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Middlemarch (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3.

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These little things are great to little man.—GOLDSMITH.

"Have you seen much of your scientific phoenix, Lydgate, lately?" said

Mr. Toller at one of his Christmas dinner-parties, speaking to Mr.

Farebrother on his right hand.

"Not much, I am sorry to say," answered the Vicar, accustomed to parry

Mr. Toller's banter about his belief in the new medical light. "I am

out of the way and he is too busy."

"Is he? I am glad to hear it," said Dr. Minchin, with mingled suavity

and surprise.

"He gives a great deal of time to the New Hospital," said Mr.

Farebrother, who had his reasons for continuing the subject: "I hear of

that from my neighbor, Mrs. Casaubon, who goes there often. She says

Lydgate is indefatigable, and is making a fine thing of Bulstrode's

institution. He is preparing a new ward in case of the cholera coming

to us."

"And preparing theories of treatment to try on the patients, I

suppose," said Mr. Toller.

"Come, Toller, be candid," said Mr. Farebrother. "You are too clever

not to see the good of a bold fresh mind in medicine, as well as in

everything else; and as to cholera, I fancy, none of you are very sure

what you ought to do. If a man goes a little too far along a new road,

it is usually himself that he harms more than any one else."

"I am sure you and Wrench ought to be obliged to him," said Dr.

Minchin, looking towards Toller, "for he has sent you the cream of

Peacock's patients."

"Lydgate has been living at a great rate for a young beginner," said

Mr. Harry Toller, the brewer. "I suppose his relations in the North

back him up."

"I hope so," said Mr. Chichely, "else he ought not to have married that

nice girl we were all so fond of. Hang it, one has a grudge against a

man who carries off the prettiest girl in the town."

"Ay, by God! and the best too," said Mr. Standish.

"My friend Vincy didn't half like the marriage, I know that," said Mr.

Chichely. "He wouldn't do much. How the relations on the other side

may have come down I can't say." There was an emphatic kind of

reticence in Mr. Chichely's manner of speaking.

"Oh, I shouldn't think Lydgate ever looked to practice for a living,"

said Mr. Toller, with a slight touch of sarcasm, and there the subject

was dropped.

This was not the first time that Mr. Farebrother had heard hints of

Lydgate's expenses being obviously too great to be met by his practice,

but he thought it not unlikely that there were resources or

expectations which excused the large outlay at the time of Lydgate's

marriage, and which might hinder any bad consequences from the

disappointment in his practice. One evening, when he took the pains to

go to Middlemarch on purpose to have a chat with Lydgate as of old, he

noticed in him an air of excited effort quite unlike his usual easy way

of keeping silence or breaking it with abrupt energy whenever he had

anything to say. Lydgate talked persistently when they were in his

work-room, putting arguments for and against the probability of certain

biological views; but he had none of those definite things to say or to

show which give the waymarks of a patient uninterrupted pursuit, such

as he used himself to insist on, saying that "there must be a systole

and diastole in all inquiry," and that "a man's mind must be

continually expanding and shrinking between the whole human horizon and

the horizon of an object-glass." That evening he seemed to be talking

widely for the sake of resisting any personal bearing; and before long

they went into the drawing room, where Lydgate, having asked Rosamond

to give them music, sank back in his chair in silence, but with a

strange light in his eyes. "He may have been taking an opiate," was a

thought that crossed Mr. Farebrother's mind—"tic-douloureux

perhaps—or medical worries."

It did not occur to him that Lydgate's marriage was not delightful: he

believed, as the rest did, that Rosamond was an amiable, docile

creature, though he had always thought her rather uninteresting—a

little too much the pattern-card of the finishing-school; and his

mother could not forgive Rosamond because she never seemed to see that

Henrietta Noble was in the room. "However, Lydgate fell in love with

her," said the Vicar to himself, "and she must be to his taste."

Mr. Farebrother was aware that Lydgate was a proud man, but having very

little corresponding fibre in himself, and perhaps too little care

about personal dignity, except the dignity of not being mean or

foolish, he could hardly allow enough for the way in which Lydgate

shrank, as from a burn, from the utterance of any word about his

private affairs. And soon after that conversation at Mr. Toller's, the

Vicar learned something which made him watch the more eagerly for an

opportunity of indirectly letting Lydgate know that if he wanted to

open himself about any difficulty there was a friendly ear ready.

The opportunity came at Mr. Vincy's, where, on New Year's Day, there

was a party, to which Mr. Farebrother was irresistibly invited, on the

plea that he must not forsake his old friends on the first new year of

his being a greater man, and Rector as well as Vicar. And this party

was thoroughly friendly: all the ladies of the Farebrother family were

present; the Vincy children all dined at the table, and Fred had

persuaded his mother that if she did not invite Mary Garth, the

Farebrothers would regard it as a slight to themselves, Mary being

their particular friend. Mary came, and Fred was in high spirits,

though his enjoyment was of a checkered kind—triumph that his mother

should see Mary's importance with the chief personages in the party

being much streaked with jealousy when Mr. Farebrother sat down by her.

Fred used to be much more easy about his own accomplishments in the

days when he had not begun to dread being "bowled out by Farebrother,"

and this terror was still before him. Mrs. Vincy, in her fullest

matronly bloom, looked at Mary's little figure, rough wavy hair, and

visage quite without lilies and roses, and wondered; trying

unsuccessfully to fancy herself caring about Mary's appearance in

wedding clothes, or feeling complacency in grandchildren who would

"feature" the Garths. However, the party was a merry one, and Mary was

particularly bright; being glad, for Fred's sake, that his friends were

getting kinder to her, and being also quite willing that they should

see how much she was valued by others whom they must admit to be judges.

Mr. Farebrother noticed that Lydgate seemed bored, and that Mr. Vincy

spoke as little as possible to his son-in-law. Rosamond was perfectly

graceful and calm, and only a subtle observation such as the Vicar had

not been roused to bestow on her would have perceived the total absence

of that interest in her husband's presence which a loving wife is sure

to betray, even if etiquette keeps her aloof from him. When Lydgate

was taking part in the conversation, she never looked towards him any

more than if she had been a sculptured Psyche modelled to look another

way: and when, after being called out for an hour or two, he re-entered

the room, she seemed unconscious of the fact, which eighteen months

before would have had the effect of a numeral before ciphers. In

reality, however, she was intensely aware of Lydgate's voice and

movements; and her pretty good-tempered air of unconsciousness was a

studied negation by which she satisfied her inward opposition to him

without compromise of propriety. When the ladies were in the

drawing-room after Lydgate had been called away from the dessert, Mrs.

Farebrother, when Rosamond happened to be near her, said—"You have to

give up a great deal of your husband's society, Mrs. Lydgate."

"Yes, the life of a medical man is very arduous: especially when he is

so devoted to his profession as Mr. Lydgate is," said Rosamond, who was

standing, and moved easily away at the end of this correct little


"It is dreadfully dull for her when there is no company," said Mrs.

Vincy, who was seated at the old lady's side. "I am sure I thought so

when Rosamond was ill, and I was staying with her. You know, Mrs.

Farebrother, ours is a cheerful house. I am of a cheerful disposition

myself, and Mr. Vincy always likes something to be going on. That is

what Rosamond has been used to. Very different from a husband out at

odd hours, and never knowing when he will come home, and of a close,

proud disposition, I think"—indiscreet Mrs. Vincy did lower her tone

slightly with this parenthesis. "But Rosamond always had an angel of a

temper; her brothers used very often not to please her, but she was

never the girl to show temper; from a baby she was always as good as

good, and with a complexion beyond anything. But my children are all

good-tempered, thank God."

This was easily credible to any one looking at Mrs. Vincy as she threw

back her broad cap-strings, and smiled towards her three little girls,

aged from seven to eleven. But in that smiling glance she was obliged

to include Mary Garth, whom the three girls had got into a corner to

make her tell them stories. Mary was just finishing the delicious tale

of Rumpelstiltskin, which she had well by heart, because Letty was

never tired of communicating it to her ignorant elders from a favorite

red volume. Louisa, Mrs. Vincy's darling, now ran to her with

wide-eyed serious excitement, crying, "Oh mamma, mamma, the little man

stamped so hard on the floor he couldn't get his leg out again!"

"Bless you, my cherub!" said mamma; "you shall tell me all about it

to-morrow. Go and listen!" and then, as her eyes followed Louisa back

towards the attractive corner, she thought that if Fred wished her to

invite Mary again she would make no objection, the children being so

pleased with her.

But presently the corner became still more animated, for Mr.

Farebrother came in, and seating himself behind Louisa, took her on his

lap; whereupon the girls all insisted that he must hear

Rumpelstiltskin, and Mary must tell it over again. He insisted too,

and Mary, without fuss, began again in her neat fashion, with precisely

the same words as before. Fred, who had also seated himself near,

would have felt unmixed triumph in Mary's effectiveness if Mr.

Farebrother had not been looking at her with evident admiration, while

he dramatized an intense interest in the tale to please the children.

"You will never care any more about my one-eyed giant, Loo," said Fred

at the end.

"Yes, I shall. Tell about him now," said Louisa.

"Oh, I dare say; I am quite cut out. Ask Mr. Farebrother."

"Yes," added Mary; "ask Mr. Farebrother to tell you about the ants

whose beautiful house was knocked down by a giant named Tom, and he

thought they didn't mind because he couldn't hear them cry, or see them

use their pocket-handkerchiefs."

"Please," said Louisa, looking up at the Vicar.

"No, no, I am a grave old parson. If I try to draw a story out of my

bag a sermon comes instead. Shall I preach you a sermon?" said he,

putting on his short-sighted glasses, and pursing up his lips.

"Yes," said Louisa, falteringly.

"Let me see, then. Against cakes: how cakes are bad things, especially

if they are sweet and have plums in them."

Louisa took the affair rather seriously, and got down from the Vicar's

knee to go to Fred.

"Ah, I see it will not do to preach on New Year's Day," said Mr.

Farebrother, rising and walking away. He had discovered of late that

Fred had become jealous of him, and also that he himself was not losing

his preference for Mary above all other women.

"A delightful young person is Miss Garth," said Mrs. Farebrother, who

had been watching her son's movements.

"Yes," said Mrs. Vincy, obliged to reply, as the old lady turned to her

expectantly. "It is a pity she is not better-looking."

"I cannot say that," said Mrs. Farebrother, decisively. "I like her

countenance. We must not always ask for beauty, when a good God has

seen fit to make an excellent young woman without it. I put good

manners first, and Miss Garth will know how to conduct herself in any


The old lady was a little sharp in her tone, having a prospective

reference to Mary's becoming her daughter-in-law; for there was this

inconvenience in Mary's position with regard to Fred, that it was not

suitable to be made public, and hence the three ladies at Lowick

Parsonage were still hoping that Camden would choose Miss Garth.

New visitors entered, and the drawing-room was given up to music and

games, while whist-tables were prepared in the quiet room on the other

side of the hall. Mr. Farebrother played a rubber to satisfy his

mother, who regarded her occasional whist as a protest against scandal

and novelty of opinion, in which light even a revoke had its dignity.

But at the end he got Mr. Chichely to take his place, and left the

room. As he crossed the hall, Lydgate had just come in and was taking

off his great-coat.

"You are the man I was going to look for," said the Vicar; and instead

of entering the drawing-room, they walked along the hall and stood

against the fireplace, where the frosty air helped to make a glowing

bank. "You see, I can leave the whist-table easily enough," he went

on, smiling at Lydgate, "now I don't play for money. I owe that to

you, Mrs. Casaubon says."

"How?" said Lydgate, coldly.

"Ah, you didn't mean me to know it; I call that ungenerous reticence.

You should let a man have the pleasure of feeling that you have done

him a good turn. I don't enter into some people's dislike of being

under an obligation: upon my word, I prefer being under an obligation

to everybody for behaving well to me."

"I can't tell what you mean," said Lydgate, "unless it is that I once

spoke of you to Mrs. Casaubon. But I did not think that she would

break her promise not to mention that I had done so," said Lydgate,

leaning his back against the corner of the mantel-piece, and showing no

radiance in his face.

"It was Brooke who let it out, only the other day. He paid me the

compliment of saying that he was very glad I had the living though you

had come across his tactics, and had praised me up as a lien and a

Tillotson, and that sort of thing, till Mrs. Casaubon would hear of no

one else."

"Oh, Brooke is such a leaky-minded fool," said Lydgate, contemptuously.

"Well, I was glad of the leakiness then. I don't see why you shouldn't

like me to know that you wished to do me a service, my dear fellow.

And you certainly have done me one. It's rather a strong check to

one's self-complacency to find how much of one's right doing depends on

not being in want of money. A man will not be tempted to say the

Lord's Prayer backward to please the devil, if he doesn't want the

devil's services. I have no need to hang on the smiles of chance now."

"I don't see that there's any money-getting without chance," said

Lydgate; "if a man gets it in a profession, it's pretty sure to come by


Mr. Farebrother thought he could account for this speech, in striking

contrast with Lydgate's former way of talking, as the perversity which

will often spring from the moodiness of a man ill at ease in his

affairs. He answered in a tone of good-humored admission—

"Ah, there's enormous patience wanted with the way of the world. But

it is the easier for a man to wait patiently when he has friends who

love him, and ask for nothing better than to help him through, so far

as it lies in their power."

"Oh yes," said Lydgate, in a careless tone, changing his attitude and

looking at his watch. "People make much more of their difficulties

than they need to do."

He knew as distinctly as possible that this was an offer of help to

himself from Mr. Farebrother, and he could not bear it. So strangely

determined are we mortals, that, after having been long gratified with

the sense that he had privately done the Vicar a service, the

suggestion that the Vicar discerned his need of a service in return

made him shrink into unconquerable reticence. Besides, behind all

making of such offers what else must come?—that he should "mention his

case," imply that he wanted specific things. At that moment, suicide

seemed easier.

Mr. Farebrother was too keen a man not to know the meaning of that

reply, and there was a certain massiveness in Lydgate's manner and

tone, corresponding with his physique, which if he repelled your

advances in the first instance seemed to put persuasive devices out of


"What time are you?" said the Vicar, devouring his wounded feeling.

"After eleven," said Lydgate. And they went into the drawing-room.


1st Gent. Where lies the power, there let the blame lie too.
2d Gent. Nay, power is relative; you cannot fright
The coming pest with border fortresses,
Or catch your carp with subtle argument.
All force is twain in one: cause is not cause
Unless effect be there; and action's self
Must needs contain a passive. So command
Exists but with obedience."

Even if Lydgate had been inclined to be quite open about his affairs,

he knew that it would have hardly been in Mr. Farebrother's power to

give him the help he immediately wanted. With the year's bills coming

in from his tradesmen, with Dover's threatening hold on his furniture,

and with nothing to depend on but slow dribbling payments from patients

who must not be offended—for the handsome fees he had had from

Freshitt Hall and Lowick Manor had been easily absorbed—nothing less

than a thousand pounds would have freed him from actual embarrassment,

and left a residue which, according to the favorite phrase of

hopefulness in such circumstances, would have given him "time to look

about him."

Naturally, the merry Christmas bringing the happy New Year, when

fellow-citizens expect to be paid for the trouble and goods they have

smilingly bestowed on their neighbors, had so tightened the pressure of

sordid cares on Lydgate's mind that it was hardly possible for him to

think unbrokenly of any other subject, even the most habitual and

soliciting. He was not an ill-tempered man; his intellectual activity,

the ardent kindness of his heart, as well as his strong frame, would

always, under tolerably easy conditions, have kept him above the petty

uncontrolled susceptibilities which make bad temper. But he was now a

prey to that worst irritation which arises not simply from annoyances,

but from the second consciousness underlying those annoyances, of

wasted energy and a degrading preoccupation, which was the reverse of

all his former purposes. "This is what I am thinking of; and that

is what I might have been thinking of," was the bitter incessant murmur

within him, making every difficulty a double goad to impatience.

Some gentlemen have made an amazing figure in literature by general

discontent with the universe as a trap of dulness into which their

great souls have fallen by mistake; but the sense of a stupendous self

and an insignificant world may have its consolations. Lydgate's

discontent was much harder to bear: it was the sense that there was a

grand existence in thought and effective action lying around him, while

his self was being narrowed into the miserable isolation of egoistic

fears, and vulgar anxieties for events that might allay such fears.

His troubles will perhaps appear miserably sordid, and beneath the

attention of lofty persons who can know nothing of debt except on a

magnificent scale. Doubtless they were sordid; and for the majority,

who are not lofty, there is no escape from sordidness but by being free

from money-craving, with all its base hopes and temptations, its

watching for death, its hinted requests, its horse-dealer's desire to

make bad work pass for good, its seeking for function which ought to be

another's, its compulsion often to long for Luck in the shape of a wide


It was because Lydgate writhed under the idea of getting his neck

beneath this vile yoke that he had fallen into a bitter moody state

which was continually widening Rosamond's alienation from him. After

the first disclosure about the bill of sale, he had made many efforts

to draw her into sympathy with him about possible measures for

narrowing their expenses, and with the threatening approach of

Christmas his propositions grew more and more definite. "We two can do

with only one servant, and live on very little," he said, "and I shall

manage with one horse." For Lydgate, as we have seen, had begun to

reason, with a more distinct vision, about the expenses of living, and

any share of pride he had given to appearances of that sort was meagre

compared with the pride which made him revolt from exposure as a

debtor, or from asking men to help him with their money.

"Of course you can dismiss the other two servants, if you like," said

Rosamond; "but I should have thought it would be very injurious to your

position for us to live in a poor way. You must expect your practice

to be lowered."

"My dear Rosamond, it is not a question of choice. We have begun too

expensively. Peacock, you know, lived in a much smaller house than

this. It is my fault: I ought to have known better, and I deserve a

thrashing—if there were anybody who had a right to give it me—for

bringing you into the necessity of living in a poorer way than you have

been used to. But we married because we loved each other, I suppose.

And that may help us to pull along till things get better. Come, dear,

put down that work and come to me."

He was really in chill gloom about her at that moment, but he dreaded a

future without affection, and was determined to resist the oncoming of

division between them. Rosamond obeyed him, and he took her on his

knee, but in her secret soul she was utterly aloof from him. The poor

thing saw only that the world was not ordered to her liking, and

Lydgate was part of that world. But he held her waist with one hand

and laid the other gently on both of hers; for this rather abrupt man

had much tenderness in his manners towards women, seeming to have

always present in his imagination the weakness of their frames and the

delicate poise of their health both in body and mind. And he began

again to speak persuasively.

"I find, now I look into things a little, Rosy, that it is wonderful

what an amount of money slips away in our housekeeping. I suppose the

servants are careless, and we have had a great many people coming. But

there must be many in our rank who manage with much less: they must do

with commoner things, I suppose, and look after the scraps. It seems,

money goes but a little way in these matters, for Wrench has everything

as plain as possible, and he has a very large practice."

"Oh, if you think of living as the Wrenches do!" said Rosamond, with a

little turn of her neck. "But I have heard you express your disgust at

that way of living."

"Yes, they have bad taste in everything—they make economy look ugly.

We needn't do that. I only meant that they avoid expenses, although

Wrench has a capital practice."

"Why should not you have a good practice, Tertius? Mr. Peacock had.

You should be more careful not to offend people, and you should send

out medicines as the others do. I am sure you began well, and you got

several good houses. It cannot answer to be eccentric; you should

think what will be generally liked," said Rosamond, in a decided little

tone of admonition.

Lydgate's anger rose: he was prepared to be indulgent towards feminine

weakness, but not towards feminine dictation. The shallowness of a

waternixie's soul may have a charm until she becomes didactic. But he

controlled himself, and only said, with a touch of despotic firmness—

"What I am to do in my practice, Rosy, it is for me to judge. That is

not the question between us. It is enough for you to know that our

income is likely to be a very narrow one—hardly four hundred, perhaps

less, for a long time to come, and we must try to re-arrange our lives

in accordance with that fact."

Rosamond was silent for a moment or two, looking before her, and then

said, "My uncle Bulstrode ought to allow you a salary for the time you

give to the Hospital: it is not right that you should work for nothing."

"It was understood from the beginning that my services would be

gratuitous. That, again, need not enter into our discussion. I have

pointed out what is the only probability," said Lydgate, impatiently.

Then checking himself, he went on more quietly—

"I think I see one resource which would free us from a good deal of the

present difficulty. I hear that young Ned Plymdale is going to be

married to Miss Sophy Toller. They are rich, and it is not often that

a good house is vacant in Middlemarch. I feel sure that they would be

glad to take this house from us with most of our furniture, and they

would be willing to pay handsomely for the lease. I can employ

Trumbull to speak to Plymdale about it."

Rosamond left her husband's knee and walked slowly to the other end of

the room; when she turned round and walked towards him it was evident

that the tears had come, and that she was biting her under-lip and

clasping her hands to keep herself from crying. Lydgate was

wretched—shaken with anger and yet feeling that it would be unmanly to

vent the anger just now.

"I am very sorry, Rosamond; I know this is painful."

"I thought, at least, when I had borne to send the plate back and have

that man taking an inventory of the furniture—I should have thought

that would suffice."

"I explained it to you at the time, dear. That was only a security and

behind that Security there is a debt. And that debt must be paid

within the next few months, else we shall have our furniture sold. If

young Plymdale will take our house and most of our furniture, we shall

be able to pay that debt, and some others too, and we shall be quit of

a place too expensive for us. We might take a smaller house: Trumbull,

I know, has a very decent one to let at thirty pounds a-year, and this

is ninety." Lydgate uttered this speech in the curt hammering way with

which we usually try to nail down a vague mind to imperative facts.

Tears rolled silently down Rosamond's cheeks; she just pressed her

handkerchief against them, and stood looking at the large vase on the

mantel-piece. It was a moment of more intense bitterness than she had

ever felt before. At last she said, without hurry and with careful


"I never could have believed that you would like to act in that way."

"Like it?" burst out Lydgate, rising from his chair, thrusting his

hands in his pockets and stalking away from the hearth; "it's not a

question of liking. Of course, I don't like it; it's the only thing I

can do." He wheeled round there, and turned towards her.

"I should have thought there were many other means than that," said

Rosamond. "Let us have a sale and leave Middlemarch altogether."

"To do what? What is the use of my leaving my work in Middlemarch to

go where I have none? We should be just as penniless elsewhere as we

are here," said Lydgate still more angrily.

"If we are to be in that position it will be entirely your own doing,

Tertius," said Rosamond, turning round to speak with the fullest

conviction. "You will not behave as you ought to do to your own

family. You offended Captain Lydgate. Sir Godwin was very kind to me

when we were at Quallingham, and I am sure if you showed proper regard

to him and told him your affairs, he would do anything for you. But

rather than that, you like giving up our house and furniture to Mr. Ned


There was something like fierceness in Lydgate's eyes, as he answered

with new violence, "Well, then, if you will have it so, I do like it.

I admit that I like it better than making a fool of myself by going to

beg where it's of no use. Understand then, that it is what I like to

There was a tone in the last sentence which was equivalent to the

clutch of his strong hand on Rosamond's delicate arm. But for all

that, his will was not a whit stronger than hers. She immediately

walked out of the room in silence, but with an intense determination to

hinder what Lydgate liked to do.

He went out of the house, but as his blood cooled he felt that the

chief result of the discussion was a deposit of dread within him at the

idea of opening with his wife in future subjects which might again urge

him to violent speech. It was as if a fracture in delicate crystal had

begun, and he was afraid of any movement that might make it fatal. His

marriage would be a mere piece of bitter irony if they could not go on

loving each other. He had long ago made up his mind to what he thought

was her negative character—her want of sensibility, which showed

itself in disregard both of his specific wishes and of his general

aims. The first great disappointment had been borne: the tender

devotedness and docile adoration of the ideal wife must be renounced,

and life must be taken up on a lower stage of expectation, as it is by

men who have lost their limbs. But the real wife had not only her

claims, she had still a hold on his heart, and it was his intense

desire that the hold should remain strong. In marriage, the certainty,

"She will never love me much," is easier to bear than the fear, "I

shall love her no more." Hence, after that outburst, his inward effort

was entirely to excuse her, and to blame the hard circumstances which

were partly his fault. He tried that evening, by petting her, to heal

the wound he had made in the morning, and it was not in Rosamond's

nature to be repellent or sulky; indeed, she welcomed the signs that

her husband loved her and was under control. But this was something

quite distinct from loving him. Lydgate would not have chosen soon to

recur to the plan of parting with the house; he was resolved to carry

it out, and say as little more about it as possible. But Rosamond

herself touched on it at breakfast by saying, mildly—

"Have you spoken to Trumbull yet?"

"No," said Lydgate, "but I shall call on him as I go by this morning.

No time must be lost." He took Rosamond's question as a sign that she

withdrew her inward opposition, and kissed her head caressingly when he

got up to go away.

As soon as it was late enough to make a call, Rosamond went to Mrs.

Plymdale, Mr. Ned's mother, and entered with pretty congratulations

into the subject of the coming marriage. Mrs. Plymdale's maternal view

was, that Rosamond might possibly now have retrospective glimpses of

her own folly; and feeling the advantages to be at present all on the

side of her son, was too kind a woman not to behave graciously.

"Yes, Ned is most happy, I must say. And Sophy Toller is all I could

desire in a daughter-in-law. Of course her father is able to do

something handsome for her—that is only what would be expected with a

brewery like his. And the connection is everything we should desire.

But that is not what I look at. She is such a very nice girl—no airs,

no pretensions, though on a level with the first. I don't mean with

the titled aristocracy. I see very little good in people aiming out of

their own sphere. I mean that Sophy is equal to the best in the town,

and she is contented with that."

"I have always thought her very agreeable," said Rosamond.

"I look upon it as a reward for Ned, who never held his head too high,

that he should have got into the very best connection," continued Mrs.

Plymdale, her native sharpness softened by a fervid sense that she was

taking a correct view. "And such particular people as the Tollers are,

they might have objected because some of our friends are not theirs.

It is well known that your aunt Bulstrode and I have been intimate from

our youth, and Mr. Plymdale has been always on Mr. Bulstrode's side.

And I myself prefer serious opinions. But the Tollers have welcomed

Ned all the same."

"I am sure he is a very deserving, well-principled young man," said

Rosamond, with a neat air of patronage in return for Mrs. Plymdale's

wholesome corrections.

"Oh, he has not the style of a captain in the army, or that sort of

carriage as if everybody was beneath him, or that showy kind of

talking, and singing, and intellectual talent. But I am thankful he

has not. It is a poor preparation both for here and Hereafter."

"Oh dear, yes; appearances have very little to do with happiness," said

Rosamond. "I think there is every prospect of their being a happy

couple. What house will they take?"

"Oh, as for that, they must put up with what they can get. They have

been looking at the house in St. Peter's Place, next to Mr. Hackbutt's;

it belongs to him, and he is putting it nicely in repair. I suppose

they are not likely to hear of a better. Indeed, I think Ned will

decide the matter to-day."

"I should think it is a nice house; I like St. Peter's Place."

"Well, it is near the Church, and a genteel situation. But the windows

are narrow, and it is all ups and downs. You don't happen to know of

any other that would be at liberty?" said Mrs. Plymdale, fixing her

round black eyes on Rosamond with the animation of a sudden thought in


"Oh no; I hear so little of those things."

Rosamond had not foreseen that question and answer in setting out to

pay her visit; she had simply meant to gather any information which

would help her to avert the parting with her own house under

circumstances thoroughly disagreeable to her. As to the untruth in her

reply, she no more reflected on it than she did on the untruth there

was in her saying that appearances had very little to do with

happiness. Her object, she was convinced, was thoroughly justifiable:

it was Lydgate whose intention was inexcusable; and there was a plan in

her mind which, when she had carried it out fully, would prove how very

false a step it would have been for him to have descended from his


She returned home by Mr. Borthrop Trumbull's office, meaning to call

there. It was the first time in her life that Rosamond had thought of

doing anything in the form of business, but she felt equal to the

occasion. That she should be obliged to do what she intensely

disliked, was an idea which turned her quiet tenacity into active

invention. Here was a case in which it could not be enough simply to

disobey and be serenely, placidly obstinate: she must act according to

her judgment, and she said to herself that her judgment was

right—"indeed, if it had not been, she would not have wished to act on


Mr. Trumbull was in the back-room of his office, and received Rosamond

with his finest manners, not only because he had much sensibility to

her charms, but because the good-natured fibre in him was stirred by

his certainty that Lydgate was in difficulties, and that this

uncommonly pretty woman—this young lady with the highest personal

attractions—was likely to feel the pinch of trouble—to find herself

involved in circumstances beyond her control. He begged her to do him

the honor to take a seat, and stood before her trimming and comporting

himself with an eager solicitude, which was chiefly benevolent.

Rosamond's first question was, whether her husband had called on Mr.

Trumbull that morning, to speak about disposing of their house.

"Yes, ma'am, yes, he did; he did so," said the good auctioneer, trying

to throw something soothing into his iteration. "I was about to fulfil

his order, if possible, this afternoon. He wished me not to


"I called to tell you not to go any further, Mr. Trumbull; and I beg of

you not to mention what has been said on the subject. Will you oblige


"Certainly I will, Mrs. Lydgate, certainly. Confidence is sacred with

me on business or any other topic. I am then to consider the

commission withdrawn?" said Mr. Trumbull, adjusting the long ends of

his blue cravat with both hands, and looking at Rosamond deferentially.

"Yes, if you please. I find that Mr. Ned Plymdale has taken a house—the

one in St. Peter's Place next to Mr. Hackbutt's. Mr. Lydgate would be

annoyed that his orders should be fulfilled uselessly. And besides

that, there are other circumstances which render the proposal


"Very good, Mrs. Lydgate, very good. I am at your commands, whenever

you require any service of me," said Mr. Trumbull, who felt pleasure in

conjecturing that some new resources had been opened. "Rely on me, I

beg. The affair shall go no further."

That evening Lydgate was a little comforted by observing that Rosamond

was more lively than she had usually been of late, and even seemed

interested in doing what would please him without being asked. He

thought, "If she will be happy and I can rub through, what does it all

signify? It is only a narrow swamp that we have to pass in a long

journey. If I can get my mind clear again, I shall do."

He was so much cheered that he began to search for an account of

experiments which he had long ago meant to look up, and had neglected

out of that creeping self-despair which comes in the train of petty

anxieties. He felt again some of the old delightful absorption in a

far-reaching inquiry, while Rosamond played the quiet music which was

as helpful to his meditation as the plash of an oar on the evening

lake. It was rather late; he had pushed away all the books, and was

looking at the fire with his hands clasped behind his head in

forgetfulness of everything except the construction of a new

controlling experiment, when Rosamond, who had left the piano and was

leaning back in her chair watching him, said—

"Mr. Ned Plymdale has taken a house already."

Lydgate, startled and jarred, looked up in silence for a moment, like a

man who has been disturbed in his sleep. Then flushing with an

unpleasant consciousness, he asked—

"How do you know?"

"I called at Mrs. Plymdale's this morning, and she told me that he had

taken the house in St. Peter's Place, next to Mr. Hackbutt's."

Lydgate was silent. He drew his hands from behind his head and pressed

them against the hair which was hanging, as it was apt to do, in a mass

on his forehead, while he rested his elbows on his knees. He was

feeling bitter disappointment, as if he had opened a door out of a

suffocating place and had found it walled up; but he also felt sure

that Rosamond was pleased with the cause of his disappointment. He

preferred not looking at her and not speaking, until he had got over

the first spasm of vexation. After all, he said in his bitterness,

what can a woman care about so much as house and furniture? a husband

without them is an absurdity. When he looked up and pushed his hair

aside, his dark eyes had a miserable blank non-expectance of sympathy

in them, but he only said, coolly—

"Perhaps some one else may turn up. I told Trumbull to be on the

look-out if he failed with Plymdale."

Rosamond made no remark. She trusted to the chance that nothing more

would pass between her husband and the auctioneer until some issue

should have justified her interference; at any rate, she had hindered

the event which she immediately dreaded. After a pause, she said—

"How much money is it that those disagreeable people want?"

"What disagreeable people?"

"Those who took the list—and the others. I mean, how much money would

satisfy them so that you need not be troubled any more?"

Lydgate surveyed her for a moment, as if he were looking for symptoms,

and then said, "Oh, if I could have got six hundred from Plymdale for

furniture and as premium, I might have managed. I could have paid off

Dover, and given enough on account to the others to make them wait

patiently, if we contracted our expenses."

"But I mean how much should you want if we stayed in this house?"

"More than I am likely to get anywhere," said Lydgate, with rather a

grating sarcasm in his tone. It angered him to perceive that

Rosamond's mind was wandering over impracticable wishes instead of

facing possible efforts.

"Why should you not mention the sum?" said Rosamond, with a mild

indication that she did not like his manners.

"Well," said Lydgate in a guessing tone, "it would take at least a

thousand to set me at ease. But," he added, incisively, "I have to

consider what I shall do without it, not with it."

Rosamond said no more.

But the next day she carried out her plan of writing to Sir Godwin

Lydgate. Since the Captain's visit, she had received a letter from

him, and also one from Mrs. Mengan, his married sister, condoling with

her on the loss of her baby, and expressing vaguely the hope that they

should see her again at Quallingham. Lydgate had told her that this

politeness meant nothing; but she was secretly convinced that any

backwardness in Lydgate's family towards him was due to his cold and

contemptuous behavior, and she had answered the letters in her most

charming manner, feeling some confidence that a specific invitation

would follow. But there had been total silence. The Captain evidently

was not a great penman, and Rosamond reflected that the sisters might

have been abroad. However, the season was come for thinking of friends

at home, and at any rate Sir Godwin, who had chucked her under the

chin, and pronounced her to be like the celebrated beauty, Mrs. Croly,

who had made a conquest of him in 1790, would be touched by any appeal

from her, and would find it pleasant for her sake to behave as he ought

to do towards his nephew. Rosamond was naively convinced of what an

old gentleman ought to do to prevent her from suffering annoyance. And

she wrote what she considered the most judicious letter possible—one

which would strike Sir Godwin as a proof of her excellent sense—pointing

out how desirable it was that Tertius should quit such a place

as Middlemarch for one more fitted to his talents, how the unpleasant

character of the inhabitants had hindered his professional success, and

how in consequence he was in money difficulties, from which it would

require a thousand pounds thoroughly to extricate him. She did not say

that Tertius was unaware of her intention to write; for she had the

idea that his supposed sanction of her letter would be in accordance

with what she did say of his great regard for his uncle Godwin as the

relative who had always been his best friend. Such was the force of

Poor Rosamond's tactics now she applied them to affairs.

This had happened before the party on New Year's Day, and no answer had

yet come from Sir Godwin. But on the morning of that day Lydgate had

to learn that Rosamond had revoked his order to Borthrop Trumbull.

Feeling it necessary that she should be gradually accustomed to the

idea of their quitting the house in Lowick Gate, he overcame his

reluctance to speak to her again on the subject, and when they were

breakfasting said—

"I shall try to see Trumbull this morning, and tell him to advertise

the house in the 'Pioneer' and the 'Trumpet.' If the thing were

advertised, some one might be inclined to take it who would not

otherwise have thought of a change. In these country places many

people go on in their old houses when their families are too large for

them, for want of knowing where they can find another. And Trumbull

seems to have got no bite at all."

Rosamond knew that the inevitable moment was come. "I ordered Trumbull

not to inquire further," she said, with a careful calmness which was

evidently defensive.

Lydgate stared at her in mute amazement. Only half an hour before he

had been fastening up her plaits for her, and talking the "little

language" of affection, which Rosamond, though not returning it,

accepted as if she had been a serene and lovely image, now and then

miraculously dimpling towards her votary. With such fibres still astir

in him, the shock he received could not at once be distinctly anger; it

was confused pain. He laid down the knife and fork with which he was

carving, and throwing himself back in his chair, said at last, with a

cool irony in his tone—

"May I ask when and why you did so?"

"When I knew that the Plymdales had taken a house, I called to tell him

not to mention ours to them; and at the same time I told him not to let

the affair go on any further. I knew that it would be very injurious

to you if it were known that you wished to part with your house and

furniture, and I had a very strong objection to it. I think that was

reason enough."

"It was of no consequence then that I had told you imperative reasons

of another kind; of no consequence that I had come to a different

conclusion, and given an order accordingly?" said Lydgate, bitingly,

the thunder and lightning gathering about his brow and eyes.

The effect of any one's anger on Rosamond had always been to make her

shrink in cold dislike, and to become all the more calmly correct, in

the conviction that she was not the person to misbehave whatever others

might do. She replied—

"I think I had a perfect right to speak on a subject which concerns me

at least as much as you."

"Clearly—you had a right to speak, but only to me. You had no right

to contradict my orders secretly, and treat me as if I were a fool,"

said Lydgate, in the same tone as before. Then with some added scorn,

"Is it possible to make you understand what the consequences will be?

Is it of any use for me to tell you again why we must try to part with

the house?"

"It is not necessary for you to tell me again," said Rosamond, in a

voice that fell and trickled like cold water-drops. "I remembered what

you said. You spoke just as violently as you do now. But that does

not alter my opinion that you ought to try every other means rather

than take a step which is so painful to me. And as to advertising the

house, I think it would be perfectly degrading to you."

"And suppose I disregard your opinion as you disregard mine?"

"You can do so, of course. But I think you ought to have told me

before we were married that you would place me in the worst position,

rather than give up your own will."

Lydgate did not speak, but tossed his head on one side, and twitched

the corners of his mouth in despair. Rosamond, seeing that he was not

looking at her, rose and set his cup of coffee before him; but he took

no notice of it, and went on with an inward drama and argument,

occasionally moving in his seat, resting one arm on the table, and

rubbing his hand against his hair. There was a conflux of emotions and

thoughts in him that would not let him either give thorough way to his

anger or persevere with simple rigidity of resolve. Rosamond took

advantage of his silence.

"When we were married everyone felt that your position was very high.

I could not have imagined then that you would want to sell our

furniture, and take a house in Bride Street, where the rooms are like

cages. If we are to live in that way let us at least leave


"These would be very strong considerations," said Lydgate, half

ironically—still there was a withered paleness about his lips as he

looked at his coffee, and did not drink—"these would be very strong

considerations if I did not happen to be in debt."

"Many persons must have been in debt in the same way, but if they are

respectable, people trust them. I am sure I have heard papa say that

the Torbits were in debt, and they went on very well. It cannot be

good to act rashly," said Rosamond, with serene wisdom.

Lydgate sat paralyzed by opposing impulses: since no reasoning he could

apply to Rosamond seemed likely to conquer her assent, he wanted to

smash and grind some object on which he could at least produce an

impression, or else to tell her brutally that he was master, and she

must obey. But he not only dreaded the effect of such extremities on

their mutual life—he had a growing dread of Rosamond's quiet elusive

obstinacy, which would not allow any assertion of power to be final;

and again, she had touched him in a spot of keenest feeling by implying

that she had been deluded with a false vision of happiness in marrying

him. As to saying that he was master, it was not the fact. The very

resolution to which he had wrought himself by dint of logic and

honorable pride was beginning to relax under her torpedo contact. He

swallowed half his cup of coffee, and then rose to go.

"I may at least request that you will not go to Trumbull at

present—until it has been seen that there are no other means," said

Rosamond. Although she was not subject to much fear, she felt it safer

not to betray that she had written to Sir Godwin. "Promise me that you

will not go to him for a few weeks, or without telling me."

Lydgate gave a short laugh. "I think it is I who should exact a

promise that you will do nothing without telling me," he said, turning

his eyes sharply upon her, and then moving to the door.

"You remember that we are going to dine at papa's," said Rosamond,

wishing that he should turn and make a more thorough concession to her.

But he only said "Oh yes," impatiently, and went away. She held it to

be very odious in him that he did not think the painful propositions he

had had to make to her were enough, without showing so unpleasant a

temper. And when she put the moderate request that he would defer

going to Trumbull again, it was cruel in him not to assure her of what

he meant to do. She was convinced of her having acted in every way for

the best; and each grating or angry speech of Lydgate's served only as

an addition to the register of offences in her mind. Poor Rosamond for

months had begun to associate her husband with feelings of

disappointment, and the terribly inflexible relation of marriage had

lost its charm of encouraging delightful dreams. It had freed her from

the disagreeables of her father's house, but it had not given her

everything that she had wished and hoped. The Lydgate with whom she

had been in love had been a group of airy conditions for her, most of

which had disappeared, while their place had been taken by every-day

details which must be lived through slowly from hour to hour, not

floated through with a rapid selection of favorable aspects. The

habits of Lydgate's profession, his home preoccupation with scientific

subjects, which seemed to her almost like a morbid vampire's taste, his

peculiar views of things which had never entered into the dialogue of

courtship—all these continually alienating influences, even without

the fact of his having placed himself at a disadvantage in the town,

and without that first shock of revelation about Dover's debt, would

have made his presence dull to her. There was another presence which

ever since the early days of her marriage, until four months ago, had

been an agreeable excitement, but that was gone: Rosamond would not

confess to herself how much the consequent blank had to do with her

utter ennui; and it seemed to her (perhaps she was right) that an

invitation to Quallingham, and an opening for Lydgate to settle

elsewhere than in Middlemarch—in London, or somewhere likely to be

free from unpleasantness—would satisfy her quite well, and make her

indifferent to the absence of Will Ladislaw, towards whom she felt some

resentment for his exaltation of Mrs. Casaubon.

That was the state of things with Lydgate and Rosamond on the New

Year's Day when they dined at her father's, she looking mildly neutral

towards him in remembrance of his ill-tempered behavior at breakfast,

and he carrying a much deeper effect from the inward conflict in which

that morning scene was only one of many epochs. His flushed effort

while talking to Mr. Farebrother—his effort after the cynical pretence

that all ways of getting money are essentially the same, and that

chance has an empire which reduces choice to a fool's illusion—was but

the symptom of a wavering resolve, a benumbed response to the old

stimuli of enthusiasm.

What was he to do? He saw even more keenly than Rosamond did the

dreariness of taking her into the small house in Bride Street, where

she would have scanty furniture around her and discontent within: a

life of privation and life with Rosamond were two images which had

become more and more irreconcilable ever since the threat of privation

had disclosed itself. But even if his resolves had forced the two

images into combination, the useful preliminaries to that hard change

were not visibly within reach. And though he had not given the promise

which his wife had asked for, he did not go again to Trumbull. He even

began to think of taking a rapid journey to the North and seeing Sir

Godwin. He had once believed that nothing would urge him into making

an application for money to his uncle, but he had not then known the

full pressure of alternatives yet more disagreeable. He could not

depend on the effect of a letter; it was only in an interview, however

disagreeable this might be to himself, that he could give a thorough

explanation and could test the effectiveness of kinship. No sooner had

Lydgate begun to represent this step to himself as the easiest than

there was a reaction of anger that he—he who had long ago determined

to live aloof from such abject calculations, such self-interested

anxiety about the inclinations and the pockets of men with whom he had

been proud to have no aims in common—should have fallen not simply to

their level, but to the level of soliciting them.


