Death of Tom & Maggie
It was not until Tom had pushed off and they were on
the wide water he face to face with Maggie that the full meaning
of what had happened rushed upon his mind. It came with so
overpowering a force it was such a new revelation to his spirit,
of the depths in life that had lain beyond his vision which he
fancied so keen and clear that he was unable to ask a question.
They sat mutely gazing at each other: Maggie with intense life
looking out from a weary, beaten face Tom pale with a certain awe
and humiliation. Thought was busy though lips were silent: and
though he could ask no question, he guessed a story of almost
miraculous divinely-protected effort. But at last a mist gathered
over the blue-grey eyes, and the lips found a word they could utter:
the old childish Magsie.
Maggie could make no answer but a long deep sob of
that mysterious wondrous happiness that is one with pain.
As soon as she could speak, she said, "We will go to
Lucy, Tom: well go see if she is safe, and then we can help the
Tom rowed with untired vigour, and with a different
speed from poor Maggies. The boat was soon in the current of the
river again, and soon they would be at Tofton.
"Park House stands high up out of the flood," said
Maggie. "Perhaps they have got Lucy there."
Nothing else was said; a new danger was being
carried towards them by the river. Some wooden machinery had just
given way on one of the wharves, and huge fragments were being
floated along. The sun was rising now, and the wide area of watery
desolation was spread out in dreadful clearness around them in
dreadful clearness floated onwards the hurrying, threatening masses.
A large company in a boat that was working its way under the Tofton
houses, observed their danger, and shouted, "Get out of the
But that could not be done at once, and Tom, looking
before him, saw death rushing on them. Huge fragments, clinging
together in fatal fellowship, made one wide mass across the stream.
"It is coming, Maggie!" Tom said, in a deep hoarse
voice, loosing the oars, and clasping her.
The next instant the boat was no longer seen upon
the water and the huge mass was hurrying on in hideous triumph.
But soon the keel of the boat reappeared, a black
speck on the golden water.
The boat reappeared but brother and sister had
gone down in an embrace never to be parted: living through again in
one supreme moment the days when they had clasped their little hands
in love, and roamed the daisied fields together.
Nature repairs her ravages repairs them with her
sunshine, and with human labour. The desolation wrought by that
flood, had left little visible trace on the face of the earth, five
years after. The fifth autumn was rich in golden corn-stacks, rising
in thick clusters among the distant hedgerows; the wharves and
warehouses on the Floss were busy again, with echoes of eager
voices, with hopeful lading and unlading.
And every man and woman mentioned in this history
was still living except those whose end we know.
Nature repairs her ravages but not all. The uptorn
trees are not rooted again; the parted hills are left scared: if
there is a new growth, the trees are not the same as the old, and
the hills underneath their green vesture bear marks of the past
rending. To the eyes that have dwelt on the past, there is no
thought of repair.
Dorlcote Mill was rebuilt. And Dorlcote churchyard,
where the brick grave that held the father whom we know, was found
with the stone laid prostrate upon it after the flood, had
recovered all its grassy order and decent quiet.
Near that brick grave there was a tomb erected, very
soon after the flood, for two bodies were found in close embrace;
and it was visited at different moments by two men who both felt
that their keenest joy and keenest sorrow were ever buried there.
One of them visited the tomb again with a sweet face
beside him but that was years after.
The other was always solitary. His great
companionship was among the trees of Red Deeps, where the buried joy
seemed still to hover like a revisiting spirit.
The tomb bore the names of Tom and Maggie Tulliver,
and below the names was written
"In their death they were not divided."