BOOK VII. TWO TEMPTATIONS.
65. CHAPTER LXV.
As for him, the need of accommodating himself to her nature, which was
inflexible in proportion to its negations, held him as with pincers.
He had begun to have an alarmed foresight of her irrevocable loss
of love for him, and the consequent dreariness of their life.
The ready fulness of his emotions made this dread alternate quickly
with the first violent movements of his anger. It would assuredly
have been a vain boast in him to say that he was her master.
"You have not made my life pleasant to me of late"--"the hardships
which our marriage has brought on me"--these words were
stinging his imagination as a pain makes an exaggerated dream.
If he were not only to sink from his highest resolve,
but to sink into the hideous fettering of domestic hate?
"Rosamond," he said, turning his eyes on her with a melancholy look,
"you should allow for a man's words when he is disappointed
and provoked. You and I cannot have opposite interests.
I cannot part my happiness from yours. If I am angry with you,
it is that you seem not to see how any concealment divides us.
How could I wish to make anything hard to you either by my words
or conduct? When I hurt you, I hurt part of my own life. I should
never be angry with you if you would be quite open with me."
"I have only wished to prevent you from hurrying us into wretchedness
without any necessity," said Rosamond, the tears coming again
from a softened feeling now that her husband had softened.
"It is so very hard to be disgraced here among all the people we know,
and to live in such a miserable way. I wish I had died with the baby."
She spoke and wept with that gentleness which makes such words
and tears omnipotent over a loving-hearted man. Lydgate drew
his chair near to hers and pressed her delicate head against
his cheek with his powerful tender hand. He only caressed her;
he did not say anything; for what was there to say? He could not
promise to shield her from the dreaded wretchedness, for he could
see no sure means of doing so. When he left her to go out again,
he told himself that it was ten times harder for her than for him:
he had a life away from home, and constant appeals to his activity on
behalf of others. He wished to excuse everything in her if he could--
but it was inevitable that in that excusing mood he should think
of her as if she were an animal of another and feebler species.
Nevertheless she had mastered him.