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George Eliot
[Mary Anne Evans]



ADAM BEDE

 

 

 

 

BookOne

 

ChapterI

 TheWorkshop

 

With asingle drop of ink for a mirrorthe Egyptian sorcererundertakesto reveal to any chance comer far-reaching visions ofthe past. This is what I undertake to do for youreader.  Withthis dropof ink at the end of my penI will show you the roomyworkshopof Mr. Jonathan Burgecarpenter and builderin thevillage ofHayslopeas it appeared on the eighteenth of Juneinthe yearof our Lord 1799.

Theafternoon sun was warm on the five workmen therebusy upondoors andwindow-frames and wainscoting.  A scent of pine-woodfrom atentlike pile of planks outside the open door mingleditselfwith the scent of the elder-bushes which were spreadingtheirsummer snow close to the open window opposite; the slantingsunbeamsshone through the transparent shavings that flew beforethe steadyplaneand lit up the fine grain of the oak panellingwhichstood propped against the wall.  On a heap of those softshavings aroughgrey shepherd dog had made himself a pleasantbedandwas lying with his nose between his fore-pawsoccasionallywrinkling his brows to cast a glance at the tallestof thefive workmenwho was carving a shield in the centre of awoodenmantelpiece.  It was to this workman that the strongbarytonebelonged which was heard above the sound of plane andhammersinging--

 

Awakemy souland with the sunThydaily stage of duty run;Shakeoff dull sloth...

 

Here somemeasurement was to be taken which required moreconcentratedattentionand the sonorous voice subsided into a lowwhistle;but it presently broke out again with renewed vigour--

 

Let allthy converse be sincereThyconscience as the noonday clear.

 

Such avoice could only come from a broad chestand the broadchestbelonged to a large-bonedmuscular man nearly six feethighwitha back so flat and a head so well poised that when hedrewhimself up to take a more distant survey of his workhe hadthe air ofa soldier standing at ease.  The sleeve rolled up abovethe elbowshowed an arm that was likely to win the prize for featsofstrength; yet the long supple handwith its broad finger-tipslookedready for works of skill.  In his tall stalwartness AdamBede was aSaxonand justified his name; but the jet-black hairmade themore noticeable by its contrast with the light paper capand thekeen glance of the dark eyes that shone from understronglymarkedprominent and mobile eyebrowsindicated amixture ofCeltic blood.  The face was large and roughly hewnandwhen inrepose had no other beauty than such as belongs to anexpressionof good-humoured honest intelligence.

It isclear at a glance that the next workman is Adam's brother.He isnearly as tall; he has the same type of featuresthe samehue ofhair and complexion; but the strength of the familylikenessseems only to render more conspicuous the remarkabledifferenceof expression both in form and face.  Seth's broadshouldershave a slight stoop; his eyes are grey; his eyebrowshave lessprominence and more repose than his brother's; and hisglanceinstead of being keenis confiding and benign.  He hasthrown offhis paper capand you see that his hair is not thickandstraightlike Adam'sbut thin and wavyallowing you todiscernthe exact contour of a coronal arch that predominates verydecidedlyover the brow.

The idletramps always felt sure they could get a copper fromSeth; theyscarcely ever spoke to Adam.

Theconcert of the tools and Adam's voice was at last broken bySethwholifting the door at which he had been working intentlyplaced itagainst the walland said"There! I've finished mydoorto-dayanyhow."

Theworkmen all looked up; Jim Salta burlyred-haired man knownas SandyJimpaused from his planingand Adam said to Sethwitha sharpglance of surprise"What! Dost think thee'st finished thedoor?"

"Ayesure" said Sethwith answering surprise; "what's awantingto't?"

A loudroar of laughter from the other three workmen made Sethlook roundconfusedly.  Adam did not join in the laughterbutthere wasa slight smile on his face as he saidin a gentler tonethanbefore"Whythee'st forgot the panels."

Thelaughter burst out afresh as Seth clapped his hands to hisheadandcoloured over brow and crown.

"Hoorray!"shouted a small lithe fellow called Wiry Benrunningforwardand seizing the door.  "We'll hang up th' door at fur endo' th'shop an' write on't 'Seth Bedethe Methodyhis work.'HereJimlend's hould o' th' red pot."

"Nonsense!"said Adam.  "Let it aloneBen Cranage.  You'll mayhapbe makingsuch a slip yourself some day; you'll laugh o' th' otherside o'your mouth then."

"Catchme at itAdam.  It'll be a good while afore my head's fullo' th'Methodies" said Ben.

"Naybut it's often full o' drinkand that's worse."

Benhoweverhad now got the "red pot" in his handand wasaboutto beginwriting his inscriptionmakingby way of preliminaryanimaginary S in the air.

"Letit alonewill you?" Adam called outlaying down his toolsstridingup to Benand seizing his right shoulder.  "Let italoneorI'll shake the soul out o' your body."

Ben shookin Adam's iron graspbutlike a plucky small man as hewashedidn't mean to give in.  With his left hand he snatchedthe brushfrom his powerless rightand made a movement as if hewouldperform the feat of writing with his left.  In a moment Adamturned himroundseized his other shoulderandpushing himalongpinned him against the wall.  But now Seth spoke.

"LetbeAddylet be.  Ben will be joking.  Whyhe's i' theright tolaugh at me--I canna help laughing at myself."

"Ishan't loose him till he promises to let the door alone" saidAdam.

"ComeBenlad" said Sethin a persuasive tone"don't let'shave aquarrel about it.  You know Adam will have his way.  Youmay's welltry to turn a waggon in a narrow lane.  Say you'llleave thedoor aloneand make an end on't."

"Ibinna frighted at Adam" said Ben"but I donna mind sayin'asI'll let't alone at your askin'Seth."

"Comethat's wise of youBen" said Adamlaughing and relaxinghis grasp.

They allreturned to their work now; but Wiry Benhaving had theworst inthe bodily contestwas bent on retrieving thathumiliationby a success in sarcasm.

"Whichwas ye thinkin' onSeth" he began--"the pretty parson'sface orher sarmuntwhen ye forgot the panels?"

"Comeand hear herBen" said Sethgood-humouredly; "she'sgoingto preachon the Green to-night; happen ye'd get something tothink onyourself theninstead o' those wicked songs you're sofond on. Ye might get religionand that 'ud be the best day'searningsy' ever made."

"Alli' good time for thatSeth; I'll think about that when I'ma-goin' tosettle i' life; bachelors doesn't want such heavyearnin's. Happen I shall do the coortin' an' the religion bothtogetheras YE doSeth; but ye wouldna ha' me get converted an'chop inatween ye an' the pretty preacheran' carry her aff?"

"Nofear o' thatBen; she's neither for you nor for me to winIdoubt. Only you come and hear herand you won't speak lightly onheragain."

"WellI'm half a mind t' ha' a look at her to-nightif thereisn't goodcompany at th' Holly Bush.  What'll she take for hertext? Happen ye can tell meSethif so be as I shouldna come upi' timefor't.  Will't be--what come ye out for to see?  Aprophetess? YeaI say unto youand more than a prophetess--auncommonpretty young woman."

"ComeBen" said Adamrather sternly"you let the words o' theBiblealone; you're going too far now."

"What!Are YE a-turnin' roun'Adam? I thought ye war dead againth' womenpreachin'a while agoo?"

"NayI'm not turnin' noway.  I said nought about the womenpreachin'. I saidYou let the Bible alone: you've got a jest-bookhan't youas you're rare and proud on?  Keep your dirtyfingers tothat."

"Whyy' are gettin' as big a saint as Seth.  Y' are goin' to th'preachin'to-nightI should think.  Ye'll do finely t' lead thesingin'. But I don' know what Parson Irwine 'ull say at his gran'favrightAdam Bede a-turnin' Methody."

"Neverdo you bother yourself about meBen.  I'm not a-going toturnMethodist any more nor you are--though it's like enoughyou'llturn to something worse.  Mester Irwine's got more sensenor tomeddle wi' people's doing as they like in religion.  That'sbetweenthemselves and Godas he's said to me many a time."

"Ayeaye; but he's none so fond o' your dissentersfor allthat."

"Maybe;I'm none so fond o' Josh Tod's thick alebut I don'thinder youfrom making a fool o' yourself wi't."

There wasa laugh at this thrust of Adam'sbut Seth saidveryseriously. "NaynayAddythee mustna say as anybody'sreligion'slike thick ale.  Thee dostna believe but what thedissentersand the Methodists have got the root o' the matter aswell asthe church folks."

"NaySethlad; I'm not for laughing at no man's religion.  Let'em followtheir consciencesthat's all.  Only I think it 'ud bebetter iftheir consciences 'ud let 'em stay quiet i' the church--there's adeal to be learnt there.  And there's such a thing asbeingoversperitial; we must have something beside Gospel i' thisworld. Look at the canalsan' th' aqueduc'san' th' coal-pitenginesand Arkwright's mills there at Cromford; a man must learnsummatbeside Gospel to make them thingsI reckon.  But t' hearsome o'them preachersyou'd think as a man must be doing nothingall's lifebut shutting's eyes and looking what's agoing on insidehim. I know a man must have the love o' God in his souland theBible'sGod's word.  But what does the Bible say?  Whyit says asGod puthis sperrit into the workman as built the tabernacletomake himdo all the carved work and things as wanted a nice hand.And thisis my way o' looking at it: there's the sperrit o' God inall thingsand all times--weekday as well as Sunday--and i' thegreatworks and inventionsand i' the figuring and the mechanics.And Godhelps us with our headpieces and our hands as well as withour souls;and if a man does bits o' jobs out o' working hours--builds aoven for 's wife to save her from going to the bakehouseor scratsat his bit o' garden and makes two potatoes grow isteado' onehe's doin' more goodand he's just as near to Godas ifhe wasrunning after some preacher and a-praying and a-groaning."

"WelldoneAdam!" said Sandy Jimwho had paused from his planingto shifthis planks while Adam was speaking; "that's the bestsarmuntI've heared this long while.  By th' same tokenmy wife'sbeena-plaguin' on me to build her a oven this twelvemont."

"There'sreason in what thee say'stAdam" observed Sethgravely. "But thee know'st thyself as it's hearing the preacherstheefind'st so much fault with has turned many an idle fellowinto anindustrious un.  It's the preacher as empties th'alehouse;and if a man gets religionhe'll do his work none theworse forthat."

"On'yhe'll lave the panels out o' th' doors sometimesehSeth?"said WiryBen.

"AhBenyou've got a joke again' me as 'll last you your life.But itisna religion as was i' fault there; it was Seth Bedeaswas allaysa wool-gathering chapand religion hasna cured himthe more'sthe pity."

"Ne'erheed meSeth" said Wiry Ben"y' are a down-right good-heartedchappanels or no panels; an' ye donna set up yourbristlesat every bit o' funlike some o' your kinas is mayhapcliverer."

"Sethlad" said Adamtaking no notice of the sarcasm againsthimself"thee mustna take me unkind.  I wasna driving at thee inwhat Isaid just now.  Some 's got one way o' looking at thingsand some's got another."

"NaynayAddythee mean'st me no unkindness" said Seth"Iknow thatwell enough.  Thee't like thy dog Gyp--thee bark'st atmesometimesbut thee allays lick'st my hand after."

All handsworked on in silence for some minutesuntil the churchclockbegan to strike six.  Before the first stroke had died awaySandy Jimhad loosed his plane and was reaching his jacket; WiryBen hadleft a screw half driven inand thrown his screwdriverinto histool-basket; Mum Taftwhotrue to his namehad keptsilencethroughout the previous conversationhad flung down hishammer ashe was in the act of lifting it; and Sethtoohadstraightenedhis backand was putting out his hand towards hispapercap.  Adam alone had gone on with his work as if nothing hadhappened. But observing the cessation of the toolshe looked upand saidin a tone of indignation"Look therenow! I can'tabide tosee men throw away their tools i' that waythe minutethe clockbegins to strikeas if they took no pleasure i' theirwork andwas afraid o' doing a stroke too much."

Sethlooked a little consciousand began to be slower in hispreparationsfor goingbut Mum Taft broke silenceand said"AyeayeAdam ladye talk like a young un.  When y' are six-an'-fortylike meistid o' six-an'-twentyye wonna be so flusho' workin'for nought."

"Nonsense"said Adamstill wrathful; "what's age got to do withitIwonder?  Ye arena getting stiff yetI reckon.  I hate tosee aman's arms drop down as if he was shotbefore the clock'sfairlystruckjust as if he'd never a bit o' pride and delight in's work. The very grindstone 'ull go on turning a bit after youloose it."

"BodderationAdam!" exclaimed Wiry Ben; "lave a chap aloonwill'ee? Ye war afinding faut wi' preachers a while agoo--y' are fondenough o'preachin' yoursen.  Ye may like work better nor playbut I likeplay better nor work; that'll 'commodate ye--it lavesye th'more to do."

With thisexit speechwhich he considered effectiveWiry Benshoulderedhis basket and left the workshopquickly followed byMum Taftand Sandy Jim.  Seth lingeredand looked wistfully atAdamasif he expected him to say something.

"Shaltgo home before thee go'st to the preaching?" Adam askedlookingup.

"Nay;I've got my hat and things at Will Maskery's.  I shan't behomebefore going for ten.  I'll happen see Dinah Morris safehomeifshe's willing.  There's nobody comes with her fromPoyser'sthee know'st."

"ThenI'll tell mother not to look for thee" said Adam.

"Theeartna going to Poyser's thyself to-night?" said Seth rathertimidlyas he turned to leave the workshop.

"NayI'm going to th' school."

HithertoGyp had kept his comfortable bedonly lifting up hishead andwatching Adam more closely as he noticed the otherworkmendeparting.  But no sooner did Adam put his ruler in hispocketand begin to twist his apron round his waistthan Gyp ranforwardand looked up in his master's face with patientexpectation. If Gyp had had a tail he would doubtless have waggeditbutbeing destitute of that vehicle for his emotionshe waslike manyother worthy personagesdestined to appear morephlegmaticthan nature had made him.

"What!Art ready for the basketehGyp?" said Adamwith thesamegentle modulation of voice as when he spoke to Seth.

Gyp jumpedand gave a short barkas much as to say"Of course."Poorfellowhe had not a great range of expression.

The basketwas the one which on workdays held Adam's and Seth'sdinner;and no officialwalking in processioncould look moreresolutelyunconscious of all acquaintances than Gyp with hisbaskettrotting at his master's heels.

On leavingthe workshop Adam locked the doortook the key outandcarried it to the house on the other side of the woodyard.  Itwas a lowhousewith smooth grey thatch and buff wallslookingpleasantand mellow in the evening light.  The leaded windows werebright andspecklessand the door-stone was as clean as a whiteboulder atebb tide.  On the door-stone stood a clean old womanin adark-striped linen gowna red kerchiefand a linen captalking tosome speckled fowls which appeared to have been drawntowardsher by an illusory expectation of cold potatoes or barley.The oldwoman's sight seemed to be dimfor she did not recognizeAdam tillhe said"Here's the keyDolly; lay it down for me inthe housewill you?"

"Ayesure; but wunna ye come inAdam? Miss Mary's i' th' houseand MesterBurge 'ull be back anon; he'd be glad t' ha' ye tosupperwi'mI'll be's warrand."

"NoDollythank you; I'm off home.  Good evening."

Adamhastened with long stridesGyp close to his heelsout oftheworkyardand along the highroad leading away from the villageand downto the valley.  As he reached the foot of the slopeanelderlyhorsemanwith his portmanteau strapped behind himstoppedhis horse when Adam had passed himand turned round tohaveanother long look at the stalwart workman in paper capleatherbreechesand dark-blue worsted stockings.

Adamunconscious of the admiration he was excitingpresentlystruckacross the fieldsand now broke out into the tune whichhad allday long been running in his head:

 

Let allthy converse be sincereThyconscience as the noonday clear;ForGod's all-seeing eye surveysThysecret thoughtsthy works and ways.

 

 

ChapterII ThePreaching

 

About aquarter to seven there was an unusual appearance ofexcitementin the village of Hayslopeand through the wholelength ofits little streetfrom the Donnithorne Arms to thechurchyardgatethe inhabitants had evidently been drawn out oftheirhouses by something more than the pleasure of lounging intheevening sunshine.  The Donnithorne Arms stood at the entranceof thevillageand a small farmyard and stackyard which flankeditindicating that there was a pretty take of land attached tothe inngave the traveller a promise of good feed for himself andhis horsewhich might well console him for the ignorance in whichtheweather-beaten sign left him as to the heraldic bearings ofthatancient familythe Donnithornes.  Mr. Cassonthe landlordhad beenfor some time standing at the door with his hands in hispocketsbalancing himself on his heels and toes and lookingtowards apiece of unenclosed groundwith a maple in the middleof itwhich he knew to be the destination of certain grave-lookingmen and women whom he had observed passing at intervals.

Mr.Casson's person was by no means of that common type which canbe allowedto pass without description.  On a front view itappearedto consist principally of two spheresbearing about thesamerelation to each other as the earth and the moon: that is tosaythelower sphere might be saidat a rough guessto bethirteentimes larger than the upper which naturally performed thefunctionof a mere satellite and tributary.  But here theresemblanceceasedfor Mr. Casson's head was not at all amelancholy-lookingsatellite nor was it a "spotty globe" asMilton hasirreverently called the moon; on the contraryno headand facecould look more sleek and healthyand its expression--which waschiefly confined to a pair of round and ruddy cheeksthe slightknot and interruptions forming the nose and eyes beingscarcelyworth mention--was one of jolly contentmentonlytemperedby that sense of personal dignity which usually madeitselffelt in his attitude and bearing.  This sense of dignitycouldhardly be considered excessive in a man who had been butlerto "thefamily" for fifteen yearsand whoin his present highpositionwas necessarily very much in contact with his inferiors.How toreconcile his dignity with the satisfaction of hiscuriosityby walking towards the Green was the problem that Mr.Casson hadbeen revolving in his mind for the last five minutes;but whenhe had partly solved it by taking his hands out of hispocketsand thrusting them into the armholes of his waistcoatbythrowinghis head on one sideand providing himself with an airofcontemptuous indifference to whatever might fall under hisnoticehis thoughts were diverted by the approach of the horsemanwhom welately saw pausing to have another look at our friendAdamandwho now pulled up at the door of the Donnithorne Arms.

"Takeoff the bridle and give him a drinkostler" said thetravellerto the lad in a smock-frockwho had come out of theyard atthe sound of the horse's hoofs.

"Whywhat's up in your pretty villagelandlord?" he continuedgettingdown.  "There seems to be quite a stir."

"It'sa Methodis' preachingsir; it's been gev hout as a youngwoman'sa-going to preach on the Green" answered Mr. Cassonin atreble andwheezy voicewith a slightly mincing accent.  "Willyou pleaseto step insiran' tek somethink?"

"NoI must be getting on to Rosseter.  I only want a drink for myhorse. And what does your parson sayI wonderto a young womanpreachingjust under his nose?"

"ParsonIrwinesirdoesn't live here; he lives at Brox'onoverthe hillthere.  The parsonage here's a tumble-down placesirnot fitfor gentry to live in.  He comes here to preach of aSundayafternoonsiran' puts up his hoss here.  It's a greycobsiran' he sets great store by't.  He's allays put up hishoss heresiriver since before I hed the Donnithorne Arms.  I'mnot thiscountrymanyou may tell by my tonguesir.  They'recur'oustalkers i' this countrysir; the gentry's hard work tohunderstand'em.  I was brought hup among the gentrysiran' gotthe turno' their tongue when I was a bye.  Whywhat do you thinkthe folkshere says for 'hevn't you?'--the gentryyou knowsays'hevn'tyou'--wellthe people about here says 'hanna yey.' It'swhat theycall the dileck as is spoke hereaboutsir.  That's whatI'veheared Squire Donnithorne say many a time; it's the dilecksays he."

"Ayeaye" said the strangersmiling.  "I know it verywell.But you'venot got many Methodists about heresurely--in thisagriculturalspot? I should have thought there would hardly besuch athing as a Methodist to be found about here.  You're allfarmersaren't you? The Methodists can seldom lay much hold onTHEM."

"Whysirthere's a pretty lot o' workmen round aboutsir.There'sMester Burge as owns the timber-yard over thereheunderteksa good bit o' building an' repairs.  An' there's thestone-pitsnot far off.  There's plenty of emply i' thiscountrysidesir.  An' there's a fine batch o' Methodisses atTreddles'on--that'sthe market town about three mile off--you'llmaybe ha'come through itsir.  There's pretty nigh a score of'em on theGreen nowas come from there.  That's where our peoplegets itfromthough there's only two men of 'em in all Hayslope:that'sWill Maskerythe wheelwrightand Seth Bedea young manas worksat the carpenterin'."

"Thepreacher comes from Treddlestonthendoes she?"

"Naysirshe comes out o' Stonyshirepretty nigh thirty mileoff. But she's a-visitin' hereabout at Mester Poyser's at theHallFarm--it's them barns an' big walnut-treesright away to theleftsir.  She's own niece to Poyser's wifean' they'll be finean' vexedat her for making a fool of herself i' that way.  ButI'veheared as there's no holding these Methodisses when themaggit'sonce got i' their head: many of 'em goes stark starin'mad wi'their religion.  Though this young woman's quiet enough tolook atby what I can make out; I've not seen her myself."

"WellI wish I had time to wait and see herbut I must get on.I've beenout of my way for the last twenty minutes to have a lookat thatplace in the valley.  It's Squire Donnithorne'sIsuppose?"

"Yessirthat's Donnithorne Chasethat is.  Fine hoaks thereisn'ttheresir? I should know what it issirfor I've livedbutlerthere a-going i' fifteen year.  It's Captain Donnithorne asis th'heirsir--Squire Donnithorne's grandson.  He'll be comin'of hagethis 'ay-'arvestsiran' we shall hev fine doin's.  Heowns allthe land about heresirSquire Donnithorne does."

"Wellit's a pretty spotwhoever may own it" said thetravellermounting his horse; "and one meets some fine strappingfellowsabout too.  I met as fine a young fellow as ever I saw inmy lifeabout half an hour agobefore I came up the hill--acarpentera tallbroad-shouldered fellow with black hair andblackeyesmarching along like a soldier.  We want such fellowsas he tolick the French."

"Ayesirthat's Adam Bedethat isI'll be bound--Thias Bede'ssoneverybody knows him hereabout.  He's an uncommon clever stiddyfellowan' wonderful strong.  Lord bless yousir--if you'llhexcuse mefor saying so--he can walk forty mile a-dayan' lift amatter o'sixty ston'.  He's an uncommon favourite wi' the gentrysir:Captain Donnithorne and Parson Irwine meks a fine fuss wi'him. But he's a little lifted up an' peppery-like."

"Wellgood evening to youlandlord; I must get on."

"Yourservantsir; good evenin'."

Thetraveller put his horse into a quick walk up the villagebutwhen heapproached the Greenthe beauty of the view that lay onhis righthandthe singular contrast presented by the groups ofvillagerswith the knot of Methodists near the mapleand perhapsyet morecuriosity to see the young female preacherproved toomuch forhis anxiety to get to the end of his journeyand hepaused.

The Greenlay at the extremity of the villageand from it theroadbranched off in two directionsone leading farther up thehill bythe churchand the other winding gently down towards thevalley. On the side of the Green that led towards the churchthebrokenline of thatched cottages was continued nearly to thechurchyardgate; but on the opposite northwestern sidethere wasnothing toobstruct the view of gently swelling meadowand woodedvalleyand dark masses of distant hill.  That rich undulatingdistrictof Loamshire to which Hayslope belonged lies close to agrimoutskirt of Stonyshireoverlooked by its barren hills as aprettyblooming sister may sometimes be seen linked in the arm ofa ruggedtallswarthy brother; and in two or three hours' ridethetraveller might exchange a bleak treeless regionintersectedby linesof cold grey stonefor one where his road wound undertheshelter of woodsor up swelling hillsmuffled with hedgerowsand longmeadow-grass and thick corn; and where at every turn hecame uponsome fine old country-seat nestled in the valley orcrowningthe slopesome homestead with its long length of barnand itscluster of golden rickssome grey steeple looking outfrom apretty confusion of trees and thatch and dark-red tiles.It wasjust such a picture as this last that Hayslope Church hadmade tothe traveller as he began to mount the gentle slopeleading toits pleasant uplandsand now from his station near theGreen hehad before him in one view nearly all the other typicalfeaturesof this pleasant land.  High up against the horizon werethe hugeconical masses of hilllike giant mounds intended tofortifythis region of corn and grass against the keen and hungrywinds ofthe north; not distant enough to be clothed in purplemysterybut with sombre greenish sides visibly specked withsheepwhose motion was only revealed by memorynot detected bysight;wooed from day to day by the changing hoursbut respondingwith nochange in themselves--left for ever grim and sullen afterthe flushof morningthe winged gleams of the April noondaythepartingcrimson glory of the ripening summer sun.  And directlybelow themthe eye rested on a more advanced line of hangingwoodsdivided by bright patches of pasture or furrowed cropsandnot yetdeepened into the uniform leafy curtains of high summerbut stillshowing the warm tints of the young oak and the tendergreen ofthe ash and lime.  Then came the valleywhere the woodsgrewthickeras if they had rolled down and hurried together fromthepatches left smooth on the slopethat they might take thebettercare of the tall mansion which lifted its parapets and sentits faintblue summer smoke among them.  Doubtless there was alargesweep of park and a broad glassy pool in front of thatmansionbut the swelling slope of meadow would not let ourtravellersee them from the village green.  He saw instead aforegroundwhich was just as lovely--the level sunlight lying liketransparentgold among the gently curving stems of the featheredgrass andthe tall red sorreland the white ambels of thehemlockslining the bushy hedgerows.  It was that moment in summerwhen thesound of the scythe being whetted makes us cast morelingeringlooks at the flower-sprinkled tresses of the meadows.

He mighthave seen other beauties in the landscape if he hadturned alittle in his saddle and looked eastwardbeyond JonathanBurge'spasture and woodyard towards the green corn-fields andwalnut-treesof the Hall Farm; but apparently there was moreinterestfor him in the living groups close at hand.  Everygenerationin the village was therefrom old "Feyther Taft" inhis brownworsted night-capwho was bent nearly doublebutseemedtough enough to keep on his legs a long whileleaning onhis shortstickdown to the babies with their little round headslollingforward in quilted linen caps.  Now and then there was anewarrival; perhaps a slouching labourerwhohaving eaten hissuppercame out to look at the unusual scene with a slow bovinegazewilling to hear what any one had to say in explanation ofitbut byno means excited enough to ask a question.  But alltook carenot to join the Methodists on the Greenand identifythemselvesin that way with the expectant audiencefor there wasnot one ofthem that would not have disclaimed the imputation ofhavingcome out to hear the "preacher woman"--they had only comeout to see"what war a-goin' onlike."  The men were chieflygatheredin the neighbourhood of the blacksmith's shop.  But donotimagine them gathered in a knot.  Villagers never swarm: awhisper isunknown among themand they seem almost as incapableof anundertone as a cow or a stag.  Your true rustic turns hisback onhis interlocutorthrowing a question over his shoulder asif hemeant to run away from the answerand walking a step or twofartheroff when the interest of the dialogue culminates.  So thegroup inthe vicinity of the blacksmith's door was by no means aclose oneand formed no screen in front of Chad Cranagetheblacksmithhimselfwho stood with his black brawny arms foldedleaningagainst the door-postand occasionally sending forth abellowinglaugh at his own jokesgiving them a marked preferenceover thesarcasms of Wiry Benwho had renounced the pleasures ofthe HollyBush for the sake of seeing life under a new form.  Butbothstyles of wit were treated with equal contempt by Mr. JoshuaRann. Mr. Rann's leathern apron and subdued griminess can leaveno one inany doubt that he is the village shoemaker; thethrustingout of his chin and stomach and the twirling of histhumbs aremore subtle indicationsintended to prepare unwarystrangersfor the discovery that they are in the presence of theparishclerk.  "Old Joshway" as he is irreverently called byhisneighboursis in a state of simmering indignation; but he has notyet openedhis lips except to sayin a resounding bass undertonelike thetuning of a violoncello"SehonKing of the Amorites;for Hismercy endureth for ever; and Og the King of Basan: for Hismercyendureth for ever"--a quotation which may seem to haveslightbearing on the present occasionbutas with every otheranomalyadequate knowledge will show it to be a natural sequence.Mr. Rannwas inwardly maintaining the dignity of the Church in theface ofthis scandalous irruption of Methodismand as thatdignitywas bound up with his own sonorous utterance of theresponseshis argument naturally suggested a quotation from thepsalm hehad read the last Sunday afternoon.

Thestronger curiosity of the women had drawn them quite to theedge ofthe Greenwhere they could examine more closely theQuakerlikecostume and odd deportment of the female Methodists.Underneaththe maple there was a small cartwhich had beenbroughtfrom the wheelwright's to serve as a pulpitand roundthis acouple of benches and a few chairs had been placed.  Someof theMethodists were resting on thesewith their eyes closedas ifwrapt in prayer or meditation.  Others chose to continuestandingand had turned their faces towards the villagers with alook ofmelancholy compassionwhich was highly amusing to BessyCranagethe blacksmith's buxom daughterknown to her neighboursas Chad'sBesswho wondered "why the folks war amakin' faces athat'ns."Chad's Bess was the object of peculiar compassionbecauseher hairbeing turned back under a cap which was set atthe top ofher headexposed to view an ornament of which she wasmuchprouder than of her red cheeks--namelya pair of large roundear-ringswith false garnets in themornaments condemned not onlyby theMethodistsbut by her own cousin and namesake Timothy'sBesswhowith much cousinly feelingoften wished "them ear-rings"might come to good.

Timothy'sBessthough retaining her maiden appellation among herfamiliarshad long been the wife of Sandy Jimand possessed ahandsomeset of matronly jewelsof which it is enough to mentionthe heavybaby she was rocking in her armsand the sturdy fellowof five inkneebreechesand red legswho had a rusty milk-canround hisneck by way of drumand was very carefully avoided byChad'ssmall terrier.  This young olive-branchnotorious underthe nameof Timothy's Bess's Benbeing of an inquiringdispositionunchecked by any false modestyhad advanced beyondthe groupof women and childrenand was walking round theMethodistslooking up in their faces with his mouth wide openandbeating his stick against the milk-can by way of musicalaccompaniment. But one of the elderly women bending down to takehim by theshoulderwith an air of grave remonstranceTimothy'sBess's Benfirst kicked out vigorouslythen took to his heels andsoughtrefuge behind his father's legs.

"Yegallows young dog" said Sandy Jimwith some paternal pride"ifye donna keep that stick quietI'll tek it from ye.  Whatdy'e maneby kickin' foulks?"

"Here!Gie him here to meJim" said Chad Cranage; "I'll tie hirsup an'shoe him as I do th' hosses.  WellMester Casson" hecontinuedas that personage sauntered up towards the group ofmen"howare ye t' naight?  Are ye coom t' help groon?  They sayfolksallays groon when they're hearkenin' to th' Methodysas ifthey warbad i' th' inside.  I mane to groon as loud as your cowdid th'other naightan' then the praicher 'ull think I'm i' th'raightway."

"I'dadvise you not to be up to no nonsenseChad" said Mr.Cassonwith some dignity; "Poyser wouldn't like to hear as hiswife'sniece was treated any ways disrespectfulfor all he mayn'tbe fond ofher taking on herself to preach."

"Ayean' she's a pleasant-looked un too" said Wiry Ben.  "I'llstick upfor the pretty women preachin'; I know they'd persuade meover adeal sooner nor th' ugly men.  I shouldna wonder if I turnMethodyafore the night's outan' begin to coort the preacherlike SethBede."

"WhySeth's looking rether too highI should think" said Mr.Casson. "This woman's kin wouldn't like her to demean herself toa commoncarpenter."

"Tchu!"said Benwith a long treble intonation"what's folks'skin got todo wi't?  Not a chip.  Poyser's wife may turn her noseup an'forget bygonesbut this Dinah Morristhey tell me's aspoor asiver she was--works at a millan's much ado to keephersen. A strappin' young carpenter as is a ready-made Methodylike Sethwouldna be a bad match for her.  WhyPoysers make asbig a fusswi' Adam Bede as if he war a nevvy o' their own."

"Idletalk! idle talk!" said Mr. Joshua Rann.  "Adam an'Seth'stwo men;you wunna fit them two wi' the same last."

"Maybe"said Wiry Bencontemptuously"but Seth's the lad formethoughhe war a Methody twice o'er.  I'm fair beat wi' Sethfor I'vebeen teasin' him iver sin' we've been workin' togetheran' hebears me no more malice nor a lamb.  An' he's a stout-heartedfeller toofor when we saw the old tree all afire a-comin'across the fields one nightan' we thought as it war aboguySeth made no more adobut he up to't as bold as aconstable. Whythere he comes out o' Will Maskery's; an' there'sWillhisselflookin' as meek as if he couldna knock a nail o' thehead forfear o' hurtin't.  An' there's the pretty preacher woman!My eyeshe's got her bonnet off.  I mun go a bit nearer."

Several ofthe men followed Ben's leadand the traveller pushedhis horseon to the Greenas Dinah walked rather quickly and inadvance ofher companions towards the cart under the maple-tree.While shewas near Seth's tall figureshe looked shortbut whenshe hadmounted the cartand was away from all comparisonsheseemedabove the middle height of womanthough in reality she didnot exceedit--an effect which was due to the slimness of herfigure andthe simple line of her black stuff dress.  The strangerwas struckwith surprise as he saw her approach and mount thecart--surprisenot so much at the feminine delicacy of herappearanceas at the total absence of self-consciousness in herdemeanour. He had made up his mind to see her advance with ameasuredstep and a demure solemnity of countenance; he had feltsure thather face would be mantled with the smile of conscioussaintshipor else charged with denunciatory bitterness.  He knewbut twotypes of Methodist--the ecstatic and the bilious.  ButDinahwalked as simply as if she were going to marketand seemedasunconscious of her outward appearance as a little boy: therewas noblushno tremulousnesswhich said"I know you think me aprettywomantoo young to preach"; no casting up or down of theeyelidsno compression of the lipsno attitude of the arms thatsaid"Butyou must think of me as a saint." She held no book inherungloved handsbut let them hang down lightly crossed beforeherasshe stood and turned her grey eyes on the people.  Therewas nokeenness in the eyes; they seemed rather to be sheddinglove thanmaking observations; they had the liquid look whichtells thatthe mind is full of what it has to give outratherthanimpressed by external objects.  She stood with her left handtowardsthe descending sunand leafy boughs screened her from itsrays; butin this sober light the delicate colouring of her faceseemed togather a calm vividnesslike flowers at evening.  Itwas asmall oval faceof a uniform transparent whitenesswith anegglikeline of cheek and china full but firm moutha delicatenostriland a low perpendicular browsurmounted by a rising archof partingbetween smooth locks of pale reddish hair.  The hairwas drawnstraight back behind the earsand coveredexcept foran inch ortwo above the browby a net Quaker cap.  The eyebrowsof thesame colour as the hairwere perfectly horizontal andfirmlypencilled; the eyelashesthough no darkerwere long andabundant--nothingwas left blurred or unfinished.  It was one ofthosefaces that make one think of white flowers with lighttouches ofcolour on their pure petals.  The eyes had no peculiarbeautybeyond that of expression; they looked so simplesocandidsogravely lovingthat no accusing scowlno light sneercould helpmelting away before their glance.  Joshua Rann gave alongcoughas if he were clearing his throat in order to come toa newunderstanding with himself; Chad Cranage lifted up hisleatherskull-cap and scratched his head; and Wiry Ben wonderedhow Sethhad the pluck to think of courting her.

"Asweet woman" the stranger said to himself"but surelynaturenevermeant her for a preacher."

Perhaps hewas one of those who think that nature has theatricalpropertiesandwith the considerate view of facilitating art andpsychology"makes up" her charactersso that there may be nomistakeabout them.  But Dinah began to speak.

"Dearfriends" she said in a clear but not loud voice "let uspray for ablessing."

She closedher eyesand hanging her head down a little continuedin thesame moderate toneas if speaking to some one quite nearher:"Saviour of sinners!  When a poor woman laden with sinswentout to thewell to draw watershe found Thee sitting at the well.She knewThee not; she had not sought Thee; her mind was dark; herlife wasunholy.  But Thou didst speak to herThou didst teachherThoudidst show her that her life lay open before Theeandyet Thouwast ready to give her that blessing which she had neversought. JesusThou art in the midst of usand Thou knowest allmen: ifthere is any here like that poor woman--if their minds aredarktheir lives unholy--if they have come out not seeking Theenotdesiring to be taught; deal with them according to the freemercywhich Thou didst show to her Speak to themLordopen theirears to mymessagebring their sins to their mindsand make themthirst forthat salvation which Thou art ready to give.

"LordThou art with Thy people still: they see Thee in the night-watchesand their hearts burn within them as Thou talkest withthem bythe way.  And Thou art near to those who have not knownThee: opentheir eyes that they may see Thee--see Thee weepingover themand saying 'Ye will not come unto me that ye might havelife'--seeThee hanging on the cross and saying'Fatherforgivethemforthey know not what they do'--see Thee as Thou wilt comeagain inThy glory to judge them at the last.  Amen."

Dinahopened her eyes again and pausedlooking at the group ofvillagerswho were now gathered rather more closely on her righthand.

"Dearfriends" she beganraising her voice a little"you haveall of youbeen to churchand I think you must have heard theclergymanread these words: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon mebecause hehath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.'JesusChrist spoke those words--he said he came TO PREACH THEGOSPEL TOTHE POOR.  I don't know whether you ever thought aboutthosewords muchbut I will tell you when I remember firsthearingthem.  It was on just such a sort of evening as thiswhenI was alittle girland my aunt as brought me up took me to heara good manpreach out of doorsjust as we are here.  I rememberhis facewell: he was a very old manand had very long whitehair; hisvoice was very soft and beautifulnot like any voice Ihad everheard before.  I was a little girl and scarcely knewanythingand this old man seemed to me such a different sort of aman fromanybody I had ever seen before that I thought he hadperhapscome down from the sky to preach to usand I said'Auntwill he goback to the sky to-nightlike the picture in theBible?'

"Thatman of God was Mr. Wesleywho spent his life in doing whatourblessed Lord did--preaching the Gospel to the poor--and heenteredinto his rest eight years ago.  I came to know more abouthim yearsafterbut I was a foolish thoughtless child thenand Irememberedonly one thing he told us in his sermon.  He told us as'Gospel'meant 'good news.'  The Gospelyou knowis what theBibletells us about God.

"Thinkof that now!  Jesus Christ did really come down fromheavenasIlike a silly childthought Mr. Wesley did; and whathe camedown for was to tell good news about God to the poor.Whyyouand medear friendsare poor.  We have been brought upin poorcottages and have been reared on oat-cakeand livedcoarse;and we haven't been to school muchnor read booksand wedon't knowmuch about anything but what happens just round us.  Weare justthe sort of people that want to hear good news.  For whenanybody'swell offthey don't much mind about hearing news fromdistantparts; but if a poor man or woman's in trouble and hashard workto make out a livingthey like to have a letter to tell'emthey've got a friend as will help 'em.  To be surewe can'thelpknowing something about Godeven if we've never heard theGospelthe good news that our Saviour brought us.  For we knoweverythingcomes from God: don't you say almost every day'Thisand thatwill happenplease God' and 'We shall begin to cut thegrasssoonplease God to send us a little more sunshine'?  Weknow verywell we are altogether in the hands of God.  We didn'tbringourselves into the worldwe can't keep ourselves alivewhilewe're sleeping; the daylightand the windand the cornand thecows to give us milk--everything we have comes from God.And hegave us our souls and put love between parents andchildrenand husband and wife.  But is that as much as we want toknow aboutGod? We see he is great and mightyand can do what hewill: weare lostas if we was struggling in great waterswhenwe try tothink of him.

"Butperhaps doubts come into your mind like this: Can God takemuchnotice of us poor people?  Perhaps he only made the world forthe greatand the wise and the rich.  It doesn't cost him much togive usour little handful of victual and bit of clothing; but howdo we knowhe cares for us any more than we care for the worms andthings inthe gardenso as we rear our carrots and onions?  WillGod takecare of us when we die?  And has he any comfort for uswhen weare lame and sick and helpless?  Perhapstoohe is angrywith us;else why does the blight comeand the bad harvestsandthe feverand all sorts of pain and trouble?  For our life isfull oftroubleand if God sends us goodhe seems to send badtoo. How is it?  How is it?

"Ahdear friendswe are in sad want of good news about God; andwhat doesother good news signify if we haven't that?  Foreverythingelse comes to an endand when we die we leave it all.But Godlasts when everything else is gone.  What shall we do ifhe is notour friend?"

Then Dinahtold how the good news had been broughtand how themind ofGod towards the poor had been made manifest in the life ofJesusdwelling on its lowliness and its acts of mercy.

"Soyou seedear friends" she went on"Jesus spent his timealmost allin doing good to poor people; he preached out of doorsto themand he made friends of poor workmenand taught them andtook painswith them.  Not but what he did good to the rich toofor he wasfull of love to all menonly he saw as the poor weremore inwant of his help.  So he cured the lame and the sick andthe blindand he worked miracles to feed the hungry becausehesaidhewas sorry for them; and he was very kind to the littlechildrenand comforted those who had lost their friends; and hespoke verytenderly to poor sinners that were sorry for theirsins.

"Ahwouldn't you love such a man if you saw him--if he were herein thisvillage?  What a kind heart he must have!  What a friendhe wouldbe to go to in trouble!  How pleasant it must be to betaught byhim.

"Welldear friendswho WAS this man?  Was he only a good man--avery goodmanand no more--like our dear Mr. Wesleywho has beentaken fromus?...He was the Son of God--'in the image of theFather'the Bible says; that meansjust like Godwho is thebeginningand end of all things--the God we want to know about.So thenall the love that Jesus showed to the poor is the samelove thatGod has for us.  We can understand what Jesus feltbecause hecame in a body like ours and spoke words such as wespeak toeach other.  We were afraid to think what God was before--the Godwho made the world and the sky and the thunder andlightning. We could never see him; we could only see the thingshe hadmade; and some of these things was very terribleso as wemight welltremble when we thought of him.  But our blessedSaviourhas showed us what God is in a way us poor ignorant peoplecanunderstand; he has showed us what God's heart iswhat are hisfeelingstowards us.

"Butlet us see a little more about what Jesus came on earth for.Anothertime he said'I came to seek and to save that which waslost'; andanother time'I came not to call the righteous butsinners torepentance.'

"TheLOST!...SINNERS!...Ahdear friendsdoes that mean you andme?"

Hithertothe traveller had been chained to the spot against hiswill bythe charm of Dinah's mellow treble toneswhich had avariety ofmodulation like that of a fine instrument touched withtheunconscious skill of musical instinct.  The simple things shesaidseemed like noveltiesas a melody strikes us with a newfeelingwhen we hear it sung by the pure voice of a boyishchorister;the quiet depth of conviction with which she spokeseemed initself an evidence for the truth of her message.  He sawthat shehad thoroughly arrested her hearers.  The villagers hadpressednearer to herand there was no longer anything but graveattentionon all faces.  She spoke slowlythough quite fluentlyoftenpausing after a questionor before any transition of ideas.There wasno change of attitudeno gesture; the effect of herspeech wasproduced entirely by the inflections of her voiceandwhen shecame to the question"Will God take care of us when wedie?"she uttered it in such a tone of plaintive appeal that thetears cameinto some of the hardest eyes.  The stranger had ceasedto doubtas he had done at the first glancethat she could fixtheattention of her rougher hearersbut still he wonderedwhethershe could have that power of rousing their more violentemotionswhich must surely be a necessary seal of her vocation asaMethodist preacheruntil she came to the words"Lost!--Sinners!"when there was a great change in her voice and manner.She hadmade a long pause before the exclamationand the pauseseemed tobe filled by agitating thoughts that showed themselvesin herfeatures.  Her pale face became paler; the circles underher eyesdeepenedas they did when tears half-gather withoutfalling;and the mild loving eyes took an expression of appalledpityasif she had suddenly discerned a destroying angel hoveringover theheads of the people.  Her voice became deep and muffledbut therewas still no gesture.  Nothing could be less like theordinarytype of the Ranter than Dinah.  She was not preaching asshe heardothers preachbut speaking directly from her ownemotionsand under the inspiration of her own simple faith.

But nowshe had entered into a new current of feeling.  Her mannerbecameless calmher utterance more rapid and agitatedas shetried tobring home to the people their guilt their wilfuldarknesstheir state of disobedience to God--as she dwelt on thehatefulnessof sinthe Divine holinessand the sufferings of theSaviourby which a way had been opened for their salvation.  Atlast itseemed as ifin her yearning desire to reclaim the lostsheepshecould not be satisfied by addressing her hearers as abody. She appealed first to one and then to anotherbeseechingthem withtears to turn to God while there was yet time; paintingto themthe desolation of their soulslost in sinfeeding on thehusks ofthis miserable worldfar away from God their Father; andthen thelove of the Saviourwho was waiting and watching fortheirreturn.

There wasmany a responsive sigh and groan from her fellow-Methodistsbut the village mind does not easily take fireand alittlesmouldering vague anxiety that might easily die out againwas theutmost effect Dinah's preaching had wrought in them atpresent. Yet no one had retiredexcept the children and "oldFeytherTaft" who being too deaf to catch many wordshad sometime agogone back to his inglenook.  Wiry Ben was feeling veryuncomfortableand almost wishing he had not come to hear Dinah;he thoughtwhat she said would haunt him somehow.  Yet he couldn'thelpliking to look at her and listen to herthough he dreadedeverymoment that she would fix her eyes on him and address him inparticular. She had already addressed Sandy Jimwho was nowholdingthe baby to relieve his wifeand the big soft-hearted manhad rubbedaway some tears with his fistwith a confusedintentionof being a better fellowgoing less to the Holly Bushdown bythe Stone-pitsand cleaning himself more regularly of aSunday.

In frontof Sandy Jim stood Chad's Besswho had shown an unwontedquietudeand fixity of attention ever since Dinah had begun tospeak. Not that the matter of the discourse had arrested her atonceforshe was lost in a puzzling speculation as to whatpleasureand satisfaction there could be in life to a young womanwho wore acap like Dinah's.  Giving up this inquiry in despairshe tookto studying Dinah's noseeyesmouthand hairandwonderingwhether it was better to have such a sort of pale faceas thator fat red cheeks and round black eyes like her own.  Butgraduallythe influence of the general gravity told upon herandshe becameconscious of what Dinah was saying.  The gentle tonesthe lovingpersuasiondid not touch herbut when the more severeappealscame she began to be frightened.  Poor Bessy had alwaysbeenconsidered a naughty girl; she was conscious of it; if it wasnecessaryto be very goodit was clear she must be in a bad way.Shecouldn't find her places at church as Sally Rann couldshehad oftenbeen tittering when she "curcheyed" to Mr. Irwine; andthesereligious deficiencies were accompanied by a correspondingslacknessin the minor moralsfor Bessy belonged unquestionablyto thatunsoaped lazy class of feminine characters with whom youmayventure to "eat an eggan appleor a nut."  All thisshe wasgenerallyconscious ofand hitherto had not been greatly ashamedof it. But now she began to feel very much as if the constablehad cometo take her up and carry her before the justice for someundefinedoffence.  She had a terrified sense that Godwhom shehad alwaysthought of as very far offwas very near to herandthat Jesuswas close by looking at herthough she could not seehim. For Dinah had that belief in visible manifestations ofJesuswhich is common among the Methodistsand she communicateditirresistibly to her hearers: she made them feel that he wasamong thembodilyand might at any moment show himself to them insome waythat would strike anguish and penitence into theirhearts.

"See!"she exclaimedturning to the leftwith her eyes fixed ona pointabove the heads of the people.  "See where our blessedLordstands and weeps and stretches out his arms towards you.Hear whathe says: 'How often would I have gathered you as a hengatherethher chickens under her wingsand ye would not!'...andye wouldnot" she repeatedin a tone of pleading reproachturningher eyes on the people again.  "See the print of the nailson hisdear hands and feet.  It is your sins that made them!  Ah!How paleand worn he looks!  He has gone through all that greatagony inthe gardenwhen his soul was exceeding sorrowful evenuntodeathand the great drops of sweat fell like blood to theground. They spat upon him and buffeted himthey scourged himtheymocked himthey laid the heavy cross on his bruisedshoulders. Then they nailed him up.  Ahwhat pain!  His lips areparchedwith thirstand they mock him still in this great agony;yet withthose parched lips he prays for them'Fatherforgivethemforthey know not what they do.' Then a horror of greatdarknessfell upon himand he felt what sinners feel when theyare forever shut out from God.  That was the last drop in the cupofbitterness.  'My Godmy God!' he cries'why hast Thouforsakenme?'

"Allthis he bore for you!  For you--and you never think of him;foryou--and you turn your backs on him; you don't care what hehas gonethrough for you.  Yet he is not weary of toiling for you:he hasrisen from the deadhe is praying for you at the righthand ofGod--'Fatherforgive themfor they know not what theydo.' And he is upon this earth too; he is among us; he is thereclose toyou now; I see his wounded body and his look of love."

Here Dinahturned to Bessy Cranagewhose bonny youth and evidentvanity hadtouched her with pity.

"Poorchild!  Poor child!  He is beseeching youand you don'tlisten tohim.  You think of ear-rings and fine gowns and capsand younever think of the Saviour who died to save your precioussoul. Your cheeks will be shrivelled one dayyour hair will begreyyourpoor body will be thin and tottering!  Then you willbegin tofeel that your soul is not saved; then you will have tostandbefore God dressed in your sinsin your evil tempers andvainthoughts.  And Jesuswho stands ready to help you nowwon'thelp youthen; because you won't have him to be your Saviourhewill beyour judge.  Now he looks at you with love and mercy andsays'Come to me that you may have life'; then he will turn awayfrom youand say'Depart from me into ever-lasting fire!'"

PoorBessy's wide-open black eyes began to fill with tearshergreat redcheeks and lips became quite paleand her face wasdistortedlike a little child's before a burst of crying.

"Ahpoor blind child!" Dinah went on"think if it shouldhappento you asit once happened to a servant of God in the days of hervanity. SHE thought of her lace caps and saved all her money tobuy 'em;she thought nothing about how she might get a clean heartand aright spirit--she only wanted to have better lace than othergirls. And one day when she put her new cap on and looked in theglassshesaw a bleeding Face crowned with thorns.  That face islooking atyou now"--here Dinah pointed to a spot close in frontofBessy--"Ahtear off those follies!  Cast them away fromyouas if theywere stinging adders.  They ARE stinging you--they arepoisoningyour soul--they are dragging you down into a darkbottomlesspitwhere you will sink for everand for everandfor everfurther away from light and God."

Bessycould bear it no longer: a great terror was upon herandwrenchingher ear-rings from her earsshe threw them down beforehersobbing aloud.  Her fatherChadfrightened lest he shouldbe "laidhold on" toothis impression on the rebellious Bessstrikinghim as nothing less than a miraclewalked hastily awayand beganto work at his anvil by way of reassuring himself."Folksmun ha' hoss-shoespraichin' or no praichin': the divilcanna layhould o' me for that" he muttered to himself.

But nowDinah began to tell of the joys that were in store for thepenitentand to describe in her simple way the divine peace andlove withwhich the soul of the believer is filled--how the senseof God'slove turns poverty into riches and satisfies the soul sothat nouneasy desire vexes itno fear alarms it: howat lastthe verytemptation to sin is extinguishedand heaven is begunuponearthbecause no cloud passes between the soul and Godwhois itseternal sun.

"Dearfriends" she said at last"brothers and sisterswhom Ilove asthose for whom my Lord has diedbelieve meI know whatthis greatblessedness is; and because I know itI want you tohave ittoo.  I am poorlike you: I have to get my living with myhands; butno lord nor lady can be so happy as meif they haven'tgot thelove of God in their souls.  Think what it is--not to hateanythingbut sin; to be full of love to every creature; to befrightenedat nothing; to be sure that all things will turn togood; notto mind painbecause it is our Father's will; to knowthatnothing--nonot if the earth was to be burnt upor thewaterscome and drown us--nothing could part us from God who lovesusandwho fills our souls with peace and joybecause we aresure thatwhatever he wills is holyjustand good.

"Dearfriendscome and take this blessedness; it is offered toyou; it isthe good news that Jesus came to preach to the poor.It is notlike the riches of this worldso that the more one getsthe lessthe rest can have.  God is without end; his love iswithoutend--

 

Itsstreams the whole creation reach Soplenteous is the store;Enoughfor allenough for each Enoughfor evermore.

 

Dinah hadbeen speaking at least an hourand the reddening lightof theparting day seemed to give a solemn emphasis to her closingwords. The strangerwho had been interested in the course of hersermon asif it had been the development of a drama--for there isthis sortof fascination in all sincere unpremeditated eloquencewhichopens to one the inward drama of the speaker's emotions--nowturned hishorse aside and pursued his waywhile Dinah said"Letus sing alittledear friends"; and as he was still winding downthe slopethe voices of the Methodists reached himrising andfalling inthat strange blending of exultation and sadness whichbelongs tothe cadence of a hymn.

 

 ChapterIII Afterthe Preaching

 

IN lessthan an hour from that timeSeth Bede was walking byDinah'sside along the hedgerow-path that skirted the pastures andgreencorn-fields which lay between the village and the Hall Farm.Dinah hadtaken off her little Quaker bonnet againand washolding itin her hands that she might have a freer enjoyment ofthe coolevening twilightand Seth could see the expression ofher facequite clearly as he walked by her sidetimidly revolvingsomethinghe wanted to say to her.  It was an expression ofunconsciousplacid gravity--of absorption in thoughts that had noconnectionwith the present moment or with her own personality--anexpressionthat is most of all discouraging to a lover.  Her verywalk wasdiscouraging: it had that quiet elasticity that asks fornosupport.  Seth felt this dimly; he said to himself"She'stoogood andholy for any manlet alone me" and the words he hadbeensummoning rushed back again before they had reached his lips.Butanother thought gave him courage: "There's no man could loveher betterand leave her freer to follow the Lord's work."  Theyhad beensilent for many minutes nowsince they had done talkingaboutBessy Cranage; Dinah seemed almost to have forgotten Seth'spresenceand her pace was becoming so much quicker that the senseof theirbeing only a few minutes' walk from the yard-gates of theHall Farmat last gave Seth courage to speak.

"You'vequite made up your mind to go back to Snowfield o'SaturdayDinah?"

"Yes"said Dinahquietly.  "I'm called there.  It was borneinupon mymind while I was meditating on Sunday nightas SisterAllenwho's in a declineis in need of me.  I saw her as plainas we seethat bit of thin white cloudlifting up her poor thinhand andbeckoning to me.  And this morning when I opened theBible fordirectionthe first words my eyes fell on were'Andafter wehad seen the visionimmediately we endeavoured to gointoMacedonia.'  If it wasn't for that clear showing of theLord'swillI should be loath to gofor my heart yearns over myaunt andher little onesand that poor wandering lamb HettySorrel. I've been much drawn out in prayer for her of lateand Ilook on itas a token that there may be mercy in store for her."

"Godgrant it" said Seth.  "For I doubt Adam's heart is soset onherhe'llnever turn to anybody else; and yet it 'ud go to myheart ifhe was to marry herfor I canna think as she'd make himhappy. It's a deep mystery--the way the heart of man turns to onewoman outof all the rest he's seen i' the worldand makes iteasier forhim to work seven year for HERlike Jacob did forRachelsooner than have any other woman for th' asking.  I oftenthink ofthem words'And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; andtheyseemed to him but a few days for the love he had to her.'  Iknow thosewords 'ud come true with meDinahif so be you'd giveme hope asI might win you after seven years was over.  I know youthink ahusband 'ud be taking up too much o' your thoughtsbecauseSt. Paul says'She that's married careth for the thingsof theworld how she may please her husband'; and may happenyou'llthink me overbold to speak to you about it againafterwhat youtold me o' your mind last Saturday.  But I've beenthinkingit over again by night and by dayand I've prayed not tobe blindedby my own desiresto think what's only good for memust begood for you too.  And it seems to me there's more textsfor yourmarrying than ever you can find against it.  For St. Paulsays asplain as can be in another place'I will that the youngerwomenmarrybear childrenguide the housegive none occasion totheadversary to speak reproachfully'; and then 'two are betterthan one';and that holds good with marriage as well as with otherthings. For we should be o' one heart and o' one mindDinah.  Weboth servethe same Masterand are striving after the same gifts;and I'dnever be the husband to make a claim on you as couldinterferewith your doing the work God has fitted you for.  I'dmake ashiftand fend indoor and outto give you more liberty--more thanyou can have nowfor you've got to get your own livingnowandI'm strong enough to work for us both."

When Sethhad once begun to urge his suithe went on earnestlyand almosthurriedlylest Dinah should speak some decisive wordbefore hehad poured forth all the arguments he had prepared.  Hischeeksbecame flushed as he went on his mild grey eyes filled withtearsandhis voice trembled as he spoke the last sentence.  Theyhadreached one of those very narrow passes between two tallstoneswhich performed the office of a stile in LoamshireandDinahpaused as she turned towards Seth and saidin her tenderbut calmtreble notes"Seth BedeI thank you for your lovetowardsmeand if I could think of any man as more than aChristianbrotherI think it would be you.  But my heart is notfree tomarry.  That is good for other womenand it is a greatand ablessed thing to be a wife and mother; but 'as God hasdistributedto every manas the Lord hath called every mansolet himwalk.'  God has called me to minister to othersnot tohave anyjoys or sorrows of my ownbut to rejoice with them thatdorejoiceand to weep with those that weep.  He has called me tospeak hiswordand he has greatly owned my work.  It could onlybe on avery clear showing that I could leave the brethren andsisters atSnowfieldwho are favoured with very little of thisworld'sgood; where the trees are fewso that a child might countthemandthere's very hard living for the poor in the winter.  Ithas beengiven me to helpto comfortand strengthen the littleflockthere and to call in many wanderers; and my soul is filledwith thesethings from my rising up till my lying down.  My lifeis tooshortand God's work is too great for me to think ofmaking ahome for myself in this world.  I've not turned a deafear toyour wordsSethfor when I saw as your love was given tomeIthought it might be a leading of Providence for me to changemy way oflifeand that we should be fellow-helpers; and I spreadthe matterbefore the Lord.  But whenever I tried to fix my mindonmarriageand our living togetherother thoughts always camein--thetimes when I've prayed by the sick and dyingand thehappyhours I've had preachingwhen my heart was filled withloveandthe Word was given to me abundantly.  And when I'veopened theBible for directionI've always lighted on some clearword totell me where my work lay.  I believe what you saySeththat youwould try to be a help and not a hindrance to my work;but I seethat our marriage is not God's will--He draws my heartanotherway.  I desire to live and die without husband orchildren. I seem to have no room in my soul for wants and fearsof my ownit has pleased God to fill my heart so full with thewants andsufferings of his poor people."

Seth wasunable to replyand they walked on in silence.  At lastas theywere nearly at the yard-gatehe said"WellDinahImust seekfor strength to bear itand to endure as seeing Him whoisinvisible.  But I feel now how weak my faith is.  It seemsasifwhenyou are goneI could never joy in anything any more.  Ithink it'ssomething passing the love of women as I feel for youfor Icould be content without your marrying me if I could go andlive atSnowfield and be near you.  I trusted as the strong loveGod hasgiven me towards you was a leading for us both; but itseems itwas only meant for my trial.  Perhaps I feel more for youthan Iought to feel for any creaturefor I often can't helpsaying ofyou what the hymn says--

 

Indarkest shades if she appearMydawning is begun;She ismy soul's bright morning-starAnd shemy rising sun.

 

That maybe wrongand I am to be taught better.  But you wouldn'tbedispleased with me if things turned out so as I could leavethiscountry and go to live at Snowfield?"

"NoSeth; but I counsel you to wait patientlyand not lightly toleave yourown country and kindred.  Do nothing without the Lord'sclearbidding.  It's a bleak and barren country therenot likethis landof Goshen you've been used to.  We mustn't be in a hurryto fix andchoose our own lot; we must wait to be guided."

"Butyou'd let me write you a letterDinahif there was anythingI wantedto tell you?"

"Yessure; let me know if you're in any trouble.  You'll becontinuallyin my prayers."

They hadnow reached the yard-gateand Seth said"I won't go inDinahsofarewell."  He paused and hesitated after she had givenhim herhandand then said"There's no knowing but what you maysee thingsdifferent after a while.  There may be a new leading."

"Letus leave thatSeth.  It's good to live only a moment at atimeasI've read in one of Mr. Wesley's books.  It isn't for youand me tolay plans; we've nothing to do but to obey and to trust.Farewell."

Dinahpressed his hand with rather a sad look in her loving eyesand thenpassed through the gatewhile Seth turned away to walklingeringlyhome.  But instead of taking the direct roadhe choseto turnback along the fields through which he and Dinah hadalreadypassed; and I think his blue linen handkerchief was verywet withtears long before he had made up his mind that it wastime forhim to set his face steadily homewards.  He was butthree-and-twentyand had only just learned what it is to love--tolove withthat adoration which a young man gives to a woman whomhe feelsto be greater and better than himself.  Love of this sortis hardlydistinguishable from religious feeling.  What deep andworthylove is sowhether of woman or childor art or music.Ourcaressesour tender wordsour still rapture under theinfluenceof autumn sunsetsor pillared vistasor calm majesticstatuesor Beethoven symphonies all bring with them theconsciousnessthat they are mere waves and ripples in anunfathomableocean of love and beauty; our emotion in its keenestmomentpasses from expression into silenceour love at itshighestflood rushes beyond its object and loses itself in thesense ofdivine mystery.  And this blessed gift of venerating lovehas beengiven to too many humble craftsmen since the world beganfor us tofeel any surprise that it should have existed in thesoul of aMethodist carpenter half a century agowhile there wasyet alingering after-glow from the time when Wesley and hisfellow-labourerfed on the hips and haws of the Cornwall hedgesafterexhausting limbs and lungs in carrying a divine message tothe poor.

Thatafterglow has long faded away; and the picture we are apt tomake ofMethodism in our imagination is not an amphitheatre ofgreenhillsor the deep shade of broad-leaved sycamoreswhere acrowd ofrough men and weary-hearted women drank in a faith whichwas arudimentary culturewhich linked their thoughts with thepastlifted their imagination above the sordid details of theirown narrowlivesand suffused their souls with the sense of apityinglovinginfinite Presencesweet as summer to thehouselessneedy.  It is too possible that to some of my readersMethodismmay mean nothing more than low-pitched gables up dingystreetssleek grocerssponging preachersand hypocriticaljargon--elementswhich are regarded as an exhaustive analysis ofMethodismin many fashionable quarters.

That wouldbe a pity; for I cannot pretend that Seth and Dinahwereanything else than Methodists--not indeed of that modern typewhichreads quarterly reviews and attends in chapels with pillaredporticoesbut of a very old-fashioned kind.  They believed inpresentmiraclesin instantaneous conversionsin revelations bydreams andvisions; they drew lotsand sought for Divine guidanceby openingthe Bible at hazard; having a literal way ofinterpretingthe Scriptureswhich is not at all sanctioned byapprovedcommentators; and it is impossibie for me to representtheirdiction as corrector their instruction as liberal.  Still--if I haveread religious history aright--faithhopeand charityhave notalways been found in a direct ratio with a sensibility tothe threeconcordsand it is possible--thank Heaven!--to haveveryerroneous theories and very sublime feelings.  The raw baconwhichclumsy Molly spares from her own scanty store that she maycarry itto her neighbour's child to "stop the fits" may be apiteouslyinefficacious remedy; but the generous stirring ofneighbourlykindness that prompted the deed has a beneficentradiationthat is not lost.

Consideringthese thingswe can hardly think Dinah and Sethbeneathour sympathyaccustomed as we may be to weep over theloftiersorrows of heroines in satin boots and crinolineand ofheroesriding fiery horsesthemselves ridden by still more fierypassions.

PoorSeth!  He was never on horseback in his life except oncewhen hewas a little ladand Mr. Jonathan Burge took him upbebindtelling him to "hold on tight"; and instead of burstingout intowild accusing apostrophes to God and destinyhe isresolvingas he now walks homewards under the solemn starlightto represshis sadnessto be less bent on having his own willand tolive more for othersas Dinah does.

 

 ChapterIV Homeand Its Sorrows

 

A GREENvalley with a brook running through itfull almost tooverflowingwith the late rainsoverhung by low stooping willows.Acrossthis brook a plank is thrownand over this plank Adam Bedeis passingwith his undoubting stepfollowed close by Gyp withthebasket; evidently making his way to the thatched housewith astack oftimber by the side of itabout twenty yards up theoppositeslope.

The doorof the house is openand an elderly woman is lookingout; butshe is not placidly contemplating the evening sunshine;she hasbeen watching with dim eyes the gradually enlarging speckwhich forthe last few minutes she has been quite sure is herdarlingson Adam.  Lisbeth Bede loves her son with the love of awoman towhom her first-born has come late in life.  She is ananxiousspareyet vigorous old womanclean as a snowdrop.  Hergrey hairis turned neatly back under a pure linen cap with ablack bandround it; her broad chest is covered with a buffneckerchiefand below this you see a sort of short bedgown madeofblue-checkered linentied round the waist and descending tothe hipsfrom whence there is a considerable length of linsey-woolseypetticoat.  For Lisbeth is talland in other points toothere is astrong likeness between her and her son Adam.  Her darkeyes aresomewhat dim now--perhaps from too much crying--but herbroadlymarked eyebrows are still blackher teeth are soundandas shestands knitting rapidly and unconsciously with her work-hardenedhandsshe has as firmly upright an attitude as when sheiscarrying a pail of water on her head from the spring.  There isthe sametype of frame and the same keen activity of temperamentin motherand sonbut it was not from her that Adam got his well-filledbrow and his expression of large-hearted intelligence.

Familylikeness has often a deep sadness in it.  Naturethatgreattragic dramatistknits us together by bone and muscleanddivides usby the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning andrepulsion;and ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jarus atevery movement.  We hear a voice with the very cadence ofour ownuttering the thoughts we despise; we see eyes--ahso likeourmother's!--averted from us in cold alienation; and our lastdarlingchild startles us with the air and gestures of the sisterwe partedfrom in bitterness long years ago.  The father to whomwe owe ourbest heritage--the mechanical instinctthe keensensibilityto harmonythe unconscious skill of the modellinghand--gallsus and puts us to shame by his daily errors; the long-lostmotherwhose face we begin to see in the glass as our ownwrinklescomeonce fretted our young souls with her anxioushumoursand irrational persistence.

It is sucha fond anxious mother's voice that you hearas Lisbethsays"Wellmy ladit's gone seven by th' clock.  Thee't allaysstay tillthe last child's born.  Thee wants thy supperI'llwarrand. Where's Seth?  Gone arter some o's chapellin'Ireckon?"

"AyeayeSeth's at no harmmotherthee mayst be sure.

Butwhere's father?" said Adam quicklyas he entered the houseandglanced into the room on the left handwhich was used as aworkshop. "Hasn't he done the coffin for Tholer?  There's thestuffstanding just as I left it this morning."

"Donethe coffin?" said Lisbethfollowing himand knittinguninterruptedlythough she looked at her son very anxiously."Ehmy ladhe went aff to Treddles'on this forenoonan's nivercomeback.  I doubt he's got to th' 'Waggin Overthrow' again."

A deepflush of anger passed rapidly over Adam's face.  He saidnothingbut threw off his jacket and began to roll up his shirt-sleevesagain.

"Whatart goin' to doAdam?" said the motherwith a tone andlook ofalarm.  "Thee wouldstna go to work againwi'out ha'in thybit o'supper?"

Adamtooangry to speakwalked into the workshop.  But hismotherthrew down her knittingandhurrying after himtook holdof hisarmand saidin a tone of plaintive remonstrance"Naymy ladmyladthee munna go wi'out thy supper; there's thetaters wi'the gravy in 'emjust as thee lik'st 'em.  I saved 'emo' purposefor thee.  Come an' ha' thy suppercome."

"Letbe!" said Adam impetuouslyshaking her off and seizing oneof theplanks that stood against the wall.  "It's fine talkingabouthaving supper when here's a coffin promised to be ready atBrox'on byseven o'clock to-morrow morningand ought to ha' beenthere nowand not a nail struck yet.  My throat's too full toswallowvictuals."

"Whythee canstna get the coffin ready" said Lisbeth.  "Thee'tworkthyself to death.  It 'ud take thee all night to do't."

"Whatsignifies how long it takes me?  Isn't the coffin promised?Can theybury the man without a coffin?  I'd work my right handoff soonerthan deceive people with lies i' that way.  It makes memad tothink on't.  I shall overrun these doings before long.I've stoodenough of 'em."

PoorLisbeth did not hear this threat for the first timeand ifshe hadbeen wise she would have gone away quietly and saidnothingfor the next hour.  But one of the lessons a woman mostrarelylearns is never to talk to an angry or a drunken man.Lisbethsat down on the chopping bench and began to cryand bythe timeshe had cried enough to make her voice very piteoussheburst outinto words.

"Naymy ladmy ladthee wouldstna go away an' break thymother'sheartan' leave thy feyther to ruin.  Thee wouldstna ha''em carryme to th' churchyardan' thee not to follow me.  Ishannarest i' my grave if I donna see thee at th' last; an' how'sthey tolet thee know as I'm a-dyin'if thee't gone a-workin' i'distantpartsan' Seth belike gone arter theeand thy feythernot ableto hold a pen for's hand shakin'besides not knowin'where theeart?  Thee mun forgie thy feyther--thee munna be sobitteragain' him.  He war a good feyther to thee afore he took toth'drink.  He's a clever workmanan' taught thee thy traderememberan's niver gen me a blow nor so much as an ill word--nonot evenin 's drink.  Thee wouldstna ha' 'm go to the workhus--thy ownfeyther--an' him as was a fine-growed man an' handy ateverythin'amost as thee art thysenfive-an'-twenty 'ear agowhen theewast a baby at the breast."

Lisbeth'svoice became louderand choked with sobs--a sort ofwailthemost irritating of all sounds where real sorrows are tobe borneand real work to be done.  Adam broke in impatiently.

"NowMotherdon't cry and talk so.  Haven't I got enough to vexme withoutthat?  What's th' use o' telling me things as I onlythink toomuch on every day?  If I didna think on 'emwhy shouldI do as Idofor the sake o' keeping things together here?  But Ihate to betalking where it's no use: I like to keep my breath fordoingi'stead o' talking."

"Iknow thee dost things as nobody else 'ud domy lad.  Butthee'tallays so hard upo' thy feytherAdam.  Thee think'stnothingtoo much to do for Seth: thee snapp'st me up if iver Ifind fautwi' th' lad.  But thee't so angered wi' thy feythermore norwi' anybody else."

"That'sbetter than speaking soft and letting things go the wrongwayIreckonisn't it?  If I wasn't sharp with him he'd sellevery bito' stuff i' th' yard and spend it on drink.  I knowthere's aduty to be done by my fatherbut it isn't my duty toencouragehim in running headlong to ruin.  And what has Seth gotto do withit?  The lad does no harm as I know of.  But leave mealoneMotherand let me get on with the work."

Lisbethdared not say any more; but she got up and called Gypthinkingto console herself somewhat for Adam's refusal of thesupper shehad spread out in the loving expectation of looking athim whilehe ate itby feeding Adam's dog with extra liberality.But Gypwas watching his master with wrinkled brow and ears erectpuzzled atthis unusual course of things; and though he glanced atLisbethwhen she called himand moved his fore-paws uneasilywellknowing that she was inviting him to supperhe was in adividedstate of mindand remained seated on his haunchesagainfixing hiseyes anxiously on his master.  Adam noticed Gyp'smentalconflictand though his anger had made him less tenderthan usualto his motherit did not prevent him from caring asmuch asusual for his dog.  We are apt to be kinder to the brutesthat loveus than to the women that love us.  Is it because thebrutes aredumb?

"GoGyp; golad!" Adam saidin a tone of encouraging command;and Gypapparently satisfied that duty and pleasure were onefollowedLisbeth into the house-place.

But nosooner had he licked up his supper than he went back to hismasterwhile Lisbeth sat down alone to cry over her knitting.Women whoare never bitter and resentful are often the mostquerulous;and if Solomon was as wise as he is reputed to beIfeel surethat when he compared a contentious woman to a continualdroppingon a very rainy dayhe had not a vixen in his eye--afury withlong nailsacrid and selfish.  Depend upon ithe meanta goodcreaturewho had no joy but in the happiness of the lovedones whomshe contributed to make uncomfortableputting by allthetid-bits for them and spending nothing on herself.  Such awoman asLisbethfor example--at once patient and complainingself-renouncingand exactingbrooding the livelong day over whathappenedyesterday and what is likely to happen to-morrowandcryingvery readily both at the good and the evil.  But a certainawemingled itself with her idolatrous love of Adamand when hesaid"Leave me alone" she was always silenced.

So thehours passedto the loud ticking of the old day-clock andthe soundof Adam's tools.  At last he called for a light and adraught ofwater (beer was a thing only to be drunk on holidays)andLisbeth ventured to say as she took it in"Thy supper stan'sready fortheewhen thee lik'st."

"Donnathee sit upmother" said Adamin a gentle tone.  He hadworked offhis anger nowand whenever he wished to be especiallykind tohis motherhe fell into his strongest native accent anddialectwith which at other times his speech was less deeplytinged. "I'll see to Father when he comes home; maybe he wonnacome atall to-night.  I shall be easier if thee't i' bed."

"NayI'll bide till Seth comes.  He wonna be long nowI reckon."

It wasthen past nine by the clockwhich was always in advance ofthe daysand before it had struck ten the latch was lifted andSethentered.  He had heard the sound of the tools as he wasapproaching.

"WhyMother" he said"how is it as Father's working so late?"

"It'snone o' thy feyther as is a-workin'--thee might know thatwell anoofif thy head warna full o' chapellin'--it's thy brotheras doesiverythingfor there's niver nobody else i' th' way to donothin'."

Lisbethwas going onfor she was not at all afraid of Sethandusuallypoured into his ears all the querulousness which wasrepressedby her awe of Adam.  Seth had never in his life spoken aharsh wordto his motherand timid people always wreak theirpeevishnesson the gentle.  But Sethwith an anxious lookhadpassedinto the workshop and said"Addyhow's this?  What!Father'sforgot the coffin?"

"Ayeladth' old tale; but I shall get it done" said Adamlooking upand casting one of his bright keen glances at hisbrother. "Whywhat's the matter with thee?  Thee't in trouble."

Seth'seyes were redand there was a look of deep depression onhis mildface.

"YesAddybut it's what must be borneand can't be helped.Whythee'st never been to the schoolthen?"

"School? Nothat screw can wait" said Adamhammering awayagain.

"Letme take my turn nowand do thee go to bed" said Seth.

"NoladI'd rather go onnow I'm in harness.  Thee't help me tocarry itto Brox'on when it's done.  I'll call thee up at sunrise.Go and eatthy supperand shut the door so as I mayn't hearMother'stalk."

Seth knewthat Adam always meant what he saidand was not to bepersuadedinto meaning anything else.  So he turnedwith rather aheavyheartinto the house-place.

"Adam'sniver touched a bit o' victual sin' home he's come" saidLisbeth. "I reckon thee'st hed thy supper at some o' thy Methodyfolks."

"NayMother" said Seth"I've had no supper yet."

"Comethen" said Lisbeth"but donna thee ate the tatersforAdam 'ullhappen ate 'em if I leave 'em stannin'.  He loves a bito' tatersan' gravy.  But he's been so sore an' angeredhewouldn'tate 'emfor all I'd putten 'em by o' purpose for him.An' he'sbeen a-threatenin' to go away again" she went onwhimpering"an' I'm fast sure he'll go some dawnin' afore I'm upan' niverlet me know aforehandan' he'll niver come back againwhen oncehe's gone.  An' I'd better niver ha' had a sonas islike noother body's son for the deftness an' th' handinessan'so lookedon by th' grit folksan' tall an' upright like apoplar-treean' me to be parted from him an' niver see 'm nomore."

"ComeMotherdonna grieve thyself in vain" said Sethin asoothingvoice.  "Thee'st not half so good reason to think as Adam'ull goaway as to think he'll stay with thee.  He may say such athing whenhe's in wrath--and he's got excuse for being wrathfulsometimes--buthis heart 'ud never let him go.  Think how he'sstood byus all when it's been none so easy--paying his savings tofree mefrom going for a soldieran' turnin' his earnin's intowood forfatherwhen he's got plenty o' uses for his moneyandmany ayoung man like him 'ud ha' been married and settled beforenow. He'll never turn round and knock down his own workandforsakethem as it's been the labour of his life to stand by."

"Donnatalk to me about's marr'in'" said Lisbethcrying afresh."He'sset's heart on that Hetty Sorrelas 'ull niver save apennyan''ull toss up her head at's old mother.  An' to think ashe mightha' Mary Burgean' be took partnersan' be a big manwi'workmen under himlike Mester Burge--Dolly's told me so o'erand o'eragain--if it warna as he's set's heart on that bit of awenchasis o' no more use nor the gillyflower on the wall.  An'he so wiseat bookin' an' figurin'an' not to know no better northat!"

"ButMotherthee know'st we canna love just where other folks'ud haveus.  There's nobody but God can control the heart of man.I couldha' wished myself as Adam could ha' made another choicebut Iwouldn't reproach him for what he can't help.  And I'm notsure butwhat he tries to o'ercome it.  But it's a matter as hedoesn'tlike to be spoke to aboutand I can only pray to the Lordto blessand direct him."

"Ayethee't allays ready enough at prayin'but I donna see asthee getsmuch wi' thy prayin'.  Thee wotna get double earnin's o'this sideYule.  Th' Methodies 'll niver make thee half the manthybrother isfor all they're a-makin' a preacher on thee."

"It'spartly truth thee speak'st thereMother" said Sethmildly;"Adam's far before mean's done more for me than I canever dofor him.  God distributes talents to every man accordingas He seesgood.  But thee mustna undervally prayer.  Prayer maynabringmoneybut it brings us what no money can buy--a power tokeep fromsin and be content with God's willwhatever He mayplease tosend.  If thee wouldst pray to God to help theeandtrust inHis goodnessthee wouldstna be so uneasy about things."

"Unaisy? I'm i' th' right on't to be unaisy.  It's well seen onTHEE whatit is niver to be unaisy.  Thee't gi' away all thyearnin'san' niver be unaisy as thee'st nothin' laid up again' arainyday.  If Adam had been as aisy as theehe'd niver ha' hadno moneyto pay for thee.  Take no thought for the morrow--take nothought--that'swhat thee't allays sayin'; an' what comes on't?WhyasAdam has to take thought for thee."

"Thoseare the words o' the BibleMother" said Seth.  "Theydon't meanas we should be idle.  They mean we shouldn't beoveranxiousand worreting ourselves about what'll happen to-morrowbut do our duty and leave the rest to God's will."

"Ayeayethat's the way wi' thee: thee allays makes a peck o'thy ownwords out o' a pint o' the Bible's.  I donna see howthee't toknow as 'take no thought for the morrow' means all that.An' whenthe Bible's such a big bookan' thee canst read allthro'tan' ha' the pick o' the texesI canna think why theedostnapick better words as donna mean so much more nor they say.Adamdoesna pick a that'n; I can understan' the tex as he's allaysa-sayin''God helps them as helps theirsens.'"

"NayMother" said Seth"that's no text o' the Bible.  Itcomesout of abook as Adam picked up at the stall at Treddles'on.  Itwas wroteby a knowing manbut overworldlyI doubt.  Howeverthatsaying's partly true; for the Bible tells us we must beworkerstogether with God."

"Wellhow'm I to know?  It sounds like a tex.  But what's th'matter wi'th' lad?  Thee't hardly atin' a bit o' supper.  Dostnamean toha' no more nor that bit o' oat-cake?  An' thee lookst aswhite as aflick o' new bacon.  What's th' matter wi' thee?"

"Nothingto mind aboutMother; I'm not hungry.  I'll just look inat Adamagainand see if he'll let me go on with the coffin."

"Ha'a drop o' warm broth?" said Lisbethwhose motherly feelingnow gotthe better of her "nattering" habit.  "I'll settwo-threesticksa-light in a minute."

"NayMotherthank thee; thee't very good" said Sethgratefully;and encouraged by this touch of tendernesshe wenton: "Letme pray a bit with thee for Fatherand Adamand all ofus--it'llcomfort theehappenmore than thee thinkst."

"WellI've nothin' to say again' it."

Lisbeththough disposed always to take the negative side in herconversationswith Sethhad a vague sense that there was somecomfortand safety in the fact of his pietyand that it somehowrelievedher from the trouble of any spiritual transactions on herownbehalf.

So themother and son knelt down togetherand Seth prayed for thepoorwandering father and for those who were sorrowing for him athome. And when he came to the petition that Adam might never becalled toset up his tent in a far countrybut that his mothermight becheered and comforted by his presence all the days of herpilgrimageLisbeth's ready tears flowed againand she weptaloud.

When theyrose from their kneesSeth went to Adam again and said"Wiltonly lie down for an hour or twoand let me go on thewhile?"

"NoSethno.  Make Mother go to bedand go thyself."

MeantimeLisbeth had dried her eyesand now followed Sethholdingsomething in her hands.  It was the brown-and-yellowplattercontaining the baked potatoes with the gravy in them andbits ofmeat which she had cut and mixed among them.  Those weredeartimeswhen wheaten bread and fresh meat were delicacies toworkingpeople.  She set the dish down rather timidly on the benchby Adam'sside and said"Thee canst pick a bit while thee'tworkin'. I'll bring thee another drop o' water."

"AyeMotherdo" said Adamkindly; "I'm getting very thirsty."

In half anhour all was quiet; no sound was to be heard in thehouse butthe loud ticking of the old day-clock and the ringing ofAdam'stools.  The night was very still: when Adam opened the doorto lookout at twelve o'clockthe only motion seemed to be in theglowingtwinkling stars; every blade of grass was asleep.

Bodilyhaste and exertion usually leave our thoughts very much atthe mercyof our feelings and imagination; and it was so to-nightwithAdam.  While his muscles were working lustilyhis mindseemed aspassive as a spectator at a diorama: scenes of the sadpastandprobably sad futurefloating before him and givingplace oneto the other in swift sucession.

He saw howit would be to-morrow morningwhen he had carried thecoffin toBroxton and was at home againhaving his breakfast: hisfatherperhaps would come in ashamed to meet his son's glance--would sitdownlooking older and more tottering than he had donethemorning beforeand hang down his headexamining the floor-quarries;while Lisbeth would ask him how he supposed the coffinhad beengot readythat he had slinked off and left undone--forLisbethwas always the first to utter the word of reproachalthoughshe cried at Adam's severity towards his father.

"Soit will go onworsening and worsening" thought Adam;"there'sno slipping uphill againand no standing still when onceyouvebegun to slip down."  And then the day came back to himwhenhe was alittle fellow and used to run by his father's sideproudto betaken out to workand prouder still to hear his fatherboastingto his fellow-workmen how "the little chap had anuncommonnotion o' carpentering."  What a fine active fellow hisfather wasthen!  When people asked Adam whose little lad he washe had asense of distinction as he answered"I'm Thias Bede'slad." He was quite sure everybody knew Thias Bede--didn't he makethewonderful pigeon-house at Broxton parsonage?  Those were happydaysespecially when Sethwho was three years the youngerbeganto go outworking tooand Adam began to be a teacher as well as alearner. But then came the days of sadnesswhen Adam was somewayon in histeensand Thias began to loiter at the public-housesandLisbeth began to cry at homeand to pour forth her plaints inthehearing of her sons.  Adam remembered well the night of shameandanguish when he first saw his father quite wild and foolishshouting asong out fitfully among his drunken companions at the"WaggonOverthrown."  He had run away once when he was onlyeighteenmaking his escape in the morning twilight with a littlebluebundle over his shoulderand his "mensuration book" in hispocketand saying to himself very decidedly that he could bearthevexations of home no longer--he would go and seek his fortunesetting uphis stick at the crossways and bending his steps theway itfell.  But by the time he got to Stonitonthe thought ofhis motherand Sethleft behind to endure everything without himbecame tooimportunateand his resolution failed him.  He cameback thenext daybut the misery and terror his mother had gonethrough inthose two days had haunted her ever since.

"No!"Adam said to himself to-night"that must never happenagain. It 'ud make a poor balance when my doings are cast up atthe lastif my poor old mother stood o' the wrong side.  Myback'sbroad enough and strong enough; I should be no better thana cowardto go away and leave the troubles to be borne by them asaren'thalf so able.  'They that are strong ought to bear theinfirmitiesof those that are weakand not to please themselves.'There's atext wants no candle to show't; it shines by its ownlight. It's plain enough you get into the wrong road i' this lifeif you runafter this and that only for the sake o' making thingseasy andpleasant to yourself.  A pig may poke his nose into thetrough andthink o' nothing outside it; but if you've got a man'sheart andsoul in youyou can't be easy a-making your own bed an'leavingthe rest to lie on the stones.  NaynayI'll never slipmy neckout o' the yokeand leave the load to be drawn by theweak uns. Father's a sore cross to mean's likely to be for manya longyear to come.  What then? I've got th' healthand thelimbsandthe sperrit to bear it."

At thismoment a smart rapas if with a willow wandwas given atthe housedoorand Gypinstead of barkingas might have beenexpectedgave a loud howl.  Adamvery much startledwent atonce tothe door and opened it.  Nothing was there; all was stillas when heopened it an hour before; the leaves were motionlessand thelight of the stars showed the placid fields on both sidesof thebrook quite empty of visible life.  Adam walked round thehouseandstill saw nothing except a rat which darted into thewoodshedas he passed.  He went in againwondering; the sound wassopeculiar that the moment he heard it it called up the image ofthe willowwand striking the door.  He could not help a littleshudderas he remembered how often his mother had told him ofjust sucha sound coming as a sign when some one was dying.  Adamwas not aman to be gratuitously superstitiousbut he had theblood ofthe peasant in him as well as of the artisanand apeasantcan no more help believing in a traditional superstitionthan ahorse can help trembling when he sees a camel.  Besideshehad thatmental combination which is at once humble in the regionof mysteryand keen in the region of knowledge: it was the depthof hisreverence quite as much as his hard common sense which gavehim hisdisinclination to doctrinal religionand he often checkedSeth'sargumentative spiritualism by saying"Ehit's a bigmystery;thee know'st but little about it."  And so it happenedthat Adamwas at once penetrating and credulous.  If a newbuildinghad fallen down and he had been told that this was adivinejudgmenthe would have said"May be; but the bearing o'the roofand walls wasn't rightelse it wouldn't ha' come down";yet hebelieved in dreams and prognosticsand to his dying day hebated hisbreath a little when he told the story of the strokewith thewillow wand.  I tell it as he told itnot attempting toreduce itto its natural elements--in our eagerness to explainimpressionswe often lose our hold of the sympathy thatcomprehendsthem.

But he hadthe best antidote against imaginative dread in thenecessityfor getting on with the coffinand for the next tenminuteshis hammer was ringing so uninterruptedlythat othersoundsifthere were anymight well be overpowered.  A pausecamehoweverwhen he had to take up his rulerand now againcame thestrange rapand again Gyp howled.  Adam was at the doorwithoutthe loss of a moment; but again all was stilland thestarlightshowed there was nothing but the dew-laden grass infront ofthe cottage.

Adam for amoment thought uncomfortably about his father; but oflate yearshe had never come home at dark hours from Treddlestonand therewas every reason for believing that he was then sleepingoff hisdrunkenness at the "Waggon Overthrown."  BesidestoAdamtheconception of the future was so inseparable from the painfulimage ofhis father that the fear of any fatal accident to him wasexcludedby the deeply infixed fear of his continual degradation.The nextthought that occurred to him was one that made him slipoff hisshoes and tread lightly upstairsto listen at the bedroomdoors. But both Seth and his mother were breathing regularly.

Adam camedown and set to work againsaying to himself"I won'topen thedoor again.  It's no use staring about to catch sight ofa sound. Maybe there's a world about us as we can't seebut th'ear'squicker than the eye and catches a sound from't now andthen. Some people think they get a sight on't toobut they'remostlyfolks whose eyes are not much use to 'em at anything else.For mypartI think it's better to see when your perpendicular'strue thanto see a ghost."

Suchthoughts as these are apt to grow stronger and stronger asdaylightquenches the candles and the birds begin to sing.  By thetime thered sunlight shone on the brass nails that formed theinitialson the lid of the coffinany lingering foreboding fromthe soundof the willow wand was merged in satisfaction that thework wasdone and the promise redeemed.  There was no need to callSethforhe was already moving overheadand presently camedownstairs.

"Nowlad" said Adamas Seth made his appearance"the coffin'sdoneandwe can take it over to Brox'onand be back again beforehalf aftersix.  I'll take a mouthful o' oat-cakeand then we'llbe off."

The coffinwas soon propped on the tall shoulders of the twobrothersand they were making their wayfollowed close by Gypout of thelittle woodyard into the lane at the back of the house.It was butabout a mile and a half to Broxton over the oppositeslopeandtheir road wound very pleasantly along lanes and acrossfieldswhere the pale woodbines and the dog-roses were scentingthehedgerowsand the birds were twittering and trilling in thetall leafyboughs of oak and elm.  It was a strangely mingledpicture--thefresh youth of the summer morningwith its Edenlikepeace andlovelinessthe stalwart strength of the two brothers intheirrusty working clothesand the long coffin on theirshoulders. They paused for the last time before a small farmhouseoutsidethe village of Broxton.  By six o'clock the task was donethe coffinnailed downand Adam and Seth were on their way home.They chosea shorter way homewardswhich would take them acrossthe fieldsand the brook in front of the house.  Adam had notmentionedto Seth what had happened in the nightbut he stillretainedsufficient impression from it himself to say"Sethladif Fatherisn't come home by the time we've had our breakfastIthinkit'll be as well for thee to go over to Treddles'on and lookafter himand thee canst get me the brass wire I want.  Nevermind aboutlosing an hour at thy work; we can make that up.  Whatdost say?"

"I'mwilling" said Seth.  "But see what clouds havegatheredsince weset out.  I'm thinking we shall have more rain.  It'll bea soretime for th' haymaking if the meadows are flooded again.Thebrook's fine and full now: another day's rain 'ud cover theplankandwe should have to go round by the road."

They werecoming across the valley nowand had entered thepasturethrough which the brook ran.

"Whywhat's that sticking against the willow?" continued Sethbeginningto walk faster.  Adam's heart rose to his mouth: thevagueanxiety about his father was changed into a great dread.  Hemade noanswer to Sethbut ran forward preceded by Gypwho beganto barkuneasily; and in two moments he was at the bridge.

This waswhat the omen meantthen!  And the grey-haired fatherof whom hehad thought with a sort of hardness a few hours agoascertain tolive to be a thorn in his side was perhaps even thenstrugglingwith that watery death!  This was the first thoughtthatflashed through Adam's consciencebefore he had time toseize thecoat and drag out the tall heavy body.  Seth was alreadyby hissidehelping himand when they had it on the bankthetwo sonsin the first moment knelt and looked with mute awe at theglazedeyesforgetting that there was need for action--forgettingeverythingbut that their father lay dead before them.  Adam wasthe firstto speak.

"I'llrun to Mother" he saidin a loud whisper.  "I'll bebackto thee ina minute."

PoorLisbeth was busy preparing her sons' breakfastand theirporridgewas already steaming on the fire.  Her kitchen alwayslooked thepink of cleanlinessbut this morning she was more thanusuallybent on making her hearth and breakfast-table lookcomfortableand inviting.

"Thelads 'ull be fine an' hungry" she saidhalf-aloudas shestirredthe porridge.  "It's a good step to Brox'onan' it'shungry airo'er the hill--wi' that heavy coffin too.  Eh!  It'sheaviernowwi' poor Bob Tholer in't.  HowiverI've made a drapmoreporridge nor common this mornin'.  The feyther 'ull happencome inarter a bit.  Not as he'll ate much porridge.  He swallerssixpenn'ortho' alean' saves a hap'orth o' por-ridge--that's hisway o'layin' by moneyas I've told him many a timean' amlikely totell him again afore the day's out.  Ehpoor monhetakes itquiet enough; there's no denyin' that."

But nowLisbeth heard the heavy "thud" of a running footstep onthe turfandturning quickly towards the doorshe saw Adamenterlooking so pale and overwhelmed that she screamed aloud andrushedtowards him before he had time to speak.

"HushMother" Adam saidrather hoarsely"don't be frightened.Father'stumbled into the water.  Belike we may bring him roundagain. Seth and me are going to carry him in.  Get a blanket andmake ithot as the fire."

In realityAdam was convinced that his father was dead but he knewthere wasno other way of repressing his mother's impetuouswailinggrief than by occupying her with some active task whichhad hopein it.

He ranback to Sethand the two sons lifted the sad burden inheart-strickensilence.  The wide-open glazed eyes were greylikeSeth'sand had once looked with mild pride on the boys beforewhom Thiashad lived to hang his head in shame.  Seth's chieffeelingwas awe and distress at this sudden snatching away of hisfather'ssoul; but Adam's mind rushed back over the past in aflood ofrelenting and pity.  When deaththe great Reconcilerhas comeit is never our tenderness that we repent ofbut ourseverity.

 

 ChapterV TheRector

 

BEFOREtwelve o'clock there had been some heavy storms of rainand thewater lay in deep gutters on the sides of the gravel walksin thegarden of Broxton Parsonage; the great Provence roses hadbeencruelly tossed by the wind and beaten by the rainand allthedelicate-stemmed border flowers had been dashed down andstainedwith the wet soil.  A melancholy morning--because it wasnearlytime hay-harvest should beginand instead of that themeadowswere likely to be flooded.

But peoplewho have pleasant homes get indoor enjoyments that theywouldnever think of but for the rain.  If it had not been a wetmorningMr. Irwine would not have been in the dining-room playingat chesswith his motherand he loves both his mother and chessquite wellenough to pass some cloudy hours very easily by theirhelp. Let me take you into that dining-room and show you the Rev.AdolphusIrwineRector of BroxtonVicar of Hayslopeand Vicarof Blythea pluralist at whom the severest Church reformer wouldhave foundit difficult to look sour.  We will enter very softlyand standstill in the open doorwaywithout awaking the glossy-brownsetter who is stretched across the hearthwith her twopuppiesbeside her; or the pugwho is dozingwith his blackmuzzlealoftlike a sleepy president.

The roomis a large and lofty onewith an ample mullioned orielwindow atone end; the wallsyou seeare newand not yetpainted;but the furniturethough originally of an expensivesortisold and scantyand there is no drapery about the window.Thecrimson cloth over the large dining-table is very threadbarethough itcontrasts pleasantly enough with the dead hue of theplaster onthe walls; but on this cloth there is a massive silverwaiterwith a decanter of water on itof the same pattern as twolargerones that are propped up on the sideboard with a coat ofarmsconspicuous in their centre.  You suspect at once that theinhabitantsof this room have inherited more blood than wealthand wouldnot be surprised to find that Mr. Irwine had a finelycutnostril and upper lip; but at present we can only see that hehas abroad flat back and an abundance of powdered hairallthrownbackward and tied behind with a black ribbon--a bit ofconservatismin costume which tells you that he is not a youngman. He will perhaps turn round by and byand in the meantime wecan lookat that stately old ladyhis mothera beautiful agedbrunettewhose rich-toned complexion is well set off by thecomplexwrappings of pure white cambric and lace about her headand neck. She is as erect in her comely embonpoint as a statue ofCeres; andher dark facewith its delicate aquiline nosefirmproudmouthand smallintenseblack eyeis so keen andsarcasticin its expression that you instinctively substitute apack ofcards for the chess-men and imagine her telling yourfortune. The small brown hand with which she is lifting her queenis ladenwith pearlsdiamondsand turquoises; and a large blackveil isvery carefully adjusted over the crown of her capandfalls insharp contrast on the white folds about her neck.  Itmust takea long time to dress that old lady in the morning!  Butit seems alaw of nature that she should be dressed so: she isclearlyone of those children of royalty who have never doubtedtheirright divine and never met with any one so absurd as toquestionit.

"ThereDauphintell me what that is!" says this magnificent oldladyasshe deposits her queen very quietly and folds her arms."Ishould be sorry to utter a word disagreeable to your feelings."

"Ahyou witch-motheryou sorceress!  How is a Christian man towin a gameoff you?  I should have sprinkled the board with holywaterbefore we began.  You've not won that game by fair meansnowsodon't pretend it."

"Yesyesthat's what the beaten have always said of greatconquerors. But seethere's the sunshine falling on the boardto showyou more clearly what a foolish move you made with thatpawn. Comeshall I give you another chance?"

"NoMotherI shall leave you to your own consciencenow it'sclearingup.  We must go and plash up the mud a littlemus'n'tweJuno?"  This was addressed to the brown setterwho hadjumpedup at thesound of the voices and laid her nose in an insinuatingway on hermaster's leg.  "But I must go upstairs first and seeAnne. I was called away to Tholer's funeral just when I was goingbefore."

"It'sof no usechild; she can't speak to you.  Kate says she hasone of herworst headaches this morning."

"Ohshe likes me to go and see her just the same; she's never tooill tocare about that."

If youknow how much of human speech is mere purposeless impulseor habityou will not wonder when I tell you that this identicalobjectionhad been madeand had received the same kind of answermanyhundred times in the course of the fifteen years that Mr.Irwine'ssister Anne had been an invalid.  Splendid old ladieswho take along time to dress in the morninghave often slightsympathywith sickly daughters.

But whileMr. Irwine was still seatedleaning back in his chairandstroking Juno's headthe servant came to the door and said"Ifyou pleasesirJoshua Rann wishes to speak with youif youare atliberty."

