BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
43. CHAPTER XLIII.
This figure hath high price: 't was wrought with love
Ages ago in finest ivory;
Nought modish in it, pure and noble lines
Of generous womanhood that fits all time
That too is costly ware; majolica
Of deft design, to please a lordly eye:
The smile, you see, is perfect--wonderful
As mere Faience! a table ornament
To suit the richest mounting."
Dorothea seldom left home without her husband, but she did occasionally
drive into Middlemarch alone, on little errands of shopping or charity
such as occur to every lady of any wealth when she lives within three
miles of a town. Two days after that scene in the Yew-tree Walk,
she determined to use such an opportunity in order if possible to
see Lydgate, and learn from him whether her husband had really felt
any depressing change of symptoms which he was concealing from her,
and whether he had insisted on knowing the utmost about himself.
She felt almost guilty in asking for knowledge about him from another,
but the dread of being without it--the dread of that ignorance
which would make her unjust or hard--overcame every scruple.
That there had been some crisis in her husband's mind she was certain:
he had the very next day begun a new method of arranging his notes,
and had associated her quite newly in carrying out his plan.
Poor Dorothea needed to lay up stores of patience.
It was about four o'clock when she drove to Lydgate's house in
Lowick Gate, wishing, in her immediate doubt of finding him at home,
that she had written beforehand. And he was not at home.
"Is Mrs. Lydgate at home?" said Dorothea, who had never, that she
knew of, seen Rosamond, but now remembered the fact of the marriage.
Yes, Mrs. Lydgate was at home.
"I will go in and speak to her, if she will allow me. Will you
ask her if she can see me--see Mrs. Casaubon, for a few minutes?"
When the servant had gone to deliver that message, Dorothea could
hear sounds of music through an open window--a few notes
from a man's voice and then a piano bursting into roulades.
But the roulades broke off suddenly, and then the servant came
back saying that Mrs. Lydgate would be happy to see Mrs. Casaubon.