"One of us two must bowen douteless,
And, sith a man is more reasonable
Than woman is, ye [men] moste be suffrable.
—CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales.

The bias of human nature to be slow in correspondence triumphs even

over the present quickening in the general pace of things: what wonder

then that in 1832 old Sir Godwin Lydgate was slow to write a letter

which was of consequence to others rather than to himself? Nearly

three weeks of the new year were gone, and Rosamond, awaiting an answer

to her winning appeal, was every day disappointed. Lydgate, in total

ignorance of her expectations, was seeing the bills come in, and

feeling that Dover's use of his advantage over other creditors was

imminent. He had never mentioned to Rosamond his brooding purpose of

going to Quallingham: he did not want to admit what would appear to her

a concession to her wishes after indignant refusal, until the last

moment; but he was really expecting to set off soon. A slice of the

railway would enable him to manage the whole journey and back in four


But one morning after Lydgate had gone out, a letter came addressed to

him, which Rosamond saw clearly to be from Sir Godwin. She was full of

hope. Perhaps there might be a particular note to her enclosed; but

Lydgate was naturally addressed on the question of money or other aid,

and the fact that he was written to, nay, the very delay in writing at

all, seemed to certify that the answer was thoroughly compliant. She

was too much excited by these thoughts to do anything but light

stitching in a warm corner of the dining-room, with the outside of this

momentous letter lying on the table before her. About twelve she heard

her husband's step in the passage, and tripping to open the door, she

said in her lightest tones, "Tertius, come in here—here is a letter

for you."

"Ah?" he said, not taking off his hat, but just turning her round

within his arm to walk towards the spot where the letter lay. "My

uncle Godwin!" he exclaimed, while Rosamond reseated herself, and

watched him as he opened the letter. She had expected him to be


While Lydgate's eyes glanced rapidly over the brief letter, she saw his

face, usually of a pale brown, taking on a dry whiteness; with nostrils

and lips quivering he tossed down the letter before her, and said


"It will be impossible to endure life with you, if you will always be

acting secretly—acting in opposition to me and hiding your actions."

He checked his speech and turned his back on her—then wheeled round

and walked about, sat down, and got up again restlessly, grasping hard

the objects deep down in his pockets. He was afraid of saying

something irremediably cruel.

Rosamond too had changed color as she read. The letter ran in this


"DEAR TERTIUS,—Don't set your wife to write to me when you have
anything to ask. It is a roundabout wheedling sort of thing which I
should not have credited you with. I never choose to write to a woman
on matters of business. As to my supplying you with a thousand pounds,
or only half that sum, I can do nothing of the sort. My own family
drains me to the last penny. With two younger sons and three
daughters, I am not likely to have cash to spare. You seem to have got
through your own money pretty quickly, and to have made a mess where
you are; the sooner you go somewhere else the better. But I have
nothing to do with men of your profession, and can't help you there. I
did the best I could for you as guardian, and let you have your own way
in taking to medicine. You might have gone into the army or the
Church. Your money would have held out for that, and there would have
been a surer ladder before you. Your uncle Charles has had a grudge
against you for not going into his profession, but not I. I have always
wished you well, but you must consider yourself on your own legs
entirely now.

Your affectionate uncle,

When Rosamond had finished reading the letter she sat quite still, with

her hands folded before her, restraining any show of her keen

disappointment, and intrenching herself in quiet passivity under her

husband's wrath. Lydgate paused in his movements, looked at her again,

and said, with biting severity—

"Will this be enough to convince you of the harm you may do by secret

meddling? Have you sense enough to recognize now your incompetence to

judge and act for me—to interfere with your ignorance in affairs which

it belongs to me to decide on?"

The words were hard; but this was not the first time that Lydgate had

been frustrated by her. She did not look at him, and made no reply.

"I had nearly resolved on going to Quallingham. It would have cost me

pain enough to do it, yet it might have been of some use. But it has

been of no use for me to think of anything. You have always been

counteracting me secretly. You delude me with a false assent, and then

I am at the mercy of your devices. If you mean to resist every wish I

express, say so and defy me. I shall at least know what I am doing


It is a terrible moment in young lives when the closeness of love's

bond has turned to this power of galling. In spite of Rosamond's

self-control a tear fell silently and rolled over her lips. She still

said nothing; but under that quietude was hidden an intense effect: she

was in such entire disgust with her husband that she wished she had

never seen him. Sir Godwin's rudeness towards her and utter want of

feeling ranged him with Dover and all other creditors—disagreeable

people who only thought of themselves, and did not mind how annoying

they were to her. Even her father was unkind, and might have done more

for them. In fact there was but one person in Rosamond's world whom

she did not regard as blameworthy, and that was the graceful creature

with blond plaits and with little hands crossed before her, who had

never expressed herself unbecomingly, and had always acted for the

best—the best naturally being what she best liked.

Lydgate pausing and looking at her began to feel that half-maddening

sense of helplessness which comes over passionate people when their

passion is met by an innocent-looking silence whose meek victimized air

seems to put them in the wrong, and at last infects even the justest

indignation with a doubt of its justice. He needed to recover the full

sense that he was in the right by moderating his words.

"Can you not see, Rosamond," he began again, trying to be simply grave

and not bitter, "that nothing can be so fatal as a want of openness and

confidence between us? It has happened again and again that I have

expressed a decided wish, and you have seemed to assent, yet after that

you have secretly disobeyed my wish. In that way I can never know what

I have to trust to. There would be some hope for us if you would admit

this. Am I such an unreasonable, furious brute? Why should you not be

open with me?" Still silence.

"Will you only say that you have been mistaken, and that I may depend

on your not acting secretly in future?" said Lydgate, urgently, but

with something of request in his tone which Rosamond was quick to

perceive. She spoke with coolness.

"I cannot possibly make admissions or promises in answer to such words

as you have used towards me. I have not been accustomed to language of

that kind. You have spoken of my 'secret meddling,' and my

'interfering ignorance,' and my 'false assent.' I have never expressed

myself in that way to you, and I think that you ought to apologize.

You spoke of its being impossible to live with me. Certainly you have

not made my life pleasant to me of late. I think it was to be expected

that I should try to avert some of the hardships which our marriage has

brought on me." Another tear fell as Rosamond ceased speaking, and she

pressed it away as quietly as the first.

Lydgate flung himself into a chair, feeling checkmated. What place was

there in her mind for a remonstrance to lodge in? He laid down his

hat, flung an arm over the back of his chair, and looked down for some

moments without speaking. Rosamond had the double purchase over him of

insensibility to the point of justice in his reproach, and of

sensibility to the undeniable hardships now present in her married

life. Although her duplicity in the affair of the house had exceeded

what he knew, and had really hindered the Plymdales from knowing of it,

she had no consciousness that her action could rightly be called false.

We are not obliged to identify our own acts according to a strict

classification, any more than the materials of our grocery and clothes.

Rosamond felt that she was aggrieved, and that this was what Lydgate

had to recognize.

As for him, the need of accommodating himself to her nature, which was

inflexible in proportion to its negations, held him as with pincers.

He had begun to have an alarmed foresight of her irrevocable loss of

love for him, and the consequent dreariness of their life. The ready

fulness of his emotions made this dread alternate quickly with the

first violent movements of his anger. It would assuredly have been a

vain boast in him to say that he was her master.

"You have not made my life pleasant to me of late"—"the hardships

which our marriage has brought on me"—these words were stinging his

imagination as a pain makes an exaggerated dream. If he were not only

to sink from his highest resolve, but to sink into the hideous

fettering of domestic hate?

"Rosamond," he said, turning his eyes on her with a melancholy look,

"you should allow for a man's words when he is disappointed and

provoked. You and I cannot have opposite interests. I cannot part my

happiness from yours. If I am angry with you, it is that you seem not

to see how any concealment divides us. How could I wish to make

anything hard to you either by my words or conduct? When I hurt you, I

hurt part of my own life. I should never be angry with you if you

would be quite open with me."

"I have only wished to prevent you from hurrying us into wretchedness

without any necessity," said Rosamond, the tears coming again from a

softened feeling now that her husband had softened. "It is so very

hard to be disgraced here among all the people we know, and to live in

such a miserable way. I wish I had died with the baby."

She spoke and wept with that gentleness which makes such words and

tears omnipotent over a loving-hearted man. Lydgate drew his chair

near to hers and pressed her delicate head against his cheek with his

powerful tender hand. He only caressed her; he did not say anything;

for what was there to say? He could not promise to shield her from the

dreaded wretchedness, for he could see no sure means of doing so. When

he left her to go out again, he told himself that it was ten times

harder for her than for him: he had a life away from home, and constant

appeals to his activity on behalf of others. He wished to excuse

everything in her if he could—but it was inevitable that in that

excusing mood he should think of her as if she were an animal of

another and feebler species. Nevertheless she had mastered him.


"'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall."
—Measure for Measure.

Lydgate certainly had good reason to reflect on the service his

practice did him in counteracting his personal cares. He had no longer

free energy enough for spontaneous research and speculative thinking,

but by the bedside of patients, the direct external calls on his

judgment and sympathies brought the added impulse needed to draw him

out of himself. It was not simply that beneficent harness of routine

which enables silly men to live respectably and unhappy men to live

calmly—it was a perpetual claim on the immediate fresh application of

thought, and on the consideration of another's need and trial. Many of

us looking back through life would say that the kindest man we have

ever known has been a medical man, or perhaps that surgeon whose fine

tact, directed by deeply informed perception, has come to us in our

need with a more sublime beneficence than that of miracle-workers. Some

of that twice-blessed mercy was always with Lydgate in his work at the

Hospital or in private houses, serving better than any opiate to quiet

and sustain him under his anxieties and his sense of mental degeneracy.

Mr. Farebrother's suspicion as to the opiate was true, however. Under

the first galling pressure of foreseen difficulties, and the first

perception that his marriage, if it were not to be a yoked loneliness,

must be a state of effort to go on loving without too much care about

being loved, he had once or twice tried a dose of opium. But he had no

hereditary constitutional craving after such transient escapes from the

hauntings of misery. He was strong, could drink a great deal of wine,

but did not care about it; and when the men round him were drinking

spirits, he took sugar and water, having a contemptuous pity even for

the earliest stages of excitement from drink. It was the same with

gambling. He had looked on at a great deal of gambling in Paris,

watching it as if it had been a disease. He was no more tempted by

such winning than he was by drink. He had said to himself that the

only winning he cared for must be attained by a conscious process of

high, difficult combination tending towards a beneficent result. The

power he longed for could not be represented by agitated fingers

clutching a heap of coin, or by the half-barbarous, half-idiotic

triumph in the eyes of a man who sweeps within his arms the ventures of

twenty chapfallen companions.

But just as he had tried opium, so his thought now began to turn upon

gambling—not with appetite for its excitement, but with a sort of

wistful inward gaze after that easy way of getting money, which implied

no asking and brought no responsibility. If he had been in London or

Paris at that time, it is probable that such thoughts, seconded by

opportunity, would have taken him into a gambling-house, no longer to

watch the gamblers, but to watch with them in kindred eagerness.

Repugnance would have been surmounted by the immense need to win, if

chance would be kind enough to let him. An incident which happened not

very long after that airy notion of getting aid from his uncle had been

excluded, was a strong sign of the effect that might have followed any

extant opportunity of gambling.

The billiard-room at the Green Dragon was the constant resort of a

certain set, most of whom, like our acquaintance Mr. Bambridge, were

regarded as men of pleasure. It was here that poor Fred Vincy had made

part of his memorable debt, having lost money in betting, and been

obliged to borrow of that gay companion. It was generally known in

Middlemarch that a good deal of money was lost and won in this way; and

the consequent repute of the Green Dragon as a place of dissipation

naturally heightened in some quarters the temptation to go there.

Probably its regular visitants, like the initiates of freemasonry,

wished that there were something a little more tremendous to keep to

themselves concerning it; but they were not a closed community, and

many decent seniors as well as juniors occasionally turned into the

billiard-room to see what was going on. Lydgate, who had the muscular

aptitude for billiards, and was fond of the game, had once or twice in

the early days after his arrival in Middlemarch taken his turn with the

cue at the Green Dragon; but afterwards he had no leisure for the game,

and no inclination for the socialities there. One evening, however, he

had occasion to seek Mr. Bambridge at that resort. The horsedealer had

engaged to get him a customer for his remaining good horse, for which

Lydgate had determined to substitute a cheap hack, hoping by this

reduction of style to get perhaps twenty pounds; and he cared now for

every small sum, as a help towards feeding the patience of his

tradesmen. To run up to the billiard-room, as he was passing, would

save time.

Mr. Bambridge was not yet come, but would be sure to arrive by-and-by,

said his friend Mr. Horrock; and Lydgate stayed, playing a game for the

sake of passing the time. That evening he had the peculiar light in

the eyes and the unusual vivacity which had been once noticed in him by

Mr. Farebrother. The exceptional fact of his presence was much noticed

in the room, where there was a good deal of Middlemarch company; and

several lookers-on, as well as some of the players, were betting with

animation. Lydgate was playing well, and felt confident; the bets were

dropping round him, and with a swift glancing thought of the probable

gain which might double the sum he was saving from his horse, he began

to bet on his own play, and won again and again. Mr. Bambridge had

come in, but Lydgate did not notice him. He was not only excited with

his play, but visions were gleaming on him of going the next day to

Brassing, where there was gambling on a grander scale to be had, and

where, by one powerful snatch at the devil's bait, he might carry it

off without the hook, and buy his rescue from his daily solicitings.

He was still winning when two new visitors entered. One of them was a

young Hawley, just come from his law studies in town, and the other was

Fred Vincy, who had spent several evenings of late at this old haunt of

his. Young Hawley, an accomplished billiard-player, brought a cool

fresh hand to the cue. But Fred Vincy, startled at seeing Lydgate, and

astonished to see him betting with an excited air, stood aside, and

kept out of the circle round the table.

Fred had been rewarding resolution by a little laxity of late. He had

been working heartily for six months at all outdoor occupations under

Mr. Garth, and by dint of severe practice had nearly mastered the

defects of his handwriting, this practice being, perhaps, a little the

less severe that it was often carried on in the evening at Mr. Garth's

under the eyes of Mary. But the last fortnight Mary had been staying

at Lowick Parsonage with the ladies there, during Mr. Farebrother's

residence in Middlemarch, where he was carrying out some parochial

plans; and Fred, not seeing anything more agreeable to do, had turned

into the Green Dragon, partly to play at billiards, partly to taste the

old flavor of discourse about horses, sport, and things in general,

considered from a point of view which was not strenuously correct. He

had not been out hunting once this season, had had no horse of his own

to ride, and had gone from place to place chiefly with Mr. Garth in his

gig, or on the sober cob which Mr. Garth could lend him. It was a

little too bad, Fred began to think, that he should be kept in the

traces with more severity than if he had been a clergyman. "I will

tell you what, Mistress Mary—it will be rather harder work to learn

surveying and drawing plans than it would have been to write sermons,"

he had said, wishing her to appreciate what he went through for her

sake; "and as to Hercules and Theseus, they were nothing to me. They

had sport, and never learned to write a bookkeeping hand." And now,

Mary being out of the way for a little while, Fred, like any other

strong dog who cannot slip his collar, had pulled up the staple of his

chain and made a small escape, not of course meaning to go fast or far.

There could be no reason why he should not play at billiards, but he

was determined not to bet. As to money just now, Fred had in his mind

the heroic project of saving almost all of the eighty pounds that Mr.

Garth offered him, and returning it, which he could easily do by giving

up all futile money-spending, since he had a superfluous stock of

clothes, and no expense in his board. In that way he could, in one

year, go a good way towards repaying the ninety pounds of which he had

deprived Mrs. Garth, unhappily at a time when she needed that sum more

than she did now. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that on this

evening, which was the fifth of his recent visits to the billiard-room,

Fred had, not in his pocket, but in his mind, the ten pounds which he

meant to reserve for himself from his half-year's salary (having before

him the pleasure of carrying thirty to Mrs. Garth when Mary was likely

to be come home again)—he had those ten pounds in his mind as a fund

from which he might risk something, if there were a chance of a good

bet. Why? Well, when sovereigns were flying about, why shouldn't he

catch a few? He would never go far along that road again; but a man

likes to assure himself, and men of pleasure generally, what he could

do in the way of mischief if he chose, and that if he abstains from

making himself ill, or beggaring himself, or talking with the utmost

looseness which the narrow limits of human capacity will allow, it is

not because he is a spooney. Fred did not enter into formal reasons,

which are a very artificial, inexact way of representing the tingling

returns of old habit, and the caprices of young blood: but there was

lurking in him a prophetic sense that evening, that when he began to

play he should also begin to bet—that he should enjoy some

punch-drinking, and in general prepare himself for feeling "rather

seedy" in the morning. It is in such indefinable movements that action

often begins.

But the last thing likely to have entered Fred's expectation was that

he should see his brother-in-law Lydgate—of whom he had never quite

dropped the old opinion that he was a prig, and tremendously conscious

of his superiority—looking excited and betting, just as he himself

might have done. Fred felt a shock greater than he could quite account

for by the vague knowledge that Lydgate was in debt, and that his

father had refused to help him; and his own inclination to enter into

the play was suddenly checked. It was a strange reversal of attitudes:

Fred's blond face and blue eyes, usually bright and careless, ready to

give attention to anything that held out a promise of amusement,

looking involuntarily grave and almost embarrassed as if by the sight

of something unfitting; while Lydgate, who had habitually an air of

self-possessed strength, and a certain meditativeness that seemed to

lie behind his most observant attention, was acting, watching, speaking

with that excited narrow consciousness which reminds one of an animal

with fierce eyes and retractile claws.

Lydgate, by betting on his own strokes, had won sixteen pounds; but

young Hawley's arrival had changed the poise of things. He made

first-rate strokes himself, and began to bet against Lydgate's strokes,

the strain of whose nerves was thus changed from simple confidence in

his own movements to defying another person's doubt in them. The

defiance was more exciting than the confidence, but it was less sure.

He continued to bet on his own play, but began often to fail. Still he

went on, for his mind was as utterly narrowed into that precipitous

crevice of play as if he had been the most ignorant lounger there.

Fred observed that Lydgate was losing fast, and found himself in the

new situation of puzzling his brains to think of some device by which,

without being offensive, he could withdraw Lydgate's attention, and

perhaps suggest to him a reason for quitting the room. He saw that

others were observing Lydgate's strange unlikeness to himself, and it

occurred to him that merely to touch his elbow and call him aside for a

moment might rouse him from his absorption. He could think of nothing

cleverer than the daring improbability of saying that he wanted to see

Rosy, and wished to know if she were at home this evening; and he was

going desperately to carry out this weak device, when a waiter came up

to him with a message, saying that Mr. Farebrother was below, and

begged to speak with him.

Fred was surprised, not quite comfortably, but sending word that he

would be down immediately, he went with a new impulse up to Lydgate,

said, "Can I speak to you a moment?" and drew him aside.

"Farebrother has just sent up a message to say that he wants to speak

to me. He is below. I thought you might like to know he was there, if

you had anything to say to him."

Fred had simply snatched up this pretext for speaking, because he could

not say, "You are losing confoundedly, and are making everybody stare

at you; you had better come away." But inspiration could hardly have

served him better. Lydgate had not before seen that Fred was present,

and his sudden appearance with an announcement of Mr. Farebrother had

the effect of a sharp concussion.

"No, no," said Lydgate; "I have nothing particular to say to him.

But—the game is up—I must be going—I came in just to see Bambridge."

"Bambridge is over there, but he is making a row—I don't think he's

ready for business. Come down with me to Farebrother. I expect he is

going to blow me up, and you will shield me," said Fred, with some


Lydgate felt shame, but could not bear to act as if he felt it, by

refusing to see Mr. Farebrother; and he went down. They merely shook

hands, however, and spoke of the frost; and when all three had turned

into the street, the Vicar seemed quite willing to say good-by to

Lydgate. His present purpose was clearly to talk with Fred alone, and

he said, kindly, "I disturbed you, young gentleman, because I have some

pressing business with you. Walk with me to St. Botolph's, will you?"

It was a fine night, the sky thick with stars, and Mr. Farebrother

proposed that they should make a circuit to the old church by the

London road. The next thing he said was—

"I thought Lydgate never went to the Green Dragon?"

"So did I," said Fred. "But he said that he went to see Bambridge."

"He was not playing, then?"

Fred had not meant to tell this, but he was obliged now to say, "Yes,

he was. But I suppose it was an accidental thing. I have never seen

him there before."

"You have been going often yourself, then, lately?"

"Oh, about five or six times."

"I think you had some good reason for giving up the habit of going


"Yes. You know all about it," said Fred, not liking to be catechised

in this way. "I made a clean breast to you."

"I suppose that gives me a warrant to speak about the matter now. It

is understood between us, is it not?—that we are on a footing of open

friendship: I have listened to you, and you will be willing to listen

to me. I may take my turn in talking a little about myself?"

"I am under the deepest obligation to you, Mr. Farebrother," said Fred,

in a state of uncomfortable surmise.

"I will not affect to deny that you are under some obligation to me.

But I am going to confess to you, Fred, that I have been tempted to

reverse all that by keeping silence with you just now. When somebody

said to me, 'Young Vincy has taken to being at the billiard-table every

night again—he won't bear the curb long;' I was tempted to do the

opposite of what I am doing—to hold my tongue and wait while you went

down the ladder again, betting first and then—"

"I have not made any bets," said Fred, hastily.

"Glad to hear it. But I say, my prompting was to look on and see you

take the wrong turning, wear out Garth's patience, and lose the best

opportunity of your life—the opportunity which you made some rather

difficult effort to secure. You can guess the feeling which raised

that temptation in me—I am sure you know it. I am sure you know that

the satisfaction of your affections stands in the way of mine."

There was a pause. Mr. Farebrother seemed to wait for a recognition of

the fact; and the emotion perceptible in the tones of his fine voice

gave solemnity to his words. But no feeling could quell Fred's alarm.

"I could not be expected to give her up," he said, after a moment's

hesitation: it was not a case for any pretence of generosity.

"Clearly not, when her affection met yours. But relations of this

sort, even when they are of long standing, are always liable to change.

I can easily conceive that you might act in a way to loosen the tie she

feels towards you—it must be remembered that she is only conditionally

bound to you—and that in that case, another man, who may flatter

himself that he has a hold on her regard, might succeed in winning that

firm place in her love as well as respect which you had let slip. I

can easily conceive such a result," repeated Mr. Farebrother,

emphatically. "There is a companionship of ready sympathy, which might

get the advantage even over the longest associations." It seemed to

Fred that if Mr. Farebrother had had a beak and talons instead of his

very capable tongue, his mode of attack could hardly be more cruel. He

had a horrible conviction that behind all this hypothetic statement

there was a knowledge of some actual change in Mary's feeling.

"Of course I know it might easily be all up with me," he said, in a

troubled voice. "If she is beginning to compare—" He broke off, not

liking to betray all he felt, and then said, by the help of a little

bitterness, "But I thought you were friendly to me."

"So I am; that is why we are here. But I have had a strong disposition

to be otherwise. I have said to myself, 'If there is a likelihood of

that youngster doing himself harm, why should you interfere? Aren't

you worth as much as he is, and don't your sixteen years over and above

his, in which you have gone rather hungry, give you more right to

satisfaction than he has? If there's a chance of his going to the

dogs, let him—perhaps you could nohow hinder it—and do you take the


There was a pause, in which Fred was seized by a most uncomfortable

chill. What was coming next? He dreaded to hear that something had

been said to Mary—he felt as if he were listening to a threat rather

than a warning. When the Vicar began again there was a change in his

tone like the encouraging transition to a major key.

"But I had once meant better than that, and I am come back to my old

intention. I thought that I could hardly secure myself in it better,

Fred, than by telling you just what had gone on in me. And now, do you

understand me? I want you to make the happiness of her life and your

own, and if there is any chance that a word of warning from me may turn

aside any risk to the contrary—well, I have uttered it."

There was a drop in the Vicar's voice when he spoke the last words. He

paused—they were standing on a patch of green where the road diverged

towards St. Botolph's, and he put out his hand, as if to imply that the

conversation was closed. Fred was moved quite newly. Some one highly

susceptible to the contemplation of a fine act has said, that it

produces a sort of regenerating shudder through the frame, and makes

one feel ready to begin a new life. A good degree of that effect was

just then present in Fred Vincy.

"I will try to be worthy," he said, breaking off before he could say

"of you as well as of her." And meanwhile Mr. Farebrother had gathered

the impulse to say something more.

"You must not imagine that I believe there is at present any decline in

her preference of you, Fred. Set your heart at rest, that if you keep

right, other things will keep right."

"I shall never forget what you have done," Fred answered. "I can't say

anything that seems worth saying—only I will try that your goodness

shall not be thrown away."

"That's enough. Good-by, and God bless you."

In that way they parted. But both of them walked about a long while

before they went out of the starlight. Much of Fred's rumination might

be summed up in the words, "It certainly would have been a fine thing

for her to marry Farebrother—but if she loves me best and I am a good


Perhaps Mr. Farebrother's might be concentrated into a single shrug and

one little speech. "To think of the part one little woman can play in

the life of a man, so that to renounce her may be a very good imitation

of heroism, and to win her may be a discipline!"


Now is there civil war within the soul:
Resolve is thrust from off the sacred throne
By clamorous Needs, and Pride the grand-vizier
Makes humble compact, plays the supple part
Of envoy and deft-tongued apologist
For hungry rebels.

Happily Lydgate had ended by losing in the billiard-room, and brought

away no encouragement to make a raid on luck. On the contrary, he felt

unmixed disgust with himself the next day when he had to pay four or

five pounds over and above his gains, and he carried about with him a

most unpleasant vision of the figure he had made, not only rubbing

elbows with the men at the Green Dragon but behaving just as they did.

A philosopher fallen to betting is hardly distinguishable from a

Philistine under the same circumstances: the difference will chiefly be

found in his subsequent reflections, and Lydgate chewed a very

disagreeable cud in that way. His reason told him how the affair might

have been magnified into ruin by a slight change of scenery—if it had

been a gambling-house that he had turned into, where chance could be

clutched with both hands instead of being picked up with thumb and

fore-finger. Nevertheless, though reason strangled the desire to

gamble, there remained the feeling that, with an assurance of luck to

the needful amount, he would have liked to gamble, rather than take the

alternative which was beginning to urge itself as inevitable.

That alternative was to apply to Mr. Bulstrode. Lydgate had so many

times boasted both to himself and others that he was totally

independent of Bulstrode, to whose plans he had lent himself solely

because they enabled him to carry out his own ideas of professional

work and public benefit—he had so constantly in their personal

intercourse had his pride sustained by the sense that he was making a

good social use of this predominating banker, whose opinions he thought

contemptible and whose motives often seemed to him an absurd mixture of

contradictory impressions—that he had been creating for himself

strong ideal obstacles to the proffering of any considerable request to

him on his own account.

Still, early in March his affairs were at that pass in which men begin

to say that their oaths were delivered in ignorance, and to perceive

that the act which they had called impossible to them is becoming

manifestly possible. With Dover's ugly security soon to be put in

force, with the proceeds of his practice immediately absorbed in paying

back debts, and with the chance, if the worst were known, of daily

supplies being refused on credit, above all with the vision of

Rosamond's hopeless discontent continually haunting him, Lydgate had

begun to see that he should inevitably bend himself to ask help from

somebody or other. At first he had considered whether he should write

to Mr. Vincy; but on questioning Rosamond he found that, as he had

suspected, she had already applied twice to her father, the last time

being since the disappointment from Sir Godwin; and papa had said that

Lydgate must look out for himself. "Papa said he had come, with one

bad year after another, to trade more and more on borrowed capital, and

had had to give up many indulgences; he could not spare a single

hundred from the charges of his family. He said, let Lydgate ask

Bulstrode: they have always been hand and glove."

Indeed, Lydgate himself had come to the conclusion that if he must end

by asking for a free loan, his relations with Bulstrode, more at least

than with any other man, might take the shape of a claim which was not

purely personal. Bulstrode had indirectly helped to cause the failure

of his practice, and had also been highly gratified by getting a

medical partner in his plans:—but who among us ever reduced himself

to the sort of dependence in which Lydgate now stood, without trying to

believe that he had claims which diminished the humiliation of asking?

It was true that of late there had seemed to be a new languor of

interest in Bulstrode about the Hospital; but his health had got worse,

and showed signs of a deep-seated nervous affection. In other respects

he did not appear to be changed: he had always been highly polite, but

Lydgate had observed in him from the first a marked coldness about his

marriage and other private circumstances, a coldness which he had

hitherto preferred to any warmth of familiarity between them. He

deferred the intention from day to day, his habit of acting on his

conclusions being made infirm by his repugnance to every possible

conclusion and its consequent act. He saw Mr. Bulstrode often, but he

did not try to use any occasion for his private purpose. At one moment

he thought, "I will write a letter: I prefer that to any circuitous

talk;" at another he thought, "No; if I were talking to him, I could

make a retreat before any signs of disinclination."

Still the days passed and no letter was written, no special interview

sought. In his shrinking from the humiliation of a dependent attitude

towards Bulstrode, he began to familiarize his imagination with another

step even more unlike his remembered self. He began spontaneously to

consider whether it would be possible to carry out that puerile notion

of Rosamond's which had often made him angry, namely, that they should

quit Middlemarch without seeing anything beyond that preface. The

question came—"Would any man buy the practice of me even now, for as

little as it is worth? Then the sale might happen as a necessary

preparation for going away."

But against his taking this step, which he still felt to be a

contemptible relinquishment of present work, a guilty turning aside

from what was a real and might be a widening channel for worthy

activity, to start again without any justified destination, there was

this obstacle, that the purchaser, if procurable at all, might not be

quickly forthcoming. And afterwards? Rosamond in a poor lodging,

though in the largest city or most distant town, would not find the

life that could save her from gloom, and save him from the reproach of

having plunged her into it. For when a man is at the foot of the hill

in his fortunes, he may stay a long while there in spite of

professional accomplishment. In the British climate there is no

incompatibility between scientific insight and furnished lodgings: the

incompatibility is chiefly between scientific ambition and a wife who

objects to that kind of residence.

But in the midst of his hesitation, opportunity came to decide him. A

note from Mr. Bulstrode requested Lydgate to call on him at the Bank.

A hypochondriacal tendency had shown itself in the banker's

constitution of late; and a lack of sleep, which was really only a

slight exaggeration of an habitual dyspeptic symptom, had been dwelt on

by him as a sign of threatening insanity. He wanted to consult Lydgate

without delay on that particular morning, although he had nothing to

tell beyond what he had told before. He listened eagerly to what

Lydgate had to say in dissipation of his fears, though this too was

only repetition; and this moment in which Bulstrode was receiving a

medical opinion with a sense of comfort, seemed to make the

communication of a personal need to him easier than it had been in

Lydgate's contemplation beforehand. He had been insisting that it

would be well for Mr. Bulstrode to relax his attention to business.

"One sees how any mental strain, however slight, may affect a delicate

frame," said Lydgate at that stage of the consultation when the remarks

tend to pass from the personal to the general, "by the deep stamp which

anxiety will make for a time even on the young and vigorous. I am

naturally very strong; yet I have been thoroughly shaken lately by an

accumulation of trouble."

"I presume that a constitution in the susceptible state in which mine

at present is, would be especially liable to fall a victim to cholera,

if it visited our district. And since its appearance near London, we

may well besiege the Mercy-seat for our protection," said Mr.

Bulstrode, not intending to evade Lydgate's allusion, but really

preoccupied with alarms about himself.

"You have at all events taken your share in using good practical

precautions for the town, and that is the best mode of asking for

protection," said Lydgate, with a strong distaste for the broken

metaphor and bad logic of the banker's religion, somewhat increased by

the apparent deafness of his sympathy. But his mind had taken up its

long-prepared movement towards getting help, and was not yet arrested.

He added, "The town has done well in the way of cleansing, and finding

appliances; and I think that if the cholera should come, even our

enemies will admit that the arrangements in the Hospital are a public


"Truly," said Mr. Bulstrode, with some coldness. "With regard to what

you say, Mr. Lydgate, about the relaxation of my mental labor, I have

for some time been entertaining a purpose to that effect—a purpose of

a very decided character. I contemplate at least a temporary

withdrawal from the management of much business, whether benevolent or

commercial. Also I think of changing my residence for a time: probably

I shall close or let 'The Shrubs,' and take some place near the

coast—under advice of course as to salubrity. That would be a measure

which you would recommend?"

"Oh yes," said Lydgate, falling backward in his chair, with

ill-repressed impatience under the banker's pale earnest eyes and

intense preoccupation with himself.

"I have for some time felt that I should open this subject with you in

relation to our Hospital," continued Bulstrode. "Under the

circumstances I have indicated, of course I must cease to have any

personal share in the management, and it is contrary to my views of

responsibility to continue a large application of means to an

institution which I cannot watch over and to some extent regulate. I

shall therefore, in case of my ultimate decision to leave Middlemarch,

consider that I withdraw other support to the New Hospital than that

which will subsist in the fact that I chiefly supplied the expenses of

building it, and have contributed further large sums to its successful


Lydgate's thought, when Bulstrode paused according to his wont, was,

"He has perhaps been losing a good deal of money." This was the most

plausible explanation of a speech which had caused rather a startling

change in his expectations. He said in reply—

"The loss to the Hospital can hardly be made up, I fear."

"Hardly," returned Bulstrode, in the same deliberate, silvery tone;

"except by some changes of plan. The only person who may be certainly

counted on as willing to increase her contributions is Mrs. Casaubon.

I have had an interview with her on the subject, and I have pointed out

to her, as I am about to do to you, that it will be desirable to win a

more general support to the New Hospital by a change of system."

Another pause, but Lydgate did not speak.

"The change I mean is an amalgamation with the Infirmary, so that the

New Hospital shall be regarded as a special addition to the elder

institution, having the same directing board. It will be necessary,

also, that the medical management of the two shall be combined. In

this way any difficulty as to the adequate maintenance of our new

establishment will be removed; the benevolent interests of the town

will cease to be divided."

Mr. Bulstrode had lowered his eyes from Lydgate's face to the buttons

of his coat as he again paused.

"No doubt that is a good device as to ways and means," said Lydgate,

with an edge of irony in his tone. "But I can't be expected to rejoice

in it at once, since one of the first results will be that the other

medical men will upset or interrupt my methods, if it were only because

they are mine."

"I myself, as you know, Mr. Lydgate, highly valued the opportunity of

new and independent procedure which you have diligently employed: the

original plan, I confess, was one which I had much at heart, under

submission to the Divine Will. But since providential indications

demand a renunciation from me, I renounce."

Bulstrode showed a rather exasperating ability in this conversation.

The broken metaphor and bad logic of motive which had stirred his

hearer's contempt were quite consistent with a mode of putting the

facts which made it difficult for Lydgate to vent his own indignation

and disappointment. After some rapid reflection, he only asked—

"What did Mrs. Casaubon say?"

"That was the further statement which I wished to make to you," said

Bulstrode, who had thoroughly prepared his ministerial explanation.

"She is, you are aware, a woman of most munificent disposition, and

happily in possession—not I presume of great wealth, but of funds

which she can well spare. She has informed me that though she has

destined the chief part of those funds to another purpose, she is

willing to consider whether she cannot fully take my place in relation

to the Hospital. But she wishes for ample time to mature her thoughts

on the subject, and I have told her that there is no need for

haste—that, in fact, my own plans are not yet absolute."

Lydgate was ready to say, "If Mrs. Casaubon would take your place,

there would be gain, instead of loss." But there was still a weight on

his mind which arrested this cheerful candor. He replied, "I suppose,

then, that I may enter into the subject with Mrs. Casaubon."

"Precisely; that is what she expressly desires. Her decision, she

says, will much depend on what you can tell her. But not at present:

she is, I believe, just setting out on a journey. I have her letter

here," said Mr. Bulstrode, drawing it out, and reading from it. "'I am

immediately otherwise engaged,' she says. 'I am going into Yorkshire

with Sir James and Lady Chettam; and the conclusions I come to about

some land which I am to see there may affect my power of contributing

to the Hospital.' Thus, Mr. Lydgate, there is no haste necessary in

this matter; but I wished to apprise you beforehand of what may

possibly occur."

Mr. Bulstrode returned the letter to his side-pocket, and changed his

attitude as if his business were closed. Lydgate, whose renewed hope

about the Hospital only made him more conscious of the facts which

poisoned his hope, felt that his effort after help, if made at all,

must be made now and vigorously.

"I am much obliged to you for giving me full notice," he said, with a

firm intention in his tone, yet with an interruptedness in his delivery

which showed that he spoke unwillingly. "The highest object to me is

my profession, and I had identified the Hospital with the best use I

can at present make of my profession. But the best use is not always

the same with monetary success. Everything which has made the Hospital

unpopular has helped with other causes—I think they are all connected

with my professional zeal—to make me unpopular as a practitioner. I

get chiefly patients who can't pay me. I should like them best, if I

had nobody to pay on my own side." Lydgate waited a little, but

Bulstrode only bowed, looking at him fixedly, and he went on with the

same interrupted enunciation—as if he were biting an objectional leek.

"I have slipped into money difficulties which I can see no way out of,

unless some one who trusts me and my future will advance me a sum

without other security. I had very little fortune left when I came

here. I have no prospects of money from my own family. My expenses,

in consequence of my marriage, have been very much greater than I had

expected. The result at this moment is that it would take a thousand

pounds to clear me. I mean, to free me from the risk of having all my

goods sold in security of my largest debt—as well as to pay my other

debts—and leave anything to keep us a little beforehand with our small

income. I find that it is out of the question that my wife's father

should make such an advance. That is why I mention my position to—to

the only other man who may be held to have some personal connection

with my prosperity or ruin."

Lydgate hated to hear himself. But he had spoken now, and had spoken

with unmistakable directness. Mr. Bulstrode replied without haste, but

also without hesitation.

"I am grieved, though, I confess, not surprised by this information,

Mr. Lydgate. For my own part, I regretted your alliance with my

brother-in-law's family, which has always been of prodigal habits, and

which has already been much indebted to me for sustainment in its

present position. My advice to you, Mr. Lydgate, would be, that

instead of involving yourself in further obligations, and continuing a

doubtful struggle, you should simply become a bankrupt."

"That would not improve my prospect," said Lydgate, rising and speaking

bitterly, "even if it were a more agreeable thing in itself."

"It is always a trial," said Mr. Bulstrode; "but trial, my dear sir, is

our portion here, and is a needed corrective. I recommend you to weigh

the advice I have given."

"Thank you," said Lydgate, not quite knowing what he said. "I have

occupied you too long. Good-day."


"What suit of grace hath Virtue to put on
If Vice shall wear as good, and do as well?
If Wrong, if Craft, if Indiscretion
Act as fair parts with ends as laudable?
Which all this mighty volume of events
The world, the universal map of deeds,
Strongly controls, and proves from all descents,
That the directest course still best succeeds.
For should not grave and learn'd Experience
That looks with the eyes of all the world beside,
And with all ages holds intelligence,
Go safer than Deceit without a guide!
—DANIEL: Musophilus.

That change of plan and shifting of interest which Bulstrode stated or

betrayed in his conversation with Lydgate, had been determined in him

by some severe experience which he had gone through since the epoch of

Mr. Larcher's sale, when Raffles had recognized Will Ladislaw, and when

the banker had in vain attempted an act of restitution which might move

Divine Providence to arrest painful consequences.

His certainty that Raffles, unless he were dead, would return to

Middlemarch before long, had been justified. On Christmas Eve he had

reappeared at The Shrubs. Bulstrode was at home to receive him, and

hinder his communication with the rest of the family, but he could not

altogether hinder the circumstances of the visit from compromising

himself and alarming his wife. Raffles proved more unmanageable than

he had shown himself to be in his former appearances, his chronic state

of mental restlessness, the growing effect of habitual intemperance,

quickly shaking off every impression from what was said to him. He

insisted on staying in the house, and Bulstrode, weighing two sets of

evils, felt that this was at least not a worse alternative than his

going into the town. He kept him in his own room for the evening and

saw him to bed, Raffles all the while amusing himself with the

annoyance he was causing this decent and highly prosperous

fellow-sinner, an amusement which he facetiously expressed as sympathy

with his friend's pleasure in entertaining a man who had been

serviceable to him, and who had not had all his earnings. There was a

cunning calculation under this noisy joking—a cool resolve to extract

something the handsomer from Bulstrode as payment for release from this

new application of torture. But his cunning had a little overcast its


Bulstrode was indeed more tortured than the coarse fibre of Raffles

could enable him to imagine. He had told his wife that he was simply

taking care of this wretched creature, the victim of vice, who might

otherwise injure himself; he implied, without the direct form of

falsehood, that there was a family tie which bound him to this care,

and that there were signs of mental alienation in Raffles which urged

caution. He would himself drive the unfortunate being away the next

morning. In these hints he felt that he was supplying Mrs. Bulstrode

with precautionary information for his daughters and servants, and

accounting for his allowing no one but himself to enter the room even

with food and drink. But he sat in an agony of fear lest Raffles

should be overheard in his loud and plain references to past facts—lest

Mrs. Bulstrode should be even tempted to listen at the door. How

could he hinder her, how betray his terror by opening the door to

detect her? She was a woman of honest direct habits, and little likely

to take so low a course in order to arrive at painful knowledge; but

fear was stronger than the calculation of probabilities.

In this way Raffles had pushed the torture too far, and produced an

effect which had not been in his plan. By showing himself hopelessly

unmanageable he had made Bulstrode feel that a strong defiance was the

only resource left. After taking Raffles to bed that night the banker

ordered his closed carriage to be ready at half-past seven the next

morning. At six o'clock he had already been long dressed, and had

spent some of his wretchedness in prayer, pleading his motives for

averting the worst evil if in anything he had used falsity and spoken

what was not true before God. For Bulstrode shrank from a direct lie

with an intensity disproportionate to the number of his more indirect

misdeeds. But many of these misdeeds were like the subtle muscular

movements which are not taken account of in the consciousness, though

they bring about the end that we fix our mind on and desire. And it is

only what we are vividly conscious of that we can vividly imagine to be

seen by Omniscience.

