So, yes, this is definitely picking up speed and an enjoyable read.
Tom goes off to his new school taught by the enterprising (money loving, debt-ridden) schoolmaster/priest and his gold-digging wife.
He remains mostly unpleasant and arrogant. Somewhat humbled by Euclid. Maggie visits and is way better at all his schoolwork.
Phillip Wakem, “humpbacked” son of Mr. Tulliver’s nemesis, is his only schoolmate. Phillip is much smarter and nicer than Tom.
Tom rents a sword from some guy (Mr. Poulter) and cuts his own foot with it. He and Phillip bond during his convalescence but then grow apart again.
Maggie visits and she and Phillip get along swimmingly (of course).
In the last chapter of Book 2 we get a sudden jump forward in time: Tom is now sixteen and Maggie is thirteen. Maggie and Lucy go to a boarding school together in another town but we get absolutely NOTHING about their experience there. She’s very mature now with her hair up and she comes to visit Tom and announce some bad news: their dad has lost his long standing law suit against Phillip’s father and now they have no money and also he’s had some kind of mental breakdown and only recognizes Maggie, no one else.
She convinces him to leave school and come home with her and they both realize their whole life is only going to get a lot worse from here on out.
A few quotes that stood out to me from Book II:
Maggie at Tom’s school: It was really very interesting, the Latin Grammar that Tom had said no girls could learn; and she was proud because she found it interesting.
The idea of the perfect imperfection of home, when you are a kid:
the happiness of passing from the cold air to the warmth and the kisses and the smiles of that familiar hearth, where the pattern of the rug and the grate and the fire-irons were “first ideas” that it was no more possible to criticise than the solidity and extension of matter. There is no sense of ease like the ease we felt in those scenes where we were born, where objects became dear to us before we had known the labor of choice, and where the outer world seemed only an extension of our own personality; we accepted and loved it as we accepted our own sense of existence and our own limbs.
But heaven knows where that striving might lead us, if our affections had not a trick of twining round those old inferior things; if the loves and sanctities of our life had no deep immovable roots in memory.
Mr. Poulter, who was understood by the company at the Black Swan to have once struck terror into the hearts of the French, was no longer personally formidable.
Great small, telling details about a character:
Mrs. Stelling (schoolmaster’s wife) was not a loving, tender-hearted woman; she was a woman whose skirt sat well, who adjusted her waist and patted her curls with a preoccupied air when she inquired after your welfare.
During Tom’s ridiculous posturing with the sword:
It is doubtful whether our soldiers would be maintained if there were not pacific people at home who like to fancy themselves soldiers.