WHILE Maggies life-struggles had lain almost entirely within her own soul, one shadowy army fighting another, and the slain shadows forever rising again, Tom was engaged in a dustier, noisier warfare, grappling with more substantial obstacles, and gaining more definite conquests. So it has been since the days of Hecuba, and of Hector, Tamer of horses; inside the gates, the women with streaming hair and uplifted hands offering prayers, watching the worlds combat from afar, filling their long, empty days with memories and fears; outside, the men, in fierce struggle with things divine and human, quenching memory in the stronger light of purpose, losing the sense of dread and even of wounds in the hurrying ardor of action.
From what you have seen of Tom, I think he is not a youth of whom you would prophesy failure in anything he had thoroughly wished; the wagers are likely to be on his side, notwithstanding his small success in the classics. For Tom had never desired success in this field of enterprise; and for getting a fine flourishing growth of stupidity there is nothing like pouring out on a mind a good amount of subjects in which it feels no interest. But now Toms strong will bound together his integrity, his pride, his family regrets, and his personal ambition, and made them one force, concentrating his efforts and surmounting discouragements. His uncle Deane, who watched him closely, soon began to conceive hopes of him, and to be rather proud that he had brought into the employment of the firm a nephew who appeared to be made of such good commercial stuff. The real kindness of placing him in the warehouse first was soon evident to Tom, in the hints his uncle began to throw out, that after a time he might perhaps be trusted to travel at certain seasons, and buy in for the firm various vulgar commodities with which I need not shock refined ears in this place; and it was doubtless with a view to this result that Mr. Deane, when he expected to take his wine alone, would tell Tom to step in and sit with him an hour, and would pass that hour in much lecturing and catechising concerning articles of export and import, with an occasional excursus of more indirect utility on the relative advantages to the merchants of St. Oggs of having goods brought in their own and in foreign bottoms,a subject on which Mr. Deane, as a ship-owner, naturally threw off a few sparks when he got warmed with talk and wine.
Already, in the second year, Toms salary was raised; but all, except the price of his dinner and clothes, went home into the tin box; and he shunned comradeship, lest it should lead him into expenses in spite of himself. Not that Tom was moulded on the spoony type of the Industrious Apprentice; he had a very strong appetite for pleasure,would have liked to be a Tamer of horses and to make a distinguished figure in all neighboring eyes, dispensing treats and benefits to others with well-judged liberality, and being pronounced one of the finest young fellows of those parts; nay, he determined to achieve these things sooner or later; but his practical shrewdness told him that the means to such achievements could only lie for him in present abstinence and self-denial; there were certain milestones to be passed, and one of the first was the payment of his fathers debts. Having made up his mind on that point, he strode along without swerving, contracting some rather saturnine sternness, as a young man is likely to do who has a premature call upon him for self-reliance. Tom felt intensely that common cause with his father which springs from family pride, and was bent on being irreproachable as a son; but his growing experience caused him to pass much silent criticism on the rashness and imprudence of his fathers past conduct; their dispositions were not in sympathy, and Toms face showed little radiance during his few home hours. Maggie had an awe of him, against which she struggled as something unfair to her consciousness of wider thoughts and deeper motives; but it was of no use to struggle. A character at unity with itselfthat performs what it intends, subdues every counteracting impulse, and has no visions beyond the distinctly possibleis strong by its very negations.
You may imagine that Toms more and more obvious unlikeness to his father was well fitted to conciliate the maternal aunts and uncles; and Mr. Deanes favorable reports and predictions to Mr. Glegg concerning Toms qualifications for business began to be discussed amongst them with various acceptance. He was likely, it appeared, to do the family credit without causing it any expense and trouble. Mrs. Pullet had always thought it strange if Toms excellent complexion, so entirely that of the Dodsons, did not argue a certainty that he would turn out well; his juvenile errors of running down the peacock, and general disrespect to his aunts, only indicating a tinge of Tulliver blood which he had doubtless outgrown. Mr. Glegg, who had contracted a cautious liking for Tom ever since his spirited and sensible behavior when the execution was in the house, was now warming into a resolution to further his prospects actively,some time, when an opportunity offered of doing so in a prudent manner, without ultimate loss; but Mrs. Glegg observed that she was not given to speak without book, as some people were; that those who said least were most likely to find their words made good; and that when the right moment came, it would be seen who could do something better than talk. Uncle Pullet, after silent meditation for a period of several lozenges, came distinctly to the conclusion, that when a young man was likely to do well, it was better not to meddle with him.