Bulstrode carried his candle to the bedside of Raffles, who was

apparently in a painful dream. He stood silent, hoping that the

presence of the light would serve to waken the sleeper gradually and

gently, for he feared some noise as the consequence of a too sudden

awakening. He had watched for a couple of minutes or more the

shudderings and pantings which seemed likely to end in waking, when

Raffles, with a long half-stifled moan, started up and stared round him

in terror, trembling and gasping. But he made no further noise, and

Bulstrode, setting down the candle, awaited his recovery.

It was a quarter of an hour later before Bulstrode, with a cold

peremptoriness of manner which he had not before shown, said, "I came

to call you thus early, Mr. Raffles, because I have ordered the

carriage to be ready at half-past seven, and intend myself to conduct

you as far as Ilsely, where you can either take the railway or await a

coach." Raffles was about to speak, but Bulstrode anticipated him

imperiously with the words, "Be silent, sir, and hear what I have to

say. I shall supply you with money now, and I will furnish you with a

reasonable sum from time to time, on your application to me by letter;

but if you choose to present yourself here again, if you return to

Middlemarch, if you use your tongue in a manner injurious to me, you

will have to live on such fruits as your malice can bring you, without

help from me. Nobody will pay you well for blasting my name: I know

the worst you can do against me, and I shall brave it if you dare to

thrust yourself upon me again. Get up, sir, and do as I order you,

without noise, or I will send for a policeman to take you off my

premises, and you may carry your stories into every pothouse in the

town, but you shall have no sixpence from me to pay your expenses


Bulstrode had rarely in his life spoken with such nervous energy: he

had been deliberating on this speech and its probable effects through a

large part of the night; and though he did not trust to its ultimately

saving him from any return of Raffles, he had concluded that it was the

best throw he could make. It succeeded in enforcing submission from

the jaded man this morning: his empoisoned system at this moment

quailed before Bulstrode's cold, resolute bearing, and he was taken off

quietly in the carriage before the family breakfast time. The servants

imagined him to be a poor relation, and were not surprised that a

strict man like their master, who held his head high in the world,

should be ashamed of such a cousin and want to get rid of him. The

banker's drive of ten miles with his hated companion was a dreary

beginning of the Christmas day; but at the end of the drive, Raffles

had recovered his spirits, and parted in a contentment for which there

was the good reason that the banker had given him a hundred pounds.

Various motives urged Bulstrode to this open-handedness, but he did not

himself inquire closely into all of them. As he had stood watching

Raffles in his uneasy sleep, it had certainly entered his mind that the

man had been much shattered since the first gift of two hundred pounds.

He had taken care to repeat the incisive statement of his resolve not

to be played on any more; and had tried to penetrate Raffles with the

fact that he had shown the risks of bribing him to be quite equal to

the risks of defying him. But when, freed from his repulsive presence,

Bulstrode returned to his quiet home, he brought with him no confidence

that he had secured more than a respite. It was as if he had had a

loathsome dream, and could not shake off its images with their hateful

kindred of sensations—as if on all the pleasant surroundings of his

life a dangerous reptile had left his slimy traces.

Who can know how much of his most inward life is made up of the

thoughts he believes other men to have about him, until that fabric of

opinion is threatened with ruin?

Bulstrode was only the more conscious that there was a deposit of

uneasy presentiment in his wife's mind, because she carefully avoided

any allusion to it. He had been used every day to taste the flavor of

supremacy and the tribute of complete deference: and the certainty that

he was watched or measured with a hidden suspicion of his having some

discreditable secret, made his voice totter when he was speaking to

edification. Foreseeing, to men of Bulstrode's anxious temperament, is

often worse than seeing; and his imagination continually heightened the

anguish of an imminent disgrace. Yes, imminent; for if his defiance of

Raffles did not keep the man away—and though he prayed for this result

he hardly hoped for it—the disgrace was certain. In vain he said to

himself that, if permitted, it would be a divine visitation, a

chastisement, a preparation; he recoiled from the imagined burning; and

he judged that it must be more for the Divine glory that he should

escape dishonor. That recoil had at last urged him to make

preparations for quitting Middlemarch. If evil truth must be reported

of him, he would then be at a less scorching distance from the contempt

of his old neighbors; and in a new scene, where his life would not have

gathered the same wide sensibility, the tormentor, if he pursued him,

would be less formidable. To leave the place finally would, he knew,

be extremely painful to his wife, and on other grounds he would have

preferred to stay where he had struck root. Hence he made his

preparations at first in a conditional way, wishing to leave on all

sides an opening for his return after brief absence, if any favorable

intervention of Providence should dissipate his fears. He was

preparing to transfer his management of the Bank, and to give up any

active control of other commercial affairs in the neighborhood, on the

ground of his failing health, but without excluding his future

resumption of such work. The measure would cause him some added

expense and some diminution of income beyond what he had already

undergone from the general depression of trade; and the Hospital

presented itself as a principal object of outlay on which he could

fairly economize.

This was the experience which had determined his conversation with

Lydgate. But at this time his arrangements had most of them gone no

farther than a stage at which he could recall them if they proved to be

unnecessary. He continually deferred the final steps; in the midst of

his fears, like many a man who is in danger of shipwreck or of being

dashed from his carriage by runaway horses, he had a clinging

impression that something would happen to hinder the worst, and that to

spoil his life by a late transplantation might be over-hasty—especially

since it was difficult to account satisfactorily to his wife for the

project of their indefinite exile from the only place where she would

like to live.

Among the affairs Bulstrode had to care for, was the management of the

farm at Stone Court in case of his absence; and on this as well as on

all other matters connected with any houses and land he possessed in or

about Middlemarch, he had consulted Caleb Garth. Like every one else

who had business of that sort, he wanted to get the agent who was more

anxious for his employer's interests than his own. With regard to

Stone Court, since Bulstrode wished to retain his hold on the stock,

and to have an arrangement by which he himself could, if he chose,

resume his favorite recreation of superintendence, Caleb had advised

him not to trust to a mere bailiff, but to let the land, stock, and

implements yearly, and take a proportionate share of the proceeds.

"May I trust to you to find me a tenant on these terms, Mr. Garth?"

said Bulstrode. "And will you mention to me the yearly sum which would

repay you for managing these affairs which we have discussed together?"

"I'll think about it," said Caleb, in his blunt way. "I'll see how I

can make it out."

If it had not been that he had to consider Fred Vincy's future, Mr.

Garth would not probably have been glad of any addition to his work, of

which his wife was always fearing an excess for him as he grew older.

But on quitting Bulstrode after that conversation, a very alluring idea

occurred to him about this said letting of Stone Court. What if

Bulstrode would agree to his placing Fred Vincy there on the

understanding that he, Caleb Garth, should be responsible for the

management? It would be an excellent schooling for Fred; he might make

a modest income there, and still have time left to get knowledge by

helping in other business. He mentioned his notion to Mrs. Garth with

such evident delight that she could not bear to chill his pleasure by

expressing her constant fear of his undertaking too much.

"The lad would be as happy as two," he said, throwing himself back in

his chair, and looking radiant, "if I could tell him it was all

settled. Think; Susan! His mind had been running on that place for

years before old Featherstone died. And it would be as pretty a turn

of things as could be that he should hold the place in a good

industrious way after all—by his taking to business. For it's likely

enough Bulstrode might let him go on, and gradually buy the stock. He

hasn't made up his mind, I can see, whether or not he shall settle

somewhere else as a lasting thing. I never was better pleased with a

notion in my life. And then the children might be married by-and-by,


"You will not give any hint of the plan to Fred, until you are sure

that Bulstrode would agree to the plan?" said Mrs. Garth, in a tone of

gentle caution. "And as to marriage, Caleb, we old people need not

help to hasten it."

"Oh, I don't know," said Caleb, swinging his head aside. "Marriage is

a taming thing. Fred would want less of my bit and bridle. However, I

shall say nothing till I know the ground I'm treading on. I shall

speak to Bulstrode again."

He took his earliest opportunity of doing so. Bulstrode had anything

but a warm interest in his nephew Fred Vincy, but he had a strong wish

to secure Mr. Garth's services on many scattered points of business at

which he was sure to be a considerable loser, if they were under less

conscientious management. On that ground he made no objection to Mr.

Garth's proposal; and there was also another reason why he was not

sorry to give a consent which was to benefit one of the Vincy family.

It was that Mrs. Bulstrode, having heard of Lydgate's debts, had been

anxious to know whether her husband could not do something for poor

Rosamond, and had been much troubled on learning from him that

Lydgate's affairs were not easily remediable, and that the wisest plan

was to let them "take their course." Mrs. Bulstrode had then said for

the first time, "I think you are always a little hard towards my

family, Nicholas. And I am sure I have no reason to deny any of my

relatives. Too worldly they may be, but no one ever had to say that

they were not respectable."

"My dear Harriet," said Mr. Bulstrode, wincing under his wife's eyes,

which were filling with tears, "I have supplied your brother with a

great deal of capital. I cannot be expected to take care of his

married children."

That seemed to be true, and Mrs. Bulstrode's remonstrance subsided into

pity for poor Rosamond, whose extravagant education she had always

foreseen the fruits of.

But remembering that dialogue, Mr. Bulstrode felt that when he had to

talk to his wife fully about his plan of quitting Middlemarch, he

should be glad to tell her that he had made an arrangement which might

be for the good of her nephew Fred. At present he had merely mentioned

to her that he thought of shutting up The Shrubs for a few months, and

taking a house on the Southern Coast.

Hence Mr. Garth got the assurance he desired, namely, that in case of

Bulstrode's departure from Middlemarch for an indefinite time, Fred

Vincy should be allowed to have the tenancy of Stone Court on the terms


Caleb was so elated with his hope of this "neat turn" being given to

things, that if his self-control had not been braced by a little

affectionate wifely scolding, he would have betrayed everything to

Mary, wanting "to give the child comfort." However, he restrained

himself, and kept in strict privacy from Fred certain visits which he

was making to Stone Court, in order to look more thoroughly into the

state of the land and stock, and take a preliminary estimate. He was

certainly more eager in these visits than the probable speed of events

required him to be; but he was stimulated by a fatherly delight in

occupying his mind with this bit of probable happiness which he held in

store like a hidden birthday gift for Fred and Mary.

"But suppose the whole scheme should turn out to be a castle in the

air?" said Mrs. Garth.

"Well, well," replied Caleb; "the castle will tumble about nobody's



"If thou hast heard a word, let it die with thee."

Mr. Bulstrode was still seated in his manager's room at the Bank, about

three o'clock of the same day on which he had received Lydgate there,

when the clerk entered to say that his horse was waiting, and also that

Mr. Garth was outside and begged to speak with him.

"By all means," said Bulstrode; and Caleb entered. "Pray sit down, Mr.

Garth," continued the banker, in his suavest tone.

"I am glad that you arrived just in time to find me here. I know you

count your minutes."

"Oh," said Caleb, gently, with a slow swing of his head on one side, as

he seated himself and laid his hat on the floor.

He looked at the ground, leaning forward and letting his long fingers

droop between his legs, while each finger moved in succession, as if it

were sharing some thought which filled his large quiet brow.

Mr. Bulstrode, like every one else who knew Caleb, was used to his

slowness in beginning to speak on any topic which he felt to be

important, and rather expected that he was about to recur to the buying

of some houses in Blindman's Court, for the sake of pulling them down,

as a sacrifice of property which would be well repaid by the influx of

air and light on that spot. It was by propositions of this kind that

Caleb was sometimes troublesome to his employers; but he had usually

found Bulstrode ready to meet him in projects of improvement, and they

had got on well together. When he spoke again, however, it was to say,

in rather a subdued voice—

"I have just come away from Stone Court, Mr. Bulstrode."

"You found nothing wrong there, I hope," said the banker; "I was there

myself yesterday. Abel has done well with the lambs this year."

"Why, yes," said Caleb, looking up gravely, "there is something wrong—a

stranger, who is very ill, I think. He wants a doctor, and I came to

tell you of that. His name is Raffles."

He saw the shock of his words passing through Bulstrode's frame. On

this subject the banker had thought that his fears were too constantly

on the watch to be taken by surprise; but he had been mistaken.

"Poor wretch!" he said in a compassionate tone, though his lips

trembled a little. "Do you know how he came there?"

"I took him myself," said Caleb, quietly—"took him up in my gig. He

had got down from the coach, and was walking a little beyond the

turning from the toll-house, and I overtook him. He remembered seeing

me with you once before, at Stone Court, and he asked me to take him

on. I saw he was ill: it seemed to me the right thing to do, to carry

him under shelter. And now I think you should lose no time in getting

advice for him." Caleb took up his hat from the floor as he ended, and

rose slowly from his seat.

"Certainly," said Bulstrode, whose mind was very active at this moment.

"Perhaps you will yourself oblige me, Mr. Garth, by calling at Mr.

Lydgate's as you pass—or stay! he may at this hour probably be at the

Hospital. I will first send my man on the horse there with a note this

instant, and then I will myself ride to Stone Court."

Bulstrode quickly wrote a note, and went out himself to give the

commission to his man. When he returned, Caleb was standing as before

with one hand on the back of the chair, holding his hat with the other.

In Bulstrode's mind the dominant thought was, "Perhaps Raffles only

spoke to Garth of his illness. Garth may wonder, as he must have done

before, at this disreputable fellow's claiming intimacy with me; but he

will know nothing. And he is friendly to me—I can be of use to him."

He longed for some confirmation of this hopeful conjecture, but to have

asked any question as to what Raffles had said or done would have been

to betray fear.

"I am exceedingly obliged to you, Mr. Garth," he said, in his usual

tone of politeness. "My servant will be back in a few minutes, and I

shall then go myself to see what can be done for this unfortunate man.

Perhaps you had some other business with me? If so, pray be seated."

"Thank you," said Caleb, making a slight gesture with his right hand to

waive the invitation. "I wish to say, Mr. Bulstrode, that I must

request you to put your business into some other hands than mine. I am

obliged to you for your handsome way of meeting me—about the letting

of Stone Court, and all other business. But I must give it up." A

sharp certainty entered like a stab into Bulstrode's soul.

"This is sudden, Mr. Garth," was all he could say at first.

"It is," said Caleb; "but it is quite fixed. I must give it up."

He spoke with a firmness which was very gentle, and yet he could see

that Bulstrode seemed to cower under that gentleness, his face looking

dried and his eyes swerving away from the glance which rested on him.

Caleb felt a deep pity for him, but he could have used no pretexts to

account for his resolve, even if they would have been of any use.

"You have been led to this, I apprehend, by some slanders concerning me

uttered by that unhappy creature," said Bulstrode, anxious now to know

the utmost.

"That is true. I can't deny that I act upon what I heard from him."

"You are a conscientious man, Mr. Garth—a man, I trust, who feels

himself accountable to God. You would not wish to injure me by being

too ready to believe a slander," said Bulstrode, casting about for

pleas that might be adapted to his hearer's mind. "That is a poor

reason for giving up a connection which I think I may say will be

mutually beneficial."

"I would injure no man if I could help it," said Caleb; "even if I

thought God winked at it. I hope I should have a feeling for my

fellow-creature. But, sir—I am obliged to believe that this Raffles

has told me the truth. And I can't be happy in working with you, or

profiting by you. It hurts my mind. I must beg you to seek another


"Very well, Mr. Garth. But I must at least claim to know the worst

that he has told you. I must know what is the foul speech that I am

liable to be the victim of," said Bulstrode, a certain amount of anger

beginning to mingle with his humiliation before this quiet man who

renounced his benefits.

"That's needless," said Caleb, waving his hand, bowing his head

slightly, and not swerving from the tone which had in it the merciful

intention to spare this pitiable man. "What he has said to me will

never pass from my lips, unless something now unknown forces it from

me. If you led a harmful life for gain, and kept others out of their

rights by deceit, to get the more for yourself, I dare say you

repent—you would like to go back, and can't: that must be a bitter

thing"—Caleb paused a moment and shook his head—"it is not for me to

make your life harder to you."

"But you do—you do make it harder to me," said Bulstrode constrained

into a genuine, pleading cry. "You make it harder to me by turning

your back on me."

"That I'm forced to do," said Caleb, still more gently, lifting up his

hand. "I am sorry. I don't judge you and say, he is wicked, and I am

righteous. God forbid. I don't know everything. A man may do wrong,

and his will may rise clear out of it, though he can't get his life

clear. That's a bad punishment. If it is so with you,—well, I'm

very sorry for you. But I have that feeling inside me, that I can't go

on working with you. That's all, Mr. Bulstrode. Everything else is

buried, so far as my will goes. And I wish you good-day."

"One moment, Mr. Garth!" said Bulstrode, hurriedly. "I may trust then

to your solemn assurance that you will not repeat either to man or

woman what—even if it have any degree of truth in it—is yet a

malicious representation?" Caleb's wrath was stirred, and he said,


"Why should I have said it if I didn't mean it? I am in no fear of

you. Such tales as that will never tempt my tongue."

"Excuse me—I am agitated—I am the victim of this abandoned man."

"Stop a bit! you have got to consider whether you didn't help to make

him worse, when you profited by his vices."

"You are wronging me by too readily believing him," said Bulstrode,

oppressed, as by a nightmare, with the inability to deny flatly what

Raffles might have said; and yet feeling it an escape that Caleb had

not so stated it to him as to ask for that flat denial.

"No," said Caleb, lifting his hand deprecatingly; "I am ready to

believe better, when better is proved. I rob you of no good chance.

As to speaking, I hold it a crime to expose a man's sin unless I'm

clear it must be done to save the innocent. That is my way of

thinking, Mr. Bulstrode, and what I say, I've no need to swear. I wish

you good-day."

Some hours later, when he was at home, Caleb said to his wife,

incidentally, that he had had some little differences with Bulstrode,

and that in consequence, he had given up all notion of taking Stone

Court, and indeed had resigned doing further business for him.

"He was disposed to interfere too much, was he?" said Mrs. Garth,

imagining that her husband had been touched on his sensitive point, and

not been allowed to do what he thought right as to materials and modes

of work.

"Oh," said Caleb, bowing his head and waving his hand gravely. And

Mrs. Garth knew that this was a sign of his not intending to speak

further on the subject.

As for Bulstrode, he had almost immediately mounted his horse and set

off for Stone Court, being anxious to arrive there before Lydgate.

His mind was crowded with images and conjectures, which were a language

to his hopes and fears, just as we hear tones from the vibrations which

shake our whole system. The deep humiliation with which he had winced

under Caleb Garth's knowledge of his past and rejection of his

patronage, alternated with and almost gave way to the sense of safety

in the fact that Garth, and no other, had been the man to whom Raffles

had spoken. It seemed to him a sort of earnest that Providence

intended his rescue from worse consequences; the way being thus left

open for the hope of secrecy. That Raffles should be afflicted with

illness, that he should have been led to Stone Court rather than

elsewhere—Bulstrode's heart fluttered at the vision of probabilities

which these events conjured up. If it should turn out that he was

freed from all danger of disgrace—if he could breathe in perfect

liberty—his life should be more consecrated than it had ever been

before. He mentally lifted up this vow as if it would urge the result

he longed for—he tried to believe in the potency of that prayerful

resolution—its potency to determine death. He knew that he ought to

say, "Thy will be done;" and he said it often. But the intense desire

remained that the will of God might be the death of that hated man.

Yet when he arrived at Stone Court he could not see the change in

Raffles without a shock. But for his pallor and feebleness, Bulstrode

would have called the change in him entirely mental. Instead of his

loud tormenting mood, he showed an intense, vague terror, and seemed to

deprecate Bulstrode's anger, because the money was all gone—he had

been robbed—it had half of it been taken from him. He had only come

here because he was ill and somebody was hunting him—somebody was

after him, he had told nobody anything, he had kept his mouth shut.

Bulstrode, not knowing the significance of these symptoms, interpreted

this new nervous susceptibility into a means of alarming Raffles into

true confessions, and taxed him with falsehood in saying that he had

not told anything, since he had just told the man who took him up in

his gig and brought him to Stone Court. Raffles denied this with

solemn adjurations; the fact being that the links of consciousness were

interrupted in him, and that his minute terror-stricken narrative to

Caleb Garth had been delivered under a set of visionary impulses which

had dropped back into darkness.

Bulstrode's heart sank again at this sign that he could get no grasp

over the wretched man's mind, and that no word of Raffles could be

trusted as to the fact which he most wanted to know, namely, whether or

not he had really kept silence to every one in the neighborhood except

Caleb Garth. The housekeeper had told him without the least constraint

of manner that since Mr. Garth left, Raffles had asked her for beer,

and after that had not spoken, seeming very ill. On that side it might

be concluded that there had been no betrayal. Mrs. Abel thought, like

the servants at The Shrubs, that the strange man belonged to the

unpleasant "kin" who are among the troubles of the rich; she had at

first referred the kinship to Mr. Rigg, and where there was property

left, the buzzing presence of such large blue-bottles seemed natural

enough. How he could be "kin" to Bulstrode as well was not so clear,

but Mrs. Abel agreed with her husband that there was "no knowing," a

proposition which had a great deal of mental food for her, so that she

shook her head over it without further speculation.

In less than an hour Lydgate arrived. Bulstrode met him outside the

wainscoted parlor, where Raffles was, and said—

"I have called you in, Mr. Lydgate, to an unfortunate man who was once

in my employment, many years ago. Afterwards he went to America, and

returned I fear to an idle dissolute life. Being destitute, he has a

claim on me. He was slightly connected with Rigg, the former owner of

this place, and in consequence found his way here. I believe he is

seriously ill: apparently his mind is affected. I feel bound to do the

utmost for him."

Lydgate, who had the remembrance of his last conversation with

Bulstrode strongly upon him, was not disposed to say an unnecessary

word to him, and bowed slightly in answer to this account; but just

before entering the room he turned automatically and said, "What is his

name?"—to know names being as much a part of the medical man's

accomplishment as of the practical politician's.

"Raffles, John Raffles," said Bulstrode, who hoped that whatever became

of Raffles, Lydgate would never know any more of him.

When he had thoroughly examined and considered the patient, Lydgate

ordered that he should go to bed, and be kept there in as complete

quiet as possible, and then went with Bulstrode into another room.

"It is a serious case, I apprehend," said the banker, before Lydgate

began to speak.

"No—and yes," said Lydgate, half dubiously. "It is difficult to

decide as to the possible effect of long-standing complications; but

the man had a robust constitution to begin with. I should not expect

this attack to be fatal, though of course the system is in a ticklish

state. He should be well watched and attended to."

"I will remain here myself," said Bulstrode. "Mrs. Abel and her

husband are inexperienced. I can easily remain here for the night, if

you will oblige me by taking a note for Mrs. Bulstrode."

"I should think that is hardly necessary," said Lydgate. "He seems

tame and terrified enough. He might become more unmanageable. But

there is a man here—is there not?"

"I have more than once stayed here a few nights for the sake of

seclusion," said Bulstrode, indifferently; "I am quite disposed to do

so now. Mrs. Abel and her husband can relieve or aid me, if necessary."

"Very well. Then I need give my directions only to you," said Lydgate,

not feeling surprised at a little peculiarity in Bulstrode.

"You think, then, that the case is hopeful?" said Bulstrode, when

Lydgate had ended giving his orders.

"Unless there turn out to be further complications, such as I have not

at present detected—yes," said Lydgate. "He may pass on to a worse

stage; but I should not wonder if he got better in a few days, by

adhering to the treatment I have prescribed. There must be firmness.

Remember, if he calls for liquors of any sort, not to give them to him.

In my opinion, men in his condition are oftener killed by treatment

than by the disease. Still, new symptoms may arise. I shall come

again to-morrow morning."

After waiting for the note to be carried to Mrs. Bulstrode, Lydgate

rode away, forming no conjectures, in the first instance, about the

history of Raffles, but rehearsing the whole argument, which had lately

been much stirred by the publication of Dr. Ware's abundant experience

in America, as to the right way of treating cases of alcoholic

poisoning such as this. Lydgate, when abroad, had already been

interested in this question: he was strongly convinced against the

prevalent practice of allowing alcohol and persistently administering

large doses of opium; and he had repeatedly acted on this conviction

with a favorable result.

"The man is in a diseased state," he thought, "but there's a good deal

of wear in him still. I suppose he is an object of charity to

Bulstrode. It is curious what patches of hardness and tenderness lie

side by side in men's dispositions. Bulstrode seems the most

unsympathetic fellow I ever saw about some people, and yet he has taken

no end of trouble, and spent a great deal of money, on benevolent

objects. I suppose he has some test by which he finds out whom Heaven

cares for—he has made up his mind that it doesn't care for me."

This streak of bitterness came from a plenteous source, and kept

widening in the current of his thought as he neared Lowick Gate. He

had not been there since his first interview with Bulstrode in the

morning, having been found at the Hospital by the banker's messenger;

and for the first time he was returning to his home without the vision

of any expedient in the background which left him a hope of raising

money enough to deliver him from the coming destitution of everything

which made his married life tolerable—everything which saved him and

Rosamond from that bare isolation in which they would be forced to

recognize how little of a comfort they could be to each other. It was

more bearable to do without tenderness for himself than to see that his

own tenderness could make no amends for the lack of other things to

her. The sufferings of his own pride from humiliations past and to

come were keen enough, yet they were hardly distinguishable to himself

from that more acute pain which dominated them—the pain of foreseeing

that Rosamond would come to regard him chiefly as the cause of

disappointment and unhappiness to her. He had never liked the

makeshifts of poverty, and they had never before entered into his

prospects for himself; but he was beginning now to imagine how two

creatures who loved each other, and had a stock of thoughts in common,

might laugh over their shabby furniture, and their calculations how far

they could afford butter and eggs. But the glimpse of that poetry

seemed as far off from him as the carelessness of the golden age; in

poor Rosamond's mind there was not room enough for luxuries to look

small in. He got down from his horse in a very sad mood, and went into

the house, not expecting to be cheered except by his dinner, and

reflecting that before the evening closed it would be wise to tell

Rosamond of his application to Bulstrode and its failure. It would be

well not to lose time in preparing her for the worst.

But his dinner waited long for him before he was able to eat it. For

on entering he found that Dover's agent had already put a man in the

house, and when he asked where Mrs. Lydgate was, he was told that she

was in her bedroom. He went up and found her stretched on the bed pale

and silent, without an answer even in her face to any word or look of

his. He sat down by the bed and leaning over her said with almost a

cry of prayer—

"Forgive me for this misery, my poor Rosamond! Let us only love one


She looked at him silently, still with the blank despair on her face;

but then the tears began to fill her blue eyes, and her lip trembled.

The strong man had had too much to bear that day. He let his head fall

beside hers and sobbed.

He did not hinder her from going to her father early in the morning—it

seemed now that he ought not to hinder her from doing as she

pleased. In half an hour she came back, and said that papa and mamma

wished her to go and stay with them while things were in this miserable

state. Papa said he could do nothing about the debt—if he paid this,

there would be half-a-dozen more. She had better come back home again

till Lydgate had got a comfortable home for her. "Do you object,


"Do as you like," said Lydgate. "But things are not coming to a crisis

immediately. There is no hurry."

"I should not go till to-morrow," said Rosamond; "I shall want to pack

my clothes."

"Oh, I would wait a little longer than to-morrow—there is no knowing

what may happen," said Lydgate, with bitter irony. "I may get my neck

broken, and that may make things easier to you."

It was Lydgate's misfortune and Rosamond's too, that his tenderness

towards her, which was both an emotional prompting and a

well-considered resolve, was inevitably interrupted by these outbursts

of indignation either ironical or remonstrant. She thought them

totally unwarranted, and the repulsion which this exceptional severity

excited in her was in danger of making the more persistent tenderness


"I see you do not wish me to go," she said, with chill mildness; "why

can you not say so, without that kind of violence? I shall stay until

you request me to do otherwise."

Lydgate said no more, but went out on his rounds. He felt bruised and

shattered, and there was a dark line under his eyes which Rosamond had

not seen before. She could not bear to look at him. Tertius had a way

of taking things which made them a great deal worse for her.


Our deeds still travel with us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are."

Bulstrode's first object after Lydgate had left Stone Court was to

examine Raffles's pockets, which he imagined were sure to carry signs

in the shape of hotel-bills of the places he had stopped in, if he had

not told the truth in saying that he had come straight from Liverpool

because he was ill and had no money. There were various bills crammed

into his pocketbook, but none of a later date than Christmas at any

other place, except one, which bore date that morning. This was

crumpled up with a hand-bill about a horse-fair in one of his

tail-pockets, and represented the cost of three days' stay at an inn at

Bilkley, where the fair was held—a town at least forty miles from

Middlemarch. The bill was heavy, and since Raffles had no luggage with

him, it seemed probable that he had left his portmanteau behind in

payment, in order to save money for his travelling fare; for his purse

was empty, and he had only a couple of sixpences and some loose pence

in his pockets.

Bulstrode gathered a sense of safety from these indications that

Raffles had really kept at a distance from Middlemarch since his

memorable visit at Christmas. At a distance and among people who were

strangers to Bulstrode, what satisfaction could there be to Raffles's

tormenting, self-magnifying vein in telling old scandalous stories

about a Middlemarch banker? And what harm if he did talk? The chief

point now was to keep watch over him as long as there was any danger of

that intelligible raving, that unaccountable impulse to tell, which

seemed to have acted towards Caleb Garth; and Bulstrode felt much

anxiety lest some such impulse should come over him at the sight of

Lydgate. He sat up alone with him through the night, only ordering the

housekeeper to lie down in her clothes, so as to be ready when he

called her, alleging his own indisposition to sleep, and his anxiety to

carry out the doctor's orders. He did carry them out faithfully,

although Raffles was incessantly asking for brandy, and declaring that

he was sinking away—that the earth was sinking away from under him.

He was restless and sleepless, but still quailing and manageable. On

the offer of the food ordered by Lydgate, which he refused, and the

denial of other things which he demanded, he seemed to concentrate all

his terror on Bulstrode, imploringly deprecating his anger, his revenge

on him by starvation, and declaring with strong oaths that he had never

told any mortal a word against him. Even this Bulstrode felt that he

would not have liked Lydgate to hear; but a more alarming sign of

fitful alternation in his delirium was, that in-the morning twilight

Raffles suddenly seemed to imagine a doctor present, addressing him and

declaring that Bulstrode wanted to starve him to death out of revenge

for telling, when he never had told.

Bulstrode's native imperiousness and strength of determination served

him well. This delicate-looking man, himself nervously perturbed,

found the needed stimulus in his strenuous circumstances, and through

that difficult night and morning, while he had the air of an animated

corpse returned to movement without warmth, holding the mastery by its

chill impassibility his mind was intensely at work thinking of what he

had to guard against and what would win him security. Whatever prayers

he might lift up, whatever statements he might inwardly make of this

man's wretched spiritual condition, and the duty he himself was under

to submit to the punishment divinely appointed for him rather than to

wish for evil to another—through all this effort to condense words

into a solid mental state, there pierced and spread with irresistible

vividness the images of the events he desired. And in the train of

those images came their apology. He could not but see the death of

Raffles, and see in it his own deliverance. What was the removal of

this wretched creature? He was impenitent—but were not public

criminals impenitent?—yet the law decided on their fate. Should

Providence in this case award death, there was no sin in contemplating

death as the desirable issue—if he kept his hands from hastening

it—if he scrupulously did what was prescribed. Even here there might

be a mistake: human prescriptions were fallible things: Lydgate had

said that treatment had hastened death,—why not his own method of

treatment? But of course intention was everything in the question of

right and wrong.

And Bulstrode set himself to keep his intention separate from his

desire. He inwardly declared that he intended to obey orders. Why

should he have got into any argument about the validity of these

orders? It was only the common trick of desire—which avails itself of

any irrelevant scepticism, finding larger room for itself in all

uncertainty about effects, in every obscurity that looks like the

absence of law. Still, he did obey the orders.

His anxieties continually glanced towards Lydgate, and his remembrance

of what had taken place between them the morning before was accompanied

with sensibilities which had not been roused at all during the actual

scene. He had then cared but little about Lydgate's painful

impressions with regard to the suggested change in the Hospital, or

about the disposition towards himself which what he held to be his

justifiable refusal of a rather exorbitant request might call forth.

He recurred to the scene now with a perception that he had probably

made Lydgate his enemy, and with an awakened desire to propitiate him,

or rather to create in him a strong sense of personal obligation. He

regretted that he had not at once made even an unreasonable

money-sacrifice. For in case of unpleasant suspicions, or even

knowledge gathered from the raving of Raffles, Bulstrode would have

felt that he had a defence in Lydgate's mind by having conferred a

momentous benefit on him. But the regret had perhaps come too late.

Strange, piteous conflict in the soul of this unhappy man, who had

longed for years to be better than he was—who had taken his selfish

passions into discipline and clad them in severe robes, so that he had

walked with them as a devout choir, till now that a terror had risen

among them, and they could chant no longer, but threw out their common

cries for safety.

It was nearly the middle of the day before Lydgate arrived: he had

meant to come earlier, but had been detained, he said; and his

shattered looks were noticed by Balstrode. But he immediately threw

himself into the consideration of the patient, and inquired strictly

into all that had occurred. Raffles was worse, would take hardly any

food, was persistently wakeful and restlessly raving; but still not

violent. Contrary to Bulstrode's alarmed expectation, he took little

notice of Lydgate's presence, and continued to talk or murmur


"What do you think of him?" said Bulstrode, in private.

"The symptoms are worse."

"You are less hopeful?"

"No; I still think he may come round. Are you going to stay here

yourself?" said Lydgate, looking at Bulstrode with an abrupt question,

which made him uneasy, though in reality it was not due to any

suspicious conjecture.

"Yes, I think so," said Bulstrode, governing himself and speaking with

deliberation. "Mrs. Bulstrode is advised of the reasons which detain

me. Mrs. Abel and her husband are not experienced enough to be left

quite alone, and this kind of responsibility is scarcely included in

their service of me. You have some fresh instructions, I presume."

The chief new instruction that Lydgate had to give was on the

administration of extremely moderate doses of opium, in case of the

sleeplessness continuing after several hours. He had taken the

precaution of bringing opium in his pocket, and he gave minute

directions to Bulstrode as to the doses, and the point at which they

should cease. He insisted on the risk of not ceasing; and repeated his

order that no alcohol should be given.

"From what I see of the case," he ended, "narcotism is the only thing I

should be much afraid of. He may wear through even without much food.

There's a good deal of strength in him."

"You look ill yourself, Mr. Lydgate—a most unusual, I may say

unprecedented thing in my knowledge of you," said Bulstrode, showing a

solicitude as unlike his indifference the day before, as his present

recklessness about his own fatigue was unlike his habitual

self-cherishing anxiety. "I fear you are harassed."

"Yes, I am," said Lydgate, brusquely, holding his hat, and ready to go.

"Something new, I fear," said Bulstrode, inquiringly. "Pray be seated."

"No, thank you," said Lydgate, with some hauteur. "I mentioned to you

yesterday what was the state of my affairs. There is nothing to add,

except that the execution has since then been actually put into my

house. One can tell a good deal of trouble in a short sentence. I

will say good morning."

"Stay, Mr. Lydgate, stay," said Bulstrode; "I have been reconsidering

this subject. I was yesterday taken by surprise, and saw it

superficially. Mrs. Bulstrode is anxious for her niece, and I myself

should grieve at a calamitous change in your position. Claims on me

are numerous, but on reconsideration, I esteem it right that I should

incur a small sacrifice rather than leave you unaided. You said, I

think, that a thousand pounds would suffice entirely to free you from

your burthens, and enable you to recover a firm stand?"

"Yes," said Lydgate, a great leap of joy within him surmounting every

other feeling; "that would pay all my debts, and leave me a little on

hand. I could set about economizing in our way of living. And

by-and-by my practice might look up."

"If you will wait a moment, Mr. Lydgate, I will draw a check to that

amount. I am aware that help, to be effectual in these cases, should

be thorough."

While Bulstrode wrote, Lydgate turned to the window thinking of his

home—thinking of his life with its good start saved from frustration,

its good purposes still unbroken.

"You can give me a note of hand for this, Mr. Lydgate," said the

banker, advancing towards him with the check. "And by-and-by, I hope,

you may be in circumstances gradually to repay me. Meanwhile, I have

pleasure in thinking that you will be released from further difficulty."

"I am deeply obliged to you," said Lydgate. "You have restored to me

the prospect of working with some happiness and some chance of good."

It appeared to him a very natural movement in Bulstrode that he should

have reconsidered his refusal: it corresponded with the more munificent

side of his character. But as he put his hack into a canter, that he

might get the sooner home, and tell the good news to Rosamond, and get

cash at the bank to pay over to Dover's agent, there crossed his mind,

with an unpleasant impression, as from a dark-winged flight of evil

augury across his vision, the thought of that contrast in himself which

a few months had brought—that he should be overjoyed at being under a

strong personal obligation—that he should be overjoyed at getting

money for himself from Bulstrode.

The banker felt that he had done something to nullify one cause of

uneasiness, and yet he was scarcely the easier. He did not measure the

quantity of diseased motive which had made him wish for Lydgate's

good-will, but the quantity was none the less actively there, like an

irritating agent in his blood. A man vows, and yet will not cast away

the means of breaking his vow. Is it that he distinctly means to break

it? Not at all; but the desires which tend to break it are at work in

him dimly, and make their way into his imagination, and relax his

muscles in the very moments when he is telling himself over again the

reasons for his vow. Raffles, recovering quickly, returning to the

free use of his odious powers—how could Bulstrode wish for that?

Raffles dead was the image that brought release, and indirectly he

prayed for that way of release, beseeching that, if it were possible,

the rest of his days here below might be freed from the threat of an

ignominy which would break him utterly as an instrument of God's

service. Lydgate's opinion was not on the side of promise that this

prayer would be fulfilled; and as the day advanced, Bulstrode felt

himself getting irritated at the persistent life in this man, whom he

would fain have seen sinking into the silence of death: imperious will

stirred murderous impulses towards this brute life, over which will, by

itself, had no power. He said inwardly that he was getting too much

worn; he would not sit up with the patient to-night, but leave him to

Mrs. Abel, who, if necessary, could call her husband.

At six o'clock, Raffles, having had only fitful perturbed snatches of

sleep, from which he waked with fresh restlessness and perpetual cries

that he was sinking away, Bulstrode began to administer the opium

according to Lydgate's directions. At the end of half an hour or more

he called Mrs. Abel and told her that he found himself unfit for

further watching. He must now consign the patient to her care; and he

proceeded to repeat to her Lydgate's directions as to the quantity of

each dose. Mrs. Abel had not before known anything of Lydgate's

prescriptions; she had simply prepared and brought whatever Bulstrode

ordered, and had done what he pointed out to her. She began now to ask

what else she should do besides administering the opium.

"Nothing at present, except the offer of the soup or the soda-water:

you can come to me for further directions. Unless there is any

important change, I shall not come into the room again to-night. You

will ask your husband for help if necessary. I must go to bed early."

"You've much need, sir, I'm sure," said Mrs. Abel, "and to take

something more strengthening than what you've done."

Bulstrode went away now without anxiety as to what Raffles might say in

his raving, which had taken on a muttering incoherence not likely to

create any dangerous belief. At any rate he must risk this. He went

down into the wainscoted parlor first, and began to consider whether he

would not have his horse saddled and go home by the moonlight, and give

up caring for earthly consequences. Then, he wished that he had begged

Lydgate to come again that evening. Perhaps he might deliver a

different opinion, and think that Raffles was getting into a less

hopeful state. Should he send for Lydgate? If Raffles were really

getting worse, and slowly dying, Bulstrode felt that he could go to bed

and sleep in gratitude to Providence. But was he worse? Lydgate might

come and simply say that he was going on as he expected, and predict

that he would by-and-by fall into a good sleep, and get well. What was

the use of sending for him? Bulstrode shrank from that result. No

ideas or opinions could hinder him from seeing the one probability to

be, that Raffles recovered would be just the same man as before, with

his strength as a tormentor renewed, obliging him to drag away his wife

to spend her years apart from her friends and native place, carrying an

alienating suspicion against him in her heart.

He had sat an hour and a half in this conflict by the firelight only,

when a sudden thought made him rise and light the bed-candle, which he

had brought down with him. The thought was, that he had not told Mrs.

Abel when the doses of opium must cease.

He took hold of the candlestick, but stood motionless for a long while.

She might already have given him more than Lydgate had prescribed. But

it was excusable in him, that he should forget part of an order, in his

present wearied condition. He walked up-stairs, candle in hand, not

knowing whether he should straightway enter his own room and go to bed,

or turn to the patient's room and rectify his omission. He paused in

the passage, with his face turned towards Raffles's room, and he could

hear him moaning and murmuring. He was not asleep, then. Who could

know that Lydgate's prescription would not be better disobeyed than

followed, since there was still no sleep?

He turned into his own room. Before he had quite undressed, Mrs. Abel

rapped at the door; he opened it an inch, so that he could hear her

speak low.

"If you please, sir, should I have no brandy nor nothing to give the

poor creetur? He feels sinking away, and nothing else will he

swaller—and but little strength in it, if he did—only the opium. And

he says more and more he's sinking down through the earth."

To her surprise, Mr. Bulstrode did not answer. A struggle was going on

within him.

"I think he must die for want o' support, if he goes on in that way.

When I nursed my poor master, Mr. Robisson, I had to give him port-wine

and brandy constant, and a big glass at a time," added Mrs. Abel, with

a touch of remonstrance in her tone.

But again Mr. Bulstrode did not answer immediately, and she continued,

"It's not a time to spare when people are at death's door, nor would

you wish it, sir, I'm sure. Else I should give him our own bottle o'

rum as we keep by us. But a sitter-up so as you've been, and doing

everything as laid in your power—"

Here a key was thrust through the inch of doorway, and Mr. Bulstrode

said huskily, "That is the key of the wine-cooler. You will find plenty

of brandy there."

Early in the morning—about six—Mr. Bulstrode rose and spent some time

in prayer. Does any one suppose that private prayer is necessarily

candid—necessarily goes to the roots of action? Private prayer is

inaudible speech, and speech is representative: who can represent

himself just as he is, even in his own reflections? Bulstrode had not

yet unravelled in his thought the confused promptings of the last

four-and-twenty hours.

He listened in the passage, and could hear hard stertorous breathing.

Then he walked out in the garden, and looked at the early rime on the

grass and fresh spring leaves. When he re-entered the house, he felt

startled at the sight of Mrs. Abel.

"How is your patient—asleep, I think?" he said, with an attempt at

cheerfulness in his tone.

"He's gone very deep, sir," said Mrs. Abel. "He went off gradual

between three and four o'clock. Would you please to go and look at

him? I thought it no harm to leave him. My man's gone afield, and the

little girl's seeing to the kettles."

