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13. CHAPTER XIII (continued)
Death's daughter did not spare Theobald. He had behaved very well hitherto. When Christina had offered to let him go, he had stuck to his post with a magnanimity on which he had plumed himself ever since. From that time forward he had said to himself: "I, at any rate, am the very soul of honour; I am not," etc., etc. True, at the moment of magnanimity the actual cash payment, so to speak, was still distant; when his father gave formal consent to his marriage things began to look more serious; when the college living had fallen vacant and been accepted they looked more serious still; but when Christina actually named the day, then Theobald's heart fainted within him.
The engagement had gone on so long that he had got into a groove, and the prospect of change was disconcerting. Christina and he had got on, he thought to himself, very nicely for a great number of years; why--why--why should they not continue to go on as they were doing now for the rest of their lives? But there was no more chance of escape for him than for the sheep which is being driven to the butcher's back premises, and like the sheep he felt that there was nothing to be gained by resistance, so he made none. He behaved, in fact, with decency, and was declared on all hands to be one of the happiest men imaginable.
Now, however, to change the metaphor, the drop had actually fallen, and the poor wretch was hanging in mid air along with the creature of his affections. This creature was now thirty-three years old, and looked it: she had been weeping, and her eyes and nose were reddish; if "I have done it and I am alive," was written on Mr Allaby's face after he had thrown the shoe, "I have done it, and I do not see how I can possibly live much longer" was upon the face of Theobald as he was being driven along by the fir Plantation. This, however, was not apparent at the Rectory. All that could be seen there was the bobbing up and down of the postilion's head, which just over-topped the hedge by the road-side as he rose in his stirrups, and the black and yellow body of the carriage.
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