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"To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me."

Sissy's mistaken answer concerning the "first principle" of political economy alludes to both Matthew 7:12 ("Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets") and to the answer to a question in the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer. Her statement is, however, more commonly known as the Golden Rule.

"They kept him, many times, from what did him real harm. And often and often of a night he used to forget all his troubles in wondering whether the Sultan would let the lady go on with the story or would have her head cut off before it was finished."

Sissy refers to the famous story of Scheherazade, who in Arabian Nights told her husband, the Sultan, a story every night to save herself from the fate of his previous wives, each of whom he had beheaded after one night of marriage. The Arabian Nights were very popular among Victorian workers. Sissy, in relating their stories to her father to keep him from drinking, is in a sense reprising the role of Scheherazade in reverse.


In the Bible, Rachel is the daughter of Laban, beloved of Jacob. Jacob serves seven years to win Rachel's hand, but Laban tricks him into marrying her sister Leah, and he must serve a further seven years before he can marry Rachel. The story is found in Genesis 29: 16-30.

the Smoke-serpents, submissive to the curse of all that tribe, trailed themselves upon the earth

The curse placed on serpents after Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden is found in Genesis 3:14: "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon they belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life."

the touch that could calm the wild waters of his soul, as the uplifted hand of the sublimest love and patience could abate the raging of the sea

In Matthew 8:24-7, Jesus calms a fearful storm; the passage reads in part: "Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm." The allusion to this passage implicitly compares Rachael to Christ, and underscores the positive influence she has on Stephen.

competing Towers of Babel

The construction of the Tower of Babel, where God imposed the different languages upon the earth, is described in Genesis 11:4-9.

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