BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
8. CHAPTER VIII.
"Oh, rescue her! I am her brother now,
And you her father. Every gentle maid
Should have a guardian in each gentleman."
It was wonderful to Sir James Chettam how well he continued to like
going to the Grange after he had once encountered the difficulty
of seeing Dorothea for the first time in the light of a woman who was
engaged to another man. Of course the forked lightning seemed to pass
through him when he first approached her, and he remained conscious
throughout the interview of hiding uneasiness; but, good as he was,
it must be owned that his uneasiness was less than it would have
been if he had thought his rival a brilliant and desirable match.
He had no sense of being eclipsed by Mr. Casaubon; he was only shocked
that Dorothea was under a melancholy illusion, and his mortification
lost some of its bitterness by being mingled with compassion.
Nevertheless, while Sir James said to himself that he had
completely resigned her, since with the perversity of a Desdemona
she had not affected a proposed match that was clearly suitable
and according to nature; he could not yet be quite passive under
the idea of her engagement to Mr. Casaubon. On the day when he
first saw them together in the light of his present knowledge,
it seemed to him that he had not taken the affair seriously enough.
Brooke was really culpable; he ought to have hindered it. Who could
speak to him? Something might be done perhaps even now, at least
to defer the marriage. On his way home he turned into the Rectory
and asked for Mr. Cadwallader. Happily, the Rector was at home,
and his visitor was shown into the study, where all the fishing
tackle hung. But he himself was in a little room adjoining,
at work with his turning apparatus, and he called to the baronet
to join him there. The two were better friends than any other
landholder and clergyman in the county--a significant fact
which was in agreement with the amiable expression of their faees.
Mr. Cadwallader was a large man, with full lips and a sweet smile;
very plain and rough in his exterior, but with that solid imperturbable
ease and good-humor which is infectious, and like great grassy hills
in the sunshine, quiets even an irritated egoism, and makes it
rather ashamed of itself. "Well, how are you?" he said, showing a
hand not quite fit to be grasped. "Sorry I missed you before.
Is there anything particular? You look vexed."