"Lethim be shown in here" said Mrs. Irwinetaking up herknitting. "I always like to hear what Mr. Rann has got to say.His shoeswill be dirtybut see that he wipes them Carroll."

In twominutes Mr. Rann appeared at the door with very deferentialbowswhichhoweverwere far from conciliating Pugwho gave asharp barkand ran across the room to reconnoitre the stranger'slegs;while the two puppiesregarding Mr. Rann's prominent calfand ribbedworsted stockings from a more sensuous point of viewplungedand growled over them in great enjoyment.  MeantimeMr.Irwineturned round his chair and said"WellJoshuaanythingthe matterat Hayslopethat you've come over this damp morning?Sit downsit down.  Never mind the dogs; give them a friendlykick. HerePugyou rascal!"

It is verypleasant to see some men turn round; pleasant as asuddenrush of warm air in winteror the flash of firelight inthe chilldusk.  Mr. Irwine was one of those men.  He bore thesame sortof resemblance to his mother that our loving memory of afriend'sface often bears to the face itself: the lines were allmoregenerousthe smile brighterthe expression heartier.  Iftheoutline had been less finely cuthis face might have beencalledjolly; but that was not the right word for its mixture ofbonhomieand distinction.

"ThankYour Reverence" answered Mr. Rannendeavouring to lookunconcernedabout his legsbut shaking them alternately to keepoff thepuppies; "I'll standif you pleaseas more becoming.  Ihope I seeyou an' Mrs. Irwine wellan' Miss Irwine--an' MissAnneIhope's as well as usual."

"YesJoshuathank you.  You see how blooming my mother looks.She beatsus younger people hollow.  But what's the matter?"

"WhysirI had to come to Brox'on to deliver some workand Ithought itbut right to call and let you know the goins-on asthere'sbeen i' the villagesuch as I hanna seen i' my timeandI've livedin it man and boy sixty year come St.  Thomasandcollectedth' Easter dues for Mr. Blick before Your Reverence comeinto theparishand been at the ringin' o' every belland thediggin' o'every graveand sung i' the choir long afore BartleMasseycome from nobody knows wherewi' his counter-singin' andfineanthemsas puts everybody out but himself--one takin' it upafteranother like sheep a-bleatin' i' th' fold.  I know whatbelongs tobein' a parish clerkand I know as I should be wantin'i' respectto Your Reverencean' churchan' kingif I was t'allow suchgoins-on wi'out speakin'.  I was took by surprisean'knowednothin' on it beforehandan' I was so flusteredI wasclean asif I'd lost my tools.  I hanna slep' more nor four hourthis nightas is past an' gone; an' then it was nothin' butnightmareas tired me worse nor wakin'."

"Whywhat in the world is the matterJoshua?  Have the thievesbeen atthe church lead again?"

"Thieves! Nosir--an' yetas I may sayit is thievesan' a-thievin'the churchtoo.  It's the Methodisses as is like to getth' upperhand i' th' parishif Your Reverence an' His HonourSquireDonnithornedoesna think well to say the word an' forbidit. Not as I'm a-dictatin' to yousir; I'm not forgettin' myselfso far asto be wise above my betters.  Howiverwhether I'm wiseor nothat's neither here nor therebut what I've got to say Isay--asthe young Methodis woman as is at Mester Poyser's was a-preachin'an' a-prayin' on the Green last nightas sure as I'm a-stannin'afore Your Reverence now."

"Preachingon the Green!" said Mr. Irwinelooking surprised butquiteserene.  "Whatthat pale pretty young woman I've seen atPoyser's? I saw she was a Methodistor Quakeror something ofthat sortby her dressbut I didn't know she was a preacher."

"It'sa true word as I saysir" rejoined Mr. Ranncompressinghis mouthinto a semicircular form and pausing long enough toindicatethree notes of exclamation.  "She preached on the Greenlastnight; an' she's laid hold of Chad's Bessas the girl's beeni' fitswelly iver sin'."

"WellBessy Cranage is a hearty-looking lass; I daresay she'llcome roundagainJoshua.  Did anybody else go into fits?"

"NosirI canna say as they did.  But there's no knowin' what'llcomeifwe're t' have such preachin's as that a-goin' on iveryweek--there'llbe no livin' i' th' village.  For them Methodissesmake folksbelieve as if they take a mug o' drink extryan' maketheirselvesa bit comfortablethey'll have to go to hell for't assure asthey're born.  I'm not a tipplin' man nor a drunkard--nobody cansay it on me--but I like a extry quart at Easter orChristmastimeas is nat'ral when we're goin' the rounds a-singin'an' folks offer't you for nothin'; or when I'm a-collectin'the dues; an' I like a pint wi' my pipean' aneighbourlychat at Mester Casson's now an' thenfor I wasbrought upi' the Churchthank Godan' ha' been a parish clerkthistwo-an'-thirty year: I should know what the church religionis."

"Wellwhat's your adviceJoshua?  What do you think should bedone?"

"WellYour ReverenceI'm not for takin' any measures again' theyoungwoman.  She's well enough if she'd let alone preachin'; an'I hear asshe's a-goin' away back to her own country soon.  She'sMr.Poyser's own niecean' I donna wish to say what's anywaysdisrespectfulo' th' family at th' Hall Farmas I've measured forshoeslittle an' bigwelly iver sin' I've been a shoemaker.  Butthere'sthat Will Maskerysir as is the rampageousest Methodis ascan bean' I make no doubt it was him as stirred up th' youngwoman topreach last nightan' he'll be a-bringin' other folks topreachfrom Treddles'onif his comb isn't cut a bit; an' I thinkas heshould be let know as he isna t' have the makin' an' mendin'o' churchcarts an' implemen'slet alone stayin' i' that housean' yardas is Squire Donnithorne's."

"Wellbut you say yourselfJoshuathat you never knew any onecome topreach on the Green before; why should you think they'llcomeagain?  The Methodists don't come to preach in littlevillageslike Hayslopewhere there's only a handful of labourerstoo tiredto listen to them.  They might almost as well go andpreach onthe Binton Hills.  Will Maskery is no preacher himselfI think."

"Naysirhe's no gift at stringin' the words together wi'outbook; he'dbe stuck fast like a cow i' wet clay.  But he's gottongueenough to speak disrespectful about's neeborsfor he saidas I was ablind Pharisee--a-usin' the Bible i' that way to findnick-namesfor folks as are his elders an' betters!--and what'sworsehe's been heard to say very unbecomin' words about YourReverence;for I could bring them as 'ud swear as he called you a'dumbdog' an' a 'idle shepherd.'  You'll forgi'e me for sayin'suchthings over again."

"Betternotbetter notJoshua.  Let evil words die as soon asthey'respoken.  Will Maskery might be a great deal worse fellowthan heis.  He used to be a wild drunken rascalneglecting hiswork andbeating his wifethey told me; now he's thrifty anddecentand he and his wife look comfortable together.  If you canbring meany proof that he interferes with his neighbours andcreatesany disturbanceI shall think it my duty as a clergymanand amagistrate to interfere.  But it wouldn't become wise peoplelike youand me to be making a fuss about triflesas if wethoughtthe Church was in danger because Will Maskery lets histongue wagrather foolishlyor a young woman talks in a seriousway to ahandful of people on the Green.  We must 'live and letlive'Joshuain religion as well as in other things.  You go ondoing yourdutyas parish clerk and sextonas well as you'vealwaysdone itand making those capital thick boots for yourneighboursand things won't go far wrong in Hayslopedepend uponit."

"YourReverence is very good to say so; an' I'm sensable asyounot livin'i' the parishthere's more upo' my shoulders."

"Tobe sure; and you must mind and not lower the Church inpeople'seyes by seeming to be frightened about it for a littlethingJoshua.  I shall trust to your good sensenow to take nonotice atall of what Will Maskery sayseither about you or me.You andyour neighbours can go on taking your pot of beer soberlywhenyou've done your day's worklike good churchmen; and if WillMaskerydoesn't like to join youbut to go to a prayermeeting atTreddlestoninsteadlet him; that's no business of yoursso longas hedoesn't hinder you from doing what you like.  And as topeoplesaying a few idle words about uswe must not mind thatany morethan the old church-steeple minds the rooks cawing aboutit. Will Maskery comes to church every Sunday afternoonand doeshiswheelwright's business steadily in the weekdaysand as longas he doesthat he must be let alone."

"Ahsirbut when he comes to churchhe sits an' shakes hisheadan'looks as sour an' as coxy when we're a-singin' as Ishouldlike to fetch him a rap across the jowl--God forgi'e me--an' Mrs.Irwinean' Your Reverence toofor speakin' so aforeyou. An' he said as our Christmas singin' was no better nor thecracklin'o' thorns under a pot."

"Wellhe's got a bad ear for musicJoshua.  When people havewoodenheadsyou knowit can't be helped.  He won't bring theotherpeople in Hayslope round to his opinionwhile you go onsinging aswell as you do."

"Yessirbut it turns a man's stomach t' hear the Scripturemisused i'that way.  I know as much o' the words o' the Bible ashe doesan' could say the Psalms right through i' my sleep if youwas topinch me; but I know better nor to take 'em to say my ownsay wi'. I might as well take the Sacriment-cup home and use itat meals."

"That'sa very sensible remark of yoursJoshua; butas I saidbefore----"

While Mr.Irwine was speakingthe sound of a booted step and theclink of aspur were heard on the stone floor of the entrance-hallandJoshua Rann moved hastily aside from the doorway to makeroom forsome one who paused thereand saidin a ringing tenorvoice

"GodsonArthur--may he come in?"

"Comeincome ingodson!" Mrs. Irwine answeredin the deephalf-masculinetone which belongs to the vigorous old womanandthereentered a young gentleman in a riding-dresswith his rightarm in asling; whereupon followed that pleasant confusion oflaughinginterjectionsand hand-shakingsand "How are you's?"mingledwith joyous short barks and wagging of tails on the partof thecanine members of the familywhich tells that the visitoris on thebest terms with the visited.  The young gentleman wasArthurDonnithorneknown in Hayslopevariouslyas "the youngsquire""the heir" and "the captain."  He was onlya captain intheLoamshire Militiabut to the Hayslope tenants he was moreintenselya captain than all the young gentlemen of the same rankin hisMajesty's regulars--he outshone them as the planet Jupiteroutshinesthe Milky Way.  If you want to know more particularlyhow helookedcall to your remembrance some tawny-whiskeredbrown-lockedclear-complexioned young Englishman whom you havemet within a foreign townand been proud of as a fellow-countryman--well-washedhigh-bredwhite-handedyet looking asif hecould deliver well from 'the left shoulder and floor hisman: Iwill not be so much of a tailor as to trouble yourimaginationwith the difference of costumeand insist on thestripedwaistcoatlong-tailed coatand low top-boots.

Turninground to take a chairCaptain Donnithorne said"Butdon't letme interrupt Joshua's business--he has something tosay."

"Humblybegging Your Honour's pardon" said Joshuabowing low"therewas one thing I had to say to His Reverence as other thingshad droveout o' my head."

"Outwith itJoshuaquickly!" said Mr. Irwine.

"Belikesiryou havena heared as Thias Bede's dead--drowndedthismorningor more like overnighti' the Willow Brookagain'the bridgeright i' front o' the house."

"Ah!"exclaimed both the gentlemen at onceas if they were a gooddealinterested in the information.

"An'Seth Bede's been to me this morning to say he wished me totell YourReverence as his brother Adam begged of you particulart' allowhis father's grave to be dug by the White Thornbecausehismother's set her heart on iton account of a dream as shehad; an'they'd ha' come theirselves to ask youbut they've somuch tosee after with the crowneran' that; an' their mother'stook onsoan' wants 'em to make sure o' the spot for fearsomebodyelse should take it.  An' if Your Reverence sees well andgoodI'llsend my boy to tell 'em as soon as I get home; an'that's whyI make bold to trouble you wi' itHis Honour beingpresent."

"Tobe sureJoshuato be surethey shall have it.  I'll rideround toAdam myselfand see him.  Send your boyhoweverto saythey shallhave the gravelest anything should happen to detainme. And nowgood morningJoshua; go into the kitchen and havesome ale."

"Poorold Thias!" said Mr. Irwinewhen Joshua was gone.  "I'mafraid thedrink helped the brook to drown him.  I should havebeen gladfor the load to have been taken off my friend Adam'sshouldersin a less painful way.  That fine fellow has beenproppingup his father from ruin for the last five or six years."

"He'sa regular trumpis Adam" said Captain Donnithorne.  "WhenI was alittle fellowand Adam was a strapping lad of fifteenand taughtme carpenteringI used to think if ever I was a richsultanIwould make Adam my grand-vizier.  And I believe now hewould bearthe exaltation as well as any poor wise man in anEasternstory.  If ever I live to be a large-acred man instead ofa poordevil with a mortgaged allowance of pocket-moneyI'll haveAdam formy right hand.  He shall manage my woods for mefor heseems tohave a better notion of those things than any man I evermet with;and I know he would make twice the money of them that mygrandfatherdoeswith that miserable old Satchell to managewhounderstandsno more about timber than an old carp.  I've mentionedthesubject to my grandfather once or twicebut for some reasonor otherhe has a dislike to Adamand I can do nothing.  ButcomeYourReverenceare you for a ride with me?  It's splendidout ofdoors now.  We can go to Adam's togetherif you like; butI want tocall at the Hall Farm on my wayto look at the whelpsPoyser iskeeping for me."

"Youmust stay and have lunch firstArthur" said Mrs. Irwine."It'snearly two.  Carroll will bring it in directly."

"Iwant to go to the Hall Farm too" said Mr. Irwine"to haveanotherlook at the little Methodist who is staying there.  Joshuatells meshe was preaching on the Green last night."

"Ohby Jove!" said Captain Donnithornelaughing.  "Whyshelooks asquiet as a mouse.  There's something rather strikingabout herthough.  I positively felt quite bashful the first timeI sawher--she was sitting stooping over her sewing in thesunshineoutside the housewhen I rode up and called outwithoutnoticingthat she was a stranger'Is Martin Poyser at home?' Ideclarewhen she got up and looked at me and just said'He's inthe houseI believe: I'll go and call him' I felt quite ashamedof havingspoken so abruptly to her.  She looked like St.Catherinein a Quaker dress.  It's a type of face one rarely seesamong ourcommon people."

"Ishould like to see the young womanDauphin" said Mrs. Irwine."Makeher come here on some pretext or other."

"Idon't know how I can manage thatMother; it will hardly do forme topatronize a Methodist preachereven if she would consent tobepatronized by an idle shepherdas Will Maskery calls me.  Youshouldhave come in a little soonerArthurto hear Joshua'sdenunciationof his neighbour Will Maskery.  The old fellow wantsme toexcommunicate the wheelwrightand then deliver him over tothe civilarm--that is to sayto your grandfather--to be turnedout ofhouse and yard.  If I chose to interfere in this businessnowImight get up as pretty a story of hatred and persecution astheMethodists need desire to publish in the next number of theirmagazine. It wouldn't take me much trouble to persuade ChadCranageand half a dozen other bull-headed fellows that they wouldbe doingan acceptable service to the Church by hunting WillMaskeryout of the village with rope-ends and pitchforks; andthenwhenI had furnished them with half a sovereign to getgloriouslydrunk after their exertionsI should have put theclimax toas pretty a farce as any of my brother clergy have setgoing intheir parishes for the last thirty years."

"Itis really insolent of the manthoughto call you an 'idleshepherd'and a 'dumb dog'" said Mrs. Irwine.  "I should beinclinedto check him a little there.  You are too easy-temperedDauphin."

"WhyMotheryou don't think it would be a good way of sustainingmy dignityto set about vindicating myself from the aspersions ofWillMaskery?  BesidesI'm not so sure that they ARE aspersions.I AM alazy fellowand get terribly heavy in my saddle; not tomentionthat I'm always spending more than I can afford in bricksandmortarso that I get savage at a lame beggar when he asks meforsixpence.  Those poor lean cobblerswho think they can helptoregenerate mankind by setting out to preach in the morningtwilightbefore they begin their day's workmay well have a pooropinion ofme.  But comelet us have our luncheon.  Isn't Katecoming tolunch?"

"MissIrwine told Bridget to take her lunch upstairs" saidCarroll;"she can't leave Miss Anne."

"Ohvery well.  Tell Bridget to say I'll go up and see Miss Annepresently. You can use your right arm quite well nowArthur"Mr. Irwinecontinuedobserving that Captain Donnithorne had takenhis armout of the sling.

"Yespretty well; but Godwin insists on my keeping it upconstantlyfor some time to come.  I hope I shall be able to getaway tothe regimentthoughin the beginning of August.  It's adesperatelydull business being shut up at the Chase in the summermonthswhen one can neither hunt nor shootso as to make one'sselfpleasantly sleepy in the evening.  Howeverwe are toastonishthe echoes on the 30th of July.  My grandfather has givenme carteblanche for onceand I promise you the entertainmentshall beworthy of the occasion.  The world will not see the grandepoch ofmy majority twice.  I think I shall have a lofty thronefor youGodmammaor rather twoone on the lawn and another intheballroomthat you may sit and look down upon us like anOlympiangoddess."

"Imean to bring out my best brocadethat I wore at yourchristeningtwenty years ago" said Mrs. Irwine.  "AhI think Ishall seeyour poor mother flitting about in her white dresswhichlooked to me almost like a shroud that very day; and it WASher shroudonly three months after; and your little cap andchristeningdress were buried with her too.  She had set her hearton thatsweet soul!  Thank God you take after your mother'sfamilyArthur.  If you had been a punywiryyellow babyIwouldn'thave stood godmother to you.  I should have been sure youwould turnout a Donnithorne.  But you were such a broad-facedbroad-chestedloud-screaming rascalI knew you were every inchof you aTradgett."

"Butyou might have been a little too hasty thereMother" saidMr.Irwinesmiling.  "Don't you remember how it was withJuno'slastpups?  One of them was the very image of its motherbut ithad two orthree of its father's tricks notwithstanding.  Natureis cleverenough to cheat even youMother."

"Nonsensechild!  Nature never makes a ferret in the shape of amastiff. You'll never persuade me that I can't tell what men areby theiroutsides.  If I don't like a man's looksdepend upon itI shallnever like HIM.  I don't want to know people that lookugly anddisagreeableany more than I want to taste dishes thatlookdisagreeable.  If they make me shudder at the first glanceIsaytakethem away.  An uglypiggishor fishy eyenowmakesme feelquite ill; it's like a bad smell."

"Talkingof eyes" said Captain Donnithorne"that reminds me thatI've got abook I meant to bring youGodmamma.  It came down in aparcelfrom London the other day.  I know you are fond of queerwizardlikestories.  It's a volume of poems'Lyrical Ballads.'Most ofthem seem to be twaddling stuffbut the first is in adifferentstyle--'The Ancient Mariner' is the title.  I can hardlymake heador tail of it as a storybut it's a strangestrikingthing. I'll send it over to you; and there are some other booksthat youmay like to seeIrwine--pamphlets about AntinomianismandEvangelicalismwhatever they may be.  I can't think what thefellowmeans by sending such things to me.  I've written to him todesirethat from henceforth he will send me no book or pamphlet onanythingthat ends in ISM."

"WellI don't know that I'm very fond of isms myself; but I mayas welllook at the pamphlets; they let one see what is going on.I've alittle matter to attend toArthur" continued Mr. Irwinerising toleave the room"and then I shall be ready to set outwith you."

The littlematter that Mr. Irwine had to attend to took him up theold stonestaircase (part of the house was very old) and made himpausebefore a door at which he knocked gently.  "Come in"said awoman'svoiceand he entered a room so darkened by blinds andcurtainsthat Miss Katethe thin middle-aged lady standing by thebedsidewould not have had light enough for any other sort ofwork thanthe knitting which lay on the little table near her.But atpresent she was doing what required only the dimmest light--spongingthe aching head that lay on the pillow with freshvinegar. It was a small facethat of the poor sufferer; perhapsit hadonce been prettybut now it was worn and sallow.  MissKate cametowards her brother and whispered"Don't speak to her;she can'tbear to be spoken to to-day."  Anne's eyes were closedand herbrow contracted as if from intense pain.  Mr. Irwine wentto thebedside and took up one of the delicate hands and kisseditaslight pressure from the small fingers told him that it wasworth-whileto have come upstairs for the sake of doing that.  Helingered amomentlooking at herand then turned away and leftthe roomtreading very gently--he had taken off his boots and putonslippers before he came upstairs.  Whoever remembers how manythings hehas declined to do even for himselfrather than havethetrouble of putting on or taking off his bootswill not thinkthis lastdetail insignificant.

And Mr.Irwine's sistersas any person of family within ten milesof Broxtoncould have testifiedwere such stupiduninterestingwomen! It was quite a pity handsomeclever Mrs. Irwine shouldhave hadsuch commonplace daughters.  That fine old lady herselfwas worthdriving ten miles to seeany day; her beautyher well-preservedfacultiesand her old-fashioned dignity made her agracefulsubject for conversation in turn with the King's healththe sweetnew patterns in cotton dressesthe news from EgyptandLordDacey's lawsuitwhich was fretting poor Lady Dacey to death. But no oneever thought of mentioning the Miss Irwinesexcept thepoorpeople in Broxton villagewho regarded them as deep in thescience ofmedicineand spoke of them vaguely as "thegentlefolks." If any one had asked old Job Dummilow who gave himhisflannel jackethe would have answered"the gentlefolkslastwinter";and widow Steene dwelt much on the virtues of the "stuff"thegentlefolks gave her for her cough.  Under this name tootheywere usedwith great effect as a means of taming refractorychildrenso that at the sight of poor Miss Anne's sallow faceseveralsmall urchins had a terrified sense that she was cognizantof alltheir worst misdemeanoursand knew the precise number ofstoneswith which they had intended to hit Farmer Britton's ducks.But forall who saw them through a less mythical mediumthe MissIrwineswere quite superfluous existences--inartistic figurescrowdingthe canvas of life without adequate effect.  Miss Anneindeedifher chronic headaches could have been accounted for bya patheticstory of disappointed lovemight have had someromanticinterest attached to her: but no such story had eitherbeen knownor invented concerning herand the general impressionwas quitein accordance with the factthat both the sisters wereold maidsfor the prosaic reason that they had never received aneligibleoffer.

Neverthelessto speak paradoxicallythe existence ofinsignificantpeople has very important consequences in the world.It can beshown to affect the price of bread and the rate ofwagestocall forth many evil tempers from the selfish and manyheroismsfrom the sympatheticandin other waysto play nosmall partin the tragedy of life.  And if that handsomegenerous-bloodedclergymanthe Rev. Adolphus Irwinehad not hadthese twohopelessly maiden sistershis lot would have beenshapedquite differently: he would very likely have taken a comelywife inhis youthand nowwhen his hair was getting grey underthepowderwould have had tall sons and blooming daughters--suchpossessionsin shortas men commonly think will repay them forall thelabour they take under the sun.  As it was--having withall histhree livings no more than seven hundred a-yearandseeing noway of keeping his splendid mother and his sicklysisternot to reckon a second sisterwho was usually spoken ofwithoutany adjectivein such ladylike ease as became their birthandhabitsand at the same time providing for a family of hisown--heremainedyou seeat the age of eight-and-fortyabachelornot making any merit of that renunciationbut sayinglaughinglyif any one alluded to itthat he made it an excusefor manyindulgences which a wife would never have allowed him.Andperhaps he was the only person in the world who did not thinkhissisters uninteresting and superfluous; for his was one ofthoselarge-heartedsweet-blooded natures that never know anarrow ora grudging thought; Epicureanif you willwith noenthusiasmno self-scourging sense of duty; but yetas you haveseenof asufficiently subtle moral fibre to have an unwearyingtendernessfor obscure and monotonous suffering.  It was hislarge-heartedindulgence that made him ignore his mother'shardnesstowards her daughterswhich was the more striking fromitscontrast with her doting fondness towards himself; he held itno virtueto frown at irremediable faults.

See thedifference between the impression a man makes on you whenyou walkby his side in familiar talkor look at him in his homeand thefigure he makes when seen from a lofty historical levelor even inthe eyes of a critical neighbour who thinks of him asanembodied system or opinion rather than as a man.  Mr. Roethe"travellingpreacher" stationed at Treddlestonhad included Mr.Irwine ina general statement concerning the Church clergy in thesurroundingdistrictwhom he described as men given up to thelusts ofthe flesh and the pride of life; hunting and shootingandadorning their own houses; asking what shall we eatand whatshall wedrinkand wherewithal shall we be clothed?--careless ofdispensingthe bread of life to their flockspreaching at bestbut acarnal and soul-benumbing moralityand trafficking in thesouls ofmen by receiving money for discharging the pastoraloffice inparishes where they did not so much as look on the facesof thepeople more than once a-year.  The ecclesiasticalhistoriantoolooking into parliamentary reports of that periodfindshonourable members zealous for the Churchand untaintedwith anysympathy for the "tribe of canting Methodists" makingstatementsscarcely less melancholy than that of Mr. Roe.  And itisimpossible for me to say that Mr. Irwine was altogether beliedby thegeneric classification assigned him.  He really had no veryloftyaimsno theological enthusiasm: if I were closelyquestionedI should be obliged to confess that he felt no seriousalarmsabout the souls of his parishionersand would have thoughtit a mereloss of time to talk in a doctrinal and awakening mannerto old"Feyther Taft" or even to Chad Cranage the blacksmith. Ifhe hadbeen in the habit of speaking theoreticallyhe wouldperhapshave said that the only healthy form religion could takein suchminds was that of certain dim but strong emotionssuffusingthemselves as a hallowing influence over the familyaffectionsand neighbourly duties.  He thought the custom ofbaptismmore important than its doctrineand that the religiousbenefitsthe peasant drew from the church where his fathersworshippedand the sacred piece of turf where they lay buried werebutslightly dependent on a clear understanding of the Liturgy orthesermon.  Clearly the rector was not what is called in thesedays an"earnest" man: he was fonder of church history than ofdivinityand had much more insight into men's characters thaninterestin their opinions; he was neither laboriousnorobviouslyself-denyingnor very copious in alms-givingand histheologyyou perceivewas lax.  His mental palateindeedwasratherpaganand found a savouriness in a quotation fromSophoclesor Theocritus that was quite absent from any text inIsaiah orAmos.  But if you feed your young setter on raw fleshhow canyou wonder at its retaining a relish for uncookedpartridgein after-life?  And Mr. Irwine's recollections of youngenthusiasmand ambition were all associated with poetry and ethicsthat layaloof from the Bible.

On theother handI must pleadfor I have an affectionatepartialitytowards the rector's memorythat he was notvindictive--andsome philanthropists have been so; that he was notintolerant--andthere is a rumour that some zealous theologianshave notbeen altogether free from that blemish; that although hewouldprobably have declined to give his body to be burned in anypubliccauseand was far from bestowing all his goods to feed thepoorhehad that charity which has sometimes been lacking to veryillustriousvirtue--he was tender to other men's failingsandunwillingto impute evil.  He was one of those menand they arenot thecommonestof whom we can know the best only by followingthem awayfrom the marketplacethe platformand the pulpitenteringwith them into their own homeshearing the voice withwhich theyspeak to the young and aged about their ownhearthstoneand witnessing their thoughtful care for the everydaywants ofeveryday companionswho take all their kindness as amatter ofcourseand not as a subject for panegyric.

Such menhappilyhave lived in times when great abusesflourishedand have sometimes even been the livingrepresentativesof the abuses.  That is a thought which mightcomfort usa little under the opposite fact--that it is bettersometimesNOT to follow great reformers of abuses beyond thethresholdof their homes.

Butwhatever you may think of Mr. Irwine nowif you had met himthat Juneafternoon riding on his grey cobwith his dogs runningbesidehim--portlyuprightmanlywith a good-natured smile onhis finelyturned lips as he talked to his dashing young companionon the baymareyou must have felt thathowever ill heharmonizedwith sound theories of the clerical officehe somehowharmonizedextremely well with that peaceful landscape.

See themin the bright sunlightinterrupted every now and then byrollingmasses of cloudascending the slope from the Broxtonsidewhere the tall gables and elms of the rectory predominateover thetiny whitewashed church.  They will soon be in the parishofHayslope; the grey church-tower and village roofs lie beforethem tothe leftand farther onto the rightthey can just seethechimneys of the Hall Farm.

 

 ChapterVI TheHall Farm

 

EVIDENTLYthat gate is never openedfor the long grass and thegreathemlocks grow close against itand if it were openedit isso rustythat the force necessary to turn it on its hinges wouldbe likelyto pull down the square stone-built pillarsto thedetrimentof the two stone lionesses which grin with a doubtfulcarnivorousaffability above a coat of arms surmounting each ofthepillars.  It would be easy enoughby the aid of the nicks inthe stonepillarsto climb over the brick wall with its smoothstonecoping; but by putting our eyes close to the rusty bars ofthe gatewe can see the house well enoughand all but the verycorners ofthe grassy enclosure.

It is avery fine old placeof red bricksoftened by a palepowderylichenwhich has dispersed itself with happyirregularityso as to bring the red brick into terms of friendlycompanionshipwith the limestone ornaments surrounding the threegablesthe windowsand the door-place.  But the windows arepatchedwith wooden panesand the doorI thinkis like thegate--itis never opened.  How it would groan and grate againstthe stonefioor if it were!  For it is a solidheavyhandsomedoorandmust once have been in the habit of shutting with asonorousbang behind a liveried lackeywho had just seen hismaster andmistress off the grounds in a carriage and pair.

But atpresent one might fancy the house in the early stage of achancerysuitand that the fruit from that grand double row ofwalnut-treeson the right hand of the enclosure would fall and rotamong thegrassif it were not that we heard the booming bark ofdogsechoing from great buildings at the back.  And now the half-weanedcalves that have been sheltering themselves in a gorse-builthovel against the left-hand wall come out and set up a sillyanswer tothat terrible barkdoubtless supposing that it hasreferenceto buckets of milk.

Yesthehouse must be inhabitedand we will see by whom; forimaginationis a licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogsbutmay climbover walls and peep in at windows with impunity.  Putyour faceto one of the glass panes in the right-hand window: whatdo yousee?  A large open fireplacewith rusty dogs in itand abareboarded floor; at the far endfleeces of wool stacked up; inthe middleof the floorsome empty corn-bags.  That is thefurnitureof the dining-room.  And what through the left-handwindow? Several clothes-horsesa pilliona spinning-wheelandan old boxwide open and stuffed full of coloured rags.  At theedge ofthis box there lies a great wooden dollwhichso far asmutilationis concernedbears a strong resemblance to the finestGreeksculptureand especially in the total loss of its nose.Near itthere is a little chairand the butt end of a boy'sleatherlong-lashed whip.

Thehistory of the house is plain now.  It was once the residenceof acountry squirewhose familyprobably dwindling down to merespinsterhoodgot merged in the more territorial name ofDonnithorne. It was once the Hall; it is now the Hall Farm.  Likethe lifein some coast town that was once a watering-placeand isnow aportwhere the genteel streets are silent and grass-grownand thedocks and warehouses busy and resonantthe life at theHall haschanged its focusand no longer radiates from theparlourbut from the kitchen and the farmyard.

Plenty oflife therethough this is the drowsiest time of theyearjustbefore hay-harvest; and it is the drowsiest time of theday toofor it is close upon three by the sunand it is half-past threeby Mrs. Poyser's handsome eight-day clock.  But thereis alwaysa stronger sense of life when the sun is brilliant afterrain; andnow he is pouring down his beamsand making sparklesamong thewet strawand lighting up every patch of vivid greenmoss onthe red tiles of the cow-shedand turning even the muddywater thatis hurrying along the channel to the drain into amirror forthe yellow-billed duckswho are seizing theopportunityof getting a drink with as much body in it aspossible. There is quite a concert of noises; the great bull-dogchainedagainst the stablesis thrown into furious exasperationby theunwary approach of a cock too near the mouth of his kenneland sendsforth a thundering barkwhich is answered by two fox-houndsshut up in the opposite cow-house; the old top-knottedhensscratching with their chicks among the strawset up asympatheticcroaking as the discomfited cock joins them; a sowwith herbroodall very muddy as to the legsand curled as tothe tailthrows in some deep staccato notes; our friends thecalves arebleating from the home croft; andunder alla fineeardiscerns the continuous hum of human voices.

For thegreat barn-doors are thrown wide openand men are busytheremending the harnessunder the superintendence of Mr. Gobythe"whittaw" otherwise saddlerwho entertains them with thelatestTreddleston gossip.  It is certainly rather an unfortunateday thatAlickthe shepherdhas chosen for having the whittawssince themorning turned out so wet; and Mrs. Poyser has spokenher mindpretty strongly as to the dirt which the extra nurnber ofmen'sshoes brought into the house at dinnertime.  Indeedshe hasnot yetrecovered her equanimity on the subjectthough it is nownearlythree hours since dinnerand the house-floor is perfectlycleanagain; as clean as everything else in that wonderful house-placewhere the only chance of collecting a few grains of dustwould beto climb on the salt-cofferand put your finger on thehighmantel-shelf on which the glittering brass candlesticks areenjoyingtheir summer sinecure; for at this time of yearofcourseevery one goes to bed while it is yet lightor at leastlightenough to discern the outline of objects after you havebruisedyour shins against them.  Surely nowhere else could an oakclock-caseand an oak table have got to such a polish by the hand:genuine"elbow polish" as Mrs. Poyser called itfor she thankedGod shenever had any of your varnished rubbish in her house.HettySorrel often took the opportunitywhen her aunt's back wasturnedoflooking at the pleasing reflection of herself in thosepolishedsurfacesfor the oak table was usually turned up like ascreenand was more for ornament than for use; and she could seeherselfsometimes in the great round pewter dishes that wereranged onthe shelves above the long deal dinner-tableor in thehobs ofthe gratewhich always shone like jasper.

Everythingwas looking at its brightest at this momentfor thesun shoneright on the pewter dishesand from their reflectingsurfacespleasant jets of light were thrown on mellow oak andbrightbrass--and on a still pleasanter object than theseforsome ofthe rays fell on Dinah's finely moulded cheekand lit upher palered hair to auburnas she bent over the heavy householdlinenwhich she was mending for her aunt.  No scene could havebeen morepeacefulif Mrs. Poyserwho was ironing a few thingsthat stillremained from the Monday's washhad not been making afrequentclinking with her iron and moving to and fro whenever shewanted itto cool; carrying the keen glance of her blue-grey eyefrom thekitchen to the dairywhere Hetty was making up thebutterand from the dairy to the back kitchenwhere Nancy wastaking thepies out of the oven.  Do not supposehoweverthatMrs.Poyser was elderly or shrewish in her appearance; she was agood-lookingwomannot more than eight-and-thirtyof faircomplexionand sandy hairwell-shapenlight-footed.  The mostconspicuousarticle in her attire was an ample checkered linenapronwhich almost covered her skirt; and nothing could beplainer orless noticeable than her cap and gownfor there was noweaknessof which she was less tolerant than feminine vanityandthepreference of ornament to utility.  The family likenessbetweenher and her niece Dinah Morriswith the contrast betweenherkeenness and Dinah's seraphic gentleness of expressionmighthaveserved a painter as an excellent suggestion for a Martha andMary. Their eyes were just of the same colourbut a strikingtest ofthe difference in their operation was seen in thedemeanourof Tripthe black-and-tan terrierwhenever that much-suspecteddog unwarily exposed himself to the freezing arctic rayof Mrs.Poyser's glance.  Her tongue was not less keen than hereyeandwhenever a damsel came within earshotseemed to take upanunfinished lectureas a barrel-organ takes up a tunepreciselyat the point where it had left off.

The factthat it was churning day was another reason why it wasinconvenientto have the whittawsand whyconsequentlyMrs.Poysershould scold Molly the housemaid with unusual severity.  Toallappearance Molly had got through her after-dinner work in anexemplarymannerhad "cleaned herself" with great dispatchandnow cameto asksubmissivelyif she should sit down to herspinningtill milking time.  But this blameless conductaccordingto Mrs.Poysershrouded a secret indulgence of unbecoming wisheswhich shenow dragged forth and held up to Molly's view withcuttingeloquence.

"Spinningindeed!  It isn't spinning as you'd be atI'll beboundandlet you have your own way.  I never knew your equalsforgallowsness.  To think of a gell o' your age wanting to go andsit withhalf-a-dozen men!  I'd ha' been ashamed to let the wordspass overmy lips if I'd been you. And youas have been here eversince lastMichaelmasand I hired you at Treddles'on stattitswithout abit o' character--as I sayyou might be grateful to behired inthat way to a respectable place; and you knew no more o'whatbelongs to work when you come here than the mawkin i' thefield. As poor a two-fisted thing as ever I sawyou know youwas. Who taught you to scrub a floorI should like to know?Whyyou'dleave the dirt in heaps i' the corners--anybody 'udthinkyou'd never been brought up among Christians.  And as forspinningwhyyou've wasted as much as your wage i' the flaxyou'vespoiled learning to spin.  And you've a right to feel thatand not togo about as gaping and as thoughtless as if you wasbeholdingto nobody.  Comb the wool for the whittawsindeed!That'swhat you'd like to be doingis it?  That's the way withyou--that'sthe road you'd all like to goheadlongs to ruin.You'renever easy till you've got some sweetheart as is as big afool asyourself: you think you'll be finely off when you'remarriedIdaresayand have got a three-legged stool to sit onand nevera blanket to cover youand a bit o' oat-cake for yourdinnerasthree children are a-snatching at."

"I'msure I donna want t' go wi' the whittaws" said Mollywhimperingand quite overcome by this Dantean picture of herfuture"on'y we allays used to comb the wool for 'n at MesterOttley's;an' so I just axed ye.  I donna want to set eyes on thewhittawsagain; I wish I may never stir if I do."

"Mr.Ottley'sindeed!  It's fine talking o' what you did at Mr.Ottley's. Your missis there might like her floors dirted wi'whittawsfor what I know.  There's no knowing what people WONNAlike--suchways as I've heard of!  I never had a gell come into myhouse asseemed to know what cleaning was; I think people livelike pigsfor my part.  And as to that Betty as was dairymaid atTrent'sbefore she come to meshe'd ha' left the cheeses withoutturningfrom week's end to week's endand the dairy thrallsImight ha'wrote my name on 'emwhen I come downstairs after myillnessas the doctor said it was inflammation--it was a mercy Igot wellof it.  And to think o' your knowing no betterMollyand beenhere a-going i' nine monthsand not for want o' talkingtoneither--and what are you stanning there forlike a jack asis rundowninstead o' getting your wheel out?  You're a rare unforsitting down to your work a little while after it's time toput by."

"Munnymy iron's twite told; pease put it down to warm."

The smallchirruping voice that uttered this request came from alittlesunny-haired girl between three and fourwhoseated on ahigh chairat the end of the ironing tablewas arduouslyclutchingthe handle of a miniature iron with her tiny fat fistandironing rags with an assiduity that required her to put herlittle redtongue out as far as anatomy would allow.

"Coldis itmy darling?  Bless your sweet face!" said Mrs.Poyserwho was remarkable for the facility with which she couldrelapsefrom her official objurgatory to one of fondness or offriendlyconverse.  "Never mind!  Mother's done her ironingnow.She'sgoing to put the ironing things away."

"MunnyI tould 'ike to do into de barn to Tommyto see dewhittawd."

"Nonono; Totty 'ud get her feet wet" said Mrs. Poysercarryingaway her iron.  "Run into the dairy and see cousin Hettymake thebutter."

"Itould 'ike a bit o' pum-take" rejoined Tottywho seemed to beprovidedwith several relays of requests; at the same timetakingtheopportunity of her momentary leisure to put her fingers into abowl ofstarchand drag it down so as to empty the contents withtolerablecompleteness on to the ironing sheet.

"Didever anybody see the like?" screamed Mrs. Poyserrunningtowardsthe table when her eye had fallen on the blue stream."Thechild's allays i' mischief if your back's turned a minute.What shallI do to youyou naughtynaughty gell?"

Tottyhoweverhad descended from her chair with great swiftnessand wasalready in retreat towards the dairy with a sort ofwaddlingrunand an amount of fat on the nape of her neck whichmade herlook like the metamorphosis of a white suckling pig.

The starchhaving been wiped up by Molly's helpand the ironingapparatusput byMrs. Poyser took up her knitting which alwayslay readyat handand was the work she liked bestbecause shecouldcarry it on automatically as she walked to and fro.  But nowshe cameand sat down opposite Dinahwhom she looked at in ameditativewayas she knitted her grey worsted stocking.

"Youlook th' image o' your Aunt JudithDinahwhen you sit a-sewing. I could almost fancy it was thirty years backand I wasa littlegell at homelooking at Judith as she sat at her workaftershe'd done the house up; only it was a little cottageFather'swasand not a big rambling house as gets dirty i' onecorner asfast as you clean it in another--but for all thatIcouldfancy you was your Aunt Judithonly her hair was a dealdarkerthan yoursand she was stouter and broader i' theshoulders. Judith and me allays hung togetherthough she hadsuch queerwaysbut your mother and her never could agree.  Ahyourmother little thought as she'd have a daughter just cut outafter thevery pattern o' Judithand leave her an orphantoofor Judithto take care onand bring up with a spoon when SHE wasin thegraveyard at Stoniton.  I allays said that o' Judithasshe'd beara pound weight any day to save anybody else carrying aounce. And she was just the same from the first o' my rememberingher; itmade no difference in heras I could seewhen she tookto theMethodistsonly she talked a bit different and wore adifferentsort o' cap; but she'd never in her life spent a pennyon herselfmore than keeping herself decent."

"Shewas a blessed woman" said Dinah; "God had given her alovingself-forgetting natureand He perfected it by grace.  Andshe wasvery fond of you tooAunt Rachel.  I often heard her talkof you inthe same sort of way.  When she had that bad illnessand I wasonly eleven years oldshe used to say'You'll have afriend onearth in your Aunt Rachelif I'm taken from youforshe has akind heart' and I'm sure I've found it so."

"Idon't know howchild; anybody 'ud be cunning to do anythingfor youIthink; you're like the birds o' th' airand livenobodyknows how.  I'd ha' been glad to behave to you like amother'ssisterif you'd come and live i' this country wherethere'ssome shelter and victual for man and beastand folksdon't liveon the naked hillslike poultry a-scratching on agravelbank.  And then you might get married to some decent manandthere'd be plenty ready to have youif you'd only leave offthatpreachingas is ten times worse than anything your AuntJudithever did.  And even if you'd marry Seth Bedeas is a poorwool-gatheringMethodist and's never like to have a pennybeforehandI know your uncle 'ud help you with a pigand verylike acowfor he's allays been good-natur'd to my kinfor allthey'repoorand made 'em welcome to the house; and 'ud do foryouI'llbe boundas much as ever he'd do for Hettythoughshe's hisown niece.  And there's linen in the house as I couldwell spareyoufor I've got lots o' sheeting and table-clothingandtowellingas isn't made up.  There's a piece o' sheeting Icould giveyou as that squinting Kitty spun--she was a rare girlto spinfor all she squintedand the children couldn't abideher; andyou knowthe spinning's going on constantand there'snew linenwove twice as fast as the old wears out.  But where'sthe use o'talkingif ye wonna be persuadedand settle down likeany otherwoman in her sensesi'stead o' wearing yourself outwithwalking and preachingand giving away every penny you getso asyou've nothing saved against sickness; and all the thingsyou've goti' the worldI verily believe'ud go into a bundle nobigger nora double cheese.  And all because you've got notions i'your headabout religion more nor what's i' the Catechism and thePrayer-book."

"Butnot more than what's in the BibleAunt" said Dinah.

"Yesand the Bible toofor that matter" Mrs. Poyser rejoinedrathersharply; "else why shouldn't them as know best what's intheBible--the parsons and people as have got nothing to do butlearnit--do the same as you do?  Butfor the matter o' thatifeverybodywas to do like youthe world must come to a standstill;for ifeverybody tried to do without house and homeand with pooreating anddrinkingand was allays talking as we must despise thethings o'the world as you sayI should like to know where thepick o'the stockand the cornand the best new-milk cheeeses'ud haveto go.  Everybody 'ud be wanting bread made o' tail endsandeverybody 'ud be running after everybody else to preach to'emistead o' bringing up their familiesand laying by against abadharvest.  It stands to sense as that can't be the rightreligion."

"Naydear auntyou never heard me say that all people are calledto forsaketheir work and their families.  It's quite right thelandshould be ploughed and sowedand the precious corn storedand thethings of this life cared forand right that peopleshouldrejoice in their familiesand provide for themso thatthis isdone in the fear of the Lordand that they are notunmindfulof the soul's wants while they are caring for the body.We can allbe servants of God wherever our lot is castbut Hegives usdifferent sorts of workaccording as He fits us for itand callsus to it.  I can no more help spending my life in tryingto do whatI can for the souls of othersthan you could helprunning ifyou heard little Totty crying at the other end of thehouse; thevoice would go to your heartyou would think the dearchild wasin trouble or in dangerand you couldn't rest withoutrunning tohelp her and comfort her."

"Ah"said Mrs. Poyserrising and walking towards the door"Iknow it'ud be just the same if I was to talk to you for hours.You'd makeme the same answerat th' end.  I might as well talkto therunning brook and tell it to stan' still."

Thecauseway outside the kitchen door was dry enough now for Mrs.Poyser tostand there quite pleasantly and see what was going onin theyardthe grey worsted stocking making a steady progress inher handsall the while.  But she had not been standing there morethan fiveminutes before she came in againand said to Dinahinrather aflurriedawe-stricken tone"If there isn't CaptainDonnithorneand Mr. Irwine a-coming into the yard!  I'll lay mylifethey're come to speak about your preaching on the GreenDinah;it's you must answer 'emfor I'm dumb.  I've said enougha'readyabout your bringing such disgrace upo' your uncle'sfamily. I wouldn't ha' minded if you'd been Mr. Poyser's ownniece--folksmust put up wi' their own kinas they put up wi'their ownnoses--it's their own flesh and blood.  But to think ofa niece o'mine being cause o' my husband's being turned out ofhis farmand me brought him no fortin but my savin's----"

"Naydear Aunt Rachel" said Dinah gently"you've no cause forsuchfears.  I've strong assurance that no evil will happen to youand myuncle and the children from anything I've done.  I didn'tpreachwithout direction."

"Direction! I know very well what you mean by direction" saidMrs.Poyserknitting in a rapid and agitated manner.  "Whenthere's abigger maggot than usial in your head you call it'direction';and then nothing can stir you--you look like thestatty o'the outside o' Treddles'on churcha-starin' and a-smilin'whether it's fair weather or foul.  I hanna commonpatiencewith you."

By thistime the two gentlemen had reached the palings and had gotdown fromtheir horses: it was plain they meant to come in.  Mrs.Poyseradvanced to the door to meet themcurtsying low andtremblingbetween anger with Dinah and anxiety to conduct herselfwithperfect propriety on the occasion.  For in those days thekeenest ofbucolic minds felt a whispering awe at the sight of thegentrysuch as of old men felt when they stood on tiptoe to watchthe godspassing by in tall human shape.

"WellMrs. Poyserhow are you after this stormy morning?" saidMr.Irwinewith his stately cordiality.  "Our feet are quitedry;we shallnot soil your beautiful floor."

"Ohsirdon't mention it" said Mrs. Poyser.  "Will youand thecaptainplease to walk into the parlour?"

"Noindeedthank youMrs. Poyser" said the captainlookingeagerlyround the kitchenas if his eye were seeking something itcould notfind.  "I delight in your kitchen.  I think it is themostcharming room I know.  I should like every farmer's wife tocome andlook at it for a pattern."

"Ohyou're pleased to say sosir.  Pray take a seat" saidMrs.Poyserrelieved a little by this compliment and the captain'sevidentgood-humourbut still glancing anxiously at Mr. Irwinewhoshesawwas looking at Dinah and advancing towards her.

"Poyseris not at homeis he?" said Captain Donnithorneseatinghimselfwhere he could see along the short passage to the opendairy-door.

"Nosirhe isn't; he's gone to Rosseter to see Mr. Westthefactorabout the wool.  But there's Father i' the barnsirifhe'd be ofany use."

"Nothank you; I'll just look at the whelps and leave a messageabout themwith your shepherd.  I must come another day and seeyourhusband; I want to have a consultation with him about horses.Do youknow when he's likely to be at liberty?"

"Whysiryou can hardly miss himexcept it's o' Treddles'onmarket-day--that'sof a Fridayyou know.  For if he's anywhere onthe farmwe can send for him in a minute.  If we'd got rid o' theScantlandswe should have no outlying fields; and I should beglad ofitfor if ever anything happenshe's sure to be gone totheScantlands.  Things allays happen so contrairyif they've achance;and it's an unnat'ral thing to have one bit o' your farmin onecounty and all the rest in another."

"Ahthe Scantlands would go much better with Choyce's farmespeciallyas he wants dairyland and you've got plenty.  I thinkyours isthe prettiest farm on the estatethough; and do youknowMrs.Poyserif I were going to marry and settleI shouldbe temptedto turn you outand do up this fine old houseandturnfarmer myself."

"Ohsir" said Mrs. Poyserrather alarmed"you wouldn't likeitat all. As for farmingit's putting money into your pocket wi'your righthand and fetching it out wi' your left.  As fur as Ican seeit's raising victual for other folks and just getting amouthfulfor yourself and your children as you go along.  Not asyou'd belike a poor man as wants to get his bread--you couldafford tolose as much money as you liked i' farming--but it'spoor funlosing moneyI should thinkthough I understan' it'swhat thegreat folks i' London play at more than anything.  For myhusbandheard at market as Lord Dacey's eldest son had lostthousandsupo' thousands to the Prince o' Walesand they said mylady wasgoing to pawn her jewels to pay for him.  But you knowmore aboutthat than I dosir.  Butas for farmingsirI cannathink asyou'd like it; and this house--the draughts in it areenough tocut you throughand it's my opinion the floors upstairsare veryrottenand the rats i' the cellar are beyond anything."

"Whythat's a terrible pictureMrs. Poyser.  I think I should bedoing youa service to turn you out of such a place.  But there'sno chanceof that.  I'm not likely to settle for the next twentyyearstill I'm a stout gentleman of forty; and my grandfatherwouldnever consent to part with such good tenants as you."

"Wellsirif he thinks so well o' Mr. Poyser for a tenant I wishyou couldput in a word for him to allow us some new gates for theFiveclosesfor my husband's been asking and asking till he'stiredandto think o' what he's done for the farmand's neverhad apenny allowed himbe the times bad or good.  And as I'vesaid to myhusband often and oftenI'm sure if the captain hadanythingto do with itit wouldn't be so.  Not as I wish to speakdisrespectfulo' them as have got the power i' their handsbutit's morethan flesh and blood 'ull bear sometimesto be toilingandstrivingand up early and down lateand hardly sleeping awink whenyou lie down for thinking as the cheese may swellorthe cowsmay slip their calfor the wheat may grow green again i'thesheaf--and after allat th' end o' the yearit's like as ifyou'd beencooking a feast and had got the smell of it for yourpains."

Mrs.Poyseronce launched into conversationalways sailed alongwithoutany check from her preliminary awe of the gentry.  Theconfidenceshe felt in her own powers of exposition was a motiveforce thatovercame all resistance.

"I'mafraid I should only do harm instead of goodif I were tospeakabout the gatesMrs. Poyser" said the captain"though Iassure youthere's no man on the estate I would sooner say a wordfor thanyour husband.  I know his farm is in better order thanany otherwithin ten miles of us; and as for the kitchen" headdedsmiling"I don't believe there's one in the kingdom tobeat it. By the byI've never seen your dairy: I must see yourdairyMrs. Poyser."

"Indeedsirit's not fit for you to go infor Hetty's in themiddle o'making the butterfor the churning was thrown lateandI'm quiteashamed."  This Mrs. Poyser said blushingand believingthat thecaptain was really interested in her milk-pansand wouldadjust hisopinion of her to the appearance of her dairy.

"OhI've no doubt it's in capital order.  Take me in" said thecaptainhimself leading the waywhile Mrs. Poyser followed.

 

 ChapterVII TheDairy

 

THE dairywas certainly worth looking at: it was a scene to sickenfor with asort of calenture in hot and dusty streets--suchcoolnesssuch puritysuch fresh fragrance of new-pressed cheeseof firmbutterof wooden vessels perpetually bathed in purewater;such soft colouring of red earthenware and creamy surfacesbrown woodand polished tingrey limestone and rich orange-redrust onthe iron weights and hooks and hinges.  But one gets onlya confusednotion of these details when they surround adistractinglypretty girl of seventeenstanding on little pattensandrounding her dimpled arm to lift a pound of butter out of thescale.

Hettyblushed a deep rose-colour when Captain Donnithorne enteredthe dairyand spoke to her; but it was not at all a distressedblushforit was inwreathed with smiles and dimplesand withsparklesfrom under longcurleddark eyelashes; and while heraunt wasdiscoursing to him about the limited amount of milk thatwas to bespared for butter and cheese so long as the calves werenot allweanedand a large quantity but inferior quality of milkyielded bythe shorthornwhich had been bought on experimenttogetherwith other matters which must be interesting to a younggentlemanwho would one day be a landlordHetty tossed and pattedher poundof butter with quite a self-possessedcoquettish airslylyconscious that no turn of her head was lost.

There arevarious orders of beautycausing men to make fools ofthemselvesin various stylesfrom the desperate to the sheepish;but thereis one order of beauty which seems made to turn theheads notonly of menbut of all intelligent mammalseven ofwomen. It is a beauty like that of kittensor very small downyducksmaking gentle rippling noises with their soft billsorbabiesjust beginning to toddle and to engage in consciousmischief--abeauty with which you can never be angrybut that youfeel readyto crush for inability to comprehend the state of mindinto whichit throws you.  Hetty Sorrel's was that sort of beauty.Her auntMrs. Poyserwho professed to despise all personalattractionsand intended to be the severest of mentorscontinuallygazed at Hetty's charms by the slyfascinated inspite ofherself; and after administering such a scolding asnaturallyflowed from her anxiety to do well by her husband'sniece--whohad no mother of her own to scold herpoor thing!--shewouldoften confess to her husbandwhen they were safe out ofhearingthat she firmly believed"the naughtier the little huzzybehavedthe prettier she looked."

It is oflittle use for me to tell you that Hetty's cheek was likearose-petalthat dimples played about her pouting lipsthat herlarge darkeyes hid a soft roguishness under their long lashesand thather curly hairthough all pushed back under her roundcap whileshe was at workstole back in dark delicate rings onherforeheadand about her white shell-like ears; it is of littleuse for meto say how lovely was the contour of her pink-and-whiteneckerchieftucked into her low plum-coloured stuff boddiceorhow thelinen butter-making apronwith its bibseemed a thing tobeimitated in silk by duchessessince it fell in such charminglinesorhow her brown stockings and thick-soled buckled shoeslost allthat clumsiness which they must certainly have had whenempty ofher foot and ankle--of little useunless you have seen awoman whoaffected you as Hetty affected her beholdersforotherwisethough you might conjure up the image of a lovelywomanshewould not in the least resemble that distractingkittenlikemaiden.  I might mention all the divine charms of abrightspring daybut if you had never in your life utterlyforgottenyourself in straining your eyes after the mounting larkor inwandering through the still lanes when the fresh-openedblossomsfill them with a sacred silent beauty like that offrettedaisleswhere would be the use of my descriptivecatalogue? I could never make you know what I meant by a brightspringday.  Hetty's was a spring-tide beauty; it was the beautyof youngfrisking thingsround-limbedgambollingcircumventingyou by afalse air of innocence--the innocence of a young star-browedcalffor examplethatbeing inclined for a promenade outof boundsleads you a severe steeplechase over hedge and ditchand onlycomes to a stand in the middle of a bog.

And theyare the prettiest attitudes and movements into which aprettygirl is thrown in making up butter--tossing movements thatgive acharming curve to the armand a sideward inclination ofthe roundwhite neck; little patting and rolling movements withthe palmof the handand nice adaptations and finishings whichcannot atall be effected without a great play of the poutingmouth andthe dark eyes.  And then the butter itself seems tocommunicatea fresh charm--it is so pureso sweet-scented; it isturned offthe mould with such a beautiful firm surfacelikemarble ina pale yellow light!  MoreoverHetty was particularlyclever atmaking up the butter; it was the one performance of hersthat heraunt allowed to pass without severe criticism; so shehandled itwith all the grace that belongs to mastery.

"Ihope you will be ready for a great holiday on the thirtieth ofJulyMrs.Poyser" said Captain Donnithornewhen he hadsufficientlyadmired the dairy and given several improvisedopinionson Swede turnips and shorthorns.  "You know what is tohappenthenand I shall expect you to be one of the guests whocomeearliest and leave latest.  Will you promise me your hand fortwodancesMiss Hetty?  If I don't get your promise nowI know Ishallhardly have a chancefor all the smart young farmers willtake careto secure you."

Hettysmiled and blushedbut before she could answerMrs. Poyserinterposedscandalized at the mere suggestion that the youngsquirecould be excluded by any meaner partners.

"Indeedsiryou are very kind to take that notice of her.  AndI'm surewhenever you're pleased to dance with hershe'll beproud andthankfulif she stood still all the rest o' th'evening."

"Ohnonothat would be too cruel to all the other young fellowswho candance.  But you will promise me two danceswon't you?"thecaptain continueddetermined to make Hetty look at him andspeak tohim.

Hettydropped the prettiest little curtsyand stole a half-shyhalf-coquettishglance at him as she said"Yesthank yousir."

"Andyou must bring all your childrenyou knowMrs. Poyser; yourlittleTottyas well as the boys.  I want all the youngestchildrenon the estate to be there--all those who will be fineyoung menand women when I'm a bald old fellow."

"Ohdearsirthat 'ull be a long time first" said Mrs. Poyserquiteovercome at the young squire's speaking so lightly ofhimselfand thinking how her husband would be interested inhearingher recount this remarkable specimen of high-born humour.Thecaptain was thought to be "very full of his jokes" and wasagreatfavourite throughout the estate on account of his freemanners. Every tenant was quite sure things would be differentwhen thereins got into his hands--there was to be a millennialabundanceof new gatesallowances of limeand returns of ten percent.

"Butwhere is Totty to-day?" he said.  "I want to see her."

"WhereIS the little unHetty?" said Mrs. Poyser.  "She cameinhere notlong ago."

"Idon't know.  She went into the brewhouse to NancyI think."

The proudmotherunable to resist the temptation to show herTottypassed at once into the back kitchenin search of hernothoweverwithout misgivings lest something should havehappenedto render her person and attire unfit for presentation.

"Anddo you carry the butter to market when you've made it?" saidtheCaptain to Hettymeanwhile.

"Ohnosir; not when it's so heavy.  I'm not strong enough tocarry it. Alick takes it on horseback."

"NoI'm sure your pretty arms were never meant for such heavyweights. But you go out a walk sometimes these pleasant eveningsdon'tyou?  Why don't you have a walk in the Chase sometimesnowit's sogreen and pleasant?  I hardly ever see you anywhere exceptat homeand at church."

"Auntdoesn't like me to go a-walking only when I'm goingsomewhere"said Hetty.  "But I go through the Chase sometimes."

"Anddon't you ever go to see Mrs. Bestthe housekeeper?  I thinkI saw youonce in the housekeeper's room."

"Itisn't Mrs. Bestit's Mrs. Pomfretthe lady's maidas I goto see. She's teaching me tent-stitch and the lace-mending.  I'mgoing totea with her to-morrow afternoon."

The reasonwhy there had been space for this tete-a-tete can onlybe knownby looking into the back kitchenwhere Totty had beendiscoveredrubbing a stray blue-bag against her noseand in thesamemoment allowing some liberal indigo drops to fall on herafternoonpinafore.  But now she appeared holding her mother'shand--theend of her round nose rather shiny from a recent andhurriedapplication of soap and water.

"Hereshe is!" said the captainlifting her up and setting her onthe lowstone shelf.  "Here's Totty!  By the bywhat's herothername? She wasn't christened Totty."

"Ohsirwe call her sadly out of her name.  Charlotte's herchristenedname.  It's a name i' Mr. Poyser's family: hisgrandmotherwas named Charlotte.  But we began with calling herLottyandnow it's got to Totty.  To be sure it's more like aname for adog than a Christian child."

"Totty'sa capital name.  Whyshe looks like a Totty.  Has shegot apocket on?" said the captainfeeling in his own waistcoatpockets.

Tottyimmediately with great gravity lifted up her frockandshowed atiny pink pocket at present in a state of collapse.

"Itdot notin' in it" she saidas she looked down at it veryearnestly.

"No! What a pity!  Such a pretty pocket.  WellI think I've gotsomethings in mine that will make a pretty jingle in it.  Yes! IdeclareI've got five little round silver thingsand hear what aprettynoise they make in Totty's pink pocket."  Here he shook thepocketwith the five sixpences in itand Totty showed her teethandwrinkled her nose in great glee; butdivining that there wasnothingmore to be got by stayingshe jumped off the shelf andran awayto jingle her pocket in the hearing of Nancywhile hermothercalled after her"Oh for shameyou naughty gell!  Not tothank thecaptain for what he's given you I'm suresirit's verykind ofyou; but she's spoiled shameful; her father won't have hersaid nayin anythingand there's no managing her.  It's being theyoungestand th' only gell."

"Ohshe's a funny little fatty; I wouldn't have her different.But I mustbe going nowfor I suppose the rector is waiting forme."

With a"good-bye" a bright glanceand a bow to Hetty Arthur leftthedairy.  But he was mistaken in imagining himself waited for.The rectorhad been so much interested in his conversation withDinah thathe would not have chosen to close it earlier; and youshall hearnow what they had been saying to each other.

 

 ChapterVIII AVocation

 

DINAHwhohad risen when the gentlemen came inbut still kepthold ofthe sheet she was mendingcurtsied respectfully when shesaw Mr.Irwine looking at her and advancing towards her.  He hadnever yetspoken to heror stood face to face with herand herfirstthoughtas her eyes met hiswas"What a well-favouredcountenance! Oh that the good seed might fall on that soilforit wouldsurely flourish."  The agreeable impression must havebeenmutualfor Mr. Irwine bowed to her with a benignantdeferencewhich would have been equally in place if she had beenthe mostdignified lady of his acquaintance.

"Youare only a visitor in this neighbourhoodI think?" were hisfirstwordsas he seated himself opposite to her.

"NosirI come from Snowfieldin Stonyshire.  But my aunt wasvery kindwanting me to have rest from my work therebecause I'dbeen illand she invited me to come and stay with her for awhile."

"AhI remember Snowfield very well; I once had occasion to gothere. It's a dreary bleak place.  They were building a cotton-millthere; but that's many years ago now.  I suppose the place isa gooddeal changed by the employment that mill must havebrought."

"ItIS changed so far as the mill has brought people therewhoget alivelihood for themselves by working in itand make itbetter forthe tradesfolks.  I work in it myselfand have reasonto begratefulfor thereby I have enough and to spare.  But it'sstill ableak placeas you saysir--very different from thiscountry."

"Youhave relations living thereprobablyso that you areattachedto the place as your home?"

"Ihad an aunt there once; she brought me upfor I was an orphan.But shewas taken away seven years agoand I have no otherkindredthat I know ofbesides my Aunt Poyserwho is very goodto meandwould have me come and live in this countrywhich tobe sure isa good landwherein they eat bread without scarceness.But I'mnot free to leave Snowfieldwhere I was first plantedand havegrown deep into itlike the small grass on the hill-top."

"AhI daresay you have many religious friends and companionsthere; youare a Methodist--a WesleyanI think?"

"Yesmy aunt at Snowfield belonged to the Societyand I havecause tobe thankful for the privileges I have had thereby from myearliestchildhood."

"Andhave you been long in the habit of preaching?  For Iunderstandyou preached at Hayslope last night."

"Ifirst took to the work four years sincewhen I was twenty-one."

"YourSociety sanctions women's preachingthen?"

"Itdoesn't forbid themsirwhen they've a clear call to theworkandwhen their ministry is owned by the conversion ofsinnersand the strengthening of God's people.  Mrs. Fletcherasyou mayhave heard aboutwas the first woman to preach in theSocietyIbelievebefore she was marriedwhen she was MissBosanquet;and Mr. Wesley approved of her undertaking the work.She had agreat giftand there are many others now living who arepreciousfellow-helpers in the work of the ministry.  I understandthere'sbeen voices raised against it in the Society of latebutI cannotbut think their counsel will come to nought.  It isn'tfor men tomake channels for God's Spiritas they make channelsfor thewatercoursesand say'Flow herebut flow not there.'"

"Butdon't you find some danger among your people--I don't mean tosay thatit is so with youfar from it--but don't you findsometimesthat both men and women fancy themselves channels forGod'sSpiritand are quite mistakenso that they set about awork forwhich they are unfit and bring holy things intocontempt?"

"Doubtlessit is so sometimes; for there have been evil-doersamong uswho have sought to deceive the brethrenand some thereare whodeceive their own selves.  But we are not withoutdisciplineand correction to put a check upon these things.There's avery strict order kept among usand the brethren andsisterswatch for each other's souls as they that must giveaccount. They don't go every one his own way and say'Am I mybrother'skeeper?'"

"Buttell me--if I may askand I am really interested in knowingit--howyou first came to think of preaching?"

"IndeedsirI didn't think of it at all--I'd been used from thetime I wassixteen to talk to the little childrenand teach themandsometimes I had had my heart enlarged to speak in classandwas muchdrawn out in prayer with the sick.  But I had felt nocall topreachfor when I'm not greatly wrought uponI'm toomuch givento sit still and keep by myself.  It seems as if Icould sitsilent all day long with the thought of God overflowingmysoul--as the pebbles lie bathed in the Willow Brook.  Forthoughtsare so great--aren't theysir?  They seem to lie upon uslike adeep flood; and it's my besetment to forget where I am andeverythingabout meand lose myself in thoughts that I could giveno accountoffor I could neither make a beginning nor ending ofthem inwords.  That was my way as long as I can remember; butsometimesit seemed as if speech came to me without any will of myownandwords were given to me that came out as the tears comebecauseour hearts are full and we can't help it.  And those werealwaystimes of great blessingthough I had never thought itcould beso with me before a congregation of people.  Butsirweare ledonlike the little childrenby a way that we know not.I wascalled to preach quite suddenlyand since then I have neverbeen leftin doubt about the work that was laid upon me."

"Buttell me the circumstances--just how it wasthe very day youbegan topreach."

"Itwas one Sunday I walked with brother Marlowewho was an agedmanoneof the local preachersall the way to Hetton-Deeps--that's avillage where the people get their living by working inthelead-minesand where there's no church nor preacherbut theylive likesheep without a shepherd.  It's better than twelve milesfromSnowfieldso we set out early in the morningfor it wassummertime;and I had a wonderful sense of the Divine love as wewalkedover the hillswhere there's no treesyou knowsirasthere ishereto make the sky look smallerbut you see theheavensstretched out like a tentand you feel the everlastingarmsaround you.  But before we got to Hettonbrother Marlowe wasseizedwith a dizziness that made him afraid of fallingfor heoverworkedhimself sadlyat his yearsin watching and prayingandwalking so many miles to speak the Wordas well as carryingon histrade of linen-weaving.  And when we got to the villagethe peoplewere expecting himfor he'd appointed the time and theplace whenhe was there beforeand such of them as cared to hearthe Wordof Life were assembled on a spot where the cottages wasthickestso as others might be drawn to come.  But he felt as hecouldn'tstand up to preachand he was forced to lie down in thefirst ofthe cottages we came to.  So I went to tell the peoplethinkingwe'd go into one of the housesand I would read and praywiththem.  But as I passed along by the cottages and saw the agedandtrembling women at the doorsand the hard looks of the menwho seemedto have their eyes no more filled with the sight of theSabbathmorning than if they had been dumb oxen that never lookedup to theskyI felt a great movement in my souland I trembledas if Iwas shaken by a strong spirit entering into my weak body.And I wentto where the little flock of people was gatheredtogetherand stepped on the low wall that was built against thegreenhillsideand I spoke the words that were given to meabundantly. And they all came round me out of all the cottagesand manywept over their sinsand have since been joined to theLord. That was the beginning of my preachingsirand I'vepreachedever since."

Dinah hadlet her work fall during this narrativewhich sheuttered inher usual simple waybut with that sincere articulatethrillingtreble by which she always mastered her audience.  Shestoopednow to gather up her sewingand then went on with it asbefore. Mr. Irwine was deeply interested.  He said to himself"Hemust be a miserable prig who would act the pedagogue here: onemight aswell go and lecture the trees for growing in their ownshape."

"Andyou never feel any embarrassment from the sense of youryouth--thatyou are a lovely young woman on whom men's eyes arefixed?"he said aloud.

"NoI've no room for such feelingsand I don't believe thepeopleever take notice about that.  I thinksirwhen God makesHispresence felt through uswe are like the burning bush: Mosesnever tookany heed what sort of bush it was--he only saw thebrightnessof the Lord.  I've preached to as rough ignorant peopleas can bein the villages about Snowfield--men that looked veryhard andwild--but they never said an uncivil word to meandoftenthanked me kindly as they made way for me to pass throughthe midstof them."

"THATI can believe--that I can well believe" said Mr. Irwineemphatically. "And what did you think of your hearers last nightnow? Did you find them quiet and attentive?"

"Veryquietsirbut I saw no signs of any great work upon themexcept ina young girl named Bessy Cranagetowards whom my heartyearnedgreatlywhen my eyes first fell on her blooming youthgiven upto folly and vanity.  I had some private talk and prayerwith herafterwardsand I trust her heart is touched.  But I'venoticedthat in these villages where the people lead a quiet lifeamong thegreen pastures and the still waterstilling the groundandtending the cattlethere's a strange deadness to the Wordasdifferentas can be from the great townslike Leedswhere I oncewent tovisit a holy woman who preaches there.  It's wonderful howrich isthe harvest of souls up those high-walled streetswhereyou seemedto walk as in a prison-yardand the ear is deafenedwith thesounds of worldly toil.  I think maybe it is because thepromise issweeter when this life is so dark and wearyand thesoul getsmore hungry when the body is ill at ease."

"Whyyesour farm-labourers are not easily roused.  They takelifealmost as slowly as the sheep and cows.  But we have someintelligentworkmen about here.  I daresay you know the Bedes;Seth Bedeby the byis a Methodist."

"YesI know Seth welland his brother Adam a little.  Seth is agraciousyoung man--sincere and without offence; and Adam is likethepatriarch Josephfor his great skill and knowledge and thekindnesshe shows to his brother and his parents."

"Perhapsyou don't know the trouble that has just happened tothem? Their fatherMatthias Bedewas drowned in the WillowBrook lastnightnot far from his own door.  I'm going now to seeAdam."

"Ahtheir poor aged mother!" said Dinahdropping her hands andlookingbefore her with pitying eyesas if she saw the object ofhersympathy.  "She will mourn heavilyfor Seth has told meshe'sof ananxioustroubled heart.  I must go and see if I can giveher anyhelp."

As sherose and was beginning to fold up her workCaptainDonnithornehaving exhausted all plausible pretexts for remainingamong themilk-panscame out of the dairyfollowed by Mrs.Poyser. Mr. Irwine now rose alsoandadvancing towards Dinahheld outhis handand said"Good-bye.  I hear you are going awaysoon; butthis will not be the last visit you will pay your aunt--so weshall meet againI hope."

Hiscordiality towards Dinah set all Mrs. Poyser's anxieties atrestandher face was brighter than usualas she said"I'veneverasked after Mrs. Irwine and the Miss Irwinessir; I hopethey're aswell as usual."

"Yesthank youMrs. Poyserexcept that Miss Anne has one of herbadheadaches to-day.  By the bywe all liked that nice cream-cheese yousent us--my mother especially."

"I'mvery gladindeedsir.  It is but seldom I make onebut IrememberedMrs. Irwine was fond of 'em.  Please to give my duty toherandto Miss Kate and Miss Anne.  They've never been to lookat mypoultry this long whileand I've got some beautifulspeckledchickensblack and whiteas Miss Kate might like tohave someof amongst hers."

"WellI'll tell her; she must come and see them.  Good-bye" saidtherectormounting his horse.

"Justride slowly onIrwine" said Captain Donnithornemountingalso. "I'll overtake you in three minutes.  I'm only going tospeak tothe shepherd about the whelps.  Good-byeMrs. Poyser;tell yourhusband I shall come and have a long talk with himsoon."

Mrs.Poyser curtsied dulyand watched the two horses until theyhaddisappeared from the yardamidst great excitement on the partof thepigs and the poultryand under the furious indignation ofthebull-dogwho performed a Pyrrhic dancethat every momentseemed tothreaten the breaking of his chain.  Mrs. Poyserdelightedin this noisy exit; it was a fresh assurance to her thatthefarm-yard was well guardedand that no loiterers could enterunobserved;and it was not until the gate had closed behind thecaptainthat she turned into the kitchen againwhere Dinah stoodwith herbonnet in her handwaiting to speak to her auntbeforeshe setout for Lisbeth Bede's cottage.

Mrs.Poyserhoweverthough she noticed the bonnetdeferredremarkingon it until she had disburdened herself of her surpriseat Mr.Irwine's behaviour.

"WhyMr. Irwine wasn't angrythen?  What did he say to youDinah? Didn't he scold you for preaching?"

"Nohe was not at all angry; he was very friendly to me. I wasquitedrawn out to speak to him; I hardly know howfor I hadalwaysthought of him as a worldly Sadducee.  But his countenanceis aspleasant as the morning sunshine."

"Pleasant! And what else did y' expect to find him but pleasant?"said Mrs.Poyser impatientlyresuming her knitting.  "I shouldthink hiscountenance is pleasant indeed!  And him a gentlemanbornand's got a mother like a picter.  You may go the countryround andnot find such another woman turned sixty-six.  It'ssummat-liketo see such a man as that i' the desk of a Sunday!  AsI say toPoyserit's like looking at a full crop o' wheator apasturewith a fine dairy o' cows in it; it makes you think theworld'scomfortable-like.  But as for such creaturs as youMethodissesrun afterI'd as soon go to look at a lot o' bare-ribbedrunts on a common.  Fine folks they are to tell you what'srightaslook as if they'd never tasted nothing better thanbacon-swordand sour-cake i' their lives.  But what did Mr. Irwinesay to youabout that fool's trick o' preaching on the Green?"

"Heonly said he'd heard of it; he didn't seem to feel anydispleasureabout it.  Butdear auntdon't think any more aboutthat. He told me something that I'm sure will cause you sorrowas it doesme.  Thias Bede was drowned last night in the WillowBrookandI'm thinking that the aged mother will be greatly inneed ofcomfort.  Perhaps I can be of use to herso I havefetched mybonnet and am going to set out."

"Dearheartdear heart!  But you must have a cup o' tea firstchild"said Mrs. Poyserfalling at once from the key of B withfivesharps to the frank and genial C.  "The kettle's boiling--we'll haveit ready in a minute; and the young uns 'ull be in andwantingtheirs directly.  I'm quite willing you should go and seeth' oldwomanfor you're one as is allays welcome in troubleMethodistor no Methodist; butfor the matter o' thatit's theflesh andblood folks are made on as makes the difference.  Somecheesesare made o' skimmed milk and some o' new milkand it's nomatterwhat you call 'emyou may tell which is which by the lookand thesmell.  But as to Thias Bedehe's better out o' the waynorin--God forgi' me for saying so--for he's done little this tenyear butmake trouble for them as belonged to him; and I think it'ud bewell for you to take a little bottle o' rum for th' oldwomanforI daresay she's got never a drop o' nothing to comfortherinside.  Sit downchildand be easyfor you shan't stir outtillyou've had a cup o' teaand so I tell you."

During thelatter part of this speechMrs. Poyser had beenreachingdown the tea-things from the shelvesand was on her waytowardsthe pantry for the loaf (followed close by Tottywho hadmade herappearance on the rattling of the tea-cups)when Hettycame outof the dairy relieving her tired arms by lifting them upandclasping her hands at the back of her head.

"Molly"she saidrather languidly"just run out and get me abunch ofdock-leaves: the butter's ready to pack up now."

"D'you hear what's happenedHetty?" said her aunt.

"No;how should I hear anything?" was the answerin a pettishtone.

"Notas you'd care muchI daresayif you did hear; for you'retoofeather-headed to mind if everybody was deadso as you couldstayupstairs a-dressing yourself for two hours by the clock.  Butanybodybesides yourself 'ud mind about such things happening tothem asthink a deal more of you than you deserve.  But Adam Bedeand allhis kin might be drownded for what you'd care--you'd beperking atthe glass the next minute."

"AdamBede--drowned?" said Hettyletting her arms fall andlookingrather bewilderedbut suspecting that her aunt was asusualexaggerating with a didactic purpose.

"Nomy dearno" said Dinah kindlyfor Mrs. Poyser had passedon to thepantry without deigning more precise information.  "NotAdam. Adam's fatherthe old manis drowned.  He was drownedlast nightin the Willow Brook.  Mr. Irwine has just told me aboutit."

"Ohhow dreadful!" said Hettylooking seriousbut not deeplyaffected;and as Molly now entered with the dock-leavesshe tookthemsilently and returned to the dairy without asking furtherquestions.

 

 ChapterIX Hetty'sWorld

 

WHILE sheadjusted the broad leaves that set off the pale fragrantbutter asthe primrose is set off by its nest of green I am afraidHetty wasthinking a great deal more of the looks CaptainDonnithornehad cast at her than of Adam and his troubles.Brightadmiring glances from a handsome young gentleman withwhitehandsa gold chainoccasional regimentalsand wealth andgrandeurimmeasurable--those were the warm rays that set poorHetty'sheart vibrating and playing its little foolish tunes overand overagain.  We do not hear that Memnon's statue gave forthits melodyat all under the rushing of the mightiest windor inresponseto any other influence divine or human than certainshort-livedsunbeams of morning; and we must learn to accommodateourselvesto the discovery that some of those cunningly fashionedinstrumentscalled human souls have only a very limited range ofmusicandwill not vibrate in the least under a touch that fillsotherswith tremulous rapture or quivering agony.

Hetty wasquite used to the thought that people liked to look ather. She was not blind to the fact that young Luke Britton ofBroxtoncame to Hayslope Church on a Sunday afternoon on purposethat hemight see her; and that he would have made much moredecidedadvances if her uncle Poyserthinking but lightly of ayoung manwhose father's land was so foul as old Luke Britton'shad notforbidden her aunt to encourage him by any civilities.She wasawaretoothat Mr. Craigthe gardener at the Chasewasover headand ears in love with herand had lately madeunmistakableavowals in luscious strawberries and hyperbolicalpeas. She knew still betterthat Adam Bede--talluprightcleverbrave Adam Bede--who carried such authority with all thepeopleround aboutand whom her uncle was always delighted to seeof aneveningsaying that "Adam knew a fine sight more o' thenatur o'things than those as thought themselves his betters"--sheknew thatthis Adamwho was often rather stern to other peopleand notmuch given to run after the lassescould be made to turnpale orred any day by a word or a look from her.  Hetty's sphereofcomparison was not largebut she couldn't help perceiving thatAdam was"something like" a man; always knew what to say aboutthingscould tell her uncle how to prop the hoveland had mendedthe churnin no time; knewwith only looking at itthe value ofthechestnut-tree that was blown downand why the damp came inthe wallsand what they must do to stop the rats; and wrote abeautifulhand that you could read offand could do figures inhishead--a degree of accomplishment totally unknown among therichestfarmers of that countryside.  Not at all like thatslouchingLuke Brittonwhowhen she once walked with him all theway fromBroxton to Hayslopehad only broken silence to remarkthat thegrey goose had begun to lay.  And as for Mr. Craigthegardenerhe was a sensible man enoughto be surebut he wasknock-kneedand had a queer sort of sing-song in his talk;moreoveron the most charitable suppositionhe must be far onthe way toforty.

Hetty wasquite certain her uncle wanted her to encourage Adamand wouldbe pleased for her to marry him.  For those were timeswhen therewas no rigid demarcation of rank between the farmer andtherespectable artisanand on the home hearthas well as in thepublichousethey might be seen taking their jug of ale together;the farmerhaving a latent sense of capitaland of weight inparishaffairswhich sustained him under his conspicuousinferiorityin conversation.  Martin Poyser was not a frequenterof publichousesbut he liked a friendly chat over his own home-brewed;and though it was pleasant to lay down the law to a stupidneighbourwho had no notion how to make the best of his farmitwas alsoan agreeable variety to learn something from a cleverfellowlike Adam Bede.  Accordinglyfor the last three years--ever sincehe had superintended the building of the new barn--Adamhad alwaysbeen made welcome at the Hall Farmespecially of awintereveningwhen the whole familyin patriarchal fashionmaster andmistresschildren and servantswere assembled in thatgloriouskitchenat well-graduated distances from the blazingfire. And for the last two yearsat leastHetty had been in thehabit ofhearing her uncle say"Adam Bede may be working for wagenowbuthe'll be a master-man some dayas sure as I sit in thischair. Mester Burge is in the right on't to want him to gopartnersand marry his daughterif it's true what they say; thewoman asmarries him 'ull have a good takebe't Lady day orMichaelmas"a remark which Mrs. Poyser always followed up withhercordial assent.  "Ah" she would say"it's allvery finehaving aready-made rich manbut mayhappen he'll be a ready-madefool; andit's no use filling your pocket full o' money if you'vegot a holein the corner.  It'll do you no good to sit in aspring-carto' your ownif you've got a soft to drive you: he'llsoon turnyou over into the ditch.  I allays said I'd never marrya man ashad got no brains; for where's the use of a woman havingbrains ofher own if she's tackled to a geck as everybody's a-laughingat?  She might as well dress herself fine to sitback'ardson a donkey."

Theseexpressionsthough figurativesufficiently indicated thebent ofMrs. Poyser's mind with regard to Adam; and though she andherhusband might have viewed the subject differently if Hetty hadbeen adaughter of their ownit was clear that they would havewelcomedthe match with Adam for a penniless niece.  For whatcouldHetty have been but a servant elsewhereif her uncle hadnot takenher in and brought her up as a domestic help to herauntwhose health since the birth of Totty had not been equal tomorepositive labour than the superintendence of servants andchildren? But Hetty had never given Adam any steadyencouragement. Even in the moments when she was most thoroughlyconsciousof his superiority to her other admirersshe had neverbroughtherself to think of accepting him.  She liked to feel thatthisstrongskilfulkeen-eyed man was in her powerand wouldhave beenindignant if he had shown the least sign of slippingfrom underthe yoke of her coquettish tyranny and attachinghimself tothe gentle Mary Burgewho would have been gratefulenough forthe most trifling notice from him.  "Mary Burgeindeed! Such a sallow-faced girl: if she put on a bit of pinkribbonshe looked as yellow as a crow-flower and her hair was asstraightas a hank of cotton."  And always when Adam stayed awayforseveral weeks from the Hall Farmand otherwise made some showofresistance to his passion as a foolish oneHetty took care toentice himback into the net by little airs of meekness andtimidityas if she were in trouble at his neglect.  But as tomarryingAdamthat was a very different affair!  There wasnothing inthe world to tempt her to do that.  Her cheeks nevergrew ashade deeper when his name was mentioned; she felt nothrillwhen she saw him passing along the causeway by the windoworadvancing towards her unexpectedly in the footpath across themeadow;she felt nothingwhen his eyes rested on herbut thecoldtriumph of knowing that he loved her and would not care tolook atMary Burge.  He could no more stir in her the emotionsthat makethe sweet intoxication of young love than the merepicture ofa sun can stir the spring sap in the subtle fibres oftheplant.  She saw him as he was--a poor man with old parents tokeepwhowould not be ablefor a long while to cometo give hereven suchluxuries as she shared in her uncle's house.  AndHetty'sdreams were all of luxuries: to sit in a carpeted parlourand alwayswear white stockings; to have some large beautiful ear-ringssuch as were all the fashion; to have Nottingham lace roundthe top ofher gownand something to make her handkerchief smellnicelikeMiss Lydia Donnithorne's when she drew it out atchurch;and not to be obliged to get up early or be scolded byanybody. She thoughtif Adam had been rich and could have givenher thesethingsshe loved him well enough to marry him.

But forthe last few weeks a new influence had come over Hetty--vagueatmosphericshaping itself into no self-confessed hopes orprospectsbut producing a pleasant narcotic effectmaking hertread theground and go about her work in a sort of dreamunconsciousof weight or effortand showing her all thingsthrough asoftliquid veilas if she were living not in thissolidworld of brick and stonebut in a beatified worldsuch asthe sunlights up for us in the waters.  Hetty had become awarethat Mr.Arthur Donnithorne would take a good deal of trouble forthe chanceof seeing her; that he always placed himself at churchso as tohave the fullest view of her both sitting and standing;that hewas constantly finding reason for calling at the HallFarmandalways would contrive to say something for the sake ofmaking herspeak to him and look at him.  The poor child no moreconceivedat present the idea that the young squire could ever beher loverthan a baker's pretty daughter in the crowdwhom ayoungemperor distinguishes by an imperial but admiring smileconceivesthat she shall be made empress.  But the baker'sdaughtergoes home and dreams of the handsome young emperorandperhapsweighs the flour amiss while she is thinking what aheavenlylot it must be to have him for a husband.  And sopoorHetty hadgot a face and a presence haunting her waking andsleepingdreams; brightsoft glances had penetrated herandsuffusedher life with a strangehappy languor.  The eyes thatshed thoseglances were really not half so fine as Adam'swhichsometimeslooked at her with a sadbeseeching tendernessbutthey hadfound a ready medium in Hetty's little silly imaginationwhereasAdam's could get no entrance through that atmosphere.  Forthreeweeksat leasther inward life had consisted of littleelse thanliving through in memory the looks and words Arthur haddirectedtowards her--of little else than recalling the sensationswith whichshe heard his voice outside the houseand saw himenterandbecame conscious that his eyes were fixed on herandthenbecame conscious that a tall figurelooking down on her witheyes thatseemed to touch herwas coming nearer in clothes ofbeautifultexture with an odour like that of a flower-garden borneon theevening breeze.  Foolish thoughts!  But all this happenedyou mustremembernearly sixty years agoand Hetty was quiteuneducated--asimple farmer's girlto whom a gentleman with awhite handwas dazzling as an Olympian god.  Until to-dayshe hadneverlooked farther into the future than to the next time CaptainDonnithornewould come to the Farmor the next Sunday when sheshould seehim at church; but now she thoughtperhaps he wouldtry tomeet her when she went to the Chase to-morrow--and if heshouldspeak to herand walk a little waywhen nobody was by!That hadnever happened yet; and now her imaginationinstead ofretracingthe pastwas busy fashioning what would happen to-morrow--whereaboutin the Chase she should see him coming towardsherhowshe should put her new rose-coloured ribbon onwhich hehad neverseenand what he would say to her to make her returnhisglance--a glance which she would be living through in hermemoryover and over againall the rest of the day.

In thisstate of mindhow could Hetty give any feeling to Adam'stroublesor think much about poor old Thias being drowned?  Youngsoulsinsuch pleasant delirium as hers are as unsympathetic asbutterfliessipping nectar; they are isolated from all appeals bya barrierof dreams--by invisible looks and impalpable arms.

WhileHetty's hands were busy packing up the butterand her headfilledwith these pictures of the morrowArthur Donnithorneriding byMr. Irwine's side towards the valley of the WillowBrookhadalso certain indistinct anticipationsrunning as anundercurrentin his mind while he was listening to Mr. Irwine'saccount ofDinah--indistinctyet strong enough to make him feelratherconscious when Mr. Irwine suddenly said"What fascinatedyou so inMrs. Poyser's dairyArthur?  Have you become an amateurof dampquarries and skimming dishes?"

Arthurknew the rector too well to suppose that a clever inventionwould beof any useso he saidwith his accustomed frankness"NoI went to look at the pretty butter-maker Hetty Sorrel.She's aperfect Hebe; and if I were an artistI would paint her.It'samazing what pretty girls one sees among the farmers'daughterswhen the men are such clowns.  That commonroundredface onesees sometimes in the men--all cheek and no featureslikeMartin Poyser's--comes out in the women of the famuly as themostcharming phiz imaginable."

"WellI have no objection to your contemplating Hetty in anartisticlightbut I must not have you feeding her vanity andfillingher little noddle with the notion that she's a greatbeautyattractive to fine gentlemenor you will spoil her for apoor man'swife--honest Craig'sfor examplewhom I have seenbestowingsoft glances on her.  The little puss seems already tohave airsenough to make a husband as miserable as it's a law ofnature fora quiet man to be when he marries a beauty.  Apropos ofmarryingI hope our friend Adam will get settlednow the poorold man'sgone.  He will only have his mother to keep in futureand I've anotion that there's a kindness between him and thatnicemodest girlMary Burgefrom something that fell from oldJonathanone day when I was talking to him.  But when I mentionedthesubject to Adam he looked uneasy and turned the conversation.I supposethe love-making doesn't run smoothor perhaps Adamhangs backtill he's in a better position.  He has independence ofspiritenough for two men--rather an excess of prideifanything."

"Thatwould be a capital match for Adam.  He would slip into oldBurge'sshoes and make a fine thing of that building businessI'llanswer for him.  I should like to see him well settled inthisparish; he would be ready then to act as my grand-vizier whenI wantedone.  We could plan no end of repairs and improvementstogether. I've never seen the girlthoughI think--at leastI've neverlooked at her."

"Lookat her next Sunday at church--she sits with her father onthe leftof the reading-desk.  You needn't look quite so much atHettySorrel then.  When I've made up my mind that I can't affordto buy atempting dogI take no notice of himbecause if he tooka strongfancy to me and looked lovingly at methe strugglebetweenarithmetic and inclination might become unpleasantlysevere. I pique myself on my wisdom thereArthurand as an oldfellow towhom wisdom had become cheapI bestow it upon you."

"Thankyou.  It may stand me in good stead some day though I don'tknow thatI have any present use for it.  Bless me!  How the brookhasoverflowed.  Suppose we have a canternow we're at the bottomof thehill."

That isthe great advantage of dialogue on horseback; it can bemerged anyminute into a trot or a canterand one might haveescapedfrom Socrates himself in the saddle.  The two friends werefree fromthe necessity of further conversation till they pulledup in thelane behind Adam's cottage.

 

 ChapterX DinahVisits Lisbeth

 

AT fiveo'clock Lisbeth came downstairs with a large key in herhand: itwas the key of the chamber where her husband lay dead.Throughoutthe dayexcept in her occasional outbursts of wailinggriefshehad been in incessant movementperforming the initialduties toher dead with the awe and exactitude that belong toreligiousrites.  She had brought out her little store of bleachedlinenwhich she had for long years kept in reserve for thissupremeuse.  It seemed but yesterday--that time so manymidsummersagowhen she had told Thias where this linen laythathe mightbe sure and reach it out for her when SHE diedfor shewas theelder of the two.  Then there had been the work ofcleansingto the strictest purity every object in the sacredchamberand of removing from it every trace of common dailyoccupation. The small windowwhich had hitherto freely let inthe frostymoonlight or the warm summer sunrise on the workingman'sslumbermust now be darkened with a fair white sheetforthis wasthe sleep which is as sacred under the bare rafters as inceiledhouses.  Lisbeth had even mended a long-neglected andunnoticeablerent in the checkered bit of bed-curtain; for themomentswere few and precious now in which she would be able to dothesmallest office of respect or love for the still corpsetowhich inall her thoughts she attributed some consciousness.  Ourdead arenever dead to us until we have forgotten them: they canbe injuredby usthey can be wounded; they know all ourpenitenceall our aching sense that their place is emptyall thekisses webestow on the smallest relic of their presence.  And theagedpeasant woman most of all believes that her dead areconscious. Decent burial was what Lisbeth had been thinking offorherself through years of thriftwith an indistinctexpectationthat she should know when she was being carried to thechurchyardfollowed by her husband and her sons; and now she feltas if thegreatest work of her life were to be done in seeing thatThias wasburied decently before her--under the white thornwhereoncein adreamshe had thought she lay in the coffinyet allthe whilesaw the sunshine above and smelt the white blossoms thatwere sothick upon the thorn the Sunday she went to be churchedafter Adamwas born.

But nowshe had done everything that could be done to-day in thechamber ofdeath--had done it all herselfwith some aid from hersons inliftingfor she would let no one be fetched to help herfrom thevillagenot being fond of female neighbours generally;and herfavourite Dollythe old housekeeper at Mr. Burge'swhohad cometo condole with her in the morning as soon as she heardof Thias'sdeathwas too dim-sighted to be of much use.  She hadlocked thedoorand now held the key in her handas she threwherselfwearily into a chair that stood out of its place in themiddle ofthe house floorwhere in ordinary times she would neverhaveconsented to sit.  The kitchen had had none of her attentionthat day;it was soiled with the tread of muddy shoes and untidywithclothes and other objects out of place.  But what at anothertime wouldhave been intolerable to Lisbeth's habits of order andcleanlinessseemed to her now just what should be: it was rightthatthings should look strange and disordered and wretchednowthe oldman had come to his end in that sad way; the kitchen oughtnot tolook as if nothing had happened.  Adamovercome with theagitationsand exertions of the day after his night of hard workhad fallenasleep on a bench in the workshop; and Seth was in thebackkitchen making a fire of sticks that he might get the kettleto boiland persuade his mother to have a cup of teaanindulgencewhich she rarely allowed herself.

There wasno one in the kitchen when Lisbeth entered and threwherselfinto the chair.  She looked round with blank eyes at thedirt andconfusion on which the bright afternoon's sun shonedismally;it was all of a piece with the sad confusion of hermind--thatconfusion which belongs to the first hours of a suddensorrowwhen the poor human soul is like one who has beendepositedsleeping among the ruins of a vast cityand wakes up indrearyamazementnot knowing whether it is the growing or thedyingday--not knowing why and whence came this illimitable sceneofdesolationor why he too finds himself desolate in the midstof it.

At anothertime Lisbeth's first thought would have been"Where isAdam?"but the sudden death of her husband had restored him inthesehours to that first place in her affections which he hadheldsix-and-twenty years ago.  She had forgotten his faults as weforget thesorrows of our departed childhoodand thought ofnothingbut the young husband's kindness and the old man'spatience. Her eyes continued to wander blankly until Seth came inand beganto remove some of the scattered thingsand clear thesmallround deal table that he might set out his mother's tea uponit.

"Whatart goin' to do?" she saidrather peevishly.

"Iwant thee to have a cup of teaMother" answered Sethtenderly. "It'll do thee good; and I'll put two or three of thesethingsawayand make the house look more comfortable."

"Comfortable! How canst talk o' ma'in' things comfortable?  Leta-beleta-be.  There's no comfort for me no more" she went onthe tearscoming when she began to speak"now thy poor feyther'sgoneasI'n washed for and mendedan' got's victual for him forthirty'earan' him allays so pleased wi' iverything I done forhiman'used to be so handy an' do the jobs for me when I war illan'cumbered wi' th' babbyan' made me the posset an' brought itupstairsas proud as could bean' carried the lad as war as heavyas twochildren for five mile an' ne'er grumbledall the way toWarsonWake'cause I wanted to go an' see my sisteras war deadan' gonethe very next Christmas as e'er come.  An' him to bedrowndedin the brook as we passed o'er the day we war married an'come hometogetheran' he'd made them lots o' shelves for me toput myplates an' things onan' showed 'em me as proud as couldbe'causehe know'd I should be pleased.  An' he war to die an'me not toknowbut to be a-sleepin' i' my bedas if I carednanoughtabout it.  Eh!  An' me to live to see that!  An' us aswaryoungfolks oncean' thought we should do rarely when we warmarried. Let a-beladlet a-be!  I wonna ha' no tay.  I carenaif I ne'erate nor drink no more.  When one end o' th' bridgetumblesdownwhere's th' use o' th' other stannin'?  I may's welldiean'foller my old man.  There's no knowin' but he'll wantme."

HereLisbeth broke from words into moansswaying herselfbackwardsand forwards on her chair.  Sethalways timid in hisbehaviourtowards his motherfrom the sense that he had noinfluenceover herfelt it was useless to attempt to persuade orsoothe hertill this passion was past; so he contented himselfwithtending the back kitchen fire and folding up his father'sclotheswhich had been hanging out to dry since morning--afraidto moveabout in the room where his mother waslest he shouldirritateher further.

But afterLisbeth had been rocking herself and moaning for someminutesshe suddenly paused and said aloud to herself"I'll goan' seearter Adamfor I canna think where he's gotten; an' Iwant himto go upstairs wi' me afore it's darkfor the minutes tolook atthe corpse is like the meltin' snow."

Sethoverheard thisand coming into the kitchen againas hismotherrose from her chairhe said"Adam's asleep in theworkshopmother.  Thee'dst better not wake him.  He waso'erwroughtwith work and trouble."

"Wakehim?  Who's a-goin' to wake him?  I shanna wake him wi'lookin' athim.  I hanna seen the lad this two hour--I'd wellyforgot ashe'd e'er growed up from a babby when's feyther carriedhim."

