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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:04:32
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But Stephen did not come earlier, and there was another visitor — a nearer neighbor — who preceded him. When Philip entered the room, he was going merely to bow to Maggie, feeling that their acquaintance was a secret which he was bound not to betray; but when she advanced toward him and put out her hand, he guessed at once that Lucy had been taken into her confidence. It was a moment of some agitation to both, though Philip had spent many hours in preparing for it; but like all persons who have passed through life with little expectation of sympathy, he seldom lost his self-control, and shrank with the most sensitive pride from any noticeable betrayal of emotion. A little extra paleness, a little tension of the nostril when he spoke, and the voice pitched in rather a higher key, that to strangers would seem expressive of cold indifference, were all the signs Philip usually gave of an inward drama that was not without its fierceness. But Maggie, who had little more power of concealing the impressions made upon her than if she had been constructed of musical strings, felt her eyes getting larger with tears as they took each other’s hands in silence. They were not painful tears; they had rather something of the same origin as the tears women and children shed when they have found some protection to cling to and look back on the threatened danger. For Philip, who a little while ago was associated continually in Maggie’s mind with the sense that Tom might reproach her with some justice, had now, in this short space, become a sort of outward conscience to her, that she might fly to for rescue and strength. Her tranquil, tender affection for Philip, with its root deep down in her childhood, and its memories of long quiet talk confirming by distinct successive impressions the first instinctive bias — the fact that in him the appeal was more strongly to her pity and womanly devotedness than to her vanity or other egoistic excitability of her nature — seemed now to make a sort of sacred place, a sanctuary where she could find refuge from an alluring influence which the best part of herself must resist; which must bring horrible tumult within, wretchedness without. This new sense of her relation to Philip nullified the anxious scruples she would otherwise have felt, lest she should overstep the limit of intercourse with him that Tom would sanction; and she put out her hand to him, and felt the tears in her eyes without any consciousness of an inward check. The scene was just what Lucy expected, and her kind heart delighted in bringing Philip and Maggie together again; though, even with all her regard for Philip, she could not resist the impression that her cousin Tom had some excuse for feeling shocked at the physical incongruity between the two — a prosaic person like cousin Tom, who didn’t like poetry and fairy tales. But she began to speak as soon as possible, to set them at ease.

In less than a week Maggie was at St. Ogg’s again — outwardly in much the same position as when her visit there had just begun. It was easy for her to fill her mornings apart from Lucy without any obvious effort; for she had her promised visits to pay to her aunt Glegg, and it was natural that she should give her mother more than usual of her companionship in these last weeks, especially as there were preparations to be thought of for Tom’s housekeeping. But Lucy would hear of no pretext for her remaining away in the evenings; she must always come from aunt Glegg’s before dinner — else what shall I have of you?” said Lucy, with a tearful pout that could not be resisted.

Oh, my dear children,” she burst out, you’ve no call to think well o’ me; I’m a poor aunt to you, for I’m one o’ them as take all and give nothing. How’s my poor brother?”

Oh, there is Tom!” exclaimed Lucy, clapping her hands. He’s come on Sindbad, as I told him. I was afraid he was not going to keep his promise.”

No, I’ve not been drinking,” said Tulliver; I want no drinking to help me make up my mind as I’ll serve no longer under a scoundrel.”


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