The Mill on the Floss HTML version

I.2. Mr. Tulliver Declares His Resolution about Tom
"What I want, you know," said Mr. Tulliver,--"what I want is to give Tom a good
eddication; an eddication as'll be a bread to him. That was what I was thinking of
when I gave notice for him to leave the academy at Lady-day. I mean to put him
to a downright good school at Midsummer. The two years at th' academy 'ud ha'
done well enough, if I'd meant to make a miller and farmer of him, for he's had a
fine sight more schoolin' nor I ever got. All the learnin' my father ever paid for
was a bit o' birch at one end and the alphabet at th' other. But I should like Tom
to be a bit of a scholard, so as he might be up to the tricks o' these fellows as talk
fine and write with a flourish. It 'ud be a help to me wi' these lawsuits, and
arbitrations, and things. I wouldn't make a downright lawyer o' the lad,--I should
be sorry for him to be a raskill,--but a sort o' engineer, or a surveyor, or an
auctioneer and vallyer, like Riley, or one o' them smartish businesses as are all
profits and no outlay, only for a big watch-chain and a high stool. They're pretty
nigh all one, and they're not far off being even wi' the law, I believe; for Riley
looks Lawyer Wakem i' the face as hard as one cat looks another. He's none
frightened at him."
Mr. Tulliver was speaking to his wife, a blond comely woman in a fan-shaped cap
(I am afraid to think how long it is since fan-shaped caps were worn, they must
be so near coming in again. At that time, when Mrs. Tulliver was nearly forty,
they were new at St. Ogg's, and considered sweet things).
"Well, Mr. Tulliver, you know best: I've no objections. But hadn't I better kill a
couple o' fowl, and have th' aunts and uncles to dinner next week, so as you may
hear what sister Glegg and sister Pullet have got to say about it? There's a
couple o' fowl wants killing!"
"You may kill every fowl i' the yard if you like, Bessy; but I shall ask neither aunt
nor uncle what I'm to do wi' my own lad," said Mr. Tulliver, defiantly.
"Dear heart!" said Mrs. Tulliver, shocked at this sanguinary rhetoric, "how can
you talk so, Mr. Tulliver? But it's your way to speak disrespectful o' my family;
and sister Glegg throws all the blame upo'me, though I'm sure I'm as innocent as
the babe unborn. For nobody's ever heard me say as it wasn't lucky for my
children to have aunts and uncles as can live independent. Howiver, if Tom's to
go to a new school, I should like him to go where I can wash him and mend him;
else he might as well have calico as linen, for they'd be one as yallow as th' other
before they'd been washed half-a-dozen times. And then, when the box is goin'
back'ard and forrard, I could send the lad a cake, or a pork-pie, or an apple; for
he can do with an extry bit, bless him! whether they stint him at the meals or no.
My children can eat as much victuals as most, thank God!"
"Well, well, we won't send him out o' reach o' the carrier's cart, if other things fit
in," said Mr. Tulliver. "But you mustn't put a spoke i' the wheel about the washin,'
if we can't get a school near enough. That's the fault I have to find wi' you, Bessy;