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Chapter 12
On the morrow, in the afternoon, he stayed at home, awaiting Mr. Townsend's
call--a proceeding by which it appeared to him (justly perhaps, for he was a very
busy man) that he paid Catherine's suitor great honour, and gave both these
young people so much the less to complain of. Morris presented himself with a
countenance sufficiently serene--he appeared to have forgotten the "insult" for
which he had solicited Catherine's sympathy two evenings before, and Dr. Sloper
lost no time in letting him know that he had been prepared for his visit.
"Catherine told me yesterday what has been going on between you," he said.
"You must allow me to say that it would have been becoming of you to give me
notice of your intentions before they had gone so far."
"I should have done so," Morris answered, "if you had not had so much the
appearance of leaving your daughter at liberty. She seems to me quite her own
"Literally, she is. But she has not emancipated herself morally quite so far, I trust,
as to choose a husband without consulting me. I have left her at liberty, but I
have not been in the least indifferent. The truth is that your little affair has come
to a head with a rapidity that surprises me. It was only the other day that
Catherine made your acquaintance."
"It was not long ago, certainly," said Morris, with great gravity. "I admit that we
have not been slow to--to arrive at an understanding. But that was very natural,
from the moment we were sure of ourselves--and of each other. My interest in
Miss Sloper began the first time I saw her."
"Did it not by chance precede your first meeting?" the Doctor asked.
Morris looked at him an instant. "I certainly had already heard that she was a
charming girl."
"A charming girl--that's what you think her?"
"Assuredly. Otherwise I should not be sitting here."
The Doctor meditated a moment. "My dear young man," he said at last, "you
must be very susceptible. As Catherine's father, I have, I trust, a just and tender
appreciation of her many good qualities; but I don't mind telling you that I have
never thought of her as a charming girl, and never expected any one else to do
Morris Townsend received this statement with a smile that was not wholly devoid
of deference. "I don't know what I might think of her if I were her father. I can't put
myself in that place. I speak from my own point of view."
"You speak very well," said the Doctor; "but that is not all that is necessary. I told
Catherine yesterday that I disapproved of her engagement."
"She let me know as much, and I was very sorry to hear it. I am greatly
disappointed." And Morris sat in silence awhile, looking at the floor.
"Did you really expect I would say I was delighted, and throw my daughter into
your arms?"
"Oh no; I had an idea you didn't like me."
"What gave you the idea?"