BOOK VII. TWO TEMPTATIONS.
65. CHAPTER LXV.
"One of us two must bowen douteless,
And, sith a man is more reasonable
Than woman is, ye [men] moste be suffrable.
--CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales.
The bias of human nature to be slow in correspondence triumphs
even over the present quickening in the general pace of things:
what wonder then that in 1832 old Sir Godwin Lydgate was slow
to write a letter which was of consequence to others rather
than to himself? Nearly three weeks of the new year were gone,
and Rosamond, awaiting an answer to her winning appeal, was every
day disappointed. Lydgate, in total ignorance of her expectations,
was seeing the bills come in, and feeling that Dover's use of
his advantage over other creditors was imminent. He had never
mentioned to Rosamond his brooding purpose of going to Quallingham:
he did not want to admit what would appear to her a concession
to her wishes after indignant refusal, until the last moment;
but he was really expecting to set off soon. A slice of the railway
would enable him to manage the whole journey and back in four days.
But one morning after Lydgate had gone out, a letter came addressed
to him, which Rosamond saw clearly to be from Sir Godwin. She was full
of hope. Perhaps there might be a particular note to her enclosed;
but Lydgate was naturally addressed on the question of money or other aid,
and the fact that he was written to, nay, the very delay in writing
at all, seemed to certify that the answer was thoroughly compliant.
She was too much excited by these thoughts to do anything but light
stitching in a warm corner of the dining-room, with the outside
of this momentous letter lying on the table before her. About twelve
she heard her husband's step in the passage, and tripping to open
the door, she said in her lightest tones, "Tertius, come in here--
here is a letter for you."
"Ah?" he said, not taking off his hat, but just turning her round
within his arm to walk towards the spot where the letter lay.
"My uncle Godwin!" he exclaimed, while Rosamond reseated herself,
and watched him as he opened the letter. She had expected him to