Bulstrode went up. At a glance he knew that Raffles was not in the

sleep which brings revival, but in the sleep which streams deeper and

deeper into the gulf of death.

He looked round the room and saw a bottle with some brandy in it, and

the almost empty opium phial. He put the phial out of sight, and

carried the brandy-bottle down-stairs with him, locking it again in the


While breakfasting he considered whether he should ride to Middlemarch

at once, or wait for Lydgate's arrival. He decided to wait, and told

Mrs. Abel that she might go about her work—he could watch in the


As he sat there and beheld the enemy of his peace going irrevocably

into silence, he felt more at rest than he had done for many months.

His conscience was soothed by the enfolding wing of secrecy, which

seemed just then like an angel sent down for his relief. He drew out

his pocket-book to review various memoranda there as to the

arrangements he had projected and partly carried out in the prospect of

quitting Middlemarch, and considered how far he would let them stand or

recall them, now that his absence would be brief. Some economies which

he felt desirable might still find a suitable occasion in his temporary

withdrawal from management, and he hoped still that Mrs. Casaubon would

take a large share in the expenses of the Hospital. In that way the

moments passed, until a change in the stertorous breathing was marked

enough to draw his attention wholly to the bed, and forced him to think

of the departing life, which had once been subservient to his

own—which he had once been glad to find base enough for him to act on

as he would. It was his gladness then which impelled him now to be

glad that the life was at an end.

And who could say that the death of Raffles had been hastened? Who

knew what would have saved him?

Lydgate arrived at half-past ten, in time to witness the final pause of

the breath. When he entered the room Bulstrode observed a sudden

expression in his face, which was not so much surprise as a recognition

that he had not judged correctly. He stood by the bed in silence for

some time, with his eyes turned on the dying man, but with that subdued

activity of expression which showed that he was carrying on an inward


"When did this change begin?" said he, looking at Bulstrode.

"I did not watch by him last night," said Bulstrode. "I was over-worn,

and left him under Mrs. Abel's care. She said that he sank into sleep

between three and four o'clock. When I came in before eight he was

nearly in this condition."

Lydgate did not ask another question, but watched in silence until he

said, "It's all over."

This morning Lydgate was in a state of recovered hope and freedom. He

had set out on his work with all his old animation, and felt himself

strong enough to bear all the deficiencies of his married life. And he

was conscious that Bulstrode had been a benefactor to him. But he was

uneasy about this case. He had not expected it to terminate as it had

done. Yet he hardly knew how to put a question on the subject to

Bulstrode without appearing to insult him; and if he examined the

housekeeper—why, the man was dead. There seemed to be no use in

implying that somebody's ignorance or imprudence had killed him. And

after all, he himself might be wrong.

He and Bulstrode rode back to Middlemarch together, talking of many

things—chiefly cholera and the chances of the Reform Bill in the House

of Lords, and the firm resolve of the political Unions. Nothing was

said about Raffles, except that Bulstrode mentioned the necessity of

having a grave for him in Lowick churchyard, and observed that, so far

as he knew, the poor man had no connections, except Rigg, whom he had

stated to be unfriendly towards him.

On returning home Lydgate had a visit from Mr. Farebrother. The Vicar

had not been in the town the day before, but the news that there was an

execution in Lydgate's house had got to Lowick by the evening, having

been carried by Mr. Spicer, shoemaker and parish-clerk, who had it from

his brother, the respectable bell-hanger in Lowick Gate. Since that

evening when Lydgate had come down from the billiard room with Fred

Vincy, Mr. Farebrother's thoughts about him had been rather gloomy.

Playing at the Green Dragon once or oftener might have been a trifle in

another man; but in Lydgate it was one of several signs that he was

getting unlike his former self. He was beginning to do things for

which he had formerly even an excessive scorn. Whatever certain

dissatisfactions in marriage, which some silly tinklings of gossip had

given him hints of, might have to do with this change, Mr. Farebrother

felt sure that it was chiefly connected with the debts which were being

more and more distinctly reported, and he began to fear that any notion

of Lydgate's having resources or friends in the background must be

quite illusory. The rebuff he had met with in his first attempt to win

Lydgate's confidence, disinclined him to a second; but this news of the

execution being actually in the house, determined the Vicar to overcome

his reluctance.

Lydgate had just dismissed a poor patient, in whom he was much

interested, and he came forward to put out his hand—with an open

cheerfulness which surprised Mr. Farebrother. Could this too be a

proud rejection of sympathy and help? Never mind; the sympathy and

help should be offered.

"How are you, Lydgate? I came to see you because I had heard something

which made me anxious about you," said the Vicar, in the tone of a good

brother, only that there was no reproach in it. They were both seated

by this time, and Lydgate answered immediately—

"I think I know what you mean. You had heard that there was an

execution in the house?"

"Yes; is it true?"

"It was true," said Lydgate, with an air of freedom, as if he did not

mind talking about the affair now. "But the danger is over; the debt

is paid. I am out of my difficulties now: I shall be freed from debts,

and able, I hope, to start afresh on a better plan."

"I am very thankful to hear it," said the Vicar, falling back in his

chair, and speaking with that low-toned quickness which often follows

the removal of a load. "I like that better than all the news in the

'Times.' I confess I came to you with a heavy heart."

"Thank you for coming," said Lydgate, cordially. "I can enjoy the

kindness all the more because I am happier. I have certainly been a

good deal crushed. I'm afraid I shall find the bruises still painful

by-and by," he added, smiling rather sadly; "but just now I can only

feel that the torture-screw is off."

Mr. Farebrother was silent for a moment, and then said earnestly, "My

dear fellow, let me ask you one question. Forgive me if I take a


"I don't believe you will ask anything that ought to offend me."

"Then—this is necessary to set my heart quite at rest—you have

not—have you?—in order to pay your debts, incurred another debt which

may harass you worse hereafter?"

"No," said Lydgate, coloring slightly. "There is no reason why I

should not tell you—since the fact is so—that the person to whom I am

indebted is Bulstrode. He has made me a very handsome advance—a

thousand pounds—and he can afford to wait for repayment."

"Well, that is generous," said Mr. Farebrother, compelling himself to

approve of the man whom he disliked. His delicate feeling shrank from

dwelling even in his thought on the fact that he had always urged

Lydgate to avoid any personal entanglement with Bulstrode. He added

immediately, "And Bulstrode must naturally feel an interest in your

welfare, after you have worked with him in a way which has probably

reduced your income instead of adding to it. I am glad to think that

he has acted accordingly."

Lydgate felt uncomfortable under these kindly suppositions. They made

more distinct within him the uneasy consciousness which had shown its

first dim stirrings only a few hours before, that Bulstrode's motives

for his sudden beneficence following close upon the chillest

indifference might be merely selfish. He let the kindly suppositions

pass. He could not tell the history of the loan, but it was more

vividly present with him than ever, as well as the fact which the Vicar

delicately ignored—that this relation of personal indebtedness to

Bulstrode was what he had once been most resolved to avoid.

He began, instead of answering, to speak of his projected economies,

and of his having come to look at his life from a different point of


"I shall set up a surgery," he said. "I really think I made a mistaken

effort in that respect. And if Rosamond will not mind, I shall take an

apprentice. I don't like these things, but if one carries them out

faithfully they are not really lowering. I have had a severe galling

to begin with: that will make the small rubs seem easy."

Poor Lydgate! the "if Rosamond will not mind," which had fallen from

him involuntarily as part of his thought, was a significant mark of the

yoke he bore. But Mr. Farebrother, whose hopes entered strongly into

the same current with Lydgate's, and who knew nothing about him that

could now raise a melancholy presentiment, left him with affectionate



Clown. . . . 'Twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where, indeed,
you have a delight to sit, have you not?
Froth. I have so: because it is an open room, and good for winter.
Clo. Why, very well then: I hope here be truths.
—Measure for Measure.

Five days after the death of Raffles, Mr. Bambridge was standing at his

leisure under the large archway leading into the yard of the Green

Dragon. He was not fond of solitary contemplation, but he had only

just come out of the house, and any human figure standing at ease under

the archway in the early afternoon was as certain to attract

companionship as a pigeon which has found something worth pecking at.

In this case there was no material object to feed upon, but the eye of

reason saw a probability of mental sustenance in the shape of gossip.

Mr. Hopkins, the meek-mannered draper opposite, was the first to act on

this inward vision, being the more ambitious of a little masculine talk

because his customers were chiefly women. Mr. Bambridge was rather

curt to the draper, feeling that Hopkins was of course glad to talk to

him, but that he was not going to waste much of his talk on Hopkins.

Soon, however, there was a small cluster of more important listeners,

who were either deposited from the passers-by, or had sauntered to the

spot expressly to see if there were anything going on at the Green

Dragon; and Mr. Bambridge was finding it worth his while to say many

impressive things about the fine studs he had been seeing and the

purchases he had made on a journey in the north from which he had just

returned. Gentlemen present were assured that when they could show him

anything to cut out a blood mare, a bay, rising four, which was to be

seen at Doncaster if they chose to go and look at it, Mr. Bambridge

would gratify them by being shot "from here to Hereford." Also, a pair

of blacks which he was going to put into the break recalled vividly to

his mind a pair which he had sold to Faulkner in '19, for a hundred

guineas, and which Faulkner had sold for a hundred and sixty two months

later—any gent who could disprove this statement being offered the

privilege of calling Mr. Bambridge by a very ugly name until the

exercise made his throat dry.

When the discourse was at this point of animation, came up Mr. Frank

Hawley. He was not a man to compromise his dignity by lounging at the

Green Dragon, but happening to pass along the High Street and seeing

Bambridge on the other side, he took some of his long strides across to

ask the horsedealer whether he had found the first-rate gig-horse which

he had engaged to look for. Mr. Hawley was requested to wait until he

had seen a gray selected at Bilkley: if that did not meet his wishes to

a hair, Bambridge did not know a horse when he saw it, which seemed to

be the highest conceivable unlikelihood. Mr. Hawley, standing with his

back to the street, was fixing a time for looking at the gray and

seeing it tried, when a horseman passed slowly by.

"Bulstrode!" said two or three voices at once in a low tone, one of

them, which was the draper's, respectfully prefixing the "Mr.;" but

nobody having more intention in this interjectural naming than if they

had said "the Riverston coach" when that vehicle appeared in the

distance. Mr. Hawley gave a careless glance round at Bulstrode's back,

but as Bambridge's eyes followed it he made a sarcastic grimace.

"By jingo! that reminds me," he began, lowering his voice a little, "I

picked up something else at Bilkley besides your gig-horse, Mr. Hawley.

I picked up a fine story about Bulstrode. Do you know how he came by

his fortune? Any gentleman wanting a bit of curious information, I can

give it him free of expense. If everybody got their deserts, Bulstrode

might have had to say his prayers at Botany Bay."

"What do you mean?" said Mr. Hawley, thrusting his hands into his

pockets, and pushing a little forward under the archway. If Bulstrode

should turn out to be a rascal, Frank Hawley had a prophetic soul.

"I had it from a party who was an old chum of Bulstrode's. I'll tell

you where I first picked him up," said Bambridge, with a sudden gesture

of his fore-finger. "He was at Larcher's sale, but I knew nothing of

him then—he slipped through my fingers—was after Bulstrode, no

doubt. He tells me he can tap Bulstrode to any amount, knows all his

secrets. However, he blabbed to me at Bilkley: he takes a stiff glass.

Damme if I think he meant to turn king's evidence; but he's that sort

of bragging fellow, the bragging runs over hedge and ditch with him,

till he'd brag of a spavin as if it 'ud fetch money. A man should know

when to pull up." Mr. Bambridge made this remark with an air of

disgust, satisfied that his own bragging showed a fine sense of the


"What's the man's name? Where can he be found?" said Mr. Hawley.

"As to where he is to be found, I left him to it at the Saracen's Head;

but his name is Raffles."

"Raffles!" exclaimed Mr. Hopkins. "I furnished his funeral yesterday.

He was buried at Lowick. Mr. Bulstrode followed him. A very decent

funeral." There was a strong sensation among the listeners. Mr.

Bambridge gave an ejaculation in which "brimstone" was the mildest

word, and Mr. Hawley, knitting his brows and bending his head forward,

exclaimed, "What?—where did the man die?"

"At Stone Court," said the draper. "The housekeeper said he was a

relation of the master's. He came there ill on Friday."

"Why, it was on Wednesday I took a glass with him," interposed


"Did any doctor attend him?" said Mr. Hawley

"Yes. Mr. Lydgate. Mr. Bulstrode sat up with him one night. He died

the third morning."

"Go on, Bambridge," said Mr. Hawley, insistently. "What did this

fellow say about Bulstrode?"

The group had already become larger, the town-clerk's presence being a

guarantee that something worth listening to was going on there; and Mr.

Bambridge delivered his narrative in the hearing of seven. It was

mainly what we know, including the fact about Will Ladislaw, with some

local color and circumstance added: it was what Bulstrode had dreaded

the betrayal of—and hoped to have buried forever with the corpse of

Raffles—it was that haunting ghost of his earlier life which as he

rode past the archway of the Green Dragon he was trusting that

Providence had delivered him from. Yes, Providence. He had not

confessed to himself yet that he had done anything in the way of

contrivance to this end; he had accepted what seemed to have been

offered. It was impossible to prove that he had done anything which

hastened the departure of that man's soul.

But this gossip about Bulstrode spread through Middlemarch like the

smell of fire. Mr. Frank Hawley followed up his information by sending

a clerk whom he could trust to Stone Court on a pretext of inquiring

about hay, but really to gather all that could be learned about Raffles

and his illness from Mrs. Abel. In this way it came to his knowledge

that Mr. Garth had carried the man to Stone Court in his gig; and Mr.

Hawley in consequence took an opportunity of seeing Caleb, calling at

his office to ask whether he had time to undertake an arbitration if it

were required, and then asking him incidentally about Raffles. Caleb

was betrayed into no word injurious to Bulstrode beyond the fact which

he was forced to admit, that he had given up acting for him within the

last week. Mr Hawley drew his inferences, and feeling convinced that

Raffles had told his story to Garth, and that Garth had given up

Bulstrode's affairs in consequence, said so a few hours later to Mr.

Toller. The statement was passed on until it had quite lost the stamp

of an inference, and was taken as information coming straight from

Garth, so that even a diligent historian might have concluded Caleb to

be the chief publisher of Bulstrode's misdemeanors.

Mr. Hawley was not slow to perceive that there was no handle for the

law either in the revelations made by Raffles or in the circumstances

of his death. He had himself ridden to Lowick village that he might

look at the register and talk over the whole matter with Mr.

Farebrother, who was not more surprised than the lawyer that an ugly

secret should have come to light about Bulstrode, though he had always

had justice enough in him to hinder his antipathy from turning into

conclusions. But while they were talking another combination was

silently going forward in Mr. Farebrother's mind, which foreshadowed

what was soon to be loudly spoken of in Middlemarch as a necessary

"putting of two and two together." With the reasons which kept

Bulstrode in dread of Raffles there flashed the thought that the dread

might have something to do with his munificence towards his medical

man; and though he resisted the suggestion that it had been consciously

accepted in any way as a bribe, he had a foreboding that this

complication of things might be of malignant effect on Lydgate's

reputation. He perceived that Mr. Hawley knew nothing at present of

the sudden relief from debt, and he himself was careful to glide away

from all approaches towards the subject.

"Well," he said, with a deep breath, wanting to wind up the illimitable

discussion of what might have been, though nothing could be legally

proven, "it is a strange story. So our mercurial Ladislaw has a queer

genealogy! A high-spirited young lady and a musical Polish patriot

made a likely enough stock for him to spring from, but I should never

have suspected a grafting of the Jew pawnbroker. However, there's no

knowing what a mixture will turn out beforehand. Some sorts of dirt

serve to clarify."

"It's just what I should have expected," said Mr. Hawley, mounting his

horse. "Any cursed alien blood, Jew, Corsican, or Gypsy."

"I know he's one of your black sheep, Hawley. But he is really a

disinterested, unworldly fellow," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling.

"Ay, ay, that is your Whiggish twist," said Mr. Hawley, who had been in

the habit of saying apologetically that Farebrother was such a damned

pleasant good-hearted fellow you would mistake him for a Tory.

Mr. Hawley rode home without thinking of Lydgate's attendance on

Raffles in any other light than as a piece of evidence on the side of

Bulstrode. But the news that Lydgate had all at once become able not

only to get rid of the execution in his house but to pay all his debts

in Middlemarch was spreading fast, gathering round it conjectures and

comments which gave it new body and impetus, and soon filling the ears

of other persons besides Mr. Hawley, who were not slow to see a

significant relation between this sudden command of money and

Bulstrode's desire to stifle the scandal of Raffles. That the money

came from Bulstrode would infallibly have been guessed even if there

had been no direct evidence of it; for it had beforehand entered into

the gossip about Lydgate's affairs, that neither his father-in-law nor

his own family would do anything for him, and direct evidence was

furnished not only by a clerk at the Bank, but by innocent Mrs.

Bulstrode herself, who mentioned the loan to Mrs. Plymdale, who

mentioned it to her daughter-in-law of the house of Toller, who

mentioned it generally. The business was felt to be so public and

important that it required dinners to feed it, and many invitations

were just then issued and accepted on the strength of this scandal

concerning Bulstrode and Lydgate; wives, widows, and single ladies took

their work and went out to tea oftener than usual; and all public

conviviality, from the Green Dragon to Dollop's, gathered a zest which

could not be won from the question whether the Lords would throw out

the Reform Bill.

For hardly anybody doubted that some scandalous reason or other was at

the bottom of Bulstrode's liberality to Lydgate. Mr. Hawley indeed, in

the first instance, invited a select party, including the two

physicians, with Mr Toller and Mr. Wrench, expressly to hold a close

discussion as to the probabilities of Raffles's illness, reciting to

them all the particulars which had been gathered from Mrs. Abel in

connection with Lydgate's certificate, that the death was due to

delirium tremens; and the medical gentlemen, who all stood

undisturbedly on the old paths in relation to this disease, declared

that they could see nothing in these particulars which could be

transformed into a positive ground of suspicion. But the moral grounds

of suspicion remained: the strong motives Bulstrode clearly had for

wishing to be rid of Raffles, and the fact that at this critical moment

he had given Lydgate the help which he must for some time have known

the need for; the disposition, moreover, to believe that Bulstrode

would be unscrupulous, and the absence of any indisposition to believe

that Lydgate might be as easily bribed as other haughty-minded men when

they have found themselves in want of money. Even if the money had

been given merely to make him hold his tongue about the scandal of

Bulstrode's earlier life, the fact threw an odious light on Lydgate,

who had long been sneered at as making himself subservient to the

banker for the sake of working himself into predominance, and

discrediting the elder members of his profession. Hence, in spite of

the negative as to any direct sign of guilt in relation to the death at

Stone Court, Mr. Hawley's select party broke up with the sense that the

affair had "an ugly look."

But this vague conviction of indeterminable guilt, which was enough to

keep up much head-shaking and biting innuendo even among substantial

professional seniors, had for the general mind all the superior power

of mystery over fact. Everybody liked better to conjecture how the

thing was, than simply to know it; for conjecture soon became more

confident than knowledge, and had a more liberal allowance for the

incompatible. Even the more definite scandal concerning Bulstrode's

earlier life was, for some minds, melted into the mass of mystery, as

so much lively metal to be poured out in dialogue, and to take such

fantastic shapes as heaven pleased.

This was the tone of thought chiefly sanctioned by Mrs. Dollop, the

spirited landlady of the Tankard in Slaughter Lane, who had often to

resist the shallow pragmatism of customers disposed to think that their

reports from the outer world were of equal force with what had "come

up" in her mind. How it had been brought to her she didn't know, but

it was there before her as if it had been "scored with the chalk on the

chimney-board—" as Bulstrode should say, "his inside was that black

as if the hairs of his head knowed the thoughts of his heart, he'd tear

'em up by the roots."

"That's odd," said Mr. Limp, a meditative shoemaker, with weak eyes and

a piping voice. "Why, I read in the 'Trumpet' that was what the Duke

of Wellington said when he turned his coat and went over to the Romans."

"Very like," said Mrs. Dollop. "If one raskill said it, it's more

reason why another should. But hypocrite as he's been, and holding

things with that high hand, as there was no parson i' the country good

enough for him, he was forced to take Old Harry into his counsel, and

Old Harry's been too many for him."

"Ay, ay, he's a 'complice you can't send out o' the country," said Mr.

Crabbe, the glazier, who gathered much news and groped among it dimly.

"But by what I can make out, there's them says Bulstrode was for

running away, for fear o' being found out, before now."

"He'll be drove away, whether or no," said Mr. Dill, the barber, who

had just dropped in. "I shaved Fletcher, Hawley's clerk, this

morning—he's got a bad finger—and he says they're all of one mind to

get rid of Bulstrode. Mr. Thesiger is turned against him, and wants

him out o' the parish. And there's gentlemen in this town says they'd

as soon dine with a fellow from the hulks. 'And a deal sooner I

would,' says Fletcher; 'for what's more against one's stomach than a

man coming and making himself bad company with his religion, and giving

out as the Ten Commandments are not enough for him, and all the while

he's worse than half the men at the tread-mill?' Fletcher said so


"It'll be a bad thing for the town though, if Bulstrode's money goes

out of it," said Mr. Limp, quaveringly.

"Ah, there's better folks spend their money worse," said a firm-voiced

dyer, whose crimson hands looked out of keeping with his good-natured


"But he won't keep his money, by what I can make out," said the

glazier. "Don't they say as there's somebody can strip it off him? By

what I can understan', they could take every penny off him, if they

went to lawing."

"No such thing!" said the barber, who felt himself a little above his

company at Dollop's, but liked it none the worse. "Fletcher says it's

no such thing. He says they might prove over and over again whose

child this young Ladislaw was, and they'd do no more than if they

proved I came out of the Fens—he couldn't touch a penny."

"Look you there now!" said Mrs. Dollop, indignantly. "I thank the Lord

he took my children to Himself, if that's all the law can do for the

motherless. Then by that, it's o' no use who your father and mother

is. But as to listening to what one lawyer says without asking

another—I wonder at a man o' your cleverness, Mr. Dill. It's well

known there's always two sides, if no more; else who'd go to law, I

should like to know? It's a poor tale, with all the law as there is up

and down, if it's no use proving whose child you are. Fletcher may say

that if he likes, but I say, don't Fletcher me!"

Mr. Dill affected to laugh in a complimentary way at Mrs. Dollop, as a

woman who was more than a match for the lawyers; being disposed to

submit to much twitting from a landlady who had a long score against


"If they come to lawing, and it's all true as folks say, there's more

to be looked to nor money," said the glazier. "There's this poor

creetur as is dead and gone; by what I can make out, he'd seen the day

when he was a deal finer gentleman nor Bulstrode."

"Finer gentleman! I'll warrant him," said Mrs. Dollop; "and a far

personabler man, by what I can hear. As I said when Mr. Baldwin, the

tax-gatherer, comes in, a-standing where you sit, and says, 'Bulstrode

got all his money as he brought into this town by thieving and

swindling,'—I said, 'You don't make me no wiser, Mr. Baldwin: it's set

my blood a-creeping to look at him ever sin' here he came into

Slaughter Lane a-wanting to buy the house over my head: folks don't

look the color o' the dough-tub and stare at you as if they wanted to

see into your backbone for nothingk.' That was what I said, and Mr.

Baldwin can bear me witness."

"And in the rights of it too," said Mr. Crabbe. "For by what I can

make out, this Raffles, as they call him, was a lusty, fresh-colored

man as you'd wish to see, and the best o' company—though dead he lies

in Lowick churchyard sure enough; and by what I can understan', there's

them knows more than they should know about how he got there."

"I'll believe you!" said Mrs. Dallop, with a touch of scorn at Mr.

Crabbe's apparent dimness. "When a man's been 'ticed to a lone house,

and there's them can pay for hospitals and nurses for half the

country-side choose to be sitters-up night and day, and nobody to come

near but a doctor as is known to stick at nothingk, and as poor as he

can hang together, and after that so flush o' money as he can pay off

Mr. Byles the butcher as his bill has been running on for the best o'

joints since last Michaelmas was a twelvemonth—I don't want anybody to

come and tell me as there's been more going on nor the Prayer-book's

got a service for—I don't want to stand winking and blinking and


Mrs. Dollop looked round with the air of a landlady accustomed to

dominate her company. There was a chorus of adhesion from the more

courageous; but Mr. Limp, after taking a draught, placed his flat hands

together and pressed them hard between his knees, looking down at them

with blear-eyed contemplation, as if the scorching power of Mrs.

Dollop's speech had quite dried up and nullified his wits until they

could be brought round again by further moisture.

"Why shouldn't they dig the man up and have the Crowner?" said the

dyer. "It's been done many and many's the time. If there's been foul

play they might find it out."

"Not they, Mr. Jonas!" said Mrs Dollop, emphatically. "I know what

doctors are. They're a deal too cunning to be found out. And this

Doctor Lydgate that's been for cutting up everybody before the breath

was well out o' their body—it's plain enough what use he wanted to

make o' looking into respectable people's insides. He knows drugs, you

may be sure, as you can neither smell nor see, neither before they're

swallowed nor after. Why, I've seen drops myself ordered by Doctor

Gambit, as is our club doctor and a good charikter, and has brought

more live children into the world nor ever another i' Middlemarch—I

say I've seen drops myself as made no difference whether they was in

the glass or out, and yet have griped you the next day. So I'll leave

your own sense to judge. Don't tell me! All I say is, it's a mercy

they didn't take this Doctor Lydgate on to our club. There's many a

mother's child might ha' rued it."

The heads of this discussion at "Dollop's" had been the common theme

among all classes in the town, had been carried to Lowick Parsonage on

one side and to Tipton Grange on the other, had come fully to the ears

of the Vincy family, and had been discussed with sad reference to "poor

Harriet" by all Mrs. Bulstrode's friends, before Lydgate knew

distinctly why people were looking strangely at him, and before

Bulstrode himself suspected the betrayal of his secrets. He had not

been accustomed to very cordial relations with his neighbors, and hence

he could not miss the signs of cordiality; moreover, he had been taking

journeys on business of various kinds, having now made up his mind that

he need not quit Middlemarch, and feeling able consequently to

determine on matters which he had before left in suspense.

"We will make a journey to Cheltenham in the course of a month or two,"

he had said to his wife. "There are great spiritual advantages to be

had in that town along with the air and the waters, and six weeks there

will be eminently refreshing to us."

He really believed in the spiritual advantages, and meant that his life

henceforth should be the more devoted because of those later sins which

he represented to himself as hypothetic, praying hypothetically for

their pardon:—"if I have herein transgressed."

As to the Hospital, he avoided saying anything further to Lydgate,

fearing to manifest a too sudden change of plans immediately on the

death of Raffles. In his secret soul he believed that Lydgate

suspected his orders to have been intentionally disobeyed, and

suspecting this he must also suspect a motive. But nothing had been

betrayed to him as to the history of Raffles, and Bulstrode was anxious

not to do anything which would give emphasis to his undefined

suspicions. As to any certainty that a particular method of treatment

would either save or kill, Lydgate himself was constantly arguing

against such dogmatism; he had no right to speak, and he had every

motive for being silent. Hence Bulstrode felt himself providentially

secured. The only incident he had strongly winced under had been an

occasional encounter with Caleb Garth, who, however, had raised his hat

with mild gravity.

Meanwhile, on the part of the principal townsmen a strong determination

was growing against him.

A meeting was to be held in the Town-Hall on a sanitary question which

had risen into pressing importance by the occurrence of a cholera case

in the town. Since the Act of Parliament, which had been hurriedly

passed, authorizing assessments for sanitary measures, there had been a

Board for the superintendence of such measures appointed in

Middlemarch, and much cleansing and preparation had been concurred in

by Whigs and Tories. The question now was, whether a piece of ground

outside the town should be secured as a burial-ground by means of

assessment or by private subscription. The meeting was to be open, and

almost everybody of importance in the town was expected to be there.

Mr. Bulstrode was a member of the Board, and just before twelve o'clock

he started from the Bank with the intention of urging the plan of

private subscription. Under the hesitation of his projects, he had for

some time kept himself in the background, and he felt that he should

this morning resume his old position as a man of action and influence

in the public affairs of the town where he expected to end his days.

Among the various persons going in the same direction, he saw Lydgate;

they joined, talked over the object of the meeting, and entered it


It seemed that everybody of mark had been earlier than they. But there

were still spaces left near the head of the large central table, and

they made their way thither. Mr. Farebrother sat opposite, not far

from Mr. Hawley; all the medical men were there; Mr. Thesiger was in

the chair, and Mr. Brooke of Tipton was on his right hand.

Lydgate noticed a peculiar interchange of glances when he and Bulstrode

took their seats.

After the business had been fully opened by the chairman, who pointed

out the advantages of purchasing by subscription a piece of ground

large enough to be ultimately used as a general cemetery, Mr.

Bulstrode, whose rather high-pitched but subdued and fluent voice the

town was used to at meetings of this sort, rose and asked leave to

deliver his opinion. Lydgate could see again the peculiar interchange

of glances before Mr. Hawley started up, and said in his firm resonant

voice, "Mr. Chairman, I request that before any one delivers his

opinion on this point I may be permitted to speak on a question of

public feeling, which not only by myself, but by many gentlemen

present, is regarded as preliminary."

Mr. Hawley's mode of speech, even when public decorum repressed his

"awful language," was formidable in its curtness and self-possession.

Mr. Thesiger sanctioned the request, Mr. Bulstrode sat down, and Mr.

Hawley continued.

"In what I have to say, Mr. Chairman, I am not speaking simply on my

own behalf: I am speaking with the concurrence and at the express

request of no fewer than eight of my fellow-townsmen, who are

immediately around us. It is our united sentiment that Mr. Bulstrode

should be called upon—and I do now call upon him—to resign public

positions which he holds not simply as a tax-payer, but as a gentleman

among gentlemen. There are practices and there are acts which, owing

to circumstances, the law cannot visit, though they may be worse than

many things which are legally punishable. Honest men and gentlemen, if

they don't want the company of people who perpetrate such acts, have

got to defend themselves as they best can, and that is what I and the

friends whom I may call my clients in this affair are determined to do.

I don't say that Mr. Bulstrode has been guilty of shameful acts, but I

call upon him either publicly to deny and confute the scandalous

statements made against him by a man now dead, and who died in his

house—the statement that he was for many years engaged in nefarious

practices, and that he won his fortune by dishonest procedures—or else

to withdraw from positions which could only have been allowed him as a

gentleman among gentlemen."

All eyes in the room were turned on Mr. Bulstrode, who, since the first

mention of his name, had been going through a crisis of feeling almost

too violent for his delicate frame to support. Lydgate, who himself

was undergoing a shock as from the terrible practical interpretation of

some faint augury, felt, nevertheless, that his own movement of

resentful hatred was checked by that instinct of the Healer which

thinks first of bringing rescue or relief to the sufferer, when he

looked at the shrunken misery of Bulstrode's livid face.

The quick vision that his life was after all a failure, that he was a

dishonored man, and must quail before the glance of those towards whom

he had habitually assumed the attitude of a reprover—that God had

disowned him before men and left him unscreened to the triumphant scorn

of those who were glad to have their hatred justified—the sense of

utter futility in that equivocation with his conscience in dealing with

the life of his accomplice, an equivocation which now turned venomously

upon him with the full-grown fang of a discovered lie:—all this

rushed through him like the agony of terror which fails to kill, and

leaves the ears still open to the returning wave of execration. The

sudden sense of exposure after the re-established sense of safety

came—not to the coarse organization of a criminal but to—the

susceptible nerve of a man whose intensest being lay in such mastery

and predominance as the conditions of his life had shaped for him.

But in that intense being lay the strength of reaction. Through all

his bodily infirmity there ran a tenacious nerve of ambitious

self-preserving will, which had continually leaped out like a flame,

scattering all doctrinal fears, and which, even while he sat an object

of compassion for the merciful, was beginning to stir and glow under

his ashy paleness. Before the last words were out of Mr. Hawley's

mouth, Bulstrode felt that he should answer, and that his answer would

be a retort. He dared not get up and say, "I am not guilty, the whole

story is false"—even if he had dared this, it would have seemed to

him, under his present keen sense of betrayal, as vain as to pull, for

covering to his nakedness, a frail rag which would rend at every little


For a few moments there was total silence, while every man in the room

was looking at Bulstrode. He sat perfectly still, leaning hard against

the back of his chair; he could not venture to rise, and when he began

to speak he pressed his hands upon the seat on each side of him. But

his voice was perfectly audible, though hoarser than usual, and his

words were distinctly pronounced, though he paused between sentence as

if short of breath. He said, turning first toward Mr. Thesiger, and

then looking at Mr. Hawley—

"I protest before you, sir, as a Christian minister, against the

sanction of proceedings towards me which are dictated by virulent

hatred. Those who are hostile to me are glad to believe any libel

uttered by a loose tongue against me. And their consciences become

strict against me. Say that the evil-speaking of which I am to be made

the victim accuses me of malpractices—" here Bulstrode's voice rose

and took on a more biting accent, till it seemed a low cry—"who shall

be my accuser? Not men whose own lives are unchristian, nay,

scandalous—not men who themselves use low instruments to carry out

their ends—whose profession is a tissue of chicanery—who have been

spending their income on their own sensual enjoyments, while I have

been devoting mine to advance the best objects with regard to this life

and the next."

After the word chicanery there was a growing noise, half of murmurs and

half of hisses, while four persons started up at once—Mr. Hawley, Mr.

Toller, Mr. Chichely, and Mr. Hackbutt; but Mr. Hawley's outburst was

instantaneous, and left the others behind in silence.

"If you mean me, sir, I call you and every one else to the inspection

of my professional life. As to Christian or unchristian, I repudiate

your canting palavering Christianity; and as to the way in which I

spend my income, it is not my principle to maintain thieves and cheat

offspring of their due inheritance in order to support religion and set

myself up as a saintly Killjoy. I affect no niceness of conscience—I

have not found any nice standards necessary yet to measure your actions

by, sir. And I again call upon you to enter into satisfactory

explanations concerning the scandals against you, or else to withdraw

from posts in which we at any rate decline you as a colleague. I say,

sir, we decline to co-operate with a man whose character is not cleared

from infamous lights cast upon it, not only by reports but by recent


"Allow me, Mr. Hawley," said the chairman; and Mr. Hawley, still

fuming, bowed half impatiently, and sat down with his hands thrust deep

in his pockets.

"Mr. Bulstrode, it is not desirable, I think, to prolong the present

discussion," said Mr. Thesiger, turning to the pallid trembling man; "I

must so far concur with what has fallen from Mr. Hawley in expression

of a general feeling, as to think it due to your Christian profession

that you should clear yourself, if possible, from unhappy aspersions.

I for my part should be willing to give you full opportunity and

hearing. But I must say that your present attitude is painfully

inconsistent with those principles which you have sought to identify

yourself with, and for the honor of which I am bound to care. I

recommend you at present, as your clergyman, and one who hopes for your

reinstatement in respect, to quit the room, and avoid further hindrance

to business."

Bulstrode, after a moment's hesitation, took his hat from the floor and

slowly rose, but he grasped the corner of the chair so totteringly that

Lydgate felt sure there was not strength enough in him to walk away

without support. What could he do? He could not see a man sink close

to him for want of help. He rose and gave his arm to Bulstrode, and in

that way led him out of the room; yet this act, which might have been

one of gentle duty and pure compassion, was at this moment unspeakably

bitter to him. It seemed as if he were putting his sign-manual to that

association of himself with Bulstrode, of which he now saw the full

meaning as it must have presented itself to other minds. He now felt

the conviction that this man who was leaning tremblingly on his arm,

had given him the thousand pounds as a bribe, and that somehow the

treatment of Raffles had been tampered with from an evil motive. The

inferences were closely linked enough; the town knew of the loan,

believed it to be a bribe, and believed that he took it as a bribe.

Poor Lydgate, his mind struggling under the terrible clutch of this

revelation, was all the while morally forced to take Mr. Bulstrode to

the Bank, send a man off for his carriage, and wait to accompany him


Meanwhile the business of the meeting was despatched, and fringed off

into eager discussion among various groups concerning this affair of

Bulstrode—and Lydgate.

Mr. Brooke, who had before heard only imperfect hints of it, and was

very uneasy that he had "gone a little too far" in countenancing

Bulstrode, now got himself fully informed, and felt some benevolent

sadness in talking to Mr. Farebrother about the ugly light in which

Lydgate had come to be regarded. Mr. Farebrother was going to walk

back to Lowick.

"Step into my carriage," said Mr. Brooke. "I am going round to see

Mrs. Casaubon. She was to come back from Yorkshire last night. She

will like to see me, you know."

So they drove along, Mr. Brooke chatting with good-natured hope that

there had not really been anything black in Lydgate's behavior—a

young fellow whom he had seen to be quite above the common mark, when

he brought a letter from his uncle Sir Godwin. Mr. Farebrother said

little: he was deeply mournful: with a keen perception of human

weakness, he could not be confident that under the pressure of

humiliating needs Lydgate had not fallen below himself.

When the carriage drove up to the gate of the Manor, Dorothea was out

on the gravel, and came to greet them.

"Well, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, "we have just come from a meeting—a

sanitary meeting, you know."

"Was Mr. Lydgate there?" said Dorothea, who looked full of health and

animation, and stood with her head bare under the gleaming April

lights. "I want to see him and have a great consultation with him

about the Hospital. I have engaged with Mr. Bulstrode to do so."

"Oh, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, "we have been hearing bad news—bad

news, you know."

They walked through the garden towards the churchyard gate, Mr.

Farebrother wanting to go on to the parsonage; and Dorothea heard the

whole sad story.

She listened with deep interest, and begged to hear twice over the

facts and impressions concerning Lydgate. After a short silence,

pausing at the churchyard gate, and addressing Mr. Farebrother, she

said energetically—

"You don't believe that Mr. Lydgate is guilty of anything base? I will

not believe it. Let us find out the truth and clear him!"




Full souls are double mirrors, making still
An endless vista of fair things before,
Repeating things behind.

Dorothea's impetuous generosity, which would have leaped at once to the

vindication of Lydgate from the suspicion of having accepted money as a

bribe, underwent a melancholy check when she came to consider all the

circumstances of the case by the light of Mr. Farebrother's experience.

"It is a delicate matter to touch," he said. "How can we begin to

inquire into it? It must be either publicly by setting the magistrate

and coroner to work, or privately by questioning Lydgate. As to the

first proceeding there is no solid ground to go upon, else Hawley would

have adopted it; and as to opening the subject with Lydgate, I confess

I should shrink from it. He would probably take it as a deadly insult.

I have more than once experienced the difficulty of speaking to him on

personal matters. And—one should know the truth about his conduct

beforehand, to feel very confident of a good result."

"I feel convinced that his conduct has not been guilty: I believe that

people are almost always better than their neighbors think they are,"

said Dorothea. Some of her intensest experience in the last two years

had set her mind strongly in opposition to any unfavorable construction

of others; and for the first time she felt rather discontented with Mr.

Farebrother. She disliked this cautious weighing of consequences,

instead of an ardent faith in efforts of justice and mercy, which would

conquer by their emotional force. Two days afterwards, he was dining

at the Manor with her uncle and the Chettams, and when the dessert was

standing uneaten, the servants were out of the room, and Mr. Brooke was

nodding in a nap, she returned to the subject with renewed vivacity.

"Mr. Lydgate would understand that if his friends hear a calumny about

him their first wish must be to justify him. What do we live for, if

it is not to make life less difficult to each other? I cannot be

indifferent to the troubles of a man who advised me in my trouble,

and attended me in my illness."

Dorothea's tone and manner were not more energetic than they had been

when she was at the head of her uncle's table nearly three years

before, and her experience since had given her more right to express a

decided opinion. But Sir James Chettam was no longer the diffident and

acquiescent suitor: he was the anxious brother-in-law, with a devout

admiration for his sister, but with a constant alarm lest she should

fall under some new illusion almost as bad as marrying Casaubon. He

smiled much less; when he said "Exactly" it was more often an

introduction to a dissentient opinion than in those submissive bachelor

days; and Dorothea found to her surprise that she had to resolve not to

be afraid of him—all the more because he was really her best friend.

He disagreed with her now.

"But, Dorothea," he said, remonstrantly, "you can't undertake to manage

a man's life for him in that way. Lydgate must know—at least he will

soon come to know how he stands. If he can clear himself, he will. He

must act for himself."

"I think his friends must wait till they find an opportunity," added

Mr. Farebrother. "It is possible—I have often felt so much weakness

in myself that I can conceive even a man of honorable disposition, such

as I have always believed Lydgate to be, succumbing to such a

temptation as that of accepting money which was offered more or less

indirectly as a bribe to insure his silence about scandalous facts long

gone by. I say, I can conceive this, if he were under the pressure of

hard circumstances—if he had been harassed as I feel sure Lydgate has

been. I would not believe anything worse of him except under stringent

proof. But there is the terrible Nemesis following on some errors,

that it is always possible for those who like it to interpret them into

a crime: there is no proof in favor of the man outside his own

consciousness and assertion."

"Oh, how cruel!" said Dorothea, clasping her hands. "And would you not

like to be the one person who believed in that man's innocence, if the

rest of the world belied him? Besides, there is a man's character

beforehand to speak for him."

"But, my dear Mrs. Casaubon," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling gently at

her ardor, "character is not cut in marble—it is not something solid

and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become

diseased as our bodies do."

"Then it may be rescued and healed," said Dorothea "I should not be

afraid of asking Mr. Lydgate to tell me the truth, that I might help

him. Why should I be afraid? Now that I am not to have the land,

James, I might do as Mr. Bulstrode proposed, and take his place in

providing for the Hospital; and I have to consult Mr. Lydgate, to know

thoroughly what are the prospects of doing good by keeping up the

present plans. There is the best opportunity in the world for me to

ask for his confidence; and he would be able to tell me things which

might make all the circumstances clear. Then we would all stand by him

and bring him out of his trouble. People glorify all sorts of bravery

except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest

neighbors." Dorothea's eyes had a moist brightness in them, and the

changed tones of her voice roused her uncle, who began to listen.

"It is true that a woman may venture on some efforts of sympathy which

would hardly succeed if we men undertook them," said Mr. Farebrother,

almost converted by Dorothea's ardor.

"Surely, a woman is bound to be cautious and listen to those who know

the world better than she does." said Sir James, with his little

frown. "Whatever you do in the end, Dorothea, you should really keep

back at present, and not volunteer any meddling with this Bulstrode

business. We don't know yet what may turn up. You must agree with

me?" he ended, looking at Mr. Farebrother.

