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Gradgrind pleads with Bitzer. Doesn't the young man have a heart? Bitzer replies like the prize student he was in school: "The circulation, sir, couldn't be carried on without one." Again Gradgrind's careful theories backfire in his face.

Bitzer plans to take Tom back to Bounderby in hopes of being promoted to Tom's old job. Gradgrind offers Bitzer money, but the greedy one has already calculated that he can make more money from the promotion.

Gradgrind makes one more plea for Bitzer's mercy, reminding him of all the hard work lavished on him in Gradgrind's school. Bitzer is unmoved. The school was paid for, he explains, and it was a bargain. But the school is over and he owes no more. His reply is vintage Gradgrind philosophy!

Sleary offers to drive Tom and Bitzer to the railway station, but the circus owner has a trick up his sleeve to help Tom escape. The next morning Sleary reports that his plan has worked. Tom is on a ship bound for another country.

Gradgrind gives what little reward Sleary will accept for his troupe. Sleary asks to talk to him. Some months ago, Sissy's father's dog, Merrylegs, returned to the company, lame and almost blind. Sleary knows that Mr. Jupe is dead, because the dog would never leave its master. He suggests that Sissy not be told, for it would only break her heart.

The return of the dog has shown Sleary once again that there is love in the world, not just self- interest, and that the ways of love are as mysterious as those of a dog.

Sleary has some parting advice for Gradgrind. He asks him not to be too hard on vagabonds such as they. He repeats the advice he gave in Book the First, Chapter 6: people need to be amused as much as they need to learn or to work. Make the best of things, Sleary suggests, not the worst.  


ECC [Hard Times Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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