BOOK III. WAITING FOR DEATH.
30. CHAPTER XXX.
"As new as eating thistles," would have been an answer to represent
Mr. Casaubon's feelings. But he only bowed resignedly, with due
respect to his wife's uncle, and observed that doubtless the works
he mentioned had "served as a resource to a certain order of minds."
"You see," said the able magistrate to Lydgate, when they were
outside the door, "Casaubon has been a little narrow: it leaves him
rather at a loss when you forbid him his particular work, which I
believe is something very deep indeed--in the line of research,
you know. I would never give way to that; I was always versatile.
But a clergyman is tied a little tight. If they would make him
a bishop, now!--he did a very good pamphlet for Peel. He would
have more movement then, more show; he might get a little flesh.
But I recommend you to talk to Mrs. Casaubon. She is clever enough
for anything, is my niece. Tell her, her husband wants liveliness,
diversion: put her on amusing tactics."
Without Mr. Brooke's advice, Lydgate had determined on speaking
to Dorothea. She had not been present while her uncle was throwing
out his pleasant suggestions as to the mode in which life at Lowick
might be enlivened, but she was usually by her husband's side, and the
unaffected signs of intense anxiety in her face and voice about whatever
touched his mind or health, made a drama which Lydgate was inclined
to watch. He said to himself that he was only doing right in telling
her the truth about her husband's probable future, but he certainly
thought also that it would be interesting to talk confidentially
with her. A medical man likes to make psychological observations,
and sometimes in the pursuit of such studies is too easily tempted
into momentous prophecy which life and death easily set at nought.
Lydgate had often been satirical on this gratuitous prediction,
and he meant now to be guarded.
He asked for Mrs. Casaubon, but being told that she was out walking,
he was going away, when Dorothea and Celia appeared, both glowing
from their struggle with the March wind. When Lydgate begged to speak
with her alone, Dorothea opened the library door which happened
to be the nearest, thinking of nothing at the moment but what he
might have to say about Mr. Casaubon. It was the first time
she had entered this room since her husband had been taken ill,
and the servant had chosen not to open the shutters. But there was
light enough to read by from the narrow upper panes of the windows.