BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
3. CHAPTER III.
"Look here--here is all about Greece. Rhamnus, the ruins of
Rhamnus--you are a great Grecian, now. I don't know whether you
have given much study to the topography. I spent no end of time
in making out these things--Helicon, now. Here, now!--`We started
the next morning for Parnassus, the double-peaked Parnassus.'
All this volume is about Greece, you know," Mr. Brooke wound up,
rubbing his thumb transversely along the edges of the leaves as he
held the book forward.
Mr. Casaubon made a dignified though somewhat sad audience;
bowed in the right place, and avoided looking at anything documentary
as far as possible, without showing disregard or impatience;
mindful that this desultoriness was associated with the institutions
of the country, and that the man who took him on this severe mental
scamper was not only an amiable host, but a landholder and
custos rotulorum. Was his endurance aided also by the reflection
that Mr. Brooke was the uncle of Dorothea?
Certainly he seemed more and more bent on making her talk to him,
on drawing her out, as Celia remarked to herself; and in looking at
her his face was often lit up by a smile like pale wintry sunshine.
Before he left the next morning, while taking a pleasant walk with Miss
Brooke along the gravelled terrace, he had mentioned to her that he
felt the disadvantage of loneliness, the need of that cheerful
companionship with which the presence of youth can lighten or vary
the serious toils of maturity. And he delivered this statement
with as much careful precision as if he had been a diplomatic envoy
whose words would be attended with results. Indeed, Mr. Casaubon
was not used to expect that he should have to repeat or revise his
communications of a practical or personal kind. The inclinations
which he had deliberately stated on the 2d of October he would think
it enough to refer to by the mention of that date; judging by the
standard of his own memory, which was a volume where a vide supra
could serve instead of repetitions, and not the ordinary long-used
blotting-book which only tells of forgotten writing. But in this
case Mr. Casaubon's confidence was not likely to be falsified,
for Dorothea heard and retained what he said with the eager interest
of a fresh young nature to which every variety in experience is an epoch.