Infomotions, Inc.Hard Times / Dickens, Charles



Author: Dickens, Charles
Title: Hard Times
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): bounderby; sparsit; gradgrind; louisa; coketown; rachael; sissy; stephen; tom; josiah bounderby; tom gradgrind; old bounderby; thomas gradgrind; english literature
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 104,017 words (short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 67 (easy)
Identifier: dickens-hard-625
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Hard Times

by Charles Dickens*

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Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Scanned and proofed by David Price  ccx074@coventry.ac.uk

Hard Times

BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING

CHAPTER I - THE ONE THING NEEDFUL

'NOW, what I want is, Facts.  Teach these boys and girls nothing
but Facts.  Facts alone are wanted in life.  Plant nothing else,
and root out everything else.  You can only form the minds of
reasoning animals upon Facts:  nothing else will ever be of any
service to them.  This is the principle on which I bring up my own
children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these
children.  Stick to Facts, sir!'

The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room, and
the speaker's square forefinger emphasized his observations by
underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster's
sleeve.  The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a
forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found
commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall.
The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth, which was wide,
thin, and hard set.  The emphasis was helped by the speaker's
voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial.  The emphasis
was helped by the speaker's hair, which bristled on the skirts of
his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its
shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum
pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts
stored inside.  The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat,
square legs, square shoulders, - nay, his very neckcloth, trained
to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a
stubborn fact, as it was, - all helped the emphasis.

'In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!'

The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person
present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the
inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order,
ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they
were full to the brim.

CHAPTER II - MURDERING THE INNOCENTS

THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir.  A man of realities.  A man of facts and
calculations.  A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and
two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into
allowing for anything over.  Thomas Gradgrind, sir - peremptorily
Thomas - Thomas Gradgrind.  With a rule and a pair of scales, and
the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh
and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what
it comes to.  It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple
arithmetic.  You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief
into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John
Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non-existent
persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind - no, sir!

In such terms Mr. Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself,
whether to his private circle of acquaintance, or to the public in
general.  In such terms, no doubt, substituting the words 'boys and
girls,' for 'sir,' Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind
to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of
facts.

Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before
mentioned, he seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with
facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of
childhood at one discharge.  He seemed a galvanizing apparatus,
too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young
imaginations that were to be stormed away.

'Girl number twenty,' said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with
his square forefinger, 'I don't know that girl.  Who is that girl?'

'Sissy Jupe, sir,' explained number twenty, blushing, standing up,
and curtseying.

'Sissy is not a name,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Don't call yourself
Sissy.  Call yourself Cecilia.'

'It's father as calls me Sissy, sir,' returned the young girl in a
trembling voice, and with another curtsey.

'Then he has no business to do it,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Tell him
he mustn't.  Cecilia Jupe.  Let me see.  What is your father?'

'He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir.'

Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with
his hand.

'We don't want to know anything about that, here.  You mustn't tell
us about that, here.  Your father breaks horses, don't he?'

'If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break
horses in the ring, sir.'

'You mustn't tell us about the ring, here.  Very well, then.
Describe your father as a horsebreaker.  He doctors sick horses, I
dare say?'

'Oh yes, sir.'

'Very well, then.  He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and
horsebreaker.  Give me your definition of a horse.'

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)

'Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!' said Mr. Gradgrind,
for the general behoof of all the little pitchers.  'Girl number
twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest
of animals!  Some boy's definition of a horse.  Bitzer, yours.'

The square finger, moving here and there, lighted suddenly on
Bitzer, perhaps because he chanced to sit in the same ray of
sunlight which, darting in at one of the bare windows of the
intensely white-washed room, irradiated Sissy.  For, the boys and
girls sat on the face of the inclined plane in two compact bodies,
divided up the centre by a narrow interval; and Sissy, being at the
corner of a row on the sunny side, came in for the beginning of a
sunbeam, of which Bitzer, being at the corner of a row on the other
side, a few rows in advance, caught the end.  But, whereas the girl
was so dark-eyed and dark-haired, that she seemed to receive a
deeper and more lustrous colour from the sun, when it shone upon
her, the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same
rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever
possessed.  His cold eyes would hardly have been eyes, but for the
short ends of lashes which, by bringing them into immediate
contrast with something paler than themselves, expressed their
form.  His short-cropped hair might have been a mere continuation
of the sandy freckles on his forehead and face.  His skin was so
unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as
though, if he were cut, he would bleed white.

'Bitzer,' said Thomas Gradgrind.  'Your definition of a horse.'

'Quadruped.  Graminivorous.  Forty teeth, namely twenty-four
grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive.  Sheds coat in the
spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too.  Hoofs hard, but
requiring to be shod with iron.  Age known by marks in mouth.'
Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

'Now girl number twenty,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'You know what a
horse is.'

She curtseyed again, and would have blushed deeper, if she could
have blushed deeper than she had blushed all this time.  Bitzer,
after rapidly blinking at Thomas Gradgrind with both eyes at once,
and so catching the light upon his quivering ends of lashes that
they looked like the antennae of busy insects, put his knuckles to
his freckled forehead, and sat down again.

The third gentleman now stepped forth.  A mighty man at cutting and
drying, he was; a government officer; in his way (and in most other
people's too), a professed pugilist; always in training, always
with a system to force down the general throat like a bolus, always
to be heard of at the bar of his little Public-office, ready to
fight all England.  To continue in fistic phraseology, he had a
genius for coming up to the scratch, wherever and whatever it was,
and proving himself an ugly customer.  He would go in and damage
any subject whatever with his right, follow up with his left, stop,
exchange, counter, bore his opponent (he always fought All England)
to the ropes, and fall upon him neatly.  He was certain to knock
the wind out of common sense, and render that unlucky adversary
deaf to the call of time.  And he had it in charge from high
authority to bring about the great public-office Millennium, when
Commissioners should reign upon earth.

'Very well,' said this gentleman, briskly smiling, and folding his
arms.  'That's a horse.  Now, let me ask you girls and boys, Would
you paper a room with representations of horses?'

After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, 'Yes,
sir!'  Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman's face
that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, 'No, sir!' - as the custom
is, in these examinations.

'Of course, No.  Why wouldn't you?'

A pause.  One corpulent slow boy, with a wheezy manner of
breathing, ventured the answer, Because he wouldn't paper a room at
all, but would paint it.

'You must paper it,' said the gentleman, rather warmly.

'You must paper it,' said Thomas Gradgrind, 'whether you like it or
not.  Don't tell us you wouldn't paper it.  What do you mean, boy?'

'I'll explain to you, then,' said the gentleman, after another and
a dismal pause, 'why you wouldn't paper a room with representations
of horses.  Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of
rooms in reality - in fact?  Do you?'

'Yes, sir!' from one half.  'No, sir!' from the other.

'Of course no,' said the gentleman, with an indignant look at the
wrong half.  'Why, then, you are not to see anywhere, what you
don't see in fact; you are not to have anywhere, what you don't
have in fact.  What is called Taste, is only another name for
Fact.'  Thomas Gradgrind nodded his approbation.

'This is a new principle, a discovery, a great discovery,' said the
gentleman.  'Now, I'll try you again.  Suppose you were going to
carpet a room.  Would you use a carpet having a representation of
flowers upon it?'

There being a general conviction by this time that 'No, sir!' was
always the right answer to this gentleman, the chorus of NO was
very strong.  Only a few feeble stragglers said Yes:  among them
Sissy Jupe.

'Girl number twenty,' said the gentleman, smiling in the calm
strength of knowledge.

Sissy blushed, and stood up.

'So you would carpet your room - or your husband's room, if you
were a grown woman, and had a husband - with representations of
flowers, would you?' said the gentleman.  'Why would you?'

'If you please, sir, I am very fond of flowers,' returned the girl.

'And is that why you would put tables and chairs upon them, and
have people walking over them with heavy boots?'

'It wouldn't hurt them, sir.  They wouldn't crush and wither, if
you please, sir.  They would be the pictures of what was very
pretty and pleasant, and I would fancy - '

'Ay, ay, ay!  But you mustn't fancy,' cried the gentleman, quite
elated by coming so happily to his point.  'That's it!  You are
never to fancy.'

'You are not, Cecilia Jupe,' Thomas Gradgrind solemnly repeated,
'to do anything of that kind.'

'Fact, fact, fact!' said the gentleman.  And 'Fact, fact, fact!'
repeated Thomas Gradgrind.

'You are to be in all things regulated and governed,' said the
gentleman, 'by fact.  We hope to have, before long, a board of
fact, composed of commissioners of fact, who will force the people
to be a people of fact, and of nothing but fact.  You must discard
the word Fancy altogether.  You have nothing to do with it.  You
are not to have, in any object of use or ornament, what would be a
contradiction in fact.  You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you
cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets.  You don't find
that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your
crockery; you cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and
butterflies upon your crockery.  You never meet with quadrupeds
going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented
upon walls.  You must use,' said the gentleman, 'for all these
purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colours) of
mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and
demonstration.  This is the new discovery.  This is fact.  This is
taste.'

The girl curtseyed, and sat down.  She was very young, and she
looked as if she were frightened by the matter-of-fact prospect the
world afforded.

'Now, if Mr. M'Choakumchild,' said the gentleman, 'will proceed to
give his first lesson here, Mr. Gradgrind, I shall be happy, at
your request, to observe his mode of procedure.'

Mr. Gradgrind was much obliged.  'Mr. M'Choakumchild, we only wait
for you.'

So, Mr. M'Choakumchild began in his best manner.  He and some one
hundred and forty other schoolmasters, had been lately turned at
the same time, in the same factory, on the same principles, like so
many pianoforte legs.  He had been put through an immense variety
of paces, and had answered volumes of head-breaking questions.
Orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody, biography, astronomy,
geography, and general cosmography, the sciences of compound
proportion, algebra, land-surveying and levelling, vocal music, and
drawing from models, were all at the ends of his ten chilled
fingers.  He had worked his stony way into Her Majesty's most
Honourable Privy Council's Schedule B, and had taken the bloom off
the higher branches of mathematics and physical science, French,
German, Latin, and Greek.  He knew all about all the Water Sheds of
all the world (whatever they are), and all the histories of all the
peoples, and all the names of all the rivers and mountains, and all
the productions, manners, and customs of all the countries, and all
their boundaries and bearings on the two and thirty points of the
compass.  Ah, rather overdone, M'Choakumchild.  If he had only
learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught
much more!

He went to work in this preparatory lesson, not unlike Morgiana in
the Forty Thieves:  looking into all the vessels ranged before him,
one after another, to see what they contained.  Say, good
M'Choakumchild.  When from thy boiling store, thou shalt fill each
jar brim full by-and-by, dost thou think that thou wilt always kill
outright the robber Fancy lurking within - or sometimes only maim
him and distort him!

CHAPTER III - A LOOPHOLE

MR. GRADGRIND walked homeward from the school, in a state of
considerable satisfaction.  It was his school, and he intended it
to be a model.  He intended every child in it to be a model - just
as the young Gradgrinds were all models.

There were five young Gradgrinds, and they were models every one.
They had been lectured at, from their tenderest years; coursed,
like little hares.  Almost as soon as they could run alone, they
had been made to run to the lecture-room.  The first object with
which they had an association, or of which they had a remembrance,
was a large black board with a dry Ogre chalking ghastly white
figures on it.

Not that they knew, by name or nature, anything about an Ogre Fact
forbid!  I only use the word to express a monster in a lecturing
castle, with Heaven knows how many heads manipulated into one,
taking childhood captive, and dragging it into gloomy statistical
dens by the hair.

No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in
the moon before it could speak distinctly.  No little Gradgrind had
ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I
wonder what you are!  No little Gradgrind had ever known wonder on
the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old
dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven
Charles's Wain like a locomotive engine-driver.  No little
Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow
with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who
killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow
who swallowed Tom Thumb:  it had never heard of those celebrities,
and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous ruminating
quadruped with several stomachs.

To his matter-of-fact home, which was called Stone Lodge, Mr.
Gradgrind directed his steps.  He had virtually retired from the
wholesale hardware trade before he built Stone Lodge, and was now
looking about for a suitable opportunity of making an arithmetical
figure in Parliament.  Stone Lodge was situated on a moor within a
mile or two of a great town - called Coketown in the present
faithful guide-book.

A very regular feature on the face of the country, Stone Lodge was.
Not the least disguise toned down or shaded off that uncompromising
fact in the landscape.  A great square house, with a heavy portico
darkening the principal windows, as its master's heavy brows
overshadowed his eyes.  A calculated, cast up, balanced, and proved
house.  Six windows on this side of the door, six on that side; a
total of twelve in this wing, a total of twelve in the other wing;
four-and-twenty carried over to the back wings.  A lawn and garden
and an infant avenue, all ruled straight like a botanical account-
book.  Gas and ventilation, drainage and water-service, all of the
primest quality.  Iron clamps and girders, fire-proof from top to
bottom; mechanical lifts for the housemaids, with all their brushes
and brooms; everything that heart could desire.

Everything?  Well, I suppose so.  The little Gradgrinds had
cabinets in various departments of science too.  They had a little
conchological cabinet, and a little metallurgical cabinet, and a
little mineralogical cabinet; and the specimens were all arranged
and labelled, and the bits of stone and ore looked as though they
might have been broken from the parent substances by those
tremendously hard instruments their own names; and, to paraphrase
the idle legend of Peter Piper, who had never found his way into
their nursery, If the greedy little Gradgrinds grasped at more than
this, what was it for good gracious goodness' sake, that the greedy
little Gradgrinds grasped it!

Their father walked on in a hopeful and satisfied frame of mind.
He was an affectionate father, after his manner; but he would
probably have described himself (if he had been put, like Sissy
Jupe, upon a definition) as 'an eminently practical' father.  He
had a particular pride in the phrase eminently practical, which was
considered to have a special application to him.  Whatsoever the
public meeting held in Coketown, and whatsoever the subject of such
meeting, some Coketowner was sure to seize the occasion of alluding
to his eminently practical friend Gradgrind.  This always pleased
the eminently practical friend.  He knew it to be his due, but his
due was acceptable.

He had reached the neutral ground upon the outskirts of the town,
which was neither town nor country, and yet was either spoiled,
when his ears were invaded by the sound of music.  The clashing and
banging band attached to the horse-riding establishment, which had
there set up its rest in a wooden pavilion, was in full bray.  A
flag, floating from the summit of the temple, proclaimed to mankind
that it was 'Sleary's Horse-riding' which claimed their suffrages.
Sleary himself, a stout modern statue with a money-box at its
elbow, in an ecclesiastical niche of early Gothic architecture,
took the money.  Miss Josephine Sleary, as some very long and very
narrow strips of printed bill announced, was then inaugurating the
entertainments with her graceful equestrian Tyrolean flower-act.
Among the other pleasing but always strictly moral wonders which
must be seen to be believed, Signor Jupe was that afternoon to
'elucidate the diverting accomplishments of his highly trained
performing dog Merrylegs.'  He was also to exhibit 'his astounding
feat of throwing seventy-five hundred-weight in rapid succession
backhanded over his head, thus forming a fountain of solid iron in
mid-air, a feat never before attempted in this or any other
country, and which having elicited such rapturous plaudits from
enthusiastic throngs it cannot be withdrawn.'  The same Signor Jupe
was to 'enliven the varied performances at frequent intervals with
his chaste Shaksperean quips and retorts.'  Lastly, he was to wind
them up by appearing in his favourite character of Mr. William
Button, of Tooley Street, in 'the highly novel and laughable hippo-
comedietta of The Tailor's Journey to Brentford.'

Thomas Gradgrind took no heed of these trivialities of course, but
passed on as a practical man ought to pass on, either brushing the
noisy insects from his thoughts, or consigning them to the House of
Correction.  But, the turning of the road took him by the back of
the booth, and at the back of the booth a number of children were
congregated in a number of stealthy attitudes, striving to peep in
at the hidden glories of the place.

This brought him to a stop.  'Now, to think of these vagabonds,'
said he, 'attracting the young rabble from a model school.'

A space of stunted grass and dry rubbish being between him and the
young rabble, he took his eyeglass out of his waistcoat to look for
any child he knew by name, and might order off.  Phenomenon almost
incredible though distinctly seen, what did he then behold but his
own metallurgical Louisa, peeping with all her might through a hole
in a deal board, and his own mathematical Thomas abasing himself on
the ground to catch but a hoof of the graceful equestrian Tyrolean
flower-act!

Dumb with amazement, Mr. Gradgrind crossed to the spot where his
family was thus disgraced, laid his hand upon each erring child,
and said:

'Louisa!!  Thomas!!'

Both rose, red and disconcerted.  But, Louisa looked at her father
with more boldness than Thomas did.  Indeed, Thomas did not look at
him, but gave himself up to be taken home like a machine.

'In the name of wonder, idleness, and folly!' said Mr. Gradgrind,
leading each away by a hand; 'what do you do here?'

'Wanted to see what it was like,' returned Louisa, shortly.

'What it was like?'

'Yes, father.'

There was an air of jaded sullenness in them both, and particularly
in the girl:  yet, struggling through the dissatisfaction of her
face, there was a light with nothing to rest upon, a fire with
nothing to burn, a starved imagination keeping life in itself
somehow, which brightened its expression.  Not with the brightness
natural to cheerful youth, but with uncertain, eager, doubtful
flashes, which had something painful in them, analogous to the
changes on a blind face groping its way.

She was a child now, of fifteen or sixteen; but at no distant day
would seem to become a woman all at once.  Her father thought so as
he looked at her.  She was pretty.  Would have been self-willed (he
thought in his eminently practical way) but for her bringing-up.

'Thomas, though I have the fact before me, I find it difficult to
believe that you, with your education and resources, should have
brought your sister to a scene like this.'

'I brought him, father,' said Louisa, quickly.  'I asked him to
come.'

'I am sorry to hear it.  I am very sorry indeed to hear it.  It
makes Thomas no better, and it makes you worse, Louisa.'

She looked at her father again, but no tear fell down her cheek.

'You!  Thomas and you, to whom the circle of the sciences is open;
Thomas and you, who may be said to be replete with facts; Thomas
and you, who have been trained to mathematical exactness; Thomas
and you, here!' cried Mr. Gradgrind.  'In this degraded position!
I am amazed.'

'I was tired, father.  I have been tired a long time,' said Louisa.

'Tired?  Of what?' asked the astonished father.

'I don't know of what - of everything, I think.'

'Say not another word,' returned Mr. Gradgrind.  'You are childish.
I will hear no more.'  He did not speak again until they had walked
some half-a-mile in silence, when he gravely broke out with:  'What
would your best friends say, Louisa?  Do you attach no value to
their good opinion?  What would Mr. Bounderby say?'  At the mention
of this name, his daughter stole a look at him, remarkable for its
intense and searching character.  He saw nothing of it, for before
he looked at her, she had again cast down her eyes!

'What,' he repeated presently, 'would Mr. Bounderby say?'  All the
way to Stone Lodge, as with grave indignation he led the two
delinquents home, he repeated at intervals 'What would Mr.
Bounderby say?' - as if Mr. Bounderby had been Mrs. Grundy.

CHAPTER IV - MR. BOUNDERBY

NOT being Mrs. Grundy, who was Mr. Bounderby?

Why, Mr. Bounderby was as near being Mr. Gradgrind's bosom friend,
as a man perfectly devoid of sentiment can approach that spiritual
relationship towards another man perfectly devoid of sentiment.  So
near was Mr. Bounderby - or, if the reader should prefer it, so far
off.

He was a rich man:  banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not.
A big, loud man, with a stare, and a metallic laugh.  A man made
out of a coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to
make so much of him.  A man with a great puffed head and forehead,
swelled veins in his temples, and such a strained skin to his face
that it seemed to hold his eyes open, and lift his eyebrows up.  A
man with a pervading appearance on him of being inflated like a
balloon, and ready to start.  A man who could never sufficiently
vaunt himself a self-made man.  A man who was always proclaiming,
through that brassy speaking-trumpet of a voice of his, his old
ignorance and his old poverty.  A man who was the Bully of
humility.

A year or two younger than his eminently practical friend, Mr.
Bounderby looked older; his seven or eight and forty might have had
the seven or eight added to it again, without surprising anybody.
He had not much hair.  One might have fancied he had talked it off;
and that what was left, all standing up in disorder, was in that
condition from being constantly blown about by his windy
boastfulness.

In the formal drawing-room of Stone Lodge, standing on the
hearthrug, warming himself before the fire, Mr. Bounderby delivered
some observations to Mrs. Gradgrind on the circumstance of its
being his birthday.  He stood before the fire, partly because it
was a cool spring afternoon, though the sun shone; partly because
the shade of Stone Lodge was always haunted by the ghost of damp
mortar; partly because he thus took up a commanding position, from
which to subdue Mrs. Gradgrind.

'I hadn't a shoe to my foot.  As to a stocking, I didn't know such
a thing by name.  I passed the day in a ditch, and the night in a
pigsty.  That's the way I spent my tenth birthday.  Not that a
ditch was new to me, for I was born in a ditch.'

Mrs. Gradgrind, a little, thin, white, pink-eyed bundle of shawls,
of surpassing feebleness, mental and bodily; who was always taking
physic without any effect, and who, whenever she showed a symptom
of coming to life, was invariably stunned by some weighty piece of
fact tumbling on her; Mrs. Gradgrind hoped it was a dry ditch?

'No!  As wet as a sop.  A foot of water in it,' said Mr. Bounderby.

'Enough to give a baby cold,' Mrs. Gradgrind considered.

'Cold?  I was born with inflammation of the lungs, and of
everything else, I believe, that was capable of inflammation,'
returned Mr. Bounderby.  'For years, ma'am, I was one of the most
miserable little wretches ever seen.  I was so sickly, that I was
always moaning and groaning.  I was so ragged and dirty, that you
wouldn't have touched me with a pair of tongs.'

Mrs. Gradgrind faintly looked at the tongs, as the most appropriate
thing her imbecility could think of doing.

'How I fought through it, I don't know,' said Bounderby.  'I was
determined, I suppose.  I have been a determined character in later
life, and I suppose I was then.  Here I am, Mrs. Gradgrind, anyhow,
and nobody to thank for my being here, but myself.'

Mrs. Gradgrind meekly and weakly hoped that his mother -

'My mother?  Bolted, ma'am!' said Bounderby.

Mrs. Gradgrind, stunned as usual, collapsed and gave it up.

'My mother left me to my grandmother,' said Bounderby; 'and,
according to the best of my remembrance, my grandmother was the
wickedest and the worst old woman that ever lived.  If I got a
little pair of shoes by any chance, she would take 'em off and sell
'em for drink.  Why, I have known that grandmother of mine lie in
her bed and drink her four-teen glasses of liquor before
breakfast!'

Mrs. Gradgrind, weakly smiling, and giving no other sign of
vitality, looked (as she always did) like an indifferently executed
transparency of a small female figure, without enough light behind
it.

'She kept a chandler's shop,' pursued Bounderby, 'and kept me in an
egg-box.  That was the cot of my infancy; an old egg-box.  As soon
as I was big enough to run away, of course I ran away.  Then I
became a young vagabond; and instead of one old woman knocking me
about and starving me, everybody of all ages knocked me about and
starved me.  They were right; they had no business to do anything
else.  I was a nuisance, an incumbrance, and a pest.  I know that
very well.'

His pride in having at any time of his life achieved such a great
social distinction as to be a nuisance, an incumbrance, and a pest,
was only to be satisfied by three sonorous repetitions of the
boast.

'I was to pull through it, I suppose, Mrs. Gradgrind.  Whether I
was to do it or not, ma'am, I did it.  I pulled through it, though
nobody threw me out a rope.  Vagabond, errand-boy, vagabond,
labourer, porter, clerk, chief manager, small partner, Josiah
Bounderby of Coketown.  Those are the antecedents, and the
culmination.  Josiah Bounderby of Coketown learnt his letters from
the outsides of the shops, Mrs. Gradgrind, and was first able to
tell the time upon a dial-plate, from studying the steeple clock of
St. Giles's Church, London, under the direction of a drunken
cripple, who was a convicted thief, and an incorrigible vagrant.
Tell Josiah Bounderby of Coketown, of your district schools and
your model schools, and your training schools, and your whole
kettle-of-fish of schools; and Josiah Bounderby of Coketown, tells
you plainly, all right, all correct - he hadn't such advantages -
but let us have hard-headed, solid-fisted people - the education
that made him won't do for everybody, he knows well - such and such
his education was, however, and you may force him to swallow
boiling fat, but you shall never force him to suppress the facts of
his life.'

Being heated when he arrived at this climax, Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown stopped.  He stopped just as his eminently practical
friend, still accompanied by the two young culprits, entered the
room.  His eminently practical friend, on seeing him, stopped also,
and gave Louisa a reproachful look that plainly said, 'Behold your
Bounderby!'

'Well!' blustered Mr. Bounderby, 'what's the matter?  What is young
Thomas in the dumps about?'

He spoke of young Thomas, but he looked at Louisa.

'We were peeping at the circus,' muttered Louisa, haughtily,
without lifting up her eyes, 'and father caught us.'

'And, Mrs. Gradgrind,' said her husband in a lofty manner, 'I
should as soon have expected to find my children reading poetry.'

'Dear me,' whimpered Mrs. Gradgrind.  'How can you, Louisa and
Thomas!  I wonder at you.  I declare you're enough to make one
regret ever having had a family at all.  I have a great mind to say
I wish I hadn't.  Then what would you have done, I should like to
know?'

Mr. Gradgrind did not seem favourably impressed by these cogent
remarks.  He frowned impatiently.

'As if, with my head in its present throbbing state, you couldn't
go and look at the shells and minerals and things provided for you,
instead of circuses!' said Mrs. Gradgrind.  'You know, as well as I
do, no young people have circus masters, or keep circuses in
cabinets, or attend lectures about circuses.  What can you possibly
want to know of circuses then?  I am sure you have enough to do, if
that's what you want.  With my head in its present state, I
couldn't remember the mere names of half the facts you have got to
attend to.'

'That's the reason!' pouted Louisa.

'Don't tell me that's the reason, because it can't be nothing of
the sort,' said Mrs. Gradgrind.  'Go and be somethingological
directly.'  Mrs. Gradgrind was not a scientific character, and
usually dismissed her children to their studies with this general
injunction to choose their pursuit.

In truth, Mrs. Gradgrind's stock of facts in general was woefully
defective; but Mr. Gradgrind in raising her to her high matrimonial
position, had been influenced by two reasons.  Firstly, she was
most satisfactory as a question of figures; and, secondly, she had
'no nonsense' about her.  By nonsense he meant fancy; and truly it
is probable she was as free from any alloy of that nature, as any
human being not arrived at the perfection of an absolute idiot,
ever was.

The simple circumstance of being left alone with her husband and
Mr. Bounderby, was sufficient to stun this admirable lady again
without collision between herself and any other fact.  So, she once
more died away, and nobody minded her.

'Bounderby,' said Mr. Gradgrind, drawing a chair to the fireside,
'you are always so interested in my young people - particularly in
Louisa - that I make no apology for saying to you, I am very much
vexed by this discovery.  I have systematically devoted myself (as
you know) to the education of the reason of my family.  The reason
is (as you know) the only faculty to which education should be
addressed.  'And yet, Bounderby, it would appear from this
unexpected circumstance of to-day, though in itself a trifling one,
as if something had crept into Thomas's and Louisa's minds which is
- or rather, which is not - I don't know that I can express myself
better than by saying - which has never been intended to be
developed, and in which their reason has no part.'

'There certainly is no reason in looking with interest at a parcel
of vagabonds,' returned Bounderby.  'When I was a vagabond myself,
nobody looked with any interest at me; I know that.'

'Then comes the question; said the eminently practical father, with
his eyes on the fire, 'in what has this vulgar curiosity its rise?'

'I'll tell you in what.  In idle imagination.'

'I hope not,' said the eminently practical; 'I confess, however,
that the misgiving has crossed me on my way home.'

'In idle imagination, Gradgrind,' repeated Bounderby.  'A very bad
thing for anybody, but a cursed bad thing for a girl like Louisa.
I should ask Mrs. Gradgrind's pardon for strong expressions, but
that she knows very well I am not a refined character.  Whoever
expects refinement in me will be disappointed.  I hadn't a refined
bringing up.'

'Whether,' said Gradgrind, pondering with his hands in his pockets,
and his cavernous eyes on the fire, 'whether any instructor or
servant can have suggested anything?  Whether Louisa or Thomas can
have been reading anything?  Whether, in spite of all precautions,
any idle story-book can have got into the house?  Because, in minds
that have been practically formed by rule and line, from the cradle
upwards, this is so curious, so incomprehensible.'

'Stop a bit!' cried Bounderby, who all this time had been standing,
as before, on the hearth, bursting at the very furniture of the
room with explosive humility.  'You have one of those strollers'
children in the school.'

'Cecilia Jupe, by name,' said Mr. Gradgrind, with something of a
stricken look at his friend.

'Now, stop a bit!' cried Bounderby again.  'How did she come
there?'

'Why, the fact is, I saw the girl myself, for the first time, only
just now.  She specially applied here at the house to be admitted,
as not regularly belonging to our town, and - yes, you are right,
Bounderby, you are right.'

'Now, stop a bit!' cried Bounderby, once more.  'Louisa saw her
when she came?'

'Louisa certainly did see her, for she mentioned the application to
me.  But Louisa saw her, I have no doubt, in Mrs. Gradgrind's
presence.'

'Pray, Mrs. Gradgrind,' said Bounderby, 'what passed?'

'Oh, my poor health!' returned Mrs. Gradgrind.  'The girl wanted to
come to the school, and Mr. Gradgrind wanted girls to come to the
school, and Louisa and Thomas both said that the girl wanted to
come, and that Mr. Gradgrind wanted girls to come, and how was it
possible to contradict them when such was the fact!'

'Now I tell you what, Gradgrind!' said Mr. Bounderby.  'Turn this
girl to the right about, and there's an end of it.'

'I am much of your opinion.'

'Do it at once,' said Bounderby, 'has always been my motto from a
child.  When I thought I would run away from my egg-box and my
grandmother, I did it at once.  Do you the same.  Do this at once!'

'Are you walking?' asked his friend.  'I have the father's address.
Perhaps you would not mind walking to town with me?'

'Not the least in the world,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'as long as you
do it at once!'

So, Mr. Bounderby threw on his hat - he always threw it on, as
expressing a man who had been far too busily employed in making
himself, to acquire any fashion of wearing his hat - and with his
hands in his pockets, sauntered out into the hall.  'I never wear
gloves,' it was his custom to say.  'I didn't climb up the ladder
in them. - Shouldn't be so high up, if I had.'

Being left to saunter in the hall a minute or two while Mr.
Gradgrind went up-stairs for the address, he opened the door of the
children's study and looked into that serene floor-clothed
apartment, which, notwithstanding its book-cases and its cabinets
and its variety of learned and philosophical appliances, had much
of the genial aspect of a room devoted to hair-cutting.  Louisa
languidly leaned upon the window looking out, without looking at
anything, while young Thomas stood sniffing revengefully at the
fire.  Adam Smith and Malthus, two younger Gradgrinds, were out at
lecture in custody; and little Jane, after manufacturing a good
deal of moist pipe-clay on her face with slate-pencil and tears,
had fallen asleep over vulgar fractions.

'It's all right now, Louisa:  it's all right, young Thomas,' said
Mr. Bounderby; 'you won't do so any more.  I'll answer for it's
being all over with father.  Well, Louisa, that's worth a kiss,
isn't it?'

'You can take one, Mr. Bounderby,' returned Louisa, when she had
coldly paused, and slowly walked across the room, and ungraciously
raised her cheek towards him, with her face turned away.

'Always my pet; ain't you, Louisa?' said Mr. Bounderby.  'Good-bye,
Louisa!'

He went his way, but she stood on the same spot, rubbing the cheek
he had kissed, with her handkerchief, until it was burning red.
She was still doing this, five minutes afterwards.

'What are you about, Loo?' her brother sulkily remonstrated.
'You'll rub a hole in your face.'

'You may cut the piece out with your penknife if you like, Tom.  I
wouldn't cry!'

CHAPTER V - THE KEYNOTE

COKETOWN, to which Messrs. Bounderby and Gradgrind now walked, was
a triumph of fact; it had no greater taint of fancy in it than Mrs.
Gradgrind herself.  Let us strike the key-note, Coketown, before
pursuing our tune.

It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if
the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a
town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.
It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which
interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and
ever, and never got uncoiled.  It had a black canal in it, and a
river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of
building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling
all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked
monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state
of melancholy madness.  It contained several large streets all very
like one another, and many small streets still more like one
another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went
in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same
pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same
as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the
last and the next.

These attributes of Coketown were in the main inseparable from the
work by which it was sustained; against them were to be set off,
comforts of life which found their way all over the world, and
elegancies of life which made, we will not ask how much of the fine
lady, who could scarcely bear to hear the place mentioned.  The
rest of its features were voluntary, and they were these.

You saw nothing in Coketown but what was severely workful.  If the
members of a religious persuasion built a chapel there - as the
members of eighteen religious persuasions had done - they made it a
pious warehouse of red brick, with sometimes (but this is only in
highly ornamental examples) a bell in a birdcage on the top of it.
The solitary exception was the New Church; a stuccoed edifice with
a square steeple over the door, terminating in four short pinnacles
like florid wooden legs.  All the public inscriptions in the town
were painted alike, in severe characters of black and white.  The
jail might have been the infirmary, the infirmary might have been
the jail, the town-hall might have been either, or both, or
anything else, for anything that appeared to the contrary in the
graces of their construction.  Fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the
material aspect of the town; fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the
immaterial.  The M'Choakumchild school was all fact, and the school
of design was all fact, and the relations between master and man
were all fact, and everything was fact between the lying-in
hospital and the cemetery, and what you couldn't state in figures,
or show to be purchaseable in the cheapest market and saleable in
the dearest, was not, and never should be, world without end, Amen.

A town so sacred to fact, and so triumphant in its assertion, of
course got on well?  Why no, not quite well.  No?  Dear me!

No.  Coketown did not come out of its own furnaces, in all respects
like gold that had stood the fire.  First, the perplexing mystery
of the place was, Who belonged to the eighteen denominations?
Because, whoever did, the labouring people did not.  It was very
strange to walk through the streets on a Sunday morning, and note
how few of them the barbarous jangling of bells that was driving
the sick and nervous mad, called away from their own quarter, from
their own close rooms, from the corners of their own streets, where
they lounged listlessly, gazing at all the church and chapel going,
as at a thing with which they had no manner of concern.  Nor was it
merely the stranger who noticed this, because there was a native
organization in Coketown itself, whose members were to be heard of
in the House of Commons every session, indignantly petitioning for
acts of parliament that should make these people religious by main
force.  Then came the Teetotal Society, who complained that these
same people would get drunk, and showed in tabular statements that
they did get drunk, and proved at tea parties that no inducement,
human or Divine (except a medal), would induce them to forego their
custom of getting drunk.  Then came the chemist and druggist, with
other tabular statements, showing that when they didn't get drunk,
they took opium.  Then came the experienced chaplain of the jail,
with more tabular statements, outdoing all the previous tabular
statements, and showing that the same people would resort to low
haunts, hidden from the public eye, where they heard low singing
and saw low dancing, and mayhap joined in it; and where A. B., aged
twenty-four next birthday, and committed for eighteen months'
solitary, had himself said (not that he had ever shown himself
particularly worthy of belief) his ruin began, as he was perfectly
sure and confident that otherwise he would have been a tip-top
moral specimen.  Then came Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby, the two
gentlemen at this present moment walking through Coketown, and both
eminently practical, who could, on occasion, furnish more tabular
statements derived from their own personal experience, and
illustrated by cases they had known and seen, from which it clearly
appeared - in short, it was the only clear thing in the case - that
these same people were a bad lot altogether, gentlemen; that do
what you would for them they were never thankful for it, gentlemen;
that they were restless, gentlemen; that they never knew what they
wanted; that they lived upon the best, and bought fresh butter; and
insisted on Mocha coffee, and rejected all but prime parts of meat,
and yet were eternally dissatisfied and unmanageable.  In short, it
was the moral of the old nursery fable:

There was an old woman, and what do you think?
She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink;
Victuals and drink were the whole of her diet,
And yet this old woman would NEVER be quiet.

Is it possible, I wonder, that there was any analogy between the
case of the Coketown population and the case of the little
Gradgrinds?  Surely, none of us in our sober senses and acquainted
with figures, are to be told at this time of day, that one of the
foremost elements in the existence of the Coketown working-people
had been for scores of years, deliberately set at nought?  That
there was any Fancy in them demanding to be brought into healthy
existence instead of struggling on in convulsions?  That exactly in
the ratio as they worked long and monotonously, the craving grew
within them for some physical relief - some relaxation, encouraging
good humour and good spirits, and giving them a vent - some
recognized holiday, though it were but for an honest dance to a
stirring band of music - some occasional light pie in which even
M'Choakumchild had no finger - which craving must and would be
satisfied aright, or must and would inevitably go wrong, until the
laws of the Creation were repealed?

'This man lives at Pod's End, and I don't quite know Pod's End,'
said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Which is it, Bounderby?'

Mr. Bounderby knew it was somewhere down town, but knew no more
respecting it.  So they stopped for a moment, looking about.

Almost as they did so, there came running round the corner of the
street at a quick pace and with a frightened look, a girl whom Mr.
Gradgrind recognized.  'Halloa!' said he.  'Stop!  Where are you
going! Stop!'  Girl number twenty stopped then, palpitating, and
made him a curtsey.

'Why are you tearing about the streets,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'in
this improper manner?'

'I was - I was run after, sir,' the girl panted, 'and I wanted to
get away.'

'Run after?' repeated Mr. Gradgrind.  'Who would run after you?'

The question was unexpectedly and suddenly answered for her, by the
colourless boy, Bitzer, who came round the corner with such blind
speed and so little anticipating a stoppage on the pavement, that
he brought himself up against Mr. Gradgrind's waistcoat and
rebounded into the road.

'What do you mean, boy?' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'What are you doing?
How dare you dash against - everybody - in this manner?'  Bitzer
picked up his cap, which the concussion had knocked off; and
backing, and knuckling his forehead, pleaded that it was an
accident.

'Was this boy running after you, Jupe?' asked Mr. Gradgrind.

'Yes, sir,' said the girl reluctantly.

'No, I wasn't, sir!' cried Bitzer.  'Not till she run away from me.
But the horse-riders never mind what they say, sir; they're famous
for it.  You know the horse-riders are famous for never minding
what they say,' addressing Sissy.  'It's as well known in the town
as - please, sir, as the multiplication table isn't known to the
horse-riders.'  Bitzer tried Mr. Bounderby with this.

'He frightened me so,' said the girl, 'with his cruel faces!'

'Oh!' cried Bitzer.  'Oh!  An't you one of the rest!  An't you a
horse-rider!  I never looked at her, sir.  I asked her if she would
know how to define a horse to-morrow, and offered to tell her
again, and she ran away, and I ran after her, sir, that she might
know how to answer when she was asked.  You wouldn't have thought
of saying such mischief if you hadn't been a horse-rider?'

'Her calling seems to be pretty well known among 'em,' observed Mr.
Bounderby.  'You'd have had the whole school peeping in a row, in a
week.'

'Truly, I think so,' returned his friend.  'Bitzer, turn you about
and take yourself home. Jupe, stay here a moment.  Let me hear of
your running in this manner any more, boy, and you will hear of me
through the master of the school.  You understand what I mean.  Go
along.'

The boy stopped in his rapid blinking, knuckled his forehead again,
glanced at Sissy, turned about, and retreated.

'Now, girl,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'take this gentleman and me to
your father's; we are going there.  What have you got in that
bottle you are carrying?'

'Gin,' said Mr. Bounderby.

'Dear, no, sir!  It's the nine oils.'

'The what?' cried Mr. Bounderby.

'The nine oils, sir, to rub father with.'

'Then,' said Mr. Bounderby, with a loud short laugh, 'what the
devil do you rub your father with nine oils for?'

'It's what our people aways use, sir, when they get any hurts in
the ring,' replied the girl, looking over her shoulder, to assure
herself that her pursuer was gone.  'They bruise themselves very
bad sometimes.'

'Serve 'em right,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'for being idle.'  She
glanced up at his face, with mingled astonishment and dread.

'By George!' said Mr. Bounderby, 'when I was four or five years
younger than you, I had worse bruises upon me than ten oils, twenty
oils, forty oils, would have rubbed off.  I didn't get 'em by
posture-making, but by being banged about.  There was no rope-
dancing for me; I danced on the bare ground and was larruped with
the rope.'

Mr. Gradgrind, though hard enough, was by no means so rough a man
as Mr. Bounderby.  His character was not unkind, all things
considered; it might have been a very kind one indeed, if he had
only made some round mistake in the arithmetic that balanced it,
years ago.  He said, in what he meant for a reassuring tone, as
they turned down a narrow road, 'And this is Pod's End; is it,
Jupe?'

'This is it, sir, and - if you wouldn't mind, sir - this is the
house.'

She stopped, at twilight, at the door of a mean little public-
house, with dim red lights in it.  As haggard and as shabby, as if,
for want of custom, it had itself taken to drinking, and had gone
the way all drunkards go, and was very near the end of it.

'It's only crossing the bar, sir, and up the stairs, if you
wouldn't mind, and waiting there for a moment till I get a candle.
If you should hear a dog, sir, it's only Merrylegs, and he only
barks.'

'Merrylegs and nine oils, eh!' said Mr. Bounderby, entering last
with his metallic laugh.  'Pretty well this, for a self-made man!'

CHAPTER VI - SLEARY'S HORSEMANSHIP

THE name of the public-house was the Pegasus's Arms.  The Pegasus's
legs might have been more to the purpose; but, underneath the
winged horse upon the sign-board, the Pegasus's Arms was inscribed
in Roman letters.  Beneath that inscription again, in a flowing
scroll, the painter had touched off the lines:

Good malt makes good beer,
Walk in, and they'll draw it here;
Good wine makes good brandy,
Give us a call, and you'll find it handy.

Framed and glazed upon the wall behind the dingy little bar, was
another Pegasus - a theatrical one - with real gauze let in for his
wings, golden stars stuck on all over him, and his ethereal harness
made of red silk.

As it had grown too dusky without, to see the sign, and as it had
not grown light enough within to see the picture, Mr. Gradgrind and
Mr. Bounderby received no offence from these idealities.  They
followed the girl up some steep corner-stairs without meeting any
one, and stopped in the dark while she went on for a candle.  They
expected every moment to hear Merrylegs give tongue, but the highly
trained performing dog had not barked when the girl and the candle
appeared together.

'Father is not in our room, sir,' she said, with a face of great
surprise.  'If you wouldn't mind walking in, I'll find him
directly.'  They walked in; and Sissy, having set two chairs for
them, sped away with a quick light step.  It was a mean, shabbily
furnished room, with a bed in it.  The white night-cap, embellished
with two peacock's feathers and a pigtail bolt upright, in which
Signor Jupe had that very afternoon enlivened the varied
performances with his chaste Shaksperean quips and retorts, hung
upon a nail; but no other portion of his wardrobe, or other token
of himself or his pursuits, was to be seen anywhere.  As to
Merrylegs, that respectable ancestor of the highly trained animal
who went aboard the ark, might have been accidentally shut out of
it, for any sign of a dog that was manifest to eye or ear in the
Pegasus's Arms.

They heard the doors of rooms above, opening and shutting as Sissy
went from one to another in quest of her father; and presently they
heard voices expressing surprise.  She came bounding down again in
a great hurry, opened a battered and mangy old hair trunk, found it
empty, and looked round with her hands clasped and her face full of
terror.

'Father must have gone down to the Booth, sir.  I don't know why he
should go there, but he must be there; I'll bring him in a minute!'
She was gone directly, without her bonnet; with her long, dark,
childish hair streaming behind her.

'What does she mean!' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Back in a minute?  It's
more than a mile off.'

Before Mr. Bounderby could reply, a young man appeared at the door,
and introducing himself with the words, 'By your leaves,
gentlemen!' walked in with his hands in his pockets.  His face,
close-shaven, thin, and sallow, was shaded by a great quantity of
dark hair, brushed into a roll all round his head, and parted up
the centre.  His legs were very robust, but shorter than legs of
good proportions should have been.  His chest and back were as much
too broad, as his legs were too short.  He was dressed in a
Newmarket coat and tight-fitting trousers; wore a shawl round his
neck; smelt of lamp-oil, straw, orange-peel, horses' provender, and
sawdust; and looked a most remarkable sort of Centaur, compounded
of the stable and the play-house.  Where the one began, and the
other ended, nobody could have told with any precision.  This
gentleman was mentioned in the bills of the day as Mr. E. W. B.
Childers, so justly celebrated for his daring vaulting act as the
Wild Huntsman of the North American Prairies; in which popular
performance, a diminutive boy with an old face, who now accompanied
him, assisted as his infant son:  being carried upside down over
his father's shoulder, by one foot, and held by the crown of his
head, heels upwards, in the palm of his father's hand, according to
the violent paternal manner in which wild huntsmen may be observed
to fondle their offspring.  Made up with curls, wreaths, wings,
white bismuth, and carmine, this hopeful young person soared into
so pleasing a Cupid as to constitute the chief delight of the
maternal part of the spectators; but in private, where his
characteristics were a precocious cutaway coat and an extremely
gruff voice, he became of the Turf, turfy.

'By your leaves, gentlemen,' said Mr. E. W. B. Childers, glancing
round the room.  'It was you, I believe, that were wishing to see
Jupe!'

'It was,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'His daughter has gone to fetch him,
but I can't wait; therefore, if you please, I will leave a message
for him with you.'

'You see, my friend,' Mr. Bounderby put in, 'we are the kind of
people who know the value of time, and you are the kind of people
who don't know the value of time.'

'I have not,' retorted Mr. Childers, after surveying him from head
to foot, 'the honour of knowing you, - but if you mean that you can
make more money of your time than I can of mine, I should judge
from your appearance, that you are about right.'

'And when you have made it, you can keep it too, I should think,'
said Cupid.

'Kidderminster, stow that!' said Mr. Childers.  (Master
Kidderminster was Cupid's mortal name.)

'What does he come here cheeking us for, then?' cried Master
Kidderminster, showing a very irascible temperament.  'If you want
to cheek us, pay your ochre at the doors and take it out.'

'Kidderminster,' said Mr. Childers, raising his voice, 'stow that!
- Sir,' to Mr. Gradgrind, 'I was addressing myself to you.  You may
or you may not be aware (for perhaps you have not been much in the
audience), that Jupe has missed his tip very often, lately.'

'Has - what has he missed?' asked Mr. Gradgrind, glancing at the
potent Bounderby for assistance.

'Missed his tip.'

'Offered at the Garters four times last night, and never done 'em
once,' said Master Kidderminster.  'Missed his tip at the banners,
too, and was loose in his ponging.'

'Didn't do what he ought to do.  Was short in his leaps and bad in
his tumbling,' Mr. Childers interpreted.

'Oh!' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that is tip, is it?'

'In a general way that's missing his tip,' Mr. E. W. B. Childers
answered.

'Nine oils, Merrylegs, missing tips, garters, banners, and Ponging,
eh!' ejaculated Bounderby, with his laugh of laughs.  'Queer sort
of company, too, for a man who has raised himself!'

'Lower yourself, then,' retorted Cupid.  'Oh Lord! if you've raised
yourself so high as all that comes to, let yourself down a bit.'

'This is a very obtrusive lad!' said Mr. Gradgrind, turning, and
knitting his brows on him.

'We'd have had a young gentleman to meet you, if we had known you
were coming,' retorted Master Kidderminster, nothing abashed.
'It's a pity you don't have a bespeak, being so particular.  You're
on the Tight-Jeff, ain't you?'

'What does this unmannerly boy mean,' asked Mr. Gradgrind, eyeing
him in a sort of desperation, 'by Tight-Jeff?'

'There!  Get out, get out!' said Mr. Childers, thrusting his young
friend from the room, rather in the prairie manner.  'Tight-Jeff or
Slack-Jeff, it don't much signify:  it's only tight-rope and slack-
rope.  You were going to give me a message for Jupe?'

'Yes, I was.'

'Then,' continued Mr. Childers, quickly, 'my opinion is, he will
never receive it.  Do you know much of him?'

'I never saw the man in my life.'

'I doubt if you ever will see him now.  It's pretty plain to me,
he's off.'

'Do you mean that he has deserted his daughter?'

'Ay!  I mean,' said Mr. Childers, with a nod, 'that he has cut.  He
was goosed last night, he was goosed the night before last, he was
goosed to-day.  He has lately got in the way of being always
goosed, and he can't stand it.'

'Why has he been - so very much - Goosed?' asked Mr. Gradgrind,
forcing the word out of himself, with great solemnity and
reluctance.

'His joints are turning stiff, and he is getting used up,' said
Childers.  'He has his points as a Cackler still, but he can't get
a living out of them.'

'A Cackler!' Bounderby repeated.  'Here we go again!'

'A speaker, if the gentleman likes it better,' said Mr. E. W. B.
Childers, superciliously throwing the interpretation over his
shoulder, and accompanying it with a shake of his long hair - which
all shook at once.  'Now, it's a remarkable fact, sir, that it cut
that man deeper, to know that his daughter knew of his being
goosed, than to go through with it.'

'Good!' interrupted Mr. Bounderby.  'This is good, Gradgrind!  A
man so fond of his daughter, that he runs away from her!  This is
devilish good!  Ha! ha!  Now, I'll tell you what, young man.  I
haven't always occupied my present station of life.  I know what
these things are.  You may be astonished to hear it, but my mother
- ran away from me.'

E. W. B. Childers replied pointedly, that he was not at all
astonished to hear it.

'Very well,' said Bounderby.  'I was born in a ditch, and my mother
ran away from me.  Do I excuse her for it?  No.  Have I ever
excused her for it?  Not I.  What do I call her for it?  I call her
probably the very worst woman that ever lived in the world, except
my drunken grandmother.  There's no family pride about me, there's
no imaginative sentimental humbug about me.  I call a spade a
spade; and I call the mother of Josiah Bounderby of Coketown,
without any fear or any favour, what I should call her if she had
been the mother of Dick Jones of Wapping.  So, with this man.  He
is a runaway rogue and a vagabond, that's what he is, in English.'

'It's all the same to me what he is or what he is not, whether in
English or whether in French,' retorted Mr. E. W. B. Childers,
facing about.  'I am telling your friend what's the fact; if you
don't like to hear it, you can avail yourself of the open air.  You
give it mouth enough, you do; but give it mouth in your own
building at least,' remonstrated E. W. B. with stern irony.  'Don't
give it mouth in this building, till you're called upon.  You have
got some building of your own I dare say, now?'

'Perhaps so,' replied Mr. Bounderby, rattling his money and
laughing.

'Then give it mouth in your own building, will you, if you please?'
said Childers.  'Because this isn't a strong building, and too much
of you might bring it down!'

Eyeing Mr. Bounderby from head to foot again, he turned from him,
as from a man finally disposed of, to Mr. Gradgrind.

'Jupe sent his daughter out on an errand not an hour ago, and then
was seen to slip out himself, with his hat over his eyes, and a
bundle tied up in a handkerchief under his arm.  She will never
believe it of him, but he has cut away and left her.'

'Pray,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'why will she never believe it of him?'

'Because those two were one.  Because they were never asunder.
Because, up to this time, he seemed to dote upon her,' said
Childers, taking a step or two to look into the empty trunk.  Both
Mr. Childers and Master Kidderminster walked in a curious manner;
with their legs wider apart than the general run of men, and with a
very knowing assumption of being stiff in the knees.  This walk was
common to all the male members of Sleary's company, and was
understood to express, that they were always on horseback.

'Poor Sissy!  He had better have apprenticed her,' said Childers,
giving his hair another shake, as he looked up from the empty box.
'Now, he leaves her without anything to take to.'

'It is creditable to you, who have never been apprenticed, to
express that opinion,' returned Mr. Gradgrind, approvingly.

'I never apprenticed?  I was apprenticed when I was seven year
old.'

'Oh!  Indeed?' said Mr. Gradgrind, rather resentfully, as having
been defrauded of his good opinion.  'I was not aware of its being
the custom to apprentice young persons to - '

'Idleness,' Mr. Bounderby put in with a loud laugh.  'No, by the
Lord Harry!  Nor I!'

'Her father always had it in his head,' resumed Childers, feigning
unconsciousness of Mr. Bounderby's existence, 'that she was to be
taught the deuce-and-all of education.  How it got into his head, I
can't say; I can only say that it never got out.  He has been
picking up a bit of reading for her, here - and a bit of writing
for her, there - and a bit of ciphering for her, somewhere else -
these seven years.'

Mr. E. W. B. Childers took one of his hands out of his pockets,
stroked his face and chin, and looked, with a good deal of doubt
and a little hope, at Mr. Gradgrind.  From the first he had sought
to conciliate that gentleman, for the sake of the deserted girl.

'When Sissy got into the school here,' he pursued, 'her father was
as pleased as Punch.  I couldn't altogether make out why, myself,
as we were not stationary here, being but comers and goers
anywhere.  I suppose, however, he had this move in his mind - he
was always half-cracked - and then considered her provided for.  If
you should happen to have looked in to-night, for the purpose of
telling him that you were going to do her any little service,' said
Mr. Childers, stroking his face again, and repeating his look, 'it
would be very fortunate and well-timed; very fortunate and well-
timed.'

'On the contrary,' returned Mr. Gradgrind.  'I came to tell him
that her connections made her not an object for the school, and
that she must not attend any more.  Still, if her father really has
left her, without any connivance on her part - Bounderby, let me
have a word with you.'

Upon this, Mr. Childers politely betook himself, with his
equestrian walk, to the landing outside the door, and there stood
stroking his face, and softly whistling.  While thus engaged, he
overheard such phrases in Mr. Bounderby's voice as 'No.  I say no.
I advise you not.  I say by no means.'  While, from Mr. Gradgrind,
he heard in his much lower tone the words, 'But even as an example
to Louisa, of what this pursuit which has been the subject of a
vulgar curiosity, leads to and ends in.  Think of it, Bounderby, in
that point of view.'

Meanwhile, the various members of Sleary's company gradually
gathered together from the upper regions, where they were
quartered, and, from standing about, talking in low voices to one
another and to Mr. Childers, gradually insinuated themselves and
him into the room.  There were two or three handsome young women
among them, with their two or three husbands, and their two or
three mothers, and their eight or nine little children, who did the
fairy business when required.  The father of one of the families
was in the habit of balancing the father of another of the families
on the top of a great pole; the father of a third family often made
a pyramid of both those fathers, with Master Kidderminster for the
apex, and himself for the base; all the fathers could dance upon
rolling casks, stand upon bottles, catch knives and balls, twirl
hand-basins, ride upon anything, jump over everything, and stick at
nothing.  All the mothers could (and did) dance, upon the slack
wire and the tight-rope, and perform rapid acts on bare-backed
steeds; none of them were at all particular in respect of showing
their legs; and one of them, alone in a Greek chariot, drove six in
hand into every town they came to.  They all assumed to be mighty
rakish and knowing, they were not very tidy in their private
dresses, they were not at all orderly in their domestic
arrangements, and the combined literature of the whole company
would have produced but a poor letter on any subject.  Yet there
was a remarkable gentleness and childishness about these people, a
special inaptitude for any kind of sharp practice, and an untiring
readiness to help and pity one another, deserving often of as much
respect, and always of as much generous construction, as the every-
day virtues of any class of people in the world.

Last of all appeared Mr. Sleary:  a stout man as already mentioned,
with one fixed eye, and one loose eye, a voice (if it can be called
so) like the efforts of a broken old pair of bellows, a flabby
surface, and a muddled head which was never sober and never drunk.

'Thquire!' said Mr. Sleary, who was troubled with asthma, and whose
breath came far too thick and heavy for the letter s, 'Your
thervant!  Thith ith a bad piethe of bithnith, thith ith.  You've
heard of my Clown and hith dog being thuppothed to have morrithed?'

He addressed Mr. Gradgrind, who answered 'Yes.'

'Well, Thquire,' he returned, taking off his hat, and rubbing the
lining with his pocket-handkerchief, which he kept inside for the
purpose.  'Ith it your intenthion to do anything for the poor girl,
Thquire?'

'I shall have something to propose to her when she comes back,'
said Mr. Gradgrind.

'Glad to hear it, Thquire.  Not that I want to get rid of the
child, any more than I want to thtand in her way.  I'm willing to
take her prentith, though at her age ith late.  My voithe ith a
little huthky, Thquire, and not eathy heard by them ath don't know
me; but if you'd been chilled and heated, heated and chilled,
chilled and heated in the ring when you wath young, ath often ath I
have been, your voithe wouldn't have lathted out, Thquire, no more
than mine.'

'I dare say not,' said Mr. Gradgrind.

'What thall it be, Thquire, while you wait?  Thall it be Therry?
Give it a name, Thquire!' said Mr. Sleary, with hospitable ease.

'Nothing for me, I thank you,' said Mr. Gradgrind.

'Don't thay nothing, Thquire.  What doth your friend thay?  If you
haven't took your feed yet, have a glath of bitterth.'

Here his daughter Josephine - a pretty fair-haired girl of
eighteen, who had been tied on a horse at two years old, and had
made a will at twelve, which she always carried about with her,
expressive of her dying desire to be drawn to the grave by the two
piebald ponies - cried, 'Father, hush! she has come back!'  Then
came Sissy Jupe, running into the room as she had run out of it.
And when she saw them all assembled, and saw their looks, and saw
no father there, she broke into a most deplorable cry, and took
refuge on the bosom of the most accomplished tight-rope lady
(herself in the family-way), who knelt down on the floor to nurse
her, and to weep over her.

'Ith an internal thame, upon my thoul it ith,' said Sleary.

'O my dear father, my good kind father, where are you gone?  You
are gone to try to do me some good, I know!  You are gone away for
my sake, I am sure!  And how miserable and helpless you will be
without me, poor, poor father, until you come back!'  It was so
pathetic to hear her saying many things of this kind, with her face
turned upward, and her arms stretched out as if she were trying to
stop his departing shadow and embrace it, that no one spoke a word
until Mr. Bounderby (growing impatient) took the case in hand.

'Now, good people all,' said he, 'this is wanton waste of time.
Let the girl understand the fact.  Let her take it from me, if you
like, who have been run away from, myself.  Here, what's your name!
Your father has absconded - deserted you - and you mustn't expect
to see him again as long as you live.'

They cared so little for plain Fact, these people, and were in that
advanced state of degeneracy on the subject, that instead of being
impressed by the speaker's strong common sense, they took it in
extraordinary dudgeon.  The men muttered 'Shame!' and the women
'Brute!' and Sleary, in some haste, communicated the following
hint, apart to Mr. Bounderby.

'I tell you what, Thquire.  To thpeak plain to you, my opinion ith
that you had better cut it thort, and drop it.  They're a very good
natur'd people, my people, but they're accuthtomed to be quick in
their movementh; and if you don't act upon my advithe, I'm damned
if I don't believe they'll pith you out o' winder.'

Mr. Bounderby being restrained by this mild suggestion, Mr.
Gradgrind found an opening for his eminently practical exposition
of the subject.

'It is of no moment,' said he, 'whether this person is to be
expected back at any time, or the contrary.  He is gone away, and
there is no present expectation of his return.  That, I believe, is
agreed on all hands.'

'Thath agreed, Thquire.  Thick to that!'  From Sleary.

'Well then.  I, who came here to inform the father of the poor
girl, Jupe, that she could not be received at the school any more,
in consequence of there being practical objections, into which I
need not enter, to the reception there of the children of persons
so employed, am prepared in these altered circumstances to make a
proposal.  I am willing to take charge of you, Jupe, and to educate
you, and provide for you.  The only condition (over and above your
good behaviour) I make is, that you decide now, at once, whether to
accompany me or remain here.  Also, that if you accompany me now,
it is understood that you communicate no more with any of your
friends who are here present.  These observations comprise the
whole of the case.'

'At the thame time,' said Sleary, 'I mutht put in my word, Thquire,
tho that both thides of the banner may be equally theen.  If you
like, Thethilia, to be prentitht, you know the natur of the work
and you know your companionth.  Emma Gordon, in whothe lap you're a
lying at prethent, would be a mother to you, and Joth'phine would
be a thithter to you.  I don't pretend to be of the angel breed
myself, and I don't thay but what, when you mith'd your tip, you'd
find me cut up rough, and thwear an oath or two at you.  But what I
thay, Thquire, ith, that good tempered or bad tempered, I never did
a horthe a injury yet, no more than thwearing at him went, and that
I don't expect I thall begin otherwithe at my time of life, with a
rider.  I never wath much of a Cackler, Thquire, and I have thed my
thay.'

The latter part of this speech was addressed to Mr. Gradgrind, who
received it with a grave inclination of his head, and then
remarked:

'The only observation I will make to you, Jupe, in the way of
influencing your decision, is, that it is highly desirable to have
a sound practical education, and that even your father himself
(from what I understand) appears, on your behalf, to have known and
felt that much.'

The last words had a visible effect upon her.  She stopped in her
wild crying, a little detached herself from Emma Gordon, and turned
her face full upon her patron.  The whole company perceived the
force of the change, and drew a long breath together, that plainly
said, 'she will go!'

'Be sure you know your own mind, Jupe,' Mr. Gradgrind cautioned
her; 'I say no more.  Be sure you know your own mind!'

'When father comes back,' cried the girl, bursting into tears again
after a minute's silence, 'how will he ever find me if I go away!'

'You may be quite at ease,' said Mr. Gradgrind, calmly; he worked
out the whole matter like a sum:  'you may be quite at ease, Jupe,
on that score.  In such a case, your father, I apprehend, must find
out Mr. - '

'Thleary.  Thath my name, Thquire.  Not athamed of it.  Known all
over England, and alwayth paythe ith way.'

'Must find out Mr. Sleary, who would then let him know where you
went.  I should have no power of keeping you against his wish, and
he would have no difficulty, at any time, in finding Mr. Thomas
Gradgrind of Coketown.  I am well known.'

'Well known,' assented Mr. Sleary, rolling his loose eye.  'You're
one of the thort, Thquire, that keepth a prethiouth thight of money
out of the houthe.  But never mind that at prethent.'

