The Mill on the Floss By George Eliot Book 5: Wheat and Tares: Chapter 2 - Aunt Glegg Learns the Breadth of Bob's Thumb

"Well, Mrs. G., say what you mean," said Mr. G., hastily.

"Well, then, I desire as nothing may be done without my knowing. I don't say as I sha'n't venture twenty pounds, if you make out as everything's right and safe. And if I do, Tom," concluded Mrs. Glegg, turning impressively to her nephew, "I hope you'll allays bear it in mind and be grateful for such an aunt. I mean you to pay me interest, you know; I don't approve o' giving; we niver looked for that in my family."

"Thank you, aunt," said Tom, rather proudly. "I prefer having the money only lent to me."

"Very well; that's the Dodson sperrit," said Mrs. Glegg, rising to get her knitting with the sense that any further remark after this would be bathos.

Salt — that eminently "briny chap" — having 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, Tom's 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 Maggie's 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 father's name, and perhaps — for he should be twenty-one — have got a new start for himself, on a higher platform of employment. Did he not desire it? He was quite sure that he did.

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