BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
44. CHAPTER XLIV.
I would not creep along the coast but steer
Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars.
When Dorothea, walking round the laurel-planted plots of the New
Hospital with Lydgate, had learned from him that there were no signs
of change in Mr. Casaubon's bodily condition beyond the mental
sign of anxiety to know the truth about his illness, she was
silent for a few moments, wondering whether she had said or done
anything to rouse this new anxiety. Lydgate, not willing to let
slip an opportunity of furthering a favorite purpose, ventured to say--
"I don't know whether your or Mr.--Casaubon's attention has been drawn
to the needs of our New Hospital. Circumstances have made it seem
rather egotistic in me to urge the subject; but that is not my fault:
it is because there is a fight being made against it by the other
medical men. I think you are generally interested in such things,
for I remember that when I first had the pleasure of seeing you
at Tipton Grange before your marriage, you were asking me some
questions about the way in which the health of the poor was affected
by their miserable housing."
"Yes, indeed," said Dorothea, brightening. "I shall be quite
grateful to you if you will tell me how I can help to make things
a little better. Everything of that sort has slipped away from me
since I have been married. I mean," she said, after a moment's
hesitation, "that the people in our village are tolerably comfortable,
and my mind has been too much taken up for me to inquire further.
But here--in such a place as Middlemarch--there must be a great
deal to be done."
"There is everything to be done," said Lydgate, with abrupt energy.
"And this Hospital is a capital piece of work, due entirely to
Mr. Bulstrode's exertions, and in a great degree to his money.
But one man can't do everything in a scheme of this sort. Of course
he looked forward to help. And now there's a mean, petty feud
set up against the thing in the town, by certain persons who want
to make it a failure."
"What can be their reasons?" said Dorothea, with naive surprise.