Page:Eliot - Middlemarch, vol. II, 1872.djvu/209

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199
BOOK IV.—THREE LOVE PROBLEMS.

Vincys, and then moving back to the side of her sister Martha.

"It's wonderful how close poor Peter was," she said, in the same undertones. "We none of us know what he might have had on his mind. I only hope and trust he wasn't a worse liver than we think of, Martha."

Poor Mrs Cranch was bulky, and, breathing asthmatically, had the additional motive for making her remarks unexceptionable and giving them a general bearing, that even her whispers were loud and liable to sudden bursts like those of a deranged barrel-organ.

"I never was covetious, Jane," she replied; "but I have six children and have buried three, and I didn't marry into money. The eldest, that sits there, is but nineteen—so I leave you to guess. And stock always short, and land most awkward. But if ever I've begged and prayed; it's been to God above; though where there's one brother a bachelor and the other childless after twice marrying—anybody might think!"

Meanwhile, Mr Vincy had glanced at the passive face of Mr Rigg, and had taken out his snuff-box and tapped it, but had put it again unopened as an indulgence which, however clarifying to the judgment, was unsuited to the occasion.