The Mill on the Floss HTML version

II.5. Maggie's Second Visit
This last breach between the two lads was not readily mended, and for some
time they spoke to each other no more than was necessary. Their natural
antipathy of temperament made resentment an easy passage to hatred, and in
Philip the transition seemed to have begun; there was no malignity in his
disposition, but there was a susceptibility that made him peculiarly liable to a
strong sense of repulsion. The ox--we may venture to assert it on the authority of
a great classic--is not given to use his teeth as an instrument of attack, and Tom
was an excellent bovine lad, who ran at questionable objects in a truly ingenious
bovine manner; but he had blundered on Philip's tenderest point, and had caused
him as much acute pain as if he had studied the means with the nicest precision
and the most envenomed spite. Tom saw no reason why they should not make
up this quarrel as they had done many others, by behaving as if nothing had
happened; for though he had never before said to Philip that his father was a
rogue, this idea had so habitually made part of his feeling as to the relation
between himself and his dubious schoolfellow, who he could neither like nor
dislike, that the mere utterance did not make such an epoch to him as it did to
Philip. And he had a right to say so when Philip hectored over him, and called
him names. But perceiving that his first advances toward amity were not met, he
relapsed into his least favorable disposition toward Philip, and resolved never to
appeal to him either about drawing or exercise again. They were only so far civil
to each other as was necessary to prevent their state of feud from being
observed by Mr. Stelling, who would have "put down" such nonsense with great
When Maggie came, however, she could not help looking with growing interest at
the new schoolfellow, although he was the son of that wicked Lawyer Wakem,
who made her father so angry. She had arrived in the middle of school-hours,
and had sat by while Philip went through his lessons with Mr. Stelling. Tom,
some weeks ago, had sent her word that Philip knew no end of stories,--not
stupid stories like hers; and she was convinced now from her own observation
that he must be very clever; she hoped he would think her rather clever too,
when she came to talk to him. Maggie, moreover, had rather a tenderness for
deformed things; she preferred the wry-necked lambs, because it seemed to her
that the lambs which were quite strong and well made wouldn't mind so much
about being petted; and she was especially fond of petting objects that would
think it very delightful to be petted by her. She loved Tom very dearly, but she
often wished that he cared more about her loving him.
"I think Philip Wakem seems a nice boy, Tom," she said, when they went out of
the study together into the garden, to pass the interval before dinner. "He couldn't
choose his father, you know; and I've read of very bad men who had good sons,
as well as good parents who had bad children. And if Philip is good, I think we