Adam wasseated on a rough benchhis head supported by his armwhichrested from the shoulder to the elbow on the long planing-table inthe middle of the workshop.  It seemed as if he had satdown for afew minutes' rest and had fallen asleep withoutslippingfrom his first attitude of sadfatigued thought.  Hisfaceunwashed since yesterdaylooked pallid and clammy; his hairwas tossedshaggily about his foreheadand his closed eyes hadthe sunkenlook which follows upon watching and sorrow.  His browwas knitand his whole face had an expression of weariness andpain. Gyp was evidently uneasyfor he sat on his haunchesrestinghis nose on his master's stretched-out legand dividingthe timebetween licking the hand that hung listlessly down andglancingwith a listening air towards the door.  The poor dog washungry andrestlessbut would not leave his masterand waswaitingimpatiently for some change in the scene.  It was owing tothisfeeling on Gyp's part thatwhen Lisbeth came into theworkshopand advanced towards Adam as noiselessly as she couldherintention not to awaken him was immediately defeated; forGyp'sexcitement was too great to find vent in anything short of asharpbarkand in a moment Adam opened his eyes and saw hismotherstanding before him.  It was not very unlike his dreamforhis sleephad been little more than living through againin afevereddelirious wayall that had happened since daybreakandhis motherwith her fretful grief was present to him through itall. The chief difference between the reality and the vision wasthat inhis dream Hetty was continually coming before him inbodilypresence--strangely mingling herself as an actor in sceneswith whichshe had nothing to do.  She was even by the WillowBrook; shemade his mother angry by coming into the house; and hemet herwith her smart clothes quite wet throughas he walked inthe rainto Treddlestonto tell the coroner.  But wherever Hettycamehismother was sure to follow soon; and when he opened hiseyesitwas not at all startling to see her standing near him.

"Ehmy ladmy lad!" Lisbeth burst out immediatelyher wailingimpulsereturningfor grief in its freshness feels the need ofassociatingits loss and its lament with every change of scene andincident"thee'st got nobody now but thy old mother to tormentthee andbe a burden to thee.  Thy poor feyther 'ull ne'er angerthee nomore; an' thy mother may's well go arter him--the soonerthebetter--for I'm no good to nobody now.  One old coat 'ull doto patchanotherbut it's good for nought else.  Thee'dst like toha' a wifeto mend thy clothes an' get thy victualbetter nor thyoldmother.  An' I shall be nought but cumbera-sittin' i' th'chimney-corner. (Adam winced and moved uneasily; he dreadedofallthingsto hear his mother speak of Hetty.)  But if thyfeytherhad livedhe'd ne'er ha' wanted me to go to make room foranotherfor he could no more ha' done wi'out me nor one side o'thescissars can do wi'out th' other.  Ehwe should ha' been bothflung awaytogetheran' then I shouldna ha' seen this dayan'oneburyin' 'ud ha' done for us both."

HereLisbeth pausedbut Adam sat in pained silence--he could notspeakotherwise than tenderly to his mother to-daybut he couldnot helpbeing irritated by this plaint.  It was not possible forpoorLisbeth to know how it affected Adam any more than it ispossiblefor a wounded dog to know how his moans affect the nervesof hismaster.  Like all complaining womenshe complained in theexpectationof being soothedand when Adam said nothingshe wasonlyprompted to complain more bitterly.

"Iknow thee couldst do better wi'out mefor thee couldst gowhere theelikedst an' marry them as thee likedst.  But I donnawant tosay thee naylet thee bring home who thee wut; I'd ne'eropen mylips to find fautfor when folks is old an' o' no usethey maythink theirsens well off to get the bit an' the supthoughthey'n to swallow ill words wi't.  An' if thee'st set thyheart on alass as'll bring thee nought and waste allwhen theemightstha' them as 'ud make a man on theeI'll say noughtnowthyfeyther's dead an' drowndedfor I'm no better nor an old haftwhen theblade's gone."

Adamunable to bear this any longerrose silently from the benchand walkedout of the workshop into the kitchen.  But Lisbethfollowedhim.

"Theewutna go upstairs an' see thy feyther then?  I'n doneeverythin'nowan' he'd like thee to go an' look at himfor hewar allaysso pleased when thee wast mild to him."

Adamturned round at once and said"Yesmother; let us goupstairs. ComeSethlet us go together."

They wentupstairsand for five minutes all was silence.  Thenthe keywas turned againand there was a sound of footsteps onthestairs.  But Adam did not come down again; he was too wearyandworn-out to encounter more of his mother's querulous griefand hewent to rest on his bed.  Lisbeth no sooner entered thekitchenand sat down than she threw her apron over her headandbegan tocry and moan and rock herself as before.  Seth thought"Shewill be quieter by and bynow we have been upstairs"; and hewent intothe back kitchen againto tend his little firehopingthat heshould presently induce her to have some tea.

Lisbethhad been rocking herself in this way for more than fiveminutesgiving a low moan with every forward movement of herbodywhenshe suddenly felt a hand placed gently on hersand asweettreble voice said to her"Dear sisterthe Lord has sent meto see ifI can be a comfort to you."

Lisbethpausedin a listening attitudewithout removing herapron fromher face.  The voice was strange to her.  Could it behersister's spirit come back to her from the dead after all thoseyears? She trembled and dared not look.

Dinahbelieving that this pause of wonder was in itself a relieffor thesorrowing womansaid no more just yetbut quietly tookoff herbonnetand thenmotioning silence to Sethwhoonhearingher voicehad come in with a beating heartlaid one handon theback of Lisbeth's chair and leaned over herthat she mightbe awareof a friendly presence.

SlowlyLisbeth drew down her apronand timidly she opened her dimdarkeyes.  She saw nothing at first but a face--a purepalefacewithloving grey eyesand it was quite unknown to her.  Herwonderincreased; perhaps it WAS an angel.  But in the sameinstantDinah had laid her hand on Lisbeth's againand the oldwomanlooked down at it.  It was a much smaller hand than her ownbut it wasnot white and delicatefor Dinah had never worn aglove inher lifeand her hand bore the traces of labour from herchildhoodupwards.  Lisbeth looked earnestly at the hand for amomentand thenfixing her eyes again on Dinah's facesaidwithsomething of restored couragebut in a tone of surprise"Whyye're a workin' woman!"

"YesI am Dinah Morrisand I work in the cotton-mill when I amat home."

"Ah!"said Lisbeth slowlystill wondering; "ye comed in so lightlike theshadow on the wallan' spoke i' my earas I thought yemight be asperrit.  Ye've got a'most the face o' one as is a-sittin' onthe grave i' Adam's new Bible."

"Icome from the Hall Farm now.  You know Mrs. Poyser--she's myauntandshe has heard of your great afflictionand is verysorry; andI'm come to see if I can be any help to you in yourtrouble;for I know your sons Adam and Sethand I know you havenodaughter; and when the clergyman told me how the hand of Godwas heavyupon youmy heart went out towards youand I felt acommand tocome and be to you in the place of a daughter in thisgriefifyou will let me."

"Ah! I know who y' are now; y' are a Methodylike Seth; he'stould meon you" said Lisbeth fretfullyher overpowering senseof painreturningnow her wonder was gone.  "Ye'll make it out astrouble'sa good thinglike HE allays does.  But where's the useo' talkin'to me a-that'n?  Ye canna make the smart less wi'talkin'. Ye'll ne'er make me believe as it's better for me not toha' my oldman die in's bedif he must diean' ha' the parson topray byhiman' me to sit by himan' tell him ne'er to mind th'ill wordsI've gi'en him sometimes when I war angeredan' to gi'him a bitan' a supas long as a bit an' a sup he'd swallow.  Buteh! To die i' the cold wateran' us close to himan' ne'er toknow; an'me a-sleepin'as if I ne'er belonged to him no more norif he'dbeen a journeyman tramp from nobody knows where!"

HereLisbeth began to cry and rock herself again; and Dinah said"Yesdear friendyour affliction is great.  It would be hardnessof heartto say that your trouble was not heavy to bear.  Goddidn'tsend me to you to make light of your sorrowbut to mournwith youif you will let me.  If you had a table spread for afeastandwas making merry with your friendsyou would think itwas kindto let me come and sit down and rejoice with youbecauseyou'dthink I should like to share those good things; but I shouldlikebetter to share in your trouble and your labourand it wouldseemharder to me if you denied me that.  You won't send me away?You're notangry with me for coming?"

"Naynay; angered! who said I war angered?  It war good on you tocome. An' Sethwhy donna ye get her some tay?  Ye war in a hurryto getsome for meas had no needbut ye donna think o' gettin''t forthem as wants it.  Sit ye down; sit ye down.  I thank youkindly forcomin'for it's little wage ye get by walkin' throughthe wetfields to see an old woman like me....NayI'n got nodaughtero' my own--ne'er had one--an' I warna sorryfor they'repoorqueechy thingsgells is; I allays wanted to ha' ladsascould fendfor theirsens.  An' the lads 'ull be marryin'--I shallha'daughters eno'an' too many.  But nowdo ye make the tay asye likeitfor I'n got no taste i' my mouth this day--it's allone what Iswaller--it's all got the taste o' sorrow wi't."

Dinah tookcare not to betray that she had had her teaandacceptedLisbeth's invitation very readilyfor the sake ofpersuadingthe old woman herself to take the food and drink she somuchneeded after a day of hard work and fasting.

Seth wasso happy now Dinah was in the house that he could nothelpthinking her presence was worth purchasing with a life inwhichgrief incessantly followed upon grief; but the next momenthereproached himself--it was almost as if he were rejoicing inhisfather's sad death.  Nevertheless the joy of being with DinahWOULDtriumph--it was like the influence of climatewhich noresistancecan overcome.  And the feeling even suffused itselfover hisface so as to attract his mother's noticewhile she wasdrinkingher tea.

"Theemay'st well talk o' trouble bein' a good thingSethfortheethriv'st on't.  Thee look'st as if thee know'dst no more o'care an'cumber nor when thee wast a babby a-lyin' awake i' th'cradle. For thee'dst allays lie still wi' thy eyes openan' Adamne'er 'udlie still a minute when he wakened.  Thee wast allayslike a bago' meal as can ne'er be bruised--thoughfor the mattero' thatthy poor feyther war just such another.  But ye've gotthe samelook too" (here Lisbeth turned to Dinah).  "I reckonit'swi' bein'a Methody.  Not as I'm a-findin' faut wi' ye for'tforye've nocall to be frettin'an' somehow ye looken sorry too.Eh! Wellif the Methodies are fond o' troublethey're like tothrive:it's a pity they canna ha't allan' take it away fromthem asdonna like it.  I could ha' gi'en 'em plenty; for when I'dgotten myold man I war worreted from morn till night; and nowhe's goneI'd be glad for the worst o'er again."

"Yes"said Dinahcareful not to oppose any feeling of Lisbeth'sfor herreliancein her smallest words and deedson a divineguidancealways issued in that finest woman's tact which proceedsfrom acuteand ready sympathy; "yesI remember toowhen my dearaunt diedI longed for the sound of her bad cough in the nightsinstead ofthe silence that came when she was gone.  But nowdearfrienddrink this other cup of tea and eat a little more."

"What!"said Lisbethtaking the cup and speaking in a lessqueruloustone"had ye got no feyther and motherthenas ye warso sorryabout your aunt?"

"NoI never knew a father or mother; my aunt brought me up from ababy. She had no childrenfor she was never married and shebrought meup as tenderly as if I'd been her own child."

"Ehshe'd fine work wi' yeI'll warrantbringin' ye up from ababbyan'her a lone woman--it's ill bringin' up a cade lamb.But Idaresay ye warna franzyfor ye look as if ye'd ne'er beenangered i'your life.  But what did ye do when your aunt diedan'why didnaye come to live in this countrybein' as Mrs. Poyser'syour aunttoo?"

Dinahseeing that Lisbeth's attention was attractedtold her thestory ofher early life--how she had been brought up to work hardand whatsort of place Snowfield wasand how many people had ahard lifethere--all the details that she thought likely tointerestLisbeth.  The old woman listenedand forgot to befretfulunconsciously subject to the soothing influence ofDinah'sface and voice.  After a while she was persuaded to letthekitchen be made tidy; for Dinah was bent on thisbelievingthat thesense of order and quietude around her would help indisposingLisbeth to join in the prayer she longed to pour forthat herside.  Sethmeanwhilewent out to chop woodfor hesurmisedthat Dinah would like to be left alone with his mother.

Lisbethsat watching her as she moved about in her still quickwayandsaid at last"Ye've got a notion o' cleanin' up.  Iwouldnamind ha'in ye for a daughterfor ye wouldna spend thelad's wagei' fine clothes an' waste.  Ye're not like the lasseso' thiscountryside.  I reckon folks is different at Snowfieldfrom whatthey are here."

"Theyhave a different sort of lifemany of 'em" said Dinah;"theywork at different things--some in the milland many in theminesinthe villages round about.  But the heart of man is thesameeverywhereand there are the children of this world and thechildrenof light there as well as elsewhere.  But we've many moreMethodiststhere than in this country."

"WellI didna know as the Methody women war like yefor there'sWillMaskery's wifeas they say's a big Methodyisna pleasant tolook atat all.  I'd as lief look at a tooad.  An' I'm thinkin' Iwouldnamind if ye'd stay an' sleep herefor I should like to seeye i' th'house i' th' mornin'.  But mayhappen they'll be lookinfor ye atMester Poyser's."

"No"said Dinah"they don't expect meand I should like tostayifyou'll let me."

"Wellthere's room; I'n got my bed laid i' th' little room o'erthe backkitchenan' ye can lie beside me.  I'd be glad to ha' yewi' me tospeak to i' th' nightfor ye've got a nice way o'talkin'. It puts me i' mind o' the swallows as was under thethack last'ear when they fust begun to sing low an' soft-like i'th'mornin'.  Ehbut my old man war fond o' them birds!  An'sowar Adambut they'n ne'er comed again this 'ear.  Happen THEY'REdead too."

"There"said Dinah"now the kitchen looks tidyand nowdearMother--forI'm your daughter to-nightyou know--I should likeyou towash your face and have a clean cap on.  Do you rememberwhat Daviddidwhen God took away his child from him?  While thechild wasyet alive he fasted and prayed to God to spare itandhe wouldneither eat nor drinkbut lay on the ground all nightbeseechingGod for the child.  But when he knew it was deadherose upfrom the ground and washed and anointed himselfandchangedhis clothesand ate and drank; and when they asked himhow it wasthat he seemed to have left off grieving now the childwas deadhe said'While the child was yet aliveI fasted andwept; forI saidWho can tell whether God will be gracious to methat thechild may live?  But now he is deadwherefore should Ifast? Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to himbut heshall notreturn to me.'"

"Ehthat's a true word" said Lisbeth.  "Yeamy old manwonnacome backto mebut I shall go to him--the sooner the better.Wellyemay do as ye like wi' me: there's a clean cap i' thatdraweran' I'll go i' the back kitchen an' wash my face.  An'Seththeemay'st reach down Adam's new Bible wi' th' picters inan' sheshall read us a chapter.  EhI like them words--'I shallgo to himbut he wonna come back to me.'"

Dinah andSeth were both inwardly offering thanks for the greaterquietnessof spirit that had come over Lisbeth.  This was whatDinah hadbeen trying to bring aboutthrough all her stillsympathyand absence from exhortation.  From her girlhood upwardsshe hadhad experience among the sick and the mourningamongmindshardened and shrivelled through poverty and ignoranceandhad gainedthe subtlest perception of the mode in which they couldbest betouched and softened into willingness to receive words ofspiritualconsolation or warning.  As Dinah expressed it"she wasnever leftto herself; but it was always given her when to keepsilenceand when to speak."  And do we not all agree to call rapidthoughtand noble impulse by the name of inspiration?  After oursubtlestanalysis of the mental processwe must still sayasDinah didthat our highest thoughts and our best deeds are allgiven tous.

And sothere was earnest prayer--there was faithloveand hopepouringforth that evening in the littie kitchen.  And pooragedfretfulLisbethwithout grasping any distinct ideawithout goingthroughany course of religious emotionsfelt a vague sense ofgoodnessand loveand of something right lying underneath andbeyond allthis sorrowing life.  She couldn't understand thesorrow;butfor these momentsunder the subduing influence ofDinah'sspiritshe felt that she must be patient and still.

 

 ChapterXI In theCottage

 

IT was buthalf-past four the next morning when Dinahtired oflyingawake listening to the birds and watching the growing lightthroughthe little window in the garret roofrose and began todressherself very quietlylest she should disturb Lisbeth.  Butalreadysome one else was astir in the houseand had gonedownstairspreceded by Gyp.  The dog's pattering step was a suresign thatit was Adam who went down; but Dinah was not aware ofthisandshe thought it was more likely to be Sethfor he hadtold herhow Adam had stayed up working the night before.  Sethhoweverhad only just awakened at the sound of the opening door.Theexciting influence of the previous dayheightened at last byDinah'sunexpected presencehad not been counteracted by anybodilywearinessfor he had not done his ordinary amount of hardwork; andso when he went to bed; it was not till he had tiredhimselfwith hours of tossing wakefulness that drowsiness cameand led ona heavier morning sleep than was usual with him.

But Adamhad been refreshed by his long restand with hishabitualimpatience of mere passivityhe was eager to begin thenew dayand subdue sadness by his strong will and strong arm.  Thewhite mistlay in the valley; it was going to be a bright warmdayandhe would start to work again when he had had hisbreakfast.

"There'snothing but what's bearable as long as a man can work"he said tohimself; "the natur o' things doesn't changethough itseems asif one's own life was nothing but change.  The square o'four issixteenand you must lengthen your lever in proportion toyourweightis as true when a man's miserable as when he's happy;and thebest o' working isit gives you a grip hold o' thingsoutsideyour own lot."

As hedashed the cold water over his head and facehe feltcompletelyhimself againand with his black eyes as keen as everand histhick black hair all glistening with the fresh moisturehe wentinto the workshop to look out the wood for his father'scoffinintending that he and Seth should carry it with them toJonathanBurge's and have the coffin made by one of the workmentheresothat his mother might not see and hear the sad taskgoingforward at home.

He hadjust gone into the workshop when his quick ear detected alightrapid foot on the stairs--certainly not his mother's.  Hehad beenin bed and asleep when Dinah had come inin the eveningand now hewondered whose step this could be.  A foolish thoughtcameandmoved him strangely.  As if it could be Hetty!  She wasthe lastperson likely to be in the house.  And yet he feltreluctantto go and look and have the clear proof that it was someone else. He stood leaning on a plank he had taken hold oflisteningto sounds which his imagination interpreted for him sopleasantlythat the keen strong face became suffused with a timidtenderness. The light footstep moved about the kitchenfollowedby thesound of the sweeping brushhardly making so much noise asthelightest breeze that chases the autumn leaves along the dustypath; andAdam's imagination saw a dimpled facewith dark brighteyes androguish smiles looking backward at this brushand aroundedfigure just leaning a little to clasp the handle.  A veryfoolishthought--it could not be Hetty; but the only way ofdismissingsuch nonsense from his head was to go and see WHO itwasforhis fancy only got nearer and nearer to belief while hestoodthere listening.  He loosed the plank and went to thekitchendoor.

"Howdo you doAdam Bede?" said Dinahin her calm treblepausingfrom her sweeping and fixing her mild grave eyes upon him."Itrust you feel rested and strengthened again to bear the burdenand heatof the day."

It waslike dreaming of the sunshine and awaking in the moonlight.Adam hadseen Dinah several timesbut always at the Hall Farmwhere hewas not very vividly conscious of any woman's presenceexceptHetty'sand he had only in the last day or two begun tosuspectthat Seth was in love with herso that his attention hadnothitherto been drawn towards her for his brother's sake.  Butnow herslim figureher plain black gownand her pale serenefaceimpressed him with all the force that belongs to a realitycontrastedwith a preoccupying fancy.  For the first moment or twohe made noanswerbut looked at her with the concentratedexaminingglance which a man gives to an object in which he hassuddenlybegun to be interested.  Dinahfor the first time in herlifefelta painful self-consciousness; there was something inthe darkpenetrating glance of this strong man so different fromthemildness and timidity of his brother Seth.  A faint blushcamewhich deepened as she wondered at it.  This blush recalledAdam fromhis forgetfulness.

"Iwas quite taken by surprise; it was very good of you to comeand see mymother in her trouble" he saidin a gentle gratefultoneforhis quick mind told him at once how she came to bethere. "I hope my mother was thankful to have you" he addedwonderingrather anxiously what had been Dinah's reception.

"Yes"said Dinahresuming her work"she seemed greatlycomfortedafter a whileand she's had a good deal of rest in thenightbytimes.  She was fast asleep when I left her."

"Whowas it took the news to the Hall Farm?" said Adamhisthoughtsreverting to some one there; he wondered whether SHE hadfeltanything about it.

"Itwas Mr. Irwinethe clergymantold meand my aunt wasgrievedfor your mother when she heard itand wanted me to come;and so ismy uncleI'm surenow he's heard itbut he was goneout toRosseter all yesterday.  They'll look for you there as soonas you'vegot time to gofor there's nobody round that hearth butwhat'sglad to see you."

Dinahwith her sympathetic divinationknew quite well that Adamwaslonging to hear if Hetty had said anything about theirtrouble;she was too rigorously truthful for benevolent inventionbut shehad contrived to say something in which Hetty was tacitlyincluded. Love has a way of cheating itself consciouslylike achild whoplays at solitary hide-and-seek; it is pleased withassurancesthat it all the while disbelieves.  Adam liked whatDinah hadsaid so much that his mind was directly full of the nextvisit heshould pay to the Hall Farmwhen Hetty would perhapsbehavemore kindly to him than she had ever done before.

"Butyou won't be there yourself any longer?" he said to Dinah.

"NoI go back to Snowfield on Saturdayand I shall have to setout toTreddleston earlyto be in time for the Oakbourne carrier.So I mustgo back to the farm to-nightthat I may have the lastday withmy aunt and her children.  But I can stay here all to-dayifyour mother would like me; and her heart seemed inclinedtowards melast night."

"Ahthenshe's sure to want you to-day.  If mother takes topeople atthe beginningshe's sure to get fond of 'em; but she'sa strangeway of not liking young women.  Thoughto be sure"Adam wentonsmiling"her not liking other young women is noreason whyshe shouldn't like you."

HithertoGyp had been assisting at this conversation in motionlesssilenceseated on his haunchesand alternately looking up in hismaster'sface to watch its expression and observing Dinah'smovementsabout the kitchen.  The kind smile with which Adamutteredthe last words was apparently decisive with Gyp of thelight inwhich the stranger was to be regardedand as she turnedroundafter putting aside her sweeping-brushhe trotted towardsher andput up his muzzle against her hand in a friendly way.

"Yousee Gyp bids you welcome" said Adam"and he's very slowtowelcomestrangers."

"Poordog!" said Dinahpatting the rough grey coat"I've astrangefeeling about the dumb things as if they wanted to speakand it wasa trouble to 'em because they couldn't.  I can't helpbeingsorry for the dogs alwaysthough perhaps there's no need.But theymay well have more in them than they know how to make usunderstandfor we can't say half what we feelwith all ourwords."

Seth camedown nowand was pleased to find Adam talking withDinah; hewanted Adam to know how much better she was than allotherwomen.  But after a few words of greetingAdam drew himinto theworkshop to consult about the coffinand Dinah went onwith hercleaning.

By sixo'clock they were all at breakfast with Lisbeth in akitchen asclean as she could have made it herself.  The windowand doorwere openand the morning air brought with it a mingledscent ofsouthernwoodthymeand sweet-briar from the patch ofgarden bythe side of the cottage.  Dinah did not sit down atfirstbutmoved aboutserving the others with the warm porridgeand thetoasted oat-cakewhich she had got ready in the usualwayforshe had asked Seth to tell her just what his mother gavethem forbreakfast.  Lisbeth had been unusually silent since shecamedownstairsapparently requiring some time to adjust herideas to astate of things in which she came down like a lady tofind allthe work doneand sat still to be waited on.  Her newsensationsseemed to exclude the remembrance of her grief.  Atlastafter tasting the porridgeshe broke silence:

"Yemight ha' made the parridge worse" she said to Dinah; "Icanate itwi'out its turnin' my stomach.  It might ha' been a triflethickeran' no harman' I allays putten a sprig o' mint in mysen;but how'sye t' know that?  The lads arena like to get folks as'll maketheir parridge as I'n made it for 'em; it's well if theygetonybody as 'll make parridge at all.  But ye might dowi' abit o'showin'; for ye're a stirrin' body in a mornin'an' ye'vea lightheelan' ye've cleaned th' house well enough for ama'shift."

"Makeshiftmother?" said Adam.  "WhyI think the house looksbeautiful. I don't know how it could look better."

"Theedostna know?  Nay; how's thee to know?  Th' men ne'er knowwhetherthe floor's cleaned or cat-licked.  But thee'lt know whenthee getsthy parridge burntas it's like enough to be when I'ngi'en o'ermakin' it.  Thee'lt think thy mother war good forsummatthen."

"Dinah"said Seth"do come and sit down now and have yourbreakfast. We're all served now."

"Ayecome an' sit ye down--do" said Lisbeth"an' ate a morsel;ye'd needarter bein' upo' your legs this hour an' half a'ready.Comethen" she addedin a tone of complaining affectionasDinah satdown by her side"I'll be loath for ye t' gobut yecanna staymuch longerI doubt.  I could put up wi' ye i' th'housebetter nor wi' most folks."

"I'llstay till to-night if you're willing" said Dinah.  "I'dstaylongeronly I'm going back to Snowfield on Saturdayand Imust bewith my aunt to-morrow."

"EhI'd ne'er go back to that country.  My old man come from thatStonyshiresidebut he left it when he war a young unan' i' theright on'ttoo; for he said as there war no wood therean' it 'udha' been abad country for a carpenter."

"Ah"said Adam"I remember father telling me when I was a littlelad thathe made up his mind if ever he moved it should besouth'ard. But I'm not so sure about it.  Bartle Massey says--andhe knowsthe South--as the northern men are a finer breed than thesouthernharder-headed and stronger-bodiedand a deal taller.And thenhe says in some o' those counties it's as flat as theback o'your handand you can see nothing of a distance withoutclimbingup the highest trees.  I couldn't abide that.  I like togo to workby a road that'll take me up a bit of a hilland seethe fieldsfor miles round meand a bridgeor a townor a bitof asteeple here and there.  It makes you feel the world's a bigplaceandthere's other men working in it with their heads andhandsbesides yourself."

"Ilike th' hills best" said Seth"when the clouds are overyourhead andyou see the sun shining ever so far offover theLoamfordwayas I've often done o' lateon the stormy days.  Itseems tome as if that was heaven where there's always joy andsunshinethough this life's dark and cloudy."

"OhI love the Stonyshire side" said Dinah; "I shouldn't liketoset myface towards the countries where they're rich in corn andcattleand the ground so level and easy to tread; and to turn myback onthe hills where the poor people have to live such a hardlife andthe men spend their days in the mines away from thesunlight. It's very blessed on a bleak cold daywhen the sky ishangingdark over the hillto feel the love of God in one's souland carryit to the lonelybarestone houseswhere there'snothingelse to give comfort."

"Eh!"said Lisbeth"that's very well for ye to talkas lookswelly likethe snowdrop-flowers as ha' lived for days an' dayswhen I'ngethered 'emwi' nothin' but a drop o' water an' a peepo'daylight; but th' hungry foulks had better leave th' hungrycountry. It makes less mouths for the scant cake.  But" she wentonlooking at Adam"donna thee talk o' goin' south'ard ornorth'ardan' leavin' thy feyther and mother i' the churchyardan' goin'to a country as they know nothin' on.  I'll ne'er resti' mygrave if I donna see thee i' the churchyard of a Sunday."

"Donnafearmother" said Adam.  "If I hadna made up my mindnotto goIshould ha' been gone before now."

He hadfinished his breakfast nowand rose as he was speaking.

"Whatart goin' to do?" asked Lisbeth.  "Set about thyfeyther'scoffin?"

"Nomother" said Adam; "we're going to take the wood to thevillageand have it made there."

"Naymy ladnay" Lisbeth burst out in an eagerwailing tone;"theewotna let nobody make thy feyther's coffin but thysen?Who'd makeit so well?  An' him as know'd what good work waran'sgot a sonas is the head o' the village an' all Treddles'on tooforcleverness."

"Verywellmotherif that's thy wishI'll make the coffin athome; butI thought thee wouldstna like to hear the work goingon."

"An'why shouldna I like 't?  It's the right thing to be done.An' what'sliking got to do wi't?  It's choice o' mislikings isall I'ngot i' this world.  One morsel's as good as another whenyourmouth's out o' taste.  Thee mun set about it now this mornin'fustthing.  I wonna ha' nobody to touch the coffin but thee."

Adam'seyes met Seth'swhich looked from Dinah to him ratherwistfully.

"NoMother" he said"I'll not consent but Seth shall have ahand in ittooif it's to be done at home.  I'll go to thevillagethis forenoonbecause Mr. Burge 'ull want to see meandSeth shallstay at home and begin the coffin.  I can come back atnoonandthen he can go."

"Naynay" persisted Lisbethbeginning to cry"I'n set myhearton't asthee shalt ma' thy feyther's coffin.  Thee't so stiff an'masterfulthee't ne'er do as thy mother wants thee.  Thee wastoftenangered wi' thy feyther when he war alive; thee must be thebetter tohim now he's gone.  He'd ha' thought nothin' on't forSeth toma's coffin."

"Sayno moreAdamsay no more" said Sethgentlythough hisvoice toldthat he spoke with some effort; "Mother's in the right.I'll go toworkand do thee stay at home."

He passedinto the workshop immediatelyfollowed by Adam; whileLisbethautomatically obeying her old habitsbegan to put awaythebreakfast thingsas if she did not mean Dinah to take herplace anylonger.  Dinah said nothingbut presently used theopportunityof quietly joining the brothers in the workshop.

They hadalready got on their aprons and paper capsand Adam wasstandingwith his left hand on Seth's shoulderwhile he pointedwith thehammer in his right to some boards which they werelookingat.  Their backs were turned towards the door by whichDinahenteredand she came in so gently that they were not awareof herpresence till they heard her voice saying"Seth Bede!"Sethstartedand they both turned round.  Dinah looked as if shedid notsee Adamand fixed her eyes on Seth's facesaying withcalmkindness"I won't say farewell.  I shall see you againwhenyou comefrom work.  So as I'm at the farm before darkit will bequite soonenough."

"ThankyouDinah; I should like to walk home with you once more.It'llperhaps be the last time."

There wasa little tremor in Seth's voice.  Dinah put out her handand said"You'll have sweet peace in your mind to-daySethforyourtenderness and long-suffering towards your aged mother."

She turnedround and left the workshop as quickly and quietly asshe hadentered it.  Adam had been observing her closely all thewhilebutshe had not looked at him.  As soon as she was gonehesaid"Idon't wonder at thee for loving herSeth.  She's got aface likea lily."

Seth'ssoul rushed to his eyes and lips: he had never yetconfessedhis secret to Adambut now he felt a delicious sense ofdisburdenmentas he answered"AyeAddyI do love her--toomuchIdoubt.  But she doesna love meladonly as one child o'God lovesanother.  She'll never love any man as a husband--that'smybelief."

"Nayladthere's no telling; thee mustna lose heart.  She's madeout o'stuff with a finer grain than most o' the women; I can seethat clearenough.  But if she's better than they are in otherthingsIcanna think she'll fall short of 'em in loving."

No morewas said.  Seth set out to the villageand Adam began hiswork onthe coffin.

"Godhelp the ladand me too" he thoughtas he lifted theboard. "We're like enough to find life a tough job--hard workinside andout.  It's a strange thing to think of a man as canlift achair with his teeth and walk fifty mile on endtremblingandturning hot and cold at only a look from one woman out of allthe resti' the world.  It's a mystery we can give no account of;but nomore we can of the sprouting o' the seedfor that matter." 

 

 ChapterXII In theWood

 

THAT sameThursday morningas Arthur Donnithorne was moving aboutin hisdressing-room seeing his well-looking British personreflectedin the old-fashioned mirrorsand stared atfrom adingyolive-green piece of tapestryby Pharaoh's daughter and hermaidenswho ought to have been minding the infant Moseshe washolding adiscussion with himselfwhichby the time his valetwas tyingthe black silk sling over his shoulderhad issued in adistinctpractical resolution.

"Imean to go to Eagledale and fish for a week or so" he saidaloud. "I shall take you with mePymand set off this morning;so beready by half-past eleven."

The lowwhistlewhich had assisted him in arriving at thisresolutionhere broke out into his loudest ringing tenorand thecorridoras he hurried along itechoed to his favourite songfrom theBeggar's Opera"When the heart of a man is oppressedwithcare."  Not an heroic strain; nevertheless Arthur felthimselfvery heroic as he strode towards the stables to give hisordersabout the horses.  His own approbation was necessary tohimandit was not an approbation to be enjoyed quitegratuitously;it must be won by a fair amount of merit.  He hadnever yetforfeited that approbationand he had considerablerelianceon his own virtues.  No young man could confess hisfaultsmore candidly; candour was one of his favourite virtues;and howcan a man's candour be seen in all its lustre unless hehas a fewfailings to talk of?  But he had an agreeable confidencethat hisfaults were all of a generous kind--impetuouswarm-bloodedleonine; never crawlingcraftyreptilian.  It was notpossiblefor Arthur Donnithorne to do anything meandastardlyorcruel. "No!  I'm a devil of a fellow for getting myself into ahobblebut I always take care the load shall fall on my ownshoulders." Unhappilythere is no inherent poetical justice inhobblesand they will sometimes obstinately refuse to inflicttheirworst consequences on the prime offenderin spite of hisloudlyexpressed wish.  It was entirely owing to this deficiencyin thescheme of things that Arthur had ever brought any one intotroublebesides himself.  He was nothing if not good-natured; andall hispictures of the futurewhen he should come into theestatewere made up of a prosperouscontented tenantryadoringtheirlandlordwho would be the model of an English gentleman--mansion infirst-rate orderall elegance and high taste--jollyhousekeepingfinest stud in Loamshire--purse open to all publicobjects--inshorteverything as different as possible from whatwas nowassociated with the name of Donnithorne.  And one of thefirst goodactions he would perform in that future should be toincreaseIrwine's income for the vicarage of Hayslopeso that hemight keepa carriage for his mother and sisters.  His heartyaffectionfor the rector dated from the age of frocks andtrousers. It was an affection partly filialpartly fraternal--fraternalenough to make him like Irwine's company better thanthat ofmost younger menand filial enough to make him shrinkstronglyfrom incurring Irwine's disapprobation.

Youperceive that Arthur Donnithorne was "a good fellow"--allhiscollegefriends thought him such.  He couldn't bear to see any oneuncomfortable;he would have been sorry even in his angriest moodsfor anyharm to happen to his grandfather; and his Aunt Lydiaherselfhad the benefit of that soft-heartedness which he boretowardsthe whole sex.  Whether he would have self-mastery enoughto bealways as harmless and purely beneficent as his good-natureled him todesirewas a question that no one had yet decidedagainsthim; he was but twenty-oneyou rememberand we don'tinquiretoo closely into character in the case of a handsomegenerousyoung fellowwho will have property enough to supportnumerouspeccadilloes--whoif he should unfortunately break aman's legsin his rash drivingwill be able to pension himhandsomely;or if he should happen to spoil a woman's existencefor herwill make it up to her with expensive bon-bonspacked upanddirected by his own hand.  It would be ridiculous to be pryingandanalytic in such casesas if one were inquiring into thecharacterof a confidential clerk.  We use roundgeneralgentlemanlyepithets about a young man of birth and fortune; andladieswith that fine intuition which is the distinguishingattributeof their sexsee at once that he is "nice."  Thechancesare that he will go through life without scandalizing anyone; aseaworthy vessel that no one would refuse to insure.Shipscertainlyare liable to casualtieswhich sometimes maketerriblyevident some flaw in their construction that would neverhave beendiscoverable in smooth water; and many a "good fellow"through adisastrous combination of circumstanceshas undergone alikebetrayal.

But wehave no fair ground for entertaining unfavourable auguriesconcerningArthur Donnithornewho this morning proves himselfcapable ofa prudent resolution founded on conscience.  One thingis clear:Nature has taken care that he shall never go far astraywithperfect comfort and satisfaction to himself; he will neverget beyondthat border-land of sinwhere he will be perpetuallyharassedby assaults from the other side of the boundary.  He willnever be acourtier of Viceand wear her orders in his button-hole.

It wasabout ten o'clockand the sun was shining brilliantly;everythingwas looking lovelier for the yesterday's rain.  It is apleasantthing on such a morning to walk along the well-rolledgravel onone's way to the stablesmeditating an excursion.  Butthe scentof the stableswhichin a natural state of thingsought tobe among the soothing influences of a man's lifealwaysbroughtwith it some irritation to Arthur.  There was no havinghis ownway in the stables; everything was managed in thestingiestfashion.  His grandfather persisted in retaining as headgroom anold dolt whom no sort of lever could move out of his oldhabitsand who was allowed to hire a succession of raw Loamshirelads ashis subordinatesone of whom had lately tested a new pairof shearsby clipping an oblong patch on Arthur's bay mare.  Thisstate ofthings is naturally embittering; one can put up withannoyancesin the housebut to have the stable made a scene ofvexationand disgust is a point beyond what human flesh and bloodcan beexpected to endure long together without danger ofmisanthropy.

Old John'swoodendeep-wrinkled face was the first object thatmetArthur's eyes as he entered the stable-yardand it quitepoisonedfor him the bark of the two bloodhounds that kept watchthere. He could never speak quite patiently to the old blockhead.

"Youmust have Meg saddled for me and brought to the door at half-pastelevenand I shall want Rattler saddled for Pym at the sametime. Do you hear?"

"YesI hearI hearCap'n" said old John very deliberatelyfollowingthe young master into the stable.  John considered ayoungmaster as the natural enemy of an old servantand youngpeople ingeneral as a poor contrivance for carrying on the world.

Arthurwent in for the sake of patting Megdeclining as far aspossibleto see anything in the stableslest he should lose histemperbefore breakfast.  The pretty creature was in one of theinnerstablesand turned her mild head as her master came besideher. Little Trota tiny spanielher inseparable companion inthestablewas comfortably curled up on her back.

"WellMegmy pretty girl" said Arthurpatting her neck"we'llhave aglorious canter this morning."

"Nayyour honourI donna see as that can be" said John.

"Notbe?  Why not?"

"Whyshe's got lamed."

"Lamedconfound you!  What do you mean?"

"Whyth' lad took her too close to Dalton's hossesan' one on'em flungout at heran' she's got her shank bruised o' the nearforeleg."

Thejudicious historian abstains from narrating precisely whatensued. You understand that there was a great deal of stronglanguagemingled with soothing "who-ho's" while the leg wasexamined;that John stood by with quite as much emotion as if hehad been acunningly carved crab-tree walking-stickand thatArthurDonnithorne presently repassed the iron gates of thepleasure-groundwithout singing as he went.

Heconsidered himself thoroughly disappointed and annoyed.  Therewas notanother mount in the stable for himself and his servantbesidesMeg and Rattler.  It was vexatious; just when he wanted toget out ofthe way for a week or two.  It seemed culpable inProvidenceto allow such a combination of circumstances.  To beshut up atthe Chase with a broken arm when every other fellow inhisregiment was enjoying himself at Windsor--shut up with hisgrandfatherwho had the same sort of affection for him as for hisparchmentdeeds!  And to be disgusted at every turn with themanagementof the house and the estate!  In such circumstances amannecessarily gets in an ill humourand works off theirritationby some excess or other.  "Salkeld would have drunk abottle ofport every day" he muttered to himself"but I'm notwellseasoned enough for that.  Wellsince I can't go toEagledaleI'll have a gallop on Rattler to Norburne this morningand lunchwith Gawaine."

Behindthis explicit resolution there lay an implicit one.  If helunchedwith Gawaine and lingered chattinghe should not reachthe Chaseagain till nearly fivewhen Hetty would be safe out ofhis sightin the housekeeper's room; and when she set out to gohomeitwould be his lazy time after dinnerso he should keepout of herway altogether.  There really would have been no harmin beingkind to the little thingand it was worth dancing with adozenballroom belles only to look at Hetty for half an hour.  Butperhaps hehad better not take any more notice of her; it mightputnotions into her headas Irwine had hinted; though Arthurfor hispartthought girls were not by any means so soft andeasilybruised; indeedhe had generally found them twice as coolandcunning as he was himself.  As for any real harm in Hetty'scaseitwas out of the question: Arthur Donnithorne accepted hisown bondfor himself with perfect confidence.

So thetwelve o'clock sun saw him galloping towards Norburne; andby goodfortune Halsell Common lay in his road and gave him somefine leapsfor Rattler.  Nothing like "taking" a few bushes andditchesfor exorcising a demon; and it is really astonishing thattheCentaurswith their immense advantages in this wayhave leftso bad areputation in history.

Afterthisyou will perhaps be surprised to hear that althoughGawainewas at homethe hand of the dial in the courtyard hadscarcelycleared the last stroke of three when Arthur returnedthroughthe entrance-gatesgot down from the panting Rattlerandwent intothe house to take a hasty luncheon.  But I believe therehave beenmen since his day who have ridden a long way to avoid arencontreand then galloped hastily back lest they should missit. It is the favourite stratagem of our passions to sham aretreatand to turn sharp round upon us at the moment we havemade upour minds that the day is our own.

"Thecap'n's been ridin' the devil's own pace" said Dalton thecoachmanwhose person stood out in high relief as he smoked hispipeagainst the stable wallwhen John brought up Rattler.

"An'I wish he'd get the devil to do's grooming for'n" growledJohn.

"Aye;he'd hev a deal haimabler groom nor what he has now"observedDalton--and the joke appeared to him so good thatbeingleft aloneupon the scenehe continued at intervals to take hispipe fromhis mouth in order to wink at an imaginary audience andshakeluxuriously with a silentventral laughtermentallyrehearsingthe dialogue from the beginningthat he might reciteit witheffect in the servants' hall.

WhenArthur went up to his dressing-room again after luncheonitwasinevitable that the debate he had had with himself thereearlier inthe day should flash across his mind; but it wasimpossiblefor him now to dwell on the remembrance--impossible torecall thefeelings and reflections which had been decisive withhim thenany more than to recall the peculiar scent of the airthat hadfreshened him when he first opened his window.  Thedesire tosee Hetty had rushed back like an ill-stemmed current;he wasamazed himself at the force with which this trivial fancyseemed tograsp him: he was even rather tremulous as he brushedhishair--pooh! it was riding in that break-neck way.  It wasbecause hehad made a serious affair of an idle matterbythinkingof it as if it were of any consequence.  He would amusehimself byseeing Hetty to-dayand get rid of the whole thingfrom hismind.  It was all Irwine's fault.  "If Irwine had saidnothingIshouldn't have thought half so much of Hetty as ofMeg'slameness."  Howeverit was just the sort of day forlollingin theHermitageand he would go and finish Dr. Moore's Zelucotherebefore dinner.  The Hermitage stood in Fir-tree Grove--theway Hettywas sure to come in walking from the Hall Farm.  Sonothingcould be simpler and more natural: meeting Hetty was amerecircumstance of his walknot its object.

Arthur'sshadow flitted rather faster among the sturdy oaks of theChase thanmight have been expected from the shadow of a tired manon a warmafternoonand it was still scarcely four o'clock whenhe stoodbefore the tall narrow gate leading into the deliciouslabyrinthinewood which skirted one side of the Chaseand whichwas calledFir-tree Grovenot because the firs were manybutbecausethey were few.  It was a wood of beeches and limeswithhere andthere a light silver-stemmed birch--just the sort of woodmosthaunted by the nymphs: you see their white sunlit limbsgleamingathwart the boughsor peeping from behind the smooth-sweepingoutline of a tall lime; you hear their soft liquidlaughter--butif you look with a too curious sacrilegious eyetheyvanish behind the silvery beechesthey make you believe thattheirvoice was only a running brookletperhaps they metamorphosethemselvesinto a tawny squirrel that scampers away and mocks youfrom thetopmost bough.  It was not a grove with measured grass orrolledgravel for you to tread uponbut with narrowhollow-shapedearthy pathsedged with faint dashes of delicate moss--pathswhich look as if they were made by the free will of thetrees andunderwoodmoving reverently aside to look at the tallqueen ofthe white-footed nymphs.

It wasalong the broadest of these paths that Arthur Donnithornepassedunder an avenue of limes and beeches.  It was a stillafternoon--thegolden light was lingering languidly among theupperboughsonly glancing down here and there on the purplepathwayand its edge of faintly sprinkled moss: an afternoon inwhichdestiny disguises her cold awful face behind a hazy radiantveilencloses us in warm downy wingsand poisons us with violet-scentedbreath.  Arthur strolled along carelesslywith a bookunder hisarmbut not looking on the ground as meditative men areapt to do;his eyes WOULD fix themselves on the distant bend inthe roadround which a little figure must surely appear beforelong. Ah! There she comes.  First a bright patch of colourlikea tropicbird among the boughs; then a tripping figurewith around hatonand a small basket under her arm; then a deep-blushingalmost frightenedbut bright-smiling girlmaking hercurtsywith a fluttered yet happy glanceas Arthur came up toher. If Arthur had had time to think at allhe would havethought itstrange that he should feel fluttered toobe consciousofblushing too--in factlook and feel as foolish as if he hadbeen takenby surprise instead of meeting just what he expected.Poorthings!  It was a pity they were not in that golden age ofchildhoodwhen they would have stood face to faceeyeing eachother withtimid likingthen given each other a little butterflykissandtoddled off to play together.  Arthur would have gonehome tohis silk-curtained cotand Hetty to her home-spun pillowand bothwould have slept without dreamsand to-morrow would havebeen alife hardly conscious of a yesterday.

Arthurturned round and walked by Hetty's side without giving areason. They were alone together for the first time.  What anoverpoweringpresence that first privacy is!  He actually darednot lookat this little butter-maker for the first minute or two.As forHettyher feet rested on a cloudand she was borne alongby warmzephyrs; she had forgotten her rose-coloured ribbons; shewas nomore conscious of her limbs than if her childish soul hadpassedinto a water-lilyresting on a liquid bed and warmed bythemidsummer sun-beams.  It may seem a contradictionbut Arthurgathered acertain carelessness and confidence from his timidity:it was anentirely different state of mind from what he hadexpectedin such a meeting with Hetty; and full as he was of vaguefeelingthere was roomin those moments of silencefor thethoughtthat his previous debates and scruples were needless.

"Youare quite right to choose this way of coming to the Chase"he said atlastlooking down at Hetty; "it is so much prettier aswell asshorter than coming by either of the lodges."

"Yessir" Hetty answeredwith a tremulousalmost whisperingvoice. She didn't know one bit how to speak to a gentleman likeMr.Arthurand her very vanity made her more coy of speech.

"Doyou come every week to see Mrs. Pomfret?"

"Yessirevery Thursdayonly when she's got to go out with MissDonnithorne."

"Andshe's teaching you somethingis she?"

"Yessirthe lace-mending as she learnt abroadand thestocking-mending--itlooks just like the stockingyou can't tellit's beenmended; and she teaches me cutting-out too."

"What!are YOU going to be a lady's maid?"

"Ishould like to be one very much indeed."  Hetty spoke moreaudiblynowbut still rather tremulously; she thoughtperhapsshe seemedas stupid to Captain Donnithorne as Luke Britton did toher.

"Isuppose Mrs. Pomfret always expects you at this time?"

"Sheexpects me at four o'clock.  I'm rather late to-daybecausemy auntcouldn't spare me; but the regular time is fourbecausethat givesus time before Miss Donnithorne's bell rings."

"AhthenI must not keep you nowelse I should like to show youtheHermitage.  Did you ever see it?"

"Nosir."

"Thisis the walk where we turn up to it.  But we must not go now.I'll showit you some other timeif you'd like to see it."

"Yespleasesir."

"Doyou always come back this way in the eveningor are youafraid tocome so lonely a road?"

"Ohnosirit's never late; I always set out by eight o'clockand it'sso light now in the evening.  My aunt would be angry withme if Ididn't get home before nine."

"PerhapsCraigthe gardenercomes to take care of you?"

A deepblush overspread Hetty's face and neck.  "I'm sure hedoesn't;I'm sure he never did; I wouldn't let him; I don't likehim"she said hastilyand the tears of vexation had come so fastthatbefore she had done speaking a bright drop rolled down herhotcheek.  Then she felt ashamed to death that she was cryingand forone long instant her happiness was all gone.  But in thenext shefelt an arm steal round herand a gentle voice said"WhyHettywhat makes you cry?  I didn't mean to vex you.  Iwouldn'tvex you for the worldyou little blossom.  Comedon'tcry; lookat meelse I shall think you won't forgive me."

Arthur hadlaid his hand on the soft arm that was nearest to himand wasstooping towards Hetty with a look of coaxing entreaty.Hettylifted her long dewy lashesand met the eyes that were benttowardsher with a sweettimidbeseeching look.  What a space oftime thosethree moments were while their eyes met and his armstouchedher!  Love is such a simple thing when we have only one-and-twentysummers and a sweet girl of seventeen trembles underourglanceas if she were a bud first opening her heart withwonderingrapture to the morning.  Such young unfurrowed soulsroll tomeet each other like two velvet peaches that touch softlyand are atrest; they mingle as easily as two brooklets that askfornothing but to entwine themselves and ripple with ever-interlacingcurves in the leafiest hiding-places.  While Arthurgazed intoHetty's dark beseeching eyesit made no difference tohim whatsort of English she spoke; and even if hoops and powderhad beenin fashionhe would very likely not have been sensiblejust thenthat Hetty wanted those signs of high breeding.

But theystarted asunder with beating hearts: something had fallenon theground with a rattling noise; it was Hetty's basket; allher littleworkwoman's matters were scattered on the pathsome ofthemshowing a capability of rolling to great lengths.  There wasmuch to bedone in picking upand not a word was spoken; but whenArthurhung the basket over her arm againthe poor child felt astrangedifference in his look and manner.  He just pressed herhandandsaidwith a look and tone that were almost chilling toher"Ihave been hindering you; I must not keep you any longernow. You will be expected at the house.  Good-bye."

Withoutwaiting for her to speakhe turned away from her andhurriedback towards the road that led to the HermitageleavingHetty topursue her way in a strange dream that seemed to havebegun inbewildering delight and was now passing intocontrarietiesand sadness.  Would he meet her again as she camehome? Why had he spoken almost as if he were displeased with her?And thenrun away so suddenly?  She criedhardly knowing why.

Arthur toowas very uneasybut his feelings were lit up for himby a moredistinct consciousness.  He hurried to the Hermitagewhichstood in the heart of the woodunlocked the door with ahastywrenchslammed it after himpitched Zeluco into the mostdistantcornerand thrusting his right hand into his pocketfirstwalked four or five times up and down the scanty length ofthe littleroomand then seated himself on the ottoman in anuncomfortablestiff wayas we often do when we wish not toabandonourselves to feeling.

He wasgetting in love with Hetty--that was quite plain.  He wasready topitch everything else--no matter where--for the sake ofsurrenderinghimself to this delicious feeling which had justdiscloseditself.  It was no use blinking the fact now--they wouldget toofond of each otherif he went on taking notice of her--and whatwould come of it?  He should have to go away in a fewweeksandthe poor little thing would be miserable.  He MUST NOTsee heralone again; he must keep out of her way.  What a fool hewas forcoming back from Gawaine's!

He got upand threw open the windowsto let in the soft breath oftheafternoonand the healthy scent of the firs that made a beltround theHermitage.  The soft air did not help his resolutionashe leanedout and looked into the leafy distance.  But heconsideredhis resolution sufficiently fixed: there was no need todebatewith himself any longer.  He had made up his mind not tomeet Hettyagain; and now he might give himself up to thinking howimmenselyagreeable it would be if circumstances were different--howpleasant it would have been to meet her this evening as shecame backand put his arm round her again and look into her sweetface. He wondered if the dear little thing were thinking of himtoo--twentyto one she was.  How beautiful her eyes were with thetear ontheir lashes!  He would like to satisfy his soul for a daywithlooking at themand he MUST see her again--he must see hersimply toremove any false impression from her mind about hismanner toher just now.  He would behave in a quietkind way toher--justto prevent her from going home with her head full ofwrongfancies.  Yesthat would be the best thing to do after all.

It was along while--more than an hour before Arthur had broughthismeditations to this point; but once arrived therehe couldstay nolonger at the Hermitage.  The time must be filled up withmovementuntil he should see Hetty again.  And it was already lateenough togo and dress for dinnerfor his grandfather's dinner-hour wassix.

 

 ChapterXIII Eveningin the Wood

 

IThappened that Mrs. Pomfret had had a slight quarrel with Mrs.Bestthehousekeeperon this Thursday morning--a fact which hadtwoconsequences highly convenient to Hetty.  It caused Mrs.Pomfret tohave tea sent up to her own roomand it inspired thatexemplarylady's maid with so lively a recollection of formerpassagesin Mrs. Best's conductand of dialogues in which Mrs.Best haddecidedly the inferiority as an interlocutor with Mrs.Pomfretthat Hetty required no more presence of mind than wasdemandedfor using her needleand throwing in an occasional "yes"or "no." She would have wanted to put on her hat earlier thanusual;only she had told Captain Donnithorne that she usually setout abouteight o'clockand if he SHOULD go to the Grove againexpectingto see herand she should be gone!  Would he come?  Herlittlebutterfly soul fluttered incessantly between memory anddubiousexpectation.  At last the minute-hand of the old-fashionedbrazen-facedtimepiece was on the last quarter to eightand therewas everyreason for its being time to get ready for departure.Even Mrs.Pomfret's preoccupied mind did not prevent her fromnoticingwhat looked like a new flush of beauty in the littlething asshe tied on her hat before the looking-glass.

"Thatchild gets prettier and prettier every dayI do believe"was herinward comment.  "The more's the pity.  She'll getneithera placenor a husband any the sooner for it.  Sober well-to-do mendon't likesuch pretty wives.  When I was a girlI was moreadmiredthan if I had been so very pretty.  Howevershe's reasonto begrateful to me for teaching her something to get her breadwithbetter than farm-house work.  They always told me I wasgood-natured--andthat's the truthand to my hurt tooelsethere'sthem in this house that wouldn't be here now to lord itover me inthe housekeeper's room."

Hettywalked hastily across the short space of pleasure-groundwhich shehad to traversedreading to meet Mr. Craigto whom shecouldhardly have spoken civilly.  How relieved she was when shehad gotsafely under the oaks and among the fern of the Chase!Even thenshe was as ready to be startled as the deer that leapedaway ather approach.  She thought nothing of the evening lightthat laygently in the grassy alleys between the fernand madethe beautyof their living green more visible than it had been intheoverpowering flood of noon: she thought of nothing that waspresent. She only saw something that was possible: Mr. ArthurDonnithornecoming to meet her again along the Fir-tree Grove.That wasthe foreground of Hetty's picture; behind it lay a brighthazysomething--days that were not to be as the other days of herlife hadbeen.  It was as if she had been wooed by a river-godwho mightany time take her to his wondrous halls below a wateryheaven. There was no knowing what would comesince this strangeentrancingdelight had come.  If a chest full of lace and satinand jewelshad been sent her from some unknown sourcehow couldshe buthave thought that her whole lot was going to changeandthatto-morrow some still more bewildering joy would befall her?Hetty hadnever read a novel; if she had ever seen oneI thinkthe wordswould have been too hard for her; how then could shefind ashape for her expectations?  They were as formless as thesweetlanguid odours of the garden at the Chasewhich had floatedpast heras she walked by the gate.

She is atanother gate now--that leading into Fir-tree Grove.  Sheenters thewoodwhere it is already twilightand at every stepshe takesthe fear at her heart becomes colder.  If he should notcome! Ohhow dreary it was--the thought of going out at theother endof the woodinto the unsheltered roadwithout havingseen him. She reaches the first turning towards the Hermitagewalkingslowly--he is not there.  She hates the leveret that runsacross thepath; she hates everything that is not what she longsfor. She walks onhappy whenever she is coming to a bend in theroadforperhaps he is behind it.  No.  She is beginning to cry:her hearthas swelled sothe tears stand in her eyes; she givesone greatsobwhile the corners of her mouth quiverand thetears rolldown.

Shedoesn't know that there is another turning to the Hermitagethat sheis close against itand that Arthur Donnithorne is onlya fewyards from herfull of one thoughtand a thought of whichshe onlyis the object.  He is going to see Hetty again: that isthelonging which has been growing through the last three hours toa feverishthirst.  Notof courseto speak in the caressing wayinto whichhe had unguardedly fallen before dinnerbut to setthingsright with her by a kindness which would have the air offriendlycivilityand prevent her from running away with wrongnotionsabout their mutual relation.

If Hettyhad known he was thereshe would not have cried; and itwould havebeen betterfor then Arthur would perhaps have behavedas wiselyas he had intended.  As it wasshe started when heappearedat the end of the side-alleyand looked up at him withtwo greatdrops rolling down her cheeks.  What else could he dobut speakto her in a softsoothing toneas if she were abright-eyedspaniel with a thorn in her foot?

"Hassomething frightened youHetty?  Have you seen anything inthe wood? Don't be frightened--I'll take care of you now."

Hetty wasblushing soshe didn't know whether she was happy ormiserable. To be crying again--what did gentlemen think of girlswho criedin that way?  She felt unable even to say "no" butcould onlylook away from him and wipe the tears from her cheek.Not beforea great drop had fallen on her rose-coloured strings--she knewthat quite well.

"Comebe cheerful again.  Smile at meand tell me what's thematter. Cometell me."

Hettyturned her head towards himwhispered"I thought youwouldn'tcome" and slowly got courage to lift her eyes to him.That lookwas too much: he must have had eyes of Egyptian granitenot tolook too lovingly in return.

"Youlittle frightened bird!  Little tearful rose!  Silly pet!You won'tcry againnow I'm with youwill you?"

Ahhedoesn't know in the least what he is saying.  This is notwhat hemeant to say.  His arm is stealing round the waist again;it istightening its clasp; he is bending his face nearer andnearer tothe round cheek; his lips are meeting those poutingchild-lipsand for a long moment time has vanished.  He may be ashepherdin Arcadia for aught he knowshe may be the first youthkissingthe first maidenhe may be Eros himselfsipping the lipsofPsyche--it is all one.

There wasno speaking for minutes after.  They walked along withbeatinghearts till they came within sight of the gate at the endof thewood.  Then they looked at each othernot quite as theyhad lookedbeforefor in their eyes there was the memory of akiss.

Butalready something bitter had begun to mingle itself with thefountainof sweets: already Arthur was uncomfortable.  He took hisarm fromHetty's waistand said"Here we arealmost at the endof theGrove.  I wonder how late it is" he addedpulling out hiswatch. "Twenty minutes past eight--but my watch is too fast.HoweverI'd better not go any further now.  Trot along quicklywith yourlittle feetand get home safely.  Good-bye."

He tookher handand looked at her half-sadlyhalf with aconstrainedsmile.  Hetty's eyes seemed to beseech him not to goaway yet;but he patted her cheek and said "Good-bye" again. Shewasobliged to turn away from him and go on.

As forArthurhe rushed back through the woodas if he wanted toput a widespace between himself and Hetty.  He would not go totheHermitage again; he remembered how he had debated with himselftherebefore dinnerand it had all come to nothing--worse thannothing. He walked right on into the Chaseglad to get out ofthe Grovewhich surely was haunted by his evil genius.  Thosebeechesand smooth limes--there was something enervating in thevery sightof them; but the strong knotted old oaks had no bendinglanguor inthem--the sight of them would give a man some energy.Arthurlost himself among the narrow openings in the fernwindingaboutwithout seeking any issuetill the twilight deepened almostto nightunder the great boughsand the hare looked black as itdartedacross his path.

He wasfeeling much more strongly than he had done in the morning:it was asif his horse had wheeled round from a leap and dared todisputehis mastery.  He was dissatisfied with himselfirritatedmortified. He no sooner fixed his mind on the probableconsequencesof giving way to the emotions which had stolen overhimto-day--of continuing to notice Hettyof allowing himself anyopportunityfor such slight caresses as he had been betrayed intoalready--thanhe refused to believe such a future possible forhimself. To flirt with Hetty was a very different affair fromflirtingwith a pretty girl of his own station: that wasunderstoodto be an amusement on both sidesorif it becameseriousthere was no obstacle to marriage.  But this little thingwould bespoken ill of directlyif she happened to be seenwalkingwith him; and then those excellent peoplethe Poyserstowhom agood name was as precious as if they had the best blood inthe landin their veins--he should hate himself if he made ascandal ofthat sorton the estate that was to be his own somedayandamong tenants by whom he likedabove allto berespected. He could no more believe that he should so fall in hisown esteemthan that he should break both his legs and go oncrutchesall the rest of his life.  He couldn't imagine himself inthatposition; it was too odioustoo unlike him.

And evenif no one knew anything about itthey might get too fondof eachotherand then there could be nothing but the misery ofpartingafter all.  No gentlemanout of a balladcould marry afarmer'sniece.  There must be an end to the whole thing at once.It was toofoolish.

And yet hehad been so determined this morningbefore he went toGawaine's;and while he was there something had taken hold of himand madehim gallop back.  It seemed he couldn't quite depend onhis ownresolutionas he had thought he could; he almost wishedhis armwould get painful againand then he should think ofnothingbut the comfort it would be to get rid of the pain.  Therewas noknowing what impulse might seize him to-morrowin thisconfoundedplacewhere there was nothing to occupy himimperiouslythrough the livelong day.  What could he do to securehimselffrom any more of this folly?

There wasbut one resource.  He would go and tell Irwine--tell himeverything. The mere act of telling it would make it seemtrivial;the temptation would vanishas the charm of fond wordsvanisheswhen one repeats them to the indifferent.  In every wayit wouldhelp him to tell Irwine.  He would ride to BroxtonRectorythe first thing after breakfast to-morrow.

Arthur hadno sooner come to this determination than he began tothinkwhich of the paths would lead him homeand made as short awalkthither as he could.  He felt sure he should sleep now: hehad hadenough to tire himand there was no more need for him tothink.

 

 ChapterXIV TheReturn Home

 

WHILE thatparting in the wood was happeningthere was a partingin thecottage tooand Lisbeth had stood with Adam at the doorstrainingher aged eyes to get the last glimpse of Seth and Dinahas theymounted the opposite slope.

"EhI'm loath to see the last on her" she said to Adamas theyturnedinto the house again.  "I'd ha' been willin' t' ha' herabout metill I died and went to lie by my old man.  She'd make iteasierdyin'--she spakes so gentle an' moves about so still.  Icould befast sure that pictur' was drawed for her i' thy newBible--th'angel a-sittin' on the big stone by the grave.  EhIwouldnamind ha'in a daughter like that; but nobody ne'er marriesthem as isgood for aught."

"WellMotherI hope thee WILT have her for a daughter; forSeth's gota liking for herand I hope she'll get a liking forSeth intime."

"Where'sth' use o' talkin' a-that'n?  She caresna for Seth.She'sgoin' away twenty mile aff.  How's she to get a likin' forhimI'dlike to know?  No more nor the cake 'ull come wi'out theleaven. Thy figurin' books might ha' tould thee better nor thatI shouldthinkelse thee mightst as well read the commin printas Sethallays does."

"NayMother" said Adamlaughing"the figures tell us a finedealandwe couldn't go far without 'embut they don't tell usaboutfolks's feelings.  It's a nicer job to calculate THEM.  ButSeth's asgood-hearted a lad as ever handled a tooland plenty o'senseandgood-looking too; and he's got the same way o' thinkingas Dinah. He deserves to win herthough there's no denying she'sa rare bito' workmanship.  You don't see such women turned offthe wheelevery day."

"Ehthee't allays stick up for thy brother.  Thee'st been justthe samee'er sin' ye war little uns together.  Thee wart allaysforhalving iverything wi' him.  But what's Seth got to do withmarryin'as is on'y three-an'-twenty?  He'd more need to learnan' lay bysixpence.  An' as for his desarving her--she's two 'earolder norSeth: she's pretty near as old as thee.  But that's theway; folksmun allays choose by contrairiesas if they must besortedlike the pork--a bit o' good meat wi' a bit o' offal."

To thefeminine mind in some of its moodsall things that mightbe receivea temporary charm from comparison with what is; andsince Adamdid not want to marry Dinah himselfLisbeth feltratherpeevish on that score--as peevish as she would have been ifhe HADwanted to marry herand so shut himself out from MaryBurge andthe partnership as effectually as by marrying Hetty.

It wasmore than half-past eight when Adam and his mother weretalking inthis wayso that whenabout ten minutes laterHettyreachedthe turning of the lane that led to the farmyard gateshesaw Dinahand Seth approaching it from the opposite directionandwaited forthem to come up to her.  Theytoolike Hettyhadlingered alittle in their walkfor Dinah was trying to speakwords ofcomfort and strength to Seth in these parting moments.But whenthey saw Hettythey paused and shook hands; Seth turnedhomewardsand Dinah came on alone.

"SethBede would have come and spoken to youmy dear" she saidas shereached Hetty"but he's very full of trouble to-night."

Hettyanswered with a dimpled smileas if she did not quite knowwhat hadbeen said; and it made a strange contrast to see thatsparklingself-engrossed loveliness looked at by Dinah's calmpityingfacewith its open glance which told that her heart livedin nocherished secrets of its ownbut in feelings which itlonged toshare with all the world.  Hetty liked Dinah as well asshe hadever liked any woman; how was it possible to feelotherwisetowards one who always put in a kind word for her whenher auntwas finding faultand who was always ready to take Tottyoff herhands--little tiresome Tottythat was made such a pet ofby everyoneand that Hetty could see no interest in at all?Dinah hadnever said anything disapproving or reproachful to Hettyduring herwhole visit to the Hall Farm; she had talked to her agreat dealin a serious waybut Hetty didn't mind that muchforshe neverlistened: whatever Dinah might sayshe almost alwaysstrokedHetty's cheek after itand wanted to do some mending forher. Dinah was a riddle to her; Hetty looked at her much in thesame wayas one might imagine a little perching bird that couldonlyflutter from bough to boughto look at the swoop of theswallow orthe mounting of the lark; but she did not care to solvesuchriddlesany more than she cared to know what was meant bythepictures in the Pilgrim's Progressor in the old folio Biblethat Martyand Tommy always plagued her about on a Sunday.

Dinah tookher hand now and drew it under her own arm.

"Youlook very happy to-nightdear child" she said.  "Ishallthink otyou often when I'm at Snowfieldand see your face beforeme as itis now.  It's a strange thing--sometimes when I'm quitealonesitting in my room with my eyes closedor walking over thehillsthepeople I've seen and knownif it's only been for a fewdaysarebrought before meand I hear their voices and see themlook andmove almost plainer than I ever did when they were reallywith me soas I could touch them.  And then my heart is drawn outtowardsthemand I feel their lot as if it was my ownand I takecomfort inspreading it before the Lord and resting in His loveon theirbehalf as well as my own.  And so I feel sure you willcomebefore me."

She pauseda momentbut Hetty said nothing.

"Ithas been a very precious time to me" Dinah went on"lastnight andto-day--seeing two such good sons as Adam and Seth Bede.They areso tender and thoughtful for their aged mother.  And shehas beentelling me what Adam has donefor these many yearstohelp hisfather and his brother; it's wonderful what a spirit ofwisdom andknowledge he hasand how he's ready to use it all inbehalf ofthem that are feeble.  And I'm sure he has a lovingspirittoo.  I've noticed it often among my own people roundSnowfieldthat the strongskilful men are often the gentlest tothe womenand children; and it's pretty to see 'em carrying thelittlebabies as if they were no heavier than little birds.  Andthe babiesalways seem to like the strong arm best.  I feel sureit wouldbe so with Adam Bede.  Don't you think soHetty?"

"Yes"said Hetty abstractedlyfor her mind had been all thewhile inthe woodand she would have found it difficult to saywhat shewas assenting to.  Dinah saw she was not inclined totalkbutthere would not have been time to say much moreforthey werenow at the yard-gate.

The stilltwilightwith its dying western red and its few faintstrugglingstarsrested on the farm-yardwhere there was not asound tobe heard but the stamping of the cart-horses in thestable. It was about twenty minutes after sunset.  The fowls wereall goneto roostand the bull-dog lay stretched on the strawoutsidehis kennelwith the black-and-tan terrier by his sidewhen thefalling-to of the gate disturbed them and set thembarkinglike good officialsbefore they had any distinctknowledgeof the reason.

Thebarking had its effect in the houseforas Dinah and Hettyapproachedthe doorway was filled by a portly figurewith aruddyblack-eyed face which bore in it the possibility of lookingextremelyacuteand occasionally contemptuouson market-daysbut hadnow a predominant after-supper expression of hearty good-nature. It is well known that great scholars who have shown themostpitiless acerbity in their criticism of other men'sscholarshiphave yet been of a relenting and indulgent temper inprivatelife; and I have heard of a learned man meekly rocking thetwins inthe cradle with his left handwhile with his right heinflictedthe most lacerating sarcasms on an opponent who hadbetrayed abrutal ignorance of Hebrew.  Weaknesses and errors mustbeforgiven--alas! they are not alien to us--but the man who takesthe wrongside on the momentous subject of the Hebrew points mustbe treatedas the enemy of his race.  There was the same sort ofantitheticmixture in Martin Poyser: he was of so excellent adispositionthat he had been kinder and more respectful than everto his oldfather since he had made a deed of gift of all hispropertyand no man judged his neighbours more charitably on allpersonalmatters; but for a farmerlike Luke Brittonforexamplewhose fallows were not well cleanedwho didn't know therudimentsof hedging and ditchingand showed but a small share ofjudgmentin the purchase of winter stockMartin Poyser was ashard andimplacable as the north-east wind.  Luke Britton couldnot make aremarkeven on the weatherbut Martin Poyser detectedin it ataint of that unsoundness and general ignorance which waspalpablein all his farming operations.  He hated to see thefellowlift the pewter pint to his mouth in the bar of the RoyalGeorge onmarket-dayand the mere sight of him on the other sideof theroad brought a severe and critical expression into hisblackeyesas different as possible from the fatherly glance hebent onhis two nieces as they approached the door.  Mr. Poyserhad smokedhis evening pipeand now held his hands in hispocketsas the only resource of a man who continues to sit upafter theday's business is done.

"Whylassesye're rather late to-night" he saidwhen theyreachedthe little gate leading into the causeway.  "The mother'sbegun tofidget about youan' she's got the little un ill.  An'how didyou leave the old woman BedeDinah?  Is she much downabout theold man?  He'd been but a poor bargain to her this fiveyear."

"She'sbeen greatly distressed for the loss of him" said Dinah"butshe's seemed more comforted to-day.  Her son Adam's been athome alldayworking at his father's coffinand she loves tohave himat home.  She's been talking about him to me almost allthe day. She has a loving heartthough she's sorely given tofret andbe fearful.  I wish she had a surer trust to comfort herin her oldage."

"Adam'ssure enough" said Mr. Poysermisunderstanding Dinah'swish. "There's no fear but he'll yield well i' the threshing.He's notone o' them as is all straw and no grain.  I'll be bondfor himany dayas he'll be a good son to the last.  Did he sayhe'd becoming to see us soon?  But come income in" he addedmaking wayfor them; "I hadn't need keep y' out any longer."

The tallbuildings round the yard shut out a good deal of the skybut thelarge window let in abundant light to show every corner ofthehouse-place.

Mrs.Poyserseated in the rocking-chairwhich had been broughtout of the"right-hand parlour" was trying to soothe Totty tosleep. But Totty was not disposed to sleep; and when her cousinsenteredshe raised herself up and showed a pair of flushedcheekswhich looked fatter than ever now they were defined by theedge ofher linen night-cap.

In thelarge wicker-bottomed arm-chair in the left-hand chimney-nook satold Martin Poysera hale but shrunken and bleached imageof hisportly black-haired son--his head hanging forward a littleand hiselbows pushed backwards so as to allow the whole of hisforearm torest on the arm of the chair.  His blue handkerchiefwas spreadover his kneesas was usual indoorswhen it was nothangingover his head; and he sat watching what went forward withthe quietOUTWARD glance of healthy old agewhichdisengagedfrom anyinterest in an inward dramaspies out pins upon thefloorfollows one's minutest motions with an unexpectantpurposelesstenacitywatches the flickering of the flame or thesun-gleamson the wallcounts the quarries on the floorwatcheseven thehand of the clockand pleases itself with detecting arhythm inthe tick.

"Whata time o' night this is to come homeHetty!" said Mrs.Poyser. "Look at the clockdo; whyit's going on for half-pastnineandI've sent the gells to bed this half-hourand lateenoughtoo; when they've got to get up at half after fourand themowers'bottles to filland the baking; and here's this blessedchild wi'the fever for what I knowand as wakeful as if it wasdinner-timeand nobody to help me to give her the physic but youruncleandfine work there's beenand half of it spilt on hernight-gown--it'swell if she's swallowed more nor 'ull make herworsei'stead o' better.  But folks as have no mind to be o' usehaveallays the luck to be out o' the road when there's anythingto bedone."

"Idid set out before eightaunt" said Hettyin a pettish tonewith aslight toss of her head.  But this clock's so much beforethe clockat the Chasethere's no telling what time it'll be whenI gethere."

"What! You'd be wanting the clock set by gentlefolks's timewouldyou?  An' sit up burnin' candlean' lie a-bed wi' the suna-bakin'you like a cowcumber i' the frame?  The clock hasn't beenputforrard for the first time to-dayI reckon."

The factwasHetty had really forgotten the difference of theclockswhen she told Captain Donnithorne that she set out ateightandthiswith her lingering pacehad made her nearly halfan hourlater than usual.  But here her aunt's attention wasdivertedfrom this tender subject by Tottywhoperceiving atlengththat the arrival of her cousins was not likely to bringanythingsatisfactory to her in particularbegan to cry"Munnymunny"in an explosive manner.

"Wellthenmy petMother's got herMother won't leave her;Totty be agood dillingand go to sleep now" said Mrs. Poyserleaningback and rocking the chairwhile she tried to make Tottynestleagainst her.  But Totty only cried louderand said"Don'tyock!"So the motherwith that wondrous patience which love givesto thequickest temperamentsat up againand pressed her cheekagainstthe linen night-cap and kissed itand forgot to scoldHetty anylonger.

"ComeHetty" said Martin Poyserin a conciliatory tone"go andget yoursupper i' the pantryas the things are all put away; an'then youcan come and take the little un while your aunt undressesherselffor she won't lie down in bed without her mother.  An' Ireckon YOUcould eat a bitDinahfor they don't keep much of ahouse downthere."

"Nothank youUncle" said Dinah; "I ate a good meal before Icame awayfor Mrs. Bede would make a kettle-cake for me."

"Idon't want any supper" said Hettytaking off her hat.  "Icanhold Tottynowif Aunt wants me."

"Whywhat nonsense that is to talk!" said Mrs. Poyser.  "Doyouthink youcan live wi'out eatin'an' nourish your inside wi'stickin'red ribbons on your head?  Go an' get your supper thisminutechild; there's a nice bit o' cold pudding i' the safe--just whatyou're fond of."

Hettycomplied silently by going towards the pantryand Mrs.Poyserwent on speaking to Dinah.

"Sitdownmy dearan' look as if you knowed what it was to makeyourself abit comfortable i' the world.  I warrant the old womanwas gladto see yousince you stayed so long."

"Sheseemed to like having me there at last; but her sons say shedoesn'tlike young women about her commonly; and I thought just atfirst shewas almost angry with me for going."

"Ehit's a poor look-out when th' ould folks doesna like theyounguns" said old Martinbending his head down lowerandseeming totrace the pattern of the quarries with his eye.

"Ayeit's ill livin' in a hen-roost for them as doesn't likefleas"said Mrs. Poyser.  "We've all had our turn at bein' youngI reckonbe't good luck or ill."

"Butshe must learn to 'commodate herself to young women" saidMr.Poyser"for it isn't to be counted on as Adam and Seth 'ullkeepbachelors for the next ten year to please their mother.  That'ud beunreasonable.  It isn't right for old nor young nayther tomake abargain all o' their own side.  What's good for one's goodall roundi' the long run.  I'm no friend to young fellows a-marryingafore they know the difference atween a crab an' a apple;but theymay wait o'er long."

"Tobe sure" said Mrs. Poyser; "if you go past yourdinner-timethere'llbe little relish o' your meat.  You turn it o'er an' o'erwi' yourforkan' don't eat it after all.  You find faut wi' yourmeatan'the faut's all i' your own stomach."

Hetty nowcame back from the pantry and said"I can take TottynowAuntif you like."

"ComeRachel" said Mr. Poyseras his wife seemed to hesitateseeingthat Totty was at last nestling quietly"thee'dst betterlet Hettycarry her upstairswhile thee tak'st thy things off.Thee'ttired.  It's time thee wast in bed.  Thee't bring on thepain inthy side again."

"Wellshe may hold her if the child 'ull go to her" said Mrs.Poyser.

Hetty wentclose to the rocking-chairand stood without her usualsmileandwithout any attempt to entice Tottysimply waiting forher auntto give the child into her hands.

"Wiltgo to Cousin Hettymy dillingwhile mother gets ready togo tobed?  Then Totty shall go into Mother's bedand sleep thereallnight."

Before hermother had done speakingTotty had given her answer inanunmistakable mannerby knitting her browsetting her tinyteethagainst her underlipand leaning forward to slap Hetty onthe armwith her utmost force.  Thenwithout speakingshenestled toher mother again.

"Heyhey" said Mr. Poyserwhile Hetty stood without moving"notgo to Cousin Hetty?  That's like a babby.  Totty's a littlewomanan'not a babby."

"It'sno use trying to persuade her" said Mrs. Poyser.  "Sheallaystakes against Hetty when she isn't well.  Happen she'll goto Dinah."

Dinahhaving taken off her bonnet and shawlhad hitherto keptquietlyseated in the backgroundnot liking to thrust herselfbetweenHetty and what was considered Hetty's proper work.  Butnow shecame forwardandputting out her armssaid"ComeTottycome and let Dinah carry her upstairs along with Mother:poorpoorMother! she's so tired--she wants to go to bed."

Tottyturned her face towards Dinahand looked at her an instantthenlifted herself upput out her little armsand let Dinahlift herfrom her mother's lap.  Hetty turned away without anysign ofill humourandtaking her hat from the tablestoodwaitingwith an air of indifferenceto see if she should be toldto doanything else.

"Youmay make the door fast nowPoyser; Alick's been come in thislongwhile" said Mrs. Poyserrising with an appearance of relieffrom herlow chair.  "Get me the matches downHettyfor I musthave therushlight burning i' my room.  ComeFather."

The heavywooden bolts began to roll in the house doorsand oldMartinprepared to moveby gathering up his blue handkerchiefandreaching his bright knobbed walnut-tree stick from the corner.Mrs.Poyser then led the way out of the kitchenfollowed by thegandfatherand Dinah with Totty in her arms--all going to bed bytwilightlike the birds.  Mrs. Poyseron her waypeeped intothe roomwhere her two boys lay; just to see their ruddy roundcheeks onthe pillowand to hear for a moment their light regularbreathing.

"ComeHettyget to bed" said Mr. Poyserin a soothing toneashe himselfturned to go upstairs.  "You didna mean to be lateI'll beboundbut your aunt's been worrited to-day.  Good-nightmy wenchgood-night."

 

 ChapterXV The TwoBed-Chambers

 

HETTY andDinah both slept in the second storyin rooms adjoiningeachothermeagrely furnished roomswith no blinds to shut outthe lightwhich was now beginning to gather new strength from therising ofthe moon--more than enough strength to enable Hetty tomove aboutand undress with perfect comfort.  She could see quitewell thepegs in the old painted linen-press on which she hung herhat andgown; she could see the head of every pin on her red clothpin-cushion;she could see a reflection of herself in the old-fashionedlooking-glassquite as distinct as was needfulconsideringthat she had only to brush her hair and put on hernight-cap. A queer old looking-glass!  Hetty got into an illtemperwith it almost every time she dressed.  It had beenconsidereda handsome glass in its dayand had probably beenboughtinto the Poyser family a quarter of a century beforeat asale ofgenteel household furniture.  Even now an auctioneer couldsaysomething for it: it had a great deal of tarnished gildingabout it;it had a firm mahogany basewell supplied with drawerswhichopened with a decided jerk and sent the contents leaping outfrom thefarthest cornerswithout giving you the trouble ofreachingthem; above allit had a brass candle-socket on eachsidewhich would give it an aristocratic air to the very last.But Hettyobjected to it because it had numerous dim blotchessprinkledover the mirrorwhich no rubbing would removeandbecauseinstead of swinging backwards and forwardsit was fixedin anupright positionso that she could only get one good viewof herhead and neckand that was to be had only by sitting downon a lowchair before her dressing-table.  And the dressing-tablewas nodressing-table at allbut a small old chest of drawersthe mostawkward thing in the world to sit down beforefor thebig brasshandles quite hurt her kneesand she couldn't get nearthe glassat all comfortably.  But devout worshippers never allowinconveniencesto prevent them from performing their religiousritesandHetty this evening was more bent on her peculiar formof worshipthan usual.

Havingtaken off her gown and white kerchiefshe drew a key fromthe largepocket that hung outside her petticoatandunlockingone of thelower drawers in the chestreached from it two shortbits ofwax candle--secretly bought at Treddleston--and stuck themin the twobrass sockets.  Then she drew forth a bundle of matchesandlighted the candles; and last of alla small red-framedshillinglooking-glasswithout blotches.  It was into this smallglass thatshe chose to look first after seating herself.  Shelookedinto itsmiling and turning her head on one sidefor aminutethen laid it down and took out her brush and comb from anupperdrawer.  She was going to let down her hairand makeherselflook like that picture of a lady in Miss LydiaDonnithorne'sdressing-room.  It was soon doneand the darkhyacinthinecurves fell on her neck.  It was not heavymassivemerelyrippling hairbut soft and silkenrunning at everyopportunityinto delicate rings.  But she pushed it all backwardto looklike the pictureand form a dark curtainthrowing intorelief herround white neck.  Then she put down her brush and comband lookedat herselffolding her arms before herstill like thepicture. Even the old mottled glass couldn't help sending back alovelyimagenone the less lovely because Hetty's stays were notof whitesatin--such as I feel sure heroines must generally wear--but of adark greenish cotton texture.

Oh yes! She was very pretty.  Captain Donnithorne thought so.Prettierthan anybody about Hayslope--prettier than any of theladies shehad ever seen visiting at the Chase--indeed it seemedfineladies were rather old and ugly--and prettier than MissBaconthemiller's daughterwho was called the beauty ofTreddleston. And Hetty looked at herself to-night with quite adifferentsensation from what she had ever felt before; there wasaninvisible spectator whose eye rested on her like morning on theflowers. His soft voice was saying over and over again thoseprettythings she had heard in the wood; his arm was round herand thedelicate rose-scent of his hair was with her still.  Thevainestwoman is never thoroughly conscious of her own beauty tillshe isloved by the man who sets her own passion vibrating inreturn.

But Hettyseemed to have made up her mind that something waswantingfor she got up and reached an old black lace scarf out ofthelinen-pressand a pair of large ear-rings out of the sacreddrawerfrom which she had taken her candles.  It was an old oldscarffull of rentsbut it would make a becoming border roundhershouldersand set off the whiteness of her upper arm.  Andshe wouldtake out the little ear-rings she had in her ears--ohhow heraunt had scolded her for having her ears bored!--and putin thoselarge ones.  They were but coloured glass and gildingbut if youdidn't know what they were made ofthey looked just aswell aswhat the ladies wore.  And so she sat down againwith thelargeear-rings in her earsand the black lace scarf adjustedround hershoulders.  She looked down at her arms: no arms couldbeprettier down to a little way below the elbow--they were whiteand plumpand dimpled to match her cheeks; but towards the wristshethought with vexation that they were coarsened by butter-making andother work that ladies never did.

CaptainDonnithorne couldn't like her to go on doing work: hewould liketo see her in nice clothesand thin shoesand whitestockingsperhaps with silk clocks to them; for he must love herverymuch--no one else had ever put his arm round her and kissedher inthat way.  He would want to marry her and make a lady ofher; shecould hardly dare to shape the thought--yet how elsecould itbe?  Marry her quite secretlyas Mr. Jamesthe doctor'sassistantmarried the doctor's nieceand nobody ever found itout for along while afterand then it was of no use to be angry.The doctorhad told her aunt all about it in Hetty's hearing.  Shedidn'tknow how it would bebut it was quite plain the old Squirecouldnever be told anything about itfor Hetty was ready tofaint withawe and fright if she came across him at the Chase.  Hemight havebeen earth-bornfor what she knew.  It had neverenteredher mind that he had been young like other men; he hadalwaysbeen the old Squire at whom everybody was frightened.  Ohit wasimpossible to think how it would be!  But CaptainDonnithornewould know; he was a great gentlemanand could havehis way ineverythingand could buy everything he liked.  Andnothingcould be as it had been again: perhaps some day she shouldbe a grandladyand ride in her coachand dress for dinner in abrocadedsilkwith feathers in her hairand her dress sweepingthegroundlike Miss Lydia and Lady Daceywhen she saw themgoing intothe dining-room one evening as she peeped through thelittleround window in the lobby; only she should not be old andugly likeMiss Lydiaor all the same thickness like Lady Daceybut veryprettywith her hair done in a great many differentwaysandsometimes in a pink dressand sometimes in a white one--she didn'tknow which she liked best; and Mary Burge andeverybodywould perhaps see her going out in her carriage--orratherthey would HEAR of it: it was impossible to imagine thesethingshappening at Hayslope in sight of her aunt.  At the thoughtof allthis splendourHetty got up from her chairand in doingso caughtthe little red-framed glass with the edge of her scarfso that itfell with a bang on the floor; but she was too eagerlyoccupiedwith her vision to care about picking it up; and after amomentarystartbegan to pace with a pigeon-like statelinessbackwardsand forwards along her roomin her coloured stays andcolouredskirtand the old black lace scarf round her shouldersand thegreat glass ear-rings in her ears.

How prettythe little puss looks in that odd dress!  It would betheeasiest folly in the world to fall in love with her: there issuch asweet babylike roundness about her face and figure; thedelicatedark rings of hair lie so charmingly about her ears andneck; hergreat dark eyes with their long eye-lashes touch one sostrangelyas if an imprisoned frisky sprite looked out of them.

Ahwhat aprize the man gets who wins a sweet bride like Hetty!How themen envy him who come to the wedding breakfastand seeherhanging on his arm in her white lace and orange blossoms.  Thedearyoungroundsoftflexible thing!  Her heart must be justas softher temper just as free from anglesher character justaspliant.  If anything ever goes wrongit must be the husband'sfaultthere: he can make her what he likes--that is plain.  Andthe loverhimself thinks so too: the little darling is so fond ofhimherlittle vanities are so bewitchinghe wouldn't consent toher beinga bit wiser; those kittenlike glances and movements arejust whatone wants to make one's hearth a paradise.  Every manunder suchcircumstances is conscious of being a greatphysiognomist. Naturehe knowshas a language of her ownwhichshe useswith strict veracityand he considers himself an adeptin thelanguage.  Nature has written out his bride's character forhim inthose exquisite lines of cheek and lip and chinin thoseeyelidsdelicate as petalsin those long lashes curled like thestamen ofa flowerin the dark liquid depths of those wonderfuleyes. How she will dote on her children!  She is almost a childherselfand the little pink round things will hang about her likefloretsround the central flower; and the husband will look onsmilingbenignlyablewhenever he choosesto withdraw into thesanctuaryof his wisdomtowards which his sweet wife will lookreverentlyand never lift the curtain.  It is a marriage such asthey madein the golden agewhen the men were all wise andmajesticand the women all lovely and loving.

It wasvery much in this way that our friend Adam Bede thoughtaboutHetty; only he put his thoughts into different words.  Ifever shebehaved with cold vanity towards himhe said to himselfit is onlybecause she doesn't love me well enough; and he wassure thather lovewhenever she gave itwould be the mostpreciousthing a man could possess on earth.  Before you despiseAdam asdeficient in penetrationpray ask yourself if you wereeverpredisposed to believe evil of any pretty woman--if you everCOULDwithout hard head-breaking demonstrationbelieve evil ofthe ONEsupremely pretty woman who has bewitched you.  No: peoplewho lovedowny peaches are apt not to think of the stoneandsometimesjar their teeth terribly against it.

ArthurDonnithornetoohad the same sort of notion about Hettyso far ashe had thought of her nature of all.  He felt sure shewas adearaffectionategood little thing.  The man who awakesthewondering tremulous passion of a young girl always thinks heraffectionate;and if he chances to look forward to future yearsprobablyimagines himself being virtuously tender to herbecausethe poorthing is so clingingly fond of him.  God made these dearwomenso--and it is a convenient arrangement in case of sickness.

After allI believe the wisest of us must be beguiled in this waysometimesand must think both better and worse of people thantheydeserve.  Nature has her languageand she is notunveracious;but we don't know all the intricacies of her syntaxjust yetand in a hasty reading we may happen to extract the veryoppositeof her real meaning.  Long dark eyelashesnow--what canbe moreexquisite?  I find it impossible not to expect some depthof soulbehind a deep grey eye with a long dark eyelashin spiteof anexperience which has shown me that they may go along withdeceitpeculationand stupidity.  But ifin the reaction ofdisgustIhave betaken myself to a fishy eyethere has been asurprisingsimilarity of result.  One begins to suspect at lengththat thereis no direct correlation between eyelashes and morals;or elsethat the eyelashes express the disposition of the fairone'sgrandmotherwhich is on the whole less important to us.

Noeyelashes could be more beautiful than Hetty's; and nowwhileshe walkswith her pigeonlike stateliness along the room and looksdown onher shoulders bordered by the old black lacethe darkfringeshows to perfection on her pink cheek.  They are but dimill-definedpictures that her narrow bit of an imagination canmake ofthe future; but of every picture she is the central figurein fineclothes; Captain Donnithorne is very close to herputtinghis armround herperhaps kissing herand everybody else isadmiringand envying her--especially Mary Burgewhose new printdresslooks very contemptible by the side of Hetty's resplendenttoilette. Does any sweet or sad memory mingle with this dream ofthefuture--any loving thought of her second parents--of thechildrenshe had helped to tend--of any youthful companionanypetanimalany relic of her own childhood even?  Not one. Thereare someplants that have hardly any roots: you may tear them fromtheirnative nook of rock or walland just lay them over yourornamentalflower-potand they blossom none the worse.  Hettycould havecast all her past life behind her and never cared to beremindedof it again.  I think she had no feeling at all towardsthe oldhouseand did not like the Jacob's Ladder and the longrow ofhollyhocks in the garden better than other flowers--perhapsnot sowell.  It was wonderful how little she seemed to care aboutwaiting onher unclewho had been a good father to her--shehardlyever remembered to reach him his pipe at the right timewithoutbeing toldunless a visitor happened to be therewhowould havea better opportunity of seeing her as she walked acrossthehearth.  Hetty did not understand how anybody could be veryfond ofmiddle-aged people.  And as for those tiresome childrenMarty andTommy and Tottythey had been the very nuisance of herlife--asbad as buzzing insects that will come teasing you on ahot daywhen you want to be quiet.  Martythe eldestwas a babywhen shefirst came to the farmfor the children born before himhad diedand so Hetty had had them all threeone after theothertoddling by her side in the meadowor playing about her onwet daysin the half-empty rooms of the large old house.  The boyswere outof hand nowbut Totty was still a day-long plagueworsethaneither of the others had beenbecause there was more fussmade abouther.  And there was no end to the making and mending ofclothes. Hetty would have been glad to hear that she should neversee achild again; they were worse than the nasty little lambsthat theshepherd was always bringing in to be taken special careof inlambing time; for the lambs WERE got rid of sooner or later.As for theyoung chickens and turkeysHetty would have hated thevery word"hatching" if her aunt had not bribed her to attend tothe youngpoultry by promising her the proceeds of one out ofeverybrood.  The round downy chicks peeping out from under theirmother'swing never touched Hetty with any pleasure; that was notthe sortof prettiness she cared aboutbut she did care about theprettinessof the new things she would buy for herself atTreddlestonFair with the money they fetched.  And yet she lookedsodimpledso charmingas she stooped down to put the soakedbreadunder the hen-coopthat you must have been a very acutepersonageindeed to suspect her of that hardness.  Mollythehousemaidwith a turn-up nose and a protuberant jawwas really atender-heartedgirlandas Mrs. Poyser saida jewel to lookafter thepoultry; but her stolid face showed nothing of thismaternaldelightany more than a brown earthenware pitcher willshow thelight of the lamp within it.

It isgenerally a feminine eye that first detects the moraldeficiencieshidden under the "dear deceit" of beautyso it isnotsurprising that Mrs. Poyserwith her keenness and abundantopportunityfor observationshould have formed a tolerably fairestimateof what might be expected from Hetty in the way offeelingand in moments of indignation she had sometimes spokenwith greatopenness on the subject to her husband.

"She'sno better than a peacockas 'ud strut about on the walland spreadits tail when the sun shone if all the folks i' theparish wasdying: there's nothing seems to give her a turn i' th'insidenot even when we thought Totty had tumbled into the pit.To thinko' that dear cherub!  And we found her wi' her littleshoesstuck i' the mud an' crying fit to break her heart by thefarhorse-pit.  But Hetty never minded itI could seethoughshe's beenat the nussin' o' the child ever since it was a babby.It's mybelief her heart's as hard as a pebble."

"Naynay" said Mr. Poyser"thee mustn't judge Hetty too hard.Them younggells are like the unripe grain; they'll make good mealby and bybut they're squashy as yet.  Thee't see Hetty 'll beall rightwhen she's got a good husband and children of her own."

"Idon't want to be hard upo' the gell.  She's got cliver fingersof herownand can be useful enough when she likes and I shouldmiss herwi' the butterfor she's got a cool hand.  An' let bewhat mayI'd strive to do my part by a niece o' yours--an' THATI've donefor I've taught her everything as belongs to a housean' I'vetold her her duty often enoughthoughGod knowsI'veno breathto sparean' that catchin' pain comes on dreadful bytimes. Wi' them three gells in the house I'd need have twice thestrengthto keep 'em up to their work.  It's like having roastmeat atthree fires; as soon as you've basted oneanother'sburnin'."

Hettystood sufficiently in awe of her aunt to be anxious toconcealfrom her so much of her vanity as could be hidden withouttoo greata sacrifice.  She could not resist spending her money inbits offinery which Mrs. Poyser disapproved; but she would havebeen readyto die with shamevexationand fright if her aunt hadthismoment opened the doorand seen her with her bits of candlelightedand strutting about decked in her scarf and ear-rings.To preventsuch a surpriseshe always bolted her doorand shehad notforgotten to do so to-night.  It was well: for there nowcame alight tapand Hettywith a leaping heartrushed to blowout thecandles and throw them into the drawer.  She dared notstay totake out her ear-ringsbut she threw off her scarfandlet itfall on the floorbefore the light tap came again.  Weshall knowhow it was that the light tap cameif we leave Hettyfor ashort time and return to Dinahat the moment when she haddeliveredTotty to her mother's armsand was come upstairs to herbedroomadjoining Hetty's.

Dinahdelighted in her bedroom window.  Being on the second storyof thattall houseit gave her a wide view over the fields.  Thethicknessof the wall formed a broad step about a yard below thewindowwhere she could place her chair.  And now the first thingshe did onentering her room was to seat herself in this chair andlook outon the peaceful fields beyond which the large moon wasrisingjust above the hedgerow elms.  She liked the pasture bestwhere themilch cows were lyingand next to that the meadow wherethe grasswas half-mownand lay in silvered sweeping lines.  Herheart wasvery fullfor there was to be only one more night onwhich shewould look out on those fields for a long time to come;but shethought little of leaving the mere sceneforto herbleakSnowfield had just as many charms.  She thought of all thedearpeople whom she had learned to care for among these peacefulfieldsand who would now have a place in her loving remembrancefor ever. She thought of the struggles and the weariness thatmight liebefore them in the rest of their life's journeywhenshe wouldbe away from themand know nothing of what wasbefallingthem; and the pressure of this thought soon became toostrong forher to enjoy the unresponding stillness of the moonlitfields. She closed her eyesthat she might feel more intenselythepresence of a Love and Sympathy deeper and more tender thanwasbreathed from the earth and sky.  That was often Dinah's modeof prayingin solitude.  Simply to close her eyes and to feelherselfenclosed by the Divine Presence; then gradually her fearsheryearning anxieties for othersmelted away like ice-crystalsin a warmocean.  She had sat in this way perfectly stillwithher handscrossed on her lap and the pale light resting on hercalm facefor at least ten minutes when she was startled by aloudsoundapparently of something falling in Hetty's room.  Butlike allsounds that fall on our ears in a state of abstractionit had nodistinct characterbut was simply loud and startlingso thatshe felt uncertain whether she had interpreted it rightly.She roseand listenedbut all was quiet afterwardsand shereflectedthat Hetty might merely have knocked something down ingettinginto bed.  She began slowly to undress; but nowowing tothesuggestions of this soundher thoughts became concentrated onHetty--thatsweet young thingwith life and all its trials beforeher--thesolemn daily duties of the wife and mother--and her mindsounprepared for them allbent merely on little foolishselfishpleasureslike a child hugging its toys in the beginning of alongtoilsome journey in which it will have to bear hunger andcold andunsheltered darkness.  Dinah felt a double care forHettybecause she shared Seth's anxious interest in his brother'slotandshe had not come to the conclusion that Hetty did notlove Adamwell enough to marry him.  She saw too clearly theabsence ofany warmself-devoting love in Hetty's nature toregard thecoldness of her behaviour towards Adam as anyindicationthat he was not the man she would like to have for ahusband. And this blank in Hetty's natureinstead of excitingDinah'sdislikeonly touched her with a deeper pity: the lovelyface andform affected her as beauty always affects a pure andtendermindfree from selfish jealousies.  It was an excellentdivinegiftthat gave a deeper pathos to the needthe sinthesorrowwith which it was mingledas the canker in a lily-whitebud ismore grievous to behold than in a common pot-herb.

