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Chapter 27
Let the high Muse chant loves Olympian:
We are but mortals, and must sing of man.
An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly
furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant
little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be
rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all
directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination,
and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of
concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are
going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the
flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive
optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches are events, and the
candle is the egoism of any person now absent-- of Miss Vincy, for example.
Rosamond had a Providence of her own who had kindly made her more
charming than other girls, and who seemed to have arranged Fred's illness and
Mr. Wrench's mistake in order to bring her and Lydgate within effective proximity.
It would have been to contravene these arrangements if Rosamond had
consented to go away to Stone Court or elsewhere, as her parents wished her to
do, especially since Mr. Lydgate thought the precaution needless. Therefore,
while Miss Morgan and the children were sent away to a farmhouse the morning
after Fred's illness had declared itself, Rosamond refused to leave papa and
Poor mamma indeed was an object to touch any creature born of woman; and
Mr. Vincy, who doted on his wife, was more alarmed on her account than on
Fred's. But for his insistence she would have taken no rest: her brightness was
all bedimmed; unconscious of her costume which had always been se fresh and
gay, she was like a sick bird with languid eye and plumage ruffled, her senses
dulled to the sights and sounds that used most to interest her. Fred's delirium, in
which he seemed to be wandering out of her reach, tore her heart. After her first
outburst against-Mr. Wrench she went about very quietly: her one low cry was to
Lydgate. She would follow him out of the room and put her hand on his arm
moaning out, "Save my boy." Once she pleaded, "He has always been good to
me, Mr. Lydgate: he never had a hard word for his mother,"-- as if poor Fred's
suffering were an accusation against him. All the deepest fibres of the mother's
memory were stirred, and the young man whose voice took a gentler tone when
he spoke to her, was one with the babe whom she had loved, with a love new to
her, before he was born.
"I have good hope, Mrs. Vincy," Lydgate would say. "Come down with me and let
us talk about the food." In that way he led her to the parlor where Rosamond
was, and made a change for her, surprising her into taking some tea or broth
which had been prepared for her. There was a constant understanding between
him and Rosamond on these matters. He almost always saw her before going to
the sickroom, and she appealed to him as to what she could do for mamma. Her