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The Mill on the Floss

I.9. To Garum Firs
While the possible troubles of Maggie's future were occupying her father's mind,
she herself was tasting only the bitterness of the present. Childhood has no
forebodings; but then, it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.
The fact was, the day had begun ill with Maggie. The pleasure of having Lucy to
look at, and the prospect of the afternoon visit to Garum Firs, where she would
hear uncle Pullet's musical box, had been marred as early as eleven o'clock by
the advent of the hair-dresser from St. Ogg's, who had spoken in the severest
terms of the condition in which he had found her hair, holding up one jagged lock
after another and saying, "See here! tut, tut, tut!" in a tone of mingled disgust and
pity, which to Maggie's imagination was equivalent to the strongest expression of
public opinion. Mr. Rappit, the hair-dresser, with his well-anointed coronal locks
tending wavily upward, like the simulated pyramid of flame on a monumental urn,
seemed to her at that moment the most formidable of her contemporaries, into
whose street at St. Ogg's she would carefully refrain from entering through the
rest of her life.
Moreover, the preparation for a visit being always a serious affair in the Dodson
family, Martha was enjoined to have Mrs. Tulliver's room ready an hour earlier
than usual, that the laying out of the best clothes might not be deferred till the last
moment, as was sometimes the case in families of lax views, where the ribbon-
strings were never rolled up, where there was little or no wrapping in silver paper,
and where the sense that the Sunday clothes could be got at quite easily
produced no shock to the mind. Already, at twelve o'clock, Mrs. Tulliver had on
her visiting costume, with a protective apparatus of brown holland, as if she had
been a piece of satin furniture in danger of flies; Maggie was frowning and
twisting her shoulders, that she might if possible shrink away from the prickliest
of tuckers, while her mother was remonstrating, "Don't, Maggie, my dear; don't
make yourself so ugly!" and Tom's cheeks were looking particularly brilliant as a
relief to his best blue suit, which he wore with becoming calmness, having, after
a little wrangling, effected what was always the one point of interest to him in his
toilet: he had transferred all the contents of his every-day pockets to those
actually in wear.
As for Lucy, she was just as pretty and neat as she had been yesterday; no
accidents ever happened to her clothes, and she was never uncomfortable in
them, so that she looked with wondering pity at Maggie, pouting and writhing
under the exasperating tucker. Maggie would certainly have torn it off, if she had
not been checked by the remembrance of her recent humiliation about her hair;
as it was, she confined herself to fretting and twisting, and behaving peevishly
about the card-houses which they were allowed to build till dinner, as a suitable
amusement for boys and girls in their best clothes. Tom could build perfect
pyramids of houses; but Maggie's would never bear the laying on the roof. It was
always so with the things that Maggie made; and Tom had deduced the
 
 
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