By thetime Dinah had undressed and put on her night-gownthisfeelingabout Hetty had gathered a painful intensity; herimaginationhad created a thorny thicket of sin and sorrowinwhich shesaw the poor thing struggling torn and bleedinglookingwith tearsfor rescue and finding none.  It was in this way thatDinah'simagination and sympathy acted and reacted habituallyeachheightening the other.  She felt a deep longing to go now andpour intoHetty's ear all the words of tender warning and appealthatrushed into her mind.  But perhaps Hetty was already asleep.Dinah puther ear to the partition and heard still some slightnoiseswhich convinced her that Hetty was not yet in bed.  Stillshehesitated; she was not quite certain of a divine direction;the voicethat told her to go to Hetty seemed no stronger that theothervoice which said that Hetty was wearyand that going to hernow in anunseasonable moment would only tend to close her heartmoreobstinately.  Dinah was not satisfied without a moreunmistakableguidance than those inward voices.  There was lightenough forherif she opened her Bibleto discern the textsufficientlyto know what it would say to her.  She knew thephysiognomyof every pageand could tell on what book she openedsometimeson what chapterwithout seeing title or number.  It wasa smallthick Bibleworn quite round at the edges.  Dinah laid itsidewayson the window ledgewhere the light was strongestandthenopened it with her forefinger.  The first words she looked atwere thoseat the top of the left-hand page: "And they all weptsoreandfell on Paul's neck and kissed him."  That was enoughfor Dinah;she had opened on that memorable parting at Ephesuswhen Paulhad felt bound to open his heart in a last exhortationandwarning.  She hesitated no longerbutopening her own doorgentlywent and tapped on Hetty's.  We know she had to tap twicebecauseHetty had to put out her candles and throw off her blacklacescarf; but after the second tap the door was openedimmediately. Dinah said"Will you let me come inHetty?" andHettywithout speakingfor she was confused and vexedopenedthe doorwider and let her in.

What astrange contrast the two figures madevisible enough inthatmingled twilight and moonlight!  Hettyher cheeks flushedand hereyes glistening from her imaginary dramaher beautifulneck andarms bareher hair hanging in a curly tangle down herbackandthe baubles in her ears.  Dinahcovered with her longwhitedressher pale face full of subdued emotionalmost like alovelycorpse into which the soul has returned charged withsublimersecrets and a sublimer love.  They were nearly of thesameheight; Dinah evidently a little the taller as she put herarm roundHetty's waist and kissed her forehead.

"Iknew you were not in bedmy dear" she saidin her sweetclearvoicewhich was irritating to Hettymingling with her ownpeevishvexation like music with jangling chains"for I heard youmoving;and I longed to speak to you again to-nightfor it is thelast butone that I shall be hereand we don't know what mayhappento-morrow to keep us apart.  Shall I sit down with youwhile youdo up your hair?"

"Ohyes" said Hettyhastily turning round and reaching thesecondchair in the roomglad that Dinah looked as if she did notnotice herear-rings.

Dinah satdownand Hetty began to brush together her hair beforetwistingit updoing it with that air of excessive indifferencewhichbelongs to confused self-consciousness.  But the expressionof Dinah'seyes gradually relieved her; they seemed unobservant ofalldetails.

"DearHetty" she said"It has been borne in upon my mind to-night thatyou may some day be in trouble--trouble is appointedfor us allhere belowand there comes a time when we need morecomfortand help than the things of this life can give.  I want totell youthat if ever you are in troubleand need a friend thatwillalways feel for you and love youyou have got that friend inDinahMorris at Snowfieldand if you come to heror send forhershe'll never forget this night and the words she is speakingto younow.  Will you remember itHetty?"

"Yes"said Hettyrather frightened.  "But why should you think Ishall bein trouble?  Do you know of anything?"

Hetty hadseated herself as she tied on her capand now Dinahleanedforwards and took her hands as she answered"Becausedeartrouble comes to us all in this life: we set our hearts onthingswhich it isn't God's will for us to haveand then we gosorrowing;the people we love are taken from usand we can joy innothingbecause they are not with us; sickness comesand we faintunder theburden of our feeble bodies; we go astray and do wrongand bringourselves into trouble with our fellow-men.  There is noman orwoman born into this world to whom some of these trials donot falland so I feel that some of them must happen to you; andI desirefor youthat while you are young you should seek forstrengthfrom your Heavenly Fatherthat you may have a supportwhich willnot fail you in the evil day."

Dinahpaused and released Hetty's hands that she might not hinderher. Hetty sat quite still; she felt no response within herselfto Dinah'sanxious affection; but Dinah's words uttered withsolemnpathetic distinctnessaffected her with a chill fear.  Herflush haddied away almost to paleness; she had the timidity of aluxuriouspleasure-seeking naturewhich shrinks from the hint ofpain. Dinah saw the effectand her tender anxious pleadingbecame themore earnesttill Hettyfull of a vague fear thatsomethingevil was some time to befall herbegan to cry.

It is ourhabit to say that while the lower nature can neverunderstandthe higherthe higher nature commands a complete viewof thelower.  But I think the higher nature has to learn thiscomprehensionas we learn the art of visionby a good deal ofhardexperienceoften with bruises and gashes incurred in takingthings upby the wrong endand fancying our space wider than itis. Dinah had never seen Hetty affected in this way beforeandwith herusual benignant hopefulnessshe trusted it was thestirringof a divine impulse.  She kissed the sobbing thingandbegan tocry with her for grateful joy.  But Hetty was simply inthatexcitable state of mind in which there is no calculating whatturn thefeelings may take from one moment to anotherand for thefirst timeshe became irritated under Dinah's caress.  She pushedher awayimpatientlyand saidwith a childish sobbing voice"Don'ttalk to me soDinah.  Why do you come to frighten me?I've neverdone anything to you.  Why can't you let me be?"

Poor Dinahfelt a pang.  She was too wise to persistand onlysaidmildly"Yesmy dearyou're tired; I won't hinder you anylonger. Make haste and get into bed.  Good-night."

She wentout of the room almost as quietly and quickly as if shehad been aghost; but once by the side of her own bedshe threwherself onher knees and poured out in deep silence all thepassionatepity that filled her heart.

As forHettyshe was soon in the wood again--her waking dreamsbeingmerged in a sleeping life scarcely more fragmentary andconfused.

 

 ChapterXVI Links

 

ARTHURDONNITHORNEyou rememberis under an engagement withhimself togo and see Mr. Irwine this Friday morningand he isawake anddressing so early that he determines to go beforebreakfastinstead of after.  The rectorhe knowsbreakfastsalone athalf-past ninethe ladies of the family having adifferentbreakfast-hour; Arthur will have an early ride over thehill andbreakfast with him.  One can say everything best over ameal.

Theprogress of civilization has made a breakfast or a dinner aneasy andcheerful substitute for more troublesome and disagreeableceremonies. We take a less gloomy view of our errors now ourfatherconfessor listens to us over his egg and coffee.  We aremoredistinctly conscious that rude penances are out of thequestionfor gentlemen in an enlightened ageand that mortal sinis notincompatible with an appetite for muffins.  An assault onourpocketswhich in more barbarous times would have been made inthebrusque form of a pistol-shotis quite a well-bred andsmilingprocedure now it has become a request for a loan thrown inas an easyparenthesis between the second and third glasses ofclaret.

Stillthere was this advantage in the old rigid formsthat theycommittedyou to the fulfilment of a resolution by some outwarddeed: whenyou have put your mouth to one end of a hole in a stonewall andare aware that there is an expectant ear at the otherendyouare more likely to say what you came out with theintentionof saying than if you were seated with your legs in aneasyattitude under the mahogany with a companion who will have noreason tobe surprised if you have nothing particular to say.

HoweverArthur Donnithorneas he winds among the pleasant lanesonhorseback in the morning sunshinehas a sincere determinationto openhis heart to the rectorand the swirling sound of thescythe ashe passes by the meadow is all the pleasanter to himbecause ofthis honest purpose.  He is glad to see the promise ofsettledweather nowfor getting in the hayabout which thefarmershave been fearful; and there is something so healthful inthesharing of a joy that is general and not merely personalthatthisthought about the hay-harvest reacts on his state of mind andmakes hisresolution seem an easier matter.  A man about townmightperhaps consider that these influences were not to be feltout of achild's story-book; but when you are among the fields andhedgerowsit is impossible to maintain a consistent superiorityto simplenatural pleasures.

Arthur hadpassed the village of Hayslope and was approaching theBroxtonside of the hillwhenat a turning in the roadhe saw afigureabout a hundred yards before him which it was impossible tomistakefor any one else than Adam Bedeeven if there had been nogreytailless shepherd-dog at his heels.  He was striding alongat hisusual rapid paceand Arthur pushed on his horse toovertakehimfor he retained too much of his boyish feeling forAdam tomiss an opportunity of chatting with him.  I will not saythat hislove for that good fellow did not owe some of its forceto thelove of patronage: our friend Arthur liked to do everythingthat washandsomeand to have his handsome deeds recognized.

Adamlooked round as he heard the quickening clatter of thehorse'sheelsand waited for the horsemanlifting his paper capfrom hishead with a bright smile of recognition.  Next to his ownbrotherSethAdam would have done more for Arthur Donnithornethan forany other young man in the world.  There was hardlyanythinghe would not rather have lost than the two-feet rulerwhich healways carried in his pocket; it was Arthur's presentboughtwith his pocket-money when he was a fair-haired lad ofelevenand when he had profited so well by Adam's lessons incarpenteringand turning as to embarrass every female in the housewith giftsof superfluous thread-reels and round boxes.  Adam hadquite apride in the little squire in those early daysand thefeelinghad only become slightly modified as the fair-haired ladhad growninto the whiskered young man.  AdamI confesswas verysusceptibleto the influence of rankand quite ready to give anextraamount of respect to every one who had more advantages thanhimselfnot being a philosopher or a proletaire with democraticideasbutsimply a stout-limbed clever carpenter wlth a largefund ofreverence in his naturewhich inclined him to admit allestablishedclaims unless he saw very clear grounds forquestioningthem.  He had no theories about setting the world torightsbut he saw there was a great deal of damage done bybuildingwith ill-seasoned timber--by ignorant men in fine clothesmakingplans for outhouses and workshops and the like withoutknowingthe bearings of things--by slovenly joiners' workand byhastycontracts that could never be fulfilled without ruiningsomebody;and he resolvedfor his partto set his face againstsuchdoings.  On these points he would have maintained his opinionagainstthe largest landed proprietor in Loamshire or Stonyshireeither;but he felt that beyond these it would be better for himto deferto people who were more knowing than himself.  He saw asplainly aspossible how ill the woods on the estate were managedand theshameful state of the farm-buildings; and if old SquireDonnithornehad asked him the effect of this mismanagementhewould havespoken his opinion without flinchingbut the impulseto arespectful demeanour towards a "gentleman" would have beenstrongwithin him all the while.  The word "gentleman" had aspellfor Adamandas he often saidhe "couldn't abide a fellow whothought hemade himself fine by being coxy to's betters."  I mustremind youagain that Adam had the blood of the peasant in hisveinsandthat since he was in his prime half a century agoyoumustexpect some of his characteristics to be obsolete.

Towardsthe young squire this instinctive reverence of Adam's wasassistedby boyish memories and personal regard so you may imaginethat hethought far more of Arthur's good qualitiesand attachedfar morevalue to very slight actions of histhan if they hadbeen thequalities and actions of a common workman like himself.He feltsure it would be a fine day for everybody about Hayslopewhen theyoung squire came into the estate--such a generous open-hearteddisposition as he hadand an "uncommon" notion aboutimprovementsand repairsconsidering he was only just coming ofage. Thus there was both respect and affection in the smile withwhich heraised his paper cap as Arthur Donnithorne rode up.

"WellAdamhow are you?" said Arthurholding out his hand.  Henevershook hands with any of the farmersand Adam felt thehonourkeenly.  "I could swear to your back a long way off. It'sjust thesame backonly broaderas when you used to carry me onit. Do you remember?"

"AyesirI remember.  It 'ud be a poor look-out if folks didn'trememberwhat they did and said when they were lads.  We shouldthink nomore about old friends than we do about new unsthen."

"You'regoing to BroxtonI suppose?" said Arthurputting hishorse onat a slow pace while Adam walked by his side.  "Are yougoing tothe rectory?"

"NosirI'm going to see about Bradwell's barn.  They're afraidof theroof pushing the walls outand I'm going to see what canbe donewith it before we send the stuff and the workmen."

"WhyBurge trusts almost everything to you nowAdamdoesn't he?I shouldthink he will make you his partner soon.  He willifhe'swise."

"NaysirI don't see as he'd be much the better off for that.  Aforemanif he's got a conscience and delights in his workwilldo hisbusiness as well as if he was a partner.  I wouldn't give apenny fora man as 'ud drive a nail in slack because he didn't getextra payfor it."

"Iknow thatAdam; I know you work for him as well as if you wereworkingfor yourself.  But you would have more power than you havenowandcould turn the business to better account perhaps.  Theold manmust give up his business sometimeand he has no son; Isupposehe'll want a son-in-law who can take to it.  But he hasrathergrasping fingers of his ownI fancy.  I daresay he wants aman whocan put some money into the business.  If I were not aspoor as aratI would gladly invest some money in that wayforthe sakeof having you settled on the estate.  I'm sure I shouldprofit byit in the end.  And perhaps I shall be better off in ayear ortwo.  I shall have a larger allowance now I'm of age; andwhen I'vepaid off a debt or twoI shall be able to look aboutme."

"You'revery good to say sosirand I'm not unthankful.  But"--Adamcontinuedin a decided tone--"I shouldn't like to make anyoffers toMr. Burgeor t' have any made for me.  I see no clearroad to apartnership.  If he should ever want to dispose of thebusinessthat 'ud be a different matter.  I should be glad ofsome moneyat a fair interest thenfor I feel sure I could pay itoff intime."

"VerywellAdam" said Arthurremembering what Mr. Irwine hadsaid abouta probable hitch in the love-making between Adam andMaryBurge"we'll say no more about it at present.  When isyourfather tobe buried?"

"OnSundaysir; Mr. Irwine's coming earlier on purpose.  I shallbe gladwhen it's overfor I think my mother 'ull perhaps geteasierthen.  It cuts one sadly to see the grief of old people;they've noway o' working it offand the new spring brings no newshoots outon the withered tree."

"Ahyou've had a good deal of trouble and vexation in your lifeAdam. I don't think you've ever been hare-brained and light-heartedlike other youngsters.  You've always had some care onyourmind."

"Whyyessir; but that's nothing to make a fuss about.  If we'remen andhave men's feelingsI reckon we must have men's troubles.We can'tbe like the birdsas fly from their nest as soon asthey'vegot their wingsand never know their kin when they see'emandget a fresh lot every year.  I've had enough to bethankfulfor: I've allays had health and strength and brains togive me adelight in my work; and I count it a great thing as I'vehad BartleMassey's night-school to go to.  He's helped me toknowledgeI could never ha' got by myself."

"Whata rare fellow you areAdam!" said Arthurafter a pauseinwhich hehad looked musingly at the big fellow walking by hisside. "I could hit out better than most men at Oxfordand yet Ibelieveyou would knock me into next week if I were to have abaltlewith you."

"Godforbid I should ever do thatsir" said Adamlooking roundat Arthurand smiling.  "I used to fight for funbut I've neverdone thatsince I was the cause o' poor Gil Tranter being laid upfor afortnight.  I'll never fight any man againonly when hebehaveslike a scoundrel.  If you get hold of a chap that's got noshame norconscience to stop himyou must try what you can do bybunginghis eyes up."

Arthur didnot laughfor he was preoccupied with some thoughtthat madehim say presently"I should think nowAdamyou neverhave anystruggles within yourself.  I fancy you would master awish thatyou had made up your mind it was not quite right toindulgeas easily as you would knock down a drunken fellow whowasquarrelsome with you.  I meanyou are never shilly-shallyfirstmaking up your mind that you won't do a thingand thendoing itafter all?"

"Well"said Adamslowlyafter a moment's hesitation"no.  Idon'tremember ever being see-saw in that waywhen I'd made mymind upas you saythat a thing was wrong.  It takes the tasteout o' mymouth for thingswhen I know I should have a heavyconscienceafter 'em.  I've seen pretty clearever since I couldcast up asumas you can never do what's wrong without breedingsin andtrouble more than you can ever see.  It's like a bit o'badworkmanship--you never see th' end o' the mischief it'll do.And it's apoor look-out to come into the world to make yourfellow-creaturesworse off instead o' better.  But there's adifferencebetween the things folks call wrong.  I'm not formaking asin of every little fool's trickor bit o' nonsenseanybodymay be let intolike some o' them dissenters.  And a manmay havetwo minds whether it isn't worthwhile to get a bruise ortwo forthe sake of a bit o' fun.  But it isn't my way to be see-saw aboutanything: I think my fault lies th' other way.  WhenI've saida thingif it's only to myselfit's hard for me to goback."

"Yesthat's just what I expected of you" said Arthur.  "You'vegot aniron willas well as an iron arm.  But however strong aman'sresolution may beit costs him something to carry it outnow andthen.  We may determine not to gather any cherries andkeep ourhands sturdily in our pocketsbut we can't prevent ourmouthsfrom watering."

"That'struesirbut there's nothing like settling withourselvesas there's a deal we must do without i' this life.  It'sno uselooking on life as if it was Treddles'on Fairwhere folksonly go tosee shows and get fairings.  If we dowe shall find itdifferent. But where's the use o' me talking to yousir?  Youknowbetter than I do."

"I'mnot so sure of thatAdam.  You've had four or five years ofexperiencemore than I've hadand I think your life has been abetterschool to you than college has been to me."

"Whysiryou seem to think o' college something like what BartleMasseydoes.  He says college mostly makes people like bladders--just goodfor nothing but t' hold the stuff as is poured into 'em.But he'sgot a tongue like a sharp bladeBartle has--it nevertouchesanything but it cuts.  Here's the turningsir.  I mustbid yougood-morningas you're going to the rectory."

"Good-byeAdamgood-bye."

Arthurgave his horse to the groom at the rectory gateand walkedalong thegravel towards the door which opened on the garden.  Heknew thatthe rector always breakfasted in his studyand thestudy layon the left hand of this dooropposite the dining-room.It was asmall low roombelonging to the old part of the house--dark withthe sombre covers of the books that lined the walls; yetit lookedvery cheery this morning as Arthur reached the openwindow. For the morning sun fell aslant on the great glass globewith goldfish in itwhich stood on a scagliola pillar in frontof theready-spread bachelor breakfast-tableand by the side ofthisbreakfast-table was a group which would have made any roomenticing. In the crimson damask easy-chair sat Mr. Irwinewiththatradiant freshness which he always had when he came from hismorningtoilet; his finely formed plump white hand was playingalongJuno's brown curly back; and close to Juno's tailwhich waswaggingwith calm matronly pleasurethe two brown pups wererollingover each other in an ecstatic duet of worrying noises.On acushion a little removed sat Pugwith the air of a maidenladywholooked on these familiarities as animal weaknesseswhich shemade as little show as possible of observing.  On thetableatMr. Irwine~s elbowlay the first volume of the FoulisAEschyluswhich Arthur knew well by sight; and the silver coffee-potwhichCarroll was bringing insent forth a fragrant steamwhichcompleted the delights of a bachelor breakfast.

"HalloArthurthat's a good fellow!  You're just in time" saidMr.Irwineas Arthur paused and stepped in over the low window-sill. "Carrollwe shall want more coffee and eggsand haven'tyou gotsome cold fowl for us to eat with that ham?  Whythis islike olddaysArthur; you haven't been to breakfast with me thesefiveyears."

"Itwas a tempting morning for a ride before breakfast" saidArthur;"and I used to like breakfasting with you so when I wasreadingwith you.  My grandfather is always a few degrees colderatbreakfast than at any other hour in the day.  I think hismorningbath doesn't agree with him."

Arthur wasanxious not to imply that he came with any specialpurpose. He had no sooner found himself in Mr. Irwine's presencethan theconfidence which he had thought quite easy beforesuddenlyappeared the most difficult thing in the world to himand at thevery moment of shaking hands he saw his purpose inquite anew light.  How could he make Irwine understand hispositionunless he told him those little scenes in the wood; andhow couldhe tell them without looking like a fool?  And then hisweaknessin coming back from Gawaine'sand doing the veryoppositeof what he intended!  Irwine would think him a shilly-shallyfellow ever after.  Howeverit must come out in anunpremeditatedway; the conversation might lead up to it.

"Ilike breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day"said Mr.Irwine.  "No dust has settled on one's mind thenand itpresents aclear mirror to the rays of things.  I always have afavouritebook by me at breakfastand I enjoy the bits I pick upthen somuchthat regularly every morning it seems to me as if Ishouldcertainly become studious again.  But presently Dent bringsup a poorfellow who has killed a hareand when I've got throughmy'justicing' as Carroll calls itI'm inclined for a ride roundthe glebeand on my way back I meet with the master of theworkhousewho has got a long story of a mutinous pauper to tellme; and sothe day goes onand I'm always the same lazy fellowbeforeevening sets in.  Besidesone wants the stimulus ofsympathyand I have never had that since poor D'Oyley leftTreddleston. If you had stuck to your books wellyou rascalIshouldhave had a pleasanter prospect before me.  But scholarshipdoesn'trun in your family blood."

"Noindeed.  It's well if I can remember a little inapplicableLatin toadorn my maiden speech in Parliament six or seven yearshence. 'Cras ingens iterabimus aequor' and a few shreds of thatsortwillperhaps stick to meand I shall arrange my opinions soas tointroduce them.  But I don't think a knowledge of theclassicsis a pressing want to a country gentleman; as far as Ican seehe'd much better have a knowledge of manures.  I've beenreadingyour friend Arthur Young's books latelyand there'snothing Ishould like better than to carry out some of his ideasin puttingthe farmers on a better management of their land; andas hesaysmaking what was a wild countryall of the same darkhuebright and variegated with corn and cattle.  My grandfatherwill neverlet me have any power while he livesbut there'snothing Ishould like better than to undertake the Stonyshire sideof theestate--it's in a dismal condition--and set improvements onfootandgallop about from one place to another and overlookthem. I should like to know all the labourersand see themtouchingtheir hats to me with a look of goodwill."

"BravoArthur!  A man who has no feeling for the classicscouldn'tmake a better apology for coming into the world than byincreasingthe quantity of food to maintain scholars--and rectorswhoappreciate scholars.  And whenever you enter on your career ofmodellandlord may I be there to see.  You'll want a portly rectortocomplete the pictureand take his tithe of all the respect andhonour youget by your hard work.  Only don't set your heart toostronglyon the goodwill you are to get in consequence.  I'm notsure thatmen are the fondest of those who try to be useful tothem. You know Gawaine has got the curses of the wholeneighbourhoodupon him about that enclosure.  You must make itquiteclear to your mind which you are most bent uponold boy--popularityor usefulness--else you may happen to miss both."

"Oh! Gawaine is harsh in his manners; he doesn't make himselfpersonallyagreeable to his tenants.  I don't believe there'sanythingyou can't prevail on people to do with kindness.  For mypartIcouldn't live in a neighbourhood where I was not respectedandbeloved.  And it's very pleasant to go among the tenants here--they seemall so well inclined to me I suppose it seems only theother dayto them since I was a little ladriding on a pony aboutas big asa sheep.  And if fair allowances were made to themandtheirbuildings attended toone could persuade them to farm on abetterplanstupid as they are."

"Thenmind you fall in love in the right placeand don't get awife whowill drain your purse and make you niggardly in spite ofyourself. My mother and I have a little discussion about yousometimes:she says'I ll never risk a single prophecy on Arthuruntil Isee the woman he falls in love with.'  She thinks yourlady-lovewill rule you as the moon rules the tides.  But I feelbound tostand up for youas my pupil you knowand I maintainthatyou're not of that watery quality.  So mind you don'tdisgracemy judgment."

Arthurwinced under this speechfor keen old Mrs. Irwine'sopinionabout him had the disagreeable effect of a sinister omen.Thistobe surewas only another reason for persevering in hisintentionand getting an additional security against himself.Neverthelessat this point in the conversationhe was consciousofincreased disinclination to tell his story about Hetty.  He wasof animpressible natureand lived a great deal in other people'sopinionsand feelings concerning himself; and the mere fact thathe was inthe presence of an intimate friendwho had not theslightestnotion that he had had any such serious internalstruggleas he came to confiderather shook his own belief in theseriousnessof the struggle.  It was notafter alla thing tomake afuss about; and what could Irwine do for him that he couldnot do forhimself?  He would go to Eagledale in spite of Meg'slameness--goon Rattlerand let Pym follow as well as he could onthe oldhack.  That was his thought as he sugared his coffee; butthe nextminuteas he was lifting the cup to his lipsherememberedhow thoroughly he had made up his mind last night totellIrwine.  No!  He would not be vacillating again--he WOULDdowhat hehad meant to dothis time.  So it would be well not tolet thepersonal tone of the conversation altogether drop.  Ifthey wentto quite indifferent topicshis difficulty would beheightened. It had required no noticeable pause for this rush andrebound offeelingbefore he answered"But I think it is hardlyanargument against a man's general strength of character that heshould beapt to be mastered by love.  A fine constitution doesn'tinsure oneagainst smallpox or any other of those inevitablediseases. A man may be very firm in other matters and yet beunder asort of witchery from a woman."

"Yes;but there's this difference between love and smallpoxorbewitchmenteither--that if you detect the disease at an earlystage andtry change of airthere is every chance of completeescapewithout any further development of symptoms.  And there arecertainalternative doses which a man may administer to himself bykeepingunpleasant consequences before his mind: this gives you asort ofsmoked glass through which you may look at the resplendentfair oneand discern her true outline; though I'm afraidby thebythesmoked glass is apt to be missing just at the moment it ismostwanted.  I daresaynoweven a man fortified with aknowledgeof the classics might be lured into an imprudentmarriagein spite of the warning given him by the chorus in thePrometheus."

The smilethat flitted across Arthur's face was a faint oneandinstead offollowing Mr. Irwine's playful leadhe saidquiteseriously--"Yesthat's the worst of it.  It's a desperatelyvexatiousthingthat after all one's reflections and quietdeterminationswe should be ruled by moods that one can'tcalculateon beforehand.  I don't think a man ought to be blamedso much ifhe is betrayed into doing things in that wayin spiteof hisresolutions."

"Ahbut the moods lie in his naturemy boyjust as much as hisreflectionsdidand more.  A man can never do anything atvariancewith his own nature.  He carries within him the germ ofhis mostexceptional action; and if we wise people make eminentfools ofourselves on any particular occasionwe must endure thelegitimateconclusion that we carry a few grains of folly to ourounce ofwisdom."

"Wellbut one may be betrayed into doing things by a combinationofcircumstanceswhich one might never have done otherwise."

"Whyyesa man can't very well steal a bank-note unless thebank-notelies within convenient reach; but he won't make us thinkhim anhonest man because he begins to howl at the bank-note forfalling inhis way."

"Butsurely you don't think a man who struggles against atemptationinto which he falls at last as bad as the man who neverstrugglesat all?"

"Nocertainly; I pity him in proportion to his strugglesfortheyforeshadow the inward suffering which is the worst form ofNemesis. Consequences are unpitying.  Our deeds carry theirterribleconsequencesquite apart from any fluctuations that wentbefore--consequencesthat are hardly ever confined to ourselves.And it isbest to fix our minds on that certaintyinstead ofconsideringwhat may be the elements of excuse for us.  But Inever knewyou so inclined for moral discussionArthur?  Is itsomedanger of your own that you are considering in thisphilosophicalgeneral way?"

In askingthis questionMr. Irwine pushed his plate awaythrewhimselfback in his chairand looked straight at Arthur.  Hereallysuspected that Arthur wanted to tell him somethingandthought ofsmoothing the way for him by this direct question.  Buthe wasmistaken.  Brought suddenly and involuntarily to the brinkofconfessionArthur shrank back and felt less disposed towardsit thanever.  The conversation had taken a more serious tone thanhe hadintended--it would quite mislead Irwine--he would imaginethere wasa deep passion for Hettywhile there was no such thing.He wasconscious of colouringand was annoyed at his boyishness.

"Ohnono danger" he said as indifferently as he could.  "Idon't knowthat I am more liable to irresolution than otherpeople;only there are little incidents now and then that set onespeculatingon what might happen in the future."

Was therea motive at work under this strange reluctance ofArthur'swhich had a sort of backstairs influencenot admitted tohimself? Our mental business is carried on much in the same wayas thebusiness of the State: a great deal of hard work is done byagents whoare not acknowledged.  In a piece of machinerytooIbelievethere is often a small unnoticeable wheel which has agreat dealto do with the motion of the large obvious ones.Possiblythere was some such unrecognized agent secretly busy inArthur'smind at this moment--possibly it was the fear lest hemighthereafter find the fact of having made a confession to therector aserious annoyancein case he should NOT be able quite tocarry outhis good resolutions?  I dare not assert that it was notso. The human soul is a very complex thing.

The ideaof Hetty had just crossed Mr. Irwine's mind as he lookedinquiringlyat Arthurbut his disclaiming indifferent answerconfirmedthe thought which had quickly followed--that there couldbe nothingserious in that direction.  There was no probabilitythatArthur ever saw her except at churchand at her own homeunder theeye of Mrs. Poyser; and the hint he had given Arthurabout herthe other day had no more serious meaning than topreventhim from noticing her so as to rouse the little chit'svanityand in this way perturb the rustic drama of her life.Arthurwould soon join his regimentand be far away: notherecould beno danger in that quartereven if Arthur's character hadnot been astrong security against it.  His honestpatronizingpride inthe good-will and respect of everybody about him was asafeguardeven against foolish romancestill more against a lowerkind offolly.  If there had been anything special on Arthur'smind inthe previous conversationit was clear he was notinclinedto enter into detailsand Mr. Irwine was too delicate toimply evena friendly curiosity.  He perceived a change of subjectwould bewelcomeand said"By the wayArthurat your colonel'sbirthdayfete there were some transparencies that made a greateffect inhonour of Britanniaand Pittand the LoamshireMilitiaandabove allthe 'generous youth' the hero of theday. Don't you think you should get up something of the same sorttoastonish our weak minds?"

Theopportunity was gone.  While Arthur was hesitatingthe ropeto whichhe might have clung had drifted away--he must trust nowto his ownswimming.

In tenminutes from that timeMr. Irwine was called for onbusinessand Arthurbidding him good-byemounted his horseagain witha sense of dissatisfactionwhich he tried to quell bydeterminingto set off for Eagledale without an hour's delay.

 

 

BookTwo   ChapterXVII InWhich the Story Pauses a Little

 

"THISRector of Broxton is little better than a pagan!" I hear oneof myreaders exclaim.  "How much more edifying it would havebeenif you hadmade him give Arthur some truly spiritual advice!  Youmight haveput into his mouth the most beautiful things--quite asgood asreading a sermon."

CertainlyI couldif I held it the highest vocation of thenovelistto represent things as they never have been and neverwill be. Thenof courseI might refashion life and characterentirelyafter my own liking; I might select the mostunexceptionabletype of clergyman and put my own admirableopinionsinto his mouth on all occasions.  But it happenson thecontrarythat my strongest effort is to avoid any such arbitrarypictureand to give a faithful account of men and things as theyhavemirrored themselves in my mind.  The mirror is doubtlessdefectivethe outlines will sometimes be disturbedthereflectionfaint or confused; but I feel as much bound to tell youasprecisely as I can what that reflection isas if I were in thewitness-boxnarrating my experience on oath.

Sixtyyears ago--it is a long timeso no wonder things havechanged--allclergymen were not zealous; indeedthere is reasonto believethat the number of zealous clergymen was smalland itisprobable that if one among the small minority had owned thelivings ofBroxton and Hayslope in the year 1799you would haveliked himno better than you like Mr. Irwine.  Ten to oneyouwould havethought him a tastelessindiscreetmethodistical man.It is sovery rarely that facts hit that nice medium required byour ownenlightened opinions and refined taste!  Perhaps you willsay"Doimprove the facts a littlethen; make them moreaccordantwith those correct views which it is our privilege topossess. The world is not just what we like; do touch it up witha tastefulpenciland make believe it is not quite such a mixedentangledaffair.  Let all people who hold unexceptionableopinionsact unexceptionably.  Let your most faulty charactersalways beon the wrong sideand your virtuous ones on the right.Then weshall see at a glance whom we are to condemn and whom weare toapprove.  Then we shall be able to admirewithout theslightestdisturbance of our prepossessions: we shall hate anddespisewith that true ruminant relish which belongs to undoubtingconfidence."

Butmygood friendwhat will you do then with your fellow-parishionerwho opposes your husband in the vestry?  With yournewlyappointed vicarwhose style of preaching you find painfullybelow thatof his regretted predecessor?  With the honest servantwhoworries your soul with her one failing?  With your neighbourMrs.Greenwho was really kind to you in your last illnessbuthas saidseveral ill-natured things about you since yourconvalescence? Naywith your excellent husband himselfwho hasotherirritating habits besides that of not wiping his shoes?Thesefellow-mortalsevery onemust be accepted as they are: youcanneither straighten their nosesnor brighten their witnorrectifytheir dispositions; and it is these people--amongst whomyour lifeis passed--that it is needful you should toleratepityand love:it is these more or less uglystupidinconsistentpeoplewhose movements of goodness you should be able to admire--for whomyou should cherish all possible hopesall possiblepatience. And I would noteven if I had the choicebe theclevernovelist who could create a world so much better than thisin whichwe get up in the morning to do our daily workthat youwould belikely to turn a hardercolder eye on the dusty streetsand thecommon green fields--on the real breathing men and womenwho can bechilled by your indifference or injured by yourprejudice;who can be cheered and helped onward by your fellow-feelingyour forbearanceyour outspokenbrave justice.

So I amcontent to tell my simple storywithout trying to makethingsseem better than they were; dreading nothingindeedbutfalsitywhichin spite of one's best effortsthere is reason todread. Falsehood is so easytruth so difficult.  The pencil isconsciousof a delightful facility in drawing a griffin--thelonger theclawsand the larger the wingsthe better; but thatmarvellousfacility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsakeus when wewant to draw a real unexaggerated lion.  Examine yourwordswelland you will find that even when you have no motive tobe falseit is a very hard thing to say the exact truthevenabout yourown immediate feelings--much harder than to saysomethingfine about them which is NOT the exact truth.

It is forthis rareprecious quality of truthfulness that Idelight inmany Dutch paintingswhich lofty-minded peopledespise. I find a source of delicious sympathy in these faithfulpicturesof a monotonous homely existencewhich has been the fateof so manymore among my fellow-mortals than a life of pomp or ofabsoluteindigenceof tragic suffering or of world-stirringactions. I turnwithout shrinkingfrom cloud-borne angelsfromprophetssibylsand heroic warriorsto an old woman bendingover herflower-potor eating her solitary dinnerwhile thenoondaylightsoftened perhaps by a screen of leavesfalls onhermob-capand just touches the rim of her spinning-wheelandher stonejugand all those cheap common things which are thepreciousnecessaries of life to her--or I turn to that villageweddingkept between four brown wallswhere an awkwardbridegroomopens the dance with a high-shoulderedbroad-facedbridewhile elderly and middle-aged friends look onwith veryirregularnoses and lipsand probably with quart-pots in theirhandsbutwith an expression of unmistakable contentment andgoodwill. "Foh!" says my idealistic friend"what vulgardetails!What goodis there in taking all these pains to give an exactlikenessof old women and clowns?  What a low phase of life!  Whatclumsyugly people!"

But blessusthings may be lovable that are not altogetherhandsomeI hope?  I am not at all sure that the majority of thehuman racehave not been uglyand even among those "lords oftheirkind" the Britishsquat figuresill-shapen nostrilsanddingycomplexions are not startling exceptions.  Yet there is agreat dealof family love amongst us.  I have a friend or twowhoseclass of features is such that the Apollo curl on the summitof theirbrows would be decidedly trying; yet to my certainknowledgetender hearts have beaten for themand theirminiatures--flatteringbut still not lovely--are kissed in secretbymotherly lips.  I have seen many an excellent matronwho couldhave neverin her best days have been handsomeand yet she had apacket ofyellow love-letters in a private drawerand sweetchildrenshowered kisses on her sallow cheeks.  And I believethere havebeen plenty of young heroesof middle stature andfeeblebeardswho have felt quite sure they could never loveanythingmore insignificant than a Dianaand yet have foundthemselvesin middle life happily settled with a wife who waddles.Yes! Thank God; human feeling is like the mighty rivers thatbless theearth: it does not wait for beauty--it flows withresistlessforce and brings beauty with it.

All honourand reverence to the divine beauty of form!  Let uscultivateit to the utmost in menwomenand children--in ourgardensand in our houses.  But let us love that other beauty toowhich liesin no secret of proportionbut in the secret of deephumansympathy.  Paint us an angelif you canwith a floatingvioletrobeand a face paled by the celestial light; paint us yetoftener aMadonnaturning her mild face upward and opening herarms towelcome the divine glory; but do not impose on us anyaestheticrules which shall banish from the region of Art thoseold womenscraping carrots with their work-worn handsthose heavyclownstaking holiday in a dingy pot-housethose rounded backsand stupidweather-beaten faces that have bent over the spade anddone therough work of the world--those homes with their tin panstheirbrown pitcherstheir rough cursand their clusters ofonions. In this world there are so many of these common coarsepeoplewho have no picturesque sentimental wretchedness!  It isso needfulwe should remember their existenceelse we may happento leavethem quite out of our religion and philosophy and frameloftytheories which only fit a world of extremes.  ThereforeletArt alwaysremind us of them; therefore let us always have menready togive the loving pains of a life to the faithfulrepresentingof commonplace things--men who see beauty in thesecommonplacethingsand delight in showing how kindly the light ofheavenfalls on them.  There are few prophets in the world; fewsublimelybeautiful women; few heroes.  I can't afford to give allmy loveand reverence to such rarities: I want a great deal ofthosefeelings for my every-day fellow-menespecially for the fewin theforeground of the great multitudewhose faces I knowwhosehands I touch for whom I have to make way with kindlycourtesy. Neither are picturesque lazzaroni or romantic criminalshalf sofrequent as your common labourerwho gets his own breadand eatsit vulgarly but creditably with his own pocket-knife.  Itis moreneedful that I should have a fibre of sympathy connectingme withthat vulgar citizen who weighs out my sugar in a vilelyassortedcravat and waistcoatthan with the handsomest rascal inred scarfand green feathers--more needful that my heart shouldswell withloving admiration at some trait of gentle goodness inthe faultypeople who sit at the same hearth with meor in theclergymanof my own parishwho is perhaps rather too corpulentand inother respects is not an Oberlin or a Tillotsonthan atthe deedsof heroes whom I shall never know except by hearsayorat thesublimest abstract of all clerical graces that was everconceivedby an able novelist.

And so Icome back to Mr. Irwinewith whom I desire you to be inperfectcharityfar as he may be from satisfying your demands ontheclerical character.  Perhaps you think he was not--as he oughtto havebeen--a living demonstration of the benefits attached to anationalchurch?  But I am not sure of that; at least I know thatthe peoplein Broxton and Hayslope would have been very sorry topart withtheir clergymanand that most faces brightened at hisapproach;and until it can be proved that hatred is a better thingfor thesoul than loveI must believe that Mr. Irwine's influencein hisparish was a more wholesome one than that of the zealousMr. Rydewho came there twenty years afterwardswhen Mr. Irwinehad beengathered to his fathers.  It is trueMr. Ryde insistedstronglyon the doctrines of the Reformationvisited his flock agreat dealin their own homesand was severe in rebuking theaberrationsof the flesh--put a stopindeedto the Christmasrounds ofthe church singersas promoting drunkenness and toolight ahandling of sacred things.  But I gathered from Adam Bedeto whom Italked of these matters in his old agethat fewclergymencould be less successful in winning the hearts of theirparishionersthan Mr. Ryde.  They learned a great many notionsaboutdoctrine from himso that almost every church-goer underfiftybegan to distinguish as well between the genuine gospel andwhat didnot come precisely up to that standardas if he had beenborn andbred a Dissenter; and for some time after his arrivalthereseemed to be quite a religious movement in that quiet ruraldistrict. "But" said Adam"I've seen pretty clearever sinceIwas ayoung unas religion's something else besides notions.  Itisn'tnotions sets people doing the right thing--it's feelings.It's thesame with the notions in religion as it is withmath'matics--aman may be able to work problems straight off in'shead as hesits by the fire and smokes his pipebut if he has tomake amachine or a buildinghe must have a will and a resolutionand lovesomething else better than his own ease.  Somehowthecongregationbegan to fall offand people began to speak light o'Mr. Ryde. I believe he meant right at bottom; butyou seehewassourish-temperedand was for beating down prices with thepeople asworked for him; and his preaching wouldn't go down wellwith thatsauce.  And he wanted to be like my lord judge i' theparishpunishing folks for doing wrong; and he scolded 'em fromthe pulpitas if he'd been a Ranterand yet he couldn't abide theDissentersand was a deal more set against 'em than Mr. Irwinewas. And then he didn't keep within his incomefor he seemed tothink atfirst go-off that six hundred a-year was to make him asbig a manas Mr. Donnithorne.  That's a sore mischief I've oftenseen withthe poor curates jumping into a bit of a living all of asudden. Mr. Ryde was a deal thought on at a distanceI believeand hewrote booksbut as for math'matics and the natur o'thingshewas as ignorant as a woman.  He was very knowing aboutdoctrinesand used to call 'em the bulwarks of the Reformation;but I'vealways mistrusted that sort o' learning as leaves folksfoolishand unreasonable about business.  Now Mester Irwine was asdifferentas could be: as quick!--he understood what you meant ina minuteand he knew all about buildingand could see when you'dmade agood job.  And he behaved as much like a gentleman to thefarmersand th' old womenand the labourersas he did to thegentry. You never saw HIM interfering and scoldingand trying toplay th'emperor.  Ahhe was a fine man as ever you set eyes on;and sokind to's mother and sisters.  That poor sickly Miss Anne--he seemedto think more of her than of anybody else in the world.Therewasn't a soul in the parish had a word to say against him;and hisservants stayed with him till they were so old andpotteringhe had to hire other folks to do their work."

"Well"I said"that was an excellent way of preaching in theweekdays;but I daresayif your old friend Mr. Irwine were tocome tolife againand get into the pulpit next Sundayyou wouldbe ratherashamed that he didn't preach better after all yourpraise ofhim."

"Naynay" said Adambroadening his chest and throwing himselfback inhis chairas if he were ready to meet all inferences"nobodyhas ever heard me say Mr. Irwine was much of a preacher.He didn'tgo into deep speritial experience; and I know there s adeal in aman's inward life as you can't measure by the squareand say'Do this and that 'll follow' and'Do that and this 'llfollow.' There's things go on in the souland times whenfeelingscome into you like a rushing mighty windas theScripturesaysand part your life in two a'mostso you look backonyourself as if you was somebody else.  Those are things as youcan'tbottle up in a 'do this' and 'do that'; and I'll go so farwith thestrongest Methodist ever you'll find.  That shows methere'sdeep speritial things in religion.  You can't make muchout wi'talking about itbut you feel it.  Mr. Irwine didn't gointo thosethings--he preached short moral sermonsand that wasall. But then he acted pretty much up to what he said; he didn'tset up forbeing so different from other folks one dayand thenbe as like'em as two peas the next.  And he made folks love himandrespect himand that was better nor stirring up their gallwi' beingoverbusy.  Mrs. Poyser used to say--you know she wouldhave herword about everything--she saidMr. Irwine was like agood mealo' victualyou were the better for him without thinkingon itandMr. Ryde was like a dose o' physiche gripped you andworretedyouand after all he left you much the same."

"Butdidn't Mr. Ryde preach a great deal more about that spiritualpart ofreligion that you talk ofAdam?  Couldn't you get moreout of hissermons than out of Mr. Irwine's?"

"EhI knowna.  He preached a deal about doctrines.  But I'veseenprettyclearever since I was a young unas religion's somethingelsebesides doctrines and notions.  I look at it as if thedoctrineswas like finding names for your feelingsso as you cantalk of'em when you've never known 'emjust as a man may talk o'tools whenhe knows their namesthough he's never so much as seen'emstillless handled 'em.  I've heard a deal o' doctrine i' mytimeforI used to go after the Dissenting preachers along wi'SethwhenI was a lad o' seventeenand got puzzling myself adeal aboutth' Arminians and the Calvinists.  The Wesleyansyouknowarestrong Arminians; and Sethwho could never abideanythingharsh and was always for hoping the bestheld fast bytheWesleyans from the very first; but I thought I could pick ahole ortwo in their notionsand I got disputing wi' one o' theclassleaders down at Treddles'onand harassed him sofirst o'this sideand then o' thattill at last he said'Young manit'sthe devilmaking use o' your pride and conceit as a weapon to waragainstthe simplicity o' the truth.'  I couldn't help laughingthenbutas I was going homeI thought the man wasn't far wrong.I began tosee as all this weighing and sifting what this textmeans andthat text meansand whether folks are saved all byGod'sgraceor whether there goes an ounce o' their own willto'twasno part o' real religion at all.  You may talk o' thesethings forhours on endand you'll only be all the more coxy andconceitedfor't.  So I took to going nowhere but to churchandhearingnobody but Mr. Irwinefor he said notning but what wasgood andwhat you'd be the wiser for remembering.  And I found itbetter formy soul to be humble before the mysteries o' God'sdealingsand not be making a clatter about what I could neverunderstand. And they're poor foolish questions after all; forwhat havewe got either inside or outside of us but what comesfrom God? If we've got a resolution to do rightHe gave it usIreckonfirst or last; but I see plain enough we shall never do itwithout aresolutionand that's enough for me."

Adamyouperceivewas a warm admirerperhaps a partial judgeof Mr.Irwineashappilysome of us still are of the people wehave knownfamiliarly.  Doubtless it will be despised as aweaknessby that lofty order of minds who pant after the idealand areoppressed by a general sense that their emotions are oftooexquisite a character to find fit objects among their everydayfellowmen. I have often been favoured with the confidence oftheseselect naturesand find them to concur in the experiencethat greatmen are overestimated and small men are insupportable;that ifyou would love a woman without ever looking back on yourlove as afollyshe must die while you are courting her; and ifyou wouldmaintain the slightest belief in human heroismyou mustnever makea pilgrimage to see the hero.  I confess I have oftenmeanlyshrunk from confessing to these accomplished and acutegentlemenwhat my own experience has been.  I am afraid I haveoftensmiled with hypocritical assentand gratified them with anepigram onthe fleeting nature of our illusionswhich any onemoderatelyacquainted with French literature can command at amoment'snotice.  Human converseI think some wise man hasremarkedis not rigidly sincere.  But I herewith discharge myconscienceand declare that I have had quite enthusiasticmovementsof admiration towards old gentlemen who spoke the worstEnglishwho were occasionally fretful in their temperand whohad nevermoved in a higher sphere of influence than that ofparishoverseer; and that the way in which I have come to theconclusionthat human nature is lovable--the way I have learntsomethingof its deep pathosits sublime mysteries--has been byliving agreat deal among people more or less commonplace andvulgarofwhom you would perhaps hear nothing very surprising ifyou wereto inquire about them in the neighbourhoods where theydwelt. Ten to one most of the small shopkeepers in their vicinitysawnothing at all in them.  For I have observed this remarkablecoincidencethat the select natures who pant after the idealandfindnothing in pantaloons or petticoats great enough to commandtheirreverence and loveare curiously in unison with thenarrowestand pettiest.  For exampleI have often heard Mr.Gedgethelandlord of the Royal Oakwho used to turn a bloodshoteye on hisneighbours in the village of Sheppertonsum up hisopinion ofthe people in his own parish--and they were all thepeople heknew--in these emphatic words: "AyesirI've said itoftenandI'll say it againthey're a poor lot i' this parish--apoor lotsirbig and little."  I think he had a dim idea that ifhe couldmigrate to a distant parishhe might find neighboursworthy ofhim; and indeed he did subsequently transfer himself totheSaracen's Headwhich was doing a thriving business in thebackstreet of a neighbouring market-town.  Butoddly enoughhehas foundthe people up that back street of precisely the samestamp asthe inhabitants of Shepperton--"a poor lotsirbig andlittleand them as comes for a go o' gin are no better than themas comesfor a pint o' twopenny--a poor lot."

 

 ChapterXVIII Church

 

"HETTYHettydon't you know church begins at twoand it's gonehalf afterone a'ready?  Have you got nothing better to think onthis goodSunday as poor old Thias Bede's to be put into thegroundand him drownded i' th' dead o' the nightas it's enoughto makeone's back run coldbut you must be 'dizening yourself asif therewas a wedding i'stid of a funeral?"

"WellAunt" said Hetty"I can't be ready so soon as everybodyelsewhenI've got Totty's things to put on.  And I'd ever suchwork tomake her stand still."

Hetty wascoming downstairsand Mrs. Poyserin her plain bonnetand shawlwas standing below.  If ever a girl looked as if shehad beenmade of rosesthat girl was Hetty in her Sunday hat andfrock. For her hat was trimmed with pinkand her frock had pinkspotssprinkled on a white ground.  There was nothing but pinkand whiteabout herexcept in her dark hair and eyes and herlittlebuckled shoes.  Mrs. Poyser was provoked at herselfforshe couldhardly keep from smilingas any mortal is inclined todo at thesight of pretty round things.  So she turned withoutspeakingand joined the group outside the house doorfollowed byHettywhose heart was fluttering so at the thought of some onesheexpected to see at church that she hardly felt the ground shetrod on.

And nowthe little procession set off.  Mr. Poyser was in hisSundaysuit of drabwith a red-and-green waistcoat and a greenwatch-ribbonhaving a large cornelian seal attachedpendant likeaplumb-line from that promontory where his watch-pocket wassituated;a silk handkerchief of a yellow tone round his neck; andexcellentgrey ribbed stockingsknitted by Mrs. Poyser's ownhandsetting off the proportions of his leg.  Mr. Poyser had noreason tobe ashamed of his legand suspected that the growingabuse oftop-boots and other fashions tending to disguise thenetherlimbs had their origin in a pitiable degeneracy of thehumancalf.  Still less had he reason to be ashamed of his roundjollyfacewhich was good humour itself as he said"ComeHetty--comelittle uns!" and giving his arm to his wifeled the waythroughthe causeway gate into the yard.

The"little uns" addressed were Marty and Tommyboys of nineandseveninlittle fustian tailed coats and knee-breechesrelievedby rosycheeks and black eyeslooking as much like their fatheras a verysmall elephant is like a very large one.  Hetty walkedbetweenthemand behind came patient Mollywhose task it was tocarryTotty through the yard and over all the wet places on theroad; forTottyhaving speedily recovered from her threatenedfeverhadinsisted on going to church to-dayand especially onwearingher red-and-black necklace outside her tippet.  And therewere manywet places for her to be carried over this afternoonfor therehad been heavy showers in the morningthough now theclouds hadrolled off and lay in towering silvery masses on thehorizon.

You mighthave known it was Sunday if you had only waked up in thefarmyard. The cocks and hens seemed to know itand made onlycrooningsubdued noises; the very bull-dog looked less savageasif hewould have been satisfied with a smaller bite than usual.Thesunshine seemed to call all things to rest and not to labour.It wasasleep itself on the moss-grown cow-shed; on the group ofwhiteducks nestling together with their bills tucked under theirwings; onthe old black sow stretched languidly on the strawwhile herlargest young one found an excellent spring-bed on hismother'sfat ribs; on Alickthe shepherdin his new smock-frocktaking anuneasy siestahalf-sittinghalf-standing on thegranarysteps.  Alick was of opinion that churchlike otherluxurieswas not to be indulged in often by a foreman who had theweatherand the ewes on his mind.  "Church!  Nay--I'n gottensummatelse to think on" was an answer which he often uttered ina tone ofbitter significance that silenced further question.  Ifeel sureAlick meant no irreverence; indeedI know that his mindwas not ofa speculativenegative castand he would on noaccounthave missed going to church on Christmas DayEasterSundayand "Whissuntide."  But he had a general impressionthatpublicworship and religious ceremonieslike other non-productiveemploymentswere intended for people who had leisure.

"There'sFather a-standing at the yard-gate" said Martin Poyser."Ireckon he wants to watch us down the field.  It's wonderfulwhat sighthe hasand him turned seventy-five."

"AhI often think it's wi' th' old folks as it is wi' thebabbies"said Mrs. Poyser; "they're satisfied wi' lookingnomatterwhat they're looking at.  It's God A'mighty's way o'quietening'emI reckonafore they go to sleep."

Old Martinopened the gate as he saw the family processionapproachingand held it wide openleaning on his stick--pleasedto do thisbit of work; forlike all old men whose life has beenspent inlabourhe liked to feel that he was still useful--thatthere wasa better crop of onions in the garden because he was byat thesowing--and that the cows would be milked the better if hestayed athome on a Sunday afternoon to look on.  He always wentto churchon Sacrament Sundaysbut not very regularly at othertimes; onwet Sundaysor whenever he had a touch of rheumatismhe used toread the three first chapters of Genesis instead.

"They'llha' putten Thias Bede i' the ground afore ye get to thechurchyard"he saidas his son came up.  "It 'ud ha' been betterluck ifthey'd ha' buried him i' the forenoon when the rain wasfallin';there's no likelihoods of a drop now; an' the moon lieslike aboat theredost see?  That's a sure sign o' fair weather--there's amany as is false but that's sure."

"Ayeaye" said the son"I'm in hopes it'll hold up now."

"Mindwhat the parson saysmind what the parson saysmy lads"saidGrandfather to the black-eyed youngsters in knee-breechesconsciousof a marble or two in their pockets which they lookedforward tohandlinga littlesecretlyduring the sermon.

"Dood-byeDandad" said Totty.  "Me doin' to church.  Medot mynetlaceon.  Dive me a peppermint."

Grandadshaking with laughter at this "deep little wench" slowlytransferredhis stick to his left handwhich held the gate openand slowlythrust his finger into the waistcoat pocket on whichTotty hadfixed her eyes with a confident look of expectation.

And whenthey were all gonethe old man leaned on the gate againwatchingthem across the lane along the Home Closeand throughthe fargatetill they disappeared behind a bend in the hedge.For thehedgerows in those days shut out one's vieweven on thebetter-managedfarms; and this afternoonthe dog-roses weretossingout their pink wreathsthe nightshade was in its yellowand purpleglorythe pale honeysuckle grew out of reachpeepinghigh upout of a holly bushand over all an ash or a sycamoreevery nowand then threw its shadow across the path.

There wereacquaintances at other gates who had to move aside andlet thempass: at the gate of the Home Close there was half thedairy ofcows standing one behind the otherextremely slow tounderstandthat their large bodies might be in the way; at the fargate therewas the mare holding her head over the barsand besideher theliver-coloured foal with its head towards its mother'sflankapparently still much embarrassed by its own straddlingexistence. The way lay entirely through Mr. Poyser's own fieldstill theyreached the main road leading to the villageand heturned akeen eye on the stock and the crops as they went alongwhile Mrs.Poyser was ready to supply a running commentary on themall. The woman who manages a dairy has a large share in makingthe rentso she may well be allowed to have her opinion on stockand their"keep"--an exercise which strengthens her understandingso muchthat she finds herself able to give her husband advice onmost othersubjects.

"There'sthat shorthorned Sally" she saidas they entered theHomeCloseand she caught sight of the meek beast that laychewingthe cud and looking at her with a sleepy eye.  "I begin tohate thesight o' the cow; and I say now what I said three weeksagothesooner we get rid of her the betterfor there's thatlittleyallow cow as doesn't give half the milkand yet I'vetwice asmuch butter from her."

"Whythee't not like the women in general" said Mr. Poyser;"theylike the shorthornsas give such a lot o' milk.  There'sChowne'swife wants him to buy no other sort."

"What'sit sinnify what Chowne's wife likes?  A poor soft thingwi' nomore head-piece nor a sparrow.  She'd take a big cullenderto strainher lard wi'and then wonder as the scratchin's runthrough. I've seen enough of her to know as I'll niver take aservantfrom her house again--all hugger-mugger--and you'd niverknowwhenyou went inwhether it was Monday or Fridaythe washdraggin'on to th' end o' the week; and as for her cheeseI knowwellenough it rose like a loaf in a tin last year.  And then shetalks o'the weather bein' i' faultas there's folks 'ud stand ontheirheads and then say the fault was i' their boots."

"WellChowne's been wanting to buy Sallyso we can get rid ofher ifthee lik'st" said Mr. Poysersecretly proud of his wife'ssuperiorpower of putting two and two together; indeedon recentmarket-dayshe had more than once boasted of her discernment inthis verymatter of shorthorns.  "Ayethem as choose a soft for awife may'swell buy up the shorthornsfor if you get your headstuck in abogyour legs may's well go after it.  Eh!  Talk o'legsthere's legs for you" Mrs. Poyser continuedas Tottywhohad beenset down now the road was drytoddled on in front of herfather andmother.  "There's shapes!  An' she's got such a longfootshe'll be her father's own child."

"Ayeshe'll be welly such a one as Hetty i' ten years' timeon'yshe's gotTHY coloured eyes.  I niver remember a blue eye i' myfamily; mymother had eyes as black as sloesjust like Hetty's."

"Thechild 'ull be none the worse for having summat as isn't likeHetty. An' I'm none for having her so overpretty.  Though for thematter o'thatthere's people wi' light hair an' blue eyes aspretty asthem wi' black.  If Dinah had got a bit o' colour in hercheeksan' didn't stick that Methodist cap on her headenough tofrightenthe cowsfolks 'ud think her as pretty as Hetty."

"Naynay" said Mr. Poyserwith rather a contemptuous emphasis"theedostna know the pints of a woman.  The men 'ud niver runafterDinah as they would after Hetty."

"Whatcare I what the men 'ud run after?  It's well seen whatchoice themost of 'em know how to makeby the poor draggle-tailso' wivesyou seelike bits o' gauze ribbingood for nothing whenthecolour's gone."

"Wellwellthee canstna say but what I knowed how to make achoicewhen I married thee" said Mr. Poyserwho usually settledlittleconjugal disputes by a compliment of this sort; "and theewast twiceas buxom as Dinah ten year ago."

"Iniver said as a woman had need to be ugly to make a good missisof ahouse.  There's Chowne's wife ugly enough to turn the milkan' savethe rennetbut she'll niver save nothing any other way.But as forDinahpoor childshe's niver likely to be buxom aslong asshe'll make her dinner o' cake and waterfor the sake o'giving tothem as want.  She provoked me past bearing sometimes;andas Itold hershe went clean again' the Scriptur'for thatsays'Love your neighbour as yourself'; 'but' I said'if youloved yourneighbour no better nor you do yourselfDinahit'slittleenough you'd do for him.  You'd be thinking he might dowellenough on a half-empty stomach.'  EhI wonder where she isthisblessed Sunday!  Sitting by that sick womanI daresayasshe'd sether heart on going to all of a sudden."

"Ahit was a pity she should take such megrims into her headwhen shemight ha' stayed wi' us all summerand eaten twice asmuch asshe wantedand it 'ud niver ha' been missed.  She made noodds inth' house at allfor she sat as still at her sewing as abird onthe nestand was uncommon nimble at running to fetchanything. If Hetty gets marriedtheed'st like to ha' Dinah wi'theeconstant."

"It'sno use thinking o' that" said Mrs. Poyser.  "Youmight aswellbeckon to the flying swallow as ask Dinah to come an' liveherecomfortablelike other folks.  If anything could turn herIshould ha'turned herfor I've talked to her for a hour on endandscolded her too; for she's my own sister's childand itbehoves meto do what I can for her.  But ehpoor thingas soonas she'dsaid us 'good-bye' an' got into the cartan' looked backat me withher pale faceas is welly like her Aunt Judith comeback fromheavenI begun to be frightened to think o' the set-downs I'dgiven her; for it comes over you sometimes as if she'd away o'knowing the rights o' things more nor other folks have.But I'llniver give in as that's 'cause she's a Methodistno morenor awhite calf's white 'cause it eats out o' the same bucket wi'a blackun."

"Nay"said Mr. Poyserwith as near an approach to a snarl as hisgood-naturewould allow; "I'm no opinion o' the Methodists.  It'son'ytradesfolks as turn Methodists; you nuver knew a farmerbitten wi'them maggots.  There's maybe a workman now an' thenasisn'toverclever at's worktakes to preachin' an' thatlike SethBede. But you see Adamas has got one o' the best head-pieceshereaboutknows better; he's a good Churchmanelse I'd neverencouragehim for a sweetheart for Hetty."

"Whygoodness me" said Mrs. Poyserwho had looked back whileherhusband was speaking"look where Molly is with them lads!They'rethe field's length behind us.  How COULD you let 'em dosoHetty?  Anybody might as well set a pictur' to watch thechildrenas you.  Run back and tell 'em to come on."

Mr. andMrs. Poyser were now at the end of the second fieldsothey setTotty on the top of one of the large stones forming thetrueLoamshire stileand awaited the loiterers Totty observingwithcomplacency"Dey naughtynaughty boys--me dood."

The factwas that this Sunday walk through the fields was fraughtwith greatexcitement to Marty and Tommywho saw a perpetualdramagoing on in the hedgerowsand could no more refrain fromstoppingand peeping than if they had been a couple of spaniels orterriers. Marty was quite sure he saw a yellow-hammer on theboughs ofthe great ashand while he was peepinghe missed thesight of awhite-throated stoatwhich had run across the path andwasdescribed with much fervour by the junior Tommy.  Then therewas alittle greenfinchjust fledgedfluttering along thegroundand it seemed quite possible to catch ittill it managedto flutterunder the blackberry bush.  Hetty could not be got togive anyheed to these thingsso Molly was called on for herreadysympathyand peeped with open mouth wherever she was toldand said"Lawks!" whenever she was expected to wonder.

Mollyhastened on with some alarm when Hetty had come back andcalled tothem that her aunt was angry; but Marty ran on firstshouting"We've found the speckled turkey's nestMother!" withtheinstinctive confidence that people who bring good news arenever infault.

"Ah"said Mrs. Poyserreally forgetting all discipline in thispleasantsurprise"that's a good lad; whywhere is it?"

"Downin ever such a holeunder the hedge.  I saw it firstlookingafter the greenfinchand she sat on th' nest."

"Youdidn't frighten herI hope" said the mother"else she'llforsakeit."

"NoI went away as still as stilland whispered to Molly--didn'tIMolly?"

"Wellwellnow come on" said Mrs. Poyser"and walk beforeFather andMotherand take your little sister by the hand.  Wemust gostraight on now.  Good boys don't look after the birds ofa Sunday."

"ButMother" said Marty"you said you'd give half-a-crown tofind thespeckled turkey's nest.  Mayn't I have the half-crown putinto mymoney-box?"

"We'llsee about thatmy ladif you walk along nowlike a goodboy."

The fatherand mother exchanged a significant glance of amusementat theireldest-born's acuteness; but on Tommy's round face therewas acloud.

"Mother"he saidhalf-crying"Marty's got ever so much moremoney inhis box nor I've got in mine."

"Munnyme want half-a-toun in my bots" said Totty.

"Hushhushhush" said Mrs. Poyser"did ever anybody hear suchnaughtychildren?  Nobody shall ever see their money-boxes anymoreifthey don't make haste and go on to church."

Thisdreadful threat had the desired effectand through the tworemainingfields the three pair of small legs trotted on withoutanyserious interruptionnotwithstanding a small pond full oftadpolesalias "bullheads" which the lads looked at wistfully.

The damphay that must be scattered and turned afresh to-morrowwas not acheering sight to Mr. Poyserwho during hay and cornharvesthad often some mental struggles as to the benefits of aday ofrest; but no temptation would have induced him to carry onanyfield-workhowever early in the morningon a Sunday; for hadnotMichael Holdsworth had a pair of oxen "sweltered" while hewasploughingon Good Friday?  That was a demonstration that work onsacreddays was a wicked thing; and with wickedness of any sortMartinPoyser was quite clear that he would have nothing to dosincemoney got by such means would never prosper.

"Ita'most makes your fingers itch to be at the hay now the sunshinesso" he observedas they passed through the "Big Meadow.""Butit's poor foolishness to think o' saving by going againstyourconscience.  There's that Jim Wakefieldas they used to call'GentlemanWakefield' used to do the same of a Sunday as o'weekdaysand took no heed to right or wrongas if there wasnaytherGod nor devil.  An' what's he come to?  WhyI saw himmyselflast market-day a-carrying a basket wi' oranges in't."

"Ahto be sure" said Mrs. Poyseremphatically"you make butapoor trapto catch luck if you go and bait it wi' wickedness.  Themoney asis got so's like to burn holes i' your pocket.  I'd niverwish us toleave our lads a sixpence but what was got i' therightfulway.  And as for the weatherthere's One above makes itand wemust put up wi't: it's nothing of a plague to what thewenchesare."

Notwithstandingthe interruption in their walkthe excellenthabitwhich Mrs. Poyser's clock had of taking time by the forelockhadsecured their arrival at the village while it was still aquarter totwothough almost every one who meant to go to churchwasalready within the churchyard gates.  Those who stayed at homewerechiefly motherslike Timothy's Besswho stood at her owndoornursing her baby and feeling as women feel in that position--thatnothing else can be expected of them.

It was notentirely to see Thias Bede's funeral that the peoplewerestanding about the churchyard so long before service began;that wastheir common practice.  The womenindeedusuallyenteredthe church at onceand the farmers' wives talked in anundertoneto each otherover the tall pewsabout their illnessesand thetotal failure of doctor's stuffrecommending dandelion-teaandother home-made specificsas far preferable--about theservantsand their growing exorbitance as to wageswhereas thequality oftheir services declined from year to yearand therewas nogirl nowadays to be trusted any further than you could seeher--aboutthe bad price Mr. Dingallthe Treddleston grocerwasgiving forbutterand the reasonable doubts that might be held asto hissolvencynotwithstanding that Mrs. Dingall was a sensiblewomanandthey were all sorry for HERfor she had very good kin.Meantimethe men lingered outsideand hardly any of them exceptthesingerswho had a humming and fragmentary rehearsal to gothroughentered the church until Mr. Irwine was in the desk.They sawno reason for that premature entrance--what could they doin churchif they were there before service began?--and they didnotconceive that any power in the universe could take it ill ofthem ifthey stayed out and talked a little about "bus'ness."

ChadCranage looks like quite a new acquaintance to-dayfor hehas gothis clean Sunday facewhich always makes his littlegranddaughtercry at him as a stranger.  But an experienced eyewould havefixed on him at once as the village blacksmithafterseeing thehumble deference with which the big saucy fellow tookoff hishat and stroked his hair to the farmers; for Chad wasaccustomedto say that a working-man must hold a candle to apersonageunderstood to be as black as he was himself on weekdays;by whichevil-sounding rule of conduct he meant what wasafterallrather virtuous than otherwisenamelythat men who hadhorses tobe shod must be treated with respect.  Chad and theroughersort of workmen kept aloof from the grave under the whitethornwhere the burial was going forward; but Sandy Jimandseveral ofthe farm-labourersmade a group round itand stoodwith theirhats offas fellow-mourners with the mother and sons.Othersheld a midway positionsometimes watching the group at thegravesometimes listening to the conversation of the farmerswhostood in aknot near the church doorand were now joined byMartinPoyserwhile his family passed into the church.  On theoutside ofthis knot stood Mr. Cassonthe landlord of theDonnithorneArmsin his most striking attitude--that is to saywith theforefinger of his right hand thrust between the buttonsof hiswaistcoathis left hand in his breeches pocketand hishead verymuch on one side; lookingon the wholelike an actorwho hasonly a mono-syllabic part entrusted to himbut feels surethat theaudience discern his fitness for the leading business;curiouslyin contrast with old Jonathan Burgewho held his handsbehind himand leaned forwardcoughing asthmaticallywith aninwardscorn of all knowingness that could not be turned intocash. The talk was in rather a lower tone than usual to-dayhushed alittle by the sound of Mr. Irwine's voice reading thefinalprayers of the burial-service.  They had all had their wordof pityfor poor Thiasbut now they had got upon the nearersubject oftheir own grievances against Satchellthe Squire'sbailiffwho played the part of steward so far as it was notperformedby old Mr. Donnithorne himselffor that gentleman hadthemeanness to receive his own rents and make bargains about hisowntimber.  This subject of conversation was an additional reasonfor notbeing loudsince Satchell himself might presently bewalking upthe paved road to the church door.  And soon theybecamesuddenly silent; for Mr. Irwine's voice had ceasedand thegroupround the white thorn was dispersing itself towards thechurch.

They allmoved asideand stood with their hats offwhile Mr.Irwinepassed.  Adam and Seth were coming nextwith their motherbetweenthem; for Joshua Rann officiated as head sexton as well asclerkandwas not yet ready to follow the rector into the vestry.But therewas a pause before the three mourners came on: Lisbethhad turnedround to look again towards the grave!  Ah!  There wasnothingnow but the brown earth under the white thorn.  Yet shecried lessto-day than she had done any day since her husband'sdeath. Along with all her grief there was mixed an unusual senseof her ownimportance in having a "burial" and in Mr. Irwine'sreading aspecial service for her husband; and besidesshe knewthefuneral psalm was going to be sung for him.  She felt thiscounter-excitementto her sorrow still more strongly as she walkedwith hersons towards the church doorand saw the friendlysympatheticnods of their fellow-parishioners.

The motherand sons passed into the churchand one by one theloiterersfollowedthough some still lingered without; the sightof Mr.Donnithorne's carriagewhich was winding slowly up thehillperhaps helping to make them feel that there was no need forhaste.

Butpresently the sound of the bassoon and the key-bugles burstforth; theevening hymnwhich always opened the servicehadbegunandevery one must now enter and take his place.

I cannotsay that the interior of Hayslope Church was remarkableforanything except for the grey age of its oaken pews--greatsquarepews mostlyranged on each side of a narrow aisle.  It wasfreeindeedfrom the modern blemish of galleries.  The choir hadtwo narrowpews to themselves in the middle of the right-hand rowso that itwas a short process for Joshua Rann to take his placeamong themas principal bassand return to his desk after thesingingwas over.  The pulpit and deskgrey and old as the pewsstood onone side of the arch leading into the chancelwhich alsohad itsgrey square pews for Mr. Donnithorne's family andservants. Yet I assure you these grey pewswith the buff-washedwallsgave a very pleasing tone to this shabby interiorandagreedextremely well with the ruddy faces and bright waistcoats.And therewere liberal touches of crimson toward the chancelforthe pulpitand Mr. Donnithorne's own pew had handsome crimsonclothcushions; andto close the vistathere was a crimsonaltar-clothembroidered with golden rays by Miss Lydia's ownhand.

But evenwithout the crimson cloththe effect must have been warmandcheering when Mr. Irwine was in the desklooking benignlyround onthat simple congregation--on the hardy old menwith bentknees andshouldersperhapsbut with vigour left for much hedge-clippingand thatching; on the tall stalwart frames and roughlycutbronzed faces of the stone-cutters and carpenters; on thehalf-dozenwell-to-do farmerswith their apple-cheeked families;and on theclean old womenmostly farm-labourers' wiveswiththeir bitof snow-white cap-border under their black bonnetsandwith theirwithered armsbare from the elbowfolded passivelyover theirchests.  For none of the old people held books--whyshouldthey?  Not one of them could read.  But they knew a few"goodwords" by heartand their withered lips now and then movedsilentlyfollowing the service without any very clearcomprehensionindeedbut with a simple faith in its efflcacy toward offharm and bring blessing.  And now all faces were visiblefor allwere standing up--the little children on the seats peepingover theedge of the grey pewswhile good Bishop Ken's eveninghymn wasbeing sung to one of those lively psalm-tunes which diedout withthe last generation of rectors and choral parish clerks.Melodiesdie outlike the pipe of Panwith the ears that lovethem andlisten for them.  Adam was not in his usual place amongthesingers to-dayfor he sat with his mother and Sethand henoticedwith surprise that Bartle Massey was absent too--all themoreagreeable for Mr. Joshua Rannwho gave out his bass noteswithunusual complacency and threw an extra ray of severity intotheglances he sent over his spectacles at the recusant WillMaskery.

I beseechyou to imagine Mr. Irwine looking round on this scenein hisample white surplice that became him so wellwith hispowderedhair thrown backhis rich brown complexionand hisfinely cutnostril and upper lip; for there was a certain virtuein thatbenignant yet keen countenance as there is in all humanfaces fromwhich a generous soul beams out.  And over all streamedthedelicious June sunshine through the old windowswith theirdesultorypatches of yellowredand bluethat threw pleasanttouches ofcolour on the opposite wall.

I thinkas Mr. Irwine looked round to-dayhis eyes rested aninstantlonger than usual on the square pew occupied by MartinPoyser andhis family.  And there was another pair of dark eyesthat foundit impossible not to wander thitherand rest on thatroundpink-and-white figure.  But Hetty was at that moment quitecarelessof any glances--she was absorbed in the thought thatArthurDonnithorne would soon be coming into churchfor thecarriagemust surely be at the church-gate by this time.  She hadnever seenhim since she parted with him in the wood on Thursdayeveningand ohhow long the time had seemed!  Things had gone onjust thesame as ever since that evening; the wonders that hadhappenedthen had brought no changes after them; they were alreadylike adream.  When she heard the church door swingingher heartbeat soshe dared not look up.  She felt that her aunt wascurtsying;she curtsied herself.  That must be old Mr.Donnithorne--healways came firstthe wrinkled small old manpeeringround with short-sighted glances at the bowing andcurtsyingcongregation; then she knew Miss Lydia was passingandthoughHetty liked so much to look at her fashionable little coal-scuttlebonnetwith the wreath of small roses round itshedidn'tmind it to-day.  But there were no more curtsies--nohewas notcome; she felt sure there was nothing else passing the pewdoor butthe house-keeper's black bonnet and the lady's maid'sbeautifulstraw hat that had once been Miss Lydia'sand then thepowderedheads of the butler and footman.  Nohe was not there;yet shewould look now--she might be mistaken--forafter allshehad notlooked.  So she lifted up her eyelids and glanced timidlyat thecushioned pew in the chancel--there was no one but old Mr.Donnithornerubbing his spectacles with his white handkerchiefand MissLydia opening the large gilt-edged prayer-book.  Thechilldisappointment was too hard to bear.  She felt herselfturningpaleher lips trembling; she was ready to cry.  OhwhatSHOULD shedo?  Everybody would know the reason; they would knowshe wascrying because Arthur was not there.  And Mr. Craigwiththewonderful hothouse plant in his button-holewas staring athersheknew.  It was dreadfully long before the GeneralConfessionbeganso that she could kneel down.  Two great dropsWOULD fallthenbut no one saw them except good-natured Mollyfor heraunt and uncle knelt with their backs towards her.  Mollyunable toimagine any cause for tears in church except faintnessof whichshe had a vague traditional knowledgedrew out of herpocket aqueer little flat blue smelling-bottleand after muchlabour inpulling the cork outthrust the narrow neck againstHetty'snostrils.  "It donna smell" she whisperedthinkingthiswas agreat advantage which old salts had over fresh ones: theydid yougood without biting your nose.  Hetty pushed it awaypeevishly;but this little flash of temper did what the saltscould nothave done--it roused her to wipe away the traces of hertearsandtry with all her might not to shed any more.  Hetty hada certainstrength in her vain little nature: she would have borneanythingrather than be laughed ator pointed at with any otherfeelingthan admiration; she would have pressed her own nails intoher tenderflesh rather than people should know a secret she didnot wantthem to know.

Whatfluctuations there were in her busy thoughts and feelingswhile Mr.Irwine was pronouncing the solemn "Absolution" in herdeaf earsand through all the tones of petition that followed!Anger layvery close to disappointmentand soon won the victoryover theconjectures her small ingenuity could devise to accountforArthur's absence on the supposition that he really wanted tocomereally wanted to see her again.  And by the time she rosefrom herknees mechanicallybecause all the rest were risingthecolour hadreturned to her cheeks even with a heightened glowforshe wasframing little indignant speeches to herselfsaying shehatedArthur for giving her this pain--she would like him tosuffertoo.  Yet while this selfish tumult was going on in hersoulhereyes were bent down on her prayer-bookand the eyelidswith theirdark fringe looked as lovely as ever.  Adam Bedethoughtsoas he glanced at her for a moment on rising from hisknees.

But Adam'sthoughts of Hetty did not deafen him to the service;theyrather blended with all the other deep feelings for which thechurchservice was a channel to him this afternoonas a certainconsciousnessof our entire past and our imagined future blendsitselfwith all our moments of keen sensibility.  And to Adam thechurchservice was the best channel he could have found for hismingledregretyearningand resignation; its interchange ofbeseechingcries for help with outbursts of faith and praiseitsrecurrentresponses and the familiar rhythm of its collectsseemed tospeak for him as no other form of worship could havedone; asto those early Christians who had worshipped from theirchildhoodupwards in catacombsthe torch-light and shadows musthaveseemed nearer the Divine presence than the heathenishdaylightof the streets.  The secret of our emotions never lies inthe bareobjectbut in its subtle relations to our own past: nowonder thesecret escapes the unsympathizing oberverwho might aswell puton his spectacles to discern odours.

But therewas one reason why even a chance comer would have foundtheservice in Hayslope Church more impressive than in most othervillagenooks in the kingdom--a reason of which I am sure you havenot theslightest suspicion.  It was the reading of our friendJoshuaRann.  Where that good shoemaker got his notion of readingfromremained a mystery even to his most intimate acquaintances.I believeafter allhe got it chiefly from Naturewho hadpouredsome of her music into this honest conceited soulas shehad beenknown to do into other narrow souls before his.  She hadgiven himat leasta fine bass voice and a musical ear; but Icannotpositively say whether these alone had sufficed to inspirehim withthe rich chant in which he delivered the responses.  Theway herolled from a rich deep forte into a melancholy cadencesubsidingat the end of the last wordinto a sort of faintresonancelike the lingering vibrations of a fine violoncelloIcancompare to nothing for its strong calm melancholy but the rushandcadence of the wind among the autumn boughs.  This may seem astrangemode of speaking about the reading of a parish clerk--aman inrusty spectacleswith stubbly haira large occiputand aprominentcrown.  But that is Nature's way: she will allow agentlemanof splendid physiognomy and poetic aspirations to singwoefullyout of tuneand not give him the slightest hint of it;and takescare that some narrow-browed fellowtrolling a balladin thecorner of a pot-houseshall be as true to his intervals asa bird.

Joshuahimself was less proud of his reading than of his singingand it wasalways with a sense of heightened importance that hepassedfrom the desk to the choir.  Still more to-day: it was aspecialoccasionfor an old manfamiliar to all the parishhaddied a saddeath--not in his beda circumstance the most painfulto themind of the peasant--and now the funeral psalm was to besung inmemory of his sudden departure.  MoreoverBartle Masseywas not atchurchand Joshua's importance in the choir sufferednoeclipse.  It was a solemn minor strain they sang.  The oldpsalm-tuneshave many a wail among themand the words--

 

Thousweep'st us off as with a flood; Wevanish hence like dreams--

 

seemed tohave a closer application than usual in the death ofpoorThias.  The mother and sons listenedeach with peculiarfeelings. Lisbeth had a vague belief that the psalm was doing herhusbandgood; it was part of that decent burial which she wouldhavethought it a greater wrong to withhold from him than to havecaused himmany unhappy days while he was living.  The more therewas saidabout her husbandthe more there was done for himsurely thesafer he would be.  It was poor Lisbeth's blind way offeelingthat human love and pity are a ground of faith in someotherlove.  Sethwho was easily touchedshed tearsand triedto recallas he had done continually since his father's deathall thathe had heard of the possibility that a single moment ofconsciousnessat the last might be a moment of pardon andreconcilement;for was it not written in the very psalm they weresingingthat the Divine dealings were not measured andcircumscribedby time?  Adam had never been unable to join in apsalmbefore.  He had known plenty of trouble and vexation sincehe hadbeen a ladbut this was the first sorrow that had hemmedin hisvoiceand strangely enough it was sorrow because the chiefsource ofhis past trouble and vexation was for ever gone out ofhisreach.  He had not been able to press his father's hand beforetheirpartingand say"Fatheryou know it was all right betweenus; Inever forgot what I owed you when I was a lad; you forgiveme if Ihave been too hot and hasty now and then!" Adam thoughtbut littleto-day of the hard work and the earnings he had spenton hisfather: his thoughts ran constantly on what the old man'sfeelingshad been in moments of humiliationwhen he had held downhis headbefore the rebukes of his son.  When our indignation isborne insubmissive silencewe are apt to feel twinges of doubtafterwardsas to our own generosityif not justice; how much morewhen theobject of our anger has gone into everlasting silenceand wehave seen his face for the last time in the meekness ofdeath!

"Ah! I was always too hard" Adam said to himself.  "It's asorefault inme as I'm so hot and out o' patience with people whenthey dowrongand my heart gets shut up against 'emso as Ican'tbring myself to forgive 'em.  I see clear enough there'smore pridenor love in my soulfor I could sooner make a thousandstrokeswith th' hammer for my father than bring myself to say akind wordto him.  And there went plenty o' pride and temper tothestrokesas the devil WILL be having his finger in what wecall ourduties as well as our sins.  Mayhap the best thing I everdid in mylife was only doing what was easiest for myself.  It'sallaysbeen easier for me to work nor to sit stillbut the realtough jobfor me 'ud be to master my own will and temper and gorightagainst my own pride.  It seems to me nowif I was to findFather athome to-nightI should behave different; but there's noknowing--perhapsnothing 'ud be a lesson to us if it didn't cometoo late. It's well we should feel as life's a reckoning we can'tmake twiceover; there's no real making amends in this worldanymore noryou can mend a wrong subtraction by doing your additionright."

This wasthe key-note to which Adam's thoughts had perpetuallyreturnedsince his father's deathand the solemn wail of thefuneralpsalm was only an influence that brought back the oldthoughtswith stronger emphasis.  So was the sermonwhich Mr.Irwine hadchosen with reference to Thias's funeral.  It spokebrieflyand simply of the words"In the midst of life we are indeath"--howthe present moment is all we can call our own forworks ofmercyof righteous dealingand of family tenderness.All veryold truths--but what we thought the oldest truth becomesthe moststartling to us in the week when we have looked on thedead faceof one who has made a part of our own lives.  For whenmen wantto impress us with the effect of a new and wonderfullyvividlightdo they not let it fall on the most familiar objectsthat wemay measure its intensity by remembering the formerdimness?

Then camethe moment of the final blessingwhen the foreversublimewords"The peace of Godwhich passeth allunderstanding"seemed to blend with the calm afternoon sunshinethat fellon the bowed heads of the congregation; and then thequietrisingthe mothers tying on the bonnets of the littlemaidenswho had slept through the sermonthe fathers collectingtheprayer-booksuntil all streamed out through the old archwayinto thegreen churchyard and began their neighbourly talktheirsimplecivilitiesand their invitations to tea; for on a Sundayevery onewas ready to receive a guest--it was the day when allmust be intheir best clothes and their best humour.

Mr. andMrs. Poyser paused a minute at the church gate: they werewaitingfor Adam to Come upnot being contented to go awaywithoutsaying a kind word to the widow and her sons.

"WellMrs. Bede" said Mrs. Poyseras they walked on together"youmust keep up your heart; husbands and wives must be contentwhenthey've lived to rear their children and see one another'shairgrey."

"Ayeaye" said Mr. Poyser; "they wonna have long to wait foroneanotherthenanyhow.  And ye've got two o' the strapping'st sonsi' th'country; and well you mayfor I remember poor Thias asfine abroad-shouldered fellow as need to be; and as for youMrs.Bedewhyyou're straighter i' the back nor half the young womennow."

"Eh"said Lisbeth"it's poor luck for the platter to wear wellwhen it'sbroke i' two.  The sooner I'm laid under the thorn thebetter. I'm no good to nobody now."

Adam nevertook notice of his mother's little unjust plaints; butSeth said"NayMotherthee mustna say so.  Thy sons 'ull nevergetanother mother."

"That'strueladthat's true" said Mr. Poyser; "and it's wrongon us togive way to griefMrs. Bede; for it's like the childrencryin'when the fathers and mothers take things from 'em.  There'sOne aboveknows better nor us."

"Ah"said Mrs. Poyser"an' it's poor work allays settin' thedead abovethe livin'.  We shall all on us be dead some timeIreckon--it'ud be better if folks 'ud make much on us beforehandi'stid o'beginnin' when we're gone.  It's but little good you'lldoa-watering the last year's crop."

"WellAdam" said Mr. Poyserfeeling that his wife's words wereas usualrather incisive than soothingand that it would be wellto changethe subject"you'll come and see us again nowI hope.I hannahad a talk with you this long whileand the missis herewants youto see what can be done with her best spinning-wheelfor it'sgot brokeand it'll be a nice job to mend it--there'llwant a bito' turning.  You'll come as soon as you can nowwillyou?"

Mr. Poyserpaused and looked round while he was speakingas if tosee whereHetty was; for the children were running on before.Hetty wasnot without a companionand she hadbesidesmore pinkand whiteabout her than everfor she held in her hand thewonderfulpink-and-white hot-house plantwith a very long name--aScotchnameshe supposedsince people said Mr. Craig thegardenerwas Scotch.  Adam took the opportunity of looking roundtoo; and Iam sure you will not require of him that he should feelanyvexation in observing a pouting expression on Hetty's face asshelistened to the gardener's small talk.  Yet in her secretheart shewas glad to have him by her sidefor she would perhapslearn fromhim how it was Arthur had not come to church.  Not thatshe caredto ask him the questionbut she hoped the informationwould begiven spontaneously; for Mr. Craiglike a superior manwas veryfond of giving information.

Mr. Craigwas never aware that his conversation and advances werereceivedcoldlyfor to shift one's point of view beyond certainlimits isimpossible to the most liberal and expansive mind; weare noneof us aware of the impression we produce on Brazilianmonkeys offeeble understanding--it is possible they see hardlyanythingin us.  MoreoverMr. Craig was a man of sober passionsand wasalready in his tenth year of hesitation as to the relativeadvantagesof matrimony and bachelorhood.  It is true thatnowand thenwhen he had been a little heated by an extra glass ofgroghehad been heard to say of Hetty that the "lass was wellenough"and that "a man might do worse"; but on convivialoccasionsmen are apt to express themselves strongly.

MartinPoyser held Mr. Craig in honouras a man who "knew hisbusiness"and who had great lights concerning soils and compost;but he wasless of a favourite with Mrs. Poyserwho had more thanonce saidin confidence to her husband"You're mighty fond o'Craigbutfor my partI think he's welly like a cock as thinksthe sun'srose o' purpose to hear him crow."  For the restMr.Craig wasan estimable gardenerand was not without reasons forhaving ahigh opinion of himself.  He had also high shoulders andhighcheek-bones and hung his head forward a littleas he walkedalong withhis hands in his breeches pockets.  I think it was hispedigreeonly that had the advantage of being Scotchand not his"bringingup"; for except that he had a stronger burr in hisaccenthis speech differed little from that of the Loamshirepeopleabout him.  But a gardener is Scotchas a French teacherisParisian.

"WellMr. Poyser" he saidbefore the good slow farmer had timeto speak"ye'll not be carrying your hay to-morrowI'm thinking.The glasssticks at 'change' and ye may rely upo' my word aswe'll ha'more downfall afore twenty-four hours is past.  Ye seethatdarkish-blue cloud there upo' the 'rizon--ye know what I meanby the'rizonwhere the land and sky seems to meet?"

"AyeayeI see the cloud" said Mr. Poyser"'rizon or no'rizon. It's right o'er Mike Holdsworth's fallowand a foulfallow itis."

"Wellyou mark my wordsas that cloud 'ull spread o'er the skyprettynigh as quick as you'd spread a tarpaulin over one o' yourhay-ricks. It's a great thing to ha' studied the look o' theclouds. Lord bless you!  Th' met'orological almanecks can learnmenothingbut there's a pretty sight o' things I could let THEMup toifthey'd just come to me.  And how are youMrs. Poyser?--thinkingo' getherin' the red currants soonI reckon.  You'd adealbetter gether 'em afore they're o'erripewi' such weather aswe've gotto look forward to.  How do ye doMistress Bede?" Mr.Craigcontinuedwithout a pausenodding by the way to Adam andSeth. "I hope y' enjoyed them spinach and gooseberries as I sentChesterwith th' other day.  If ye want vegetables while ye're introubleye know where to come to.  It's well known I'm not givingotherfolks' things awayfor when I've supplied the housethegarden smy own spekilationand it isna every man th' old squirecould getas 'ud be equil to the undertakinglet alone askingwhetherhe'd be willing I've got to run my calkilation fineI cantell youto make sure o' getting back the money as I pay thesquire. I should like to see some o' them fellows as make thealmaneckslooking as far before their noses as I've got to doevery yearas comes."

"Theylook pretty furthough" said Mr. Poyserturning his headon oneside and speaking in rather a subdued reverential tone."Whywhat could come truer nor that pictur o' the cock wi' thebig spursas has got its head knocked down wi' th' anchoran'th'firin'an' the ships behind?  Whythat pictur was made aforeChristmasand yit it's come as true as th' Bible.  Whyth'cock'sFrancean' th' anchor's Nelson--an' they told us thatbeforehand."

"Pee--ee-eh!"said Mr. Craig.  "A man doesna want to see fur toknow asth' English 'ull beat the French.  WhyI know upo' goodauthorityas it's a big Frenchman as reaches five foot highan'they liveupo' spoon-meat mostly.  I knew a man as his father hadaparticular knowledge o' the French.  I should like to know whatthemgrasshoppers are to do against such fine fellows as our youngCaptainArthur.  Whyit 'ud astonish a Frenchman only to look athim; hisarm's thicker nor a Frenchman's bodyI'll be boundforthey pinchtheirsells in wi' stays; and it's easy enoughforthey'vegot nothing i' their insides."

"WhereIS the captainas he wasna at church to-day?" said Adam."Iwas talking to him o' Fridayand he said nothing about hisgoingaway."

"Ohhe's only gone to Eagledale for a bit o' fishing; I reckonhe'll beback again afore many days are o'erfor he's to be atall th'arranging and preparing o' things for the comin' o' age o'the 30tho' July.  But he's fond o' getting away for a bitnowand then. Him and th' old squire fit one another like frost andflowers."

Mr. Craigsmiled and winked slowly as he made this lastobservationbut the subject was not developed fartherfor nowthey hadreached the turning in the road where Adam and hiscompanionsmust say "good-bye."  The gardenertoowould havehadto turnoff in the same direction if he had not accepted Mr.Poyser'sinvitation to tea.  Mrs. Poyser duly seconded theinvitationfor she would have held it a deep disgrace not to makeherneighbours welcome to her house: personal likes and dislikesmust notinterfere with that sacred custom.  MoreoverMr. Craighad alwaysbeen full of civilities to the family at the Hall Farmand Mrs.Poyser was scrupulous in declaring that she had "nothingto sayagain' himon'y it was a pity he couldna be hatched o'eragainan'hatched different."

So Adamand Sethwith their mother between themwound their waydown tothe valley and up again to the old housewhere a saddenedmemory hadtaken the place of a longlong anxiety--where Adamwouldnever have to ask again as he entered"Where's Father?"

And theother family partywith Mr. Craig for companywent backto thepleasant bright house-place at the Hall Farm--all withquietmindsexcept Hettywho knew now where Arthur was gonebutwas onlythe more puzzled and uneasy.  For it appeared that hisabsencewas quite voluntary; he need not have gone--he would nothave goneif he had wanted to see her.  She had a sickening sensethat nolot could ever be pleasant to her again if her Thursdaynight'svision was not to be fulfilled; and in this moment ofchillbarewintry disappointment and doubtshe looked towardsthepossibility of being with Arthur againof meeting his lovingglanceand hearing his soft words with that eager yearning whichone maycall the "growing pain" of passion.

 

 ChapterXIX Adam ona Working Day

 

NOTWITHSTANDINGMr. Craig's prophecythe dark-blue clouddisperseditself without having produced the threatenedconsequences. "The weather"--as he observed the next morning--"theweatheryou see's a ticklish thingan' a fool 'ull hiton'tsometimes when a wise man misses; that's why the almanecksget somuch credit.  It's one o' them chancy things as foolsthriveon."

Thisunreasonable behaviour of the weatherhowevercoulddispleaseno one else in Hayslope besides Mr. Craig.  All handswere to beout in the meadows this morning as soon as the dew hadrisen; thewives and daughters did double work in every farmhousethat themaids might give their help in tossing the hay; and whenAdam wasmarching along the laneswith his basket of tools overhisshoulderhe caught the sound of jocose talk and ringinglaughterfrom behind the hedges.  The jocose talk of hay-makers isbest at adistance; like those clumsy bells round the cows' necksit hasrather a coarse sound when it comes closeand may evengrate onyour ears painfully; but heard from far offit minglesveryprettily with the other joyous sounds of nature.  Men'smusclesmove better when their souls are making merry musicthoughtheir merriment is of a poor blundering sortnot at alllike themerriment of birds.

Andperhaps there is no time in a summer's day more cheering thanwhen thewarmth of the sun is just beginning to triumph over thefreshnessof the morning--when there is just a lingering hint ofearlycoolness to keep off languor under the delicious influenceofwarmth.  The reason Adam was walking along the lanes at thistime wasbecause his work for the rest of the day lay at acountry-houseabout three miles offwhich was being put in repairfor theson of a neighbouring squire; and he had been busy sinceearlymorning with the packing of panelsdoorsand chimney-piecesina waggon which was now gone on before himwhileJonathanBurge himself had ridden to the spot on horsebacktoawait itsarrival and direct the workmen.

Thislittle walk was a rest to Adamand he was unconsciouslyunder thecharm of the moment.  It was summer morning in hisheartandhe saw Hetty in the sunshine--a sunshine without glarewithslanting rays that tremble between the delicate shadows oftheleaves.  He thoughtyesterday when he put out his hand to heras theycame out of churchthat there was a touch of melancholykindnessin her facesuch as he had not seen beforeand he tookit as asign that she had some sympathy with his family trouble.Poorfellow!  That touch of melancholy came from quite anothersourcebut how was he to know?  We look at the one little woman'sface welove as we look at the face of our mother earthand seeall sortsof answers to our own yearnings.  It was impossible forAdam notto feel that what had happened in the last week hadbroughtthe prospect of marriage nearer to him.  Hitherto he hadfeltkeenly the danger that some other man might step in and getpossessionof Hetty's heart and handwhile he himself was stillin aposition that made him shrink from asking her to accept him.Even if hehad had a strong hope that she was fond of him--and hishope wasfar from being strong--he had been too heavily burdenedwith otherclaims to provide a home for himself and Hetty--a homesuch as hecould expect her to be content with after the comfortand plentyof the Farm.  Like all strong naturesAdam hadconfidencein his ability to achieve something in the future; hefelt surehe should some dayif he livedbe able to maintain afamily andmake a good broad path for himself; but he had too coola head notto estimate to the full the obstacles that were to beovercome. And the time would be so long!  And there was Hettylike abright-cheeked apple hanging over the orchard wallwithinsight ofeverybodyand everybody must long for her!  To be sureif sheloved him very muchshe would be content to wait for him:but DIDshe love him?  His hopes had never risen so high that hehad daredto ask her.  He was clear-sighted enough to be awarethat heruncle and aunt would have looked kindly on his suitandindeedwithout this encouragement he would never have perseveredin goingto the Farm; but it was impossible to come to any butfluctuatingconclusions about Hetty's feelings.  She was like akittenand had the same distractingly pretty looksthat meantnothingfor everybody that came near her.

But now hecould not help saying to himself that the heaviest partof hisburden was removedand that even before the end of anotheryear hiscircumstances might be brought into a shape that wouldallow himto think of marrying.  It would always be a hardstrugglewith his motherhe knew: she would be jealous of anywife hemight chooseand she had set her mind especially againstHetty--perhapsfor no other reason than that she suspected Hettyto be thewoman he HAD chosen.  It would never dohe fearedforhis motherto live in the same house with him when he was married;and yethow hard she would think it if he asked her to leave him!Yestherewas a great deal of pain to be gone through with hismotherbut it was a case in which he must make her feel that hiswill wasstrong--it would be better for her in the end.  Forhimselfhe would have liked that they should all live togethertill Sethwas marriedand they might have built a bit themselvesto the oldhouseand made more room.  He did not like "to partwi' th'lad": they had hardly every been separated for more than aday sincethey were born.

But Adamhad no sooner caught his imagination leaping forward inthisway--making arrangements for an uncertain future--than hecheckedhimself.  "A pretty building I'm makingwithout eitherbricks ortimber.  I'm up i' the garret a'readyand haven't somuch asdug the foundation."  Whenever Adam was strongly convincedof anypropositionit took the form of a principle in his mind:it wasknowledge to be acted onas much as the knowledge thatdamp willcause rust.  Perhaps here lay the secret of the hardnesshe hadaccused himself of: he had too little fellow-feeling withtheweakness that errs in spite of foreseen consequences.  Withoutthisfellow-feelinghow are we to get enough patience and charitytowardsour stumblingfalling companions in the long andchangefuljourney?  And there is but one way in which a strongdeterminedsoul can learn it--by getting his heart-strings boundround theweak and erringso that he must share not only theoutwardconsequence of their errorbut their inward suffering.That is along and hard lessonand Adam had at present onlylearnedthe alphabet of it in his father's sudden deathwhichbyannihilatingin an instant all that had stimulated hisindignationhad sent a sudden rush of thought and memory overwhat hadclaimed his pity and tenderness.

