The Mill on the Floss

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The Mill on the Floss


George Eliot

About this book

The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the more minor River Ripple near the village of St. Ogg's in Lincolnshire, England. Both the river and the village are fictional.

Contents (59)

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Chapter II. Mr Tulliver, of Dorlcote Mill, Declares His Resolution about Tom
Chapter III. Mr Riley Gives His Advice Concerning a School for Tom
Chapter IV. Tom Is Expected
Chapter V. Tom Comes Home
Chapter VI. The Aunts and Uncles Are Coming
Chapter VII. Enter the Aunts and Uncles
Chapter VIII. Mr Tulliver Shows His Weaker Side
Chapter IX. To Garum Firs
Chapter X. Maggie Behaves Worse Than She Expected
Chapter XI. Maggie Tries to Run away from Her Shadow
Chapter XII. Mr and Mrs Glegg at Home
Chapter XIII. Mr Tulliver Further Entangles the Skein of Life
Chapter II. The Christmas Holidays
Chapter III. The New Schoolfellow
Chapter IV. “The Young Idea”
Chapter V. Maggie’s Second Visit
Chapter VI. A Love-Scene
Chapter VII. The Golden Gates Are Passed
Chapter II. Mrs Tulliver’s Teraphim, or Household Gods
Chapter III. The Family Council
Chapter IV. A Vanishing Gleam
Chapter V. Tom Applies His Knife to the Oyster
Chapter VI. Tending to Refute the Popular Prejudice against the Present of a Pocket-Knife
Chapter VII. How a Hen Takes to Stratagem
Chapter VIII. Daylight on the Wreck
Chapter IX. An Item Added to the Family Register
Chapter II. The Torn Nest Is Pierced by the Thorns
Chapter III. A Voice from the Past
Chapter II. Aunt Glegg Learns the Breadth of Bob’s Thumb
Chapter III. The Wavering Balance
Chapter IV. Another Love-Scene
Chapter V. The Cloven Tree
Chapter VI. The Hard-Won Triumph
Chapter VII. A Day of Reckoning
Chapter II. First Impressions
Chapter III. Confidential Moments
Chapter IV. Brother and Sister
Chapter V. Showing That Tom Had Opened the Oyster
Chapter VI. Illustrating the Laws of Attraction
Chapter VII. Philip Re-enters
Chapter VIII. Wakem in a New Light
Chapter IX. Charity in Full-Dress
Chapter X. The Spell Seems Broken
Chapter XI. In the Lane
Chapter XII. A Family Party
Chapter XIII. Borne Along by the Tide
Chapter XIV. Waking
Chapter II. St Ogg’s Passes Judgment
Chapter III. Showing That Old Acquaintances Are Capable of Surprising Us
Chapter IV. Maggie and Lucy
Chapter V. The Last Conflict


Chapter I.Outside Dorlcote Mill

A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace. On this mighty tide the black ships—laden with the fresh-scented fir-planks, with rounded sacks of oil-bearing seed, or with the dark glitter of coal—are borne along to the town of St Ogg’s, which shows its aged, fluted red roofs and the broad gables of its wharves between the low wooded hill and the river-brink, tingeing the water with a soft purple hue under the transient glance of this February sun. Far away on each hand stretch the rich pastures, and the patches of dark earth made ready for the seed of broad-leaved green crops, or touched already with the tint of the tender-bladed autumn-sown corn. There is a remnant still of last year’s golden clusters of beehive-ricks rising at intervals beyond the hedgerows; and everywhere the hedgerows are studded with trees; the distant ships seem to be lifting their masts and stretching their red-brown sails close among the branches of the spreading ash. Just by the red-roofed town the tributary Ripple flows with a lively current into the Floss. How lovely the little river is, with its dark changing wavelets! It seems to me like a living companion while I wander along the bank, and listen to its low, placid voice, as to the voice of one who is deaf and loving. I remember those large dipping willows. I remember the stone bridge.

And this is Dorlcote Mill. I must stand a minute or two here on the bridge and look at it, though the clouds are threatening, and it is far on in the afternoon. Even in this leafless time of departing February it is pleasant to look at,—perhaps the chill, damp season adds a charm to the trimly kept, comfortable dwelling-house, as old as the elms and chestnuts that shelter it from the northern blast. The stream is brimful now, and lies high in this little withy plantation, and half drowns the grassy fringe of the croft in front of the house. As I look at the full stream, the vivid grass, the delicate bright-green powder softening the outline of the great trunks and branches that gleam from under the bare purple boughs, I am in love with moistness, and envy the white ducks that are dipping their heads far into the water here among the withes, unmindful of the awkward appearance they make in the drier world above.

The rush of the water and the booming of the mill bring a dreamy deafness, which seems to heighten the peacefulness of the scene. They are like a great curtain of sound, shutting one out from the world beyond. And now there is the thunder of the huge covered wagon coming home with sacks of grain. That honest wagoner is thinking of his dinner, getting sadly dry in the oven at this late hour; but he will not touch it till he has fed his horses,—the strong, submissive, meek-eyed beasts, who, I fancy, are looking mild reproach at him from between their blinkers, that he should crack his whip at them in that awful manner as if they needed that hint! See how they stretch their shoulders up the slope toward the bridge, with all the more energy because they are so near home. Look at their grand shaggy feet that seem to grasp the firm earth, at the patient strength of their necks, bowed under the heavy collar, at the mighty muscles of their struggling haunches! I should like well to hear them neigh over their hardly-earned feed of corn, and see them, with their moist necks freed from the harness, dipping their eager nostrils into the muddy pond. Now they are on the bridge, and down they go again at a swifter pace, and the arch of the covered wagon disappears at the turning behind the trees.

Now I can turn my eyes toward the mill again, and watch the unresting wheel sending out its diamond jets of water. That little girl is watching it too; she has been standing on just the same spot at the edge of the water ever since I paused on the bridge. And that queer white cur with the brown ear seems to be leaping and barking in ineffectual remonstrance with the wheel; perhaps he is jealous because his playfellow in the beaver bonnet is so rapt in its movement. It is time the little playfellow went in, I think; and there is a very bright fire to tempt her: the red light shines out under the deepening gray of the sky. It is time, too, for me to leave off resting my arms on the cold stone of this bridge....

Ah, my arms are really benumbed. I have been pressing my elbows on the arms of my chair, and dreaming that I was standing on the bridge in front of Dorlcote Mill, as it looked one February afternoon many years ago. Before I dozed off, I was going to tell you what Mr and Mrs Tulliver were talking about, as they sat by the bright fire in the left-hand parlour, on that very afternoon I have been dreaming of.