The Mill on the Floss
I.6. The Aunts and Uncles Are Coming
It was Easter week, and Mrs. Tulliver's cheesecakes were more exquisitely light
than usual. "A puff o' wind 'ud make 'em blow about like feathers," Kezia the
housemaid said, feeling proud to live under a mistress who could make such
pastry; so that no season or circumstances could have been more propitious for
a family party, even if it had not been advisable to consult sister Glegg and sister
Pullet about Tom's going to school.
"I'd as lief not invite sister Deane this time," said Mrs. Tulliver, "for she's as
jealous and having as can be, and's allays trying to make the worst o' my poor
children to their aunts and uncles."
"Yes, yes," said Mr. Tulliver, "ask her to come. I never hardly get a bit o' talk with
Deane now; we haven't had him this six months. What's it matter what she says?
My children need be beholding to nobody."
"That's what you allays say, Mr. Tulliver; but I'm sure there's nobody o' your side,
neither aunt nor uncle, to leave 'em so much as a five-pound note for a leggicy.
And there's sister Glegg, and sister Pullet too, saving money unknown, for they
put by all their own interest and butter-money too; their husbands buy 'em
everything." Mrs. Tulliver was a mild woman, but even a sheep will face about a
little when she has lambs.
"Tchuh!" said Mr. Tulliver. "It takes a big loaf when there's many to breakfast.
What signifies your sisters' bits o' money when they've got half-a-dozen nevvies
and nieces to divide it among? And your sister Deane won't get 'em to leave all to
one, I reckon, and make the country cry shame on 'em when they are dead?"
"I don't know what she won't get 'em to do," said Mrs. Tulliver, "for my children
are so awk'ard wi' their aunts and uncles. Maggie's ten times naughtier when
they come than she is other days, and Tom doesn't like 'em, bless him!--though
it's more nat'ral in a boy than a gell. And there's Lucy Dean's such a good child,--
you may set her on a stool, and there she'llsit for an hour together, and never
offer to get off. I can't help loving the child as if she was my own; and I'm sure
she's more like my child than sister Deane's, for she'd allays a very poor color for
one of our family, sister Deane had."
"Well, well, if you're fond o' the child, ask her father and mother to bring her with
'em. And won't you ask their aunt and uncle Moss too, and some o' their
"Oh, dear, Mr. Tulliver, why, there'd be eight people besides the children, and I
must put two more leaves i' the table, besides reaching down more o' the dinner-
service; and you know as well as I do as my sisters and your sister don't suit well
"Well, well, do as you like, Bessy," said Mr. Tulliver, taking up his hat and walking
out to the mill. Few wives were more submissive than Mrs. Tulliver on all points
unconnected with her family relations; but she had been a Miss Dodson, and the
Dodsons were a very respectable family indeed,--as much looked up to as any in