But it wasAdam's strengthnot its correlative hardnessthatinfluencedhis meditations this morning.  He had long made up hismind thatit would be wrong as well as foolish for him to marry abloomingyoung girlso long as he had no other prospect than thatof growingpoverty with a growing family.  And his savings hadbeen soconstantly drawn upon (besides the terrible sweep ofpaying forSeth's substitute in the militia) that he had notenoughmoney beforehand to furnish even a small cottageand keepsomethingin reserve against a rainy day.  He had good hope thathe shouldbe "firmer on his legs" by and by; but he could not besatisfiedwith a vague confidence in his arm and brain; he musthavedefinite plansand set about them at once.  The partnershipwithJonathan Burge was not to be thought of at present--therewerethings implicitly tacked to it that he could not accept; butAdamthought that he and Seth might carry on a little business forthemselvesin addition to their journeyman's workby buying asmallstock of superior wood and making articles of householdfurniturefor which Adam had no end of contrivances.  Seth mightgain moreby working at separate jobs under Adam's direction thanby hisjourneyman's workand Adamin his overhourscould do allthe "nice"work that required peculiar skill.  The money gained inthis waywith the good wages he received as foremanwould soonenablethem to get beforehand with the worldso sparingly as theywould alllive now.  No sooner had this little plan shaped itselfin hismind than he began to be busy with exact calculations aboutthe woodto be bought and the particular article of furniture thatshould beundertaken first--a kitchen cupboard of his owncontrivancewith such an ingenious arrangement of sliding-doorsand boltssuch convenient nooks for stowing household provenderand such asymmetrical result to the eyethat every goodhousewifewould be in raptures with itand fall through all thegradationsof melancholy longing till her husband promised to buyit forher.  Adam pictured to himself Mrs. Poyser examining itwith herkeen eye and trying in vain to find out a deficiency;andofcourseclose to Mrs. Poyser stood Hettyand Adam wasagainbeguiled from calculations and contrivances into dreams andhopes. Yeshe would go and see her this evening--it was so longsince hehad been at the Hall Farm.  He would have liked to go tothenight-schoolto see why Bartle Massey had not been at churchyesterdayfor he feared his old friend was ill; butunless hecouldmanage both visitsthis last must be put off till to-morrow--thedesire to be near Hetty and to speak to her again wastoostrong.

As he madeup his mind to thishe was coming very near to the endof hiswalkwithin the sound of the hammers at work on therefittingof the old house.  The sound of tools to a cleverworkmanwho loves his work is like the tentative sounds of theorchestrato the violinist who has to bear his part in theoverture:the strong fibres begin their accustomed thrillandwhat was amoment before joyvexationor ambitionbegins itschangeinto energy.  All passion becomes strength when it has anoutletfrom the narrow limits of our personal lot in the labour ofour rightarmthe cunning of our right handor the stillcreativeactivity of our thought.  Look at Adam through the restof thedayas he stands on the scaffolding with the two-feetruler inhis handwhistling low while he considers how adifficultyabout a floor-joist or a window-frame is to beovercome;or as he pushes one of the younger workmen aside andtakes hisplace in upheaving a weight of timbersaying"Letalonelad!  Thee'st got too much gristle i' thy bones yet"; or ashe fixeshis keen black eyes on the motions of a workman on theother sideof the room and warns him that his distances are notright. Look at this broad-shouldered man with the bare musculararmsandthe thickfirmblack hair tossed about like troddenmeadow-grasswhenever he takes off his paper capand with thestrongbarytone voice bursting every now and then into loud andsolemnpsalm-tunesas if seeking an outlet for superfluousstrengthyet presently checking himselfapparently crossed bysomethought which jars with the singing.  Perhapsif you had notbeenalready in the secretyou might not have guessed what sadmemorieswhat warm affectionwhat tender fluttering hopeshadtheir homein this athletic body with the broken finger-nails--inthis roughmanwho knew no better lyrics than he could find inthe Oldand New Version and an occasional hymn; who knew thesmallestpossible amount of profane history; and for whom themotion andshape of the earththe course of the sunand thechanges ofthe seasons lay in the region of mystery just madevisible byfragmentary knowledge.  It had cost Adam a great dealof troubleand work in overhours to know what he knew over andabove thesecrets of his handicraftand that acquaintance withmechanicsand figuresand the nature of the materials he workedwithwhich was made easy to him by inborn inherited faculty--toget themastery of his penand write a plain handto spellwithoutany other mistakes than must in fairness be attributed totheunreasonable character of orthography rather than to anydeficiencyin the spellerandmoreoverto learn his musicalnotes andpart-singing.  Besides all thishe had read his Bibleincludingthe apocryphal books; Poor Richard's AlmanacTaylor'sHolyLiving and DyingThe Pilgrim's Progresswith Bunyan's Lifeand HolyWara great deal of Bailey's DictionaryValentine andOrsonandpart of a History of Babylonwhich Bartle Massey hadlent him. He might have had many more books from Bartle Masseybut he hadno time for reading "the commin print" as Lisbethcalled itso busy as he was with figures in all the leisuremomentswhich he did not fill up with extra carpentry.

Adamyouperceivewas by no means a marvellous mannorproperlyspeakinga geniusyet I will not pretend that his wasanordinary character among workmen; and it would not be at all asafeconclusion that the next best man you may happen to see witha basketof tools over his shoulder and a paper cap on his headhas thestrong conscience and the strong sensethe blendedsusceptibilityand self-commandof our friend Adam.  He was notan averageman.  Yet such men as he are reared here and there ineverygeneration of our peasant artisans--with an inheritance ofaffectionsnurtured by a simple family life of common need andcommonindustryand an inheritance of faculties trained inskilfulcourageous labour: they make their way upwardsrarely asgeniusesmost commonly as painstaking honest menwith the skillandconscience to do well the tasks that lie before them.  Theirlives haveno discernible echo beyond the neighbourhood where theydweltbutyou are almost sure to find there some good piece ofroadsomebuildingsome application of mineral producesomeimprovementin farming practicesome reform of parish abuseswith whichtheir names are associated by one or two generationsafterthem.  Their employers were the richer for themthe work oftheirhands has worn welland the work of their brains has guidedwell thehands of other men.  They went about in their youth inflannel orpaper capsin coats black with coal-dust or streakedwith limeand red paint; in old age their white hairs are seen ina place ofhonour at church and at marketand they tell theirwell-dressedsons and daughtersseated round the bright hearth onwintereveningshow pleased they were when they first earnedtheirtwopence a-day.  Others there are who die poor and never putoff theworkman's coal on weekdays.  They have not had the art ofgettingrichbut they are men of trustand when they die beforethe workis all out of themit is as if some main screw had gotloose in amachine; the master who employed them says"Whereshall Ifind their like?"

 

 ChapterXX AdamVisits the Hall Farm

 

ADAM cameback from his work in the empty waggon--that was why hehadchanged his clothes--and was ready to set out to the Hall Farmwhen itstill wanted a quarter to seven.

"What'sthee got thy Sunday cloose on for?" said Lisbethcomplaininglyas he came downstairs.  "Thee artna goin' to th'school i'thy best coat?"

"NoMother" said Adamquietly.  "I'm going to the HallFarmbut mayhapI may go to the school afterso thee mustna wonder ifI'm a bitlate.  Seth 'ull be at home in half an hour--he's onlygone tothe village; so thee wutna mind."

"Ehan' what's thee got thy best cloose on for to go to th' HallFarm? The Poyser folks see'd thee in 'em yesterdayI warrand.What dostmean by turnin' worki'day into Sunday a-that'n?  It'spoorkeepin' company wi' folks as donna like to see thee i' thyworkin'jacket."

"Good-byemotherI can't stay" said Adamputting on his hatand goingout.

But he hadno sooner gone a few paces beyond the door than Lisbethbecameuneasy at the thought that she had vexed him.  Of coursethe secretof her objection to the best clothes was her suspicionthat theywere put on for Hetty's sake; but deeper than all herpeevishnesslay the need that her son should love her.  Shehurriedafter himand laid hold of his arm before he had gothalf-waydown to the brookand said"Naymy ladthee wutna goawayangered wi' thy motheran' her got nought to do but to sitby hersenan' think on thee?"

"NaynayMother" said Adamgravelyand standing still whilehe put hisarm on her shoulder"I'm not angered.  But I wishforthy ownsakethee'dst be more contented to let me do what I'vemade up mymind to do.  I'll never be no other than a good son tothee aslong as we live.  But a man has other feelings besideswhat heowes to's father and motherand thee oughtna to want torule overme body and soul.  And thee must make up thy mind asI'll notgive way to thee where I've a right to do what I like.So let ushave no more words about it."

"Eh"said Lisbethnot willing to show that she felt the realbearing ofAdam's words"and' who likes to see thee i' thy bestcloosebetter nor thy mother?  An' when thee'st got thy facewashed asclean as the smooth white pibblean' thy hair combed soniceandthy eyes a-sparklin'--what else is there as thy oldmothershould like to look at half so well?  An' thee sha't put onthy Sundaycloose when thee lik'st for me--I'll ne'er plague theeno moorabout'n."

"Wellwell; good-byemother" said Adamkissing her andhurryingaway.  He saw there was no other means of putting an endto thedialogue.  Lisbeth stood still on the spotshading hereyes andlooking after him till he was quite out of sight.  Shefelt tothe full all the meaning that had lain in Adam's wordsandasshe lost sight of him and turned back slowly into thehouseshesaid aloud to herself--for it was her way to speak herthoughtsaloud in the long days when her husband and sons were attheirwork--"Ehhe'll be tellin' me as he's goin' to bring herhome oneo' these days; an' she'll be missis o'er meand I munlook onbelikewhile she uses the blue-edged plattersandbreaks'emmayhapthough there's ne'er been one broke sin' myold manan' me bought 'em at the fair twenty 'ear come next Whis-suntide. Eh!" she went onstill louderas she caught up herknittingfrom the table"but she'll ne'er knit the lad'sstockin'snor foot 'em naytherwhile I live; an' when I'm gonehe'llbethink him as nobody 'ull ne'er fit's leg an' foot as hisold motherdid.  She'll know nothin' o' narrowin' an' heelin'Iwarrandan' she'll make a long toe as he canna get's boot on.That'swhat comes o' marr'in' young wenches.  I war gone thirtyan' th'feyther tooafore we war married; an' young enough too.She'll bea poor dratchell by then SHE'S thirtya-marr'in' a-that'nafore her teeth's all come."

Adamwalked so fast that he was at the yard-gate before seven.MartinPoyser and the grandfather were not yet come in from themeadow:every one was in the meadoweven to the black-and-tanterrier--noone kept watch in the yard but the bull-dog; and whenAdamreached the house-doorwhich stood wide openhe saw therewas no onein the bright clean house-place.  But he guessed whereMrs.Poyser and some one else would bequite within hearing; sohe knockedon the door and said in his strong voice"Mrs. Poyserwithin?"

"ComeinMr. Bedecome in" Mrs. Poyser called out from thedairy. She always gave Adam this title when she received him inher ownhouse.  "You may come into the dairy if you willfor Icannajustly leave the cheese."

Adamwalked into the dairywhere Mrs. Poyser and Nancy werecrushingthe first evening cheese.

"Whyyou might think you war come to a dead-house" said Mrs.Poyserashe stood in the open doorway; "they're all i' themeadow;but Martin's sure to be in afore longfor they're leavingthe haycocked to-nightready for carrying first thing to-morrow.I've beenforced t' have Nancy inupo' 'count as Hetty mustgether thered currants to-night; the fruit allays ripens socontrairyjust when every hand's wanted.  An' there's no trustin'thechildren to gether itfor they put more into their own mouthsnor intothe basket; you might as well set the wasps to gether thefruit."

Adamlonged to say he would go into the garden till Mr. Poysercame inbut he was not quite courageous enoughso he said"Icould belooking at your spinning-wheelthenand see what wantsdoing toit.  Perhaps it stands in the housewhere I can findit?"

"NoI've put it away in the right-hand parlour; but let it betill I canfetch it and show it you.  I'd be glad now if you'd gointo thegarden and tell Hetty to send Totty in.  The child 'ullrun in ifshe's toldan' I know Hetty's lettin' her eat too manycurrants. I'll be much obliged to youMr. Bedeif you'll go andsend herin; an' there's the York and Lankester roses beautiful inthe gardennow--you'll like to see 'em.  But you'd like a drink o'wheyfirstp'r'aps; I know you're fond o' wheyas most folks iswhen theyhanna got to crush it out."

"ThankyouMrs. Poyser" said Adam; "a drink o' whey's allays atreat tome.  I'd rather have it than beer any day."

"Ayeaye" said Mrs. Poyserreaching a small white basin thatstood onthe shelfand dipping it into the whey-tub"the smello' bread'ssweet t' everybody but the baker.  The Miss Irwinesallayssay'OhMrs. PoyserI envy you your dairy; and I envyyou yourchickens; and what a beautiful thing a farm-house istobe sure!' An' I say'Yes; a farm-house is a fine thing for themas lookonan' don't know the liftin'an' the stannin'an' theworritin'o' th' inside as belongs to't.'"

"WhyMrs. Poyseryou wouldn't like to live anywhere else but inafarm-houseso well as you manage it" said Adamtaking thebasin;"and there can be nothing to look at pleasanter nor a finemilch cowstanding up to'ts knees in pastureand the new milkfrothingin the pailand the fresh butter ready for marketandthecalvesand the poultry.  Here's to your healthand may youallayshave strength to look after your own dairyand set apattern t'all the farmers' wives in the country."

Mrs.Poyser was not to be caught in the weakness of smiling at acomplimentbut a quiet complacency over-spread her face like astealingsunbeamand gave a milder glance than usual to her blue-grey eyesas she looked at Adam drinking the whey.  Ah!  I thinkI tastethat whey now--with a flavour so delicate that one canhardlydistinguish it from an odourand with that soft glidingwarmththat fills one's imagination with a stillhappydreaminess. And the light music of the dropping whey is in myearsmingling with the twittering of a bird outside the wirenetworkwindow--the window overlooking the gardenand shaded bytallGuelder roses.

"Havea little moreMr. Bede?" said Mrs. Poyseras Adam set downthe basin.

"Nothank you; I'll go into the garden nowand send in thelittlelass."

"Ayedo; and tell her to come to her mother in the dairy."

Adamwalked round by the rick-yardat present empty of rickstothe littlewooden gate leading into the garden--once the well-tendedkitchen-garden of a manor-house; nowbut for the handsomebrick wallwith stone coping that ran along one side of ita truefarmhousegardenwith hardy perennial flowersunpruned fruit-treesandkitchen vegetables growing together in carelesshalf-neglectedabundance.  In that leafyflowerybushy timeto lookfor anyone in this garden was like playing at "hide-and-seek."There werethe tall hollyhocks beginning to flower and dazzle theeye withtheir pinkwhiteand yellow; there were the syringasandGuelder rosesall large and disorderly for want of trimming;there wereleafy walls of scarlet beans and late peas; there was arow ofbushy filberts in one directionand in another a hugeapple-treemaking a barren circle under its low-spreading boughs.But whatsignified a barren patch or two?  The garden was solarge. There was always a superfluity of broad beans--it tooknine orten of Adam's strides to get to the end of the uncut grasswalk thatran by the side of them; and as for other vegetablesthere wasso much more room than was necessary for them that intherotation of crops a large flourishing bed of groundsel was ofyearlyoccurrence on one spot or other.  The very rose-trees atwhich Adamstopped to pluck one looked as if they grew wild; theywere allhuddled together in bushy massesnow flaunting withwide-openpetalsalmost all of them of the streaked pink-and-whitekindwhich doubtless dated from the union of the houses ofYork andLancaster.  Adam was wise enough to choose a compactProvencerose that peeped out half-smothered by its flauntingscentlessneighboursand held it in his hand--he thought heshould bemore at ease holding something in his hand--as he walkedon to thefar end of the gardenwhere he remembered there was thelargestrow of currant-treesnot far off from the great yew-treearbour.

But he hadnot gone many steps beyond the roseswhen he heard theshaking ofa boughand a boy's voice saying"NowthenTottyhold outyour pinny--there's a duck."

The voicecame from the boughs of a tall cherry-treewhere Adamhad nodifficulty in discerning a small blue-pinafored figureperched ina commodious position where the fruit was thickest.DoubtlessTotty was belowbehind the screen of peas.  Yes--withher bonnethanging down her backand her fat facedreadfullysmearedwith red juiceturned up towards the cherry-treewhileshe heldher little round hole of a mouth and her red-stainedpinaforeto receive the promised downfall.  I am sorry to saymore thanhalf the cherries that fell were hard and yellow insteadof juicyand red; but Totty spent no time in useless regretsandshe wasalready sucking the third juiciest when Adam said"TherenowTottyyou've got your cherries.  Run into the house with 'emtoMother--she wants you--she's in the dairy.  Run in this minute--there's agood little girl."

He liftedher up in his strong arms and kissed her as he spokeaceremonywhich Totty regarded as a tiresome interruption tocherry-eating;and when he set her down she trotted off quitesilentlytowards the housesucking her cherries as she wentalong.

"Tommymy ladtake care you're not shot for a little thievingbird"said Adamas he walked on towards the currant-trees.

He couldsee there was a large basket at the end of the row: Hettywould notbe far offand Adam already felt as if she were lookingat him. Yet when he turned the corner she was standing with herbacktowards himand stooping to gather the low-hanging fruit.Strangethat she had not heard him coming!  Perhaps it was becauseshe wasmaking the leaves rustle.  She started when she becameconsciousthat some one was near--started so violently that shedroppedthe basin with the currants in itand thenwhen she sawit wasAdamshe turned from pale to deep red.  That blush madehis heartbeat with a new happiness.  Hetty had never blushed atseeing himbefore.

"Ifrightened you" he saidwith a delicious sense that it didn'tsignifywhat he saidsince Hetty seemed to feel as much as hedid; "letME pick the currants up."

That wassoon donefor they had only fallen in a tangled mass onthegrass-plotand Adamas he rose and gave her the basin againlookedstraight into her eyes with the subdued tenderness thatbelongs tothe first moments of hopeful love.

Hetty didnot turn away her eyes; her blush had subsidedand shemet hisglance with a quiet sadnesswhich contented Adam becauseit was sounlike anything he had seen in her before.

"There'snot many more currants to get" she said; "I shall soonha' donenow."

"I'llhelp you" said Adam; and he fetched the large basketwhichwas nearlyfull of currantsand set it close to them.

Not a wordmore was spoken as they gathered the currants.  Adam'sheart wastoo full to speakand he thought Hetty knew all thatwas init.  She was not indifferent to his presence after all; shehadblushed when she saw himand then there was that touch ofsadnessabout her which must surely mean lovesince it was theoppositeof her usual mannerwhich had often impressed him asindifference. And he could glance at her continually as she bentover thefruitwhile the level evening sunbeams stole through thethickapple-tree boughsand rested on her round cheek and neck asif theytoo were in love with her.  It was to Adam the time that aman canleast forget in after-lifethe time when he believes thatthe firstwoman he has ever loved betrays by a slight something--awordatonea glancethe quivering of a lip or an eyelid--thatshe is atleast beginning to love him in return.  The sign is soslightitis scarcely perceptible to the ear or eye--he coulddescribeit to no one--it is a mere feather-touchyet it seems tohavechanged his whole beingto have merged an uneasy yearninginto adelicious unconsciousness of everything but the presentmoment. So much of our early gladness vanishes utterly from ourmemory: wecan never recall the joy with which we laid our headson ourmother's bosom or rode on our father's back in childhood.Doubtlessthat joy is wrought up into our natureas the sunlightoflong-past mornings is wrought up in the soft mellowness of theapricotbut it is gone for ever from our imaginationand we canonlyBELIEVE in the joy of childhood.  But the first glad momentin ourfirst love is a vision which returns to us to the lastandbringswith it a thrill of feeling intense and special as therecurrentsensation of a sweet odour breathed in a far-off hour ofhappiness. It is a memory that gives a more exquisite touch totendernessthat feeds the madness of jealousy and adds the lastkeennessto the agony of despair.

Hettybending over the red bunchesthe level rays piercing thescreen ofapple-tree boughsthe length of bushy garden beyondhis ownemotion as he looked at her and believed that she wasthinkingof himand that there was no need for them to talk--Adamrememberedit all to the last moment of his life.

AndHetty?  You know quite well that Adam was mistaken about her.Like manyother menhe thought the signs of love for another weresigns oflove towards himself.  When Adam was approaching unseenby hershe was absorbed as usual in thinking and wondering aboutArthur'spossible return.  The sound of any man's footstep wouldhaveaffected her just in the same way--she would have FELT itmight beArthur before she had time to seeand the blood thatforsookher cheek in the agitation of that momentary feeling wouldhaverushed back again at the sight of any one else just as muchas at thesight of Adam.  He was not wrong in thinking that achange hadcome over Hetty: the anxieties and fears of a firstpassionwith which she was tremblinghad become stronger thanvanityhad given her for the first time that sense of helplessdependenceon another's feeling which awakens the clingingdeprecatingwomanhood even in the shallowest girl that can everexperienceitand creates in her a sensibility to kindness whichfound herquite hard before.  For the first time Hetty felt thatthere wassomething soothing to her in Adam's timid yet manlytenderness. She wanted to be treated lovingly--ohit was veryhard tobear this blank of absencesilenceapparentindifferenceafter those moments of glowing love!  She was notafraidthat Adam would tease her with love-making and flatteringspeecheslike her other admirers; he had always been so reservedto her;she could enjoy without any fear the sense that thisstrongbrave man loved her and was near her.  It never enteredinto hermind that Adam was pitiable too--that Adam too mustsuffer oneday.

Hettyweknowwas not the first woman that had behaved moregently tothe man who loved her in vain because she had herselfbegun tolove another.  It was a very old storybut Adam knewnothingabout itso he drank in the sweet delusion.

"That'lldo" said Hettyafter a little while.  "Aunt wants metoleave someon the trees.  I'll take 'em in now."

"It'svery well I came to carry the basket" said Adam "for it'udha' beentoo heavy for your little arms."

"No;I could ha' carried it with both hands."

"OhI daresay" said Adamsmiling"and been as long gettinginto thehouse as a little ant carrying a caterpillar.  Have youever seenthose tiny fellows carrying things four times as big asthemselves?"

"No"said Hettyindifferentlynot caring to know thedifficultiesof ant life.

"OhI used to watch 'em often when I was a lad.  But nowyouseeI cancarry the basket with one armas if it was an emptynutshelland give you th' other arm to lean on.  Won't you?  Suchbig armsas mine were made for little arms like yours to lean on."

Hettysmiled faintly and put her arm within his.  Adam looked downat herbut her eyes were turned dreamily towards another cornerof thegarden.

"Haveyou ever been to Eagledale?" she saidas they walked slowlyalong.

"Yes"said Adampleased to have her ask a question abouthimself. "Ten years agowhen I was a ladI went with father tosee aboutsome work there.  It's a wonderful sight--rocks andcaves suchas you never saw in your life.  I never had a rightnotion o'rocks till I went there."

"Howlong did it take to get there?"

"Whyit took us the best part o' two days' walking.  But it'snothing ofa day's journey for anybody as has got a first-ratenag. The captain 'ud get there in nine or ten hoursI'll beboundhe's such a rider.  And I shouldn't wonder if he's backagainto-morrow; he's too active to rest long in that lonelyplaceallby himselffor there's nothing but a bit of a inn i'that partwhere he's gone to fish.  I wish he'd got th' estate inhis hands;that 'ud be the right thing for himfor it 'ud givehim plentyto doand he'd do't well toofor all he's so young;he's gotbetter notions o' things than many a man twice his age.He spokevery handsome to me th' other day about lending me moneyto set upi' business; and if things came round that wayI'drather bebeholding to him nor to any man i' the world."

Poor Adamwas led on to speak about Arthur because he thoughtHettywould be pleased to know that the young squire was so readytobefriend him; the fact entered into his future prospectswhichhe wouldlike to seem promising in her eyes.  And it was true thatHettylistened with an interest which brought a new light into hereyes and ahalf-smile upon her lips.

"Howpretty the roses are now!" Adam continuedpausing to look atthem. "See!  I stole the prettiestbut I didna mean to keep itmyself. I think these as are all pinkand have got a finer sorto' greenleavesare prettier than the striped unsdon't you?"

He setdown the basket and took the rose from his button-hole.

"Itsmells very sweet" he said; "those striped uns have nosmell.Stick itin your frockand then you can put it in water after.It 'ud bea pity to let it fade."

Hetty tookthe rosesmiling as she did so at the pleasant thoughtthatArthur could so soon get back if he liked.  There was a flashof hopeand happiness in her mindand with a sudden impulse ofgaiety shedid what she had very often done before--stuck the rosein herhair a little above the left ear.  The tender admiration inAdam'sface was slightly shadowed by reluctant disapproval.Hetty'slove of finery was just the thing that would most provokehismotherand he himself disliked it as much as it was possiblefor him todislike anything that belonged to her.

"Ah"he said"that's like the ladies in the pictures at theChase;they've mostly got flowers or feathers or gold things i'theirhairbut somehow I don't like to see 'em they allays put mei' mind o'the painted women outside the shows at Treddles'onFair. What can a woman have to set her off better than her ownhairwhenit curls solike yours?  If a woman's young andprettyIthink you can see her good looks all the better for herbeingplain dressed.  WhyDinah Morris looks very nicefor allshe wearssuch a plain cap and gown.  It seems to me as a woman'sfacedoesna want flowers; it's almost like a flower itself.  I'msure yoursis."

"Ohvery well" said Hettywith a little playful pouttakingthe roseout of her hair.  "I'll put one o' Dinah's caps on whenwe go inand you'll see if I look better in it.  She left onebehindsoI can take the pattern."

"NaynayI don't want you to wear a Methodist cap like Dinah's.I daresayit's a very ugly capand I used to think when I saw herhere as itwas nonsense for her to dress different t' otherpeople;but I never rightly noticed her till she came to seemotherlast weekand then I thought the cap seemed to fit herfacesomehow as th 'acorn-cup fits th' acornand I shouldn't liketo see herso well without it.  But you've got another sort o'face; I'dhave you just as you are nowwithout anything t'interferewith your own looks.  It's like when a man's singing agoodtune--you don't want t' hear bells tinkling and interferingwi' thesound."

He tookher arm and put it within his againlooking down on herfondly. He was afraid she should think he had lectured herimaginingas we are apt to dothat she had perceived all thethoughtshe had only half-expressed.  And the thing he dreadedmost waslest any cloud should come over this evening's happiness.For theworld he would not have spoken of his love to Hetty yettill thiscommencing kindness towards him should have grown intounmistakablelove.  In his imagination he saw long years of hisfuturelife stretching before himblest with the right to callHetty hisown: he could be content with very little at present.So he tookup the basket of currants once moreand they went ontowardsthe house.

The scenehad quite changed in the half-hour that Adam had been inthegarden.  The yard was full of life now: Marty was letting thescreaminggeese through the gateand wickedly provoking thegander byhissing at him; the granary-door was groaning on itshinges asAlick shut itafter dealing out the corn; the horseswere beingled out to wateringamidst much barking of all thethree dogsand many "whups" from Tim the ploughmanas if theheavyanimals who held down their meekintelligent headsandliftedtheir shaggy feet so deliberatelywere likely to rushwildly inevery direction but the right.  Everybody was come backfrom themeadow; and when Hetty and Adam entered the house-placeMr. Poyserwas seated in the three-cornered chairand thegrandfatherin the large arm-chair oppositelooking on withpleasantexpectation while the supper was being laid on the oaktable. Mrs. Poyser had laid the cloth herself--a cloth made ofhomespunlinenwith a shining checkered pattern on itand of anagreeablewhitey-brown huesuch as all sensible housewives liketosee--none of your bleached "shop-rag" that would wear intoholes inno timebut good homespun that would last for twogenerations. The cold vealthe fresh lettucesand the stuffedchinemight well look tempting to hungry men who had dined athalf-pasttwelve o'clock.  On the large deal table against thewall therewere bright pewter plates and spoons and cansreadyfor Alickand his companions; for the master and servants atetheirsupper not far off each other; which was all the pleasanterbecause ifa remark about to-morrow morning's work occurred to Mr.PoyserAlick was at hand to hear it.

"WellAdamI'm glad to see ye" said Mr. Poyser.  "What!ye'vebeenhelping Hetty to gether the curran'seh?  Comesit ye downsit yedown.  Whyit's pretty near a three-week since y' had yoursupperwith us; and the missis has got one of her rare stuffedchines. I'm glad ye're come."

"Hetty"said Mrs. Poyseras she looked into the basket ofcurrantsto see if the fruit was fine"run upstairs and sendMollydown.  She's putting Totty to bedand I want her to drawth' alefor Nancy's busy yet i' the dairy.  You can see to thechild. But whativer did you let her run away from you along wi'Tommy forand stuff herself wi' fruit as she can't eat a bit o'goodvictual?"

This wassaid in a lower tone than usualwhile her husband wastalking toAdam; for Mrs. Poyser was strict in adherence to herown rulesof proprietyand she considered that a young girl wasnot to betreated sharply in the presence of a respectable man whowascourting her.  That would not be fair-play: every woman wasyoung inher turnand had her chances of matrimonywhich it wasa point ofhonour for other women not to spoil--just as onemarket-womanwho has sold her own eggs must not try to balkanother ofa customer.

Hetty madehaste to run away upstairsnot easily finding ananswer toher aunt's questionand Mrs. Poyser went out to seeafterMarty and Tommy and bring them in to supper.

Soon theywere all seated--the two rosy ladsone on each sidebythe palemothera place being left for Hetty between Adam and heruncle. Alick too was come inand was seated in his far cornereatingcold broad beans out of a large dish with his pocket-knifeandfinding a flavour in them which he would not have exchangedfor thefinest pineapple.

"Whata time that gell is drawing th' aleto be sure!" said Mrs.Poyserwhen she was dispensing her slices of stuffed chine.  "Ithink shesets the jug under and forgets to turn the tapasthere'snothing you can't believe o' them wenches: they'll set theemptykettle o' the fireand then come an hour after to see ifthe waterboils."

"She'sdrawin' for the men too" said Mr. Poyser.  "Theeshouldstha' toldher to bring our jug up first."

"Toldher?" said Mrs. Poyser.  "YesI might spend all thewind i'my bodyan' take the bellows tooif I was to tell them gellseverythingas their own sharpness wonna tell 'em.  Mr. Bedewillyou takesome vinegar with your lettuce?  Aye you're i' the rightnot. It spoils the flavour o' the chineto my thinking.  It'spooreating where the flavour o' the meat lies i' the cruets.There'sfolks as make bad butter and trusten to the salt t' hideit."

Mrs.Poyser's attention was here diverted by the appearance ofMollycarrying a large jugtwo small mugsand four drinking-cansallfull of ale or small beer--an interesting example of theprehensilepower possessed by the human hand.  Poor Molly's mouthwas ratherwider open than usualas she walked along with hereyes fixedon the double cluster of vessels in her handsquiteinnocentof the expression in her mistress's eye.

"MollyI niver knew your equils--to think o' your poor mother asis awidowan' I took you wi' as good as no characteran' thetimes an'times I've told you...."

Molly hadnot seen the lightningand the thunder shook her nervesthe morefor the want of that preparation.  With a vague alarmedsense thatshe must somehow comport herself differentlyshehastenedher step a little towards the far deal tablewhere shemight setdown her cans--caught her foot in her apronwhich hadbecomeuntiedand fell with a crash and a splash into a pool ofbeer;whereupon a tittering explosion from Marty and Tommyand aserious"Ello!" from Mr. Poyserwho saw his draught of aleunpleasantlydeferred.

"Thereyou go!" resumed Mrs. Poyserin a cutting toneas sherose andwent towards the cupboard while Molly began dolefully topick upthe fragments of pottery.  "It's what I told you 'ud comeover andover again; and there's your month's wage goneand moreto pay forthat jug as I've had i' the house this ten yearandnothingever happened to't before; but the crockery you've brokesin' herein th' house you've been 'ud make a parson swear--Godforgi' mefor saying so--an' if it had been boiling wort out o'thecopperit 'ud ha' been the sameand you'd ha' been scaldedand verylike lamed for lifeas there's no knowing but what youwill besome day if you go on; for anybody 'ud think you'd got theSt.Vitus's Danceto see the things you've throwed down.  It's apity butwhat the bits was stacked up for you to seethough it'sneitherseeing nor hearing as 'ull make much odds to you--anybody'ud thinkyou war case-hardened."

PoorMolly's tears were dropping fast by this timeand in herdesperationat the lively movement of the beer-stream towardsAlick'slegsshe was converting her apron into a mopwhile Mrs.Poyseropening the cupboardturned a blighting eye upon her.

"Ah"she went on"you'll do no good wi' crying an' making morewet towipe up.  It's all your own wilfulnessas I tell youforthere'snobody no call to break anything if they'll only go theright wayto work.  But wooden folks had need ha' wooden things t'handle. And here must I take the brown-and-white jugas it'sniver beenused three times this yearand go down i' the cellarmyselfand belike catch my deathand be laid up wi'inflammation...."

Mrs.Poyser had turned round from the cupboard with the brown-and-white jugin her handwhen she caught sight of something at theother endof the kitchen; perhaps it was because she was alreadytremblingand nervous that the apparition had so strong an effecton her;perhaps jug-breakinglike other crimeshas a contagiousinfluence. However it wasshe stared and started like a ghost-seerandthe precious brown-and-white jug fell to the groundpartingfor ever with its spout and handle.

"Didever anybody see the like?" she saidwith a suddenly loweredtoneafter a moment's bewildered glance round the room.  "Thejugs arebewitchedI think.  It's them nasty glazed handles--theyslip o'erthe finger like a snail."

"Whythee'st let thy own whip fly i' thy face" said her husbandwho hadnow joined in the laugh of the young ones.

"It'sall very fine to look on and grin" rejoined Mrs. Poyser;"butthere's times when the crockery seems alive an' flies out o'your handlike a bird.  It's like the glasssometimes'ull crackas itstands.  What is to be broke WILL be brokefor I neverdropped athing i' my life for want o' holding itelse I shouldnever ha'kept the crockery all these 'ears as I bought at my ownwedding. And Hettyare you mad?  Whativer do you mean by comingdown i'that wayand making one think as there's a ghost a-walking i'th' house?"

A newoutbreak of laughterwhile Mrs. Poyser was speakingwascausedless by her sudden conversion to a fatalistic view of jug-breakingthan by that strange appearance of Hettywhich hadstartledher aunt.  The little minx had found a black gown of heraunt'sand pinned it close round her neck to look like Dinah'shad madeher hair as flat as she couldand had tied on one ofDinah'shigh-crowned borderless net caps.  The thought of Dinah'spale graveface and mild grey eyeswhich the sight of the gownand capbrought with itmade it a laughable surprise enough tosee themreplaced by Hetty's round rosy cheeks and coquettish darkeyes. The boys got off their chairs and jumped round herclappingtheir handsand even Alick gave a low ventral laugh ashe lookedup from his beans.  Under cover of the noiseMrs.Poyserwent into the back kitchen to send Nancy into the cellarwith thegreat pewter measurewhich had some chance of being freefrombewitchment.

"WhyHettylassare ye turned Methodist?" said Mr. Poyserwiththatcomfortable slow enjoyment of a laugh which one only sees instoutpeople.  "You must pull your face a deal longer beforeyou'll dofor one; mustna sheAdam? How come you put them thingsoneh?"

"Adamsaid he liked Dinah's cap and gown better nor my clothes"saidHettysitting down demurely.  "He says folks looks betterinuglyclothes."

"Naynay" said Adamlooking at her admiringly; "I only saidtheyseemed to suit Dinah.  But if I'd said you'd look pretty in'emIshould ha' said nothing but what was true."

"Whythee thought'st Hetty war a ghostdidstna?" said Mr. Poyserto hiswifewho now came back and took her seat again.  "Theelook'dstas scared as scared."

"Itlittle sinnifies how I looked" said Mrs. Poyser; "looks'ullmend nojugsnor laughing neitheras I see.  Mr. BedeI'm sorryyou've towait so long for your alebut it's coming in a minute.Makeyourself at home wi' th' cold potatoes: I know you like 'em.TommyI'll send you to bed this minuteif you don't give overlaughing. What is there to laugh atI should like to know?  I'dsooner crynor laugh at the sight o' that poor thing's cap; andthere'sthem as 'ud be better if they could make theirselves likeher i'more ways nor putting on her cap.  It little becomesanybody i'this house to make fun o' my sister's childan' herjust goneaway from usas it went to my heart to part wi' her.An' I knowone thingas if trouble was to comean' I was to belaid up i'my bedan' the children was to die--as there's noknowingbut what they will--an' the murrain was to come among thecattleagainan' everything went to rack an' ruinI say we mightbe glad toget sight o' Dinah's cap againwi' her own face underitborderor no border.  For she's one o' them things as looksthebrightest on a rainy dayand loves you the best when you'remost i'need on't."

Mrs.Poyseryou perceivewas aware that nothing would be solikely toexpel the comic as the terrible.  Tommywho was of asusceptibledispositionand very fond of his motherand who hadbesideseaten so many cherries as to have his feelings less undercommandthan usualwas so affected by the dreadful picture shehad madeof the possible future that he began to cry; and thegood-naturedfatherindulgent to all weaknesses but those ofnegligentfarmerssaid to Hetty"You'd better take the thingsoff againmy lass; it hurts your aunt to see 'em."

Hetty wentupstairs againand the arrival of the ale made anagreeablediversion; for Adam had to give his opinion of the newtapwhichcould not be otherwise than complimentary to Mrs.Poyser;and then followed a discussion on the secrets of goodbrewingthe folly of stinginess in "hopping" and the doubtfuleconomy ofa farmer's making his own malt.  Mrs. Poyser had somanyopportunities of expressing herself with weight on thesesubjectsthat by the time supper was endedthe ale-jug refilledand Mr.Poyser's pipe alight she was once more in high goodhumourand readyat Adam's requestto fetch the brokenspinning-wheelfor his inspection.

"Ah"said Adamlooking at it carefully"here's a nice bit o'turningwanted.  It's a pretty wheel.  I must have it up at theturning-shopin the village and do it therefor I've noconvenencefor turning at home.  If you'll send it to Mr. Burge'sshop i'the morningI'll get it done for you by Wednesday.  I'vebeenturning it over in my mind" he continuedlooking at Mr.Poyser"to make a bit more convenence at home for nice jobs o'cabinet-making. I've always done a deal at such little things inodd hoursand they're profitablefor there's more workmanshipnormaterial in 'em.  I look for me and Seth to get a littlebusinessfor ourselves i' that wayfor I know a man at Rosseteras 'ulltake as many things as we should makebesides what wecould getorders for round about."

Mr. Poyserentered with interest into a project which seemed asteptowards Adam's becoming a "master-man" and Mrs. Poysergaveherapprobation to the scheme of the movable kitchen cupboardwhich wasto be capable of containing grocerypicklescrockeryandhouse-linen in the utmost compactness without confusion.Hettyonce more in her own dresswith her neckerchief pushed alittlebackwards on this warm eveningwas seated picking currantsnear thewindowwhere Adam could see her quite well.  And so thetimepassed pleasantly till Adam got up to go.  He was pressed tocome againsoonbut not to stay longerfor at this busy timesensiblepeople would not run the risk of being sleepy at fiveo'clock inthe morning.

"Ishall take a step farther" said Adam"and go on to seeMesterMasseyfor he wasn't at church yesterdayand I've not seen himfor a weekpast.  I've never hardly known him to miss churchbefore."

"Aye"said Mr. Poyser"we've heared nothing about himfor it'sthe boys'hollodays nowso we can give you no account."

"Butyou'll niver think o' going there at this hour o' the night?"said Mrs.Poyserfolding up her knitting.

"OhMester Massey sits up late" said Adam.  "An' thenight-school'snot over yet.  Some o' the men don't come till late--they'vegot so far to walk.  And Bartle himself's never in bedtill it'sgone eleven."

"Iwouldna have him to live wi' methen" said Mrs. Poyser"a-droppingcandle-grease aboutas you're like to tumble down o' thefloor thefirst thing i' the morning."

"Ayeeleven o'clock's late--it's late" said old Martin.  "Ine'er sotup so i' MY lifenot to say as it warna a marr'in'orachristenin'or a wakeor th' harvest supper.  Eleven o'clock'slate."

"WhyI sit up till after twelve often" said Adamlaughing"butit isn'tt' eat and drink extryit's to work extry.  Good-nightMrs.Poyser; good-nightHetty."

Hettycould only smile and not shake handsfor hers were dyed anddamp withcurrant-juice; but all the rest gave a hearty shake tothe largepalm that was held out to themand said"Come againcomeagain!"

"Ayethink o' that now" said Mr. Poyserwhen Adam was out of onthecauseway.  "Sitting up till past twelve to do extry work!Ye'll notfind many men o' six-an' twenty as 'ull do to put i' theshafts wi'him.  If you can catch Adam for a husbandHettyyou'llride i' your own spring-cart some dayI'll be yourwarrant."

Hetty wasmoving across the kitchen with the currantsso heruncle didnot see the little toss of the head with which sheansweredhim.  To ride in a spring-cart seemed a very miserablelot indeedto her now.

 

 ChapterXXI TheNight-School and the Schoolmaster

 

BartleMassey's was one of a few scattered houses on the edge of acommonwhich was divided by the road to Treddleston.  Adamreached itin a quarter of an hour after leaving the Hall Farm;and whenhe had his hand on the door-latchhe could seethroughthecurtainless windowthat there were eight or nine headsbendingover the deskslighted by thin dips.

When heentereda reading lesson was going forward and BartleMasseymerely noddedleaving him to take his place where hepleased. He had not come for the sake of a lesson to-nightandhis mindwas too full of personal matterstoo full of the lasttwo hourshe had passed in Hetty's presencefor him to amusehimselfwith a book till school was over; so he sat down in acorner andlooked on with an absent mind.  It was a sort of scenewhich Adamhad beheld almost weekly for years; he knew by hearteveryarabesque flourish in the framed specimen of Bartle Massey'shandwritingwhich hung over the schoolmaster's headby way ofkeeping alofty ideal before the minds of his pupils; he knew thebacks ofall the books on the shelf running along the whitewashedwall abovethe pegs for the slates; he knew exactly how manygrainswere gone out of the ear of Indian corn that hung from oneof therafters; he had long ago exhausted the resources of hisimaginationin trying to think how the bunch of leathery seaweedhad lookedand grown in its native element; and from the placewhere hesathe could make nothing of the old map of England thathungagainst the opposite wallfor age had turned it of a fineyellowbrownsomething like that of a well-seasoned meerschaum.The dramathat was going on was almost as familiar as the sceneneverthelesshabit had not made him indifferent to itand even inhispresent self-absorbed moodAdam felt a momentary stirring ofthe oldfellow-feelingas he looked at the rough men painfullyholdingpen or pencil with their cramped handsor humblylabouringthrough their reading lesson.

Thereading class now seated on the form in front of theschoolmaster'sdesk consisted of the three most backward pupils.Adam wouldhave known it only by seeing Bartle Massey's face as helookedover his spectacleswhich he had shifted to the ridge ofhis nosenot requiring them for present purposes.  The face woreitsmildest expression: the grizzled bushy eyebrows had takentheir moreacute angle of compassionate kindnessand the mouthhabituallycompressed with a pout of the lower lipwas relaxed soas to beready to speak a helpful word or syllable in a moment.Thisgentle expression was the more interesting because theschoolmaster'snosean irregular aquiline twisted a little on onesidehadrather a formidable character; and his browmoreoverhad thatpeculiar tension which always impresses one as a sign ofa keenimpatient temperament: the blue veins stood out like cordsunder thetransparent yellow skinand this intimidating brow wassoftenedby no tendency to baldnessfor the grey bristly haircut downto about an inch in lengthstood round it in as closeranks asever.

"NayBillnay" Bartle was saying in a kind toneas he noddedto Adam"begin that againand then perhapsit'll come to youwhat d-r-yspells.  It's the same lesson you read last weekyouknow."

"Bill"was a sturdy fellowaged four-and-twentyan excellentstone-sawyerwho could get as good wages as any man in the tradeof hisyears; but he found a reading lesson in words of onesyllable aharder matter to deal with than the hardest stone hehad everhad to saw.  The lettershe complainedwere so"uncommonalikethere was no tellin' 'em one from another" thesawyer'sbusiness not being concerned with minute differences suchas existbetween a letter with its tail turned up and a letterwith itstail turned down.  But Bill had a firm determination thathe wouldlearn to readfounded chiefly on two reasons: firstthat TomHazelowhis cousincould read anything "right off"whether itwas print or writingand Tom had sent him a letterfromtwenty miles offsaying how he was prospering in the worldand hadgot an overlooker's place; secondlythat Sam Phillipswho sawedwith himhad learned to read when he was turned twentyand whatcould be done by a little fellow like Sam PhillipsBillconsideredcould be done by himselfseeing that he could poundSam intowet clay if circumstances required it.  So here he waspointinghis big finger towards three words at onceand turninghis headon one side that he might keep better hold with his eyeof the oneword which was to be discriminated out of the group.The amountof knowledge Bartle Massey must possess was somethingso dim andvast that Bill's imagination recoiled before it: hewouldhardly have ventured to deny that the schoolmaster mighthavesomething to do in bringing about the regular return ofdaylightand the changes in the weather.

The manseated next to Bill was of a very different type: he was aMethodistbrickmaker whoafter spending thirty years of his lifein perfectsatisfaction with his ignorancehad lately "gotreligion"and along with it the desire to read the Bible.  Butwith himtoolearning was a heavy businessand on his way outto-nighthe had offered as usual a special prayer for helpseeingthat hehad undertaken this hard task with a single eye to thenourishmentof his soul--that he might have a greater abundance oftexts andhymns wherewith to banish evil memories and thetemptationsof old habit--orin brief languagethe devil.  Forthebrickmaker had been a notorious poacherand was suspectedthoughthere was no good evidence against himof being the manwho hadshot a neighbouring gamekeeper in the leg.  However thatmight beit is certain that shortly after the accident referredtowhichwas coincident with the arrival of an awakeningMethodistpreacher at Treddlestona great change had beenobservedin the brickmaker; and though he was still known in theneighbourhoodby his old sobriquet of "Brimstone" there wasnothing heheld in so much horror as any further transactions withthatevil-smelling element.  He was a broad-chested fellow. witha fervidtemperamentwhich helped him better in imbibingreligiousideas than in the dry process of acquiring the merehumanknowledge of the alphabet.  Indeedhe had been already alittleshaken in his resolution by a brother Methodistwhoassuredhim that the letter was a mere obstruction to the Spiritandexpressed a fear that Brimstone was too eager for theknowledgethat puffeth up.

The thirdbeginner was a much more promising pupil.  He was a tallbut thinand wiry mannearly as old as Brimstonewith a verypale faceand hands stained a deep blue.  He was a dyerwho inthe courseof dipping homespun wool and old women's petticoats hadgot firedwith the ambition to learn a great deal more about thestrangesecrets of colour.  He had already a high reputation inthedistrict for his dyesand he was bent on discovering somemethod bywhich he could reduce the expense of crimsons andscarlets. The druggist at Treddleston had given him a notion thathe mightsave himself a great deal of labour and expense if hecouldlearn to readand so he had begun to give his spare hoursto thenight-schoolresolving that his "little chap" should loseno time incoming to Mr. Massey's day-school as soon as he was oldenough.

It wastouching to see these three big menwith the marks oftheir hardlabour about themanxiously bending over the wornbooks andpainfully making out"The grass is green" "Thesticksare dry""The corn is ripe"--a very hard lesson to pass to aftercolumns ofsingle words all alike except in the first letter.  Itwas almostas if three rough animals were making humble efforts tolearn howthey might become human.  And it touched the tenderestfibre inBartle Massey's naturefor such full-grown children asthese werethe only pupils for whom he had no severe epithets andnoimpatient tones.  He was not gifted with an imperturbabletemperand on music-nights it was apparent that patience couldnever bean easy virtue to him; but this eveningas he glancesover hisspectacles at Bill Downesthe sawyerwho is turning hishead onone side with a desperate sense of blankness before thelettersd-r-yhis eyes shed their mildest and most encouraginglight.

After thereading classtwo youths between sixteen and nineteencame upwith the imaginary bills of parcelswhich they had beenwritingout on their slates and were now required to calculate"off-hand"--atest which they stood with such imperfect successthatBartle Masseywhose eyes had been glaring at them ominouslythroughhis spectacles for some minutesat length burst out in abitterhigh-pitched tonepausing between every sentence to rapthe floorwith a knobbed stick which rested between his legs.

"Nowyou seeyou don't do this thing a bit better than you did afortnightagoand I'll tell you what's the reason.  You want tolearnaccounts--that's well and good.  But you think all you needdo tolearn accounts is to come to me and do sums for an hour orsotwo orthree times a-week; and no sooner do you get your capson andturn out of doors again than you sweep the whole thingclean outof your mind.  You go whistling aboutand take no morecare whatyou're thinking of than if your heads were gutters foranyrubbish to swill through that happened to be in the way; andif you geta good notion in 'emit's pretty soon washed outagain. You think knowledge is to be got cheap--you'll come andpay BartleMassey sixpence a-weekand he'll make you clever atfigureswithout your taking any trouble.  But knowledge isn't tobe gotwith paying sixpencelet me tell you.  If you're to knowfiguresyou must turn 'em over in your heads and keep yourthoughtsfixed on 'em.  There's nothing you can't turn into a sumforthere's nothing but what's got number in it--even a fool.  Youmay say toyourselves'I'm one fooland Jack's another; if myfool'shead weighed four poundand Jack's three pound threeounces andthree quartershow many pennyweights heavier would myhead bethan Jack's?'  A man that had got his heart in learningfigureswould make sums for himself and work 'em in his head.When hesat at his shoemakinghe'd count his stitches by fivesand thenput a price on his stitchessay half a farthingandthen seehow much money he could get in an hour; and then askhimselfhow much money he'd get in a day at that rate; and thenhow muchten workmen would get working threeor twentyor ahundredyears at that rate--and all the while his needle would begoing justas fast as if he left his head empty for the devil todance in. But the long and the short of it is--I'll have nobodyin mynight-school that doesn't strive to learn what he comes tolearnashard as if he was striving to get out of a dark holeinto broaddaylight.  I'll send no man away because he's stupid:if BillyTaftthe idiotwanted to learn anythingI'd not refuseto teachhim.  But I'll not throw away good knowledge on peoplewho thinkthey can get it by the sixpenn'orthand carry it awaywith 'emas they would an ounce of snuff.  So never come to meagainifyou can't show that you've been working with your ownheadsinstead of thinking that you can pay for mine to work foryou. That's the last word I've got to say to you."

With thisfinal sentenceBartle Massey gave a sharper rap thanever withhis knobbed stickand the discomfited lads got up to gowith asulky look.  The other pupils had happily only theirwriting-booksto showin various stages of progress from pot-hooks toround text; and mere pen-strokeshowever perversewerelessexasperating to Bartle than false arithmetic.  He was alittlemore severe than usual on Jacob Storey's Z'sof which poorJacob hadwritten a pagefulall with their tops turned the wrongwaywitha puzzled sense that they were not right "somehow." Butheobserved in apologythat it was a letter you never wantedhardlyand he thought it had only been there "to finish off th'alphabetlikethough ampusand (&) would ha' done as wellforwhat hecould see."

At lastthe pupils had all taken their hats and said their "Good-nights"and Adamknowing his old master's habitsrose and said"ShallI put the candles outMr. Massey?"

"Yesmy boyyesall but thiswhich I'll carry into the house;and justlock the outer doornow you're near it" said Bartlegettinghis stick in the fitting angle to help him in descendingfrom hisstool.  He was no sooner on the ground than it becameobviouswhy the stick was necessary--the left leg was much shorterthan theright.  But the school-master was so active with hislamenessthat it was hardly thought of as a misfortune; and if youhad seenhim make his way along the schoolroom floorand up thestep intohis kitchenyou would perhaps have understood why thenaughtyboys sometimes felt that his pace might be indefinitelyquickenedand that he and his stick might overtake them even intheirswiftest run.

The momenthe appeared at the kitchen door with the candle in hishandafaint whimpering began in the chimney-cornerand a brown-and-tan-colouredbitchof that wise-looking breed with short legsand longbodyknown to an unmechanical generation as turnspitscamecreeping along the floorwagging her tailand hesitating ateveryother stepas if her affections were painfully dividedbetweenthe hamper in the chimney-corner and the masterwhom shecould notleave without a greeting.

"WellVixenwell thenhow are the babbies?" said theschoolmastermaking haste towards the chimney-corner and holdingthe candleover the low hamperwhere two extremely blind puppieslifted uptheir heads towards the light from a nest of flannel andwool. Vixen could not even see her master look at them withoutpainfulexcitement: she got into the hamper and got out again thenextmomentand behaved with true feminine follythough lookingall thewhile as wise as a dwarf with a large old-fashioned headand bodyon the most abbreviated legs.

"Whyyou've got a familyI seeMr. Massey?" said Adamsmilingas he cameinto the kitchen.  "How's that?  I thought it wasagainstthe law here."

"Law? What's the use o' law when a man's once such a fool as tolet awoman into his house?" said Bartleturning away from thehamperwith some bitterness.  He always called Vixen a womanandseemed tohave lost all consciousness that he was using a figureofspeech.  "If I'd known Vixen was a womanI'd never haveheldthe boysfrom drowning her; but when I'd got her into my handIwas forcedto take to her.  And now you see what she's brought meto--theslyhypocritical wench"--Bartle spoke these last words ina raspingtone of reproachand looked at Vixenwho poked downher headand turned up her eyes towards him with a keen sense ofopprobrium--"andcontrived to be brought to bed on a Sunday atchurch-time. I've wished again and again I'd been a bloody mindedmanthatI could have strangled the mother and the brats with onecord."

"I'mglad it was no worse a cause kept you from church" saidAdam. "I was afraid you must be ill for the first time i' yourlife. And I was particularly sorry not to have you at churchyesterday."

"Ahmy boyI know whyI know why" said Bartle kindlygoing upto Adamand raising his hand up to the shoulder that was almost ona levelwith his own head.  "You've had a rough bit o' road to getover sinceI saw you--a rough bit o' road.  But I'm in hopes thereare bettertimes coming for you.  I've got some news to tell you.But I mustget my supper firstfor I'm hungryI'm hungry.  Sitdownsitdown."

Bartelwent into his little pantryand brought out an excellenthome-bakedloaf; for it was his one extravagance in these deartimes toeat bread once a-day instead of oat-cake; and hejustifiedit by observingthat what a schoolmaster wanted wasbrainsand oat-cake ran too much to bone instead of brains.  Thencame apiece of cheese and a quart jug with a crown of foam uponit. He placed them all on the round deal table which stoodagainsthis large arm-chair in the chimney-cornerwith Vixen'shamper onone side of it and a window-shelf with a few books piledup in iton the other.  The table was as clean as if Vixen hadbeen anexcellent housewife in a checkered apron; so was thequarryfloor; and the old carved oaken presstableand chairswhich inthese days would be bought at a high price inaristocratichousesthoughin that period of spider-legs andinlaidcupidsBartle had got them for an old songwhere as freefrom dustas things could be at the end of a summer's day.

"Nowthenmy boydraw updraw up.  We'll not talk aboutbusinesstill we've had our supper.  No man can be wise on anemptystomach.  But" said Bartlerising from his chair again"Imust giveVixen her supper tooconfound her!  Though she'll donothingwith it but nourish those unnecessary babbies.  That's theway withthese women--they've got no head-pieces to nourishandso theirfood all runs either to fat or to brats."

He broughtout of the pantry a dish of scrapswhich Vixen at oncefixed hereyes onand jumped out of her hamper to lick up withthe utmostdispatch.

"I'vehad my supperMr. Massey" said Adam"so I'll look onwhile youeat yours.  I've been at the Hall Farmand they alwayshave theirsupper betimesyou know: they don't keep your latehours."

"Iknow little about their hours" said Bartle drylycutting hisbread andnot shrinking from the crust.  "It's a house I seldom gointothough I'm fond of the boysand Martin Poyser's a goodfellow. There's too many women in the house for me: I hate thesound ofwomen's voices; they're always either a-buzz or a-squeak--alwayseither a-buzz or a-squeak.  Mrs. Poyser keeps at the topo' thetalk like a fife; and as for the young lassesI'd as soonlook atwater-grubs.  I know what they'll turn to--stinging gnatsstinginggnats.  Heretake some alemy boy: it's been drawn foryou--it'sbeen drawn for you."

"NayMr. Massey" said Adamwho took his old friend's whim moreseriouslythan usual to-night"don't be so hard on the creatursGod hasmade to be companions for us.  A working-man 'ud be badlyoffwithout a wife to see to th' house and the victualand makethingsclean and comfortable."

"Nonsense! It's the silliest lie a sensible man like you everbelievedto say a woman makes a house comfortable.  It's a storygot upbecause the women are there and something must be found for'em todo.  I tell you there isn't a thing under the sun thatneeds tobe done at allbut what a man can do better than awomanunless it's bearing childrenand they do that in a poormake-shiftway; it had better ha' been left to the men--it hadbetter ha'been left to the men.  I tell youa woman 'ull bakeyou a pieevery week of her life and never come to see that thehotter th'oven the shorter the time.  I tell youa woman 'ullmake yourporridge every day for twenty years and never think ofmeasuringthe proportion between the meal and the milk--a littlemore orlessshe'll thinkdoesn't signify.  The porridge WILL beawk'ardnow and then: if it's wrongit's summat in the mealorit'ssummat in the milkor it's summat in the water.  Look at me!I make myown breadand there's no difference between one batchandanother from year's end to year's end; but if I'd got anyotherwoman besides Vixen in the houseI must pray to the Lordeverybaking to give me patience if the bread turned out heavy.And as forcleanlinessmy house is cleaner than any other houseon theCommonthough the half of 'em swarm with women.  WillBaker'slad comes to help me in a morningand we get as muchcleaningdone in one hourwithout any fussas a woman 'ud getdone inthreeand all the while be sending buckets o' water afteryouranklesand let the fender and the fire-irons stand in themiddle o'the floor half the day for you to break your shinsagainst'em.  Don't tell me about God having made such creaturesto becompanions for us!  I don't say but He might make Eve to beacompanion to Adam in Paradise--there was no cooking to be spoiltthereandno other woman to cackle with and make mischiefthoughyou seewhat mischief she did as soon as she'd an opportunity.But it'san impiousunscriptural opinion to say a woman's ablessingto a man now; you might as well say adders and waspsandfoxes andwild beasts are a blessingwhen they're only the evilsthatbelong to this state o' probationwhich it's lawful for aman tokeep as clear of as he can in this lifehoping to get quitof 'em forever in another--hoping to get quit of 'em for ever inanother."

Bartle hadbecome so excited and angry in the course of hisinvectivethat he had forgotten his supperand only used theknife forthe purpose of rapping the table with the haft.  Buttowardsthe closethe raps became so sharp and frequentand hisvoice soquarrelsomethat Vixen felt it incumbent on her to jumpout of thehamper and bark vaguely.

"QuietVixen!" snarled Bartleturning round upon her.  "You'relike therest o' the women--always putting in your word before youknow why."

Vixenreturned to her hamper again in humiliationand her mastercontinuedhis supper in a silence which Adam did not choose tointerrupt;he knew the old man would be in a better humour when hehad hadhis supper and lighted his pipe.  Adam was used to hearhim talkin this waybut had never learned so much of Bartle'spast lifeas to know whether his view of married comfort wasfounded onexperience.  On that point Bartle was muteand it waseven asecret where he had lived previous to the twenty years inwhichhappily for the peasants and artisans of this neighbourhoodhe hadbeen settled among them as their only schoolmaster.  Ifanythinglike a question was ventured on this subjectBartlealwaysreplied"OhI've seen many places--I've been a deal inthesouth" and the Loamshire men would as soon have thought ofasking fora particular town or village in Africa as in "thesouth."

"Nowthenmy boy" said Bartleat lastwhen he had poured outhis secondmug of ale and lighted his pipe"now thenwe'll havea littletalk.  But tell me firsthave you heard any particularnewsto-day?"

"No"said Adam"not as I remember."

"Ahthey'll keep it closethey'll keep it closeI daresay.  ButI found itout by chance; and it's news that may concern youAdamelseI'm a man that don't know a superficial square footfrom asolid."

HereBartle gave a series of fierce and rapid puffslookingearnestlythe while at Adam.  Your impatient loquacious man hasnever anynotion of keeping his pipe alight by gentle measuredpuffs; heis always letting it go nearly outand then punishingit forthat negligence.  At last he said"Satchell's got aparalyticstroke.  I found it out from the lad they sent toTreddlestonfor the doctorbefore seven o'clock this morning.He's agood way beyond sixtyyou know; it's much if he gets overit."

"Well"said Adam"I daresay there'd be more rejoicing thansorrow inthe parish at his being laid up.  He's been a selfishtale-bearingmischievous fellow; butafter allthere's nobodyhe's doneso much harm to as to th' old squire.  Though it's thesquirehimself as is to blame--making a stupid fellow like that asort o'man-of-all-workjust to save th' expense of having apropersteward to look after th' estate.  And he's lost more byillmanagement o' the woodsI'll be boundthan 'ud pay for twostewards. If he's laid on the shelfit's to be hoped he'll makeway for abetter manbut I don't see how it's like to make anydifferenceto me."

"ButI see itbut I see it" said Bartle"and others besidesme.Thecaptain's coming of age now--you know that as well as I do--and it'sto be expected he'll have a little more voice in things.And Iknowand you know toowhat 'ud be the captain's wish aboutthe woodsif there was a fair opportunity for making a change.He's saidin plenty of people's hearing that he'd make you managerof thewoods to-morrowif he'd the power.  WhyCarrollMr.Irwine'sbutlerheard him say so to the parson not many days ago.Carrolllooked in when we were smoking our pipes o' Saturday nightatCasson'sand he told us about it; and whenever anybody says agood wordfor youthe parson's ready to back itthat I'll answerfor. It was pretty well talked overI can tell youat Casson'sand oneand another had their fling at you; for if donkeys set towork tosingyou're pretty sure what the tune'll be."

"Whydid they talk it over before Mr. Burge?" said Adam; "orwasn't hethere o' Saturday?"

"Ohhe went away before Carroll came; and Casson--he's always forsettingother folks rightyou know--would have it Burge was theman tohave the management of the woods.  'A substantial man'says he'with pretty near sixty years' experience o' timber: it'ud be allvery well for Adam Bede to act under himbut it isn'tto besupposed the squire 'ud appoint a young fellow like Adamwhenthere's his elders and betters at hand!'  But I said'That'sa prettynotion o' yoursCasson.  WhyBurge is the man to buytimber;would you put the woods into his hands and let him makehis ownbargains?  I think you don't leave your customers to scoretheir owndrinkdo you?  And as for agewhat that's worthdepends onthe quality o' the liquor.  It's pretty well knownwho's thebackbone of Jonathan Burge's business.'"

"Ithank you for your good wordMr. Massey" said Adam. "Butfor allthatCasson was partly i' the right for once.  There'snot muchlikelihood that th' old squire 'ud ever consent t' employme. I offended him about two years agoand he's never forgivenme."

"Whyhow was that?  You never told me about it" said Bartle.

"Ohit was a bit o' nonsense.  I'd made a frame for a screen forMissLyddy--she's allays making something with her worsted-workyouknow--and she'd given me particular orders about this screenand therewas as much talking and measuring as if we'd beenplanning ahouse.  Howeverit was a nice bit o' workand I likeddoing itfor her.  Butyou knowthose little friggling thingstake adeal o' time.  I only worked at it in overhours--often lateatnight--and I had to go to Treddleston over an' over again aboutlittlebits o' brass nails and such gear; and I turned the littleknobs andthe legsand carved th' open workafter a patternasnice ascould be.  And I was uncommon pleased with it when it wasdone. And when I took it homeMiss Lyddy sent for me to bring itinto herdrawing-roomso as she might give me directions aboutfasteningon the work--very fine needleworkJacob and Rachel a-kissingone another among the sheeplike a picture--and th' oldsquire wassitting therefor he mostly sits with her.  Wellshewas mightypleased with the screenand then she wanted to knowwhat payshe was to give me.  I didn't speak at random--you knowit's notmy way; I'd calculated pretty closethough I hadn't madeout abilland I said'One pound thirty.' That was paying forthemater'als and paying mebut none too muchfor my work.  Th'old squirelooked up at thisand peered in his way at the screenand said'One pound thirteen for a gimcrack like that!  Lydiamydearifyou must spend money on these thingswhy don't you getthem atRosseterinstead of paying double price for clumsy workhere? Such things are not work for a carpenter like Adam.  Givehim aguineaand no more.' WellMiss LyddyI reckonbelievedwhat hetold herand she's not overfond o' parting with the moneyherself--she'snot a bad woman at bottombut she's been broughtup underhis thumb; so she began fidgeting with her purseandturned asred as her ribbon.  But I made a bowand said'Nothank youmadam; I'll make you a present o' the screenif youplease. I've charged the regular price for my workand I knowit's donewell; and I knowbegging His Honour's pardonthat youcouldn'tget such a screen at Rosseter under two guineas.  I'mwilling togive you my work--it's been done in my own timeandnobody'sgot anything to do with it but me; but if I'm paidIcan't takea smaller price than I askedbecause that 'ud be likesaying I'dasked more than was just.  With your leavemadamI'llbid yougood-morning.'  I made my bow and went out before she'dtime tosay any morefor she stood with the purse in her handlookingalmost foolish.  I didn't mean to be disrespectfuland Ispoke aspolite as I could; but I can give in to no manif hewants tomake it out as I'm trying to overreach him.  And in theeveningthe footman brought me the one pound thirteen wrapped inpaper. But since then I've seen pretty clear as th' old squirecan'tabide me."

"That'slikely enoughthat's likely enough" said Bartlemeditatively. "The only way to bring him round would be to showhim whatwas for his own interestand that the captain may do--that thecaptain may do."

"NayI don't know" said Adam; "the squire's 'cute enough but ittakessomething else besides 'cuteness to make folks see what'llbe theirinterest in the long run.  It takes some conscience andbelief inright and wrongI see that pretty clear.  You'd hardlyever bringround th' old squire to believe he'd gain as much in astraightfor'ardway as by tricks and turns.  AndbesidesI'venot muchmind to work under him:  I don't want to quarrel with anygentlemanmore particular an old gentleman turned eightyand Iknow wecouldn't agree long.  If the captain was master o' th'estateit'ud be different:  he's got a conscience and a will todo rightand I'd sooner work for him nor for any man living."

"Wellwellmy boyif good luck knocks at your doordon't youput yourhead out at window and tell it to be gone about itsbusinessthat's all.  You must learn to deal with odd and even inlifeaswell as in figures.  I tell you nowas I told you tenyears agowhen you pommelled young Mike Holdsworth for wanting topass a badshilling before you knew whether he was in jest orearnest--you'reoverhasty and proudand apt to set your teethagainstfolks that don't square to your notions.  It's no harm forme to be abit fiery and stiff-backed--I'm an old schoolmasterand shallnever want to get on to a higher perch.  But where's theuse of allthe time I've spent in teaching you writing and mappingandmensurationif you're not to get for'ard in the world andshow folksthere's some advantage in having a head on yourshouldersinstead of a turnip?  Do you mean to go on turning upyour noseat every opportunity because it's got a bit of a smellabout itthat nobody finds out but yourself?  It's as foolish asthatnotion o' yours that a wife is to make a working-mancomfortable. Stuff and nonsense!  Stuff and nonsense!  Leave thatto foolsthat never got beyond a sum in simple addition.  Simpleadditionenough!  Add one fool to another fooland in six years'time sixfools more--they're all of the same denominationbig andlittle'snothing to do with the sum!"

Duringthis rather heated exhortation to coolness and discretionthe pipehad gone outand Bartle gave the climax to his speech bystriking alight furiouslyafter which he puffed with fierceresolutionfixing his eye still on Adamwho was trying not tolaugh.

"There'sa good deal o' sense in what you sayMr. Massey" Adambeganassoon as he felt quite serious"as there always is.  Butyou'llgive in that it's no business o' mine to be building onchancesthat may never happen.  What I've got to do is to work aswell as Ican with the tools and mater'als I've got in my hands.If a goodchance comes to meI'll think o' what you've beensaying;but till thenI've got nothing to do but to trust to myown handsand my own head-piece.  I'm turning over a little planfor Sethand me to go into the cabinet-making a bit by ourselvesand win aextra pound or two in that way.  But it's getting latenow--it'llbe pretty near eleven before I'm at homeand Mothermay happento lie awake; she's more fidgety nor usual now.  SoI'll bidyou good-night."

"Wellwellwe'll go to the gate with you--it's a fine night"saidBartletaking up his stick.  Vixen was at once on her legsandwithout further words the three walked out into the starlightby theside of Bartle's potato-bedsto the little gate.

 

"Cometo the music o' Friday nightif you canmy boy" said theold manas he closed the gate after Adam and leaned against it.

"Ayeaye" said Adamstriding along towards the streak of paleroad. He was the only object moving on the wide common.  The twogreydonkeysjust visible in front of the gorse bushesstood asstill aslimestone images--as still as the grey-thatched roof ofthe mudcottage a little farther on.  Bartle kept his eye on themovingfigure till it passed into the darknesswhile Vixenin astate ofdivided affectionhad twice run back to the house tobestow aparenthetic lick on her puppies.

"Ayeaye" muttered the schoolmasteras Adam disappeared"thereyou gostalking along--stalking along; but you wouldn't have beenwhat youare if you hadn't had a bit of old lame Bartle insideyou. The strongest calf must have something to suck at.  There'splenty ofthese biglumbering fellows 'ud never have known theirA B C ifit hadn't been for Bartle Massey.  WellwellVixenyoufoolishwenchwhat is itwhat is it?  I must go inmust I?AyeayeI'm never to have a will o' my own any more.  And thosepups--whatdo you think I'm to do with 'emwhen they're twice asbig asyou?  For I'm pretty sure the father was that hulking bull-terrier ofWill Baker's--wasn't he nowehyou sly hussy?"

(HereVixen tucked her tail between her legs and ran forward intothehouse.  Subjects are sometimes broached which a well-bredfemalewill ignore.)

"Butwhere's the use of talking to a woman with babbies?"continuedBartle.  "She's got no conscience--no conscience; it'sall run tomilk.

 

 

 

BookThree   ChapterXXII Goingto the Birthday Feast

 

THEthirtieth of July was comeand it was one of those half-dozenwarm dayswhich sometimes occur in the middle of a rainy Englishsummer. No rain had fallen for the last three or four daysandtheweather was perfect for that time of the year:  there was lessdust thanusual on the dark-green hedge-rows and on the wildcamomilethat starred the roadsideyet the grass was dry enoughfor thelittle children to roll on itand there was no cloud buta longdash of lightdowny ripplehighhigh up in the far-offblue sky. Perfect weather for an outdoor July merry-makingyetsurely notthe best time of year to be born in.  Nature seems tomake a hotpause just then: all the loveliest flowers are gone;the sweettime of early growth and vague hopes is past; and yetthe timeof harvest and ingathering is not comeand we tremble atthepossible storms that may ruin the precious fruit in the momentof itsripeness.  The woods are all one dark monotonous green; thewaggon-loadsof hay no longer creep along the lanesscatteringtheirsweet-smelling fragments on the blackberry branches; thepasturesare often a little tannedyet the corn has not got itslastsplendour of red and gold; the lambs and calves have lost alltraces oftheir innocent frisky prettinessand have become stupidyoungsheep and cows.  But it is a time of leisure on the farm--that pausebetween hay- and corn-harvestand so the farmers andlabourersin Hayslope and Broxton thought the captain did well tocome ofage just thenwhen they could give their undivided mindsto theflavour of the great cask of ale which had been brewed theautumnafter "the heir" was bornand was to be tapped on histwenty-firstbirthday.  The air had been merry with the ringing ofchurch-bellsvery early this morningand every one had made hasteto getthrough the needful work before twelvewhen it would betime tothink of getting ready to go to the Chase.

The middaysun was streaming into Hetty's bedchamberand therewas noblind to temper the heat with which it fell on her head asshe lookedat herself in the old specked glass.  Stillthat wasthe onlyglass she had in which she could see her neck and armsfor thesmall hanging glass she had fetched out of the next room--the roomthat had been Dinah's--would show her nothing below herlittlechin; and that beautiful bit of neck where the roundness ofher cheekmelted into another roundness shadowed by dark delicatecurls. And to-day she thought more than usual about her neck andarms; forat the dance this evening she was not to wear anyneckerchiefand she had been busy yesterday with her spottedpink-and-whitefrockthat she might make the sleeves either longor shortat will.  She was dressed now just as she was to be intheeveningwith a tucker made of "real" lacewhich her aunthadlent herfor this unparalleled occasionbut with no ornamentsbesides;she had even taken out her small round ear-rings whichshe woreevery day.  But there was something more to be doneapparentlybefore she put on her neckerchief and long sleeveswhich shewas to wear in the day-timefor now she unlocked thedrawerthat held her private treasures.  It is more than a monthsince wesaw her unlock that drawer beforeand now it holds newtreasuresso much more precious than the old ones that these arethrustinto the corner.  Hetty would not care to put the largecolouredglass ear-rings into her ears now; for see! she has got abeautifulpair of gold and pearls and garnetlying snugly in aprettylittle box lined with white satin.  Ohthe delight oftaking outthat little box and looking at the ear-rings!  Do notreasonabout itmy philosphical readerand say that Hettybeingveryprettymust have known that it did not signify whether shehad on anyornaments or not; and thatmoreoverto look at ear-ringswhich she could not possibly wear out of her bedroom couldhardly bea satisfactionthe essence of vanity being a referenceto theimpressions produced on others; you will never understandwomen'snatures if you are so excessively rational.  Try rather todivestyourself of all your rational prejudicesas much as if youwerestudying the psychology of a canary birdand only watch themovementsof this pretty round creature as she turns her head onone sidewith an unconscious smile at the ear-rings nestled in thelittlebox.  Ahyou thinkit is for the sake of the person whohas giventhem to herand her thoughts are gone back now to themomentwhen they were put into her hands.  No; else why should shehave caredto have ear-rings rather than anything else?  And Iknow thatshe had longed for ear-rings from among all theornamentsshe could imagine.

"Littlelittle ears!" Arthur had saidpretending to pinch themoneeveningas Hetty sat beside him on the grass without her hat."Iwish I had some pretty ear-rings!" she said in a momentalmostbefore sheknew what she was saying--the wish lay so close to herlipsitWOULD flutter past them at the slightest breath.  And thenextday--it was only last week--Arthur had ridden over toRosseteron purpose to buy them.  That little wish so naivelyutteredseemed to him the prettiest bit of childishness; he hadneverheard anything like it before; and he had wrapped the box upin a greatmany coversthat he might see Hetty unwrapping it withgrowingcuriositytill at last her eyes flashed back their newdelightinto his.

Noshewas not thinking most of the giver when she smiled at theear-ringsfor now she is taking them out of the boxnot to pressthem toher lipsbut to fasten them in her ears--only for onemomenttosee how pretty they lookas she peeps at them in theglassagainst the wallwith first one position of the head andthenanotherlike a listening bird.  It is impossible to be wiseon thesubject of ear-rings as one looks at her; what should thosedelicatepearls and crystals be made forif not for such ears?One cannoteven find fault with the tiny round hole which theyleave whenthey are taken out; perhaps water-nixiesand suchlovelythings without soulshave these little round holes intheir earsby natureready to hang jewels in.  And Hetty must beone ofthem:  it is too painful to think that she is a womanwitha woman'sdestiny before her--a woman spinning in young ignorancea lightweb of folly and vain hopes which may one day close roundher andpress upon hera rancorous poisoned garmentchanging allat onceher flutteringtrivial butterfly sensations into a lifeof deephuman anguish.

But shecannot keep in the ear-rings longelse she may make heruncle andaunt wait.  She puts them quickly into the box again andshuts themup.  Some day she will be able to wear any ear-ringsshe likesand already she lives in an invisible world ofbrilliantcostumesshimmering gauzesoft satinand velvetsuchas thelady's maid at the Chase has shown her in Miss Lydia'swardrobe. She feels the bracelets on her armsand treads on asoftcarpet in front of a tall mirror.  But she has one thing inthe drawerwhich she can venture to wear to-daybecause she canhang it onthe chain of dark-brown berries which she has been usedto wear ongrand dayswith a tiny flat scent-bottle at the end ofit tuckedinside her frock; and she must put on her brown berries--her neckwould look so unfinished without it.  Hetty was notquite asfond of the locket as of the ear-ringsthough it was ahandsomelarge locketwith enamelled flowers at the back and abeautifulgold border round the glasswhich showed a light-brownslightlywaving lockforming a background for two little darkrings. She must keep it under her clothesand no one would seeit. But Hetty had another passiononly a little less strong thanher loveof fineryand that other passion made her like to wearthe locketeven hidden in her bosom.  She would always have wornitif shehad dared to encounter her aunt's questions about aribbonround her neck.  So now she slipped it on along her chainofdark-brown berriesand snapped the chain round her neck.  Itwas not avery long chainonly allowing the locket to hang alittle waybelow the edge of her frock.  And now she had nothingto do butto put on her long sleevesher new white gauzeneckerchiefand her straw hat trimmed with white to-day insteadof thepinkwhich had become rather faded under the July sun.That hatmade the drop of bitterness in Hetty's cup to-dayfor itwas notquite new--everybody would see that it was a little tannedagainstthe white ribbon--and Mary Burgeshe felt surewouldhave a newhat or bonnet on.  She looked for consolation at herfine whitecotton stockings:  they really were very nice indeedand shehad given almost all her spare money for them.  Hetty'sdream ofthe future could not make her insensible to triumph inthepresent.  To be sureCaptain Donnithorne loved her so that hewouldnever care about looking at other peoplebut then thoseotherpeople didn't know how he loved herand she was notsatisfiedto appear shabby and insignificant in their eyes evenfor ashort space.

The wholeparty was assembled in the house-place when Hetty wentdownallof course in their Sunday clothes; and the bells hadbeenringing so this morning in honour of the captain's twenty-firstbirthdayand the work had all been got done so earlythatMarty andTommy were not quite easy in their minds until theirmother hadassured them that going to church was not part of theday'sfestivities.  Mr. Poyser had once suggested that the houseshould beshut up and left to take care of itself; "for" said he"there'sno danger of anybody's breaking in--everybody'll be atthe Chasethieves an' all.  If we lock th' house upall the mencan go: it's a day they wonna see twice i' their lives."  ButMrs.Poyser answered with great decision:  "I never left thehouseto takecare of itself since I was a missisand I never will.There'sbeen ill-looking tramps enoo' about the place this lastweektocarry off every ham an' every spoon we'n got; and theyallcollogue togetherthem trampsas it's a mercy they hannacome andpoisoned the dogs and murdered us all in our beds aforewe knowedsome Friday night when we'n got the money in th' houseto pay themen.  And it's like enough the tramps know where we'regoing aswell as we do oursens; for if Old Harry wants any workdoneyoumay be sure he'll find the means."

"Nonsenseabout murdering us in our beds" said Mr. Poyser; "I'vegot a guni' our roomhanna I? and thee'st got ears as 'ud findit out ifa mouse was gnawing the bacon.  Howiverif theewouldstnabe easyAlick can stay at home i' the forepart o' thedayandTim can come back tow'rds five o'clockand let Alickhave histurn.  They may let Growler loose if anybody offers to domischiefand there's Alick's dog tooready enough to set histooth in atramp if Alick gives him a wink."

Mrs.Poyser accepted this compromisebut thought it advisable tobar andbolt to the utmost; and nowat the last moment beforestartingNancythe dairy-maidwas closing the shutters of thehouse-placealthough the windowlying under the immediateobservationof Alick and the dogsmight have been supposed theleastlikely to be selected for a burglarious attempt.

Thecovered cartwithout springswas standing ready to carry thewholefamily except the men-servants.  Mr. Poyser and thegrandfathersat on the seat in frontand within there was roomfor allthe women and children; the fuller the cart the betterbecausethen the jolting would not hurt so muchand Nancy's broadperson andthick arms were an excellent cushion to be pitched on.But Mr.Poyser drove at no more than a walking pacethat theremight beas little risk of jolting as possible on this warm dayand therewas time to exchange greetings and remarks with thefoot-passengerswho were going the same wayspecking the pathsbetweenthe green meadows and the golden cornfields with bits ofmovablebright colour--a scarlet waistcoat to match the poppiesthatnodded a little too thickly among the cornor a dark-blueneckerchiefwith ends flaunting across a brand-new white smock-frock. All Broxton and all Hayslope were to be at the Chaseandmake merrythere in honour of "th' heir"; and the old men andwomenwhohad never been so far down this side of the hill forthe lasttwenty yearswere being brought from Broxton andHayslopein one of the farmer's waggonsat Mr. Irwine'ssuggestion. The church-bells had struck up again now--a lasttunebefore the ringers came down the hill to have their share inthefestival; and before the bells had finishedother music washeardapproachingso that even Old Brownthe sober horse thatwasdrawing Mr. Poyser's cartbegan to prick up his ears.  It wasthe bandof the Benefit Clubwhich had mustered in all its glory--that is tosayin bright-blue scarfs and blue favoursandcarryingits banner with the motto"Let brotherly love continue"encirclinga picture of a stone-pit.

The cartsof coursewere not to enter the Chase.  Every one mustget downat the lodgesand the vehicles must be sent back.

"Whythe Chase is like a fair a'ready" said Mrs. Poyseras shegot downfrom the cartand saw the groups scattered under thegreatoaksand the boys running about in the hot sunshine tosurvey thetall poles surmounted by the fluttering garments thatwere to bethe prize of the successful climbers.  "I should ha'thoughtthere wasna so many people i' the two parishes.  Mercy onus! How hot it is out o' the shade!  Come hereTottyelse yourlittleface 'ull be burnt to a scratchin'!  They might ha' cookedthedinners i' that open space an' saved the fires.  I shall go toMrs.Best's room an' sit down."

"Stopa bitstop a bit" said Mr. Poyser.  "There's th'waggincoming wi'th' old folks in't; it'll be such a sight as wonna comeo'eragainto see 'em get down an' walk along all together.  Youremembersome on 'em i' their primeehFather?"

"Ayeaye" said old Martinwalking slowly under the shade of thelodgeporchfrom which he could see the aged party descend.  "IrememberJacob Taft walking fifty mile after the Scotch raybelswhen theyturned back from Stoniton."

He felthimself quite a youngsterwith a long life before himashe saw theHayslope patriarchold Feyther Taftdescend from thewaggon andwalk towards himin his brown nigbtcapand leaning onhis twosticks.

"WellMester Taft" shouted old Martinat the utmost stretch ofhisvoice--for though he knew the old man was stone deafhe couldnot omitthe propriety of a greeting--"you're hearty yet.  You canenjoyyoursen to-dayfor-all you're ninety an' better."

"Yoursarvantmestersyour sarvant" said Feyther Taft in atrebletoneperceiving that he was in company.

The agedgroupunder care of sons or daughtersthemselves wornand greypassed on along the least-winding carriage-road towardsthe housewhere a special table was prepared for them; while thePoyserparty wisely struck across the grass under the shade of thegreattreesbut not out of view of the house-frontwith itsslopinglawn and flower-bedsor of the pretty striped marquee atthe edgeof the lawnstanding at right angles with two largermarqueeson each side of the open green space where the games wereto beplayed.  The house would have been nothing but a plainsquaremansion of Queen Anne's timebut for the remnant of an oldabbey towhich it was united at one endin much the same way asone maysometimes see a new farmhouse rising high and prim at theend ofolder and lower farm-offices.  The fine old remnant stood alittlebackward and under the shadow of tall beechesbut the sunwas now onthe taller and more advanced frontthe blinds were alldownandthe house seemed asleep in the hot midday.  It madeHettyquite sad to look at it:  Arthur must be somewhere in thebackroomswith the grand companywhere he could not possiblyknow thatshe was comeand she should not see him for a longlongwhile--not till after dinnerwhen they said he was to comeup andmake a speech.

But Hettywas wrong in part of her conjecture.  No grand companywas comeexcept the Irwinesfor whom the carriage had been sentearlyandArthur was at that moment not in a back roombutwalkingwith the rector into the broad stone cloisters of the oldabbeywhere the long tables were laid for all the cottage tenantsand thefarm-servants.  A very handsome young Briton he looked to-dayinhigh spirits and a bright-blue frock-coatthe highestmode--hisarm no longer in a sling.  So open-looking and candidtoo; butcandid people have their secretsand secrets leave nolines inyoung faces.

"Uponmy word" he saidas they entered the cool cloisters"Ithink thecottagers have the best of it:  these cloisters make adelightfuldining-room on a hot day.  That was capital advice ofyoursIrwineabout the dinners--to let them be as orderly andcomfortableas possibleand only for the tenants:  especially asI had onlya limited sum after all; for though my grandfathertalked ofa carte blanchehe couldn't make up his mind to trustmewhenit came to the point."

"Nevermindyou'll give more pleasure in this quiet way" saidMr.Irwine.  "In this sort of thing people are constantlyconfoundingliberality with riot and disorder.  It sounds verygrand tosay that so many sheep and oxen were roasted wholeandeverybodyate who liked to come; but in the end it generallyhappensthat no one has had an enjoyable meal.  If the people geta gooddinner and a moderate quantity of ale in the middle of thedaythey'll be able to enjoy the games as the day cools.  Youcan'thinder some of them from getting too much towards eveningbutdrunkenness and darkness go better together than drunkennessanddaylight."

"WellI hope there won't be much of it.  I've kept theTreddlestonpeople away by having a feast for them in the town;and I'vegot Casson and Adam Bede and some other good fellows tolook tothe giving out of ale in the boothsand to take carethingsdon't go too far.  Comelet us go up above now and see thedinner-tablesfor the large tenants."

They wentup the stone staircase leading simply to the longgalleryabove the cloistersa gallery where all the dustyworthlessold pictures had been banished for the last threegenerations--mouldyportraits of Queen Elizabeth and her ladiesGeneralMonk with his eye knocked outDaniel very much in thedark amongthe lionsand Julius Caesar on horsebackwith a highnose andlaurel crownholding his Commentaries in his hand.

"Whata capital thing it is that they saved this piece of the oldabbey!"said Arthur.  "If I'm ever master hereI shall do up thegallery infirst-rate style.  We've got no room in the house athird aslarge as this.  That second table is for the farmers'wives andchildren:  Mrs. Best said it would be more comfortablefor themothers and children to be by themselves.  I wasdeterminedto have the childrenand make a regular family thingof it. I shall be 'the old squire' to those little lads andlassessome dayand they'll tell their children what a much fineryoungfellow I was than my own son.  There's a table for the womenandchildren below as well.  But you will see them all--you willcome upwith me after dinnerI hope?"

"Yesto be sure" said Mr. Irwine.  "I wouldn't miss yourmaidenspeech tothe tenantry."

"Andthere will be something else you'll like to hear" saidArthur. "Let us go into the library and I'll tell you all aboutit whilemy grandfather is in the drawing-room with the ladies.Somethingthat will surpsise you" he continuedas they sat down."Mygrandfather has come round after all."

"Whatabout Adam?"

"Yes;I should have ridden over to tell you about itonly I wasso busy. You know I told you I had quite given up arguing thematterwith him--I thought it was hopeless--but yesterday morninghe askedme to come in here to him before I went outandastonishedme by saying that he had decided on all the newarrangementshe should make in consequence of old Satchell beingobliged tolay by workand that he intended to employ Adam insuperintendingthe woods at a salary of a guinea a-weekand theuse of apony to be kept here.  I believe the secret of it ishesaw fromthe first it would be a profitable planbut he had someparticulardislike of Adam to get over--and besidesthe fact thatI proposea thing is generally a reason with him for rejecting it.There'sthe most curious contradiction in my grandfather:  I knowhe meansto leave me all the money he has savedand he is likelyenough tohave cut off poor Aunt Lydiawho has been a slave tohim allher lifewith only five hundred a-yearfor the sake ofgiving meall the more; and yet I sometimes think he positivelyhates mebecause I'm his heir.  I believe if I were to break myneckhewould feel it the greatest misfortune that could befallhimandyet it seems a pleasure to him to make my life a seriesof pettyannoyances."

"Ahmy boyit is not only woman's love that is [two greek wordsomitted]as old AEschylus calls it.  There's plenty of 'unlovinglove' inthe world of a masculine kind.  But tell me about Adam.Has heaccepted the post?  I don't see that it can be much moreprofitablethan his present workthoughto be sureit willleave hima good deal of time on his own hands.

"WellI felt some doubt about it when I spoke to him and heseemed tohesitate at first.  His objection was that he thought heshould notbe able to satisfy my grandfather.  But I begged him asa personalfavour to me not to let any reason prevent him fromacceptingthe placeif he really liked the employment and wouldnot begiving up anything that was more profitable to him.  And heassured mehe should like it of all things--it would be a greatstepforward for him in businessand it would enable him to dowhat hehad long wished to doto give up working for Burge.  Hesays heshall have plenty of time to superintend a little businessof hisownwhich he and Seth will carry onand will perhaps beable toenlarge by degrees.  So he has agreed at lastand I havearrangedthat he shall dine with the large tenants to-day; and Imean toannounce the appointment to themand ask them to drinkAdam'shealth.  It's a little drama I've got up in honour of myfriendAdam.  He's a fine fellowand I like the opportunity oflettingpeople know that I think so."

"Adrama in which friend Arthur piques himself on having a prettypart toplay" said Mr. Irwinesmiling.  But when he saw Arthurcolourhewent on relentingly"My partyou knowis always thatof the oldfogy who sees nothing to admire in the young folks.  Idon't liketo admit that I'm proud of my pupil when he doesgracefulthings.  But I must play the amiable old gentleman foronceandsecond your toast in honour of Adam.  Has yourgrandfatheryielded on the other point tooand agreed to have arespectableman as steward?"

"Ohno" said Arthurrising from his chair with an air ofimpatienceand walking along the room with his hands in hispockets. "He's got some project or other about letting the ChaseFarm andbargaining for a supply of milk and butter for the house.But I askno questions about it--it makes me too angry.  I believehe meansto do all the business himselfand have nothing in theshape of asteward.  It's amazing what energy he hasthough."

"Wellwe'll go to the ladies now" said Mr. Irwinerising too."Iwant to tell my mother what a splendid throne you've preparedfor herunder the marquee."

"Yesand we must be going to luncheon too" said Arthur.  "Itmust betwo o'clockfor there is the gong beginning to sound forthetenants' dinners."

 

 ChapterXXIII Dinner-Time

 

WHEN Adamheard that he was to dine upstairs with the largetenantshe felt rather uncomfortable at the idea of being exaltedin thisway above his mother and Sethwho were to dine in thecloistersbelow.  But Mr. Millsthe butlerassured him thatCaptainDonnithorne had given particular orders about itandwould bevery angry if Adam was not there.

Adamnodded and went up to Sethwho was standing a few yards off."Sethlad" he said"the captain has sent to say I'm to dineupstairs--hewishes it particularMr. Mills saysso I suppose it'ud bebehaving ill for me not to go.  But I don't like sitting upabove theeand motheras if I was better than my own flesh andblood. Thee't not take it unkindI hope?"

"Naynaylad" said Seth"thy honour's our honour; and if theeget'strespectthee'st won it by thy own deserts.  The further Isee theeabove methe betterso long as thee feel'st like abrother tome.  It's because o' thy being appointed over thewoodsandit's nothing but what's right.  That's a place o'trustandthee't above a common workman now."

"Aye"said Adam"but nobody knows a word about it yet.  Ihaven'tgiven notice to Mr. Burge about leaving himand I don'tlike totell anybody else about it before he knowsfor he'll be agood bithurtI doubt.  People 'ull be wondering to see me thereandthey'll like enough be guessing the reason and askingquestionsfor there's been so much talk up and down about myhaving theplacethis last three weeks."

"Wellthee canst say thee wast ordered to come without being toldthereason.  That's the truth.  And mother 'ull be fine andjoyfulabout it. Let's go and tell her."

Adam wasnot the only guest invited to come upstairs on othergroundsthan the amount he contributed to the rent-roll.  Therewere otherpeople in the two parishes who derived dignity fromtheirfunctions rather than from their pocketand of these BartleMassey wasone.  His lame walk was rather slower than usual onthis warmdayso Adam lingered behind when the bell rang fordinnerthat he might walk up with his old friend; for he was alittle tooshy to join the Poyser party on this public occasion.Opportunitiesof getting to Hetty's side would be sure to turn upin thecourse of the dayand Adam contented himself with that forhedisliked any risk of being "joked" about Hetty--the bigoutspokenfearless man was very shy and diffident as to his love-making.

"WellMester Massey" said Adamas Bartle came up "I'm going todineupstairs with you to-day:  the captain's sent me orders."

"Ah!"said Bartlepausingwith one hand on his back.  "Thenthere'ssomething in the wind--there's something in the wind.Have youheard anything about what the old squire means to do?"

"Whyyes" said Adam; "I'll tell you what I knowbecause Ibelieveyou can keep a still tongue in your head if you likeandI hopeyou'll not let drop a word till it's common talkfor I'veparticularreasons against its being known."

"Trustto memy boytrust to me.  I've got no wife to worm itout of meand then run out and cackle it in everybody's hearing.If youtrust a manlet him be a bachelor--let him be a bachelor."

"Wellthenit was so far settled yesterday that I'm to take themanagemento' the woods.  The captain sent for me t' offer it mewhen I wasseeing to the poles and things here and I've agreedto't. But if anybody asks any questions upstairsjust you takeno noticeand turn the talk to something elseand I'll beobliged toyou.  Nowlet us go onfor we're pretty nigh thelastIthink."

"Iknow what to donever fear" said Bartlemoving on.  "Thenews willbe good sauce to my dinner.  Ayeayemy boyyou'llget on. I'll back you for an eye at measuring and a head-pieceforfiguresagainst any man in this county and you've had goodteaching--you'vehad good teaching."

When theygot upstairsthe question which Arthur had leftunsettledas to who was to be presidentand who vicewas stillunderdiscussionso that Adam's entrance passed without remark.

"Itstands to sense" Mr. Casson was saying"as old Mr.Poyseras is th'oldest man i' the roomshould sit at top o' the table.I wasn'tbutler fifteen year without learning the rights and thewrongsabout dinner."

"Naynay" said old Martin"I'n gi'en up to my son; I'm notenantnow:  let my son take my place.  Th' ould foulks ha' hadtheirturn:  they mun make way for the young uns."

"Ishould ha' thought the biggest tenant had the best rightmorenor th'oldest" said Luke Brittonwho was not fond of thecriticalMr. Poyser; "there's Mester Holdsworth has more land noranybodyelse on th' estate."

"Well"said Mr. Poyser"suppose we say the man wi' the foulestland shallsit at top; then whoever gets th' honourthere'll beno envyingon him."

"Ehhere's Mester Massey" said Mr. Craigwhobeing a neutralin thedisputehad no interest but in conciliation; "theschoolmasterought to be able to tell you what's right.  Who's tosit at topo' the tableMr. Massey?"

"Whythe broadest man" said Bartle; "and then he won't take upotherfolks' room; and the next broadest must sit at bottom."

This happymode of settling the dispute produced much laughter--asmallerjoke would have sufficed for that Mr. Cassonhoweverdidnot feelit compatible with his dignity and superior knowledge tojoin inthe laughuntil it turned out that he was fixed on as thesecondbroadest man.  Martin Poyser the youngeras the broadestwas to bepresidentand Mr. Cassonas next broadestwas to bevice.

Owing tothis arrangementAdambeingof courseat the bottomof thetablefell under the immediate observation of Mr. Cassonwhotoomuch occupied with the question of precedencehad nothithertonoticed his entrance.  Mr. Cassonwe have seenconsideredAdam "rather lifted up and peppery-like":  he thoughtthe gentrymade more fuss about this young carpenter than wasnecessary;they made no fuss about Mr. Cassonalthough he hadbeen anexcellent butler for fifteen years.

"WellMr. Bedeyou're one o' them as mounts hup'ards apace" hesaidwhenAdam sat down.  "You've niver dined here beforeas Iremember."

"NoMr. Casson" said Adamin his strong voicethat could beheardalong the table; "I've never dined here beforebut I comeby CaptainDonnithorne's wishand I hope it's not disagreeable toanybodyhere."

"Naynay" said several voices at once"we're glad ye're come.Who's gotanything to say again' it?"

"Andye'll sing us 'Over the hills and far away' after dinnerwonna ye?"said Mr. Chowne.  "That's a song I'm uncommon fond on."

"Peeh!"said Mr. Craig; "it's not to be named by side o' theScotchtunes.  I've never cared about singing myself; I've hadsomethingbetter to do.  A man that's got the names and the naturo' plantsin's head isna likely to keep a hollow place t' holdtunes in. But a second cousin o' minea drovierwas a rare handatremembering the Scotch tunes.  He'd got nothing else to thinkon."

"TheScotch tunes!" said Bartle Masseycontemptuously; "I'veheardenough o' the Scotch tunes to last me while I live.  They'refit fornothing but to frighten the birds with--that's to saytheEnglishbirdsfor the Scotch birds may sing Scotch for what Iknow. Give the lads a bagpipe instead of a rattleand I'llanswer forit the corn 'll be safe."

"Yesthere's folks as find a pleasure in undervallying what theyknow butlittle about" said Mr. Craig.

"Whythe Scotch tunes are just like a scoldingnagging woman"Bartlewent onwithout deigning to notice Mr. Craig's remark."Theygo on with the same thing over and over againand nevercome to areasonable end.  Anybody 'ud think the Scotch tunes hadalwaysbeen asking a question of somebody as deaf as old Taftandhad nevergot an answer yet."

