Middlemarch HTML version

Chapter 21
"Hire facounde eke full womanly and plain,
No contrefeted termes had she
To semen wise."
It was in that way Dorothea came to be sobbing as soon as she was securely
alone. But she was presently roused by a knock at the door, which made her
hastily dry her eyes before saying, "Come in." Tantripp had brought a card, and
said that there was a gentleman waiting in the lobby. The courier had told him
that only Mrs. Casaubon was at home, but he said he was a relation of Mr.
Casaubon's: would she see him?
"Yes," said Dorothea, without pause; "show him into the salon." Her chief
impressions about young Ladislaw were that when she had seen him at Lowick
she had been made aware of Mr. Casaubon's generosity towards him, and also
that she had been interested in his own hesitation about his career. She was
alive to anything that gave her an opportunity for active sympathy, and at this
moment it seemed as if the visit had come to shake her out of her self-absorbed
discontent--to remind her of her husband's goodness, and make her feel that she
had now the right to be his helpmate in all kind deeds. She waited a minute or
two, but when she passed into the next room there were just signs enough that
she had been crying to make her open face look more youthful and appealing
than usual. She met Ladislaw with that exquisite smile of good-will which is
unmixed with vanity, and held out her hand to him. He was the elder by several
years, but at that moment he looked much the younger, for his transparent
complexion flushed suddenly, and he spoke with a shyness extremely unlike the
ready indifference of his manner with his male companion, while Dorothea
became all the calmer with a wondering desire to put him at ease.
"I was not aware that you and Mr. Casaubon were in Rome, until this morning,
when I saw you in the Vatican Museum," he said. "I knew you at once--but--I
mean, that I concluded Mr. Casaubon's address would be found at the Poste
Restante, and I was anxious to pay my respects to him and you as early as
"Pray sit down. He is not here now, but he will be glad to hear of you, I am sure,"
said Dorothea, seating herself unthinkingly between the fire and the light of the
tall window, and pointing to a chair opposite, with the quietude of a benignant
matron. The signs of girlish sorrow in her face were only the more striking. "Mr.
Casaubon is much engaged; but you will leave your address-- will you not?--and
he will write to you."
"You are very good," said Ladislaw, beginning to lose his diffidence in the interest
with which he was observing the signs of weeping which had altered her face.
"My address is on my card. But if you will allow me I will call again to-morrow at
an hour when Mr. Casaubon is likely to be at home."
"He goes to read in the Library of the Vatican every day, and you can hardly see
him except by an appointment. Especially now. We are about to leave Rome,