"I do think it would be better to wait," said the latter.

"Yes, yes, my dear," said Mr. Brooke, not quite knowing at what point

the discussion had arrived, but coming up to it with a contribution

which was generally appropriate. "It is easy to go too far, you know.

You must not let your ideas run away with you. And as to being in a

hurry to put money into schemes—it won't do, you know. Garth has

drawn me in uncommonly with repairs, draining, that sort of thing: I'm

uncommonly out of pocket with one thing or another. I must pull up.

As for you, Chettam, you are spending a fortune on those oak fences

round your demesne."

Dorothea, submitting uneasily to this discouragement, went with Celia

into the library, which was her usual drawing-room.

"Now, Dodo, do listen to what James says," said Celia, "else you will

be getting into a scrape. You always did, and you always will, when

you set about doing as you please. And I think it is a mercy now after

all that you have got James to think for you. He lets you have your

plans, only he hinders you from being taken in. And that is the good

of having a brother instead of a husband. A husband would not let you

have your plans."

"As if I wanted a husband!" said Dorothea. "I only want not to have my

feelings checked at every turn." Mrs. Casaubon was still undisciplined

enough to burst into angry tears.

"Now, really, Dodo," said Celia, with rather a deeper guttural than

usual, "you are contradictory: first one thing and then another. You

used to submit to Mr. Casaubon quite shamefully: I think you would have

given up ever coming to see me if he had asked you."

"Of course I submitted to him, because it was my duty; it was my

feeling for him," said Dorothea, looking through the prism of her tears.

"Then why can't you think it your duty to submit a little to what James

wishes?" said Celia, with a sense of stringency in her argument.

"Because he only wishes what is for your own good. And, of course, men

know best about everything, except what women know better." Dorothea

laughed and forgot her tears.

"Well, I mean about babies and those things," explained Celia. "I

should not give up to James when I knew he was wrong, as you used to do

to Mr. Casaubon."


Pity the laden one; this wandering woe
May visit you and me.

When Lydgate had allayed Mrs. Bulstrode's anxiety by telling her that

her husband had been seized with faintness at the meeting, but that he

trusted soon to see him better and would call again the next day,

unless she-sent for him earlier, he went directly home, got on his

horse, and rode three miles out of the town for the sake of being out

of reach.

He felt himself becoming violent and unreasonable as if raging under

the pain of stings: he was ready to curse the day on which he had come

to Middlemarch. Everything that bad happened to him there seemed a

mere preparation for this hateful fatality, which had come as a blight

on his honorable ambition, and must make even people who had only

vulgar standards regard his reputation as irrevocably damaged. In such

moments a man can hardly escape being unloving. Lydgate thought of

himself as the sufferer, and of others as the agents who had injured

his lot. He had meant everything to turn out differently; and others

had thrust themselves into his life and thwarted his purposes. His

marriage seemed an unmitigated calamity; and he was afraid of going to

Rosamond before he had vented himself in this solitary rage, lest the

mere sight of her should exasperate him and make him behave

unwarrantably. There are episodes in most men's lives in which their

highest qualities can only cast a deterring shadow over the objects

that fill their inward vision: Lydgate's tenderheartedness was present

just then only as a dread lest he should offend against it, not as an

emotion that swayed him to tenderness. For he was very miserable.

Only those who know the supremacy of the intellectual life—the life

which has a seed of ennobling thought and purpose within it—can

understand the grief of one who falls from that serene activity into

the absorbing soul-wasting struggle with worldly annoyances.

How was he to live on without vindicating himself among people who

suspected him of baseness? How could he go silently away from

Middlemarch as if he were retreating before a just condemnation? And

yet how was he to set about vindicating himself?

For that scene at the meeting, which he had just witnessed, although it

had told him no particulars, had been enough to make his own situation

thoroughly clear to him. Bulstrode had been in dread of scandalous

disclosures on the part of Raffles. Lydgate could now construct all

the probabilities of the case. "He was afraid of some betrayal in my

hearing: all he wanted was to bind me to him by a strong obligation:

that was why he passed on a sudden from hardness to liberality. And he

may have tampered with the patient—he may have disobeyed my orders. I

fear he did. But whether he did or not, the world believes that he

somehow or other poisoned the man and that I winked at the crime, if I

didn't help in it. And yet—and yet he may not be guilty of the last

offence; and it is just possible that the change towards me may have

been a genuine relenting—the effect of second thoughts such as he

alleged. What we call the 'just possible' is sometimes true and the

thing we find it easier to believe is grossly false. In his last

dealings with this man Bulstrode may have kept his hands pure, in spite

of my suspicion to the contrary."

There was a benumbing cruelty in his position. Even if he renounced

every other consideration than that of justifying himself—if he met

shrugs, cold glances, and avoidance as an accusation, and made a public

statement of all the facts as he knew them, who would be convinced? It

would be playing the part of a fool to offer his own testimony on

behalf of himself, and say, "I did not take the money as a bribe." The

circumstances would always be stronger than his assertion. And

besides, to come forward and tell everything about himself must include

declarations about Bulstrode which would darken the suspicions of

others against him. He must tell that he had not known of Raffles's

existence when he first mentioned his pressing need of money to

Bulstrode, and that he took the money innocently as a result of that

communication, not knowing that a new motive for the loan might have

arisen on his being called in to this man. And after all, the

suspicion of Bulstrode's motives might be unjust.

But then came the question whether he should have acted in precisely

the same way if he had not taken the money? Certainly, if Raffles had

continued alive and susceptible of further treatment when he arrived,

and he had then imagined any disobedience to his orders on the part of

Bulstrode, he would have made a strict inquiry, and if his conjecture

had been verified he would have thrown up the case, in spite of his

recent heavy obligation. But if he had not received any money—if

Bulstrode had never revoked his cold recommendation of bankruptcy—would

he, Lydgate, have abstained from all inquiry even on finding the

man dead?—would the shrinking from an insult to Bulstrode—would the

dubiousness of all medical treatment and the argument that his own

treatment would pass for the wrong with most members of his

profession—have had just the same force or significance with him?

That was the uneasy corner of Lydgate's consciousness while he was

reviewing the facts and resisting all reproach. If he had been

independent, this matter of a patient's treatment and the distinct rule

that he must do or see done that which he believed best for the life

committed to him, would have been the point on which he would have been

the sturdiest. As it was, he had rested in the consideration that

disobedience to his orders, however it might have arisen, could not be

considered a crime, that in the dominant opinion obedience to his

orders was just as likely to be fatal, and that the affair was simply

one of etiquette. Whereas, again and again, in his time of freedom, he

had denounced the perversion of pathological doubt into moral doubt and

had said—"the purest experiment in treatment may still be

conscientious: my business is to take care of life, and to do the best

I can think of for it. Science is properly more scrupulous than dogma.

Dogma gives a charter to mistake, but the very breath of science is a

contest with mistake, and must keep the conscience alive." Alas! the

scientific conscience had got into the debasing company of money

obligation and selfish respects.

"Is there a medical man of them all in Middlemarch who would question

himself as I do?" said poor Lydgate, with a renewed outburst of

rebellion against the oppression of his lot. "And yet they will all

feel warranted in making a wide space between me and them, as if I were

a leper! My practice and my reputation are utterly damned—I can see

that. Even if I could be cleared by valid evidence, it would make

little difference to the blessed world here. I have been set down as

tainted and should be cheapened to them all the same."

Already there had been abundant signs which had hitherto puzzled him,

that just when he had been paying off his debts and getting cheerfully

on his feet, the townsmen were avoiding him or looking strangely at

him, and in two instances it came to his knowledge that patients of his

had called in another practitioner. The reasons were too plain now.

The general black-balling had begun.

No wonder that in Lydgate's energetic nature the sense of a hopeless

misconstruction easily turned into a dogged resistance. The scowl

which occasionally showed itself on his square brow was not a

meaningless accident. Already when he was re-entering the town after

that ride taken in the first hours of stinging pain, he was setting his

mind on remaining in Middlemarch in spite of the worst that could be

done against him. He would not retreat before calumny, as if he

submitted to it. He would face it to the utmost, and no act of his

should show that he was afraid. It belonged to the generosity as well

as defiant force of his nature that he resolved not to shrink from

showing to the full his sense of obligation to Bulstrode. It was true

that the association with this man had been fatal to him—true that if

he had had the thousand pounds still in his hands with all his debts

unpaid he would have returned the money to Bulstrode, and taken beggary

rather than the rescue which had been sullied with the suspicion of a

bribe (for, remember, he was one of the proudest among the sons of

men)—nevertheless, he would not turn away from this crushed

fellow-mortal whose aid he had used, and make a pitiful effort to get

acquittal for himself by howling against another. "I shall do as I

think right, and explain to nobody. They will try to starve me out,

but—" he was going on with an obstinate resolve, but he was getting

near home, and the thought of Rosamond urged itself again into that

chief place from which it had been thrust by the agonized struggles of

wounded honor and pride.

How would Rosamond take it all? Here was another weight of chain to

drag, and poor Lydgate was in a bad mood for bearing her dumb mastery.

He had no impulse to tell her the trouble which must soon be common to

them both. He preferred waiting for the incidental disclosure which

events must soon bring about.


"Mercifully grant that we may grow aged together."
—BOOK OF TOBIT: Marriage Prayer.

In Middlemarch a wife could not long remain ignorant that the town held

a bad opinion of her husband. No feminine intimate might carry her

friendship so far as to make a plain statement to the wife of the

unpleasant fact known or believed about her husband; but when a woman

with her thoughts much at leisure got them suddenly employed on

something grievously disadvantageous to her neighbors, various moral

impulses were called into play which tended to stimulate utterance.

Candor was one. To be candid, in Middlemarch phraseology, meant, to

use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not

take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their

position; and a robust candor never waited to be asked for its opinion.

Then, again, there was the love of truth—a wide phrase, but meaning in

this relation, a lively objection to seeing a wife look happier than

her husband's character warranted, or manifest too much satisfaction in

her lot—the poor thing should have some hint given her that if she

knew the truth she would have less complacency in her bonnet, and in

light dishes for a supper-party. Stronger than all, there was the

regard for a friend's moral improvement, sometimes called her soul,

which was likely to be benefited by remarks tending to gloom, uttered

with the accompaniment of pensive staring at the furniture and a manner

implying that the speaker would not tell what was on her mind, from

regard to the feelings of her hearer. On the whole, one might say that

an ardent charity was at work setting the virtuous mind to make a

neighbor unhappy for her good.

There were hardly any wives in Middlemarch whose matrimonial

misfortunes would in different ways be likely to call forth more of

this moral activity than Rosamond and her aunt Bulstrode. Mrs.

Bulstrode was not an object of dislike, and had never consciously

injured any human being. Men had always thought her a handsome

comfortable woman, and had reckoned it among the signs of Bulstrode's

hypocrisy that he had chosen a red-blooded Vincy, instead of a ghastly

and melancholy person suited to his low esteem for earthly pleasure.

When the scandal about her husband was disclosed they remarked of

her—"Ah, poor woman! She's as honest as the day—she never

suspected anything wrong in him, you may depend on it." Women, who

were intimate with her, talked together much of "poor Harriet,"

imagined what her feelings must be when she came to know everything,

and conjectured how much she had already come to know. There was no

spiteful disposition towards her; rather, there was a busy benevolence

anxious to ascertain what it would be well for her to feel and do under

the circumstances, which of course kept the imagination occupied with

her character and history from the times when she was Harriet Vincy

till now. With the review of Mrs. Bulstrode and her position it was

inevitable to associate Rosamond, whose prospects were under the same

blight with her aunt's. Rosamond was more severely criticised and less

pitied, though she too, as one of the good old Vincy family who had

always been known in Middlemarch, was regarded as a victim to marriage

with an interloper. The Vincys had their weaknesses, but then they lay

on the surface: there was never anything bad to be "found out"

concerning them. Mrs. Bulstrode was vindicated from any resemblance to

her husband. Harriet's faults were her own.

"She has always been showy," said Mrs. Hackbutt, making tea for a small

party, "though she has got into the way of putting her religion

forward, to conform to her husband; she has tried to hold her head up

above Middlemarch by making it known that she invites clergymen and

heaven-knows-who from Riverston and those places."

"We can hardly blame her for that," said Mrs. Sprague; "because few of

the best people in the town cared to associate with Bulstrode, and she

must have somebody to sit down at her table."

"Mr. Thesiger has always countenanced him," said Mrs. Hackbutt. "I

think he must be sorry now."

"But he was never fond of him in his heart—that every one knows," said

Mrs. Tom Toller. "Mr. Thesiger never goes into extremes. He keeps to

the truth in what is evangelical. It is only clergymen like Mr. Tyke,

who want to use Dissenting hymn-books and that low kind of religion,

who ever found Bulstrode to their taste."

"I understand, Mr. Tyke is in great distress about him," said Mrs.

Hackbutt. "And well he may be: they say the Bulstrodes have half kept

the Tyke family."

"And of course it is a discredit to his doctrines," said Mrs. Sprague,

who was elderly, and old-fashioned in her opinions.

"People will not make a boast of being methodistical in Middlemarch for

a good while to come."

"I think we must not set down people's bad actions to their religion,"

said falcon-faced Mrs. Plymdale, who had been listening hitherto.

"Oh, my dear, we are forgetting," said Mrs. Sprague. "We ought not to

be talking of this before you."

"I am sure I have no reason to be partial," said Mrs. Plymdale,

coloring. "It's true Mr. Plymdale has always been on good terms with

Mr. Bulstrode, and Harriet Vincy was my friend long before she married

him. But I have always kept my own opinions and told her where she was

wrong, poor thing. Still, in point of religion, I must say, Mr.

Bulstrode might have done what he has, and worse, and yet have been a

man of no religion. I don't say that there has not been a little too

much of that—I like moderation myself. But truth is truth. The men

tried at the assizes are not all over-religious, I suppose."

"Well," said Mrs. Hackbutt, wheeling adroitly, "all I can say is, that

I think she ought to separate from him."

"I can't say that," said Mrs. Sprague. "She took him for better or

worse, you know."

"But 'worse' can never mean finding out that your husband is fit for

Newgate," said Mrs. Hackbutt. "Fancy living with such a man! I should

expect to be poisoned."

"Yes, I think myself it is an encouragement to crime if such men are to

be taken care of and waited on by good wives," said Mrs. Tom Toller.

"And a good wife poor Harriet has been," said Mrs. Plymdale. "She

thinks her husband the first of men. It's true he has never denied her


"Well, we shall see what she will do," said Mrs. Hackbutt. "I suppose

she knows nothing yet, poor creature. I do hope and trust I shall not

see her, for I should be frightened to death lest I should say anything

about her husband. Do you think any hint has reached her?"

"I should hardly think so," said Mrs. Tom Toller. "We hear that he is

ill, and has never stirred out of the house since the meeting on

Thursday; but she was with her girls at church yesterday, and they had

new Tuscan bonnets. Her own had a feather in it. I have never seen

that her religion made any difference in her dress."

"She wears very neat patterns always," said Mrs. Plymdale, a little

stung. "And that feather I know she got dyed a pale lavender on

purpose to be consistent. I must say it of Harriet that she wishes to

do right."

"As to her knowing what has happened, it can't be kept from her long,"

said Mrs. Hackbutt. "The Vincys know, for Mr. Vincy was at the

meeting. It will be a great blow to him. There is his daughter as

well as his sister."

"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Sprague. "Nobody supposes that Mr. Lydgate

can go on holding up his head in Middlemarch, things look so black

about the thousand pounds he took just at that man's death. It really

makes one shudder."

"Pride must have a fall," said Mrs. Hackbutt.

"I am not so sorry for Rosamond Vincy that was as I am for her aunt,"

said Mrs. Plymdale. "She needed a lesson."

"I suppose the Bulstrodes will go and live abroad somewhere," said Mrs.

Sprague. "That is what is generally done when there is anything

disgraceful in a family."

"And a most deadly blow it will be to Harriet," said Mrs. Plymdale.

"If ever a woman was crushed, she will be. I pity her from my heart.

And with all her faults, few women are better. From a girl she had the

neatest ways, and was always good-hearted, and as open as the day. You

might look into her drawers when you would—always the same. And so

she has brought up Kate and Ellen. You may think how hard it will be

for her to go among foreigners."

"The doctor says that is what he should recommend the Lydgates to do,"

said Mrs. Sprague. "He says Lydgate ought to have kept among the


"That would suit her well enough, I dare say," said Mrs. Plymdale;

"there is that kind of lightness about her. But she got that from her

mother; she never got it from her aunt Bulstrode, who always gave her

good advice, and to my knowledge would rather have had her marry


Mrs. Plymdale was in a situation which caused her some complication of

feeling. There had been not only her intimacy with Mrs. Bulstrode, but

also a profitable business relation of the great Plymdale dyeing house

with Mr. Bulstrode, which on the one hand would have inclined her to

desire that the mildest view of his character should be the true one,

but on the other, made her the more afraid of seeming to palliate his

culpability. Again, the late alliance of her family with the Tollers

had brought her in connection with the best circle, which gratified her

in every direction except in the inclination to those serious views

which she believed to be the best in another sense. The sharp little

woman's conscience was somewhat troubled in the adjustment of these

opposing "bests," and of her griefs and satisfactions under late

events, which were likely to humble those who needed humbling, but also

to fall heavily on her old friend whose faults she would have preferred

seeing on a background of prosperity.

Poor Mrs. Bulstrode, meanwhile, had been no further shaken by the

oncoming tread of calamity than in the busier stirring of that secret

uneasiness which had always been present in her since the last visit of

Raffles to The Shrubs. That the hateful man had come ill to Stone

Court, and that her husband had chosen to remain there and watch over

him, she allowed to be explained by the fact that Raffles had been

employed and aided in earlier-days, and that this made a tie of

benevolence towards him in his degraded helplessness; and she had been

since then innocently cheered by her husband's more hopeful speech

about his own health and ability to continue his attention to business.

The calm was disturbed when Lydgate had brought him home ill from the

meeting, and in spite of comforting assurances during the next few

days, she cried in private from the conviction that her husband was not

suffering from bodily illness merely, but from something that afflicted

his mind. He would not allow her to read to him, and scarcely to sit

with him, alleging nervous susceptibility to sounds and movements; yet

she suspected that in shutting himself up in his private room he wanted

to be busy with his papers. Something, she felt sure, had happened.

Perhaps it was some great loss of money; and she was kept in the dark.

Not daring to question her husband, she said to Lydgate, on the fifth

day after the meeting, when she had not left home except to go to


"Mr. Lydgate, pray be open with me: I like to know the truth. Has

anything happened to Mr. Bulstrode?"

"Some little nervous shock," said Lydgate, evasively. He felt that it

was not for him to make the painful revelation.

"But what brought it on?" said Mrs. Bulstrode, looking directly at him

with her large dark eyes.

"There is often something poisonous in the air of public rooms," said

Lydgate. "Strong men can stand it, but it tells on people in

proportion to the delicacy of their systems. It is often impossible to

account for the precise moment of an attack—or rather, to say why the

strength gives way at a particular moment."

Mrs. Bulstrode was not satisfied with this answer. There remained in

her the belief that some calamity had befallen her husband, of which

she was to be kept in ignorance; and it was in her nature strongly to

object to such concealment. She begged leave for her daughters to sit

with their father, and drove into the town to pay some visits,

conjecturing that if anything were known to have gone wrong in Mr.

Bulstrode's affairs, she should see or hear some sign of it.

She called on Mrs. Thesiger, who was not at home, and then drove to

Mrs. Hackbutt's on the other side of the churchyard. Mrs. Hackbutt saw

her coming from an up-stairs window, and remembering her former alarm

lest she should meet Mrs. Bulstrode, felt almost bound in consistency

to send word that she was not at home; but against that, there was a

sudden strong desire within her for the excitement of an interview in

which she was quite determined not to make the slightest allusion to

what was in her mind.

Hence Mrs. Bulstrode was shown into the drawing-room, and Mrs. Hackbutt

went to her, with more tightness of lip and rubbing of her hands than

was usually observable in her, these being precautions adopted against

freedom of speech. She was resolved not to ask how Mr. Bulstrode was.

"I have not been anywhere except to church for nearly a week," said

Mrs. Bulstrode, after a few introductory remarks. "But Mr. Bulstrode

was taken so ill at the meeting on Thursday that I have not liked to

leave the house."

Mrs. Hackbutt rubbed the back of one hand with the palm of the other

held against her chest, and let her eyes ramble over the pattern on the


"Was Mr. Hackbutt at the meeting?" persevered Mrs. Bulstrode.

"Yes, he was," said Mrs. Hackbutt, with the same attitude. "The land

is to be bought by subscription, I believe."

"Let us hope that there will be no more cases of cholera to be buried

in it," said Mrs. Bulstrode. "It is an awful visitation. But I always

think Middlemarch a very healthy spot. I suppose it is being used to

it from a child; but I never saw the town I should like to live at

better, and especially our end."

"I am sure I should be glad that you always should live at Middlemarch,

Mrs. Bulstrode," said Mrs. Hackbutt, with a slight sigh. "Still, we

must learn to resign ourselves, wherever our lot may be cast. Though I

am sure there will always be people in this town who will wish you


Mrs. Hackbutt longed to say, "if you take my advice you will part from

your husband," but it seemed clear to her that the poor woman knew

nothing of the thunder ready to bolt on her head, and she herself could

do no more than prepare her a little. Mrs. Bulstrode felt suddenly

rather chill and trembling: there was evidently something unusual

behind this speech of Mrs. Hackbutt's; but though she had set out with

the desire to be fully informed, she found herself unable now to pursue

her brave purpose, and turning the conversation by an inquiry about the

young Hackbutts, she soon took her leave saying that she was going to

see Mrs. Plymdale. On her way thither she tried to imagine that there

might have been some unusually warm sparring at the meeting between Mr.

Bulstrode and some of his frequent opponents—perhaps Mr. Hackbutt

might have been one of them. That would account for everything.

But when she was in conversation with Mrs. Plymdale that comforting

explanation seemed no longer tenable. "Selina" received her with a

pathetic affectionateness and a disposition to give edifying answers on

the commonest topics, which could hardly have reference to an ordinary

quarrel of which the most important consequence was a perturbation of

Mr. Bulstrode's health. Beforehand Mrs. Bulstrode had thought that she

would sooner question Mrs. Plymdale than any one else; but she found to

her surprise that an old friend is not always the person whom it is

easiest to make a confidant of: there was the barrier of remembered

communication under other circumstances—there was the dislike of

being pitied and informed by one who had been long wont to allow her

the superiority. For certain words of mysterious appropriateness that

Mrs. Plymdale let fall about her resolution never to turn her back on

her friends, convinced Mrs. Bulstrode that what had happened must be

some kind of misfortune, and instead of being able to say with her

native directness, "What is it that you have in your mind?" she found

herself anxious to get away before she had heard anything more

explicit. She began to have an agitating certainty that the misfortune

was something more than the mere loss of money, being keenly sensitive

to the fact that Selina now, just as Mrs. Hackbutt had done before,

avoided noticing what she said about her husband, as they would have

avoided noticing a personal blemish.

She said good-by with nervous haste, and told the coachman to drive to

Mr. Vincy's warehouse. In that short drive her dread gathered so much

force from the sense of darkness, that when she entered the private

counting-house where her brother sat at his desk, her knees trembled

and her usually florid face was deathly pale. Something of the same

effect was produced in him by the sight of her: he rose from his seat

to meet her, took her by the hand, and said, with his impulsive


"God help you, Harriet! you know all."

That moment was perhaps worse than any which came after. It contained

that concentrated experience which in great crises of emotion reveals

the bias of a nature, and is prophetic of the ultimate act which will

end an intermediate struggle. Without that memory of Raffles she might

still have thought only of monetary ruin, but now along with her

brother's look and words there darted into her mind the idea of some

guilt in her husband—then, under the working of terror came the image

of her husband exposed to disgrace—and then, after an instant of

scorching shame in which she felt only the eyes of the world, with one

leap of her heart she was at his side in mournful but unreproaching

fellowship with shame and isolation. All this went on within her in a

mere flash of time—while she sank into the chair, and raised her eyes

to her brother, who stood over her. "I know nothing, Walter. What is

it?" she said, faintly.

He told her everything, very inartificially, in slow fragments, making

her aware that the scandal went much beyond proof, especially as to the

end of Raffles.

"People will talk," he said. "Even if a man has been acquitted by a

jury, they'll talk, and nod and wink—and as far as the world goes, a

man might often as well be guilty as not. It's a breakdown blow, and

it damages Lydgate as much as Bulstrode. I don't pretend to say what

is the truth. I only wish we had never heard the name of either

Bulstrode or Lydgate. You'd better have been a Vincy all your life,

and so had Rosamond." Mrs. Bulstrode made no reply.

"But you must bear up as well as you can, Harriet. People don't blame

you. And I'll stand by you whatever you make up your mind to do,"

said the brother, with rough but well-meaning affectionateness.

"Give me your arm to the carriage, Walter," said Mrs. Bulstrode. "I

feel very weak."

And when she got home she was obliged to say to her daughter, "I am not

well, my dear; I must go and lie down. Attend to your papa. Leave me

in quiet. I shall take no dinner."

She locked herself in her room. She needed time to get used to her

maimed consciousness, her poor lopped life, before she could walk

steadily to the place allotted her. A new searching light had fallen

on her husband's character, and she could not judge him leniently: the

twenty years in which she had believed in him and venerated him by

virtue of his concealments came back with particulars that made them

seem an odious deceit. He had married her with that bad past life

hidden behind him, and she had no faith left to protest his innocence

of the worst that was imputed to him. Her honest ostentatious nature

made the sharing of a merited dishonor as bitter as it could be to any


But this imperfectly taught woman, whose phrases and habits were an odd

patchwork, had a loyal spirit within her. The man whose prosperity she

had shared through nearly half a life, and who had unvaryingly

cherished her—now that punishment had befallen him it was not possible

to her in any sense to forsake him. There is a forsaking which still

sits at the same board and lies on the same couch with the forsaken

soul, withering it the more by unloving proximity. She knew, when she

locked her door, that she should unlock it ready to go down to her

unhappy husband and espouse his sorrow, and say of his guilt, I will

mourn and not reproach. But she needed time to gather up her strength;

she needed to sob out her farewell to all the gladness and pride of her

life. When she had resolved to go down, she prepared herself by some

little acts which might seem mere folly to a hard onlooker; they were

her way of expressing to all spectators visible or invisible that she

had begun a new life in which she embraced humiliation. She took off

all her ornaments and put on a plain black gown, and instead of wearing

her much-adorned cap and large bows of hair, she brushed her hair down

and put on a plain bonnet-cap, which made her look suddenly like an

early Methodist.

Bulstrode, who knew that his wife had been out and had come in saying

that she was not well, had spent the time in an agitation equal to

hers. He had looked forward to her learning the truth from others, and

had acquiesced in that probability, as something easier to him than any

confession. But now that he imagined the moment of her knowledge come,

he awaited the result in anguish. His daughters had been obliged to

consent to leave him, and though he had allowed some food to be brought

to him, he had not touched it. He felt himself perishing slowly in

unpitied misery. Perhaps he should never see his wife's face with

affection in it again. And if he turned to God there seemed to be no

answer but the pressure of retribution.

It was eight o'clock in the evening before the door opened and his wife

entered. He dared not look up at her. He sat with his eyes bent down,

and as she went towards him she thought he looked smaller—he seemed

so withered and shrunken. A movement of new compassion and old

tenderness went through her like a great wave, and putting one hand on

his which rested on the arm of the chair, and the other on his

shoulder, she said, solemnly but kindly—

"Look up, Nicholas."

He raised his eyes with a little start and looked at her half amazed

for a moment: her pale face, her changed, mourning dress, the trembling

about her mouth, all said, "I know;" and her hands and eyes rested

gently on him. He burst out crying and they cried together, she

sitting at his side. They could not yet speak to each other of the

shame which she was bearing with him, or of the acts which had brought

it down on them. His confession was silent, and her promise of

faithfulness was silent. Open-minded as she was, she nevertheless

shrank from the words which would have expressed their mutual

consciousness, as she would have shrunk from flakes of fire. She could

not say, "How much is only slander and false suspicion?" and he did not

say, "I am innocent."


"Le sentiment de la fausseté des plaisirs présents, et
l'ignorance de la vanité des plaisirs absents causent

Rosamond had a gleam of returning cheerfulness when the house was freed

from the threatening figure, and when all the disagreeable creditors

were paid. But she was not joyous: her married life had fulfilled none

of her hopes, and had been quite spoiled for her imagination. In this

brief interval of calm, Lydgate, remembering that he had often been

stormy in his hours of perturbation, and mindful of the pain Rosamond

had had to bear, was carefully gentle towards her; but he, too, had

lost some of his old spirit, and he still felt it necessary to refer to

an economical change in their way of living as a matter of course,

trying to reconcile her to it gradually, and repressing his anger when

she answered by wishing that he would go to live in London. When she

did not make this answer, she listened languidly, and wondered what she

had that was worth living for. The hard and contemptuous words which

had fallen from her husband in his anger had deeply offended that

vanity which he had at first called into active enjoyment; and what she

regarded as his perverse way of looking at things, kept up a secret

repulsion, which made her receive all his tenderness as a poor

substitute for the happiness he had failed to give her. They were at a

disadvantage with their neighbors, and there was no longer any outlook

towards Quallingham—there was no outlook anywhere except in an

occasional letter from Will Ladislaw. She had felt stung and

disappointed by Will's resolution to quit Middlemarch, for in spite of

what she knew and guessed about his admiration for Dorothea, she

secretly cherished the belief that he had, or would necessarily come to

have, much more admiration for herself; Rosamond being one of those

women who live much in the idea that each man they meet would have

preferred them if the preference had not been hopeless. Mrs. Casaubon

was all very well; but Will's interest in her dated before he knew Mrs.

Lydgate. Rosamond took his way of talking to herself, which was a

mixture of playful fault-finding and hyperbolical gallantry, as the

disguise of a deeper feeling; and in his presence she felt that

agreeable titillation of vanity and sense of romantic drama which

Lydgate's presence had no longer the magic to create. She even

fancied—what will not men and women fancy in these matters?—that

Will exaggerated his admiration for Mrs. Casaubon in order to pique

herself. In this way poor Rosamond's brain had been busy before Will's

departure. He would have made, she thought, a much more suitable

husband for her than she had found in Lydgate. No notion could have

been falser than this, for Rosamond's discontent in her marriage was

due to the conditions of marriage itself, to its demand for

self-suppression and tolerance, and not to the nature of her husband;

but the easy conception of an unreal Better had a sentimental charm

which diverted her ennui. She constructed a little romance which was

to vary the flatness of her life: Will Ladislaw was always to be a

bachelor and live near her, always to be at her command, and have an

understood though never fully expressed passion for her, which would be

sending out lambent flames every now and then in interesting scenes.

His departure had been a proportionate disappointment, and had sadly

increased her weariness of Middlemarch; but at first she had the

alternative dream of pleasures in store from her intercourse with the

family at Quallingham. Since then the troubles of her married life had

deepened, and the absence of other relief encouraged her regretful

rumination over that thin romance which she had once fed on. Men and

women make sad mistakes about their own symptoms, taking their vague

uneasy longings, sometimes for genius, sometimes for religion, and

oftener still for a mighty love. Will Ladislaw had written chatty

letters, half to her and half to Lydgate, and she had replied: their

separation, she felt, was not likely to be final, and the change she

now most longed for was that Lydgate should go to live in London;

everything would be agreeable in London; and she had set to work with

quiet determination to win this result, when there came a sudden,

delightful promise which inspirited her.

It came shortly before the memorable meeting at the town-hall, and was

nothing less than a letter from Will Ladislaw to Lydgate, which turned

indeed chiefly on his new interest in plans of colonization, but

mentioned incidentally, that he might find it necessary to pay a visit

to Middlemarch within the next few weeks—a very pleasant necessity, he

said, almost as good as holidays to a schoolboy. He hoped there was

his old place on the rug, and a great deal of music in store for him.

But he was quite uncertain as to the time. While Lydgate was reading

the letter to Rosamond, her face looked like a reviving flower—it grew

prettier and more blooming. There was nothing unendurable now: the

debts were paid, Mr. Ladislaw was coming, and Lydgate would be

persuaded to leave Middlemarch and settle in London, which was "so

different from a provincial town."

That was a bright bit of morning. But soon the sky became black over

poor Rosamond. The presence of a new gloom in her husband, about which

he was entirely reserved towards her—for he dreaded to expose his

lacerated feeling to her neutrality and misconception—soon received a

painfully strange explanation, alien to all her previous notions of

what could affect her happiness. In the new gayety of her spirits,

thinking that Lydgate had merely a worse fit of moodiness than usual,

causing him to leave her remarks unanswered, and evidently to keep out

of her way as much as possible, she chose, a few days after the

meeting, and without speaking to him on the subject, to send out notes

of invitation for a small evening party, feeling convinced that this

was a judicious step, since people seemed to have been keeping aloof

from them, and wanted restoring to the old habit of intercourse. When

the invitations had been accepted, she would tell Lydgate, and give him

a wise admonition as to how a medical man should behave to his

neighbors; for Rosamond had the gravest little airs possible about

other people's duties. But all the invitations were declined, and the

last answer came into Lydgate's hands.

"This is Chichely's scratch. What is he writing to you about?" said

Lydgate, wonderingly, as he handed the note to her. She was obliged to

let him see it, and, looking at her severely, he said—

"Why on earth have you been sending out invitations without telling me,

Rosamond? I beg, I insist that you will not invite any one to this

house. I suppose you have been inviting others, and they have refused

too." She said nothing.

"Do you hear me?" thundered Lydgate.

"Yes, certainly I hear you," said Rosamond, turning her head aside with

the movement of a graceful long-necked bird.

Lydgate tossed his head without any grace and walked out of the room,

feeling himself dangerous. Rosamond's thought was, that he was getting

more and more unbearable—not that there was any new special reason for

this peremptoriness. His indisposition to tell her anything in which

he was sure beforehand that she would not be interested was growing

into an unreflecting habit, and she was in ignorance of everything

connected with the thousand pounds except that the loan had come from

her uncle Bulstrode. Lydgate's odious humors and their neighbors'

apparent avoidance of them had an unaccountable date for her in their

relief from money difficulties. If the invitations had been accepted

she would have gone to invite her mamma and the rest, whom she had seen

nothing of for several days; and she now put on her bonnet to go and

inquire what had become of them all, suddenly feeling as if there were

a conspiracy to leave her in isolation with a husband disposed to

offend everybody. It was after the dinner hour, and she found her

father and mother seated together alone in the drawing-room. They

greeted her with sad looks, saying "Well, my dear!" and no more. She

had never seen her father look so downcast; and seating herself near

him she said—

"Is there anything the matter, papa?"

He did not answer, but Mrs. Vincy said, "Oh, my dear, have you heard

nothing? It won't be long before it reaches you."

"Is it anything about Tertius?" said Rosamond, turning pale. The idea

of trouble immediately connected itself with what had been

unaccountable to her in him.

"Oh, my dear, yes. To think of your marrying into this trouble. Debt

was bad enough, but this will be worse."

"Stay, stay, Lucy," said Mr. Vincy. "Have you heard nothing about your

uncle Bulstrode, Rosamond?"

"No, papa," said the poor thing, feeling as if trouble were not

anything she had before experienced, but some invisible power with an

iron grasp that made her soul faint within her.

Her father told her everything, saying at the end, "It's better for you

to know, my dear. I think Lydgate must leave the town. Things have

gone against him. I dare say he couldn't help it. I don't accuse him

of any harm," said Mr. Vincy. He had always before been disposed to

find the utmost fault with Lydgate.

The shock to Rosamond was terrible. It seemed to her that no lot could

be so cruelly hard as hers to have married a man who had become the

centre of infamous suspicions. In many cases it is inevitable that the

shame is felt to be the worst part of crime; and it would have required

a great deal of disentangling reflection, such as had never entered

into Rosamond's life, for her in these moments to feel that her trouble

was less than if her husband had been certainly known to have done

something criminal. All the shame seemed to be there. And she had

innocently married this man with the belief that he and his family were

a glory to her! She showed her usual reticence to her parents, and

only said, that if Lydgate had done as she wished he would have left

Middlemarch long ago.

"She bears it beyond anything," said her mother when she was gone.

"Ah, thank God!" said Mr. Vincy, who was much broken down.

But Rosamond went home with a sense of justified repugnance towards her

husband. What had he really done—how had he really acted? She did

not know. Why had he not told her everything? He did not speak to her

on the subject, and of course she could not speak to him. It came into

her mind once that she would ask her father to let her go home again;

but dwelling on that prospect made it seem utter dreariness to her: a

married woman gone back to live with her parents—life seemed to have

no meaning for her in such a position: she could not contemplate

herself in it.

The next two days Lydgate observed a change in her, and believed that

she had heard the bad news. Would she speak to him about it, or would

she go on forever in the silence which seemed to imply that she

believed him guilty? We must remember that he was in a morbid state of

mind, in which almost all contact was pain. Certainly Rosamond in this

case had equal reason to complain of reserve and want of confidence on

his part; but in the bitterness of his soul he excused himself;—was

he not justified in shrinking from the task of telling her, since now

she knew the truth she had no impulse to speak to him? But a

deeper-lying consciousness that he was in fault made him restless, and

the silence between them became intolerable to him; it was as if they

were both adrift on one piece of wreck and looked away from each other.

He thought, "I am a fool. Haven't I given up expecting anything? I

have married care, not help." And that evening he said—

"Rosamond, have you heard anything that distresses you?"

"Yes," she answered, laying down her work, which she had been carrying

on with a languid semi-consciousness, most unlike her usual self.

"What have you heard?"

"Everything, I suppose. Papa told me."

"That people think me disgraced?"

"Yes," said Rosamond, faintly, beginning to sew again automatically.

There was silence. Lydgate thought, "If she has any trust in me—any

notion of what I am, she ought to speak now and say that she does not

believe I have deserved disgrace."

But Rosamond on her side went on moving her fingers languidly.

Whatever was to be said on the subject she expected to come from

Tertius. What did she know? And if he were innocent of any wrong, why

did he not do something to clear himself?

This silence of hers brought a new rush of gall to that bitter mood in

which Lydgate had been saying to himself that nobody believed in

him—even Farebrother had not come forward. He had begun to question

her with the intent that their conversation should disperse the chill

fog which had gathered between them, but he felt his resolution checked

by despairing resentment. Even this trouble, like the rest, she seemed

to regard as if it were hers alone. He was always to her a being

apart, doing what she objected to. He started from his chair with an

angry impulse, and thrusting his hands in his pockets, walked up and

down the room. There was an underlying consciousness all the while

that he should have to master this anger, and tell her everything, and

convince her of the facts. For he had almost learned the lesson that

he must bend himself to her nature, and that because she came short in

her sympathy, he must give the more. Soon he recurred to his intention

of opening himself: the occasion must not be lost. If he could bring

her to feel with some solemnity that here was a slander which must be

met and not run away from, and that the whole trouble had come out of

his desperate want of money, it would be a moment for urging powerfully

on her that they should be one in the resolve to do with as little

money as possible, so that they might weather the bad time and keep

themselves independent. He would mention the definite measures which

he desired to take, and win her to a willing spirit. He was bound to

try this—and what else was there for him to do?

He did not know how long he had been walking uneasily backwards and

forwards, but Rosamond felt that it was long, and wished that he would

sit down. She too had begun to think this an opportunity for urging on

Tertius what he ought to do. Whatever might be the truth about all

this misery, there was one dread which asserted itself.

Lydgate at last seated himself, not in his usual chair, but in one

nearer to Rosamond, leaning aside in it towards her, and looking at her

gravely before he reopened the sad subject. He had conquered himself

so far, and was about to speak with a sense of solemnity, as on an

occasion which was not to be repeated. He had even opened his lips,

when Rosamond, letting her hands fall, looked at him and said—

"Surely, Tertius—"


"Surely now at last you have given up the idea of staying in

Middlemarch. I cannot go on living here. Let us go to London. Papa,

and every one else, says you had better go. Whatever misery I have to

put up with, it will be easier away from here."

Lydgate felt miserably jarred. Instead of that critical outpouring for

which he had prepared himself with effort, here was the old round to be

gone through again. He could not bear it. With a quick change of

countenance he rose and went out of the room.

Perhaps if he had been strong enough to persist in his determination to

be the more because she was less, that evening might have had a better

issue. If his energy could have borne down that check, he might still

have wrought on Rosamond's vision and will. We cannot be sure that any

natures, however inflexible or peculiar, will resist this effect from a

more massive being than their own. They may be taken by storm and for

the moment converted, becoming part of the soul which enwraps them in

the ardor of its movement. But poor Lydgate had a throbbing pain

within him, and his energy had fallen short of its task.

The beginning of mutual understanding and resolve seemed as far off as

ever; nay, it seemed blocked out by the sense of unsuccessful effort.

They lived on from day to day with their thoughts still apart, Lydgate

going about what work he had in a mood of despair, and Rosamond

feeling, with some justification, that he was behaving cruelly. It was

of no use to say anything to Tertius; but when Will Ladislaw came, she

was determined to tell him everything. In spite of her general

reticence, she needed some one who would recognize her wrongs.


"To mercy, pity, peace, and love
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight,
Return their thankfulness.
. . . . . .
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face;
And Love, the human form divine;
And Peace, the human dress.
—WILLIAM BLAKE: Songs of Innocence.

Some days later, Lydgate was riding to Lowick Manor, in consequence of

a summons from Dorothea. The summons had not been unexpected, since it

had followed a letter from Mr. Bulstrode, in which he stated that he

had resumed his arrangements for quitting Middlemarch, and must remind

Lydgate of his previous communications about the Hospital, to the

purport of which he still adhered. It had been his duty, before taking

further steps, to reopen the subject with Mrs. Casaubon, who now

wished, as before, to discuss the question with Lydgate. "Your views

may possibly have undergone some change," wrote Mr. Bulstrode; "but, in

that case also, it is desirable that you should lay them before her."

Dorothea awaited his arrival with eager interest. Though, in deference

to her masculine advisers, she had refrained from what Sir James had

called "interfering in this Bulstrode business," the hardship of

Lydgate's position was continually in her mind, and when Bulstrode

applied to her again about the hospital, she felt that the opportunity

was come to her which she had been hindered from hastening. In her

luxurious home, wandering under the boughs of her own great trees, her

thought was going out over the lot of others, and her emotions were

imprisoned. The idea of some active good within her reach, "haunted

her like a passion," and another's need having once come to her as a

distinct image, preoccupied her desire with the yearning to give

relief, and made her own ease tasteless. She was full of confident

hope about this interview with Lydgate, never heeding what was said of

his personal reserve; never heeding that she was a very young woman.

