9. CHAPTER IX
Godfrey rose and took his own breakfast earlier than usual, but
lingered in the wainscoted parlour till his younger brothers had
finished their meal and gone out; awaiting his father, who always
took a walk with his managing-man before breakfast. Every one
breakfasted at a different hour in the Red House, and the Squire was
always the latest, giving a long chance to a rather feeble morning
appetite before he tried it. The table had been spread with
substantial eatables nearly two hours before he presented himself--
a tall, stout man of sixty, with a face in which the knit brow and
rather hard glance seemed contradicted by the slack and feeble
mouth. His person showed marks of habitual neglect, his dress was
slovenly; and yet there was something in the presence of the old
Squire distinguishable from that of the ordinary farmers in the
parish, who were perhaps every whit as refined as he, but, having
slouched their way through life with a consciousness of being in the
vicinity of their "betters", wanted that self-possession and
authoritativeness of voice and carriage which belonged to a man who
thought of superiors as remote existences with whom he had
personally little more to do than with America or the stars. The
Squire had been used to parish homage all his life, used to the
presupposition that his family, his tankards, and everything that
was his, were the oldest and best; and as he never associated with
any gentry higher than himself, his opinion was not disturbed by
He glanced at his son as he entered the room, and said, "What, sir!
haven't you had your breakfast yet?" but there was no pleasant
morning greeting between them; not because of any unfriendliness,
but because the sweet flower of courtesy is not a growth of such
homes as the Red House.
"Yes, sir," said Godfrey, "I've had my breakfast, but I was
waiting to speak to you."
"Ah! well," said the Squire, throwing himself indifferently into
his chair, and speaking in a ponderous coughing fashion, which was
felt in Raveloe to be a sort of privilege of his rank, while he cut
a piece of beef, and held it up before the deer-hound that had come
in with him. "Ring the bell for my ale, will you? You youngsters'
business is your own pleasure, mostly. There's no hurry about it
for anybody but yourselves."