Tom Comes Home in The Mill on the Floss
TOM was to arrive early in the afternoon, and there was another fluttering heart besides Maggie’s when it was late enough for the sound of the gig wheels to be expected; for if Mrs Tulliver had a strong feeling, it was fondness for her boy. At last the sound came – that quick light bowling of the gig wheels – and in spite of the wind which was blowing the clouds about, and was not likely to respect Mrs Tulliver’s curls and cap-strings, she came outside the door, and even held her hand on Maggie’s offending head, forgetting all the griefs of the morning.
‘There he is, my sweet lad! But, Lord ha’ mercy, he’s got never a collar on; it’s been lost on the road, I’ll be bound, and spoilt the set.’
Mrs Tulliver stood with her arms open; Maggie jumped first on one leg and then on the other; while Tom descended from the gig and said, with masculine reticence as to the tender emotions, ‘Hallo! Yap, what, are you there?’
Nevertheless, he submitted to be kissed willingly enough, though Maggie hung on his neck in rather a strangling fashion, while his blue-grey eyes wandered towards the croft and the lambs and the river where he promised himself that he would begin to fish the first thing to-morrow morning. He was one of those lads that grow everywhere in England, and, at twelve or thirteen years of age, look as much alike as goslings: – a lad with light brown hair, cheeks of cream and roses, full lips, indeterminate nose and eye-brows – a physiognomy in which it seems impossible to discern anything but the generic character of boyhood; as different as possible from poor Maggie’s phiz, which Nature seemed to have moulded and coloured with the most decided intention. But that same Nature has the deep cunning which hides itself under the appearance of openness, so that simple people think they can see through her quite well, and all the while she is secretly preparing a refutation of their confident prophecies. Under these average boyish physiognomies that she seems to turn off by the gross, she conceals some of her most rigid inflexible purposes, some of her most unmodifiable characters, and the dark-eyed, demonstrative, rebellious girl may after all turn out to be a passive being compared with this pink and white bit of masculinity with the indeterminate features.