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2. In Fashion
It is but a glimpse of the world of fashion that we want on this same miry afternoon. It is
not so unlike the Court of Chancery but that we may pass from the one scene to the
other, as the crow flies. Both the world of fashion and the Court of Chancery are things
of precedent and usage: oversleeping Rip Van Winkles who have played at strange
games through a deal of thundery weather; sleeping beauties whom the knight will wake
one day, when all the stopped spits in the kitchen shall begin to turn prodigiously!
It is not a large world. Relatively even to this world of ours, which has its limits too (as
your Highness shall find when you have made the tour of it and are come to the brink of
the void beyond), it is a very little speck. There is much good in it; there are many good
and true people in it; it has its appointed place. But the evil of it is that it is a world
wrapped up in too much jeweller's cotton and fine wool, and cannot hear the rushing of
the larger worlds, and cannot see them as they circle round the sun. It is a deadened
world, and its growth is sometimes unhealthy for want of air.
My Lady Dedlock has returned to her house in town for a few days previous to her
departure for Paris, where her ladyship intends to stay some weeks, after which her
movements are uncertain. The fashionable intelligence says so for the comfort of the
Parisians, and it knows all fashionable things. To know things otherwise were to be
unfashionable. My Lady Dedlock has been down at what she calls, in familiar
conversation, her "place" in Lincolnshire. The waters are out in Lincolnshire. An arch of
the bridge in the park has been sapped and sopped away. The adjacent low-lying
ground for half a mile in breadth is a stagnant river with melancholy trees for islands in it
and a surface punctured all over, all day long, with falling rain. My Lady Dedlock's place
has been extremely dreary. The weather for many a day and night has been so wet that
the trees seem wet through, and the soft loppings and prunings of the woodman's axe
can make no crash or crackle as they fall. The deer, looking soaked, leave quagmires
where they pass. The shot of a rifle loses its sharpness in the moist air, and its smoke
moves in a tardy little cloud towards the green rise, coppice-topped, that makes a
background for the falling rain. The view from my Lady Dedlock's own windows is
alternately a lead-coloured view and a view in Indian ink. The vases on the stone
terrace in the foreground catch the rain all day; and the heavy drops fall--drip, drip, drip-
-upon the broad flagged pavement, called from old time the Ghost's Walk, all night. On
Sundays the little church in the park is mouldy; the oaken pulpit breaks out into a cold
sweat; and there is a general smell and taste as of the ancient Dedlocks in their graves.
My Lady Dedlock (who is childless), looking out in the early twilight from her boudoir at
a keeper's lodge and seeing the light of a fire upon the latticed panes, and smoke rising
from the chimney, and a child, chased by a woman, running out into the rain to meet the
shining figure of a wrapped-up man coming through the gate, has been put quite out of
temper. My Lady Dedlock says she has been "bored to death."
Therefore my Lady Dedlock has come away from the place in Lincolnshire and has left
it to the rain, and the crows, and the rabbits, and the deer, and the partridges and