Tom, meanwhile, had shown no disposition to rely on any one but himself, though, with a natural sensitiveness toward all indications of favorable opinion, he was glad to see his uncle Glegg look in on him sometimes in a friendly way during business hours, and glad to be invited to dine at his house, though he usually preferred declining on the ground that he was not sure of being punctual. But about a year ago, something had occurred which induced Tom to test his uncle Gleggs friendly disposition.
Bob Jakin, who rarely returned from one of his rounds without seeing Tom and Maggie, awaited him on the bridge as he was coming home from St. Oggs one evening, that they might have a little private talk. He took the liberty of asking if Mr. Tom had ever thought of making money by trading a bit on his own account. Trading, how? Tom wished to know. Why, by sending out a bit of a cargo to foreign ports; because Bob had a particular friend who had offered to do a little business for him in that way in Laceham goods, and would be glad to serve Mr. Tom on the same footing. Tom was interested at once, and begged for full explanation, wondering he had not thought of this plan before.
He was so well pleased with the prospect of a speculation that might change the slow process of addition into multiplication, that he at once determined to mention the matter to his father, and get his consent to appropriate some of the savings in the tin box to the purchase of a small cargo. He would rather not have consulted his father, but he had just paid his last quarters money into the tin box, and there was no other resource. All the savings were there; for Mr. Tulliver would not consent to put the money out at interest lest he should lose it. Since he had speculated in the purchase of some corn, and had lost by it, he could not be easy without keeping the money under his eye.
Tom approached the subject carefully, as he was seated on the hearth with his father that evening, and Mr. Tulliver listened, leaning forward in his arm-chair and looking up in Toms face with a sceptical glance. His first impulse was to give a positive refusal, but he was in some awe of Toms wishes, and since he had the sense of being an unlucky father, he had lost some of his old peremptoriness and determination to be master. He took the key of the bureau from his pocket, got out the key of the large chest, and fetched down the tin box,slowly, as if he were trying to defer the moment of a painful parting. Then he seated himself against the table, and opened the box with that little padlock-key which he fingered in his waistcoat pocket in all vacant moments. There they were, the dingy bank-notes and the bright sovereigns, and he counted them out on the tableonly a hundred and sixteen pounds in two years, after all the pinching.
And you know I wouldnt pay a dividend with the first hundred, because I wanted to see it all in a lump,and when I see it, Im sure ont. If you trust to luck, its sure to be against me. Its Old Harrys got the luck in his hands; and if I lose one year, I shall never pick it up again; death ull oertake me.
But, unwilling to abandon the scheme altogether, he determined to ask his uncle Glegg to venture twenty pounds, on condition of receiving five per cent. of the profits. That was really a very small thing to ask. So when Bob called the next day at the wharf to know the decision, Tom proposed that they should go together to his uncle Gleggs to open the business; for his diffident pride clung to him, and made him feel that Bobs tongue would relieve him from some embarrassment.
Mr. Glegg, at the pleasant hour of four in the afternoon of a hot August day, was naturally counting his wall-fruit to assure himself that the sum total had not varied since yesterday. To him entered Tom, in what appeared to Mr. Glegg very questionable companionship,that of a man with a pack on his back,for Bob was equipped for a new journey,and of a huge brindled bull-terrier, who walked with a slow, swaying movement from side to side, and glanced from under his eye-lids with a surly indifference which might after all be a cover to the most offensive designs.
Why, what ever does this mean, Tom? said Mr. Glegg. Have you brought information about the scoundrels as cut my trees? If Bob came in the character of information, Mr. Glegg saw reasons for tolerating some irregularity.
