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child-wife. I resolved to do what I could, in a quiet way, to
improve our proceedings myself, but I foresaw that my utmost would
be very little, or I must degenerate into the spider again, and be
for ever lying in wait.
And the shadow I have mentioned, that was not to be between us any
more, but was to rest wholly on my own heart? How did that fall?
The old unhappy feeling pervaded my life. It was deepened, if it
were changed at all; but it was as undefined as ever, and addressed
me like a strain of sorrowful music faintly heard in the night. I
loved my wife dearly, and I was happy; but the happiness I had
vaguely anticipated, once, was not the happiness I enjoyed, and
there was always something wanting.
In fulfilment of the compact I have made with myself, to reflect my
mind on this paper, I again examine it, closely, and bring its
secrets to the light. What I missed, I still regarded - I always
regarded - as something that had been a dream of my youthful fancy;
that was incapable of realization; that I was now discovering to be
so, with some natural pain, as all men did. But that it would have
been better for me if my wife could have helped me more, and shared
the many thoughts in which I had no partner; and that this might
have been; I knew.
Between these two irreconcilable conclusions: the one, that what I
felt was general and unavoidable; the other, that it was particular
to me, and might have been different: I balanced curiously, with no
distinct sense of their opposition to each other. When I thought
of the airy dreams of youth that are incapable of realization, I
thought of the better state preceding manhood that I had outgrown;
and then the contented days with Agnes, in the dear old house,
arose before me, like spectres of the dead, that might have some
renewal in another world, but never more could be reanimated here.
Sometimes, the speculation came into my thoughts, What might have
happened, or what would have happened, if Dora and I had never
known each other? But she was so incorporated with my existence,
that it was the idlest of all fancies, and would soon rise out of
my reach and sight, like gossamer floating in the air.
I always loved her. What I am describing, slumbered, and half
awoke, and slept again, in the innermost recesses of my mind.
There was no evidence of it in me; I know of no influence it had in
anything I said or did. I bore the weight of all our little cares,