Page:Eliot - Middlemarch, vol. IV, 1872.djvu/339

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329
BOOK VIII.—SUNSET AND SUNRISE.

included them in his confidence. "As to poachers like Trapping Bass, you know, Chettam," he continued, as they were entering, "when you are a magistrate, you'll not find it so easy to commit. Severity is all very well, but it's a great deal easier when you've got somebody to do it for you. You have a soft place in your heart yourself, you know—you're not a Draco, a Jeffreys, that sort of thing."

Mr Brooke was evidently in a state of nervous perturbation. When he had something painful to tell, it was usually his way to introduce it among a number of disjointed particulars, as if it were a medicine that would get a milder flavour by mixing. He continued his chat with Sir James about the poachers until they were all seated, and Mrs Cadwallader, impatient of this drivelling, said—

"I am dying to know the sad news. The gamekeeper is not shot: that is settled. What is it, then?"

"Well, it's a very trying thing, you know," said Mr Brooke. "I'm glad you and the Rector are here; it's a family matter—but you will help us all to bear it, Cadwallader. I've got to break it to you, my dear." Here Mr Brooke looked at Celia—"You've no notion what it is, you know.