There was another silence; and then she exclaimed, sobbing with her
hands before her face, 'Oh, give me my clothes, give me my clothes,
and let me go away before I break my heart!'

The women sadly bestirred themselves to get the clothes together -
it was soon done, for they were not many - and to pack them in a
basket which had often travelled with them.  Sissy sat all the time
upon the ground, still sobbing, and covering her eyes.  Mr.
Gradgrind and his friend Bounderby stood near the door, ready to
take her away.  Mr. Sleary stood in the middle of the room, with
the male members of the company about him, exactly as he would have
stood in the centre of the ring during his daughter Josephine's
performance.  He wanted nothing but his whip.

The basket packed in silence, they brought her bonnet to her, and
smoothed her disordered hair, and put it on.  Then they pressed
about her, and bent over her in very natural attitudes, kissing and
embracing her:  and brought the children to take leave of her; and
were a tender-hearted, simple, foolish set of women altogether.

'Now, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'If you are quite determined,
come!'

But she had to take her farewell of the male part of the company
yet, and every one of them had to unfold his arms (for they all
assumed the professional attitude when they found themselves near
Sleary), and give her a parting kiss - Master Kidderminster
excepted, in whose young nature there was an original flavour of
the misanthrope, who was also known to have harboured matrimonial
views, and who moodily withdrew.  Mr. Sleary was reserved until the
last.  Opening his arms wide he took her by both her hands, and
would have sprung her up and down, after the riding-master manner
of congratulating young ladies on their dismounting from a rapid
act; but there was no rebound in Sissy, and she only stood before
him crying.

'Good-bye, my dear!' said Sleary.  'You'll make your fortun, I
hope, and none of our poor folkth will ever trouble you, I'll pound
it.  I with your father hadn't taken hith dog with him; ith a ill-
conwenienth to have the dog out of the billth.  But on thecond
thoughth, he wouldn't have performed without hith mathter, tho ith
ath broad ath ith long!'

With that he regarded her attentively with his fixed eye, surveyed
his company with his loose one, kissed her, shook his head, and
handed her to Mr. Gradgrind as to a horse.

'There the ith, Thquire,' he said, sweeping her with a professional
glance as if she were being adjusted in her seat, 'and the'll do
you juthtithe.  Good-bye, Thethilia!'

'Good-bye, Cecilia!'  'Good-bye, Sissy!'  'God bless you, dear!'
In a variety of voices from all the room.

But the riding-master eye had observed the bottle of the nine oils
in her bosom, and he now interposed with 'Leave the bottle, my
dear; ith large to carry; it will be of no uthe to you now.  Give
it to me!'

'No, no!' she said, in another burst of tears.  'Oh, no!  Pray let
me keep it for father till he comes back!  He will want it when he
comes back.  He had never thought of going away, when he sent me
for it.  I must keep it for him, if you please!'

'Tho be it, my dear.  (You thee how it ith, Thquire!)  Farewell,
Thethilia!  My latht wordth to you ith thith, Thtick to the termth
of your engagement, be obedient to the Thquire, and forget uth.
But if, when you're grown up and married and well off, you come
upon any horthe-riding ever, don't be hard upon it, don't be croth
with it, give it a Bethpeak if you can, and think you might do
wurth.  People mutht be amuthed, Thquire, thomehow,' continued
Sleary, rendered more pursy than ever, by so much talking; 'they
can't be alwayth a working, nor yet they can't be alwayth a
learning.  Make the betht of uth; not the wurtht.  I've got my
living out of the horthe-riding all my life, I know; but I
conthider that I lay down the philothophy of the thubject when I
thay to you, Thquire, make the betht of uth:  not the wurtht!'

The Sleary philosophy was propounded as they went downstairs and
the fixed eye of Philosophy - and its rolling eye, too - soon lost
the three figures and the basket in the darkness of the street.

CHAPTER VII - MRS. SPARSIT

MR. BOUNDERBY being a bachelor, an elderly lady presided over his
establishment, in consideration of a certain annual stipend.  Mrs.
Sparsit was this lady's name; and she was a prominent figure in
attendance on Mr. Bounderby's car, as it rolled along in triumph
with the Bully of humility inside.

For, Mrs. Sparsit had not only seen different days, but was highly
connected.  She had a great aunt living in these very times called
Lady Scadgers.  Mr. Sparsit, deceased, of whom she was the relict,
had been by the mother's side what Mrs. Sparsit still called 'a
Powler.'  Strangers of limited information and dull apprehension
were sometimes observed not to know what a Powler was, and even to
appear uncertain whether it might be a business, or a political
party, or a profession of faith.  The better class of minds,
however, did not need to be informed that the Powlers were an
ancient stock, who could trace themselves so exceedingly far back
that it was not surprising if they sometimes lost themselves -
which they had rather frequently done, as respected horse-flesh,
blind-hookey, Hebrew monetary transactions, and the Insolvent
Debtors' Court.

The late Mr. Sparsit, being by the mother's side a Powler, married
this lady, being by the father's side a Scadgers.  Lady Scadgers
(an immensely fat old woman, with an inordinate appetite for
butcher's meat, and a mysterious leg which had now refused to get
out of bed for fourteen years) contrived the marriage, at a period
when Sparsit was just of age, and chiefly noticeable for a slender
body, weakly supported on two long slim props, and surmounted by no
head worth mentioning.  He inherited a fair fortune from his uncle,
but owed it all before he came into it, and spent it twice over
immediately afterwards.  Thus, when he died, at twenty-four (the
scene of his decease, Calais, and the cause, brandy), he did not
leave his widow, from whom he had been separated soon after the
honeymoon, in affluent circumstances.  That bereaved lady, fifteen
years older than he, fell presently at deadly feud with her only
relative, Lady Scadgers; and, partly to spite her ladyship, and
partly to maintain herself, went out at a salary.  And here she was
now, in her elderly days, with the Coriolanian style of nose and
the dense black eyebrows which had captivated Sparsit, making Mr.
Bounderby's tea as he took his breakfast.

If Bounderby had been a Conqueror, and Mrs. Sparsit a captive
Princess whom he took about as a feature in his state-processions,
he could not have made a greater flourish with her than he
habitually did.  Just as it belonged to his boastfulness to
depreciate his own extraction, so it belonged to it to exalt Mrs.
Sparsit's.  In the measure that he would not allow his own youth to
have been attended by a single favourable circumstance, he
brightened Mrs. Sparsit's juvenile career with every possible
advantage, and showered waggon-loads of early roses all over that
lady's path.  'And yet, sir,' he would say, 'how does it turn out
after all?  Why here she is at a hundred a year (I give her a
hundred, which she is pleased to term handsome), keeping the house
of Josiah Bounderby of Coketown!'

Nay, he made this foil of his so very widely known, that third
parties took it up, and handled it on some occasions with
considerable briskness.  It was one of the most exasperating
attributes of Bounderby, that he not only sang his own praises but
stimulated other men to sing them.  There was a moral infection of
clap-trap in him.  Strangers, modest enough elsewhere, started up
at dinners in Coketown, and boasted, in quite a rampant way, of
Bounderby.  They made him out to be the Royal arms, the Union-Jack,
Magna Charta, John Bull, Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, An
Englishman's house is his castle, Church and State, and God save
the Queen, all put together.  And as often (and it was very often)
as an orator of this kind brought into his peroration,

'Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath has made,'

- it was, for certain, more or less understood among the company
that he had heard of Mrs. Sparsit.

'Mr. Bounderby,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'you are unusually slow, sir,
with your breakfast this morning.'

'Why, ma'am,' he returned, 'I am thinking about Tom Gradgrind's
whim;' Tom Gradgrind, for a bluff independent manner of speaking -
as if somebody were always endeavouring to bribe him with immense
sums to say Thomas, and he wouldn't; 'Tom Gradgrind's whim, ma'am,
of bringing up the tumbling-girl.'

'The girl is now waiting to know,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'whether she
is to go straight to the school, or up to the Lodge.'

'She must wait, ma'am,' answered Bounderby, 'till I know myself.
We shall have Tom Gradgrind down here presently, I suppose.  If he
should wish her to remain here a day or two longer, of course she
can, ma'am.'

'Of course she can if you wish it, Mr. Bounderby.'

'I told him I would give her a shake-down here, last night, in
order that he might sleep on it before he decided to let her have
any association with Louisa.'

'Indeed, Mr. Bounderby?  Very thoughtful of you!'  Mrs. Sparsit's
Coriolanian nose underwent a slight expansion of the nostrils, and
her black eyebrows contracted as she took a sip of tea.

'It's tolerably clear to me,' said Bounderby, 'that the little puss
can get small good out of such companionship.'

'Are you speaking of young Miss Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby?'

'Yes, ma'am, I'm speaking of Louisa.'

'Your observation being limited to "little puss,"' said Mrs.
Sparsit, 'and there being two little girls in question, I did not
know which might be indicated by that expression.'

'Louisa,' repeated Mr. Bounderby.  'Louisa, Louisa.'

'You are quite another father to Louisa, sir.'  Mrs. Sparsit took a
little more tea; and, as she bent her again contracted eyebrows
over her steaming cup, rather looked as if her classical
countenance were invoking the infernal gods.

'If you had said I was another father to Tom - young Tom, I mean,
not my friend Tom Gradgrind - you might have been nearer the mark.
I am going to take young Tom into my office.  Going to have him
under my wing, ma'am.'

'Indeed?  Rather young for that, is he not, sir?'  Mrs. Spirit's
'sir,' in addressing Mr. Bounderby, was a word of ceremony, rather
exacting consideration for herself in the use, than honouring him.

'I'm not going to take him at once; he is to finish his educational
cramming before then,' said Bounderby.  'By the Lord Harry, he'll
have enough of it, first and last!  He'd open his eyes, that boy
would, if he knew how empty of learning my young maw was, at his
time of life.'  Which, by the by, he probably did know, for he had
heard of it often enough.  'But it's extraordinary the difficulty I
have on scores of such subjects, in speaking to any one on equal
terms.  Here, for example, I have been speaking to you this morning
about tumblers.  Why, what do you know about tumblers?  At the time
when, to have been a tumbler in the mud of the streets, would have
been a godsend to me, a prize in the lottery to me, you were at the
Italian Opera.  You were coming out of the Italian Opera, ma'am, in
white satin and jewels, a blaze of splendour, when I hadn't a penny
to buy a link to light you.'

'I certainly, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a dignity serenely
mournful, 'was familiar with the Italian Opera at a very early
age.'

'Egad, ma'am, so was I,' said Bounderby, ' - with the wrong side of
it.  A hard bed the pavement of its Arcade used to make, I assure
you.  People like you, ma'am, accustomed from infancy to lie on
Down feathers, have no idea how hard a paving-stone is, without
trying it.  No, no, it's of no use my talking to you about
tumblers.  I should speak of foreign dancers, and the West End of
London, and May Fair, and lords and ladies and honourables.'

'I trust, sir,' rejoined Mrs. Sparsit, with decent resignation, 'it
is not necessary that you should do anything of that kind.  I hope
I have learnt how to accommodate myself to the changes of life.  If
I have acquired an interest in hearing of your instructive
experiences, and can scarcely hear enough of them, I claim no merit
for that, since I believe it is a general sentiment.'

'Well, ma'am,' said her patron, 'perhaps some people may be pleased
to say that they do like to hear, in his own unpolished way, what
Josiah Bounderby, of Coketown, has gone through.  But you must
confess that you were born in the lap of luxury, yourself.  Come,
ma'am, you know you were born in the lap of luxury.'

'I do not, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit with a shake of her head,
'deny it.'

Mr. Bounderby was obliged to get up from table, and stand with his
back to the fire, looking at her; she was such an enhancement of
his position.

'And you were in crack society.  Devilish high society,' he said,
warming his legs.

'It is true, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with an affectation of
humility the very opposite of his, and therefore in no danger of
jostling it.

'You were in the tiptop fashion, and all the rest of it,' said Mr.
Bounderby.

'Yes, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a kind of social widowhood
upon her.  'It is unquestionably true.'

Mr. Bounderby, bending himself at the knees, literally embraced his
legs in his great satisfaction and laughed aloud.  Mr. and Miss
Gradgrind being then announced, he received the former with a shake
of the hand, and the latter with a kiss.

'Can Jupe be sent here, Bounderby?' asked Mr. Gradgrind.

Certainly.  So Jupe was sent there.  On coming in, she curtseyed to
Mr. Bounderby, and to his friend Tom Gradgrind, and also to Louisa;
but in her confusion unluckily omitted Mrs. Sparsit.  Observing
this, the blustrous Bounderby had the following remarks to make:

'Now, I tell you what, my girl.  The name of that lady by the
teapot, is Mrs. Sparsit.  That lady acts as mistress of this house,
and she is a highly connected lady.  Consequently, if ever you come
again into any room in this house, you will make a short stay in it
if you don't behave towards that lady in your most respectful
manner.  Now, I don't care a button what you do to me, because I
don't affect to be anybody.  So far from having high connections I
have no connections at all, and I come of the scum of the earth.
But towards that lady, I do care what you do; and you shall do what
is deferential and respectful, or you shall not come here.'

'I hope, Bounderby,' said Mr. Gradgrind, in a conciliatory voice,
'that this was merely an oversight.'

'My friend Tom Gradgrind suggests, Mrs. Sparsit,' said Bounderby,
'that this was merely an oversight.  Very likely.  However, as you
are aware, ma'am, I don't allow of even oversights towards you.'

'You are very good indeed, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, shaking her
head with her State humility.  'It is not worth speaking of.'

Sissy, who all this time had been faintly excusing herself with
tears in her eyes, was now waved over by the master of the house to
Mr. Gradgrind.  She stood looking intently at him, and Louisa stood
coldly by, with her eyes upon the ground, while he proceeded thus:

'Jupe, I have made up my mind to take you into my house; and, when
you are not in attendance at the school, to employ you about Mrs.
Gradgrind, who is rather an invalid.  I have explained to Miss
Louisa - this is Miss Louisa - the miserable but natural end of
your late career; and you are to expressly understand that the
whole of that subject is past, and is not to be referred to any
more.  From this time you begin your history.  You are, at present,
ignorant, I know.'

'Yes, sir, very,' she answered, curtseying.

'I shall have the satisfaction of causing you to be strictly
educated; and you will be a living proof to all who come into
communication with you, of the advantages of the training you will
receive.  You will be reclaimed and formed.  You have been in the
habit now of reading to your father, and those people I found you
among, I dare say?' said Mr. Gradgrind, beckoning her nearer to him
before he said so, and dropping his voice.

'Only to father and Merrylegs, sir.  At least I mean to father,
when Merrylegs was always there.'

'Never mind Merrylegs, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind, with a passing
frown.  'I don't ask about him.  I understand you to have been in
the habit of reading to your father?'

'O, yes, sir, thousands of times.  They were the happiest - O, of
all the happy times we had together, sir!'

It was only now when her sorrow broke out, that Louisa looked at
her.

'And what,' asked Mr. Gradgrind, in a still lower voice, 'did you
read to your father, Jupe?'

'About the Fairies, sir, and the Dwarf, and the Hunchback, and the
Genies,' she sobbed out; 'and about - '

'Hush!' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that is enough.  Never breathe a word
of such destructive nonsense any more.  Bounderby, this is a case
for rigid training, and I shall observe it with interest.'

'Well,' returned Mr. Bounderby, 'I have given you my opinion
already, and I shouldn't do as you do.  But, very well, very well.
Since you are bent upon it, very well!'

So, Mr. Gradgrind and his daughter took Cecilia Jupe off with them
to Stone Lodge, and on the way Louisa never spoke one word, good or
bad.  And Mr. Bounderby went about his daily pursuits.  And Mrs.
Sparsit got behind her eyebrows and meditated in the gloom of that
retreat, all the evening.

CHAPTER VIII - NEVER WONDER

LET us strike the key-note again, before pursuing the tune.

When she was half a dozen years younger, Louisa had been overheard
to begin a conversation with her brother one day, by saying 'Tom, I
wonder' - upon which Mr. Gradgrind, who was the person overhearing,
stepped forth into the light and said, 'Louisa, never wonder!'

Herein lay the spring of the mechanical art and mystery of
educating the reason without stooping to the cultivation of the
sentiments and affections.  Never wonder.  By means of addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division, settle everything
somehow, and never wonder.  Bring to me, says M'Choakumchild,
yonder baby just able to walk, and I will engage that it shall
never wonder.

Now, besides very many babies just able to walk, there happened to
be in Coketown a considerable population of babies who had been
walking against time towards the infinite world, twenty, thirty,
forty, fifty years and more.  These portentous infants being
alarming creatures to stalk about in any human society, the
eighteen denominations incessantly scratched one another's faces
and pulled one another's hair by way of agreeing on the steps to be
taken for their improvement - which they never did; a surprising
circumstance, when the happy adaptation of the means to the end is
considered.  Still, although they differed in every other
particular, conceivable and inconceivable (especially
inconceivable), they were pretty well united on the point that
these unlucky infants were never to wonder.  Body number one, said
they must take everything on trust.  Body number two, said they
must take everything on political economy.  Body number three,
wrote leaden little books for them, showing how the good grown-up
baby invariably got to the Savings-bank, and the bad grown-up baby
invariably got transported.  Body number four, under dreary
pretences of being droll (when it was very melancholy indeed), made
the shallowest pretences of concealing pitfalls of knowledge, into
which it was the duty of these babies to be smuggled and inveigled.
But, all the bodies agreed that they were never to wonder.

There was a library in Coketown, to which general access was easy.
Mr. Gradgrind greatly tormented his mind about what the people read
in this library:  a point whereon little rivers of tabular
statements periodically flowed into the howling ocean of tabular
statements, which no diver ever got to any depth in and came up
sane.  It was a disheartening circumstance, but a melancholy fact,
that even these readers persisted in wondering.  They wondered
about human nature, human passions, human hopes and fears, the
struggles, triumphs and defeats, the cares and joys and sorrows,
the lives and deaths of common men and women!  They sometimes,
after fifteen hours' work, sat down to read mere fables about men
and women, more or less like themselves, and about children, more
or less like their own.  They took De Foe to their bosoms, instead
of Euclid, and seemed to be on the whole more comforted by
Goldsmith than by Cocker.  Mr. Gradgrind was for ever working, in
print and out of print, at this eccentric sum, and he never could
make out how it yielded this unaccountable product.

'I am sick of my life, Loo.  I, hate it altogether, and I hate
everybody except you,' said the unnatural young Thomas Gradgrind in
the hair-cutting chamber at twilight.

'You don't hate Sissy, Tom?'

'I hate to be obliged to call her Jupe.  And she hates me,' said
Tom, moodily.

'No, she does not, Tom, I am sure!'

'She must,' said Tom.  'She must just hate and detest the whole
set-out of us.  They'll bother her head off, I think, before they
have done with her.  Already she's getting as pale as wax, and as
heavy as - I am.'

Young Thomas expressed these sentiments sitting astride of a chair
before the fire, with his arms on the back, and his sulky face on
his arms.  His sister sat in the darker corner by the fireside, now
looking at him, now looking at the bright sparks as they dropped
upon the hearth.

'As to me,' said Tom, tumbling his hair all manner of ways with his
sulky hands, 'I am a Donkey, that's what I am.  I am as obstinate
as one, I am more stupid than one, I get as much pleasure as one,
and I should like to kick like one.'

'Not me, I hope, Tom?'

'No, Loo; I wouldn't hurt you.  I made an exception of you at
first.  I don't know what this - jolly old - Jaundiced Jail,' Tom
had paused to find a sufficiently complimentary and expressive name
for the parental roof, and seemed to relieve his mind for a moment
by the strong alliteration of this one, 'would be without you.'

'Indeed, Tom?  Do you really and truly say so?'

'Why, of course I do.  What's the use of talking about it!'
returned Tom, chafing his face on his coat-sleeve, as if to mortify
his flesh, and have it in unison with his spirit.

'Because, Tom,' said his sister, after silently watching the sparks
awhile, 'as I get older, and nearer growing up, I often sit
wondering here, and think how unfortunate it is for me that I can't
reconcile you to home better than I am able to do.  I don't know
what other girls know.  I can't play to you, or sing to you.  I
can't talk to you so as to lighten your mind, for I never see any
amusing sights or read any amusing books that it would be a
pleasure or a relief to you to talk about, when you are tired.'

'Well, no more do I.  I am as bad as you in that respect; and I am
a Mule too, which you're not.  If father was determined to make me
either a Prig or a Mule, and I am not a Prig, why, it stands to
reason, I must be a Mule.  And so I am,' said Tom, desperately.

'It's a great pity,' said Louisa, after another pause, and speaking
thoughtfully out of her dark corner:  'it's a great pity, Tom.
It's very unfortunate for both of us.'

'Oh!  You,' said Tom; 'you are a girl, Loo, and a girl comes out of
it better than a boy does.  I don't miss anything in you.  You are
the only pleasure I have - you can brighten even this place - and
you can always lead me as you like.'

'You are a dear brother, Tom; and while you think I can do such
things, I don't so much mind knowing better.  Though I do know
better, Tom, and am very sorry for it.'  She came and kissed him,
and went back into her corner again.

'I wish I could collect all the Facts we hear so much about,' said
Tom, spitefully setting his teeth, 'and all the Figures, and all
the people who found them out:  and I wish I could put a thousand
barrels of gunpowder under them, and blow them all up together!
However, when I go to live with old Bounderby, I'll have my
revenge.'

'Your revenge, Tom?'

'I mean, I'll enjoy myself a little, and go about and see
something, and hear something.  I'll recompense myself for the way
in which I have been brought up.'

'But don't disappoint yourself beforehand, Tom.  Mr. Bounderby
thinks as father thinks, and is a great deal rougher, and not half
so kind.'

'Oh!' said Tom, laughing; 'I don't mind that.  I shall very well
know how to manage and smooth old Bounderby!'

Their shadows were defined upon the wall, but those of the high
presses in the room were all blended together on the wall and on
the ceiling, as if the brother and sister were overhung by a dark
cavern.  Or, a fanciful imagination - if such treason could have
been there - might have made it out to be the shadow of their
subject, and of its lowering association with their future.

'What is your great mode of smoothing and managing, Tom?  Is it a
secret?'

'Oh!' said Tom, 'if it is a secret, it's not far off.  It's you.
You are his little pet, you are his favourite; he'll do anything
for you.  When he says to me what I don't like, I shall say to him,
"My sister Loo will be hurt and disappointed, Mr. Bounderby.  She
always used to tell me she was sure you would be easier with me
than this."  That'll bring him about, or nothing will.'

After waiting for some answering remark, and getting none, Tom
wearily relapsed into the present time, and twined himself yawning
round and about the rails of his chair, and rumpled his head more
and more, until he suddenly looked up, and asked:

'Have you gone to sleep, Loo?'

'No, Tom.  I am looking at the fire.'

'You seem to find more to look at in it than ever I could find,'
said Tom.  'Another of the advantages, I suppose, of being a girl.'

'Tom,' enquired his sister, slowly, and in a curious tone, as if
she were reading what she asked in the fire, and it was not quite
plainly written there, 'do you look forward with any satisfaction
to this change to Mr. Bounderby's?'

'Why, there's one thing to be said of it,' returned Tom, pushing
his chair from him, and standing up; 'it will be getting away from
home.'

'There is one thing to be said of it,' Louisa repeated in her
former curious tone; 'it will be getting away from home.  Yes.'

'Not but what I shall be very unwilling, both to leave you, Loo,
and to leave you here.  But I must go, you know, whether I like it
or not; and I had better go where I can take with me some advantage
of your influence, than where I should lose it altogether.  Don't
you see?'

'Yes, Tom.'

The answer was so long in coming, though there was no indecision in
it, that Tom went and leaned on the back of her chair, to
contemplate the fire which so engrossed her, from her point of
view, and see what he could make of it.

'Except that it is a fire,' said Tom, 'it looks to me as stupid and
blank as everything else looks.  What do you see in it?  Not a
circus?'

'I don't see anything in it, Tom, particularly.  But since I have
been looking at it, I have been wondering about you and me, grown
up.'

'Wondering again!' said Tom.

'I have such unmanageable thoughts,' returned his sister, 'that
they will wonder.'

'Then I beg of you, Louisa,' said Mrs. Gradgrind, who had opened
the door without being heard, 'to do nothing of that description,
for goodness' sake, you inconsiderate girl, or I shall never hear
the last of it from your father.  And, Thomas, it is really
shameful, with my poor head continually wearing me out, that a boy
brought up as you have been, and whose education has cost what
yours has, should be found encouraging his sister to wonder, when
he knows his father has expressly said that she is not to do it.'

Louisa denied Tom's participation in the offence; but her mother
stopped her with the conclusive answer, 'Louisa, don't tell me, in
my state of health; for unless you had been encouraged, it is
morally and physically impossible that you could have done it.'

'I was encouraged by nothing, mother, but by looking at the red
sparks dropping out of the fire, and whitening and dying.  It made
me think, after all, how short my life would be, and how little I
could hope to do in it.'

'Nonsense!' said Mrs. Gradgrind, rendered almost energetic.
'Nonsense!  Don't stand there and tell me such stuff, Louisa, to my
face, when you know very well that if it was ever to reach your
father's ears I should never hear the last of it.  After all the
trouble that has been taken with you!  After the lectures you have
attended, and the experiments you have seen!  After I have heard
you myself, when the whole of my right side has been benumbed,
going on with your master about combustion, and calcination, and
calorification, and I may say every kind of ation that could drive
a poor invalid distracted, to hear you talking in this absurd way
about sparks and ashes!  I wish,' whimpered Mrs. Gradgrind, taking
a chair, and discharging her strongest point before succumbing
under these mere shadows of facts, 'yes, I really do wish that I
had never had a family, and then you would have known what it was
to do without me!'

CHAPTER IX - SISSY'S PROGRESS

SISSY JUPE had not an easy time of it, between Mr. M'Choakumchild
and Mrs. Gradgrind, and was not without strong impulses, in the
first months of her probation, to run away.  It hailed facts all
day long so very hard, and life in general was opened to her as
such a closely ruled ciphering-book, that assuredly she would have
run away, but for only one restraint.

It is lamentable to think of; but this restraint was the result of
no arithmetical process, was self-imposed in defiance of all
calculation, and went dead against any table of probabilities that
any Actuary would have drawn up from the premises.  The girl
believed that her father had not deserted her; she lived in the
hope that he would come back, and in the faith that he would be
made the happier by her remaining where she was.

The wretched ignorance with which Jupe clung to this consolation,
rejecting the superior comfort of knowing, on a sound arithmetical
basis, that her father was an unnatural vagabond, filled Mr.
Gradgrind with pity.  Yet, what was to be done?  M'Choakumchild
reported that she had a very dense head for figures; that, once
possessed with a general idea of the globe, she took the smallest
conceivable interest in its exact measurements; that she was
extremely slow in the acquisition of dates, unless some pitiful
incident happened to be connected therewith; that she would burst
into tears on being required (by the mental process) immediately to
name the cost of two hundred and forty-seven muslin caps at
fourteen-pence halfpenny; that she was as low down, in the school,
as low could be; that after eight weeks of induction into the
elements of Political Economy, she had only yesterday been set
right by a prattler three feet high, for returning to the question,
'What is the first principle of this science?' the absurd answer,
'To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me.'

Mr. Gradgrind observed, shaking his head, that all this was very
bad; that it showed the necessity of infinite grinding at the mill
of knowledge, as per system, schedule, blue book, report, and
tabular statements A to Z; and that Jupe 'must be kept to it.'  So
Jupe was kept to it, and became low-spirited, but no wiser.

'It would be a fine thing to be you, Miss Louisa!' she said, one
night, when Louisa had endeavoured to make her perplexities for
next day something clearer to her.

'Do you think so?'

'I should know so much, Miss Louisa.  All that is difficult to me
now, would be so easy then.'

'You might not be the better for it, Sissy.'

Sissy submitted, after a little hesitation, 'I should not be the
worse, Miss Louisa.'  To which Miss Louisa answered, 'I don't know
that.'

There had been so little communication between these two - both
because life at Stone Lodge went monotonously round like a piece of
machinery which discouraged human interference, and because of the
prohibition relative to Sissy's past career - that they were still
almost strangers.  Sissy, with her dark eyes wonderingly directed
to Louisa's face, was uncertain whether to say more or to remain
silent.

'You are more useful to my mother, and more pleasant with her than
I can ever be,' Louisa resumed.  'You are pleasanter to yourself,
than I am to myself.'

'But, if you please, Miss Louisa,' Sissy pleaded, 'I am - O so
stupid!'

Louisa, with a brighter laugh than usual, told her she would be
wiser by-and-by.

'You don't know,' said Sissy, half crying, 'what a stupid girl I
am.  All through school hours I make mistakes.  Mr. and Mrs.
M'Choakumchild call me up, over and over again, regularly to make
mistakes.  I can't help them.  They seem to come natural to me.'

'Mr. and Mrs. M'Choakumchild never make any mistakes themselves, I
suppose, Sissy?'

'O no!' she eagerly returned.  'They know everything.'

'Tell me some of your mistakes.'

'I am almost ashamed,' said Sissy, with reluctance.  'But to-day,
for instance, Mr. M'Choakumchild was explaining to us about Natural
Prosperity.'

'National, I think it must have been,' observed Louisa.

'Yes, it was. - But isn't it the same?' she timidly asked.

'You had better say, National, as he said so,' returned Louisa,
with her dry reserve.

'National Prosperity.  And he said, Now, this schoolroom is a
Nation.  And in this nation, there are fifty millions of money.
Isn't this a prosperous nation?  Girl number twenty, isn't this a
prosperous nation, and a'n't you in a thriving state?'

'What did you say?' asked Louisa.

'Miss Louisa, I said I didn't know.  I thought I couldn't know
whether it was a prosperous nation or not, and whether I was in a
thriving state or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and
whether any of it was mine.  But that had nothing to do with it.
It was not in the figures at all,' said Sissy, wiping her eyes.

'That was a great mistake of yours,' observed Louisa.

'Yes, Miss Louisa, I know it was, now.  Then Mr. M'Choakumchild
said he would try me again.  And he said, This schoolroom is an
immense town, and in it there are a million of inhabitants, and
only five-and-twenty are starved to death in the streets, in the
course of a year.  What is your remark on that proportion?  And my
remark was - for I couldn't think of a better one - that I thought
it must be just as hard upon those who were starved, whether the
others were a million, or a million million.  And that was wrong,
too.'

'Of course it was.'

'Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try me once more.  And he
said, Here are the stutterings - '

'Statistics,' said Louisa.

'Yes, Miss Louisa - they always remind me of stutterings, and
that's another of my mistakes - of accidents upon the sea.  And I
find (Mr. M'Choakumchild said) that in a given time a hundred
thousand persons went to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred
of them were drowned or burnt to death.  What is the percentage?
And I said, Miss;' here Sissy fairly sobbed as confessing with
extreme contrition to her greatest error; 'I said it was nothing.'

'Nothing, Sissy?'

'Nothing, Miss - to the relations and friends of the people who
were killed.  I shall never learn,' said Sissy.  'And the worst of
all is, that although my poor father wished me so much to learn,
and although I am so anxious to learn, because he wished me to, I
am afraid I don't like it.'

Louisa stood looking at the pretty modest head, as it drooped
abashed before her, until it was raised again to glance at her
face.  Then she asked:

'Did your father know so much himself, that he wished you to be
well taught too, Sissy?'

Sissy hesitated before replying, and so plainly showed her sense
that they were entering on forbidden ground, that Louisa added, 'No
one hears us; and if any one did, I am sure no harm could be found
in such an innocent question.'

'No, Miss Louisa,' answered Sissy, upon this encouragement, shaking
her head; 'father knows very little indeed.  It's as much as he can
do to write; and it's more than people in general can do to read
his writing.  Though it's plain to me.'

'Your mother!'

'Father says she was quite a scholar.  She died when I was born.
She was;' Sissy made the terrible communication nervously; 'she was
a dancer.'

'Did your father love her?'  Louisa asked these questions with a
strong, wild, wandering interest peculiar to her; an interest gone
astray like a banished creature, and hiding in solitary places.

'O yes!  As dearly as he loves me.  Father loved me, first, for her
sake.  He carried me about with him when I was quite a baby.  We
have never been asunder from that time.'

'Yet he leaves you now, Sissy?'

'Only for my good.  Nobody understands him as I do; nobody knows
him as I do.  When he left me for my good - he never would have
left me for his own - I know he was almost broken-hearted with the
trial.  He will not be happy for a single minute, till he comes
back.'

'Tell me more about him,' said Louisa, 'I will never ask you again.
Where did you live?'

'We travelled about the country, and had no fixed place to live in.
Father's a;' Sissy whispered the awful word, 'a clown.'

'To make the people laugh?' said Louisa, with a nod of
intelligence.

'Yes.  But they wouldn't laugh sometimes, and then father cried.
Lately, they very often wouldn't laugh, and he used to come home
despairing.  Father's not like most.  Those who didn't know him as
well as I do, and didn't love him as dearly as I do, might believe
he was not quite right.  Sometimes they played tricks upon him; but
they never knew how he felt them, and shrunk up, when he was alone
with me.  He was far, far timider than they thought!'

'And you were his comfort through everything?'

She nodded, with the tears rolling down her face.  'I hope so, and
father said I was.  It was because he grew so scared and trembling,
and because he felt himself to be a poor, weak, ignorant, helpless
man (those used to be his words), that he wanted me so much to know
a great deal, and be different from him.  I used to read to him to
cheer his courage, and he was very fond of that.  They were wrong
books - I am never to speak of them here - but we didn't know there
was any harm in them.'

'And he liked them?' said Louisa, with a searching gaze on Sissy
all this time.

'O very much!  They kept him, many times, from what did him real
harm.  And often and often of a night, he used to forget all his
troubles in wondering whether the Sultan would let the lady go on
with the story, or would have her head cut off before it was
finished.'

'And your father was always kind?  To the last?' asked Louisa
contravening the great principle, and wondering very much.

'Always, always!' returned Sissy, clasping her hands.  'Kinder and
kinder than I can tell.  He was angry only one night, and that was
not to me, but Merrylegs.  Merrylegs;' she whispered the awful
fact; 'is his performing dog.'

'Why was he angry with the dog?' Louisa demanded.

'Father, soon after they came home from performing, told Merrylegs
to jump up on the backs of the two chairs and stand across them -
which is one of his tricks.  He looked at father, and didn't do it
at once.  Everything of father's had gone wrong that night, and he
hadn't pleased the public at all.  He cried out that the very dog
knew he was failing, and had no compassion on him.  Then he beat
the dog, and I was frightened, and said, "Father, father!  Pray
don't hurt the creature who is so fond of you!  O Heaven forgive
you, father, stop!"  And he stopped, and the dog was bloody, and
father lay down crying on the floor with the dog in his arms, and
the dog licked his face.'

Louisa saw that she was sobbing; and going to her, kissed her, took
her hand, and sat down beside her.

'Finish by telling me how your father left you, Sissy.  Now that I
have asked you so much, tell me the end.  The blame, if there is
any blame, is mine, not yours.'

'Dear Miss Louisa,' said Sissy, covering her eyes, and sobbing yet;
'I came home from the school that afternoon, and found poor father
just come home too, from the booth.  And he sat rocking himself
over the fire, as if he was in pain.  And I said, "Have you hurt
yourself, father?" (as he did sometimes, like they all did), and he
said, "A little, my darling."  And when I came to stoop down and
look up at his face, I saw that he was crying.  The more I spoke to
him, the more he hid his face; and at first he shook all over, and
said nothing but "My darling;" and "My love!"'

Here Tom came lounging in, and stared at the two with a coolness
not particularly savouring of interest in anything but himself, and
not much of that at present.

'I am asking Sissy a few questions, Tom,' observed his sister.
'You have no occasion to go away; but don't interrupt us for a
moment, Tom dear.'

'Oh! very well!' returned Tom.  'Only father has brought old
Bounderby home, and I want you to come into the drawing-room.
Because if you come, there's a good chance of old Bounderby's
asking me to dinner; and if you don't, there's none.'

'I'll come directly.'

'I'll wait for you,' said Tom, 'to make sure.'

Sissy resumed in a lower voice.  'At last poor father said that he
had given no satisfaction again, and never did give any
satisfaction now, and that he was a shame and disgrace, and I
should have done better without him all along.  I said all the
affectionate things to him that came into my heart, and presently
he was quiet and I sat down by him, and told him all about the
school and everything that had been said and done there.  When I
had no more left to tell, he put his arms round my neck, and kissed
me a great many times.  Then he asked me to fetch some of the stuff
he used, for the little hurt he had had, and to get it at the best
place, which was at the other end of town from there; and then,
after kissing me again, he let me go.  When I had gone down-stairs,
I turned back that I might be a little bit more company to him yet,
and looked in at the door, and said, "Father dear, shall I take
Merrylegs?"  Father shook his head and said, "No, Sissy, no; take
nothing that's known to be mine, my darling;" and I left him
sitting by the fire.  Then the thought must have come upon him,
poor, poor father! of going away to try something for my sake; for
when I came back, he was gone.'

'I say!  Look sharp for old Bounderby, Loo!' Tom remonstrated.

'There's no more to tell, Miss Louisa.  I keep the nine oils ready
for him, and I know he will come back.  Every letter that I see in
Mr. Gradgrind's hand takes my breath away and blinds my eyes, for I
think it comes from father, or from Mr. Sleary about father.  Mr.
Sleary promised to write as soon as ever father should be heard of,
and I trust to him to keep his word.'

'Do look sharp for old Bounderby, Loo!' said Tom, with an impatient
whistle.  'He'll be off if you don't look sharp!'

After this, whenever Sissy dropped a curtsey to Mr. Gradgrind in
the presence of his family, and said in a faltering way, 'I beg
your pardon, sir, for being troublesome - but - have you had any
letter yet about me?'  Louisa would suspend the occupation of the
moment, whatever it was, and look for the reply as earnestly as
Sissy did.  And when Mr. Gradgrind regularly answered, 'No, Jupe,
nothing of the sort,' the trembling of Sissy's lip would be
repeated in Louisa's face, and her eyes would follow Sissy with
compassion to the door.  Mr. Gradgrind usually improved these
occasions by remarking, when she was gone, that if Jupe had been
properly trained from an early age she would have remonstrated to
herself on sound principles the baselessness of these fantastic
hopes.  Yet it did seem (though not to him, for he saw nothing of
it) as if fantastic hope could take as strong a hold as Fact.

This observation must be limited exclusively to his daughter.  As
to Tom, he was becoming that not unprecedented triumph of
calculation which is usually at work on number one.  As to Mrs.
Gradgrind, if she said anything on the subject, she would come a
little way out of her wrappers, like a feminine dormouse, and say:

'Good gracious bless me, how my poor head is vexed and worried by
that girl Jupe's so perseveringly asking, over and over again,
about her tiresome letters!  Upon my word and honour I seem to be
fated, and destined, and ordained, to live in the midst of things
that I am never to hear the last of.  It really is a most
extraordinary circumstance that it appears as if I never was to
hear the last of anything!'

At about this point, Mr. Gradgrind's eye would fall upon her; and
under the influence of that wintry piece of fact, she would become
torpid again.

CHAPTER X - STEPHEN BLACKPOOL

I ENTERTAIN a weak idea that the English people are as hard-worked
as any people upon whom the sun shines.  I acknowledge to this
ridiculous idiosyncrasy, as a reason why I would give them a little
more play.

In the hardest working part of Coketown; in the innermost
fortifications of that ugly citadel, where Nature was as strongly
bricked out as killing airs and gases were bricked in; at the heart
of the labyrinth of narrow courts upon courts, and close streets
upon streets, which had come into existence piecemeal, every piece
in a violent hurry for some one man's purpose, and the whole an
unnatural family, shouldering, and trampling, and pressing one
another to death; in the last close nook of this great exhausted
receiver, where the chimneys, for want of air to make a draught,
were built in an immense variety of stunted and crooked shapes, as
though every house put out a sign of the kind of people who might
be expected to be born in it; among the multitude of Coketown,
generically called 'the Hands,' - a race who would have found more
favour with some people, if Providence had seen fit to make them
only hands, or, like the lower creatures of the seashore, only
hands and stomachs - lived a certain Stephen Blackpool, forty years
of age.

Stephen looked older, but he had had a hard life.  It is said that
every life has its roses and thorns; there seemed, however, to have
been a misadventure or mistake in Stephen's case, whereby somebody
else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed
of the same somebody else's thorns in addition to his own.  He had
known, to use his words, a peck of trouble.  He was usually called
Old Stephen, in a kind of rough homage to the fact.

A rather stooping man, with a knitted brow, a pondering expression
of face, and a hard-looking head sufficiently capacious, on which
his iron-grey hair lay long and thin, Old Stephen might have passed
for a particularly intelligent man in his condition.  Yet he was
not.  He took no place among those remarkable 'Hands,' who, piecing
together their broken intervals of leisure through many years, had
mastered difficult sciences, and acquired a knowledge of most
unlikely things.  He held no station among the Hands who could make
speeches and carry on debates.  Thousands of his compeers could
talk much better than he, at any time.  He was a good power-loom
weaver, and a man of perfect integrity.  What more he was, or what
else he had in him, if anything, let him show for himself.

The lights in the great factories, which looked, when they were
illuminated, like Fairy palaces - or the travellers by express-
train said so - were all extinguished; and the bells had rung for
knocking off for the night, and had ceased again; and the Hands,
men and women, boy and girl, were clattering home.  Old Stephen was
standing in the street, with the old sensation upon him which the
stoppage of the machinery always produced - the sensation of its
having worked and stopped in his own head.

'Yet I don't see Rachael, still!' said he.

It was a wet night, and many groups of young women passed him, with
their shawls drawn over their bare heads and held close under their
chins to keep the rain out.  He knew Rachael well, for a glance at
any one of these groups was sufficient to show him that she was not
there.  At last, there were no more to come; and then he turned
away, saying in a tone of disappointment, 'Why, then, ha' missed
her!'

But, he had not gone the length of three streets, when he saw
another of the shawled figures in advance of him, at which he
looked so keenly that perhaps its mere shadow indistinctly
reflected on the wet pavement - if he could have seen it without
the figure itself moving along from lamp to lamp, brightening and
fading as it went - would have been enough to tell him who was
there.  Making his pace at once much quicker and much softer, he
darted on until he was very near this figure, then fell into his
former walk, and called 'Rachael!'

She turned, being then in the brightness of a lamp; and raising her
hood a little, showed a quiet oval face, dark and rather delicate,
irradiated by a pair of very gentle eyes, and further set off by
the perfect order of her shining black hair.  It was not a face in
its first bloom; she was a woman five and thirty years of age.

'Ah, lad!  'Tis thou?'  When she had said this, with a smile which
would have been quite expressed, though nothing of her had been
seen but her pleasant eyes, she replaced her hood again, and they
went on together.

'I thought thou wast ahind me, Rachael?'

'No.'

'Early t'night, lass?'

''Times I'm a little early, Stephen! 'times a little late.  I'm
never to be counted on, going home.'

'Nor going t'other way, neither, 't seems to me, Rachael?'

'No, Stephen.'

He looked at her with some disappointment in his face, but with a
respectful and patient conviction that she must be right in
whatever she did.  The expression was not lost upon her; she laid
her hand lightly on his arm a moment as if to thank him for it.

'We are such true friends, lad, and such old friends, and getting
to be such old folk, now.'

'No, Rachael, thou'rt as young as ever thou wast.'

'One of us would be puzzled how to get old, Stephen, without 't
other getting so too, both being alive,' she answered, laughing;
'but, anyways, we're such old friends, and t' hide a word of honest
truth fro' one another would be a sin and a pity.  'Tis better not
to walk too much together.  'Times, yes!  'Twould be hard, indeed,
if 'twas not to be at all,' she said, with a cheerfulness she
sought to communicate to him.

''Tis hard, anyways, Rachael.'

'Try to think not; and 'twill seem better.'

'I've tried a long time, and 'ta'nt got better.  But thou'rt right;
't might mak fok talk, even of thee.  Thou hast been that to me,
Rachael, through so many year:  thou hast done me so much good, and
heartened of me in that cheering way, that thy word is a law to me.
Ah, lass, and a bright good law!  Better than some real ones.'

'Never fret about them, Stephen,' she answered quickly, and not
without an anxious glance at his face.  'Let the laws be.'

'Yes,' he said, with a slow nod or two.  'Let 'em be.  Let
everything be.  Let all sorts alone.  'Tis a muddle, and that's
aw.'

'Always a muddle?' said Rachael, with another gentle touch upon his
arm, as if to recall him out of the thoughtfulness, in which he was
biting the long ends of his loose neckerchief as he walked along.
The touch had its instantaneous effect.  He let them fall, turned a
smiling face upon her, and said, as he broke into a good-humoured
laugh, 'Ay, Rachael, lass, awlus a muddle.  That's where I stick.
I come to the muddle many times and agen, and I never get beyond
it.'

They had walked some distance, and were near their own homes.  The
woman's was the first reached.  It was in one of the many small
streets for which the favourite undertaker (who turned a handsome
sum out of the one poor ghastly pomp of the neighbourhood) kept a
black ladder, in order that those who had done their daily groping
up and down the narrow stairs might slide out of this working world
by the windows.  She stopped at the corner, and putting her hand in
his, wished him good night.

'Good night, dear lass; good night!'

She went, with her neat figure and her sober womanly step, down the
dark street, and he stood looking after her until she turned into
one of the small houses.  There was not a flutter of her coarse
shawl, perhaps, but had its interest in this man's eyes; not a tone
of her voice but had its echo in his innermost heart.

When she was lost to his view, he pursued his homeward way,
glancing up sometimes at the sky, where the clouds were sailing
fast and wildly.  But, they were broken now, and the rain had
ceased, and the moon shone, - looking down the high chimneys of
Coketown on the deep furnaces below, and casting Titanic shadows of
the steam-engines at rest, upon the walls where they were lodged.
The man seemed to have brightened with the night, as he went on.

His home, in such another street as the first, saving that it was
narrower, was over a little shop.  How it came to pass that any
people found it worth their while to sell or buy the wretched
little toys, mixed up in its window with cheap newspapers and pork
(there was a leg to be raffled for to-morrow-night), matters not
here.  He took his end of candle from a shelf, lighted it at
another end of candle on the counter, without disturbing the
mistress of the shop who was asleep in her little room, and went
upstairs into his lodging.

It was a room, not unacquainted with the black ladder under various
tenants; but as neat, at present, as such a room could be.  A few
books and writings were on an old bureau in a corner, the furniture
was decent and sufficient, and, though the atmosphere was tainted,
the room was clean.

Going to the hearth to set the candle down upon a round three-
legged table standing there, he stumbled against something.  As he
recoiled, looking down at it, it raised itself up into the form of
a woman in a sitting attitude.

'Heaven's mercy, woman!' he cried, falling farther off from the
figure.  'Hast thou come back again!'

Such a woman!  A disabled, drunken creature, barely able to
preserve her sitting posture by steadying herself with one begrimed
hand on the floor, while the other was so purposeless in trying to
push away her tangled hair from her face, that it only blinded her
the more with the dirt upon it.  A creature so foul to look at, in
her tatters, stains and splashes, but so much fouler than that in
her moral infamy, that it was a shameful thing even to see her.

After an impatient oath or two, and some stupid clawing of herself
with the hand not necessary to her support, she got her hair away
from her eyes sufficiently to obtain a sight of him.  Then she sat
swaying her body to and fro, and making gestures with her unnerved
arm, which seemed intended as the accompaniment to a fit of
laughter, though her face was stolid and drowsy.

'Eigh, lad?  What, yo'r there?'  Some hoarse sounds meant for this,
came mockingly out of her at last; and her head dropped forward on
her breast.

'Back agen?' she screeched, after some minutes, as if he had that
moment said it.  'Yes!  And back agen.  Back agen ever and ever so
often.  Back?  Yes, back.  Why not?'

Roused by the unmeaning violence with which she cried it out, she
scrambled up, and stood supporting herself with her shoulders
against the wall; dangling in one hand by the string, a dunghill-
fragment of a bonnet, and trying to look scornfully at him.

'I'll sell thee off again, and I'll sell thee off again, and I'll
sell thee off a score of times!' she cried, with something between
a furious menace and an effort at a defiant dance.  'Come awa' from
th' bed!'  He was sitting on the side of it, with his face hidden
in his hands.  'Come awa! from 't.  'Tis mine, and I've a right to
t'!'

As she staggered to it, he avoided her with a shudder, and passed -
his face still hidden - to the opposite end of the room.  She threw
herself upon the bed heavily, and soon was snoring hard.  He sunk
into a chair, and moved but once all that night.  It was to throw a
covering over her; as if his hands were not enough to hide her,
even in the darkness.

CHAPTER XI - NO WAY OUT

THE Fairy palaces burst into illumination, before pale morning
showed the monstrous serpents of smoke trailing themselves over
Coketown.  A clattering of clogs upon the pavement; a rapid ringing
of bells; and all the melancholy mad elephants, polished and oiled
up for the day's monotony, were at their heavy exercise again.

Stephen bent over his loom, quiet, watchful, and steady.  A special
contrast, as every man was in the forest of looms where Stephen
worked, to the crashing, smashing, tearing piece of mechanism at
which he laboured.  Never fear, good people of an anxious turn of
mind, that Art will consign Nature to oblivion.  Set anywhere, side
by side, the work of GOD and the work of man; and the former, even
though it be a troop of Hands of very small account, will gain in
dignity from the comparison.

So many hundred Hands in this Mill; so many hundred horse Steam
Power.  It is known, to the force of a single pound weight, what
the engine will do; but, not all the calculators of the National
Debt can tell me the capacity for good or evil, for love or hatred,
for patriotism or discontent, for the decomposition of virtue into
vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of
these its quiet servants, with the composed faces and the regulated
actions.  There is no mystery in it; there is an unfathomable
mystery in the meanest of them, for ever. - Supposing we were to
reverse our arithmetic for material objects, and to govern these
awful unknown quantities by other means!

The day grew strong, and showed itself outside, even against the
flaming lights within.  The lights were turned out, and the work
went on.  The rain fell, and the Smoke-serpents, submissive to the
curse of all that tribe, trailed themselves upon the earth.  In the
waste-yard outside, the steam from the escape pipe, the litter of
barrels and old iron, the shining heaps of coals, the ashes
everywhere, were shrouded in a veil of mist and rain.

The work went on, until the noon-bell rang.  More clattering upon
the pavements.  The looms, and wheels, and Hands all out of gear
for an hour.

Stephen came out of the hot mill into the damp wind and cold wet
streets, haggard and worn.  He turned from his own class and his
own quarter, taking nothing but a little bread as he walked along,
towards the hill on which his principal employer lived, in a red
house with black outside shutters, green inside blinds, a black
street door, up two white steps, BOUNDERBY (in letters very like
himself) upon a brazen plate, and a round brazen door-handle
underneath it, like a brazen full-stop.

Mr. Bounderby was at his lunch.  So Stephen had expected.  Would
his servant say that one of the Hands begged leave to speak to him?
Message in return, requiring name of such Hand.  Stephen Blackpool.
There was nothing troublesome against Stephen Blackpool; yes, he
might come in.

Stephen Blackpool in the parlour.  Mr. Bounderby (whom he just knew
by sight), at lunch on chop and sherry.  Mrs. Sparsit netting at
the fireside, in a side-saddle attitude, with one foot in a cotton
stirrup.  It was a part, at once of Mrs. Sparsit's dignity and
service, not to lunch.  She supervised the meal officially, but
implied that in her own stately person she considered lunch a
weakness.

'Now, Stephen,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'what's the matter with you?'

Stephen made a bow.  Not a servile one - these Hands will never do
that!  Lord bless you, sir, you'll never catch them at that, if
they have been with you twenty years! - and, as a complimentary
toilet for Mrs. Sparsit, tucked his neckerchief ends into his
waistcoat.

'Now, you know,' said Mr. Bounderby, taking some sherry, 'we have
never had any difficulty with you, and you have never been one of
the unreasonable ones.  You don't expect to be set up in a coach
and six, and to be fed on turtle soup and venison, with a gold
spoon, as a good many of 'em do!'  Mr. Bounderby always represented
this to be the sole, immediate, and direct object of any Hand who
was not entirely satisfied; 'and therefore I know already that you
have not come here to make a complaint.  Now, you know, I am
certain of that, beforehand.'

'No, sir, sure I ha' not coom for nowt o' th' kind.'

Mr. Bounderby seemed agreeably surprised, notwithstanding his
previous strong conviction.  'Very well,' he returned.  'You're a
steady Hand, and I was not mistaken.  Now, let me hear what it's
all about.  As it's not that, let me hear what it is.  What have
you got to say?  Out with it, lad!'

Stephen happened to glance towards Mrs. Sparsit.  'I can go, Mr.
Bounderby, if you wish it,' said that self-sacrificing lady, making
a feint of taking her foot out of the stirrup.

Mr. Bounderby stayed her, by holding a mouthful of chop in
suspension before swallowing it, and putting out his left hand.
Then, withdrawing his hand and swallowing his mouthful of chop, he
said to Stephen:

'Now you know, this good lady is a born lady, a high lady.  You are
not to suppose because she keeps my house for me, that she hasn't
been very high up the tree - ah, up at the top of the tree!  Now,
if you have got anything to say that can't be said before a born
lady, this lady will leave the room.  If what you have got to say
can be said before a born lady, this lady will stay where she is.'

'Sir, I hope I never had nowt to say, not fitten for a born lady to
year, sin' I were born mysen',' was the reply, accompanied with a
slight flush.

'Very well,' said Mr. Bounderby, pushing away his plate, and
leaning back.  'Fire away!'

'I ha' coom,' Stephen began, raising his eyes from the floor, after
a moment's consideration, 'to ask yo yor advice.  I need 't
overmuch.  I were married on Eas'r Monday nineteen year sin, long
and dree.  She were a young lass - pretty enow - wi' good accounts
of herseln.  Well!  She went bad - soon.  Not along of me.  Gonnows
I were not a unkind husband to her.'

'I have heard all this before,' said Mr. Bounderby.  'She took to
drinking, left off working, sold the furniture, pawned the clothes,
and played old Gooseberry.'

'I were patient wi' her.'

('The more fool you, I think,' said Mr. Bounderby, in confidence to
his wine-glass.)

'I were very patient wi' her.  I tried to wean her fra 't ower and
ower agen.  I tried this, I tried that, I tried t'other.  I ha'
gone home, many's the time, and found all vanished as I had in the
world, and her without a sense left to bless herseln lying on bare
ground.  I ha' dun 't not once, not twice - twenty time!'

Every line in his face deepened as he said it, and put in its
affecting evidence of the suffering he had undergone.

'From bad to worse, from worse to worsen.  She left me.  She
disgraced herseln everyways, bitter and bad.  She coom back, she
coom back, she coom back.  What could I do t' hinder her?  I ha'
walked the streets nights long, ere ever I'd go home.  I ha' gone
t' th' brigg, minded to fling myseln ower, and ha' no more on't.  I
ha' bore that much, that I were owd when I were young.'

Mrs. Sparsit, easily ambling along with her netting-needles, raised
the Coriolanian eyebrows and shook her head, as much as to say,
'The great know trouble as well as the small.  Please to turn your
humble eye in My direction.'

'I ha' paid her to keep awa' fra' me.  These five year I ha' paid
her.  I ha' gotten decent fewtrils about me agen.  I ha' lived hard
and sad, but not ashamed and fearfo' a' the minnits o' my life.
Last night, I went home.  There she lay upon my har-stone!  There
she is!'

In the strength of his misfortune, and the energy of his distress,
he fired for the moment like a proud man.  In another moment, he
stood as he had stood all the time - his usual stoop upon him; his
pondering face addressed to Mr. Bounderby, with a curious
expression on it, half shrewd, half perplexed, as if his mind were
set upon unravelling something very difficult; his hat held tight
in his left hand, which rested on his hip; his right arm, with a
rugged propriety and force of action, very earnestly emphasizing
what he said:  not least so when it always paused, a little bent,
but not withdrawn, as he paused.

'I was acquainted with all this, you know,' said Mr. Bounderby,
'except the last clause, long ago.  It's a bad job; that's what it
is.  You had better have been satisfied as you were, and not have
got married.  However, it's too late to say that.'

'Was it an unequal marriage, sir, in point of years?' asked Mrs.
Sparsit.

'You hear what this lady asks.  Was it an unequal marriage in point
of years, this unlucky job of yours?' said Mr. Bounderby.

'Not e'en so.  I were one-and-twenty myseln; she were twenty
nighbut.'

'Indeed, sir?' said Mrs. Sparsit to her Chief, with great
placidity.  'I inferred, from its being so miserable a marriage,
that it was probably an unequal one in point of years.'

Mr. Bounderby looked very hard at the good lady in a side-long way
that had an odd sheepishness about it.  He fortified himself with a
little more sherry.

'Well?  Why don't you go on?' he then asked, turning rather
irritably on Stephen Blackpool.

'I ha' coom to ask yo, sir, how I am to be ridded o' this woman.'
Stephen infused a yet deeper gravity into the mixed expression of
his attentive face.  Mrs. Sparsit uttered a gentle ejaculation, as
having received a moral shock.

'What do you mean?' said Bounderby, getting up to lean his back
against the chimney-piece.  'What are you talking about?  You took
her for better for worse.'

'I mun' be ridden o' her.  I cannot bear 't nommore.  I ha' lived
under 't so long, for that I ha' had'n the pity and comforting
words o' th' best lass living or dead.  Haply, but for her, I
should ha' gone battering mad.'

'He wishes to be free, to marry the female of whom he speaks, I
fear, sir,' observed Mrs. Sparsit in an undertone, and much
dejected by the immorality of the people.

'I do.  The lady says what's right.  I do.  I were a coming to 't.
I ha' read i' th' papers that great folk (fair faw 'em a'!  I
wishes 'em no hurt!) are not bonded together for better for worst
so fast, but that they can be set free fro' their misfortnet
marriages, an' marry ower agen.  When they dunnot agree, for that
their tempers is ill-sorted, they has rooms o' one kind an' another
in their houses, above a bit, and they can live asunders.  We fok
ha' only one room, and we can't.  When that won't do, they ha' gowd
an' other cash, an' they can say "This for yo' an' that for me,"
an' they can go their separate ways.  We can't.  Spite o' all that,
they can be set free for smaller wrongs than mine.  So, I mun be
ridden o' this woman, and I want t' know how?'

'No how,' returned Mr. Bounderby.

'If I do her any hurt, sir, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I flee from her, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I marry t'oother dear lass, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I was to live wi' her an' not marry her - saying such a thing
could be, which it never could or would, an' her so good - there's
a law to punish me, in every innocent child belonging to me?'

'Of course there is.'

'Now, a' God's name,' said Stephen Blackpool, 'show me the law to
help me!'

'Hem!  There's a sanctity in this relation of life,' said Mr.
Bounderby, 'and - and - it must be kept up.'

'No no, dunnot say that, sir.  'Tan't kep' up that way.  Not that
way.  'Tis kep' down that way.  I'm a weaver, I were in a fact'ry
when a chilt, but I ha' gotten een to see wi' and eern to year wi'.
I read in th' papers every 'Sizes, every Sessions - and you read
too - I know it! - with dismay - how th' supposed unpossibility o'
ever getting unchained from one another, at any price, on any
terms, brings blood upon this land, and brings many common married
fok to battle, murder, and sudden death.  Let us ha' this, right
understood.  Mine's a grievous case, an' I want - if yo will be so
good - t' know the law that helps me.'

'Now, I tell you what!' said Mr. Bounderby, putting his hands in
his pockets.  'There is such a law.'

Stephen, subsiding into his quiet manner, and never wandering in
his attention, gave a nod.

'But it's not for you at all.  It costs money.  It costs a mint of
money.'

'How much might that be?' Stephen calmly asked.

'Why, you'd have to go to Doctors' Commons with a suit, and you'd
have to go to a court of Common Law with a suit, and you'd have to
go to the House of Lords with a suit, and you'd have to get an Act
of Parliament to enable you to marry again, and it would cost you
(if it was a case of very plain sailing), I suppose from a thousand
to fifteen hundred pound,' said Mr. Bounderby.  'Perhaps twice the
money.'

'There's no other law?'

'Certainly not.'

'Why then, sir,' said Stephen, turning white, and motioning with
that right hand of his, as if he gave everything to the four winds,
''tis a muddle.  'Tis just a muddle a'toogether, an' the sooner I
am dead, the better.'

(Mrs. Sparsit again dejected by the impiety of the people.)

'Pooh, pooh!  Don't you talk nonsense, my good fellow,' said Mr.
Bounderby, 'about things you don't understand; and don't you call
the Institutions of your country a muddle, or you'll get yourself
into a real muddle one of these fine mornings.  The institutions of
your country are not your piece-work, and the only thing you have
got to do, is, to mind your piece-work.  You didn't take your wife
for fast and for loose; but for better for worse.  If she has
turned out worse - why, all we have got to say is, she might have
turned out better.'

''Tis a muddle,' said Stephen, shaking his head as he moved to the
door.  ''Tis a' a muddle!'

'Now, I'll tell you what!' Mr. Bounderby resumed, as a valedictory
address.  'With what I shall call your unhallowed opinions, you
have been quite shocking this lady:  who, as I have already told
you, is a born lady, and who, as I have not already told you, has
had her own marriage misfortunes to the tune of tens of thousands
of pounds - tens of Thousands of Pounds!' (he repeated it with
great relish).  'Now, you have always been a steady Hand hitherto;
but my opinion is, and so I tell you plainly, that you are turning
into the wrong road.  You have been listening to some mischievous
stranger or other - they're always about - and the best thing you
can do is, to come out of that.  Now you know;' here his
countenance expressed marvellous acuteness; 'I can see as far into
a grindstone as another man; farther than a good many, perhaps,
because I had my nose well kept to it when I was young.  I see
traces of the turtle soup, and venison, and gold spoon in this.
Yes, I do!' cried Mr. Bounderby, shaking his head with obstinate
cunning.  'By the Lord Harry, I do!'

