BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
50. CHAPTER L.
"`This Loller here wol precilen us somewhat.'
`Nay by my father's soule! that schal he nat,'
Sayde the Schipman, `here schal he not preche,
We schal no gospel glosen here ne teche.
We leven all in the gret God,' quod he.
He wolden sowen some diffcultee."
Dorothea had been safe at Freshitt Hall nearly a week before she had asked
any dangerous questions. Every morning now she sat with Celia in the
prettiest of up-stairs sitting-rooms, opening into a small conservatory--
Celia all in white and lavender like a bunch of mixed violets,
watching the remarkable acts of the baby, which were so dubious
to her inexperienced mind that all conversation was interrupted
by appeals for their interpretation made to the oracular nurse.
Dorothea sat by in her widow's dress, with an expression which rather
provoked Celia, as being much too sad; for not only was baby quite well,
but really when a husband had been so dull and troublesome while
he lived, and besides that had--well, well! Sir James, of course,
had told Celia everything, with a strong representation how important
it was that Dorothea should not know it sooner than was inevitable.
But Mr. Brooke had been right in predicting that Dorothea would not
long remain passive where action had been assigned to her; she knew
the purport of her husband's will made at the time of their marriage,
and her mind, as soon as she was clearly conscious of her position,
was silently occupied with what she ought to do as the owner
of Lowick Manor with the patronage of the living attached to it.
One morning when her uncle paid his usual visit, though with an unusual
alacrity in his manner which he accounted for by saying that it
was now pretty certain Parliament would be dissolved forthwith,
"Uncle, it is right now that I should consider who is to have
the living at Lowick. After Mr. Tucker had been provided for,
I never heard my husband say that he had any clergyman in his
mind as a successor to himself. I think I ought to have the
keys now and go to Lowick to examine all my husband's papers.
There may be something that would throw light on his wishes."