Adamminded the less about sitting by Mr. Cassonbecause thispositionenabled him to see Hettywho was not far off him at thenexttable.  Hettyhoweverhad not even noticed his presenceyetforshe was giving angry attention to Tottywho insisted ondrawing upher feet on to the bench in antique fashionandtherebythreatened to make dusty marks on Hetty's pink-and-whitefrock. No sooner were the little fat legs pushed down than upthey cameagainfor Totty's eyes were too busy in staring at thelargedishes to see where the plum pudding was for her to retainanyconsciousness of her legs.  Hetty got quite out of patienceand atlastwith a frown and poutand gathering tearsshe said"OhdearAuntI wish you'd speak to Totty; she keeps putting herlegs upsoand messing my frock."

"What'sthe matter wi' the child?  She can niver please you" saidthemother.  "Let her come by the side o' methen.  I canput upwi' her."

Adam waslooking at Hettyand saw the frownand poutand thedark eyesseeming to grow larger with pettish half-gathered tears.Quiet MaryBurgewho sat near enough to see that Hetty was crossand thatAdam's eyes were fixed on herthought that so sensible aman asAdam must be reflecting on the small value of beauty in awomanwhose temper was bad.  Mary was a good girlnot given toindulge inevil feelingsbut she said to herselfthatsinceHetty hada bad temperit was better Adam should know it.  And itwas quitetrue that if Hetty had been plainshe would have lookedvery uglyand unamiable at that momentand no one's moraljudgmentupon her would have been in the least beguiled.  Butreallythere was something quite charming in her pettishness:  itlooked somuch more like innocent distress than ill humour; andthe severeAdam felt no movement of disapprobation; he only felt asort ofamused pityas if he had seen a kitten setting up itsbackor alittle bird with its feathers ruffled.  He could notgatherwhat was vexing herbut it was impossible to him to feelotherwisethan that she was the prettiest thing in the worldandthat if hecould have his waynothing should ever vex her anymore. And presentlywhen Totty was goneshe caught his eyeandher facebroke into one of its brightest smilesas she nodded tohim. It was a bit of flirtation--she knew Mary Burge was lookingat them. But the smile was like wine to Adam.

 

 ChapterXXIV TheHealth-Drinking

 

WHEN thedinner was overand the first draughts from the greatcask ofbirthday ale were brought uproom was made for the broadMr. Poyserat the side of the tableand two chairs were placed atthe head. It had been settled very definitely what Mr. Poyser wasto do whenthe young squire should appearand for the last fiveminutes hehad been in a state of abstractionwith his eyes fixedon thedark picture oppositeand his hands busy with the loosecash andother articles in his breeches pockets.

When theyoung squire enteredwith Mr. Irwine by his sideeveryone stoodupand this moment of homage was very agreeable toArthur. He liked to feel his own importanceand besides thathecared agreat deal for the good-will of these people:  he was fondofthinking that they had a heartyspecial regard for him.  Thepleasurehe felt was in his face as he said"My grandfather and Ihope allour friends here have enjoyed their dinnerand find mybirthdayale good.  Mr. Irwine and I are come to taste it withyouand Iam sure we shall all like anything the better that therectorshares with us."

All eyeswere now turned on Mr. Poyserwhowith his hands stillbusy inhis pocketsbegan with the deliberateness of a slow-strikingclock.  "Captainmy neighbours have put it upo' me tospeak for'em to-dayfor where folks think pretty much alikeonespokesman'sas good as a score.  And though we've mayhappen gotcontrairyways o' thinking about a many things--one man lays downhis landone way an' another another--an' I'll not take it upon meto speakto no man's farmingbut my own--this I'll sayas we'reall o' onemind about our young squire.  We've pretty nigh all onus knownyou when you war a little unan' we've niver knownanythingon you but what was good an' honorable.  You speak fairan' y' actfairan' we're joyful when we look forrard to yourbeing ourlandlordfor we b'lieve you mean to do right byeverybodyan' 'ull make no man's bread bitter to him if you canhelp it. That's what I meanan' that's what we all mean; andwhen aman's said what he meanshe'd better stopfor th' ale'ull benone the better for stannin'.  An' I'll not say how welike th'ale yetfor we couldna well taste it till we'd drunkyourhealth in it; but the dinner was goodan' if there's anybodyhasnaenjoyed itit must be the fault of his own inside.  An' asfor therector's companyit's well known as that's welcome t' allthe parishwherever he may be; an' I hopean' we all hopeashe'll liveto see us old folksan' our children grown to men an'women an'Your Honour a family man.  I've no more to say asconcernsthe present timean' so we'll drink our young squire'shealth--threetimes three."

Hereupon aglorious shoutinga rappinga jinglinga clatteringand ashoutingwith plentiful da capopleasanter than a strainofsublimest music in the ears that receive such a tribute for thefirsttime.  Arthur had felt a twinge of conscience during Mr.Poyser'sspeechbut it was too feeble to nullify the pleasure hefelt inbeing praised.  Did he not deserve what was said of him onthewhole?  If there was something in his conduct that Poyserwouldn'thave liked if he had known itwhyno man's conduct willbear tooclose an inspection; and Poyser was not likely to knowit; andafter allwhat had he done?  Gone a little too farperhapsin flirtationbut another man in his place would haveacted muchworse; and no harm would come--no harm should comeforthe nexttime he was alone with Hettyhe would explain to herthat shemust not think seriously of him or of what had passed.It wasnecessary to Arthuryou perceiveto be satisfied withhimself. Uncomfortable thoughts must be got rid of by goodintentionsfor the futurewhich can be formed so rapidly that hehad timeto be uncomfortable and to become easy again before Mr.Poyser'sslow speech was finishedand when it was time for him tospeak hewas quite light-hearted.

"Ithank you allmy good friends and neighbours" Arthur said"forthe good opinion of meand the kind feelings towards mewhich Mr.Poyser has been expressing on your behalf and on hisownandit will always be my heartiest wish to deserve them.  Inthe courseof things we may expect thatif I liveI shall oneday orother be your landlord; indeedit is on the ground of thatexpectationthat my grandfather has wished me to celebrate thisday and tocome among you now; and I look forward to thispositionnot merely as one of power and pleasure for myselfbutas a meansof benefiting my neighbours.  It hardly becomes soyoung aman as I am to talk much about farming to youwho aremost ofyou so much olderand are men of experience; stillIhaveinterested myself a good deal in such mattersand learned asmuch aboutthem as my opportunities have allowed; and when thecourse ofevents shall place the estate in my handsit will be myfirstdesire to afford my tenants all the encouragement a landlordcan givethemin improving their land and trying to bring about abetterpractice of husbandry.  It will be my wish to be looked onby all mydeserving tenants as their best friendand nothingwould makeme so happy as to be able to respect every man on theestateand to be respected by him in return.  It is not my placeat presentto enter into particulars; I only meet your good hopesconcerningme by telling you that my own hopes correspond to them--that whatyou expect from me I desire to fulfil; and I am quiteof Mr.Poyser's opinionthat when a man has said what he meanshe hadbetter stop.  But the pleasure I feel in having my ownhealthdrunk by you would not be perfect if we did not drink thehealth ofmy grandfatherwho has filled the place of both parentsto me. I will say no moreuntil you have joined me in drinkinghis healthon a day when he has wished me to appear among you asthe futurerepresentative of his name and family."

Perhapsthere was no one present except Mr. Irwine who thoroughlyunderstoodand approved Arthur's graceful mode of proposing hisgrandfather'shealth.  The farmers thought the young squire knewwellenough that they hated the old squireand Mrs. Poyser said"he'dbetter not ha' stirred a kettle o' sour broth."  Thebucolicmind doesnot readily apprehend the refinements of good taste.But thetoast could not be rejected and when it had been drunkArthursaid"I thank youboth for my grandfather and myself; andnow thereis one more thing I wish to tell youthat you may sharemypleasure about itas I hope and believe you will.  I thinkthere canbe no man here who has not a respectand some of youIam surehave a very high regardfor my friend Adam Bede.  It iswell knownto every one in this neighbourhood that there is no manwhose wordcan be more depended on than his; that whatever heundertakesto dohe does welland is as careful for theinterestsof those who employ him as for his own.  I'm proud tosay that Iwas very fond of Adam when I was a little boyand Ihave neverlost my old feeling for him--I think that shows that Iknow agood fellow when I find him.  It has long been my wish thathe shouldhave the management of the woods on the estatewhichhappen tobe very valuablenot only because I think so highly ofhischaracterbut because he has the knowledge and the skillwhich fithim for the place.  And I am happy to tell you that itis mygrandfather's wish tooand it is now settled that Adamshallmanage the woods--a change which I am sure will be very muchfor theadvantage of the estate; and I hope you will by and byjoin me indrinking his healthand in wishing him all theprosperityin life that he deserves.  But there is a still olderfriend ofmine than Adam Bede presentand I need not tell youthat it isMr. Irwine.  I'm sure you will agree with me that wemust drinkno other person's health until we have drunk his.  Iknow youhave all reason to love himbut no one of hisparishionershas so much reason as I.  Comecharge your glassesand let usdrink to our excellent rector--three times three!"

This toastwas drunk with all the enthusiasm that was wanting tothe lastand it certainly was the most picturesque moment in thescene whenMr. Irwine got up to speakand all the faces in theroom wereturned towards him.  The superior refinement of his facewas muchmore striking than that of Arthur's when seen incomparisonwith the people round them.  Arthur's was a muchcommonerBritish faceand the splendour of his new-fashionedclotheswas more akin to the young farmer's taste in costume thanMr.Irwine's powder and the well-brushed but well-worn blackwhichseemed to be his chosen suit for great occasions; for he hadthemysterious secret of never wearing a new-looking coat.

"Thisis not the first timeby a great many" he said"that Ihave hadto thank my parishioners for giving me tokens of theirgoodwillbut neighbourly kindness is among those things that arethe moreprecious the older they get.  Indeedour pleasantmeetingto-day is a proof that when what is good comes of age andis likelyto livethere is reason for rejoicingand the relationbetween usas clergyman and parishioners came of age two yearsagoforit is three-and-twenty years since I first came amongyouand Isee some tall fine-looking young men hereas well assomeblooming young womenthat were far from looking aspleasantlyat me when I christened them as I am happy to see themlookingnow.  But I'm sure you will not wonder when I say thatamong allthose young menthe one in whom I have the strongestinterestis my friend Mr. Arthur Donnithornefor whom you havejustexpressed your regard.  I had the pleasure of being his tutorforseveral yearsand have naturally had opportunities of knowinghimintimately which cannot have occurred to any one else who ispresent;and I have some pride as well as pleasure in assuring youthat Ishare your high hopes concerning himand your confidencein hispossession of those qualities which will make him anexcellentlandlord when the time shall come for him to take thatimportantposition among you.  We feel alike on most matters onwhich aman who is getting towards fifty can feel in common with ayoung manof one-and-twentyand he has just been expressing afeelingwhich I share very heartilyand I would not willinglyomit theopportunity of saying so.  That feeling is his value andrespectfor Adam Bede.  People in a high station are of coursemorethought of and talked about and have their virtues morepraisedthan those whose lives are passed in humble everydaywork; butevery sensible man knows how necessary that humbleeverydaywork isand how important it is to us that it should bedonewell.  And I agree with my friend Mr. Arthur Donnithorne infeelingthat when a man whose duty lies in that sort of work showsacharacter which would make him an example in any stationhismeritshould be acknowledged.  He is one of those to whom honouris dueand his friends should delight to honour him.  I know AdamBedewell--I know what he is as a workmanand what he has been asa son andbrother--and I am saying the simplest truth when I saythat Irespect him as much as I respect any man living.  But I amnotspeaking to you about a stranger; some of you are his intimatefriendsand I believe there is not one here who does not knowenough ofhim to join heartily in drinking his health."

As Mr.Irwine pausedArthur jumped up andfilling his glasssaid"Abumper to Adam Bedeand may he live to have sons asfaithfuland clever as himself!"

No hearernot even Bartle Masseywas so delighted with thistoast asMr. Poyser.  "Tough work" as his first speech hadbeenhe wouldhave started up to make another if he had not known theextremeirregularity of such a course.  As it washe found anoutlet forhis feeling in drinking his ale unusually fastandsettingdown his glass with a swing of his arm and a determinedrap. If Jonathan Burge and a few others felt less comfortable ontheoccasionthey tried their best to look contentedand so thetoast wasdrunk with a goodwill apparently unanimous.

Adam wasrather paler than usual when he got up to thank hisfriends. He was a good deal moved by this public tribute--verynaturallyfor he was in the presence of all his little worldandit wasuniting to do him honour.  But he felt no shyness aboutspeakingnot being troubled with small vanity or lack of words;he lookedneither awkward nor embarrassedbut stood in his usualfirmupright attitudewith his head thrown a little backward andhis handsperfectly stillin that rough dignity which is peculiartointelligenthonestwell-built workmenwho are neverwonderingwhat is their business in the world.

"I'mquite taken by surprise" he said.  "I didn't expectanythingo' thissortfor it's a good deal more than my wages.  But I'vethe morereason to be grateful to youCaptainand to youMr.Irwineand to all my friends herewho've drunk my health andwished mewell.  It 'ud be nonsense for me to be sayingI don'tat alldeserve th' opinion you have of me; that 'ud be poor thanksto youtosay that you've known me all these years and yethaven'tsense enough to find out a great deal o' the truth aboutme. You thinkif I undertake to do a bit o' workI'll do itwellbemy pay big or little--and that's true.  I'd be ashamed tostandbefore you here if it wasna true.  But it seems to me that'sa man'splain dutyand nothing to be conceited aboutand it'sprettyclear to me as I've never done more than my duty; for letus do whatwe willit's only making use o' the sperrit and thepowersthat ha' been given to us.  And so this kindness o' yoursI'm sureis no debt you owe mebut a free giftand as such Iaccept itand am thankful.  And as to this new employment I'vetaken inhandI'll only say that I took it at CaptainDonnithorne'sdesireand that I'll try to fulfil hisexpectations. I'd wish for no better lot than to work under himand toknow that while I was getting my own bread I was takingcare ofhis int'rests.  For I believe he's one o those gentlemenas wishesto do the right thingand to leave the world a bitbetterthan he found itwhich it's my belief every man may dowhetherhe's gentle or simplewhether he sets a good bit o' workgoing andfinds the moneyor whether he does the work with hisownhands.  There's no occasion for me to say any more about whatI feeltowards him:  I hope to show it through the rest o' my lifein myactions."

There werevarious opinions about Adam's speech:  some of thewomenwhispered that he didn't show himself thankful enoughandseemed tospeak as proud as could be; but most of the men were ofopinionthat nobody could speak more straightfor'ardand thatAdam wasas fine a chap as need to be.  While such observationswere beingbuzzed aboutmingled with wonderings as to what theold squiremeant to do for a bailiffand whether he was going tohave astewardthe two gentlemen had risenand were walkinground tothe table where the wives and children sat.  There wasnone ofthe strong ale hereof coursebut wine and dessert--sparklinggooseberry for the young onesand some good sherry forthemothers.  Mrs. Poyser was at the head of this tableand Tottywas nowseated in her lapbending her small nose deep down into awine-glassin search of the nuts floating there.

"Howdo you doMrs. Poyser?" said Arthur.  "Weren't youpleasedto hearyour husband make such a good speech to-day?"

"Ohsirthe men are mostly so tongue-tied--you're forced partlyto guesswhat they meanas you do wi' the dumb creaturs."

"What!you think you could have made it better for him?" said Mr.Irwinelaughing.

"Wellsirwhen I want to say anythingI can mostly find wordsto say itinthank God.  Not as I'm a-finding faut wi' myhusbandfor if he's a man o' few wordswhat he says he'll standto."

"I'msure I never saw a prettier party than this" Arthur saidlookinground at the apple-cheeked children.  "My aunt and theMissIrwines will come up and see you presently.  They were afraidof thenoise of the toastsbut it would be a shame for them notto see youat table."

He walkedonspeaking to the mothers and patting the childrenwhile Mr.Irwine satisfied himself with standing still and noddingat adistancethat no one's attention might be disturbed from theyoungsquirethe hero of the day.  Arthur did not venture to stopnearHettybut merely bowed to her as he passed along theoppositeside.  The foolish child felt her heart swelling withdiscontent;for what woman was ever satisfied with apparentneglecteven when she knows it to be the mask of love?  Hettythoughtthis was going to be the most miserable day she had hadfor a longwhilea moment of chill daylight and reality cameacross herdream:  Arthurwho had seemed so near to her only afew hoursbeforewas separated from heras the hero of a greatprocessionis separated from a small outsider in the crowd.

 

 ChapterXXV TheGames

 

THE greatdance was not to begin until eight o'clockbut for anylads andlasses who liked to dance on the shady grass before thenthere wasmusic always at hand--for was not the band of theBenefitClub capable of playing excellent jigsreelsandhornpipes? Andbesides thisthere was a grand band hired fromRosseterwhowith their wonderful wind-instruments and puffed-outcheekswere themselves a delightful show to the small boysandgirls.  To say nothing of Joshua Rann's fiddlewhichby anact ofgenerous forethoughthe had provided himself within caseany oneshould be of sufficiently pure taste to prefer dancing toa solo onthat instrument.

Meantimewhen the sun had moved off the great open space in frontof thehousethe games began.  There wereof coursewell-soapedpoles tobe climbed by the boys and youthsraces to be run by theold womenraces to be run in sacksheavy weights to be lifted bythe strongmenand a long list of challenges to such ambitiousattemptsas that of walking as many yards possible on one leg--feats inwhich it was generally remarked that Wiry Benbeing "thelissom'stspringest fellow i' the country" was sure to be pre-eminent. To crown allthere was to be a donkey-race--thatsublimestof all racesconducted on the grand socialistic idea ofeverybodyencouraging everybody else's donkeyand the sorriestdonkeywinning.

And soonafter four o ciocksplendid old Mrs. Irwinein herdamasksatin and jewels and black lacewas led out by Arthurfollowedby the whole family partyto her raised seat under thestripedmarqueewhere she was to give out the prizes to thevictors. Staidformal Miss Lydia had requested to resign thatqueenlyoffice to the royal old ladyand Arthur was pleased withthisopportunity of gratifying his godmother's taste forstateliness. Old Mr. Donnithornethe delicately cleanfinelyscentedwithered old manled out Miss Irwinewith his air ofpunctiliousacid politeness; Mr. Gawaine brought Miss Lydialookingneutral and stiff in an elegant peach-blossom silk; andMr. Irwinecame last with his pale sister Anne.  No other friendof thefamilybesides Mr. Gawainewas invited to-day; there wasto be agrand dinner for the neighbouring gentry on the morrowbut to-dayall the forces were required for the entertainment ofthetenants.

There wasa sunk fence in front of the marqueedividing the lawnfrom theparkbut a temporary bridge had been made for thepassage ofthe victorsand the groups of people standingorseatedhere and there on benchesstretched on each side of theopen spacefrom the white marquees up to the sunk fence.

"Uponmy word it's a pretty sight" said the old ladyin her deepvoicewhen she was seatedand looked round on the bright scenewith itsdark-green background; "and it's the last fete-day I'mlikely toseeunless you make haste and get marriedArthur.  Buttake careyou get a charming brideelse I would rather diewithoutseeing her."

"You'reso terribly fastidiousGodmother" said Arthur"I'mafraid Ishould never satisfy you with my choice."

"WellI won't forgive you if she's not handsome.  I can't be putoff withamiabilitywhich is always the excuse people are makingfor theexistence of plain people.  And she must not be silly;that willnever dobecause you'll want managingand a sillywomancan't manage you.  Who is that tall young manDauphinwiththe mildface?  Therestanding without his hatand taking suchcare ofthat tall old woman by the side of him--his motherofcourse. I like to see that."

"Whatdon't you know himMother?" said Mr. Irwine.  "ThatisSeth BedeAdam's brother--a Methodistbut a very good fellow.Poor Sethhas looked rather down-hearted of late; I thought it wasbecause ofhis father's dying in that sad waybut Joshua Ranntells mehe wanted to marry that sweet little Methodist preacherwho washere about a month agoand I suppose she refused him."

"AhI remember hearing about her.  But there are no end of peoplehere thatI don't knowfor they're grown up and altered so sinceI used togo about."

"Whatexcellent sight you have!" said old Mr. Donnithornewho washolding adouble glass up to his eyes"to see the expression ofthat youngman's face so far off.  His face is nothing but a paleblurredspot to me.  But I fancy I have the advantage of you whenwe come tolook close.  I can read small print withoutspectacles."

"Ahmy dear siryou began with being very near-sightedandthosenear-sighted eyes always wear the best.  I want very strongspectaclesto read withbut then I think my eyes get better andbetter forthings at a distance.  I suppose if I could liveanotherfifty yearsI should be blind to everything that wasn'tout ofother people's sightlike a man who stands in a well andseesnothing but the stars."

"See"said Arthur"the old women are ready to set out on theirrace now. Which do you bet onGawaine?"

"Thelong-legged oneunless they're going to have several heatsand thenthe little wiry one may win."

"Thereare the PoysersMothernot far off on the right hand"said MissIrwine.  "Mrs. Poyser is looking at you.  Do takenoticeof her."

"Tobe sure I will" said the old ladygiving a gracious bow toMrs.Poyser.  "A woman who sends me such excellent cream-cheeseisnot to beneglected.  Bless me!  What a fat child that is she isholding onher knee!  But who is that pretty girl with dark eyes?"

"Thatis Hetty Sorrel" said Miss Lydia Donnithorne"MartinPoyser'sniece--a very likely young personand well-looking too.My maidhas taught her fine needleworkand she has mended somelace ofmine very respectably indeed--very respectably."

"Whyshe has lived with the Poysers six or seven yearsMother;you musthave seen her" said Miss Irwine.

"NoI've never seen herchild--at least not as she is now" saidMrs.Irwinecontinuing to look at Hetty.  "Well-lookingindeed!She's aperfect beauty!  I've never seen anything so pretty sincemy youngdays.  What a pity such beauty as that should be thrownaway amongthe farmerswhen it's wanted so terribly among thegoodfamilies without fortune!  I daresaynowshe'll marry a manwho wouldhave thought her just as pretty if she had had roundeyes andred hair."

Arthurdared not turn his eyes towards Hetty while Mrs. Irwine wasspeakingof her.  He feigned not to hearand to be occupied withsomethingon the opposite side.  But he saw her plainly enoughwithoutlooking; saw her in heightened beautybecause he heardher beautypraised--for other men's opinionyou knowwas like anativeclimate to Arthur's feelings: it was the air on which theythrivedthe bestand grew strong.  Yes!  She was enough to turnany man'shead: any man in his place would have done and felt thesame. And to give her up after allas he was determined to dowould bean act that he should always look back upon with pride.

"NoMother" and Mr. Irwinereplying to her last words; "Ican'tagree withyou there.  The common people are not quite so stupidas youimagine.  The commonest manwho has his ounce of sense andfeelingis conscious of the difference between a lovelydelicatewoman anda coarse one.  Even a dog feels a difference in theirpresence. The man may be no better able than the dog to explaintheinfluence the more refined beauty has on himbut he feelsit."

"BlessmeDauphinwhat does an old bachelor like you know aboutit?"

"Ohthat is one of the matters in which old bachelors are wiserthanmarried menbecause they have time for more generalcontemplation. Your fine critic of woman must never shackle hisjudgmentby calling one woman his own.  Butas an example of whatI wassayingthat pretty Methodist preacher I mentioned just nowtold methat she had preached to the roughest miners and had neverbeentreated with anything but the utmost respect and kindness bythem. The reason is--though she doesn't know it--that there's somuchtendernessrefinementand purity about her.  Such a womanas thatbrings with her 'airs from heaven' that the coarsestfellow isnot insensible to."

"Here'sa delicate bit of womanhoodor girlhoodcoming toreceive aprizeI suppose" said Mr. Gawaine.  "She must be oneof theracers in the sackswho had set off before we came."

The "bitof womanhood" was our old acquaintance Bessy CranageotherwiseChad's Besswhose large red cheeks and blowsy personhadundergone an exaggeration of colourwhichif she hadhappenedto be a heavenly bodywould have made her sublime.BessyIam sorry to sayhad taken to her ear-rings again sinceDinah'sdepartureand was otherwise decked out in such smallfinery asshe could muster.  Any one who could have looked intopoorBessy's heart would have seen a striking resemblance betweenher littlehopes and anxieties and Hetty's.  The advantageperhapswould have been on Bessy's side in the matter of feeling.But thenyou seethey were so very different outside!  You wouldhave beeninclined to box Bessy's earsand you would have longedto kissHetty.

Bessy hadbeen tempted to run the arduous racepartly from merehedonishgaietypartly because of the prize.  Some one had saidthere wereto be cloaks and other nice clothes for prizesand sheapproachedthe marqueefanning herself with her handkerchiefbutwithexultation sparkling in her round eyes.

"Hereis the prize for the first sack-race" said Miss Lydiataking alarge parcel from the table where the prizes were laidand givingit to Mrs. Irwine before Bessy came up"an excellentgrogramgown and a piece of flannel."

"Youdidn't think the winner was to be so youngI supposeAunt?"saidArthur.  "Couldn't you find something else for this girlandsave thatgrim-looking gown for one of the older women?"

"Ihave bought nothing but what is useful and substantial" saidMissLydiaadjusting her own lace; "I should not think ofencouraginga love of finery in young women of that class.  I havea scarletcloakbut that is for the old woman who wins."

Thisspeech of Miss Lydia's produced rather a mocking expressionin Mrs.Irwine's face as she looked at Arthurwhile Bessy came upanddropped a series of curtsies.

"Thisis Bessy Cranagemother" said Mr. Irwinekindly"ChadCranage'sdaughter.  You remember Chad Cranagethe blacksmith?"

"Yesto be sure" said Mrs. Irwine.  "WellBessyhere isyourprize--excellentwarm things for winter.  I'm sure you have hadhard workto win them this warm day."

Bessy'slip fell as she saw the uglyheavy gown--which felt sohot anddisagreeable tooon this July dayand was such a greatugly thingto carry.  She dropped her curtsies againwithoutlookingupand with a growing tremulousness about the corners ofher mouthand then turned away.

"Poorgirl" said Arthur; "I think she's disappointed.  Iwish ithad beensomething more to her taste."

"She'sa bold-looking young person" observed Miss Lydia.  "Notatall one Ishould like to encourage."

Arthursilently resolved that he would make Bessy a present ofmoneybefore the day was overthat she might buy something moreto hermind; but shenot aware of the consolation in store forherturned out of the open spacewhere she was visible from themarqueeand throwing down the odious bundle under a treebegantocry--very much tittered at the while by the small boys.  Inthissituation she was descried by her discreet matronly cousinwho lostno time in coming uphaving just given the baby into herhusband'scharge.

"What'sthe matter wi' ye?" said Bess the matrontaking up thebundle andexamining it.  "Ye'n sweltered yoursenI reckonrunningthat fool's race.  An' herethey'n gi'en you lots o' goodgrogramand flannelas should ha' been gi'en by good rights tothem ashad the sense to keep away from such foolery.  Ye mightspare me abit o' this grogram to make clothes for the lad--ye warne'erill-naturedBess; I ne'er said that on ye."

"Yemay take it allfor what I care" said Bess the maidenwitha pettishmovementbeginning to wipe away her tears and recoverherself.

"WellI could do wi'tif so be ye want to get rid on't" saidthedisinterested cousinwalking quickly away with the bundlelestChad's Bess should change her mind.

But thatbonny-cheeked lass was blessed with an elasticity ofspiritsthat secured her from any rankling grief; and by the timethe grandclimax of the donkey-race came onher disappointmentwasentirely lost in the delightful excitement of attempting tostimulatethe last donkey by hisseswhile the boys applied theargumentof sticks.  But the strength of the donkey mind lies inadopting acourse inversely as the arguments urgedwhichwellconsideredrequires as great a mental force as the directsequence;and the present donkey proved the first-rate order ofhisintelligence by coming to a dead standstill just when theblows werethickest.  Great was the shouting of the crowdradiantthegrinning of Bill Downes the stone-sawyer and the fortunaterider ofthis superior beastwhich stood calm and stiff-legged inthe midstof its triumph.

Arthurhimself had provided the prizes for the menand Bill wasmade happywith a splendid pocket-knifesupplied with blades andgimletsenough to make a man at home on a desert island.  He hadhardlyreturned from the marquee with the prize in his handwhenit beganto be understood that Wiry Ben proposed to amuse thecompanybefore the gentry went to dinnerwith an impromptu andgratuitousperformance--namelya hornpipethe main idea of whichwasdoubtless borrowed; but this was to be developed by the dancerin sopeculiar and complex a manner that no one could deny him thepraise oforiginality.  Wiry Ben's pride in his dancing--anaccomplishmentproductive of great effect at the yearly Wake--hadneededonly slightly elevating by an extra quantity of good ale toconvincehim that the gentry would be very much struck with hisperformanceof his hornpipe; and he had been decidedly encouragedin thisidea by Joshua Rannwho observed that it was nothing butright todo something to please the young squirein return forwhat hehad done for them.  You will be the less surprised at thisopinion inso grave a personage when you learn that Ben hadrequestedMr. Rann to accompany him on the fiddleand Joshua feltquite surethat though there might not be much in the dancingthemusicwould make up for it.  Adam Bedewho was present in one ofthe largemarqueeswhere the plan was being discussedtold Benhe hadbetter not make a fool of himself--a remark which at oncefixedBen's determination: he was not going to let anything alonebecauseAdam Bede turned up his nose at it.

"What'sthiswhat's this?" said old Mr. Donnithorne.  "Is itsomethingyou've arrangedArthur?  Here's the clerk coming withhisfiddleand a smart fellow with a nosegay in his button-hole."

"No"said Arthur; "I know nothing about it.  By Jovehe's goingto dance! It's one of the carpenters--I forget his name at thismoment."

"It'sBen Cranage--Wiry Benthey call him" said Mr. Irwine;"rathera loose fishI think.  Annemy dearI see that fiddle-scrapingis too much for you: you're getting tired.  Let me takeyou innowthat you may rest till dinner."

Miss Annerose assentinglyand the good brother took her awaywhileJoshua's preliminary scrapings burst into the "WhiteCockade"from which he intended to pass to a variety of tunesbya seriesof transitions which his good ear really taught him toexecutewith some skill.  It would have been an exasperating factto himifhe had known itthat the general attention was toothoroughlyabsorbed by Ben's dancing for any one to give much heedto themusic.

Have youever seen a real English rustic perform a solo dance?Perhapsyou have only seen a ballet rusticsmiling like a merrycountrymanin crockerywith graceful turns of the haunch andinsinuatingmovements of the head.  That is as much like the realthing asthe "Bird Waltz" is like the song of birds.  Wiry Benneversmiled: he looked as serious as a dancing monkey--as seriousas if hehad been an experimental philosopher ascertaining in hisown personthe amount of shaking and the varieties of angularitythat couldbe given to the human limbs.

To makeamends for the abundant laughter in the striped marqueeArthurclapped his hands continually and cried "Bravo!"  ButBenhad oneadmirer whose eyes followed his movements with a fervidgravitythat equalled his own.  It was Martin Poyserwho wasseated ona benchwith Tommy between his legs.

"Whatdost think o' that?" he said to his wife.  "He goes aspatto themusic as if he was made o' clockwork.  I used to be aprettygood un at dancing myself when I was lighterbut I couldniver ha'hit it just to th' hair like that."

"It'slittle matter what his limbs areto my thinking" re-turnedMrs.Poyser.  "He's empty enough i' the upper storyor he'dnivercomejigging an' stamping i' that waylike a mad grasshopperforthe gentryto look at him.  They're fit to die wi' laughingI cansee."

"Wellwellso much the betterit amuses 'em" said Mr. Poyserwho didnot easily take an irritable view of things.  "But they'regoing awaynowt' have their dinnerI reckon.  Well move about abitshallweand see what Adam Bede's doing.  He's got to lookafter thedrinking and things: I doubt he hasna had much fun."

 

 ChapterXXVI TheDance

 

ARTHUR hadchosen the entrance-hall for the ballroom: very wiselyfor noother room could have heen so airyor would have had theadvantageof the wide doors opening into the gardenas well as areadyentrance into the other rooms.  To be surea stone floorwas notthe pleasantest to dance onbut thenmost of the dancershad knownwhat it was to enjoy a Christmas dance on kitchenquarries. It was one of those entrance-halls which make thesurroundingrooms look like closets--with stucco angelstrumpetsandflower-wreaths on the lofty ceilingand great medallions ofmiscellaneousheroes on the wallsalternating with statues inniches. Just the sort of place to be ornamented well with greenboughsand Mr. Craig had been proud to show his taste and hishothouseplants on the occasion.  The broad steps of the stonestaircasewere covered with cushions to serve as seats for thechildrenwho were to stay till half-past nine with the servant-maids tosee the dancingand as this dance was confined to thechieftenantsthere was abundant room for every one.  The lightswerecharmingly disposed in coloured-paper lampshigh up amonggreenboughsand the farmers' wives and daughtersas they peepedinbelieved no scene could be more splendid; they knew now quitewell inwhat sort of rooms the king and queen livedand theirthoughtsglanced with some pity towards cousins and acquaintanceswho hadnot this fine opportunity of knowing how things went on inthe greatworld.  The lamps were already litthough the sun hadnot longsetand there was that calm light out of doors in whichwe seem tosee all objects more distinctly than in the broad day.

It was apretty scene outside the house: the farmers and theirfamilieswere moving about the lawnamong the flowers and shrubsor alongthe broad straight road leading from the east frontwhere acarpet of mossy grass spread on each sidestudded hereand therewith a dark flat-boughed cedaror a grand pyramidal firsweepingthe ground with its branchesall tipped with a fringe ofpalergreen.  The groups of cottagers in the park were graduallydiminishingthe young ones being attracted towards the lightsthat werebeginning to gleam from the windows of the gallery inthe abbeywhich was to be their dancing-roomand some of thesoberelder ones thinking it time to go home quietly.  One ofthese wasLisbeth Bedeand Seth went with her--not from filialattentiononlyfor his conscience would not let him join indancing. It had been rather a melancholy day to Seth: Dinah hadnever beenmore constantly present with him than in this scenewhereeverything was so unlike her.  He saw her all the morevividlyafter looking at the thoughtless faces and gay-coloureddresses ofthe young women--just as one feels the beauty and thegreatnessof a pictured Madonna the more when it has been for amomentscreened from us by a vulgar head in a bonnet.  But thispresenceof Dinah in his mind only helped him to bear the betterwith hismother's moodwhich had been becoming more and morequerulousfor the last hour.  Poor Lisbeth was suffering from astrangeconflict of feelings.  Her joy and pride in the honourpaid toher darling son Adam was beginning to be worsted in theconflictwith the jealousy and fretfulness which had revived whenAdam cameto tell her that Captain Donnithorne desired him to jointhedancers in the hall.  Adam was getting more and more out ofher reach;she wished all the old troubles back againfor then itmatteredmore to Adam what his mother said and did.

"Ehit's fine talkin' o' dancin'" she said"an' thy fathernota fiveweek in's grave.  An' I wish I war there tooi'stid o'bein' leftto take up merrier folks's room above ground."

"Naydon't look at it i' that wayMother" said Adamwho wasdeterminedto be gentle to her to-day.  "I don't mean to dance--Ishall onlylook on.  And since the captain wishes me to be thereit 'udlook as if I thought I knew better than him to say as I'drather notstay.  And thee know'st how he's behaved to me to-day."

"Ehthee't do as thee lik'stfor thy old mother's got no rightt' hinderthee.  She's nought but th' old huskand thee'stslippedaway from herlike the ripe nut."

"WellMother" said Adam"I'll go and tell the captain as ithurts thyfeelings for me to stayand I'd rather go home upo'thataccount: he won't take it ill thenI daresayand I'mwilling."He said this with some effortfor he really longed tobe nearHetty this evening.

"NaynayI wonna ha' thee do that--the young squire 'ull beangered. Go an' do what thee't ordered to doan' me and Seth'ull gowhome.  I know it's a grit honour for thee to be so lookedon--an'who's to be prouder on it nor thy mother?  Hadna she thecumber o'rearin' thee an' doin' for thee all these 'ears?"

"Wellgood-byethenMother--good-byelad--remember Gyp whenyou gethome" said Adamturning away towards the gate of thepleasure-groundswhere he hoped he might be able to join thePoysersfor he had been so occupied throughout the afternoon thathe had hadno time to speak to Hetty.  His eye soon detected adistantgroupwhich he knew to be the right onereturning to thehousealong the broad gravel roadand he hastened on to meetthem.

"WhyAdamI'm glad to get sight on y' again" said Mr. Poyserwho wascarrying Totty on his arm.  "You're going t' have a bit o'funIhopenow your work's all done.  And here's Hetty haspromisedno end o' partnersan' I've just been askin' her ifshe'dagreed to dance wi' youan' she says no."

"WellI didn't think o' dancing to-night" said Adamalreadytempted tochange his mindas he looked at Hetty.

"Nonsense!"said Mr. Poyser.  "Whyeverybody's goin' to dance to-nightallbut th' old squire and Mrs. Irwine.  Mrs. Best's beentellin' usas Miss Lyddy and Miss Irwine 'ull dancean' the youngsquire'ull pick my wife for his first partnert' open the ball:so she'llbe forced to dancethough she's laid by ever sin' theChristmasafore the little un was born.  You canna for shame standstillAdaman' you a fine young fellow and can dance as well asanybody."

"Naynay" said Mrs. Poyser"it 'ud be unbecomin'.  I knowthedancin'snonsensebut if you stick at everything because it'snonsenseyou wonna go far i' this life.  When your broth's ready-made foryouyou mun swallow the thickenin'or else let thebrothalone."

"Thenif Hetty 'ull d'ance with me" said Adamyielding either toMrs.Poyser's argument or to something else"I'll dance whicheverdanceshe's free."

"I'vegot no partner for the fourth dance" said Hetty; "I'lldance thatwith youif you like."

"Ah"said Mr. Poyser"but you mun dance the first danceAdamelse it'lllook partic'ler.  There's plenty o' nice partners topick an'choose froman' it's hard for the gells when the menstan' byand don't ask 'em."

Adam feltthe justice of Mr. Poyser's observation: it would not dofor him todance with no one besides Hetty; and remembering thatJonathanBurge had some reason to feel hurt to-dayhe resolved toask MissMary to dance with him the first danceif she had nootherpartner.

"There'sthe big clock strikin' eight" said Mr. Poyser; "we mustmake hastein nowelse the squire and the ladies 'ull be in aforeusan'that wouldna look well."

When theyhad entered the halland the three children underMolly'scharge had been seated on the stairsthe folding-doors ofthedrawing-room were thrown openand Arthur entered in hisregimentalsleading Mrs. Irwine to a carpet-covered daisornamentedwith hot-house plantswhere she and Miss Anne were tobe seatedwith old Mr. Donnithornethat they might look on at thedancinglike the kings and queens in the plays.  Arthur had puton hisuniform to please the tenantshe saidwho thought as muchof hismilitia dignity as if it had been an elevation to thepremiership. He had not the least objection to gratify them inthat way:his uniform was very advantageous to his figure.

The oldsquirebefore sitting downwalked round the hall togreet thetenants and make polite speeches to the wives: he wasalwayspolite; but the farmers had found outafter long puzzlingthat thispolish was one of the signs of hardness.  It wasobservedthat he gave his most elaborate civility to Mrs. Poyserto-nightinquiring particularly about her healthrecommendingher tostrengthen herself with cold water as he didand avoid alldrugs. Mrs. Poyser curtsied and thanked him with great self-commandbut when he had passed onshe whispered to her husband"I'lllay my life he's brewin' some nasty turn against us.  OldHarrydoesna wag his tail so for nothin'."  Mr. Poyser had notimeto answerfor now Arthur came up and said"Mrs. PoyserI'm cometo requestthe favour of your hand for the first dance; andMr.Poyseryou must let me take you to my auntfor she claims you asherpartner."

The wife'spale cheek flushed with a nervous sense of unwontedhonour asArthur led her to the top of the room; but Mr. Poyserto whom anextra glass had restored his youthful confidence in hisgood looksand good dancingwalked along with them quite proudlysecretlyflattering himself that Miss Lydia had never had apartner inHER life who could lift her off the ground as he would.In orderto balance the honours given to the two parishesMissIrwinedanced with Luke Brittonthe largest Broxton farmerandMr.Gawaine led out Mrs. Britton.  Mr. Irwineafter seating hissisterAnnehad gone to the abbey galleryas he had agreed withArthurbeforehandto see how the merriment of the cottagers wasprospering. Meanwhileall the less distinguished couples hadtakentheir places: Hetty was led out by the inevitable Mr. Craigand MaryBurge by Adam; and now the music struck upand thegloriouscountry-dancebest of all dancesbegan.

Pity itwas not a boarded floor!  Then the rhythmic stamping ofthe thickshoes would have been better than any drums.  That merrystampingthat gracious nodding of the headthat waving bestowalof thehand--where can we see them now?  That simple dancing ofwell-coveredmatronslaying aside for an hour the cares of houseand dairyremembering but not affecting youthnot jealous butproud ofthe young maidens by their side--that holidaysprightlinessof portly husbands paying little compliments totheirwivesas if their courting days were come again--those ladsand lassesa little confused and awkward with their partnershavingnothing to say--it would be a pleasant variety to see allthatsometimesinstead of low dresses and large skirtsandscanningglances exploring costumesand languid men in lacqueredbootssmiling with double meaning.

There wasbut one thing to mar Martin Poyser's pleasure in thisdance: itwas that he was always in close contact with LukeBrittonthat slovenly farmer.  He thought of throwing a littleglazedcoldness into his eye in the crossing of hands; but thenas MissIrwine was opposite to him instead of the offensive Lukehe mightfreeze the wrong person.  So he gave his face up tohilarityunchilled by moral judgments.

HowHetty's heart beat as Arthur approached her!  He had hardlylooked ather to-day: now he must take her hand.  Would he pressit? Would he look at her?  She thought she would cry if he gaveher nosign of feeling.  Now he was there--he had taken her hand--yeshewas pressing it.  Hetty turned pale as she looked up athim for aninstant and met his eyesbefore the dance carried himaway. That pale look came upon Arthur like the beginning of adull painwhich clung to himthough he must dance and smile andjoke allthe same.  Hetty would look sowhen he told her what hehad totell her; and he should never be able to bear it--he shouldbe a fooland give way again.  Hetty's look did not really mean somuch as hethought: it was only the sign of a struggle between thedesire forhim to notice her and the dread lest she should betraythe desireto others.  But Hetty's face had a language thattranscendedher feelings.  There are faces which nature chargeswith ameaning and pathos not belonging to the single human soulthatflutters beneath thembut speaking the joys and sorrows offoregonegenerations--eyes that tell of deep love which doubtlesshas beenand is somewherebut not paired with these eyes--perhapspairedwith pale eyes that can say nothing; just as a nationallanguagemay be instinct with poetry unfelt by the lips that useit. That look of Hetty's oppressed Arthur with a dread which yethadsomething of a terrible unconfessed delight in itthat sheloved himtoo well.  There was a hard task before himfor at thatmoment hefelt he would have given up three years of his youth forthehappiness of abandoning himself without remorse to his passionfor Hetty.

These werethe incongruous thoughts in his mind as he led Mrs.Poyserwho was panting with fatigueand secretly resolving thatneitherjudge nor jury should force her to dance another dancetotake aquiet rest in the dining-roomwhere supper was laid outfor theguests to come and take it as they chose.

"I'vedesired Hetty to remember as she's got to dance wi' yousir"said the good innocent woman; "for she's so thoughtlessshe'd belike enough to go an' engage herself for ivery dance.  SoI told hernot to promise too many."

"ThankyouMrs. Poyser" said Arthurnot without a twinge."Nowsit down in this comfortable chairand here is Mills readyto giveyou what you would like best."

He hurriedaway to seek another matronly partnerfor due honourmust bepaid to the married women before he asked any of the youngones; andthe country-dancesand the stampingand the graciousnoddingand the waving of the handswent on joyously.

At lastthe time had come for the fourth dance--longed for by thestronggrave Adamas if he had been a delicate-handed youth ofeighteen;for we are all very much alike when we are in our firstlove; andAdam had hardly ever touched Hetty's hand for more thanatransient greeting--had never danced with her but once before.His eyeshad followed her eagerly to-night in spite of himselfand hadtaken in deeper draughts of love.  He thought she behavedsoprettilyso quietly; she did not seem to be flirting at allshe smiledless than usual; there was almost a sweet sadness abouther. "God bless her!" he said inwardly; "I'd make her lifeahappy 'unif a strong arm to work for herand a heart to lovehercoulddo it."

And thenthere stole over him delicious thoughts of coming homefrom workand drawing Hetty to his sideand feeling her cheeksoftlypressed against histill he forgot where he wasand themusic andthe tread of feet might have been the falling of rainand theroaring of the windfor what he knew.

But nowthe third dance was endedand he might go up to her andclaim herhand.  She was at the far end of the hall near thestaircasewhispering with Mollywho had just given the sleepingTotty intoher arms before running to fetch shawls and bonnetsfrom thelanding.  Mrs. Poyser had taken the two boys away intothedining-room to give them some cake before they went home inthe cartwith Grandfather and Molly was to follow as fast aspossible.

"Letme hold her" said Adamas Molly turned upstairs; "thechildrenare so heavy when they're asleep."

Hetty wasglad of the relieffor to hold Totty in her armsstandingwas not at all a pleasant variety to her.  But thissecondtransfer had the unfortunate effect of rousing Tottywhowas notbehind any child of her age in peevishness at anunseasonableawaking.  While Hetty was in the act of placing herin Adam'sarmsand had not yet withdrawn her ownTotty openedher eyesand forthwith fought out with her left fist at Adam'sarmandwith her right caught at the string of brown beads roundHetty'sneck.  The locket leaped out from her frockand the nextmoment thestring was brokenand Hettyhelplesssaw beads andlocketscattered wide on the floor.

"Mylocketmy locket!" she saidin a loud frightened whisper toAdam;"never mind the beads."

Adam hadalready seen where the locket fellfor it had attractedhis glanceas it leaped out of her frock.  It had fallen on theraisedwooden dais where the band satnot on the stone floor; andas Adampicked it uphe saw the glass with the dark and lightlocks ofhair under it.  It had fallen that side upwardsso theglass wasnot broken.  He turned it over on his handand saw theenamelledgold back.

"Itisn't hurt" he saidas he held it towards Hettywho wasunable totake it because both her hands were occupied with Totty.

"Ohit doesn't matterI don't mind about it" said Hettywhohad beenpale and was now red.

"Notmatter?" said Adamgravely.  "You seemed veryfrightenedabout it. I'll hold it till you're ready to take it" he addedquietlyclosing his hand over itthat she might not think hewanted tolook at it again.

By thistime Molly had come with bonnet and shawland as soon asshe hadtaken TottyAdam placed the locket in Hetty's hand.  Shetook itwith an air of indifference and put it in her pocketinher heartvexed and angry with Adam because he had seen itbutdeterminednow that she would show no more signs of agitation.

"See"she said"they're taking their places to dance; let usgo."

Adamassented silently.  A puzzled alarm had taken possession ofhim. Had Hetty a lover he didn't know of?  For none of herrelationshe was surewould give her a locket like that; andnone ofher admirerswith whom he was acquaintedwas in thepositionof an accepted loveras the giver of that locket mustbe. Adam was lost in the utter impossibility of finding anyperson forhis fears to alight on.  He could only feel with aterriblepang that there was something in Hetty's life unknown tohim; thatwhile he had been rocking himself in the hope that shewould cometo love himshe was already loving another.  Thepleasureof the dance with Hetty was gone; his eyeswhen theyrested onherhad an uneasy questioning expression in them; hecouldthink of nothing to say to her; and she too was out oftemper anddisinclined to speak.  They were both glad when thedance wasended.

Adam wasdetermined to stay no longer; no one wanted himand noone wouldnotice if he slipped away.  As soon as he got out ofdoorshebegan to walk at his habitual rapid pacehurrying alongwithoutknowing whybusy with the painful thought that the memoryof thisdayso full of honour and promise to himwas poisonedfor ever. Suddenlywhen he was far on through the Chasehestoppedstartled by a flash of reviving hope.  After allhemight be afoolmaking a great misery out of a trifle.  Hettyfond offinery as she wasmight have bought the thing herself.It lookedtoo expensive for that--it looked like the things onwhitesatin in the great jeweller's shop at Rosseter.  But Adamhad veryimperfect notions of the value of such thingsand hethought itcould certainly not cost more than a guinea.  PerhapsHetty hadhad as much as that in Christmas boxesand there was noknowingbut she might have been childish enough to spend it inthat way;she was such a young thingand she couldn't help lovingfinery! But thenwhy had she been so frightened about it atfirstandchanged colour soand afterwards pretended not tocare? Ohthat was because she was ashamed of his seeing that shehad such asmart thing--she was conscious that it was wrong forher tospend her money on itand she knew that Adam disapprovedoffinery.  It was a proof she cared about what he liked anddisliked. She must have thought from his silence and gravityafterwardsthat he was very much displeased with herthat he wasinclinedto be harsh and severe towards her foibles.  And as hewalked onmore quietlychewing the cud of this new hopehis onlyuneasinesswas that he had behaved in a way which might chillHetty'sfeeling towards him.  For this last view of the mattermust bethe true one.  How could Hetty have an accepted loverquiteunknown to him?  She was never away from her uncle's housefor morethan a day; she could have no acquaintances that did notcomethereand no intimacies unknown to her uncle and aunt.  Itwould befolly to believe that the locket was given to her by alover. The little ring of dark hair he felt sure was her own; hecould formno guess about the light hair under itfor he had notseen itvery distinctly.  It might be a bit of her father's ormother'swho had died when she was a childand she wouldnaturallyput a bit of her own along with it.

And soAdam went to bed comfortedhaving woven for himself aningeniousweb of probabilities--the surest screen a wise man canplacebetween himself and the truth.  His last waking thoughtsmeltedinto a dream that he was with Hetty again at the Hall Farmand thathe was asking her to forgive him for being so cold andsilent.

And whilehe was dreaming thisArthur was leading Hetty to thedance andsaying to her in low hurried tones"I shall be in thewood theday after to-morrow at seven; come as early as you can."AndHetty's foolish joys and hopeswhich had flown away for alittlespacescared by a mere nothingnow all came flutteringbackunconscious of the real peril.  She was happy for the firsttime thislong dayand wished that dance would last for hours.Arthurwished it too; it was the last weakness he meant to indulgein; and aman never lies with more delicious languor under theinfluenceof a passion than when he has persuaded himself that heshallsubdue it to-morrow.

But Mrs.Poyser's wishes were quite the reverse of thisfor hermind wasfilled with dreary forebodings as to the retardation ofto-morrowmorning's cheese in consequence of these late hours.Now thatHetty had done her duty and danced one dance with theyoungsquireMr. Poyser must go out and see if the cart was comeback tofetch themfor it was half-past ten o'clockandnotwithstandinga mild suggestion on his part that it would be badmannersfor them to be the first to goMrs. Poyser was resoluteon thepoint"manners or no manners."

"What! Going alreadyMrs. Poyser?" said old Mr. Donnithorneasshe cameto curtsy and take leave; "I thought we should not partwith anyof our guests till eleven.  Mrs. Irwine and Iwho areelderlypeoplethink of sitting out the dance till then."

"OhYour Honourit's all right and proper for gentlefolks tostay up bycandlelight--they've got no cheese on their minds.We're lateenough as it isan' there's no lettin' the cows knowas theymustn't want to be milked so early to-morrow mornin'.  Soif you'llplease t' excuse uswe'll take our leave."

"Eh!"she said to her husbandas they set off in the cart"I'dsooner ha'brewin' day and washin' day together than one o' thesepleasurin'days.  There's no work so tirin' as danglin' about an'starin'an' not rightly knowin' what you're goin' to do next; andkeepin'your face i' smilin' order like a grocer o' market-day forfearpeople shouldna think you civil enough.  An' you've nothingto showfor't when it's doneif it isn't a yallow face wi' eatin'things asdisagree."

"Naynay" said Mr. Poyserwho was in his merriest moodandfelt thathe had had a great day"a bit o' pleasuring's good fortheesometimes.  An' thee danc'st as well as any of 'emfor I'llback theeagainst all the wives i' the parish for a light foot an'ankle. An' it was a great honour for the young squire to ask theefirst--Ireckon it was because I sat at th' head o' the table an'made thespeech.  An' Hetty too--she never had such a partnerbefore--afine young gentleman in reg'mentals.  It'll serve you totalk onHettywhen you're an old woman--how you danced wi' th'youngsquire the day he come o' age."

 

 

 

BookFour   ChapterXXVII Acrisis

 

IT wasbeyond the middle of August--nearly three weeks after thebirthdayfeast.  The reaping of the wheat had begun in our northmidlandcounty of Loamshirebut the harvest was likely still toberetarded by the heavy rainswhich were causing inundations andmuchdamage throughout the country.  From this last trouble theBroxtonand Hayslope farmerson their pleasant uplands and intheirbrook-watered valleyshad not sufferedand as I cannotpretendthat they were such exceptional farmers as to love thegeneralgood better than their ownyou will infer that they werenot invery low spirits about the rapid rise in the price ofbreadsolong as there was hope of gathering in their own cornundamaged;and occasional days of sunshine and drying windsflatteredthis hope.

Theeighteenth of August was one of these days when the sunshinelookedbrighter in all eyes for the gloom that went before.  Grandmasses ofcloud were hurried across the blueand the great roundhillsbehind the Chase seemed alive with their flying shadows; thesun washidden for a momentand then shone out warm again like arecoveredjoy; the leavesstill greenwere tossed off thehedgerowtrees by the wind; around the farmhouses there was asound ofclapping doors; the apples fell in the orchards; and thestrayhorses on the green sides of the lanes and on the common hadtheirmanes blown about their faces.  And yet the wind seemed onlypart ofthe general gladness because the sun was shining.  A merryday forthe childrenwho ran and shouted to see if they could topthe windwith their voices; and the grown-up people too were ingoodspiritsinclined to believe in yet finer dayswhen the windhadfallen.  If only the corn were not ripe enough to be blown outof thehusk and scattered as untimely seed!

And yet aday on which a blighting sorrow may fall upon a man.For if itbe true that Nature at certain moments seems chargedwith apresentiment of one individual lot must it not also be truethat sheseems unmindful uncon-scious of another?  For there is nohour thathas not its births of gladness and despairno morningbrightnessthat does not bring new sickness to desolation as wellas newforces to genius and love.  There are so many of usandour lotsare so differentwhat wonder that Nature's mood is oftenin harshcontrast with the great crisis of our lives?  We arechildrenof a large familyand must learnas such children donot toexpect that our hurts will be made much of--to be contentwithlittle nurture and caressingand help each other the more.

It was abusy day with Adamwho of late had done almost doubleworkforhe was continuing to act as foreman for Jonathan Burgeuntil somesatisfactory person could be found to supply his placeandJonathan was slow to find that person.  But he had done theextra workcheerfullyfor his hopes were buoyant again aboutHetty. Every time she had seen him since the birthdayshe hadseemed tomake an effort to behave all the more kindly to himthat shemight make him understand she had forgiven his silenceandcoldness during the dance.  He had never mentioned the locketto heragain; too happy that she smiled at him--still happierbecause heobserved in her a more subdued airsomething that heinterpretedas the growth of womanly tenderness and seriousness."Ah!"he thoughtagain and again"she's only seventeen; she'llbethoughtful enough after a while.  And her aunt allays says howclever sheis at the work.  She'll make a wife as Mother'll havenooccasion to grumble atafter all." To be surehe had onlyseen herat home twice since the birthday; for one Sundaywhen hewasintending to go from church to the Hall FarmHetty had joinedthe partyof upper servants from the Chase and had gone home withthem--almostas if she were inclined to encourage Mr. Craig."She'stakin' too much likin' to them folks i' the house keeper'sroom"Mrs. Poyser remarked.  "For my partI was never overfondo'gentlefolks's servants--they're mostly like the fine ladies'fat dogsnayther good for barking nor butcher's meatbut on'yfor show."And another evening she was gone to Treddleston to buysomethings; thoughto his great surpriseas he was returninghomehesaw her at a distance getting over a stile quite out oftheTreddleston road.  Butwhen he hastened to hershe was verykindandasked him to go in again when he had taken her to theyardgate.  She had gone a little farther into the fields aftercomingfrom Treddleston because she didn't want to go inshesaid: itwas so nice to be out of doorsand her aunt always madesuch afuss about it if she wanted to go out.  "Ohdo come inwith me!"she saidas he was going to shake hands with her at thegateandhe could not resist that.  So he went inand Mrs.Poyser wascontented with only a slight remark on Hetty's beinglater thanwas expected; while Hettywho had looked out ofspiritswhen he met hersmiled and talked and waited on them allwithunusual promptitude.

That wasthe last time he had seen her; but he meant to makeleisurefor going to the Farm to-morrow.  To-dayhe knewwas herday forgoing to the Chase to sew with the lady's maidso hewould getas much work done as possible this eveningthat thenext mightbe clear.

One pieceof work that Adam was superintending was some slightrepairs atthe Chase Farmwhich had been hitherto occupied bySatchellas bailiffbut which it was now rumoured that the oldsquire wasgoing to let to a smart man in top-bootswho had beenseen toride over it one day.  Nothing but the desire to get atenantcould account for the squire's undertaking repairsthoughtheSaturday-evening party at Mr. Casson's agreed over their pipesthat noman in his senses would take the Chase Farm unless therewas a bitmore ploughland laid to it.  However that might betherepairswere ordered to be executed with all dispatchand Adamacting forMr. Burgewas carrying out the order with his usualenergy. But to-dayhaving been occupied elsewherehe had notbeen ableto arrive at the Chase Farm till late in the afternoonand hethen discovered that some old roofingwhich he hadcalculatedon preservinghad given way.  There was clearly nogood to bedone with this part of the building without pulling itall downand Adam immediately saw in his mind a plan for buildingit upagainso as to make the most convenient of cow-sheds andcalf-penswith a hovel for implements; and all without any greatexpensefor materials.  Sowhen the workmen were gonehe satdowntookout his pocket-bookand busied himself with sketchinga planand making a specification of the expenses that he mightshow it toBurge the next morningand set him on persuading thesquire toconsent.  To "make a good job" of anythinghoweversmallwasalways a pleasure to Adamand he sat on a blockwithhis bookresting on a planing-tablewhistling low every now andthen andturning his head on one side with a just perceptiblesmile ofgratification--of pridetoofor if Adam loved a bit ofgood workhe loved also to think"I did it!"  And I believe theonlypeople who are free from that weakness are those who have nowork tocall their own.  It was nearly seven before he hadfinishedand put on his jacket again; and on giving a last lookroundheobserved that Sethwho had been working here to-dayhad lefthis basket of tools behind him.  "Whyth' lad's forgothistools" thought Adam"and he's got to work up at the shopto-morrow. There never was such a chap for wool-gathering; he'dleave hishead behind himif it was loose.  Howeverit's luckyI've seen'em; I'll carry 'em home."

Thebuildings of the Chase Farm lay at one extremity of the Chaseat aboutten minutes' walking distance from the Abbey.  Adam hadcomethither on his ponyintending to ride to the stables and putup his nagon his way home.  At the stables he encountered Mr.Craigwhohad come to look at the captain's new horseon whichhe was toride away the day after to-morrow; and Mr. Craigdetainedhim to tell how all the servants were to collect at thegate ofthe courtyard to wish the young squire luck as he rodeout; sothat by the time Adam had got into the Chaseand wasstridingalong with the basket of tools over his shoulderthe sunwas on thepoint of settingand was sending level crimson raysamong thegreat trunks of the old oaksand touching every barepatch ofground with a transient glory that made it look like ajeweldropt upon the grass.  The wind had fallen nowand therewas onlyenough breeze to stir the delicate-stemmed leaves.  Anyone whohad been sitting in the house all day would have been gladto walknow; but Adam had been quite enough in the open air towish toshorten his way homeand he bethought himself that hemight doso by striking across the Chase and going through theGrovewhere he had never been for years.  He hurried on acrossthe Chasestalking along the narrow paths between the fernwithGyp at hisheelsnot lingering to watch the magnificent changesof thelight--hardly once thinking of it--yet feeling its presencein acertain calm happy awe which mingled itself with his busyworking-daythoughts.  How could he help feeling it?  The verydeer feltitand were more timid.

PresentlyAdam's thoughts recurred to what Mr. Craig had saidaboutArthur Donnithorneand pictured his going awayand thechangesthat might take place before he came back; then theytravelledback affectionately over the old scenes of boyishcompanionshipand dwelt on Arthur's good qualitieswhich Adamhad apride inas we all have in the virtues of the superior whohonoursus.  A nature like Adam'swith a great need of love andreverencein itdepends for so much of its happiness on what itcanbelieve and feel about others!  And he had no ideal world ofdeadheroes; he knew little of the life of men in the past; hemust findthe beings to whom he could cling with loving admirationamongthose who came within speech of him.  These pleasantthoughtsabout Arthur brought a milder expression than usual intohis keenrough face: perhaps they were the reason whywhen heopened theold green gate leading into the Grovehe paused to patGyp andsay a kind word to him.

After thatpausehe strode on again along the broad winding paththroughthe Grove.  What grand beeches!  Adam delighted in a finetree ofall things; as the fisherman's sight is keenest on theseasoAdam's perceptions were more at home with trees than withotherobjects.  He kept them in his memoryas a painter doeswith allthe flecks and knots in their barkall the curves andangles oftheir boughsand had often calculated the height andcontentsof a trunk to a nicetyas he stood looking at it.  Nowonderthatnot-withstanding his desire to get onhe could nothelppausing to look at a curious large beech which he had seenstandingbefore him at a turning in the roadand convince himselfthat itwas not two trees wedded togetherbut only one.  For therest ofhis life he remembered that moment when he was calmlyexaminingthe beechas a man remembers his last glimpse of thehome wherehis youth was passedbefore the road turnedand hesaw it nomore.  The beech stood at the last turning before theGroveended in an archway of boughs that let in the eastern light;and asAdam stepped away from the tree to continue his walkhiseyes fellon two figures about twenty yards before him.

Heremained as motionless as a statueand turned almost as pale.The twofigures were standing opposite to each otherwith claspedhandsabout to part; and while they were bending to kissGypwhohad beenrunning among the brushwoodcame outcaught sight ofthemandgave a sharp bark.  They separated with a start--onehurriedthrough the gate out of the Groveand the otherturningroundwalked slowlywith a sort of sauntertowards Adam whostillstood transfixed and paleclutching tighter the stick withwhich heheld the basket of tools over his shoulderand lookingat theapproaching figure with eyes in which amazement was fastturning tofierceness.

ArthurDonnithorne looked flushed and excited; he had tried tomakeunpleasant feelings more bearable by drinking a little morewine thanusual at dinner to-dayand was still enough under itsflatteringinfluence to think more lightly of this unwished-forrencontrewith Adam than he would otherwise have done.  After allAdam wasthe best person who could have happened to see him andHettytogether--he was a sensible fellowand would not babbleabout itto other people.  Arthur felt confident that he couldlaugh thething off and explain it away.  And so he saunteredforwardwith elaborate carelessness--his flushed facehis eveningdress offine cloth and fine linenhis hands half-thrust into hiswaistcoatpocketsall shone upon by the strange evening lightwhich thelight clouds had caught up even to the zenithand werenowshedding down between the topmost branches above him.

Adam wasstill motionlesslooking at him as he came up.  Heunderstoodit all now--the locket and everything else that hadbeendoubtful to him: a terrible scorching light showed him thehiddenletters that changed the meaning of the past.  If he hadmoved amusclehe must inevitably have sprung upon Arthur like atiger; andin the conflicting emotions that filled those longmomentshe had told himself that he would not give loose topassionhe would only speak the right thing.  He stood as ifpetrifiedby an unseen forcebut the force was his own strongwill.

"WellAdam" said Arthur"you've been looking at the fine oldbeecheseh?  They're not to be come near by the hatchetthough;this is asacred grove.  I overtook pretty little Hetty Sorrel asI wascoming to my den--the Hermitagethere.  She ought not tocome homethis way so late.  So I took care of her to the gateand askedfor a kiss for my pains.  But I must get back nowforthis roadis confoundedly damp.  Good-nightAdam.  I shall seeyouto-morrow--to say good-byeyou know."

Arthur wastoo much preoccupied with the part he was playinghimself tobe thoroughly aware of the expression in Adam's face.He did notlook directly at Adambut glanced carelessly round atthe treesand then lifted up one foot to look at the sole of hisboot. He cared to say no more--he had thrown quite dust enoughintohonest Adam's eyes--and as he spoke the last wordshe walkedon.

"Stopa bitsir" said Adamin a hard peremptory voicewithoutturninground.  "I've got a word to say to you."

Arthurpaused in surprise.  Susceptible persons are more affectedby achange of tone than by unexpected wordsand Arthur had thesusceptibilityof a nature at once affectionate and vain.  He wasstill moresurprised when he saw that Adam had not movedbutstood withhis back to himas if summoning him to return.  Whatdid hemean?  He was going to make a serious business of thisaffair. Arthur felt his temper rising.  A patronising dispositionalways hasits meaner sideand in the confusion of his irritationand alarmthere entered the feeling that a man to whom he hadshown somuch favour as to Adam was not in a position to criticizehisconduct.  And yet he was dominatedas one who feels himselfin thewrong always isby the man whose good opinion he caresfor. In spite of pride and temperthere was as much deprecationas angerin his voice when he said"What do you meanAdam?"

"Imeansir"--answered Adamin the same harsh voicestillwithoutturning round--"I meansirthat you don't deceive me byyour lightwords.  This is not the first time you've met HettySorrel inthis groveand this is not the first time you've kissedher."

Arthurfelt a startled uncertainty how far Adam was speaking fromknowledgeand how far from mere inference.  And this uncertaintywhichprevented him from contriving a prudent answerheightenedhisirritation.  He saidin a high sharp tone"Wellsirwhatthen?"

"Whytheninstead of acting like th' uprighthonourable manwe've allbelieved you to beyou've been acting the part of aselfishlight-minded scoundrel.  You know as well as I do whatit's tolead to when a gentleman like you kisses and makes love toa youngwoman like Hettyand gives her presents as she'sfrightenedfor other folks to see.  And I say it againyou'reacting thepart of a selfish light-minded scoundrel though it cutsme to th'heart to say soand I'd rather ha' lost my right hand."

"Letme tell youAdam" said Arthurbridling his growing angerand tryingto recur to his careless tone"you're not onlydevilishlyimpertinentbut you're talking nonsense.  Every prettygirl isnot such a fool as youto suppose that when a gentlemanadmiresher beauty and pays her a little attentionhe must meansomethingparticular.  Every man likes to flirt with a prettygirlandevery pretty girl likes to be flirted with.  The widerthedistance between themthe less harm there isfor then she'snot likelyto deceive herself."

"Idon't know what you mean by flirting" said Adam"but ifyoumeanbehaving to a woman as if you loved herand yet not lovingher allthe whileI say that's not th' action of an honest manand whatisn't honest does come t' harm.  I'm not a foolandyou're nota fooland you know better than what you're saying.You knowit couldn't be made public as you've behaved to Hetty asy' havedone without her losing her character and bringing shameandtrouble on her and her relations.  What if you meant nothingby yourkissing and your presents?  Other folks won't believe asyou'vemeant nothing; and don't tell me about her not deceivingherself. I tell you as you've filled her mind so with the thoughtof you asit'll mayhap poison her lifeand she'll never loveanotherman as 'ud make her a good husband."

Arthur hadfelt a sudden relief while Adam was speaking; heperceivedthat Adam had no positive knowledge of the pastandthat therewas no irrevocable damage done by this evening'sunfortunaterencontre.  Adam could still be deceived.  The candidArthur hadbrought himself into a position in which successfullying washis only hope.  The hope allayed his anger a little.

"WellAdam" he saidin a tone of friendly concession"you'reperhapsright.  Perhaps I've gone a little too far in takingnotice ofthe pretty little thing and stealing a kiss now andthen. You're such a gravesteady fellowyou don't understandthetemptation to such trifling.  I'm sure I wouldn't bring anytrouble orannoyance on her and the good Poysers on any account ifI couldhelp it.  But I think you look a little too seriously atit. You know I'm going away immediatelyso I shan't make anymoremistakes of the kind.  But let us say good-night"--Arthurhereturned round to walk on--"and talk no more about the matter.The wholething will soon be forgotten."

"Noby God!" Adam burst out with rage that could be controlled nolongerthrowing down the basket of tools and striding forwardtill hewas right in front of Arthur.  All his jealousy and senseofpersonal injurywhich he had been hitherto trying to keepunderhadleaped up and mastered him.  What man of usin thefirstmoments of a sharp agonycould ever feel that the fellow-man whohas been the medium of inflicting it did not mean to hurtus? In our instinctive rebellion against painwe are childrenagainanddemand an active will to wreak our vengeance on.  Adamat thismoment could only feel that he had been robbed of Hetty--robbedtreacherously by the man in whom he had trusted--and hestoodclose in front of Arthurwith fierce eyes glaring at himwith palelips and clenched handsthe hard tones in which he hadhithertobeen constraining himself to express no more than a justindignationgiving way to a deep agitated voice that seemed toshake himas he spoke.

"Noit'll not be soon forgotas you've come in between her andmewhenshe might ha' loved me--it'll not soon be forgot asyou'verobbed me o' my happinesswhile I thought you was my bestfriendand a noble-minded manas I was proud to work for.  Andyou'vebeen kissing herand meaning nothinghave you?  And Ineverkissed her i' my life--but I'd ha' worked hard for years forthe rightto kiss her.  And you make light of it.  You thinklittle o'doing what may damage other folksso as you get yourbit o'triflingas means nothing.  I throw back your favoursforyou're notthe man I took you for.  I'll never count you my friendany more. I'd rather you'd act as my enemyand fight me where Istand--it'sall th' amends you can make me."

Poor Adampossessed by rage that could find no other ventbeganto throwoff his coat and his captoo blind with passion tonotice thechange that had taken place in Arthur while he wasspeaking. Arthur's lips were now as pale as Adam's; his heart wasbeatingviolently.  The discovery that Adam loved Hetty was ashockwhich made him for the moment see himself in the light ofAdam'sindignationand regard Adam's suffering as not merely aconsequencebut an element of his error.  The words of hatred andcontempt--thefirst he had ever heard in his life--seemed likescorchingmissiles that were making ineffaceable scars on him.Allscreening self-excusewhich rarely falls quite away whileothersrespect usforsook him for an instantand he stood faceto facewith the first great irrevocable evil he had evercommitted. He was only twenty-oneand three months ago--naymuchlater--he had thought proudly that no man should ever be abletoreproach him justly.  His first impulseif there had been timefor itwould perhaps have been to utter words of propitiation;but Adamhad no sooner thrown off his coat and cap than he becameaware thatArthur was standing pale and motionlesswith his handsstillthrust in his waistcoat pockets.

"What!"he said"won't you fight me like a man?  You know I won'tstrike youwhile you stand so."

"GoawayAdam" said Arthur"I don't want to fight you."

"No"said Adambitterly; "you don't want to fight me--you thinkI'm acommon manas you can injure without answering for it."

"Inever meant to injure you" said Arthurwith returning anger."Ididn't know you loved her."

"Butyou've made her love you" said Adam.  "You're adouble-facedman--I'llnever believe a word you say again."

"GoawayI tell you" said Arthurangrily"or we shall bothrepent."

"No"said Adamwith a convulsed voice"I swear I won't go awaywithoutfighting you.  Do you want provoking any more?  I tell youyou're acoward and a scoundreland I despise you."

The colourhad all rushed back to Arthur's face; in a moment hisright handwas clenchedand dealt a blow like lightningwhichsent Adamstaggering backward.  His blood was as thoroughly up asAdam'snowand the two menforgetting the emotions that had gonebeforefought with the instinctive fierceness of panthers in thedeepeningtwilight darkened by the trees.  The delicate-handedgentlemanwas a match for the workman in everything but strengthandArthur's skill enabled him to protract the struggle for somelongmoments.  But between unarmed men the battle is to thestrongwhere the strong is no blundererand Arthur must sinkunder awell-planted blow of Adam's as a steel rod is broken by aniron bar. The blow soon cameand Arthur fellhis head lyingconcealedin a tuft of fernso that Adam could only discern hisdarklyclad body.

He stoodstill in the dim light waiting for Arthur to rise.

The blowhad been given nowtowards which he had been strainingall theforce of nerve and muscle--and what was the good of it?What hadhe done by fighting?  Only satisfied his own passiononlywreaked his own vengeance.  He had not rescued Hettynorchangedthe past--there it wasjust as it had beenand hesickenedat the vanity of his own rage.

But whydid not Arthur rise?  He was perfectly motionlessand thetimeseemed long to Adam.  Good God! had the blow been too muchfor him? Adam shuddered at the thought of his own strengthaswith theoncoming of this dread he knelt down by Arthur's side andlifted hishead from among the fern.  There was no sign of life:the eyesand teeth were set.  The horror that rushed over Adamcompletelymastered himand forced upon him its own belief.  Hecould feelnothing but that death was in Arthur's faceand thathe washelpless before it.  He made not a single movementbutknelt likean image of despair gazing at an image of death.

 

 ChapterXXVIII ADilemma

 

IT wasonly a few minutes measured by the clock--though Adamalwaysthought it had been a long while--before he perceived agleam ofconsciousness in Arthur's face and a slight shiverthroughhis frame.  The intense joy that flooded his soul broughtback someof the old affection with it.

"Doyou feel any painsir?" he saidtenderlyloosening Arthur'scravat.

Arthurturned his eyes on Adam with a vague stare which gave wayto aslightly startled motion as if from the shock of returningmemory. But he only shivered again and said nothing.

"Doyou feel any hurtsir?" Adam said againwith a trembling inhis voice.

Arthur puthis hand up to his waistcoat buttonsand when Adam hadunbuttonedithe took a longer breath.  "Lay my head down" hesaidfaintly"and get me some water if you can."

Adam laidthe head down gently on the fern againand emptying thetools outof the flag-baskethurried through the trees to theedge ofthe Grove bordering on the Chasewhere a brook ran belowthe bank.

When hereturned with his basket leakingbut still half-fullArthurlooked at him with a more thoroughly reawakenedconsciousness.

"Canyou drink a drop out o' your handsir?" said Adamkneelingdown againto lift up Arthur's head.

"No"said Arthur"dip my cravat in and souse it on my head."

The waterseemed to do him some goodfor he presently raisedhimself alittle higherresting on Adam's arm.

"Doyou feel any hurt inside sir?" Adam asked again

"No--nohurt" said Arthurstill faintly"but rather done up."

After awhile he said"I suppose I fainted away when you knockedme down."

"Yessirthank God" said Adam.  "I thought it was worse."

"What! You thought you'd done for meeh?  Come help me on mylegs."

"Ifeel terribly shaky and dizzy" Arthur saidas he stoodleaning onAdam's arm; "that blow of yours must have come againstme like abattering-ram.  I don't believe I can walk alone."

"Leanon mesir; I'll get you along" said Adam.  "Orwillyousit down abit longeron my coat hereand I'll prop y' up.You'llperhaps be better in a minute or two."

"No"said Arthur.  "I'll go to the Hermitage--I think I've gotsomebrandy there.  There's a short road to it a little fartheronnearthe gate.  If you'll just help me on."

Theywalked slowlywith frequent pausesbut without speakingagain. In both of themthe concentration in the present whichhadattended the first moments of Arthur's revival had now givenway to avivid recollection of the previous scene.  It was nearlydark inthe narrow path among the treesbut within the circle offir-treesround the Hermitage there was room for the growingmoonlightto enter in at the windows.  Their steps were noiselesson thethick carpet of fir-needlesand the outward stillnessseemed toheighten their inward consciousnessas Arthur took thekey out ofhis pocket and placed it in Adam's handfor him toopen thedoor.  Adam had not known before that Arthur hadfurnishedthe old Hermitage and made it a retreat for himselfandit was asurprise to him when he opened the door to see a snugroom withall the signs of frequent habitation.

Arthurloosed Adam's arm and threw himself on the ottoman."You'llsee my hunting-bottle somewhere" he said.  "A leathercase witha bottle and glass in."

Adam wasnot long in finding the case.  "There's very littlebrandy initsir" he saidturning it downwards over the glassas he heldit before the window; "hardly this little glassful."

"Wellgive me that" said Arthurwith the peevishness ofphysicaldepression.  When he had taken some sipsAdam said"Hadn'tI better run to th' housesirand get some more brandy?I can bethere and back pretty soon.  It'll be a stiff walk homefor youif you don't have something to revive you."

"Yes--go. But don't say I'm ill.  Ask for my man Pymand tellhim to getit from Millsand not to say I'm at the Hermitage.Get somewater too."

Adam wasrelieved to have an active task--both of them wererelievedto be apart from each other for a short time.  But Adam'sswift pacecould not still the eager pain of thinking--of livingagain withconcentrated suffering through the last wretched hourandlooking out from it over all the new sad future.

Arthur laystill for some minutes after Adam was gonebutpresentlyhe rose feebly from the ottoman and peered about slowlyin thebroken moonlightseeking something.  It was a short bit ofwax candlethat stood amongst a confusion of writing and drawingmaterials. There was more searching for the means of lighting thecandleand when that was donehe went cautiously round the roomas ifwishing to assure himself of the presence or absence ofsomething. At last he had found a slight thingwhich he putfirst inhis pocketand thenon a second thoughttook out againand thrustdeep down into a waste-paper basket.  It was a woman'slittlepinksilk neckerchief.  He set the candle on the tableand threwhimself down on the ottoman againexhausted with theeffort.

When Adamcame back with his supplieshis entrance awoke Arthurfrom adoze.

"That'sright" Arthur said; "I'm tremendously in want of somebrandy-vigour."

"I'mglad to see you've got a lightsir" said Adam.  "I'vebeenthinkingI'd better have asked for a lanthorn."

"Nono; the candle will last long enough--I shall soon be up towalkinghome now."

"Ican't go before I've seen you safe homesir" said Adamhesitatingly.

"No:it will be better for you to stay--sit down."

Adam satdownand they remained opposite to each other in uneasysilencewhile Arthur slowly drank brandy-and-waterwith visiblyrenovatingeffect.  He began to lie in a more voluntary positionand lookedas if he were less overpowered by bodily sensations.Adam waskeenly alive to these indicationsand as his anxietyaboutArthur's condition began to be allayedhe felt more of thatimpatiencewhich every one knows who has had his just indignationsuspendedby the physical state of the culprit.  Yet there was onething onhis mind to be done before he could recur toremonstrance:it was to confess what had been unjust in his ownwords. Perhaps he longed all the more to make this confessionthat hisindignation might be free again; and as he saw the signsofreturning ease in Arthurthe words again and again came to hislips andwent backchecked by the thought that it would be betterto leaveeverything till to-morrow.  As long as they were silentthey didnot look at each otherand a foreboding came across Adamthat ifthey began to speak as though they remembered the past--iftheylooked at each other with full recognition--they must takefireagain.  So they sat in silence till the bit of wax candleflickeredlow in the socketthe silence all the while becomingmoreirksome to Adam.  Arthur had just poured out some morebrandy-and-waterand he threw one arm behind his head and drew upone leg inan attitude of recovered easewhich was anirresistibletemptation to Adam to speak what was on his mind.

"Youbegin to feel more yourself againsir" he saidas thecandlewent out and they were half-hidden from each other in thefaintmoonlight.

"Yes:I don't feel good for much--very lazyand not inclined tomove; butI'll go home when I've taken this dose."

There wasa slight pause before Adam said"My temper got thebetter ofmeand I said things as wasn't true.  I'd no right tospeak asif you'd known you was doing me an injury: you'd nogroundsfor knowing it; I've always kept what I felt for her assecret asI could."

He pausedagain before he went on.

"Andperhaps I judged you too harsh--I'm apt to be harsh--and youmay haveacted out o' thoughtlessness more than I should ha'believedwas possible for a man with a heart and a conscience.We're notall put together alikeand we may misjudge one another.God knowsit's all the joy I could have nowto think the best ofyou."

Arthurwanted to go home without saying any more--he was toopainfullyembarrassed in mindas well as too weak in bodytowish forany further explanation to-night.  And yet it was arelief tohim that Adam reopened the subject in a way the leastdifficultfor him to answer.  Arthur was in the wretched positionof anopengenerous man who has committed an error which makesdeceptionseem a necessity.  The native impulse to give truth inreturn fortruthto meet trust with frank confessionmust besuppressedand duty was becoming a question of tactics.  His deedwasreacting upon him--was already governing him tyrannously andforcinghim into a course that jarred with his habitual feelings.The onlyaim that seemed admissible to him now was to deceive Adamto theutmost: to make Adam think better of him than he deserved.And whenhe heard the words of honest retractation--when he heardthe sadappeal with which Adam ended--he was obliged to rejoice intheremains of ignorant confidence it implied.  He did not answerimmediatelyfor he had to be judicious and not truthful.

"Sayno more about our angerAdam" he saidat lastverylanguidlyfor the labour of speech was unwelcome to him; "Iforgiveyour momentary injustice--it was quite naturalwith theexaggeratednotions you had in your mind.  We shall be none theworsefriends in futureI hopebecause we've fought.  You hadthe bestof itand that was as it should befor I believe I'vebeen mostin the wrong of the two.  Comelet us shake hands."

Arthurheld out his handbut Adam sat still.

"Idon't like to say 'No' to thatsir" he said"but I can'tshakehands till it's clear what we mean by't.  I was wrong when Ispoke asif you'd done me an injury knowinglybut I wasn't wrongin what Isaid beforeabout your behaviour t' Hettyand I can'tshakehands with you as if I held you my friend the same as evertillyou've cleared that up better."

Arthurswallowed his pride and resentment as he drew back hishand. He was silent for some momentsand then saidasindifferentlyas he could"I don't know what you mean by clearingupAdam. I've told you already that you think too seriously of alittleflirtation.  But if you are right in supposing there is anydanger init--I'm going away on Saturdayand there will be an endof it. As for the pain it has given youI'm heartily sorry forit. I can say no more."

Adam saidnothingbut rose from his chair and stood with his facetowardsone of the windowsas if looking at the blackness of themoonlitfir-trees; but he was in reality conscious of nothing buttheconflict within him.  It was of no use now--his resolution notto speaktill to-morrow.  He must speak there and then.  But itwasseveral minutes before he turned round and stepped nearer toArthurstanding and looking down on him as he lay.

"It'llbe better for me to speak plain" he saidwith evidenteffort"though it's hard work.  You seesirthis isn't a trifleto mewhatever it may be to you.  I'm none o' them men as can gomakinglove first to one woman and then t' anotherand don'tthink itmuch odds which of 'em I take.  What I feel for Hetty's adifferentsort o' lovesuch as I believe nobody can know muchabout butthem as feel it and God as has given it to 'em.  She'smore noreverything else to meall but my conscience and my goodname. And if it's true what you've been saying all along--and ifit's onlybeen trifling and flirting as you call itas 'll be putan end toby your going away--whythenI'd waitand hope herheart 'udturn to me after all.  I'm loath to think you'd speakfalse tomeand I'll believe your wordhowever things may look."

"Youwould be wronging Hetty more than me not to believe it" saidArthuralmost violentlystarting up from the ottoman and movingaway. But he threw himself into a chair again directlysayingmorefeebly"You seem to forget thatin suspecting meyou arecastingimputations upon her."

"Naysir" Adam saidin a calmer voiceas if he were half-relieved--forhe was too straightforward to make a distinctionbetween adirect falsehood and an indirect one--"Naysirthingsdon't lielevel between Hetty and you.  You're acting with youreyes openwhatever you may do; but how do you know what's been inher mind? She's all but a child--as any man with a conscience inhim oughtto feel bound to take care on.  And whatever you maythinkIknow you've disturbed her mind.  I know she's been fixingher hearton youfor there's a many things clear to me now as Ididn'tunderstand before.  But you seem to make light o' what shemayfeel--you don't think o' that."

"GoodGodAdamlet me alone!" Arthur burst out impetuously; "Ifeel itenough without your worrying me."

He wasaware of his indiscretion as soon as the words had escapedhim.

"Wellthenif you feel it" Adam rejoinedeagerly; "if you feelas you mayha' put false notions into her mindand made herbelieve asyou loved herwhen all the while you meant nothingI've thisdemand to make of you--I'm not speaking for myselfbutfor her. I ask you t' undeceive her before you go away.  Y'aren'tgoing awayfor everand if you leave her behind with a notion inher heado' your feeling about her the same as she feels aboutyoushe'll be hankering after youand the mischief may getworse. It may be a smart to her nowbut it'll save her pain i'th' end. I ask you to write a letter--you may trust to my seeingas shegets it.  Tell her the truthand take blame to yourselfforbehaving as you'd no right to do to a young woman as isn'tyourequal.  I speak plainsirbut I can't speak any other way.There'snobody can take care o' Hetty in this thing but me."

"Ican do what I think needful in the matter" said Arthurmoreand moreirritated by mingled distress and perplexity"withoutgivingpromises to you.  I shall take what measures I thinkproper."

"No"said Adamin an abrupt decided tone"that won't do.  Imust knowwhat ground I'm treading on.  I must be safe as you'veput an endto what ought never to ha' been begun.  I don't forgetwhat'sowing to you as a gentlemanbut in this thing we're manand manand I can't give up."

There wasno answer for some moments.  Then Arthur said"I'll seeyouto-morrow.  I can bear no more now; I'm ill." He rose as hespokeandreached his capas if intending to go.

"Youwon't see her again!" Adam exclaimedwith a flash ofrecurringanger and suspicionmoving towards the door and placinghis backagainst it.  "Either tell me she can never be my wife--tell meyou've been lying--or else promise me what I've said."

Adamuttering this alternativestood like a terrible fate beforeArthurwho had moved forward a step or twoand now stoppedfaintshakensick in mind and body.  It seemed long to both ofthem--thatinward struggle of Arthur's--before he saidfeebly"Ipromise;let me go."

Adam movedaway from the door and opened itbut when Arthurreachedthe stephe stopped again and leaned against the door-post.

"You'renot well enough to walk alonesir" said Adam.  "Takemyarmagain."

Arthurmade no answerand presently walked onAdam following.Butaftera few stepshe stood still againand saidcoldly"Ibelieve Imust trouble you.  It's getting late nowand there maybe analarm set up about me at home."

Adam gavehis armand they walked on without uttering a wordtill theycame where the basket and the tools lay.

"Imust pick up the toolssir" Adam said.  "They're mybrother's. I doubt they'll be rusted.  If you'll please to wait aminute."

Arthurstood still without speakingand no other word passedbetweenthem till they were at the side entrancewhere he hopedto get inwithout being seen by any one.  He said then"Thankyou; Ineedn't trouble you any further."

"Whattime will it be conven'ent for me to see you to-morrowsir?"said Adam.

"Youmay send me word that you're here at five o'clock" saidArthur;"not before."

"Good-nightsir" said Adam.  But he heard no reply; Arthur hadturnedinto the house.

 

 ChapterXXIX TheNext Morning

 

ARTHUR didnot pass a sleepless night; he slept long and well.For sleepcomes to the perplexed--if the perplexed are only wearyenough. But at seven he rang his bell and astonished Pym bydeclaringhe was going to get upand must have breakfast broughtto him ateight.

"Andsee that my mare is saddled at half-past eightand tell mygrandfatherwhen he's down that I'm better this morning and amgone for aride."

He hadbeen awake an hourand could rest in bed no longer.  Inbed ouryesterdays are too oppressive: if a man can only get upthough itbe but to whistle or to smokehe has a present whichofferssome resistance to the past--sensations which assertthemselvesagainst tyrannous memories.  And if there were such athing astaking averages of feelingit would certainly be foundthat inthe hunting and shooting seasons regretself-reproachandmortified pride weigh lighter on country gentlemen than inlatespring and summer.  Arthur felt that he should be more of aman onhorseback.  Even the presence of Pymwaiting on him withthe usualdeferencewas a reassurance to him after the scenes ofyesterday. Forwith Arthur's sensitiveness to opinionthe lossof Adam'srespect was a shock to his self-contentment whichsuffusedhis imagination with the sense that he had sunk in alleyes--as asudden shock of fear from some real peril makes anervouswoman afraid even to stepbecause all her perceptions aresuffusedwith a sense of danger.

Arthur'sas you knowwas a loving nature.  Deeds of kindnesswere aseasy to him as a bad habit: they were the common issue ofhisweaknesses and good qualitiesof his egoism and his sympathy.He didn'tlike to witness painand he liked to have grateful eyesbeaming onhim as the giver of pleasure.  When he was a lad ofsevenheone day kicked down an old gardener's pitcher of brothfrom nomotive but a kicking impulsenot reflecting that it wasthe oldman's dinner; but on learning that sad facthe took hisfavouritepencil-case and a silver-hafted knife out of his pocketandoffered them as compensation.  He had been the same Arthureversincetrying to make all offences forgotten in benefits.  Ifthere wereany bitterness in his natureit could only show itselfagainstthe man who refused to be conciliated by him.  And perhapsthe timewas come for some of that bitterness to rise.  At thefirstmomentArthur had felt pure distress and self-reproach atdiscoveringthat Adam's happiness was involved in his relation toHetty. If there had been a possibility of making Adam tenfoldamends--ifdeeds of giftor any other deedscould have restoredAdam'scontentment and regard for him as a benefactorArthurwould notonly have executed them without hesitationbut wouldhave feltbound all the more closely to Adamand would never havebeen wearyof making retribution.  But Adam could receive noamends;his suffering could not be cancelled; his respect andaffectioncould not be recovered by any prompt deeds of atonement.He stoodlike an immovable obstacle against which no pressurecouldavail; an embodiment of what Arthur most shrank frombelievingin--the irrevocableness of his own wrongdoing.  Thewords ofscornthe refusal to shake handsthe mastery assertedover himin their last conversation in the Hermitage--above allthe senseof having been knocked downto which a man does notvery wellreconcile himselfeven under the most heroiccircumstances--pressedon him with a galling pain which wasstrongerthan compunction.  Arthur would so gladly have persuadedhimselfthat he had done no harm!  And if no one had told him thecontraryhe could have persuaded himself so much better.  Nemesiscan seldomforge a sword for herself out of our consciences--outof thesuffering we feel in the suffering we may have caused:there israrely metal enough there to make an effective weapon.Our moralsense learns the manners of good society and smiles whenotherssmilebut when some rude person gives rough names to ouractionsshe is apt to take part against us.  And so it was withArthur:Adam's judgment of himAdam's grating wordsdisturbedhisself-soothing arguments.

Not thatArthur had been at ease before Adam's discovery.Strugglesand resolves had transformed themselves into compunctionandanxiety.  He was distressed for Hetty's sakeand distressedfor hisownthat he must leave her behind.  He had alwaysbothin makingand breaking resolutionslooked beyond his passion andseen thatit must speedily end in separation; but his nature wastoo ardentand tender for him not to suffer at this parting; andon Hetty'saccount he was filled with uneasiness.  He had foundout thedream in which she was living--that she was to be a ladyin silksand satins--and when he had first talked to her about hisgoingawayshe had asked him tremblingly to let her go with himand bemarried.  It was his painful knowledge of this which hadgiven themost exasperating sting to Adam's reproaches.  He hadsaid noword with the purpose of deceiving her--her vision was allspun byher own childish fancy--but he was obliged to confess tohimselfthat it was spun half out of his own actions.  And toincreasethe mischiefon this last evening he had not dared tohint thetruth to Hetty; he had been obliged to soothe her withtenderhopeful wordslest he should throw her into violentdistress. He felt the situation acutelyfelt the sorrow of thedear thingin the presentand thought with a darker anxiety ofthetenacity which her feelings might have in the future.  Thatwas theone sharp point which pressed against him; every other hecouldevade by hopeful self-persuasion.  The whole thing had beensecret;the Poysers had not the shadow of a suspicion.  No oneexceptAdamknew anything of what had passed--no one else waslikely toknow; for Arthur had impressed on Hetty that it would befatal tobetrayby word or lookthat there had been the leastintimacybetween them; and Adamwho knew half their secretwouldratherhelp them to keep it than betray it.  It was an unfortunatebusinessaltogetherbut there was no use in making it worse thanit was byimaginary exaggerations and forebodings of evil thatmightnever come.  The temporary sadness for Hetty was the worstconsequence;he resolutely turned away his eyes from any badconsequencethat was not demonstrably inevitable.  But--but Hettymight havehad the trouble in some other way if not in this.  Andperhapshereafter he might be able to do a great deal for her andmake up toher for all the tears she would shed about him.  Shewould owethe advantage of his care for her in future years to thesorrow shehad incurred now.  So good comes out of evil.  Such isthebeautiful arrangement of things!

Are youinclined to ask whether this can be the same Arthur whotwo monthsagohad that freshness of feelingthat delicatehonourwhich shrinks from wounding even a sentimentand does notcontemplateany more positive offence as possible for it?--whothoughtthat his own self-respect was a higher tribunal than anyexternalopinion?  The sameI assure youonly under differentconditions. Our deeds determine usas much as we determine ourdeedsanduntil we know what has been or will be the peculiarcombinationof outward with inward factswhich constitutes aman'scritical actionsit will be better not to think ourselveswise abouthis character.  There is a terrible coercion in ourdeedswhich may first turn the honest man into a deceiver andthenreconcile him to the changefor this reason--that the secondwrongpresents itself to him in the guise of the only practicableright. The action which before commission has been seen with thatblendedcommon sense and fresh untarnished feeling which is thehealthyeye of the soulis looked at afterwards with the lens ofapologeticingenuitythrough which all things that men callbeautifuland ugly are seen to be made up of textures very muchalike. Europe adjusts itself to a fait accompliand so does anindividualcharacter--until the placid adjustment is disturbed byaconvulsive retribution.

No man canescape this vitiating effect of an offence against hisownsentiment of rightand the effect was the stronger in Arthurbecause ofthat very need of self-respect whichwhile hisconsciencewas still at easewas one of his best safeguards.Self-accusationwas too painful to him--he could not face it.  Hemustpersuade himself that he had not been very much to blame; hebegan evento pity himself for the necessity he was under ofdeceivingAdam--it was a course so opposed to the honesty of hisownnature.  But thenit was the only right thing to do.

Wellwhatever had been amiss in himhe was miserable enough inconsequence:miserable about Hetty; miserable about this letterthat hehad promised to writeand that seemed at one moment to bea grossbarbarityat another perhaps the greatest kindness hecould doto her.  And across all this reflection would dart everynow andthen a sudden impulse of passionate defiance towards allconsequences. He would carry Hetty awayand all otherconsiderationsmight go to....

In thisstate of mind the four walls of his room made anintolerableprison to him; they seemed to hem in and press downupon himall the crowd of contradictory thoughts and conflictingfeelingssome of which would fly away in the open air.  He hadonly anhour or two to make up his mind inand he must get clearand calm. Once on Meg's backin the fresh air of that finemorninghe should be more master of the situation.

The prettycreature arched her bay neck in the sunshineand pawedthegraveland trembled with pleasure when her master stroked hernoseandpatted herand talked to her even in a more caressingtone thanusual.  He loved her the better because she knew nothingof hissecrets.  But Meg was quite as well acquainted with hermaster'smental state as many others of her sex with the mentalconditionof the nice young gentlemen towards whom their heartsare in astate of fluttering expectation.

Arthurcantered for five miles beyond the Chasetill he was atthe footof a hill where there were no hedges or trees to hem inthe road. Then he threw the bridle on Meg's neck and prepared tomake uphis mind.

Hetty knewthat their meeting yesterday must be the last beforeArthurwent away--there was no possibility of their contrivinganotherwithout exciting suspicion--and she was like a frightenedchildunable to think of anythingonly able to cry at themention ofpartingand then put her face up to have the tearskissedaway.  He could do nothing but comfort herand lull herintodreaming on.  A letter would be a dreadfully abrupt way ofawakeningher!  Yet there was truth in what Adam said--that itwould saveher from a lengthened delusionwhich might be worsethan asharp immediate pain.  And it was the only way ofsatisfyingAdamwho must be satisfiedfor more reasons than one.If hecould have seen her again!  But that was impossible; therewas such athorny hedge of hindrances between themand animprudencewould be fatal.  And yetif he COULD see her againwhat goodwould it do?  Only cause him to suffer more from thesight ofher distress and the remembrance of it.  Away from himshe wassurrounded by all the motives to self-control.

A suddendread here fell like a shadow across his imagination--thedread lestshe should do something violent in her grief; and closeupon thatdread came anotherwhich deepened the shadow.  But heshook themoff with the force of youth and hope.  What was theground forpainting the future in that dark way?  It was just aslikely tobe the reverse.  Arthur told himself he did not deservethatthings should turn out badly.  He had never meant beforehandto doanything his conscience disapproved; he had been led on bycircumstances. There was a sort of implicit confidence in himthat hewas really such a good fellow at bottomProvidence wouldnot treathim harshly.

At alleventshe couldn't help what would come now: all he coulddo was totake what seemed the best course at the present moment.And hepersuaded himself that that course was to make the way openbetweenAdam and Hetty.  Her heart might really turn to Adamashe saidafter a while; and in that case there would have been nogreat harmdonesince it was still Adam's ardent wish to make herhis wife. To be sureAdam was deceived--deceived in a way thatArthurwould have resented as a deep wrong if it had beenpractisedon himself.  That was a reflection that marred theconsolingprospect.  Arthur's cheeks even burned in mingled shameandirritation at the thought.  But what could a man do in such adilemma? He was bound in honour to say no word that could injureHetty: hisfirst duty was to guard her.  He would never have toldor acted alie on his own account.  Good God!  What a miserablefool hewas to have brought himself into such a dilemma; and yetif ever aman had excuseshe had.  (Pity that consequences aredeterminednot by excuses but by actions!)