With a very different shake of the head and deep sigh, Stephen
said, 'Thank you, sir, I wish you good day.'  So he left Mr.
Bounderby swelling at his own portrait on the wall, as if he were
going to explode himself into it; and Mrs. Sparsit still ambling on
with her foot in her stirrup, looking quite cast down by the
popular vices.

CHAPTER XII - THE OLD WOMAN

OLD STEPHEN descended the two white steps, shutting the black door
with the brazen door-plate, by the aid of the brazen full-stop, to
which he gave a parting polish with the sleeve of his coat,
observing that his hot hand clouded it.  He crossed the street with
his eyes bent upon the ground, and thus was walking sorrowfully
away, when he felt a touch upon his arm.

It was not the touch he needed most at such a moment - the touch
that could calm the wild waters of his soul, as the uplifted hand
of the sublimest love and patience could abate the raging of the
sea - yet it was a woman's hand too.  It was an old woman, tall and
shapely still, though withered by time, on whom his eyes fell when
he stopped and turned.  She was very cleanly and plainly dressed,
had country mud upon her shoes, and was newly come from a journey.
The flutter of her manner, in the unwonted noise of the streets;
the spare shawl, carried unfolded on her arm; the heavy umbrella,
and little basket; the loose long-fingered gloves, to which her
hands were unused; all bespoke an old woman from the country, in
her plain holiday clothes, come into Coketown on an expedition of
rare occurrence.  Remarking this at a glance, with the quick
observation of his class, Stephen Blackpool bent his attentive face
- his face, which, like the faces of many of his order, by dint of
long working with eyes and hands in the midst of a prodigious
noise, had acquired the concentrated look with which we are
familiar in the countenances of the deaf - the better to hear what
she asked him.

'Pray, sir,' said the old woman, 'didn't I see you come out of that
gentleman's house?' pointing back to Mr. Bounderby's.  'I believe
it was you, unless I have had the bad luck to mistake the person in
following?'

'Yes, missus,' returned Stephen, 'it were me.'

'Have you - you'll excuse an old woman's curiosity - have you seen
the gentleman?'

'Yes, missus.'

'And how did he look, sir?  Was he portly, bold, outspoken, and
hearty?'  As she straightened her own figure, and held up her head
in adapting her action to her words, the idea crossed Stephen that
he had seen this old woman before, and had not quite liked her.

'O yes,' he returned, observing her more attentively, 'he were all
that.'

'And healthy,' said the old woman, 'as the fresh wind?'

'Yes,' returned Stephen.  'He were ett'n and drinking - as large
and as loud as a Hummobee.'

'Thank you!' said the old woman, with infinite content.  'Thank
you!'

He certainly never had seen this old woman before.  Yet there was a
vague remembrance in his mind, as if he had more than once dreamed
of some old woman like her.

She walked along at his side, and, gently accommodating himself to
her humour, he said Coketown was a busy place, was it not?  To
which she answered 'Eigh sure!  Dreadful busy!'  Then he said, she
came from the country, he saw?  To which she answered in the
affirmative.

'By Parliamentary, this morning.  I came forty mile by
Parliamentary this morning, and I'm going back the same forty mile
this afternoon.  I walked nine mile to the station this morning,
and if I find nobody on the road to give me a lift, I shall walk
the nine mile back to-night.  That's pretty well, sir, at my age!'
said the chatty old woman, her eye brightening with exultation.

''Deed 'tis.  Don't do't too often, missus.'

'No, no.  Once a year,' she answered, shaking her head.  'I spend
my savings so, once every year.  I come regular, to tramp about the
streets, and see the gentlemen.'

'Only to see 'em?' returned Stephen.

'That's enough for me,' she replied, with great earnestness and
interest of manner.  'I ask no more!  I have been standing about,
on this side of the way, to see that gentleman,' turning her head
back towards Mr. Bounderby's again, 'come out.  But, he's late this
year, and I have not seen him.  You came out instead.  Now, if I am
obliged to go back without a glimpse of him - I only want a glimpse
- well!  I have seen you, and you have seen him, and I must make
that do.'  Saying this, she looked at Stephen as if to fix his
features in her mind, and her eye was not so bright as it had been.

With a large allowance for difference of tastes, and with all
submission to the patricians of Coketown, this seemed so
extraordinary a source of interest to take so much trouble about,
that it perplexed him.  But they were passing the church now, and
as his eye caught the clock, he quickened his pace.

He was going to his work? the old woman said, quickening hers, too,
quite easily.  Yes, time was nearly out.  On his telling her where
he worked, the old woman became a more singular old woman than
before.

'An't you happy?' she asked him.

'Why - there's awmost nobbody but has their troubles, missus.'  He
answered evasively, because the old woman appeared to take it for
granted that he would be very happy indeed, and he had not the
heart to disappoint her.  He knew that there was trouble enough in
the world; and if the old woman had lived so long, and could count
upon his having so little, why so much the better for her, and none
the worse for him.

'Ay, ay!  You have your troubles at home, you mean?' she said.

'Times.  Just now and then,' he answered, slightly.

'But, working under such a gentleman, they don't follow you to the
Factory?'

No, no; they didn't follow him there, said Stephen.  All correct
there.  Everything accordant there.  (He did not go so far as to
say, for her pleasure, that there was a sort of Divine Right there;
but, I have heard claims almost as magnificent of late years.)

They were now in the black by-road near the place, and the Hands
were crowding in.  The bell was ringing, and the Serpent was a
Serpent of many coils, and the Elephant was getting ready.  The
strange old woman was delighted with the very bell.  It was the
beautifullest bell she had ever heard, she said, and sounded grand!

She asked him, when he stopped good-naturedly to shake hands with
her before going in, how long he had worked there?

'A dozen year,' he told her.

'I must kiss the hand,' said she, 'that has worked in this fine
factory for a dozen year!'  And she lifted it, though he would have
prevented her, and put it to her lips.  What harmony, besides her
age and her simplicity, surrounded her, he did not know, but even
in this fantastic action there was a something neither out of time
nor place:  a something which it seemed as if nobody else could
have made as serious, or done with such a natural and touching air.

He had been at his loom full half an hour, thinking about this old
woman, when, having occasion to move round the loom for its
adjustment, he glanced through a window which was in his corner,
and saw her still looking up at the pile of building, lost in
admiration.  Heedless of the smoke and mud and wet, and of her two
long journeys, she was gazing at it, as if the heavy thrum that
issued from its many stories were proud music to her.

She was gone by and by, and the day went after her, and the lights
sprung up again, and the Express whirled in full sight of the Fairy
Palace over the arches near:  little felt amid the jarring of the
machinery, and scarcely heard above its crash and rattle.  Long
before then his thoughts had gone back to the dreary room above the
little shop, and to the shameful figure heavy on the bed, but
heavier on his heart.

Machinery slackened; throbbing feebly like a fainting pulse;
stopped.  The bell again; the glare of light and heat dispelled;
the factories, looming heavy in the black wet night - their tall
chimneys rising up into the air like competing Towers of Babel.

He had spoken to Rachael only last night, it was true, and had
walked with her a little way; but he had his new misfortune on him,
in which no one else could give him a moment's relief, and, for the
sake of it, and because he knew himself to want that softening of
his anger which no voice but hers could effect, he felt he might so
far disregard what she had said as to wait for her again.  He
waited, but she had eluded him.  She was gone.  On no other night
in the year could he so ill have spared her patient face.

O!  Better to have no home in which to lay his head, than to have a
home and dread to go to it, through such a cause.  He ate and
drank, for he was exhausted - but he little knew or cared what; and
he wandered about in the chill rain, thinking and thinking, and
brooding and brooding.

No word of a new marriage had ever passed between them; but Rachael
had taken great pity on him years ago, and to her alone he had
opened his closed heart all this time, on the subject of his
miseries; and he knew very well that if he were free to ask her,
she would take him.  He thought of the home he might at that moment
have been seeking with pleasure and pride; of the different man he
might have been that night; of the lightness then in his now heavy-
laden breast; of the then restored honour, self-respect, and
tranquillity all torn to pieces.  He thought of the waste of the
best part of his life, of the change it made in his character for
the worse every day, of the dreadful nature of his existence, bound
hand and foot, to a dead woman, and tormented by a demon in her
shape.  He thought of Rachael, how young when they were first
brought together in these circumstances, how mature now, how soon
to grow old.  He thought of the number of girls and women she had
seen marry, how many homes with children in them she had seen grow
up around her, how she had contentedly pursued her own lone quiet
path - for him - and how he had sometimes seen a shade of
melancholy on her blessed face, that smote him with remorse and
despair.  He set the picture of her up, beside the infamous image
of last night; and thought, Could it be, that the whole earthly
course of one so gentle, good, and self-denying, was subjugate to
such a wretch as that!

Filled with these thoughts - so filled that he had an unwholesome
sense of growing larger, of being placed in some new and diseased
relation towards the objects among which he passed, of seeing the
iris round every misty light turn red - he went home for shelter.

CHAPTER XIII - RACHAEL

A CANDLE faintly burned in the window, to which the black ladder
had often been raised for the sliding away of all that was most
precious in this world to a striving wife and a brood of hungry
babies; and Stephen added to his other thoughts the stern
reflection, that of all the casualties of this existence upon
earth, not one was dealt out with so unequal a hand as Death.  The
inequality of Birth was nothing to it.  For, say that the child of
a King and the child of a Weaver were born to-night in the same
moment, what was that disparity, to the death of any human creature
who was serviceable to, or beloved by, another, while this
abandoned woman lived on!

From the outside of his home he gloomily passed to the inside, with
suspended breath and with a slow footstep.  He went up to his door,
opened it, and so into the room.

Quiet and peace were there.  Rachael was there, sitting by the bed.

She turned her head, and the light of her face shone in upon the
midnight of his mind.  She sat by the bed, watching and tending his
wife.  That is to say, he saw that some one lay there, and he knew
too well it must be she; but Rachael's hands had put a curtain up,
so that she was screened from his eyes.  Her disgraceful garments
were removed, and some of Rachael's were in the room.  Everything
was in its place and order as he had always kept it, the little
fire was newly trimmed, and the hearth was freshly swept.  It
appeared to him that he saw all this in Rachael's face, and looked
at nothing besides.  While looking at it, it was shut out from his
view by the softened tears that filled his eyes; but not before he
had seen how earnestly she looked at him, and how her own eyes were
filled too.

She turned again towards the bed, and satisfying herself that all
was quiet there, spoke in a low, calm, cheerful voice.

'I am glad you have come at last, Stephen.  You are very late.'

'I ha' been walking up an' down.'

'I thought so.  But 'tis too bad a night for that.  The rain falls
very heavy, and the wind has risen.'

The wind?  True.  It was blowing hard.  Hark to the thundering in
the chimney, and the surging noise!  To have been out in such a
wind, and not to have known it was blowing!

'I have been here once before, to-day, Stephen.  Landlady came
round for me at dinner-time.  There was some one here that needed
looking to, she said.  And 'deed she was right.  All wandering and
lost, Stephen.  Wounded too, and bruised.'

He slowly moved to a chair and sat down, drooping his head before
her.

'I came to do what little I could, Stephen; first, for that she
worked with me when we were girls both, and for that you courted
her and married her when I was her friend - '

He laid his furrowed forehead on his hand, with a low groan.

'And next, for that I know your heart, and am right sure and
certain that 'tis far too merciful to let her die, or even so much
as suffer, for want of aid.  Thou knowest who said, "Let him who is
without sin among you cast the first stone at her!"  There have
been plenty to do that.  Thou art not the man to cast the last
stone, Stephen, when she is brought so low.'

'O Rachael, Rachael!'

'Thou hast been a cruel sufferer, Heaven reward thee!' she said, in
compassionate accents.  'I am thy poor friend, with all my heart
and mind.'

The wounds of which she had spoken, seemed to be about the neck of
the self-made outcast.  She dressed them now, still without showing
her.  She steeped a piece of linen in a basin, into which she
poured some liquid from a bottle, and laid it with a gentle hand
upon the sore.  The three-legged table had been drawn close to the
bedside, and on it there were two bottles.  This was one.

It was not so far off, but that Stephen, following her hands with
his eyes, could read what was printed on it in large letters.  He
turned of a deadly hue, and a sudden horror seemed to fall upon
him.

'I will stay here, Stephen,' said Rachael, quietly resuming her
seat, 'till the bells go Three.  'Tis to be done again at three,
and then she may be left till morning.'

'But thy rest agen to-morrow's work, my dear.'

'I slept sound last night.  I can wake many nights, when I am put
to it.  'Tis thou who art in need of rest - so white and tired.
Try to sleep in the chair there, while I watch.  Thou hadst no
sleep last night, I can well believe.  To-morrow's work is far
harder for thee than for me.'

He heard the thundering and surging out of doors, and it seemed to
him as if his late angry mood were going about trying to get at
him.  She had cast it out; she would keep it out; he trusted to her
to defend him from himself.

'She don't know me, Stephen; she just drowsily mutters and stares.
I have spoken to her times and again, but she don't notice!  'Tis
as well so.  When she comes to her right mind once more, I shall
have done what I can, and she never the wiser.'

'How long, Rachael, is 't looked for, that she'll be so?'

'Doctor said she would haply come to her mind to-morrow.'

His eyes fell again on the bottle, and a tremble passed over him,
causing him to shiver in every limb.  She thought he was chilled
with the wet.  'No,' he said, 'it was not that.  He had had a
fright.'

'A fright?'

'Ay, ay! coming in.  When I were walking.  When I were thinking.
When I - '  It seized him again; and he stood up, holding by the
mantel-shelf, as he pressed his dank cold hair down with a hand
that shook as if it were palsied.

'Stephen!'

She was coming to him, but he stretched out his arm to stop her.

'No!  Don't, please; don't.  Let me see thee setten by the bed.
Let me see thee, a' so good, and so forgiving.  Let me see thee as
I see thee when I coom in.  I can never see thee better than so.
Never, never, never!'

He had a violent fit of trembling, and then sunk into his chair.
After a time he controlled himself, and, resting with an elbow on
one knee, and his head upon that hand, could look towards Rachael.
Seen across the dim candle with his moistened eyes, she looked as
if she had a glory shining round her head.  He could have believed
she had.  He did believe it, as the noise without shook the window,
rattled at the door below, and went about the house clamouring and
lamenting.

'When she gets better, Stephen, 'tis to be hoped she'll leave thee
to thyself again, and do thee no more hurt.  Anyways we will hope
so now.  And now I shall keep silence, for I want thee to sleep.'

He closed his eyes, more to please her than to rest his weary head;
but, by slow degrees as he listened to the great noise of the wind,
he ceased to hear it, or it changed into the working of his loom,
or even into the voices of the day (his own included) saying what
had been really said.  Even this imperfect consciousness faded away
at last, and he dreamed a long, troubled dream.

He thought that he, and some one on whom his heart had long been
set - but she was not Rachael, and that surprised him, even in the
midst of his imaginary happiness - stood in the church being
married.  While the ceremony was performing, and while he
recognized among the witnesses some whom he knew to be living, and
many whom he knew to be dead, darkness came on, succeeded by the
shining of a tremendous light.  It broke from one line in the table
of commandments at the altar, and illuminated the building with the
words.  They were sounded through the church, too, as if there were
voices in the fiery letters.  Upon this, the whole appearance
before him and around him changed, and nothing was left as it had
been, but himself and the clergyman.  They stood in the daylight
before a crowd so vast, that if all the people in the world could
have been brought together into one space, they could not have
looked, he thought, more numerous; and they all abhorred him, and
there was not one pitying or friendly eye among the millions that
were fastened on his face.  He stood on a raised stage, under his
own loom; and, looking up at the shape the loom took, and hearing
the burial service distinctly read, he knew that he was there to
suffer death.  In an instant what he stood on fell below him, and
he was gone.

- Out of what mystery he came back to his usual life, and to places
that he knew, he was unable to consider; but he was back in those
places by some means, and with this condemnation upon him, that he
was never, in this world or the next, through all the unimaginable
ages of eternity, to look on Rachael's face or hear her voice.
Wandering to and fro, unceasingly, without hope, and in search of
he knew not what (he only knew that he was doomed to seek it), he
was the subject of a nameless, horrible dread, a mortal fear of one
particular shape which everything took.  Whatsoever he looked at,
grew into that form sooner or later.  The object of his miserable
existence was to prevent its recognition by any one among the
various people he encountered.  Hopeless labour!  If he led them
out of rooms where it was, if he shut up drawers and closets where
it stood, if he drew the curious from places where he knew it to be
secreted, and got them out into the streets, the very chimneys of
the mills assumed that shape, and round them was the printed word.

The wind was blowing again, the rain was beating on the house-tops,
and the larger spaces through which he had strayed contracted to
the four walls of his room.  Saving that the fire had died out, it
was as his eyes had closed upon it.  Rachael seemed to have fallen
into a doze, in the chair by the bed.  She sat wrapped in her
shawl, perfectly still.  The table stood in the same place, close
by the bedside, and on it, in its real proportions and appearance,
was the shape so often repeated.

He thought he saw the curtain move.  He looked again, and he was
sure it moved.  He saw a hand come forth and grope about a little.
Then the curtain moved more perceptibly, and the woman in the bed
put it back, and sat up.

With her woful eyes, so haggard and wild, so heavy and large, she
looked all round the room, and passed the corner where he slept in
his chair.  Her eyes returned to that corner, and she put her hand
over them as a shade, while she looked into it.  Again they went
all round the room, scarcely heeding Rachael if at all, and
returned to that corner.  He thought, as she once more shaded them
- not so much looking at him, as looking for him with a brutish
instinct that he was there - that no single trace was left in those
debauched features, or in the mind that went along with them, of
the woman he had married eighteen years before.  But that he had
seen her come to this by inches, he never could have believed her
to be the same.

All this time, as if a spell were on him, he was motionless and
powerless, except to watch her.

Stupidly dozing, or communing with her incapable self about
nothing, she sat for a little while with her hands at her ears, and
her head resting on them.  Presently, she resumed her staring round
the room.  And now, for the first time, her eyes stopped at the
table with the bottles on it.

Straightway she turned her eyes back to his corner, with the
defiance of last night, and moving very cautiously and softly,
stretched out her greedy hand.  She drew a mug into the bed, and
sat for a while considering which of the two bottles she should
choose.  Finally, she laid her insensate grasp upon the bottle that
had swift and certain death in it, and, before his eyes, pulled out
the cork with her teeth.

Dream or reality, he had no voice, nor had he power to stir.  If
this be real, and her allotted time be not yet come, wake, Rachael,
wake!

She thought of that, too.  She looked at Rachael, and very slowly,
very cautiously, poured out the contents.  The draught was at her
lips.  A moment and she would be past all help, let the whole world
wake and come about her with its utmost power.  But in that moment
Rachael started up with a suppressed cry.  The creature struggled,
struck her, seized her by the hair; but Rachael had the cup.

Stephen broke out of his chair.  'Rachael, am I wakin' or dreamin'
this dreadfo' night?'

''Tis all well, Stephen.  I have been asleep, myself.  'Tis near
three.  Hush!  I hear the bells.'

The wind brought the sounds of the church clock to the window.
They listened, and it struck three.  Stephen looked at her, saw how
pale she was, noted the disorder of her hair, and the red marks of
fingers on her forehead, and felt assured that his senses of sight
and hearing had been awake.  She held the cup in her hand even now.

'I thought it must be near three,' she said, calmly pouring from
the cup into the basin, and steeping the linen as before.  'I am
thankful I stayed!  'Tis done now, when I have put this on.  There!
And now she's quiet again.  The few drops in the basin I'll pour
away, for 'tis bad stuff to leave about, though ever so little of
it.'  As she spoke, she drained the basin into the ashes of the
fire, and broke the bottle on the hearth.

She had nothing to do, then, but to cover herself with her shawl
before going out into the wind and rain.

'Thou'lt let me walk wi' thee at this hour, Rachael?'

'No, Stephen.  'Tis but a minute, and I'm home.'

'Thou'rt not fearfo';' he said it in a low voice, as they went out
at the door; 'to leave me alone wi' her!'

As she looked at him, saying, 'Stephen?' he went down on his knee
before her, on the poor mean stairs, and put an end of her shawl to
his lips.

'Thou art an Angel.  Bless thee, bless thee!'

'I am, as I have told thee, Stephen, thy poor friend.  Angels are
not like me.  Between them, and a working woman fu' of faults,
there is a deep gulf set.  My little sister is among them, but she
is changed.'

She raised her eyes for a moment as she said the words; and then
they fell again, in all their gentleness and mildness, on his face.

'Thou changest me from bad to good.  Thou mak'st me humbly wishfo'
to be more like thee, and fearfo' to lose thee when this life is
ower, and a' the muddle cleared awa'.  Thou'rt an Angel; it may be,
thou hast saved my soul alive!'

She looked at him, on his knee at her feet, with her shawl still in
his hand, and the reproof on her lips died away when she saw the
working of his face.

'I coom home desp'rate.  I coom home wi'out a hope, and mad wi'
thinking that when I said a word o' complaint I was reckoned a
unreasonable Hand.  I told thee I had had a fright.  It were the
Poison-bottle on table.  I never hurt a livin' creetur; but
happenin' so suddenly upon 't, I thowt, "How can I say what I might
ha' done to myseln, or her, or both!"'

She put her two hands on his mouth, with a face of terror, to stop
him from saying more.  He caught them in his unoccupied hand, and
holding them, and still clasping the border of her shawl, said
hurriedly:

'But I see thee, Rachael, setten by the bed.  I ha' seen thee, aw
this night.  In my troublous sleep I ha' known thee still to be
there.  Evermore I will see thee there.  I nevermore will see her
or think o' her, but thou shalt be beside her.  I nevermore will
see or think o' anything that angers me, but thou, so much better
than me, shalt be by th' side on't.  And so I will try t' look t'
th' time, and so I will try t' trust t' th' time, when thou and me
at last shall walk together far awa', beyond the deep gulf, in th'
country where thy little sister is.'

He kissed the border of her shawl again, and let her go.  She bade
him good night in a broken voice, and went out into the street.

The wind blew from the quarter where the day would soon appear, and
still blew strongly.  It had cleared the sky before it, and the
rain had spent itself or travelled elsewhere, and the stars were
bright.  He stood bare-headed in the road, watching her quick
disappearance.  As the shining stars were to the heavy candle in
the window, so was Rachael, in the rugged fancy of this man, to the
common experiences of his life.

CHAPTER XIV - THE GREAT MANUFACTURER

TIME went on in Coketown like its own machinery:  so much material
wrought up, so much fuel consumed, so many powers worn out, so much
money made.  But, less inexorable than iron, steal, and brass, it
brought its varying seasons even into that wilderness of smoke and
brick, and made the only stand that ever was made in the place
against its direful uniformity.

'Louisa is becoming,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'almost a young woman.'

Time, with his innumerable horse-power, worked away, not minding
what anybody said, and presently turned out young Thomas a foot
taller than when his father had last taken particular notice of
him.

'Thomas is becoming,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'almost a young man.'

Time passed Thomas on in the mill, while his father was thinking
about it, and there he stood in a long-tailed coat and a stiff
shirt-collar.

'Really,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'the period has arrived when Thomas
ought to go to Bounderby.'

Time, sticking to him, passed him on into Bounderby's Bank, made
him an inmate of Bounderby's house, necessitated the purchase of
his first razor, and exercised him diligently in his calculations
relative to number one.

The same great manufacturer, always with an immense variety of work
on hand, in every stage of development, passed Sissy onward in his
mill, and worked her up into a very pretty article indeed.

'I fear, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that your continuance at the
school any longer would be useless.'

'I am afraid it would, sir,' Sissy answered with a curtsey.

'I cannot disguise from you, Jupe,' said Mr. Gradgrind, knitting
his brow, 'that the result of your probation there has disappointed
me; has greatly disappointed me.  You have not acquired, under Mr.
and Mrs. M'Choakumchild, anything like that amount of exact
knowledge which I looked for.  You are extremely deficient in your
facts.  Your acquaintance with figures is very limited.  You are
altogether backward, and below the mark.'

'I am sorry, sir,' she returned; 'but I know it is quite true.  Yet
I have tried hard, sir.'

'Yes,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'yes, I believe you have tried hard; I
have observed you, and I can find no fault in that respect.'

'Thank you, sir.  I have thought sometimes;' Sissy very timid here;
'that perhaps I tried to learn too much, and that if I had asked to
be allowed to try a little less, I might have - '

'No, Jupe, no,' said Mr. Gradgrind, shaking his head in his
profoundest and most eminently practical way.  'No.  The course you
pursued, you pursued according to the system - the system - and
there is no more to be said about it.  I can only suppose that the
circumstances of your early life were too unfavourable to the
development of your reasoning powers, and that we began too late.
Still, as I have said already, I am disappointed.'

'I wish I could have made a better acknowledgment, sir, of your
kindness to a poor forlorn girl who had no claim upon you, and of
your protection of her.'

'Don't shed tears,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Don't shed tears.  I
don't complain of you.  You are an affectionate, earnest, good
young woman - and - and we must make that do.'

'Thank you, sir, very much,' said Sissy, with a grateful curtsey.

'You are useful to Mrs. Gradgrind, and (in a generally pervading
way) you are serviceable in the family also; so I understand from
Miss Louisa, and, indeed, so I have observed myself.  I therefore
hope,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that you can make yourself happy in
those relations.'

'I should have nothing to wish, sir, if - '

'I understand you,' said Mr. Gradgrind; 'you still refer to your
father.  I have heard from Miss Louisa that you still preserve that
bottle.  Well!  If your training in the science of arriving at
exact results had been more successful, you would have been wiser
on these points.  I will say no more.'

He really liked Sissy too well to have a contempt for her;
otherwise he held her calculating powers in such very slight
estimation that he must have fallen upon that conclusion.  Somehow
or other, he had become possessed by an idea that there was
something in this girl which could hardly be set forth in a tabular
form.  Her capacity of definition might be easily stated at a very
low figure, her mathematical knowledge at nothing; yet he was not
sure that if he had been required, for example, to tick her off
into columns in a parliamentary return, he would have quite known
how to divide her.

In some stages of his manufacture of the human fabric, the
processes of Time are very rapid.  Young Thomas and Sissy being
both at such a stage of their working up, these changes were
effected in a year or two; while Mr. Gradgrind himself seemed
stationary in his course, and underwent no alteration.

Except one, which was apart from his necessary progress through the
mill.  Time hustled him into a little noisy and rather dirty
machinery, in a by-comer, and made him Member of Parliament for
Coketown:  one of the respected members for ounce weights and
measures, one of the representatives of the multiplication table,
one of the deaf honourable gentlemen, dumb honourable gentlemen,
blind honourable gentlemen, lame honourable gentlemen, dead
honourable gentlemen, to every other consideration.  Else wherefore
live we in a Christian land, eighteen hundred and odd years after
our Master?

All this while, Louisa had been passing on, so quiet and reserved,
and so much given to watching the bright ashes at twilight as they
fell into the grate, and became extinct, that from the period when
her father had said she was almost a young woman - which seemed but
yesterday - she had scarcely attracted his notice again, when he
found her quite a young woman.

'Quite a young woman,' said Mr. Gradgrind, musing.  'Dear me!'

Soon after this discovery, he became more thoughtful than usual for
several days, and seemed much engrossed by one subject.  On a
certain night, when he was going out, and Louisa came to bid him
good-bye before his departure - as he was not to be home until late
and she would not see him again until the morning - he held her in
his arms, looking at her in his kindest manner, and said:

'My dear Louisa, you are a woman!'

She answered with the old, quick, searching look of the night when
she was found at the Circus; then cast down her eyes.  'Yes,
father.'

'My dear,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'I must speak with you alone and
seriously.  Come to me in my room after breakfast to-morrow, will
you?'

'Yes, father.'

'Your hands are rather cold, Louisa.  Are you not well?'

'Quite well, father.'

'And cheerful?'

She looked at him again, and smiled in her peculiar manner.  'I am
as cheerful, father, as I usually am, or usually have been.'

'That's well,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  So, he kissed her and went
away; and Louisa returned to the serene apartment of the
haircutting character, and leaning her elbow on her hand, looked
again at the short-lived sparks that so soon subsided into ashes.

'Are you there, Loo?' said her brother, looking in at the door.  He
was quite a young gentleman of pleasure now, and not quite a
prepossessing one.

'Dear Tom,' she answered, rising and embracing him, 'how long it is
since you have been to see me!'

'Why, I have been otherwise engaged, Loo, in the evenings; and in
the daytime old Bounderby has been keeping me at it rather.  But I
touch him up with you when he comes it too strong, and so we
preserve an understanding.  I say!  Has father said anything
particular to you to-day or yesterday, Loo?'

'No, Tom.  But he told me to-night that he wished to do so in the
morning.'

'Ah!  That's what I mean,' said Tom.  'Do you know where he is to-
night?' - with a very deep expression.

'No.'

'Then I'll tell you.  He's with old Bounderby.  They are having a
regular confab together up at the Bank.  Why at the Bank, do you
think?  Well, I'll tell you again.  To keep Mrs. Sparsit's ears as
far off as possible, I expect.'

With her hand upon her brother's shoulder, Louisa still stood
looking at the fire.  Her brother glanced at her face with greater
interest than usual, and, encircling her waist with his arm, drew
her coaxingly to him.

'You are very fond of me, an't you, Loo?'

'Indeed I am, Tom, though you do let such long intervals go by
without coming to see me.'

'Well, sister of mine,' said Tom, 'when you say that, you are near
my thoughts.  We might be so much oftener together - mightn't we?
Always together, almost - mightn't we?  It would do me a great deal
of good if you were to make up your mind to I know what, Loo.  It
would be a splendid thing for me.  It would be uncommonly jolly!'

Her thoughtfulness baffled his cunning scrutiny.  He could make
nothing of her face.  He pressed her in his arm, and kissed her
cheek.  She returned the kiss, but still looked at the fire.

'I say, Loo!  I thought I'd come, and just hint to you what was
going on:  though I supposed you'd most likely guess, even if you
didn't know.  I can't stay, because I'm engaged to some fellows to-
night.  You won't forget how fond you are of me?'

'No, dear Tom, I won't forget.'

'That's a capital girl,' said Tom.  'Good-bye, Loo.'

She gave him an affectionate good-night, and went out with him to
the door, whence the fires of Coketown could be seen, making the
distance lurid.  She stood there, looking steadfastly towards them,
and listening to his departing steps.  They retreated quickly, as
glad to get away from Stone Lodge; and she stood there yet, when he
was gone and all was quiet.  It seemed as if, first in her own fire
within the house, and then in the fiery haze without, she tried to
discover what kind of woof Old Time, that greatest and longest-
established Spinner of all, would weave from the threads he had
already spun into a woman.  But his factory is a secret place, his
work is noiseless, and his Hands are mutes.

CHAPTER XV - FATHER AND DAUGHTER

ALTHOUGH Mr. Gradgrind did not take after Blue Beard, his room was
quite a blue chamber in its abundance of blue books.  Whatever they
could prove (which is usually anything you like), they proved
there, in an army constantly strengthening by the arrival of new
recruits.  In that charmed apartment, the most complicated social
questions were cast up, got into exact totals, and finally settled
- if those concerned could only have been brought to know it.  As
if an astronomical observatory should be made without any windows,
and the astronomer within should arrange the starry universe solely
by pen, ink, and paper, so Mr. Gradgrind, in his Observatory (and
there are many like it), had no need to cast an eye upon the
teeming myriads of human beings around him, but could settle all
their destinies on a slate, and wipe out all their tears with one
dirty little bit of sponge.

To this Observatory, then:  a stern room, with a deadly statistical
clock in it, which measured every second with a beat like a rap
upon a coffin-lid; Louisa repaired on the appointed morning.  A
window looked towards Coketown; and when she sat down near her
father's table, she saw the high chimneys and the long tracts of
smoke looming in the heavy distance gloomily.

'My dear Louisa,' said her father, 'I prepared you last night to
give me your serious attention in the conversation we are now going
to have together.  You have been so well trained, and you do, I am
happy to say, so much justice to the education you have received,
that I have perfect confidence in your good sense.  You are not
impulsive, you are not romantic, you are accustomed to view
everything from the strong dispassionate ground of reason and
calculation.  From that ground alone, I know you will view and
consider what I am going to communicate.'

He waited, as if he would have been glad that she said something.
But she said never a word.

'Louisa, my dear, you are the subject of a proposal of marriage
that has been made to me.'

Again he waited, and again she answered not one word.  This so far
surprised him, as to induce him gently to repeat, 'a proposal of
marriage, my dear.'  To which she returned, without any visible
emotion whatever:

'I hear you, father.  I am attending, I assure you.'

'Well!' said Mr. Gradgrind, breaking into a smile, after being for
the moment at a loss, 'you are even more dispassionate than I
expected, Louisa.  Or, perhaps, you are not unprepared for the
announcement I have it in charge to make?'

'I cannot say that, father, until I hear it.  Prepared or
unprepared, I wish to hear it all from you.  I wish to hear you
state it to me, father.'

Strange to relate, Mr. Gradgrind was not so collected at this
moment as his daughter was.  He took a paper-knife in his hand,
turned it over, laid it down, took it up again, and even then had
to look along the blade of it, considering how to go on.

'What you say, my dear Louisa, is perfectly reasonable.  I have
undertaken then to let you know that - in short, that Mr. Bounderby
has informed me that he has long watched your progress with
particular interest and pleasure, and has long hoped that the time
might ultimately arrive when he should offer you his hand in
marriage.  That time, to which he has so long, and certainly with
great constancy, looked forward, is now come.  Mr. Bounderby has
made his proposal of marriage to me, and has entreated me to make
it known to you, and to express his hope that you will take it into
your favourable consideration.'

Silence between them.  The deadly statistical clock very hollow.
The distant smoke very black and heavy.

'Father,' said Louisa, 'do you think I love Mr. Bounderby?'

Mr. Gradgrind was extremely discomfited by this unexpected
question.  'Well, my child,' he returned, 'I - really - cannot take
upon myself to say.'

'Father,' pursued Louisa in exactly the same voice as before, 'do
you ask me to love Mr. Bounderby?'

'My dear Louisa, no.  No.  I ask nothing.'

'Father,' she still pursued, 'does Mr. Bounderby ask me to love
him?'

'Really, my dear,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'it is difficult to answer
your question - '

'Difficult to answer it, Yes or No, father?

'Certainly, my dear.  Because;' here was something to demonstrate,
and it set him up again; 'because the reply depends so materially,
Louisa, on the sense in which we use the expression.  Now, Mr.
Bounderby does not do you the injustice, and does not do himself
the injustice, of pretending to anything fanciful, fantastic, or (I
am using synonymous terms) sentimental.  Mr. Bounderby would have
seen you grow up under his eyes, to very little purpose, if he
could so far forget what is due to your good sense, not to say to
his, as to address you from any such ground.  Therefore, perhaps
the expression itself - I merely suggest this to you, my dear - may
be a little misplaced.'

'What would you advise me to use in its stead, father?'

'Why, my dear Louisa,' said Mr. Gradgrind, completely recovered by
this time, 'I would advise you (since you ask me) to consider this
question, as you have been accustomed to consider every other
question, simply as one of tangible Fact.  The ignorant and the
giddy may embarrass such subjects with irrelevant fancies, and
other absurdities that have no existence, properly viewed - really
no existence - but it is no compliment to you to say, that you know
better.  Now, what are the Facts of this case?  You are, we will
say in round numbers, twenty years of age; Mr. Bounderby is, we
will say in round numbers, fifty.  There is some disparity in your
respective years, but in your means and positions there is none; on
the contrary, there is a great suitability.  Then the question
arises, Is this one disparity sufficient to operate as a bar to
such a marriage?  In considering this question, it is not
unimportant to take into account the statistics of marriage, so far
as they have yet been obtained, in England and Wales.  I find, on
reference to the figures, that a large proportion of these
marriages are contracted between parties of very unequal ages, and
that the elder of these contracting parties is, in rather more than
three-fourths of these instances, the bridegroom.  It is remarkable
as showing the wide prevalence of this law, that among the natives
of the British possessions in India, also in a considerable part of
China, and among the Calmucks of Tartary, the best means of
computation yet furnished us by travellers, yield similar results.
The disparity I have mentioned, therefore, almost ceases to be
disparity, and (virtually) all but disappears.'

'What do you recommend, father,' asked Louisa, her reserved
composure not in the least affected by these gratifying results,
'that I should substitute for the term I used just now?  For the
misplaced expression?'

'Louisa,' returned her father, 'it appears to me that nothing can
be plainer.  Confining yourself rigidly to Fact, the question of
Fact you state to yourself is:  Does Mr. Bounderby ask me to marry
him?  Yes, he does.  The sole remaining question then is:  Shall I
marry him?  I think nothing can be plainer than that?'

'Shall I marry him?' repeated Louisa, with great deliberation.

'Precisely.  And it is satisfactory to me, as your father, my dear
Louisa, to know that you do not come to the consideration of that
question with the previous habits of mind, and habits of life, that
belong to many young women.'

'No, father,' she returned, 'I do not.'

'I now leave you to judge for yourself,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'I
have stated the case, as such cases are usually stated among
practical minds; I have stated it, as the case of your mother and
myself was stated in its time.  The rest, my dear Louisa, is for
you to decide.'

From the beginning, she had sat looking at him fixedly.  As he now
leaned back in his chair, and bent his deep-set eyes upon her in
his turn, perhaps he might have seen one wavering moment in her,
when she was impelled to throw herself upon his breast, and give
him the pent-up confidences of her heart.  But, to see it, he must
have overleaped at a bound the artificial barriers he had for many
years been erecting, between himself and all those subtle essences
of humanity which will elude the utmost cunning of algebra until
the last trumpet ever to be sounded shall blow even algebra to
wreck.  The barriers were too many and too high for such a leap.
With his unbending, utilitarian, matter-of-fact face, he hardened
her again; and the moment shot away into the plumbless depths of
the past, to mingle with all the lost opportunities that are
drowned there.

Removing her eyes from him, she sat so long looking silently
towards the town, that he said, at length:  'Are you consulting the
chimneys of the Coketown works, Louisa?'

'There seems to be nothing there but languid and monotonous smoke.
Yet when the night comes, Fire bursts out, father!' she answered,
turning quickly.

'Of course I know that, Louisa.  I do not see the application of
the remark.'  To do him justice he did not, at all.

She passed it away with a slight motion of her hand, and
concentrating her attention upon him again, said, 'Father, I have
often thought that life is very short.' - This was so distinctly
one of his subjects that he interposed.

'It is short, no doubt, my dear.  Still, the average duration of
human life is proved to have increased of late years.  The
calculations of various life assurance and annuity offices, among
other figures which cannot go wrong, have established the fact.'

'I speak of my own life, father.'

'O indeed?  Still,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'I need not point out to
you, Louisa, that it is governed by the laws which govern lives in
the aggregate.'

'While it lasts, I would wish to do the little I can, and the
little I am fit for.  What does it matter?'

Mr. Gradgrind seemed rather at a loss to understand the last four
words; replying, 'How, matter?  What matter, my dear?'

'Mr. Bounderby,' she went on in a steady, straight way, without
regarding this, 'asks me to marry him.  The question I have to ask
myself is, shall I marry him?  That is so, father, is it not?  You
have told me so, father.  Have you not?'

'Certainly, my dear.'

'Let it be so.  Since Mr. Bounderby likes to take me thus, I am
satisfied to accept his proposal.  Tell him, father, as soon as you
please, that this was my answer.  Repeat it, word for word, if you
can, because I should wish him to know what I said.'

'It is quite right, my dear,' retorted her father approvingly, 'to
be exact.  I will observe your very proper request.  Have you any
wish in reference to the period of your marriage, my child?'

'None, father.  What does it matter!'

Mr. Gradgrind had drawn his chair a little nearer to her, and taken
her hand.  But, her repetition of these words seemed to strike with
some little discord on his ear.  He paused to look at her, and,
still holding her hand, said:

'Louisa, I have not considered it essential to ask you one
question, because the possibility implied in it appeared to me to
be too remote.  But perhaps I ought to do so.  You have never
entertained in secret any other proposal?'

'Father,' she returned, almost scornfully, 'what other proposal can
have been made to me?  Whom have I seen?  Where have I been?  What
are my heart's experiences?'

'My dear Louisa,' returned Mr. Gradgrind, reassured and satisfied.
'You correct me justly.  I merely wished to discharge my duty.'

'What do I know, father,' said Louisa in her quiet manner, 'of
tastes and fancies; of aspirations and affections; of all that part
of my nature in which such light things might have been nourished?
What escape have I had from problems that could be demonstrated,
and realities that could be grasped?'  As she said it, she
unconsciously closed her hand, as if upon a solid object, and
slowly opened it as though she were releasing dust or ash.

'My dear,' assented her eminently practical parent, 'quite true,
quite true.'

'Why, father,' she pursued, 'what a strange question to ask me!
The baby-preference that even I have heard of as common among
children, has never had its innocent resting-place in my breast.
You have been so careful of me, that I never had a child's heart.
You have trained me so well, that I never dreamed a child's dream.
You have dealt so wisely with me, father, from my cradle to this
hour, that I never had a child's belief or a child's fear.'

Mr. Gradgrind was quite moved by his success, and by this testimony
to it.  'My dear Louisa,' said he, 'you abundantly repay my care.
Kiss me, my dear girl.'

So, his daughter kissed him.  Detaining her in his embrace, he
said, 'I may assure you now, my favourite child, that I am made
happy by the sound decision at which you have arrived.  Mr.
Bounderby is a very remarkable man; and what little disparity can
be said to exist between you - if any - is more than
counterbalanced by the tone your mind has acquired.  It has always
been my object so to educate you, as that you might, while still in
your early youth, be (if I may so express myself) almost any age.
Kiss me once more, Louisa.  Now, let us go and find your mother.'

Accordingly, they went down to the drawing-room, where the esteemed
lady with no nonsense about her, was recumbent as usual, while
Sissy worked beside her.  She gave some feeble signs of returning
animation when they entered, and presently the faint transparency
was presented in a sitting attitude.

'Mrs. Gradgrind,' said her husband, who had waited for the
achievement of this feat with some impatience, 'allow me to present
to you Mrs. Bounderby.'

'Oh!' said Mrs. Gradgrind, 'so you have settled it!  Well, I'm sure
I hope your health may be good, Louisa; for if your head begins to
split as soon as you are married, which was the case with mine, I
cannot consider that you are to be envied, though I have no doubt
you think you are, as all girls do.  However, I give you joy, my
dear - and I hope you may now turn all your ological studies to
good account, I am sure I do!  I must give you a kiss of
congratulation, Louisa; but don't touch my right shoulder, for
there's something running down it all day long.  And now you see,'
whimpered Mrs. Gradgrind, adjusting her shawls after the
affectionate ceremony, 'I shall be worrying myself, morning, noon,
and night, to know what I am to call him!'

'Mrs. Gradgrind,' said her husband, solemnly, 'what do you mean?'

'Whatever I am to call him, Mr. Gradgrind, when he is married to
Louisa!  I must call him something.  It's impossible,' said Mrs.
Gradgrind, with a mingled sense of politeness and injury, 'to be
constantly addressing him and never giving him a name.  I cannot
call him Josiah, for the name is insupportable to me.  You yourself
wouldn't hear of Joe, you very well know.  Am I to call my own son-
in-law, Mister!  Not, I believe, unless the time has arrived when,
as an invalid, I am to be trampled upon by my relations.  Then,
what am I to call him!'

Nobody present having any suggestion to offer in the remarkable
emergency, Mrs. Gradgrind departed this life for the time being,
after delivering the following codicil to her remarks already
executed:

'As to the wedding, all I ask, Louisa, is, - and I ask it with a
fluttering in my chest, which actually extends to the soles of my
feet, - that it may take place soon.  Otherwise, I know it is one
of those subjects I shall never hear the last of.'

When Mr. Gradgrind had presented Mrs. Bounderby, Sissy had suddenly
turned her head, and looked, in wonder, in pity, in sorrow, in
doubt, in a multitude of emotions, towards Louisa.  Louisa had
known it, and seen it, without looking at her.  From that moment
she was impassive, proud and cold - held Sissy at a distance -
changed to her altogether.

CHAPTER XVI - HUSBAND AND WIFE

MR.  BOUNDERBY'S first disquietude on hearing of his happiness, was
occasioned by the necessity of imparting it to Mrs. Sparsit.  He
could not make up his mind how to do that, or what the consequences
of the step might be.  Whether she would instantly depart, bag and
baggage, to Lady Scadgers, or would positively refuse to budge from
the premises; whether she would be plaintive or abusive, tearful or
tearing; whether she would break her heart, or break the looking-
glass; Mr. Bounderby could not all foresee.  However, as it must be
done, he had no choice but to do it; so, after attempting several
letters, and failing in them all, he resolved to do it by word of
mouth.

On his way home, on the evening he set aside for this momentous
purpose, he took the precaution of stepping into a chemist's shop
and buying a bottle of the very strongest smelling-salts.  'By
George!' said Mr. Bounderby, 'if she takes it in the fainting way,
I'll have the skin off her nose, at all events!'  But, in spite of
being thus forearmed, he entered his own house with anything but a
courageous air; and appeared before the object of his misgivings,
like a dog who was conscious of coming direct from the pantry.

'Good evening, Mr. Bounderby!'

'Good evening, ma'am, good evening.'  He drew up his chair, and
Mrs. Sparsit drew back hers, as who should say, 'Your fireside,
sir.  I freely admit it.  It is for you to occupy it all, if you
think proper.'

'Don't go to the North Pole, ma'am!' said Mr. Bounderby.

'Thank you, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, and returned, though short of
her former position.

Mr. Bounderby sat looking at her, as, with the points of a stiff,
sharp pair of scissors, she picked out holes for some inscrutable
ornamental purpose, in a piece of cambric.  An operation which,
taken in connexion with the bushy eyebrows and the Roman nose,
suggested with some liveliness the idea of a hawk engaged upon the
eyes of a tough little bird.  She was so steadfastly occupied, that
many minutes elapsed before she looked up from her work; when she
did so Mr. Bounderby bespoke her attention with a hitch of his
head.

'Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am,' said Mr. Bounderby, putting his hands in his
pockets, and assuring himself with his right hand that the cork of
the little bottle was ready for use, 'I have no occasion to say to
you, that you are not only a lady born and bred, but a devilish
sensible woman.'

'Sir,' returned the lady, 'this is indeed not the first time that
you have honoured me with similar expressions of your good
opinion.'

'Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'I am going to astonish
you.'

'Yes, sir?' returned Mrs. Sparsit, interrogatively, and in the most
tranquil manner possible.  She generally wore mittens, and she now
laid down her work, and smoothed those mittens.

'I am going, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'to marry Tom Gradgrind's
daughter.'

'Yes, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit.  'I hope you may be happy, Mr.
Bounderby.  Oh, indeed I hope you may be happy, sir!'  And she said
it with such great condescension as well as with such great
compassion for him, that Bounderby, - far more disconcerted than if
she had thrown her workbox at the mirror, or swooned on the
hearthrug, - corked up the smelling-salts tight in his pocket, and
thought, 'Now confound this woman, who could have even guessed that
she would take it in this way!'

'I wish with all my heart, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, in a highly
superior manner; somehow she seemed, in a moment, to have
established a right to pity him ever afterwards; 'that you may be
in all respects very happy.'

'Well, ma'am,' returned Bounderby, with some resentment in his
tone:  which was clearly lowered, though in spite of himself, 'I am
obliged to you.  I hope I shall be.'

'Do you, sir!' said Mrs. Sparsit, with great affability.  'But
naturally you do; of course you do.'

A very awkward pause on Mr. Bounderby's part, succeeded.  Mrs.
Sparsit sedately resumed her work and occasionally gave a small
cough, which sounded like the cough of conscious strength and
forbearance.

'Well, ma'am,' resumed Bounderby, 'under these circumstances, I
imagine it would not be agreeable to a character like yours to
remain here, though you would be very welcome here.'

'Oh, dear no, sir, I could on no account think of that!' Mrs.
Sparsit shook her head, still in her highly superior manner, and a
little changed the small cough - coughing now, as if the spirit of
prophecy rose within her, but had better be coughed down.

'However, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'there are apartments at the
Bank, where a born and bred lady, as keeper of the place, would be
rather a catch than otherwise; and if the same terms - '

'I beg your pardon, sir.  You were so good as to promise that you
would always substitute the phrase, annual compliment.'

'Well, ma'am, annual compliment.  If the same annual compliment
would be acceptable there, why, I see nothing to part us, unless
you do.'

'Sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit.  'The proposal is like yourself, and
if the position I shall assume at the Bank is one that I could
occupy without descending lower in the social scale - '

'Why, of course it is,' said Bounderby.  'If it was not, ma'am, you
don't suppose that I should offer it to a lady who has moved in the
society you have moved in.  Not that I care for such society, you
know!  But you do.'

'Mr.  Bounderby, you are very considerate.'

'You'll have your own private apartments, and you'll have your
coals and your candles, and all the rest of it, and you'll have
your maid to attend upon you, and you'll have your light porter to
protect you, and you'll be what I take the liberty of considering
precious comfortable,' said Bounderby.

 'Sir,' rejoined Mrs. Sparsit, 'say no more.  In yielding up my
trust here, I shall not be freed from the necessity of eating the
bread of dependence:' she might have said the sweetbread, for that
delicate article in a savoury brown sauce was her favourite supper:
'and I would rather receive it from your hand, than from any other.
Therefore, sir, I accept your offer gratefully, and with many
sincere acknowledgments for past favours.  And I hope, sir,' said
Mrs. Sparsit, concluding in an impressively compassionate manner,
'I fondly hope that Miss Gradgrind may be all you desire, and
deserve!'

Nothing moved Mrs. Sparsit from that position any more.  It was in
vain for Bounderby to bluster or to assert himself in any of his
explosive ways; Mrs. Sparsit was resolved to have compassion on
him, as a Victim.  She was polite, obliging, cheerful, hopeful;
but, the more polite, the more obliging, the more cheerful, the
more hopeful, the more exemplary altogether, she; the forlorner
Sacrifice and Victim, he.  She had that tenderness for his
melancholy fate, that his great red countenance used to break out
into cold perspirations when she looked at him.

Meanwhile the marriage was appointed to be solemnized in eight
weeks' time, and Mr. Bounderby went every evening to Stone Lodge as
an accepted wooer.  Love was made on these occasions in the form of
bracelets; and, on all occasions during the period of betrothal,
took a manufacturing aspect.  Dresses were made, jewellery was
made, cakes and gloves were made, settlements were made, and an
extensive assortment of Facts did appropriate honour to the
contract.  The business was all Fact, from first to last.  The
Hours did not go through any of those rosy performances, which
foolish poets have ascribed to them at such times; neither did the
clocks go any faster, or any slower, than at other seasons.  The
deadly statistical recorder in the Gradgrind observatory knocked
every second on the head as it was born, and buried it with his
accustomed regularity.

So the day came, as all other days come to people who will only
stick to reason; and when it came, there were married in the church
of the florid wooden legs - that popular order of architecture -
Josiah Bounderby Esquire of Coketown, to Louisa eldest daughter of
Thomas Gradgrind Esquire of Stone Lodge, M.P. for that borough.
And when they were united in holy matrimony, they went home to
breakfast at Stone Lodge aforesaid.

There was an improving party assembled on the auspicious occasion,
who knew what everything they had to eat and drink was made of, and
how it was imported or exported, and in what quantities, and in
what bottoms, whether native or foreign, and all about it.  The
bridesmaids, down to little Jane Gradgrind, were, in an
intellectual point of view, fit helpmates for the calculating boy;
and there was no nonsense about any of the company.

After breakfast, the bridegroom addressed them in the following
terms:

'Ladies and gentlemen, I am Josiah Bounderby of Coketown.  Since
you have done my wife and myself the honour of drinking our healths
and happiness, I suppose I must acknowledge the same; though, as
you all know me, and know what I am, and what my extraction was,
you won't expect a speech from a man who, when he sees a Post, says
"that's a Post," and when he sees a Pump, says "that's a Pump," and
is not to be got to call a Post a Pump, or a Pump a Post, or either
of them a Toothpick.  If you want a speech this morning, my friend
and father-in-law, Tom Gradgrind, is a Member of Parliament, and
you know where to get it.  I am not your man.  However, if I feel a
little independent when I look around this table to-day, and
reflect how little I thought of marrying Tom Gradgrind's daughter
when I was a ragged street-boy, who never washed his face unless it
was at a pump, and that not oftener than once a fortnight, I hope I
may be excused.  So, I hope you like my feeling independent; if you
don't, I can't help it.  I do feel independent.  Now I have
mentioned, and you have mentioned, that I am this day married to
Tom Gradgrind's daughter.  I am very glad to be so.  It has long
been my wish to be so.  I have watched her bringing-up, and I
believe she is worthy of me.  At the same time - not to deceive you
- I believe I am worthy of her.  So, I thank you, on both our
parts, for the good-will you have shown towards us; and the best
wish I can give the unmarried part of the present company, is this:
I hope every bachelor may find as good a wife as I have found.  And
I hope every spinster may find as good a husband as my wife has
found.'

Shortly after which oration, as they were going on a nuptial trip
to Lyons, in order that Mr. Bounderby might take the opportunity of
seeing how the Hands got on in those parts, and whether they, too,
required to be fed with gold spoons; the happy pair departed for
the railroad.  The bride, in passing down-stairs, dressed for her
journey, found Tom waiting for her - flushed, either with his
feelings, or the vinous part of the breakfast.

'What a game girl you are, to be such a first-rate sister, Loo!'
whispered Tom.

She clung to him as she should have clung to some far better nature
that day, and was a little shaken in her reserved composure for the
first time.

'Old Bounderby's quite ready,' said Tom.  'Time's up.  Good-bye!  I
shall be on the look-out for you, when you come back.  I say, my
dear Loo!  AN'T it uncommonly jolly now!'

END OF THE FIRST BOOK

BOOK THE SECOND - REAPING

CHAPTER I - EFFECTS IN THE BANK

A SUNNY midsummer day.  There was such a thing sometimes, even in
Coketown.

Seen from a distance in such weather, Coketown lay shrouded in a
haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun's rays.  You
only knew the town was there, because you knew there could have
been no such sulky blotch upon the prospect without a town.  A blur
of soot and smoke, now confusedly tending this way, now that way,
now aspiring to the vault of Heaven, now murkily creeping along the
earth, as the wind rose and fell, or changed its quarter:  a dense
formless jumble, with sheets of cross light in it, that showed
nothing but masses of darkness:- Coketown in the distance was
suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could be seen.

The wonder was, it was there at all.  It had been ruined so often,
that it was amazing how it had borne so many shocks.  Surely there
never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of
Coketown were made.  Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to
pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been
flawed before.  They were ruined, when they were required to send
labouring children to school; they were ruined when inspectors were
appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such
inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified
in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly
undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make
quite so much smoke.  Besides Mr. Bounderby's gold spoon which was
generally received in Coketown, another prevalent fiction was very
popular there.  It took the form of a threat.  Whenever a
Coketowner felt he was ill-used - that is to say, whenever he was
not left entirely alone, and it was proposed to hold him
accountable for the consequences of any of his acts - he was sure
to come out with the awful menace, that he would 'sooner pitch his
property into the Atlantic.'  This had terrified the Home Secretary
within an inch of his life, on several occasions.

However, the Coketowners were so patriotic after all, that they
never had pitched their property into the Atlantic yet, but, on the
contrary, had been kind enough to take mighty good care of it.  So
there it was, in the haze yonder; and it increased and multiplied.

The streets were hot and dusty on the summer day, and the sun was
so bright that it even shone through the heavy vapour drooping over
Coketown, and could not be looked at steadily.  Stokers emerged
from low underground doorways into factory yards, and sat on steps,
and posts, and palings, wiping their swarthy visages, and
contemplating coals.  The whole town seemed to be frying in oil.
There was a stifling smell of hot oil everywhere.  The steam-
engines shone with it, the dresses of the Hands were soiled with
it, the mills throughout their many stories oozed and trickled it.
The atmosphere of those Fairy palaces was like the breath of the
simoom:  and their inhabitants, wasting with heat, toiled languidly
in the desert.  But no temperature made the melancholy mad
elephants more mad or more sane.  Their wearisome heads went up and
down at the same rate, in hot weather and cold, wet weather and
dry, fair weather and foul.  The measured motion of their shadows
on the walls, was the substitute Coketown had to show for the
shadows of rustling woods; while, for the summer hum of insects, it
could offer, all the year round, from the dawn of Monday to the
night of Saturday, the whirr of shafts and wheels.

Drowsily they whirred all through this sunny day, making the
passenger more sleepy and more hot as he passed the humming walls
of the mills.  Sun-blinds, and sprinklings of water, a little
cooled the main streets and the shops; but the mills, and the
courts and alleys, baked at a fierce heat.  Down upon the river
that was black and thick with dye, some Coketown boys who were at
large - a rare sight there - rowed a crazy boat, which made a
spumous track upon the water as it jogged along, while every dip of
an oar stirred up vile smells.  But the sun itself, however
beneficent, generally, was less kind to Coketown than hard frost,
and rarely looked intently into any of its closer regions without
engendering more death than life.  So does the eye of Heaven itself
become an evil eye, when incapable or sordid hands are interposed
between it and the things it looks upon to bless.

Mrs. Sparsit sat in her afternoon apartment at the Bank, on the
shadier side of the frying street.  Office-hours were over:  and at
that period of the day, in warm weather, she usually embellished
with her genteel presence, a managerial board-room over the public
office.  Her own private sitting-room was a story higher, at the
window of which post of observation she was ready, every morning,
to greet Mr. Bounderby, as he came across the road, with the
sympathizing recognition appropriate to a Victim.  He had been
married now a year; and Mrs. Sparsit had never released him from
her determined pity a moment.

The Bank offered no violence to the wholesome monotony of the town.
It was another red brick house, with black outside shutters, green
inside blinds, a black street-door up two white steps, a brazen
door-plate, and a brazen door-handle full stop.  It was a size
larger than Mr. Bounderby's house, as other houses were from a size
to half-a-dozen sizes smaller; in all other particulars, it was
strictly according to pattern.

Mrs. Sparsit was conscious that by coming in the evening-tide among
the desks and writing implements, she shed a feminine, not to say
also aristocratic, grace upon the office.  Seated, with her
needlework or netting apparatus, at the window, she had a self-
laudatory sense of correcting, by her ladylike deportment, the rude
business aspect of the place.  With this impression of her
interesting character upon her, Mrs. Sparsit considered herself, in
some sort, the Bank Fairy.  The townspeople who, in their passing
and repassing, saw her there, regarded her as the Bank Dragon
keeping watch over the treasures of the mine.

What those treasures were, Mrs. Sparsit knew as little as they did.
Gold and silver coin, precious paper, secrets that if divulged
would bring vague destruction upon vague persons (generally,
however, people whom she disliked), were the chief items in her
ideal catalogue thereof.  For the rest, she knew that after office-
hours, she reigned supreme over all the office furniture, and over
a locked-up iron room with three locks, against the door of which
strong chamber the light porter laid his head every night, on a
truckle bed, that disappeared at cockcrow.  Further, she was lady
paramount over certain vaults in the basement, sharply spiked off
from communication with the predatory world; and over the relics of
the current day's work, consisting of blots of ink, worn-out pens,
fragments of wafers, and scraps of paper torn so small, that
nothing interesting could ever be deciphered on them when Mrs.
Sparsit tried.  Lastly, she was guardian over a little armoury of
cutlasses and carbines, arrayed in vengeful order above one of the
official chimney-pieces; and over that respectable tradition never
to be separated from a place of business claiming to be wealthy - a
row of fire-buckets - vessels calculated to be of no physical
utility on any occasion, but observed to exercise a fine moral
influence, almost equal to bullion, on most beholders.

A deaf serving-woman and the light porter completed Mrs. Sparsit's
empire.  The deaf serving-woman was rumoured to be wealthy; and a
saying had for years gone about among the lower orders of Coketown,
that she would be murdered some night when the Bank was shut, for
the sake of her money.  It was generally considered, indeed, that
she had been due some time, and ought to have fallen long ago; but
she had kept her life, and her situation, with an ill-conditioned
tenacity that occasioned much offence and disappointment.

Mrs. Sparsit's tea was just set for her on a pert little table,
with its tripod of legs in an attitude, which she insinuated after
office-hours, into the company of the stern, leathern-topped, long
board-table that bestrode the middle of the room.  The light porter
placed the tea-tray on it, knuckling his forehead as a form of
homage.

'Thank you, Bitzer,' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'Thank you, ma'am,' returned the light porter.  He was a very light
porter indeed; as light as in the days when he blinkingly defined a
horse, for girl number twenty.

'All is shut up, Bitzer?' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'All is shut up, ma'am.'

'And what,' said Mrs. Sparsit, pouring out her tea, 'is the news of
the day?  Anything?'

'Well, ma'am, I can't say that I have heard anything particular.
Our people are a bad lot, ma'am; but that is no news,
unfortunately.'

'What are the restless wretches doing now?' asked Mrs. Sparsit.

'Merely going on in the old way, ma'am.  Uniting, and leaguing, and
engaging to stand by one another.'

'It is much to be regretted,' said Mrs. Sparsit, making her nose
more Roman and her eyebrows more Coriolanian in the strength of her
severity, 'that the united masters allow of any such class-
combinations.'

'Yes, ma'am,' said Bitzer.

'Being united themselves, they ought one and all to set their faces
against employing any man who is united with any other man,' said
Mrs. Sparsit.

'They have done that, ma'am,' returned Bitzer; 'but it rather fell
through, ma'am.'

'I do not pretend to understand these things,' said Mrs. Sparsit,
with dignity, 'my lot having been signally cast in a widely
different sphere; and Mr. Sparsit, as a Powler, being also quite
out of the pale of any such dissensions.  I only know that these
people must be conquered, and that it's high time it was done, once
for all.'

'Yes, ma'am,' returned Bitzer, with a demonstration of great
respect for Mrs. Sparsit's oracular authority.  'You couldn't put
it clearer, I am sure, ma'am.'

As this was his usual hour for having a little confidential chat
with Mrs. Sparsit, and as he had already caught her eye and seen
that she was going to ask him something, he made a pretence of
arranging the rulers, inkstands, and so forth, while that lady went
on with her tea, glancing through the open window, down into the
street.

