms Mr. Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself, whether to his private
circle of acquaintance, or to the public in general. In such terms, no doubt, substituting
the words 'boys and girls,' for 'sir,' Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind
to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of facts.
Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before mentioned, he
seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them
clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge. He seemed a galvanizing
apparatus, too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young
imaginations that were to be stormed away.
'Girl number twenty,' said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, 'I
don't know that girl. Who is that girl?'
'Sissy Jupe, sir,' explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.
'Sissy is not a name,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'Don't call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.'
'It's father as calls me Sissy, sir,' returned the young girl in a trembling voice, and with
another curtsey.
'Then he has no business to do it,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'Tell him he mustn't. Cecilia
Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?'
'He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir.'
Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.
'We don't want to know anything about that, here. You mustn't tell us about that, here.
Your father breaks horses, don't he?'
'If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring, sir.'