The Mill on the Floss HTML version

Book III: The Downfall
III.1. What Had Happened at Home
When Mr. Tulliver first knew the fact that the law-suit was decided against him,
and that Pivart and Wakem were triumphant, every one who happened to
observe him at the time thought that, for so confident and hot-tempered a man,
he bore the blow remarkably well. He thought so himself; he thought he was
going to show that if Wakem or anybody else considered him crushed, they
would find themselves mistaken. He could not refuse to see that the costs of this
protracted suit would take more than he possessed to pay them; but he appeared
to himself to be full of expedients by which he could ward off any results but such
as were tolerable, and could avoid the appearance of breaking down in the world.
All the obstinacy and defiance of his nature, driven out of their old channel, found
a vent for themselves in the immediate formation of plans by which he would
meet his difficulties, and remain Mr. Tulliver of Dorlcote Mill in spite of them.
There was such a rush of projects in his brain, that it was no wonder his face was
flushed when he came away from his talk with his attorney, Mr. Gore, and
mounted his horse to ride home from Lindum. There was Furley, who held the
mortgage on the land,--a reasonable fellow, who would see his own interest, Mr.
Tulliver was convinced, and who would be glad not only to purchase the whole
estate, including the mill and homestead, but would accept Mr. Tulliver as tenant,
and be willing to advance money to be repaid with high interest out of the profits
of the business, which would be made over to him, Mr. Tulliver only taking
enough barely to maintain himself and his family. Who would neglect such a
profitable investment? Certainly not Furley, for Mr. Tulliver had determined that
Furley should meet his plans with the utmost alacrity; and there are men whoses
brains have not yet been dangerously heated by the loss of a lawsuit, who are
apt to see in their own interest or desires a motive for other men's actions. There
was no doubt (in the miller's mind) that Furley would do just what was desirable;
and if he did--why, things would not be so very much worse. Mr. Tulliver and his
family must live more meagrely and humbly, but it would only be till the profits of
the business had paid off Furley's advances, and that might be while Mr. Tulliver
had still a good many years of life before him. It was clear that the costs of the
suit could be paid without his being obliged to turn out of his old place, and look
like a ruined man. It was certainly an awkward moment in his affairs. There was
that suretyship for poor Riley, who had died suddenly last April, and left his friend
saddled with a debt of two hundred and fifty pounds,--a fact which had helped to
make Mr. Tulliver's banking book less pleasant reading than a man might desire
toward Christmas. Well! he had never been one of those poor-spirited sneaks
who would refuse to give a helping hand to a fellow-traveller in this puzzling
world. The really vexatious business was the fact that some months ago the