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Chapter 31
How will you know the pitch of that great bell
Too large for you to stir? Let but a flute
Play 'neath the fine-mixed metal listen close
Till the right note flows forth, a silvery rill.
Then shall the huge bell tremble--then the mass
With myriad waves concurrent shall respond
In low soft unison.
Lydgate that evening spoke to Miss Vincy of Mrs. Casaubon, and laid some
emphasis on the strong feeling she appeared to have for that formal studious
man thirty years older than herself.
"Of course she is devoted to her husband," said Rosamond, implying a notion of
necessary sequence which the scientific man regarded as the prettiest possible
for a woman; but she was thinking at the same time that it was not so very
melancholy to be mistress of Lowick Manor with a husband likely to die soon. "Do
you think her very handsome?"
"She certainly is handsome, but I have not thought about it," said Lydgate.
"I suppose it would be unprofessional," said Rosamond, dimpling. "But how your
practice is spreading! You were called in before to the Chettams, I think; and
now, the Casaubons."
"Yes," said Lydgate, in a tone of compulsory admission. "But I don't really like
attending such people so well as the poor. The cases are more monotonous, and
one has to go through more fuss and listen more deferentially to nonsense."
"Not more than in Middlemarch," said Rosamond. "And at least you go through
wide corridors and have the scent of rose-leaves everywhere."
"That is true, Mademoiselle de Montmorenci," said Lydgate, just bending his
head to the table and lifting with his fourth finger her delicate handkerchief which
lay at the mouth of her reticule, as if to enjoy its scent, while he looked at her with
a smile.
But this agreeable holiday freedom with which Lydgate hovered about the flower
of Middlemarch, could not continue indefinitely. It was not more possible to find
social isolation in that town than elsewhere, and two people persistently flirting
could by no means escape from "the various entanglements, weights, blows,
clashings, motions, by which things severally go on." Whatever Miss Vincy did
must be remarked, and she was perhaps the more conspicuous to admirers and
critics because just now Mrs. Vincy, after some struggle, had gone with Fred to
stay a little while at Stone Court, there being no other way of at once gratifying
old Featherstone and keeping watch against Mary Garth, who appeared a less
tolerable daughter-in-law in proportion as Fred's illness disappeared.
Aunt Bulstrode, for example, came a little oftener into Lowick Gate to see
Rosamond, now she was alone. For Mrs. Bulstrode had a true sisterly feeling for
her brother; always thinking that he might have married better, but wishing well to
the children. Now Mrs. Bulstrode had a long-standing intimacy with Mrs.
Plymdale. They had nearly the same preferences in silks, patterns for
underclothing, china-ware, and clergymen; they confided their little troubles of