BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
9. Chapter Ix - Sissy's Progress
SISSY JUPE had not an easy time of it, between Mr. M'Choakumchild
and Mrs. Gradgrind, and was not without strong impulses, in the
first months of her probation, to run away. It hailed facts all
day long so very hard, and life in general was opened to her as
such a closely ruled ciphering-book, that assuredly she would have
run away, but for only one restraint.
It is lamentable to think of; but this restraint was the result of
no arithmetical process, was self-imposed in defiance of all
calculation, and went dead against any table of probabilities that
any Actuary would have drawn up from the premises. The girl
believed that her father had not deserted her; she lived in the
hope that he would come back, and in the faith that he would be
made the happier by her remaining where she was.
The wretched ignorance with which Jupe clung to this consolation,
rejecting the superior comfort of knowing, on a sound arithmetical
basis, that her father was an unnatural vagabond, filled Mr.
Gradgrind with pity. Yet, what was to be done? M'Choakumchild
reported that she had a very dense head for figures; that, once
possessed with a general idea of the globe, she took the smallest
conceivable interest in its exact measurements; that she was
extremely slow in the acquisition of dates, unless some pitiful
incident happened to be connected therewith; that she would burst
into tears on being required (by the mental process) immediately to
name the cost of two hundred and forty-seven muslin caps at
fourteen-pence halfpenny; that she was as low down, in the school,
as low could be; that after eight weeks of induction into the
elements of Political Economy, she had only yesterday been set
right by a prattler three feet high, for returning to the question,
'What is the first principle of this science?' the absurd answer,
'To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me.'
Mr. Gradgrind observed, shaking his head, that all this was very
bad; that it showed the necessity of infinite grinding at the mill
of knowledge, as per system, schedule, blue book, report, and
tabular statements A to Z; and that Jupe 'must be kept to it.' So
Jupe was kept to it, and became low-spirited, but no wiser.