Its my dog, sir, said the ready Bob. An its me as put Mr. Tom up to the bit o business; for Mr. Toms been a friend o mine iver since I was a little chap; fust thing iver I did was frightenin the birds for th old master. An if a bit o luck turns up, Im allays thinkin if I can let Mr. Tom have a pull at it. An its a downright roarin shame, as when hes got the chance o making a bit o money wi sending goods out,ten or twelve per zent clear, when freight an commissions paid,as he shouldnt lay hold o the chance for want o money. An when theres the Laceham goods,lors! theyre made o purpose for folks as want to send out a little carguy; light, an take up no room,you may pack twenty pound so as you cant see the passill; an theyre manifacturs as please fools, so I reckon they arent like to want a market. An Id go to Laceham an buy in the goods for Mr. Tom along wi my own. An theres the shupercargo o the bit of a vessel as is goin to take em out. I know him particlar; hes a solid man, an got a family i the town here. Salt, his name is,an a briny chap he is too,an if you dont believe me, I can take you to him.
Uncle Glegg stood open-mouthed with astonishment at this unembarrassed loquacity, with which his understanding could hardly keep pace. He looked at Bob, first over his spectacles, then through them, then over them again; while Tom, doubtful of his uncles impression, began to wish he had not brought this singular Aaron, or mouthpiece. Bobs talk appeared less seemly, now some one besides himself was listening to it.
Ay, sir, you say true, returned Bob, nodding his head aside; I think my heads all alive inside like an old cheese, for Im so full o plans, one knocks another over. If I hadnt Mumps to talk to, I should get top-heavy an tumble in a fit. I suppose its because I niver went to school much. Thats what I jaw my old mother for. I says, You should ha sent me to school a bit more, I says, an then I could ha read i the books like fun, an kep my head cool an empty. Lors, shes fine an comforble now, my old mother is; she ates her baked meat an taters as often as she likes. For Im gettin so full o money, I must hev a wife to spend it for me. But its botherin, a wife is,and Mumps mightnt like her.
Uncle Glegg, who regarded himself as a jocose man since he had retired from business, was beginning to find Bob amusing, but he had still a disapproving observation to make, which kept his face serious.
Ah, he said, I should think youre at a loss for ways o spending your money, else you wouldnt keep that big dog, to eat as much as two Christians. Its shamefulshameful! But he spoke more in sorrow than in anger, and quickly added:
No, sir, said Tom, coloring; but my father is unwilling to risk it, and I dont like to press him. If I could get twenty or thirty pounds to begin with, I could pay five per cent for it, and then I could gradually make a little capital of my own, and do without a loan.
Ayay, said Mr. Glegg, in an approving tone; thats not a bad notion, and I wont say as I wouldnt be your man. But it ull be as well for me to see this Salt, as you talk on. And thenheres this friend o yours offers to buy the goods for you. Perhaps youve got somebody to stand surety for you if the moneys put into your hands? added the cautious old gentleman, looking over his spectacles at Bob.
Well, then, said Bob, whose keenness saw at once what was implied, Ill tell you what I get byt, an its money in my pocket in the end,I make myself look big, wi makin a bigger purchase. Thats what Im thinking on. Lors! Im a cute chap,I am.
Well, its the same thing, Mr. Glegg, only youre fond o contradicting what I say; and if my nepheys come about business, it ud be more fitting if youd bring him into the house, and let his aunt know about it, instead o whispering in corners, in that plotting, underminding way.
You neednt stay here, said the lady to Bob, in a loud voice, adapted to the moral, not the physical, distance between them. We dont want anything. I dont deal wi packmen. Mind you shut the gate after you.
Dont you be uneasy, mum, said Bob, touching his cap. He saw at once that Mrs. Glegg was a bit of game worth running down, and longed to be at the sport; well stay out upo the gravel here,Mumps and me will. Mumps knows his company,he does. I might hish at him by th hour together, before hed fly at a real gentlewoman like you. Its wonderful how he knows which is the good-looking ladies; ands particlar fond of em when theyve good shapes. Lors! added Bob, laying down his pack on the gravel, its a thousand pities such a lady as you shouldnt deal with a packman, i stead o goin into these newfangled shops, where theres half-a-dozen fine gents wi their chins propped up wi a stiff stock, a-looking like bottles wi ornamental stoppers, an all got to get their dinner out of a bit o calico; it stans to reason you must pay three times the price you pay a packman, as is the natral way o gettin goods,an pays no rent, an isnt forced to throttle himself till the lies are squeezed out on him, whether he will or no. But lors! mum, you know what it is better nor I do,you can see through them shopmen, Ill be bound.