Nothing could have seemed more irrelevant to Dorothea than insistence

on her youth and sex when she was moved to show her human fellowship.

As she sat waiting in the library, she could do nothing but live

through again all the past scenes which had brought Lydgate into her

memories. They all owed their significance to her marriage and its

troubles—but no; there were two occasions in which the image of

Lydgate had come painfully in connection with his wife and some one

else. The pain had been allayed for Dorothea, but it had left in her

an awakened conjecture as to what Lydgate's marriage might be to him, a

susceptibility to the slightest hint about Mrs. Lydgate. These

thoughts were like a drama to her, and made her eyes bright, and gave

an attitude of suspense to her whole frame, though she was only looking

out from the brown library on to the turf and the bright green buds

which stood in relief against the dark evergreens.

When Lydgate came in, she was almost shocked at the change in his face,

which was strikingly perceptible to her who had not seen him for two

months. It was not the change of emaciation, but that effect which

even young faces will very soon show from the persistent presence of

resentment and despondency. Her cordial look, when she put out her

hand to him, softened his expression, but only with melancholy.

"I have wished very much to see you for a long while, Mr. Lydgate,"

said Dorothea when they were seated opposite each other; "but I put off

asking you to come until Mr. Bulstrode applied to me again about the

Hospital. I know that the advantage of keeping the management of it

separate from that of the Infirmary depends on you, or, at least, on

the good which you are encouraged to hope for from having it under your

control. And I am sure you will not refuse to tell me exactly what you


"You want to decide whether you should give a generous support to the

Hospital," said Lydgate. "I cannot conscientiously advise you to do it

in dependence on any activity of mine. I may be obliged to leave the


He spoke curtly, feeling the ache of despair as to his being able to

carry out any purpose that Rosamond had set her mind against.

"Not because there is no one to believe in you?" said Dorothea, pouring

out her words in clearness from a full heart. "I know the unhappy

mistakes about you. I knew them from the first moment to be mistakes.

You have never done anything vile. You would not do anything


It was the first assurance of belief in him that had fallen on

Lydgate's ears. He drew a deep breath, and said, "Thank you." He could

say no more: it was something very new and strange in his life that

these few words of trust from a woman should be so much to him.

"I beseech you to tell me how everything was," said Dorothea,

fearlessly. "I am sure that the truth would clear you."

Lydgate started up from his chair and went towards the window,

forgetting where he was. He had so often gone over in his mind the

possibility of explaining everything without aggravating appearances

that would tell, perhaps unfairly, against Bulstrode, and had so often

decided against it—he had so often said to himself that his assertions

would not change people's impressions—that Dorothea's words sounded

like a temptation to do something which in his soberness he had

pronounced to be unreasonable.

"Tell me, pray," said Dorothea, with simple earnestness; "then we can

consult together. It is wicked to let people think evil of any one

falsely, when it can be hindered."

Lydgate turned, remembering where he was, and saw Dorothea's face

looking up at him with a sweet trustful gravity. The presence of a

noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes

the lights for us: we begin to see things again in their larger,

quieter masses, and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in

the wholeness of our character. That influence was beginning to act on

Lydgate, who had for many days been seeing all life as one who is

dragged and struggling amid the throng. He sat down again, and felt

that he was recovering his old self in the consciousness that he was

with one who believed in it.

"I don't want," he said, "to bear hard on Bulstrode, who has lent me

money of which I was in need—though I would rather have gone without

it now. He is hunted down and miserable, and has only a poor thread of

life in him. But I should like to tell you everything. It will be a

comfort to me to speak where belief has gone beforehand, and where I

shall not seem to be offering assertions of my own honesty. You will

feel what is fair to another, as you feel what is fair to me."

"Do trust me," said Dorothea; "I will not repeat anything without your

leave. But at the very least, I could say that you have made all the

circumstances clear to me, and that I know you are not in any way

guilty. Mr. Farebrother would believe me, and my uncle, and Sir James

Chettam. Nay, there are persons in Middlemarch to whom I could go;

although they don't know much of me, they would believe me. They would

know that I could have no other motive than truth and justice. I would

take any pains to clear you. I have very little to do. There is

nothing better that I can do in the world."

Dorothea's voice, as she made this childlike picture of what she would

do, might have been almost taken as a proof that she could do it

effectively. The searching tenderness of her woman's tones seemed made

for a defence against ready accusers. Lydgate did not stay to think

that she was Quixotic: he gave himself up, for the first time in his

life, to the exquisite sense of leaning entirely on a generous

sympathy, without any check of proud reserve. And he told her

everything, from the time when, under the pressure of his difficulties,

he unwillingly made his first application to Bulstrode; gradually, in

the relief of speaking, getting into a more thorough utterance of what

had gone on in his mind—entering fully into the fact that his

treatment of the patient was opposed to the dominant practice, into his

doubts at the last, his ideal of medical duty, and his uneasy

consciousness that the acceptance of the money had made some difference

in his private inclination and professional behavior, though not in his

fulfilment of any publicly recognized obligation.

"It has come to my knowledge since," he added, "that Hawley sent some

one to examine the housekeeper at Stone Court, and she said that she

gave the patient all the opium in the phial I left, as well as a good

deal of brandy. But that would not have been opposed to ordinary

prescriptions, even of first-rate men. The suspicions against me had

no hold there: they are grounded on the knowledge that I took money,

that Bulstrode had strong motives for wishing the man to die, and that

he gave me the money as a bribe to concur in some malpractices or other

against the patient—that in any case I accepted a bribe to hold my

tongue. They are just the suspicions that cling the most obstinately,

because they lie in people's inclination and can never be disproved.

How my orders came to be disobeyed is a question to which I don't know

the answer. It is still possible that Bulstrode was innocent of any

criminal intention—even possible that he had nothing to do with the

disobedience, and merely abstained from mentioning it. But all that

has nothing to do with the public belief. It is one of those cases on

which a man is condemned on the ground of his character—it is

believed that he has committed a crime in some undefined way, because

he had the motive for doing it; and Bulstrode's character has enveloped

me, because I took his money. I am simply blighted—like a damaged

ear of corn—the business is done and can't be undone."

"Oh, it is hard!" said Dorothea. "I understand the difficulty there is

in your vindicating yourself. And that all this should have come to

you who had meant to lead a higher life than the common, and to find

out better ways—I cannot bear to rest in this as unchangeable. I know

you meant that. I remember what you said to me when you first spoke to

me about the hospital. There is no sorrow I have thought more about

than that—to love what is great, and try to reach it, and yet to fail."

"Yes," said Lydgate, feeling that here he had found room for the full

meaning of his grief. "I had some ambition. I meant everything to be

different with me. I thought I had more strength and mastery. But the

most terrible obstacles are such as nobody can see except oneself."

"Suppose," said Dorothea, meditatively,—"suppose we kept on the

Hospital according to the present plan, and you stayed here though only

with the friendship and support of a few, the evil feeling towards you

would gradually die out; there would come opportunities in which people

would be forced to acknowledge that they had been unjust to you,

because they would see that your purposes were pure. You may still win

a great fame like the Louis and Laennec I have heard you speak of, and

we shall all be proud of you," she ended, with a smile.

"That might do if I had my old trust in myself," said Lydgate,

mournfully. "Nothing galls me more than the notion of turning round

and running away before this slander, leaving it unchecked behind me.

Still, I can't ask any one to put a great deal of money into a plan

which depends on me."

"It would be quite worth my while," said Dorothea, simply. "Only

think. I am very uncomfortable with my money, because they tell me I

have too little for any great scheme of the sort I like best, and yet I

have too much. I don't know what to do. I have seven hundred a-year

of my own fortune, and nineteen hundred a-year that Mr. Casaubon left

me, and between three and four thousand of ready money in the bank. I

wished to raise money and pay it off gradually out of my income which I

don't want, to buy land with and found a village which should be a

school of industry; but Sir James and my uncle have convinced me that

the risk would be too great. So you see that what I should most

rejoice at would be to have something good to do with my money: I

should like it to make other people's lives better to them. It makes

me very uneasy—coming all to me who don't want it."

A smile broke through the gloom of Lydgate's face. The childlike

grave-eyed earnestness with which Dorothea said all this was

irresistible—blent into an adorable whole with her ready understanding

of high experience. (Of lower experience such as plays a great part in

the world, poor Mrs. Casaubon had a very blurred shortsighted

knowledge, little helped by her imagination.) But she took the smile as

encouragement of her plan.

"I think you see now that you spoke too scrupulously," she said, in a

tone of persuasion. "The hospital would be one good; and making your

life quite whole and well again would be another."

Lydgate's smile had died away. "You have the goodness as well as the

money to do all that; if it could be done," he said. "But—"

He hesitated a little while, looking vaguely towards the window; and

she sat in silent expectation. At last he turned towards her and said


"Why should I not tell you?—you know what sort of bond marriage is.

You will understand everything."

Dorothea felt her heart beginning to beat faster. Had he that sorrow

too? But she feared to say any word, and he went on immediately.

"It is impossible for me now to do anything—to take any step without

considering my wife's happiness. The thing that I might like to do if

I were alone, is become impossible to me. I can't see her miserable.

She married me without knowing what she was going into, and it might

have been better for her if she had not married me."

"I know, I know—you could not give her pain, if you were not obliged

to do it," said Dorothea, with keen memory of her own life.

"And she has set her mind against staying. She wishes to go. The

troubles she has had here have wearied her," said Lydgate, breaking off

again, lest he should say too much.

"But when she saw the good that might come of staying—" said Dorothea,

remonstrantly, looking at Lydgate as if he had forgotten the reasons

which had just been considered. He did not speak immediately.

"She would not see it," he said at last, curtly, feeling at first that

this statement must do without explanation. "And, indeed, I have lost

all spirit about carrying on my life here." He paused a moment and

then, following the impulse to let Dorothea see deeper into the

difficulty of his life, he said, "The fact is, this trouble has come

upon her confusedly. We have not been able to speak to each other

about it. I am not sure what is in her mind about it: she may fear

that I have really done something base. It is my fault; I ought to be

more open. But I have been suffering cruelly."

"May I go and see her?" said Dorothea, eagerly. "Would she accept my

sympathy? I would tell her that you have not been blamable before any

one's judgment but your own. I would tell her that you shall be

cleared in every fair mind. I would cheer her heart. Will you ask her

if I may go to see her? I did see her once."

"I am sure you may," said Lydgate, seizing the proposition with some

hope. "She would feel honored—cheered, I think, by the proof that you

at least have some respect for me. I will not speak to her about your

coming—that she may not connect it with my wishes at all. I know very

well that I ought not to have left anything to be told her by others,


He broke off, and there was a moment's silence. Dorothea refrained

from saying what was in her mind—how well she knew that there might be

invisible barriers to speech between husband and wife. This was a

point on which even sympathy might make a wound. She returned to the

more outward aspect of Lydgate's position, saying cheerfully—

"And if Mrs. Lydgate knew that there were friends who would believe in

you and support you, she might then be glad that you should stay in

your place and recover your hopes—and do what you meant to do.

Perhaps then you would see that it was right to agree with what I

proposed about your continuing at the Hospital. Surely you would, if

you still have faith in it as a means of making your knowledge useful?"

Lydgate did not answer, and she saw that he was debating with himself.

"You need not decide immediately," she said, gently. "A few days hence

it will be early enough for me to send my answer to Mr. Bulstrode."

Lydgate still waited, but at last turned to speak in his most decisive


"No; I prefer that there should be no interval left for wavering. I am

no longer sure enough of myself—I mean of what it would be possible

for me to do under the changed circumstances of my life. It would be

dishonorable to let others engage themselves to anything serious in

dependence on me. I might be obliged to go away after all; I see

little chance of anything else. The whole thing is too problematic; I

cannot consent to be the cause of your goodness being wasted. No—let

the new Hospital be joined with the old Infirmary, and everything go on

as it might have done if I had never come. I have kept a valuable

register since I have been there; I shall send it to a man who will

make use of it," he ended bitterly. "I can think of nothing for a long

while but getting an income."

"It hurts me very much to hear you speak so hopelessly," said Dorothea.

"It would be a happiness to your friends, who believe in your future,

in your power to do great things, if you would let them save you from

that. Think how much money I have; it would be like taking a burthen

from me if you took some of it every year till you got free from this

fettering want of income. Why should not people do these things? It

is so difficult to make shares at all even. This is one way."

"God bless you, Mrs. Casaubon!" said Lydgate, rising as if with the

same impulse that made his words energetic, and resting his arm on the

back of the great leather chair he had been sitting in. "It is good

that you should have such feelings. But I am not the man who ought to

allow himself to benefit by them. I have not given guarantees enough.

I must not at least sink into the degradation of being pensioned for

work that I never achieved. It is very clear to me that I must not

count on anything else than getting away from Middlemarch as soon as I

can manage it. I should not be able for a long while, at the very

best, to get an income here, and—and it is easier to make necessary

changes in a new place. I must do as other men do, and think what will

please the world and bring in money; look for a little opening in the

London crowd, and push myself; set up in a watering-place, or go to

some southern town where there are plenty of idle English, and get

myself puffed,—that is the sort of shell I must creep into and try to

keep my soul alive in."

"Now that is not brave," said Dorothea,—"to give up the fight."

"No, it is not brave," said Lydgate, "but if a man is afraid of

creeping paralysis?" Then, in another tone, "Yet you have made a great

difference in my courage by believing in me. Everything seems more

bearable since I have talked to you; and if you can clear me in a few

other minds, especially in Farebrother's, I shall be deeply grateful.

The point I wish you not to mention is the fact of disobedience to my

orders. That would soon get distorted. After all, there is no

evidence for me but people's opinion of me beforehand. You can only

repeat my own report of myself."

"Mr. Farebrother will believe—others will believe," said Dorothea. "I

can say of you what will make it stupidity to suppose that you would be

bribed to do a wickedness."

"I don't know," said Lydgate, with something like a groan in his voice.

"I have not taken a bribe yet. But there is a pale shade of bribery

which is sometimes called prosperity. You will do me another great

kindness, then, and come to see my wife?"

"Yes, I will. I remember how pretty she is," said Dorothea, into whose

mind every impression about Rosamond had cut deep. "I hope she will

like me."

As Lydgate rode away, he thought, "This young creature has a heart

large enough for the Virgin Mary. She evidently thinks nothing of her

own future, and would pledge away half her income at once, as if she

wanted nothing for herself but a chair to sit in from which she can

look down with those clear eyes at the poor mortals who pray to her.

She seems to have what I never saw in any woman before—a fountain of

friendship towards men—a man can make a friend of her. Casaubon must

have raised some heroic hallucination in her. I wonder if she could

have any other sort of passion for a man? Ladislaw?—there was

certainly an unusual feeling between them. And Casaubon must have had

a notion of it. Well—her love might help a man more than her money."

Dorothea on her side had immediately formed a plan of relieving Lydgate

from his obligation to Bulstrode, which she felt sure was a part,

though small, of the galling pressure he had to bear. She sat down at

once under the inspiration of their interview, and wrote a brief note,

in which she pleaded that she had more claim than Mr. Bulstrode had to

the satisfaction of providing the money which had been serviceable to

Lydgate—that it would be unkind in Lydgate not to grant her the

position of being his helper in this small matter, the favor being

entirely to her who had so little that was plainly marked out for her

to do with her superfluous money. He might call her a creditor or by

any other name if it did but imply that he granted her request. She

enclosed a check for a thousand pounds, and determined to take the

letter with her the next day when she went to see Rosamond.


"And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot,
To mark the full-fraught man and best indued
With some suspicion."
—Henry V.

The next day Lydgate had to go to Brassing, and told Rosamond that he

should be away until the evening. Of late she had never gone beyond

her own house and garden, except to church, and once to see her papa,

to whom she said, "If Tertius goes away, you will help us to move, will

you not, papa? I suppose we shall have very little money. I am sure I

hope some one will help us." And Mr. Vincy had said, "Yes, child, I

don't mind a hundred or two. I can see the end of that." With these

exceptions she had sat at home in languid melancholy and suspense,

fixing her mind on Will Ladislaw's coming as the one point of hope and

interest, and associating this with some new urgency on Lydgate to make

immediate arrangements for leaving Middlemarch and going to London,

till she felt assured that the coming would be a potent cause of the

going, without at all seeing how. This way of establishing sequences

is too common to be fairly regarded as a peculiar folly in Rosamond.

And it is precisely this sort of sequence which causes the greatest

shock when it is sundered: for to see how an effect may be produced is

often to see possible missings and checks; but to see nothing except

the desirable cause, and close upon it the desirable effect, rids us of

doubt and makes our minds strongly intuitive. That was the process

going on in poor Rosamond, while she arranged all objects around her

with the same nicety as ever, only with more slowness—or sat down to

the piano, meaning to play, and then desisting, yet lingering on the

music stool with her white fingers suspended on the wooden front, and

looking before her in dreamy ennui. Her melancholy had become so

marked that Lydgate felt a strange timidity before it, as a perpetual

silent reproach, and the strong man, mastered by his keen sensibilities

towards this fair fragile creature whose life he seemed somehow to have

bruised, shrank from her look, and sometimes started at her approach,

fear of her and fear for her rushing in only the more forcibly after it

had been momentarily expelled by exasperation.

But this morning Rosamond descended from her room upstairs—where she

sometimes sat the whole day when Lydgate was out—equipped for a walk

in the town. She had a letter to post—a letter addressed to Mr.

Ladislaw and written with charming discretion, but intended to hasten

his arrival by a hint of trouble. The servant-maid, their sole

house-servant now, noticed her coming down-stairs in her walking dress,

and thought "there never did anybody look so pretty in a bonnet poor


Meanwhile Dorothea's mind was filled with her project of going to

Rosamond, and with the many thoughts, both of the past and the probable

future, which gathered round the idea of that visit. Until yesterday

when Lydgate had opened to her a glimpse of some trouble in his married

life, the image of Mrs. Lydgate had always been associated for her with

that of Will Ladislaw. Even in her most uneasy moments—even when she

had been agitated by Mrs. Cadwallader's painfully graphic report of

gossip—her effort, nay, her strongest impulsive prompting, had been

towards the vindication of Will from any sullying surmises; and when,

in her meeting with him afterwards, she had at first interpreted his

words as a probable allusion to a feeling towards Mrs. Lydgate which he

was determined to cut himself off from indulging, she had had a quick,

sad, excusing vision of the charm there might be in his constant

opportunities of companionship with that fair creature, who most likely

shared his other tastes as she evidently did his delight in music. But

there had followed his parting words—the few passionate words in

which he had implied that she herself was the object of whom his love

held him in dread, that it was his love for her only which he was

resolved not to declare but to carry away into banishment. From the

time of that parting, Dorothea, believing in Will's love for her,

believing with a proud delight in his delicate sense of honor and his

determination that no one should impeach him justly, felt her heart

quite at rest as to the regard he might have for Mrs. Lydgate. She was

sure that the regard was blameless.

There are natures in which, if they love us, we are conscious of having

a sort of baptism and consecration: they bind us over to rectitude and

purity by their pure belief about us; and our sins become that worst

kind of sacrilege which tears down the invisible altar of trust. "If

you are not good, none is good"—those little words may give a

terrific meaning to responsibility, may hold a vitriolic intensity for


Dorothea's nature was of that kind: her own passionate faults lay along

the easily counted open channels of her ardent character; and while she

was full of pity for the visible mistakes of others, she had not yet

any material within her experience for subtle constructions and

suspicions of hidden wrong. But that simplicity of hers, holding up an

ideal for others in her believing conception of them, was one of the

great powers of her womanhood. And it had from the first acted

strongly on Will Ladislaw. He felt, when he parted from her, that the

brief words by which he had tried to convey to her his feeling about

herself and the division which her fortune made between them, would

only profit by their brevity when Dorothea had to interpret them: he

felt that in her mind he had found his highest estimate.

And he was right there. In the months since their parting Dorothea had

felt a delicious though sad repose in their relation to each other, as

one which was inwardly whole and without blemish. She had an active

force of antagonism within her, when the antagonism turned on the

defence either of plans or persons that she believed in; and the wrongs

which she felt that Will had received from her husband, and the

external conditions which to others were grounds for slighting him,

only gave the more tenacity to her affection and admiring judgment.

And now with the disclosures about Bulstrode had come another fact

affecting Will's social position, which roused afresh Dorothea's inward

resistance to what was said about him in that part of her world which

lay within park palings.

"Young Ladislaw the grandson of a thieving Jew pawnbroker" was a phrase

which had entered emphatically into the dialogues about the Bulstrode

business, at Lowick, Tipton, and Freshitt, and was a worse kind of

placard on poor Will's back than the "Italian with white mice."

Upright Sir James Chettam was convinced that his own satisfaction was

righteous when he thought with some complacency that here was an added

league to that mountainous distance between Ladislaw and Dorothea,

which enabled him to dismiss any anxiety in that direction as too

absurd. And perhaps there had been some pleasure in pointing Mr.

Brooke's attention to this ugly bit of Ladislaw's genealogy, as a fresh

candle for him to see his own folly by. Dorothea had observed the

animus with which Will's part in the painful story had been recalled

more than once; but she had uttered no word, being checked now, as she

had not been formerly in speaking of Will, by the consciousness of a

deeper relation between them which must always remain in consecrated

secrecy. But her silence shrouded her resistant emotion into a more

thorough glow; and this misfortune in Will's lot which, it seemed,

others were wishing to fling at his back as an opprobrium, only gave

something more of enthusiasm to her clinging thought.

She entertained no visions of their ever coming into nearer union, and

yet she had taken no posture of renunciation. She had accepted her

whole relation to Will very simply as part of her marriage sorrows, and

would have thought it very sinful in her to keep up an inward wail

because she was not completely happy, being rather disposed to dwell on

the superfluities of her lot. She could bear that the chief pleasures

of her tenderness should lie in memory, and the idea of marriage came

to her solely as a repulsive proposition from some suitor of whom she

at present knew nothing, but whose merits, as seen by her friends,

would be a source of torment to her:—"somebody who will manage your

property for you, my dear," was Mr. Brooke's attractive suggestion of

suitable characteristics. "I should like to manage it myself, if I

knew what to do with it," said Dorothea. No—she adhered to her

declaration that she would never be married again, and in the long

valley of her life which looked so flat and empty of waymarks, guidance

would come as she walked along the road, and saw her fellow-passengers

by the way.

This habitual state of feeling about Will Ladislaw had been strong in

all her waking hours since she had proposed to pay a visit to Mrs.

Lydgate, making a sort of background against which she saw Rosamond's

figure presented to her without hindrances to her interest and

compassion. There was evidently some mental separation, some barrier

to complete confidence which had arisen between this wife and the

husband who had yet made her happiness a law to him. That was a

trouble which no third person must directly touch. But Dorothea

thought with deep pity of the loneliness which must have come upon

Rosamond from the suspicions cast on her husband; and there would

surely be help in the manifestation of respect for Lydgate and sympathy

with her.

"I shall talk to her about her husband," thought Dorothea, as she was

being driven towards the town. The clear spring morning, the scent of

the moist earth, the fresh leaves just showing their creased-up wealth

of greenery from out their half-opened sheaths, seemed part of the

cheerfulness she was feeling from a long conversation with Mr.

Farebrother, who had joyfully accepted the justifying explanation of

Lydgate's conduct. "I shall take Mrs. Lydgate good news, and perhaps

she will like to talk to me and make a friend of me."

Dorothea had another errand in Lowick Gate: it was about a new

fine-toned bell for the school-house, and as she had to get out of her

carriage very near to Lydgate's, she walked thither across the street,

having told the coachman to wait for some packages. The street door

was open, and the servant was taking the opportunity of looking out at

the carriage which was pausing within sight when it became apparent to

her that the lady who "belonged to it" was coming towards her.

"Is Mrs. Lydgate at home?" said Dorothea.

"I'm not sure, my lady; I'll see, if you'll please to walk in," said

Martha, a little confused on the score of her kitchen apron, but

collected enough to be sure that "mum" was not the right title for this

queenly young widow with a carriage and pair. "Will you please to walk

in, and I'll go and see."

"Say that I am Mrs. Casaubon," said Dorothea, as Martha moved forward

intending to show her into the drawing-room and then to go up-stairs to

see if Rosamond had returned from her walk.

They crossed the broader part of the entrance-hall, and turned up the

passage which led to the garden. The drawing-room door was unlatched,

and Martha, pushing it without looking into the room, waited for Mrs.

Casaubon to enter and then turned away, the door having swung open and

swung back again without noise.

Dorothea had less of outward vision than usual this morning, being

filled with images of things as they had been and were going to be.

She found herself on the other side of the door without seeing anything

remarkable, but immediately she heard a voice speaking in low tones

which startled her as with a sense of dreaming in daylight, and

advancing unconsciously a step or two beyond the projecting slab of a

bookcase, she saw, in the terrible illumination of a certainty which

filled up all outlines, something which made her pause, motionless,

without self-possession enough to speak.

Seated with his back towards her on a sofa which stood against the wall

on a line with the door by which she had entered, she saw Will

Ladislaw: close by him and turned towards him with a flushed

tearfulness which gave a new brilliancy to her face sat Rosamond, her

bonnet hanging back, while Will leaning towards her clasped both her

upraised hands in his and spoke with low-toned fervor.

Rosamond in her agitated absorption had not noticed the silently

advancing figure; but when Dorothea, after the first immeasurable

instant of this vision, moved confusedly backward and found herself

impeded by some piece of furniture, Rosamond was suddenly aware of her

presence, and with a spasmodic movement snatched away her hands and

rose, looking at Dorothea who was necessarily arrested. Will Ladislaw,

starting up, looked round also, and meeting Dorothea's eyes with a new

lightning in them, seemed changing to marble: But she immediately

turned them away from him to Rosamond and said in a firm voice—

"Excuse me, Mrs. Lydgate, the servant did not know that you were here.

I called to deliver an important letter for Mr. Lydgate, which I wished

to put into your own hands."

She laid down the letter on the small table which had checked her

retreat, and then including Rosamond and Will in one distant glance and

bow, she went quickly out of the room, meeting in the passage the

surprised Martha, who said she was sorry the mistress was not at home,

and then showed the strange lady out with an inward reflection that

grand people were probably more impatient than others.

Dorothea walked across the street with her most elastic step and was

quickly in her carriage again.

"Drive on to Freshitt Hall," she said to the coachman, and any one

looking at her might have thought that though she was paler than usual

she was never animated by a more self-possessed energy. And that was

really her experience. It was as if she had drunk a great draught of

scorn that stimulated her beyond the susceptibility to other feelings.

She had seen something so far below her belief, that her emotions

rushed back from it and made an excited throng without an object. She

needed something active to turn her excitement out upon. She felt

power to walk and work for a day, without meat or drink. And she would

carry out the purpose with which she had started in the morning, of

going to Freshitt and Tipton to tell Sir James and her uncle all that

she wished them to know about Lydgate, whose married loneliness under

his trial now presented itself to her with new significance, and made

her more ardent in readiness to be his champion. She had never felt

anything like this triumphant power of indignation in the struggle of

her married life, in which there had always been a quickly subduing

pang; and she took it as a sign of new strength.

"Dodo, how very bright your eyes are!" said Celia, when Sir James was

gone out of the room. "And you don't see anything you look at, Arthur

or anything. You are going to do something uncomfortable, I know. Is

it all about Mr. Lydgate, or has something else happened?" Celia had

been used to watch her sister with expectation.

"Yes, dear, a great many things have happened," said Dodo, in her full


"I wonder what," said Celia, folding her arms cozily and leaning

forward upon them.

"Oh, all the troubles of all people on the face of the earth," said

Dorothea, lifting her arms to the back of her head.

"Dear me, Dodo, are you going to have a scheme for them?" said Celia, a

little uneasy at this Hamlet-like raving.

But Sir James came in again, ready to accompany Dorothea to the Grange,

and she finished her expedition well, not swerving in her resolution

until she descended at her own door.


"Would it were yesterday and I i' the grave,
With her sweet faith above for monument"

Rosamond and Will stood motionless—they did not know how long—he

looking towards the spot where Dorothea had stood, and she looking

towards him with doubt. It seemed an endless time to Rosamond, in

whose inmost soul there was hardly so much annoyance as gratification

from what had just happened. Shallow natures dream of an easy sway

over the emotions of others, trusting implicitly in their own petty

magic to turn the deepest streams, and confident, by pretty gestures

and remarks, of making the thing that is not as though it were. She

knew that Will had received a severe blow, but she had been little used

to imagining other people's states of mind except as a material cut

into shape by her own wishes; and she believed in her own power to

soothe or subdue. Even Tertius, that most perverse of men, was always

subdued in the long-run: events had been obstinate, but still Rosamond

would have said now, as she did before her marriage, that she never

gave up what she had set her mind on.

She put out her arm and laid the tips of her fingers on Will's


"Don't touch me!" he said, with an utterance like the cut of a lash,

darting from her, and changing from pink to white and back again, as if

his whole frame were tingling with the pain of the sting. He wheeled

round to the other side of the room and stood opposite to her, with the

tips of his fingers in his pockets and his head thrown back, looking

fiercely not at Rosamond but at a point a few inches away from her.

She was keenly offended, but the Signs she made of this were such as

only Lydgate was used to interpret. She became suddenly quiet and

seated herself, untying her hanging bonnet and laying it down with her

shawl. Her little hands which she folded before her were very cold.

It would have been safer for Will in the first instance to have taken

up his hat and gone away; but he had felt no impulse to do this; on the

contrary, he had a horrible inclination to stay and shatter Rosamond

with his anger. It seemed as impossible to bear the fatality she had

drawn down on him without venting his fury as it would be to a panther

to bear the javelin-wound without springing and biting. And yet—how

could he tell a woman that he was ready to curse her? He was fuming

under a repressive law which he was forced to acknowledge: he was

dangerously poised, and Rosamond's voice now brought the decisive

vibration. In flute-like tones of sarcasm she said—

"You can easily go after Mrs. Casaubon and explain your preference."

"Go after her!" he burst out, with a sharp edge in his voice. "Do you

think she would turn to look at me, or value any word I ever uttered to

her again at more than a dirty feather?—Explain! How can a man

explain at the expense of a woman?"

"You can tell her what you please," said Rosamond with more tremor.

"Do you suppose she would like me better for sacrificing you? She is

not a woman to be flattered because I made myself despicable—to

believe that I must be true to her because I was a dastard to you."

He began to move about with the restlessness of a wild animal that sees

prey but cannot reach it. Presently he burst out again—

"I had no hope before—not much—of anything better to come. But I had

one certainty—that she believed in me. Whatever people had said or

done about me, she believed in me.—That's gone! She'll never again

think me anything but a paltry pretence—too nice to take heaven

except upon flattering conditions, and yet selling myself for any

devil's change by the sly. She'll think of me as an incarnate insult

to her, from the first moment we—"

Will stopped as if he had found himself grasping something that must

not be thrown and shattered. He found another vent for his rage by

snatching up Rosamond's words again, as if they were reptiles to be

throttled and flung off.

"Explain! Tell a man to explain how he dropped into hell! Explain my

preference! I never had a preference for her, any more than I have a

preference for breathing. No other woman exists by the side of her. I

would rather touch her hand if it were dead, than I would touch any

other woman's living."

Rosamond, while these poisoned weapons were being hurled at her, was

almost losing the sense of her identity, and seemed to be waking into

some new terrible existence. She had no sense of chill resolute

repulsion, of reticent self-justification such as she had known under

Lydgate's most stormy displeasure: all her sensibility was turned into

a bewildering novelty of pain; she felt a new terrified recoil under a

lash never experienced before. What another nature felt in opposition

to her own was being burnt and bitten into her consciousness. When

Will had ceased to speak she had become an image of sickened misery:

her lips were pale, and her eyes had a tearless dismay in them. If it

had been Tertius who stood opposite to her, that look of misery would

have been a pang to him, and he would have sunk by her side to comfort

her, with that strong-armed comfort which, she had often held very


Let it be forgiven to Will that he had no such movement of pity. He

had felt no bond beforehand to this woman who had spoiled the ideal

treasure of his life, and he held himself blameless. He knew that he

was cruel, but he had no relenting in him yet.

After he had done speaking, he still moved about, half in absence of

mind, and Rosamond sat perfectly still. At length Will, seeming to

bethink himself, took up his hat, yet stood some moments irresolute.

He had spoken to her in a way that made a phrase of common politeness

difficult to utter; and yet, now that he had come to the point of going

away from her without further speech, he shrank from it as a brutality;

he felt checked and stultified in his anger. He walked towards the

mantel-piece and leaned his arm on it, and waited in silence for—he

hardly knew what. The vindictive fire was still burning in him, and he

could utter no word of retractation; but it was nevertheless in his

mind that having come back to this hearth where he had enjoyed a

caressing friendship he had found calamity seated there—he had had

suddenly revealed to him a trouble that lay outside the home as well as

within it. And what seemed a foreboding was pressing upon him as with

slow pincers:—that his life might come to be enslaved by this helpless

woman who had thrown herself upon him in the dreary sadness of her

heart. But he was in gloomy rebellion against the fact that his quick

apprehensiveness foreshadowed to him, and when his eyes fell on

Rosamond's blighted face it seemed to him that he was the more pitiable

of the two; for pain must enter into its glorified life of memory

before it can turn into compassion.

And so they remained for many minutes, opposite each other, far apart,

in silence; Will's face still possessed by a mute rage, and Rosamond's

by a mute misery. The poor thing had no force to fling out any passion

in return; the terrible collapse of the illusion towards which all her

hope had been strained was a stroke which had too thoroughly shaken

her: her little world was in ruins, and she felt herself tottering in

the midst as a lonely bewildered consciousness.

Will wished that she would speak and bring some mitigating shadow

across his own cruel speech, which seemed to stand staring at them both

in mockery of any attempt at revived fellowship. But she said nothing,

and at last with a desperate effort over himself, he asked, "Shall I

come in and see Lydgate this evening?"

"If you like," Rosamond answered, just audibly.

And then Will went out of the house, Martha never knowing that he had

been in.

After he was gone, Rosamond tried to get up from her seat, but fell

back fainting. When she came to herself again, she felt too ill to

make the exertion of rising to ring the bell, and she remained helpless

until the girl, surprised at her long absence, thought for the first

time of looking for her in all the down-stairs rooms. Rosamond said

that she had felt suddenly sick and faint, and wanted to be helped

up-stairs. When there she threw herself on the bed with her clothes on,

and lay in apparent torpor, as she had done once before on a memorable

day of grief.

Lydgate came home earlier than he had expected, about half-past five,

and found her there. The perception that she was ill threw every other

thought into the background. When he felt her pulse, her eyes rested

on him with more persistence than they had done for a long while, as if

she felt some content that he was there. He perceived the difference

in a moment, and seating himself by her put his arm gently under her,

and bending over her said, "My poor Rosamond! has something agitated

you?" Clinging to him she fell into hysterical sobbings and cries, and

for the next hour he did nothing but soothe and tend her. He imagined

that Dorothea had been to see her, and that all this effect on her

nervous system, which evidently involved some new turning towards

himself, was due to the excitement of the new impressions which that

visit had raised.


"Now, I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended their
talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough, that was in the
midst of the plain; and they, being heedless, did both fall
suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was

When Rosamond was quiet, and Lydgate had left her, hoping that she

might soon sleep under the effect of an anodyne, he went into the

drawing-room to fetch a book which he had left there, meaning to spend

the evening in his work-room, and he saw on the table Dorothea's letter

addressed to him. He had not ventured to ask Rosamond if Mrs. Casaubon

had called, but the reading of this letter assured him of the fact, for

Dorothea mentioned that it was to be carried by herself.

When Will Ladislaw came in a little later Lydgate met him with a

surprise which made it clear that he had not been told of the earlier

visit, and Will could not say, "Did not Mrs. Lydgate tell you that I

came this morning?"

"Poor Rosamond is ill," Lydgate added immediately on his greeting.

"Not seriously, I hope," said Will.

"No—only a slight nervous shock—the effect of some agitation. She

has been overwrought lately. The truth is, Ladislaw, I am an unlucky

devil. We have gone through several rounds of purgatory since you

left, and I have lately got on to a worse ledge of it than ever. I

suppose you are only just come down—you look rather battered—you

have not been long enough in the town to hear anything?"

"I travelled all night and got to the White Hart at eight o'clock this

morning. I have been shutting myself up and resting," said Will,

feeling himself a sneak, but seeing no alternative to this evasion.

And then he heard Lydgate's account of the troubles which Rosamond had

already depicted to him in her way. She had not mentioned the fact of

Will's name being connected with the public story—this detail not

immediately affecting her—and he now heard it for the first time.

"I thought it better to tell you that your name is mixed up with the

disclosures," said Lydgate, who could understand better than most men

how Ladislaw might be stung by the revelation. "You will be sure to

hear it as soon as you turn out into the town. I suppose it is true

that Raffles spoke to you."

"Yes," said Will, sardonically. "I shall be fortunate if gossip does

not make me the most disreputable person in the whole affair. I should

think the latest version must be, that I plotted with Raffles to murder

Bulstrode, and ran away from Middlemarch for the purpose."

He was thinking "Here is a new ring in the sound of my name to

recommend it in her hearing; however—what does it signify now?"

But he said nothing of Bulstrode's offer to him. Will was very open

and careless about his personal affairs, but it was among the more

exquisite touches in nature's modelling of him that he had a delicate

generosity which warned him into reticence here. He shrank from saying

that he had rejected Bulstrode's money, in the moment when he was

learning that it was Lydgate's misfortune to have accepted it.

Lydgate too was reticent in the midst of his confidence. He made no

allusion to Rosamond's feeling under their trouble, and of Dorothea he

only said, "Mrs. Casaubon has been the one person to come forward and

say that she had no belief in any of the suspicions against me."

Observing a change in Will's face, he avoided any further mention of

her, feeling himself too ignorant of their relation to each other not

to fear that his words might have some hidden painful bearing on it.

And it occurred to him that Dorothea was the real cause of the present

visit to Middlemarch.

The two men were pitying each other, but it was only Will who guessed

the extent of his companion's trouble. When Lydgate spoke with

desperate resignation of going to settle in London, and said with a

faint smile, "We shall have you again, old fellow." Will felt

inexpressibly mournful, and said nothing. Rosamond had that morning

entreated him to urge this step on Lydgate; and it seemed to him as if

he were beholding in a magic panorama a future where he himself was

sliding into that pleasureless yielding to the small solicitations of

circumstance, which is a commoner history of perdition than any single

momentous bargain.

We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our

future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into

insipid misdoing and shabby achievement. Poor Lydgate was inwardly

groaning on that margin, and Will was arriving at it. It seemed to him

this evening as if the cruelty of his outburst to Rosamond had made an

obligation for him, and he dreaded the obligation: he dreaded Lydgate's

unsuspecting good-will: he dreaded his own distaste for his spoiled

life, which would leave him in motiveless levity.


"Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong;
And the most ancient Heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong.
—WORDSWORTH: Ode to Duty.

When Dorothea had seen Mr. Farebrother in the morning, she had promised

to go and dine at the parsonage on her return from Freshitt. There was

a frequent interchange of visits between her and the Farebrother

family, which enabled her to say that she was not at all lonely at the

Manor, and to resist for the present the severe prescription of a lady

companion. When she reached home and remembered her engagement, she

was glad of it; and finding that she had still an hour before she could

dress for dinner, she walked straight to the schoolhouse and entered

into a conversation with the master and mistress about the new bell,

giving eager attention to their small details and repetitions, and

getting up a dramatic sense that her life was very busy. She paused on

her way back to talk to old Master Bunney who was putting in some

garden-seeds, and discoursed wisely with that rural sage about the

crops that would make the most return on a perch of ground, and the

result of sixty years' experience as to soils—namely, that if your

soil was pretty mellow it would do, but if there came wet, wet, wet to

make it all of a mummy, why then—

Finding that the social spirit had beguiled her into being rather late,

she dressed hastily and went over to the parsonage rather earlier than

was necessary. That house was never dull, Mr. Farebrother, like

another White of Selborne, having continually something new to tell of

his inarticulate guests and proteges, whom he was teaching the boys not

to torment; and he had just set up a pair of beautiful goats to be pets

of the village in general, and to walk at large as sacred animals. The

evening went by cheerfully till after tea, Dorothea talking more than

usual and dilating with Mr. Farebrother on the possible histories of

creatures that converse compendiously with their antennae, and for

aught we know may hold reformed parliaments; when suddenly some

inarticulate little sounds were heard which called everybody's


"Henrietta Noble," said Mrs. Farebrother, seeing her small sister

moving about the furniture-legs distressfully, "what is the matter?"

"I have lost my tortoise-shell lozenge-box. I fear the kitten has

rolled it away," said the tiny old lady, involuntarily continuing her

beaver-like notes.

"Is it a great treasure, aunt?" said Mr. Farebrother, putting up his

glasses and looking at the carpet.

"Mr. Ladislaw gave it me," said Miss Noble. "A German box—very

pretty, but if it falls it always spins away as far as it can."

"Oh, if it is Ladislaw's present," said Mr. Farebrother, in a deep tone

of comprehension, getting up and hunting. The box was found at last

under a chiffonier, and Miss Noble grasped it with delight, saying, "it

was under a fender the last time."

"That is an affair of the heart with my aunt," said Mr. Farebrother,

smiling at Dorothea, as he reseated himself.

"If Henrietta Noble forms an attachment to any one, Mrs. Casaubon,"

said his mother, emphatically,—"she is like a dog—she would take

their shoes for a pillow and sleep the better."

"Mr. Ladislaw's shoes, I would," said Henrietta Noble.

Dorothea made an attempt at smiling in return. She was surprised and

annoyed to find that her heart was palpitating violently, and that it

was quite useless to try after a recovery of her former animation.

Alarmed at herself—fearing some further betrayal of a change so marked

in its occasion, she rose and said in a low voice with undisguised

anxiety, "I must go; I have overtired myself."

Mr. Farebrother, quick in perception, rose and said, "It is true; you

must have half-exhausted yourself in talking about Lydgate. That sort

of work tells upon one after the excitement is over."

He gave her his arm back to the Manor, but Dorothea did not attempt to

speak, even when he said good-night.

The limit of resistance was reached, and she had sunk back helpless

within the clutch of inescapable anguish. Dismissing Tantripp with a

few faint words, she locked her door, and turning away from it towards

the vacant room she pressed her hands hard on the top of her head, and

moaned out—

"Oh, I did love him!"

