The Mill on the Floss HTML version

III.8. Daylight on the Wreck
It was a clear frosty January day on which Mr. Tulliver first came downstairs. The
bright sun on the chestnut boughs and the roofs opposite his window had made
him impatiently declare that he would be caged up no longer; he thought
everywhere would be more cheery under this sunshine than his bedroom; for he
knew nothing of the bareness below, which made the flood of sunshine
importunate, as if it had an unfeeling pleasure in showing the empty places, and
the marks where well-known objects once had been. The impression on his mind
that it was but yesterday when he received the letter from Mr. Gore was so
continually implied in his talk, and the attempts to convey to him the idea that
many weeks had passed and much had happened since then had been so soon
swept away by recurrent forgetfulness, that even Mr. Turnbull had begun to
despair of preparing him to meet the facts by previous knowledge. The full sense
of the present could only be imparted gradually by new experience,--not by mere
words, which must remain weaker than the impressions left by the old
experience. This resolution to come downstairs was heard with trembling by the
wife and children. Mrs. Tulliver said Tom must not go to St. Ogg's at the usual
hour, he must wait and see his father downstairs; and Tom complied, though with
an intense inward shrinking from the painful scene. The hearts of all three had
been more deeply dejected than ever during the last few days. For Guest & Co.
had not bought the mill; both mill and land had been knocked down to Wakem,
who had been over the premises, and had laid before Mr. Deane and Mr. Glegg,
in Mrs. Tulliver's presence, his willingness to employ Mr. Tulliver, in case of his
recovery, as a manager of the business. This proposition had occasioned much
family debating. Uncles and aunts were almost unanimously of opinion that such
an offer ought not to be rejected when there was nothing in the way but a feeling
in Mr. Tulliver's mind, which, as neither aunts nor uncles shared it, was regarded
as entirely unreasonable and childish,--indeed, as a transferring toward Wakem
of that indignation and hatred which Mr. Tulliver ought properly to have directed
against himself for his general quarrelsomeness, and his special exhibition of it in
going to law. Here was an opportunity for Mr. Tulliver to provide for his wife and
daughter without any assistance from his wife's relations, and without that too
evident descent into pauperism which makes it annoying to respectable people to
meet the degraded member of the family by the wayside. Mr. Tulliver, Mrs. Glegg
considered, must be made to feel, when he came to his right mind, that he could
never humble himself enough; for that had come which she had always foreseen
would come of his insolence in time past "to them as were the best friends he'd
got to look to." Mr Glegg and Mr. Deane were less stern in their views, but they
both of them thought Tulliver had done enough harm by his hot-tempered
crotchets and ought to put them out of the question when a livelihood was offered
him; Wakem showed a right feeling about the matter,--he had no grudge against