Yes, I reckon I can, and through the packmen too, observed Mrs. Glegg, intending to imply that Bobs flattery had produced no effect on her; while her husband, standing behind her with his hands in his pockets and legs apart, winked and smiled with conjugal delight at the probability of his wifes being circumvented.
Ay, to be sure, mum, said Bob. Why, you must ha dealt wi no end o packmen when you war a young lassbefore the master here had the luck to set eyes on you. I know where you lived, I do,seen th house many a time,close upon Squire Darleighs,a stone house wi steps
Look you there now! said Bob, evasively. Didnt I know as youd remember the best bargains youve made in your life was made wi packmen? Why, you see even a squintin packmans better nor a shopman as can see straight. Lors! if Id had the luck to call at the stone house wi my pack, as lies here,stooping and thumping the bundle emphatically with his fist,an th handsome young lasses all stannin out on the stone steps, it ud ha been summat like openin a pack, that would. Its ony the poor houses now as a packman calls on, if it isnt for the sake o the sarvant-maids. Theyre paltry times, these are. Why, mum, look at the printed cottons now, an what they was when you wore em,why, you wouldnt put such a thing on now, I can see. It must be first-rate quality, the manifactur as youd buy,summat as ud wear as well as your own faitures.
Yes, better quality nor any youre like to carry; youve got nothing first-rate but brazenness, Ill be bound, said Mrs. Glegg, with a triumphant sense of her insurmountable sagacity. Mr. Glegg, are you going ever to sit down to your tea? Tom, theres a cup for you.
You speak true there, mum, said Bob. My pack isnt for ladies like you. The times gone by for that. Bargains picked up dirt cheap! A bit o damage here an there, as can be cut out, or else niver seen i the wearin, but not fit to offer to rich folks as can pay for the look o things as nobody sees. Im not the man as ud offer t open my pack to you, mum; no, no; Im a imperent chap, as you say,these times makes folks imperent,but Im not up to the mark o that.
A little plan o nephey Toms here, said good-natured Mr. Glegg; and not altogether a bad un, I think. A little plan for making money; thats the right sort o plan for young folks as have got their fortin to make, eh, Jane?
But I hope it isnt a plan where he expects iverything to be done for him by his friends; thats what the young folks think of mostly nowadays. And pray, what has this packman got to do wi what goes on in our family? Cant you speak for yourself, Tom, and let your aunt know things, as a nephey should?
This is Bob Jakin, aunt, said Tom, bridling the irritation that aunt Gleggs voice always produced. Ive known him ever since we were little boys. Hes a very good fellow, and always ready to do me a kindness. And he has had some experience in sending goods out,a small part of a cargo as a private speculation; and he thinks if I could begin to do a little in the same way, I might make some money. A large interest is got in that way.
Then why wasnt I let to know o such things before, Mr. Glegg? said Mrs. Glegg, turning to her husband, with a deep grating tone of reproach. Havent you allays told me as there was no getting more nor five per cent?
But I can turn a bit o money for you, an welcome, mum, said Bob, if youd like to risk it,not as theres any risk to speak on. But if youd a mind to lend a bit o money to Mr. Tom, hed pay you six or seven per zent, an get a trifle for himself as well; an a good-naturd lady like you ud like the feel o the money better if your nephey took part on it.
What do you say, Mrs. G.? said Mr. Glegg. Ive a notion, when Ive made a bit more inquiry, as I shall perhaps start Tom here with a bit of a nest-egg,hell pay me intrest, you know,an if youve got some little sums lyin idle twisted up in a stockin toe, or that
And now, I suppose, youll go all the other way, Mr. Glegg, said Mrs. G., and want to shut me out o my own nepheys business. I never said I wouldnt put money into it,I dont say as it shall be twenty pounds, though youre so ready to say it for me,but hell see some day as his aunts in the right not to risk the money shes saved for him till its proved as it wont be lost.
Ay, mum, he said admiringly, you know whats whatyou do. An its nothing but fair. You see how the first bit of a job answers, an then youll come down handsome. Lors, its a fine thing to hev good kin. I got my bit of a nest-egg, as the master calls it, all by my own sharpness,ten suvreigns it was,wi dousing the fire at Torrys mill, an its growed an growed by a bit an a bit, till In got a matter o thirty pound to lay out, besides makin my mother comforble. I should get more, ony Im such a soft wi the women,I cant help lettin em hev such good bargains. Theres this bundle, now, thumping it lustily, any other chap ud make a pretty penny out on it. But me!lors, I shall sell em for pretty near what I paid for em.
