BOOK III. WAITING FOR DEATH.
28. CHAPTER XXVIII.
Mr. Casaubon, who had risen early complaining of palpitation,
was in the library giving audience to his curate Mr. Tucker.
By-and-by Celia would come in her quality of bridesmaid as well
as sister, and through the next weeks there would be wedding visits
received and given; all in continuance of that transitional life
understood to correspond with the excitement of bridal felicity,
and keeping up the sense of busy ineffectiveness, as of a dream
which the dreamer begins to suspect. The duties of her married life,
contemplated as so great beforehand, seemed to be shrinking with the
furniture and the white vapor-walled landscape. The clear heights
where she expected to walk in full communion had become difficult
to see even in her imagination; the delicious repose of the soul on
a complete superior had been shaken into uneasy effort and alarmed
with dim presentiment. When would the days begin of that active
wifely devotion which was to strengthen her husband's life and exalt
her own? Never perhaps, as she had preconceived them; but somehow--
still somehow. In this solemnly pledged union of her life,
duty would present itself in some new form of inspiration and give
a new meaning to wifely love.
Meanwhile there was the snow and the low arch of dun vapor--
there was the stifling oppression of that gentlewoman's world,
where everything was done for her and none asked for her aid--
where the sense of connection with a manifold pregnant existence
had to be kept up painfully as an inward vision, instead of coming
from without in claims that would have shaped her energies.--
"What shall I do?" "Whatever you please, my dear: "that had been
her brief history since she had left off learning morning lessons
and practising silly rhythms on the hated piano. Marriage, which was
to bring guidance into worthy and imperative occupation, had not yet
freed her from the gentlewoman's oppressive liberty: it had not even
filled her leisure with the ruminant joy of unchecked tenderness.
Her blooming full-pulsed youth stood there in a moral imprisonment
which made itself one with the chill, colorless, narrowed landscape,
with the shrunken furniture, the never-read books, and the ghostly
stag in a pale fantastic world that seemed to be vanishing from