BOOK VI. THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE.
55. CHAPTER LV.
Hath she her faults? I would you had them too.
They are the fruity must of soundest wine;
Or say, they are regenerating fire
Such as hath turned the dense black element
Into a crystal pathway for the sun.
If youth is the season of hope, it is often so only in the sense
that our elders are hopeful about us; for no age is so apt as youth
to think its emotions, partings, and resolves are the last of
their kind. Each crisis seems final, simply because it is new.
We are told that the oldest inhabitants in Peru do not cease to be
agitated by the earthquakes, but they probably see beyond each shock,
and reflect that there are plenty more to come.
To Dorothea, still in that time of youth when the eyes with their long
full lashes look out after their rain of tears unsoiled and unwearied
as a freshly opened passion-flower, that morning's parting with Will
Ladislaw seemed to be the close of their personal relations.
He was going away into the distance of unknown years, and if ever he
came back he would be another man. The actual state of his mind--
his proud resolve to give the lie beforehand to any suspicion
that he would play the needy adventurer seeking a rich woman--
lay quite out of her imagination, and she had interpreted all his
behavior easily enough by her supposition that Mr. Casaubon's codicil
seemed to him, as it did to her, a gross and cruel interdict on
any active friendship between them. Their young delight in speaking
to each other, and saying what no one else would care to hear,
was forever ended, and become a treasure of the past. For this
very reason she dwelt on it without inward check. That unique
happiness too was dead, and in its shadowed silent chamber she
might vent the passionate grief which she herself wondered at.
For the first time she took down the miniature from the wall and kept
it before her, liking to blend the woman who had been too hardly
judged with the grandson whom her own heart and judgment defended.
Can any one who has rejoiced in woman's tenderness think it a reproach
to her that she took the little oval picture in her palm and made
a bed for it there, and leaned her cheek upon it, as if that would
soothe the creatures who had suffered unjust condemnation?
She did not know then that it was Love who had come to her briefly,
as in a dream before awaking, with the hues of morning on his wings--
that it was Love to whom she was sobbing her farewell as his image
was banished by the blameless rigor of irresistible day. She only
felt that there was something irrevocably amiss and lost in her lot,
and her thoughts about the future were the more readily shapen
into resolve. Ardent souls, ready to construct their coming lives,
are apt to commit themselves to the fulfilment of their own visions.