No, mum, I know my place, said Bob, lifting up his pack and shouldering it. Im not going t expose the lowness o my trade to a lady like you. Packs is come down i the world; it ud cut you to th heart to see the difference. Im at your sarvice, sir, when youve a mind to go and see Salt.
Eh mum, Im loth, that I am, said Bob, slowly depositing his pack on the step, and beginning to untie it with unwilling fingers. But what you order shall be done (much fumbling in pauses between the sentences). Its not as youll buy a single thing on me,Id be sorry for you to do it,for think o them poor women up i the villages there, as niver stir a hundred yards from home,it ud be a pity for anybody to buy up their bargains. Lors, its as good as a junketing to em when they see me wi my pack, an I shall niver pick up such bargains for em again. Least ways, Ive no time now, for Im off to Laceham. See here now, Bob went on, becoming rapid again, and holding up a scarlet woollen Kerchief with an embroidered wreath in the corner; heres a thing to make a lasss mouth water, an ony two shillinan why? Why, cause theres a bit of a moth-hole i this plain end. Lors, I think the moths an the mildew was sent by Providence o purpose to cheapen the goods a bit for the good-lookin women as hant got much money. If it hadnt been for the moths, now, every hankicher on em ud ha gone to the rich, handsome ladies, like you, mum, at five shillin apiece,not a farthin less; but what does the moth do? Why, it nibbles off three shillin o the price i no time; an then a packman like me can carry t to the poor lasses as live under the dark thack, to make a bit of a blaze for em. Lors, its as good as a fire, to look at such a hankicher!
Eh, mum, I told you how it ud be, said Bob, flinging aside the colored things with an air of desperation. I knowed it ud turn again you to look at such paltry articles as I carry. Heres a piece o figured muslin now, whats the use o you lookin at it? You might as well look at poor folkss victual, mum; it ud ony take away your appetite. Theres a yard i the middle ont as the patterns all missed,lors, why, its a muslin as the Princess Victoree might ha wore; but, added Bob, flinging it behind him on to the turf, as if to save Mrs. Gleggs eyes, itll be bought up by the hucksters wife at Fibbs End,thats where itll goten shillin for the whole lotten yards, countin the damaged unfive-an-twenty shillin ud ha been the price, not a penny less. But Ill say no more, mum; its nothing to you, a piece o muslin like that; you can afford to pay three times the money for a thing as isnt half so good. Its nets you talked on; well, Ive got a piece as ull serve you to make fun on
Eh, but a damaged thing, said Bob, in a tone of deprecating disgust. Youd do nothing with it, mum, youd give it to the cook, I know you would, an it ud be a pity,shed look too much like a lady in it; its unbecoming for servants.
See what there is over measure! he said, holding forth the extra half-yard, while Mrs. Glegg was busy examining the damaged yard, and throwing her head back to see how far the fault would be lost on a distant view.
Didnt I tell you now, mum, as it ud hurt your feelings to look at my pack? That damaged bits turned your stomach now; I see it has, said Bob, wrapping the muslin up with the utmost quickness, and apparently about to fasten up his pack. Youre used to seein a different sort o article carried by packmen, when you lived at the stone house. Packs is come down i the world; I told you that; my goods are for common folks. Mrs. Pepper ull give me ten shillin for that muslin, an be sorry as I didnt ask her more. Such articles answer i the wearin,they keep their color till the threads melt away i the wash-tub, an that wont be while Im a young un.
Put it out o your mind, mum, now do, said Bob. Heres a bit o net, then, for you to look at before I tie up my pack, just for you to see what my trades come to,spotted and sprigged, you see, beautiful but yallow,s been lyin by an got the wrong color. I could niver ha bought such net, if it hadnt been yallow. Lors, its took me a deal o study to know the vally o such articles; when I begun to carry a pack, I was as ignirant as a pig; net or calico was all the same to me. I thought them things the most vally as was the thickest. I was took in dreadful, for Im a straightforrard chap,up to no tricks, mum. I can only say my nose is my own, for if I went beyond, I should lose myself pretty quick. An I gev five-an-eightpence for that piece o net,if I was to tell y anything else I should be tellin you fibs,an five-an-eightpence I shall ask of it, not a penny more, for its a womans article, an I like to commodate the women. Five-an-eightpence for six yards,as cheap as if it was only the dirt on it as was paid for.
