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Hard Times

BOOK I: 14. The Great Manufacturer
TIME went on in Coketown like its own machinery: so much material wrought up, so
much fuel consumed, so many powers worn out, so much money made. But, less
inexorable than iron, steal, and brass, it brought its varying seasons even into that
wilderness of smoke and brick, and made the only stand that ever was made in the
place against its direful uniformity.
'Louisa is becoming,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'almost a young woman.'
Time, with his innumerable horse-power, worked away, not minding what anybody said,
and presently turned out young Thomas a foot taller than when his father had last taken
particular notice of him.
'Thomas is becoming,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'almost a young man.'
Time passed Thomas on in the mill, while his father was thinking about it, and there he
stood in a long-tailed coat and a stiff shirt-collar.
'Really,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'the period has arrived when Thomas ought to go to
Bounderby.'
Time, sticking to him, passed him on into Bounderby's Bank, made him an inmate of
Bounderby's house, necessitated the purchase of his first razor, and exercised him
diligently in his calculations relative to number one.
The same great manufacturer, always with an immense variety of work on hand, in
every stage of development, passed Sissy onward in his mill, and worked her up into a
very pretty article indeed.
'I fear, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that your continuance at the school any longer would
be useless.'
'I am afraid it would, sir,' Sissy answered with a curtsey.
'I cannot disguise from you, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind, knitting his brow, 'that the result
of your probation there has disappointed me; has greatly disappointed me. You have
not acquired, under Mr. and Mrs. M'Choakumchild, anything like that amount of exact
knowledge which I looked for. You are extremely deficient in your facts. Your
acquaintance with figures is very limited. You are altogether backward, and below the
mark.'
'I am sorry, sir,' she returned; 'but I know it is quite true. Yet I have tried hard, sir.'
 
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