"Dear, unfortunate, mistaken Richard," said I. "When will he awake from his delusion!"
"He is not in the way to do so now, my dear," replied my guardian. "The more he suffers, the more averse he will be to me, having made me the principal representative of the great occasion of his suffering."
I could not help adding, "So unreasonably!"
"Ah, Dame Trot, Dame Trot," returned my guardian, "what shall we find reasonable in Jarndyce and Jarndyce! Unreason and injustice at the top, unreason and injustice at the heart and at the bottom, unreason and injustice from beginning to end--if it ever has an end--how should poor Rick, always hovering near it, pluck reason out of it? He no more gathers grapes from thorns or figs from thistles than older men did in old times."
His gentleness and consideration for Richard whenever we spoke of him touched me so that I was always silent on this subject very soon.
"I suppose the Lord Chancellor, and the Vice Chancellors, and the whole Chancery battery of great guns would be infinitely astonished by such unreason and injustice in one of their suitors," pursued my guardian. "When those learned gentlemen begin to raise moss-roses from the powder they sow in their wigs, I shall begin to be astonished too!"
He checked himself in glancing towards the window to look where the wind was and leaned on the back of my chair instead.
"Well, well, little woman! To go on, my dear. This rock we must leave to time, chance, and hopeful circumstance. We must not shipwreck Ada upon it. She cannot afford, and he cannot afford, the remotest chance of another separation from a friend. Therefore I have particularly begged of Woodcourt, and I now particularly beg of you, my dear, not to move this subject with Rick. Let it rest. Next week, next month, next year, sooner or later, he will see me with clearer eyes. I can wait."
But I had already discussed it with him, I confessed; and so, I thought, had Mr. Woodcourt.
"So he tells me," returned my guardian. "Very good. He has made his protest, and Dame Durden has made hers, and there is nothing more to be said about it. Now I come to Mrs. Woodcourt. How do you like her, my dear?"
In answer to this question, which was oddly abrupt, I said I liked her very much and thought she was more agreeable than she used to be.
"I think so too," said my guardian. "Less pedigree? Not so much of Morgan ap--what's his name?"
That was what I meant, I acknowledged, though he was a very harmless person, even when we had had more of him.
"Still, upon the whole, he is as well in his native mountains," said my guardian. "I agree with you. Then, little woman, can I do better for a time than retain Mrs. Woodcourt here?"
No. And yet--
My guardian looked at me, waiting for what I had to say.
I had nothing to say. At least I had nothing in my mind that I could say. I had an undefined impression that it might have been better if we had had some other inmate, but I could hardly have explained why even to myself. Or, if to myself, certainly not to anybody else.
"You see," said my guardian, "our neighbourhood is in Woodcourt's way, and he can come here to see her as often as he likes, which is agreeable to them both; and she is familiar to us and fond of you."
Yes. That was undeniable. I had nothing to say against it. I could not have suggested a better arrangement, but I was not quite easy in my mind. Esther, Esther, why not? Esther, think!
"It is a very good plan indeed, dear guardian, and we could not do better."
"Sure, little woman?"
Quite sure. I had had a moment's time to think, since I had urged that duty on myself, and I was quite sure.
"Good," said my guardian. "It shall be done. Carried unanimously."
"Carried unanimously," I repeated, going on with my work.
It was a cover for his book-table that I happened to be ornamenting. It had been laid by on the night preceding my sad journey and never resumed. I showed it to him now, and he admired it highly.