Let us follow close at his heels, therefore, until, after several superfluous turns and doublings, we find him comfortably established by the fireside of a small apartment, previously bespoken. Next day, the knocker is muffled.
Habit - for he is a man of habits - takes him by the hand, and guides him, wholly unaware, to his own door, where, just at the critical moment, he is aroused by the scraping of his foot upon the step. Were she, for a single moment, to deem thee dead, or lost, or lastingly divided from her, thou wouldst be woefully conscious of a change in thy true wife, forever after. In ordinary cases, this indescribable impression is caused by the comparison and contrast between our imperfect reminiscences and the reality. Remove not thyself, even for a little week, from thy place in her chaste bosom.
It is accomplished. No mortal eye but mine has traced thee. He was intellectual, but not actively so; his mind occupied itself in long and lazy musings, that tended to no purpose, or had not vigor to attain it; his thoughts were seldom so energetic as to seize hold of words. During that period, he beheld his home every day, and frequently the forlorn Mrs. Wakefield. After the door has closed behind him, she perceives it thrust partly open, and a vision of her husband's face, through the aperture, smiling on her, and gone in a moment. He will not go back until she be frightened half to death. But, our business is with the husband. After the initial conception, and the stirring up of the man's sluggish temperament to put it in practice, the whole matter evolves itself in a natural train. We are free to shape out our own idea, and call it by his name. So much for the commencement of this long whim-wham. Go quietly to thy bed, foolish man; and, on the morrow, if thou wilt be wise, get thee home to good Mrs. Wakefield, and tell her the truth. He had contrived, or rather he had happened, to dissever himself from the world - to vanish - to give up his place and privileges with living men, without being admitted among the dead. By this time, Wakefield is excited to something like energy of feeling, but still lingers away from his wife's bedside, pleading with his conscience, that she must not be disturbed at such a juncture.
Only the wife of his bosom might have hesitated. Alas, what a mistake! We know, each for himself, that none of us would perpetrate such a folly, yet feel as if some other might. Watch him, long enough to see what we have described, and you will allow, that circumstances - which often produce remarkable men from nature's ordinary handiwork - have produced one such here. "It is but in the next street!" Let us now imagine Wakefield bidding adieu to his wife.
In some old magazine or newspaper, I recollect a story, told as truth, of a man - let us call him Wakefield - who absented himself for a long time, from his wife.
Stay, Wakefield! I conceive, also, that these twenty years would appear, in the retrospect, scarcely longer than the week to which Wakefield had at first limited his absence. One evening, in the twentieth year since he vanished, Wakefield is taking his customary walk towards the dwelling which he still calls his own. In Wakefield, the magic of a single night has wrought a similar transformation, because, in that brief period, a great moral change has been effected. She passes in, however, opening her prayer-book as she goes. Now for a scene! He would look on the affair as no more than an interlude in the main business of his life. Next, leaving him to sidle along the foot-walk, cast your eyes in the opposite direction, where a portly female, considerably in the wane of life, with a prayer-book in her hand, is proceeding to yonder church.
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