The Mill on the Floss HTML version

Book V: Wheat and Tares
V.1. In the Red Deeps
The family sitting-room was a long room with a window at each end; one looking
toward the croft and along the Ripple to the banks of the Floss, the other into the
mill-yard. Maggie was sitting with her work against the latter window when she
saw Mr. Wakem entering the yard, as usual, on his fine black horse; but not
alone, as usual. Some one was with him,--a figure in a cloak, on a handsome
pony. Maggie had hardly time to feel that it was Philip come back, before they
were in front of the window, and he was raising his hat to her; while his father,
catching the movement by a side-glance, looked sharply round at them both.
Maggie hurried away from the window and carried her work upstairs; for Mr.
Wakem sometimes came in and inspected the books, and Maggie felt that the
meeting with Philip would be robbed of all pleasure in the presence of the two
fathers. Some day, perhaps, she could see him when they could just shake
hands, and she could tell him that she remembered his goodness to Tom, and
the things he had said to her in the old days, though they could never be friends
any more. It was not at all agitating to Maggie to see Philip again; she retained
her childish gratitude and pity toward him, and remembered his cleverness; and
in the early weeks of her loneliness she had continually recalled the image of him
among the people who had been kind to her in life, often wishing she had him for
a brother and a teacher, as they had fancied it might have been, in their talk
together. But that sort of wishing had been banished along with other dreams
that savored of seeking her own will; and she thought, besides, that Philip might
be altered by his life abroad,--he might have become worldly, and really not care
about her saying anything to him now. And yet his face was wonderfully little
altered,--it was only a larger, more manly copy of the pale, small-featured boy's
face, with the gray eyes, and the boyish waving brown hair; there was the old
deformity to awaken the old pity; and after all her meditations, Maggie felt that
she really should like to say a few words to him. He might still be melancholy, as
he always used to be, and like her to look at him kindly. She wondered if he
remembered how he used to like her eyes; with that thought Maggie glanced
toward the square looking-glass which was condemned to hang with its face
toward the wall, and she half started from her seat to reach it down; but she
checked herself and snatched up her work, trying to repress the rising wishes by
forcing her memory to recall snatches of hymns, until she saw Philip and his
father returning along the road, and she could go down again.
It was far on in June now, and Maggie was inclined to lengthen the daily walk
which was her one indulgence; but this day and the following she was so busy
with work which must be finished that she never went beyond the gate, and