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|Book The Third - Garnering||Charles Dickens|
Chapter III - Very Decided
|Page 5 of 6||
'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 tonight 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.'
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