Middlemarch HTML version

Chapter 25
"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care
But for another gives its ease
And builds a heaven in hell's despair.
. . . . . . .
Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."
--W. BLAKE: Songs of Experience
Fred Vincy wanted to arrive at Stone Court when Mary could not expect him, and
when his uncle was not down-stairs in that case she might be sitting alone in the
wainscoted parlor. He left his horse in the yard to avoid making a noise on the
gravel in front, and entered the parlor without other notice than the noise of the
door-handle. Mary was in her usual corner, laughing over Mrs. Piozzi's
recollections of Johnson, and looked up with the fun still in her face. It gradually
faded as she saw Fred approach her without speaking, and stand before her with
his elbow on the mantel-piece, looking ill. She too was silent, only raising her
eyes to him inquiringly.
"Mary," he began, "I am a good-for-nothing blackguard."
"I should think one of those epithets would do at a time," said Mary, trying to
smile, but feeling alarmed.
"I know you will never think well of me any more. You will think me a liar. You will
think me dishonest. You will think I didn't care for you, or your father and mother.
You always do make the worst of me, I know."
"I cannot deny that I shall think all that of you, Fred, if you give me good reasons.
But please to tell me at once what you have done. I would rather know the painful
truth than imagine it."
"I owed money--a hundred and sixty pounds. I asked your father to put his name
to a bill. I thought it would not signify to him. I made sure of paying the money
myself, and I have tried as hard as I could. And now, I have been so unlucky--a
horse has turned out badly-- I can only pay fifty pounds. And I can't ask my father
for the money: he would not give me a farthing. And my uncle gave me a
hundred a little while ago. So what can I do? And now your father has no ready
money to spare, and your mother will have to pay away her ninety-two pounds
that she has saved, and she says your savings must go too. You see what a--"
"Oh, poor mother, poor father!" said Mary, her eyes filling with tears, and a little
sob rising which she tried to repress. She looked straight before her and took no
notice of Fred, all the consequences at home becoming present to her. He too
remained silent for some moments, feeling more miserable than ever. "I wouldn't
have hurt you for the world, Mary," he said at last. "You can never forgive me."
"What does it matter whether I forgive you?" said Mary, passionately. "Would that
make it any better for my mother to lose the money she has been earning by