The Widow and the Wife
Dante: La Vita Nuova.
By that delightful morning when the hay-ricks at Stone Court were scenting the air quite impartially, as if Mr. Raffles had been a guest worthy of finest incense, Dorothea had again taken up her abode at Lowick Manor. After three months Freshitt had become rather oppressive: to sit like a model for Saint Catherine looking rapturously at Celias baby would not do for many hours in the day, and to remain in that momentous babes presence with persistent disregard was a course that could not have been tolerated in a childless sister. Dorothea would have been capable of carrying baby joyfully for a mile if there had been need, and of loving it the more tenderly for that labor; but to an aunt who does not recognize her infant nephew as Bouddha, and has nothing to do for him but to admire, his behavior is apt to appear monotonous, and the interest of watching him exhaustible.
This possibility was quite hidden from Celia, who felt that Dorotheas childless widowhood fell in quite prettily with the birth of little Arthur (baby was named after Mr Brooke).
Dodo is just the creature not to mind about having anything of her ownchildren or anything! said Celia to her husband. And if she had had a baby, it never could have been such a dear as Arthur. Could it, James?
Not if it had been like Casaubon, said Sir James, conscious of some indirectness in his answer, and of holding a strictly private opinion as to the perfections of his first-born.
No! just imagine! Really it was a mercy, said Celia; and I think it is very nice for Dodo to be a widow. She can be just as fond of our baby as if it were her own, and she can have as many notions of her own as she likes.
It is a pity she was not a queen, said the devout Sir James.
But what should we have been then? We must have been something else, said Celia, objecting to so laborious a flight of imagination. I like her better as she is.
Hence, when she found that Dorothea was making arrangements for her final departure to Lowick, Celia raised her eyebrows with disappointment, and in her quiet unemphatic way shot a needle-arrow of sarcasm.
What will you do at Lowick, Dodo? You say yourself there is nothing to be done there: everybody is so clean and well off, it makes you quite melancholy. And here you have been so happy going all about Tipton with Mr. Garth into the worst backyards. And now uncle is abroad, you and Mr. Garth can have it all your own way; and I am sure James does everything you tell him.
I shall often come here, and I shall see how baby grows all the better, said Dorothea.
But you will never see him washed, said Celia; and that is quite the best part of the day. She was almost pouting: it did seem to her very hard in Dodo to go away from the baby when she might stay.
Dear Kitty, I will come and stay all night on purpose, said Dorothea; but I want to be alone now, and in my own home. I wish to know the Farebrothers better, and to talk to Mr. Farebrother about what there is to be done in Middlemarch.
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