'Has it been a busy day, Bitzer?' asked Mrs. Sparsit.

'Not a very busy day, my lady.  About an average day.'  He now and
then slided into my lady, instead of ma'am, as an involuntary
acknowledgment of Mrs. Sparsit's personal dignity and claims to
reverence.

'The clerks,' said Mrs. Sparsit, carefully brushing an
imperceptible crumb of bread and butter from her left-hand mitten,
'are trustworthy, punctual, and industrious, of course?'

'Yes, ma'am, pretty fair, ma'am.  With the usual exception.'

He held the respectable office of general spy and informer in the
establishment, for which volunteer service he received a present at
Christmas, over and above his weekly wage.  He had grown into an
extremely clear-headed, cautious, prudent young man, who was safe
to rise in the world.  His mind was so exactly regulated, that he
had no affections or passions.  All his proceedings were the result
of the nicest and coldest calculation; and it was not without cause
that Mrs. Sparsit habitually observed of him, that he was a young
man of the steadiest principle she had ever known.  Having
satisfied himself, on his father's death, that his mother had a
right of settlement in Coketown, this excellent young economist had
asserted that right for her with such a steadfast adherence to the
principle of the case, that she had been shut up in the workhouse
ever since.  It must be admitted that he allowed her half a pound
of tea a year, which was weak in him:  first, because all gifts
have an inevitable tendency to pauperise the recipient, and
secondly, because his only reasonable transaction in that commodity
would have been to buy it for as little as he could possibly give,
and sell it for as much as he could possibly get; it having been
clearly ascertained by philosophers that in this is comprised the
whole duty of man - not a part of man's duty, but the whole.

'Pretty fair, ma'am.  With the usual exception, ma'am,' repeated
Bitzer.

'Ah - h!' said Mrs. Sparsit, shaking her head over her tea-cup, and
taking a long gulp.

'Mr. Thomas, ma'am, I doubt Mr. Thomas very much, ma'am, I don't
like his ways at all.'

'Bitzer,' said Mrs. Sparsit, in a very impressive manner, 'do you
recollect my having said anything to you respecting names?'

'I beg your pardon, ma'am.  It's quite true that you did object to
names being used, and they're always best avoided.'

'Please to remember that I have a charge here,' said Mrs. Sparsit,
with her air of state.  'I hold a trust here, Bitzer, under Mr.
Bounderby.  However improbable both Mr. Bounderby and myself might
have deemed it years ago, that he would ever become my patron,
making me an annual compliment, I cannot but regard him in that
light.  From Mr. Bounderby I have received every acknowledgment of
my social station, and every recognition of my family descent, that
I could possibly expect.  More, far more.  Therefore, to my patron
I will be scrupulously true.  And I do not consider, I will not
consider, I cannot consider,' said Mrs. Sparsit, with a most
extensive stock on hand of honour and morality, 'that I should be
scrupulously true, if I allowed names to be mentioned under this
roof, that are unfortunately - most unfortunately - no doubt of
that - connected with his.'

Bitzer knuckled his forehead again, and again begged pardon.

'No, Bitzer,' continued Mrs. Sparsit, 'say an individual, and I
will hear you; say Mr. Thomas, and you must excuse me.'

'With the usual exception, ma'am,' said Bitzer, trying back, 'of an
individual.'

'Ah - h!'  Mrs. Sparsit repeated the ejaculation, the shake of the
head over her tea-cup, and the long gulp, as taking up the
conversation again at the point where it had been interrupted.

'An individual, ma'am,' said Bitzer, 'has never been what he ought
to have been, since he first came into the place.  He is a
dissipated, extravagant idler.  He is not worth his salt, ma'am.
He wouldn't get it either, if he hadn't a friend and relation at
court, ma'am!'

'Ah - h!' said Mrs. Sparsit, with another melancholy shake of her
head.

'I only hope, ma'am,' pursued Bitzer, 'that his friend and relation
may not supply him with the means of carrying on.  Otherwise,
ma'am, we know out of whose pocket that money comes.'

'Ah - h!' sighed Mrs. Sparsit again, with another melancholy shake
of her head.

'He is to be pitied, ma'am.  The last party I have alluded to, is
to be pitied, ma'am,' said Bitzer.

'Yes, Bitzer,' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'I have always pitied the
delusion, always.'

'As to an individual, ma'am,' said Bitzer, dropping his voice and
drawing nearer, 'he is as improvident as any of the people in this
town.  And you know what their improvidence is, ma'am.  No one
could wish to know it better than a lady of your eminence does.'

'They would do well,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'to take example by
you, Bitzer.'

'Thank you, ma'am.  But, since you do refer to me, now look at me,
ma'am.  I have put by a little, ma'am, already.  That gratuity
which I receive at Christmas, ma'am:  I never touch it.  I don't
even go the length of my wages, though they're not high, ma'am.
Why can't they do as I have done, ma'am?  What one person can do,
another can do.'

This, again, was among the fictions of Coketown.  Any capitalist
there, who had made sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, always
professed to wonder why the sixty thousand nearest Hands didn't
each make sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, and more or less
reproached them every one for not accomplishing the little feat.
What I did you can do.  Why don't you go and do it?

'As to their wanting recreations, ma'am,' said Bitzer, 'it's stuff
and nonsense.  I don't want recreations.  I never did, and I never
shall; I don't like 'em.  As to their combining together; there are
many of them, I have no doubt, that by watching and informing upon
one another could earn a trifle now and then, whether in money or
good will, and improve their livelihood.  Then, why don't they
improve it, ma'am!  It's the first consideration of a rational
creature, and it's what they pretend to want.'

'Pretend indeed!' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'I am sure we are constantly hearing, ma'am, till it becomes quite
nauseous, concerning their wives and families,' said Bitzer.  'Why
look at me, ma'am!  I don't want a wife and family.  Why should
they?'

'Because they are improvident,' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'Yes, ma'am,' returned Bitzer, 'that's where it is.  If they were
more provident and less perverse, ma'am, what would they do?  They
would say, "While my hat covers my family," or "while my bonnet
covers my family," - as the case might be, ma'am - "I have only one
to feed, and that's the person I most like to feed."'

'To be sure,' assented Mrs. Sparsit, eating muffin.

'Thank you, ma'am,' said Bitzer, knuckling his forehead again, in
return for the favour of Mrs. Sparsit's improving conversation.
'Would you wish a little more hot water, ma'am, or is there
anything else that I could fetch you?'

'Nothing just now, Bitzer.'

'Thank you, ma'am.  I shouldn't wish to disturb you at your meals,
ma'am, particularly tea, knowing your partiality for it,' said
Bitzer, craning a little to look over into the street from where he
stood; 'but there's a gentleman been looking up here for a minute
or so, ma'am, and he has come across as if he was going to knock.
That is his knock, ma'am, no doubt.'

He stepped to the window; and looking out, and drawing in his head
again, confirmed himself with, 'Yes, ma'am.  Would you wish the
gentleman to be shown in, ma'am?'

'I don't know who it can be,' said Mrs. Sparsit, wiping her mouth
and arranging her mittens.

'A stranger, ma'am, evidently.'

'What a stranger can want at the Bank at this time of the evening,
unless he comes upon some business for which he is too late, I
don't know,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'but I hold a charge in this
establishment from Mr. Bounderby, and I will never shrink from it.
If to see him is any part of the duty I have accepted, I will see
him.  Use your own discretion, Bitzer.'

Here the visitor, all unconscious of Mrs. Sparsit's magnanimous
words, repeated his knock so loudly that the light porter hastened
down to open the door; while Mrs. Sparsit took the precaution of
concealing her little table, with all its appliances upon it, in a
cupboard, and then decamped up-stairs, that she might appear, if
needful, with the greater dignity.

'If you please, ma'am, the gentleman would wish to see you,' said
Bitzer, with his light eye at Mrs. Sparsit's keyhole.  So, Mrs.
Sparsit, who had improved the interval by touching up her cap, took
her classical features down-stairs again, and entered the board-
room in the manner of a Roman matron going outside the city walls
to treat with an invading general.

The visitor having strolled to the window, and being then engaged
in looking carelessly out, was as unmoved by this impressive entry
as man could possibly be.  He stood whistling to himself with all
imaginable coolness, with his hat still on, and a certain air of
exhaustion upon him, in part arising from excessive summer, and in
part from excessive gentility.  For it was to be seen with half an
eye that he was a thorough gentleman, made to the model of the
time; weary of everything, and putting no more faith in anything
than Lucifer.

'I believe, sir,' quoth Mrs. Sparsit, 'you wished to see me.'

'I beg your pardon,' he said, turning and removing his hat; 'pray
excuse me.'

'Humph!' thought Mrs. Sparsit, as she made a stately bend.  'Five
and thirty, good-looking, good figure, good teeth, good voice, good
breeding, well-dressed, dark hair, bold eyes.'  All which Mrs.
Sparsit observed in her womanly way - like the Sultan who put his
head in the pail of water - merely in dipping down and coming up
again.

'Please to be seated, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'Thank you.  Allow me.'  He placed a chair for her, but remained
himself carelessly lounging against the table.  'I left my servant
at the railway looking after the luggage - very heavy train and
vast quantity of it in the van - and strolled on, looking about me.
Exceedingly odd place.  Will you allow me to ask you if it's always
as black as this?'

'In general much blacker,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, in her
uncompromising way.

'Is it possible!  Excuse me:  you are not a native, I think?'

'No, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit.  'It was once my good or ill
fortune, as it may be - before I became a widow - to move in a very
different sphere.  My husband was a Powler.'

'Beg your pardon, really!' said the stranger.  'Was - ?'

Mrs. Sparsit repeated, 'A Powler.'

'Powler Family,' said the stranger, after reflecting a few moments.
Mrs. Sparsit signified assent.  The stranger seemed a little more
fatigued than before.

'You must be very much bored here?' was the inference he drew from
the communication.

'I am the servant of circumstances, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'and I
have long adapted myself to the governing power of my life.'

'Very philosophical,' returned the stranger, 'and very exemplary
and laudable, and - '  It seemed to be scarcely worth his while to
finish the sentence, so he played with his watch-chain wearily.

'May I be permitted to ask, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'to what I am
indebted for the favour of - '

'Assuredly,' said the stranger.  'Much obliged to you for reminding
me.  I am the bearer of a letter of introduction to Mr. Bounderby,
the banker.  Walking through this extraordinarily black town, while
they were getting dinner ready at the hotel, I asked a fellow whom
I met; one of the working people; who appeared to have been taking
a shower-bath of something fluffy, which I assume to be the raw
material - '

Mrs. Sparsit inclined her head.

' - Raw material - where Mr. Bounderby, the banker, might reside.
Upon which, misled no doubt by the word Banker, he directed me to
the Bank.  Fact being, I presume, that Mr. Bounderby the Banker
does not reside in the edifice in which I have the honour of
offering this explanation?'

'No, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'he does not.'

'Thank you.  I had no intention of delivering my letter at the
present moment, nor have I. But strolling on to the Bank to kill
time, and having the good fortune to observe at the window,'
towards which he languidly waved his hand, then slightly bowed, 'a
lady of a very superior and agreeable appearance, I considered that
I could not do better than take the liberty of asking that lady
where Mr. Bounderby the Banker does live.  Which I accordingly
venture, with all suitable apologies, to do.'

The inattention and indolence of his manner were sufficiently
relieved, to Mrs. Sparsit's thinking, by a certain gallantry at
ease, which offered her homage too.  Here he was, for instance, at
this moment, all but sitting on the table, and yet lazily bending
over her, as if he acknowledged an attraction in her that made her
charming - in her way.

'Banks, I know, are always suspicious, and officially must be,'
said the stranger, whose lightness and smoothness of speech were
pleasant likewise; suggesting matter far more sensible and humorous
than it ever contained - which was perhaps a shrewd device of the
founder of this numerous sect, whosoever may have been that great
man:  'therefore I may observe that my letter - here it is - is
from the member for this place - Gradgrind - whom I have had the
pleasure of knowing in London.'

Mrs. Sparsit recognized the hand, intimated that such confirmation
was quite unnecessary, and gave Mr. Bounderby's address, with all
needful clues and directions in aid.

'Thousand thanks,' said the stranger.  'Of course you know the
Banker well?'

'Yes, sir,' rejoined Mrs. Sparsit.  'In my dependent relation
towards him, I have known him ten years.'

'Quite an eternity!  I think he married Gradgrind's daughter?'

'Yes,' said Mrs. Sparsit, suddenly compressing her mouth, 'he had
that - honour.'

'The lady is quite a philosopher, I am told?'

'Indeed, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'Is she?'

'Excuse my impertinent curiosity,' pursued the stranger, fluttering
over Mrs. Sparsit's eyebrows, with a propitiatory air, 'but you
know the family, and know the world.  I am about to know the
family, and may have much to do with them.  Is the lady so very
alarming?  Her father gives her such a portentously hard-headed
reputation, that I have a burning desire to know.  Is she
absolutely unapproachable?  Repellently and stunningly clever?  I
see, by your meaning smile, you think not.  You have poured balm
into my anxious soul.  As to age, now.  Forty?  Five and thirty?'

Mrs. Sparsit laughed outright.  'A chit,' said she.  'Not twenty
when she was married.'

'I give you my honour, Mrs. Powler,' returned the stranger,
detaching himself from the table, 'that I never was so astonished
in my life!'

It really did seem to impress him, to the utmost extent of his
capacity of being impressed.  He looked at his informant for full a
quarter of a minute, and appeared to have the surprise in his mind
all the time.  'I assure you, Mrs. Powler,' he then said, much
exhausted, 'that the father's manner prepared me for a grim and
stony maturity.  I am obliged to you, of all things, for correcting
so absurd a mistake.  Pray excuse my intrusion.  Many thanks.  Good
day!'

He bowed himself out; and Mrs. Sparsit, hiding in the window
curtain, saw him languishing down the street on the shady side of
the way, observed of all the town.

'What do you think of the gentleman, Bitzer?' she asked the light
porter, when he came to take away.

'Spends a deal of money on his dress, ma'am.'

'It must be admitted,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'that it's very
tasteful.'

'Yes, ma'am,' returned Bitzer, 'if that's worth the money.'

'Besides which, ma'am,' resumed Bitzer, while he was polishing the
table, 'he looks to me as if he gamed.'

'It's immoral to game,' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'It's ridiculous, ma'am,' said Bitzer, 'because the chances are
against the players.'

Whether it was that the heat prevented Mrs. Sparsit from working,
or whether it was that her hand was out, she did no work that
night.  She sat at the window, when the sun began to sink behind
the smoke; she sat there, when the smoke was burning red, when the
colour faded from it, when darkness seemed to rise slowly out of
the ground, and creep upward, upward, up to the house-tops, up the
church steeple, up to the summits of the factory chimneys, up to
the sky.  Without a candle in the room, Mrs. Sparsit sat at the
window, with her hands before her, not thinking much of the sounds
of evening; the whooping of boys, the barking of dogs, the rumbling
of wheels, the steps and voices of passengers, the shrill street
cries, the clogs upon the pavement when it was their hour for going
by, the shutting-up of shop-shutters.  Not until the light porter
announced that her nocturnal sweetbread was ready, did Mrs. Sparsit
arouse herself from her reverie, and convey her dense black
eyebrows - by that time creased with meditation, as if they needed
ironing out-up-stairs.

'O, you Fool!' said Mrs. Sparsit, when she was alone at her supper.
Whom she meant, she did not say; but she could scarcely have meant
the sweetbread.

CHAPTER II - MR. JAMES HARTHOUSE

THE Gradgrind party wanted assistance in cutting the throats of the
Graces.  They went about recruiting; and where could they enlist
recruits more hopefully, than among the fine gentlemen who, having
found out everything to be worth nothing, were equally ready for
anything?

Moreover, the healthy spirits who had mounted to this sublime
height were attractive to many of the Gradgrind school.  They liked
fine gentlemen; they pretended that they did not, but they did.
They became exhausted in imitation of them; and they yaw-yawed in
their speech like them; and they served out, with an enervated air,
the little mouldy rations of political economy, on which they
regaled their disciples.  There never before was seen on earth such
a wonderful hybrid race as was thus produced.

Among the fine gentlemen not regularly belonging to the Gradgrind
school, there was one of a good family and a better appearance,
with a happy turn of humour which had told immensely with the House
of Commons on the occasion of his entertaining it with his (and the
Board of Directors) view of a railway accident, in which the most
careful officers ever known, employed by the most liberal managers
ever heard of, assisted by the finest mechanical contrivances ever
devised, the whole in action on the best line ever constructed, had
killed five people and wounded thirty-two, by a casualty without
which the excellence of the whole system would have been positively
incomplete.  Among the slain was a cow, and among the scattered
articles unowned, a widow's cap.  And the honourable member had so
tickled the House (which has a delicate sense of humour) by putting
the cap on the cow, that it became impatient of any serious
reference to the Coroner's Inquest, and brought the railway off
with Cheers and Laughter.

Now, this gentleman had a younger brother of still better
appearance than himself, who had tried life as a Cornet of
Dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in the
train of an English minister abroad, and found it a bore; and had
then strolled to Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had then gone
yachting about the world, and got bored everywhere.  To whom this
honourable and jocular, member fraternally said one day, 'Jem,
there's a good opening among the hard Fact fellows, and they want
men.  I wonder you don't go in for statistics.'  Jem, rather taken
by the novelty of the idea, and very hard up for a change, was as
ready to 'go in' for statistics as for anything else.  So, he went
in.  He coached himself up with a blue-book or two; and his brother
put it about among the hard Fact fellows, and said, 'If you want to
bring in, for any place, a handsome dog who can make you a devilish
good speech, look after my brother Jem, for he's your man.'  After
a few dashes in the public meeting way, Mr. Gradgrind and a council
of political sages approved of Jem, and it was resolved to send him
down to Coketown, to become known there and in the neighbourhood.
Hence the letter Jem had last night shown to Mrs. Sparsit, which
Mr. Bounderby now held in his hand; superscribed, 'Josiah
Bounderby, Esquire, Banker, Coketown.  Specially to introduce James
Harthouse, Esquire.  Thomas Gradgrind.'

Within an hour of the receipt of this dispatch and Mr. James
Harthouse's card, Mr. Bounderby put on his hat and went down to the
Hotel.  There he found Mr. James Harthouse looking out of window,
in a state of mind so disconsolate, that he was already half-
disposed to 'go in' for something else.

'My name, sir,' said his visitor, 'is Josiah Bounderby, of
Coketown.'

Mr. James Harthouse was very happy indeed (though he scarcely
looked so) to have a pleasure he had long expected.

'Coketown, sir,' said Bounderby, obstinately taking a chair, 'is
not the kind of place you have been accustomed to.  Therefore, if
you will allow me - or whether you will or not, for I am a plain
man - I'll tell you something about it before we go any further.'

Mr. Harthouse would be charmed.

'Don't be too sure of that,' said Bounderby.  'I don't promise it.
First of all, you see our smoke.  That's meat and drink to us.
It's the healthiest thing in the world in all respects, and
particularly for the lungs.  If you are one of those who want us to
consume it, I differ from you.  We are not going to wear the
bottoms of our boilers out any faster than we wear 'em out now, for
all the humbugging sentiment in Great Britain and Ireland.'

By way of 'going in' to the fullest extent, Mr. Harthouse rejoined,
'Mr. Bounderby, I assure you I am entirely and completely of your
way of thinking.  On conviction.'

'I am glad to hear it,' said Bounderby.  'Now, you have heard a lot
of talk about the work in our mills, no doubt.  You have?  Very
good.  I'll state the fact of it to you.  It's the pleasantest work
there is, and it's the lightest work there is, and it's the best-
paid work there is.  More than that, we couldn't improve the mills
themselves, unless we laid down Turkey carpets on the floors.
Which we're not a-going to do.'

'Mr. Bounderby, perfectly right.'

'Lastly,' said Bounderby, 'as to our Hands.  There's not a Hand in
this town, sir, man, woman, or child, but has one ultimate object
in life.  That object is, to be fed on turtle soup and venison with
a gold spoon.  Now, they're not a-going - none of 'em - ever to be
fed on turtle soup and venison with a gold spoon.  And now you know
the place.'

Mr. Harthouse professed himself in the highest degree instructed
and refreshed, by this condensed epitome of the whole Coketown
question.

'Why, you see,' replied Mr. Bounderby, 'it suits my disposition to
have a full understanding with a man, particularly with a public
man, when I make his acquaintance.  I have only one thing more to
say to you, Mr. Harthouse, before assuring you of the pleasure with
which I shall respond, to the utmost of my poor ability, to my
friend Tom Gradgrind's letter of introduction.  You are a man of
family.  Don't you deceive yourself by supposing for a moment that
I am a man of family.  I am a bit of dirty riff-raff, and a genuine
scrap of tag, rag, and bobtail.'

If anything could have exalted Jem's interest in Mr. Bounderby, it
would have been this very circumstance.  Or, so he told him.

'So now,' said Bounderby, 'we may shake hands on equal terms.  I
say, equal terms, because although I know what I am, and the exact
depth of the gutter I have lifted myself out of, better than any
man does, I am as proud as you are.  I am just as proud as you are.
Having now asserted my independence in a proper manner, I may come
to how do you find yourself, and I hope you're pretty well.'

The better, Mr. Harthouse gave him to understand as they shook
hands, for the salubrious air of Coketown.  Mr. Bounderby received
the answer with favour.

'Perhaps you know,' said he, 'or perhaps you don't know, I married
Tom Gradgrind's daughter.  If you have nothing better to do than to
walk up town with me, I shall be glad to introduce you to Tom
Gradgrind's daughter.'

'Mr. Bounderby,' said Jem, 'you anticipate my dearest wishes.'

They went out without further discourse; and Mr. Bounderby piloted
the new acquaintance who so strongly contrasted with him, to the
private red brick dwelling, with the black outside shutters, the
green inside blinds, and the black street door up the two white
steps.  In the drawing-room of which mansion, there presently
entered to them the most remarkable girl Mr. James Harthouse had
ever seen.  She was so constrained, and yet so careless; so
reserved, and yet so watchful; so cold and proud, and yet so
sensitively ashamed of her husband's braggart humility - from which
she shrunk as if every example of it were a cut or a blow; that it
was quite a new sensation to observe her.  In face she was no less
remarkable than in manner.  Her features were handsome; but their
natural play was so locked up, that it seemed impossible to guess
at their genuine expression.  Utterly indifferent, perfectly self-
reliant, never at a loss, and yet never at her ease, with her
figure in company with them there, and her mind apparently quite
alone - it was of no use 'going in' yet awhile to comprehend this
girl, for she baffled all penetration.

From the mistress of the house, the visitor glanced to the house
itself.  There was no mute sign of a woman in the room.  No
graceful little adornment, no fanciful little device, however
trivial, anywhere expressed her influence.  Cheerless and
comfortless, boastfully and doggedly rich, there the room stared at
its present occupants, unsoftened and unrelieved by the least trace
of any womanly occupation.  As Mr. Bounderby stood in the midst of
his household gods, so those unrelenting divinities occupied their
places around Mr. Bounderby, and they were worthy of one another,
and well matched.

'This, sir,' said Bounderby, 'is my wife, Mrs. Bounderby:  Tom
Gradgrind's eldest daughter.  Loo, Mr. James Harthouse.  Mr.
Harthouse has joined your father's muster-roll.  If he is not Torn
Gradgrind's colleague before long, I believe we shall at least hear
of him in connexion with one of our neighbouring towns.  You
observe, Mr. Harthouse, that my wife is my junior.  I don't know
what she saw in me to marry me, but she saw something in me, I
suppose, or she wouldn't have married me.  She has lots of
expensive knowledge, sir, political and otherwise.  If you want to
cram for anything, I should be troubled to recommend you to a
better adviser than Loo Bounderby.'

To a more agreeable adviser, or one from whom he would be more
likely to learn, Mr. Harthouse could never be recommended.

'Come!' said his host.  'If you're in the complimentary line,
you'll get on here, for you'll meet with no competition.  I have
never been in the way of learning compliments myself, and I don't
profess to understand the art of paying 'em.  In fact, despise 'em.
But, your bringing-up was different from mine; mine was a real
thing, by George!  You're a gentleman, and I don't pretend to be
one.  I am Josiah Bounderby of Coketown, and that's enough for me.
However, though I am not influenced by manners and station, Loo
Bounderby may be.  She hadn't my advantages - disadvantages you
would call 'em, but I call 'em advantages - so you'll not waste
your power, I dare say.'

'Mr. Bounderby,' said Jem, turning with a smile to Louisa, 'is a
noble animal in a comparatively natural state, quite free from the
harness in which a conventional hack like myself works.'

'You respect Mr. Bounderby very much,' she quietly returned.  'It
is natural that you should.'

He was disgracefully thrown out, for a gentleman who had seen so
much of the world, and thought, 'Now, how am I to take this?'

'You are going to devote yourself, as I gather from what Mr.
Bounderby has said, to the service of your country.  You have made
up your mind,' said Louisa, still standing before him where she had
first stopped - in all the singular contrariety of her self-
possession, and her being obviously very ill at ease - 'to show the
nation the way out of all its difficulties.'

'Mrs. Bounderby,' he returned, laughing, 'upon my honour, no.  I
will make no such pretence to you.  I have seen a little, here and
there, up and down; I have found it all to be very worthless, as
everybody has, and as some confess they have, and some do not; and
I am going in for your respected father's opinions - really because
I have no choice of opinions, and may as well back them as anything
else.'

'Have you none of your own?' asked Louisa.

'I have not so much as the slightest predilection left.  I assure
you I attach not the least importance to any opinions.  The result
of the varieties of boredom I have undergone, is a conviction
(unless conviction is too industrious a word for the lazy sentiment
I entertain on the subject), that any set of ideas will do just as
much good as any other set, and just as much harm as any other set.
There's an English family with a charming Italian motto.  What will
be, will be.  It's the only truth going!'

This vicious assumption of honesty in dishonesty - a vice so
dangerous, so deadly, and so common - seemed, he observed, a little
to impress her in his favour.  He followed up the advantage, by
saying in his pleasantest manner:  a manner to which she might
attach as much or as little meaning as she pleased:  'The side that
can prove anything in a line of units, tens, hundreds, and
thousands, Mrs. Bounderby, seems to me to afford the most fun, and
to give a man the best chance.  I am quite as much attached to it
as if I believed it.  I am quite ready to go in for it, to the same
extent as if I believed it.  And what more could I possibly do, if
I did believe it!'

'You are a singular politician,' said Louisa.

'Pardon me; I have not even that merit.  We are the largest party
in the state, I assure you, Mrs. Bounderby, if we all fell out of
our adopted ranks and were reviewed together.'

Mr. Bounderby, who had been in danger of bursting in silence,
interposed here with a project for postponing the family dinner
till half-past six, and taking Mr. James Harthouse in the meantime
on a round of visits to the voting and interesting notabilities of
Coketown and its vicinity.  The round of visits was made; and Mr.
James Harthouse, with a discreet use of his blue coaching, came off
triumphantly, though with a considerable accession of boredom.

In the evening, he found the dinner-table laid for four, but they
sat down only three.  It was an appropriate occasion for Mr.
Bounderby to discuss the flavour of the hap'orth of stewed eels he
had purchased in the streets at eight years old; and also of the
inferior water, specially used for laying the dust, with which he
had washed down that repast.  He likewise entertained his guest
over the soup and fish, with the calculation that he (Bounderby)
had eaten in his youth at least three horses under the guise of
polonies and saveloys.  These recitals, Jem, in a languid manner,
received with 'charming!' every now and then; and they probably
would have decided him to 'go in' for Jerusalem again to-morrow
morning, had he been less curious respecting Louisa.

'Is there nothing,' he thought, glancing at her as she sat at the
head of the table, where her youthful figure, small and slight, but
very graceful, looked as pretty as it looked misplaced; 'is there
nothing that will move that face?'

Yes!  By Jupiter, there was something, and here it was, in an
unexpected shape.  Tom appeared.  She changed as the door opened,
and broke into a beaming smile.

A beautiful smile.  Mr. James Harthouse might not have thought so
much of it, but that he had wondered so long at her impassive face.
She put out her hand - a pretty little soft hand; and her fingers
closed upon her brother's, as if she would have carried them to her
lips.

'Ay, ay?' thought the visitor.  'This whelp is the only creature
she cares for.  So, so!'

The whelp was presented, and took his chair.  The appellation was
not flattering, but not unmerited.

'When I was your age, young Tom,' said Bounderby, 'I was punctual,
or I got no dinner!'

'When you were my age,' resumed Tom, 'you hadn't a wrong balance to
get right, and hadn't to dress afterwards.'

'Never mind that now,' said Bounderby.

'Well, then,' grumbled Tom.  'Don't begin with me.'

'Mrs. Bounderby,' said Harthouse, perfectly hearing this under-
strain as it went on; 'your brother's face is quite familiar to me.
Can I have seen him abroad?  Or at some public school, perhaps?'

'No,' she resumed, quite interested, 'he has never been abroad yet,
and was educated here, at home.  Tom, love, I am telling Mr.
Harthouse that he never saw you abroad.'

'No such luck, sir,' said Tom.

There was little enough in him to brighten her face, for he was a
sullen young fellow, and ungracious in his manner even to her.  So
much the greater must have been the solitude of her heart, and her
need of some one on whom to bestow it.  'So much the more is this
whelp the only creature she has ever cared for,' thought Mr. James
Harthouse, turning it over and over.  'So much the more.  So much
the more.'

Both in his sister's presence, and after she had left the room, the
whelp took no pains to hide his contempt for Mr. Bounderby,
whenever he could indulge it without the observation of that
independent man, by making wry faces, or shutting one eye.  Without
responding to these telegraphic communications, Mr. Harthouse
encouraged him much in the course of the evening, and showed an
unusual liking for him.  At last, when he rose to return to his
hotel, and was a little doubtful whether he knew the way by night,
the whelp immediately proffered his services as guide, and turned
out with him to escort him thither.

CHAPTER III - THE WHELP

IT was very remarkable that a young gentleman who had been brought
up under one continuous system of unnatural restraint, should be a
hypocrite; but it was certainly the case with Tom.  It was very
strange that a young gentleman who had never been left to his own
guidance for five consecutive minutes, should be incapable at last
of governing himself; but so it was with Tom.  It was altogether
unaccountable that a young gentleman whose imagination had been
strangled in his cradle, should be still inconvenienced by its
ghost in the form of grovelling sensualities; but such a monster,
beyond all doubt, was Tom.

'Do you smoke?' asked Mr. James Harthouse, when they came to the
hotel.

'I believe you!' said Tom.

He could do no less than ask Tom up; and Tom could do no less than
go up.  What with a cooling drink adapted to the weather, but not
so weak as cool; and what with a rarer tobacco than was to be
bought in those parts; Tom was soon in a highly free and easy state
at his end of the sofa, and more than ever disposed to admire his
new friend at the other end.

Tom blew his smoke aside, after he had been smoking a little while,
and took an observation of his friend.  'He don't seem to care
about his dress,' thought Tom, 'and yet how capitally he does it.
What an easy swell he is!'

Mr. James Harthouse, happening to catch Tom's eye, remarked that he
drank nothing, and filled his glass with his own negligent hand.

'Thank'ee,' said Tom.  'Thank'ee.  Well, Mr. Harthouse, I hope you
have had about a dose of old Bounderby to-night.'  Tom said this
with one eye shut up again, and looking over his glass knowingly,
at his entertainer.

'A very good fellow indeed!' returned Mr. James Harthouse.

'You think so, don't you?' said Tom.  And shut up his eye again.

Mr. James Harthouse smiled; and rising from his end of the sofa,
and lounging with his back against the chimney-piece, so that he
stood before the empty fire-grate as he smoked, in front of Tom and
looking down at him, observed:

'What a comical brother-in-law you are!'

'What a comical brother-in-law old Bounderby is, I think you mean,'
said Tom.

'You are a piece of caustic, Tom,' retorted Mr. James Harthouse.

There was something so very agreeable in being so intimate with
such a waistcoat; in being called Tom, in such an intimate way, by
such a voice; in being on such off-hand terms so soon, with such a
pair of whiskers; that Tom was uncommonly pleased with himself.

'Oh!  I don't care for old Bounderby,' said he, 'if you mean that.
I have always called old Bounderby by the same name when I have
talked about him, and I have always thought of him in the same way.
I am not going to begin to be polite now, about old Bounderby.  It
would be rather late in the day.'

'Don't mind me,' returned James; 'but take care when his wife is
by, you know.'

'His wife?' said Tom.  'My sister Loo?  O yes!'  And he laughed,
and took a little more of the cooling drink.

James Harthouse continued to lounge in the same place and attitude,
smoking his cigar in his own easy way, and looking pleasantly at
the whelp, as if he knew himself to be a kind of agreeable demon
who had only to hover over him, and he must give up his whole soul
if required.  It certainly did seem that the whelp yielded to this
influence.  He looked at his companion sneakingly, he looked at him
admiringly, he looked at him boldly, and put up one leg on the
sofa.

'My sister Loo?' said Tom.  'She never cared for old Bounderby.'

'That's the past tense, Tom,' returned Mr. James Harthouse,
striking the ash from his cigar with his little finger.  'We are in
the present tense, now.'

'Verb neuter, not to care.  Indicative mood, present tense.  First
person singular, I do not care; second person singular, thou dost
not care; third person singular, she does not care,' returned Tom.

'Good!  Very quaint!' said his friend.  'Though you don't mean it.'

'But I do mean it,' cried Tom.  'Upon my honour!  Why, you won't
tell me, Mr. Harthouse, that you really suppose my sister Loo does
care for old Bounderby.'

'My dear fellow,' returned the other, 'what am I bound to suppose,
when I find two married people living in harmony and happiness?'

Tom had by this time got both his legs on the sofa.  If his second
leg had not been already there when he was called a dear fellow, he
would have put it up at that great stage of the conversation.
Feeling it necessary to do something then, he stretched himself out
at greater length, and, reclining with the back of his head on the
end of the sofa, and smoking with an infinite assumption of
negligence, turned his common face, and not too sober eyes, towards
the face looking down upon him so carelessly yet so potently.

'You know our governor, Mr. Harthouse,' said Tom, 'and therefore,
you needn't be surprised that Loo married old Bounderby.  She never
had a lover, and the governor proposed old Bounderby, and she took
him.'

'Very dutiful in your interesting sister,' said Mr. James
Harthouse.

'Yes, but she wouldn't have been as dutiful, and it would not have
come off as easily,' returned the whelp, 'if it hadn't been for
me.'

The tempter merely lifted his eyebrows; but the whelp was obliged
to go on.

'I persuaded her,' he said, with an edifying air of superiority.
'I was stuck into old Bounderby's bank (where I never wanted to
be), and I knew I should get into scrapes there, if she put old
Bounderby's pipe out; so I told her my wishes, and she came into
them.  She would do anything for me.  It was very game of her,
wasn't it?'

'It was charming, Tom!'

'Not that it was altogether so important to her as it was to me,'
continued Tom coolly, 'because my liberty and comfort, and perhaps
my getting on, depended on it; and she had no other lover, and
staying at home was like staying in jail - especially when I was
gone.  It wasn't as if she gave up another lover for old Bounderby;
but still it was a good thing in her.'

'Perfectly delightful.  And she gets on so placidly.'

'Oh,' returned Tom, with contemptuous patronage, 'she's a regular
girl.  A girl can get on anywhere.  She has settled down to the
life, and she don't mind.  It does just as well as another.
Besides, though Loo is a girl, she's not a common sort of girl.
She can shut herself up within herself, and think - as I have often
known her sit and watch the fire - for an hour at a stretch.'

'Ay, ay?  Has resources of her own,' said Harthouse, smoking
quietly.

'Not so much of that as you may suppose,' returned Tom; 'for our
governor had her crammed with all sorts of dry bones and sawdust.
It's his system.'

'Formed his daughter on his own model?' suggested Harthouse.

'His daughter?  Ah! and everybody else.  Why, he formed Me that
way!' said Tom.

'Impossible!'

'He did, though,' said Tom, shaking his head.  'I mean to say, Mr.
Harthouse, that when I first left home and went to old Bounderby's,
I was as flat as a warming-pan, and knew no more about life, than
any oyster does.'

'Come, Tom!  I can hardly believe that.  A joke's a joke.'

'Upon my soul!' said the whelp.  'I am serious; I am indeed!'  He
smoked with great gravity and dignity for a little while, and then
added, in a highly complacent tone, 'Oh!  I have picked up a little
since.  I don't deny that.  But I have done it myself; no thanks to
the governor.'

'And your intelligent sister?'

'My intelligent sister is about where she was.  She used to
complain to me that she had nothing to fall back upon, that girls
usually fall back upon; and I don't see how she is to have got over
that since.  But she don't mind,' he sagaciously added, puffing at
his cigar again.  'Girls can always get on, somehow.'

'Calling at the Bank yesterday evening, for Mr. Bounderby's
address, I found an ancient lady there, who seems to entertain
great admiration for your sister,' observed Mr. James Harthouse,
throwing away the last small remnant of the cigar he had now smoked
out.

'Mother Sparsit!' said Tom.  'What! you have seen her already, have
you?'

His friend nodded.  Tom took his cigar out of his mouth, to shut up
his eye (which had grown rather unmanageable) with the greater
expression, and to tap his nose several times with his finger.

'Mother Sparsit's feeling for Loo is more than admiration, I should
think,' said Tom.  'Say affection and devotion.  Mother Sparsit
never set her cap at Bounderby when he was a bachelor.  Oh no!'

These were the last words spoken by the whelp, before a giddy
drowsiness came upon him, followed by complete oblivion.  He was
roused from the latter state by an uneasy dream of being stirred up
with a boot, and also of a voice saying:  'Come, it's late.  Be
off!'

'Well!' he said, scrambling from the sofa.  'I must take my leave
of you though.  I say.  Yours is very good tobacco.  But it's too
mild.'

'Yes, it's too mild,' returned his entertainer.

'It's - it's ridiculously mild,' said Tom.  'Where's the door!
Good night!'

'He had another odd dream of being taken by a waiter through a
mist, which, after giving him some trouble and difficulty, resolved
itself into the main street, in which he stood alone.  He then
walked home pretty easily, though not yet free from an impression
of the presence and influence of his new friend - as if he were
lounging somewhere in the air, in the same negligent attitude,
regarding him with the same look.

The whelp went home, and went to bed.  If he had had any sense of
what he had done that night, and had been less of a whelp and more
of a brother, he might have turned short on the road, might have
gone down to the ill-smelling river that was dyed black, might have
gone to bed in it for good and all, and have curtained his head for
ever with its filthy waters.

CHAPTER IV - MEN AND BROTHERS

'OH, my friends, the down-trodden operatives of Coketown!  Oh, my
friends and fellow-countrymen, the slaves of an iron-handed and a
grinding despotism!  Oh, my friends and fellow-sufferers, and
fellow-workmen, and fellow-men!  I tell you that the hour is come,
when we must rally round one another as One united power, and
crumble into dust the oppressors that too long have battened upon
the plunder of our families, upon the sweat of our brows, upon the
labour of our hands, upon the strength of our sinews, upon the God-
created glorious rights of Humanity, and upon the holy and eternal
privileges of Brotherhood!'

'Good!'  'Hear, hear, hear!'  'Hurrah!' and other cries, arose in
many voices from various parts of the densely crowded and
suffocatingly close Hall, in which the orator, perched on a stage,
delivered himself of this and what other froth and fume he had in
him.  He had declaimed himself into a violent heat, and was as
hoarse as he was hot.  By dint of roaring at the top of his voice
under a flaring gaslight, clenching his fists, knitting his brows,
setting his teeth, and pounding with his arms, he had taken so much
out of himself by this time, that he was brought to a stop, and
called for a glass of water.

As he stood there, trying to quench his fiery face with his drink
of water, the comparison between the orator and the crowd of
attentive faces turned towards him, was extremely to his
disadvantage.  Judging him by Nature's evidence, he was above the
mass in very little but the stage on which he stood.  In many great
respects he was essentially below them.  He was not so honest, he
was not so manly, he was not so good-humoured; he substituted
cunning for their simplicity, and passion for their safe solid
sense.  An ill-made, high-shouldered man, with lowering brows, and
his features crushed into an habitually sour expression, he
contrasted most unfavourably, even in his mongrel dress, with the
great body of his hearers in their plain working clothes.  Strange
as it always is to consider any assembly in the act of submissively
resigning itself to the dreariness of some complacent person, lord
or commoner, whom three-fourths of it could, by no human means,
raise out of the slough of inanity to their own intellectual level,
it was particularly strange, and it was even particularly
affecting, to see this crowd of earnest faces, whose honesty in the
main no competent observer free from bias could doubt, so agitated
by such a leader.

Good!  Hear, hear!  Hurrah!  The eagerness both of attention and
intention, exhibited in all the countenances, made them a most
impressive sight.  There was no carelessness, no languor, no idle
curiosity; none of the many shades of indifference to be seen in
all other assemblies, visible for one moment there.  That every man
felt his condition to be, somehow or other, worse than it might be;
that every man considered it incumbent on him to join the rest,
towards the making of it better; that every man felt his only hope
to be in his allying himself to the comrades by whom he was
surrounded; and that in this belief, right or wrong (unhappily
wrong then), the whole of that crowd were gravely, deeply,
faithfully in earnest; must have been as plain to any one who chose
to see what was there, as the bare beams of the roof and the
whitened brick walls.  Nor could any such spectator fail to know in
his own breast, that these men, through their very delusions,
showed great qualities, susceptible of being turned to the happiest
and best account; and that to pretend (on the strength of sweeping
axioms, howsoever cut and dried) that they went astray wholly
without cause, and of their own irrational wills, was to pretend
that there could be smoke without fire, death without birth,
harvest without seed, anything or everything produced from nothing.

The orator having refreshed himself, wiped his corrugated forehead
from left to right several times with his handkerchief folded into
a pad, and concentrated all his revived forces, in a sneer of great
disdain and bitterness.

'But oh, my friends and brothers!  Oh, men and Englishmen, the
down-trodden operatives of Coketown!  What shall we say of that man
- that working-man, that I should find it necessary so to libel the
glorious name - who, being practically and well acquainted with the
grievances and wrongs of you, the injured pith and marrow of this
land, and having heard you, with a noble and majestic unanimity
that will make Tyrants tremble, resolve for to subscribe to the
funds of the United Aggregate Tribunal, and to abide by the
injunctions issued by that body for your benefit, whatever they may
be - what, I ask you, will you say of that working-man, since such
I must acknowledge him to be, who, at such a time, deserts his
post, and sells his flag; who, at such a time, turns a traitor and
a craven and a recreant, who, at such a time, is not ashamed to
make to you the dastardly and humiliating avowal that he will hold
himself aloof, and will not be one of those associated in the
gallant stand for Freedom and for Right?'

The assembly was divided at this point.  There were some groans and
hisses, but the general sense of honour was much too strong for the
condemnation of a man unheard.  'Be sure you're right,
Slackbridge!'  'Put him up!'  'Let's hear him!'  Such things were
said on many sides.  Finally, one strong voice called out, 'Is the
man heer?  If the man's heer, Slackbridge, let's hear the man
himseln, 'stead o' yo.'  Which was received with a round of
applause.

Slackbridge, the orator, looked about him with a withering smile;
and, holding out his right hand at arm's length (as the manner of
all Slackbridges is), to still the thundering sea, waited until
there was a profound silence.

'Oh, my friends and fellow-men!' said Slackbridge then, shaking his
head with violent scorn, 'I do not wonder that you, the prostrate
sons of labour, are incredulous of the existence of such a man.
But he who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage existed, and
Judas Iscariot existed, and Castlereagh existed, and this man
exists!'

Here, a brief press and confusion near the stage, ended in the man
himself standing at the orator's side before the concourse.  He was
pale and a little moved in the face - his lips especially showed
it; but he stood quiet, with his left hand at his chin, waiting to
be heard.  There was a chairman to regulate the proceedings, and
this functionary now took the case into his own hands.

'My friends,' said he, 'by virtue o' my office as your president, I
askes o' our friend Slackbridge, who may be a little over hetter in
this business, to take his seat, whiles this man Stephen Blackpool
is heern.  You all know this man Stephen Blackpool.  You know him
awlung o' his misfort'ns, and his good name.'

With that, the chairman shook him frankly by the hand, and sat down
again.  Slackbridge likewise sat down, wiping his hot forehead -
always from left to right, and never the reverse way.

'My friends,' Stephen began, in the midst of a dead calm; 'I ha'
hed what's been spok'n o' me, and 'tis lickly that I shan't mend
it.  But I'd liefer you'd hearn the truth concernin myseln, fro my
lips than fro onny other man's, though I never cud'n speak afore so
monny, wi'out bein moydert and muddled.'

Slackbridge shook his head as if he would shake it off, in his
bitterness.

'I'm th' one single Hand in Bounderby's mill, o' a' the men theer,
as don't coom in wi' th' proposed reg'lations.  I canna coom in wi'
'em.  My friends, I doubt their doin' yo onny good.  Licker they'll
do yo hurt.'

Slackbridge laughed, folded his arms, and frowned sarcastically.

'But 't an't sommuch for that as I stands out.  If that were aw,
I'd coom in wi' th' rest.  But I ha' my reasons - mine, yo see -
for being hindered; not on'y now, but awlus - awlus - life long!'

Slackbridge jumped up and stood beside him, gnashing and tearing.
'Oh, my friends, what but this did I tell you?  Oh, my fellow-
countrymen, what warning but this did I give you?  And how shows
this recreant conduct in a man on whom unequal laws are known to
have fallen heavy?  Oh, you Englishmen, I ask you how does this
subornation show in one of yourselves, who is thus consenting to
his own undoing and to yours, and to your children's and your
children's children's?'

There was some applause, and some crying of Shame upon the man; but
the greater part of the audience were quiet.  They looked at
Stephen's worn face, rendered more pathetic by the homely emotions
it evinced; and, in the kindness of their nature, they were more
sorry than indignant.

''Tis this Delegate's trade for t' speak,' said Stephen, 'an' he's
paid for 't, an' he knows his work.  Let him keep to 't.  Let him
give no heed to what I ha had'n to bear.  That's not for him.
That's not for nobbody but me.'

There was a propriety, not to say a dignity in these words, that
made the hearers yet more quiet and attentive.  The same strong
voice called out, 'Slackbridge, let the man be heern, and howd thee
tongue!'  Then the place was wonderfully still.

'My brothers,' said Stephen, whose low voice was distinctly heard,
'and my fellow-workmen - for that yo are to me, though not, as I
knows on, to this delegate here - I ha but a word to sen, and I
could sen nommore if I was to speak till Strike o' day.  I know
weel, aw what's afore me.  I know weel that yo aw resolve to ha
nommore ado wi' a man who is not wi' yo in this matther.  I know
weel that if I was a lyin parisht i' th' road, yo'd feel it right
to pass me by, as a forrenner and stranger.  What I ha getn, I mun
mak th' best on.'

'Stephen Blackpool,' said the chairman, rising, 'think on 't agen.
Think on 't once agen, lad, afore thou'rt shunned by aw owd
friends.'

There was an universal murmur to the same effect, though no man
articulated a word.  Every eye was fixed on Stephen's face.  To
repent of his determination, would be to take a load from all their
minds.  He looked around him, and knew that it was so.  Not a grain
of anger with them was in his heart; he knew them, far below their
surface weaknesses and misconceptions, as no one but their fellow-
labourer could.

'I ha thowt on 't, above a bit, sir.  I simply canna coom in.  I
mun go th' way as lays afore me.  I mun tak my leave o' aw heer.'

He made a sort of reverence to them by holding up his arms, and
stood for the moment in that attitude; not speaking until they
slowly dropped at his sides.

'Monny's the pleasant word as soom heer has spok'n wi' me; monny's
the face I see heer, as I first seen when I were yoong and lighter
heart'n than now.  I ha' never had no fratch afore, sin ever I were
born, wi' any o' my like; Gonnows I ha' none now that's o' my
makin'.  Yo'll ca' me traitor and that - yo I mean t' say,'
addressing Slackbridge, 'but 'tis easier to ca' than mak' out.  So
let be.'

He had moved away a pace or two to come down from the platform,
when he remembered something he had not said, and returned again.

'Haply,' he said, turning his furrowed face slowly about, that he
might as it were individually address the whole audience, those
both near and distant; 'haply, when this question has been tak'n up
and discoosed, there'll be a threat to turn out if I'm let to work
among yo.  I hope I shall die ere ever such a time cooms, and I
shall work solitary among yo unless it cooms - truly, I mun do 't,
my friends; not to brave yo, but to live.  I ha nobbut work to live
by; and wheerever can I go, I who ha worked sin I were no heighth
at aw, in Coketown heer?  I mak' no complaints o' bein turned to
the wa', o' bein outcasten and overlooken fro this time forrard,
but hope I shall be let to work.  If there is any right for me at
aw, my friends, I think 'tis that.'

Not a word was spoken.  Not a sound was audible in the building,
but the slight rustle of men moving a little apart, all along the
centre of the room, to open a means of passing out, to the man with
whom they had all bound themselves to renounce companionship.
Looking at no one, and going his way with a lowly steadiness upon
him that asserted nothing and sought nothing, Old Stephen, with all
his troubles on his head, left the scene.

Then Slackbridge, who had kept his oratorical arm extended during
the going out, as if he were repressing with infinite solicitude
and by a wonderful moral power the vehement passions of the
multitude, applied himself to raising their spirits.  Had not the
Roman Brutus, oh, my British countrymen, condemned his son to
death; and had not the Spartan mothers, oh my soon to be victorious
friends, driven their flying children on the points of their
enemies' swords?  Then was it not the sacred duty of the men of
Coketown, with forefathers before them, an admiring world in
company with them, and a posterity to come after them, to hurl out
traitors from the tents they had pitched in a sacred and a God-like
cause?  The winds of heaven answered Yes; and bore Yes, east, west,
north, and south.  And consequently three cheers for the United
Aggregate Tribunal!

Slackbridge acted as fugleman, and gave the time.  The multitude of
doubtful faces (a little conscience-stricken) brightened at the
sound, and took it up.  Private feeling must yield to the common
cause.  Hurrah!  The roof yet vibrated with the cheering, when the
assembly dispersed.

Thus easily did Stephen Blackpool fall into the loneliest of lives,
the life of solitude among a familiar crowd.  The stranger in the
land who looks into ten thousand faces for some answering look and
never finds it, is in cheering society as compared with him who
passes ten averted faces daily, that were once the countenances of
friends.  Such experience was to be Stephen's now, in every waking
moment of his life; at his work, on his way to it and from it, at
his door, at his window, everywhere.  By general consent, they even
avoided that side of the street on which he habitually walked; and
left it, of all the working men, to him only.

He had been for many years, a quiet silent man, associating but
little with other men, and used to companionship with his own
thoughts.  He had never known before the strength of the want in
his heart for the frequent recognition of a nod, a look, a word; or
the immense amount of relief that had been poured into it by drops
through such small means.  It was even harder than he could have
believed possible, to separate in his own conscience his
abandonment by all his fellows from a baseless sense of shame and
disgrace.

The first four days of his endurance were days so long and heavy,
that he began to be appalled by the prospect before him.  Not only
did he see no Rachael all the time, but he avoided every chance of
seeing her; for, although he knew that the prohibition did not yet
formally extend to the women working in the factories, he found
that some of them with whom he was acquainted were changed to him,
and he feared to try others, and dreaded that Rachael might be even
singled out from the rest if she were seen in his company.  So, he
had been quite alone during the four days, and had spoken to no
one, when, as he was leaving his work at night, a young man of a
very light complexion accosted him in the street.

'Your name's Blackpool, ain't it?' said the young man.

Stephen coloured to find himself with his hat in his hand, in his
gratitude for being spoken to, or in the suddenness of it, or both.
He made a feint of adjusting the lining, and said, 'Yes.'

'You are the Hand they have sent to Coventry, I mean?' said Bitzer,
the very light young man in question.

Stephen answered 'Yes,' again.

'I supposed so, from their all appearing to keep away from you.
Mr. Bounderby wants to speak to you.  You know his house, don't
you?'

Stephen said 'Yes,' again.

'Then go straight up there, will you?' said Bitzer.  'You're
expected, and have only to tell the servant it's you.  I belong to
the Bank; so, if you go straight up without me (I was sent to fetch
you), you'll save me a walk.'

Stephen, whose way had been in the contrary direction, turned
about, and betook himself as in duty bound, to the red brick castle
of the giant Bounderby.

CHAPTER V - MEN AND MASTERS

'WELL, Stephen,' said Bounderby, in his windy manner, 'what's this
I hear?  What have these pests of the earth been doing to you?
Come in, and speak up.'

It was into the drawing-room that he was thus bidden.  A tea-table
was set out; and Mr. Bounderby's young wife, and her brother, and a
great gentleman from London, were present.  To whom Stephen made
his obeisance, closing the door and standing near it, with his hat
in his hand.

'This is the man I was telling you about, Harthouse,' said Mr.
Bounderby.  The gentleman he addressed, who was talking to Mrs.
Bounderby on the sofa, got up, saying in an indolent way, 'Oh
really?' and dawdled to the hearthrug where Mr. Bounderby stood.

'Now,' said Bounderby, 'speak up!'

After the four days he had passed, this address fell rudely and
discordantly on Stephen's ear.  Besides being a rough handling of
his wounded mind, it seemed to assume that he really was the self-
interested deserter he had been called.

'What were it, sir,' said Stephen, 'as yo were pleased to want wi'
me?'

'Why, I have told you,' returned Bounderby.  'Speak up like a man,
since you are a man, and tell us about yourself and this
Combination.'

'Wi' yor pardon, sir,' said Stephen Blackpool, 'I ha' nowt to sen
about it.'

Mr. Bounderby, who was always more or less like a Wind, finding
something in his way here, began to blow at it directly.

'Now, look here, Harthouse,' said he, 'here's a specimen of 'em.
When this man was here once before, I warned this man against the
mischievous strangers who are always about - and who ought to be
hanged wherever they are found - and I told this man that he was
going in the wrong direction.  Now, would you believe it, that
although they have put this mark upon him, he is such a slave to
them still, that he's afraid to open his lips about them?'

'I sed as I had nowt to sen, sir; not as I was fearfo' o' openin'
my lips.'

'You said!  Ah!  I know what you said; more than that, I know what
you mean, you see.  Not always the same thing, by the Lord Harry!
Quite different things.  You had better tell us at once, that that
fellow Slackbridge is not in the town, stirring up the people to
mutiny; and that he is not a regular qualified leader of the
people:  that is, a most confounded scoundrel.  You had better tell
us so at once; you can't deceive me.  You want to tell us so.  Why
don't you?'

'I'm as sooary as yo, sir, when the people's leaders is bad,' said
Stephen, shaking his head.  'They taks such as offers.  Haply 'tis
na' the sma'est o' their misfortuns when they can get no better.'

The wind began to get boisterous.

'Now, you'll think this pretty well, Harthouse,' said Mr.
Bounderby.  'You'll think this tolerably strong.  You'll say, upon
my soul this is a tidy specimen of what my friends have to deal
with; but this is nothing, sir!  You shall hear me ask this man a
question.  Pray, Mr. Blackpool' - wind springing up very fast -
'may I take the liberty of asking you how it happens that you
refused to be in this Combination?'

'How 't happens?'

'Ah!' said Mr. Bounderby, with his thumbs in the arms of his coat,
and jerking his head and shutting his eyes in confidence with the
opposite wall:  'how it happens.'

'I'd leefer not coom to 't, sir; but sin you put th' question - an'
not want'n t' be ill-manner'n - I'll answer.  I ha passed a
promess.'

'Not to me, you know,' said Bounderby.  (Gusty weather with
deceitful calms.  One now prevailing.)

'O no, sir.  Not to yo.'

'As for me, any consideration for me has had just nothing at all to
do with it,' said Bounderby, still in confidence with the wall.
'If only Josiah Bounderby of Coketown had been in question, you
would have joined and made no bones about it?'

'Why yes, sir.  'Tis true.'

'Though he knows,' said Mr. Bounderby, now blowing a gale, 'that
there are a set of rascals and rebels whom transportation is too
good for!  Now, Mr. Harthouse, you have been knocking about in the
world some time.  Did you ever meet with anything like that man out
of this blessed country?'  And Mr. Bounderby pointed him out for
inspection, with an angry finger.

'Nay, ma'am,' said Stephen Blackpool, staunchly protesting against
the words that had been used, and instinctively addressing himself
to Louisa, after glancing at her face.  'Not rebels, nor yet
rascals.  Nowt o' th' kind, ma'am, nowt o' th' kind.  They've not
doon me a kindness, ma'am, as I know and feel.  But there's not a
dozen men amoong 'em, ma'am - a dozen?  Not six - but what believes
as he has doon his duty by the rest and by himseln.  God forbid as
I, that ha' known, and had'n experience o' these men aw my life -
I, that ha' ett'n an' droonken wi' 'em, an' seet'n wi' 'em, and
toil'n wi' 'em, and lov'n 'em, should fail fur to stan by 'em wi'
the truth, let 'em ha' doon to me what they may!'

He spoke with the rugged earnestness of his place and character -
deepened perhaps by a proud consciousness that he was faithful to
his class under all their mistrust; but he fully remembered where
he was, and did not even raise his voice.

'No, ma'am, no.  They're true to one another, faithfo' to one
another, 'fectionate to one another, e'en to death.  Be poor amoong
'em, be sick amoong 'em, grieve amoong 'em for onny o' th' monny
causes that carries grief to the poor man's door, an' they'll be
tender wi' yo, gentle wi' yo, comfortable wi' yo, Chrisen wi' yo.
Be sure o' that, ma'am.  They'd be riven to bits, ere ever they'd
be different.'

'In short,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'it's because they are so full of
virtues that they have turned you adrift.  Go through with it while
you are about it.  Out with it.'

'How 'tis, ma'am,' resumed Stephen, appearing still to find his
natural refuge in Louisa's face, 'that what is best in us fok,
seems to turn us most to trouble an' misfort'n an' mistake, I
dunno.  But 'tis so.  I know 'tis, as I know the heavens is over me
ahint the smoke.  We're patient too, an' wants in general to do
right.  An' I canna think the fawt is aw wi' us.'

'Now, my friend,' said Mr. Bounderby, whom he could not have
exasperated more, quite unconscious of it though he was, than by
seeming to appeal to any one else, 'if you will favour me with your
attention for half a minute, I should like to have a word or two
with you.  You said just now, that you had nothing to tell us about
this business.  You are quite sure of that before we go any
further.'

'Sir, I am sure on 't.'

'Here's a gentleman from London present,' Mr. Bounderby made a
backhanded point at Mr. James Harthouse with his thumb, 'a
Parliament gentleman.  I should like him to hear a short bit of
dialogue between you and me, instead of taking the substance of it
- for I know precious well, beforehand, what it will be; nobody
knows better than I do, take notice! - instead of receiving it on
trust from my mouth.'

Stephen bent his head to the gentleman from London, and showed a
rather more troubled mind than usual.  He turned his eyes
involuntarily to his former refuge, but at a look from that quarter
(expressive though instantaneous) he settled them on Mr.
Bounderby's face.

'Now, what do you complain of?' asked Mr. Bounderby.

'I ha' not coom here, sir,' Stephen reminded him, 'to complain.  I
coom for that I were sent for.'

'What,' repeated Mr. Bounderby, folding his arms, 'do you people,
in a general way, complain of?'

Stephen looked at him with some little irresolution for a moment,
and then seemed to make up his mind.

'Sir, I were never good at showin o 't, though I ha had'n my share
in feeling o 't.  'Deed we are in a muddle, sir.  Look round town -
so rich as 'tis - and see the numbers o' people as has been
broughten into bein heer, fur to weave, an' to card, an' to piece
out a livin', aw the same one way, somehows, 'twixt their cradles
and their graves.  Look how we live, an' wheer we live, an' in what
numbers, an' by what chances, and wi' what sameness; and look how
the mills is awlus a goin, and how they never works us no nigher to
ony dis'ant object - ceptin awlus, Death.  Look how you considers
of us, and writes of us, and talks of us, and goes up wi' yor
deputations to Secretaries o' State 'bout us, and how yo are awlus
right, and how we are awlus wrong, and never had'n no reason in us
sin ever we were born.  Look how this ha growen an' growen, sir,
bigger an' bigger, broader an' broader, harder an' harder, fro year
to year, fro generation unto generation.  Who can look on 't, sir,
and fairly tell a man 'tis not a muddle?'

'Of course,' said Mr. Bounderby.  'Now perhaps you'll let the
gentleman know, how you would set this muddle (as you're so fond of
calling it) to rights.'

'I donno, sir.  I canna be expecten to 't.  'Tis not me as should
be looken to for that, sir.  'Tis them as is put ower me, and ower
aw the rest of us.  What do they tak upon themseln, sir, if not to
do't?'

'I'll tell you something towards it, at any rate,' returned Mr.
Bounderby.  'We will make an example of half a dozen Slackbridges.
We'll indict the blackguards for felony, and get 'em shipped off to
penal settlements.'

Stephen gravely shook his head.

'Don't tell me we won't, man,' said Mr. Bounderby, by this time
blowing a hurricane, 'because we will, I tell you!'

'Sir,' returned Stephen, with the quiet confidence of absolute
certainty, 'if yo was t' tak a hundred Slackbridges - aw as there
is, and aw the number ten times towd - an' was t' sew 'em up in
separate sacks, an' sink 'em in the deepest ocean as were made ere
ever dry land coom to be, yo'd leave the muddle just wheer 'tis.
Mischeevous strangers!' said Stephen, with an anxious smile; 'when
ha we not heern, I am sure, sin ever we can call to mind, o' th'
mischeevous strangers!  'Tis not by them the trouble's made, sir.
'Tis not wi' them 't commences.  I ha no favour for 'em - I ha no
reason to favour 'em - but 'tis hopeless and useless to dream o'
takin them fro their trade, 'stead o' takin their trade fro them!
Aw that's now about me in this room were heer afore I coom, an'
will be heer when I am gone.  Put that clock aboard a ship an' pack
it off to Norfolk Island, an' the time will go on just the same.
So 'tis wi' Slackbridge every bit.'