Then came the hour in which the waves of suffering shook her too

thoroughly to leave any power of thought. She could only cry in loud

whispers, between her sobs, after her lost belief which she had planted

and kept alive from a very little seed since the days in Rome—after

her lost joy of clinging with silent love and faith to one who,

misprized by others, was worthy in her thought—after her lost woman's

pride of reigning in his memory—after her sweet dim perspective of

hope, that along some pathway they should meet with unchanged

recognition and take up the backward years as a yesterday.

In that hour she repeated what the merciful eyes of solitude have

looked on for ages in the spiritual struggles of man—she besought

hardness and coldness and aching weariness to bring her relief from the

mysterious incorporeal might of her anguish: she lay on the bare floor

and let the night grow cold around her; while her grand woman's frame

was shaken by sobs as if she had been a despairing child.

There were two images—two living forms that tore her heart in two, as

if it had been the heart of a mother who seems to see her child divided

by the sword, and presses one bleeding half to her breast while her

gaze goes forth in agony towards the half which is carried away by the

lying woman that has never known the mother's pang.

Here, with the nearness of an answering smile, here within the

vibrating bond of mutual speech, was the bright creature whom she had

trusted—who had come to her like the spirit of morning visiting the

dim vault where she sat as the bride of a worn-out life; and now, with

a full consciousness which had never awakened before, she stretched out

her arms towards him and cried with bitter cries that their nearness

was a parting vision: she discovered her passion to herself in the

unshrinking utterance of despair.

And there, aloof, yet persistently with her, moving wherever she moved,

was the Will Ladislaw who was a changed belief exhausted of hope, a

detected illusion—no, a living man towards whom there could not yet

struggle any wail of regretful pity, from the midst of scorn and

indignation and jealous offended pride. The fire of Dorothea's anger

was not easily spent, and it flamed out in fitful returns of spurning

reproach. Why had he come obtruding his life into hers, hers that

might have been whole enough without him? Why had he brought his cheap

regard and his lip-born words to her who had nothing paltry to give in

exchange? He knew that he was deluding her—wished, in the very moment

of farewell, to make her believe that he gave her the whole price of

her heart, and knew that he had spent it half before. Why had he not

stayed among the crowd of whom she asked nothing—but only prayed that

they might be less contemptible?

But she lost energy at last even for her loud-whispered cries and

moans: she subsided into helpless sobs, and on the cold floor she

sobbed herself to sleep.

In the chill hours of the morning twilight, when all was dim around

her, she awoke—not with any amazed wondering where she was or what had

happened, but with the clearest consciousness that she was looking into

the eyes of sorrow. She rose, and wrapped warm things around her, and

seated herself in a great chair where she had often watched before.

She was vigorous enough to have borne that hard night without feeling

ill in body, beyond some aching and fatigue; but she had waked to a new

condition: she felt as if her soul had been liberated from its terrible

conflict; she was no longer wrestling with her grief, but could sit

down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her

thoughts. For now the thoughts came thickly. It was not in Dorothea's

nature, for longer than the duration of a paroxysm, to sit in the

narrow cell of her calamity, in the besotted misery of a consciousness

that only sees another's lot as an accident of its own.

She began now to live through that yesterday morning deliberately

again, forcing herself to dwell on every detail and its possible

meaning. Was she alone in that scene? Was it her event only? She

forced herself to think of it as bound up with another woman's life—a

woman towards whom she had set out with a longing to carry some

clearness and comfort into her beclouded youth. In her first outleap

of jealous indignation and disgust, when quitting the hateful room, she

had flung away all the mercy with which she had undertaken that visit.

She had enveloped both Will and Rosamond in her burning scorn, and it

seemed to her as if Rosamond were burned out of her sight forever. But

that base prompting which makes a women more cruel to a rival than to a

faithless lover, could have no strength of recurrence in Dorothea when

the dominant spirit of justice within her had once overcome the tumult

and had once shown her the truer measure of things. All the active

thought with which she had before been representing to herself the

trials of Lydgate's lot, and this young marriage union which, like her

own, seemed to have its hidden as well as evident troubles—all this

vivid sympathetic experience returned to her now as a power: it

asserted itself as acquired knowledge asserts itself and will not let

us see as we saw in the day of our ignorance. She said to her own

irremediable grief, that it should make her more helpful, instead of

driving her back from effort.

And what sort of crisis might not this be in three lives whose contact

with hers laid an obligation on her as if they had been suppliants

bearing the sacred branch? The objects of her rescue were not to be

sought out by her fancy: they were chosen for her. She yearned towards

the perfect Right, that it might make a throne within her, and rule her

errant will. "What should I do—how should I act now, this very day,

if I could clutch my own pain, and compel it to silence, and think of

those three?"

It had taken long for her to come to that question, and there was light

piercing into the room. She opened her curtains, and looked out

towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond outside

the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his

back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures

moving—perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky

was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world and the

manifold wakings of men to labor and endurance. She was a part of that

involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from

her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish


What she would resolve to do that day did not yet seem quite clear, but

something that she could achieve stirred her as with an approaching

murmur which would soon gather distinctness. She took off the clothes

which seemed to have some of the weariness of a hard watching in them,

and began to make her toilet. Presently she rang for Tantripp, who

came in her dressing-gown.

"Why, madam, you've never been in bed this blessed night," burst out

Tantripp, looking first at the bed and then at Dorothea's face, which

in spite of bathing had the pale cheeks and pink eyelids of a mater

dolorosa. "You'll kill yourself, you will. Anybody might think now

you had a right to give yourself a little comfort."

"Don't be alarmed, Tantripp," said Dorothea, smiling. "I have slept; I

am not ill. I shall be glad of a cup of coffee as soon as possible.

And I want you to bring me my new dress; and most likely I shall want

my new bonnet to-day."

"They've lain there a month and more ready for you, madam, and most

thankful I shall be to see you with a couple o' pounds' worth less of

crape," said Tantripp, stooping to light the fire. "There's a reason

in mourning, as I've always said; and three folds at the bottom of your

skirt and a plain quilling in your bonnet—and if ever anybody looked

like an angel, it's you in a net quilling—is what's consistent for a

second year. At least, that's my thinking," ended Tantripp, looking

anxiously at the fire; "and if anybody was to marry me flattering

himself I should wear those hijeous weepers two years for him, he'd be

deceived by his own vanity, that's all."

"The fire will do, my good Tan," said Dorothea, speaking as she used to

do in the old Lausanne days, only with a very low voice; "get me the


She folded herself in the large chair, and leaned her head against it

in fatigued quiescence, while Tantripp went away wondering at this

strange contrariness in her young mistress—that just the morning when

she had more of a widow's face than ever, she should have asked for her

lighter mourning which she had waived before. Tantripp would never

have found the clew to this mystery. Dorothea wished to acknowledge

that she had not the less an active life before her because she had

buried a private joy; and the tradition that fresh garments belonged to

all initiation, haunting her mind, made her grasp after even that

slight outward help towards calm resolve. For the resolve was not easy.

Nevertheless at eleven o'clock she was walking towards Middlemarch,

having made up her mind that she would make as quietly and unnoticeably

as possible her second attempt to see and save Rosamond.


"Du Erde warst auch diese Nacht bestandig,
Und athmest neu erquickt zu meinen Fussen,
Beginnest schon mit Lust mich zu umgeben,
Zum regst und ruhrst ein kraftiges Reschliessen
Zum hochsten Dasein immerfort zu streben.
—Faust: 2r Theil.

When Dorothea was again at Lydgate's door speaking to Martha, he was in

the room close by with the door ajar, preparing to go out. He heard

her voice, and immediately came to her.

"Do you think that Mrs. Lydgate can receive me this morning?" she said,

having reflected that it would be better to leave out all allusion to

her previous visit.

"I have no doubt she will," said Lydgate, suppressing his thought about

Dorothea's looks, which were as much changed as Rosamond's, "if you

will be kind enough to come in and let me tell her that you are here.

She has not been very well since you were here yesterday, but she is

better this morning, and I think it is very likely that she will be

cheered by seeing you again."

It was plain that Lydgate, as Dorothea had expected, knew nothing about

the circumstances of her yesterday's visit; nay, he appeared to imagine

that she had carried it out according to her intention. She had

prepared a little note asking Rosamond to see her, which she would have

given to the servant if he had not been in the way, but now she was in

much anxiety as to the result of his announcement.

After leading her into the drawing-room, he paused to take a letter

from his pocket and put it into her hands, saying, "I wrote this last

night, and was going to carry it to Lowick in my ride. When one is

grateful for something too good for common thanks, writing is less

unsatisfactory than speech—one does not at least hear how inadequate

the words are."

Dorothea's face brightened. "It is I who have most to thank for, since

you have let me take that place. You have consented?" she said,

suddenly doubting.

"Yes, the check is going to Bulstrode to-day."

He said no more, but went up-stairs to Rosamond, who had but lately

finished dressing herself, and sat languidly wondering what she should

do next, her habitual industry in small things, even in the days of her

sadness, prompting her to begin some kind of occupation, which she

dragged through slowly or paused in from lack of interest. She looked

ill, but had recovered her usual quietude of manner, and Lydgate had

feared to disturb her by any questions. He had told her of Dorothea's

letter containing the check, and afterwards he had said, "Ladislaw is

come, Rosy; he sat with me last night; I dare say he will be here again

to-day. I thought he looked rather battered and depressed." And

Rosamond had made no reply.

Now, when he came up, he said to her very gently, "Rosy, dear, Mrs.

Casaubon is come to see you again; you would like to see her, would you

not?" That she colored and gave rather a startled movement did not

surprise him after the agitation produced by the interview yesterday—a

beneficent agitation, he thought, since it seemed to have made her turn

to him again.

Rosamond dared not say no. She dared not with a tone of her voice

touch the facts of yesterday. Why had Mrs. Casaubon come again? The

answer was a blank which Rosamond could only fill up with dread, for

Will Ladislaw's lacerating words had made every thought of Dorothea a

fresh smart to her. Nevertheless, in her new humiliating uncertainty

she dared do nothing but comply. She did not say yes, but she rose and

let Lydgate put a light shawl over her shoulders, while he said, "I am

going out immediately." Then something crossed her mind which prompted

her to say, "Pray tell Martha not to bring any one else into the

drawing-room." And Lydgate assented, thinking that he fully understood

this wish. He led her down to the drawing-room door, and then turned

away, observing to himself that he was rather a blundering husband to

be dependent for his wife's trust in him on the influence of another


Rosamond, wrapping her soft shawl around her as she walked towards

Dorothea, was inwardly wrapping her soul in cold reserve. Had Mrs.

Casaubon come to say anything to her about Will? If so, it was a

liberty that Rosamond resented; and she prepared herself to meet every

word with polite impassibility. Will had bruised her pride too sorely

for her to feel any compunction towards him and Dorothea: her own

injury seemed much the greater. Dorothea was not only the "preferred"

woman, but had also a formidable advantage in being Lydgate's

benefactor; and to poor Rosamond's pained confused vision it seemed

that this Mrs. Casaubon—this woman who predominated in all things

concerning her—must have come now with the sense of having the

advantage, and with animosity prompting her to use it. Indeed, not

Rosamond only, but any one else, knowing the outer facts of the case,

and not the simple inspiration on which Dorothea acted, might well have

wondered why she came.

Looking like the lovely ghost of herself, her graceful slimness wrapped

in her soft white shawl, the rounded infantine mouth and cheek

inevitably suggesting mildness and innocence, Rosamond paused at three

yards' distance from her visitor and bowed. But Dorothea, who had

taken off her gloves, from an impulse which she could never resist when

she wanted a sense of freedom, came forward, and with her face full of

a sad yet sweet openness, put out her hand. Rosamond could not avoid

meeting her glance, could not avoid putting her small hand into

Dorothea's, which clasped it with gentle motherliness; and immediately

a doubt of her own prepossessions began to stir within her. Rosamond's

eye was quick for faces; she saw that Mrs. Casaubon's face looked pale

and changed since yesterday, yet gentle, and like the firm softness of

her hand. But Dorothea had counted a little too much on her own

strength: the clearness and intensity of her mental action this morning

were the continuance of a nervous exaltation which made her frame as

dangerously responsive as a bit of finest Venetian crystal; and in

looking at Rosamond, she suddenly found her heart swelling, and was

unable to speak—all her effort was required to keep back tears. She

succeeded in that, and the emotion only passed over her face like the

spirit of a sob; but it added to Rosamond's impression that Mrs.

Casaubon's state of mind must be something quite different from what

she had imagined.

So they sat down without a word of preface on the two chairs that

happened to be nearest, and happened also to be close together; though

Rosamond's notion when she first bowed was that she should stay a long

way off from Mrs. Casaubon. But she ceased thinking how anything would

turn out—merely wondering what would come. And Dorothea began to

speak quite simply, gathering firmness as she went on.

"I had an errand yesterday which I did not finish; that is why I am

here again so soon. You will not think me too troublesome when I tell

you that I came to talk to you about the injustice that has been shown

towards Mr. Lydgate. It will cheer you—will it not?—to know a great

deal about him, that he may not like to speak about himself just

because it is in his own vindication and to his own honor. You will

like to know that your husband has warm friends, who have not left off

believing in his high character? You will let me speak of this without

thinking that I take a liberty?"

The cordial, pleading tones which seemed to flow with generous

heedlessness above all the facts which had filled Rosamond's mind as

grounds of obstruction and hatred between her and this woman, came as

soothingly as a warm stream over her shrinking fears. Of course Mrs.

Casaubon had the facts in her mind, but she was not going to speak of

anything connected with them. That relief was too great for Rosamond

to feel much else at the moment. She answered prettily, in the new

ease of her soul—

"I know you have been very good. I shall like to hear anything you

will say to me about Tertius."

"The day before yesterday," said Dorothea, "when I had asked him to

come to Lowick to give me his opinion on the affairs of the Hospital,

he told me everything about his conduct and feelings in this sad event

which has made ignorant people cast suspicions on him. The reason he

told me was because I was very bold and asked him. I believed that he

had never acted dishonorably, and I begged him to tell me the history.

He confessed to me that he had never told it before, not even to you,

because he had a great dislike to say, 'I was not wrong,' as if that

were proof, when there are guilty people who will say so. The truth

is, he knew nothing of this man Raffles, or that there were any bad

secrets about him; and he thought that Mr. Bulstrode offered him the

money because he repented, out of kindness, of having refused it

before. All his anxiety about his patient was to treat him rightly,

and he was a little uncomfortable that the case did not end as he had

expected; but he thought then and still thinks that there may have been

no wrong in it on any one's part. And I have told Mr. Farebrother, and

Mr. Brooke, and Sir James Chettam: they all believe in your husband.

That will cheer you, will it not? That will give you courage?"

Dorothea's face had become animated, and as it beamed on Rosamond very

close to her, she felt something like bashful timidity before a

superior, in the presence of this self-forgetful ardor. She said, with

blushing embarrassment, "Thank you: you are very kind."

"And he felt that he had been so wrong not to pour out everything about

this to you. But you will forgive him. It was because he feels so

much more about your happiness than anything else—he feels his life

bound into one with yours, and it hurts him more than anything, that

his misfortunes must hurt you. He could speak to me because I am an

indifferent person. And then I asked him if I might come to see you;

because I felt so much for his trouble and yours. That is why I came

yesterday, and why I am come to-day. Trouble is so hard to bear, is it

not?— How can we live and think that any one has trouble—piercing

trouble—and we could help them, and never try?"

Dorothea, completely swayed by the feeling that she was uttering,

forgot everything but that she was speaking from out the heart of her

own trial to Rosamond's. The emotion had wrought itself more and more

into her utterance, till the tones might have gone to one's very

marrow, like a low cry from some suffering creature in the darkness.

And she had unconsciously laid her hand again on the little hand that

she had pressed before.

Rosamond, with an overmastering pang, as if a wound within her had been

probed, burst into hysterical crying as she had done the day before

when she clung to her husband. Poor Dorothea was feeling a great wave

of her own sorrow returning over her—her thought being drawn to the

possible share that Will Ladislaw might have in Rosamond's mental

tumult. She was beginning to fear that she should not be able to

suppress herself enough to the end of this meeting, and while her hand

was still resting on Rosamond's lap, though the hand underneath it was

withdrawn, she was struggling against her own rising sobs. She tried

to master herself with the thought that this might be a turning-point

in three lives—not in her own; no, there the irrevocable had

happened, but—in those three lives which were touching hers with the

solemn neighborhood of danger and distress. The fragile creature who

was crying close to her—there might still be time to rescue her from

the misery of false incompatible bonds; and this moment was unlike any

other: she and Rosamond could never be together again with the same

thrilling consciousness of yesterday within them both. She felt the

relation between them to be peculiar enough to give her a peculiar

influence, though she had no conception that the way in which her own

feelings were involved was fully known to Mrs. Lydgate.

It was a newer crisis in Rosamond's experience than even Dorothea could

imagine: she was under the first great shock that had shattered her

dream-world in which she had been easily confident of herself and

critical of others; and this strange unexpected manifestation of

feeling in a woman whom she had approached with a shrinking aversion

and dread, as one who must necessarily have a jealous hatred towards

her, made her soul totter all the more with a sense that she had been

walking in an unknown world which had just broken in upon her.

When Rosamond's convulsed throat was subsiding into calm, and she

withdrew the handkerchief with which she had been hiding her face, her

eyes met Dorothea's as helplessly as if they had been blue flowers.

What was the use of thinking about behavior after this crying? And

Dorothea looked almost as childish, with the neglected trace of a

silent tear. Pride was broken down between these two.

"We were talking about your husband," Dorothea said, with some

timidity. "I thought his looks were sadly changed with suffering the

other day. I had not seen him for many weeks before. He said he had

been feeling very lonely in his trial; but I think he would have borne

it all better if he had been able to be quite open with you."

"Tertius is so angry and impatient if I say anything," said Rosamond,

imagining that he had been complaining of her to Dorothea. "He ought

not to wonder that I object to speak to him on painful subjects."

"It was himself he blamed for not speaking," said Dorothea. "What he

said of you was, that he could not be happy in doing anything which

made you unhappy—that his marriage was of course a bond which must

affect his choice about everything; and for that reason he refused my

proposal that he should keep his position at the Hospital, because that

would bind him to stay in Middlemarch, and he would not undertake to do

anything which would be painful to you. He could say that to me,

because he knows that I had much trial in my marriage, from my

husband's illness, which hindered his plans and saddened him; and he

knows that I have felt how hard it is to walk always in fear of hurting

another who is tied to us."

Dorothea waited a little; she had discerned a faint pleasure stealing

over Rosamond's face. But there was no answer, and she went on, with a

gathering tremor, "Marriage is so unlike everything else. There is

something even awful in the nearness it brings. Even if we loved some

one else better than—than those we were married to, it would be no

use"—poor Dorothea, in her palpitating anxiety, could only seize her

language brokenly—"I mean, marriage drinks up all our power of giving

or getting any blessedness in that sort of love. I know it may be very

dear—but it murders our marriage—and then the marriage stays with us

like a murder—and everything else is gone. And then our husband—if

he loved and trusted us, and we have not helped him, but made a curse

in his life—"

Her voice had sunk very low: there was a dread upon her of presuming

too far, and of speaking as if she herself were perfection addressing

error. She was too much preoccupied with her own anxiety, to be aware

that Rosamond was trembling too; and filled with the need to express

pitying fellowship rather than rebuke, she put her hands on Rosamond's,

and said with more agitated rapidity,—"I know, I know that the feeling

may be very dear—it has taken hold of us unawares—it is so hard, it

may seem like death to part with it—and we are weak—I am weak—"

The waves of her own sorrow, from out of which she was struggling to

save another, rushed over Dorothea with conquering force. She stopped

in speechless agitation, not crying, but feeling as if she were being

inwardly grappled. Her face had become of a deathlier paleness, her

lips trembled, and she pressed her hands helplessly on the hands that

lay under them.

Rosamond, taken hold of by an emotion stronger than her own—hurried

along in a new movement which gave all things some new, awful,

undefined aspect—could find no words, but involuntarily she put her

lips to Dorothea's forehead which was very near her, and then for a

minute the two women clasped each other as if they had been in a


"You are thinking what is not true," said Rosamond, in an eager

half-whisper, while she was still feeling Dorothea's arms round

her—urged by a mysterious necessity to free herself from something

that oppressed her as if it were blood guiltiness.

They moved apart, looking at each other.

"When you came in yesterday—it was not as you thought," said Rosamond

in the same tone.

There was a movement of surprised attention in Dorothea. She expected

a vindication of Rosamond herself.

"He was telling me how he loved another woman, that I might know he

could never love me," said Rosamond, getting more and more hurried as

she went on. "And now I think he hates me because—because you

mistook him yesterday. He says it is through me that you will think

ill of him—think that he is a false person. But it shall not be

through me. He has never had any love for me—I know he has not—he

has always thought slightly of me. He said yesterday that no other

woman existed for him beside you. The blame of what happened is

entirely mine. He said he could never explain to you—because of me.

He said you could never think well of him again. But now I have told

you, and he cannot reproach me any more."

Rosamond had delivered her soul under impulses which she had not known

before. She had begun her confession under the subduing influence of

Dorothea's emotion; and as she went on she had gathered the sense that

she was repelling Will's reproaches, which were still like a

knife-wound within her.

The revulsion of feeling in Dorothea was too strong to be called joy.

It was a tumult in which the terrible strain of the night and morning

made a resistant pain:—she could only perceive that this would be joy

when she had recovered her power of feeling it. Her immediate

consciousness was one of immense sympathy without check; she cared for

Rosamond without struggle now, and responded earnestly to her last


"No, he cannot reproach you any more."

With her usual tendency to over-estimate the good in others, she felt a

great outgoing of her heart towards Rosamond, for the generous effort

which had redeemed her from suffering, not counting that the effort was

a reflex of her own energy. After they had been silent a little, she


"You are not sorry that I came this morning?"

"No, you have been very good to me," said Rosamond. "I did not think

that you would be so good. I was very unhappy. I am not happy now.

Everything is so sad."

"But better days will come. Your husband will be rightly valued. And

he depends on you for comfort. He loves you best. The worst loss

would be to lose that—and you have not lost it," said Dorothea.

She tried to thrust away the too overpowering thought of her own

relief, lest she should fail to win some sign that Rosamond's affection

was yearning back towards her husband.

"Tertius did not find fault with me, then?" said Rosamond,

understanding now that Lydgate might have said anything to Mrs.

Casaubon, and that she certainly was different from other women.

Perhaps there was a faint taste of jealousy in the question. A smile

began to play over Dorothea's face as she said—

"No, indeed! How could you imagine it?" But here the door opened, and

Lydgate entered.

"I am come back in my quality of doctor," he said. "After I went away,

I was haunted by two pale faces: Mrs. Casaubon looked as much in need

of care as you, Rosy. And I thought that I had not done my duty in

leaving you together; so when I had been to Coleman's I came home

again. I noticed that you were walking, Mrs. Casaubon, and the sky has

changed—I think we may have rain. May I send some one to order your

carriage to come for you?"

"Oh, no! I am strong: I need the walk," said Dorothea, rising with

animation in her face. "Mrs. Lydgate and I have chatted a great deal,

and it is time for me to go. I have always been accused of being

immoderate and saying too much."

She put out her hand to Rosamond, and they said an earnest, quiet

good-by without kiss or other show of effusion: there had been between

them too much serious emotion for them to use the signs of it


As Lydgate took her to the door she said nothing of Rosamond, but told

him of Mr. Farebrother and the other friends who had listened with

belief to his story.

When he came back to Rosamond, she had already thrown herself on the

sofa, in resigned fatigue.

"Well, Rosy," he said, standing over her, and touching her hair, "what

do you think of Mrs. Casaubon now you have seen so much of her?"

"I think she must be better than any one," said Rosamond, "and she is

very beautiful. If you go to talk to her so often, you will be more

discontented with me than ever!"

Lydgate laughed at the "so often." "But has she made you any less

discontented with me?"

"I think she has," said Rosamond, looking up in his face. "How heavy

your eyes are, Tertius—and do push your hair back." He lifted up his

large white hand to obey her, and felt thankful for this little mark of

interest in him. Poor Rosamond's vagrant fancy had come back terribly

scourged—meek enough to nestle under the old despised shelter. And

the shelter was still there: Lydgate had accepted his narrowed lot with

sad resignation. He had chosen this fragile creature, and had taken

the burthen of her life upon his arms. He must walk as he could,

carrying that burthen pitifully.


"My grief lies onward and my joy behind."

Exiles notoriously feed much on hopes, and are unlikely to stay in

banishment unless they are obliged. When Will Ladislaw exiled himself

from Middlemarch he had placed no stronger obstacle to his return than

his own resolve, which was by no means an iron barrier, but simply a

state of mind liable to melt into a minuet with other states of mind,

and to find itself bowing, smiling, and giving place with polite

facility. As the months went on, it had seemed more and more difficult

to him to say why he should not run down to Middlemarch—merely for the

sake of hearing something about Dorothea; and if on such a flying visit

he should chance by some strange coincidence to meet with her, there

was no reason for him to be ashamed of having taken an innocent journey

which he had beforehand supposed that he should not take. Since he was

hopelessly divided from her, he might surely venture into her

neighborhood; and as to the suspicious friends who kept a dragon watch

over her—their opinions seemed less and less important with time and

change of air.

And there had come a reason quite irrespective of Dorothea, which

seemed to make a journey to Middlemarch a sort of philanthropic duty.

Will had given a disinterested attention to an intended settlement on a

new plan in the Far West, and the need for funds in order to carry out

a good design had set him on debating with himself whether it would not

be a laudable use to make of his claim on Bulstrode, to urge the

application of that money which had been offered to himself as a means

of carrying out a scheme likely to be largely beneficial. The question

seemed a very dubious one to Will, and his repugnance to again entering

into any relation with the banker might have made him dismiss it

quickly, if there had not arisen in his imagination the probability

that his judgment might be more safely determined by a visit to


That was the object which Will stated to himself as a reason for coming

down. He had meant to confide in Lydgate, and discuss the money

question with him, and he had meant to amuse himself for the few

evenings of his stay by having a great deal of music and badinage with

fair Rosamond, without neglecting his friends at Lowick Parsonage:—if

the Parsonage was close to the Manor, that was no fault of his. He had

neglected the Farebrothers before his departure, from a proud

resistance to the possible accusation of indirectly seeking interviews

with Dorothea; but hunger tames us, and Will had become very hungry for

the vision of a certain form and the sound of a certain voice.

Nothing, had done instead—not the opera, or the converse of zealous

politicians, or the flattering reception (in dim corners) of his new

hand in leading articles.

Thus he had come down, foreseeing with confidence how almost everything

would be in his familiar little world; fearing, indeed, that there

would be no surprises in his visit. But he had found that humdrum

world in a terribly dynamic condition, in which even badinage and

lyrism had turned explosive; and the first day of this visit had become

the most fatal epoch of his life. The next morning he felt so harassed

with the nightmare of consequences—he dreaded so much the immediate

issues before him—that seeing while he breakfasted the arrival of the

Riverston coach, he went out hurriedly and took his place on it, that

he might be relieved, at least for a day, from the necessity of doing

or saying anything in Middlemarch. Will Ladislaw was in one of those

tangled crises which are commoner in experience than one might imagine,

from the shallow absoluteness of men's judgments. He had found

Lydgate, for whom he had the sincerest respect, under circumstances

which claimed his thorough and frankly declared sympathy; and the

reason why, in spite of that claim, it would have been better for Will

to have avoided all further intimacy, or even contact, with Lydgate,

was precisely of the kind to make such a course appear impossible. To

a creature of Will's susceptible temperament—without any neutral

region of indifference in his nature, ready to turn everything that

befell him into the collisions of a passionate drama—the revelation

that Rosamond had made her happiness in any way dependent on him was a

difficulty which his outburst of rage towards her had immeasurably

increased for him. He hated his own cruelty, and yet he dreaded to

show the fulness of his relenting: he must go to her again; the

friendship could not be put to a sudden end; and her unhappiness was a

power which he dreaded. And all the while there was no more foretaste

of enjoyment in the life before him than if his limbs had been lopped

off and he was making his fresh start on crutches. In the night he had

debated whether he should not get on the coach, not for Riverston, but

for London, leaving a note to Lydgate which would give a makeshift

reason for his retreat. But there were strong cords pulling him back

from that abrupt departure: the blight on his happiness in thinking of

Dorothea, the crushing of that chief hope which had remained in spite

of the acknowledged necessity for renunciation, was too fresh a misery

for him to resign himself to it and go straightway into a distance

which was also despair.

Thus he did nothing more decided than taking the Riverston coach. He

came back again by it while it was still daylight, having made up his

mind that he must go to Lydgate's that evening. The Rubicon, we know,

was a very insignificant stream to look at; its significance lay

entirely in certain invisible conditions. Will felt as if he were

forced to cross his small boundary ditch, and what he saw beyond it was

not empire, but discontented subjection.

But it is given to us sometimes even in our every-day life to witness

the saving influence of a noble nature, the divine efficacy of rescue

that may lie in a self-subduing act of fellowship. If Dorothea, after

her night's anguish, had not taken that walk to Rosamond—why, she

perhaps would have been a woman who gained a higher character for

discretion, but it would certainly not have been as well for those

three who were on one hearth in Lydgate's house at half-past seven that


Rosamond had been prepared for Will's visit, and she received him with

a languid coldness which Lydgate accounted for by her nervous

exhaustion, of which he could not suppose that it had any relation to

Will. And when she sat in silence bending over a bit of work, he

innocently apologized for her in an indirect way by begging her to lean

backward and rest. Will was miserable in the necessity for playing the

part of a friend who was making his first appearance and greeting to

Rosamond, while his thoughts were busy about her feeling since that

scene of yesterday, which seemed still inexorably to enclose them both,

like the painful vision of a double madness. It happened that nothing

called Lydgate out of the room; but when Rosamond poured out the tea,

and Will came near to fetch it, she placed a tiny bit of folded paper

in his saucer. He saw it and secured it quickly, but as he went back

to his inn he had no eagerness to unfold the paper. What Rosamond had

written to him would probably deepen the painful impressions of the

evening. Still, he opened and read it by his bed-candle. There were

only these few words in her neatly flowing hand:—

"I have told Mrs. Casaubon. She is not under any mistake about you. I

told her because she came to see me and was very kind. You will have

nothing to reproach me with now. I shall not have made any difference

to you."

The effect of these words was not quite all gladness. As Will dwelt on

them with excited imagination, he felt his cheeks and ears burning at

the thought of what had occurred between Dorothea and Rosamond—at the

uncertainty how far Dorothea might still feel her dignity wounded in

having an explanation of his conduct offered to her. There might still

remain in her mind a changed association with him which made an

irremediable difference—a lasting flaw. With active fancy he wrought

himself into a state of doubt little more easy than that of the man who

has escaped from wreck by night and stands on unknown ground in the

darkness. Until that wretched yesterday—except the moment of

vexation long ago in the very same room and in the very same

presence—all their vision, all their thought of each other, had been

as in a world apart, where the sunshine fell on tall white lilies,

where no evil lurked, and no other soul entered. But now—would

Dorothea meet him in that world again?


"And now good-morrow to our waking souls
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room, an everywhere."

On the second morning after Dorothea's visit to Rosamond, she had had

two nights of sound sleep, and had not only lost all traces of fatigue,

but felt as if she had a great deal of superfluous strength—that is

to say, more strength than she could manage to concentrate on any

occupation. The day before, she had taken long walks outside the

grounds, and had paid two visits to the Parsonage; but she never in her

life told any one the reason why she spent her time in that fruitless

manner, and this morning she was rather angry with herself for her

childish restlessness. To-day was to be spent quite differently. What

was there to be done in the village? Oh dear! nothing. Everybody was

well and had flannel; nobody's pig had died; and it was Saturday

morning, when there was a general scrubbing of doors and door-stones,

and when it was useless to go into the school. But there were various

subjects that Dorothea was trying to get clear upon, and she resolved

to throw herself energetically into the gravest of all. She sat down

in the library before her particular little heap of books on political

economy and kindred matters, out of which she was trying to get light

as to the best way of spending money so as not to injure one's

neighbors, or—what comes to the same thing—so as to do them the most

good. Here was a weighty subject which, if she could but lay hold of

it, would certainly keep her mind steady. Unhappily her mind slipped

off it for a whole hour; and at the end she found herself reading

sentences twice over with an intense consciousness of many things, but

not of any one thing contained in the text. This was hopeless. Should

she order the carriage and drive to Tipton? No; for some reason or

other she preferred staying at Lowick. But her vagrant mind must be

reduced to order: there was an art in self-discipline; and she walked

round and round the brown library considering by what sort of manoeuvre

she could arrest her wandering thoughts. Perhaps a mere task was the

best means—something to which she must go doggedly. Was there not the

geography of Asia Minor, in which her slackness had often been rebuked

by Mr. Casaubon? She went to the cabinet of maps and unrolled one:

this morning she might make herself finally sure that Paphlagonia was

not on the Levantine coast, and fix her total darkness about the

Chalybes firmly on the shores of the Euxine. A map was a fine thing to

study when you were disposed to think of something else, being made up

of names that would turn into a chime if you went back upon them.

Dorothea set earnestly to work, bending close to her map, and uttering

the names in an audible, subdued tone, which often got into a chime.

She looked amusingly girlish after all her deep experience—nodding

her head and marking the names off on her fingers, with a little

pursing of her lip, and now and then breaking off to put her hands on

each side of her face and say, "Oh dear! oh dear!"

There was no reason why this should end any more than a merry-go-round;

but it was at last interrupted by the opening of the door and the

announcement of Miss Noble.

The little old lady, whose bonnet hardly reached Dorothea's shoulder,

was warmly welcomed, but while her hand was being pressed she made many

of her beaver-like noises, as if she had something difficult to say.

"Do sit down," said Dorothea, rolling a chair forward. "Am I wanted

for anything? I shall be so glad if I can do anything."

"I will not stay," said Miss Noble, putting her hand into her small

basket, and holding some article inside it nervously; "I have left a

friend in the churchyard." She lapsed into her inarticulate sounds,

and unconsciously drew forth the article which she was fingering. It

was the tortoise-shell lozenge-box, and Dorothea felt the color

mounting to her cheeks.

"Mr. Ladislaw," continued the timid little woman. "He fears he has

offended you, and has begged me to ask if you will see him for a few


Dorothea did not answer on the instant: it was crossing her mind that

she could not receive him in this library, where her husband's

prohibition seemed to dwell. She looked towards the window. Could she

go out and meet him in the grounds? The sky was heavy, and the trees

had begun to shiver as at a coming storm. Besides, she shrank from

going out to him.

"Do see him, Mrs. Casaubon," said Miss Noble, pathetically; "else I

must go back and say No, and that will hurt him."

"Yes, I will see him," said Dorothea. "Pray tell him to come."

What else was there to be done? There was nothing that she longed for

at that moment except to see Will: the possibility of seeing him had

thrust itself insistently between her and every other object; and yet

she had a throbbing excitement like an alarm upon her—a sense that

she was doing something daringly defiant for his sake.

When the little lady had trotted away on her mission, Dorothea stood in

the middle of the library with her hands falling clasped before her,

making no attempt to compose herself in an attitude of dignified

unconsciousness. What she was least conscious of just then was her own

body: she was thinking of what was likely to be in Will's mind, and of

the hard feelings that others had had about him. How could any duty

bind her to hardness? Resistance to unjust dispraise had mingled with

her feeling for him from the very first, and now in the rebound of her

heart after her anguish the resistance was stronger than ever. "If I

love him too much it is because he has been used so ill:"—there was a

voice within her saying this to some imagined audience in the library,

when the door was opened, and she saw Will before her.

She did not move, and he came towards her with more doubt and timidity

in his face than she had ever seen before. He was in a state of

uncertainty which made him afraid lest some look or word of his should

condemn him to a new distance from her; and Dorothea was afraid of her

own emotion. She looked as if there were a spell upon her, keeping

her motionless and hindering her from unclasping her hands, while some

intense, grave yearning was imprisoned within her eyes. Seeing that

she did not put out her hand as usual, Will paused a yard from her and

said with embarrassment, "I am so grateful to you for seeing me."

"I wanted to see you," said Dorothea, having no other words at command.

It did not occur to her to sit down, and Will did not give a cheerful

interpretation to this queenly way of receiving him; but he went on to

say what he had made up his mind to say.

"I fear you think me foolish and perhaps wrong for coming back so soon.

I have been punished for my impatience. You know—every one knows

now—a painful story about my parentage. I knew of it before I went

away, and I always meant to tell you of it if—if we ever met again."

There was a slight movement in Dorothea, and she unclasped her hands,

but immediately folded them over each other.

"But the affair is matter of gossip now," Will continued. "I wished

you to know that something connected with it—something which happened

before I went away, helped to bring me down here again. At least I

thought it excused my coming. It was the idea of getting Bulstrode to

apply some money to a public purpose—some money which he had thought

of giving me. Perhaps it is rather to Bulstrode's credit that he

privately offered me compensation for an old injury: he offered to give

me a good income to make amends; but I suppose you know the

disagreeable story?"

Will looked doubtfully at Dorothea, but his manner was gathering some

of the defiant courage with which he always thought of this fact in his

destiny. He added, "You know that it must be altogether painful to me."

"Yes—yes—I know," said Dorothea, hastily.

"I did not choose to accept an income from such a source. I was sure

that you would not think well of me if I did so," said Will. Why

should he mind saying anything of that sort to her now? She knew that

he had avowed his love for her. "I felt that"—he broke off,


"You acted as I should have expected you to act," said Dorothea, her

face brightening and her head becoming a little more erect on its

beautiful stem.

"I did not believe that you would let any circumstance of my birth

create a prejudice in you against me, though it was sure to do so in

others," said Will, shaking his head backward in his old way, and

looking with a grave appeal into her eyes.

"If it were a new hardship it would be a new reason for me to cling to

you," said Dorothea, fervidly. "Nothing could have changed me but—"

her heart was swelling, and it was difficult to go on; she made a great

effort over herself to say in a low tremulous voice, "but thinking that

you were different—not so good as I had believed you to be."

"You are sure to believe me better than I am in everything but one,"

said Will, giving way to his own feeling in the evidence of hers. "I

mean, in my truth to you. When I thought you doubted of that, I didn't

care about anything that was left. I thought it was all over with me,

and there was nothing to try for—only things to endure."

"I don't doubt you any longer," said Dorothea, putting out her hand; a

vague fear for him impelling her unutterable affection.

He took her hand and raised it to his lips with something like a sob.

But he stood with his hat and gloves in the other hand, and might have

done for the portrait of a Royalist. Still it was difficult to loose

the hand, and Dorothea, withdrawing it in a confusion that distressed

her, looked and moved away.

"See how dark the clouds have become, and how the trees are tossed,"

she said, walking towards the window, yet speaking and moving with only

a dim sense of what she was doing.

Will followed her at a little distance, and leaned against the tall

back of a leather chair, on which he ventured now to lay his hat and

gloves, and free himself from the intolerable durance of formality to

which he had been for the first time condemned in Dorothea's presence.

It must be confessed that he felt very happy at that moment leaning on

the chair. He was not much afraid of anything that she might feel now.

They stood silent, not looking at each other, but looking at the

evergreens which were being tossed, and were showing the pale underside

of their leaves against the blackening sky. Will never enjoyed the

prospect of a storm so much: it delivered him from the necessity of

going away. Leaves and little branches were hurled about, and the

thunder was getting nearer. The light was more and more sombre, but

there came a flash of lightning which made them start and look at each

other, and then smile. Dorothea began to say what she had been

thinking of.

"That was a wrong thing for you to say, that you would have had nothing

to try for. If we had lost our own chief good, other people's good

would remain, and that is worth trying for. Some can be happy. I

seemed to see that more clearly than ever, when I was the most

wretched. I can hardly think how I could have borne the trouble, if

that feeling had not come to me to make strength."

"You have never felt the sort of misery I felt," said Will; "the misery

of knowing that you must despise me."

"But I have felt worse—it was worse to think ill—" Dorothea had begun

impetuously, but broke off.

Will colored. He had the sense that whatever she said was uttered in

the vision of a fatality that kept them apart. He was silent a moment,

and then said passionately—

"We may at least have the comfort of speaking to each other without

disguise. Since I must go away—since we must always be divided—you

may think of me as one on the brink of the grave."

While he was speaking there came a vivid flash of lightning which lit

each of them up for the other—and the light seemed to be the terror of

a hopeless love. Dorothea darted instantaneously from the window; Will

followed her, seizing her hand with a spasmodic movement; and so they

stood, with their hands clasped, like two children, looking out on the

storm, while the thunder gave a tremendous crack and roll above them,

and the rain began to pour down. Then they turned their faces towards

each other, with the memory of his last words in them, and they did not

loose each other's hands.

"There is no hope for me," said Will. "Even if you loved me as well as

I love you—even if I were everything to you—I shall most likely

always be very poor: on a sober calculation, one can count on nothing

but a creeping lot. It is impossible for us ever to belong to each

other. It is perhaps base of me to have asked for a word from you. I

meant to go away into silence, but I have not been able to do what I


"Don't be sorry," said Dorothea, in her clear tender tones. "I would

rather share all the trouble of our parting."

Her lips trembled, and so did his. It was never known which lips were

the first to move towards the other lips; but they kissed tremblingly,

and then they moved apart.

The rain was dashing against the window-panes as if an angry spirit

were within it, and behind it was the great swoop of the wind; it was

one of those moments in which both the busy and the idle pause with a

certain awe.

Dorothea sat down on the seat nearest to her, a long low ottoman in the

middle of the room, and with her hands folded over each other on her

lap, looked at the drear outer world. Will stood still an instant

looking at her, then seated himself beside her, and laid his hand on

hers, which turned itself upward to be clasped. They sat in that way

without looking at each other, until the rain abated and began to fall

in stillness. Each had been full of thoughts which neither of them

could begin to utter.

But when the rain was quiet, Dorothea turned to look at Will. With

passionate exclamation, as if some torture screw were threatening him,

he started up and said, "It is impossible!"

He went and leaned on the back of the chair again, and seemed to be

battling with his own anger, while she looked towards him sadly.

"It is as fatal as a murder or any other horror that divides people,"

he burst out again; "it is more intolerable—to have our life maimed by

petty accidents."

"No—don't say that—your life need not be maimed," said Dorothea,


"Yes, it must," said Will, angrily. "It is cruel of you to speak in

that way—as if there were any comfort. You may see beyond the misery

of it, but I don't. It is unkind—it is throwing back my love for you

as if it were a trifle, to speak in that way in the face of the fact.