Welltheletter must be written; it was the only means thatpromised asolution of the difficulty.  The tears came intoArthur'seyes as he thought of Hetty reading it; but it would bealmost ashard for him to write it; he was not doing anything easytohimself; and this last thought helped him to arrive at aconclusion. He could never deliberately have taken a step whichinflictedpain on another and left himself at ease.  Even amovementof jealousy at the thought of giving up Hetty to Adamwent toconvince him that he was making a sacrifice.

When oncehe had come to this conclusionhe turned Meg round andset offhome again in a canter.  The letter should be written thefirstthingand the rest of the day would be filled up with otherbusiness:he should have no time to look behind him.  HappilyIrwine andGawaine were coming to dinnerand by twelve o'clockthe nextday he should have left the Chase miles behind him.There wassome security in this constant occupation against anuncontrollableimpulse seizing him to rush to Hetty and thrustinto herhand some mad proposition that would undo everything.Faster andfaster went the sensitive Megat every slight signfrom herridertill the canter had passed into a swift gallop.

"Ithought they said th' young mester war took ill last night"said sourold Johnthe groomat dinner-time in the servants'hall. "He's been ridin' fit to split the mare i' two thisforenoon."

"That'shappen one o' the symptimsJohn" said the facetiouscoachman.

"ThenI wish he war let blood for 'tthat's all" said Johngrimly.

Adam hadbeen early at the Chase to know how Arthur wasand hadbeenrelieved from all anxiety about the effects of his blow bylearningthat he was gone out for a ride.  At five o'clock he waspunctuallythere againand sent up word of his arrival.  In a fewminutesPym came down with a letter in his hand and gave it toAdamsaying that the captain was too busy to see himand hadwritteneverything he had to say.  The letter was directed toAdambuthe went out of doors again before opening it.  Itcontaineda sealed enclosure directed to Hetty.  On the inside ofthe coverAdam read:

 

"Inthe enclosed letter I have written everything you wish.  Ileave itto you to decide whether you will be doing best todeliver itto Hetty or to return it to me.  Ask yourself once morewhetheryou are not taking a measure which may pain her more thanmeresilence.

"Thereis no need for our seeing each other again now.  We shallmeet withbetter feelings some months hence.

A.D."

 

"Perhapshe's i' th' right on 't not to see me" thought Adam."It'sno use meeting to say more hard wordsand it's no usemeeting toshake hands and say we're friends again.  We're notfriendsan' it's better not to pretend it.  I know forgiveness isa man'sdutybutto my thinkingthat can only mean as you're togive upall thoughts o' taking revenge: it can never mean asyou're t'have your old feelings back againfor that's notpossible. He's not the same man to meand I can't feel the sametowardshim.  God help me!  I don't know whether I feel the sametowardsanybody: I seem as if I'd been measuring my work from afalselineand had got it all to measure over again."

But thequestion about delivering the letter to Hetty soonabsorbedAdam's thoughts.  Arthur had procured some relief tohimself bythrowing the decision on Adam with a warning; and Adamwho wasnot given to hesitationhesitated here.  He determined tofeel hisway--to ascertain as well as he could what was Hetty'sstate ofmind before he decided on delivering the letter.

 

 ChapterXXX TheDelivery of the Letter

 

THE nextSunday Adam joined the Poysers on their way out ofchurchhoping for an invitation to go home with them.  He had theletter inhis pocketand was anxious to have an opportunity oftalking toHetty alone.  He could not see her face at churchforshe hadchanged her seatand when he came up to her to shakehandshermanner was doubtful and constrained.  He expected thisfor it wasthe first time she had met him since she had been awarethat hehad seen her with Arthur in the Grove.

"Comeyou'll go on with usAdam" Mr. Poyser said when theyreachedthe turning; and as soon as they were in the fields Adamventuredto offer his arm to Hetty.  The children soon gave themanopportunity of lingering behind a littleand then Adam said:

"Willyou contrive for me to walk out in the garden a bit with youthiseveningif it keeps fineHetty?  I've something partic'larto talk toyou about."

Hettysaid"Very well."  She was really as anxious as Adamwasthat sheshould have some private talk with him.  She wonderedwhat hethought of her and Arthur.  He must have seen themkissingshe knewbut she had no conception of the scene that hadtakenplace between Arthur and Adam.  Her first feeling had beenthat Adamwould be very angry with herand perhaps would tell heraunt andunclebut it never entered her mind that he would dareto sayanything to Captain Donnithorne.  It was a relief to herthat hebehaved so kindly to her to-dayand wanted to speak toher alonefor she had trembled when she found he was going homewith themlest he should mean "to tell."  Butnow he wanted totalk toher by herselfshe should learn what he thought and whathe meantto do.  She felt a certain confidence that she couldpersuadehim not to do anything she did not want him to do; shecouldperhaps even make him believe that she didn't care forArthur;and as long as Adam thought there was any hope of herhavinghimhe would do just what she likedshe knew.  Besidesshe MUSTgo on seeming to encourage Adamlest her uncle and auntshould beangry and suspect her of having some secret lover.

Hetty'slittle brain was busy with this combination as she hung onAdam's armand said "yes" or "no" to some slightobservations ofhis aboutthe many hawthorn-berries there would be for the birdsthis nextwinterand the low-hanging clouds that would hardlyhold uptill morning.  And when they rejoined her aunt and uncleshe couldpursue her thoughts without interruptionfor Mr. Poyserheld thatthough a young man might like to have the woman he wascourtingon his armhe would nevertheless be glad of a littlereasonabletalk about business the while; andfor his own parthe wascurious to heal the most recent news about the Chase Farm.Sothrough the rest of the walkhe claimed Adam's conversationforhimselfand Hetty laid her small plots and imagined herlittlescenes of cunning blandishmentas she walked along by thehedgerowson honest Adam's armquite as well as if she had beenanelegantly clad coquette alone in her boudoir.  For if a countrybeauty inclumsy shoes be only shallow-hearted enoughit isastonishinghow closely her mental processes may resemble those ofa lady insociety and crinolinewho applies her refined intellectto theproblem of committing indiscretions without compromisingherself. Perhaps the resemblance was not much the less becauseHetty feltvery unhappy all the while.  The parting with Arthurwas adouble pain to her--mingling with the tumult of passion andvanitythere was a dim undefined fear that the future might shapeitself insome way quite unlike her dream.  She clung to thecomfortinghopeful words Arthur had uttered in their last meeting--"Ishall come again at Christmasand then we will see what canbe done." She clung to the belief that he was so fond of herhewouldnever be happy without her; and she still hugged her secret--that agreat gentleman loved her--with gratified prideas asuperiorityover all the girls she knew.  But the uncertainty ofthefuturethe possibilities to which she could give no shapebegan topress upon her like the invisible weight of air; she wasalone onher little island of dreamsand all around her was thedarkunknown water where Arthur was gone.  She could gather noelation ofspirits now by looking forwardbut only by lookingbackwardto build confidence on past words and caresses.  Butoccasionallysince Thursday eveningher dim anxieties had beenalmostlost behind the more definite fear that Adam might betraywhat heknew to her uncle and auntand his sudden proposition totalk withher alone had set her thoughts to work in a new way.She waseager not to lose this evening's opportunity; and afterteawhenthe boys were going into the garden and Totty begged togo withthemHetty saidwith an alacrity that surprised Mrs.Poyser"I'll go with herAunt."

It did notseem at all surprising that Adam said he would go tooand soonhe and Hetty were left alone together on the walk by thefilbert-treeswhile the boys were busy elsewhere gathering thelargeunripe nuts to play at "cob-nut" withand Totty waswatchingthem with a puppylike air of contemplation.  It was but ashorttime--hardly two months--since Adam had had his mind filledwithdelicious hopes as he stood by Hetty's side un this garden.Theremembrance of that scene had often been with him sinceThursdayevening: the sunlight through the apple-tree boughstheredbunchesHetty's sweet blush.  It came importunately nowonthis sadeveningwith the low-hanging cloudsbut he tried tosuppressitlest some emotion should impel him to say more thanwasneedful for Hetty's sake.

"Afterwhat I saw on Thursday nightHetty" he began"you won'tthink memaking too free in what I'm going to say.  If you wasbeingcourted by any man as 'ud make you his wifeand I'd knownyou wasfond of him and meant to have himI should have no rightto speak aword to you about it; but when I see you're being madelove to bya gentleman as can never marry youand doesna think o'marryingyouI feel bound t' interfere for you.  I can't speakabout itto them as are i' the place o' your parentsfor thatmightbring worse trouble than's needful."

Adam'swords relieved one of Hetty's fearsbut they also carrieda meaningwhich sickened her with a strengthened foreboding.  Shewas paleand tremblingand yet she would have angrilycontradictedAdamif she had dared to betray her feelings.  Butshe wassilent.

"You'reso youngyou knowHetty" he went onalmost tenderly"andy' haven't seen much o' what goes on in the world.  It'sright forme to do what I can to save you from getting intotroublefor want o' your knowing where you're being led to.  Ifanybodybesides me knew what I know about your meeting a gentlemanand havingfine presents from himthey'd speak light on youandyou'd loseyour character.  And besides thatyou'll have tosuffer inyour feelingswi' giving your love to a man as cannevermarry youso as he might take care of you all your life."

Adampaused and looked at Hettywho was plucking the leaves fromthefilbert-trees and tearing them up in her hand.  Her littleplans andpreconcerted speeches had all forsaken herlike an ill-learntlessonunder the terrible agitation produced by Adam'swords. There was a cruel force in their calm certainty whichthreatenedto grapple and crush her flimsy hopes and fancies.  Shewanted toresist them--she wanted to throw them off with angrycontradiction--butthe determination to conceal what she feltstillgoverned her.  It was nothing more than a blind promptingnowforshe was unable to calculate the effect of her words.

"You'veno right to say as I love him" she saidfaintlybutimpetuouslyplucking another rough leaf and tearing it up.  Shewas verybeautiful in her paleness and agitationwith her darkchildisheyes dilated and her breath shorter than usual.  Adam'sheartyearned over her as he looked at her.  Ahif he could butcomfortherand soothe herand save her from this pain; if hehad butsome sort of strength that would enable him to rescue herpoortroubled mindas he would have rescued her body in the faceof alldanger!

"Idoubt it must be soHetty" he saidtenderly; "for Icannabelieveyou'd let any man kiss you by yourselvesand give you agold boxwith his hairand go a-walking i' the Grove to meet himif youdidna love him.  I'm not blaming youfor I know it 'udbegin bylittle and littletill at last you'd not be able tothrow itoff.  It's him I blame for stealing your love i' thatwaywhenhe knew he could never make you the right amends.  He'sbeentrifling with youand making a plaything of youand caringnothingabout you as a man ought to care."

"Yeshe does care for me; I know better nor you" Hetty burstout. Everything was forgotten but the pain and anger she felt atAdam'swords.

"NayHetty" said Adam"if he'd cared for you rightlyhe'dnever ha'behaved so.  He told me himself he meant nothing by hiskissingand presentsand he wanted to make me believe as youthoughtlight of 'em too.  But I know better nor that.  I can'thelpthinking as you've been trusting to his loving you wellenough tomarry youfor all he's a gentleman.  And that's why Imust speakto you about itHettyfor fear you should bedeceivingyourself.  It's never entered his head the thought o'marryingyou."

"Howdo you know?  How durst you say so?" said Hettypausing inher walkand trembling.  The terrible decision of Adam's toneshook herwith fear.  She had no presence of mind left for thereflectionthat Arthur would have his reasons for not telling thetruth toAdam.  Her words and look were enough to determine Adam:he mustgive her the letter.

"Perhapsyou can't believe meHettybecause you think too wellofhim--because you think he loves you better than he does.  ButI've got aletter i' my pocketas he wrote himself for me to giveyou. I've not read the letterbut he says he's told you thetruth init.  But before I give you the letterconsiderHettyand don'tlet it take too much hold on you.  It wouldna ha' beengood foryou if he'd wanted to do such a mad thing as marry you:it 'ud ha'led to no happiness i' th' end."

Hetty saidnothing; she felt a revival of hope at the mention of aletterwhich Adam had not read.  There would be something quitedifferentin it from what he thought.

Adam tookout the letterbut he held it in his hand stillwhilehe saidin a tone of tender entreaty"Don't you bear me illwillHettybecause I'm the means o' bringing you this pain.  Godknows I'dha' borne a good deal worse for the sake o' sparing ityou. And think--there's nobody but me knows about thisand I'lltake careof you as if I was your brother.  You're the same asever tomefor I don't believe you've done any wrong knowingly."

Hetty hadlaid her hand on the letterbut Adam did not loose ittill hehad done speaking.  She took no notice of what he said--she hadnot listened; but when he loosed the lettershe put itinto herpocketwithout opening itand then began to walk morequicklyas if she wanted to go in.

"You'rein the right not to read it just yet" said Adam.  "Readit whenyou're by yourself.  But stay out a little bit longerandlet uscall the children: you look so white and illyour aunt maytakenotice of it."

Hettyheard the warning.  It recalled to her the necessity ofrallyingher native powers of concealmentwhich had half givenway underthe shock of Adam's words.  And she had the letter inherpocket: she was sure there was comfort in that letter in spiteof Adam. She ran to find Tottyand soon reappeared withrecoveredcolourleading Tottywho was making a sour facebecauseshe had been obliged to throw away an unripe apple thatshe hadset her small teeth in.

"HeghTotty" said Adam"come and ride on my shoulder--ever sohigh--you'lltouch the tops o' the trees."

Whatlittle child ever refused to be comforted by that glorioussense ofbeing seized strongly and swung upward?  I don't believeGanymedecried when the eagle carried him awayand perhapsdepositedhim on Jove's shoulder at the end.  Totty smiled downcomplacentlyfrom her secure heightand pleasant was the sight tothemother's eyesas she stood at the house door and saw Adamcomingwith his small burden.

"Blessyour sweet facemy pet" she saidthe mother's stronglovefilling her keen eyes with mildnessas Totty leaned forwardand putout her arms.  She had no eyes for Hetty at that momentand onlysaidwithout looking at her"You go and draw some aleHetty; thegells are both at the cheese."

After theale had been drawn and her uncle's pipe lightedtherewas Tottyto be taken to bedand brought down again in her night-gownbecause she would cry instead of going to sleep.  Then therewas supperto be got readyand Hetty must be continually in theway togive help.  Adam stayed till he knew Mrs. Poyser expectedhim to goengaging her and her husband in talk as constantly ashe couldfor the sake of leaving Hetty more at ease.  Helingeredbecause he wanted to see her safely through thateveningand he was delighted to find how much self-command sheshowed. He knew she had not had time to read the letterbut hedid notknow she was buoyed up by a secret hope that the letterwouldcontradict everything he had said.  It was hard work for himto leaveher--hard to think that he should not know for days howshe wasbearing her trouble.  But he must go at lastand all hecould dowas to press her hand gently as he said "Good-bye" andhope shewould take that as a sign that if his love could ever bea refugefor herit was there the same as ever.  How busy histhoughtswereas he walked homein devising pitying excuses forher follyin referring all her weakness to the sweet lovingnessof hernaturein blaming Arthurwith less and less inclinationto admitthat his conduct might be extenuated too!  Hisexasperationat Hetty's suffering--and also at the sense that shewaspossibly thrust for ever out of his own reach--deafened him toany pleafor the miscalled friend who had wrought this misery.Adam was aclear-sightedfair-minded man--a fine fellowindeedmorally aswell as physically.  But if Aristides the Just was everin loveand jealoushe was at that moment not perfectlymagnanimous. And I cannot pretend that Adamin these painfuldaysfeltnothing but righteous indignation and loving pity.  Hewasbitterly jealousand in proportion as his love made himindulgentin his judgment of Hettythe bitterness found a vent inhisfeeling towards Arthur.

"Herhead was allays likely to be turned" he thought"when agentlemanwith his fine mannersand fine clothesand his whitehandsandthat way o' talking gentlefolks havecame about hermaking upto her in a bold wayas a man couldn't do that was onlyher equal;and it's much if she'll ever like a common man now."He couldnot help drawing his own hands out of his pocket andlooking atthem--at the hard palms and the broken finger-nails."I'ma roughish fellowaltogether; I don't knownow I come tothinkon'twhat there is much for a woman to like about me; andyet Imight ha' got another wife easy enoughif I hadn't set myheart onher.  But it's little matter what other women think aboutmeif shecan't love me.  She might ha' loved meperhapsaslikely asany other man--there's nobody hereabouts as I'm afraidofif hehadn't come between us; but now I shall belike behateful toher because I'm so different to him.  And yet there'snotelling--she may turn round the other waywhen she finds he'smade lightof her all the while.  She may come to feel the vallyof a manas 'ud be thankful to be bound to her all his life.  ButI must putup with it whichever way it is--I've only to bethankfulit's been no worse.  I am not th' only man that's got todo withoutmuch happiness i' this life.  There's many a good bito' workdone with a bad heart.  It's God's willand that's enoughfor us: weshouldn't know better how things ought to be than HedoesIreckonif we was to spend our lives i' puzzling.  But it'ud ha'gone near to spoil my work for meif I'd seen her broughtto sorrowand shameand through the man as I've always been proudto thinkon.  Since I've been spared thatI've no right togrumble. When a man's got his limbs wholehe can bear a smartcut ortwo."

As Adamwas getting over a stile at this point in his reflectionsheperceived a man walking along the field before him.  He knew itwas Sethreturning from an evening preachingand made haste toovertakehim.

"Ithought thee'dst be at home before me" he saidas Seth turnedround towait for him"for I'm later than usual to-night."

"WellI'm later toofor I got into talkafter meetingwithJohnBarneswho has lately professed himself in a state ofperfectionand I'd a question to ask him about his experience.It's oneo' them subjects that lead you further than y' expect--they don'tlie along the straight road."

Theywalked along together in silence two or three minutes.  Adamwas notinclined to enter into the subtleties of religiousexperiencebut he was inclined to interchange a word or two ofbrotherlyaffection and confidence with Seth.  That was a rareimpulse inhimmuch as the brothers loved each other.  Theyhardlyever spoke of personal mattersor uttered more than anallusionto their family troubles.  Adam was by nature reserved inallmatters of feelingand Seth felt a certain timidity towardshis morepractical brother.

"Sethlad" Adam saidputting his arm on his brother's shoulder"hastheard anything from Dinah Morris since she went away?"

"Yes"said Seth.  "She told me I might write her word after awhilehowwe went onand how mother bore up under her trouble.So I wroteto her a fortnight agoand told her about thee havinga newemploymentand how Mother was more contented; and lastWednesdaywhen I called at the post at Treddles'onI found aletterfrom her.  I think thee'dst perhaps like to read itbut Ididna sayanything about it because thee'st seemed so full ofotherthings.  It's quite easy t' read--she writes wonderful for awoman."

Seth haddrawn the letter from his pocket and held it out to Adamwho saidas he took it"AyeladI've got a tough load to carryjustnow--thee mustna take it ill if I'm a bit silenter andcrustiernor usual.  Trouble doesna make me care the less forthee. I know we shall stick together to the last."

"Itake nought ill o' theeAdam.  I know well enough what itmeans ifthee't a bit short wi' me now and then."

"There'sMother opening the door to look out for us" said Adamas theymounted the slope.  "She's been sitting i' the dark asusual. WellGypwellart glad to see me?"

Lisbethwent in again quickly and lighted a candlefor she hadheard thewelcome rustling of footsteps on the grassbefore Gyp'sjoyfulbark.

"Ehmy lads!  Th' hours war ne'er so long sin' I war born asthey'nbeen this blessed Sunday night.  What can ye both ha' beendoin' tillthis time?"

"Theeshouldstna sit i' the darkMother" said Adam; "that makesthe timeseem longer."

"Ehwhat am I to do wi' burnin' candle of a Sundaywhen there'son'y mean' it's sin to do a bit o' knittin'?  The daylight's longenough forme to stare i' the booke as I canna read.  It 'ud be afine wayo' shortenin' the timeto make it waste the good candle.But whichon you's for ha'in' supper?  Ye mun ayther be clemmed orfullIshould thinkseein' what time o' night it is."

"I'mhungryMother" said Sethseating himself at the littletablewhich had been spread ever since it was light.

"I'vehad my supper" said Adam.  "HereGyp" headdedtakingsome coldpotato from the table and rubbing the rough grey headthatlooked up towards him.

"Theeneedstna be gi'in' th' dog" said Lisbeth; "I'n fed himwella'ready. I'm not like to forget himI reckonwhen he's all o'thee I canget sight on."

"ComethenGyp" said Adam"we'll go to bed.  Good-nightMother;I'm very tired."

"Whatails himdost know?" Lisbeth said to Sethwhen Adam wasgoneupstairs.  "He's like as if he was struck for death thisdayortwo--he's so cast down.  I found him i' the shop this forenoonarter theewast gonea-sittin' an' doin' nothin'--not so much asa bookeafore him."

"He'sa deal o' work upon him just nowMother" said Seth"andIthink he'sa bit troubled in his mind.  Don't you take notice ofitbecause it hurts him when you do.  Be as kind to him as youcanMotherand don't say anything to vex him."

"Ehwhat dost talk o' my vexin' him?  An' what am I like to bebut kind? I'll ma' him a kettle-cake for breakfast i' themornin'."

Adammeanwhilewas reading Dinah's letter by the light of hisdipcandle.

 

 DEARBROTHER SETH--Your letter lay three days beyond my knowing ofit at thepostfor I had not money enough by me to pay thecarriagethis being a time of great need and sickness herewiththe rainsthat have fallenas if the windows of heaven wereopenedagain; and to lay by moneyfrom day to dayin such atimewhenthere are so many in present need of all thingswouldbe a wantof trust like the laying up of the manna.  I speak ofthisbecause I would not have you think me slow to answerorthat I hadsmall joy in your rejoicing at the worldly good thathasbefallen your brother Adam.  The honour and love you bear himis nothingbut meetfor God has given him great giftsand heuses themas the patriarch Joseph didwhowhen he was exalted toa place ofpower and trustyet yearned with tenderness towardshis parentand his younger brother.

"Myheart is knit to your aged mother since it was granted me tobe nearher in the day of trouble.  Speak to her of meand tellher Ioften bear her in my thoughts at evening timewhen I amsitting inthe dim light as I did with herand we held oneanother'shandsand I spoke the words of comfort that were givento me. Ahthat is a blessed timeisn't itSethwhen theoutwardlight is fadingand the body is a little wearied with itswork andits labour.  Then the inward light shines the brighterand wehave a deeper sense of resting on the Divine strength.  Isit on mychair in the dark room and close my eyesand it is asif I wasout of the body and could feel no want for evermore.  Forthenthevery hardshipand the sorrowand the blindnessandthe sin Ihave beheld and been ready to weep over--yeaall theanguish ofthe children of menwhich sometimes wraps me roundlikesudden darkness--I can bear with a willing painas if I wassharingthe Redeemer's cross.  For I feel itI feel it--infinitelove issuffering too--yeain the fulness of knowledge itsuffersit yearnsit mourns; and that is a blind self-seekingwhichwants to be freed from the sorrow wherewith the wholecreationgroaneth and travaileth.  Surely it is not trueblessednessto be free from sorrowwhile there is sorrow and sinin theworld: sorrow is then a part of loveand love does notseek tothrow it off.  It is not the spirit only that tells methis--Isee it in the whole work and word of the Gospel.  Is therenotpleading in heaven?  Is not the Man of Sorrows there in thatcrucifiedbody wherewith he ascended?  And is He not one with theInfiniteLove itself--as our love is one with our sorrow?

"Thesethoughts have been much borne in on me of lateand I haveseen withnew clearness the meaning of those words'If any manlove melet him take up my cross.'  I have heard this enlarged onas if itmeant the troubles and persecutions we bring on ourselvesbyconfessing Jesus.  But surely that is a narrow thought. Thetrue crossof the Redeemer was the sin and sorrow of this world--that waswhat lay heavy on his heart--and that is the cross weshallshare with himthat is the cup we must drink of with himif wewould have any part in that Divine Love which is one withhissorrow.

"Inmy outward lotwhich you ask aboutI have all things andabound. I have had constant work in the millthough some of theotherhands have been turned off for a timeand my body isgreatlystrengthenedso that I feel little weariness after longwalkingand speaking.  What you say about staying in your owncountrywith your mother and brother shows me that you have a trueguidance;your lot is appointed there by a clear showingand toseek agreater blessing elsewhere would be like laying a falseofferingon the altar and expecting the fire from heaven to kindleit. My work and my joy are here among the hillsand I sometimesthink Icling too much to my life among the people hereandshould berebellious if I was called away.

"Iwas thankful for your tidings about the dear friends at theHall Farmfor though I sent them a letterby my aunt's desireafter Icame back from my sojourn among themI have had no wordfromthem.  My aunt has not the pen of a ready writerand thework ofthe house is sufficient for the dayfor she is weak inbody. My heart cleaves to her and her children as the nearest ofall to mein the flesh--yeaand to all in that house.  I amcarriedaway to them continually in my sleepand often in themidst ofworkand even of speechthe thought of them is borne inon me asif they were in need and troublewhich yet is dark tome. There may be some leading here; but I wait to be taught.  Yousay theyare all well.

"Weshall see each other again in the bodyI trustthoughitmay benot for a long while; for the brethren and sisters atLeeds aredesirous to have me for a short space among themwhen Ihave adoor opened me again to leave Snowfield.

"Farewelldear brother--and yet not farewell.  For those childrenof Godwhom it has been granted to see each other face to faceand tohold communion togetherand to feel the same spiritworking inboth can never more be sundered though the hills mayliebetween.  For their souls are enlarged for evermore by thatunionandthey bear one another about in their thoughtscontinuallyas it were a new strength.--Your faithful Sister andfellow-workerin Christ

DINAHMORRIS."

 

"Ihave not skill to write the words so small as you do and my penmovesslow.  And so I am straitenedand say but little of what isin mymind.  Greet your mother for me with a kiss.  She asked meto kissher twice when we parted."

 

Adam hadrefolded the letterand was sitting meditatively withhis headresting on his arm at the head of the bedwhen Seth cameupstairs.

"Hastread the letter?" said Seth.

"Yes"said Adam.  "I don't know what I should ha' thought of herand herletter if I'd never seen her: I daresay I should ha'thought apreaching woman hateful.  But she's one as makeseverythingseem right she says and doesand I seemed to see herand hearher speaking when I read the letter.  It's wonderful howI rememberher looks and her voice.  She'd make thee rare andhappySeth; she's just the woman for thee."

"It'sno use thinking o' that" said Sethdespondingly.  "Shespoke sofirmand she's not the woman to say one thing and meananother."

"Naybut her feelings may grow different.  A woman may get tolove bydegrees--the best fire dosna flare up the soonest.  I'dhave theego and see her by and by: I'd make it convenient forthee to beaway three or four daysand it 'ud be no walk forthee--onlybetween twenty and thirty mile."

"Ishould like to see her againwhether or noif she wouldna bedispleasedwith me for going" said Seth.

"She'llbe none displeased" said Adam emphaticallygetting upandthrowing off his coat.  "It might be a great happiness tousall ifshe'd have theefor mother took to her so wonderful andseemed socontented to be with her."

"Aye"said Sethrather timidly"and Dinah's fond o' Hetty too;she thinksa deal about her."

Adam madeno reply to thatand no other word but "good-night"passedbetween them.

 

 ChapterXXXI InHetty's Bed-Chamber

 

IT was nolonger light enough to go to bed without a candleevenin Mrs.Poyser's early householdand Hetty carried one with heras shewent up at last to her bedroom soon after Adam was goneand boltedthe door behind her.

Now shewould read her letter.  It must--it must have comfort init. How was Adam to know the truth?  It was always likely heshould saywhat he did say.

She setdown the candle and took out the letter.  It had a faintscent ofroseswhich made her feel as if Arthur were close toher. She put it to her lipsand a rush of remembered sensationsfor amoment or two swept away all fear.  But her heart began toflutterstrangelyand her hands to tremble as she broke the seal.She readslowly; it was not easy for her to read a gentleman'shandwritingthough Arthur had taken pains to write plainly.

 

"DEARESTHETTY--I have spoken truly when I have said that I lovedyouand Ishall never forget our love.  I shall be your truefriend aslong as life lastsand I hope to prove this to you inmanyways.  If I say anything to pain you in this letterdo notbelieve itis for want of love and tenderness towards youforthere isnothing I would not do for youif I knew it to be reallyfor yourhappiness.  I cannot bear to think of my little Hettysheddingtears when I am not there to kiss them away; and if Ifollowedonly my own inclinationsI should be with her at thismomentinstead of writing.  It is very hard for me to part fromher--harderstill for me to write words which may seem unkindthoughthey spring from the truest kindness.

"Deardear Hettysweet as our love has been to mesweet as itwould beto me for you to love me alwaysI feel that it wouldhave beenbetter for us both if we had never had that happinessand thatit is my duty to ask you to love me and care for me aslittle asyou can.  The fault has all been minefor though I havebeenunable to resist the longing to be near youI have felt allthe whilethat your affection for me might cause you grief.  Iought tohave resisted my feelings.  I should have done soif Ihad been abetter fellow than I am; but nowsince the past cannotbealteredI am bound to save you from any evil that I have powertoprevent.  And I feel it would be a great evil for you if youraffectionscontinued so fixed on me that you could think of noother manwho might be able to make you happier by his love than Iever canand if you continued to look towards something in thefuturewhich cannot possibly happen.  Fordear Hettyif I wereto do whatyou one day spoke ofand make you my wifeI should dowhat youyourself would come to feel was for your misery insteadof yourwelfare.  I know you can never be happy except by marryinga man inyour own station; and if I were to marry you nowIshouldonly be adding to any wrong I have donebesides offendingagainst myduty in the other relations of life.  You know nothingdearHettyof the world in which I must always liveand youwould soonbegin to dislike mebecause there would be so littlein whichwe should be alike.

"Andsince I cannot marry youwe must part--we must try not tofeel likelovers any more.  I am miserable while I say thisbutnothingelse can be.  Be angry with memy sweet oneI deserveit; but donot believe that I shall not always care for you--always begrateful to you--always remember my Hetty; and if anytroubleshould come that we do not now foreseetrust in me to doeverythingthat lies in my power.

"Ihave told you where you are to direct a letter toif you wantto writebut I put it down below lest you should have forgotten.Do notwrite unless there is something I can really do for you;fordearHettywe must try to think of each other as little aswe can. Forgive meand try to forget everything about meexceptthat Ishall beas long as I liveyour affectionate friend

ARTHURDONNITHORNE.

 

SlowlyHetty had read this letter; and when she looked up from itthere wasthe reflection of a blanched face in the old dim glass--a whitemarble face with rounded childish formsbut withsomethingsadder than a child's pain in it.  Hetty did not see theface--shesaw nothing--she only felt that she was cold and sickandtrembling.  The letter shook and rustled in her hand.  Shelaid itdown.  It was a horrible sensation--this cold andtrembling. It swept away the very ideas that produced itandHetty gotup to reach a warm cloak from her clothes-presswrappedit roundherand sat as if she were thinking of nothing butgettingwarm.  Presently she took up the letter with a firmerhandandbegan to read it through again.  The tears came thistime--greatrushing tears that blinded her and blotched the paper.She feltnothing but that Arthur was cruel--cruel to write socruel notto marry her.  Reasons why he could not marry her had noexistencefor her mind; how could she believe in any misery thatcould cometo her from the fulfilment of all she had been longingfor anddreaming of?  She had not the ideas that could make up thenotion ofthat misery.

As shethrew down the letter againshe caught sight of her facein theglass; it was reddened nowand wet with tears; it wasalmostlike a companion that she might complain to--that wouldpity her. She leaned forward on her elbowsand looked into thosedarkoverflooding eyes and at the quivering mouthand saw how thetears camethicker and thickerand how the mouth became convulsedwith sobs.

Theshattering of all her little dream-worldthe crushing blow onhernew-born passionafflicted her pleasure-craving nature withanoverpowering pain that annihilated all impulse to resistanceandsuspended her anger.  She sat sobbing till the candle wentoutandthenweariedachingstupefied with cryingthrewherself onthe bed without undressing and went to sleep.

There wasa feeble dawn in the room when Hetty awokea littleafter fouro'clockwith a sense of dull miserythe cause ofwhichbroke upon her gradually as she began to discern the objectsround herin the dim light.  And then came the frightening thoughtthat shehad to conceal her misery as well as to bear itin thisdrearydaylight that was coming.  She could lie no longer.  Shegot up andwent towards the table: there lay the letter.  Sheopened hertreasure-drawer: there lay the ear-rings and thelocket--thesigns of all her short happiness--the signs of thelifelongdreariness that was to follow it.  Looking at the littletrinketswhich she had once eyed and fingered so fondly as theearnest ofher future paradise of fineryshe lived back in themomentswhen they had been given to her with such tender caressessuchstrangely pretty wordssuch glowing lookswhich filled herwith abewildering delicious surprise--they were so much sweeterthan shehad thought anything could be.  And the Arthur who hadspoken toher and looked at her in this waywho was present withhernow--whose arm she felt round herhis cheek against hershisverybreath upon her--was the cruelcruel Arthur who had writtenthatletterthat letter which she snatched and crushed and thenopenedagainthat she might read it once more.  The half-benumbedmentalcondition which was the effect of the last night's violentcryingmade it necessary to her to look again and see if herwretchedthoughts were actually true--if the letter was really socruel. She had to hold it close to the windowelse she could nothave readit by the faint light.  Yes!  It was worse--it was morecruel. She crushed it up again in anger.  She hated the writer ofthatletter--hated him for the very reason that she hung upon himwith allher love--all the girlish passion and vanity that made upher love.

She had notears this morning.  She had wept them all away lastnightandnow she felt that dry-eyed morning miserywhich isworse thanthe first shock because it has the future in it as wellas thepresent.  Every morning to comeas far as her imaginationcouldstretchshe would have to get up and feel that the daywould haveno joy for her.  For there is no despair so absolute asthat whichcomes with the first moments of our first great sorrowwhen wehave not yet known what it is to have suffered and behealedtohave despaired and to have recovered hope.  As Hettybeganlanguidly to take off the clothes she had worn all thenightthat she might wash herself and brush her hairshe had asickeningsense that her life would go on in this way.  She shouldalways bedoing things she had no pleasure ingetting up to theold tasksof workseeing people she cared nothing aboutgoing tochurchand to Treddlestonand to tea with Mrs. Bestandcarryingno happy thought with her.  For her short poisonousdelightshad spoiled for ever all the little joys that had oncemade thesweetness of her life--the new frock ready forTreddlestonFairthe party at Mr. Britton's at Broxton wakethebeaux thatshe would say "No" to for a long whileand theprospectof the wedding that was to come at last when she wouldhave asilk gown and a great many clothes all at once.  Thesethingswere all flat and dreary to her now; everything would be awearinessand she would carry about for ever a hopeless thirstandlonging.

She pausedin the midst of her languid undressing and leanedagainstthe dark old clothes-press.  Her neck and arms were bareher hairhung down in delicate rings--and they were just asbeautifulas they were that night two months agowhen she walkedup anddown this bed-chamber glowing with vanity and hope.  Shewas notthinking of her neck and arms now; even her own beauty wasindifferentto her.  Her eyes wandered sadly over the dull oldchamberand then looked out vacantly towards the growing dawn.Did aremembrance of Dinah come across her mind?  Of herforebodingwordswhich had made her angry?  Of Dinah'saffectionateentreaty to think of her as a friend in trouble?  Notheimpression had been too slight to recur.  Any affection orcomfortDinah could have given her would have been as indifferentto Hettythis morning as everything else was except her bruisedpassion. She was only thinking she could never stay here and goon withthe old life--she could better bear something quite newthansinking back into the old everyday round.  She would like torun awaythat very morningand never see any of the old facesagain. But Hetty's was not a nature to face difficulties--to dareto looseher hold on the familiar and rush blindly on some unknowncondition. Hers was a luxurious and vain nature--not a passionateone--andif she were ever to take any violent measureshe must beurged toit by the desperation of terror. There was not much roomfor herthoughts to travel in the narrow circle of herimaginationand she soon fixed on the one thing she would do toget awayfrom her old life: she would ask her uncle to let her goto be alady's maid.  Miss Lydia's maid would help her to get asituationif she krew Hetty had her uncle's leave.

When shehad thought of thisshe fastened up her hair and beganto wash:it seemed more possible to her to go downstairs and tryto behaveas usual.  She would ask her uncle this very day.  OnHetty'sblooming health it would take a great deal of such mentalsufferingas hers to leave any deep impress; and when she wasdressed asneatly as usual in her working-dresswith her hairtucked upunder her little capan indifferent observer would havebeen morestruck with the young roundness of her cheek and neckand thedarkness of her eyes and eyelashes than with any signs ofsadnessabout her.  But when she took up the crushed letter andput it inher drawerthat she might lock it out of sighthardsmartingtearshaving no relief in them as the great drops hadthat felllast nightforced their way into her eyes.  She wipedthem awayquickly: she must not cry in the day-time.  Nobodyshouldfind out how miserable she wasnobody should know she wasdisappointedabout anything; and the thought that the eyes of heraunt anduncle would be upon her gave her the self-command whichoftenaccompanies a great dread.  For Hetty looked out from hersecretmisery towards the possibility of their ever knowing whathadhappenedas the sick and weary prisoner might think of thepossiblepillory.  They would think her conduct shamefulandshame wastorture.  That was poor little Hetty's conscience.

So shelocked up her drawer and went away to her early work.

In theeveningwhen Mr. Poyser was smoking his pipeand hisgood-naturewas therefore at its superlative momentHetty seizedtheopportunity of her aunt's absence to say"UncleI wish you'dlet me gofor a lady's maid."

Mr. Poysertook the pipe from his mouth and looked at Hetty inmildsurprise for some moments.  She was sewingand went on withher workindustriously.

"Whywhat's put that into your headmy wench?" he said at lastafter hehad given one conservative puff.

"Ishould like it--I should like it better than farm-work."

"Naynay; you fancy so because you donna know itmy wench.  Itwouldn'tbe half so good for your healthnor for your luck i'life. I'd like you to stay wi' us till you've got a good husband:you're myown nieceand I wouldn't have you go to servicethoughit was agentleman's houseas long as I've got a home for you."

Mr. Poyserpausedand puffed away at his pipe.

"Ilike the needlework" said Hetty"and I should get goodwages."

"Hasyour aunt been a bit sharp wi' you?" said Mr. PoysernotnoticingHetty's further argument.  "You mustna mind thatmywench--shedoes it for your good.  She wishes you well; an' thereisn't manyaunts as are no kin to you 'ud ha' done by you as shehas."

"Noit isn't my aunt" said Hetty"but I should like the workbetter."

"Itwas all very well for you to learn the work a bit--an' I gevmy consentto that fast enoughsin' Mrs. Pomfret was willing toteachyou.  For if anything was t' happenit's well to know howto turnyour hand to different sorts o' things.  But I niver meantyou to goto servicemy wench; my family's ate their own breadand cheeseas fur back as anybody knowshanna theyFather?  Youwouldnalike your grand-child to take wage?"

"Na-a-y"said old Martinwith an elongation of the wordmeantto make itbitter as well as negativewhile he leaned forward andlookeddown on the floor.  "But the wench takes arter her mother.I'd hardwork t' hould HER inan' she married i' spite o' me--afeller wi'on'y two head o' stock when there should ha' been tenon'sfarm--she might well die o' th' inflammation afore she warthirty."

It wasseldom the old man made so long a speechbut his son'squestionhad fallen like a bit of dry fuel on the embers of a longunextinguishedresentmentwhich had always made the grandfathermoreindifferent to Hetty than to his son's children.  Hermother'sfortune had been spent by that good-for-nought Sorreland Hettyhad Sorrel's blood in her veins.

"Poorthingpoor thing!" said Martin the youngerwho was sorryto haveprovoked this retrospective harshness.  "She'd but badluck. But Hetty's got as good a chance o' getting a solidsoberhusband asany gell i' this country."

Afterthrowing out this pregnant hintMr. Poyser recurred to hispipe andhis silencelooking at Hetty to see if she did not givesome signof having renounced her ill-advised wish.  But insteadof thatHettyin spite of herselfbegan to cryhalf out of illtemper atthe denialhalf out of the day's repressed sadness.

"Heghhegh!" said Mr. Poysermeaning to check her playfully"don'tlet's have any crying.  Crying's for them as ha' got nohomenotfor them as want to get rid o' one.  What dost think?"hecontinued to his wifewho now came back into the house-placeknittingwith fierce rapidityas if that movement were anecessaryfunctionlike the twittering of a crab's antennae.

"Think? WhyI think we shall have the fowl stole before we aremucholderwi' that gell forgetting to lock the pens up o'nights. What's the matter nowHetty?  What are you crying at?"

"Whyshe's been wanting to go for a lady's maid" said Mr.Poyser. "I tell her we can do better for her nor that."

"Ithought she'd got some maggot in her headshe's gone about wi'her mouthbuttoned up so all day.  It's all wi' going so amongthemservants at the Chaseas we war fools for letting her.  Shethinks it'ud be a finer life than being wi' them as are akin toher andha' brought her up sin' she war no bigger nor Marty.  Shethinksthere's nothing belongs to being a lady's maid but wearingfinerclothes nor she was born toI'll be bound.  It's what ragshe canget to stick on her as she's thinking on from morning tillnightasI often ask her if she wouldn't like to be the mawkin i'the fieldfor then she'd be made o' rags inside and out.  I'llnever gi'my consent to her going for a lady's maidwhile she'sgot goodfriends to take care on her till she's married tosomebodybetter nor one o' them valetsas is neither a common mannor agentlemanan' must live on the fat o' the landan's likeenough tostick his hands under his coat-tails and expect his wifeto workfor him."

"Ayeaye" said Mr. Poyser"we must have a better husband forher northatand there's better at hand.  Comemy wenchgiveovercrying and get to bed.  I'll do better for you nor lettingyou go fora lady's maid.  Let's hear no more on't."

 

When Hettywas gone upstairs he said"I canna make it out as sheshouldwant to go awayfor I thought she'd got a mind t' AdamBede. She's looked like it o' late."

"Ehthere's no knowing what she's got a liking tofor thingstake nomore hold on her than if she was a dried pea.  I believethat gellMolly--as is aggravatin' enoughfor the matter o'that--butI believe she'd care more about leaving us and thechildrenfor all she's been here but a year come MichaelmasnorHettywould.  But she's got this notion o' being a lady's maid wi'goingamong them servants--we might ha' known what it 'ud lead towhen welet her go to learn the fine work.  But I'll put a stop toit prettyquick."

"Thee'dstbe sorry to part wi' herif it wasn't for her good"said Mr.Poyser.  "She's useful to thee i' the work."

"Sorry? YesI'm fonder on her nor she deserves--a little hard-heartedhussywanting to leave us i' that way.  I can't ha' hadher aboutme these seven yearI reckonand done for herandtaught hereverything wi'out caring about her.  An' here I'mhavinglinen spunan' thinking all the while it'll make sheetingandtable-clothing for her when she's marriedan' she'll live i'the parishwi' usand never go out of our sights--like a fool asI am forthinking aught about heras is no better nor a cherrywi' a hardstone inside it."

"Naynaythee mustna make much of a trifle" said Mr. Poysersoothingly. "She's fond on usI'll be bound; but she's youngan' getsthings in her head as she can't rightly give account on.Them youngfillies 'ull run away often wi'-ou; knowing why."

Heruncle's answershoweverhad had another effect on Hettybesidesthat of disappointing her and making her cry.  She knewquite wellwhom he had in his mind in his allusions to marriageand to asobersolid husband; and when she was in her bedroomagainthepossibility of her marrying Adam presented itself toher in anew light.  In a mind where no strong sympathies are atworkwhere there is no supreme sense of right to which theagitatednature can cling and steady itself to quiet enduranceone of thefirst results of sorrow is a desperate vague clutchingafter anydeed that will change the actual condition.  PoorHetty'svision of consequencesat no time more than a narrowfantasticcalculation of her own probable pleasures and painswasnow quiteshut out by reckless irritation under present sufferingand shewas ready for one of those convulsivemotiveless actionsby whichwretched men and women leap from a temporary sorrow intoa lifelongmisery.

Why shouldshe not marry Adam?  She did not care what she didsothat itmade some change in her life.  She felt confident that hewouldstill want to marry herand any further thought aboutAdam'shappiness in the matter had never yet visited her.

"Strange!"perhaps you will say"this rush of impulse to-wards acoursethat might have seemed the most repugnant to her presentstate ofmindand in only the second night of her sadness!"

Yestheactions of a little trivial soul like Hetty'sstrugglingamidst theserious sad destinies of a human beingare strange.So are themotions of a little vessel without ballast tossed abouton astormy sea.  How pretty it looked with its parti-colouredsail inthe sunlightmoored in the quiet bay!

"Letthat man bear the loss who loosed it from its moorings."

But thatwill not save the vessel--the pretty thing that mighthave beena lasting joy.

 

 ChapterXXXII Mrs.Poyser "Has Her Say Out"

 

THE nextSaturday evening there was much excited discussion at theDonnithorneArms concerning an incident which had occurred thatveryday--no less than a second appearance of the smart man intop-bootssaid by some to be a mere farmer in treaty for the ChaseFarmbyothers to be the future stewardbut by Mr. Cassonhimselfthe personal witness to the stranger's visitpronouncedcontemptuouslyto be nothing better than a bailiffsuch asSatchellhad been before him.  No one had thought of denying Mr.Casson'stestimony to the fact that he had seen the stranger;neverthelesshe proffered various corroborating circumstances.

"Isee him myself" he said; "I see him coming along by theCrab-treeMeadow on a bald-faced hoss.  I'd just been t' hev a pint--itwas halfafter ten i' the fore-noonwhen I hev my pint as reg'laras theclock--and I says to Knowlesas druv up with his waggon'You'llget a bit o' barley to-dayKnowles' I says'if you lookaboutyou'; and then I went round by the rick-yardand towart theTreddles'onroadand just as I come up by the big ash-treeI seethe man i'top-boots coming along on a bald-faced hoss--I wish Imay neverstir if I didn't.  And I stood still till he come upand Isays'Good morningsir' I saysfor I wanted to hear theturn ofhis tongueas I might know whether he was a this-countryman; so Isays'Good morningsir: it 'll 'old hup for the barleythismorningI think.  There'll be a bit got hinif we've goodluck.' Andhe says'Ehye may be raightthere's noo tallin''he saysand I knowed by that"--here Mr. Casson gave a wink--"ashe didn'tcome from a hundred mile off.  I daresay he'd think me ahoddtalkeras you Loamshire folks allays does hany one as talksthe rightlanguage."

"Theright language!" said Bartle Masseycontemptuously. "You'reabout asnear the right language as a pig's squeaking is like atuneplayed on a key-bugle."

"WellI don't know" answered Mr. Cassonwith an angry smile."Ishould think a man as has lived among the gentry from a byislikely toknow what's the right language pretty nigh as well as aschoolmaster."

"Ayeayeman" said Bartlewith a tone of sarcasticconsolation"you talk the right language for you.  When MikeHoldsworth'sgoat says ba-a-ait's all right--it 'ud be unnaturalfor it tomake any other noise."

The restof the party being Loamsnire menMr. Casson had thelaughstrongly against himand wisely fell back on the previousquestionwhichfar from being exhausted in a single eveningwasrenewed inthe churchyardbefore servicethe next daywith thefreshinterest conferred on all news when there is a fresh personto hearit; and that fresh hearer was Martin Poyserwhoas hiswife said"never went boozin' with that set at Casson'sa-sittin'soakin' in drinkand looking as wise as a lot o' cod-fishwi' redfaces."

It wasprobably owing to the conversation she had had with herhusband ontheir way from church concerning this problematicstrangerthat Mrs. Poyser's thoughts immediately reverted to himwhenaday or two afterwardsas she was standing at the house-door withher knittingin that eager leisure which came to herwhen theafternoon cleaning was doneshe saw the old squire enterthe yardon his black ponyfollowed by John the groom.  Shealwayscited it afterwards as a case of previsionwhich reallyhadsomething more in it than her own remarkable penetrationthatthe momentshe set eyes on the squire she said to herself"Ishouldnawonder if he's come about that man as is a-going to takethe ChaseFarmwanting Poyser to do something for him withoutpay. But Poyser's a fool if he does."

Somethingunwonted must clearly be in the windfor the oldsquire'svisits to his tenantry were rare; and though Mrs. Poyserhad duringthe last twelvemonth recited many imaginary speechesmeaningeven more than met the earwhich she was quite determinedto make tohim the next time he appeared within the gates of theHall Farmthe speeches had always remained imaginary.

"Good-dayMrs. Poyser" said the old squirepeering at her withhisshort-sighted eyes--a mode of looking at her whichas Mrs.Poyserobserved"allays aggravated me: it was as if you was ainsectand he was going to dab his finger-nail on you."

Howevershe said"Your servantsir" and curtsied with an airof perfectdeference as she advanced towards him: she was not thewoman tomisbehave towards her bettersand fly in the face of thecatechismwithout severe provocation.

"Isyour husband at homeMrs. Poyser?"

"Yessir; he's only i' the rick-yard.  I'll send for him in aminuteifyou'll please to get down and step in."

"Thankyou; I will do so.  I want to consult him about a littlematter;but you are quite as much concerned in itif not more.  Imust haveyour opinion too."

"Hettyrun and tell your uncle to come in" said Mrs. Poyserastheyentered the houseand the old gentleman bowed low in answerto Hetty'scurtsy; while Tottyconscious of a pinafore stainedwithgooseberry jamstood hiding her face against the clock andpeepinground furtively.

"Whata fine old kitchen this is!" said Mr. Donnithornelookingroundadmiringly.  He always spoke in the same deliberatewell-chiselledpolite waywhether his words were sugary or venomous."Andyou keep it so exquisitely cleanMrs. Poyser.  I like thesepremisesdo you knowbeyond any on the estate."

"Wellsirsince you're fond of 'emI should be glad if you'dlet a bito' repairs be done to 'emfor the boarding's i' thatstate aswe're like to be eaten up wi' rats and mice; and thecellaryou may stan' up to your knees i' water in'tif you liketo godown; but perhaps you'd rather believe my words.  Won't youplease tosit downsir?"

"Notyet; I must see your dairy.  I have not seen it for yearsand I hearon all hands about your fine cheese and butter" saidthesquirelooking politely unconscious that there could be anyquestionon which he and Mrs. Poyser might happen to disagree.  "Ithink Isee the door openthere.  You must not be surprised if Icast acovetous eye on your cream and butter.  I don't expect thatMrs.Satchell's cream and butter will bear comparison with yours."

"Ican't saysirI'm sure.  It's seldom I see other folks'sbutterthough there's some on it as one's no need to see--thesmell'senough."

"Ahnow this I like" said Mr. Donnithornelooking round at thedamptemple of cleanlinessbut keeping near the door.  "I'msureI shouldlike my breakfast better if I knew the butter and creamcame fromthis dairy.  Thank youthat really is a pleasant sight.Unfortunatelymy slight tendency to rheumatism makes me afraid ofdamp: I'llsit down in your comfortable kitchen.  AhPoyserhowdo youdo?  In the midst of businessI seeas usual.  I've beenlooking atyour wife's beautiful dairy--the best manager in theparishisshe not?"

Mr. Poyserhad just entered in shirt-sleeves and open waistcoatwith aface a shade redder than usualfrom the exertion of"pitching." As he stoodredrotundand radiantbefore thesmallwirycool old gentlemanhe looked like a prize apple bythe sideof a withered crab.

"Willyou please to take this chairsir?" he saidlifting hisfather'sarm-chair forward a little: "you'll find it easy."

"Nothank youI never sit in easy-chairs" said the oldgentlemanseating himself on a small chair near the door.  "Doyou knowMrs. Poyser--sit downprayboth of you--I've been farfromcontentedfor some timewith Mrs. Satchell's dairymanagement. I think she has not a good methodas you have."

"IndeedsirI can't speak to that" said Mrs. Poyser in a hardvoicerolling and unrolling her knitting and looking icily out ofthewindowas she continued to stand opposite the squire.  Poysermight sitdown if he likedshe thought; she wasn't going to sitdownasif she'd give in to any such smooth-tongued palaver.  Mr.Poyserwho looked and felt the reverse of icydid sit down inhisthree-cornered chair.

"AndnowPoyseras Satchell is laid upI am intending to letthe ChaseFarm to a respectable tenant.  I'm tired of having afarm on myown hands--nothing is made the best of in such casesas youknow.  A satisfactory bailiff is hard to find; and I thinkyou and IPoyserand your excellent wife herecan enter into alittlearrangement in consequencewhich will be to our mutualadvantage."

"Oh"said Mr. Poyserwith a good-natured blankness ofimaginationas to the nature of the arrangement.

"IfI'm called upon to speaksir" said Mrs. Poyserafterglancingat her husband with pity at his softness"you knowbetterthan me; but I don't see what the Chase Farm is t' us--we'vecumber enough wi' our own farm.  Not but what I'm glad tohear o'anybody respectable coming into the parish; there's someas ha'been brought in as hasn't been looked on i' thatcharacter."

"You'relikely to find Mr. Thurle an excellent neighbourI assureyou--sucha one as you will feel glad to have accommodated by thelittleplan I'm going to mentionespecially as I hope you willfind it asmuch to your own advantage as his."

"Indeedsirif it's anything t' our advantageit'll be thefirstoffer o' the sort I've heared on.  It's them as takeadvantagethat get advantage i' this worldI think.  Folks haveto waitlong enough afore it's brought to 'em."

"Thefact isPoyser" said the squireignoring Mrs. Poyser'stheory ofworldly prosperity"there is too much dairy landandtoo littleplough landon the Chase Farm to suit Thurle'spurpose--indeedhe will only take the farm on condition of somechange init: his wifeit appearsis not a clever dairy-womanlikeyours.  Nowthe plan I'm thinking of is to effect a littleexchange. If you were to have the Hollow Pasturesyou mightincreaseyour dairywhich must be so profitable under your wife'smanagement;and I should request youMrs. Poyserto supply myhouse withmilkcreamand butter at the market prices.  On theotherhandPoyseryou might let Thurle have the Lower and UpperRidgeswhich reallywith our wet seasonswould be a goodriddancefor you.  There is much less risk in dairy land than cornland."

Mr. Poyserwas leaning forwardwith his elbows on his kneeshishead onone sideand his mouth screwed up--apparently absorbed inmaking thetips of his fingers meet so as to represent withperfectaccuracy the ribs of a ship.  He was much too acute a mannot to seethrough the whole businessand to foresee perfectlywhat wouldbe his wife's view of the subject; but he dislikedgivingunpleasant answers.  Unless it was on a point of farmingpracticehe would rather give up than have a quarrelany day;andafterallit mattered more to his wife than to him.  Soafter afew moments' silencehe looked up at her and said mildly"Whatdost say?"

Mrs.Poyser had had her eyes fixed on her husband with coldseverityduring his silencebut now she turned away her head witha tosslooked icily at the opposite roof of the cow-shedandspearingher knitting together with the loose pinheld it firmlybetweenher clasped hands.

"Say? WhyI say you may do as you like about giving up any o'yourcorn-land afore your lease is upwhich it won't be for ayear comenext Michaelmasbut I'll not consent to take more dairywork intomy handseither for love or money; and there's naytherlove normoney hereas I can seeon'y other folks's love o'theirselvesand the money as is to go into other folks's pockets.I knowthere's them as is born t' own the landand them as isborn tosweat on't"--here Mrs. Poyser paused to gasp a little--"andI know it's christened folks's duty to submit to theirbetters asfur as flesh and blood 'ull bear it; but I'll not makea martyro' myselfand wear myself to skin and boneand worretmyself asif I was a churn wi' butter a-coming in'tfor nolandlordin Englandnot if he was King George himself."

"Nonomy dear Mrs. Poysercertainly not" said the squirestillconfident in his own powers of persuasion"you must notoverworkyourself; but don't you think your work will rather belessenedthan increased in this way?  There is so much milkrequiredat the Abbey that you will have little increase of cheeseand buttermaking from the addition to your dairy; and I believesellingthe milk is the most profitable way of disposing of dairyproduceis it not?"

"Ayethat's true" said Mr. Poyserunable to repress an opinionon aquestion of farming profitsand forgetting that it was notin thiscase a purely abstract question.

"Idaresay" said Mrs. Poyser bitterlyturning her head half-waytowardsher husband and looking at the vacant arm-chair--"Idaresayit's true for men as sit i' th' chimney-corner and makebelieve aseverything's cut wi' ins an' outs to fit int'everythingelse.  If you could make a pudding wi' thinking o' thebatterit'ud be easy getting dinner.  How do I know whether themilk 'ullbe wanted constant?  What's to make me sure as the housewon't beput o' board wage afore we're many months olderand thenI may haveto lie awake o' nights wi' twenty gallons o' milk on mymind--andDingall 'ull take no more butterlet alone paying forit; and wemust fat pigs till we're obliged to beg the butcher onour kneesto buy 'emand lose half of 'em wi' the measles.  Andthere'sthe fetching and carryingas 'ud be welly half a day'swork for aman an' hoss--that's to be took out o' the profitsIreckon? But there's folks 'ud hold a sieve under the pump andexpect tocarry away the water."

"Thatdifficulty--about the fetching and carrying--you will nothaveMrs.Poyser" said the squirewho thought that thisentranceinto particulars indicated a distant inclination tocompromiseon Mrs. Poyser's part.  "Bethell will do that regularlywith thecart and pony."

"Ohsirbegging your pardonI've never been used t' havinggentlefolks'sservants coming about my back placesa-making loveto boththe gells at once and keeping 'em with their hands ontheir hipslistening to all manner o' gossip when they should bedown ontheir knees a-scouring.  If we're to go to ruinit shannabe wi'having our back kitchen turned into a public."

"WellPoyser" said the squireshifting his tactics and lookingas if hethought Mrs. Poyser had suddenly withdrawn from theproceedingsand left the room"you can turn the Hollows intofeeding-land. I can easily make another arrangement aboutsupplyingmy house.  And I shall not forget your readiness toaccommodateyour landlord as well as a neighbour.  I know you willbe glad tohave your lease renewed for three yearswhen thepresentone expires; otherwiseI daresay Thurlewho is a man ofsomecapitalwould be glad to take both the farmsas they couldbe workedso well together.  But I don't want to part with an oldtenantlike you."

To bethrust out of the discussion in this way would have beenenough tocomplete Mrs. Poyser's exasperationeven without thefinalthreat.  Her husbandreally alarmed at the possibility oftheirleaving the old place where he had been bred and born--forhebelieved the old squire had small spite enough for anything--wasbeginning a mild remonstrance explanatory of the inconveniencehe shouldfind in having to buy and sell more stockwith"WellsirIthink as it's rether hard..." when Mrs. Poyser burst inwith thedesperate determination to have her say out this oncethough itwere to rain notices to quit and the only shelter werethework-house.

"Thensirif I may speak--asfor all I'm a womanand there'sfolks asthinks a woman's fool enough to stan' by an' look onwhile themen sign her soul awayI've a right to speakfor Imake onequarter o' the rentand save another quarter--I sayifMr.Thurle's so ready to take farms under youit's a pity butwhat heshould take thisand see if he likes to live in a housewi' allthe plagues o' Egypt in't--wi' the cellar full o' waterand frogsand toads hoppin' up the steps by dozens--and the floorsrottenand the rats and mice gnawing every bit o' cheeseandrunnin'over our heads as we lie i' bed till we expect 'em to eatus upalive--as it's a mercy they hanna eat the children long ago.I shouldlike to see if there's another tenant besides Poyser as'ud put upwi' never having a bit o' repairs done till a placetumblesdown--and not thenon'y wi' begging and praying andhaving topay half--and being strung up wi' the rent as it's muchif he getsenough out o' the land to payfor all he's put his ownmoney intothe ground beforehand.  See if you'll get a stranger tolead sucha life here as that: a maggot must be born i' the rottencheese tolike itI reckon.  You may run away from my wordssir"continued Mrs. Poyserfollowing the old squire beyond thedoor--forafter the first moments of stunned surprise he had gotupandwaving his hand towards her with a smilehad walked outtowardshis pony.  But it was impossible for him to get awayimmediatelyfor John was walking the pony up and down the yardand wassome distance from the causeway when his master beckoned.

"Youmay run away from my wordssirand you may go spinnin'underhandways o' doing us a mischieffor you've got Old Harry toyourfriendthough nobody else isbut I tell you for once aswe're notdumb creatures to be abused and made money on by them asha' gotthe lash i' their handsfor want o' knowing how t' undothetackle.  An' if I'm th' only one as speaks my mindthere'splenty o'the same way o' thinking i' this parish and the next to'tforyour name's no better than a brimstone match ineverybody'snose--if it isna two-three old folks as you think o'savingyour soul by giving 'em a bit o' flannel and a drop o'porridge. An' you may be right i' thinking it'll take but littleto saveyour soulfor it'll be the smallest savin' y' iver madewi' allyour scrapin'."

There areoccasions on which two servant-girls and a waggoner maybe aformidable audienceand as the squire rode away on his blackponyeventhe gift of short-sightedness did not prevent him frombeingaware that Molly and Nancy and Tim were grinning not farfrom him. Perhaps he suspected that sour old John was grinningbehindhim--which was also the fact.  Meanwhile the bull-dogtheblack-and-tanterrierAlick's sheep-dogand the gander hissingat a safedistance from the pony's heels carried out the idea ofMrs.Poyser's solo in an irnpressive quartet.

Mrs.Poyserhoweverhad no sooner seen the pony move off thanshe turnedroundgave the two hilarious damsels a look whichdrove theminto the back kitchenand unspearing her knittingbegan toknit again with her usual rapidity as she re-entered thehouse.

"Thee'stdone it now" said Mr. Poysera little alarmed anduneasybut not without some triumphant amusement at his wife'soutbreak.

"YesI know I've done it" said Mrs. Poyser; "but I've had mysayoutand Ishall be th' easier for't all my life.  There's nopleasurei' living if you're to be corked up for everand onlydribbleyour mind out by the slylike a leaky barrel.  I shan'trepentsaying what I thinkif I live to be as old as th' oldsquire;and there's little likelihood--for it seems as if them asaren'twanted here are th' only folks as aren't wanted i' th'otherworld."

"Butthee wutna like moving from th' old placethis Michaelmastwelvemonth"said Mr. Poyser"and going into a strange parishwhere theeknow'st nobody.  It'll be hard upon us bothand upo'Fathertoo."

"Ehit's no use worreting; there's plenty o' things may happenbetweenthis and Michaelmas twelvemonth.  The captain may bemasterafore themfor what we know" said Mrs. Poyserinclinedto take anunusually hopeful view of an embarrassment which hadbeenbrought about by her own merit and not by other people'sfault.

"I'Mnone for worreting" said Mr. Poyserrising from his three-corneredchair and walking slowly towards the door; "but I shouldbe loathto leave th' old placeand the parish where I was bredand bornand Father afore me.  We should leave our roots behindusIdoubtand niver thrive again."

 

 ChapterXXXIII MoreLinks

 

THE barleywas all carried at lastand the harvest suppers wentby withoutwaiting for the dismal black crop of beans.  The applesand nutswere gathered and stored; the scent of whey departed fromthefarm-housesand the scent of brewing came in its stead.  Thewoodsbehind the Chaseand all the hedgerow treestook on asolemnsplendour under the dark low-hanging skies.  Michaelmas wascomewithits fragrant basketfuls of purple damsonsand itspalerpurple daisiesand its lads and lasses leaving or seekingserviceand winding along between the yellow hedgeswith theirbundlesunder their arms.  But though Michaelmas was comeMr.Thurlethat desirable tenantdid not come to the Chase Farmandthe oldsquireafler allhad been obliged to put in a newbailiff. It was known throughout the two parishes that thesquire'splan had been frustrated because the Poysers had refusedto be "putupon" and Mrs. Poyser's outbreak was discussed in allthefarm-houses with a zest which was only heightened by frequentrepetition. The news that "Bony" was come back from Egypt wascomparativelyinsipidand the repulse of the French in Italy wasnothing toMrs. Poyser's repulse of the old squire.  Mr. Irwinehad hearda version of it in every parishioner's housewith theoneexception of the Chase.  But since he had alwayswithmarvellousskillavoided any quarrel with Mr. Donnithornehecould notallow himself the pleasure of laughing at the oldgentleman'sdiscomfiture with any one besides his motherwhodeclaredthat if she were rich she should like to allow Mrs.Poyser apension for lifeand wanted to invite her to theparsonagethat she might hear an account of the scene from Mrs.Poyser'sown lips.

"NonoMother" said Mr. Irwine; "it was a little bit ofirregularjustice on Mrs. Poyser's partbut a magistrate like memust notcountenance irregular justice.  There must be no reportspreadthat I have taken notice of the quarrelelse I shall losethe littlegood influence I have over the old man."

"WellI like that woman even better than her cream-cheeses" saidMrs.Irwine.  "She has the spirit of three menwith that paleface ofhers.  And she says such sharp things too."

"Sharp! Yesher tongue is like a new-set razor.  She's quiteoriginalin her talk too; one of those untaught wits that help tostock acountry with proverbs.  I told you that capital thing Iheard hersay about Craig--that he was like a cockwho thoughtthe sunhad risen to hear him crow.  Now that's an AEsop's fablein asentence."

"Butit will be a bad business if the old gentleman turns them outof thefarm next Michaelmaseh?" said Mrs. Irwine.

"Ohthat must not be; and Poyser is such a good tenant thatDonnithorneis likely to think twiceand digest his spleen ratherthan turnthem out.  But if he should give them notice at LadyDayArthur and I must move heaven and earth to mollify him.  Sucholdparishioners as they are must not go."

"Ahthere's no knowing what may happen before Lady day" saidMrs.Irwine.  "It struck me on Arthur's birthday that the oldmanwas alittle shaken: he's eighty-threeyou know.  It's really anunconscionableage.  It's only women who have a right to live aslong asthat."

"Whenthey've got old-bachelor sons who would be forlorn withoutthem"said Mr. Irwinelaughingand kissing his mother's hand.

Mrs.Poysertoomet her husband's occasional forebodings of anotice toquit with "There's no knowing what may happen beforeLadyday"--one of those undeniable general propositions which areusuallyintended to convey a particular meaning very far fromundeniable. But it is really too hard upon human nature that itshould beheld a criminal offence to imagine the death even of theking whenhe is turned eighty-three.  It is not to be believedthat anybut the dullest Britons can be good subjects under thathardcondition.

Apart fromthis forebodingthings went on much as usual in thePoyserhousehold.  Mrs. Poyser thought she noticed a surprisingimprovementin Hetty.  To be surethe girl got "closer temperedandsometimes she seemed as if there'd be no drawing a word fromher withcart-ropes" but she thought much less about her dressand wentafter the work quite eagerlywithout any telling.  Andit waswonderful how she never wanted to go out now--indeedcouldhardly bepersuaded to go; and she bore her aunt's putting a stopto herweekly lesson in fine-work at the Chase without the leastgrumblingor pouting.  It must beafter allthat she had set herheart onAdam at lastand her sudden freak of wanting to be alady'smaid must have been caused by some little pique ormisunderstandingbetween themwhich had passed by.  For wheneverAdam cameto the Hall FarmHetty seemed to be in better spiritsand totalk more than at other timesthough she was almost sullenwhen Mr.Craig or any other admirer happened to pay a visit there.

Adamhimself watched her at first with trembling anxietywhichgave wayto surprise and delicious hope.  Five days afterdeliveringArthur's letterhe had ventured to go to the Hall Farmagain--notwithout dread lest the sight of him might be painful toher. She was not in the house-place when he enteredand he sattalking toMr. and Mrs. Poyser for a few minutes with a heavy fearon hisheart that they might presently tell him Hetty was ill.But by andby there came a light step that he knewand when Mrs.Poysersaid"ComeHettywhere have you been?" Adam was obligedto turnroundthough he was afraid to see the changed look theremust be inher face.  He almost started when he saw her smiling asif shewere pleased to see him--looking the same as ever at afirstglanceonly that she had her cap onwhich he had neverseen herin before when he came of an evening.  Stillwhen helooked ather again and again as she moved about or sat at herworkthere was a change: the cheeks were as pink as everand shesmiled asmuch as she had ever done of latebut there wassomethingdifferent in her eyesin the expression of her faceinall hermovementsAdam thought--something harderolderlesschild-like. "Poor thing!" he said to himself"that's allayslikely. It's because she's had her first heartache.  But she'sgot aspirit to bear up under it.  Thank God for that."

As theweeks went byand he saw her always looking pleased to seehim--turningup her lovely face towards him as if she meant him tounderstandthat she was glad for him to come--and going about herwork inthe same equable waymaking no sign of sorrowhe beganto believethat her feeling towards Arthur must have been muchslighterthan he had imagined in his first indignation and alarmand thatshe had been able to think of her girlish fancy thatArthur wasin love with her and would marry her as a folly ofwhich shewas timely cured.  And it perhaps wasas he hadsometimesin his more cheerful moments hoped it would be--herheart wasreally turning with all the more warmth towards the manshe knewto have a serious love for her.

Possiblyyou think that Adam was not at all sagacious in hisinterpretationsand that it was altogether extremely unbecomingin asensible man to behave as he did--falling in love with a girlwho reallyhad nothing more than her beauty to recommend herattributingimaginary virtues to herand even condescending tocleave toher after she had fallen in love with another manwaitingfor her kind looks as a patient trembling dog waits forhismaster's eye to be turned upon him.  But in so complex a thingas humannaturewe must considerit is hard to find ruleswithoutexceptions.  Of courseI know thatas a rulesensiblemen fallin love with the most sensible women of theiracquaintancesee through all the pretty deceits of coquettishbeautynever imagine themselves loved when they are not lovedceaseloving on all proper occasionsand marry the woman mostfitted forthem in every respect--indeedso as to compel theapprobationof all the maiden ladies in their neighbourhood.  Buteven tothis rule an exception will occur now and then in thelapse ofcenturiesand my friend Adam was one.  For my own parthoweverIrespect him none the less--nayI think the deep lovehe had forthat sweetroundedblossom-likedark-eyed Hettyofwhoseinward self he was really very ignorantcame out of theverystrength of his nature and not out of any inconsistentweakness. Is it any weaknessprayto be wrought on by exquisitemusic? To feel its wondrous harmonies searching the subtlestwindingsof your soulthe delicate fibres of life where no memorycanpenetrateand binding together your whole being past andpresent inone unspeakable vibrationmelting you in one momentwith allthe tendernessall the love that has been scatteredthroughthe toilsome yearsconcentrating in one emotion of heroiccourage orresignation all the hard-learnt lessons of self-renouncingsympathyblending your present joy with past sorrowand yourpresent sorrow with all your past joy?  If notthenneither isit a weakness to be so wrought upon by the exquisitecurves ofa woman's cheek and neck and armsby the liquid depthsof herbeseeching eyesor the sweet childish pout of her lips.For thebeauty of a lovely woman is like music: what can one saymore? Beauty has an expression beyond and far above the onewoman'ssoul that it clothesas the words of genius have a widermeaningthan the thought that prompted them.  It is more than awoman'slove that moves us in a woman's eyes--it seems to be afar-offmighty love that has come near to usand made speech foritselfthere; the rounded neckthe dimpled armmove us bysomethingmore than their prettiness--by their close kinship withall wehave known of tenderness and peace.  The noblest naturesees themost of this impersonal expression in beauty (it isneedlessto say that there are gentlemen with whiskers dyed andundyed whosee none of it whatever)and for this reasonthenoblestnature is often the most blinded to the character of theonewoman's soul that the beauty clothes.  WhenceI fearthetragedy ofhuman life is likely to continue for a long time tocomeinspite of mental philosophers who are ready with the bestreceiptsfor avoiding all mistakes of the kind.

Our goodAdam had no fine words into which he could put hisfeelingfor Hetty: he could not disguise mystery in this way withtheappearance of knowledge; he called his love frankly a mysteryas youhave heard him.  He only knew that the sight and memory ofher movedhim deeplytouching the spring of all love andtendernessall faith and courage within him.  How could heimaginenarrownessselfishnesshardness in her?  He created themind hebelieved in out of his ownwhich was largeunselfishtender.

The hopeshe felt about Hetty softened a little his feelingtowardsArthur.  Surely his attentions to Hetty must have been ofa slightkind; they were altogether wrongand such as no man inArthur'sposition ought to have allowed himselfbut they musthave hadan air of playfulness about themwhich had probablyblindedhim to their danger and had prevented them from laying anystronghold on Hetty's heart.  As the new promise of happinessrose forAdamhis indignation and jealousy began to die out.Hetty wasnot made unhappy; he almost believed that she liked himbest; andthe thought sometimes crossed his mind that thefriendshipwhich had once seemed dead for ever might revive in thedays tocomeand he would not have to say "good-bye" to the grandold woodsbut would like them better because they were Arthur's.For thisnew promise of happiness following so quickly on theshock ofpain had an intoxicating effect on the sober Adamwhohad allhis life been used to much hardship and moderate hope.Was hereally going to have an easy lot after all?  It seemed sofor at thebeginning of NovemberJonathan Burgefinding itimpossibleto replace Adamhad at last made up his mind to offerhim ashare in the businesswithout further condition than thathe shouldcontinue to give his energies to it and renounce allthought ofhaving a separate business of his own.  Son-in-law ornoson-in-lawAdam had made himself too necessary to be partedwithandhis headwork was so much more important to Burge thanhis skillin handicraft that his having the management of thewoods madelittle difference in the value of his services; and asto thebargains about the squire's timberit would be easy tocall in athird person.  Adam saw here an opening into abroadeningpath of prosperous work such as he had thought of withambitiouslonging ever since he was a lad: he might come to builda bridgeor a town hallor a factoryfor he had always said tohimselfthat Jonathan Burge's building buisness was like an acornwhichmight be the mother of a great tree.  So he gave his hand toBurge onthat bargainand went home with his mind full of happyvisionsin which (my refined reader will perhaps be shocked whenI say it)the image of Hetty hoveredand smiled over plans forseasoningtimber at a trifling expensecalculations as to thecheapeningof bricks per thousand by water-carriageand afavouritescheme for the strengthening of roofs and walls with apeculiarform of iron girder.  What then?  Adam's enthusiasm layin thesethings; and our love is inwrought in our enthusiasm aselectricityis inwrought in the airexalting its power by asubtlepresence.

Adam wouldbe able to take a separate house nowand provide forhis motherin the old one; his prospects would justify hismarryingvery soonand if Dinah consented to have Seththeirmotherwould perhaps be more contented to live apart from Adam.But hetold himself that he would not be hasty--he would not tryHetty'sfeeling for him until it had had time to grow strong andfirm. Howevertomorrowafter churchhe would go to the HallFarm andtell them the news.  Mr. Poyserhe knewwould like itbetterthan a five-pound noteand he should see if Hetty's eyesbrightenedat it.  The months would be short with all he had tofill hismindand this foolish eagerness which had come over himof latemust not hurry him into any premature words.  Yet when hegot homeand told his mother the good newsand ate his supperwhile shesat by almost crying for joy and wanting him to eattwice asmuch as usual because of this good-luckhe could nothelppreparing her gently for the coming change by talking of theold housebeing too small for them all to go on living in italways.

 

 ChapterXXXIV TheBetrothal

 

IT was adry Sundayand really a pleasant day for the 2d ofNovember. There was no sunshinebut the clouds were highandthe windwas so still that the yellow leaves which fluttered downfrom thehedgerow elms must have fallen from pure decay.NeverthelessMrs. Poyser did not go to churchfor she had takena cold tooserious to be neglected; only two winters ago she hadbeen laidup for weeks with a cold; and since his wife did not goto churchMr. Poyser considered that on the whole it would be aswell forhim to stay away too and "keep her company."  He couldperhapshave given no precise form to the reasons that determinedthisconclusionbut it is well known to all experienced mindsthat ourfirmest convictions are often dependent on subtleimpressionsfor which words are quite too coarse a medium.However itwasno one from the Poyser family went to church thatafternoonexcept Hetty and the boys; yet Adam was bold enough tojoin themafter churchand say that he would walk home with themthough allthe way through the village he appeared to be chieflyoccupiedwith Marty and Tommytelling them about the squirrels inBintonCoppiceand promising to take them there some day.  Butwhen theycame to the fields he said to the boys"Nowthenwhich isthe stoutest walker?  Him as gets to th' home-gate firstshall bethe first to go with me to Binton Coppice on the donkey.But Tommymust have the start up to the next stilebecause he'sthesmallest."

Adam hadnever behaved so much like a determined lover before.  Assoon asthe boys had both set offhe looked down at Hetty andsaid"Won't you hang on my armHetty?" in a pleading toneasifhe hadalready asked her and she had refused.  Hetty looked up athimsmilingly and put her round arm through his in a moment.  Itwasnothing to herputting her arm through Adam'sbut she knewhe cared agreat deal about having her arm through hisand shewished himto care.  Her heart beat no fasterand she looked atthehalf-bare hedgerows and the ploughed field with the same senseofoppressive dulness as before.  But Adam scarcely felt that hewaswalking.  He thought Hetty must know that he was pressing herarm alittle--a very little.  Words rushed to his lips that hedared notutter--that he had made up his mind not to utter yet--and so hewas silent for the length of that field.  The calmpatiencewith which he had once waited for Hetty's lovecontentonly withher presence and the thought of the futurehad forsakenhim sincethat terrible shock nearly three months ago.  Theagitationsof jealousy had given a new restlessness to hispassion--hadmade fear and uncertainty too hard almost to bear.But thoughhe might not speak to Hetty of his lovehe would tellher abouthis new prospects and see if she would be pleased.  Sowhen hewas enough master of himself to talkhe said"I'm goingto tellyour uncle some news that'll surprise himHetty; and Ithinkhe'll be glad to hear it too."

"What'sthat?" Hetty said indifferently.

"WhyMr. Burge has offered me a share in his businessand I'mgoing totake it."

There wasa change in Hetty's facecertainly not produced by anyagreeableimpression from this news.  In fact she felt a momentaryannoyanceand alarmfor she had so often heard it hinted by heruncle thatAdam might have Mary Burge and a share in the businessany dayif he likedthat she associated the two objects nowandthethought immediately occurred that perhaps Adam had given herup becauseof what had happened latelyand had turned towardsMaryBurge.  With that thoughtand before she had time torememberany reasons why it could not be truecame a new sense offorsakennessand disappointment.  The one thing--the one person--her mindhad rested on in its dull wearinesshad slipped awayfrom herand peevish misery filled her eyes with tears.  She waslooking onthe groundbut Adam saw her facesaw the tearsandbefore hehad finished saying"Hettydear Hettywhat are youcryingfor?" his eager rapid thought had flown through all thecausesconceivable to himand had at last alighted on half thetrue one. Hetty thought he was going to marry Mary Burge--shedidn'tlike him to marry--perhaps she didn't like him to marry anyone butherself?  All caution was swept away--all reason for itwas goneand Adam could feel nothing but trembling joy.  Heleanedtowards her and took her handas he said:

"Icould afford to be married nowHetty--I could make a wifecomfortable;but I shall never want to be married if you won'thave me."

Hettylooked up at him and smiled through her tearsas she haddone toArthur that first evening in the woodwhen she hadthought hewas not comingand yet he came.  It was a feeblerreliefafeebler triumph she felt nowbut the great dark eyesand thesweet lips were as beautiful as everperhaps morebeautifulfor there was a more luxuriant womanliness about Hettyof late. Adam could hardly believe in the happiness of thatmoment. His right hand held her leftand he pressed her armcloseagainst his heart as he leaned down towards her.

"Doyou really love meHetty?  Will you be my own wifeto loveand takecare of as long as I live?"

Hetty didnot speakbut Adam's face was very close to hersandshe put upher round cheek against hislike a kitten.  She wantedto becaressed--she wanted to feel as if Arthur were with heragain.

Adam caredfor no words after thatand they hardly spoke throughthe restof the walk.  He only said"I may tell your uncle andauntmayn't IHetty?" and she said"Yes."

The redfire-light on the hearth at the Hall Farm shone on joyfulfaces thateveningwhen Hetty was gone upstairs and Adam took theopportunityof telling Mr. and Mrs. Poyser and the grandfatherthat hesaw his way to maintaining a wife nowand that Hetty hadconsentedto have him.

"Ihope you have no objections against me for her husband" saidAdam; "I'ma poor man as yetbut she shall want nothing as I canwork for."

"Objections?"said Mr. Poyserwhile the grandfather leanedforwardand brought out his long "Naynay."  "Whatobjections canwe ha' toyoulad?  Never mind your being poorish as yet; there'smoney inyour head-piece as there's money i' the sown fieldbutit mustha' time.  You'n got enough to begin onand we can do adealtow'rt the bit o' furniture you'll want.  Thee'st gotfeathersand linen to spare--plentyeh?"

Thisquestion was of course addressed to Mrs. Poyserwho waswrapped upin a warm shawl and was too hoarse to speak with herusualfacility.  At first she only nodded emphaticallybut shewaspresently unable to resist the temptation to be more explicit.

"Itud be a poor tale if I hadna feathers and linen" she saidhoarsely"when I never sell a fowl but what's pluckedand thewheel'sa-going every day o' the week."

"Comemy wench" said Mr. Poyserwhen Hetty came down"come andkiss usand let us wish you luck."

Hetty wentvery quietly and kissed the big good-natured man.

"There!"he saidpatting her on the back"go and kiss your auntand yourgrandfather.  I'm as wishful t' have you settled well asif you wasmy own daughter; and so's your auntI'll be boundforshe's doneby you this seven 'earHettyas if you'd been herown. Comecomenow" he went onbecoming jocoseas soon asHetty hadkissed her aunt and the old man"Adam wants a kiss tooI'llwarrantand he's a right to one now."

Hettyturned awaysmilingtowards her empty chair.

"ComeAdamthentake one" persisted Mr. Poyser"else y' arenahalf aman."

Adam gotupblushing like a small maiden--great strong fellow ashewas--andputting his arm round Hetty stooped down and gentlykissed herlips.

It was apretty scene in the red fire-light; for there were nocandles--whyshould there bewhen the fire was so bright and wasreflectedfrom all the pewter and the polished oak?  No one wantedto work ona Sunday evening.  Even Hetty felt something likecontentmentin the midst of all this love.  Adam's attachment toherAdam's caressstirred no passion in herwere no longerenough tosatisfy her vanitybut they were the best her lifeofferedher now--they promised her some change.

There wasa great deal of discussion before Adam went awayaboutthepossibility of his finding a house that would do for him tosettlein.  No house was empty except the one next to WillMaskery'sin the villageand that was too small for Adam now.Mr. Poyserinsisted that the best plan would be for Seth and hismother tomove and leave Adam in the old homewhich might beenlargedafter a whilefor there was plenty of space in thewoodyardand garden; but Adam objected to turning his mother out.

"Wellwell" said Mr. Poyser at last"we needna fix everythingto-night. We must take time to consider.  You canna think o'gettingmarried afore Easter.  I'm not for long courtshipsbutthere mustbe a bit o' time to make things comfortable."

"Ayeto be sure" said Mrs. Poyserin a hoarse whisper;"Christianfolks can't be married like cuckoosI reckon."

"I'ma bit dauntedthough" said Mr. Poyser"when I think aswemay havenotice to quitand belike be forced to take a farmtwentymile off."

"Eh"said the old manstaring at the floor and lifting his handsup anddownwhile his arms rested on the elbows of his chair"it'sa poor tale if I mun leave th' ould spot an be buried in astrangeparish.  An' you'll happen ha' double rates to pay" headdedlooking up at his son.

"Wellthee mustna fret beforehandfather" said Martin theyounger. "Happen the captain 'ull come home and make our peacewi' th'old squire.  I build upo' thatfor I know the captain 'llsee folksrighted if he can."

 

 ChapterXXXV TheHidden Dread

 

IT was abusy time for Adam--the time between the beginning ofNovemberand the beginning of Februaryand he could see little ofHettyexcept on Sundays.  But a happy timeneverthelessfor itwas takinghim nearer and nearer to Marchwhen they were to bemarriedand all the little preparations for their newhousekeepingmarked the progress towards the longed-for day.  Twonew roomshad been "run up" to the old housefor his mother andSeth wereto live with them after all.  Lisbeth had cried sopiteouslyat the thought of leaving Adam that he had gone to Hettyand askedher iffor the love of himshe would put up with hismother'sways and consent to live with her.  To his great delightHettysaid"Yes; I'd as soon she lived with us as not." Hetty'smind wasoppressed at that moment with a worse difficulty thanpoorLisbeth's ways; she could not care about them.  So Adam wasconsoledfor the disappointment he had felt when Seth had comeback fromhis visit to Snowfield and said "it was no use--Dinah'sheartwasna turned towards marrying."  For when he told hismotherthat Hettywas willing they should all live together and there wasno moreneed of them to think of partingshe saidin a morecontentedtone than he had heard her speak in since it had beensettledthat he was to be married"Ehmy ladI'll be as stillas th'ould tabbyan' ne'er want to do aught but th' offal workas shewonna like t' do.  An' then we needna part the platters an'thingsasha' stood on the shelf together sin' afore thee wastborn."

There wasonly one cloud that now and then came across Adam'ssunshine: Hetty seemed unhappy sometimes.  But to all hisanxioustender questionsshe replied with an assurance that shewas quitecontented and wished nothing different; and the nexttime hesaw her she was more lively than usual.  It might be thatshe was alittle overdone with work and anxiety nowfor soonafterChristmas Mrs. Poyser had taken another coldwhich hadbrought oninflammationand this illness had confined her to herroom allthrough January.  Hetty had to manage everythingdownstairsand half-supply Molly's place toowhile that gooddamselwaited on her mistressand she seemed to throw herself soentirelyinto her new functionsworking with a grave steadinesswhich wasnew in herthat Mr. Poyser often told Adam she waswanting toshow him what a good housekeeper he would have; but he"doubtedthe lass was o'erdoing it--she must have a bit o' restwhen heraunt could come downstairs."

Thisdesirable event of Mrs. Poyser's coming downstairs happenedin theearly part of Februarywhen some mild weather thawed thelast patchof snow on the Binton Hills.  On one of these dayssoon afterher aunt came downHetty went to Treddleston to buysome ofthe wedding things which were wantingand which Mrs.Poyser hadscolded her for neglectingobserving that she supposed"itwas because they were not for th' outsideelse she'd ha'bought 'emfast enough."

It wasabout ten o'clock when Hetty set offand the slight hoar-frost thathad whitened the hedges in the early morning haddisappearedas the sun mounted the cloudless sky.  Bright Februarydays havea stronger charm of hope about them than any other daysin theyear.  One likes to pause in the mild rays of the sunandlook overthe gates at the patient plough-horses turning at theend of thefurrowand think that the beautiful year is all beforeone. The birds seem to feel just the same: their notes are asclear asthe clear air.  There are no leaves on the trees andhedgerowsbut how green all the grassy fields are!  And the darkpurplishbrown of the ploughed earth and of the bare branches isbeautifultoo.  What a glad world this looks likeas one drivesor ridesalong the valleys and over the hills!  I have oftenthought sowhenin foreign countrieswhere the fields and woodshavelooked to me like our English Loamshire--the rich land tilledwith justas much carethe woods rolling down the gentle slopesto thegreen meadows--I have come on sormething by the roadsidewhich hasreminded me that I am not in Loamshire: an image of agreatagony--the agony of the Cross.  It has stood perhaps by theclusteringapple-blossomsor in the broad sunshine by thecornfieldor at a turning by the wood where a clear brook wasgurglingbelow; and surelyif there came a traveller to thisworld whoknew nothing of the story of man's life upon itthisimage ofagony would seem to him strangely out of place in themidst ofthis joyous nature.  He would not know that hidden behindtheapple-blossomsor among the golden cornor under theshroudingboughs of the woodthere might be a human heart beatingheavilywith anguish--perhaps a young blooming girlnot knowingwhere toturn for refuge from swift-advancing shameunderstandingno more ofthis life of ours than a foolish lost lamb wanderingfartherand farther in the nightfall on the lonely heathyettastingthe bitterest of life's bitterness.

Suchthings are sometimes hidden among the sunny fields and behindtheblossoming orchards; and the sound of the gurgling brookifyou cameclose to one spot behind a small bushwould be mingledfor yourear with a despairing human sob.  No wonder man'sreligionhas much sorrow in it: no wonder he needs a sufferingGod.

Hettyinher red cloak and warm bonnetwith her basket in herhandisturning towards a gate by the side of the Treddlestonroadbutnot that she may have a more lingering enjoyment of thesunshineand think with hope of the long unfolding year.  Shehardlyknows that the sun is shining; and for weeksnowwhen shehas hopedat allit has been for something at which she herselftremblesand shudders.  She only wants to be out of the high-roadthat shemay walk slowly and not care how her face looksas shedwells onwretched thoughts; and through this gate she can getinto afield-path behind the wide thick hedgerows.  Her great darkeyeswander blankly over the fields like the eyes of one who isdesolatehomelessunlovednot the promised bride of a bravetenderman.  But there are no tears in them: her tears were allwept awayin the weary nightbefore she went to sleep.  At thenext stilethe pathway branches off: there are two roads beforeher--onealong by the hedgerowwhich will by and by lead her intothe roadagainthe other across the fieldswhich will take hermuchfarther out of the way into the Scantlandslow shroudedpastureswhere she will see nobody.  She chooses this and beginsto walk alittle fasteras if she had suddenly thought of anobjecttowards which it was worth while to hasten.  Soon she is intheScantlandswhere the grassy land slopes gradually downwardsand sheleaves the level ground to follow the slope.  Farther onthere is aclump of trees on the low groundand she is making herwaytowards it.  Noit is not a clump of treesbut a darkshroudedpoolso full with the wintry rains that the under boughsof theelder-bushes lie low beneath the water.  She sits down onthe grassybankagainst the stooping stem of the great oak thathangs overthe dark pool.  She has thought of this pool often inthe nightsof the month that has just gone byand now at last sheis come tosee it.  She clasps her hands round her kneesandleansforwardand looks earnestly at itas if trying to guesswhat sortof bed it would make for her young round limbs.

Noshehas not courage to jump into that cold watery bedand ifshe hadthey might find her--they might find out why she haddrownedherself.  There is but one thing left to her: she must goawaygowhere they can't find her.

After thefirst on-coming of her great dreadsome weeks after herbetrothalto Adamshe had waited and waitedin the blind vaguehope thatsomething would happen to set her free from her terror;but shecould wait no longer.  All the force of her nature hadbeenconcentrated on the one effort of concealmentand she hadshrunkwith irresistible dread from every course that could tendtowards abetrayal of her miserable secret.  Whenever the thoughtof writingto Arthur had occurred to hershe had rejected it.  Hecould donothing for her that would shelter her from discovery andscornamong the relatives and neighbours who once more made allher worldnow her airy dream had vanished.  Her imagination nolonger sawhappiness with Arthurfor he could do nothing thatwouldsatisfy or soothe her pride.  Nosomething else wouldhappen--somethingmust happen--to set her free from this dread.In youngchildishignorant souls there is constantly this blindtrust insome unshapen chance: it is as hard to a boy or girl tobelievethat a great wretchedness will actually befall them as tobelievethat they will die.

But nownecessity was pressing hard upon her--now the time of hermarriagewas close at hand--she could no longer rest in this blindtrust. She must run away; she must hide herself where no familiareyes coulddetect her; and then the terror of wandering out intothe worldof which she knew nothingmade the possibility ofgoing toArthur a thought which brought some comfort with it.  Shefelt sohelpless nowso unable to fashion the future for herselfthat theprospect of throwing herself on him had a relief in itwhich wasstronger than her pride.  As she sat by the pool andshudderedat the dark cold waterthe hope that he would receivehertenderly--that he would care for her and think for her--waslike asense of lulling warmththat made her for the momentindifferentto everything else; and she began now to think ofnothingbut the scheme by which she should get away.

She hadhad a letter from Dinah latelyfull of kind words aboutthe comingmarriagewhich she had heard of from Seth; and whenHetty hadread this letter aloud to her unclehe had said"Iwish Dinah'ud come again nowfor she'd be a comfort to your auntwhenyou're gone.  What do you thinkmy wencho' going to seeher assoon as you can be spared and persuading her to come backwi' you? You might happen persuade her wi' telling her as heraunt wantsherfor all she writes o' not being able to come."Hetty hadnot liked the thought of going to Snowfieldand felt nolonging tosee Dinahso she only said"It's so far offUncle."But nowshe thought this proposed visit would serve as a pretextfor goingaway.  She would tell her aunt when she got home againthat sheshould like the change of going to Snowfield for a weekor tendays.  And thenwhen she got to Stonitonwhere nobodyknew hershe would ask for the coach that would take her on theway toWindsor.  Arthur was at Windsorand she would go to him.

As soon asHetty had determined on this schemeshe rose from thegrassybank of the pooltook up her basketand went on her waytoTreddlestonfor she must buy the wedding things she had comeout forthough she would never want them.  She must be carefulnot toraise any suspicion that she was going to run away.

Mrs.Poyser was quite agreeably surprised that Hetty wished to goand seeDinah and try to bring her back to stay over the wedding.The soonershe went the bettersince the weather was pleasantnow; andAdamwhen he came in the eveningsaidif Hetty couldset offto-morrowhe would make time to go with her toTreddlestonand see her safe into the Stoniton coach.

"Iwish I could go with you and take care of youHetty" he saidthe nextmorningleaning in at the coach door; "but you won'tstay muchbeyond a week--the time 'ull seem long."

He waslooking at her fondlyand his strong hand beld hers in itsgrasp. Hetty felt a sense of protection in his presence--she wasused to itnow: if she could have had the past undone and known noother lovethan her quiet liking for Adam!  The tears rose as shegave himthe last look.

"Godbless her for loving me" said Adamas he went on his way toworkagainwith Gyp at his heels.

ButHetty's tears were not for Adam--not for the anguish thatwould comeupon him when he found she was gone from him for ever.They werefor the misery of her own lotwhich took her away fromthis bravetender man who offered up his whole life to herandthrew hera poor helpless supplianton the man who would thinkit amisfortune that she was obliged to cling to him.

At threeo'clock that daywhen Hetty was on the coach that was totake herthey saidto Leicester--part of the longlong way toWindsor--shefelt dimly that she might be travelling all thiswearyjourney towards the beginning of new misery.

Yet Arthurwas at Windsor; he would surely not be angry with her.If he didnot mind about her as he used to dohe had promised tobe good toher.

 

 BookFive  ChapterXXXVI TheJourney of Hope

 

A LONGlonely journeywith sadness in the heart; away from thefamiliarto the strange: that is a hard and dreary thing even tothe richthe strongthe instructed; a hard thingeven when weare calledby dutynot urged by dread.

What wasit then to Hetty?  With her poor narrow thoughtsnolongermelting into vague hopesbut pressed upon by the chill ofdefinitefearrepeating again and again the same small round ofmemories--shapingagain and again the same childishdoubtfulimages ofwhat was to come--seeing nothing in this wide world butthe littlehistory of her own pleasures and pains; with so littlemoney inher pocketand the way so long and difficult.  Unlessshe couldafford always to go in the coaches--and she felt sureshe couldnotfor the journey to Stoniton was more expensive thanshe hadexpected--it was plain that she must trust to carriers'carts orslow waggons; and what a time it would be before shecould getto the end of her journey!  The burly old coachman fromOakbourneseeing such a pretty young woman among the outsidepassengershad invited her to come and sit beside him; andfeelingthat it became him as a man and a coachman to open thedialoguewith a jokehe applied himself as soon as they were offthe stonesto the elaboration of one suitable in all respects.After manycuts with his whip and glances at Hetty out of thecorner ofhis eyehe lifted his lips above the edge of hiswrapperand said"He's pretty nigh six footI'll be boundisnahenow?"

"Who?"said Hettyrather startled.

"Whythe sweetheart as you've left behindor else him as you'regoin'arter--which is it?"

Hetty felther face flushing and then turning pale.  She thoughtthiscoachman must know something about her.  He must know Adamand mighttell him where she was gonefor it is difficult tocountrypeople to believe that those who make a figure in theirown parishare not known everywhere elseand it was equallydifficultto Hetty to understand that chance words could happen toapplyclosely to her circumstances.  She was too frightened tospeak.

"Heghhegh!" said the coachmanseeing that his joke was not sogratifyingas he had expected"you munna take it too ser'ous; ifhe'sbehaved illget another.  Such a pretty lass as you can getasweetheart any day."

Hetty'sfear was allayed by and bywhen she found that thecoachmanmade no further allusion to her personal concerns; but itstill hadthe effect of preventing her from asking him what werethe placeson the road to Windsor.  She told him she was onlygoing alittle way out of Stonitonand when she got down at theinn wherethe coach stoppedshe hastened away with her basket toanotherpart of the town.  When she had formed her plan of goingtoWindsorshe had not foreseen any difficulties except that ofgettingawayand after she had overcome this by proposing thevisit toDinahher thoughts flew to the meeting with Arthur andthequestion how he would behave to her--not resting on anyprobableincidents of the journey.  She was too entirely ignorantoftraveling to imagine any of its detailsand with all her storeofmoney--her three guineas--in her pocketshe thought herselfamplyprovided.  It was not until she found how much it cost herto get toStoniton that she began to be alarmed about the journeyand thenfor the first timeshe felt her ignorance as to theplacesthat must be passed on her way.  Oppressed with this newalarmshewalked along the grim Stoniton streetsand at lastturnedinto a shabby little innwhere she hoped to get a cheaplodgingfor the night.  Here she asked the landlord if he couldtell herwhat places she must go toto get to Windsor.

"WellI can't rightly say.  Windsor must be pretty nigh Londonfor it'swhere the king lives" was the answer.  "Anyhowyou'dbest go t'Ashby next--that's south'ard.  But there's as manyplacesfrom here to London as there's houses in Stonitonby whatI can makeout.  I've never been no traveller myself.  But howcomes alone young woman like you to be thinking o' taking such ajourney asthat?"