Reverting for a moment to his former refuge, he observed a
cautionary movement of her eyes towards the door.  Stepping back,
he put his hand upon the lock.  But he had not spoken out of his
own will and desire; and he felt it in his heart a noble return for
his late injurious treatment to be faithful to the last to those
who had repudiated him.  He stayed to finish what was in his mind.

'Sir, I canna, wi' my little learning an' my common way, tell the
genelman what will better aw this - though some working men o' this
town could, above my powers - but I can tell him what I know will
never do 't.  The strong hand will never do 't.  Vict'ry and
triumph will never do 't.  Agreeing fur to mak one side unnat'rally
awlus and for ever right, and toother side unnat'rally awlus and
for ever wrong, will never, never do 't.  Nor yet lettin alone will
never do 't.  Let thousands upon thousands alone, aw leading the
like lives and aw faw'en into the like muddle, and they will be as
one, and yo will be as anoother, wi' a black unpassable world
betwixt yo, just as long or short a time as sich-like misery can
last.  Not drawin nigh to fok, wi' kindness and patience an' cheery
ways, that so draws nigh to one another in their monny troubles,
and so cherishes one another in their distresses wi' what they need
themseln - like, I humbly believe, as no people the genelman ha
seen in aw his travels can beat - will never do 't till th' Sun
turns t' ice.  Most o' aw, rating 'em as so much Power, and
reg'latin 'em as if they was figures in a soom, or machines:
wi'out loves and likens, wi'out memories and inclinations, wi'out
souls to weary and souls to hope - when aw goes quiet, draggin on
wi' 'em as if they'd nowt o' th' kind, and when aw goes onquiet,
reproachin 'em for their want o' sitch humanly feelins in their
dealins wi' yo - this will never do 't, sir, till God's work is
onmade.'

Stephen stood with the open door in his hand, waiting to know if
anything more were expected of him.

'Just stop a moment,' said Mr. Bounderby, excessively red in the
face.  'I told you, the last time you were here with a grievance,
that you had better turn about and come out of that.  And I also
told you, if you remember, that I was up to the gold spoon look-
out.'

'I were not up to 't myseln, sir; I do assure yo.'

'Now it's clear to me,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'that you are one of
those chaps who have always got a grievance.  And you go about,
sowing it and raising crops.  That's the business of your life, my
friend.'

Stephen shook his head, mutely protesting that indeed he had other
business to do for his life.

'You are such a waspish, raspish, ill-conditioned chap, you see,'
said Mr. Bounderby, 'that even your own Union, the men who know you
best, will have nothing to do with you.  I never thought those
fellows could be right in anything; but I tell you what!  I so far
go along with them for a novelty, that I'll have nothing to do with
you either.'

Stephen raised his eyes quickly to his face.

'You can finish off what you're at,' said Mr. Bounderby, with a
meaning nod, 'and then go elsewhere.'

'Sir, yo know weel,' said Stephen expressively, 'that if I canna
get work wi' yo, I canna get it elsewheer.'

The reply was, 'What I know, I know; and what you know, you know.
I have no more to say about it.'

Stephen glanced at Louisa again, but her eyes were raised to his no
more; therefore, with a sigh, and saying, barely above his breath,
'Heaven help us aw in this world!' he departed.

CHAPTER VI - FADING AWAY

IT was falling dark when Stephen came out of Mr. Bounderby's house.
The shadows of night had gathered so fast, that he did not look
about him when he closed the door, but plodded straight along the
street.  Nothing was further from his thoughts than the curious old
woman he had encountered on his previous visit to the same house,
when he heard a step behind him that he knew, and turning, saw her
in Rachael's company.

He saw Rachael first, as he had heard her only.

'Ah, Rachael, my dear!  Missus, thou wi' her!'

'Well, and now you are surprised to be sure, and with reason I must
say,' the old woman returned.  'Here I am again, you see.'

'But how wi' Rachael?' said Stephen, falling into their step,
walking between them, and looking from the one to the other.

'Why, I come to be with this good lass pretty much as I came to be
with you,' said the old woman, cheerfully, taking the reply upon
herself.  'My visiting time is later this year than usual, for I
have been rather troubled with shortness of breath, and so put it
off till the weather was fine and warm.  For the same reason I
don't make all my journey in one day, but divide it into two days,
and get a bed to-night at the Travellers' Coffee House down by the
railroad (a nice clean house), and go back Parliamentary, at six in
the morning.  Well, but what has this to do with this good lass,
says you?  I'm going to tell you.  I have heard of Mr. Bounderby
being married.  I read it in the paper, where it looked grand - oh,
it looked fine!' the old woman dwelt on it with strange enthusiasm:
'and I want to see his wife.  I have never seen her yet.  Now, if
you'll believe me, she hasn't come out of that house since noon to-
day.  So not to give her up too easily, I was waiting about, a
little last bit more, when I passed close to this good lass two or
three times; and her face being so friendly I spoke to her, and she
spoke to me.  There!' said the old woman to Stephen, 'you can make
all the rest out for yourself now, a deal shorter than I can, I
dare say!'

Once again, Stephen had to conquer an instinctive propensity to
dislike this old woman, though her manner was as honest and simple
as a manner possibly could be.  With a gentleness that was as
natural to him as he knew it to be to Rachael, he pursued the
subject that interested her in her old age.

'Well, missus,' said he, 'I ha seen the lady, and she were young
and hansom.  Wi' fine dark thinkin eyes, and a still way, Rachael,
as I ha never seen the like on.'

'Young and handsome.  Yes!' cried the old woman, quite delighted.
'As bonny as a rose!  And what a happy wife!'

'Aye, missus, I suppose she be,' said Stephen.  But with a doubtful
glance at Rachael.

'Suppose she be?  She must be.  She's your master's wife,' returned
the old woman.

Stephen nodded assent.  'Though as to master,' said he, glancing
again at Rachael, 'not master onny more.  That's aw enden 'twixt
him and me.'

'Have you left his work, Stephen?' asked Rachael, anxiously and
quickly.

'Why, Rachael,' he replied, 'whether I ha lef'n his work, or
whether his work ha lef'n me, cooms t' th' same.  His work and me
are parted.  'Tis as weel so - better, I were thinkin when yo coom
up wi' me.  It would ha brought'n trouble upon trouble if I had
stayed theer.  Haply 'tis a kindness to monny that I go; haply 'tis
a kindness to myseln; anyways it mun be done.  I mun turn my face
fro Coketown fur th' time, and seek a fort'n, dear, by beginnin
fresh.'

'Where will you go, Stephen?'

'I donno t'night,' said he, lifting off his hat, and smoothing his
thin hair with the flat of his hand.  'But I'm not goin t'night,
Rachael, nor yet t'morrow.  'Tan't easy overmuch t' know wheer t'
turn, but a good heart will coom to me.'

Herein, too, the sense of even thinking unselfishly aided him.
Before he had so much as closed Mr. Bounderby's door, he had
reflected that at least his being obliged to go away was good for
her, as it would save her from the chance of being brought into
question for not withdrawing from him.  Though it would cost him a
hard pang to leave her, and though he could think of no similar
place in which his condemnation would not pursue him, perhaps it
was almost a relief to be forced away from the endurance of the
last four days, even to unknown difficulties and distresses.

So he said, with truth, 'I'm more leetsome, Rachael, under 't, than
I could'n ha believed.'  It was not her part to make his burden
heavier.  She answered with her comforting smile, and the three
walked on together.

Age, especially when it strives to be self-reliant and cheerful,
finds much consideration among the poor.  The old woman was so
decent and contented, and made so light of her infirmities, though
they had increased upon her since her former interview with
Stephen, that they both took an interest in her.  She was too
sprightly to allow of their walking at a slow pace on her account,
but she was very grateful to be talked to, and very willing to talk
to any extent:  so, when they came to their part of the town, she
was more brisk and vivacious than ever.

'Come to my poor place, missus,' said Stephen, 'and tak a coop o'
tea.  Rachael will coom then; and arterwards I'll see thee safe t'
thy Travellers' lodgin.  'T may be long, Rachael, ere ever I ha th'
chance o' thy coompany agen.'

They complied, and the three went on to the house where he lodged.
When they turned into a narrow street, Stephen glanced at his
window with a dread that always haunted his desolate home; but it
was open, as he had left it, and no one was there.  The evil spirit
of his life had flitted away again, months ago, and he had heard no
more of her since.  The only evidence of her last return now, were
the scantier moveables in his room, and the grayer hair upon his
head.

He lighted a candle, set out his little tea-board, got hot water
from below, and brought in small portions of tea and sugar, a loaf,
and some butter from the nearest shop.  The bread was new and
crusty, the butter fresh, and the sugar lump, of course - in
fulfilment of the standard testimony of the Coketown magnates, that
these people lived like princes, sir.  Rachael made the tea (so
large a party necessitated the borrowing of a cup), and the visitor
enjoyed it mightily.  It was the first glimpse of sociality the
host had had for many days.  He too, with the world a wide heath
before him, enjoyed the meal - again in corroboration of the
magnates, as exemplifying the utter want of calculation on the part
of these people, sir.

'I ha never thowt yet, missus,' said Stephen, 'o' askin thy name.'

The old lady announced herself as 'Mrs. Pegler.'

'A widder, I think?' said Stephen.

'Oh, many long years!'  Mrs. Pegler's husband (one of the best on
record) was already dead, by Mrs. Pegler's calculation, when
Stephen was born.

''Twere a bad job, too, to lose so good a one,' said Stephen.
'Onny children?'

Mrs. Pegler's cup, rattling against her saucer as she held it,
denoted some nervousness on her part.  'No,' she said.  'Not now,
not now.'

'Dead, Stephen,' Rachael softly hinted.

'I'm sooary I ha spok'n on 't,' said Stephen, 'I ought t' hadn in
my mind as I might touch a sore place.  I - I blame myseln.'

While he excused himself, the old lady's cup rattled more and more.
'I had a son,' she said, curiously distressed, and not by any of
the usual appearances of sorrow; 'and he did well, wonderfully
well.  But he is not to be spoken of if you please.  He is - '
Putting down her cup, she moved her hands as if she would have
added, by her action, 'dead!'  Then she said aloud, 'I have lost
him.'

Stephen had not yet got the better of his having given the old lady
pain, when his landlady came stumbling up the narrow stairs, and
calling him to the door, whispered in his ear.  Mrs. Pegler was by
no means deaf, for she caught a word as it was uttered.

'Bounderby!' she cried, in a suppressed voice, starting up from the
table.  'Oh hide me!  Don't let me be seen for the world.  Don't
let him come up till I've got away.  Pray, pray!'  She trembled,
and was excessively agitated; getting behind Rachael, when Rachael
tried to reassure her; and not seeming to know what she was about.

'But hearken, missus, hearken,' said Stephen, astonished.  "Tisn't
Mr. Bounderby; 'tis his wife.  Yo'r not fearfo' o' her.  Yo was
hey-go-mad about her, but an hour sin.'

'But are you sure it's the lady, and not the gentleman?' she asked,
still trembling.

'Certain sure!'

'Well then, pray don't speak to me, nor yet take any notice of me,'
said the old woman.  'Let me be quite to myself in this corner.'

Stephen nodded; looking to Rachael for an explanation, which she
was quite unable to give him; took the candle, went downstairs, and
in a few moments returned, lighting Louisa into the room.  She was
followed by the whelp.

Rachael had risen, and stood apart with her shawl and bonnet in her
hand, when Stephen, himself profoundly astonished by this visit,
put the candle on the table.  Then he too stood, with his doubled
hand upon the table near it, waiting to be addressed.

For the first time in her life Louisa had come into one of the
dwellings of the Coketown Hands; for the first time in her life she
was face to face with anything like individuality in connection
with them.  She knew of their existence by hundreds and by
thousands.  She knew what results in work a given number of them
would produce in a given space of time.  She knew them in crowds
passing to and from their nests, like ants or beetles.  But she
knew from her reading infinitely more of the ways of toiling
insects than of these toiling men and women.

Something to be worked so much and paid so much, and there ended;
something to be infallibly settled by laws of supply and demand;
something that blundered against those laws, and floundered into
difficulty; something that was a little pinched when wheat was
dear, and over-ate itself when wheat was cheap; something that
increased at such a rate of percentage, and yielded such another
percentage of crime, and such another percentage of pauperism;
something wholesale, of which vast fortunes were made; something
that occasionally rose like a sea, and did some harm and waste
(chiefly to itself), and fell again; this she knew the Coketown
Hands to be.  But, she had scarcely thought more of separating them
into units, than of separating the sea itself into its component
drops.

She stood for some moments looking round the room.  From the few
chairs, the few books, the common prints, and the bed, she glanced
to the two women, and to Stephen.

'I have come to speak to you, in consequence of what passed just
now.  I should like to be serviceable to you, if you will let me.
Is this your wife?'

Rachael raised her eyes, and they sufficiently answered no, and
dropped again.

'I remember,' said Louisa, reddening at her mistake; 'I recollect,
now, to have heard your domestic misfortunes spoken of, though I
was not attending to the particulars at the time.  It was not my
meaning to ask a question that would give pain to any one here.  If
I should ask any other question that may happen to have that
result, give me credit, if you please, for being in ignorance how
to speak to you as I ought.'

As Stephen had but a little while ago instinctively addressed
himself to her, so she now instinctively addressed herself to
Rachael.  Her manner was short and abrupt, yet faltering and timid.

'He has told you what has passed between himself and my husband?
You would be his first resource, I think.'

'I have heard the end of it, young lady,' said Rachael.

'Did I understand, that, being rejected by one employer, he would
probably be rejected by all?  I thought he said as much?'

'The chances are very small, young lady - next to nothing - for a
man who gets a bad name among them.'

'What shall I understand that you mean by a bad name?'

'The name of being troublesome.'

'Then, by the prejudices of his own class, and by the prejudices of
the other, he is sacrificed alike?  Are the two so deeply separated
in this town, that there is no place whatever for an honest workman
between them?'

Rachael shook her head in silence.

'He fell into suspicion,' said Louisa, 'with his fellow-weavers,
because - he had made a promise not to be one of them.  I think it
must have been to you that he made that promise.  Might I ask you
why he made it?'

Rachael burst into tears.  'I didn't seek it of him, poor lad.  I
prayed him to avoid trouble for his own good, little thinking he'd
come to it through me.  But I know he'd die a hundred deaths, ere
ever he'd break his word.  I know that of him well.'

Stephen had remained quietly attentive, in his usual thoughtful
attitude, with his hand at his chin.  He now spoke in a voice
rather less steady than usual.

'No one, excepting myseln, can ever know what honour, an' what
love, an' respect, I bear to Rachael, or wi' what cause.  When I
passed that promess, I towd her true, she were th' Angel o' my
life.  'Twere a solemn promess.  'Tis gone fro' me, for ever.'

Louisa turned her head to him, and bent it with a deference that
was new in her.  She looked from him to Rachael, and her features
softened.  'What will you do?' she asked him.  And her voice had
softened too.

'Weel, ma'am,' said Stephen, making the best of it, with a smile;
'when I ha finished off, I mun quit this part, and try another.
Fortnet or misfortnet, a man can but try; there's nowt to be done
wi'out tryin' - cept laying down and dying.'

'How will you travel?'

'Afoot, my kind ledy, afoot.'

Louisa coloured, and a purse appeared in her hand.  The rustling of
a bank-note was audible, as she unfolded one and laid it on the
table.

'Rachael, will you tell him - for you know how, without offence -
that this is freely his, to help him on his way?  Will you entreat
him to take it?'

'I canna do that, young lady,' she answered, turning her head
aside.  'Bless you for thinking o' the poor lad wi' such
tenderness.  But 'tis for him to know his heart, and what is right
according to it.'

Louisa looked, in part incredulous, in part frightened, in part
overcome with quick sympathy, when this man of so much self-
command, who had been so plain and steady through the late
interview, lost his composure in a moment, and now stood with his
hand before his face.  She stretched out hers, as if she would have
touched him; then checked herself, and remained still.

'Not e'en Rachael,' said Stephen, when he stood again with his face
uncovered, 'could mak sitch a kind offerin, by onny words, kinder.
T' show that I'm not a man wi'out reason and gratitude, I'll tak
two pound.  I'll borrow 't for t' pay 't back.  'Twill be the
sweetest work as ever I ha done, that puts it in my power t'
acknowledge once more my lastin thankfulness for this present
action.'

She was fain to take up the note again, and to substitute the much
smaller sum he had named.  He was neither courtly, nor handsome,
nor picturesque, in any respect; and yet his manner of accepting
it, and of expressing his thanks without more words, had a grace in
it that Lord Chesterfield could not have taught his son in a
century.

Tom had sat upon the bed, swinging one leg and sucking his walking-
stick with sufficient unconcern, until the visit had attained this
stage.  Seeing his sister ready to depart, he got up, rather
hurriedly, and put in a word.

'Just wait a moment, Loo!  Before we go, I should like to speak to
him a moment.  Something comes into my head.  If you'll step out on
the stairs, Blackpool, I'll mention it.  Never mind a light, man!'
Tom was remarkably impatient of his moving towards the cupboard, to
get one.  'It don't want a light.'

Stephen followed him out, and Tom closed the room door, and held
the lock in his hand.

'I say!' he whispered.  'I think I can do you a good turn.  Don't
ask me what it is, because it may not come to anything.  But
there's no harm in my trying.'

His breath fell like a flame of fire on Stephen's ear, it was so
hot.

'That was our light porter at the Bank,' said Tom, 'who brought you
the message to-night.  I call him our light porter, because I
belong to the Bank too.'

Stephen thought, 'What a hurry he is in!'  He spoke so confusedly.

'Well!' said Tom.  'Now look here!  When are you off?'

'T' day's Monday,' replied Stephen, considering.  'Why, sir, Friday
or Saturday, nigh 'bout.'

'Friday or Saturday,' said Tom.  'Now look here!  I am not sure
that I can do you the good turn I want to do you - that's my
sister, you know, in your room - but I may be able to, and if I
should not be able to, there's no harm done.  So I tell you what.
You'll know our light porter again?'

'Yes, sure,' said Stephen.

'Very well,' returned Tom.  'When you leave work of a night,
between this and your going away, just hang about the Bank an hour
or so, will you?  Don't take on, as if you meant anything, if he
should see you hanging about there; because I shan't put him up to
speak to you, unless I find I can do you the service I want to do
you.  In that case he'll have a note or a message for you, but not
else.  Now look here!  You are sure you understand.'

He had wormed a finger, in the darkness, through a button-hole of
Stephen's coat, and was screwing that corner of the garment tight
up round and round, in an extraordinary manner.

'I understand, sir,' said Stephen.

'Now look here!' repeated Tom.  'Be sure you don't make any mistake
then, and don't forget.  I shall tell my sister as we go home, what
I have in view, and she'll approve, I know.  Now look here!  You're
all right, are you?  You understand all about it?  Very well then.
Come along, Loo!'

He pushed the door open as he called to her, but did not return
into the room, or wait to be lighted down the narrow stairs.  He
was at the bottom when she began to descend, and was in the street
before she could take his arm.

Mrs. Pegler remained in her corner until the brother and sister
were gone, and until Stephen came back with the candle in his hand.
She was in a state of inexpressible admiration of Mrs. Bounderby,
and, like an unaccountable old woman, wept, 'because she was such a
pretty dear.'  Yet Mrs. Pegler was so flurried lest the object of
her admiration should return by chance, or anybody else should
come, that her cheerfulness was ended for that night.  It was late
too, to people who rose early and worked hard; therefore the party
broke up; and Stephen and Rachael escorted their mysterious
acquaintance to the door of the Travellers' Coffee House, where
they parted from her.

They walked back together to the corner of the street where Rachael
lived, and as they drew nearer and nearer to it, silence crept upon
them.  When they came to the dark corner where their unfrequent
meetings always ended, they stopped, still silent, as if both were
afraid to speak.

'I shall strive t' see thee agen, Rachael, afore I go, but if not -
'

'Thou wilt not, Stephen, I know.  'Tis better that we make up our
minds to be open wi' one another.'

'Thou'rt awlus right.  'Tis bolder and better.  I ha been thinkin
then, Rachael, that as 'tis but a day or two that remains, 'twere
better for thee, my dear, not t' be seen wi' me.  'T might bring
thee into trouble, fur no good.'

''Tis not for that, Stephen, that I mind.  But thou know'st our old
agreement.  'Tis for that.'

'Well, well,' said he.  "Tis better, onnyways.'

'Thou'lt write to me, and tell me all that happens, Stephen?'

'Yes.  What can I say now, but Heaven be wi' thee, Heaven bless
thee, Heaven thank thee and reward thee!'

'May it bless thee, Stephen, too, in all thy wanderings, and send
thee peace and rest at last!'

'I towd thee, my dear,' said Stephen Blackpool - 'that night - that
I would never see or think o' onnything that angered me, but thou,
so much better than me, should'st be beside it.  Thou'rt beside it
now.  Thou mak'st me see it wi' a better eye.  Bless thee.  Good
night.  Good-bye!'

It was but a hurried parting in a common street, yet it was a
sacred remembrance to these two common people.  Utilitarian
economists, skeletons of schoolmasters, Commissioners of Fact,
genteel and used-up infidels, gabblers of many little dog's-eared
creeds, the poor you will have always with you.  Cultivate in them,
while there is yet time, the utmost graces of the fancies and
affections, to adorn their lives so much in need of ornament; or,
in the day of your triumph, when romance is utterly driven out of
their souls, and they and a bare existence stand face to face,
Reality will take a wolfish turn, and make an end of you.

Stephen worked the next day, and the next, uncheered by a word from
any one, and shunned in all his comings and goings as before.  At
the end of the second day, he saw land; at the end of the third,
his loom stood empty.

He had overstayed his hour in the street outside the Bank, on each
of the two first evenings; and nothing had happened there, good or
bad.  That he might not be remiss in his part of the engagement, he
resolved to wait full two hours, on this third and last night.

There was the lady who had once kept Mr. Bounderby's house, sitting
at the first-floor window as he had seen her before; and there was
the light porter, sometimes talking with her there, and sometimes
looking over the blind below which had BANK upon it, and sometimes
coming to the door and standing on the steps for a breath of air.
When he first came out, Stephen thought he might be looking for
him, and passed near; but the light porter only cast his winking
eyes upon him slightly, and said nothing.

Two hours were a long stretch of lounging about, after a long day's
labour.  Stephen sat upon the step of a door, leaned against a wall
under an archway, strolled up and down, listened for the church
clock, stopped and watched children playing in the street.  Some
purpose or other is so natural to every one, that a mere loiterer
always looks and feels remarkable.  When the first hour was out,
Stephen even began to have an uncomfortable sensation upon him of
being for the time a disreputable character.

Then came the lamplighter, and two lengthening lines of light all
down the long perspective of the street, until they were blended
and lost in the distance.  Mrs. Sparsit closed the first-floor
window, drew down the blind, and went up-stairs.  Presently, a
light went up-stairs after her, passing first the fanlight of the
door, and afterwards the two staircase windows, on its way up.  By
and by, one corner of the second-floor blind was disturbed, as if
Mrs. Sparsit's eye were there; also the other corner, as if the
light porter's eye were on that side.  Still, no communication was
made to Stephen.  Much relieved when the two hours were at last
accomplished, he went away at a quick pace, as a recompense for so
much loitering.

He had only to take leave of his landlady, and lie down on his
temporary bed upon the floor; for his bundle was made up for to-
morrow, and all was arranged for his departure.  He meant to be
clear of the town very early; before the Hands were in the streets.

It was barely daybreak, when, with a parting look round his room,
mournfully wondering whether he should ever see it again, he went
out.  The town was as entirely deserted as if the inhabitants had
abandoned it, rather than hold communication with him.  Everything
looked wan at that hour.  Even the coming sun made but a pale waste
in the sky, like a sad sea.

By the place where Rachael lived, though it was not in his way; by
the red brick streets; by the great silent factories, not trembling
yet; by the railway, where the danger-lights were waning in the
strengthening day; by the railway's crazy neighbourhood, half
pulled down and half built up; by scattered red brick villas, where
the besmoked evergreens were sprinkled with a dirty powder, like
untidy snuff-takers; by coal-dust paths and many varieties of
ugliness; Stephen got to the top of the hill, and looked back.

Day was shining radiantly upon the town then, and the bells were
going for the morning work.  Domestic fires were not yet lighted,
and the high chimneys had the sky to themselves.  Puffing out their
poisonous volumes, they would not be long in hiding it; but, for
half an hour, some of the many windows were golden, which showed
the Coketown people a sun eternally in eclipse, through a medium of
smoked glass.

So strange to turn from the chimneys to the birds.  So strange, to
have the road-dust on his feet instead of the coal-grit.  So
strange to have lived to his time of life, and yet to be beginning
like a boy this summer morning!  With these musings in his mind,
and his bundle under his arm, Stephen took his attentive face along
the high road.  And the trees arched over him, whispering that he
left a true and loving heart behind.

CHAPTER VII - GUNPOWDER

MR.  JAMES HARTHOUSE, 'going in' for his adopted party, soon began
to score.  With the aid of a little more coaching for the political
sages, a little more genteel listlessness for the general society,
and a tolerable management of the assumed honesty in dishonesty,
most effective and most patronized of the polite deadly sins, he
speedily came to be considered of much promise.  The not being
troubled with earnestness was a grand point in his favour, enabling
him to take to the hard Fact fellows with as good a grace as if he
had been born one of the tribe, and to throw all other tribes
overboard, as conscious hypocrites.

'Whom none of us believe, my dear Mrs. Bounderby, and who do not
believe themselves.  The only difference between us and the
professors of virtue or benevolence, or philanthropy - never mind
the name - is, that we know it is all meaningless, and say so;
while they know it equally and will never say so.'

Why should she be shocked or warned by this reiteration?  It was
not so unlike her father's principles, and her early training, that
it need startle her.  Where was the great difference between the
two schools, when each chained her down to material realities, and
inspired her with no faith in anything else?  What was there in her
soul for James Harthouse to destroy, which Thomas Gradgrind had
nurtured there in its state of innocence!

It was even the worse for her at this pass, that in her mind -
implanted there before her eminently practical father began to form
it - a struggling disposition to believe in a wider and nobler
humanity than she had ever heard of, constantly strove with doubts
and resentments.  With doubts, because the aspiration had been so
laid waste in her youth.  With resentments, because of the wrong
that had been done her, if it were indeed a whisper of the truth.
Upon a nature long accustomed to self-suppression, thus torn and
divided, the Harthouse philosophy came as a relief and
justification.  Everything being hollow and worthless, she had
missed nothing and sacrificed nothing.  What did it matter, she had
said to her father, when he proposed her husband.  What did it
matter, she said still.  With a scornful self-reliance, she asked
herself, What did anything matter - and went on.

Towards what?  Step by step, onward and downward, towards some end,
yet so gradually, that she believed herself to remain motionless.
As to Mr. Harthouse, whither he tended, he neither considered nor
cared.  He had no particular design or plan before him:  no
energetic wickedness ruffled his lassitude.  He was as much amused
and interested, at present, as it became so fine a gentleman to be;
perhaps even more than it would have been consistent with his
reputation to confess.  Soon after his arrival he languidly wrote
to his brother, the honourable and jocular member, that the
Bounderbys were 'great fun;' and further, that the female
Bounderby, instead of being the Gorgon he had expected, was young,
and remarkably pretty.  After that, he wrote no more about them,
and devoted his leisure chiefly to their house.  He was very often
in their house, in his flittings and visitings about the Coketown
district; and was much encouraged by Mr. Bounderby.  It was quite
in Mr. Bounderby's gusty way to boast to all his world that he
didn't care about your highly connected people, but that if his
wife Tom Gradgrind's daughter did, she was welcome to their
company.

Mr. James Harthouse began to think it would be a new sensation, if
the face which changed so beautifully for the whelp, would change
for him.

He was quick enough to observe; he had a good memory, and did not
forget a word of the brother's revelations.  He interwove them with
everything he saw of the sister, and he began to understand her.
To be sure, the better and profounder part of her character was not
within his scope of perception; for in natures, as in seas, depth
answers unto depth; but he soon began to read the rest with a
student's eye.

Mr. Bounderby had taken possession of a house and grounds, about
fifteen miles from the town, and accessible within a mile or two,
by a railway striding on many arches over a wild country,
undermined by deserted coal-shafts, and spotted at night by fires
and black shapes of stationary engines at pits' mouths.  This
country, gradually softening towards the neighbourhood of Mr.
Bounderby's retreat, there mellowed into a rustic landscape, golden
with heath, and snowy with hawthorn in the spring of the year, and
tremulous with leaves and their shadows all the summer time.  The
bank had foreclosed a mortgage effected on the property thus
pleasantly situated, by one of the Coketown magnates, who, in his
determination to make a shorter cut than usual to an enormous
fortune, overspeculated himself by about two hundred thousand
pounds.  These accidents did sometimes happen in the best regulated
families of Coketown, but the bankrupts had no connexion whatever
with the improvident classes.

It afforded Mr. Bounderby supreme satisfaction to instal himself in
this snug little estate, and with demonstrative humility to grow
cabbages in the flower-garden.  He delighted to live, barrack-
fashion, among the elegant furniture, and he bullied the very
pictures with his origin.  'Why, sir,' he would say to a visitor,
'I am told that Nickits,' the late owner, 'gave seven hundred pound
for that Seabeach.  Now, to be plain with you, if I ever, in the
whole course of my life, take seven looks at it, at a hundred pound
a look, it will be as much as I shall do.  No, by George!  I don't
forget that I am Josiah Bounderby of Coketown.  For years upon
years, the only pictures in my possession, or that I could have got
into my possession, by any means, unless I stole 'em, were the
engravings of a man shaving himself in a boot, on the blacking
bottles that I was overjoyed to use in cleaning boots with, and
that I sold when they were empty for a farthing a-piece, and glad
to get it!'

Then he would address Mr. Harthouse in the same style.

'Harthouse, you have a couple of horses down here.  Bring half a
dozen more if you like, and we'll find room for 'em.  There's
stabling in this place for a dozen horses; and unless Nickits is
belied, he kept the full number.  A round dozen of 'em, sir.  When
that man was a boy, he went to Westminster School.  Went to
Westminster School as a King's Scholar, when I was principally
living on garbage, and sleeping in market baskets.  Why, if I
wanted to keep a dozen horses - which I don't, for one's enough for
me - I couldn't bear to see 'em in their stalls here, and think
what my own lodging used to be.  I couldn't look at 'em, sir, and
not order 'em out.  Yet so things come round.  You see this place;
you know what sort of a place it is; you are aware that there's not
a completer place of its size in this kingdom or elsewhere - I
don't care where - and here, got into the middle of it, like a
maggot into a nut, is Josiah Bounderby.  While Nickits (as a man
came into my office, and told me yesterday), Nickits, who used to
act in Latin, in the Westminster School plays, with the chief-
justices and nobility of this country applauding him till they were
black in the face, is drivelling at this minute - drivelling, sir!
- in a fifth floor, up a narrow dark back street in Antwerp.'

It was among the leafy shadows of this retirement, in the long
sultry summer days, that Mr. Harthouse began to prove the face
which had set him wondering when he first saw it, and to try if it
would change for him.

'Mrs. Bounderby, I esteem it a most fortunate accident that I find
you alone here.  I have for some time had a particular wish to
speak to you.'

It was not by any wonderful accident that he found her, the time of
day being that at which she was always alone, and the place being
her favourite resort.  It was an opening in a dark wood, where some
felled trees lay, and where she would sit watching the fallen
leaves of last year, as she had watched the falling ashes at home.

He sat down beside her, with a glance at her face.

'Your brother.  My young friend Tom - '

Her colour brightened, and she turned to him with a look of
interest.  'I never in my life,' he thought, 'saw anything so
remarkable and so captivating as the lighting of those features!'
His face betrayed his thoughts - perhaps without betraying him, for
it might have been according to its instructions so to do.

'Pardon me.  The expression of your sisterly interest is so
beautiful - Tom should be so proud of it - I know this is
inexcusable, but I am so compelled to admire.'

'Being so impulsive,' she said composedly.

'Mrs. Bounderby, no:  you know I make no pretence with you.  You
know I am a sordid piece of human nature, ready to sell myself at
any time for any reasonable sum, and altogether incapable of any
Arcadian proceeding whatever.'

'I am waiting,' she returned, 'for your further reference to my
brother.'

'You are rigid with me, and I deserve it.  I am as worthless a dog
as you will find, except that I am not false - not false.  But you
surprised and started me from my subject, which was your brother.
I have an interest in him.'

'Have you an interest in anything, Mr. Harthouse?' she asked, half
incredulously and half gratefully.

'If you had asked me when I first came here, I should have said no.
I must say now - even at the hazard of appearing to make a
pretence, and of justly awakening your incredulity - yes.'

She made a slight movement, as if she were trying to speak, but
could not find voice; at length she said, 'Mr. Harthouse, I give
you credit for being interested in my brother.'

'Thank you.  I claim to deserve it.  You know how little I do
claim, but I will go that length.  You have done so much for him,
you are so fond of him; your whole life, Mrs. Bounderby, expresses
such charming self-forgetfulness on his account - pardon me again -
I am running wide of the subject.  I am interested in him for his
own sake.'

She had made the slightest action possible, as if she would have
risen in a hurry and gone away.  He had turned the course of what
he said at that instant, and she remained.

'Mrs. Bounderby,' he resumed, in a lighter manner, and yet with a
show of effort in assuming it, which was even more expressive than
the manner he dismissed; 'it is no irrevocable offence in a young
fellow of your brother's years, if he is heedless, inconsiderate,
and expensive - a little dissipated, in the common phrase.  Is he?'

'Yes.'

'Allow me to be frank.  Do you think he games at all?'

'I think he makes bets.'  Mr. Harthouse waiting, as if that were
not her whole answer, she added, 'I know he does.'

'Of course he loses?'

'Yes.'

'Everybody does lose who bets.  May I hint at the probability of
your sometimes supplying him with money for these purposes?'

She sat, looking down; but, at this question, raised her eyes
searchingly and a little resentfully.

'Acquit me of impertinent curiosity, my dear Mrs. Bounderby.  I
think Tom may be gradually falling into trouble, and I wish to
stretch out a helping hand to him from the depths of my wicked
experience. - Shall I say again, for his sake?  Is that necessary?'

She seemed to try to answer, but nothing came of it.

'Candidly to confess everything that has occurred to me,' said
James Harthouse, again gliding with the same appearance of effort
into his more airy manner; 'I will confide to you my doubt whether
he has had many advantages.  Whether - forgive my plainness -
whether any great amount of confidence is likely to have been
established between himself and his most worthy father.'

'I do not,' said Louisa, flushing with her own great remembrance in
that wise, 'think it likely.'

'Or, between himself, and - I may trust to your perfect
understanding of my meaning, I am sure - and his highly esteemed
brother-in-law.'

She flushed deeper and deeper, and was burning red when she replied
in a fainter voice, 'I do not think that likely, either.'

'Mrs. Bounderby,' said Harthouse, after a short silence, 'may there
be a better confidence between yourself and me?  Tom has borrowed a
considerable sum of you?'

'You will understand, Mr. Harthouse,' she returned, after some
indecision:  she had been more or less uncertain, and troubled
throughout the conversation, and yet had in the main preserved her
self-contained manner; 'you will understand that if I tell you what
you press to know, it is not by way of complaint or regret.  I
would never complain of anything, and what I have done I do not in
the least regret.'

'So spirited, too!' thought James Harthouse.

'When I married, I found that my brother was even at that time
heavily in debt.  Heavily for him, I mean.  Heavily enough to
oblige me to sell some trinkets.  They were no sacrifice.  I sold
them very willingly.  I attached no value to them.  They, were
quite worthless to me.'

Either she saw in his face that he knew, or she only feared in her
conscience that he knew, that she spoke of some of her husband's
gifts.  She stopped, and reddened again.  If he had not known it
before, he would have known it then, though he had been a much
duller man than he was.

'Since then, I have given my brother, at various times, what money
I could spare:  in short, what money I have had.  Confiding in you
at all, on the faith of the interest you profess for him, I will
not do so by halves.  Since you have been in the habit of visiting
here, he has wanted in one sum as much as a hundred pounds.  I have
not been able to give it to him.  I have felt uneasy for the
consequences of his being so involved, but I have kept these
secrets until now, when I trust them to your honour.  I have held
no confidence with any one, because - you anticipated my reason
just now.'  She abruptly broke off.

He was a ready man, and he saw, and seized, an opportunity here of
presenting her own image to her, slightly disguised as her brother.

'Mrs. Bounderby, though a graceless person, of the world worldly, I
feel the utmost interest, I assure you, in what you tell me.  I
cannot possibly be hard upon your brother.  I understand and share
the wise consideration with which you regard his errors.  With all
possible respect both for Mr. Gradgrind and for Mr. Bounderby, I
think I perceive that he has not been fortunate in his training.
Bred at a disadvantage towards the society in which he has his part
to play, he rushes into these extremes for himself, from opposite
extremes that have long been forced - with the very best intentions
we have no doubt - upon him.  Mr. Bounderby's fine bluff English
independence, though a most charming characteristic, does not - as
we have agreed - invite confidence.  If I might venture to remark
that it is the least in the world deficient in that delicacy to
which a youth mistaken, a character misconceived, and abilities
misdirected, would turn for relief and guidance, I should express
what it presents to my own view.'

As she sat looking straight before her, across the changing lights
upon the grass into the darkness of the wood beyond, he saw in her
face her application of his very distinctly uttered words.

'All allowance,' he continued, 'must be made.  I have one great
fault to find with Tom, however, which I cannot forgive, and for
which I take him heavily to account.'

Louisa turned her eyes to his face, and asked him what fault was
that?

'Perhaps,' he returned, 'I have said enough.  Perhaps it would have
been better, on the whole, if no allusion to it had escaped me.'

'You alarm me, Mr. Harthouse.  Pray let me know it.'

'To relieve you from needless apprehension - and as this confidence
regarding your brother, which I prize I am sure above all possible
things, has been established between us - I obey.  I cannot forgive
him for not being more sensible in every word, look, and act of his
life, of the affection of his best friend; of the devotion of his
best friend; of her unselfishness; of her sacrifice.  The return he
makes her, within my observation, is a very poor one.  What she has
done for him demands his constant love and gratitude, not his ill-
humour and caprice.  Careless fellow as I am, I am not so
indifferent, Mrs. Bounderby, as to be regardless of this vice in
your brother, or inclined to consider it a venial offence.'

The wood floated before her, for her eyes were suffused with tears.
They rose from a deep well, long concealed, and her heart was
filled with acute pain that found no relief in them.

'In a word, it is to correct your brother in this, Mrs. Bounderby,
that I must aspire.  My better knowledge of his circumstances, and
my direction and advice in extricating them - rather valuable, I
hope, as coming from a scapegrace on a much larger scale - will
give me some influence over him, and all I gain I shall certainly
use towards this end.  I have said enough, and more than enough.  I
seem to be protesting that I am a sort of good fellow, when, upon
my honour, I have not the least intention to make any protestation
to that effect, and openly announce that I am nothing of the sort.
Yonder, among the trees,' he added, having lifted up his eyes and
looked about; for he had watched her closely until now; 'is your
brother himself; no doubt, just come down.  As he seems to be
loitering in this direction, it may be as well, perhaps, to walk
towards him, and throw ourselves in his way.  He has been very
silent and doleful of late.  Perhaps, his brotherly conscience is
touched - if there are such things as consciences.  Though, upon my
honour, I hear of them much too often to believe in them.'

He assisted her to rise, and she took his arm, and they advanced to
meet the whelp.  He was idly beating the branches as he lounged
along:  or he stooped viciously to rip the moss from the trees with
his stick.  He was startled when they came upon him while he was
engaged in this latter pastime, and his colour changed.

'Halloa!' he stammered; 'I didn't know you were here.'

'Whose name, Tom,' said Mr. Harthouse, putting his hand upon his
shoulder and turning him, so that they all three walked towards the
house together, 'have you been carving on the trees?'

'Whose name?' returned Tom.  'Oh!  You mean what girl's name?'

'You have a suspicious appearance of inscribing some fair
creature's on the bark, Tom.'

'Not much of that, Mr. Harthouse, unless some fair creature with a
slashing fortune at her own disposal would take a fancy to me.  Or
she might be as ugly as she was rich, without any fear of losing
me.  I'd carve her name as often as she liked.'

'I am afraid you are mercenary, Tom.'

'Mercenary,' repeated Tom.  'Who is not mercenary?  Ask my sister.'

'Have you so proved it to be a failing of mine, Tom?' said Louisa,
showing no other sense of his discontent and ill-nature.

'You know whether the cap fits you, Loo,' returned her brother
sulkily.  'If it does, you can wear it.'

'Tom is misanthropical to-day, as all bored people are now and
then,' said Mr. Harthouse.  'Don't believe him, Mrs. Bounderby.  He
knows much better.  I shall disclose some of his opinions of you,
privately expressed to me, unless he relents a little.'

'At all events, Mr. Harthouse,' said Tom, softening in his
admiration of his patron, but shaking his head sullenly too, 'you
can't tell her that I ever praised her for being mercenary.  I may
have praised her for being the contrary, and I should do it again,
if I had as good reason.  However, never mind this now; it's not
very interesting to you, and I am sick of the subject.'

They walked on to the house, where Louisa quitted her visitor's arm
and went in.  He stood looking after her, as she ascended the
steps, and passed into the shadow of the door; then put his hand
upon her brother's shoulder again, and invited him with a
confidential nod to a walk in the garden.

'Tom, my fine fellow, I want to have a word with you.'

They had stopped among a disorder of roses - it was part of Mr.
Bounderby's humility to keep Nickits's roses on a reduced scale -
and Tom sat down on a terrace-parapet, plucking buds and picking
them to pieces; while his powerful Familiar stood over him, with a
foot upon the parapet, and his figure easily resting on the arm
supported by that knee.  They were just visible from her window.
Perhaps she saw them.

'Tom, what's the matter?'

'Oh!  Mr. Harthouse,' said Tom with a groan, 'I am hard up, and
bothered out of my life.'

'My good fellow, so am I.'

'You!' returned Tom.  'You are the picture of independence.  Mr.
Harthouse, I am in a horrible mess.  You have no idea what a state
I have got myself into - what a state my sister might have got me
out of, if she would only have done it.'

He took to biting the rosebuds now, and tearing them away from his
teeth with a hand that trembled like an infirm old man's.  After
one exceedingly observant look at him, his companion relapsed into
his lightest air.

'Tom, you are inconsiderate:  you expect too much of your sister.
You have had money of her, you dog, you know you have.'

'Well, Mr. Harthouse, I know I have.  How else was I to get it?
Here's old Bounderby always boasting that at my age he lived upon
twopence a month, or something of that sort.  Here's my father
drawing what he calls a line, and tying me down to it from a baby,
neck and heels.  Here's my mother who never has anything of her
own, except her complaints.  What is a fellow to do for money, and
where am I to look for it, if not to my sister?'

He was almost crying, and scattered the buds about by dozens.  Mr.
Harthouse took him persuasively by the coat.

'But, my dear Tom, if your sister has not got it - '

'Not got it, Mr. Harthouse?  I don't say she has got it.  I may
have wanted more than she was likely to have got.  But then she
ought to get it.  She could get it.  It's of no use pretending to
make a secret of matters now, after what I have told you already;
you know she didn't marry old Bounderby for her own sake, or for
his sake, but for my sake.  Then why doesn't she get what I want,
out of him, for my sake?  She is not obliged to say what she is
going to do with it; she is sharp enough; she could manage to coax
it out of him, if she chose.  Then why doesn't she choose, when I
tell her of what consequence it is?  But no.  There she sits in his
company like a stone, instead of making herself agreeable and
getting it easily.  I don't know what you may call this, but I call
it unnatural conduct.'

There was a piece of ornamental water immediately below the
parapet, on the other side, into which Mr. James Harthouse had a
very strong inclination to pitch Mr. Thomas Gradgrind junior, as
the injured men of Coketown threatened to pitch their property into
the Atlantic.  But he preserved his easy attitude; and nothing more
solid went over the stone balustrades than the accumulated rosebuds
now floating about, a little surface-island.

'My dear Tom,' said Harthouse, 'let me try to be your banker.'

'For God's sake,' replied Tom, suddenly, 'don't talk about
bankers!'  And very white he looked, in contrast with the roses.
Very white.

Mr. Harthouse, as a thoroughly well-bred man, accustomed to the
best society, was not to be surprised - he could as soon have been
affected - but he raised his eyelids a little more, as if they were
lifted by a feeble touch of wonder.  Albeit it was as much against
the precepts of his school to wonder, as it was against the
doctrines of the Gradgrind College.

'What is the present need, Tom?  Three figures?  Out with them.
Say what they are.'

'Mr. Harthouse,' returned Tom, now actually crying; and his tears
were better than his injuries, however pitiful a figure he made:
'it's too late; the money is of no use to me at present.  I should
have had it before to be of use to me.  But I am very much obliged
to you; you're a true friend.'

A true friend!  'Whelp, whelp!' thought Mr. Harthouse, lazily;
'what an Ass you are!'

'And I take your offer as a great kindness,' said Tom, grasping his
hand.  'As a great kindness, Mr. Harthouse.'

'Well,' returned the other, 'it may be of more use by and by.  And,
my good fellow, if you will open your bedevilments to me when they
come thick upon you, I may show you better ways out of them than
you can find for yourself.'

'Thank you,' said Tom, shaking his head dismally, and chewing
rosebuds.  'I wish I had known you sooner, Mr. Harthouse.'

'Now, you see, Tom,' said Mr. Harthouse in conclusion, himself
tossing over a rose or two, as a contribution to the island, which
was always drifting to the wall as if it wanted to become a part of
the mainland:  'every man is selfish in everything he does, and I
am exactly like the rest of my fellow-creatures.  I am desperately
intent;' the languor of his desperation being quite tropical; 'on
your softening towards your sister - which you ought to do; and on
your being a more loving and agreeable sort of brother - which you
ought to be.'

'I will be, Mr. Harthouse.'

'No time like the present, Tom.  Begin at once.'

'Certainly I will.  And my sister Loo shall say so.'

'Having made which bargain, Tom,' said Harthouse, clapping him on
the shoulder again, with an air which left him at liberty to infer
- as he did, poor fool - that this condition was imposed upon him
in mere careless good nature to lessen his sense of obligation, 'we
will tear ourselves asunder until dinner-time.'

When Tom appeared before dinner, though his mind seemed heavy
enough, his body was on the alert; and he appeared before Mr.
Bounderby came in.  'I didn't mean to be cross, Loo,' he said,
giving her his hand, and kissing her.  'I know you are fond of me,
and you know I am fond of you.'

After this, there was a smile upon Louisa's face that day, for some
one else.  Alas, for some one else!

'So much the less is the whelp the only creature that she cares
for,' thought James Harthouse, reversing the reflection of his
first day's knowledge of her pretty face.  'So much the less, so
much the less.'

CHAPTER VIII - EXPLOSION

THE next morning was too bright a morning for sleep, and James
Harthouse rose early, and sat in the pleasant bay window of his
dressing-room, smoking the rare tobacco that had had so wholesome
an influence on his young friend.  Reposing in the sunlight, with
the fragrance of his eastern pipe about him, and the dreamy smoke
vanishing into the air, so rich and soft with summer odours, he
reckoned up his advantages as an idle winner might count his gains.
He was not at all bored for the time, and could give his mind to
it.

He had established a confidence with her, from which her husband
was excluded.  He had established a confidence with her, that
absolutely turned upon her indifference towards her husband, and
the absence, now and at all times, of any congeniality between
them.  He had artfully, but plainly, assured her that he knew her
heart in its last most delicate recesses; he had come so near to
her through its tenderest sentiment; he had associated himself with
that feeling; and the barrier behind which she lived, had melted
away.  All very odd, and very satisfactory!

And yet he had not, even now, any earnest wickedness of purpose in
him.  Publicly and privately, it were much better for the age in
which he lived, that he and the legion of whom he was one were
designedly bad, than indifferent and purposeless.  It is the
drifting icebergs setting with any current anywhere, that wreck the
ships.

When the Devil goeth about like a roaring lion, he goeth about in a
shape by which few but savages and hunters are attracted.  But,
when he is trimmed, smoothed, and varnished, according to the mode;
when he is aweary of vice, and aweary of virtue, used up as to
brimstone, and used up as to bliss; then, whether he take to the
serving out of red tape, or to the kindling of red fire, he is the
very Devil.

So James Harthouse reclined in the window, indolently smoking, and
reckoning up the steps he had taken on the road by which he
happened to be travelling.  The end to which it led was before him,
pretty plainly; but he troubled himself with no calculations about
it.  What will be, will be.

As he had rather a long ride to take that day - for there was a
public occasion 'to do' at some distance, which afforded a
tolerable opportunity of going in for the Gradgrind men - he
dressed early and went down to breakfast.  He was anxious to see if
she had relapsed since the previous evening.  No.  He resumed where
he had left off.  There was a look of interest for him again.

He got through the day as much (or as little) to his own
satisfaction, as was to be expected under the fatiguing
circumstances; and came riding back at six o'clock.  There was a
sweep of some half-mile between the lodge and the house, and he was
riding along at a foot pace over the smooth gravel, once Nickits's,
when Mr. Bounderby burst out of the shrubbery, with such violence
as to make his horse shy across the road.

'Harthouse!' cried Mr. Bounderby.  'Have you heard?'

'Heard what?' said Harthouse, soothing his horse, and inwardly
favouring Mr. Bounderby with no good wishes.

'Then you haven't heard!'

'I have heard you, and so has this brute.  I have heard nothing
else.'

Mr. Bounderby, red and hot, planted himself in the centre of the
path before the horse's head, to explode his bombshell with more
effect.

'The Bank's robbed!'

'You don't mean it!'

'Robbed last night, sir.  Robbed in an extraordinary manner.
Robbed with a false key.'

'Of much?'

Mr. Bounderby, in his desire to make the most of it, really seemed
mortified by being obliged to reply, 'Why, no; not of very much.
But it might have been.'

'Of how much?'

'Oh! as a sum - if you stick to a sum - of not more than a hundred
and fifty pound,' said Bounderby, with impatience.  'But it's not
the sum; it's the fact.  It's the fact of the Bank being robbed,
that's the important circumstance.  I am surprised you don't see
it.'

'My dear Bounderby,' said James, dismounting, and giving his bridle
to his servant, 'I do see it; and am as overcome as you can
possibly desire me to be, by the spectacle afforded to my mental
view.  Nevertheless, I may be allowed, I hope, to congratulate you
- which I do with all my soul, I assure you - on your not having
sustained a greater loss.'

'Thank'ee,' replied Bounderby, in a short, ungracious manner.  'But
I tell you what.  It might have been twenty thousand pound.'

'I suppose it might.'

'Suppose it might!  By the Lord, you may suppose so.  By George!'
said Mr. Bounderby, with sundry menacing nods and shakes of his
head.  'It might have been twice twenty.  There's no knowing what
it would have been, or wouldn't have been, as it was, but for the
fellows' being disturbed.'

Louisa had come up now, and Mrs. Sparsit, and Bitzer.

'Here's Tom Gradgrind's daughter knows pretty well what it might
have been, if you don't,' blustered Bounderby.  'Dropped, sir, as
if she was shot when I told her!  Never knew her do such a thing
before.  Does her credit, under the circumstances, in my opinion!'

She still looked faint and pale.  James Harthouse begged her to
take his arm; and as they moved on very slowly, asked her how the
robbery had been committed.

'Why, I am going to tell you,' said Bounderby, irritably giving his
arm to Mrs. Sparsit.  'If you hadn't been so mighty particular
about the sum, I should have begun to tell you before.  You know
this lady (for she is a lady), Mrs. Sparsit?'

'I have already had the honour - '

'Very well.  And this young man, Bitzer, you saw him too on the
same occasion?'  Mr. Harthouse inclined his head in assent, and
Bitzer knuckled his forehead.

'Very well.  They live at the Bank.  You know they live at the
Bank, perhaps?  Very well.  Yesterday afternoon, at the close of
business hours, everything was put away as usual.  In the iron room
that this young fellow sleeps outside of, there was never mind how
much.  In the little safe in young Tom's closet, the safe used for
petty purposes, there was a hundred and fifty odd pound.'

'A hundred and fifty-four, seven, one,' said Bitzer.

'Come!' retorted Bounderby, stopping to wheel round upon him,
'let's have none of your interruptions.  It's enough to be robbed
while you're snoring because you're too comfortable, without being
put right with your four seven ones.  I didn't snore, myself, when
I was your age, let me tell you.  I hadn't victuals enough to
snore.  And I didn't four seven one.  Not if I knew it.'

Bitzer knuckled his forehead again, in a sneaking manner, and
seemed at once particularly impressed and depressed by the instance
last given of Mr. Bounderby's moral abstinence.

'A hundred and fifty odd pound,' resumed Mr. Bounderby.  'That sum
of money, young Tom locked in his safe, not a very strong safe, but
that's no matter now.  Everything was left, all right.  Some time
in the night, while this young fellow snored - Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am,
you say you have heard him snore?'

'Sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'I cannot say that I have heard him
precisely snore, and therefore must not make that statement.  But
on winter evenings, when he has fallen asleep at his table, I have
heard him, what I should prefer to describe as partially choke.  I
have heard him on such occasions produce sounds of a nature similar
to what may be sometimes heard in Dutch clocks.  Not,' said Mrs.
Sparsit, with a lofty sense of giving strict evidence, 'that I
would convey any imputation on his moral character.  Far from it.
I have always considered Bitzer a young man of the most upright
principle; and to that I beg to bear my testimony.'

'Well!' said the exasperated Bounderby, 'while he was snoring, or
choking, or Dutch-clocking, or something or other - being asleep -
some fellows, somehow, whether previously concealed in the house or
not remains to be seen, got to young Tom's safe, forced it, and
abstracted the contents.  Being then disturbed, they made off;
letting themselves out at the main door, and double-locking it
again (it was double-locked, and the key under Mrs. Sparsit's
pillow) with a false key, which was picked up in the street near
the Bank, about twelve o'clock to-day.  No alarm takes place, till
this chap, Bitzer, turns out this morning, and begins to open and
prepare the offices for business.  Then, looking at Tom's safe, he
sees the door ajar, and finds the lock forced, and the money gone.'

'Where is Tom, by the by?' asked Harthouse, glancing round.

'He has been helping the police,' said Bounderby, 'and stays behind
at the Bank.  I wish these fellows had tried to rob me when I was
at his time of life.  They would have been out of pocket if they
had invested eighteenpence in the job; I can tell 'em that.'

'Is anybody suspected?'

'Suspected?  I should think there was somebody suspected.  Egod!'
said Bounderby, relinquishing Mrs. Sparsit's arm to wipe his heated
head.  'Josiah Bounderby of Coketown is not to be plundered and
nobody suspected.  No, thank you!'

Might Mr. Harthouse inquire Who was suspected?

'Well,' said Bounderby, stopping and facing about to confront them
all, 'I'll tell you.  It's not to be mentioned everywhere; it's not
to be mentioned anywhere:  in order that the scoundrels concerned
(there's a gang of 'em) may be thrown off their guard.  So take
this in confidence.  Now wait a bit.'  Mr. Bounderby wiped his head
again.  'What should you say to;' here he violently exploded:  'to
a Hand being in it?'

'I hope,' said Harthouse, lazily, 'not our friend Blackpot?'

'Say Pool instead of Pot, sir,' returned Bounderby, 'and that's the
man.'

Louisa faintly uttered some word of incredulity and surprise.

'O yes!  I know!' said Bounderby, immediately catching at the
sound.  'I know!  I am used to that.  I know all about it.  They
are the finest people in the world, these fellows are.  They have
got the gift of the gab, they have.  They only want to have their
rights explained to them, they do.  But I tell you what.  Show me a
dissatisfied Hand, and I'll show you a man that's fit for anything
bad, I don't care what it is.'

Another of the popular fictions of Coketown, which some pains had
been taken to disseminate - and which some people really believed.

'But I am acquainted with these chaps,' said Bounderby.  'I can
read 'em off, like books.  Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am, I appeal to you.
What warning did I give that fellow, the first time he set foot in
the house, when the express object of his visit was to know how he
could knock Religion over, and floor the Established Church?  Mrs.
Sparsit, in point of high connexions, you are on a level with the
aristocracy, - did I say, or did I not say, to that fellow, "you
can't hide the truth from me:  you are not the kind of fellow I
like; you'll come to no good"?'

'Assuredly, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'you did, in a highly
impressive manner, give him such an admonition.'

'When he shocked you, ma'am,' said Bounderby; 'when he shocked your
feelings?'

'Yes, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a meek shake of her head,
'he certainly did so.  Though I do not mean to say but that my
feelings may be weaker on such points - more foolish if the term is
preferred - than they might have been, if I had always occupied my
present position.'

Mr. Bounderby stared with a bursting pride at Mr. Harthouse, as
much as to say, 'I am the proprietor of this female, and she's
worth your attention, I think.'  Then, resumed his discourse.

'You can recall for yourself, Harthouse, what I said to him when
you saw him.  I didn't mince the matter with him.  I am never mealy
with 'em.  I KNOW 'em.  Very well, sir.  Three days after that, he
bolted.  Went off, nobody knows where:  as my mother did in my
infancy - only with this difference, that he is a worse subject
than my mother, if possible.  What did he do before he went?  What
do you say;' Mr. Bounderby, with his hat in his hand, gave a beat
upon the crown at every little division of his sentences, as if it
were a tambourine; 'to his being seen - night after night -
watching the Bank? - to his lurking about there - after dark? - To
its striking Mrs. Sparsit - that he could be lurking for no good -
To her calling Bitzer's attention to him, and their both taking
notice of him - And to its appearing on inquiry to-day - that he
was also noticed by the neighbours?'  Having come to the climax,
Mr. Bounderby, like an oriental dancer, put his tambourine on his
head.

'Suspicious,' said James Harthouse, 'certainly.'

'I think so, sir,' said Bounderby, with a defiant nod.  'I think
so.  But there are more of 'em in it.  There's an old woman.  One
never hears of these things till the mischief's done; all sorts of
defects are found out in the stable door after the horse is stolen;
there's an old woman turns up now.  An old woman who seems to have
been flying into town on a broomstick, every now and then.  She
watches the place a whole day before this fellow begins, and on the
night when you saw him, she steals away with him and holds a
council with him - I suppose, to make her report on going off duty,
and be damned to her.'

There was such a person in the room that night, and she shrunk from
observation, thought Louisa.

'This is not all of 'em, even as we already know 'em,' said
Bounderby, with many nods of hidden meaning.  'But I have said
enough for the present.  You'll have the goodness to keep it quiet,
and mention it to no one.  It may take time, but we shall have 'em.
It's policy to give 'em line enough, and there's no objection to
that.'

'Of course, they will be punished with the utmost rigour of the
law, as notice-boards observe,' replied James Harthouse, 'and serve
them right.  Fellows who go in for Banks must take the
consequences.  If there were no consequences, we should all go in
for Banks.'  He had gently taken Louisa's parasol from her hand,
and had put it up for her; and she walked under its shade, though
the sun did not shine there.

'For the present, Loo Bounderby,' said her husband, 'here's Mrs.
Sparsit to look after.  Mrs. Sparsit's nerves have been acted upon
by this business, and she'll stay here a day or two.  So make her
comfortable.'

'Thank you very much, sir,' that discreet lady observed, 'but pray
do not let My comfort be a consideration.  Anything will do for
Me.'

It soon appeared that if Mrs. Sparsit had a failing in her
association with that domestic establishment, it was that she was
so excessively regardless of herself and regardful of others, as to
be a nuisance.  On being shown her chamber, she was so dreadfully
sensible of its comforts as to suggest the inference that she would
have preferred to pass the night on the mangle in the laundry.
True, the Powlers and the Scadgerses were accustomed to splendour,
'but it is my duty to remember,' Mrs. Sparsit was fond of observing
with a lofty grace:  particularly when any of the domestics were
present, 'that what I was, I am no longer.  Indeed,' said she, 'if
I could altogether cancel the remembrance that Mr. Sparsit was a
Powler, or that I myself am related to the Scadgers family; or if I
could even revoke the fact, and make myself a person of common
descent and ordinary connexions; I would gladly do so.  I should
think it, under existing circumstances, right to do so.'  The same
Hermitical state of mind led to her renunciation of made dishes and
wines at dinner, until fairly commanded by Mr. Bounderby to take
them; when she said, 'Indeed you are very good, sir;' and departed
from a resolution of which she had made rather formal and public
announcement, to 'wait for the simple mutton.'  She was likewise
deeply apologetic for wanting the salt; and, feeling amiably bound
to bear out Mr. Bounderby to the fullest extent in the testimony he
had borne to her nerves, occasionally sat back in her chair and
silently wept; at which periods a tear of large dimensions, like a
crystal ear-ring, might be observed (or rather, must be, for it
insisted on public notice) sliding down her Roman nose.

But Mrs. Sparsit's greatest point, first and last, was her
determination to pity Mr. Bounderby.  There were occasions when in
looking at him she was involuntarily moved to shake her head, as
who would say, 'Alas, poor Yorick!'  After allowing herself to be
betrayed into these evidences of emotion, she would force a lambent
brightness, and would be fitfully cheerful, and would say, 'You
have still good spirits, sir, I am thankful to find;' and would
appear to hail it as a blessed dispensation that Mr. Bounderby bore
up as he did.  One idiosyncrasy for which she often apologized, she
found it excessively difficult to conquer.  She had a curious
propensity to call Mrs. Bounderby 'Miss Gradgrind,' and yielded to
it some three or four score times in the course of the evening.
Her repetition of this mistake covered Mrs. Sparsit with modest
confusion; but indeed, she said, it seemed so natural to say Miss
Gradgrind:  whereas, to persuade herself that the young lady whom
she had had the happiness of knowing from a child could be really
and truly Mrs. Bounderby, she found almost impossible.  It was a
further singularity of this remarkable case, that the more she
thought about it, the more impossible it appeared; 'the
differences,' she observed, 'being such.'