Why, theres but six altogether, said Bob. No, mum, it isnt worth your while; you can go to the shop to-morrow an get the same pattern ready whitened. Its ony three times the money; whats that to a lady like you? He gave an emphatic tie to his bundle.
But if I let you have it for ten shillin, mum, youll be so good as not tell nobody. I should be a laughin-stock; the trade ud hoot me, if they knowed it. Im obliged to make believe as I ask more nor I do for my goods, else theyd find out I was a flat. Im glad you dont insist upo buyin the net, for then I should ha lost my two best bargains for Mrs. Pepper o Fibbs End, an shes a rare customer.
Eh!, see what a pattern now! Real Laceham goods. Now, this is the sort o article Im recommendin Mr. Tom to send out. Lors, its a fine thing for anybody as has got a bit o money; these Laceham goods ud make it breed like maggits. If I was a lady wi a bit o money!why, I know one as put thirty pounds into them goods,a lady wi a cork leg, but as sharp,you wouldnt catch her runnin her head into a sack; shed see her way clear out o anything afore shed be in a hurry to start. Well, she let out thirty pound to a young man in the drapering line, and he laid it out i Laceham goods, an a shupercargo o my acquinetance (not Salt) took em out, an she got her eight per zent fust go off; an now you cant hold her but she must be sendin out carguies wi every ship, till shes gettin as rich as a Jew. Bucks her name is, she doesnt live i this town. Now then, mum, if youll please to give me the net
Nay, mum, youll niver say that when youre upo your knees i church i five years time. Im makin you a present o th articles; I am, indeed. That eightpence shaves off my profits as clean as a razor. Now then, sir, continued Bob, shouldering his pack, if you please, Ill be glad to go and see about makin Mr. Toms fortin. Eh, I wish Id got another twenty pound to lay out mysen; I shouldnt stay to say my Catechism afore I knowed what to do wit.
Stop a bit, Mr. Glegg, said the lady, as her husband took his hat, you never will give me the chance o speaking. Youll go away now, and finish everything about this business, and come back and tell me its too late for me to speak. As if I wasnt my nepheys own aunt, and the head o the family on his mothers side! and laid by guineas, all full weight, for him, as hell know who to respect when Im laid in my coffin.
Well, then, I desire as nothing may be done without my knowing. I dont say as I shant venture twenty pounds, if you make out as everythings right and safe. And if I do, Tom, concluded Mrs. Glegg, turning impressively to her nephew, I hope youll allays bear it in mind and be grateful for such an aunt. I mean you to pay me interest, you know; I dont approve o giving; we niver looked for that in my family.
Saltthat eminently briny chaphaving been discovered in a cloud of tobacco-smoke at the Anchor Tavern, Mr. Glegg commenced inquiries which turned out satisfactorily enough to warrant the advance of the nest-egg, to which aunt Glegg contributed twenty pounds; and in this modest beginning you see the ground of a fact which might otherwise surprise you; namely, Toms accumulation of a fund, unknown to his father, that promised in no very long time to meet the more tardy process of saving, and quite cover the deficit. When once his attention had been turned to this source of gain, Tom determined to make the most of it, and lost on opportunity of obtaining information and extending his small enterprises. In not telling his father, he was influenced by that strange mixture of opposite feelings which often gives equal truth to those who blame an action and those who admire it,partly, it was that disinclination to confidence which is seen between near kindred, that family repulsion which spoils the most sacred relations of our lives; partly, it was the desire to surprise his father with a great joy. He did not see that it would have been better to soothe the interval with a new hope, and prevent the delirium of a too sudden elation.
At the time of Maggies first meeting with Philip, Tom had already nearly a hundred and fifty pounds of his own capital; and while they were walking by the evening light in the Red Deeps, he, by the same evening light, was riding into Laceham, proud of being on his first journey on behalf of Guest & Co., and revolving in his mind all the chances that by the end of another year he should have doubled his gains, lifted off the obloquy of debt from his fathers name, and perhapsfor he should be twenty-onehave got a new start for himself, on a higher platform of employment. Did he not desire it? He was quite sure that he did.