BOOK THE FOURTH: A TURNING
Chapter 12: The Passing Shadow
The winds and tides rose and fell a certain number of times, the
earth moved round the sun a certain number of times, the ship
upon the ocean made her voyage safely, and brought a baby-Bella
home. Then who so blest and happy as Mrs John Rokesmith,
saving and excepting Mr John Rokesmith!
'Would you not like to be rich NOW, my darling?'
'How can you ask me such a question, John dear? Am I not rich?'
These were among the first words spoken near the baby Bella as
she lay asleep. She soon proved to be a baby of wonderful
intelligence, evincing the strongest objection to her grandmother's
society, and being invariably seized with a painful acidity of the
stomach when that dignified lady honoured her with any attention.
It was charming to see Bella contemplating this baby, and finding
out her own dimples in that tiny reflection, as if she were looking
in the glass without personal vanity. Her cherubic father justly
remarked to her husband that the baby seemed to make her
younger than before, reminding him of the days when she had a pet
doll and used to talk to it as she carried it about. The world might
have been challenged to produce another baby who had such a
store of pleasant nonsense said and sung to it, as Bella said and
sung to this baby; or who was dressed and undressed as often in
four-and-twenty hours as Bella dressed and undressed this baby; or
who was held behind doors and poked out to stop its father's way
when he came home, as this baby was; or, in a word, who did half
the number of baby things, through the lively invention of a gay
and proud young mother, that this inexhaustible baby did.
The inexhaustible baby was two or three months old, when Bella
began to notice a cloud upon her husband's brow. Watching it, she
saw a gathering and deepening anxiety there, which caused her
great disquiet. More than once, she awoke him muttering in his
sleep; and, though he muttered nothing worse than her own name,
it was plain to her that his restlessness originated in some load of
care. Therefore, Bella at length put in her claim to divide this
load, and hear her half of it.