Silas Marner HTML version

Chapter 4
Dunstan Cass, setting off in the raw morning, at the judiciously quiet pace of a
man who is obliged to ride to cover on his hunter, had to take his way along the
lane which, at its farther extremity, passed by the piece of unenclosed ground
called the Stone-pit, where stood the cottage, once a stone-cutter's shed, now for
fifteen years inhabited by Silas Marner. The spot looked very dreary at this
season, with the moist trodden clay about it, and the red, muddy water high up in
the deserted quarry. That was Dunstan's first thought as he approached it; the
second was, that the old fool of a weaver, whose loom he heard rattling already,
had a great deal of money hidden somewhere. How was it that he, Dunstan
Cass, who had often heard talk of Marner's miserliness, had never thought of
suggesting to Godfrey that he should frighten or persuade the old fellow into
lending the money on the excellent security of the young Squire's prospects? The
resource occurred to him now as so easy and agreeable, especially as Marner's
hoard was likely to be large enough to leave Godfrey a handsome surplus
beyond his immediate needs, and enable him to accommodate his faithful
brother, that he had almost turned the horse's head towards home again.
Godfrey would be ready enough to accept the suggestion: he would snatch
eagerly at a plan that might save him from parting with Wildfire. But when
Dunstan's meditation reached this point, the inclination to go on grew strong and
prevailed. He didn't want to give Godfrey that pleasure: he preferred that Master
Godfrey should be vexed. Moreover, Dunstan enjoyed the self-important
consciousness of having a horse to sell, and the opportunity of driving a bargain,
swaggering, and possibly taking somebody in. He might have all the satisfaction
attendant on selling his brother's horse, and not the less have the further
satisfaction of setting Godfrey to borrow Marner's money. So he rode on to cover.
Bryce and Keating were there, as Dunstan was quite sure they would be--he was
such a lucky fellow.
"Heyday!" said Bryce, who had long had his eye on Wildfire, "you're on your
brother's horse to-day: how's that?"
"Oh, I've swopped with him," said Dunstan, whose delight in lying, grandly
independent of utility, was not to be diminished by the likelihood that his hearer
would not believe him--"Wildfire's mine now."
"What! has he swopped with you for that big-boned hack of yours?" said Bryce,
quite aware that he should get another lie in answer.
"Oh, there was a little account between us," said Dunsey, carelessly, "and
Wildfire made it even. I accommodated him by taking the horse, though it was
against my will, for I'd got an itch for a mare o' Jortin's--as rare a bit o' blood as
ever you threw your leg across. But I shall keep Wildfire, now I've got him, though
I'd a bid of a hundred and fifty for him the other day, from a man over at Flitton--
he's buying for Lord Cromleck--a fellow with a cast in his eye, and a green
waistcoat. But I mean to stick to Wildfire: I shan't get a better at a fence in a
hurry. The mare's got more blood, but she's a bit too weak in the hind-quarters."