BOOK III. WAITING FOR DEATH.
27. CHAPTER XXVII.
Let the high Muse chant loves Olympian:
We are but mortals, and must sing of man.
An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your
ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science,
has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive
surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid,
will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions;
but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination,
and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine
series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is
demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially
and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion
of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive
optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches
are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent--
of Miss Vincy, for example. Rosamond had a Providence of her own
who had kindly made her more charming than other girls, and who
seemed to have arranged Fred's illness and Mr. Wrench's mistake
in order to bring her and Lydgate within effective proximity.
It would have been to contravene these arrangements if Rosamond
had consented to go away to Stone Court or elsewhere, as her
parents wished her to do, especially since Mr. Lydgate thought
the precaution needless. Therefore, while Miss Morgan and the
children were sent away to a farmhouse the morning after Fred's
illness had declared itself, Rosamond refused to leave papa and mamma.
Poor mamma indeed was an object to touch any creature born of woman;
and Mr. Vincy, who doted on his wife, was more alarmed on her
account than on Fred's. But for his insistence she would have
taken no rest: her brightness was all bedimmed; unconscious of
her costume which had always been se fresh and gay, she was like
a sick bird with languid eye and plumage ruffled, her senses
dulled to the sights and sounds that used most to interest her.
Fred's delirium, in which he seemed to be wandering out of her reach,
tore her heart. After her first outburst against-Mr. Wrench
she went about very quietly: her one low cry was to Lydgate.
She would follow him out of the room and put her hand on his arm
moaning out, "Save my boy." Once she pleaded, "He has always been
good to me, Mr. Lydgate: he never had a hard word for his mother,"--
as if poor Fred's suffering were an accusation against him.
All the deepest fibres of the mother's memory were stirred, and the
young man whose voice took a gentler tone when he spoke to her,
was one with the babe whom she had loved, with a love new to her,
before he was born.