4. CHAPTER IV
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