BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
8. Chapter Viii - Never Wonder (continued)
There was a library in Coketown, to which general access was easy.
Mr. Gradgrind greatly tormented his mind about what the people read
in this library: a point whereon little rivers of tabular
statements periodically flowed into the howling ocean of tabular
statements, which no diver ever got to any depth in and came up
sane. It was a disheartening circumstance, but a melancholy fact,
that even these readers persisted in wondering. They wondered
about human nature, human passions, human hopes and fears, the
struggles, triumphs and defeats, the cares and joys and sorrows,
the lives and deaths of common men and women! They sometimes,
after fifteen hours' work, sat down to read mere fables about men
and women, more or less like themselves, and about children, more
or less like their own. They took De Foe to their bosoms, instead
of Euclid, and seemed to be on the whole more comforted by
Goldsmith than by Cocker. Mr. Gradgrind was for ever working, in
print and out of print, at this eccentric sum, and he never could
make out how it yielded this unaccountable product.
'I am sick of my life, Loo. I, hate it altogether, and I hate
everybody except you,' said the unnatural young Thomas Gradgrind in
the hair-cutting chamber at twilight.
'You don't hate Sissy, Tom?'
'I hate to be obliged to call her Jupe. And she hates me,' said
'No, she does not, Tom, I am sure!'
'She must,' said Tom. 'She must just hate and detest the whole
set-out of us. They'll bother her head off, I think, before they
have done with her. Already she's getting as pale as wax, and as
heavy as - I am.'
Young Thomas expressed these sentiments sitting astride of a chair
before the fire, with his arms on the back, and his sulky face on
his arms. His sister sat in the darker corner by the fireside, now
looking at him, now looking at the bright sparks as they dropped
upon the hearth.