We can never be married."

"Some time—we might," said Dorothea, in a trembling voice.

"When?" said Will, bitterly. "What is the use of counting on any

success of mine? It is a mere toss up whether I shall ever do more

than keep myself decently, unless I choose to sell myself as a mere pen

and a mouthpiece. I can see that clearly enough. I could not offer

myself to any woman, even if she had no luxuries to renounce."

There was silence. Dorothea's heart was full of something that she

wanted to say, and yet the words were too difficult. She was wholly

possessed by them: at that moment debate was mute within her. And it

was very hard that she could not say what she wanted to say. Will was

looking out of the window angrily. If he would have looked at her and

not gone away from her side, she thought everything would have been

easier. At last he turned, still resting against the chair, and

stretching his hand automatically towards his hat, said with a sort of

exasperation, "Good-by."

"Oh, I cannot bear it—my heart will break," said Dorothea, starting

from her seat, the flood of her young passion bearing down all the

obstructions which had kept her silent—the great tears rising and

falling in an instant: "I don't mind about poverty—I hate my wealth."

In an instant Will was close to her and had his arms round her, but she

drew her head back and held his away gently that she might go on

speaking, her large tear-filled eyes looking at his very simply, while

she said in a sobbing childlike way, "We could live quite well on my

own fortune—it is too much—seven hundred a-year—I want so little—no

new clothes—and I will learn what everything costs."


"Though it be songe of old and yonge,
That I sholde be to blame,
Theyrs be the charge, that spoke so large
In hurtynge of my name."
—The Not-Browne Mayde.

It was just after the Lords had thrown out the Reform Bill: that

explains how Mr. Cadwallader came to be walking on the slope of the

lawn near the great conservatory at Freshitt Hall, holding the "Times"

in his hands behind him, while he talked with a trout-fisher's

dispassionateness about the prospects of the country to Sir James

Chettam. Mrs. Cadwallader, the Dowager Lady Chettam, and Celia were

sometimes seated on garden-chairs, sometimes walking to meet little

Arthur, who was being drawn in his chariot, and, as became the

infantine Bouddha, was sheltered by his sacred umbrella with handsome

silken fringe.

The ladies also talked politics, though more fitfully. Mrs.

Cadwallader was strong on the intended creation of peers: she had it

for certain from her cousin that Truberry had gone over to the other

side entirely at the instigation of his wife, who had scented peerages

in the air from the very first introduction of the Reform question, and

would sign her soul away to take precedence of her younger sister, who

had married a baronet. Lady Chettam thought that such conduct was very

reprehensible, and remembered that Mrs. Truberry's mother was a Miss

Walsingham of Melspring. Celia confessed it was nicer to be "Lady"

than "Mrs.," and that Dodo never minded about precedence if she could

have her own way. Mrs. Cadwallader held that it was a poor

satisfaction to take precedence when everybody about you knew that you

had not a drop of good blood in your veins; and Celia again, stopping

to look at Arthur, said, "It would be very nice, though, if he were a

Viscount—and his lordship's little tooth coming through! He might

have been, if James had been an Earl."

"My dear Celia," said the Dowager, "James's title is worth far more

than any new earldom. I never wished his father to be anything else

than Sir James."

"Oh, I only meant about Arthur's little tooth," said Celia,

comfortably. "But see, here is my uncle coming."

She tripped off to meet her uncle, while Sir James and Mr. Cadwallader

came forward to make one group with the ladies. Celia had slipped her

arm through her uncle's, and he patted her hand with a rather

melancholy "Well, my dear!" As they approached, it was evident that

Mr. Brooke was looking dejected, but this was fully accounted for by

the state of politics; and as he was shaking hands all round without

more greeting than a "Well, you're all here, you know," the Rector

said, laughingly—

"Don't take the throwing out of the Bill so much to heart, Brooke;

you've got all the riff-raff of the country on your side."

"The Bill, eh? ah!" said Mr. Brooke, with a mild distractedness of

manner. "Thrown out, you know, eh? The Lords are going too far,

though. They'll have to pull up. Sad news, you know. I mean, here at

home—sad news. But you must not blame me, Chettam."

"What is the matter?" said Sir James. "Not another gamekeeper shot, I

hope? It's what I should expect, when a fellow like Trapping Bass is

let off so easily."

"Gamekeeper? No. Let us go in; I can tell you all in the house, you

know," said Mr. Brooke, nodding at the Cadwalladers, to show that he

included them in his confidence. "As to poachers like Trapping Bass,

you know, Chettam," he continued, as they were entering, "when you are

a magistrate, you'll not find it so easy to commit. Severity is all

very well, but it's a great deal easier when you've got somebody to do

it for you. You have a soft place in your heart yourself, you

know—you're not a Draco, a Jeffreys, that sort of thing."

Mr. Brooke was evidently in a state of nervous perturbation. When he

had something painful to tell, it was usually his way to introduce it

among a number of disjointed particulars, as if it were a medicine that

would get a milder flavor by mixing. He continued his chat with Sir

James about the poachers until they were all seated, and Mrs.

Cadwallader, impatient of this drivelling, said—

"I'm dying to know the sad news. The gamekeeper is not shot: that is

settled. What is it, then?"

"Well, it's a very trying thing, you know," said Mr. Brooke. "I'm glad

you and the Rector are here; it's a family matter—but you will help

us all to bear it, Cadwallader. I've got to break it to you, my dear."

Here Mr. Brooke looked at Celia—"You've no notion what it is, you

know. And, Chettam, it will annoy you uncommonly—but, you see, you

have not been able to hinder it, any more than I have. There's

something singular in things: they come round, you know."

"It must be about Dodo," said Celia, who had been used to think of her

sister as the dangerous part of the family machinery. She had seated

herself on a low stool against her husband's knee.

"For God's sake let us hear what it is!" said Sir James.

"Well, you know, Chettam, I couldn't help Casaubon's will: it was a

sort of will to make things worse."

"Exactly," said Sir James, hastily. "But what is worse?"

"Dorothea is going to be married again, you know," said Mr. Brooke,

nodding towards Celia, who immediately looked up at her husband with a

frightened glance, and put her hand on his knee. Sir James was almost

white with anger, but he did not speak.

"Merciful heaven!" said Mrs. Cadwallader. "Not to young Ladislaw?"

Mr. Brooke nodded, saying, "Yes; to Ladislaw," and then fell into a

prudential silence.

"You see, Humphrey!" said Mrs. Cadwallader, waving her arm towards her

husband. "Another time you will admit that I have some foresight; or

rather you will contradict me and be just as blind as ever. You

supposed that the young gentleman was gone out of the country."

"So he might be, and yet come back," said the Rector, quietly

"When did you learn this?" said Sir James, not liking to hear any one

else speak, though finding it difficult to speak himself.

"Yesterday," said Mr. Brooke, meekly. "I went to Lowick. Dorothea

sent for me, you know. It had come about quite suddenly—neither of

them had any idea two days ago—not any idea, you know. There's

something singular in things. But Dorothea is quite determined—it is

no use opposing. I put it strongly to her. I did my duty, Chettam.

But she can act as she likes, you know."

"It would have been better if I had called him out and shot him a year

ago," said Sir James, not from bloody-mindedness, but because he needed

something strong to say.

"Really, James, that would have been very disagreeable," said Celia.

"Be reasonable, Chettam. Look at the affair more quietly," said Mr.

Cadwallader, sorry to see his good-natured friend so overmastered by


"That is not so very easy for a man of any dignity—with any sense of

right—when the affair happens to be in his own family," said Sir

James, still in his white indignation. "It is perfectly scandalous.

If Ladislaw had had a spark of honor he would have gone out of the

country at once, and never shown his face in it again. However, I am

not surprised. The day after Casaubon's funeral I said what ought to

be done. But I was not listened to."

"You wanted what was impossible, you know, Chettam," said Mr. Brooke.

"You wanted him shipped off. I told you Ladislaw was not to be done as

we liked with: he had his ideas. He was a remarkable fellow—I always

said he was a remarkable fellow."

"Yes," said Sir James, unable to repress a retort, "it is rather a pity

you formed that high opinion of him. We are indebted to that for his

being lodged in this neighborhood. We are indebted to that for seeing

a woman like Dorothea degrading herself by marrying him." Sir James

made little stoppages between his clauses, the words not coming easily.

"A man so marked out by her husband's will, that delicacy ought to have

forbidden her from seeing him again—who takes her out of her proper

rank—into poverty—has the meanness to accept such a sacrifice—has

always had an objectionable position—a bad origin—and, I believe,

is a man of little principle and light character. That is my opinion."

Sir James ended emphatically, turning aside and crossing his leg.

"I pointed everything out to her," said Mr. Brooke, apologetically—"I

mean the poverty, and abandoning her position. I said, 'My dear, you

don't know what it is to live on seven hundred a-year, and have no

carriage, and that kind of thing, and go amongst people who don't know

who you are.' I put it strongly to her. But I advise you to talk to

Dorothea herself. The fact is, she has a dislike to Casaubon's

property. You will hear what she says, you know."

"No—excuse me—I shall not," said Sir James, with more coolness. "I

cannot bear to see her again; it is too painful. It hurts me too much

that a woman like Dorothea should have done what is wrong."

"Be just, Chettam," said the easy, large-lipped Rector, who objected to

all this unnecessary discomfort. "Mrs. Casaubon may be acting

imprudently: she is giving up a fortune for the sake of a man, and we

men have so poor an opinion of each other that we can hardly call a

woman wise who does that. But I think you should not condemn it as a

wrong action, in the strict sense of the word."

"Yes, I do," answered Sir James. "I think that Dorothea commits a

wrong action in marrying Ladislaw."

"My dear fellow, we are rather apt to consider an act wrong because it

is unpleasant to us," said the Rector, quietly. Like many men who take

life easily, he had the knack of saying a home truth occasionally to

those who felt themselves virtuously out of temper. Sir James took out

his handkerchief and began to bite the corner.

"It is very dreadful of Dodo, though," said Celia, wishing to justify

her husband. "She said she never would marry again—not anybody at


"I heard her say the same thing myself," said Lady Chettam,

majestically, as if this were royal evidence.

"Oh, there is usually a silent exception in such cases," said Mrs.

Cadwallader. "The only wonder to me is, that any of you are surprised.

You did nothing to hinder it. If you would have had Lord Triton down

here to woo her with his philanthropy, he might have carried her off

before the year was over. There was no safety in anything else. Mr.

Casaubon had prepared all this as beautifully as possible. He made

himself disagreeable—or it pleased God to make him so—and then he

dared her to contradict him. It's the way to make any trumpery

tempting, to ticket it at a high price in that way."

"I don't know what you mean by wrong, Cadwallader," said Sir James,

still feeling a little stung, and turning round in his chair towards

the Rector. "He's not a man we can take into the family. At least, I

must speak for myself," he continued, carefully keeping his eyes off

Mr. Brooke. "I suppose others will find his society too pleasant to

care about the propriety of the thing."

"Well, you know, Chettam," said Mr. Brooke, good-humoredly, nursing his

leg, "I can't turn my back on Dorothea. I must be a father to her up

to a certain point. I said, 'My dear, I won't refuse to give you

away.' I had spoken strongly before. But I can cut off the entail,

you know. It will cost money and be troublesome; but I can do it, you


Mr. Brooke nodded at Sir James, and felt that he was both showing his

own force of resolution and propitiating what was just in the Baronet's

vexation. He had hit on a more ingenious mode of parrying than he was

aware of. He had touched a motive of which Sir James was ashamed. The

mass of his feeling about Dorothea's marriage to Ladislaw was due

partly to excusable prejudice, or even justifiable opinion, partly to a

jealous repugnance hardly less in Ladislaw's case than in Casaubon's.

He was convinced that the marriage was a fatal one for Dorothea. But

amid that mass ran a vein of which he was too good and honorable a man

to like the avowal even to himself: it was undeniable that the union of

the two estates—Tipton and Freshitt—lying charmingly within a

ring-fence, was a prospect that flattered him for his son and heir.

Hence when Mr. Brooke noddingly appealed to that motive, Sir James felt

a sudden embarrassment; there was a stoppage in his throat; he even

blushed. He had found more words than usual in the first jet of his

anger, but Mr. Brooke's propitiation was more clogging to his tongue

than Mr. Cadwallader's caustic hint.

But Celia was glad to have room for speech after her uncle's suggestion

of the marriage ceremony, and she said, though with as little eagerness

of manner as if the question had turned on an invitation to dinner, "Do

you mean that Dodo is going to be married directly, uncle?"

"In three weeks, you know," said Mr. Brooke, helplessly. "I can do

nothing to hinder it, Cadwallader," he added, turning for a little

countenance toward the Rector, who said—

"—I—should not make any fuss about it. If she likes to be poor, that

is her affair. Nobody would have said anything if she had married the

young fellow because he was rich. Plenty of beneficed clergy are

poorer than they will be. Here is Elinor," continued the provoking

husband; "she vexed her friends by me: I had hardly a thousand

a-year—I was a lout—nobody could see anything in me—my shoes were

not the right cut—all the men wondered how a woman could like me.

Upon my word, I must take Ladislaw's part until I hear more harm of


"Humphrey, that is all sophistry, and you know it," said his wife.

"Everything is all one—that is the beginning and end with you. As if

you had not been a Cadwallader! Does any one suppose that I would have

taken such a monster as you by any other name?"

"And a clergyman too," observed Lady Chettam with approbation. "Elinor

cannot be said to have descended below her rank. It is difficult to

say what Mr. Ladislaw is, eh, James?"

Sir James gave a small grunt, which was less respectful than his usual

mode of answering his mother. Celia looked up at him like a thoughtful


"It must be admitted that his blood is a frightful mixture!" said Mrs.

Cadwallader. "The Casaubon cuttle-fish fluid to begin with, and then a

rebellious Polish fiddler or dancing-master, was it?—and then an old


"Nonsense, Elinor," said the Rector, rising. "It is time for us to go."

"After all, he is a pretty sprig," said Mrs. Cadwallader, rising too,

and wishing to make amends. "He is like the fine old Crichley

portraits before the idiots came in."

"I'll go with you," said Mr. Brooke, starting up with alacrity. "You

must all come and dine with me to-morrow, you know—eh, Celia, my dear?"

"You will, James—won't you?" said Celia, taking her husband's hand.

"Oh, of course, if you like," said Sir James, pulling down his

waistcoat, but unable yet to adjust his face good-humoredly. "That is

to say, if it is not to meet anybody else.':

"No, no, no," said Mr. Brooke, understanding the condition. "Dorothea

would not come, you know, unless you had been to see her."

When Sir James and Celia were alone, she said, "Do you mind about my

having the carriage to go to, Lowick, James?"

"What, now, directly?" he answered, with some surprise.

"Yes, it is very important," said Celia.

"Remember, Celia, I cannot see her," said Sir James.

"Not if she gave up marrying?"

"What is the use of saying that?—however, I'm going to the stables.

I'll tell Briggs to bring the carriage round."

Celia thought it was of great use, if not to say that, at least to take

a journey to Lowick in order to influence Dorothea's mind. All through

their girlhood she had felt that she could act on her sister by a word

judiciously placed—by opening a little window for the daylight of her

own understanding to enter among the strange colored lamps by which

Dodo habitually saw. And Celia the matron naturally felt more able to

advise her childless sister. How could any one understand Dodo so well

as Celia did or love her so tenderly?

Dorothea, busy in her boudoir, felt a glow of pleasure at the sight of

her sister so soon after the revelation of her intended marriage. She

had prefigured to herself, even with exaggeration, the disgust of her

friends, and she had even feared that Celia might be kept aloof from


"O Kitty, I am delighted to see you!" said Dorothea, putting her hands

on Celia's shoulders, and beaming on her. "I almost thought you would

not come to me."

"I have not brought Arthur, because I was in a hurry," said Celia, and

they sat down on two small chairs opposite each other, with their knees


"You know, Dodo, it is very bad," said Celia, in her placid guttural,

looking as prettily free from humors as possible. "You have

disappointed us all so. And I can't think that it ever will be—you

never can go and live in that way. And then there are all your plans!

You never can have thought of that. James would have taken any trouble

for you, and you might have gone on all your life doing what you liked."

"On the contrary, dear," said Dorothea, "I never could do anything that

I liked. I have never carried out any plan yet."

"Because you always wanted things that wouldn't do. But other plans

would have come. And how can you marry Mr. Ladislaw, that we none of

us ever thought you could marry? It shocks James so dreadfully. And

then it is all so different from what you have always been. You would

have Mr. Casaubon because he had such a great soul, and was so and

dismal and learned; and now, to think of marrying Mr. Ladislaw, who has

got no estate or anything. I suppose it is because you must be making

yourself uncomfortable in some way or other."

Dorothea laughed.

"Well, it is very serious, Dodo," said Celia, becoming more impressive.

"How will you live? and you will go away among queer people. And I

shall never see you—and you won't mind about little Arthur—and I

thought you always would—"

Celia's rare tears had got into her eyes, and the corners of her mouth

were agitated.

"Dear Celia," said Dorothea, with tender gravity, "if you don't ever

see me, it will not be my fault."

"Yes, it will," said Celia, with the same touching distortion of her

small features. "How can I come to you or have you with me when James

can't bear it?—that is because he thinks it is not right—he thinks

you are so wrong, Dodo. But you always were wrong: only I can't help

loving you. And nobody can think where you will live: where can you


"I am going to London," said Dorothea.

"How can you always live in a street? And you will be so poor. I

could give you half my things, only how can I, when I never see you?"

"Bless you, Kitty," said Dorothea, with gentle warmth. "Take comfort:

perhaps James will forgive me some time."

"But it would be much better if you would not be married," said Celia,

drying her eyes, and returning to her argument; "then there would be

nothing uncomfortable. And you would not do what nobody thought you

could do. James always said you ought to be a queen; but this is not

at all being like a queen. You know what mistakes you have always been

making, Dodo, and this is another. Nobody thinks Mr. Ladislaw a proper

husband for you. And you said you would never be married again."

"It is quite true that I might be a wiser person, Celia," said

Dorothea, "and that I might have done something better, if I had been

better. But this is what I am going to do. I have promised to marry

Mr. Ladislaw; and I am going to marry him."

The tone in which Dorothea said this was a note that Celia had long

learned to recognize. She was silent a few moments, and then said, as

if she had dismissed all contest, "Is he very fond of you, Dodo?"

"I hope so. I am very fond of him."

"That is nice," said Celia, comfortably. "Only I rather you had such a

sort of husband as James is, with a place very near, that I could drive


Dorothea smiled, and Celia looked rather meditative. Presently she

said, "I cannot think how it all came about." Celia thought it would be

pleasant to hear the story.

"I dare say not," said-Dorothea, pinching her sister's chin. "If you

knew how it came about, it would not seem wonderful to you."

"Can't you tell me?" said Celia, settling her arms cozily.

"No, dear, you would have to feel with me, else you would never know."


"Then went the jury out whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr.
No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr.
Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr.
Hate-light, Mr. Implacable, who every one gave in his
private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards
unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the
judge. And first among themselves, Mr. Blindman, the
foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic.
Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the
earth! Ay, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very look of him.
Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him. Nor I,
said Mr. Live-loose; for he would be always condemning my
way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said
Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity.
He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him,
said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the way said
Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all
the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him;
therefore let us forthwith bring him in guilty of
death."—Pilgrim's Progress.

When immortal Bunyan makes his picture of the persecuting passions

bringing in their verdict of guilty, who pities Faithful? That is a

rare and blessed lot which some greatest men have not attained, to know

ourselves guiltless before a condemning crowd—to be sure that what we

are denounced for is solely the good in us. The pitiable lot is that

of the man who could not call himself a martyr even though he were to

persuade himself that the men who stoned him were but ugly passions

incarnate—who knows that he is stoned, not for professing the Right,

but for not being the man he professed to be.

This was the consciousness that Bulstrode was withering under while he

made his preparations for departing from Middlemarch, and going to end

his stricken life in that sad refuge, the indifference of new faces.

The duteous merciful constancy of his wife had delivered him from one

dread, but it could not hinder her presence from being still a tribunal

before which he shrank from confession and desired advocacy. His

equivocations with himself about the death of Raffles had sustained the

conception of an Omniscience whom he prayed to, yet he had a terror

upon him which would not let him expose them to judgment by a full

confession to his wife: the acts which he had washed and diluted with

inward argument and motive, and for which it seemed comparatively easy

to win invisible pardon—what name would she call them by? That she

should ever silently call his acts Murder was what he could not bear.

He felt shrouded by her doubt: he got strength to face her from the

sense that she could not yet feel warranted in pronouncing that worst

condemnation on him. Some time, perhaps—when he was dying—he would

tell her all: in the deep shadow of that time, when she held his hand

in the gathering darkness, she might listen without recoiling from his

touch. Perhaps: but concealment had been the habit of his life, and

the impulse to confession had no power against the dread of a deeper


He was full of timid care for his wife, not only because he deprecated

any harshness of judgment from her, but because he felt a deep distress

at the sight of her suffering. She had sent her daughters away to

board at a school on the coast, that this crisis might be hidden from

them as far as possible. Set free by their absence from the

intolerable necessity of accounting for her grief or of beholding their

frightened wonder, she could live unconstrainedly with the sorrow that

was every day streaking her hair with whiteness and making her eyelids


"Tell me anything that you would like to have me do, Harriet,"

Bulstrode had said to her; "I mean with regard to arrangements of

property. It is my intention not to sell the land I possess in this

neighborhood, but to leave it to you as a safe provision. If you have

any wish on such subjects, do not conceal it from me."

A few days afterwards, when she had returned from a visit to her

brother's, she began to speak to her husband on a subject which had for

some time been in her mind.

"I should like to do something for my brother's family, Nicholas; and

I think we are bound to make some amends to Rosamond and her husband.

Walter says Mr. Lydgate must leave the town, and his practice is almost

good for nothing, and they have very little left to settle anywhere

with. I would rather do without something for ourselves, to make some

amends to my poor brother's family."

Mrs. Bulstrode did not wish to go nearer to the facts than in the

phrase "make some amends;" knowing that her husband must understand

her. He had a particular reason, which she was not aware of, for

wincing under her suggestion. He hesitated before he said—

"It is not possible to carry out your wish in the way you propose, my

dear. Mr. Lydgate has virtually rejected any further service from me.

He has returned the thousand pounds which I lent him. Mrs. Casaubon

advanced him the sum for that purpose. Here is his letter."

The letter seemed to cut Mrs. Bulstrode severely. The mention of Mrs.

Casaubon's loan seemed a reflection of that public feeling which held

it a matter of course that every one would avoid a connection with her

husband. She was silent for some time; and the tears fell one after

the other, her chin trembling as she wiped them away. Bulstrode,

sitting opposite to her, ached at the sight of that grief-worn face,

which two months before had been bright and blooming. It had aged to

keep sad company with his own withered features. Urged into some

effort at comforting her, he said—

"There is another means, Harriet, by which I might do a service to your

brother's family, if you like to act in it. And it would, I think, be

beneficial to you: it would be an advantageous way of managing the land

which I mean to be yours."

She looked attentive.

"Garth once thought of undertaking the management of Stone Court in

order to place your nephew Fred there. The stock was to remain as it

is, and they were to pay a certain share of the profits instead of an

ordinary rent. That would be a desirable beginning for the young man,

in conjunction with his employment under Garth. Would it be a

satisfaction to you?"

"Yes, it would," said Mrs. Bulstrode, with some return of energy.

"Poor Walter is so cast down; I would try anything in my power to do

him some good before I go away. We have always been brother and


"You must make the proposal to Garth yourself, Harriet," said Mr.

Bulstrode, not liking what he had to say, but desiring the end he had

in view, for other reasons besides the consolation of his wife. "You

must state to him that the land is virtually yours, and that he need

have no transactions with me. Communications can be made through

Standish. I mention this, because Garth gave up being my agent. I can

put into your hands a paper which he himself drew up, stating

conditions; and you can propose his renewed acceptance of them. I

think it is not unlikely that he will accept when you propose the thing

for the sake of your nephew."


"Le coeur se sature d'amour comme d'un sel divin qui le
conserve; de la l'incorruptible adherence de ceux qui se
sont aimes des l'aube de la vie, et la fraicheur des vielles
amours prolonges. Il existe un embaumement d'amour. C'est de
Daphnis et Chloe que sont faits Philemon et Baucis. Cette
vieillesse la, ressemblance du soir avec
l'aurore."—VICTOR HUGO: L'homme qui rit.

Mrs. Garth, hearing Caleb enter the passage about tea-time, opened the

parlor-door and said, "There you are, Caleb. Have you had your

dinner?" (Mr. Garth's meals were much subordinated to "business.")

"Oh yes, a good dinner—cold mutton and I don't know what. Where is


"In the garden with Letty, I think."

"Fred is not come yet?"

"No. Are you going out again without taking tea, Caleb?" said Mrs.

Garth, seeing that her absent-minded husband was putting on again the

hat which he had just taken off.

"No, no; I'm only going to Mary a minute."

Mary was in a grassy corner of the garden, where there was a swing

loftily hung between two pear-trees. She had a pink kerchief tied over

her head, making a little poke to shade her eyes from the level

sunbeams, while she was giving a glorious swing to Letty, who laughed

and screamed wildly.

Seeing her father, Mary left the swing and went to meet him, pushing

back the pink kerchief and smiling afar off at him with the involuntary

smile of loving pleasure.

"I came to look for you, Mary," said Mr. Garth. "Let us walk about a


Mary knew quite well that her father had something particular to say:

his eyebrows made their pathetic angle, and there was a tender gravity

in his voice: these things had been signs to her when she was Letty's

age. She put her arm within his, and they turned by the row of


"It will be a sad while before you can be married, Mary," said her

father, not looking at her, but at the end of the stick which he held

in his other hand.

"Not a sad while, father—I mean to be merry," said Mary, laughingly.

"I have been single and merry for four-and-twenty years and more: I

suppose it will not be quite as long again as that." Then, after a

little pause, she said, more gravely, bending her face before her

father's, "If you are contented with Fred?"

Caleb screwed up his mouth and turned his head aside wisely.

"Now, father, you did praise him last Wednesday. You said he had an

uncommon notion of stock, and a good eye for things."

"Did I?" said Caleb, rather slyly.

"Yes, I put it all down, and the date, anno Domini, and everything,"

said Mary. "You like things to be neatly booked. And then his

behavior to you, father, is really good; he has a deep respect for you;

and it is impossible to have a better temper than Fred has."

"Ay, ay; you want to coax me into thinking him a fine match."

"No, indeed, father. I don't love him because he is a fine match."

"What for, then?"

"Oh, dear, because I have always loved him. I should never like

scolding any one else so well; and that is a point to be thought of in

a husband."

"Your mind is quite settled, then, Mary?" said Caleb, returning to his

first tone. "There's no other wish come into it since things have been

going on as they have been of late?" (Caleb meant a great deal in that

vague phrase;) "because, better late than never. A woman must not

force her heart—she'll do a man no good by that."

"My feelings have not changed, father," said Mary, calmly. "I shall be

constant to Fred as long as he is constant to me. I don't think either

of us could spare the other, or like any one else better, however much

we might admire them. It would make too great a difference to us—like

seeing all the old places altered, and changing the name for

everything. We must wait for each other a long while; but Fred knows


Instead of speaking immediately, Caleb stood still and screwed his

stick on the grassy walk. Then he said, with emotion in his voice,

"Well, I've got a bit of news. What do you think of Fred going to live

at Stone Court, and managing the land there?"

"How can that ever be, father?" said Mary, wonderingly.

"He would manage it for his aunt Bulstrode. The poor woman has been to

me begging and praying. She wants to do the lad good, and it might be

a fine thing for him. With saving, he might gradually buy the stock,

and he has a turn for farming."

"Oh, Fred would be so happy! It is too good to believe."

"Ah, but mind you," said Caleb, turning his head warningly, "I must

take it on my shoulders, and be responsible, and see after

everything; and that will grieve your mother a bit, though she mayn't

say so. Fred had need be careful."

"Perhaps it is too much, father," said Mary, checked in her joy.

"There would be no happiness in bringing you any fresh trouble."

"Nay, nay; work is my delight, child, when it doesn't vex your mother.

And then, if you and Fred get married," here Caleb's voice shook just

perceptibly, "he'll be steady and saving; and you've got your mother's

cleverness, and mine too, in a woman's sort of way; and you'll keep him

in order. He'll be coming by-and-by, so I wanted to tell you first,

because I think you'd like to tell him by yourselves. After that, I

could talk it well over with him, and we could go into business and the

nature of things."

"Oh, you dear good father!" cried Mary, putting her hands round her

father's neck, while he bent his head placidly, willing to be caressed.

"I wonder if any other girl thinks her father the best man in the


"Nonsense, child; you'll think your husband better."

"Impossible," said Mary, relapsing into her usual tone; "husbands are

an inferior class of men, who require keeping in order."

When they were entering the house with Letty, who had run to join them,

Mary saw Fred at the orchard-gate, and went to meet him.

"What fine clothes you wear, you extravagant youth!" said Mary, as Fred

stood still and raised his hat to her with playful formality. "You are

not learning economy."

"Now that is too bad, Mary," said Fred. "Just look at the edges of

these coat-cuffs! It is only by dint of good brushing that I look

respectable. I am saving up three suits—one for a wedding-suit."

"How very droll you will look!—like a gentleman in an old


"Oh no, they will keep two years."

"Two years! be reasonable, Fred," said Mary, turning to walk. "Don't

encourage flattering expectations."

"Why not? One lives on them better than on unflattering ones. If we

can't be married in two years, the truth will be quite bad enough when

it comes."

"I have heard a story of a young gentleman who once encouraged

flattering expectations, and they did him harm."

"Mary, if you've got something discouraging to tell me, I shall bolt; I

shall go into the house to Mr. Garth. I am out of spirits. My father

is so cut up—home is not like itself. I can't bear any more bad news."

"Should you call it bad news to be told that you were to live at Stone

Court, and manage the farm, and be remarkably prudent, and save money

every year till all the stock and furniture were your own, and you were

a distinguished agricultural character, as Mr. Borthrop Trumbull

says—rather stout, I fear, and with the Greek and Latin sadly


"You don't mean anything except nonsense, Mary?" said Fred, coloring

slightly nevertheless.

"That is what my father has just told me of as what may happen, and he

never talks nonsense," said Mary, looking up at Fred now, while he

grasped her hand as they walked, till it rather hurt her; but she would

not complain.

"Oh, I could be a tremendously good fellow then, Mary, and we could be

married directly."

"Not so fast, sir; how do you know that I would not rather defer our

marriage for some years? That would leave you time to misbehave, and

then if I liked some one else better, I should have an excuse for

jilting you."

"Pray don't joke, Mary," said Fred, with strong feeling. "Tell me

seriously that all this is true, and that you are happy because of

it—because you love me best."

"It is all true, Fred, and I am happy because of it—because I love you

best," said Mary, in a tone of obedient recitation.

They lingered on the door-step under the steep-roofed porch, and Fred

almost in a whisper said—

"When we were first engaged, with the umbrella-ring, Mary, you used


The spirit of joy began to laugh more decidedly in Mary's eyes, but the

fatal Ben came running to the door with Brownie yapping behind him,

and, bouncing against them, said—

"Fred and Mary! are you ever coming in?—or may I eat your cake?"


Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending. Who can quit young

lives after being long in company with them, and not desire to know

what befell them in their after-years? For the fragment of a life,

however typical, is not the sample of an even web: promises may not be

kept, and an ardent outset may be followed by declension; latent powers

may find their long-waited opportunity; a past error may urge a grand


Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a

great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in

Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of

the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic—the

gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which

makes the advancing years a climax, and age the harvest of sweet

memories in common.

Some set out, like Crusaders of old, with a glorious equipment of hope

and enthusiasm and get broken by the way, wanting patience with each

other and the world.

All who have cared for Fred Vincy and Mary Garth will like to know that

these two made no such failure, but achieved a solid mutual happiness.

Fred surprised his neighbors in various ways. He became rather

distinguished in his side of the county as a theoretic and practical

farmer, and produced a work on the "Cultivation of Green Crops and the

Economy of Cattle-Feeding" which won him high congratulations at

agricultural meetings. In Middlemarch admiration was more reserved:

most persons there were inclined to believe that the merit of Fred's

authorship was due to his wife, since they had never expected Fred

Vincy to write on turnips and mangel-wurzel.

But when Mary wrote a little book for her boys, called "Stories of

Great Men, taken from Plutarch," and had it printed and published by

Gripp & Co., Middlemarch, every one in the town was willing to give the

credit of this work to Fred, observing that he had been to the

University, "where the ancients were studied," and might have been a

clergyman if he had chosen.

In this way it was made clear that Middlemarch had never been deceived,

and that there was no need to praise anybody for writing a book, since

it was always done by somebody else.

Moreover, Fred remained unswervingly steady. Some years after his

marriage he told Mary that his happiness was half owing to Farebrother,

who gave him a strong pull-up at the right moment. I cannot say that

he was never again misled by his hopefulness: the yield of crops or the

profits of a cattle sale usually fell below his estimate; and he was

always prone to believe that he could make money by the purchase of a

horse which turned out badly—though this, Mary observed, was of

course the fault of the horse, not of Fred's judgment. He kept his

love of horsemanship, but he rarely allowed himself a day's hunting;

and when he did so, it was remarkable that he submitted to be laughed

at for cowardliness at the fences, seeming to see Mary and the boys

sitting on the five-barred gate, or showing their curly heads between

hedge and ditch.

There were three boys: Mary was not discontented that she brought forth

men-children only; and when Fred wished to have a girl like her, she

said, laughingly, "that would be too great a trial to your mother."

Mrs. Vincy in her declining years, and in the diminished lustre of her

housekeeping, was much comforted by her perception that two at least of

Fred's boys were real Vincys, and did not "feature the Garths." But

Mary secretly rejoiced that the youngest of the three was very much

what her father must have been when he wore a round jacket, and showed

a marvellous nicety of aim in playing at marbles, or in throwing stones

to bring down the mellow pears.

Ben and Letty Garth, who were uncle and aunt before they were well in

their teens, disputed much as to whether nephews or nieces were more

desirable; Ben contending that it was clear girls were good for less

than boys, else they would not be always in petticoats, which showed

how little they were meant for; whereupon Letty, who argued much from

books, got angry in replying that God made coats of skins for both Adam

and Eve alike—also it occurred to her that in the East the men too

wore petticoats. But this latter argument, obscuring the majesty of

the former, was one too many, for Ben answered contemptuously, "The

more spooneys they!" and immediately appealed to his mother whether

boys were not better than girls. Mrs. Garth pronounced that both were

alike naughty, but that boys were undoubtedly stronger, could run

faster, and throw with more precision to a greater distance. With this

oracular sentence Ben was well satisfied, not minding the naughtiness;

but Letty took it ill, her feeling of superiority being stronger than

her muscles.

Fred never became rich—his hopefulness had not led him to expect that;

but he gradually saved enough to become owner of the stock and

furniture at Stone Court, and the work which Mr. Garth put into his

hands carried him in plenty through those "bad times" which are always

present with farmers. Mary, in her matronly days, became as solid in

figure as her mother; but, unlike her, gave the boys little formal

teaching, so that Mrs. Garth was alarmed lest they should never be well

grounded in grammar and geography. Nevertheless, they were found quite

forward enough when they went to school; perhaps, because they had

liked nothing so well as being with their mother. When Fred was riding

home on winter evenings he had a pleasant vision beforehand of the

bright hearth in the wainscoted parlor, and was sorry for other men who

could not have Mary for their wife; especially for Mr. Farebrother.

"He was ten times worthier of you than I was," Fred could now say to

her, magnanimously. "To be sure he was," Mary answered; "and for that

reason he could do better without me. But you—I shudder to think what

you would have been—a curate in debt for horse-hire and cambric


On inquiry it might possibly be found that Fred and Mary still inhabit

Stone Court—that the creeping plants still cast the foam of their

blossoms over the fine stone-wall into the field where the walnut-trees

stand in stately row—and that on sunny days the two lovers who were

first engaged with the umbrella-ring may be seen in white-haired

placidity at the open window from which Mary Garth, in the days of old

Peter Featherstone, had often been ordered to look out for Mr. Lydgate.

Lydgate's hair never became white. He died when he was only fifty,

leaving his wife and children provided for by a heavy insurance on his

life. He had gained an excellent practice, alternating, according to

the season, between London and a Continental bathing-place; having

written a treatise on Gout, a disease which has a good deal of wealth

on its side. His skill was relied on by many paying patients, but he

always regarded himself as a failure: he had not done what he once

meant to do. His acquaintances thought him enviable to have so

charming a wife, and nothing happened to shake their opinion. Rosamond

never committed a second compromising indiscretion. She simply

continued to be mild in her temper, inflexible in her judgment,

disposed to admonish her husband, and able to frustrate him by

stratagem. As the years went on he opposed her less and less, whence

Rosamond concluded that he had learned the value of her opinion; on the

other hand, she had a more thorough conviction of his talents now that

he gained a good income, and instead of the threatened cage in Bride

Street provided one all flowers and gilding, fit for the bird of

paradise that she resembled. In brief, Lydgate was what is called a

successful man. But he died prematurely of diphtheria, and Rosamond

afterwards married an elderly and wealthy physician, who took kindly to

her four children. She made a very pretty show with her daughters,

driving out in her carriage, and often spoke of her happiness as "a

reward"—she did not say for what, but probably she meant that it was a

reward for her patience with Tertius, whose temper never became

faultless, and to the last occasionally let slip a bitter speech which

was more memorable than the signs he made of his repentance. He once

called her his basil plant; and when she asked for an explanation, said

that basil was a plant which had flourished wonderfully on a murdered

man's brains. Rosamond had a placid but strong answer to such

speeches. Why then had he chosen her? It was a pity he had not had

Mrs. Ladislaw, whom he was always praising and placing above her. And

thus the conversation ended with the advantage on Rosamond's side. But

it would be unjust not to tell, that she never uttered a word in

depreciation of Dorothea, keeping in religious remembrance the

generosity which had come to her aid in the sharpest crisis of her life.

Dorothea herself had no dreams of being praised above other women,

feeling that there was always something better which she might have

done, if she had only been better and known better. Still, she never

repented that she had given up position and fortune to marry Will

Ladislaw, and he would have held it the greatest shame as well as

sorrow to him if she had repented. They were bound to each other by a

love stronger than any impulses which could have marred it. No life

would have been possible to Dorothea which was not filled with emotion,

and she had now a life filled also with a beneficent activity which she

had not the doubtful pains of discovering and marking out for herself.

Will became an ardent public man, working well in those times when

reforms were begun with a young hopefulness of immediate good which has

been much checked in our days, and getting at last returned to

Parliament by a constituency who paid his expenses. Dorothea could

have liked nothing better, since wrongs existed, than that her husband

should be in the thick of a struggle against them, and that she should

give him wifely help. Many who knew her, thought it a pity that so

substantive and rare a creature should have been absorbed into the life

of another, and be only known in a certain circle as a wife and mother.

But no one stated exactly what else that was in her power she ought

rather to have done—not even Sir James Chettam, who went no further

than the negative prescription that she ought not to have married Will


But this opinion of his did not cause a lasting alienation; and the way

in which the family was made whole again was characteristic of all

concerned. Mr. Brooke could not resist the pleasure of corresponding

with Will and Dorothea; and one morning when his pen had been

remarkably fluent on the prospects of Municipal Reform, it ran off into

an invitation to the Grange, which, once written, could not be done

away with at less cost than the sacrifice (hardly to be conceived) of

the whole valuable letter. During the months of this correspondence

Mr. Brooke had continually, in his talk with Sir James Chettam, been

presupposing or hinting that the intention of cutting off the entail

was still maintained; and the day on which his pen gave the daring

invitation, he went to Freshitt expressly to intimate that he had a

stronger sense than ever of the reasons for taking that energetic step

as a precaution against any mixture of low blood in the heir of the


But that morning something exciting had happened at the Hall. A letter

had come to Celia which made her cry silently as she read it; and when

Sir James, unused to see her in tears, asked anxiously what was the

matter, she burst out in a wail such as he had never heard from her


"Dorothea has a little boy. And you will not let me go and see her.

And I am sure she wants to see me. And she will not know what to do

with the baby—she will do wrong things with it. And they thought she

would die. It is very dreadful! Suppose it had been me and little

Arthur, and Dodo had been hindered from coming to see me! I wish you

would be less unkind, James!"

"Good heavens, Celia!" said Sir James, much wrought upon, "what do you

wish? I will do anything you like. I will take you to town to-morrow

if you wish it." And Celia did wish it.

It was after this that Mr. Brooke came, and meeting the Baronet in the

grounds, began to chat with him in ignorance of the news, which Sir

James for some reason did not care to tell him immediately. But when

the entail was touched on in the usual way, he said, "My dear sir, it

is not for me to dictate to you, but for my part I would let that

alone. I would let things remain as they are."

Mr. Brooke felt so much surprised that he did not at once find out how

much he was relieved by the sense that he was not expected to do

anything in particular.

Such being the bent of Celia's heart, it was inevitable that Sir James

should consent to a reconciliation with Dorothea and her husband.

Where women love each other, men learn to smother their mutual dislike.

Sir James never liked Ladislaw, and Will always preferred to have Sir

James's company mixed with another kind: they were on a footing of

reciprocal tolerance which was made quite easy only when Dorothea and

Celia were present.

It became an understood thing that Mr. and Mrs. Ladislaw should pay at

least two visits during the year to the Grange, and there came

gradually a small row of cousins at Freshitt who enjoyed playing with

the two cousins visiting Tipton as much as if the blood of these

cousins had been less dubiously mixed.

Mr. Brooke lived to a good old age, and his estate was inherited by

Dorothea's son, who might have represented Middlemarch, but declined,

thinking that his opinions had less chance of being stifled if he

remained out of doors.

Sir James never ceased to regard Dorothea's second marriage as a

mistake; and indeed this remained the tradition concerning it in

Middlemarch, where she was spoken of to a younger generation as a fine

girl who married a sickly clergyman, old enough to be her father, and

in little more than a year after his death gave up her estate to marry

his cousin—young enough to have been his son, with no property, and

not well-born. Those who had not seen anything of Dorothea usually

observed that she could not have been "a nice woman," else she would

not have married either the one or the other.

Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally

beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse

struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which

great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the

aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so

strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A

new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventual

life, any more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in

daring all for the sake of a brother's burial: the medium in which

their ardent deeds took shape is forever gone. But we insignificant

people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many

Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that

of the Dorothea whose story we know.

Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were

not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus

broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on

the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was

incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly

dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you

and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived

faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

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