Godfrey rises early the next morning, and, after eating breakfast, waits for the Squire’s appearance in the parlor. The Squire is a slovenly man, but one who has always been aware of his own superiority, never having interacted with men of a higher rank, and living among the villagers of Raveloe for his whole life. The Squire leads an idle life, but believes youth is the time of folly in a man’s life. Godfrey tells his father that there’s been a bad piece of luck with Wildfire. His father scoffs at his foolishness and remarks that he is short of money, and mentions that some of his tenants are not inclined to pay their rent.
The Squire is a one-dimensional character: he does not change over the course of the novel. His character, however, is detailed and reveals aspects of Godfrey’s character and Raveloe society. His indulgences have contributed to his son’s indecisiveness. His position at the top of Raveloe society means that he employs others and his management impacts the lives of villagers.
Godfrey tells his father that Wildfire has been killed when Dunstan rode him to the hunt. The result of this is that he doesn’t have the money to repay his father. Fowler, their tenant, did pay his rent to Godfrey, but Godfrey loaned the money to Dunstan hoping to repay his father earlier. His father is outraged that Godfrey would let Dunstan have the money and proclaims that there must be some lie at the bottom of this situation. With sudden perception, the Squire accuses Godfrey of having been up to some trick and bribing Dunstan with the money to keep quiet. Fearfully, Godfrey claims it was only some foolishness between Dunstan and himself.
Godfrey reports the true story to his father, but omits the most significant detail: his secret marriage and Dunstan’s knowledge of it. When Squire Cass focuses on this omission and wonders why Godfrey would give the money to Dunstan, Godfrey is startled into lying further rather than telling the truth. His instinct is for self-preservation, which means hiding the truth, when he is caught by his father’s question.
Squire Cass declares that it’s time Godfrey outgrew any foolishness. He has been a good father, he feels, and his sons have turned into good-for-nothing fellows. Godfrey reflects that his father’s indulgence has not always been helpful in guiding them, and wishes for some discipline in his life. Squire Cass mentions that he’s never dissuaded his son from marrying Nancy Lammeter who he seemed interested in, whereas some fathers might forbid their sons from making certain matches. He questions why Godfrey hasn’t proposed to her, and pressures him to do so.
Squire Cass and Godfrey both feel as if the other is in the wrong when it comes to their father-son relationship. Squire Cass feels it is high time his sons repaid his fatherly kindness and financial support, and Godfrey wishes his father had guided him with discipline and strength of character. Squire Cass’s questions about Nancy cause Godfrey to lie further.
Squire Cass says he’ll ask for Mr. Lammeter’s daughter’s hand for his son himself, if only cowardice is holding Godfrey back. Godfrey pleads with his father to let the matter alone, to let him speak for himself, and to not say anything about it. The Squire replies that he’ll do as he chooses and then sends Godfrey away to sell Dunstan’s horse and to tell his brother that he need not bother returning home. Godfrey says he has no idea where his brother is and departs unsure if he should feel relieved by the outcome of his conversation with his father.
Squire Cass’s statement that he’ll do what he chooses gives a perfect portrait of his character. He is less interested in Godfrey’s plea that his father allows him to manage his own affairs than he is in doing what suits himself at any given moment. The Squire’s rejection of Dunstan shows that he is capable of dismissing his sons on the basis of their behavior, and with little thought or feeling. The Squire does not treat his sons with respect or love, a direct contrast to how Marner treats Eppie.
Favorable Chance takes over the minds of any men in unfavorable circumstances, and Godfrey’s hopes all depend on some chance outcome that will settle everything for him. Rather than admit to his circumstances, he hopes that a chance occurrence will change his situation before his father can make any comments to Mr. Lammeter about a union between their children.