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The Mill on the Floss

I.8. Mr. Tulliver Shows His Weaker Side
"Suppose sister Glegg should call her money in; it 'ud be very awkward for you to
have to raise five hundred pounds now," said Mrs. Tulliver to her husband that
evening, as she took a plaintive review of the day.
Mrs. Tulliver had lived thirteen years with her husband, yet she retained in all the
freshness of her early married life a facility of saying things which drove him in
the opposite direction to the one she desired. Some minds are wonderful for
keeping their bloom in this way, as a patriarchal goldfish apparently retains to the
last its youthful illusion that it can swim in a straight line beyond the encircling
glass. Mrs. Tulliver was an amiable fish of this kind, and after running her head
against the same resisting medium for thirteen years would go at it again to-day
with undulled alacrity.
This observation of hers tended directly to convince Mr. Tulliver that it would not
be at all awkward for him to raise five hundred pounds; and when Mrs. Tulliver
became rather pressing to know how he would raise it without mortgaging the
mill and the house which he had said he never would mortgage, since nowadays
people were none so ready to lend money without security, Mr. Tulliver, getting
warm, declared that Mrs. Glegg might do as she liked about calling in her money,
he should pay it in whether or not. He was not going to be beholden to his wife's
sisters. When a man had married into a family where there was a whole litter of
women, he might have plenty to put up with if he chose. But Mr. Tulliver did not
choose.
Mrs. Tulliver cried a little in a trickling, quiet way as she put on her nightcap; but
presently sank into a comfortable sleep, lulled by the thought that she would talk
everything over with her sister Pullet to-morrow, when she was to take the
children to Garum Firs to tea. Not that she looked forward to any distinct issue
from that talk; but it seemed impossible that past events should be so obstinate
as to remain unmodified when they were complained against.
Her husband lay awake rather longer, for he too was thinking of a visit he would
pay on the morrow; and his ideas on the subject were not of so vague and
soothing a kind as those of his amiable partner.
Mr. Tulliver, when under the influence of a strong feeling, had a promptitude in
action that may seem inconsistent with that painful sense of the complicated,
puzzling nature of human affairs under which his more dispassionate
deliberations were conducted; but it is really not improbable that there was a
direct relation between these apparently contradictory phenomena, since I have
observed that for getting a strong impression that a skein is tangled there is
nothing like snatching hastily at a single thread. It was owing to this promptitude
that Mr. Tulliver was on horseback soon after dinner the next day (he was not
dyspeptic) on his way to Basset to see his sister Moss and her husband. For
having made up his mind irrevocably that he would pay Mrs. Glegg her loan of
five hundred pounds, it naturally occurred to him that he had a promissory note
 
 
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