In the drawing-room after dinner, Mr. Bounderby tried the case of
the robbery, examined the witnesses, made notes of the evidence,
found the suspected persons guilty, and sentenced them to the
extreme punishment of the law.  That done, Bitzer was dismissed to
town with instructions to recommend Tom to come home by the mail-
train.

When candles were brought, Mrs. Sparsit murmured, 'Don't be low,
sir.  Pray let me see you cheerful, sir, as I used to do.'  Mr.
Bounderby, upon whom these consolations had begun to produce the
effect of making him, in a bull-headed blundering way, sentimental,
sighed like some large sea-animal.  'I cannot bear to see you so,
sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'Try a hand at backgammon, sir, as you
used to do when I had the honour of living under your roof.'  'I
haven't played backgammon, ma'am,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'since that
time.'  'No, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, soothingly, 'I am aware that
you have not.  I remember that Miss Gradgrind takes no interest in
the game.  But I shall be happy, sir, if you will condescend.'

They played near a window, opening on the garden.  It was a fine
night:  not moonlight, but sultry and fragrant.  Louisa and Mr.
Harthouse strolled out into the garden, where their voices could be
heard in the stillness, though not what they said.  Mrs. Sparsit,
from her place at the backgammon board, was constantly straining
her eyes to pierce the shadows without.  'What's the matter, ma'am?
' said Mr. Bounderby; 'you don't see a Fire, do you?'  'Oh dear no,
sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'I was thinking of the dew.'  'What
have you got to do with the dew, ma'am?' said Mr. Bounderby.  'It's
not myself, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'I am fearful of Miss
Gradgrind's taking cold.'  'She never takes cold,' said Mr.
Bounderby.  'Really, sir?' said Mrs. Sparsit.  And was affected
with a cough in her throat.

When the time drew near for retiring, Mr. Bounderby took a glass of
water.  'Oh, sir?' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'Not your sherry warm, with
lemon-peel and nutmeg?'  'Why, I have got out of the habit of
taking it now, ma'am,' said Mr. Bounderby.  'The more's the pity,
sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit; 'you are losing all your good old
habits.  Cheer up, sir!  If Miss Gradgrind will permit me, I will
offer to make it for you, as I have often done.'

Miss Gradgrind readily permitting Mrs. Sparsit to do anything she
pleased, that considerate lady made the beverage, and handed it to
Mr. Bounderby.  'It will do you good, sir.  It will warm your
heart.  It is the sort of thing you want, and ought to take, sir.'
And when Mr. Bounderby said, 'Your health, ma'am!' she answered
with great feeling, 'Thank you, sir.  The same to you, and
happiness also.'  Finally, she wished him good night, with great
pathos; and Mr. Bounderby went to bed, with a maudlin persuasion
that he had been crossed in something tender, though he could not,
for his life, have mentioned what it was.

Long after Louisa had undressed and lain down, she watched and
waited for her brother's coming home.  That could hardly be, she
knew, until an hour past midnight; but in the country silence,
which did anything but calm the trouble of her thoughts, time
lagged wearily.  At last, when the darkness and stillness had
seemed for hours to thicken one another, she heard the bell at the
gate.  She felt as though she would have been glad that it rang on
until daylight; but it ceased, and the circles of its last sound
spread out fainter and wider in the air, and all was dead again.

She waited yet some quarter of an hour, as she judged.  Then she
arose, put on a loose robe, and went out of her room in the dark,
and up the staircase to her brother's room.  His door being shut,
she softly opened it and spoke to him, approaching his bed with a
noiseless step.

She kneeled down beside it, passed her arm over his neck, and drew
his face to hers.  She knew that he only feigned to be asleep, but
she said nothing to him.

He started by and by as if he were just then awakened, and asked
who that was, and what was the matter?

'Tom, have you anything to tell me?  If ever you loved me in your
life, and have anything concealed from every one besides, tell it
to me.'

'I don't know what you mean, Loo.  You have been dreaming.'

'My dear brother:' she laid her head down on his pillow, and her
hair flowed over him as if she would hide him from every one but
herself:  'is there nothing that you have to tell me?  Is there
nothing you can tell me if you will?  You can tell me nothing that
will change me.  O Tom, tell me the truth!'

'I don't know what you mean, Loo!'

'As you lie here alone, my dear, in the melancholy night, so you
must lie somewhere one night, when even I, if I am living then,
shall have left you.  As I am here beside you, barefoot, unclothed,
undistinguishable in darkness, so must I lie through all the night
of my decay, until I am dust.  In the name of that time, Tom, tell
me the truth now!'

'What is it you want to know?'

'You may be certain;' in the energy of her love she took him to her
bosom as if he were a child; 'that I will not reproach you.  You
may be certain that I will be compassionate and true to you.  You
may be certain that I will save you at whatever cost.  O Tom, have
you nothing to tell me?  Whisper very softly.  Say only "yes," and
I shall understand you!'

She turned her ear to his lips, but he remained doggedly silent.

'Not a word, Tom?'

'How can I say Yes, or how can I say No, when I don't know what you
mean?  Loo, you are a brave, kind girl, worthy I begin to think of
a better brother than I am.  But I have nothing more to say.  Go to
bed, go to bed.'

'You are tired,' she whispered presently, more in her usual way.

'Yes, I am quite tired out.'

'You have been so hurried and disturbed to-day.  Have any fresh
discoveries been made?'

'Only those you have heard of, from - him.'

'Tom, have you said to any one that we made a visit to those
people, and that we saw those three together?'

'No.  Didn't you yourself particularly ask me to keep it quiet when
you asked me to go there with you?'

'Yes.  But I did not know then what was going to happen.'

'Nor I neither.  How could I?'

He was very quick upon her with this retort.

'Ought I to say, after what has happened,' said his sister,
standing by the bed - she had gradually withdrawn herself and
risen, 'that I made that visit?  Should I say so?  Must I say so?'

'Good Heavens, Loo,' returned her brother, 'you are not in the
habit of asking my advice. say what you like.  If you keep it to
yourself, I shall keep it to myself.  If you disclose it, there's
an end of it.'

It was too dark for either to see the other's face; but each seemed
very attentive, and to consider before speaking.

'Tom, do you believe the man I gave the money to, is really
implicated in this crime?'

'I don't know.  I don't see why he shouldn't be.'

'He seemed to me an honest man.'

'Another person may seem to you dishonest, and yet not be so.'
There was a pause, for he had hesitated and stopped.

'In short,' resumed Tom, as if he had made up his mind, 'if you
come to that, perhaps I was so far from being altogether in his
favour, that I took him outside the door to tell him quietly, that
I thought he might consider himself very well off to get such a
windfall as he had got from my sister, and that I hoped he would
make good use of it.  You remember whether I took him out or not.
I say nothing against the man; he may be a very good fellow, for
anything I know; I hope he is.'

'Was he offended by what you said?'

'No, he took it pretty well; he was civil enough.  Where are you,
Loo?'  He sat up in bed and kissed her.  'Good night, my dear, good
night.'

'You have nothing more to tell me?'

'No.  What should I have?  You wouldn't have me tell you a lie!'

'I wouldn't have you do that to-night, Tom, of all the nights in
your life; many and much happier as I hope they will be.'

'Thank you, my dear Loo.  I am so tired, that I am sure I wonder I
don't say anything to get to sleep.  Go to bed, go to bed.'

Kissing her again, he turned round, drew the coverlet over his
head, and lay as still as if that time had come by which she had
adjured him.  She stood for some time at the bedside before she
slowly moved away.  She stopped at the door, looked back when she
had opened it, and asked him if he had called her?  But he lay
still, and she softly closed the door and returned to her room.

Then the wretched boy looked cautiously up and found her gone,
crept out of bed, fastened his door, and threw himself upon his
pillow again:  tearing his hair, morosely crying, grudgingly loving
her, hatefully but impenitently spurning himself, and no less
hatefully and unprofitably spurning all the good in the world.

CHAPTER IX - HEARING THE LAST OF IT

MRS. SPARSIT, lying by to recover the tone of her nerves in Mr.
Bounderby's retreat, kept such a sharp look-out, night and day,
under her Coriolanian eyebrows, that her eyes, like a couple of
lighthouses on an iron-bound coast, might have warned all prudent
mariners from that bold rock her Roman nose and the dark and craggy
region in its neighbourhood, but for the placidity of her manner.
Although it was hard to believe that her retiring for the night
could be anything but a form, so severely wide awake were those
classical eyes of hers, and so impossible did it seem that her
rigid nose could yield to any relaxing influence, yet her manner of
sitting, smoothing her uncomfortable, not to say, gritty mittens
(they were constructed of a cool fabric like a meat-safe), or of
ambling to unknown places of destination with her foot in her
cotton stirrup, was so perfectly serene, that most observers would
have been constrained to suppose her a dove, embodied by some freak
of nature, in the earthly tabernacle of a bird of the hook-beaked
order.

She was a most wonderful woman for prowling about the house.  How
she got from story to story was a mystery beyond solution.  A lady
so decorous in herself, and so highly connected, was not to be
suspected of dropping over the banisters or sliding down them, yet
her extraordinary facility of locomotion suggested the wild idea.
Another noticeable circumstance in Mrs. Sparsit was, that she was
never hurried.  She would shoot with consummate velocity from the
roof to the hall, yet would be in full possession of her breath and
dignity on the moment of her arrival there.  Neither was she ever
seen by human vision to go at a great pace.

She took very kindly to Mr. Harthouse, and had some pleasant
conversation with him soon after her arrival.  She made him her
stately curtsey in the garden, one morning before breakfast.

'It appears but yesterday, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'that I had the
honour of receiving you at the Bank, when you were so good as to
wish to be made acquainted with Mr. Bounderby's address.'

'An occasion, I am sure, not to be forgotten by myself in the
course of Ages,' said Mr. Harthouse, inclining his head to Mrs.
Sparsit with the most indolent of all possible airs.

'We live in a singular world, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.

'I have had the honour, by a coincidence of which I am proud, to
have made a remark, similar in effect, though not so
epigrammatically expressed.'

'A singular world, I would say, sir,' pursued Mrs. Sparsit; after
acknowledging the compliment with a drooping of her dark eyebrows,
not altogether so mild in its expression as her voice was in its
dulcet tones; 'as regards the intimacies we form at one time, with
individuals we were quite ignorant of, at another.  I recall, sir,
that on that occasion you went so far as to say you were actually
apprehensive of Miss Gradgrind.'

'Your memory does me more honour than my insignificance deserves.
I availed myself of your obliging hints to correct my timidity, and
it is unnecessary to add that they were perfectly accurate.  Mrs.
Sparsit's talent for - in fact for anything requiring accuracy -
with a combination of strength of mind - and Family - is too
habitually developed to admit of any question.'  He was almost
falling asleep over this compliment; it took him so long to get
through, and his mind wandered so much in the course of its
execution.

'You found Miss Gradgrind - I really cannot call her Mrs.
Bounderby; it's very absurd of me - as youthful as I described
her?' asked Mrs. Sparsit, sweetly.

'You drew her portrait perfectly,' said Mr. Harthouse.  'Presented
her dead image.'

'Very engaging, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, causing her mittens slowly
to revolve over one another.

'Highly so.'

'It used to be considered,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'that Miss Gradgrind
was wanting in animation, but I confess she appears to me
considerably and strikingly improved in that respect.  Ay, and
indeed here is Mr. Bounderby!' cried Mrs. Sparsit, nodding her head
a great many times, as if she had been talking and thinking of no
one else.  'How do you find yourself this morning, sir?  Pray let
us see you cheerful, sir.'

Now, these persistent assuagements of his misery, and lightenings
of his load, had by this time begun to have the effect of making
Mr. Bounderby softer than usual towards Mrs. Sparsit, and harder
than usual to most other people from his wife downward.  So, when
Mrs. Sparsit said with forced lightness of heart, 'You want your
breakfast, sir, but I dare say Miss Gradgrind will soon be here to
preside at the table,' Mr. Bounderby replied, 'If I waited to be
taken care of by my wife, ma'am, I believe you know pretty well I
should wait till Doomsday, so I'll trouble you to take charge of
the teapot.'  Mrs. Sparsit complied, and assumed her old position
at table.

This again made the excellent woman vastly sentimental.  She was so
humble withal, that when Louisa appeared, she rose, protesting she
never could think of sitting in that place under existing
circumstances, often as she had had the honour of making Mr.
Bounderby's breakfast, before Mrs. Gradgrind - she begged pardon,
she meant to say Miss Bounderby - she hoped to be excused, but she
really could not get it right yet, though she trusted to become
familiar with it by and by - had assumed her present position.  It
was only (she observed) because Miss Gradgrind happened to be a
little late, and Mr. Bounderby's time was so very precious, and she
knew it of old to be so essential that he should breakfast to the
moment, that she had taken the liberty of complying with his
request; long as his will had been a law to her.

'There!  Stop where you are, ma'am,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'stop
where you are!  Mrs. Bounderby will be very glad to be relieved of
the trouble, I believe.'

'Don't say that, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, almost with severity,
'because that is very unkind to Mrs. Bounderby.  And to be unkind
is not to be you, sir.'

'You may set your mind at rest, ma'am. - You can take it very
quietly, can't you, Loo?' said Mr. Bounderby, in a blustering way
to his wife.

'Of course.  It is of no moment.  Why should it be of any
importance to me?'

'Why should it be of any importance to any one, Mrs. Sparsit,
ma'am?' said Mr. Bounderby, swelling with a sense of slight.  'You
attach too much importance to these things, ma'am.  By George,
you'll be corrupted in some of your notions here.  You are old-
fashioned, ma'am.  You are behind Tom Gradgrind's children's time.'

'What is the matter with you?' asked Louisa, coldly surprised.
'What has given you offence?'

'Offence!' repeated Bounderby.  'Do you suppose if there was any
offence given me, I shouldn't name it, and request to have it
corrected?  I am a straightforward man, I believe.  I don't go
beating about for side-winds.'

'I suppose no one ever had occasion to think you too diffident, or
too delicate,' Louisa answered him composedly:  'I have never made
that objection to you, either as a child or as a woman.  I don't
understand what you would have.'

'Have?' returned Mr. Bounderby.  'Nothing.  Otherwise, don't you,
Loo Bounderby, know thoroughly well that I, Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown, would have it?'

She looked at him, as he struck the table and made the teacups
ring, with a proud colour in her face that was a new change, Mr.
Harthouse thought.  'You are incomprehensible this morning,' said
Louisa.  'Pray take no further trouble to explain yourself.  I am
not curious to know your meaning.  What does it matter?'

Nothing more was said on this theme, and Mr. Harthouse was soon
idly gay on indifferent subjects.  But from this day, the Sparsit
action upon Mr. Bounderby threw Louisa and James Harthouse more
together, and strengthened the dangerous alienation from her
husband and confidence against him with another, into which she had
fallen by degrees so fine that she could not retrace them if she
tried.  But whether she ever tried or no, lay hidden in her own
closed heart.

Mrs. Sparsit was so much affected on this particular occasion,
that, assisting Mr. Bounderby to his hat after breakfast, and being
then alone with him in the hall, she imprinted a chaste kiss upon
his hand, murmured 'My benefactor!' and retired, overwhelmed with
grief.  Yet it is an indubitable fact, within the cognizance of
this history, that five minutes after he had left the house in the
self-same hat, the same descendant of the Scadgerses and connexion
by matrimony of the Powlers, shook her right-hand mitten at his
portrait, made a contemptuous grimace at that work of art, and said
'Serve you right, you Noodle, and I am glad of it.'

Mr. Bounderby had not been long gone, when Bitzer appeared.  Bitzer
had come down by train, shrieking and rattling over the long line
of arches that bestrode the wild country of past and present coal-
pits, with an express from Stone Lodge.  It was a hasty note to
inform Louisa that Mrs. Gradgrind lay very ill.  She had never been
well within her daughter's knowledge; but, she had declined within
the last few days, had continued sinking all through the night, and
was now as nearly dead, as her limited capacity of being in any
state that implied the ghost of an intention to get out of it,
allowed.

Accompanied by the lightest of porters, fit colourless servitor at
Death's door when Mrs. Gradgrind knocked, Louisa rumbled to
Coketown, over the coal-pits past and present, and was whirled into
its smoky jaws.  She dismissed the messenger to his own devices,
and rode away to her old home.

She had seldom been there since her marriage.  Her father was
usually sifting and sifting at his parliamentary cinder-heap in
London (without being observed to turn up many precious articles
among the rubbish), and was still hard at it in the national dust-
yard.  Her mother had taken it rather as a disturbance than
otherwise, to be visited, as she reclined upon her sofa; young
people, Louisa felt herself all unfit for; Sissy she had never
softened to again, since the night when the stroller's child had
raised her eyes to look at Mr. Bounderby's intended wife.  She had
no inducements to go back, and had rarely gone.

Neither, as she approached her old home now, did any of the best
influences of old home descend upon her.  The dreams of childhood -
its airy fables; its graceful, beautiful, humane, impossible
adornments of the world beyond:  so good to be believed in once, so
good to be remembered when outgrown, for then the least among them
rises to the stature of a great Charity in the heart, suffering
little children to come into the midst of it, and to keep with
their pure hands a garden in the stony ways of this world, wherein
it were better for all the children of Adam that they should
oftener sun themselves, simple and trustful, and not worldly-wise -
what had she to do with these?  Remembrances of how she had
journeyed to the little that she knew, by the enchanted roads of
what she and millions of innocent creatures had hoped and imagined;
of how, first coming upon Reason through the tender light of Fancy,
she had seen it a beneficent god, deferring to gods as great as
itself; not a grim Idol, cruel and cold, with its victims bound
hand to foot, and its big dumb shape set up with a sightless stare,
never to be moved by anything but so many calculated tons of
leverage - what had she to do with these?  Her remembrances of home
and childhood were remembrances of the drying up of every spring
and fountain in her young heart as it gushed out.  The golden
waters were not there.  They were flowing for the fertilization of
the land where grapes are gathered from thorns, and figs from
thistles.

She went, with a heavy, hardened kind of sorrow upon her, into the
house and into her mother's room.  Since the time of her leaving
home, Sissy had lived with the rest of the family on equal terms.
Sissy was at her mother's side; and Jane, her sister, now ten or
twelve years old, was in the room.

There was great trouble before it could be made known to Mrs.
Gradgrind that her eldest child was there.  She reclined, propped
up, from mere habit, on a couch:  as nearly in her old usual
attitude, as anything so helpless could be kept in.  She had
positively refused to take to her bed; on the ground that if she
did, she would never hear the last of it.

Her feeble voice sounded so far away in her bundle of shawls, and
the sound of another voice addressing her seemed to take such a
long time in getting down to her ears, that she might have been
lying at the bottom of a well.  The poor lady was nearer Truth than
she ever had been:  which had much to do with it.

On being told that Mrs. Bounderby was there, she replied, at cross-
purposes, that she had never called him by that name since he
married Louisa; that pending her choice of an objectionable name,
she had called him J; and that she could not at present depart from
that regulation, not being yet provided with a permanent
substitute.  Louisa had sat by her for some minutes, and had spoken
to her often, before she arrived at a clear understanding who it
was.  She then seemed to come to it all at once.

'Well, my dear,' said Mrs. Gradgrind, 'and I hope you are going on
satisfactorily to yourself.  It was all your father's doing.  He
set his heart upon it.  And he ought to know.'

'I want to hear of you, mother; not of myself.'

'You want to hear of me, my dear?  That's something new, I am sure,
when anybody wants to hear of me.  Not at all well, Louisa.  Very
faint and giddy.'

'Are you in pain, dear mother?'

'I think there's a pain somewhere in the room,' said Mrs.
Gradgrind, 'but I couldn't positively say that I have got it.'

After this strange speech, she lay silent for some time.  Louisa,
holding her hand, could feel no pulse; but kissing it, could see a
slight thin thread of life in fluttering motion.

'You very seldom see your sister,' said Mrs. Gradgrind.  'She grows
like you.  I wish you would look at her.  Sissy, bring her here.'

She was brought, and stood with her hand in her sister's.  Louisa
had observed her with her arm round Sissy's neck, and she felt the
difference of this approach.

'Do you see the likeness, Louisa?'

'Yes, mother.  I should think her like me.  But - '

'Eh!  Yes, I always say so,' Mrs. Gradgrind cried, with unexpected
quickness.  'And that reminds me.  I - I want to speak to you, my
dear.  Sissy, my good girl, leave us alone a minute.' Louisa had
relinquished the hand:  had thought that her sister's was a better
and brighter face than hers had ever been:  had seen in it, not
without a rising feeling of resentment, even in that place and at
that time, something of the gentleness of the other face in the
room; the sweet face with the trusting eyes, made paler than
watching and sympathy made it, by the rich dark hair.

Left alone with her mother, Louisa saw her lying with an awful lull
upon her face, like one who was floating away upon some great
water, all resistance over, content to be carried down the stream.
She put the shadow of a hand to her lips again, and recalled her.

'You were going to speak to me, mother.'

'Eh?  Yes, to be sure, my dear.  You know your father is almost
always away now, and therefore I must write to him about it.'

'About what, mother?  Don't be troubled.  About what?'

'You must remember, my dear, that whenever I have said anything, on
any subject, I have never heard the last of it:  and consequently,
that I have long left off saying anything.'

'I can hear you, mother.'  But, it was only by dint of bending down
to her ear, and at the same time attentively watching the lips as
they moved, that she could link such faint and broken sounds into
any chain of connexion.

'You learnt a great deal, Louisa, and so did your brother.  Ologies
of all kinds from morning to night.  If there is any Ology left, of
any description, that has not been worn to rags in this house, all
I can say is, I hope I shall never hear its name.'

'I can hear you, mother, when you have strength to go on.'  This,
to keep her from floating away.

'But there is something - not an Ology at all - that your father
has missed, or forgotten, Louisa.  I don't know what it is.  I have
often sat with Sissy near me, and thought about it.  I shall never
get its name now.  But your father may.  It makes me restless.  I
want to write to him, to find out for God's sake, what it is.  Give
me a pen, give me a pen.'

Even the power of restlessness was gone, except from the poor head,
which could just turn from side to side.

She fancied, however, that her request had been complied with, and
that the pen she could not have held was in her hand.  It matters
little what figures of wonderful no-meaning she began to trace upon
her wrappers.  The hand soon stopped in the midst of them; the
light that had always been feeble and dim behind the weak
transparency, went out; and even Mrs. Gradgrind, emerged from the
shadow in which man walketh and disquieteth himself in vain, took
upon her the dread solemnity of the sages and patriarchs.

CHAPTER X - MRS. SPARSIT'S STAIRCASE

MRS. SPARSIT'S nerves being slow to recover their tone, the worthy
woman made a stay of some weeks in duration at Mr. Bounderby's
retreat, where, notwithstanding her anchorite turn of mind based
upon her becoming consciousness of her altered station, she
resigned herself with noble fortitude to lodging, as one may say,
in clover, and feeding on the fat of the land.  During the whole
term of this recess from the guardianship of the Bank, Mrs. Sparsit
was a pattern of consistency; continuing to take such pity on Mr.
Bounderby to his face, as is rarely taken on man, and to call his
portrait a Noodle to its face, with the greatest acrimony and
contempt.

Mr. Bounderby, having got it into his explosive composition that
Mrs. Sparsit was a highly superior woman to perceive that he had
that general cross upon him in his deserts (for he had not yet
settled what it was), and further that Louisa would have objected
to her as a frequent visitor if it had comported with his greatness
that she should object to anything he chose to do, resolved not to
lose sight of Mrs. Sparsit easily.  So when her nerves were strung
up to the pitch of again consuming sweetbreads in solitude, he said
to her at the dinner-table, on the day before her departure, 'I
tell you what, ma'am; you shall come down here of a Saturday, while
the fine weather lasts, and stay till Monday.'  To which Mrs.
Sparsit returned, in effect, though not of the Mahomedan
persuasion:  'To hear is to obey.'

Now, Mrs. Sparsit was not a poetical woman; but she took an idea in
the nature of an allegorical fancy, into her head.  Much watching
of Louisa, and much consequent observation of her impenetrable
demeanour, which keenly whetted and sharpened Mrs. Sparsit's edge,
must have given her as it were a lift, in the way of inspiration.
She erected in her mind a mighty Staircase, with a dark pit of
shame and ruin at the bottom; and down those stairs, from day to
day and hour to hour, she saw Louisa coming.

It became the business of Mrs. Sparsit's life, to look up at her
staircase, and to watch Louisa coming down.  Sometimes slowly,
sometimes quickly, sometimes several steps at one bout, sometimes
stopping, never turning back.  If she had once turned back, it
might have been the death of Mrs. Sparsit in spleen and grief.

She had been descending steadily, to the day, and on the day, when
Mr. Bounderby issued the weekly invitation recorded above.  Mrs.
Sparsit was in good spirits, and inclined to be conversational.

'And pray, sir,' said she, 'if I may venture to ask a question
appertaining to any subject on which you show reserve - which is
indeed hardy in me, for I well know you have a reason for
everything you do - have you received intelligence respecting the
robbery?'

'Why, ma'am, no; not yet.  Under the circumstances, I didn't expect
it yet.  Rome wasn't built in a day, ma'am.'

'Very true, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, shaking her head.

'Nor yet in a week, ma'am.'

'No, indeed, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a gentle melancholy
upon her.

'In a similar manner, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'I can wait, you
know.  If Romulus and Remus could wait, Josiah Bounderby can wait.
They were better off in their youth than I was, however.  They had
a she-wolf for a nurse; I had only a she-wolf for a grandmother.
She didn't give any milk, ma'am; she gave bruises.  She was a
regular Alderney at that.'

'Ah!' Mrs. Sparsit sighed and shuddered.

'No, ma'am,' continued Bounderby, 'I have not heard anything more
about it.  It's in hand, though; and young Tom, who rather sticks
to business at present - something new for him; he hadn't the
schooling I had - is helping.  My injunction is, Keep it quiet, and
let it seem to blow over.  Do what you like under the rose, but
don't give a sign of what you're about; or half a hundred of 'em
will combine together and get this fellow who has bolted, out of
reach for good.  Keep it quiet, and the thieves will grow in
confidence by little and little, and we shall have 'em.'

'Very sagacious indeed, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'Very
interesting.  The old woman you mentioned, sir - '

'The old woman I mentioned, ma'am,' said Bounderby, cutting the
matter short, as it was nothing to boast about, 'is not laid hold
of; but, she may take her oath she will be, if that is any
satisfaction to her villainous old mind.  In the mean time, ma'am,
I am of opinion, if you ask me my opinion, that the less she is
talked about, the better.'

The same evening, Mrs. Sparsit, in her chamber window, resting from
her packing operations, looked towards her great staircase and saw
Louisa still descending.

She sat by Mr. Harthouse, in an alcove in the garden, talking very
low; he stood leaning over her, as they whispered together, and his
face almost touched her hair.  'If not quite!' said Mrs. Sparsit,
straining her hawk's eyes to the utmost.  Mrs. Sparsit was too
distant to hear a word of their discourse, or even to know that
they were speaking softly, otherwise than from the expression of
their figures; but what they said was this:

'You recollect the man, Mr. Harthouse?'

'Oh, perfectly!'

'His face, and his manner, and what he said?'

'Perfectly.  And an infinitely dreary person he appeared to me to
be.  Lengthy and prosy in the extreme.  It was knowing to hold
forth, in the humble-virtue school of eloquence; but, I assure you
I thought at the time, "My good fellow, you are over-doing this!"'

'It has been very difficult to me to think ill of that man.'

'My dear Louisa - as Tom says.'  Which he never did say.  'You know
no good of the fellow?'

'No, certainly.'

'Nor of any other such person?'

'How can I,' she returned, with more of her first manner on her
than he had lately seen, 'when I know nothing of them, men or
women?'

'My dear Louisa, then consent to receive the submissive
representation of your devoted friend, who knows something of
several varieties of his excellent fellow-creatures - for excellent
they are, I am quite ready to believe, in spite of such little
foibles as always helping themselves to what they can get hold of.
This fellow talks.  Well; every fellow talks.  He professes
morality.  Well; all sorts of humbugs profess morality.  From the
House of Commons to the House of Correction, there is a general
profession of morality, except among our people; it really is that
exception which makes our people quite reviving.  You saw and heard
the case.  Here was one of the fluffy classes pulled up extremely
short by my esteemed friend Mr. Bounderby - who, as we know, is not
possessed of that delicacy which would soften so tight a hand.  The
member of the fluffy classes was injured, exasperated, left the
house grumbling, met somebody who proposed to him to go in for some
share in this Bank business, went in, put something in his pocket
which had nothing in it before, and relieved his mind extremely.
Really he would have been an uncommon, instead of a common, fellow,
if he had not availed himself of such an opportunity.  Or he may
have originated it altogether, if he had the cleverness.'

'I almost feel as though it must be bad in me,' returned Louisa,
after sitting thoughtful awhile, 'to be so ready to agree with you,
and to be so lightened in my heart by what you say.'

'I only say what is reasonable; nothing worse.  I have talked it
over with my friend Tom more than once - of course I remain on
terms of perfect confidence with Tom - and he is quite of my
opinion, and I am quite of his.  Will you walk?'

They strolled away, among the lanes beginning to be indistinct in
the twilight - she leaning on his arm - and she little thought how
she was going down, down, down, Mrs. Sparsit's staircase.

Night and day, Mrs. Sparsit kept it standing.  When Louisa had
arrived at the bottom and disappeared in the gulf, it might fall in
upon her if it would; but, until then, there it was to be, a
Building, before Mrs. Sparsit's eyes.  And there Louisa always was,
upon it.

And always gliding down, down, down!

Mrs. Sparsit saw James Harthouse come and go; she heard of him here
and there; she saw the changes of the face he had studied; she,
too, remarked to a nicety how and when it clouded, how and when it
cleared; she kept her black eyes wide open, with no touch of pity,
with no touch of compunction, all absorbed in interest.  In the
interest of seeing her, ever drawing, with no hand to stay her,
nearer and nearer to the bottom of this new Giant's Staircase.

With all her deference for Mr. Bounderby as contradistinguished
from his portrait, Mrs. Sparsit had not the smallest intention of
interrupting the descent.  Eager to see it accomplished, and yet
patient, she waited for the last fall, as for the ripeness and
fulness of the harvest of her hopes.  Hushed in expectancy, she
kept her wary gaze upon the stairs; and seldom so much as darkly
shook her right mitten (with her fist in it), at the figure coming
down.

CHAPTER XI - LOWER AND LOWER

THE figure descended the great stairs, steadily, steadily; always
verging, like a weight in deep water, to the black gulf at the
bottom.

Mr. Gradgrind, apprised of his wife's decease, made an expedition
from London, and buried her in a business-like manner.  He then
returned with promptitude to the national cinder-heap, and resumed
his sifting for the odds and ends he wanted, and his throwing of
the dust about into the eyes of other people who wanted other odds
and ends - in fact resumed his parliamentary duties.

In the meantime, Mrs. Sparsit kept unwinking watch and ward.
Separated from her staircase, all the week, by the length of iron
road dividing Coketown from the country house, she yet maintained
her cat-like observation of Louisa, through her husband, through
her brother, through James Harthouse, through the outsides of
letters and packets, through everything animate and inanimate that
at any time went near the stairs.  'Your foot on the last step, my
lady,' said Mrs. Sparsit, apostrophizing the descending figure,
with the aid of her threatening mitten, 'and all your art shall
never blind me.'

Art or nature though, the original stock of Louisa's character or
the graft of circumstances upon it, - her curious reserve did
baffle, while it stimulated, one as sagacious as Mrs. Sparsit.
There were times when Mr. James Harthouse was not sure of her.
There were times when he could not read the face he had studied so
long; and when this lonely girl was a greater mystery to him, than
any woman of the world with a ring of satellites to help her.

So the time went on; until it happened that Mr. Bounderby was
called away from home by business which required his presence
elsewhere, for three or four days.  It was on a Friday that he
intimated this to Mrs. Sparsit at the Bank, adding:  'But you'll go
down to-morrow, ma'am, all the same.  You'll go down just as if I
was there.  It will make no difference to you.'

'Pray, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, reproachfully, 'let me beg you
not to say that.  Your absence will make a vast difference to me,
sir, as I think you very well know.'

'Well, ma'am, then you must get on in my absence as well as you
can,' said Mr. Bounderby, not displeased.

'Mr. Bounderby,' retorted Mrs. Sparsit, 'your will is to me a law,
sir; otherwise, it might be my inclination to dispute your kind
commands, not feeling sure that it will be quite so agreeable to
Miss Gradgrind to receive me, as it ever is to your own munificent
hospitality.  But you shall say no more, sir.  I will go, upon your
invitation.'

'Why, when I invite you to my house, ma'am,' said Bounderby,
opening his eyes, 'I should hope you want no other invitation.'

'No, indeed, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'I should hope not.  Say
no more, sir.  I would, sir, I could see you gay again.'

'What do you mean, ma'am?' blustered Bounderby.

'Sir,' rejoined Mrs. Sparsit, 'there was wont to be an elasticity
in you which I sadly miss.  Be buoyant, sir!'

Mr. Bounderby, under the influence of this difficult adjuration,
backed up by her compassionate eye, could only scratch his head in
a feeble and ridiculous manner, and afterwards assert himself at a
distance, by being heard to bully the small fry of business all the
morning.

'Bitzer,' said Mrs. Sparsit that afternoon, when her patron was
gone on his journey, and the Bank was closing, 'present my
compliments to young Mr. Thomas, and ask him if he would step up
and partake of a lamb chop and walnut ketchup, with a glass of
India ale?'  Young Mr. Thomas being usually ready for anything in
that way, returned a gracious answer, and followed on its heels.
'Mr. Thomas,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'these plain viands being on
table, I thought you might be tempted.'

'Thank'ee, Mrs. Sparsit,' said the whelp.  And gloomily fell to.

'How is Mr. Harthouse, Mr. Tom?' asked Mrs. Sparsit.

'Oh, he's all right,' said Tom.

'Where may he be at present?' Mrs. Sparsit asked in a light
conversational manner, after mentally devoting the whelp to the
Furies for being so uncommunicative.

'He is shooting in Yorkshire,' said Tom.  'Sent Loo a basket half
as big as a church, yesterday.'

'The kind of gentleman, now,' said Mrs. Sparsit, sweetly, 'whom one
might wager to be a good shot!'

'Crack,' said Tom.

He had long been a down-looking young fellow, but this
characteristic had so increased of late, that he never raised his
eyes to any face for three seconds together.  Mrs. Sparsit
consequently had ample means of watching his looks, if she were so
inclined.

'Mr. Harthouse is a great favourite of mine,' said Mrs. Sparsit,
'as indeed he is of most people.  May we expect to see him again
shortly, Mr. Tom?'

'Why, I expect to see him to-morrow,' returned the whelp.

'Good news!' cried Mrs. Sparsit, blandly.

'I have got an appointment with him to meet him in the evening at
the station here,' said Tom, 'and I am going to dine with him
afterwards, I believe.  He is not coming down to the country house
for a week or so, being due somewhere else.  At least, he says so;
but I shouldn't wonder if he was to stop here over Sunday, and
stray that way.'

'Which reminds me!' said Mrs. Sparsit.  'Would you remember a
message to your sister, Mr. Tom, if I was to charge you with one?'

'Well?  I'll try,' returned the reluctant whelp, 'if it isn't a
long un.'

'It is merely my respectful compliments,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'and I
fear I may not trouble her with my society this week; being still a
little nervous, and better perhaps by my poor self.'

'Oh!  If that's all,' observed Tom, 'it wouldn't much matter, even
if I was to forget it, for Loo's not likely to think of you unless
she sees you.'

Having paid for his entertainment with this agreeable compliment,
he relapsed into a hangdog silence until there was no more India
ale left, when he said, 'Well, Mrs. Sparsit, I must be off!' and
went off.

Next day, Saturday, Mrs. Sparsit sat at her window all day long
looking at the customers coming in and out, watching the postmen,
keeping an eye on the general traffic of the street, revolving many
things in her mind, but, above all, keeping her attention on her
staircase.  The evening come, she put on her bonnet and shawl, and
went quietly out:  having her reasons for hovering in a furtive way
about the station by which a passenger would arrive from Yorkshire,
and for preferring to peep into it round pillars and corners, and
out of ladies' waiting-room windows, to appearing in its precincts
openly.

Tom was in attendance, and loitered about until the expected train
came in.  It brought no Mr. Harthouse.  Tom waited until the crowd
had dispersed, and the bustle was over; and then referred to a
posted list of trains, and took counsel with porters.  That done,
he strolled away idly, stopping in the street and looking up it and
down it, and lifting his hat off and putting it on again, and
yawning and stretching himself, and exhibiting all the symptoms of
mortal weariness to be expected in one who had still to wait until
the next train should come in, an hour and forty minutes hence.

'This is a device to keep him out of the way,' said Mrs. Sparsit,
starting from the dull office window whence she had watched him
last.  'Harthouse is with his sister now!'

It was the conception of an inspired moment, and she shot off with
her utmost swiftness to work it out.  The station for the country
house was at the opposite end of the town, the time was short, the
road not easy; but she was so quick in pouncing on a disengaged
coach, so quick in darting out of it, producing her money, seizing
her ticket, and diving into the train, that she was borne along the
arches spanning the land of coal-pits past and present, as if she
had been caught up in a cloud and whirled away.

All the journey, immovable in the air though never left behind;
plain to the dark eyes of her mind, as the electric wires which
ruled a colossal strip of music-paper out of the evening sky, were
plain to the dark eyes of her body; Mrs. Sparsit saw her staircase,
with the figure coming down.  Very near the bottom now.  Upon the
brink of the abyss.

An overcast September evening, just at nightfall, saw beneath its
drooping eyelids Mrs. Sparsit glide out of her carriage, pass down
the wooden steps of the little station into a stony road, cross it
into a green lane, and become hidden in a summer-growth of leaves
and branches.  One or two late birds sleepily chirping in their
nests, and a bat heavily crossing and recrossing her, and the reek
of her own tread in the thick dust that felt like velvet, were all
Mrs. Sparsit heard or saw until she very softly closed a gate.

She went up to the house, keeping within the shrubbery, and went
round it, peeping between the leaves at the lower windows.  Most of
them were open, as they usually were in such warm weather, but
there were no lights yet, and all was silent.  She tried the garden
with no better effect.  She thought of the wood, and stole towards
it, heedless of long grass and briers:  of worms, snails, and
slugs, and all the creeping things that be.  With her dark eyes and
her hook nose warily in advance of her, Mrs. Sparsit softly crushed
her way through the thick undergrowth, so intent upon her object
that she probably would have done no less, if the wood had been a
wood of adders.

Hark!

The smaller birds might have tumbled out of their nests, fascinated
by the glittering of Mrs. Sparsit's eyes in the gloom, as she
stopped and listened.

Low voices close at hand.  His voice and hers.  The appointment was
a device to keep the brother away!  There they were yonder, by the
felled tree.

Bending low among the dewy grass, Mrs. Sparsit advanced closer to
them.  She drew herself up, and stood behind a tree, like Robinson
Crusoe in his ambuscade against the savages; so near to them that
at a spring, and that no great one, she could have touched them
both.  He was there secretly, and had not shown himself at the
house.  He had come on horseback, and must have passed through the
neighbouring fields; for his horse was tied to the meadow side of
the fence, within a few paces.

'My dearest love,' said he, 'what could I do?  Knowing you were
alone, was it possible that I could stay away?'

'You may hang your head, to make yourself the more attractive; I
don't know what they see in you when you hold it up,' thought Mrs.
Sparsit; 'but you little think, my dearest love, whose eyes are on
you!'

That she hung her head, was certain.  She urged him to go away, she
commanded him to go away; but she neither turned her face to him,
nor raised it.  Yet it was remarkable that she sat as still as ever
the amiable woman in ambuscade had seen her sit, at any period in
her life.  Her hands rested in one another, like the hands of a
statue; and even her manner of speaking was not hurried.

'My dear child,' said Harthouse; Mrs. Sparsit saw with delight that
his arm embraced her; 'will you not bear with my society for a
little while?'

'Not here.'

'Where, Louisa?

'Not here.'

'But we have so little time to make so much of, and I have come so
far, and am altogether so devoted, and distracted.  There never was
a slave at once so devoted and ill-used by his mistress.  To look
for your sunny welcome that has warmed me into life, and to be
received in your frozen manner, is heart-rending.'

'Am I to say again, that I must be left to myself here?'

'But we must meet, my dear Louisa.  Where shall we meet?'

They both started.  The listener started, guiltily, too; for she
thought there was another listener among the trees.  It was only
rain, beginning to fall fast, in heavy drops.

'Shall I ride up to the house a few minutes hence, innocently
supposing that its master is at home and will be charmed to receive
me?'

'No!'

'Your cruel commands are implicitly to be obeyed; though I am the
most unfortunate fellow in the world, I believe, to have been
insensible to all other women, and to have fallen prostrate at last
under the foot of the most beautiful, and the most engaging, and
the most imperious.  My dearest Louisa, I cannot go myself, or let
you go, in this hard abuse of your power.'

Mrs. Sparsit saw him detain her with his encircling arm, and heard
him then and there, within her (Mrs. Sparsit's) greedy hearing,
tell her how he loved her, and how she was the stake for which he
ardently desired to play away all that he had in life.  The objects
he had lately pursued, turned worthless beside her; such success as
was almost in his grasp, he flung away from him like the dirt it
was, compared with her.  Its pursuit, nevertheless, if it kept him
near her, or its renunciation if it took him from her, or flight if
she shared it, or secrecy if she commanded it, or any fate, or
every fate, all was alike to him, so that she was true to him, -
the man who had seen how cast away she was, whom she had inspired
at their first meeting with an admiration, an interest, of which he
had thought himself incapable, whom she had received into her
confidence, who was devoted to her and adored her.  All this, and
more, in his hurry, and in hers, in the whirl of her own gratified
malice, in the dread of being discovered, in the rapidly increasing
noise of heavy rain among the leaves, and a thunderstorm rolling up
- Mrs. Sparsit received into her mind, set off with such an
unavoidable halo of confusion and indistinctness, that when at
length he climbed the fence and led his horse away, she was not
sure where they were to meet, or when, except that they had said it
was to be that night.

But one of them yet remained in the darkness before her; and while
she tracked that one she must be right.  'Oh, my dearest love,'
thought Mrs. Sparsit, 'you little think how well attended you are!'

Mrs. Sparsit saw her out of the wood, and saw her enter the house.
What to do next?  It rained now, in a sheet of water.  Mrs.
Sparsit's white stockings were of many colours, green
predominating; prickly things were in her shoes; caterpillars slung
themselves, in hammocks of their own making, from various parts of
her dress; rills ran from her bonnet, and her Roman nose.  In such
condition, Mrs. Sparsit stood hidden in the density of the
shrubbery, considering what next?

Lo, Louisa coming out of the house!  Hastily cloaked and muffled,
and stealing away.  She elopes!  She falls from the lowermost
stair, and is swallowed up in the gulf.

Indifferent to the rain, and moving with a quick determined step,
she struck into a side-path parallel with the ride.  Mrs. Sparsit
followed in the shadow of the trees, at but a short distance; for
it was not easy to keep a figure in view going quickly through the
umbrageous darkness.

When she stopped to close the side-gate without noise, Mrs. Sparsit
stopped.  When she went on, Mrs. Sparsit went on.  She went by the
way Mrs. Sparsit had come, emerged from the green lane, crossed the
stony road, and ascended the wooden steps to the railroad.  A train
for Coketown would come through presently, Mrs. Sparsit knew; so
she understood Coketown to be her first place of destination.

In Mrs. Sparsit's limp and streaming state, no extensive
precautions were necessary to change her usual appearance; but, she
stopped under the lee of the station wall, tumbled her shawl into a
new shape, and put it on over her bonnet.  So disguised she had no
fear of being recognized when she followed up the railroad steps,
and paid her money in the small office.  Louisa sat waiting in a
corner.  Mrs. Sparsit sat waiting in another corner.  Both listened
to the thunder, which was loud, and to the rain, as it washed off
the roof, and pattered on the parapets of the arches.  Two or three
lamps were rained out and blown out; so, both saw the lightning to
advantage as it quivered and zigzagged on the iron tracks.

The seizure of the station with a fit of trembling, gradually
deepening to a complaint of the heart, announced the train.  Fire
and steam, and smoke, and red light; a hiss, a crash, a bell, and a
shriek; Louisa put into one carriage, Mrs. Sparsit put into
another:  the little station a desert speck in the thunderstorm.

Though her teeth chattered in her head from wet and cold, Mrs.
Sparsit exulted hugely.  The figure had plunged down the precipice,
and she felt herself, as it were, attending on the body.  Could
she, who had been so active in the getting up of the funeral
triumph, do less than exult?  'She will be at Coketown long before
him,' thought Mrs. Sparsit, 'though his horse is never so good.
Where will she wait for him?  And where will they go together?
Patience.  We shall see.'

The tremendous rain occasioned infinite confusion, when the train
stopped at its destination.  Gutters and pipes had burst, drains
had overflowed, and streets were under water.  In the first instant
of alighting, Mrs. Sparsit turned her distracted eyes towards the
waiting coaches, which were in great request.  'She will get into
one,' she considered, 'and will be away before I can follow in
another.  At all risks of being run over, I must see the number,
and hear the order given to the coachman.'

But, Mrs. Sparsit was wrong in her calculation.  Louisa got into no
coach, and was already gone.  The black eyes kept upon the
railroad-carriage in which she had travelled, settled upon it a
moment too late.  The door not being opened after several minutes,
Mrs. Sparsit passed it and repassed it, saw nothing, looked in, and
found it empty.  Wet through and through:  with her feet squelching
and squashing in her shoes whenever she moved; with a rash of rain
upon her classical visage; with a bonnet like an over-ripe fig;
with all her clothes spoiled; with damp impressions of every
button, string, and hook-and-eye she wore, printed off upon her
highly connected back; with a stagnant verdure on her general
exterior, such as accumulates on an old park fence in a mouldy
lane; Mrs. Sparsit had no resource but to burst into tears of
bitterness and say, 'I have lost her!'

CHAPTER XII - DOWN

THE national dustmen, after entertaining one another with a great
many noisy little fights among themselves, had dispersed for the
present, and Mr. Gradgrind was at home for the vacation.

He sat writing in the room with the deadly statistical clock,
proving something no doubt - probably, in the main, that the Good
Samaritan was a Bad Economist.  The noise of the rain did not
disturb him much; but it attracted his attention sufficiently to
make him raise his head sometimes, as if he were rather
remonstrating with the elements.  When it thundered very loudly, he
glanced towards Coketown, having it in his mind that some of the
tall chimneys might be struck by lightning.

The thunder was rolling into distance, and the rain was pouring
down like a deluge, when the door of his room opened.  He looked
round the lamp upon his table, and saw, with amazement, his eldest
daughter.

'Louisa!'

'Father, I want to speak to you.'

'What is the matter?  How strange you look!  And good Heaven,' said
Mr. Gradgrind, wondering more and more, 'have you come here exposed
to this storm?'

She put her hands to her dress, as if she hardly knew.  'Yes.'
Then she uncovered her head, and letting her cloak and hood fall
where they might, stood looking at him:  so colourless, so
dishevelled, so defiant and despairing, that he was afraid of her.

'What is it?  I conjure you, Louisa, tell me what is the matter.'

She dropped into a chair before him, and put her cold hand on his
arm.

'Father, you have trained me from my cradle?'

'Yes, Louisa.'

'I curse the hour in which I was born to such a destiny.'

He looked at her in doubt and dread, vacantly repeating:  'Curse
the hour?  Curse the hour?'

'How could you give me life, and take from me all the inappreciable
things that raise it from the state of conscious death?  Where are
the graces of my soul?  Where are the sentiments of my heart?  What
have you done, O father, what have you done, with the garden that
should have bloomed once, in this great wilderness here!'

She struck herself with both her hands upon her bosom.

'If it had ever been here, its ashes alone would save me from the
void in which my whole life sinks.  I did not mean to say this;
but, father, you remember the last time we conversed in this room?'

He had been so wholly unprepared for what he heard now, that it was
with difficulty he answered, 'Yes, Louisa.'

'What has risen to my lips now, would have risen to my lips then,
if you had given me a moment's help.  I don't reproach you, father.
What you have never nurtured in me, you have never nurtured in
yourself; but O! if you had only done so long ago, or if you had
only neglected me, what a much better and much happier creature I
should have been this day!'

On hearing this, after all his care, he bowed his head upon his
hand and groaned aloud.

'Father, if you had known, when we were last together here, what
even I feared while I strove against it - as it has been my task
from infancy to strive against every natural prompting that has
arisen in my heart; if you had known that there lingered in my
breast, sensibilities, affections, weaknesses capable of being
cherished into strength, defying all the calculations ever made by
man, and no more known to his arithmetic than his Creator is, -
would you have given me to the husband whom I am now sure that I
hate?'

He said, 'No.  No, my poor child.'

'Would you have doomed me, at any time, to the frost and blight
that have hardened and spoiled me?  Would you have robbed me - for
no one's enrichment - only for the greater desolation of this world
- of the immaterial part of my life, the spring and summer of my
belief, my refuge from what is sordid and bad in the real things
around me, my school in which I should have learned to be more
humble and more trusting with them, and to hope in my little sphere
to make them better?'

'O no, no.  No, Louisa.'

'Yet, father, if I had been stone blind; if I had groped my way by
my sense of touch, and had been free, while I knew the shapes and
surfaces of things, to exercise my fancy somewhat, in regard to
them; I should have been a million times wiser, happier, more
loving, more contented, more innocent and human in all good
respects, than I am with the eyes I have.  Now, hear what I have
come to say.'

He moved, to support her with his arm.  She rising as he did so,
they stood close together:  she, with a hand upon his shoulder,
looking fixedly in his face.

'With a hunger and thirst upon me, father, which have never been
for a moment appeased; with an ardent impulse towards some region
where rules, and figures, and definitions were not quite absolute;
I have grown up, battling every inch of my way.'

'I never knew you were unhappy, my child.'

'Father, I always knew it.  In this strife I have almost repulsed
and crushed my better angel into a demon.  What I have learned has
left me doubting, misbelieving, despising, regretting, what I have
not learned; and my dismal resource has been to think that life
would soon go by, and that nothing in it could be worth the pain
and trouble of a contest.'

'And you so young, Louisa!' he said with pity.

'And I so young.  In this condition, father - for I show you now,
without fear or favour, the ordinary deadened state of my mind as I
know it - you proposed my husband to me.  I took him.  I never made
a pretence to him or you that I loved him.  I knew, and, father,
you knew, and he knew, that I never did.  I was not wholly
indifferent, for I had a hope of being pleasant and useful to Tom.
I made that wild escape into something visionary, and have slowly
found out how wild it was.  But Tom had been the subject of all the
little tenderness of my life; perhaps he became so because I knew
so well how to pity him.  It matters little now, except as it may
dispose you to think more leniently of his errors.'

As her father held her in his arms, she put her other hand upon his
other shoulder, and still looking fixedly in his face, went on.

'When I was irrevocably married, there rose up into rebellion
against the tie, the old strife, made fiercer by all those causes
of disparity which arise out of our two individual natures, and
which no general laws shall ever rule or state for me, father,
until they shall be able to direct the anatomist where to strike
his knife into the secrets of my soul.'

'Louisa!' he said, and said imploringly; for he well remembered
what had passed between them in their former interview.

'I do not reproach you, father, I make no complaint.  I am here
with another object.'

'What can I do, child?  Ask me what you will.'

'I am coming to it.  Father, chance then threw into my way a new
acquaintance; a man such as I had had no experience of; used to the
world; light, polished, easy; making no pretences; avowing the low
estimate of everything, that I was half afraid to form in secret;
conveying to me almost immediately, though I don't know how or by
what degrees, that he understood me, and read my thoughts.  I could
not find that he was worse than I.  There seemed to be a near
affinity between us.  I only wondered it should be worth his while,
who cared for nothing else, to care so much for me.'

'For you, Louisa!'

Her father might instinctively have loosened his hold, but that he
felt her strength departing from her, and saw a wild dilating fire
in the eyes steadfastly regarding him.

'I say nothing of his plea for claiming my confidence.  It matters
very little how he gained it.  Father, he did gain it.  What you
know of the story of my marriage, he soon knew, just as well.'

Her father's face was ashy white, and he held her in both his arms.

'I have done no worse, I have not disgraced you.  But if you ask me
whether I have loved him, or do love him, I tell you plainly,
father, that it may be so.  I don't know.'

She took her hands suddenly from his shoulders, and pressed them
both upon her side; while in her face, not like itself - and in her
figure, drawn up, resolute to finish by a last effort what she had
to say - the feelings long suppressed broke loose.

'This night, my husband being away, he has been with me, declaring
himself my lover.  This minute he expects me, for I could release
myself of his presence by no other means.  I do not know that I am
sorry, I do not know that I am ashamed, I do not know that I am
degraded in my own esteem.  All that I know is, your philosophy and
your teaching will not save me.  Now, father, you have brought me
to this.  Save me by some other means!'

He tightened his hold in time to prevent her sinking on the floor,
but she cried out in a terrible voice, 'I shall die if you hold me!
Let me fall upon the ground!'  And he laid her down there, and saw
the pride of his heart and the triumph of his system, lying, an
insensible heap, at his feet.

END OF THE SECOND BOOK

BOOK THE THIRD - GARNERING

CHAPTER I - ANOTHER THING NEEDFUL

LOUISA awoke from a torpor, and her eyes languidly opened on her
old bed at home, and her old room.  It seemed, at first, as if all
that had happened since the days when these objects were familiar
to her were the shadows of a dream, but gradually, as the objects
became more real to her sight, the events became more real to her
mind.

She could scarcely move her head for pain and heaviness, her eyes
were strained and sore, and she was very weak.  A curious passive
inattention had such possession of her, that the presence of her
little sister in the room did not attract her notice for some time.
Even when their eyes had met, and her sister had approached the
bed, Louisa lay for minutes looking at her in silence, and
suffering her timidly to hold her passive hand, before she asked:

'When was I brought to this room?'

'Last night, Louisa.'

'Who brought me here?'

'Sissy, I believe.'

'Why do you believe so?'

'Because I found her here this morning.  She didn't come to my
bedside to wake me, as she always does; and I went to look for her.
She was not in her own room either; and I went looking for her all
over the house, until I found her here taking care of you and
cooling your head.  Will you see father? Sissy said I was to tell
him when you woke.'

'What a beaming face you have, Jane!' said Louisa, as her young
sister - timidly still - bent down to kiss her.

'Have I?  I am very glad you think so.  I am sure it must be
Sissy's doing.'

The arm Louisa had begun to twine around her neck, unbent itself.
'You can tell father if you will.'  Then, staying her for a moment,
she said, 'It was you who made my room so cheerful, and gave it
this look of welcome?'

'Oh no, Louisa, it was done before I came.  It was - '

Louisa turned upon her pillow, and heard no more.  When her sister
had withdrawn, she turned her head back again, and lay with her
face towards the door, until it opened and her father entered.

He had a jaded anxious look upon him, and his hand, usually steady,
trembled in hers.  He sat down at the side of the bed, tenderly
asking how she was, and dwelling on the necessity of her keeping
very quiet after her agitation and exposure to the weather last
night.  He spoke in a subdued and troubled voice, very different
from his usual dictatorial manner; and was often at a loss for
words.

'My dear Louisa.  My poor daughter.'  He was so much at a loss at
that place, that he stopped altogether.  He tried again.

'My unfortunate child.'  The place was so difficult to get over,
that he tried again.

'It would be hopeless for me, Louisa, to endeavour to tell you how
overwhelmed I have been, and still am, by what broke upon me last
night.  The ground on which I stand has ceased to be solid under my
feet.  The only support on which I leaned, and the strength of
which it seemed, and still does seem, impossible to question, has
given way in an instant.  I am stunned by these discoveries.  I
have no selfish meaning in what I say; but I find the shock of what
broke upon me last night, to be very heavy indeed.'

She could give him no comfort herein.  She had suffered the wreck
of her whole life upon the rock.

'I will not say, Louisa, that if you had by any happy chance
undeceived me some time ago, it would have been better for us both;
better for your peace, and better for mine.  For I am sensible that
it may not have been a part of my system to invite any confidence
of that kind.  I had proved my - my system to myself, and I have
rigidly administered it; and I must bear the responsibility of its
failures.  I only entreat you to believe, my favourite child, that
I have meant to do right.'

He said it earnestly, and to do him justice he had.  In gauging
fathomless deeps with his little mean excise-rod, and in staggering
over the universe with his rusty stiff-legged compasses, he had
meant to do great things.  Within the limits of his short tether he
had tumbled about, annihilating the flowers of existence with
greater singleness of purpose than many of the blatant personages
whose company he kept.

'I am well assured of what you say, father.  I know I have been
your favourite child.  I know you have intended to make me happy.
I have never blamed you, and I never shall.'

He took her outstretched hand, and retained it in his.

'My dear, I have remained all night at my table, pondering again
and again on what has so painfully passed between us.  When I
consider your character; when I consider that what has been known
to me for hours, has been concealed by you for years; when I
consider under what immediate pressure it has been forced from you
at last; I come to the conclusion that I cannot but mistrust
myself.'

He might have added more than all, when he saw the face now looking
at him.  He did add it in effect, perhaps, as he softly moved her
scattered hair from her forehead with his hand.  Such little
actions, slight in another man, were very noticeable in him; and
his daughter received them as if they had been words of contrition.

'But,' said Mr. Gradgrind, slowly, and with hesitation, as well as
with a wretched sense of happiness, 'if I see reason to mistrust
myself for the past, Louisa, I should also mistrust myself for the
present and the future.  To speak unreservedly to you, I do.  I am
far from feeling convinced now, however differently I might have
felt only this time yesterday, that I am fit for the trust you
repose in me; that I know how to respond to the appeal you have
come home to make to me; that I have the right instinct - supposing
it for the moment to be some quality of that nature - how to help
you, and to set you right, my child.'

She had turned upon her pillow, and lay with her face upon her arm,
so that he could not see it.  All her wildness and passion had
subsided; but, though softened, she was not in tears.  Her father
was changed in nothing so much as in the respect that he would have
been glad to see her in tears.

'Some persons hold,' he pursued, still hesitating, 'that there is a
wisdom of the Head, and that there is a wisdom of the Heart.  I
have not supposed so; but, as I have said, I mistrust myself now.
I have supposed the head to be all-sufficient.  It may not be all-
sufficient; how can I venture this morning to say it is!  If that
other kind of wisdom should be what I have neglected, and should be
the instinct that is wanted, Louisa - '

He suggested it very doubtfully, as if he were half unwilling to
admit it even now.  She made him no answer, lying before him on her
bed, still half-dressed, much as he had seen her lying on the floor
of his room last night.

'Louisa,' and his hand rested on her hair again, 'I have been
absent from here, my dear, a good deal of late; and though your
sister's training has been pursued according to - the system,' he
appeared to come to that word with great reluctance always, 'it has
necessarily been modified by daily associations begun, in her case,
at an early age.  I ask you - ignorantly and humbly, my daughter -
for the better, do you think?'

'Father,' she replied, without stirring, 'if any harmony has been
awakened in her young breast that was mute in mine until it turned
to discord, let her thank Heaven for it, and go upon her happier
way, taking it as her greatest blessing that she has avoided my
way.'

'O my child, my child!' he said, in a forlorn manner, 'I am an
unhappy man to see you thus!  What avails it to me that you do not
reproach me, if I so bitterly reproach myself!'  He bent his head,
and spoke low to her.  'Louisa, I have a misgiving that some change
may have been slowly working about me in this house, by mere love
and gratitude:  that what the Head had left undone and could not
do, the Heart may have been doing silently.  Can it be so?'

She made him no reply.

'I am not too proud to believe it, Louisa.  How could I be
arrogant, and you before me!  Can it be so?  Is it so, my dear?'
He looked upon her once more, lying cast away there; and without
another word went out of the room.  He had not been long gone, when
she heard a light tread near the door, and knew that some one stood
beside her.

She did not raise her head.  A dull anger that she should be seen
in her distress, and that the involuntary look she had so resented
should come to this fulfilment, smouldered within her like an
unwholesome fire.  All closely imprisoned forces rend and destroy.
The air that would be healthful to the earth, the water that would
enrich it, the heat that would ripen it, tear it when caged up.  So
in her bosom even now; the strongest qualities she possessed, long
turned upon themselves, became a heap of obduracy, that rose
against a friend.

It was well that soft touch came upon her neck, and that she
understood herself to be supposed to have fallen asleep.  The
sympathetic hand did not claim her resentment.  Let it lie there,
let it lie.

It lay there, warming into life a crowd of gentler thoughts; and
she rested.  As she softened with the quiet, and the consciousness
of being so watched, some tears made their way into her eyes.  The
face touched hers, and she knew that there were tears upon it too,
and she the cause of them.

As Louisa feigned to rouse herself, and sat up, Sissy retired, so
that she stood placidly near the bedside.

'I hope I have not disturbed you.  I have come to ask if you would
let me stay with you?'

'Why should you stay with me?  My sister will miss you.  You are
everything to her.'

'Am I?' returned Sissy, shaking her head.  'I would be something to
you, if I might.'

'What?' said Louisa, almost sternly.

'Whatever you want most, if I could be that.  At all events, I
would like to try to be as near it as I can.  And however far off
that may be, I will never tire of trying.  Will you let me?'

'My father sent you to ask me.'

'No indeed,' replied Sissy.  'He told me that I might come in now,
but he sent me away from the room this morning - or at least - '

She hesitated and stopped.

'At least, what?' said Louisa, with her searching eyes upon her.

'I thought it best myself that I should be sent away, for I felt
very uncertain whether you would like to find me here.'

'Have I always hated you so much?'

'I hope not, for I have always loved you, and have always wished
that you should know it.  But you changed to me a little, shortly
before you left home.  Not that I wondered at it.  You knew so
much, and I knew so little, and it was so natural in many ways,
going as you were among other friends, that I had nothing to
complain of, and was not at all hurt.'

Her colour rose as she said it modestly and hurriedly.  Louisa
understood the loving pretence, and her heart smote her.

'May I try?' said Sissy, emboldened to raise her hand to the neck
that was insensibly drooping towards her.

