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by George Eliot
Middlemarch Book 4, Chapter 39 Summary
Brooke and Ladislaw are working in the library at the Grange when Dorothea shows up. Sir James, apparently, has told her that her uncle intended to improve the cottages on his estate, and we all know how much Dorothea cares about the state of the cottages. So she goes on and on about how great it will be for her uncle's tenants to have better homes and farms, and how the people will love him as the Member of Parliament who really cares for his people. Brooke gets a little uncomfortable, of course, because he never actually agreed to do it. He gets called away to deal with the son of one of his tenants who was caught with a rabbit (it was against the rules for tenants to hunt on their landlord's estate). Brooke promises to go easy on the kid, and leaves Will and Dorothea alone. Will tells Dorothea that Casaubon has forbidden him to visit Lowick, and Dorothea is very sorry, but what can she do? Dorothea's going to go visit Celia and Sir James, so she says goodbye to Will. Dorothea leaves with her uncle, who offers to go with her as far as Dagley's house, so that he can talk to Dagley about his son, the rabbit-killer. Mr. Brooke hops out of the carriage at Dagley's house, and Dorothea rides on to the Chettams' house. Brooke sees Dagley holding a pitchfork in front of his crummy cottage. Brooke brings up the matter of the little Dagley boy killing a rabbit, and asks that he be scolded when he gets home. Dagley is rude about it, and refuses to beat his boy to please a "bad" landlord. Mr. Brooke assumes that Dagley has been drinking, and decides to speak to Mrs. Dagley, instead. But Dagley won't let him, and keeps after him about being a bad landlord who lets his farms and cottages go to rack and ruin. Dagley's heard about the movement for reform (he calls it "Rinform"), and says that Brook himself, and other landlords like him, will be "Rinformed." Mr. Brooke is shocked – he always thought his tenants loved him and were happy that he "managed" his estate himself. Turns out he used to have Caleb Garth manage his estate, but fired him about twelve years earlier over some disagreement. Since then, the estate's gone to seed.
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