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Chapter 39
"If, as I have, you also doe,
Vertue attired in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the He and She;
And if this love, though placed so,
From prophane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or, if they doe, deride:
Then you have done a braver thing
Than all the Worthies did,
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is, to keep that hid."
Sir James Chettam's mind was not fruitful ill devices, but his growing anxiety to
"act on Brooke," once brought close to his constant belief in Dorothea's capacity
for influence, became formative, and issued in a little plan; namely, to plead
Celia's indisposition as a reason for fetching Dorothea by herself to the Hall, and
to leave her at the Grange with the carriage on the way, after making her fully
aware of the situation concerning the management of the estate.
In this way it happened that one day near four o'clock, when Mr. Brooke and
Ladislaw were seated in the library, the door opened and Mrs. Casaubon was
Will, the moment before, had been low in the depths of boredom, and, obliged to
help Mr. Brooke in arranging "documents" about hanging sheep-stealers, was
exemplifying the power our minds have of riding several horses at once by
inwardly arranging measures towards getting a lodging for himself in
Middlemarch and cutting short his constant residence at the Grange; while there
flitted through all these steadier images a tickling vision of a sheep-stealing epic
written with Homeric particularity. When Mrs. Casaubon was announced he
started up as from an electric shock, and felt a tingling at his finger-ends. Any
one observing him would have seen a change in his complexion, in the
adjustment of his facial muscles, in the vividness of his glance, which might have
made them imagine that every molecule in his body had passed the message of
a magic touch. And so it had. For effective magic is transcendent nature; and
who shall measure the subtlety of those touches which convey the quality of soul
as well as body, and make a man's passion for one woman differ from his
passion for another as joy in the morning light over valley and river and white
mountain-top differs from joy among Chinese lanterns and glass panels? Will,
too, was made of very impressible stuff. The bow of a violin drawn near him
cleverly, would at one stroke change the aspect of the world for him, and his
point of view shifted-- as easily as his mood. Dorothea's entrance was the
freshness of morning.