Louisa, taking down the hand that would have embraced her in
another moment, held it in one of hers, and answered:

'First, Sissy, do you know what I am?  I am so proud and so
hardened, so confused and troubled, so resentful and unjust to
every one and to myself, that everything is stormy, dark, and
wicked to me.  Does not that repel you?'

'No!'

'I am so unhappy, and all that should have made me otherwise is so
laid waste, that if I had been bereft of sense to this hour, and
instead of being as learned as you think me, had to begin to
acquire the simplest truths, I could not want a guide to peace,
contentment, honour, all the good of which I am quite devoid, more
abjectly than I do.  Does not that repel you?'

'No!'

In the innocence of her brave affection, and the brimming up of her
old devoted spirit, the once deserted girl shone like a beautiful
light upon the darkness of the other.

Louisa raised the hand that it might clasp her neck and join its
fellow there.  She fell upon her knees, and clinging to this
stroller's child looked up at her almost with veneration.

'Forgive me, pity me, help me!  Have compassion on my great need,
and let me lay this head of mine upon a loving heart!'

'O lay it here!' cried Sissy.  'Lay it here, my dear.'

CHAPTER II - VERY RIDICULOUS

MR. JAMES HARTHOUSE passed a whole night and a day in a state of so
much hurry, that the World, with its best glass in his eye, would
scarcely have recognized him during that insane interval, as the
brother Jem of the honourable and jocular member.  He was
positively agitated.  He several times spoke with an emphasis,
similar to the vulgar manner.  He went in and went out in an
unaccountable way, like a man without an object.  He rode like a
highwayman.  In a word, he was so horribly bored by existing
circumstances, that he forgot to go in for boredom in the manner
prescribed by the authorities.

After putting his horse at Coketown through the storm, as if it
were a leap, he waited up all night:  from time to time ringing his
bell with the greatest fury, charging the porter who kept watch
with delinquency in withholding letters or messages that could not
fail to have been entrusted to him, and demanding restitution on
the spot.  The dawn coming, the morning coming, and the day coming,
and neither message nor letter coming with either, he went down to
the country house.  There, the report was, Mr. Bounderby away, and
Mrs. Bounderby in town.  Left for town suddenly last evening.  Not
even known to be gone until receipt of message, importing that her
return was not to be expected for the present.

In these circumstances he had nothing for it but to follow her to
town.  He went to the house in town.  Mrs. Bounderby not there.  He
looked in at the Bank.  Mr. Bounderby away and Mrs. Sparsit away.
Mrs. Sparsit away?  Who could have been reduced to sudden extremity
for the company of that griffin!

'Well!  I don't know,' said Tom, who had his own reasons for being
uneasy about it.  'She was off somewhere at daybreak this morning.
She's always full of mystery; I hate her.  So I do that white chap;
he's always got his blinking eyes upon a fellow.'

'Where were you last night, Tom?'

'Where was I last night!' said Tom.  'Come!  I like that.  I was
waiting for you, Mr. Harthouse, till it came down as I never saw it
come down before.  Where was I too!  Where were you, you mean.'

'I was prevented from coming - detained.'

'Detained!' murmured Tom.  'Two of us were detained.  I was
detained looking for you, till I lost every train but the mail.  It
would have been a pleasant job to go down by that on such a night,
and have to walk home through a pond.  I was obliged to sleep in
town after all.'

'Where?'

'Where?  Why, in my own bed at Bounderby's.'

'Did you see your sister?'

'How the deuce,' returned Tom, staring, 'could I see my sister when
she was fifteen miles off?'

Cursing these quick retorts of the young gentleman to whom he was
so true a friend, Mr. Harthouse disembarrassed himself of that
interview with the smallest conceivable amount of ceremony, and
debated for the hundredth time what all this could mean?  He made
only one thing clear.  It was, that whether she was in town or out
of town, whether he had been premature with her who was so hard to
comprehend, or she had lost courage, or they were discovered, or
some mischance or mistake, at present incomprehensible, had
occurred, he must remain to confront his fortune, whatever it was.
The hotel where he was known to live when condemned to that region
of blackness, was the stake to which he was tied.  As to all the
rest - What will be, will be.

'So, whether I am waiting for a hostile message, or an assignation,
or a penitent remonstrance, or an impromptu wrestle with my friend
Bounderby in the Lancashire manner - which would seem as likely as
anything else in the present state of affairs - I'll dine,' said
Mr. James Harthouse.  'Bounderby has the advantage in point of
weight; and if anything of a British nature is to come off between
us, it may be as well to be in training.'

Therefore he rang the bell, and tossing himself negligently on a
sofa, ordered 'Some dinner at six - with a beefsteak in it,' and
got through the intervening time as well as he could.  That was not
particularly well; for he remained in the greatest perplexity, and,
as the hours went on, and no kind of explanation offered itself,
his perplexity augmented at compound interest.

However, he took affairs as coolly as it was in human nature to do,
and entertained himself with the facetious idea of the training
more than once.  'It wouldn't be bad,' he yawned at one time, 'to
give the waiter five shillings, and throw him.'  At another time it
occurred to him, 'Or a fellow of about thirteen or fourteen stone
might be hired by the hour.'  But these jests did not tell
materially on the afternoon, or his suspense; and, sooth to say,
they both lagged fearfully.

It was impossible, even before dinner, to avoid often walking about
in the pattern of the carpet, looking out of the window, listening
at the door for footsteps, and occasionally becoming rather hot
when any steps approached that room.  But, after dinner, when the
day turned to twilight, and the twilight turned to night, and still
no communication was made to him, it began to be as he expressed
it, 'like the Holy Office and slow torture.'  However, still true
to his conviction that indifference was the genuine high-breeding
(the only conviction he had), he seized this crisis as the
opportunity for ordering candles and a newspaper.

He had been trying in vain, for half an hour, to read this
newspaper, when the waiter appeared and said, at once mysteriously
and apologetically:

'Beg your pardon, sir.  You're wanted, sir, if you please.'

A general recollection that this was the kind of thing the Police
said to the swell mob, caused Mr. Harthouse to ask the waiter in
return, with bristling indignation, what the Devil he meant by
'wanted'?

'Beg your pardon, sir.  Young lady outside, sir, wishes to see
you.'

'Outside?  Where?'

'Outside this door, sir.'

Giving the waiter to the personage before mentioned, as a block-
head duly qualified for that consignment, Mr. Harthouse hurried
into the gallery.  A young woman whom he had never seen stood
there.  Plainly dressed, very quiet, very pretty.  As he conducted
her into the room and placed a chair for her, he observed, by the
light of the candles, that she was even prettier than he had at
first believed.  Her face was innocent and youthful, and its
expression remarkably pleasant.  She was not afraid of him, or in
any way disconcerted; she seemed to have her mind entirely
preoccupied with the occasion of her visit, and to have substituted
that consideration for herself.

'I speak to Mr. Harthouse?' she said, when they were alone.

'To Mr. Harthouse.'  He added in his mind, 'And you speak to him
with the most confiding eyes I ever saw, and the most earnest voice
(though so quiet) I ever heard.'

'If I do not understand - and I do not, sir' - said Sissy, 'what
your honour as a gentleman binds you to, in other matters:' the
blood really rose in his face as she began in these words:  'I am
sure I may rely upon it to keep my visit secret, and to keep secret
what I am going to say.  I will rely upon it, if you will tell me I
may so far trust - '

'You may, I assure you.'

'I am young, as you see; I am alone, as you see.  In coming to you,
sir, I have no advice or encouragement beyond my own hope.'  He
thought, 'But that is very strong,' as he followed the momentary
upward glance of her eyes.  He thought besides, 'This is a very odd
beginning.  I don't see where we are going.'

'I think,' said Sissy, 'you have already guessed whom I left just
now!'

'I have been in the greatest concern and uneasiness during the last
four-and-twenty hours (which have appeared as many years),' he
returned, 'on a lady's account.  The hopes I have been encouraged
to form that you come from that lady, do not deceive me, I trust.'

'I left her within an hour.'

'At -  !'

'At her father's.'

Mr. Harthouse's face lengthened in spite of his coolness, and his
perplexity increased.  'Then I certainly,' he thought, 'do not see
where we are going.'

'She hurried there last night.  She arrived there in great
agitation, and was insensible all through the night.  I live at her
father's, and was with her.  You may be sure, sir, you will never
see her again as long as you live.'

Mr. Harthouse drew a long breath; and, if ever man found himself in
the position of not knowing what to say, made the discovery beyond
all question that he was so circumstanced.  The child-like
ingenuousness with which his visitor spoke, her modest
fearlessness, her truthfulness which put all artifice aside, her
entire forgetfulness of herself in her earnest quiet holding to the
object with which she had come; all this, together with her
reliance on his easily given promise - which in itself shamed him -
presented something in which he was so inexperienced, and against
which he knew any of his usual weapons would fall so powerless;
that not a word could he rally to his relief.

At last he said:

'So startling an announcement, so confidently made, and by such
lips, is really disconcerting in the last degree.  May I be
permitted to inquire, if you are charged to convey that information
to me in those hopeless words, by the lady of whom we speak?'

'I have no charge from her.'

'The drowning man catches at the straw.  With no disrespect for
your judgment, and with no doubt of your sincerity, excuse my
saying that I cling to the belief that there is yet hope that I am
not condemned to perpetual exile from that lady's presence.'

'There is not the least hope.  The first object of my coming here,
sir, is to assure you that you must believe that there is no more
hope of your ever speaking with her again, than there would be if
she had died when she came home last night.'

'Must believe?  But if I can't - or if I should, by infirmity of
nature, be obstinate - and won't - '

'It is still true.  There is no hope.'

James Harthouse looked at her with an incredulous smile upon his
lips; but her mind looked over and beyond him, and the smile was
quite thrown away.

He bit his lip, and took a little time for consideration.

'Well!  If it should unhappily appear,' he said, 'after due pains
and duty on my part, that I am brought to a position so desolate as
this banishment, I shall not become the lady's persecutor.  But you
said you had no commission from her?'

'I have only the commission of my love for her, and her love for
me.  I have no other trust, than that I have been with her since
she came home, and that she has given me her confidence.  I have no
further trust, than that I know something of her character and her
marriage.  O Mr. Harthouse, I think you had that trust too!'

He was touched in the cavity where his heart should have been - in
that nest of addled eggs, where the birds of heaven would have
lived if they had not been whistled away - by the fervour of this
reproach.

'I am not a moral sort of fellow,' he said, 'and I never make any
pretensions to the character of a moral sort of fellow.  I am as
immoral as need be.  At the same time, in bringing any distress
upon the lady who is the subject of the present conversation, or in
unfortunately compromising her in any way, or in committing myself
by any expression of sentiments towards her, not perfectly
reconcilable with - in fact with - the domestic hearth; or in
taking any advantage of her father's being a machine, or of her
brother's being a whelp, or of her husband's being a bear; I beg to
be allowed to assure you that I have had no particularly evil
intentions, but have glided on from one step to another with a
smoothness so perfectly diabolical, that I had not the slightest
idea the catalogue was half so long until I began to turn it over.
Whereas I find,' said Mr. James Harthouse, in conclusion, 'that it
is really in several volumes.'

Though he said all this in his frivolous way, the way seemed, for
that once, a conscious polishing of but an ugly surface.  He was
silent for a moment; and then proceeded with a more self-possessed
air, though with traces of vexation and disappointment that would
not be polished out.

'After what has been just now represented to me, in a manner I find
it impossible to doubt - I know of hardly any other source from
which I could have accepted it so readily - I feel bound to say to
you, in whom the confidence you have mentioned has been reposed,
that I cannot refuse to contemplate the possibility (however
unexpected) of my seeing the lady no more.  I am solely to blame
for the thing having come to this - and - and, I cannot say,' he
added, rather hard up for a general peroration, 'that I have any
sanguine expectation of ever becoming a moral sort of fellow, or
that I have any belief in any moral sort of fellow whatever.'

Sissy's face sufficiently showed that her appeal to him was not
finished.

'You spoke,' he resumed, as she raised her eyes to him again, 'of
your first object.  I may assume that there is a second to be
mentioned?'

'Yes.'

'Will you oblige me by confiding it?'

'Mr. Harthouse,' returned Sissy, with a blending of gentleness and
steadiness that quite defeated him, and with a simple confidence in
his being bound to do what she required, that held him at a
singular disadvantage, 'the only reparation that remains with you,
is to leave here immediately and finally.  I am quite sure that you
can mitigate in no other way the wrong and harm you have done.  I
am quite sure that it is the only compensation you have left it in
your power to make.  I do not say that it is much, or that it is
enough; but it is something, and it is necessary.  Therefore,
though without any other authority than I have given you, and even
without the knowledge of any other person than yourself and myself,
I ask you to depart from this place to-night, under an obligation
never to return to it.'

If she had asserted any influence over him beyond her plain faith
in the truth and right of what she said; if she had concealed the
least doubt or irresolution, or had harboured for the best purpose
any reserve or pretence; if she had shown, or felt, the lightest
trace of any sensitiveness to his ridicule or his astonishment, or
any remonstrance he might offer; he would have carried it against
her at this point.  But he could as easily have changed a clear sky
by looking at it in surprise, as affect her.

'But do you know,' he asked, quite at a loss, 'the extent of what
you ask?  You probably are not aware that I am here on a public
kind of business, preposterous enough in itself, but which I have
gone in for, and sworn by, and am supposed to be devoted to in
quite a desperate manner?  You probably are not aware of that, but
I assure you it's the fact.'

It had no effect on Sissy, fact or no fact.

'Besides which,' said Mr. Harthouse, taking a turn or two across
the room, dubiously, 'it's so alarmingly absurd.  It would make a
man so ridiculous, after going in for these fellows, to back out in
such an incomprehensible way.'

'I am quite sure,' repeated Sissy, 'that it is the only reparation
in your power, sir.  I am quite sure, or I would not have come
here.'

He glanced at her face, and walked about again.  'Upon my soul, I
don't know what to say.  So immensely absurd!'

It fell to his lot, now, to stipulate for secrecy.

'If I were to do such a very ridiculous thing,' he said, stopping
again presently, and leaning against the chimney-piece, 'it could
only be in the most inviolable confidence.'

'I will trust to you, sir,' returned Sissy, 'and you will trust to
me.'

His leaning against the chimney-piece reminded him of the night
with the whelp.  It was the self-same chimney-piece, and somehow he
felt as if he were the whelp to-night.  He could make no way at
all.

'I suppose a man never was placed in a more ridiculous position,'
he said, after looking down, and looking up, and laughing, and
frowning, and walking off, and walking back again.  'But I see no
way out of it.  What will be, will be.  This will be, I suppose.  I
must take off myself, I imagine - in short, I engage to do it.'

Sissy rose.  She was not surprised by the result, but she was happy
in it, and her face beamed brightly.

'You will permit me to say,' continued Mr. James Harthouse, 'that I
doubt if any other ambassador, or ambassadress, could have
addressed me with the same success.  I must not only regard myself
as being in a very ridiculous position, but as being vanquished at
all points.  Will you allow me the privilege of remembering my
enemy's name?'

'My name?' said the ambassadress.

'The only name I could possibly care to know, to-night.'

'Sissy Jupe.'

'Pardon my curiosity at parting.  Related to the family?'

'I am only a poor girl,' returned Sissy.  'I was separated from my
father - he was only a stroller - and taken pity on by Mr.
Gradgrind.  I have lived in the house ever since.'

She was gone.

'It wanted this to complete the defeat,' said Mr. James Harthouse,
sinking, with a resigned air, on the sofa, after standing
transfixed a little while.  'The defeat may now be considered
perfectly accomplished.  Only a poor girl - only a stroller - only
James Harthouse made nothing of - only James Harthouse a Great
Pyramid of failure.'

The Great Pyramid put it into his head to go up the Nile.  He took
a pen upon the instant, and wrote the following note (in
appropriate hieroglyphics) to his brother:

Dear Jack, - All up at Coketown.  Bored out of the place, and going
in for camels.  Affectionately, JEM,

He rang the bell.

'Send my fellow here.'

'Gone to bed, sir.'

'Tell him to get up, and pack up.'

He wrote two more notes.  One, to Mr. Bounderby, announcing his
retirement from that part of the country, and showing where he
would be found for the next fortnight.  The other, similar in
effect, to Mr. Gradgrind.  Almost as soon as the ink was dry upon
their superscriptions, he had left the tall chimneys of Coketown
behind, and was in a railway carriage, tearing and glaring over the
dark landscape.

The moral sort of fellows might suppose that Mr. James Harthouse
derived some comfortable reflections afterwards, from this prompt
retreat, as one of his few actions that made any amends for
anything, and as a token to himself that he had escaped the climax
of a very bad business.  But it was not so, at all.  A secret sense
of having failed and been ridiculous - a dread of what other
fellows who went in for similar sorts of things, would say at his
expense if they knew it - so oppressed him, that what was about the
very best passage in his life was the one of all others he would
not have owned to on any account, and the only one that made him
ashamed of himself.

CHAPTER III - VERY DECIDED

THE indefatigable Mrs. Sparsit, with a violent cold upon her, her
voice reduced to a whisper, and her stately frame so racked by
continual sneezes that it seemed in danger of dismemberment, gave
chase to her patron until she found him in the metropolis; and
there, majestically sweeping in upon him at his hotel in St.
James's Street, exploded the combustibles with which she was
charged, and blew up.  Having executed her mission with infinite
relish, this high-minded woman then fainted away on Mr. Bounderby's
coat-collar.

Mr. Bounderby's first procedure was to shake Mrs. Sparsit off, and
leave her to progress as she might through various stages of
suffering on the floor.  He next had recourse to the administration
of potent restoratives, such as screwing the patient's thumbs,
smiting her hands, abundantly watering her face, and inserting salt
in her mouth.  When these attentions had recovered her (which they
speedily did), he hustled her into a fast train without offering
any other refreshment, and carried her back to Coketown more dead
than alive.

Regarded as a classical ruin, Mrs. Sparsit was an interesting
spectacle on her arrival at her journey's end; but considered in
any other light, the amount of damage she had by that time
sustained was excessive, and impaired her claims to admiration.
Utterly heedless of the wear and tear of her clothes and
constitution, and adamant to her pathetic sneezes, Mr. Bounderby
immediately crammed her into a coach, and bore her off to Stone
Lodge.

'Now, Tom Gradgrind,' said Bounderby, bursting into his father-in-
law's room late at night; 'here's a lady here - Mrs. Sparsit - you
know Mrs. Sparsit - who has something to say to you that will
strike you dumb.'

'You have missed my letter!' exclaimed Mr. Gradgrind, surprised by
the apparition.

'Missed your letter, sir!' bawled Bounderby.  'The present time is
no time for letters.  No man shall talk to Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown about letters, with his mind in the state it's in now.'

'Bounderby,' said Mr. Gradgrind, in a tone of temperate
remonstrance, 'I speak of a very special letter I have written to
you, in reference to Louisa.'

'Tom Gradgrind,' replied Bounderby, knocking the flat of his hand
several times with great vehemence on the table, 'I speak of a very
special messenger that has come to me, in reference to Louisa.
Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am, stand forward!'

That unfortunate lady hereupon essaying to offer testimony, without
any voice and with painful gestures expressive of an inflamed
throat, became so aggravating and underwent so many facial
contortions, that Mr. Bounderby, unable to bear it, seized her by
the arm and shook her.

'If you can't get it out, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'leave me to get
it out.  This is not a time for a lady, however highly connected,
to be totally inaudible, and seemingly swallowing marbles.  Tom
Gradgrind, Mrs. Sparsit latterly found herself, by accident, in a
situation to overhear a conversation out of doors between your
daughter and your precious gentleman-friend, Mr. James Harthouse.'

'Indeed!' said Mr. Gradgrind.

'Ah!  Indeed!' cried Bounderby.  'And in that conversation - '

'It is not necessary to repeat its tenor, Bounderby.  I know what
passed.'

'You do?  Perhaps,' said Bounderby, staring with all his might at
his so quiet and assuasive father-in-law, 'you know where your
daughter is at the present time!'

'Undoubtedly.  She is here.'

'Here?'

'My dear Bounderby, let me beg you to restrain these loud out-
breaks, on all accounts.  Louisa is here.  The moment she could
detach herself from that interview with the person of whom you
speak, and whom I deeply regret to have been the means of
introducing to you, Louisa hurried here, for protection.  I myself
had not been at home many hours, when I received her - here, in
this room.  She hurried by the train to town, she ran from town to
this house, through a raging storm, and presented herself before me
in a state of distraction.  Of course, she has remained here ever
since.  Let me entreat you, for your own sake and for hers, to be
more quiet.'

Mr. Bounderby silently gazed about him for some moments, in every
direction except Mrs. Sparsit's direction; and then, abruptly
turning upon the niece of Lady Scadgers, said to that wretched
woman:

'Now, ma'am!  We shall be happy to hear any little apology you may
think proper to offer, for going about the country at express pace,
with no other luggage than a Cock-and-a-Bull, ma'am!'

'Sir,' whispered Mrs. Sparsit, 'my nerves are at present too much
shaken, and my health is at present too much impaired, in your
service, to admit of my doing more than taking refuge in tears.'
(Which she did.)

'Well, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'without making any observation to
you that may not be made with propriety to a woman of good family,
what I have got to add to that, is that there is something else in
which it appears to me you may take refuge, namely, a coach.  And
the coach in which we came here being at the door, you'll allow me
to hand you down to it, and pack you home to the Bank:  where the
best course for you to pursue, will be to put your feet into the
hottest water you can bear, and take a glass of scalding rum and
butter after you get into bed.'  With these words, Mr. Bounderby
extended his right hand to the weeping lady, and escorted her to
the conveyance in question, shedding many plaintive sneezes by the
way.  He soon returned alone.

'Now, as you showed me in your face, Tom Gradgrind, that you wanted
to speak to me,' he resumed, 'here I am.  But, I am not in a very
agreeable state, I tell you plainly:  not relishing this business,
even as it is, and not considering that I am at any time as
dutifully and submissively treated by your daughter, as Josiah
Bounderby of Coketown ought to be treated by his wife.  You have
your opinion, I dare say; and I have mine, I know.  If you mean to
say anything to me to-night, that goes against this candid remark,
you had better let it alone.'

Mr. Gradgrind, it will be observed, being much softened, Mr.
Bounderby took particular pains to harden himself at all points.
It was his amiable nature.

'My dear Bounderby,' Mr. Gradgrind began in reply.

'Now, you'll excuse me,' said Bounderby, 'but I don't want to be
too dear.  That, to start with.  When I begin to be dear to a man,
I generally find that his intention is to come over me.  I am not
speaking to you politely; but, as you are aware, I am not polite.
If you like politeness, you know where to get it.  You have your
gentleman-friends, you know, and they'll serve you with as much of
the article as you want.  I don't keep it myself.'

'Bounderby,' urged Mr. Gradgrind, 'we are all liable to mistakes -
'

'I thought you couldn't make 'em,' interrupted Bounderby.

'Perhaps I thought so.  But, I say we are all liable to mistakes
and I should feel sensible of your delicacy, and grateful for it,
if you would spare me these references to Harthouse.  I shall not
associate him in our conversation with your intimacy and
encouragement; pray do not persist in connecting him with mine.'

'I never mentioned his name!' said Bounderby.

'Well, well!' returned Mr. Gradgrind, with a patient, even a
submissive, air.  And he sat for a little while pondering.
'Bounderby, I see reason to doubt whether we have ever quite
understood Louisa.'

'Who do you mean by We?'

'Let me say I, then,' he returned, in answer to the coarsely
blurted question; 'I doubt whether I have understood Louisa.  I
doubt whether I have been quite right in the manner of her
education.'

'There you hit it,' returned Bounderby.  'There I agree with you.
You have found it out at last, have you?  Education!  I'll tell you
what education is - To be tumbled out of doors, neck and crop, and
put upon the shortest allowance of everything except blows.  That's
what I call education.'

'I think your good sense will perceive,' Mr. Gradgrind remonstrated
in all humility, 'that whatever the merits of such a system may be,
it would be difficult of general application to girls.'

'I don't see it at all, sir,' returned the obstinate Bounderby.

'Well,' sighed Mr. Gradgrind, 'we will not enter into the question.
I assure you I have no desire to be controversial.  I seek to
repair what is amiss, if I possibly can; and I hope you will assist
me in a good spirit, Bounderby, for I have been very much
distressed.'

'I don't understand you, yet,' said Bounderby, with determined
obstinacy, 'and therefore I won't make any promises.'

'In the course of a few hours, my dear Bounderby,' Mr. Gradgrind
proceeded, in the same depressed and propitiatory manner, 'I appear
to myself to have become better informed as to Louisa's character,
than in previous years.  The enlightenment has been painfully
forced upon me, and the discovery is not mine.  I think there are -
Bounderby, you will be surprised to hear me say this - I think
there are qualities in Louisa, which - which have been harshly
neglected, and - and a little perverted.  And - and I would suggest
to you, that - that if you would kindly meet me in a timely
endeavour to leave her to her better nature for a while - and to
encourage it to develop itself by tenderness and consideration - it
- it would be the better for the happiness of all of us.  Louisa,'
said Mr. Gradgrind, shading his face with his hand, 'has always
been my favourite child.'

The blustrous Bounderby crimsoned and swelled to such an extent on
hearing these words, that he seemed to be, and probably was, on the
brink of a fit.  With his very ears a bright purple shot with
crimson, he pent up his indignation, however, and said:

'You'd like to keep her here for a time?'

'I - I had intended to recommend, my dear Bounderby, that you
should allow Louisa to remain here on a visit, and be attended by
Sissy (I mean of course Cecilia Jupe), who understands her, and in
whom she trusts.'

'I gather from all this, Tom Gradgrind,' said Bounderby, standing
up with his hands in his pockets, 'that you are of opinion that
there's what people call some incompatibility between Loo Bounderby
and myself.'

'I fear there is at present a general incompatibility between
Louisa, and - and - and almost all the relations in which I have
placed her,' was her father's sorrowful reply.

'Now, look you here, Tom Gradgrind,' said Bounderby the flushed,
confronting him with his legs wide apart, his hands deeper in his
pockets, and his hair like a hayfield wherein his windy anger was
boisterous.  'You have said your say; I am going to say mine.  I am
a Coketown man.  I am Josiah Bounderby of Coketown.  I know the
bricks of this town, and I know the works of this town, and I know
the chimneys of this town, and I know the smoke of this town, and I
know the Hands of this town.  I know 'em all pretty well.  They're
real.  When a man tells me anything about imaginative qualities, I
always tell that man, whoever he is, that I know what he means.  He
means turtle soup and venison, with a gold spoon, and that he wants
to be set up with a coach and six.  That's what your daughter
wants.  Since you are of opinion that she ought to have what she
wants, I recommend you to provide it for her.  Because, Tom
Gradgrind, she will never have it from me.'

'Bounderby,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'I hoped, after my entreaty, you
would have taken a different tone.'

'Just wait a bit,' retorted Bounderby; 'you have said your say, I
believe.  I heard you out; hear me out, if you please.  Don't make
yourself a spectacle of unfairness as well as inconsistency,
because, although I am sorry to see Tom Gradgrind reduced to his
present position, I should be doubly sorry to see him brought so
low as that.  Now, there's an incompatibility of some sort or
another, I am given to understand by you, between your daughter and
me.  I'll give you to understand, in reply to that, that there
unquestionably is an incompatibility of the first magnitude - to be
summed up in this - that your daughter don't properly know her
husband's merits, and is not impressed with such a sense as would
become her, by George! of the honour of his alliance.  That's plain
speaking, I hope.'

'Bounderby,' urged Mr. Gradgrind, 'this is unreasonable.'

'Is it?' said Bounderby.  'I am glad to hear you say so.  Because
when Tom Gradgrind, with his new lights, tells me that what I say
is unreasonable, I am convinced at once it must be devilish
sensible.  With your permission I am going on.  You know my origin;
and you know that for a good many years of my life I didn't want a
shoeing-horn, in consequence of not having a shoe.  Yet you may
believe or not, as you think proper, that there are ladies - born
ladies - belonging to families - Families! - who next to worship
the ground I walk on.'

He discharged this like a Rocket, at his father-in-law's head.

'Whereas your daughter,' proceeded Bounderby, 'is far from being a
born lady.  That you know, yourself.  Not that I care a pinch of
candle-snuff about such things, for you are very well aware I
don't; but that such is the fact, and you, Tom Gradgrind, can't
change it.  Why do I say this?'

'Not, I fear,' observed Mr. Gradgrind, in a low voice, 'to spare
me.'

'Hear me out,' said Bounderby, 'and refrain from cutting in till
your turn comes round.  I say this, because highly connected
females have been astonished to see the way in which your daughter
has conducted herself, and to witness her insensibility.  They have
wondered how I have suffered it.  And I wonder myself now, and I
won't suffer it.'

'Bounderby,' returned Mr. Gradgrind, rising, 'the less we say to-
night the better, I think.'

'On the contrary, Tom Gradgrind, the more we say to-night, the
better, I think.  That is,' the consideration checked him, 'till I
have said all I mean to say, and then I don't care how soon we
stop.  I come to a question that may shorten the business.  What do
you mean by the proposal you made just now?'

'What do I mean, Bounderby?'

'By your visiting proposition,' said Bounderby, with an inflexible
jerk of the hayfield.

'I mean that I hope you may be induced to arrange in a friendly
manner, for allowing Louisa a period of repose and reflection here,
which may tend to a gradual alteration for the better in many
respects.'

'To a softening down of your ideas of the incompatibility?' said
Bounderby.

'If you put it in those terms.'

'What made you think of this?' said Bounderby.

'I have already said, I fear Louisa has not been understood.  Is it
asking too much, Bounderby, that you, so far her elder, should aid
in trying to set her right?  You have accepted a great charge of
her; for better for worse, for - '

Mr. Bounderby may have been annoyed by the repetition of his own
words to Stephen Blackpool, but he cut the quotation short with an
angry start.

'Come!' said he, 'I don't want to be told about that.  I know what
I took her for, as well as you do.  Never you mind what I took her
for; that's my look out.'

'I was merely going on to remark, Bounderby, that we may all be
more or less in the wrong, not even excepting you; and that some
yielding on your part, remembering the trust you have accepted, may
not only be an act of true kindness, but perhaps a debt incurred
towards Louisa.'

'I think differently,' blustered Bounderby.  'I am going to finish
this business according to my own opinions.  Now, I don't want to
make a quarrel of it with you, Tom Gradgrind.  To tell you the
truth, I don't think it would be worthy of my reputation to quarrel
on such a subject.  As to your gentleman-friend, he may take
himself off, wherever he likes best.  If he falls in my way, I
shall tell him my mind; if he don't fall in my way, I shan't, for
it won't be worth my while to do it.  As to your daughter, whom I
made Loo Bounderby, and might have done better by leaving Loo
Gradgrind, if she don't come home to-morrow, by twelve o'clock at
noon, I shall understand that she prefers to stay away, and I shall
send her wearing apparel and so forth over here, and you'll take
charge of her for the future.  What I shall say to people in
general, of the incompatibility that led to my so laying down the
law, will be this.  I am Josiah Bounderby, and I had my bringing-
up; she's the daughter of Tom Gradgrind, and she had her bringing-
up; and the two horses wouldn't pull together.  I am pretty well
known to be rather an uncommon man, I believe; and most people will
understand fast enough that it must be a woman rather out of the
common, also, who, in the long run, would come up to my mark.'

'Let me seriously entreat you to reconsider this, Bounderby,' urged
Mr. Gradgrind, 'before you commit yourself to such a decision.'

'I always come to a decision,' said Bounderby, tossing his hat on:
'and whatever I do, I do at once.  I should be surprised at Tom
Gradgrind's addressing such a remark to Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown, knowing what he knows of him, if I could be surprised by
anything Tom Gradgrind did, after his making himself a party to
sentimental humbug.  I have given you my decision, and I have got
no more to say.  Good night!'

So Mr. Bounderby went home to his town house to bed.  At five
minutes past twelve o'clock next day, he directed Mrs. Bounderby's
property to be carefully packed up and sent to Tom Gradgrind's;
advertised his country retreat for sale by private contract; and
resumed a bachelor life.

CHAPTER IV - LOST

THE robbery at the Bank had not languished before, and did not
cease to occupy a front place in the attention of the principal of
that establishment now.  In boastful proof of his promptitude and
activity, as a remarkable man, and a self-made man, and a
commercial wonder more admirable than Venus, who had risen out of
the mud instead of the sea, he liked to show how little his
domestic affairs abated his business ardour.  Consequently, in the
first few weeks of his resumed bachelorhood, he even advanced upon
his usual display of bustle, and every day made such a rout in
renewing his investigations into the robbery, that the officers who
had it in hand almost wished it had never been committed.

They were at fault too, and off the scent.  Although they had been
so quiet since the first outbreak of the matter, that most people
really did suppose it to have been abandoned as hopeless, nothing
new occurred.  No implicated man or woman took untimely courage, or
made a self-betraying step.  More remarkable yet, Stephen Blackpool
could not be heard of, and the mysterious old woman remained a
mystery.

Things having come to this pass, and showing no latent signs of
stirring beyond it, the upshot of Mr. Bounderby's investigations
was, that he resolved to hazard a bold burst.  He drew up a
placard, offering Twenty Pounds reward for the apprehension of
Stephen Blackpool, suspected of complicity in the robbery of
Coketown Bank on such a night; he described the said Stephen
Blackpool by dress, complexion, estimated height, and manner, as
minutely as he could; he recited how he had left the town, and in
what direction he had been last seen going; he had the whole
printed in great black letters on a staring broadsheet; and he
caused the walls to be posted with it in the dead of night, so that
it should strike upon the sight of the whole population at one
blow.

The factory-bells had need to ring their loudest that morning to
disperse the groups of workers who stood in the tardy daybreak,
collected round the placards, devouring them with eager eyes.  Not
the least eager of the eyes assembled, were the eyes of those who
could not read.  These people, as they listened to the friendly
voice that read aloud - there was always some such ready to help
them - stared at the characters which meant so much with a vague
awe and respect that would have been half ludicrous, if any aspect
of public ignorance could ever be otherwise than threatening and
full of evil.  Many ears and eyes were busy with a vision of the
matter of these placards, among turning spindles, rattling looms,
and whirling wheels, for hours afterwards; and when the Hands
cleared out again into the streets, there were still as many
readers as before.

Slackbridge, the delegate, had to address his audience too that
night; and Slackbridge had obtained a clean bill from the printer,
and had brought it in his pocket.  Oh, my friends and fellow-
countrymen, the down-trodden operatives of Coketown, oh, my fellow-
brothers and fellow-workmen and fellow-citizens and fellowmen, what
a to-do was there, when Slackbridge unfolded what he called 'that
damning document,' and held it up to the gaze, and for the
execration of the working-man community!  'Oh, my fellow-men,
behold of what a traitor in the camp of those great spirits who are
enrolled upon the holy scroll of Justice and of Union, is
appropriately capable!  Oh, my prostrate friends, with the galling
yoke of tyrants on your necks and the iron foot of despotism
treading down your fallen forms into the dust of the earth, upon
which right glad would your oppressors be to see you creeping on
your bellies all the days of your lives, like the serpent in the
garden - oh, my brothers, and shall I as a man not add, my sisters
too, what do you say, now, of Stephen Blackpool, with a slight
stoop in his shoulders and about five foot seven in height, as set
forth in this degrading and disgusting document, this blighting
bill, this pernicious placard, this abominable advertisement; and
with what majesty of denouncement will you crush the viper, who
would bring this stain and shame upon the God-like race that
happily has cast him out for ever!  Yes, my compatriots, happily
cast him out and sent him forth!  For you remember how he stood
here before you on this platform; you remember how, face to face
and foot to foot, I pursued him through all his intricate windings;
you remember how he sneaked and slunk, and sidled, and splitted of
straws, until, with not an inch of ground to which to cling, I
hurled him out from amongst us:  an object for the undying finger
of scorn to point at, and for the avenging fire of every free and
thinking mind to scorch and scar!  And now, my friends - my
labouring friends, for I rejoice and triumph in that stigma - my
friends whose hard but honest beds are made in toil, and whose
scanty but independent pots are boiled in hardship; and now, I say,
my friends, what appellation has that dastard craven taken to
himself, when, with the mask torn from his features, he stands
before us in all his native deformity, a What?  A thief!  A
plunderer!  A proscribed fugitive, with a price upon his head; a
fester and a wound upon the noble character of the Coketown
operative!  Therefore, my band of brothers in a sacred bond, to
which your children and your children's children yet unborn have
set their infant hands and seals, I propose to you on the part of
the United Aggregate Tribunal, ever watchful for your welfare, ever
zealous for your benefit, that this meeting does Resolve:  That
Stephen Blackpool, weaver, referred to in this placard, having been
already solemnly disowned by the community of Coketown Hands, the
same are free from the shame of his misdeeds, and cannot as a class
be reproached with his dishonest actions!'

Thus Slackbridge; gnashing and perspiring after a prodigious sort.
A few stern voices called out 'No!' and a score or two hailed, with
assenting cries of 'Hear, hear!' the caution from one man,
'Slackbridge, y'or over hetter in't; y'or a goen too fast!'  But
these were pigmies against an army; the general assemblage
subscribed to the gospel according to Slackbridge, and gave three
cheers for him, as he sat demonstratively panting at them.

These men and women were yet in the streets, passing quietly to
their homes, when Sissy, who had been called away from Louisa some
minutes before, returned.

'Who is it?' asked Louisa.

'It is Mr. Bounderby,' said Sissy, timid of the name, 'and your
brother Mr. Tom, and a young woman who says her name is Rachael,
and that you know her.'

'What do they want, Sissy dear?'

'They want to see you.  Rachael has been crying, and seems angry.'

'Father,' said Louisa, for he was present, 'I cannot refuse to see
them, for a reason that will explain itself.  Shall they come in
here?'

As he answered in the affirmative, Sissy went away to bring them.
She reappeared with them directly.  Tom was last; and remained
standing in the obscurest part of the room, near the door.

'Mrs. Bounderby,' said her husband, entering with a cool nod, 'I
don't disturb you, I hope.  This is an unseasonable hour, but here
is a young woman who has been making statements which render my
visit necessary.  Tom Gradgrind, as your son, young Tom, refuses
for some obstinate reason or other to say anything at all about
those statements, good or bad, I am obliged to confront her with
your daughter.'

'You have seen me once before, young lady,' said Rachael, standing
in front of Louisa.

Tom coughed.

'You have seen me, young lady,' repeated Rachael, as she did not
answer, 'once before.'

Tom coughed again.

'I have.'

Rachael cast her eyes proudly towards Mr. Bounderby, and said,
'Will you make it known, young lady, where, and who was there?'

'I went to the house where Stephen Blackpool lodged, on the night
of his discharge from his work, and I saw you there.  He was there
too; and an old woman who did not speak, and whom I could scarcely
see, stood in a dark corner.  My brother was with me.'

'Why couldn't you say so, young Tom?' demanded Bounderby.

'I promised my sister I wouldn't.'  Which Louisa hastily confirmed.
'And besides,' said the whelp bitterly, 'she tells her own story so
precious well - and so full - that what business had I to take it
out of her mouth!'

'Say, young lady, if you please,' pursued Rachael, 'why, in an evil
hour, you ever came to Stephen's that night.'

'I felt compassion for him,' said Louisa, her colour deepening,
'and I wished to know what he was going to do, and wished to offer
him assistance.'

'Thank you, ma'am,' said Bounderby.  'Much flattered and obliged.'

'Did you offer him,' asked Rachael, 'a bank-note?'

'Yes; but he refused it, and would only take two pounds in gold.'

Rachael cast her eyes towards Mr. Bounderby again.

'Oh, certainly!' said Bounderby.  'If you put the question whether
your ridiculous and improbable account was true or not, I am bound
to say it's confirmed.'

'Young lady,' said Rachael, 'Stephen Blackpool is now named as a
thief in public print all over this town, and where else!  There
have been a meeting to-night where he have been spoken of in the
same shameful way.  Stephen!  The honestest lad, the truest lad,
the best!'  Her indignation failed her, and she broke off sobbing.

'I am very, very sorry,' said Louisa.

'Oh, young lady, young lady,' returned Rachael, 'I hope you may be,
but I don't know!  I can't say what you may ha' done!  The like of
you don't know us, don't care for us, don't belong to us.  I am not
sure why you may ha' come that night.  I can't tell but what you
may ha' come wi' some aim of your own, not mindin to what trouble
you brought such as the poor lad.  I said then, Bless you for
coming; and I said it of my heart, you seemed to take so pitifully
to him; but I don't know now, I don't know!'

Louisa could not reproach her for her unjust suspicions; she was so
faithful to her idea of the man, and so afflicted.

'And when I think,' said Rachael through her sobs, 'that the poor
lad was so grateful, thinkin you so good to him - when I mind that
he put his hand over his hard-worken face to hide the tears that
you brought up there - Oh, I hope you may be sorry, and ha' no bad
cause to be it; but I don't know, I don't know!'

'You're a pretty article,' growled the whelp, moving uneasily in
his dark corner, 'to come here with these precious imputations!
You ought to be bundled out for not knowing how to behave yourself,
and you would be by rights.'

She said nothing in reply; and her low weeping was the only sound
that was heard, until Mr. Bounderby spoke.

'Come!' said he, 'you know what you have engaged to do.  You had
better give your mind to that; not this.'

''Deed, I am loath,' returned Rachael, drying her eyes, 'that any
here should see me like this; but I won't be seen so again.  Young
lady, when I had read what's put in print of Stephen - and what has
just as much truth in it as if it had been put in print of you - I
went straight to the Bank to say I knew where Stephen was, and to
give a sure and certain promise that he should be here in two days.
I couldn't meet wi' Mr. Bounderby then, and your brother sent me
away, and I tried to find you, but you was not to be found, and I
went back to work.  Soon as I come out of the Mill to-night, I
hastened to hear what was said of Stephen - for I know wi' pride he
will come back to shame it! - and then I went again to seek Mr.
Bounderby, and I found him, and I told him every word I knew; and
he believed no word I said, and brought me here.'

'So far, that's true enough,' assented Mr. Bounderby, with his
hands in his pockets and his hat on.  'But I have known you people
before to-day, you'll observe, and I know you never die for want of
talking.  Now, I recommend you not so much to mind talking just
now, as doing.  You have undertaken to do something; all I remark
upon that at present is, do it!'

'I have written to Stephen by the post that went out this
afternoon, as I have written to him once before sin' he went away,'
said Rachael; 'and he will be here, at furthest, in two days.'

'Then, I'll tell you something.  You are not aware perhaps,'
retorted Mr. Bounderby, 'that you yourself have been looked after
now and then, not being considered quite free from suspicion in
this business, on account of most people being judged according to
the company they keep.  The post-office hasn't been forgotten
either.  What I'll tell you is, that no letter to Stephen Blackpool
has ever got into it.  Therefore, what has become of yours, I leave
you to guess.  Perhaps you're mistaken, and never wrote any.'

'He hadn't been gone from here, young lady,' said Rachael, turning
appealingly to Louisa, 'as much as a week, when he sent me the only
letter I have had from him, saying that he was forced to seek work
in another name.'

'Oh, by George!' cried Bounderby, shaking his head, with a whistle,
'he changes his name, does he!  That's rather unlucky, too, for
such an immaculate chap.  It's considered a little suspicious in
Courts of Justice, I believe, when an Innocent happens to have many
names.'

'What,' said Rachael, with the tears in her eyes again, 'what,
young lady, in the name of Mercy, was left the poor lad to do!  The
masters against him on one hand, the men against him on the other,
he only wantin to work hard in peace, and do what he felt right.
Can a man have no soul of his own, no mind of his own?  Must he go
wrong all through wi' this side, or must he go wrong all through
wi' that, or else be hunted like a hare?'

'Indeed, indeed, I pity him from my heart,' returned Louisa; 'and I
hope that he will clear himself.'

'You need have no fear of that, young lady.  He is sure!'

'All the surer, I suppose,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'for your refusing
to tell where he is?  Eh?'

'He shall not, through any act of mine, come back wi' the unmerited
reproach of being brought back.  He shall come back of his own
accord to clear himself, and put all those that have injured his
good character, and he not here for its defence, to shame.  I have
told him what has been done against him,' said Rachael, throwing
off all distrust as a rock throws of the sea, 'and he will be here,
at furthest, in two days.'

'Notwithstanding which,' added Mr. Bounderby, 'if he can be laid
hold of any sooner, he shall have an earlier opportunity of
clearing himself.  As to you, I have nothing against you; what you
came and told me turns out to be true, and I have given you the
means of proving it to be true, and there's an end of it.  I wish
you good night all!  I must be off to look a little further into
this.'

Tom came out of his corner when Mr. Bounderby moved, moved with
him, kept close to him, and went away with him.  The only parting
salutation of which he delivered himself was a sulky 'Good night,
father!'  With a brief speech, and a scowl at his sister, he left
the house.

Since his sheet-anchor had come home, Mr. Gradgrind had been
sparing of speech.  He still sat silent, when Louisa mildly said:

'Rachael, you will not distrust me one day, when you know me
better.'

'It goes against me,' Rachael answered, in a gentler manner, 'to
mistrust any one; but when I am so mistrusted - when we all are - I
cannot keep such things quite out of my mind.  I ask your pardon
for having done you an injury.  I don't think what I said now.  Yet
I might come to think it again, wi' the poor lad so wronged.'

'Did you tell him in your letter,' inquired Sissy, 'that suspicion
seemed to have fallen upon him, because he had been seen about the
Bank at night?  He would then know what he would have to explain on
coming back, and would be ready.'

'Yes, dear,' she returned; 'but I can't guess what can have ever
taken him there.  He never used to go there.  It was never in his
way.  His way was the same as mine, and not near it.'

Sissy had already been at her side asking her where she lived, and
whether she might come to-morrow night, to inquire if there were
news of him.

'I doubt,' said Rachael, 'if he can be here till next day.'

'Then I will come next night too,' said Sissy.

When Rachael, assenting to this, was gone, Mr. Gradgrind lifted up
his head, and said to his daughter:

'Louisa, my dear, I have never, that I know of, seen this man.  Do
you believe him to be implicated?'

'I think I have believed it, father, though with great difficulty.
I do not believe it now.'

'That is to say, you once persuaded yourself to believe it, from
knowing him to be suspected.  His appearance and manner; are they
so honest?'

'Very honest.'

'And her confidence not to be shaken!  I ask myself,' said Mr.
Gradgrind, musing, 'does the real culprit know of these
accusations?  Where is he?  Who is he?'

His hair had latterly began to change its colour.  As he leaned
upon his hand again, looking gray and old, Louisa, with a face of
fear and pity, hurriedly went over to him, and sat close at his
side.  Her eyes by accident met Sissy's at the moment.  Sissy
flushed and started, and Louisa put her finger on her lip.

Next night, when Sissy returned home and told Louisa that Stephen
was not come, she told it in a whisper.  Next night again, when she
came home with the same account, and added that he had not been
heard of, she spoke in the same low frightened tone.  From the
moment of that interchange of looks, they never uttered his name,
or any reference to him, aloud; nor ever pursued the subject of the
robbery, when Mr. Gradgrind spoke of it.

The two appointed days ran out, three days and nights ran out, and
Stephen Blackpool was not come, and remained unheard of.  On the
fourth day, Rachael, with unabated confidence, but considering her
despatch to have miscarried, went up to the Bank, and showed her
letter from him with his address, at a working colony, one of many,
not upon the main road, sixty miles away.  Messengers were sent to
that place, and the whole town looked for Stephen to be brought in
next day.

During this whole time the whelp moved about with Mr. Bounderby
like his shadow, assisting in all the proceedings.  He was greatly
excited, horribly fevered, bit his nails down to the quick, spoke
in a hard rattling voice, and with lips that were black and burnt
up.  At the hour when the suspected man was looked for, the whelp
was at the station; offering to wager that he had made off before
the arrival of those who were sent in quest of him, and that he
would not appear.

The whelp was right.  The messengers returned alone.  Rachael's
letter had gone, Rachael's letter had been delivered.  Stephen
Blackpool had decamped in that same hour; and no soul knew more of
him.  The only doubt in Coketown was, whether Rachael had written
in good faith, believing that he really would come back, or warning
him to fly.  On this point opinion was divided.

Six days, seven days, far on into another week.  The wretched whelp
plucked up a ghastly courage, and began to grow defiant.  'Was the
suspected fellow the thief?  A pretty question!  If not, where was
the man, and why did he not come back?'

Where was the man, and why did he not come back?  In the dead of
night the echoes of his own words, which had rolled Heaven knows
how far away in the daytime, came back instead, and abided by him
until morning.

CHAPTER V - FOUND

DAY and night again, day and night again.  No Stephen Blackpool.
Where was the man, and why did he not come back?

Every night, Sissy went to Rachael's lodging, and sat with her in
her small neat room.  All day, Rachael toiled as such people must
toil, whatever their anxieties.  The smoke-serpents were
indifferent who was lost or found, who turned out bad or good; the
melancholy mad elephants, like the Hard Fact men, abated nothing of
their set routine, whatever happened.  Day and night again, day and
night again.  The monotony was unbroken.  Even Stephen Blackpool's
disappearance was falling into the general way, and becoming as
monotonous a wonder as any piece of machinery in Coketown.

'I misdoubt,' said Rachael, 'if there is as many as twenty left in
all this place, who have any trust in the poor dear lad now.'

She said it to Sissy, as they sat in her lodging, lighted only by
the lamp at the street corner.  Sissy had come there when it was
already dark, to await her return from work; and they had since sat
at the window where Rachael had found her, wanting no brighter
light to shine on their sorrowful talk.

'If it hadn't been mercifully brought about, that I was to have you
to speak to,' pursued Rachael, 'times are, when I think my mind
would not have kept right.  But I get hope and strength through
you; and you believe that though appearances may rise against him,
he will be proved clear?'

'I do believe so,' returned Sissy, 'with my whole heart.  I feel so
certain, Rachael, that the confidence you hold in yours against all
discouragement, is not like to be wrong, that I have no more doubt
of him than if I had known him through as many years of trial as
you have.'

'And I, my dear,' said Rachel, with a tremble in her voice, 'have
known him through them all, to be, according to his quiet ways, so
faithful to everything honest and good, that if he was never to be
heard of more, and I was to live to be a hundred years old, I could
say with my last breath, God knows my heart.  I have never once
left trusting Stephen Blackpool!'

'We all believe, up at the Lodge, Rachael, that he will be freed
from suspicion, sooner or later.'

'The better I know it to be so believed there, my dear,' said
Rachael, 'and the kinder I feel it that you come away from there,
purposely to comfort me, and keep me company, and be seen wi' me
when I am not yet free from all suspicion myself, the more grieved
I am that I should ever have spoken those mistrusting words to the
young lady.  And yet I - '

'You don't mistrust her now, Rachael?'

'Now that you have brought us more together, no.  But I can't at
all times keep out of my mind - '

Her voice so sunk into a low and slow communing with herself, that
Sissy, sitting by her side, was obliged to listen with attention.

'I can't at all times keep out of my mind, mistrustings of some
one.  I can't think who 'tis, I can't think how or why it may be
done, but I mistrust that some one has put Stephen out of the way.
I mistrust that by his coming back of his own accord, and showing
himself innocent before them all, some one would be confounded, who
- to prevent that - has stopped him, and put him out of the way.'

'That is a dreadful thought,' said Sissy, turning pale.

'It is a dreadful thought to think he may be murdered.'

Sissy shuddered, and turned paler yet.

'When it makes its way into my mind, dear,' said Rachael, 'and it
will come sometimes, though I do all I can to keep it out, wi'
counting on to high numbers as I work, and saying over and over
again pieces that I knew when I were a child - I fall into such a
wild, hot hurry, that, however tired I am, I want to walk fast,
miles and miles.  I must get the better of this before bed-time.
I'll walk home wi' you.'

'He might fall ill upon the journey back,' said Sissy, faintly
offering a worn-out scrap of hope; 'and in such a case, there are
many places on the road where he might stop.'

'But he is in none of them.  He has been sought for in all, and
he's not there.'

'True,' was Sissy's reluctant admission.

'He'd walk the journey in two days.  If he was footsore and
couldn't walk, I sent him, in the letter he got, the money to ride,
lest he should have none of his own to spare.'

'Let us hope that to-morrow will bring something better, Rachael.
Come into the air!'

Her gentle hand adjusted Rachael's shawl upon her shining black
hair in the usual manner of her wearing it, and they went out.  The
night being fine, little knots of Hands were here and there
lingering at street corners; but it was supper-time with the
greater part of them, and there were but few people in the streets.

'You're not so hurried now, Rachael, and your hand is cooler.'

'I get better, dear, if I can only walk, and breathe a little
fresh.  'Times when I can't, I turn weak and confused.'

'But you must not begin to fail, Rachael, for you may be wanted at
any time to stand by Stephen.  To-morrow is Saturday.  If no news
comes to-morrow, let us walk in the country on Sunday morning, and
strengthen you for another week.  Will you go?'

'Yes, dear.'

They were by this time in the street where Mr. Bounderby's house
stood.  The way to Sissy's destination led them past the door, and
they were going straight towards it.  Some train had newly arrived
in Coketown, which had put a number of vehicles in motion, and
scattered a considerable bustle about the town.  Several coaches
were rattling before them and behind them as they approached Mr.
Bounderby's, and one of the latter drew up with such briskness as
they were in the act of passing the house, that they looked round
involuntarily.  The bright gaslight over Mr. Bounderby's steps
showed them Mrs. Sparsit in the coach, in an ecstasy of excitement,
struggling to open the door; Mrs. Sparsit seeing them at the same
moment, called to them to stop.

'It's a coincidence,' exclaimed Mrs. Sparsit, as she was released
by the coachman.  'It's a Providence!  Come out, ma'am!' then said
Mrs. Sparsit, to some one inside, 'come out, or we'll have you
dragged out!'

Hereupon, no other than the mysterious old woman descended.  Whom
Mrs. Sparsit incontinently collared.

'Leave her alone, everybody!' cried Mrs. Sparsit, with great
energy.  'Let nobody touch her.  She belongs to me.  Come in,
ma'am!' then said Mrs. Sparsit, reversing her former word of
command.  'Come in, ma'am, or we'll have you dragged in!'

The spectacle of a matron of classical deportment, seizing an
ancient woman by the throat, and hauling her into a dwelling-house,
would have been under any circumstances, sufficient temptation to
all true English stragglers so blest as to witness it, to force a
way into that dwelling-house and see the matter out.  But when the
phenomenon was enhanced by the notoriety and mystery by this time
associated all over the town with the Bank robbery, it would have
lured the stragglers in, with an irresistible attraction, though
the roof had been expected to fall upon their heads.  Accordingly,
the chance witnesses on the ground, consisting of the busiest of
the neighbours to the number of some five-and-twenty, closed in
after Sissy and Rachael, as they closed in after Mrs. Sparsit and
her prize; and the whole body made a disorderly irruption into Mr.
Bounderby's dining-room, where the people behind lost not a
moment's time in mounting on the chairs, to get the better of the
people in front.

'Fetch Mr. Bounderby down!' cried Mrs. Sparsit.  'Rachael, young
woman; you know who this is?'

'It's Mrs. Pegler,' said Rachael.

'I should think it is!' cried Mrs. Sparsit, exulting.  'Fetch Mr.
Bounderby.  Stand away, everybody!'  Here old Mrs. Pegler, muffling
herself up, and shrinking from observation, whispered a word of
entreaty.  'Don't tell me,' said Mrs. Sparsit, aloud.  'I have told
you twenty times, coming along, that I will not leave you till I
have handed you over to him myself.'

Mr. Bounderby now appeared, accompanied by Mr. Gradgrind and the
whelp, with whom he had been holding conference up-stairs.  Mr.
Bounderby looked more astonished than hospitable, at sight of this
uninvited party in his dining-room.

'Why, what's the matter now!' said he.  'Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am?'

'Sir,' explained that worthy woman, 'I trust it is my good fortune
to produce a person you have much desired to find.  Stimulated by
my wish to relieve your mind, sir, and connecting together such
imperfect clues to the part of the country in which that person
might be supposed to reside, as have been afforded by the young
woman, Rachael, fortunately now present to identify, I have had the
happiness to succeed, and to bring that person with me - I need not
say most unwillingly on her part.  It has not been, sir, without
some trouble that I have effected this; but trouble in your service
is to me a pleasure, and hunger, thirst, and cold a real
gratification.'

Here Mrs. Sparsit ceased; for Mr. Bounderby's visage exhibited an
extraordinary combination of all possible colours and expressions
of discomfiture, as old Mrs. Pegler was disclosed to his view.

'Why, what do you mean by this?' was his highly unexpected demand,
in great warmth.  'I ask you, what do you mean by this, Mrs.
Sparsit, ma'am?'

'Sir!' exclaimed Mrs. Sparsit, faintly.

'Why don't you mind your own business, ma'am?' roared Bounderby.
'How dare you go and poke your officious nose into my family
affairs?'

This allusion to her favourite feature overpowered Mrs. Sparsit.
She sat down stiffly in a chair, as if she were frozen; and with a
fixed stare at Mr. Bounderby, slowly grated her mittens against one
another, as if they were frozen too.

'My dear Josiah!' cried Mrs. Pegler, trembling.  'My darling boy!
I am not to blame.  It's not my fault, Josiah.  I told this lady
over and over again, that I knew she was doing what would not be
agreeable to you, but she would do it.'

'What did you let her bring you for?  Couldn't you knock her cap
off, or her tooth out, or scratch her, or do something or other to
her?' asked Bounderby.

'My own boy!  She threatened me that if I resisted her, I should be
brought by constables, and it was better to come quietly than make
that stir in such a' - Mrs.  Pegler glanced timidly but proudly
round the walls - 'such a fine house as this.  Indeed, indeed, it
is not my fault!  My dear, noble, stately boy!  I have always lived
quiet, and secret, Josiah, my dear.  I have never broken the
condition once.  I have never said I was your mother.  I have
admired you at a distance; and if I have come to town sometimes,
with long times between, to take a proud peep at you, I have done
it unbeknown, my love, and gone away again.'

Mr. Bounderby, with his hands in his pockets, walked in impatient
mortification up and down at the side of the long dining-table,
while the spectators greedily took in every syllable of Mrs.
Pegler's appeal, and at each succeeding syllable became more and
more round-eyed.  Mr. Bounderby still walking up and down when Mrs.
Pegler had done, Mr. Gradgrind addressed that maligned old lady:

'I am surprised, madam,' he observed with severity, 'that in your
old age you have the face to claim Mr. Bounderby for your son,
after your unnatural and inhuman treatment of him.'

'Me unnatural!' cried poor old Mrs. Pegler.  'Me inhuman!  To my
dear boy?'

'Dear!' repeated Mr. Gradgrind.  'Yes; dear in his self-made
prosperity, madam, I dare say.  Not very dear, however, when you
deserted him in his infancy, and left him to the brutality of a
drunken grandmother.'

'I deserted my Josiah!' cried Mrs. Pegler, clasping her hands.
'Now, Lord forgive you, sir, for your wicked imaginations, and for
your scandal against the memory of my poor mother, who died in my
arms before Josiah was born.  May you repent of it, sir, and live
to know better!'

She was so very earnest and injured, that Mr. Gradgrind, shocked by
the possibility which dawned upon him, said in a gentler tone:

'Do you deny, then, madam, that you left your son to - to be
brought up in the gutter?'

'Josiah in the gutter!' exclaimed Mrs. Pegler.  'No such a thing,
sir.  Never!  For shame on you!  My dear boy knows, and will give
you to know, that though he come of humble parents, he come of
parents that loved him as dear as the best could, and never thought
it hardship on themselves to pinch a bit that he might write and
cipher beautiful, and I've his books at home to show it!  Aye, have
I!' said Mrs. Pegler, with indignant pride.  'And my dear boy
knows, and will give you to know, sir, that after his beloved
father died, when he was eight years old, his mother, too, could
pinch a bit, as it was her duty and her pleasure and her pride to
do it, to help him out in life, and put him 'prentice.  And a
steady lad he was, and a kind master he had to lend him a hand, and
well he worked his own way forward to be rich and thriving.  And
I'll give you to know, sir - for this my dear boy won't - that
though his mother kept but a little village shop, he never forgot
her, but pensioned me on thirty pound a year - more than I want,
for I put by out of it - only making the condition that I was to
keep down in my own part, and make no boasts about him, and not
trouble him.  And I never have, except with looking at him once a
year, when he has never knowed it.  And it's right,' said poor old
Mrs. Pegler, in affectionate championship, 'that I should keep down
in my own part, and I have no doubts that if I was here I should do
a many unbefitting things, and I am well contented, and I can keep
my pride in my Josiah to myself, and I can love for love's own
sake!  And I am ashamed of you, sir,' said Mrs. Pegler, lastly,
'for your slanders and suspicions.  And I never stood here before,
nor never wanted to stand here when my dear son said no.  And I
shouldn't be here now, if it hadn't been for being brought here.
And for shame upon you, Oh, for shame, to accuse me of being a bad
mother to my son, with my son standing here to tell you so
different!'

The bystanders, on and off the dining-room chairs, raised a murmur
of sympathy with Mrs. Pegler, and Mr. Gradgrind felt himself
innocently placed in a very distressing predicament, when Mr.
Bounderby, who had never ceased walking up and down, and had every
moment swelled larger and larger, and grown redder and redder,
stopped short.

'I don't exactly know,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'how I come to be
favoured with the attendance of the present company, but I don't
inquire.  When they're quite satisfied, perhaps they'll be so good
as to disperse; whether they're satisfied or not, perhaps they'll
be so good as to disperse.  I'm not bound to deliver a lecture on
my family affairs, I have not undertaken to do it, and I'm not a
going to do it.  Therefore those who expect any explanation
whatever upon that branch of the subject, will be disappointed -
particularly Tom Gradgrind, and he can't know it too soon.  In
reference to the Bank robbery, there has been a mistake made,
concerning my mother.  If there hadn't been over-officiousness it
wouldn't have been made, and I hate over-officiousness at all
times, whether or no. Good evening!'

