BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
6. CHAPTER VI.
The phaeton was driven onwards with the last words, leaving Mrs.
Fitchett laughing and shaking her head slowly, with an interjectional
"SureLY, sureLY!"--from which it might be inferred that she would
have found the country-side somewhat duller if the Rector's lady
had been less free-spoken and less of a skinflint. Indeed, both the
farmers and laborers in the parishes of Freshitt and Tipton
would have felt a sad lack of conversation but for the stories
about what Mrs. Cadwallader said and did: a lady of immeasurably
high birth, descended, as it were, from unknown earls, dim as the
crowd of heroic shades--who pleaded poverty, pared down prices,
and cut jokes in the most companionable manner, though with a turn
of tongue that let you know who she was. Such a lady gave a
neighborliness to both rank and religion, and mitigated the bitterness
of uncommuted tithe. A much more exemplary character with an infusion
of sour dignity would not have furthered their comprehension
of the Thirty-nine Articles, and would have been less socially uniting.
Mr. Brooke, seeing Mrs. Cadwallader's merits from a different point
of view, winced a little when her name was announced in the library,
where he was sitting alone.
"I see you have had our Lowick Cicero here," she said, seating
herself comfortably, throwing back her wraps, and showing a thin
but well-built figure. "I suspect you and he are brewing some
bad polities, else you would not be seeing so much of the lively man.
I shall inform against you: remember you are both suspicious characters
since you took Peel's side about the Catholic Bill. I shall tell
everybody that you are going to put up for Middlemarch on the Whig
side when old Pinkerton resigns, and that Casaubon is going to help
you in an underhand manner: going to bribe the voters with pamphlets,
and throw open the public-houses to distribute them. Come, confess!"
"Nothing of the sort," said Mr. Brooke, smiling and rubbing his
eye-glasses, but really blushing a little at the impeachment.
"Casaubon and I don't talk politics much. He doesn't care much about
the philanthropic side of things; punishments, and that kind of thing.
He only cares about Church questions. That is not my line of action,