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Chapter 8
"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."
Sir James's brow had a little crease in it, a little depression of the eyebrow, which
he seemed purposely to exaggerate as he answered.
"It is only this conduct of Brooke's. I really think somebody should speak to him."
"What? meaning to stand?" said Mr. Cadwallader, going on with the arrangement
of the reels which he had just been turning. "I hardly think he means it. But
where's the harm, if he likes it? Any one who objects to Whiggery should be glad
when the Whigs don't put up the strongest fellow. They won't overturn the
Constitution with our friend Brooke's head for a battering ram."