Although Mr. Bounderby carried it off in these terms, holding the
door open for the company to depart, there was a blustering
sheepishness upon him, at once extremely crestfallen and
superlatively absurd.  Detected as the Bully of humility, who had
built his windy reputation upon lies, and in his boastfulness had
put the honest truth as far away from him as if he had advanced the
mean claim (there is no meaner) to tack himself on to a pedigree,
he cut a most ridiculous figure.  With the people filing off at the
door he held, who he knew would carry what had passed to the whole
town, to be given to the four winds, he could not have looked a
Bully more shorn and forlorn, if he had had his ears cropped.  Even
that unlucky female, Mrs. Sparsit, fallen from her pinnacle of
exultation into the Slough of Despond, was not in so bad a plight
as that remarkable man and self-made Humbug, Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown.

Rachael and Sissy, leaving Mrs. Pegler to occupy a bed at her son's
for that night, walked together to the gate of Stone Lodge and
there parted.  Mr. Gradgrind joined them before they had gone very
far, and spoke with much interest of Stephen Blackpool; for whom he
thought this signal failure of the suspicions against Mrs. Pegler
was likely to work well.

As to the whelp; throughout this scene as on all other late
occasions, he had stuck close to Bounderby.  He seemed to feel that
as long as Bounderby could make no discovery without his knowledge,
he was so far safe.  He never visited his sister, and had only seen
her once since she went home:  that is to say on the night when he
still stuck close to Bounderby, as already related.

There was one dim unformed fear lingering about his sister's mind,
to which she never gave utterance, which surrounded the graceless
and ungrateful boy with a dreadful mystery.  The same dark
possibility had presented itself in the same shapeless guise, this
very day, to Sissy, when Rachael spoke of some one who would be
confounded by Stephen's return, having put him out of the way.
Louisa had never spoken of harbouring any suspicion of her brother
in connexion with the robbery, she and Sissy had held no confidence
on the subject, save in that one interchange of looks when the
unconscious father rested his gray head on his hand; but it was
understood between them, and they both knew it.  This other fear
was so awful, that it hovered about each of them like a ghostly
shadow; neither daring to think of its being near herself, far less
of its being near the other.

And still the forced spirit which the whelp had plucked up, throve
with him.  If Stephen Blackpool was not the thief, let him show
himself.  Why didn't he?

Another night.  Another day and night.  No Stephen Blackpool.
Where was the man, and why did he not come back?

CHAPTER VI - THE STARLIGHT

THE Sunday was a bright Sunday in autumn, clear and cool, when
early in the morning Sissy and Rachael met, to walk in the country.

As Coketown cast ashes not only on its own head but on the
neighbourhood's too - after the manner of those pious persons who
do penance for their own sins by putting other people into
sackcloth - it was customary for those who now and then thirsted
for a draught of pure air, which is not absolutely the most wicked
among the vanities of life, to get a few miles away by the
railroad, and then begin their walk, or their lounge in the fields.
Sissy and Rachael helped themselves out of the smoke by the usual
means, and were put down at a station about midway between the town
and Mr. Bounderby's retreat.

Though the green landscape was blotted here and there with heaps of
coal, it was green elsewhere, and there were trees to see, and
there were larks singing (though it was Sunday), and there were
pleasant scents in the air, and all was over-arched by a bright
blue sky.  In the distance one way, Coketown showed as a black
mist; in another distance hills began to rise; in a third, there
was a faint change in the light of the horizon where it shone upon
the far-off sea.  Under their feet, the grass was fresh; beautiful
shadows of branches flickered upon it, and speckled it; hedgerows
were luxuriant; everything was at peace.  Engines at pits' mouths,
and lean old horses that had worn the circle of their daily labour
into the ground, were alike quiet; wheels had ceased for a short
space to turn; and the great wheel of earth seemed to revolve
without the shocks and noises of another time.

They walked on across the fields and down the shady lanes,
sometimes getting over a fragment of a fence so rotten that it
dropped at a touch of the foot, sometimes passing near a wreck of
bricks and beams overgrown with grass, marking the site of deserted
works.  They followed paths and tracks, however slight.  Mounds
where the grass was rank and high, and where brambles, dock-weed,
and such-like vegetation, were confusedly heaped together, they
always avoided; for dismal stories were told in that country of the
old pits hidden beneath such indications.

The sun was high when they sat down to rest.  They had seen no one,
near or distant, for a long time; and the solitude remained
unbroken.  'It is so still here, Rachael, and the way is so
untrodden, that I think we must be the first who have been here all
the summer.'

As Sissy said it, her eyes were attracted by another of those
rotten fragments of fence upon the ground.  She got up to look at
it.  'And yet I don't know.  This has not been broken very long.
The wood is quite fresh where it gave way.  Here are footsteps too.
- O Rachael!'

She ran back, and caught her round the neck.  Rachael had already
started up.

'What is the matter?'

'I don't know.  There is a hat lying in the grass.'  They went
forward together.  Rachael took it up, shaking from head to foot.
She broke into a passion of tears and lamentations:  Stephen
Blackpool was written in his own hand on the inside.

'O the poor lad, the poor lad!  He has been made away with.  He is
lying murdered here!'

'Is there - has the hat any blood upon it?' Sissy faltered.

They were afraid to look; but they did examine it, and found no
mark of violence, inside or out.  It had been lying there some
days, for rain and dew had stained it, and the mark of its shape
was on the grass where it had fallen.  They looked fearfully about
them, without moving, but could see nothing more.  'Rachael,' Sissy
whispered, 'I will go on a little by myself.'

She had unclasped her hand, and was in the act of stepping forward,
when Rachael caught her in both arms with a scream that resounded
over the wide landscape.  Before them, at their very feet, was the
brink of a black ragged chasm hidden by the thick grass.  They
sprang back, and fell upon their knees, each hiding her face upon
the other's neck.

'O, my good Lord!  He's down there!  Down there!'  At first this,
and her terrific screams, were all that could be got from Rachael,
by any tears, by any prayers, by any representations, by any means.
It was impossible to hush her; and it was deadly necessary to hold
her, or she would have flung herself down the shaft.

'Rachael, dear Rachael, good Rachael, for the love of Heaven, not
these dreadful cries!  Think of Stephen, think of Stephen, think of
Stephen!'

By an earnest repetition of this entreaty, poured out in all the
agony of such a moment, Sissy at last brought her to be silent, and
to look at her with a tearless face of stone.

'Rachael, Stephen may be living.  You wouldn't leave him lying
maimed at the bottom of this dreadful place, a moment, if you could
bring help to him?'

'No, no, no!'

'Don't stir from here, for his sake!  Let me go and listen.'

She shuddered to approach the pit; but she crept towards it on her
hands and knees, and called to him as loud as she could call.  She
listened, but no sound replied.  She called again and listened;
still no answering sound.  She did this, twenty, thirty times.  She
took a little clod of earth from the broken ground where he had
stumbled, and threw it in.  She could not hear it fall.

The wide prospect, so beautiful in its stillness but a few minutes
ago, almost carried despair to her brave heart, as she rose and
looked all round her, seeing no help.  'Rachael, we must lose not a
moment.  We must go in different directions, seeking aid.  You
shall go by the way we have come, and I will go forward by the
path.  Tell any one you see, and every one what has happened.
Think of Stephen, think of Stephen!'

She knew by Rachael's face that she might trust her now.  And after
standing for a moment to see her running, wringing her hands as she
ran, she turned and went upon her own search; she stopped at the
hedge to tie her shawl there as a guide to the place, then threw
her bonnet aside, and ran as she had never run before.

Run, Sissy, run, in Heaven's name!  Don't stop for breath.  Run,
run!  Quickening herself by carrying such entreaties in her
thoughts, she ran from field to field, and lane to lane, and place
to place, as she had never run before; until she came to a shed by
an engine-house, where two men lay in the shade, asleep on straw.

First to wake them, and next to tell them, all so wild and
breathless as she was, what had brought her there, were
difficulties; but they no sooner understood her than their spirits
were on fire like hers.  One of the men was in a drunken slumber,
but on his comrade's shouting to him that a man had fallen down the
Old Hell Shaft, he started out to a pool of dirty water, put his
head in it, and came back sober.

With these two men she ran to another half-a-mile further, and with
that one to another, while they ran elsewhere.  Then a horse was
found; and she got another man to ride for life or death to the
railroad, and send a message to Louisa, which she wrote and gave
him.  By this time a whole village was up:  and windlasses, ropes,
poles, candles, lanterns, all things necessary, were fast
collecting and being brought into one place, to be carried to the
Old Hell Shaft.

It seemed now hours and hours since she had left the lost man lying
in the grave where he had been buried alive.  She could not bear to
remain away from it any longer - it was like deserting him - and
she hurried swiftly back, accompanied by half-a-dozen labourers,
including the drunken man whom the news had sobered, and who was
the best man of all.  When they came to the Old Hell Shaft, they
found it as lonely as she had left it.  The men called and listened
as she had done, and examined the edge of the chasm, and settled
how it had happened, and then sat down to wait until the implements
they wanted should come up.

Every sound of insects in the air, every stirring of the leaves,
every whisper among these men, made Sissy tremble, for she thought
it was a cry at the bottom of the pit.  But the wind blew idly over
it, and no sound arose to the surface, and they sat upon the grass,
waiting and waiting.  After they had waited some time, straggling
people who had heard of the accident began to come up; then the
real help of implements began to arrive.  In the midst of this,
Rachael returned; and with her party there was a surgeon, who
brought some wine and medicines.  But, the expectation among the
people that the man would be found alive was very slight indeed.

There being now people enough present to impede the work, the
sobered man put himself at the head of the rest, or was put there
by the general consent, and made a large ring round the Old Hell
Shaft, and appointed men to keep it.  Besides such volunteers as
were accepted to work, only Sissy and Rachael were at first
permitted within this ring; but, later in the day, when the message
brought an express from Coketown, Mr. Gradgrind and Louisa, and Mr.
Bounderby, and the whelp, were also there.

The sun was four hours lower than when Sissy and Rachael had first
sat down upon the grass, before a means of enabling two men to
descend securely was rigged with poles and ropes.  Difficulties had
arisen in the construction of this machine, simple as it was;
requisites had been found wanting, and messages had had to go and
return.  It was five o'clock in the afternoon of the bright
autumnal Sunday, before a candle was sent down to try the air,
while three or four rough faces stood crowded close together,
attentively watching it:  the man at the windlass lowering as they
were told.  The candle was brought up again, feebly burning, and
then some water was cast in.  Then the bucket was hooked on; and
the sobered man and another got in with lights, giving the word
'Lower away!'

As the rope went out, tight and strained, and the windlass creaked,
there was not a breath among the one or two hundred men and women
looking on, that came as it was wont to come.  The signal was given
and the windlass stopped, with abundant rope to spare.  Apparently
so long an interval ensued with the men at the windlass standing
idle, that some women shrieked that another accident had happened!
But the surgeon who held the watch, declared five minutes not to
have elapsed yet, and sternly admonished them to keep silence.  He
had not well done speaking, when the windlass was reversed and
worked again.  Practised eyes knew that it did not go as heavily as
it would if both workmen had been coming up, and that only one was
returning.

The rope came in tight and strained; and ring after ring was coiled
upon the barrel of the windlass, and all eyes were fastened on the
pit.  The sobered man was brought up and leaped out briskly on the
grass.  There was an universal cry of 'Alive or dead?' and then a
deep, profound hush.

When he said 'Alive!' a great shout arose and many eyes had tears
in them.

'But he's hurt very bad,' he added, as soon as he could make
himself heard again.  'Where's doctor?  He's hurt so very bad, sir,
that we donno how to get him up.'

They all consulted together, and looked anxiously at the surgeon,
as he asked some questions, and shook his head on receiving the
replies.  The sun was setting now; and the red light in the evening
sky touched every face there, and caused it to be distinctly seen
in all its rapt suspense.

The consultation ended in the men returning to the windlass, and
the pitman going down again, carrying the wine and some other small
matters with him.  Then the other man came up.  In the meantime,
under the surgeon's directions, some men brought a hurdle, on which
others made a thick bed of spare clothes covered with loose straw,
while he himself contrived some bandages and slings from shawls and
handkerchiefs.  As these were made, they were hung upon an arm of
the pitman who had last come up, with instructions how to use them:
and as he stood, shown by the light he carried, leaning his
powerful loose hand upon one of the poles, and sometimes glancing
down the pit, and sometimes glancing round upon the people, he was
not the least conspicuous figure in the scene.  It was dark now,
and torches were kindled.

It appeared from the little this man said to those about him, which
was quickly repeated all over the circle, that the lost man had
fallen upon a mass of crumbled rubbish with which the pit was half
choked up, and that his fall had been further broken by some jagged
earth at the side.  He lay upon his back with one arm doubled under
him, and according to his own belief had hardly stirred since he
fell, except that he had moved his free hand to a side pocket, in
which he remembered to have some bread and meat (of which he had
swallowed crumbs), and had likewise scooped up a little water in it
now and then.  He had come straight away from his work, on being
written to, and had walked the whole journey; and was on his way to
Mr. Bounderby's country house after dark, when he fell.  He was
crossing that dangerous country at such a dangerous time, because
he was innocent of what was laid to his charge, and couldn't rest
from coming the nearest way to deliver himself up.  The Old Hell
Shaft, the pitman said, with a curse upon it, was worthy of its bad
name to the last; for though Stephen could speak now, he believed
it would soon be found to have mangled the life out of him.

When all was ready, this man, still taking his last hurried charges
from his comrades and the surgeon after the windlass had begun to
lower him, disappeared into the pit.  The rope went out as before,
the signal was made as before, and the windlass stopped.  No man
removed his hand from it now.  Every one waited with his grasp set,
and his body bent down to the work, ready to reverse and wind in.
At length the signal was given, and all the ring leaned forward.

For, now, the rope came in, tightened and strained to its utmost as
it appeared, and the men turned heavily, and the windlass
complained.  It was scarcely endurable to look at the rope, and
think of its giving way.  But, ring after ring was coiled upon the
barrel of the windlass safely, and the connecting chains appeared,
and finally the bucket with the two men holding on at the sides - a
sight to make the head swim, and oppress the heart - and tenderly
supporting between them, slung and tied within, the figure of a
poor, crushed, human creature.

A low murmur of pity went round the throng, and the women wept
aloud, as this form, almost without form, was moved very slowly
from its iron deliverance, and laid upon the bed of straw.  At
first, none but the surgeon went close to it.  He did what he could
in its adjustment on the couch, but the best that he could do was
to cover it.  That gently done, he called to him Rachael and Sissy.
And at that time the pale, worn, patient face was seen looking up
at the sky, with the broken right hand lying bare on the outside of
the covering garments, as if waiting to be taken by another hand.

They gave him drink, moistened his face with water, and
administered some drops of cordial and wine.  Though he lay quite
motionless looking up at the sky, he smiled and said, 'Rachael.'
She stooped down on the grass at his side, and bent over him until
her eyes were between his and the sky, for he could not so much as
turn them to look at her.

'Rachael, my dear.'

She took his hand.  He smiled again and said, 'Don't let 't go.'

'Thou'rt in great pain, my own dear Stephen?'

'I ha' been, but not now.  I ha' been - dreadful, and dree, and
long, my dear - but 'tis ower now.  Ah, Rachael, aw a muddle!  Fro'
first to last, a muddle!'

The spectre of his old look seemed to pass as he said the word.

'I ha' fell into th' pit, my dear, as have cost wi'in the knowledge
o' old fok now livin, hundreds and hundreds o' men's lives -
fathers, sons, brothers, dear to thousands an' thousands, an'
keeping 'em fro' want and hunger.  I ha' fell into a pit that ha'
been wi' th' Firedamp crueller than battle.  I ha' read on 't in
the public petition, as onny one may read, fro' the men that works
in pits, in which they ha' pray'n and pray'n the lawmakers for
Christ's sake not to let their work be murder to 'em, but to spare
'em for th' wives and children that they loves as well as gentlefok
loves theirs.  When it were in work, it killed wi'out need; when
'tis let alone, it kills wi'out need.  See how we die an' no need,
one way an' another - in a muddle - every day!'

He faintly said it, without any anger against any one.  Merely as
the truth.

'Thy little sister, Rachael, thou hast not forgot her.  Thou'rt not
like to forget her now, and me so nigh her.  Thou know'st - poor,
patient, suff'rin, dear - how thou didst work for her, seet'n all
day long in her little chair at thy winder, and how she died, young
and misshapen, awlung o' sickly air as had'n no need to be, an'
awlung o' working people's miserable homes.  A muddle!  Aw a
muddle!'

Louisa approached him; but he could not see her, lying with his
face turned up to the night sky.

'If aw th' things that tooches us, my dear, was not so muddled, I
should'n ha' had'n need to coom heer.  If we was not in a muddle
among ourseln, I should'n ha' been, by my own fellow weavers and
workin' brothers, so mistook.  If Mr. Bounderby had ever know'd me
right - if he'd ever know'd me at aw - he would'n ha' took'n
offence wi' me.  He would'n ha' suspect'n me.  But look up yonder,
Rachael!  Look aboove!'

Following his eyes, she saw that he was gazing at a star.

'It ha' shined upon me,' he said reverently, 'in my pain and
trouble down below.  It ha' shined into my mind.  I ha' look'n at
't and thowt o' thee, Rachael, till the muddle in my mind have
cleared awa, above a bit, I hope.  If soom ha' been wantin' in
unnerstan'in me better, I, too, ha' been wantin' in unnerstan'in
them better.  When I got thy letter, I easily believen that what
the yoong ledy sen and done to me, and what her brother sen and
done to me, was one, and that there were a wicked plot betwixt 'em.
When I fell, I were in anger wi' her, an' hurryin on t' be as
onjust t' her as oothers was t' me.  But in our judgments, like as
in our doins, we mun bear and forbear.  In my pain an' trouble,
lookin up yonder, - wi' it shinin on me - I ha' seen more clear,
and ha' made it my dyin prayer that aw th' world may on'y coom
toogether more, an' get a better unnerstan'in o' one another, than
when I were in 't my own weak seln.'

Louisa hearing what he said, bent over him on the opposite side to
Rachael, so that he could see her.

'You ha' heard?' he said, after a few moments' silence.  'I ha' not
forgot you, ledy.'

'Yes, Stephen, I have heard you.  And your prayer is mine.'

'You ha' a father.  Will yo tak' a message to him?'

'He is here,' said Louisa, with dread.  'Shall I bring him to you?'

'If yo please.'

Louisa returned with her father.  Standing hand-in-hand, they both
looked down upon the solemn countenance.

'Sir, yo will clear me an' mak my name good wi' aw men.  This I
leave to yo.'

Mr. Gradgrind was troubled and asked how?

'Sir,' was the reply:  'yor son will tell yo how.  Ask him.  I mak
no charges:  I leave none ahint me:  not a single word.  I ha' seen
an' spok'n wi' yor son, one night.  I ask no more o' yo than that
yo clear me - an' I trust to yo to do 't.'

The bearers being now ready to carry him away, and the surgeon
being anxious for his removal, those who had torches or lanterns,
prepared to go in front of the litter.  Before it was raised, and
while they were arranging how to go, he said to Rachael, looking
upward at the star:

'Often as I coom to myseln, and found it shinin' on me down there
in my trouble, I thowt it were the star as guided to Our Saviour's
home.  I awmust think it be the very star!'

They lifted him up, and he was overjoyed to find that they were
about to take him in the direction whither the star seemed to him
to lead.

'Rachael, beloved lass!  Don't let go my hand.  We may walk
toogether t'night, my dear!'

'I will hold thy hand, and keep beside thee, Stephen, all the way.'

'Bless thee!  Will soombody be pleased to coover my face!'

They carried him very gently along the fields, and down the lanes,
and over the wide landscape; Rachael always holding the hand in
hers.  Very few whispers broke the mournful silence.  It was soon a
funeral procession.  The star had shown him where to find the God
of the poor; and through humility, and sorrow, and forgiveness, he
had gone to his Redeemer's rest.

CHAPTER VII - WHELP-HUNTING

BEFORE the ring formed round the Old Hell Shaft was broken, one
figure had disappeared from within it.  Mr. Bounderby and his
shadow had not stood near Louisa, who held her father's arm, but in
a retired place by themselves.  When Mr. Gradgrind was summoned to
the couch, Sissy, attentive to all that happened, slipped behind
that wicked shadow - a sight in the horror of his face, if there
had been eyes there for any sight but one - and whispered in his
ear.  Without turning his head, he conferred with her a few
moments, and vanished.  Thus the whelp had gone out of the circle
before the people moved.

When the father reached home, he sent a message to Mr. Bounderby's,
desiring his son to come to him directly.  The reply was, that Mr.
Bounderby having missed him in the crowd, and seeing nothing of him
since, had supposed him to be at Stone Lodge.

'I believe, father,' said Louisa, 'he will not come back to town
to-night.'  Mr. Gradgrind turned away, and said no more.

In the morning, he went down to the Bank himself as soon as it was
opened, and seeing his son's place empty (he had not the courage to
look in at first) went back along the street to meet Mr. Bounderby
on his way there.  To whom he said that, for reasons he would soon
explain, but entreated not then to be asked for, he had found it
necessary to employ his son at a distance for a little while.
Also, that he was charged with the duty of vindicating Stephen
Blackpool's memory, and declaring the thief.  Mr. Bounderby quite
confounded, stood stock-still in the street after his father-in-law
had left him, swelling like an immense soap-bubble, without its
beauty.

Mr. Gradgrind went home, locked himself in his room, and kept it
all that day.  When Sissy and Louisa tapped at his door, he said,
without opening it, 'Not now, my dears; in the evening.'  On their
return in the evening, he said, 'I am not able yet - to-morrow.'
He ate nothing all day, and had no candle after dark; and they
heard him walking to and fro late at night.

But, in the morning he appeared at breakfast at the usual hour, and
took his usual place at the table.  Aged and bent he looked, and
quite bowed down; and yet he looked a wiser man, and a better man,
than in the days when in this life he wanted nothing - but Facts.
Before he left the room, he appointed a time for them to come to
him; and so, with his gray head drooping, went away.

'Dear father,' said Louisa, when they kept their appointment, 'you
have three young children left.  They will be different, I will be
different yet, with Heaven's help.'

She gave her hand to Sissy, as if she meant with her help too.

'Your wretched brother,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'Do you think he had
planned this robbery, when he went with you to the lodging?'

'I fear so, father.  I know he had wanted money very much, and had
spent a great deal.'

'The poor man being about to leave the town, it came into his evil
brain to cast suspicion on him?'

'I think it must have flashed upon him while he sat there, father.
For I asked him to go there with me.  The visit did not originate
with him.'

'He had some conversation with the poor man.  Did he take him
aside?'

'He took him out of the room.  I asked him afterwards, why he had
done so, and he made a plausible excuse; but since last night,
father, and when I remember the circumstances by its light, I am
afraid I can imagine too truly what passed between them.'

'Let me know,' said her father, 'if your thoughts present your
guilty brother in the same dark view as mine.'

'I fear, father,' hesitated Louisa, 'that he must have made some
representation to Stephen Blackpool - perhaps in my name, perhaps
in his own - which induced him to do in good faith and honesty,
what he had never done before, and to wait about the Bank those two
or three nights before he left the town.'

'Too plain!' returned the father.  'Too plain!'

He shaded his face, and remained silent for some moments.
Recovering himself, he said:

'And now, how is he to be found?  How is he to be saved from
justice?  In the few hours that I can possibly allow to elapse
before I publish the truth, how is he to be found by us, and only
by us?  Ten thousand pounds could not effect it.'

'Sissy has effected it, father.'

He raised his eyes to where she stood, like a good fairy in his
house, and said in a tone of softened gratitude and grateful
kindness, 'It is always you, my child!'

'We had our fears,' Sissy explained, glancing at Louisa, 'before
yesterday; and when I saw you brought to the side of the litter
last night, and heard what passed (being close to Rachael all the
time), I went to him when no one saw, and said to him, "Don't look
at me.  See where your father is.  Escape at once, for his sake and
your own!"  He was in a tremble before I whispered to him, and he
started and trembled more then, and said, "Where can I go?  I have
very little money, and I don't know who will hide me!"  I thought
of father's old circus.  I have not forgotten where Mr. Sleary goes
at this time of year, and I read of him in a paper only the other
day.  I told him to hurry there, and tell his name, and ask Mr.
Sleary to hide him till I came.  "I'll get to him before the
morning," he said.  And I saw him shrink away among the people.'

'Thank Heaven!' exclaimed his father.  'He may be got abroad yet.'

It was the more hopeful as the town to which Sissy had directed him
was within three hours' journey of Liverpool, whence he could be
swiftly dispatched to any part of the world.  But, caution being
necessary in communicating with him - for there was a greater
danger every moment of his being suspected now, and nobody could be
sure at heart but that Mr. Bounderby himself, in a bullying vein of
public zeal, might play a Roman part - it was consented that Sissy
and Louisa should repair to the place in question, by a circuitous
course, alone; and that the unhappy father, setting forth in an
opposite direction, should get round to the same bourne by another
and wider route.  It was further agreed that he should not present
himself to Mr. Sleary, lest his intentions should be mistrusted, or
the intelligence of his arrival should cause his son to take flight
anew; but, that the communication should be left to Sissy and
Louisa to open; and that they should inform the cause of so much
misery and disgrace, of his father's being at hand and of the
purpose for which they had come.  When these arrangements had been
well considered and were fully understood by all three, it was time
to begin to carry them into execution.  Early in the afternoon, Mr.
Gradgrind walked direct from his own house into the country, to be
taken up on the line by which he was to travel; and at night the
remaining two set forth upon their different course, encouraged by
not seeing any face they knew.

The two travelled all night, except when they were left, for odd
numbers of minutes, at branch-places, up illimitable flights of
steps, or down wells - which was the only variety of those branches
- and, early in the morning, were turned out on a swamp, a mile or
two from the town they sought.  From this dismal spot they were
rescued by a savage old postilion, who happened to be up early,
kicking a horse in a fly:  and so were smuggled into the town by
all the back lanes where the pigs lived:  which, although not a
magnificent or even savoury approach, was, as is usual in such
cases, the legitimate highway.

The first thing they saw on entering the town was the skeleton of
Sleary's Circus.  The company had departed for another town more
than twenty miles off, and had opened there last night.  The
connection between the two places was by a hilly turnpike-road, and
the travelling on that road was very slow.  Though they took but a
hasty breakfast, and no rest (which it would have been in vain to
seek under such anxious circumstances), it was noon before they
began to find the bills of Sleary's Horse-riding on barns and
walls, and one o'clock when they stopped in the market-place.

A Grand Morning Performance by the Riders, commencing at that very
hour, was in course of announcement by the bellman as they set
their feet upon the stones of the street.  Sissy recommended that,
to avoid making inquiries and attracting attention in the town,
they should present themselves to pay at the door.  If Mr. Sleary
were taking the money, he would be sure to know her, and would
proceed with discretion.  If he were not, he would be sure to see
them inside; and, knowing what he had done with the fugitive, would
proceed with discretion still.

Therefore, they repaired, with fluttering hearts, to the well-
remembered booth.  The flag with the inscription SLEARY'S HORSE-
RIDING was there; and the Gothic niche was there; but Mr. Sleary
was not there.  Master Kidderminster, grown too maturely turfy to
be received by the wildest credulity as Cupid any more, had yielded
to the invincible force of circumstances (and his beard), and, in
the capacity of a man who made himself generally useful, presided
on this occasion over the exchequer - having also a drum in
reserve, on which to expend his leisure moments and superfluous
forces.  In the extreme sharpness of his look out for base coin,
Mr. Kidderminster, as at present situated, never saw anything but
money; so Sissy passed him unrecognised, and they went in.

The Emperor of Japan, on a steady old white horse stencilled with
black spots, was twirling five wash-hand basins at once, as it is
the favourite recreation of that monarch to do.  Sissy, though well
acquainted with his Royal line, had no personal knowledge of the
present Emperor, and his reign was peaceful.  Miss Josephine
Sleary, in her celebrated graceful Equestrian Tyrolean Flower Act,
was then announced by a new clown (who humorously said Cauliflower
Act), and Mr. Sleary appeared, leading her in.

Mr. Sleary had only made one cut at the Clown with his long whip-
lash, and the Clown had only said, 'If you do it again, I'll throw
the horse at you!' when Sissy was recognised both by father and
daughter.  But they got through the Act with great self-possession;
and Mr. Sleary, saving for the first instant, conveyed no more
expression into his locomotive eye than into his fixed one.  The
performance seemed a little long to Sissy and Louisa, particularly
when it stopped to afford the Clown an opportunity of telling Mr.
Sleary (who said 'Indeed, sir!' to all his observations in the
calmest way, and with his eye on the house) about two legs sitting
on three legs looking at one leg, when in came four legs, and laid
hold of one leg, and up got two legs, caught hold of three legs,
and threw 'em at four legs, who ran away with one leg.  For,
although an ingenious Allegory relating to a butcher, a three-
legged stool, a dog, and a leg of mutton, this narrative consumed
time; and they were in great suspense.  At last, however, little
fair-haired Josephine made her curtsey amid great applause; and the
Clown, left alone in the ring, had just warmed himself, and said,
'Now I'll have a turn!' when Sissy was touched on the shoulder, and
beckoned out.

She took Louisa with her; and they were received by Mr. Sleary in a
very little private apartment, with canvas sides, a grass floor,
and a wooden ceiling all aslant, on which the box company stamped
their approbation, as if they were coming through.  'Thethilia,'
said Mr. Sleary, who had brandy and water at hand, 'it doth me good
to thee you.  You wath alwayth a favourite with uth, and you've
done uth credith thinth the old timeth I'm thure.  You mutht thee
our people, my dear, afore we thpeak of bithnith, or they'll break
their hearth - ethpethially the women.  Here'th Jothphine hath been
and got married to E. W. B. Childerth, and thee hath got a boy, and
though he'th only three yearth old, he thtickth on to any pony you
can bring againtht him.  He'th named The Little Wonder of
Thcolathtic Equitation; and if you don't hear of that boy at
Athley'th, you'll hear of him at Parith.  And you recollect
Kidderminthter, that wath thought to be rather thweet upon
yourthelf?  Well.  He'th married too.  Married a widder.  Old
enough to be hith mother.  Thee wath Tightrope, thee wath, and now
thee'th nothing - on accounth of fat.  They've got two children,
tho we're thtrong in the Fairy bithnith and the Nurthery dodge.  If
you wath to thee our Children in the Wood, with their father and
mother both a dyin' on a horthe - their uncle a retheiving of 'em
ath hith wardth, upon a horthe - themthelvth both a goin' a black-
berryin' on a horthe - and the Robinth a coming in to cover 'em
with leavth, upon a horthe - you'd thay it wath the completetht
thing ath ever you thet your eyeth on!  And you remember Emma
Gordon, my dear, ath wath a'motht a mother to you?  Of courthe you
do; I needn't athk.  Well!  Emma, thee lotht her huthband.  He wath
throw'd a heavy back-fall off a Elephant in a thort of a Pagoda
thing ath the Thultan of the Indieth, and he never got the better
of it; and thee married a thecond time - married a Cheethemonger
ath fell in love with her from the front - and he'th a Overtheer
and makin' a fortun.'

These various changes, Mr. Sleary, very short of breath now,
related with great heartiness, and with a wonderful kind of
innocence, considering what a bleary and brandy-and-watery old
veteran he was.  Afterwards he brought in Josephine, and E. W. B.
Childers (rather deeply lined in the jaws by daylight), and the
Little Wonder of Scholastic Equitation, and in a word, all the
company.  Amazing creatures they were in Louisa's eyes, so white
and pink of complexion, so scant of dress, and so demonstrative of
leg; but it was very agreeable to see them crowding about Sissy,
and very natural in Sissy to be unable to refrain from tears.

'There!  Now Thethilia hath kithd all the children, and hugged all
the women, and thaken handth all round with all the men, clear,
every one of you, and ring in the band for the thecond part!'

As soon as they were gone, he continued in a low tone.  'Now,
Thethilia, I don't athk to know any thecreth, but I thuppothe I may
conthider thith to be Mith Thquire.'

'This is his sister.  Yes.'

'And t'other on'th daughter.  That'h what I mean.  Hope I thee you
well, mith.  And I hope the Thquire'th well?'

'My father will be here soon,' said Louisa, anxious to bring him to
the point.  'Is my brother safe?'

'Thafe and thound!' he replied.  'I want you jutht to take a peep
at the Ring, mith, through here.  Thethilia, you know the dodgeth;
find a thpy-hole for yourthelf.'

They each looked through a chink in the boards.

'That'h Jack the Giant Killer - piethe of comic infant bithnith,'
said Sleary.  'There'th a property-houthe, you thee, for Jack to
hide in; there'th my Clown with a thauthepan-lid and a thpit, for
Jack'th thervant; there'th little Jack himthelf in a thplendid
thoot of armour; there'th two comic black thervanth twithe ath big
ath the houthe, to thtand by it and to bring it in and clear it;
and the Giant (a very ecthpenthive bathket one), he an't on yet.
Now, do you thee 'em all?'

'Yes,' they both said.

'Look at 'em again,' said Sleary, 'look at 'em well.  You thee em
all?  Very good.  Now, mith;' he put a form for them to sit on; 'I
have my opinionth, and the Thquire your father hath hith.  I don't
want to know what your brother'th been up to; ith better for me not
to know.  All I thay ith, the Thquire hath thtood by Thethilia, and
I'll thtand by the Thquire.  Your brother ith one them black
thervanth.'

Louisa uttered an exclamation, partly of distress, partly of
satisfaction.

'Ith a fact,' said Sleary, 'and even knowin' it, you couldn't put
your finger on him.  Let the Thquire come.  I thall keep your
brother here after the performanth.  I thant undreth him, nor yet
wath hith paint off.  Let the Thquire come here after the
performanth, or come here yourthelf after the performanth, and you
thall find your brother, and have the whole plathe to talk to him
in.  Never mind the lookth of him, ath long ath he'th well hid.'

Louisa, with many thanks and with a lightened load, detained Mr.
Sleary no longer then.  She left her love for her brother, with her
eyes full of tears; and she and Sissy went away until later in the
afternoon.

Mr. Gradgrind arrived within an hour afterwards.  He too had
encountered no one whom he knew; and was now sanguine with Sleary's
assistance, of getting his disgraced son to Liverpool in the night.
As neither of the three could be his companion without almost
identifying him under any disguise, he prepared a letter to a
correspondent whom he could trust, beseeching him to ship the
bearer off at any cost, to North or South America, or any distant
part of the world to which he could be the most speedily and
privately dispatched.

This done, they walked about, waiting for the Circus to be quite
vacated; not only by the audience, but by the company and by the
horses.  After watching it a long time, they saw Mr. Sleary bring
out a chair and sit down by the side-door, smoking; as if that were
his signal that they might approach.

'Your thervant, Thquire,' was his cautious salutation as they
passed in.  'If you want me you'll find me here.  You muthn't mind
your thon having a comic livery on.'

They all three went in; and Mr. Gradgrind sat down forlorn, on the
Clown's performing chair in the middle of the ring.  On one of the
back benches, remote in the subdued light and the strangeness of
the place, sat the villainous whelp, sulky to the last, whom he had
the misery to call his son.

In a preposterous coat, like a beadle's, with cuffs and flaps
exaggerated to an unspeakable extent; in an immense waistcoat,
knee-breeches, buckled shoes, and a mad cocked hat; with nothing
fitting him, and everything of coarse material, moth-eaten and full
of holes; with seams in his black face, where fear and heat had
started through the greasy composition daubed all over it; anything
so grimly, detestably, ridiculously shameful as the whelp in his
comic livery, Mr. Gradgrind never could by any other means have
believed in, weighable and measurable fact though it was.  And one
of his model children had come to this!

At first the whelp would not draw any nearer, but persisted in
remaining up there by himself.  Yielding at length, if any
concession so sullenly made can be called yielding, to the
entreaties of Sissy - for Louisa he disowned altogether - he came
down, bench by bench, until he stood in the sawdust, on the verge
of the circle, as far as possible, within its limits from where his
father sat.

'How was this done?' asked the father.

'How was what done?' moodily answered the son.

'This robbery,' said the father, raising his voice upon the word.

'I forced the safe myself over night, and shut it up ajar before I
went away.  I had had the key that was found, made long before.  I
dropped it that morning, that it might be supposed to have been
used.  I didn't take the money all at once.  I pretended to put my
balance away every night, but I didn't.  Now you know all about
it.'

'If a thunderbolt had fallen on me,' said the father, 'it would
have shocked me less than this!'

'I don't see why,' grumbled the son.  'So many people are employed
in situations of trust; so many people, out of so many, will be
dishonest.  I have heard you talk, a hundred times, of its being a
law.  How can I help laws?  You have comforted others with such
things, father.  Comfort yourself!'

The father buried his face in his hands, and the son stood in his
disgraceful grotesqueness, biting straw:  his hands, with the black
partly worn away inside, looking like the hands of a monkey.  The
evening was fast closing in; and from time to time, he turned the
whites of his eyes restlessly and impatiently towards his father.
They were the only parts of his face that showed any life or
expression, the pigment upon it was so thick.

'You must be got to Liverpool, and sent abroad.'

'I suppose I must.  I can't be more miserable anywhere,' whimpered
the whelp, 'than I have been here, ever since I can remember.
That's one thing.'

Mr. Gradgrind went to the door, and returned with Sleary, to whom
he submitted the question, How to get this deplorable object away?

'Why, I've been thinking of it, Thquire.  There'th not muth time to
lothe, tho you muth thay yeth or no.  Ith over twenty mileth to the
rail.  There'th a coath in half an hour, that goeth to the rail,
'purpothe to cath the mail train.  That train will take him right
to Liverpool.'

'But look at him,' groaned Mr. Gradgrind.  'Will any coach - '

'I don't mean that he thould go in the comic livery,' said Sleary.
'Thay the word, and I'll make a Jothkin of him, out of the
wardrobe, in five minutes.'

'I don't understand,' said Mr. Gradgrind.

'A Jothkin - a Carter.  Make up your mind quick, Thquire.  There'll
be beer to feth.  I've never met with nothing but beer ath'll ever
clean a comic blackamoor.'

Mr. Gradgrind rapidly assented; Mr. Sleary rapidly turned out from
a box, a smock frock, a felt hat, and other essentials; the whelp
rapidly changed clothes behind a screen of baize; Mr. Sleary
rapidly brought beer, and washed him white again.

'Now,' said Sleary, 'come along to the coath, and jump up behind;
I'll go with you there, and they'll thuppothe you one of my people.
Thay farewell to your family, and tharp'th the word.'  With which
he delicately retired.

'Here is your letter,' said Mr. Gradgrind.  'All necessary means
will be provided for you.  Atone, by repentance and better conduct,
for the shocking action you have committed, and the dreadful
consequences to which it has led.  Give me your hand, my poor boy,
and may God forgive you as I do!'

The culprit was moved to a few abject tears by these words and
their pathetic tone.  But, when Louisa opened her arms, he repulsed
her afresh.

'Not you.  I don't want to have anything to say to you!'

'O Tom, Tom, do we end so, after all my love!'

'After all your love!' he returned, obdurately.  'Pretty love!
Leaving old Bounderby to himself, and packing my best friend Mr.
Harthouse off, and going home just when I was in the greatest
danger.  Pretty love that!  Coming out with every word about our
having gone to that place, when you saw the net was gathering round
me.  Pretty love that!  You have regularly given me up.  You never
cared for me.'

'Tharp'th the word!' said Sleary, at the door.

They all confusedly went out:  Louisa crying to him that she
forgave him, and loved him still, and that he would one day be
sorry to have left her so, and glad to think of these her last
words, far away:  when some one ran against them.  Mr. Gradgrind
and Sissy, who were both before him while his sister yet clung to
his shoulder, stopped and recoiled.

For, there was Bitzer, out of breath, his thin lips parted, his
thin nostrils distended, his white eyelashes quivering, his
colourless face more colourless than ever, as if he ran himself
into a white heat, when other people ran themselves into a glow.
There he stood, panting and heaving, as if he had never stopped
since the night, now long ago, when he had run them down before.

'I'm sorry to interfere with your plans,' said Bitzer, shaking his
head, 'but I can't allow myself to be done by horse-riders.  I must
have young Mr. Tom; he mustn't be got away by horse-riders; here he
is in a smock frock, and I must have him!'

By the collar, too, it seemed.  For, so he took possession of him.

CHAPTER VIII - PHILOSOPHICAL

THEY went back into the booth, Sleary shutting the door to keep
intruders out.  Bitzer, still holding the paralysed culprit by the
collar, stood in the Ring, blinking at his old patron through the
darkness of the twilight.

'Bitzer,' said Mr. Gradgrind, broken down, and miserably submissive
to him, 'have you a heart?'

'The circulation, sir,' returned Bitzer, smiling at the oddity of
the question, 'couldn't be carried on without one.  No man, sir,
acquainted with the facts established by Harvey relating to the
circulation of the blood, can doubt that I have a heart.'

'Is it accessible,' cried Mr. Gradgrind, 'to any compassionate
influence?'

'It is accessible to Reason, sir,' returned the excellent young
man.  'And to nothing else.'

They stood looking at each other; Mr. Gradgrind's face as white as
the pursuer's.

'What motive - even what motive in reason - can you have for
preventing the escape of this wretched youth,' said Mr. Gradgrind,
'and crushing his miserable father?  See his sister here.  Pity
us!'

'Sir,' returned Bitzer, in a very business-like and logical manner,
'since you ask me what motive I have in reason, for taking young
Mr. Tom back to Coketown, it is only reasonable to let you know.  I
have suspected young Mr. Tom of this bank-robbery from the first.
I had had my eye upon him before that time, for I knew his ways.  I
have kept my observations to myself, but I have made them; and I
have got ample proofs against him now, besides his running away,
and besides his own confession, which I was just in time to
overhear.  I had the pleasure of watching your house yesterday
morning, and following you here.  I am going to take young Mr. Tom
back to Coketown, in order to deliver him over to Mr. Bounderby.
Sir, I have no doubt whatever that Mr. Bounderby will then promote
me to young Mr. Tom's situation.  And I wish to have his situation,
sir, for it will be a rise to me, and will do me good.'

'If this is solely a question of self-interest with you - ' Mr.
Gradgrind began.

'I beg your pardon for interrupting you, sir,' returned Bitzer;
'but I am sure you know that the whole social system is a question
of self-interest.  What you must always appeal to, is a person's
self-interest.  It's your only hold.  We are so constituted.  I was
brought up in that catechism when I was very young, sir, as you are
aware.'

'What sum of money,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'will you set against your
expected promotion?'

'Thank you, sir,' returned Bitzer, 'for hinting at the proposal;
but I will not set any sum against it.  Knowing that your clear
head would propose that alternative, I have gone over the
calculations in my mind; and I find that to compound a felony, even
on very high terms indeed, would not be as safe and good for me as
my improved prospects in the Bank.'

'Bitzer,' said Mr. Gradgrind, stretching out his hands as though he
would have said, See how miserable I am!  'Bitzer, I have but one
chance left to soften you.  You were many years at my school.  If,
in remembrance of the pains bestowed upon you there, you can
persuade yourself in any degree to disregard your present interest
and release my son, I entreat and pray you to give him the benefit
of that remembrance.'

'I really wonder, sir,' rejoined the old pupil in an argumentative
manner, 'to find you taking a position so untenable.  My schooling
was paid for; it was a bargain; and when I came away, the bargain
ended.'

It was a fundamental principle of the Gradgrind philosophy that
everything was to be paid for.  Nobody was ever on any account to
give anybody anything, or render anybody help without purchase.
Gratitude was to be abolished, and the virtues springing from it
were not to be.  Every inch of the existence of mankind, from birth
to death, was to be a bargain across a counter.  And if we didn't
get to Heaven that way, it was not a politico-economical place, and
we had no business there.

'I don't deny,' added Bitzer, 'that my schooling was cheap.  But
that comes right, sir.  I was made in the cheapest market, and have
to dispose of myself in the dearest.'

He was a little troubled here, by Louisa and Sissy crying.

'Pray don't do that,' said he, 'it's of no use doing that:  it only
worries.  You seem to think that I have some animosity against
young Mr. Tom; whereas I have none at all.  I am only going, on the
reasonable grounds I have mentioned, to take him back to Coketown.
If he was to resist, I should set up the cry of Stop thief!  But,
he won't resist, you may depend upon it.'

Mr. Sleary, who with his mouth open and his rolling eye as
immovably jammed in his head as his fixed one, had listened to
these doctrines with profound attention, here stepped forward.

'Thquire, you know perfectly well, and your daughter knowth
perfectly well (better than you, becauthe I thed it to her), that I
didn't know what your thon had done, and that I didn't want to know
- I thed it wath better not, though I only thought, then, it wath
thome thkylarking.  However, thith young man having made it known
to be a robbery of a bank, why, that'h a theriouth thing; muth too
theriouth a thing for me to compound, ath thith young man hath very
properly called it.  Conthequently, Thquire, you muthn't quarrel
with me if I take thith young man'th thide, and thay he'th right
and there'th no help for it.  But I tell you what I'll do, Thquire;
I'll drive your thon and thith young man over to the rail, and
prevent expothure here.  I can't conthent to do more, but I'll do
that.'

Fresh lamentations from Louisa, and deeper affliction on Mr.
Gradgrind's part, followed this desertion of them by their last
friend.  But, Sissy glanced at him with great attention; nor did
she in her own breast misunderstand him.  As they were all going
out again, he favoured her with one slight roll of his movable eye,
desiring her to linger behind.  As he locked the door, he said
excitedly:

'The Thquire thtood by you, Thethilia, and I'll thtand by the
Thquire.  More than that:  thith ith a prethiouth rathcal, and
belongth to that bluthtering Cove that my people nearly pitht out
o' winder.  It'll be a dark night; I've got a horthe that'll do
anything but thpeak; I've got a pony that'll go fifteen mile an
hour with Childerth driving of him; I've got a dog that'll keep a
man to one plathe four-and-twenty hourth.  Get a word with the
young Thquire.  Tell him, when he theeth our horthe begin to
danthe, not to be afraid of being thpilt, but to look out for a
pony-gig coming up.  Tell him, when he theeth that gig clothe by,
to jump down, and it'll take him off at a rattling pathe.  If my
dog leth thith young man thtir a peg on foot, I give him leave to
go.  And if my horthe ever thtirth from that thpot where he beginth
a danthing, till the morning - I don't know him? - Tharp'th the
word!'

The word was so sharp, that in ten minutes Mr. Childers, sauntering
about the market-place in a pair of slippers, had his cue, and Mr.
Sleary's equipage was ready.  It was a fine sight, to behold the
learned dog barking round it, and Mr. Sleary instructing him, with
his one practicable eye, that Bitzer was the object of his
particular attentions.  Soon after dark they all three got in and
started; the learned dog (a formidable creature) already pinning
Bitzer with his eye, and sticking close to the wheel on his side,
that he might be ready for him in the event of his showing the
slightest disposition to alight.

The other three sat up at the inn all night in great suspense.  At
eight o'clock in the morning Mr. Sleary and the dog reappeared:
both in high spirits.

'All right, Thquire!' said Mr. Sleary, 'your thon may be aboard-a-
thip by thith time.  Childerth took him off, an hour and a half
after we left there latht night.  The horthe danthed the polka till
he wath dead beat (he would have walthed if he hadn't been in
harneth), and then I gave him the word and he went to thleep
comfortable.  When that prethiouth young Rathcal thed he'd go
for'ard afoot, the dog hung on to hith neck-hankercher with all
four legth in the air and pulled him down and rolled him over.  Tho
he come back into the drag, and there he that, 'till I turned the
horthe'th head, at half-patht thixth thith morning.'

Mr. Gradgrind overwhelmed him with thanks, of course; and hinted as
delicately as he could, at a handsome remuneration in money.

'I don't want money mythelf, Thquire; but Childerth ith a family
man, and if you wath to like to offer him a five-pound note, it
mightn't be unactheptable.  Likewithe if you wath to thtand a
collar for the dog, or a thet of bellth for the horthe, I thould be
very glad to take 'em.  Brandy and water I alwayth take.'  He had
already called for a glass, and now called for another.  'If you
wouldn't think it going too far, Thquire, to make a little thpread
for the company at about three and thixth ahead, not reckoning
Luth, it would make 'em happy.'

All these little tokens of his gratitude, Mr. Gradgrind very
willingly undertook to render.  Though he thought them far too
slight, he said, for such a service.

'Very well, Thquire; then, if you'll only give a Horthe-riding, a
bethpeak, whenever you can, you'll more than balanthe the account.
Now, Thquire, if your daughter will ethcuthe me, I thould like one
parting word with you.'

Louisa and Sissy withdrew into an adjoining room; Mr. Sleary,
stirring and drinking his brandy and water as he stood, went on:

'Thquire, - you don't need to be told that dogth ith wonderful
animalth.'

'Their instinct,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'is surprising.'

'Whatever you call it - and I'm bletht if I know what to call it' -
said Sleary, 'it ith athtonithing.  The way in whith a dog'll find
you - the dithtanthe he'll come!'

'His scent,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'being so fine.'

'I'm bletht if I know what to call it,' repeated Sleary, shaking
his head, 'but I have had dogth find me, Thquire, in a way that
made me think whether that dog hadn't gone to another dog, and
thed, "You don't happen to know a perthon of the name of Thleary,
do you?  Perthon of the name of Thleary, in the Horthe-Riding way -
thtout man - game eye?"  And whether that dog mightn't have thed,
"Well, I can't thay I know him mythelf, but I know a dog that I
think would be likely to be acquainted with him."  And whether that
dog mightn't have thought it over, and thed, "Thleary, Thleary!  O
yeth, to be thure!  A friend of mine menthioned him to me at one
time.  I can get you hith addreth directly."  In conthequenth of my
being afore the public, and going about tho muth, you thee, there
mutht be a number of dogth acquainted with me, Thquire, that I
don't know!'

Mr. Gradgrind seemed to be quite confounded by this speculation.

'Any way,' said Sleary, after putting his lips to his brandy and
water, 'ith fourteen month ago, Thquire, thinthe we wath at
Chethter.  We wath getting up our Children in the Wood one morning,
when there cometh into our Ring, by the thtage door, a dog.  He had
travelled a long way, he wath in a very bad condithon, he wath
lame, and pretty well blind.  He went round to our children, one
after another, as if he wath a theeking for a child he know'd; and
then he come to me, and throwd hithelf up behind, and thtood on
hith two forelegth, weak ath he wath, and then he wagged hith tail
and died.  Thquire, that dog wath Merrylegth.'

'Sissy's father's dog!'

'Thethilia'th father'th old dog.  Now, Thquire, I can take my oath,
from my knowledge of that dog, that that man wath dead - and buried
- afore that dog come back to me.  Joth'phine and Childerth and me
talked it over a long time, whether I thould write or not.  But we
agreed, "No.  There'th nothing comfortable to tell; why unthettle
her mind, and make her unhappy?"  Tho, whether her father bathely
detherted her; or whether he broke hith own heart alone, rather
than pull her down along with him; never will be known, now,
Thquire, till - no, not till we know how the dogth findth uth out!'

'She keeps the bottle that he sent her for, to this hour; and she
will believe in his affection to the last moment of her life,' said
Mr. Gradgrind.

'It theemth to prethent two thingth to a perthon, don't it,
Thquire?' said Mr. Sleary, musing as he looked down into the depths
of his brandy and water:  'one, that there ith a love in the world,
not all Thelf-interetht after all, but thomething very different;
t'other, that it bath a way of ith own of calculating or not
calculating, whith thomehow or another ith at leatht ath hard to
give a name to, ath the wayth of the dogth ith!'

Mr. Gradgrind looked out of window, and made no reply.  Mr. Sleary
emptied his glass and recalled the ladies.

'Thethilia my dear, kith me and good-bye!  Mith Thquire, to thee
you treating of her like a thithter, and a thithter that you trutht
and honour with all your heart and more, ith a very pretty thight
to me.  I hope your brother may live to be better detherving of
you, and a greater comfort to you.  Thquire, thake handth, firtht
and latht!  Don't be croth with uth poor vagabondth.  People mutht
be amuthed.  They can't be alwayth a learning, nor yet they can't
be alwayth a working, they an't made for it.  You mutht have uth,
Thquire.  Do the withe thing and the kind thing too, and make the
betht of uth; not the wurtht!'

'And I never thought before,' said Mr. Sleary, putting his head in
at the door again to say it, 'that I wath tho muth of a Cackler!'

CHAPTER IX - FINAL

IT is a dangerous thing to see anything in the sphere of a vain
blusterer, before the vain blusterer sees it himself.  Mr.
Bounderby felt that Mrs. Sparsit had audaciously anticipated him,
and presumed to be wiser than he.  Inappeasably indignant with her
for her triumphant discovery of Mrs. Pegler, he turned this
presumption, on the part of a woman in her dependent position, over
and over in his mind, until it accumulated with turning like a
great snowball.  At last he made the discovery that to discharge
this highly connected female - to have it in his power to say, 'She
was a woman of family, and wanted to stick to me, but I wouldn't
have it, and got rid of her' - would be to get the utmost possible
amount of crowning glory out of the connection, and at the same
time to punish Mrs. Sparsit according to her deserts.

Filled fuller than ever, with this great idea, Mr. Bounderby came
in to lunch, and sat himself down in the dining-room of former
days, where his portrait was.  Mrs. Sparsit sat by the fire, with
her foot in her cotton stirrup, little thinking whither she was
posting.

Since the Pegler affair, this gentlewoman had covered her pity for
Mr. Bounderby with a veil of quiet melancholy and contrition.  In
virtue thereof, it had become her habit to assume a woful look,
which woful look she now bestowed upon her patron.

'What's the matter now, ma'am?' said Mr. Bounderby, in a very
short, rough way.

'Pray, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, 'do not bite my nose off.'

'Bite your nose off, ma'am?' repeated Mr. Bounderby.  'Your nose!'
meaning, as Mrs. Sparsit conceived, that it was too developed a
nose for the purpose.  After which offensive implication, he cut
himself a crust of bread, and threw the knife down with a noise.

Mrs. Sparsit took her foot out of her stirrup, and said, 'Mr.
Bounderby, sir!'

'Well, ma'am?' retorted Mr. Bounderby.  'What are you staring at?'

'May I ask, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'have you been ruffled this
morning?'

'Yes, ma'am.'

'May I inquire, sir,' pursued the injured woman, 'whether I am the
unfortunate cause of your having lost your temper?'

'Now, I'll tell you what, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'I am not come
here to be bullied.  A female may be highly connected, but she
can't be permitted to bother and badger a man in my position, and I
am not going to put up with it.'  (Mr. Bounderby felt it necessary
to get on:  foreseeing that if he allowed of details, he would be
beaten.)

Mrs. Sparsit first elevated, then knitted, her Coriolanian
eyebrows; gathered up her work into its proper basket; and rose.

'Sir,' said she, majestically.  'It is apparent to me that I am in
your way at present.  I will retire to my own apartment.'

'Allow me to open the door, ma'am.'

'Thank you, sir; I can do it for myself.'

'You had better allow me, ma'am,' said Bounderby, passing her, and
getting his hand upon the lock; 'because I can take the opportunity
of saying a word to you, before you go.  Mrs. Sparsit, ma'am, I
rather think you are cramped here, do you know?  It appears to me,
that, under my humble roof, there's hardly opening enough for a
lady of your genius in other people's affairs.'

Mrs. Sparsit gave him a look of the darkest scorn, and said with
great politeness, 'Really, sir?'

'I have been thinking it over, you see, since the late affairs have
happened, ma'am,' said Bounderby; 'and it appears to my poor
judgment - '

'Oh!  Pray, sir,' Mrs. Sparsit interposed, with sprightly
cheerfulness, 'don't disparage your judgment.  Everybody knows how
unerring Mr. Bounderby's judgment is.  Everybody has had proofs of
it.  It must be the theme of general conversation.  Disparage
anything in yourself but your judgment, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit,
laughing.

Mr. Bounderby, very red and uncomfortable, resumed:

'It appears to me, ma'am, I say, that a different sort of
establishment altogether would bring out a lady of your powers.
Such an establishment as your relation, Lady Scadgers's, now.
Don't you think you might find some affairs there, ma'am, to
interfere with?'

'It never occurred to me before, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit; 'but
now you mention it, should think it highly probable.'

'Then suppose you try, ma'am,' said Bounderby, laying an envelope
with a cheque in it in her little basket.  'You can take your own
time for going, ma'am; but perhaps in the meanwhile, it will be
more agreeable to a lady of your powers of mind, to eat her meals
by herself, and not to be intruded upon.  I really ought to
apologise to you - being only Josiah Bounderby of Coketown - for
having stood in your light so long.'

'Pray don't name it, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit.  'If that
portrait could speak, sir - but it has the advantage over the
original of not possessing the power of committing itself and
disgusting others, - it would testify, that a long period has
elapsed since I first habitually addressed it as the picture of a
Noodle.  Nothing that a Noodle does, can awaken surprise or
indignation; the proceedings of a Noodle can only inspire
contempt.'

Thus saying, Mrs. Sparsit, with her Roman features like a medal
struck to commemorate her scorn of Mr. Bounderby, surveyed him
fixedly from head to foot, swept disdainfully past him, and
ascended the staircase.  Mr. Bounderby closed the door, and stood
before the fire; projecting himself after his old explosive manner
into his portrait - and into futurity.

Into how much of futurity?  He saw Mrs. Sparsit fighting out a
daily fight at the points of all the weapons in the female armoury,
with the grudging, smarting, peevish, tormenting Lady Scadgers,
still laid up in bed with her mysterious leg, and gobbling her
insufficient income down by about the middle of every quarter, in a
mean little airless lodging, a mere closet for one, a mere crib for
two; but did he see more?  Did he catch any glimpse of himself
making a show of Bitzer to strangers, as the rising young man, so
devoted to his master's great merits, who had won young Tom's
place, and had almost captured young Tom himself, in the times when
by various rascals he was spirited away?  Did he see any faint
reflection of his own image making a vain-glorious will, whereby
five-and-twenty Humbugs, past five-and-fifty years of age, each
taking upon himself the name, Josiah Bounderby of Coketown, should
for ever dine in Bounderby Hall, for ever lodge in Bounderby
buildings, for ever attend a Bounderby chapel, for ever go to sleep
under a Bounderby chaplain, for ever be supported out of a
Bounderby estate, and for ever nauseate all healthy stomachs, with
a vast amount of Bounderby balderdash and bluster?  Had he any
prescience of the day, five years to come, when Josiah Bounderby of
Coketown was to die of a fit in the Coketown street, and this same
precious will was to begin its long career of quibble, plunder,
false pretences, vile example, little service and much law?
Probably not.  Yet the portrait was to see it all out.

Here was Mr. Gradgrind on the same day, and in the same hour,
sitting thoughtful in his own room.  How much of futurity did he
see?  Did he see himself, a white-haired decrepit man, bending his
hitherto inflexible theories to appointed circumstances; making his
facts and figures subservient to Faith, Hope, and Charity; and no
longer trying to grind that Heavenly trio in his dusty little
mills?  Did he catch sight of himself, therefore much despised by
his late political associates?  Did he see them, in the era of its
being quite settled that the national dustmen have only to do with
one another, and owe no duty to an abstraction called a People,
'taunting the honourable gentleman' with this and with that and
with what not, five nights a-week, until the small hours of the
morning?  Probably he had that much foreknowledge, knowing his men.

Here was Louisa on the night of the same day, watching the fire as
in days of yore, though with a gentler and a humbler face.  How
much of the future might arise before her vision?  Broadsides in
the streets, signed with her father's name, exonerating the late
Stephen Blackpool, weaver, from misplaced suspicion, and publishing
the guilt of his own son, with such extenuation as his years and
temptation (he could not bring himself to add, his education) might
beseech; were of the Present.  So, Stephen Blackpool's tombstone,
with her father's record of his death, was almost of the Present,
for she knew it was to be.  These things she could plainly see.
But, how much of the Future?

A working woman, christened Rachael, after a long illness once
again appearing at the ringing of the Factory bell, and passing to
and fro at the set hours, among the Coketown Hands; a woman of
pensive beauty, always dressed in black, but sweet-tempered and
serene, and even cheerful; who, of all the people in the place,
alone appeared to have compassion on a degraded, drunken wretch of
her own sex, who was sometimes seen in the town secretly begging of
her, and crying to her; a woman working, ever working, but content
to do it, and preferring to do it as her natural lot, until she
should be too old to labour any more?  Did Louisa see this?  Such a
thing was to be.

A lonely brother, many thousands of miles away, writing, on paper
blotted with tears, that her words had too soon come true, and that
all the treasures in the world would be cheaply bartered for a
sight of her dear face?  At length this brother coming nearer home,
with hope of seeing her, and being delayed by illness; and then a
letter, in a strange hand, saying 'he died in hospital, of fever,
such a day, and died in penitence and love of you:  his last word
being your name'?  Did Louisa see these things?  Such things were
to be.

Herself again a wife - a mother - lovingly watchful of her
children, ever careful that they should have a childhood of the
mind no less than a childhood of the body, as knowing it to be even
a more beautiful thing, and a possession, any hoarded scrap of
which, is a blessing and happiness to the wisest?  Did Louisa see
this?  Such a thing was never to be.

But, happy Sissy's happy children loving her; all children loving
her; she, grown learned in childish lore; thinking no innocent and
pretty fancy ever to be despised; trying hard to know her humbler
fellow-creatures, and to beautify their lives of machinery and
reality with those imaginative graces and delights, without which
the heart of infancy will wither up, the sturdiest physical manhood
will be morally stark death, and the plainest national prosperity
figures can show, will be the Writing on the Wall, - she holding
this course as part of no fantastic vow, or bond, or brotherhood,
or sisterhood, or pledge, or covenant, or fancy dress, or fancy
fair; but simply as a duty to be done, - did Louisa see these
things of herself?  These things were to be.

Dear reader!  It rests with you and me, whether, in our two fields
of action, similar things shall be or not.  Let them be!  We shall
sit with lighter bosoms on the hearth, to see the ashes of our
fires turn gray and cold.

*The Project Gutenberg Etext of Hard Times, by Charles Dickens*


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