Chapter 12

Washington Square - Chapter 12

On the morrow, in the afternoon, he stayed at home, awaiting Mr Townsend's call - a proceeding by which it appeared to him (justly perhaps, for he was a very busy man) that he paid Catherine's suitor great honor, and gave both these young people so much the less to complain of. Morris presented himself with a countenance sufficiently serene - he appeared to have forgotten the 'insult' for which he had solicited Catherine's sympathy two evenings before - and Doctor Sloper lost no time in letting him know that he had been prepared for his visit.

'Catherine told me yesterday what has been going oil between you,' he said. 'You must allow me to say it would have been becoming of you to give me notice of your intentions before they had gone so far.'

'I should have done so,' Morris answered, 'if you had not had so much the appearance of leaving your daughter at liberty. She seems to me quite her own mistress.'

'Literally, she is. But she has not emancipated herself morally quite so far, I trust, as to choose a husband without consulting me. I have left her at liberty, but I have not been in the least indifferent. The truth is, that your little affair has come to ahead with a rapidity that surprises me. It was only the other day that Catherine made your acquaintance.'

'It was not long ago, certainly,' said Morris, with great gravity. 'I admit that we have not been slow to - to arrive at an understanding. But that was very natural, from the moment we were sure of ourselves - and of each other. My interest in Miss Sloper began the first time I saw her.'

'Did it not by chance precede your first meeting?' the Doctor asked.

Morris looked at him an instant. 'I certainly had already heard that she was a charming girl.'

'A charming girl - that's what you think her?'

'Assuredly. Otherwise I should not be sitting here.' The Doctor meditated a moment.

'My dear young man,' he said at last, 'you must be very susceptible. As Catherine's father I have, I trust, a just and tender appreciation of her many good qualities; but I don't mind telling you that I have never thought of her as a charming girl, and never expected anyone else to do so.'

Morris Townsend received this statement with a smile that was not wholly devoid of deference. 'I don't know what I might think of her if I were her father. I can't put myself in that place. I speak from my own point of view.'

'You speak very well,' said the Doctor; 'but that is not all that is necessary. I told Catherine yesterday that I disapproved of her engagement.'

'She let me know as much, and I was very sorry to hear it. I am greatly disappointed.' And Morris sat in silence awhile, looking at the floor.

'Did you really expect I would say I was delighted, and throw my daughter into your arms?'

'Oh no; I had an idea you didn't like me.'

'What gave you the idea?'

'The fact that I am poor .'

'That has a harsh sound,' said the Doctor, 'but it is about the truth - speaking of you strictly as a son-in- law. Your absence of means, of a profession, of visible resources or prospects, places you in a category

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