Dorothea refrained from saying what was in her mind—how well she knew that there might be invisible barriers to speech between husband and wife. This was a point on which even sympathy might make a wound. She returned to the more outward aspect of Lydgate's position, saying cheerfully—
"And if Mrs Lydgate knew that there were friends who would believe in you and support you, she might then be glad that you should stay in your place and recover your hopes—and do what you meant to do. Perhaps then you would see that it was right to agree with what I proposed about your continuing at the hospital. Surely you would, if you still have faith in it as a means of making your knowledge useful?"
Lydgate did not answer, and she saw that he was debating with himself.
"You need not decide immediately," she said, gently. "A few days hence it will be early enough for me to send my answer to Mr Bulstrode."
Lydgate still waited, but at last turned to speak in his most decisive tones.
"No; I prefer that there should be no interval left for wavering. I am no longer sure enough of myself—I mean of what it would be possible for