"I'mgoing to my brother--he's a soldier at Windsor" said Hettyfrightenedat the landlord's questioning look.  "I can't afford togo by thecoach; do you think there's a cart goes toward Ashby inthemorning?"

"Yesthere may be carts if anybody knowed where they startedfrom; butyou might run over the town before you found out.  You'dbest setoff and walkand trust to summat overtaking you."

Every wordsank like lead on Hetty's spirits; she saw the journeystretchbit by bit before her now.  Even to get to Ashby seemed ahardthing: it might take the dayfor what she knewand that wasnothing tothe rest of the journey.  But it must be done--she mustget toArthur.  Ohhow she yearned to be again with somebody whowould carefor her!  She who had never got up in the morningwithoutthe certainty of seeing familiar facespeople on whom shehad anacknowledged claim; whose farthest journey had been toRosseteron the pillion with her uncle; whose thoughts had alwaysbeentaking holiday in dreams of pleasurebecause all thebusinessof her life was managed for her--this kittenlike Hettywho till afew months ago had never felt any other grief than thatof envyingMary Burge a new ribbonor being girded at by her auntforneglecting Tottymust now make her toilsome way inlonelinessher peaceful home left behind for everand nothingbut atremulous hope of distant refuge before her.  Now for thefirsttimeas she lay down to-night in the strange hard bedshefelt thather home had been a happy onethat her uncle had beenvery goodto herthat her quiet lot at Hayslope among the thingsand peopleshe knewwith her little pride in her one best gownandbonnetand nothing to hide from any onewas what she wouldlike towake up to as a realityand find that all the feverishlife shehad known besides was a short nightmare.  She thought ofall shehad left behind with yearning regret for her own sake.Her ownmisery filled her heart--there was no room in it for otherpeople'ssorrow.  And yetbefore the cruel letterArthur hadbeen sotender and loving.  The memory of that had still a charmfor herthough it was no more than a soothing draught that justmade painbearable.  For Hetty could conceive no other existenceforherself in future than a hidden oneand a hidden lifeevenwith lovewould have had no delights for her; still less a lifemingledwith shame.  She knew no romancesand had only a feebleshare inthe feelings which are the source of romanceso thatwell-readladies may find it difflcult to understand her state ofmind. She was too igrorant of everything beyond the simplenotionsand habits in which she had been brought up to have anymoredefinite idea of her probable future than that Arthur wouldtake careof her somehowand shelter her from anger and scorn.He wouldnot marry her and make her a lady; and apart from thatshe couldthink of nothing he could give towards which she lookedwithlonging and ambition.

The nextmorning she rose earlyand taking only some milk andbread forher breakfastset out to walk on the road towardsAshbyunder a leaden-coloured skywith a narrowing streak ofyellowlike a departing hopeon the edge of the horizon.  Now inherfaintness of heart at the length and difficulty of herjourneyshe was most of all afraid of spending her moneyandbecomingso destitute that she would have to ask people's charity;for Hettvhad the pride not only of a proud nature but of a proudclass--theclass that pays the most poor-ratesand most shuddersat theidea of profiting by a poor-rate.  It had not yet occurredto herthat she might get money for her locket and earrings whichshecarried with herand she applied all her small arithmetic andknowledgeof prices to calculating how many meals and how manyrides werecontained in her two guineasand the odd shillingswhich hada melancholy lookas if they were the pale ashes of theotherbright-flaming coin.

For thefirst few miles out of Stonitonshe walked on bravelyalwaysfixing on some tree or gate or projecting bush at the mostdistantvisible point in the road as a goaland feeling a faintjoy whenshe had reached it.  But when she came to the fourthmilestonethe first she had happened to notice among the longgrass bythe roadsideand read that she was still only four milesbeyondStonitonher courage sank.  She had come only this littlewayandyet felt tiredand almost hungry again in the keenmorningair; for though Hetty was accustomed to much movement andexertionindoorsshe was not used to long walks which producedquite adifferent sort of fatigue from that of household activity.As she waslooking at the milestone she felt some drops falling onherface--it was beginning to rain.  Here was a new trouble whichhad notentered into her sad thoughts beforeand quite weigheddown bythis sudden addition to her burdenshe sat down on thestep of astile and began to sob hysterically.  The beginning ofhardshipis like the first taste of bitter food--it seems for amomentunbearable; yetif there is nothing else to satisfy ourhungerwetake another bite and find it possible to go on.  WhenHettyrecovered from her burst of weepingshe rallied herfaintingcourage: it was rainingand she must try to get on to avillagewhere she might find rest and shelter.  Presentlyas shewalked onwearilyshe heard the rumbling of heavy wheels behindher; acovered waggon was comingcreeping slowly along with aslouchingdriver cracking his whip beside the horses.  She waitedfor itthinking that if the waggoner were not a very sour-lookingmanshewould ask him to take her up.  As the waggon approachedherthedriver had fallen behindbut there was something in thefront ofthe big vehicle which encouraged her.  At any previousmoment inher life she would not have noticed itbut nowthe newsusceptibilitythat suffering had awakened in her caused thisobject toimpress her strongly.  It was only a small white-and-liver-colouredspaniel which sat on the front ledge of the waggonwith largetimid eyesand an incessant trembling in the bodysuch asyou may have seen in some of these small creatures.  Hettycaredlittle for animalsas you knowbut at this moment she feltas if thehelpless timid creature had some fellowship with herandwithout being quite aware of the reasonshe was less doubtfulaboutspeaking to the driverwho now came forward--a large ruddymanwitha sack over his shouldersby way of scarf or mantle.

"Couldyou take me up in your waggonif you're going towardsAshby?"said Hetty.  "I'll pay you for it."

"Aw"said the big fellowwith that slowly dawning smile whichbelongs toheavy faces"I can take y' up fawst enough wi'outbein' paidfor't if you dooant mind lyin' a bit closish a-top o'thewool-packs.  Where do you coom from?  And what do you wantatAshby?"

"Icome from Stoniton.  I'm going a long way--to Windsor."

"What! Arter some serviceor what?"

"Goingto my brother--he's a soldier there."

"WellI'm going no furder nor Leicester--and fur enough too--butI'll takeyouif you dooant mind being a bit long on the road.Th' hosseswooant feel YOUR weight no more nor they feel thelittledoog thereas I puck up on the road a fortni't agoo.  Hewar lostI b'lievean's been all of a tremble iver sin'.  Comegi' usyour basket an' come behind and let me put y' in."

To lie onthe wool-packswith a cranny left between the curtainsof theawning to let in the airwas luxury to Hetty nowand shehalf-sleptaway the hours till the driver came to ask her if shewanted toget down and have "some victual"; he himself was goingto eat hisdinner at this "public."  Late at night they reachedLeicesterand so this second day of Hetty's journey was past.She hadspent no money except what she had paid for her foodbutshe feltthat this slow journeying would be intolerable for heranotherdayand in the morning she found her way to a coach-office toask about the road to Windsorand see if it would costher toomuch to go part of the distance by coach again.  Yes!  Thedistancewas too great--the coaches were too dear--she must givethem up;but the elderly clerk at the officetouched by herprettyanxious facewrote down for her the names of the chiefplaces shemust pass through.  This was the only comfort she gotinLeicesterfor the men stared at her as she went along thestreetand for the first time in her life Hetty wished no onewould lookat her.  She set out walking again; but this day shewasfortunatefor she was soon overtaken by a carrier's cartwhichcarried her to Hinckleyand by the help of a return chaisewith adrunken postilion--who frightened her by driving like Jehuthe son ofNimshiand shouting hilarious remarks at hertwistinghimselfbackwards on his saddle--she was before night in the heartof woodyWarwickshire: but still almost a hundred miles fromWindsorthey told her.  Oh what a large world it wasand whathard workfor her to find her way in it!  She went by mistake toStratford-on-Avonfinding Stratford set down in her list ofplacesand then she was told she had come a long way out of therightroad.  It was not till the fifth day that she got to StonyStratford. That seems but a slight journey as you look at themaporremember your own pleasant travels to and from the meadowybanks ofthe Avon.  But how wearily long it was to Hetty!  Itseemed toher as if this country of flat fieldsand hedgerowsand dottedhousesand villagesand market-towns--all so muchalike toher indifferent eyes--must have no endand she must goonwandering among them for everwaiting tired at toll-gates forsome cartto comeand then finding the cart went only a littleway--avery little way--to the miller's a mile off perhaps; andshe hatedgoing into the public houseswhere she must go to getfood andask questionsbecause there were always men loungingtherewhostared at her and joked her rudely.  Her body was veryweary toowith these days of new fatigue and anxiety; they hadmade herlook more pale and worn than all the time of hidden dreadshe hadgone through at home.  When at last she reached StonyStratfordher impatience and weariness had become too strong forhereconomical caution; she determined to take the coach for therest ofthe waythough it should cost her all her remainingmoney. She would need nothing at Windsor but to find Arthur.When shehad paid the fare for the last coachshe had only ashilling;and as she got down at the sign of the Green Man inWindsor attwelve o'clock in the middle of the seventh dayhungryand faintthe coachman came upand begged her to "remember him."She puther hand in her pocket and took out the shillingbut thetears camewith the sense of exhaustion and the thought that shewas givingaway her last means of getting foodwhich she reallyrequiredbefore she could go in search of Arthur.  As she held outtheshillingshe lifted up her dark tear-filled eyes to thecoachman'sface and said"Can you give me back sixpence?"

"Nono" he saidgruffly"never mind--put the shilling upagain."

Thelandlord of the Green Man had stood near enough to witnessthissceneand he was a man whose abundant feeding served to keephis goodnatureas well as his personin high condition.  Andthatlovely tearful face of Hetty's would have found out thesensitivefibre in most men.

"Comeyoung womancome in" he said"and have adrop o'something;you're pretty well knocked upI can see that."

He tookher into the bar and said to his wife"Heremissistakethis youngwoman into the parlour; she's a little overcome"--forHetty'stears were falling fast.  They were merely hystericaltears: shethought she had no reason for weeping nowand wasvexed thatshe was too weak and tired to help it.  She was atWindsor atlastnot far from Arthur.

She lookedwith eagerhungry eyes at the bread and meat and beerthat thelandlady brought herand for some minutes she forgoteverythingelse in the delicious sensations of satisfying hungerandrecovering from exhaustion.  The landlady sat opposite to heras sheateand looked at her earnestly.  No wonder: Hetty hadthrown offher bonnetand her curls had fallen down.  Her facewas allthe more touching in its youth and beauty because of itswearylookand the good woman's eyes presently wandered to herfigurewhich in her hurried dressing on her journey she had takenno painsto conceal; moreoverthe stranger's eye detects what thefamiliarunsuspecting eye leaves unnoticed.

"Whyyou're not very fit for travelling" she saidglancingwhile shespoke at Hetty's ringless hand.  "Have you come far?"

"Yes"said Hettyroused by this question to exert more self-commandand feeling the better for the food she had taken.  "I'vecome agood long wayand it's very tiring.  But I'm better now.Could youtell me which way to go to this place?"  Here Hetty tookfrom herpocket a bit of paper: it was the end of Arthur's letteron whichhe had written his address.

While shewas speakingthe landlord had come in and had begun tolook ather as earnestly as his wife had done.  He took up thepiece ofpaper which Hetty handed across the tableand read theaddress.

"Whywhat do you want at this house?" he said.  It is in thenature ofinnkeepers and all men who have no pressing business oftheir ownto ask as many questions as possible before giving anyinformation.

"Iwant to see a gentleman as is there" said Hetty.

"Butthere's no gentleman there" returned the landlord.  "It'sshutup--been shut up this fortnight.  What gentleman is it youwant? Perhaps I can let you know where to find him."

"It'sCaptain Donnithorne" said Hetty tremulouslyher heartbeginningto beat painfully at this disappointment of her hopethat sheshould find Arthur at once.

"CaptainDonnithorne?  Stop a bit" said the landlardslowly."Washe in the Loamshire Militia?  A tall young officer with afairishskin and reddish whiskers--and had a servant by the nameo' Pym?"

"Ohyes" said Hetty; "you know him--where is he?"

"Afine sight o' miles away from here.  The Loamshire Militia'sgone toIreland; it's been gone this fortnight."

"Lookthere!  She's fainting" said the landladyhastening tosupportHettywho had lost her miserable consciousness and lookedlike abeautiful corpse.  They carried her to the sofa andloosenedher dress.

"Here'sa bad businessI suspect" said the landlordas hebrought insome water.

"Ahit's plain enough what sort of business it is" said thewife. "She's not a common flaunting dratchellI can see that.She lookslike a respectable country girland she comes from agood wayoffto judge by her tongue.  She talks something likethatostler we had that come from the north.  He was as honest afellow aswe ever had about the house--they're all honest folks inthenorth."

"Inever saw a prettier young woman in my life" said the husband."She'slike a pictur in a shop-winder.  It goes to one's 'eart tolook ather."

"It'ud have been a good deal better for her if she'd been uglierand hadmore conduct" said the landladywho on any charitableconstructionmust have been supposed to have more "conduct" thanbeauty. "But she's coming to again.  Fetch a drop more water."

 

 ChapterXXXVII TheJourney in Despair

 

HETTY wastoo ill through the rest of that day for any questionsto beaddressed to her--too ill even to think with anydistinctnessof the evils that were to come.  She only felt thatall herhope was crushedand that instead of having found arefuge shehad only reached the borders of a new wilderness whereno goallay before her.  The sensations of bodily sicknessin acomfortablebedand with the tendance of the good-naturedlandladymade a sort of respite for her; such a respite as thereis in thefaint weariness which obliges a man to throw himself onthe sandinstead of toiling onward under the scorching sun.

But whensleep and rest had brought back the strength necessaryfor thekeenness of mental suffering--when she lay the nextmorninglooking at the growing light which was like a cruel task-masterreturning to urge from her a fresh round of hated hopelesslabour--shebegan to think what course she must taketo rememberthat allher money was goneto look at the prospect of furtherwanderingamong strangers with the new clearness shed on it by theexperienceof her journey to Windsor.  But which way could sheturn? It was impossible for her to enter into any serviceevenif shecould obtain it.  There was nothing but immediate beggarybeforeher.  She thought of a young woman who had been foundagainstthe church wall at Hayslope one Sundaynearly dead withcold andhunger--a tiny infant in her arms.  The woman was rescuedand takento the parish.  "The parish!" You can perhaps hardlyunderstandthe effect of that word on a mind like Hetty'sbroughtup amongpeople who were somewhat hard in their feelings eventowardspovertywho lived among the fieldsand had little pityfor wantand rags as a cruel inevitable fate such as theysometimesseem in citiesbut held them a mark of idleness andvice--andit was idleness and vice that brought burdens on theparish. To Hetty the "parish" was next to the prison in obloquyand to askanything of strangers--to beg--lay in the same far-offhideousregion of intolerable shame that Hetty had all her lifethought itimpossible she could ever come near.  But now theremembranceof that wretched woman whom she had seen herselfonher wayfrom churchbeing carried into Joshua Rann'scame backupon herwith the new terrible sense that there was very littlenow todivide HER from the same lot.  And the dread of bodilyhardshipmingled with the dread of shame; for Hetty had theluxuriousnature of a round soft-coated pet animal.

How sheyearned to be back in her safe home againcherished andcared foras she had always been!  Her aunt's scolding abouttrifleswould have been music to her ears now; she longed for it;she usedto hear it in a time when she had only trifles to hide.Could shebe the same Hetty that used to make up the butter in thedairy withthe Guelder roses peeping in at the window--shearunawaywhom her friends would not open their doors to againlying inthis strange bedwith the knowledge that she had nomoney topay for what she receivedand must offer those strangerssome ofthe clothes in her basket?  It was then she thought of herlocket andear-ringsand seeing her pocket lie nearshe reachedit andspread the contents on the bed before her.  There were thelocket andear-rings in the little velvet-lined boxesand withthem therewas a beautiful silver thimble which Adam had boughtherthewords "Remember me" making the ornament of the border; asteelpursewith her one shilling in it;and a small red-leathercasefastening with a strap.  Those beautiful little ear-ringswith theirdelicate pearls and garnetthat she had tried in herears withsuch longing in the bright sunshine on the 30th of July!She had nolonging to put them in her ears now: her head with itsdark ringsof hair lay back languidly on the pillowand thesadnessthat rested about her brow and eyes was something too hardforregretful memory.  Yet she put her hands up to her ears: itwasbecause there were some thin gold rings in themwhich werealso wortha little money.  Yesshe could surely get some moneyfor herornaments: those Arthur had given her must have cost agreat dealof money.  The landlord and landlady had been good toher;perhaps they would help her to get the money for thesethings.

But thismoney would not keep her long.  What should she do whenit wasgone?  Where should she go?  The horrible thought of wantandbeggary drove her once to think she would go back to her uncleand auntand ask them to forgive her and have pity on her.  Butshe shrankfrom that idea againas she might have shrunk fromscorchingmetal.  She could never endure that shame before heruncle andauntbefore Mary Burgeand the servants at the Chaseand thepeople at Broxtonand everybody who knew her.  Theyshouldnever know what had happened to her.  What could she do?She wouldgo away from Windsor--travel again as she had done thelast weekand get among the flat green fields with the highhedgesround themwhere nobody could see her or know her; andthereperhapswhen there was nothing else she could dosheshould getcourage to drown herself in some pond like that in theScantlands. Yesshe would get away from Windsor as soon aspossible:she didn't like these people at the inn to know abouthertoknow that she had come to look for Captain Donnithorne.She mustthink of some reason to tell them why she had asked forhim.

With thisthought she began to put the things back into herpocketmeaning to get up and dress before the landlady came toher. She had her hand on the red-leather casewhen it occurredto herthat there might be something in this case which she hadforgotten--somethingworth selling; for without knowing what sheshould dowith her lifeshe craved the means of living as long aspossible;and when we desire eagerly to find somethingwe are aptto searchfor it in hopeless places.  Nothere was nothing butcommonneedles and pinsand dried tulip-petals between the paperleaveswhere she had written down her little money-accounts.  Buton one ofthese leaves there was a namewhichoften as she hadseen itbeforenow flashed on Hetty's mind like a newlydiscoveredmessage.  The name was--Dinah MorrisSnowfield.  Therewas a textabove itwrittenas well as the nameby Dinah's ownhand witha little pencilone evening that they were sittingtogetherand Hetty happened to have the red case lying open beforeher. Hetty did not read the text now: she was only arrested bythe name. Nowfor the first timeshe remembered withoutindifferencethe affectionate kindness Dinah had shown herandthosewords of Dinah in the bed-chamber--that Hetty must think ofher as afriend in trouble.  Suppose she were to go to Dinahandask her tohelp her?  Dinah did not think about things as otherpeopledid.  She was a mystery to Hettybut Hetty knew she wasalwayskind.  She couldn't imagine Dinah's face turning away fromher indark reproof or scornDinah's voice willingly speaking illof herorrejoicing in her misery as a punishment.  Dinah did notseem tobelong to that world of Hetty'swhose glance she dreadedlikescorching fire.  But even to her Hetty shrank from beseechingandconfession.  She could not prevail on herself to say"Iwillgo toDinah": she only thought of that as a possible alternativeif she hadnot courage for death.

The goodlandlady was amazed when she saw Hetty come downstairssoon afterherselfneatly dressedand looking resolutely self-possessed. Hetty told her she was quite well this morning.  Shehad onlybeen very tired and overcome with her journeyfor shehad come along way to ask about her brotherwho had run awayand theythought he was gone for a soldierand CaptainDonnithornemight knowfor he had been very kind to her brotheronce. It was a lame storyand the landlady looked doubtfully atHetty asshe told it; but there was a resolute air of self-relianceabout her this morningso different from the helplessprostrationof yesterdaythat the landlady hardly knew how tomake aremark that might seem like prying into other people'saffairs. She only invited her to sit down to breakfast with themand in thecourse of it Hetty brought out her ear-rings andlocketand asked the landlord if he could help her to get moneyfor them. Her journeyshe saidhad cost her much more than sheexpectedand now she had no money to get back to her friendswhich shewanted to do at once.

It was notthe first time the landlady had seen the ornamentsforshe hadexamined the contents of Hetty's pocket yesterdayand sheand herhusband had discussed the fact of a country girl havingthesebeautiful thingswith a stronger conviction than ever thatHetty hadbeen miserably deluded by the fine young officer.

"Well"said the landlordwhen Hetty had spread the precioustriflesbefore him"we might take 'em to the jeweller's shopforthere'sone not far off; but Lord bless youthey wouldn't giveyou aquarter o' what the things are worth.  And you wouldn't liketo partwith 'em?" he addedlooking at her inquiringly.

"OhI don't mind" said Hettyhastily"so as I can get moneytogo back."

"Andthey might think the things were stolenas you wanted tosell 'em"he went on"for it isn't usual for a young woman likeyou tohave fine jew'llery like that."

The bloodrushed to Hetty's face with anger.  "I belong torespectablefolks" she said; "I'm not a thief."

"Nothat you aren'tI'll be bound" said the landlady; "andyou'd nocall to say that" looking indignantly at her husband."Thethings were gev to her: that's plain enough to be seen."

"Ididn't mean as I thought so" said the husbandapologetically"butI said it was what the jeweller might thinkand so hewouldn'tbe offering much money for 'em."

"Well"said the wife"suppose you were to advance some money onthe thingsyourselfand then if she liked to redeem 'em when shegot homeshe could.  But if we heard nothing from her after twomonthswemight do as we liked with 'em."

I will notsay that in this accommodating proposition the landladyhad noregard whatever to the possible reward of her good naturein theultimate possession of the locket and ear-rings: indeedthe effectthey would have in that case on the mind of thegrocer'swife had presented itself with remarkable vividness toher rapidimagination.  The landlord took up the ornaments andpushed outhis lips in a meditative manner.  He wished Hetty welldoubtless;but prayhow many of your well-wishers would declineto make alittle gain out of you?  Your landlady is sincerelyaffectedat parting with yourespects you highlyand will reallyrejoice ifany one else is generous to you; but at the same timeshe handsyou a bill by which she gains as high a percentage aspossible.

"Howmuch money do you want to get home withyoung woman?" saidthewell-wisherat length.

"Threeguineas" answered Hettyfixing on the sum she set outwithforwant of any other standardand afraid of asking toomuch.

"WellI've ho objections to advance you three guineas" said thelandlord;"and if you like to send it me back and get thejewelleryagainyou canyou know.  The Green Man isn't going torun away."

"OhyesI'll be very glad if you'll give me that" said Hettyrelievedat the thought that she would not have to go to thejeweller'sand be stared at and questioned.

"Butif you want the things againyou'll write before long" saidthelandlady"because when two months are upwe shall make upour mindsas you don't want 'em."

"Yes"said Hetty indifferently.

Thehusband and wife were equally content with this arrangement.Thehusband thoughtif the ornaments were not redeemedhe couldmake agood thing of it by taking them to London and selling them.The wifethought she would coax the good man into letting her keepthem. And they were accommodating Hettypoor thing--a prettyrespectable-lookingyoung womanapparently in a sad case.  Theydeclinedto take anything for her food and bed: she was quitewelcome. And at eleven o'clock Hetty said "Good-bye" to them withthe samequietresolute air she had worn all the morningmountingthe coach that was to take her twenty miles back alongthe wayshe had come.

There is astrength of self-possession which is the sign that thelast hopehas departed.  Despair no more leans on others thanperfectcontentmentand in despair pride ceases to becounteractedby the sense of dependence.

Hetty feltthat no one could deliver her from the evils that wouldmake lifehateful to her; and no oneshe said to herselfshouldever knowher misery and humiliation.  No; she would not confesseven toDinah.  She would wander out of sightand drown herselfwhere herbody would never be foundand no one should know whathad becomeof her.

When shegot off this coachshe began to walk againand takecheaprides in cartsand get cheap mealsgoing on and on withoutdistinctpurposeyet strangelyby some fascinationtaking theway shehad comethough she was determined not to go back to herowncountry.  Perhaps it was because she had fixed her mind on thegrassyWarwickshire fieldswith the bushy tree-studded hedgerowsthat madea hiding-place even in this leafless season.  She wentmoreslowly than she cameoften getting over the stiles andsittingfor hours under the hedgerowslooking before her withblankbeautiful eyes; fancying herself at the edge of a hiddenpoollowdownlike that in the Scantlands; wondering if it wereverypainful to be drownedand if there would be anything worseafterdeath than what she dreaded in life.  Religious doctrineshad takenno hold on Hetty's mind.  She was one of those numerouspeople whohave had godfathers and godmotherslearned theircatechismbeen confirmedand gone to church every Sundayandyetforany practical result of strength in lifeor trust indeathhave never appropriated a single Christian idea orChristianfeeling.  You would misunderstand her thoughts duringthesewretched daysif you imagined that they were influencedeither byreligious fears or religious hopes.

She choseto go to Stratford-on-Avon againwhere she had gonebefore bymistakefor she remembered some grassy fields on herformer waytowards it--fields among which she thought she mightfind justthe sort of pool she had in her mind.  Yet she took careof hermoney still; she carried her basket; death seemed still along wayoffand life was so strong in her.  She craved food andrest--shehastened towards them at the very moment she waspicturingto herself the bank from which she would leap towardsdeath. It was already five days since she had left Windsorforshe hadwandered aboutalways avoiding speech or questioninglooksandrecovering her air of proud self-dependence whenevershe wasunder observationchoosing her decent lodging at nightanddressing herself neatly in the morningand setting off on herwaysteadilyor remaining under shelter if it rainedas if shehad ahappy life to cherish.

And yeteven in her most self-conscious momentsthe face wassadlydifferent from that which had smiled at itself in the oldspeckedglassor smiled at others when they glanced at itadmiringly. A hard and even fierce look had come in the eyesthoughtheir lashes were as long as everand they had all theirdarkbrightness.  And the cheek was never dimpled with smiles now.It was thesame roundedpoutingchildish prettinessbut withall loveand belief in love departed from it--the sadder for itsbeautylike that wondrous Medusa-facewith the passionatepassionlesslips.

At lastshe was among the fields she had been dreaming ofon alongnarrow pathway leading towards a wood.  If there should be apool inthat wood!  It would be better hidden than one in thefields. Noit was not a woodonly a wild brakewhere there hadonce beengravel-pitsleaving mounds and hollows studded withbrushwoodand small trees.  She roamed up and downthinking therewasperhaps a pool in every hollow before she came to ittill herlimbs werewearyand she sat down to rest.  The afternoon was faradvancedand the leaden sky was darkeningas if the sun weresettingbehind it.  After a little while Hetty started up againfeelingthat darkness would soon come on; and she must put offfindingthe pool till to-morrowand make her way to some shelterfor thenight.  She had quite lost her way in the fieldsandmight aswell go in one direction as anotherfor aught she knew.She walkedthrough field after fieldand no villageno house wasin sight;but thereat the corner of this pasturethere was abreak inthe hedges; the land seemed to dip down a littleand twotreesleaned towards each other across the opening.  Hetty's heartgave agreat heat as she thought there must be a pool there.  Shewalkedtowards it heavily over the tufted grasswith pale lipsand asense of trembling.  It was as if the thing were come inspite ofherselfinstead of being the object of her search.

There itwasblack under the darkening sky: no motionno soundnear. She set down her basketand then sank down herself on thegrasstrembling.  The pool had its wintry depth now: by the timeit gotshallowas she remembered the pools did at Hayslopeinthesummerno one could find out that it was her body.  But thenthere washer basket--she must hide that too.  She must throw itinto thewater--make it heavy with stones firstand then throw itin. She got up to look about for stonesand soon brought five orsixwhichshe laid down beside her basketand then sat downagain. There was no need to hurry--there was all the night todrownherself in.  She sat leaning her elbow on the basket.  Shewas wearyhungry.  There were some buns in her basket--threewhich shehad supplied herself with at the place where she ate herdinner. She took them out now and ate them eagerlyand then satstillagainlooking at the pool.  The soothed sensation that cameover herfrom the satisfaction of her hungerand this fixeddreamyattitudebrought on drowsinessand presently her headsank downon her knees.  She was fast asleep.

When sheawoke it was deep nightand she felt chill.  She wasfrightenedat this darkness--frightened at the long night beforeher. If she could but throw herself into the water!  Nonot yet.She beganto walk about that she might get warm againas if shewould havemore resolution then.  Oh how long the time was in thatdarkness! The bright hearth and the warmth and the voices ofhomethesecure uprising and lying downthe familiar fieldsthefamiliarpeoplethe Sundays and holidays with their simple joysof dressand feasting--all the sweets of her young life rushedbefore hernowand she seemed to be stretching her arms towardsthemacross a great gulf.  She set her teeth when she thought ofArthur. She cursed himwithout knowing what her cursing woulddo. She wished he too might know desolationand coldand a lifeof shamethat he dared not end by death.

The horrorof this coldand darknessand solitude--out of allhumanreach--became greater every long minute.  It was almost asif shewere dead alreadyand knew that she was deadand longedto getback to life again.  But no: she was alive still; she hadnot takenthe dreadful leap.  She felt a strange contradictorywretchednessand exultation: wretchednessthat she did not dareto facedeath; exultationthat she was still in life--that shemight yetknow light and warmth again.  She walked backwards andforwardsto warm herselfbeginning to discern something of theobjectsaround heras her eyes became accustomed to the night--the darkerline of the hedgethe rapid motion of some livingcreature--perhapsa field-mouse--rushing across the grass.  She nolongerfelt as if the darkness hedged her in.  She thought shecould walkback across the fieldand get over the stile; andtheninthe very next fieldshe thought she remembered there wasa hovel offurze near a sheepfold.  If she could get into thathovelshewould be warmer.  She could pass the night thereforthat waswhat Alick did at Hayslope in lambing-time.  The thoughtof thishovel brought the energy of a new hope.  She took up herbasket andwalked across the fieldbut it was some time beforeshe got inthe right direction for the stile.  The exercise andtheoccupation of finding the stile were a stimulus to herhoweverand lightened the horror of the darkness and solitude.There weresheep in the next fieldand she startled a group asshe setdown her basket and got over the stile; and the sound oftheirmovement comforted herfor it assured her that herimpressionwas right--this was the field where she had seen thehovelforit was the field where the sheep were.  Right on alongthe pathand she would get to it.  She reached the opposite gateand felther way along its rails and the rails of the sheep-foldtill herhand encountered the pricking of the gorsy wall.Delicioussensation!  She had found the shelter.  She groped herwaytouching the prickly gorseto the doorand pushed it open.It was anill-smelling close placebut warmand there was strawon theground.  Hetty sank down on the straw with a sense ofescape. Tears came--she had never shed tears before since sheleftWindsor--tears and sobs of hysterical joy that she had stillhold oflifethat she was still on the familiar earthwith thesheep nearher.  The very consciousness of her own limbs was adelight toher: she turned up her sleevesand kissed her armswith thepassionate love of life.  Soon warmth and wearinesslulled herin the midst of her sobsand she fell continually intodozingfancying herself at the brink of the pool again--fancyingthat shehad jumped into the waterand then awaking with a startandwondering where she was.  But at last deep dreamless sleepcame; herheadguarded by her bonnetfound a pillow against thegorsywalland the poor souldriven to and fro between two equalterrorsfound the one relief that was possible to it--the reliefofunconsciousness.

Alas! That relief seems to end the moment it has begun.  Itseemed toHetty as if those dozen dreams had only passed intoanotherdream--that she was in the hoveland her aunt wasstandingover her with a candle in her hand.  She trembled underher aunt'sglanceand opened her eyes.  There was no candlebutthere waslight in the hovel--the light of early morning throughthe opendoor.  And there was a face looking down on her; but itwas anunknown facebelonging to an elderly man in a smock-frock.

"Whywhat do you do hereyoung woman?" the man said roughly.

Hettytrembled still worse under this real fear and shame than shehad donein her momentary dream under her aunt's glance.  She feltthat shewas like a beggar already--found sleeping in that place.But inspite of her tremblingshe was so eager to account to theman forher presence herethat she found words at once.

"Ilost my way" she said.  "I'm travelling--north'ardand I gotaway fromthe road into the fieldsand was overtaken by the dark.Will youtell me the way to the nearest village?"

She got upas she was speakingand put her hands to her bonnet toadjust itand then laid hold of her basket.

The manlooked at her with a slow bovine gazewithout giving heranyanswerfor some seconds.  Then he turned away and walkedtowardsthe door of the hovelbut it was not till he got therethat hestood stillandturning his shoulder half-round towardshersaid"AwI can show you the way to Nortonif you like.But whatdo you do gettin' out o' the highroad?" he addedwith atone ofgruff reproof.  "Y'ull be gettin' into mischiefif youdooantmind."

"Yes"said Hetty"I won't do it again.  I'll keep in the roadif you'llbe so good as show me how to get to it."

"Whydooant you keep where there's a finger-poasses an' folks toax the wayon?" the man saidstill more gruffly.  "Anybody 'udthink youwas a wild womanan' look at yer."

Hetty wasfrightened at this gruff old manand still more at thislastsuggestion that she looked like a wild woman.  As shefollowedhim out of the hovel she thought she would give him asixpencefor telling her the wayand then he would not supposeshe waswild.  As he stopped to point out the road to hershe puther handin her pocket to get the six-pence readyand when he wasturningawaywithout saying good-morningshe held it out to himand said"Thank you; will you please to take something for yourtrouble?"

He lookedslowly at the sixpenceand then said"I want none o'yourmoney.  You'd better take care on'telse you'll get it stoolfrom yerif you go trapesin' about the fields like a mad woman a-thatway."

The manleft her without further speechand Hetty held on herway. Another day had risenand she must wander on.  It was nouse tothink of drowning herself--she could not do itat leastwhile shehad money left to buy food and strength to journey on.But theincident on her waking this morning heightened her dreadof thattime when her money would be all gone; she would have tosell herbasket and clothes thenand she would really look like abeggar ora wild womanas the man had said.  The passionate joyin lifeshe had felt in the nightafter escaping from the brinkof theblack cold death in the poolwas gone now.  Life nowbythemorning lightwith the impression of that man's hardwonderinglook at herwas as full of dread as death--it wasworse; itwas a dread to which she felt chainedfrom which sheshrank andshrank as she did from the black pooland yet couldfind norefuge from it.

She tookout her money from her purseand looked at it.  She hadstilltwo-and-twenty shillings; it would serve her for many daysmoreorit would help her to get on faster to Stonyshirewithinreach ofDinah.  The thought of Dinah urged itself more stronglynowsincethe experience of the night had driven her shudderingimaginationaway from the pool.  If it had been only going toDinah--ifnobody besides Dinah would ever know--Hetty could havemade upher mind to go to her.  The soft voicethe pitying eyeswould havedrawn her.  But afterwards the other people must knowand shecould no more rush on that shame than she could rush ondeath.

She mustwander on and onand wait for a lower depth of despairto giveher courage.  Perhaps death would come to herfor she wasgettingless and less able to bear the day's weariness.  And yet--such isthe strange action of our soulsdrawing us by a lurkingdesiretowards the very ends we dread--Hettywhen she set outagain fromNortonasked the straightest road northwards towardsStonyshireand kept it all that day.

Poorwandering Hettywith the rounded childish face and the hardunlovingdespairing soul looking out of it--with the narrow heartand narrowthoughtsno room in them for any sorrows but her ownandtasting that sorrow with the more intense bitterness!  Myheartbleeds for her as I see her toiling along on her weary feetor seatedin a cartwith her eyes fixed vacantly on the roadbeforehernever thinking or caring whither it tendstill hungercomes andmakes her desire that a village may be near.

What willbe the endthe end of her objectless wanderingapartfrom alllovecaring for human beings only through her prideclingingto life only as the hunted wounded brute clings to it?

Godpreserve you and me from being the beginners of such miserty!

 

 ChapterXXXVIII TheQuest

 

THE firstten days after Hetty's departure passed as quietly asany otherdays with the family at the Hall Farmand with Adam athis dailywork.  They had expected Hetty to stay away a week orten daysat leastperhaps a little longer if Dinah came back withherbecause there might then be somethung to detain them atSnowfield. But when a fortnight had passed they began to feel alittlesurprise that Hetty did not return; she must surely havefound itpleasanter to be with Dinah than any one could havesupposed. Adamfor his partwas getting very impatient to seeherandhe resolved thatif she did not appear the next day(Saturday)he would set out on Sunday morning to fetch her.There wasno coach on a Sundaybut by setting out before it waslightandperhaps getting a lift in a cart by the wayhe wouldarrivepretty early at Snowfieldand bring back Hetty the nextday--Dinahtooif she were coming.  It was quite time Hetty camehomeandhe would afford to lose his Monday for the sake ofbringingher.

Hisproject was quite approved at the Farm when he went there onSaturdayevening.  Mrs. Poyser desired him emphatically not tocome backwithout Hettyfor she had been quite too long awayconsideringthe things she had to get ready by the middle ofMarchanda week was surely enough for any one to go out fortheirhealth.  As for DinahMrs. Poyser had small hope of theirbringingherunless they could make her believe the folks atHayslopewere twice as miserable as the folks at Snowfield."Though"said Mrs. Poyserby way of conclusion"you might tellher she'sgot but one aunt leftand SHE'S wasted pretty nigh to ashadder;and we shall p'rhaps all be gone twenty mile farther offher nextMichaelmasand shall die o' broken hearts among strangefolksandleave the children fatherless and motherless."

"Naynay" said Mr. Poyserwho certainly had the air of a manperfectlyheart-whole"it isna so bad as that.  Thee't lookingrarelynowand getting flesh every day.  But I'd be glad forDinah t'comefor she'd help thee wi' the little uns: they tookt' herwonderful."

So atdaybreakon SundayAdam set off.  Seth went with him thefirst mileor twofor the thought of Snowfield and thepossibilitythat Dinah might come again made him restlessand thewalk withAdam in the cold morning airboth in their bestclotheshelped to give him a sense of Sunday calm.  It was thelastmorning in Februarywith a low grey skyand a slight hoar-frost onthe green border of the road and on the black hedges.They heardthe gurgling of the full brooklet hurrying down thehillandthe faint twittering of the early birds.  For theywalked insilencethough with a pleased sense of companionship.

"Good-byelad" said Adamlaying his hand on Seth's shoulder andlooking athim affectionately as they were about to part.  "I wishthee wastgoing all the way wi' meand as happy as I am."

"I'mcontentAddyI'm content" said Seth cheerfully.  "I'llbean oldbachelorbelikeand make a fuss wi' thy children."

The'yturned away from each otherand Seth walked leisurelyhomewardmentally repeating one of his favourite hymns--he wasvery fondof hymns:

Darkand cheerless is the morn Unaccompaniedby thee:Joylessis the day's return Tillthy mercy's beams I see:Tillthou inward light impartGlad myeyes and warm my heart. Visitthenthis soul of mine Piercethe gloom of sin and grief--FillmeRadiancy Divine Scatterall my unbelief.Moreand more thyself displayShiningto the perfect day.

 

Adamwalked much fasterand any one coming along the Oakbourneroad atsunrise that morning must have had a pleasant sight inthis tallbroad-chested manstriding along with a carriage asuprightand firm as any soldier'sglancing with keen glad eyes atthedark-blue hills as they began to show themselves on his way.Seldom inAdam's life had his face been so free from any cloud ofanxiety asit was this morning; and this freedom from careas isusual withconstructive practical minds like hismade him all themoreobservant of the objects round him and all the more ready togathersuggestions from them towards his own favourite plans andingeniouscontrivances.  His happy love--the knowledge that hissteps werecarrying him nearer and nearer to Hettywho was sosoon to behis--was to his thoughts what the sweet morning air wasto hissensations: it gave him a consciousness of well-being thatmadeactivity delightful.  Every now and then there was a rush ofmoreintense feeling towards herwhich chased away other imagesthanHetty; and along with that would come a wonderingthankfulnessthat all this happiness was given to him--that thislife ofours had such sweetness in it.  For Adam had a devoutmindthough he was perhaps rather impatient of devout wordsandhistenderness lay very close to his reverenceso that the onecouldhardly be stirred without the other.  But after feeling hadwelled upand poured itself out in this waybusy thought wouldcome backwith the greater vigour; and this morning it was intenton schemesby which the roads might be improved that were soimperfectall through the countryand on picturing all thebenefitsthat might come from the exertions of a single countrygentlemanif he would set himself to getting the roads made goodin his owndistrict.

It seemeda very short walkthe ten miles to Oakbournethatprettytown within sight of the blue hillswhere he break-fasted.Afterthisthe country grew barer and barer: no more rollingwoodsnomore wide-branching trees near frequent homesteadsnomore bushyhedgerowsbut greystone walls intersecting the meagrepasturesand dismal wide-scattered greystone houses on brokenlandswhere mines had been and were no longer.  "A hungry land"said Adamto himself.  "I'd rather go south'ardwhere they sayit's asflat as a tablethan come to live here; though if Dinahlikes tolive in a country where she can be the most comfort tofolksshe's i' the right to live o' this side; for she must lookas ifshe'd come straight from heavenlike th' angels in thedeserttostrengthen them as ha' got nothing t' eat."  And whenat last hecame in sight of Snowfieldhe thought it looked like atown thatwas "fellow to the country" though the stream throughthe valleywhere the great mill stood gave a pleasant greenness tothe lowerfields.  The town laygrimstonyand unshelteredupthe sideof a steep hilland Adam did not go forward to it atpresentfor Seth had told him where to find Dinah.  It was at athatchedcottage outside the towna little way from the mill--anoldcottagestanding sideways towards the roadwith a little bitofpotato-ground before it.  Here Dinah lodged with an elderlycouple;and if she and Hetty happened to be outAdam could learnwhere theywere goneor when they would be at home again.  Dinahmight beout on some preaching errandand perhaps she would haveleft Hettyat home.  Adam could not help hoping thisand as herecognizedthe cottage by the roadside before himthere shone outin hisface that involuntary smile which belongs to theexpectationof a near joy.

He hurriedhis step along the narrow causewayand rapped at thedoor. It was opened by a very clean old womanwith a slowpalsiedshake of the head.

"IsDinah Morris at home?" said Adam.

"Eh?...no"said the old womanlooking up at this tall strangerwith awonder that made her slower of speech than usual.  "Willyou pleaseto come in?" she addedretiring from the dooras ifrecollectingherself.  "Whyye're brother to the young man ascomeaforearena ye?"

"Yes"said Adamentering.  "That was Seth Bede.  I'm hisbrotherAdam. He told me to give his respects to you and your goodmaster."

"Ayethe same t' him.  He was a gracious young man.  An' yefeaturehimon'y ye're darker.  Sit ye down i' th' arm-chair.  Myman isnacome home from meeting."

Adam satdown patientlynot liking to hurry the shaking old womanwithquestionsbut looking eagerly towards the narrow twistingstairs inone cornerfor he thought it was possible Hetty mighthave heardhis voice and would come down them.

"Soyou're come to see Dinah Morris?" said the old womanstandingoppositeto him.  "An' you didn' know she was away from homethen?"

"No"said Adam"but I thought it likely she might be awayseeing asit's Sunday.  But the other young woman--is she at homeor gonealong with Dinah?"

The oldwoman looked at Adam with a bewildered air.

"Gonealong wi' her?" she said.  "EhDinah's gone to Leedsa bigtown yemay ha' heared onwhere there's a many o' the Lord'speople. She's been gone sin' Friday was a fortnight: they senther themoney for her journey.  You may see her room here" shewent onopening a door and not noticing the effect of her wordson Adam. He rose and followed herand darted an eager glanceinto thelittle room with its narrow bedthe portrait of Wesleyon thewalland the few books lying on the large Bible.  He hadhad anirrational hope that Hetty might be there.  He could notspeak inthe first moment after seeing that the room was empty; anundefinedfear had seized him--something had happened to Hetty onthejourney.  Still the old woman was so slow of; speech andapprehensionthat Hetty might be at Snowfield after all.

"It'sa pity ye didna know" she said.  "Have ye come fromyourowncountry o' purpose to see her?"

"ButHetty--Hetty Sorrel" said Adamabruptly; "Where is she?"

"Iknow nobody by that name" said the old womanwonderingly."Isit anybody ye've heared on at Snowfield?"

"Didthere come no young woman here--very young and pretty--Fridaywas afortnightto see Dinah Morris?"

"Nay;I'n seen no young woman."

"Think;are you quite sure?  A girleighteen years oldwith darkeyes anddark curly hairand a red cloak onand a basket on herarm? Youcouldn't forget her if you saw her."

"Nay;Friday was a fortnight--it was the day as Dinah went away--there comenobody.  There's ne'er been nobody asking for her tillyou comefor the folks about know as she's gone.  Eh dearehdearisthere summat the matter?"

The oldwoman had seen the ghastly look of fear in Adam's face.But he wasnot stunned or confounded: he was thinking eagerlywhere hecould inquire about Hetty.

"Yes;a young woman started from our country to see DinahFridaywas afortnight.  I came to fetch her back.  I'm afraid somethinghashappened to her.  I can't stop.  Good-bye."

Hehastened out of the cottageand the old woman followed him tothe gatewatching him sadly with her shaking head as he almostrantowards the town.  He was going to inquire at the place wheretheOakbourne coach stopped.

No! No young woman like Hetty had been seen there.  Had anyaccidenthappened to the coach a fortnight ago?  No.  And therewas nocoach to take him back to Oakbourne that day.  Wellhewouldwalk: he couldn't stay herein wretched inaction.  But theinnkeeperseeing that Adam was in great anxietyand enteringinto thisnew incident with the eagerness of a man who passes agreat dealof time with his hands in his pockets looking into anobstinatelymonotonous streetoffered to take him back toOakbournein his own "taxed cart" this very evening.  It was notfiveo'clock; there was plenty of time for Adam to take a meal andyet to getto Oakbourne before ten o'clock.  The innkeeperdeclaredthat he really wanted to go to Oakbourneand might aswell goto-night; he should have all Monday before him then.Adamafter making an ineffectual attempt to eatput the food inhispocketanddrinking a draught of aledeclared himself readyto setoff.  As they approached the cottageit occurred to himthat hewould do well to learn from the old woman where Dinah wasto befound in Leeds: if there was trouble at the Hall Farm--heonlyhalf-admitted the foreboding that there would be--the Poysersmight liketo send for Dinah.  But Dinah had not left any addressand theold womanwhose memory for names was infirmcould notrecall thename of the "blessed woman" who was Dinah's chieffriend inthe Society at Leeds.

Duringthat longlong journey in the taxed cartthere was timefor allthe conjectures of importunate fear and struggling hope.In thevery first shock of discovering that Hetty had not been toSnowfieldthe thought of Arthur had darted through Adam like asharppangbut he tried for some time to ward off its return bybusyinghimself with modes of accounting for the alarming factquiteapart from that intolerable thought.  Some accident hadhappened. Hetty hadby some strange chancegot into a wrongvehiclefrom Oakbourne: she had been taken illand did not wanttofrighten them by letting them know.  But this frail fence ofvagueimprobabilities was soon hurled down by a rush of distinctagonizingfears.  Hetty had been deceiving herself in thinkingthat shecould love and marry him: she had been loving Arthur allthe while;and nowin her desperation at the nearness of theirmarriageshe had run away.  And she was gone to him.  The oldindignationand jealousy rose againand prompted the suspicionthatArthur had been dealing falsely--had written to Hetty--hadtemptedher to come to him--being unwillingafter allthat sheshouldbelong to another man besides himself.  Perhaps the wholething hadbeen contrived by himand he had given her directionshow tofollow him to Ireland--for Adam knew that Arthur had beengonethither three weeks agohaving recently learnt it at theChase. Every sad look of Hetty'ssince she had been engaged toAdamreturned upon him now with all the exaggeration of painfulretrospect. He had been foolishly sanguine and confident.  Thepoor thinghadn't perhaps known her own mind for a long while; hadthoughtthat she could forget Arthur; had been momentarily drawntowardsthe man who offered her a protectingfaithful love.  Hecouldn'tbear to blame her: she never meant to cause him thisdreadfulpain.  The blame lay with that man who had selfishlyplayedwith her heart--had perhaps even deliberately lured heraway.

AtOakbournethe ostler at the Royal Oak remembered such a youngwoman asAdam described getting out of the Treddleston coach morethan afortnight ago--wasn't likely to forget such a pretty lassas that ina hurry--was sure she had not gone on by the Buxtoncoach thatwent through Snowfieldbut had lost sight of her whilehe wentaway with the horses and had never set eyes on her again.Adam thenwent straight to the house from which the Stonitioncoachstarted: Stoniton was the most obvious place for Hetty to goto firstwhatever might be her destinationfor she would hardlyventure onany but the chief coach-roads.  She had been noticedhere tooand was remembered to have sat on the box by thecoachman;but the coachman could not be seenfor another man hadbeendriving on that road in his stead the last three or fourdays. He could probably be seen at Stonitonthrough inquiry atthe innwhere the coach put up.  So the anxious heart-strickenAdam mustof necessity wait and try to rest till morning--naytilleleven o'clockwhen the coach started.

AtStoniton another delay occurredfor the old coachman who haddrivenHetty would not be in the town again till night.  When hedid comehe remembered Hetty welland remembered his own jokeaddressedto herquoting it many times to Adamand observingwith equalfrequency that he thought there was something more thancommonbecause Hetty had not laughed when he joked her.  But hedeclaredas the people had done at the innthat he had lostsight ofHetty directly she got down.  Part of the next morningwasconsumed in inquiries at every house in the town from which acoachstarted--(all in vainfor you know Hetty did not start fromStonitionby coachbut on foot in the grey morning)--and then inwalkingout to the first toll-gates on the different lines ofroadinthe forlorn hope of finding some recollection of herthere. Noshe was not to be traced any farther; and the nexthard taskfor Adam was to go home and carry the wretched tidingsto theHall Farm.  As to what he should do beyond thathe hadcome totwo distinct resolutions amidst the tumult of thought andfeelingwhich was going on within him while he went to and fro.He wouldnot mention what he knew of Arthur Donnithorne'sbehaviourto Hetty till there was a clear necessity for it: it wasstillpossible Hetty might come backand the disclosure might bean injuryor an offence to her.  And as soon as he had been homeand donewhat was necessary there to prepare for his furtherabsencehe would start off to Ireland: if he found no trace ofHetty onthe roadhe would go straight to Arthur Donnithorne andmakehimself certain how far he was acquainted with her movements.Severaltimes the thought occurred to him that he would consultMr.Irwinebut that would be useless unless he told him allandsobetrayed the secret about Arthur.  It seems strange that Adamin theincessant occupation of his mind about Hettyshould neverhavealighted on the probability that she had gone to Windsorignorantthat Arthur was no longer there.  Perhaps the reason wasthat hecould not conceive Hetty's throwing herself on Arthuruncalled;he imagined no cause that could have driven her to sucha stepafter that letter written in August.  There were but twoalternativesin his mind: either Arthur had written to her againandenticed her awayor she had simply fled from her approachingmarriagewith himself because she foundafter allshe could notlove himwell enoughand yet was afraid of her friends' anger ifsheretracted.

With thislast determination on his mindof going straight toArthurthe thought that he had spent two days in inquiries whichhad provedto be almost uselesswas torturing to Adam; and yetsince hewould not tell the Poysers his conviction as to whereHetty wasgoneor his intention to follow her thitherhe must beable tosay to them that he had traced her as far as possible.

It wasafter twelve o'clock on Tuesday night when Adam reachedTreddleston;andunwilling to disturb his mother and Sethandalso toencounter their questions at that hourhe threw himselfwithoutundressing on a bed at the "Waggon Overthrown" and slepthard frompure weariness.  Not more than four hourshoweverforbeforefive o'clock he set out on his way home in the faintmorningtwilight.  He always kept a key of the workshop door inhispocketso that he could let himself in; and he wished toenterwithout awaking his motherfor he was anxious to avoidtellingher the new trouble himself by seeing Seth firstandasking himto tell her when it should be necessary.  He walkedgentlyalong the yardand turned the key gently in the door; butas heexpectedGypwho lay in the workshopgave a sharp bark.Itsubsided when he saw Adamholding up his finger at him toimposesilenceand in his dumbtailless joy he must contenthimselfwith rubbing his body against his master's legs.

Adam wastoo heart-sick to take notice of Gyp's fondling.  Hethrewhimself on the bench and stared dully at the wood and thesigns ofwork around himwondering if he should ever come to feelpleasurein them againwhile Gypdimly aware that there wassomethingwrong with his masterlaid his rough grey head onAdam'sknee and wrinkled his brows to look up at him.  HithertosinceSunday afternoonAdam had been constantly among strangepeople andin strange placeshaving no associations with thedetails ofhis daily lifeand now that by the light of this newmorning hewas come back to his home and surrounded by thefamiliarobjects that seemed for ever robbed of their charmthereality--thehardinevitable reality of his troubles pressed uponhim with anew weight.  Right before him was an unfinished chestofdrawerswhich he had been making in spare moments for Hetty'susewhenhis home should be hers.

Seth hadnot heard Adam's entrancebut he had been roused byGyp'sbarkand Adam heard him moving about in the room abovedressinghimself.  Seth's first thoughts were about his brother:he wouldcome home to-daysurelyfor the business would bewantinghim sadly by to-morrowbut it was pleasant to think hehad had alonger holiday than he had expected.  And would Dinahcome too? Seth felt that that was the greatest happiness he couldlookforward to for himselfthough he had no hope left that shewould everlove him well enough to marry him; but he had oftensaid tohimselfit was better to be Dinah's friend and brotherthan anyother woman's husband.  If he could but be always nearherinstead of living so far off!

He camedownstairs and opened the inner door leading from thekitcheninto the workshopintending to let out Gyp; but he stoodstill inthe doorwaysmitten with a sudden shock at the sight ofAdamseated listlessly on the benchpaleunwashedwith sunkenblankeyesalmost like a drunkard in the morning.  But Seth feltin aninstant what the marks meant--not drunkennessbut somegreatcalamity.  Adam looked up at him without speakingand Sethmovedforward towards the benchhimself trembling so that speechdid notcome readily.

"Godhave mercy on usAddy" he saidin a low voicesittingdown onthe bench beside Adam"what is it?"

Adam wasunable to speak.  The strong manaccustomed to suppressthe signsof sorrowhad felt his heart swell like a child's atthis firstapproach of sympathy.  He fell on Seth's neck andsobbed.

Seth wasprepared for the worst nowforeven in hisrecollectionsof their boyhoodAdam had never sobbed before.

"Isit deathAdam?  Is she dead?" he askedin a low tonewhenAdamraised his head and was recovering himself.

"Nolad; but she's gone--gone away from us.  She's never been toSnowfield. Dinah's been gone to Leeds ever since last Friday wasafortnightthe very day Hetty set out.  I can't find out whereshe wentafter she got to Stoniton."

Seth wassilent from utter astonishment: he knew nothing thatcouldsuggest to him a reason for Hetty's going away.

"Hastany notion what she's done it for?" he saidat last.

"Shecan't ha' loved me.  She didn't like our marriage when itcamenigh--that must be it" said Adam.  He had determined tomention nofurther reason.

"Ihear Mother stirring" said Seth.  "Must we tell her?"

"Nonot yet" said Adamrising from the bench and pushing thehair fromhis faceas if he wanted to rouse himself.  "I can'thave hertold yet; and I must set out on another journey directlyafter I'vebeen to the village and th' Hall Farm.  I can't tellthee whereI'm goingand thee must say to her I'm gone onbusinessas nobody is to know anything about.  I'll go and washmyselfnow."  Adam moved towards the door of the workshopbutafter astep or two he turned roundandmeeting Seth's eyes witha calm sadglancehe said"I must take all the money out o' thetin boxlad; but if anything happens to meall the rest 'll bethinetotake care o' Mother with."

Seth waspale and trembling: he felt there was some terriblesecretunder all this.  "Brother" he saidfaintly--he nevercalledAdam "Brother" except in solemn moments--"I don'tbelieveyou'll doanything as you can't ask God's blessing on."

"Naylad" said Adam"don't be afraid.  I'm for doingnought butwhat's aman's duty."

Thethought that if he betrayed his trouble to his mothershewould onlydistress him by wordshalf of blundering affectionhalf ofirrepressible triumph that Hetty proved as unfit to be hiswife asshe had always foreseenbrought back some of his habitualfirmnessand self-command.  He had felt ill on his journey home--he toldher when she came down--had stayed all night atTredddlestonfor that reason; and a bad headachethat still hungabout himthis morningaccounted for his paleness and heavy eyes.

Hedetermined to go to the villagein the first placeattend tohisbusiness for an hourand give notice to Burge of his beingobliged togo on a journeywhich he must beg him not to mentionto anyone; for he wished to avoid going to the Hall Farm nearbreakfast-timewhen the children and servants would be in thehouse-placeand there must be exclamations in their hearing abouthis havingreturned without Hetty.  He waited until the clockstrucknine before he left the work-yard at the villageand setoffthrough the fieldstowards the Farm.  It was an immenserelief tohimas he came near the Home Closeto see Mr. Poyseradvancingtowards himfor this would spare him the pain of goingto thehouse.  Mr. Poyser was walking briskly this March morningwith asense of spring business on his mind: he was going to castthemaster's eye on the shoeing of a new cart-horsecarrying hisspud as auseful companion by the way.  His surprise was greatwhen hecaught sight of Adambut he was not a man given topresentimentsof evil.

"WhyAdamladis't you?  Have ye been all this time away andnotbrought the lasses backafter all?  Where are they?"

"NoI've not brought 'em" said Adamturning roundto indicatethat hewished to walk back with Mr. Poyser.

"Why"said Martinlooking with sharper attention at Adam"yelook bad. Is there anything happened?"

"Yes"said Adamheavily.  "A sad thing's happened.  I didnafindHetty atSnowfield."

Mr.Poyser's good-natured face showed signs of troubledastonishment. "Not find her?  What's happened to her?" he saidhisthoughts flying at once to bodily accident.

"ThatI can't tellwhether anything's happened to her.  She neverwent toSnowfield--she took the coach to Stonitonbut I can'tlearnnothing of her after she got down from the Stoniton coach."

"Whyyou donna mean she's run away?" said Martinstanding stillso puzzledand bewildered that the fact did not yet make itselffelt as atrouble by him.

"Shemust ha' done" said Adam.  "She didn't like ourmarriagewhen itcame to the point--that must be it.  She'd mistook herfeelings."

Martin wassilent for a minute or twolooking on the ground androoting upthe grass with his spudwithout knowing what he wasdoing. His usual slowness was always trebled when the subject ofspeech waspainful.  At last he looked upright in Adam's facesaying"Then she didna deserve t' ha' yemy lad.  An' I feel i'faultmyselffor she was my nieceand I was allays hot for hermarr'ingye.  There's no amends I can make yelad--the more's thepity: it'sa sad cut-up for yeI doubt."

Adam couldsay nothing; and Mr. Poyserafter pursuing his walkfor alittle whilewent on"I'll be bound she's gone aftertrying toget a lady's maid's placefor she'd got that in herhead halfa year agoand wanted me to gi' my consent.  But I'dthoughtbetter on her"--he addedshaking his head slowly andsadly--"I'dthought better on hernor to look for thisaftershe'dgi'en y' her wordan' everything been got ready."

Adam hadthe strongest motives for encouraging this supposition inMr.Poyserand he even tried to believe that it might possibly betrue. He had no warrant for the certainty that she was gone toArthur.

"Itwas better it should be so" he saidas quietly as he could"ifshe felt she couldn't like me for a husband.  Better run awaybeforethan repent after.  I hope you won't look harshly on her ifshe comesbackas she may do if she finds it hard to get on awayfromhome."

"Icanna look on her as I've done before" said Martin decisively."She'sacted bad by youand by all of us.  But I'll not turn myback onher: she's but a young unand it's the first harm I'veknowed onher.  It'll be a hard job for me to tell her aunt.  WhydidnaDinah come back wi' ye?  She'd ha' helped to pacify her aunta bit."

"Dinahwasn't at Snowfield.  She's been gone to Leeds thisfortnightand I couldn't learn from th' old woman any directionwhere sheis at Leedselse I should ha' brought it you."

"She'da deal better be staying wi' her own kin" said Mr. Poyserindignantly"than going preaching among strange folks a-that'n."

"Imust leave you nowMr. Poyser" said Adam"for I've adeal tosee to."

"Ayeyou'd best be after your businessand I must tell themissiswhen I go home.  It's a hard job."

"But"said Adam"I beg particularyou'll keep what's happenedquiet fora week or two.  I've not told my mother yetand there'sno knowinghow things may turn out."

"Ayeaye; least saidsoonest mended.  We'n no need to say whythe matchis broke offan' we may hear of her after a bit.  Shakehands wi'melad: I wish I could make thee amends."

There wassomething in Martin Poyser's throat at that moment whichcaused himto bring out those scanty words in rather a brokenfashion. Yet Adam knew what they meant all the betterand thetwo honestmen grasped each other's hard hands in mutualunderstanding.

There wasnothing now to hinder Adam from setting off.  He hadtold Sethto go to the Chase and leave a message for the squiresayingthat Adam Bede had been obliged to start off suddenly on ajourney--andto say as muchand no moreto any one else who madeinquiriesabout him.  If the Poysers learned that he was gone awayagainAdam knew they would infer that he was gone in search ofHetty.

He hadintended to go right on his way from the Hall Farmbut nowtheimpulse which had frequently visited him before--to go to Mr.Irwineand make a confidant of him--recurred with the new forcewhichbelongs to a last opportunity.  He was about to start on alongjourney--a difficult one--by sea--and no soul would knowwhere hewas gone.  If anything happened to him?  Orif heabsolutelyneeded help in any matter concerning Hetty?  Mr. Irwinewas to betrusted; and the feeling which made Adam shrink fromtellinganything which was her secret must give way before theneed therewas that she should have some one else besides himselfwho wouldbe prepared to defend her in the worst extremity.TowardsArthureven though he might have incurred no new guiltAdam feltthat he was not bound to keep silence when Hetty'sinterestcalled on him to speak.

"Imust do it" said Adamwhen these thoughtswhich had spreadthemselvesthrough hours of his sad journeyingnow rushed uponhim in aninstantlike a wave that had been slowly gathering;"it'sthe right thing.  I can't stand alone in this way anylonger."

 

 ChapterXXXIX TheTidings

 

ADAMturned his face towards Broxton and walked with his swifteststridelooking at his watch with the fear that Mr. Irwine mightbe goneout--huntingperhaps.  The fear and haste togetherproduced astate of strong excitement before he reached therectorygateand outside it he saw the deep marks of a recenthoof onthe gravel.

But thehoofs were turned towards the gatenot away from itandthoughthere was a horse against the stable doorit was not Mr.Irwine's:it had evidently had a journey this morningand mustbelong tosome one who had come on business.  Mr. Irwine was athomethen; but Adam could hardly find breath and calmness to tellCarrollthat he wanted to speak to the rector.  The doublesufferingof certain and uncertain sorrow had begun to shake thestrongman.  The butler looked at him wonderinglyas he threwhimself ona bench in the passage and stared absently at the clockon theopposite wall.  The master had somebody with himhe saidbut heheard the study door open--the stranger seemed to be comingoutandas Adam was in a hurryhe would let the master know atonce.

Adam satlooking at the clock: the minute-hand was hurrying alongthe lastfive minutes to ten with a loudhardindifferent tickand Adamwatched the movement and listened to the sound as if hehad hadsome reason for doing so.  In our times of bittersufferingthere are almost always these pauseswhen ourconsciousnessis benumbed to everything but some trivialperceptionor sensation.  It is as if semi-idiocy came to give usrest fromthe memory and the dread which refuse to leave us in oursleep.

Carrollcoming backrecalled Adam to the sense of his burden.He was togo into the study immediately.  "I can't think what thatstrangeperson's come about" the butler addedfrom mereincontinenceof remarkas he preceded Adam to the door"he'sgone i'the dining-room.  And master looks unaccountable--as if hewasfrightened."  Adam took no notice of the words: he couldnotcare aboutother people's business.  But when he entered the studyand lookedin Mr. Irwine's facehe felt in an instant that therewas a newexpression in itstrangely different from the warmfriendlinessit had always worn for him before.  A letter lay openon thetableand Mr. Irwine's hand was on itbut the changedglance hecast on Adam could not be owing entirely topreoccupationwith some disagreeable businessfor he was lookingeagerlytowards the dooras if Adam's entrance were a matter ofpoignantanxiety to him.

"Youwant to speak to meAdam" he saidin that lowconstrainedlyquiet tone which a man uses when he is determined tosuppressagitation.  "Sit down here."  He pointed to achair justoppositeto himat no more than a yard's distance from his ownand Adamsat down with a sense that this cold manner of Mr.Irwine'sgave an additional unexpected difficulty to hisdisclosure. But when Adam had made up his mind to a measurehewas notthe man to renounce it for any but imperative reasons.

"Icome to yousir" he said"as the gentleman I look up tomostofanybody.  I've something very painful to tell you--something asit'll painyou to hear as well as me to tell.  But if I speak o'the wrongother people have doneyou'll see I didn't speak tillI'd goodreason."

Mr. Irwinenodded slowlyand Adam went on rather tremulously"Youwas t' ha' married me and Hetty Sorrelyou knowsiro' thefifteentho' this month.  I thought she loved meand I was th'happiestman i' the parish.  But a dreadful blow's come upon me."

Mr. Irwinestarted up from his chairas if involuntarilybutthendetermined to control himselfwalked to the window andlookedout.

"She'sgone awaysirand we don't know where.  She said she wasgoing toSnowfield o' Friday was a fortnightand I went lastSunday tofetch her back; but she'd never been thereand she tookthe coachto Stonitonand beyond that I can't trace her.  But nowI'm goinga long journey to look for herand I can't trust t'anybodybut you where I'm going."

Mr. Irwinecame back from the window and sat down.

"Haveyou no idea of the reason why she went away?" he said.

"It'splain enough she didn't want to marry mesir" said Adam."Shedidn't like it when it came so near.  But that isn't allIdoubt. There's something else I must tell yousir.  There'ssomebodyelse concerned besides me."

A gleam ofsomething--it was almost like relief or joy--cameacross theeager anxiety of Mr. Irwine's face at that moment.Adam waslooking on the groundand paused a little: the nextwords werehard to speak.  But when he went onhe lifted up hishead andlooked straight at Mr. Irwine.  He would do the thing hehadresolved to dowithout flinching.

"Youknow who's the man I've reckoned my greatest friend" hesaid"andused to be proud to think as I should pass my life i'workingfor himand had felt so ever since we were lads...."

Mr.Irwineas if all self-control had forsaken himgraspedAdam'sarmwhich lay on the tableandclutching it tightly likea man inpainsaidwith pale lips and a low hurried voice"NoAdamno--don't say itfor God's sake!"

Adamsurprised at the violence of Mr. Irwine's feelingrepentedof thewords that had passed his lips and sat in distressedsilence. The grasp on his arm gradually relaxedand Mr. Irwinethrewhimself back in his chairsaying"Go on--I must know it."

"Thatman played with Hetty's feelingsand behaved to her as he'dno rightto do to a girl in her station o' life--made her presentsand usedto go and meet her out a-walking.  I found it out onlytwo daysbefore he went away--found him a-kissing her as they wereparting inthe Grove.  There'd been nothing said between me andHettythenthough I'd loved her for a long whileand she knewit. But I reproached him with his wrong actionsand words andblowspassed between us; and he said solemnly to meafter thatas it hadbeen all nonsense and no more than a bit o' flirting.But I madehim write a letter to tell Hetty he'd meant nothingfor I sawclear enoughsirby several things as I hadn'tunderstoodat the timeas he'd got hold of her heartand Ithoughtshe'd belike go on thinking of him and never come to loveanotherman as wanted to marry her.  And I gave her the letterand sheseemed to bear it all after a while better than I'dexpected...andshe behaved kinder and kinder to me...I daresay shedidn'tknow her own feelings thenpoor thingand they came backupon herwhen it was too late...I don't want to blame her...Ican'tthink as she meant to deceive me.  But I was encouraged tothink sheloved meand--you know the restsir.  But it's on mymind ashe's been false to meand 'ticed her awayand she's gonetohim--and I'm going now to seefor I can never go to work againtill Iknow what's become of her."

DuringAdam's narrativeMr. Irwine had had time to recover hisself-masteryin spite of the painful thoughts that crowded uponhim. It was a bitter remembrance to him now--that morning whenArthurbreakfasted with him and seemed as if he were on the vergeof aconfession.  It was plain enough now what he had wanted toconfess. And if their words had taken another turn...if hehimselfhad been less fastidious about intruding on another man'ssecrets...itwas cruel to think how thin a film had shut outrescuefrom all this guilt and misery.  He saw the whole historynow bythat terrible illumination which the present sheds backupon thepast.  But every other feeling as it rushed upon his wasthrowninto abeyance by pitydeep respectful pityfor the manwho satbefore him--already so bruisedgoing forth with sad blindresignednessto an unreal sorrowwhile a real one was close uponhimtoofar beyond the range of common trial for him ever to havefearedit.  His own agitation was quelled by a certain awe thatcomes overus in the presence of a great anguishfor the anguishhe mustinflict on Adam was already present to him.  Again he puthis handon the arm that lay on the tablebut very gently thistimeashe said solemnly:

"Adammy dear friendyou have had some hard trials in your life.You canbear sorrow manfullyas well as act manfully.  Godrequiresboth tasks at our hands.  And there is a heavier sorrowcomingupon you than any you have yet known.  But you are notguilty--youhave not the worst of all sorrows.  God help him whohas!"

The twopale faces looked at each other; in Adam's there wastremblingsuspensein Mr. Irwine's hesitatingshrinking pity.But hewent on.

"Ihave had news of Hetty this morning.  She is not gone to him.She is inStonyshire--at Stoniton."

Adamstarted up from his chairas if he thought he could haveleaped toher that moment.  But Mr. Irwine laid hold of his armagain andsaidpersuasively"WaitAdamwait."  So he satdown.

"Sheis in a very unhappy position--one which will make it worsefor you tofind hermy poor friendthan to have lost her forever."

Adam'slips moved tremulouslybut no sound came.  They movedagainandhe whispered"Tell me."

"Shehas been arrested...she is in prison."

It was asif an insulting blow had brought back the spirit ofresistanceinto Adam.  The blood rushed to his faceand he saidloudly andsharply"For what?"

"Fora great crime--the murder of her child."

"ItCAN'T BE!" Adam almost shoutedstarting up from his cnair andmaking astride towards the door; but he turned round againsettinghis back against the bookcaseand looking fiercely at Mr.Irwine. "It isn't possible.  She never had a child.  She can'tbeguilty. WHO says it?"

"Godgrant she may be innocentAdam.  We can still hope she is."

"Butwho says she is guilty?" said Adam violently.  "Tellmeeverything."

"Hereis a letter from the magistrate before whom she was takenand theconstable who arrested her is in the dining-room.  Shewill notconfess her name or where she comes from; but I fearIfearthere can be no doubt it is Hetty.  The description of herpersoncorrespondsonly that she is said to look very pale andill. She had a small red-leather pocket-book in her pocket withtwo nameswritten in it--one at the beginning'Hetty SorrelHayslope'and the other near the end'Dinah MorrisSnowfield.'She willnot say which is her own name--she denies everythingandwillanswer no questionsand application has been made to measamagistratethat I may take measures for identifying herfor itwasthought probable that the name which stands first is her ownname."

"Butwhat proof have they got against herif it IS Hetty?" saidAdamstill violentlywith an effort that seemed to shake hiswholeframe.  "I'll not believe it.  It couldn't ha' beenandnone of usknow it."

"Terribleproof that she was under the temptation to commit thecrime; butwe have room to hope that she did not really commit it.Try andread that letterAdam."

Adam tookthe letter between his shaking hands and tried to fixhis eyessteadily on it.  Mr. Irwine meanwhile went out to givesomeorders.  When he came backAdam's eyes were still on thefirstpage--he couldn't read--he could not put the words togetherand makeout what they meant.  He threw it down at last andclenchedhis fist.

"It'sHIS doing" he said; "if there's been any crimeit's athisdoornotat hers.  HE taught her to deceive--HE deceived mefirst. Let 'em put HIM on his trial--let him stand in courtbesideherand I'll tell 'em how he got hold of her heartand'ticed hert' eviland then lied to me.  Is HE to go freewhilethey layall the punishment on her...so weak and young?"

The imagecalled up by these last words gave a new direction topoorAdam's maddened feelings.  He was silentlooking at thecorner ofthe room as if he saw something there.  Then he burstout againin a tone of appealing anguish"I can't bear it...OGodit'stoo hard to lay upon me--it's too hard to think she'swicked."

Mr. Irwinehad sat down again in silence.  He was too wise touttersoothing words at presentand indeedthe sight of Adambeforehimwith that look of sudden age which sometimes comesover ayoung face in moments of terrible emotion--the hardbloodlesslook of the skinthe deep lines about the quiveringmouththefurrows in the brow--the sight of this strong firm manshatteredby the invisible stroke of sorrowmoved him so deeplythatspeech was not easy.  Adam stood motionlesswith his eyesvacantlyfixed in this way for a minute or two; in that shortspace hewas living through all his love again.

"Shecan't ha' done it" he saidstill without moving his eyesas if hewere only talking to himself: "it was fear made her hideit...Iforgive her for deceiving me...I forgive theeHetty...theewastdeceived too...it's gone hard wi' theemy poor Hetty...butthey'llnever make me believe it."

He wassilent again for a few momentsand then he saidwithfierceabruptness"I'll go to him--I'll bring him back--I'll makehim go andlook at her in her misery--he shall look at her till hecan'tforget it--it shall follow him night and day--as long as helives itshall follow him--he shan't escape wi' lies this time--I'll fetchhimI'll drag him myself."

In the actof going towards the doorAdam paused automaticallyand lookedabout for his hatquite unconscious where he was orwho waspresent with him.  Mr. Irwine had followed himand nowtook himby the armsayingin a quiet but decided tone"NoAdamno;I'm sure you will wish to stay and see what good can bedone forherinstead of going on a useless errand of vengeance.Thepunishment will surely fall without your aid.  Besideshe isno longerin Ireland.  He must be on his way home--or would belongbefore you arrivedfor his grandfatherI knowwrote forhim tocome at least ten days ago.  I want you now to go with metoStoniton.  I have ordered a horse for you to ride with usassoon asyou can compose yourself."

While Mr.Irwine was speakingAdam recovered his consciousness ofthe actualscene.  He rubbed his hair off his forehead andlistened.

"Remember"Mr. Irwine went on"there are others to think ofandact forbesides yourselfAdam: there are Hetty's friendsthegoodPoyserson whom this stroke will fall more heavily than Ican bearto think.  I expect it from your strength of mindAdam--from yoursense of duty to God and man--that you will try to actas long asaction can be of any use."

InrealityMr. Irwine proposed this journey to Stoniton forAdam's ownsake.  Movementwith some object before himwas thebest meansof counteracting the violence of suffering in thesefirsthours.

"Youwill go with me to StonitonAdam?" he said againafter amoment'spause.  "We have to see if it is really Hetty who isthereyouknow."

"Yessir" said Adam"I'll do what you think right.  Butthefolks atth' Hall Farm?"

"Iwish them not to know till I return to tell them myself.  Ishall haveascertained things then which I am uncertain about nowand Ishall return as soon as possible.  Come nowthe horses areready."

 

 ChapterXL TheBitter Waters Spread

 

MR. IRWINEreturned from Stoniton in a post-chaise that nightandthe firstwords Carroll said to himas he entered the housewerethatSquire Donnithorne was dead--found dead in his bed atteno'clock that morning--and that Mrs. Irwine desired him to sayshe shouldbe awake when Mr. Irwine came homeand she begged himnot to goto bed without seeing her.

"WellDauphin" Mrs. Irwine saidas her son entered her room"you'recome at last.  So the old gentleman's fidgetiness and lowspiritswhich made him send for Arthur in that sudden wayreallymeantsomething.  I suppose Carroll has told you that Donnithornewas founddead in his bed this morning.  You will believe myprognosticationsanother timethough I daresay I shan't live toprognosticateanything but my own death."

"Whathave they done about Arthur?" said Mr. Irwine.  "Sentamessengerto await him at Liverpool?"

"YesRalph was gone before the news was brought to us.  DearArthurIshall live now to see him master at the Chaseandmakinggood times on the estatelike a generous-hearted fellow ashe is. He'll be as happy as a king now."

Mr. Irwinecould not help giving a slight groan: he was worn withanxietyand exertionand his mother's light words were almostintolerable.

"Whatare you so dismal aboutDauphin?  Is there any bad news?Or are youthinking of the danger for Arthur in crossing thatfrightfulIrish Channel at this time of year?"

"NoMotherI'm not thinking of that; but I'm not prepared torejoicejust now."

"You'vebeen worried by this law business that you've been toStonitonabout.  What in the world is itthat you can't tell me?"

"Youwill know by and bymother.  It would not be right for me totell youat present.  Good-night: you'll sleep now you have nolongeranything to listen for."

Mr. Irwinegave up his intention of sending a letter to meetArthursince it would not now hasten his return: the news of hisgrandfather'sdeath would bring him as soon as he could possiblycome. He could go to bed now and get some needful restbeforethe timecame for the morning's heavy duty of carrying hissickeningnews to the Hall Farm and to Adam's home.

Adamhimself was not come back from Stonitonfor though he shrankfromseeing Hettyhe could not bear to go to a distance from heragain.

"It'sno usesir" he said to the rector"it's no use for me togo back. I can't go to work again while she's hereand Icouldn'tbear the sight o' the things and folks round home.  I'lltake a bitof a room herewhere I can see the prison wallsandperhaps Ishall getin timeto bear seeing her."

Adam hadnot been shaken in his belief that Hetty was innocent ofthe crimeshe was charged withfor Mr. Irwinefeeling that thebelief inher guilt would be a crushing addition to Adam's loadhad keptfrom him the facts which left no hope in his own mind.There wasnot any reason for thrusting the whole burden on Adam atonceandMr. Irwineat partingonly said"If the evidenceshouldtell too strongly against herAdamwe may still hope fora pardon. Her youth and other circumstances will be a plea forher."

"Ahand it's right people should know how she was tempted intothe wrongway" said Adamwith bitter earnestness.  "It's righttheyshould know it was a fine gentleman made love to herandturned herhead wi' notions.  You'll remembersiryou'vepromisedto tell my motherand Sethand the people at the farmwho it wasas led her wrongelse they'll think harder of her thanshedeserves.  You'll be doing her a hurt by sparing himand Ihold himthe guiltiest before Godlet her ha' done what she may.If youspare himI'll expose him!"

"Ithink your demand is justAdam" said Mr. Irwine"butwhenyou arecalmeryou will judge Arthur more mercifully.  I saynothingnowonly that his punishment is in other hands thanours."

Mr. Irwinefelt it hard upon him that he should have to tell ofArthur'ssad part in the story of sin and sorrow--he who cared forArthurwith fatherly affectionwho had cared for him withfatherlypride.  But he saw clearly that the secret must be knownbeforelongeven apart from Adam's determinationsince it wasscarcelyto be supposed that Hetty would persist to the end in herobstinatesilence.  He made up his mind to withhold nothing fromthePoysersbut to tell them the worst at oncefor there was notime torob the tidings of their suddenness.  Hetty's trial mustcome on atthe Lent assizesand they were to be held at Stonitonthe nextweek.  It was scarcely to be hoped that Martin Poysercouldescape the pain of being called as a witnessand it wasbetter heshould know everything as long beforehand as possible.

Before teno'clock on Thursday morning the home at the Hall Farmwas ahouse of mourning for a misfortune felt to be worse thandeath. The sense of family dishonour was too keen even in thekind-heartedMartin Poyser the younger to leave room for anycompassiontowards Hetty.  He and his father were simple-mindedfarmersproud of their untarnished characterproud that theycame of afamily which had held up its head and paid its way asfar backas its name was in the parish register; and Hetty hadbroughtdisgrace on them all--disgrace that could never be wipedout. That was the all-conquering feeling in the mind both offather andson--the scorching sense of disgracewhich neutralisedall othersensibility--and Mr. Irwine was struck with surprise toobservethat Mrs. Poyser was less severe than her husband.  We areoftenstartled by the severity of mild people on exceptionaloccasions;the reason isthat mild people are most liable to beunder theyoke of traditional impressions.

"I'mwilling to pay any money as is wanted towards trying to bringher off"said Martin the younger when Mr. Irwine was gonewhilethe oldgrandfather was crying in the opposite chair"but I'llnot gonigh hernor ever see her againby my own will.  She'smade ourbread bitter to us for all our lives to comean' weshallne'er hold up our heads i' this parish nor i' any other.The parsontalks o' folks pitying us: it's poor amends pity 'ullmake us."

"Pity?"said the grandfathersharply.  "I ne'er wanted folks'spity i' MYlife afore...an' I mun begin to be looked down on nowan' meturned seventy-two last St. Thomas'san' all th'underbearersand pall-bearers as I'n picked for my funeral are i'thisparish and the next to 't....It's o' no use now...I mun beta'en tothe grave by strangers."

"Don'tfret sofather" said Mrs. Poyserwho had spoken verylittlebeing almost overawed by her husband's unusual hardnessanddecision.  "You'll have your children wi' you; an' there'sthelads andthe little un 'ull grow up in a new parish as well as i'th' oldun."

"Ahthere's no staying i' this country for us now" said Mr.Poyserand the hard tears trickled slowly down his round cheeks."Wethought it 'ud be bad luck if the old squire gave us noticethis Ladydaybut I must gi' notice myself nowan' see if therecananybody be got to come an' take to the crops as I'n put i' theground;for I wonna stay upo' that man's land a day longer nor I'mforcedto't.  An' meas thought him such a good upright youngmanas Ishould be glad when he come to be our landlord.  I'llne'er liftmy hat to him againnor sit i' the same church wi'him...aman as has brought shame on respectable folks...an'pretendedto be such a friend t' everybody....Poor Adam there...afinefriend he's been t' Adammaking speeches an' talking sofinean'all the while poisoning the lad's lifeas it's much ifhe canstay i' this country any more nor we can."

"An'you t' ha' to go into courtand own you're akin t' her"said theold man.  "Whythey'll cast it up to the little unasisn't four'ear oldsome day--they'll cast it up t' her as she'da cousintried at the 'sizes for murder."

"It'llbe their own wickednessthen" said Mrs. Poyserwith asob in hervoice.  "But there's One above 'ull take care o' theinnicentchildelse it's but little truth they tell us at church.It'll beharder nor ever to die an' leave the little unsan'nobody tobe a mother to 'em."

"We'dbetter ha' sent for Dinahif we'd known where she is" saidMr.Poyser; "but Adam said she'd left no direction where she'd beat Leeds."

"Whyshe'd be wi' that woman as was a friend t' her Aunt Judith"said Mrs.Poysercomforted a little by this suggestion of herhusbands. "I've often heard Dinah talk of herbut I can'trememberwhat name she called her by.  But there's Seth Bede; he'slikeenough to knowfor she's a preaching woman as the Methodiststhink adeal on."

"I'llsend to Seth" said Mr. Poyser.  "I'll send Alick totellhim tocomeor else to send up word o' the woman's namean' theecanstwrite a letter ready to send off to Treddles'on as soon aswe canmake out a direction."

"It'spoor work writing letters when you want folks to come to youi'trouble" said Mrs. Poyser.  "Happen it'll be ever solong onthe roadan' never reach her at last."

BeforeAlick arrived with the messageLisbeth's thoughts too hadalreadyflown to Dinahand she had said to Seth"Ehthere's nocomfortfor us i' this world any morewi'out thee couldst getDinahMorris to come to usas she did when my old man died.  I'dlike herto come in an' take me by th' hand againan' talk to me.She'd tellme the rights on'tbelike--she'd happen know some goodi' allthis trouble an' heart-break comin' upo' that poor ladasne'er donea bit o' wrong in's lifebut war better nor anybodyelse'ssonpick the country round.  Ehmy lad...Adammy poorlad!"

"Theewouldstna like me to leave theeto go and fetch Dinah?"said Sethas his mother sobbed and rocked herself to and fro.

"Fetchher?" said Lisbethlooking up and pausing from her grieflike acrying child who hears some promise of consolation.  "Whywhat placeis't she's atdo they say?"

"It'sa good way offmother--Leedsa big town.  But I could beback inthree daysif thee couldst spare me."

"NaynayI canna spare thee.  Thee must go an' see thy brotheran' bringme word what he's a-doin'.  Mester Irwine said he'd comean' tellmebut I canna make out so well what it means when hetells me. Thee must go thysensin' Adam wonna let me go to him.Write aletter to Dinah canstna?  Thee't fond enough o' writin'whennobody wants thee."

"I'mnot sure where she'd be i' that big town" said Seth.  "IfI'd gonemyselfI could ha' found out by asking the members o'theSociety.  But perhaps if I put Sarah WilliamsonMethodistpreacherLeedso' th' outsideit might get to her; for mostlike she'dbe wi' Sarah Williamson."

Alick camenow with the messageand Sethfinding that Mrs.Poyser waswriting to Dinahgave up the intention of writinghimself;but he went to the Hall Farm to tell them all he couldsuggestabout the address of the letterand warn them that theremight besome delay in the deliveryfrom his not knowing an exactdirection.

On leavingLisbethMr. Irwine had gone to Jonathan Burgewho hadalso aclaim to be acquainted with what was likely to keep Adamaway frombusiness for some time; and before six o'clock thateveningthere were few people in Broxton and Hayslope who had notheard thesad news.  Mr. Irwine had not mentioned Arthur's name toBurgeandyet the story of his conduct towards Hettywith allthe darkshadows cast upon it by its terrible consequenceswaspresentlyas well known as that his grandfather was deadand thathe wascome into the estate.  For Martin Poyser felt no motive tokeepsilence towards the one or two neighbours who ventured tocome andshake him sorrowfully by the hand on the first day of histrouble;and Carrollwho kept his ears open to all that passed attherectoryhad framed an inferential version of the storyandfoundearly opportunities of communicating it.

One ofthose neighbours who came to Martin Poyser and shook him bythe handwithout speaking for some minutes was Bartle Massey.  Hehad shutup his schooland was on his way to the rectorywherehe arrivedabout half-past seven in the eveningandsending hisduty toMr. Irwinebegged pardon for troubling him at that hourbut hadsomething particular on his mind.  He was shown into thestudywhere Mr. Irwine soon joined him.

"WellBartle?" said Mr. Irwineputting out his hand.  That wasnot hisusual way of saluting the schoolmasterbut trouble makesus treatall who feel with us very much alike.  "Sit down."

"Youknow what I'm come about as well as I dosirI daresay"saidBartle.

"Youwish to know the truth about the sad news that has reachedyou...aboutHetty Sorrel?"

"Naysirwhat I wish to know is about Adam Bede.  I understandyou lefthim at Stonitonand I beg the favour of you to tell mewhat's thestate of the poor lad's mindand what he means to do.For as forthat bit o' pink-and-white they've taken the trouble toput injailI don't value her a rotten nut--not a rotten nut--only forthe harm or good that may come out of her to an honestman--a ladI've set such store by--trusted tothat he'd make mybit o'knowledge go a good way in the world....Whysirhe's theonlyscholar I've had in this stupid country that ever had thewill orthe head-piece for mathematics.  If he hadn't had so muchhard workto dopoor fellowhe might have gone into the higherbranchesand then this might never have happened--might neverhavehappened."

Bartle washeated by the exertion of walking fast in an agitatedframe ofmindand was not able to check himself on this firstoccasionof venting his feelings.  But he paused now to rub hismoistforeheadand probably his moist eyes also.

"You'llexcuse mesir" he saidwhen this pause had given himtime toreflect"for running on in this way about my ownfeelingslike that foolish dog of mine howling in a stormwhenthere'snobody wants to listen to me.  I came to hear you speaknot totalk myself--if you'll take the trouble to tell me what thepoor lad'sdoing."

"Don'tput yourself under any restraintBartle" said Mr. Irwine."Thefact isI'm very much in the same condition as you just now;I've agreat deal that's painful on my mindand I find it hardwork to bequite silent about my own feelings and only attend toothers. I share your concern for Adamthough he is not the onlyone whosesufferings I care for in this affair.  He intends toremain atStoniton till after the trial: it will come on probablya weekto-morrow.  He has taken a room thereand I encouraged himto do sobecause I think it better he should be away from his ownhome atpresent; andpoor fellowhe still believes Hetty isinnocent--hewants to summon up courage to see her if he can; heisunwilling to leave the spot where she is."

"Doyou think the creatur's guiltythen?" said Bartle.  "Doyouthinkthey'll hang her?"

"I'mafraid it will go hard with her.  The evidence is verystrong. And one bad symptom is that she denies everything--deniesthat shehas had a child in the face of the most positiveevidence. I saw her myselfand she was obstinately silent to me;she shrankup like a frightened animal when she saw me.  I wasnever soshocked in my life as at the change in her.  But I trustthatinthe worst casewe may obtain a pardon for the sake oftheinnocent who are involved."

"Stuffand nonsense!" said Bartleforgetting in his irritation towhom hewas speaking.  "I beg your pardonsirI mean it's stuffandnonsense for the innocent to care about her being hanged.  Formy ownpartI think the sooner such women are put out o' theworld thebetter; and the men that help 'em to do mischief hadbetter goalong with 'em for that matter.  What good will you doby keepingsuch vermin aliveeating the victual that 'ud feedrationalbeings?  But if Adam's fool enough to care about itIdon't wanthim to suffer more than's needful....Is he very muchcut uppoor fellow?" Bartle addedtaking out his spectacles andputtingthem onas if they would assist his imagination.

"YesI'm afraid the grief cuts very deep" said Mr. Irwine.  "Helooksterribly shatteredand a certain violence came over him nowand thenyesterdaywhich made me wish I could have remained nearhim. But I shall go to Stoniton again to-morrowand I haveconfidenceenough in the strength of Adam's principle to trustthat hewill be able to endure the worst without being driven toanythingrash."

Mr.Irwinewho was involuntarily uttering his own thoughts ratherthanaddressing Bartle Massey in the last sentencehad in hismind thepossibility that the spirit of vengeance to-wards Arthurwhich wasthe form Adam's anguish was continually takingmightmake himseek an encounter that was likely to end more fatallythan theone in the Grove.  This possibility heightened theanxietywith which he looked forward to Arthur's arrival.  ButBartlethought Mr. Irwine was referring to suicideand his facewore a newalarm.

"I'lltell you what I have in my headsir" he said"and I hopeyou'llapprove of it.  I'm going to shut up my school--if thescholarscomethey must go back againthat's all--and I shall gotoStoniton and look after Adam till this business is over.  I'llpretendI'm come to look on at the assizes; he can't object tothat. What do you think about itsir?"

"Well"said Mr. Irwinerather hesitatingly"there would be somerealadvantages in that...and I honour you for your friendshiptowardshimBartle.  But...you must be careful what you say tohimyouknow.  I'm afraid you have too little fellow-feeling inwhat youconsider his weakness about Hetty."

"Trustto mesir--trust to me.  I know what you mean.  I've beena foolmyself in my timebut that's between you and me.  I shan'tthrustmyself on him only keep my eye on himand see that he getssome goodfoodand put in a word here and there."

"Then"said Mr. Irwinereassured a little as to Bartle'sdiscretion"I think you'll be doing a good deed; and it will bewell foryou to let Adam's mother and brother know that you'regoing."

"Yessiryes" said Bartlerisingand taking off hisspectacles"I'll do thatI'll do that; though the mother's awhimperingthing--I don't like to come within earshot of her;howevershe's a straight-backedclean womannone of yourslatterns. I wish you good-byesirand thank you for the timeyou'vespared me.  You're everybody's friend in this business--everybody'sfriend.  It's a heavy weight you've got on yourshoulders."

"Good-byeBartletill we meet at Stonitonas I daresay weshall."

Bartlehurried away from the rectoryevading Carroll'sconversationaladvancesand saying in an exasperated tone toVixenwhose short legs pattered beside him on the gravel"NowIshall beobliged to take you with meyou good-for-nothing woman.You'd gofretting yourself to death if I left you--you know youwouldandperhaps get snapped up by some tramp.  And you'll berunninginto bad companyI expectputting your nose in everyhole andcorner where you've no business!  But if you do anythingdisgracefulI'll disown you--mind thatmadammind that!"

 

 ChapterXLI The Eveof the Trial

 

 AN upperroom in a dull Stoniton streetwith two beds in it--onelaid onthe floor.  It is ten o'clock on Thursday nightand thedark wallopposite the window shuts out the moonlight that mighthavestruggled with the light of the one dip candle by whichBartleMassey is pretending to readwhile he is really lookingover hisspectacles at Adam Bedeseated near the dark window.

You wouldhardly have known it was Adam without being told.  Hisface hasgot thinner this last week: he has the sunken eyestheneglectedbeard of a man just risen from a sick-bed.  His heavyblack hairhangs over his foreheadand there is no active impulsein himwhich inclines him to push it offthat he may be moreawake towhat is around him.  He has one arm over the back of thechairandhe seems to be looking down at his clasped hands.  Heis rousedby a knock at the door.

"Therehe is" said Bartle Masseyrising hastily and unfasteningthe door. It was Mr. Irwine.

Adam rosefrom his chair with instinctive respectas Mr. Irwineapproachedhim and took his hand.

"I'mlateAdam" he saidsitting down on the chair which Bartleplaced forhim"but I was later in setting off from Broxton thanI intendedto beand I have been incessantly occupied since Iarrived. I have done everything nowhowever--everything that canbe doneto-nightat least.  Let us all sit down."

Adam tookhis chair again mechanicallyand Bartlefor whom therewas nochair remainingsat on the bed in the background.

"Haveyou seen hersir?" said Adam tremulously.

"YesAdam; I and the chaplain have both been with her thisevening."

"Didyou ask hersir...did you say anything about me?"

"Yes"said Mr. Irwinewith some hesitation"I spoke of you.  Isaid youwished to see her before the trialif she consented."

As Mr.Irwine pausedAdam looked at him with eagerquestioningeyes.

"Youknow she shrinks from seeing any oneAdam.  It is not onlyyou--somefatal influence seems to have shut up her heart againstherfellow-creatures.  She has scarcely said anything more than'No'either to me or the chaplain.  Three or four days agobeforeyou werementioned to herwhen I asked her if there was any oneof herfamily whom she would like to see--to whom she could openhermind--she saidwith a violent shudder'Tell them not to comenear me--Iwon't see any of them.'"

Adam'shead was hanging down againand he did not speak.  Therewassilence for a few minutesand then Mr. Irwine said"I don'tlike toadvise you against your own feelingsAdamif they nowurge youstrongly to go and see her to-morrow morningevenwithouther consent.  It is just possiblenotwithstandingappearancesto the contrarythat the interview might affect herfavourably. But I grieve to say I have scarcely any hope of that.She didn'tseem agitated when I mentioned your name; she only said'No' inthe same coldobstinate way as usual.  And if themeetinghad no good effect on herit would be pureuselesssufferingto you--severe sufferingI fear.  She is very muchchanged..."

Adamstarted up from his chair and seized his hatwhich lay onthetable.  But he stood still thenand looked at Mr. Irwineasif he hada question to ask which it was yet difficult to utter.BartleMassey rose quietlyturned the key in the doorand put itin hispocket.

"Ishe come back?" said Adam at last.

"Nohe is not" said Mr. Irwinequietly.  "Lay down yourhatAdamunless you like to walk out with me for a little fresh air.I fear youhave not been out again to-day."

"Youneedn't deceive mesir" said Adamlooking hard at Mr.Irwine andspeaking in a tone of angry suspicion.  "You needn't beafraid ofme.  I only want justice.  I want him to feel what shefeels. It's his work...she was a child as it 'ud ha' gone t'anybody'sheart to look at...I don't care what she's done...it washimbrought her to it.  And he shall know it...he shall feelit...ifthere's a just Godhe shall feel what it is t' ha'brought achild like her to sin and misery."

"I'mnot deceiving youAdam" said Mr. Irwine.  "ArthurDonnithorneis not come back--was not come back when I left.  Ihave lefta letter for him: he will know all as soon as hearrives."

"Butyou don't mind about it" said Adam indignantly.  "Youthinkit doesn'tmatter as she lies there in shame and miseryand heknowsnothing about it--he suffers nothing."

"Adamhe WILL know--he WILL sufferlong and bitterly.  He has aheart anda conscience: I can't be entirely deceived in hischaracter. I am convinced--I am sure he didn't fall undertemptationwithout a struggle.  He may be weakbut he is notcallousnot coldly selfish.  I am persuaded that this will be ashock ofwhich he will feel the effects all his life.  Why do youcravevengeance in this way?  No amount of torture that you couldinflict onhim could benefit her."

"No--OGodno" Adam groaned outsinking on his chair again;"butthenthat's the deepest curse of all...that's what makes theblacknessof it...IT CAN NEVER BE UNDONE.  My poor Hetty...she cannever bemy sweet Hetty again...the prettiest thing God had made--smiling upat me...I thought she loved me...and was good..."

Adam'svoice had been gradually sinking into a hoarse undertoneas if hewere only talking to himself; but now he said abruptlylooking atMr. Irwine"But she isn't as guilty as they say?  Youdon'tthink she issir?  She can't ha' done it."

"Thatperhaps can never be known with certaintyAdam" Mr. Irwineansweredgently.  "In these cases we sometimes form our judgmenton whatseems to us strong evidenceand yetfor want of knowingsome smallfactour judgment is wrong.  But suppose the worst:you haveno right to say that the guilt of her crime lies withhimandthat he ought to bear the punishment.  It is not for usmen toapportion the shares of moral guilt and retribution.  Wefind itimpossible to avoid mistakes even in determining who hascommitteda single criminal actand the problem how far a man isto be heldresponsible for the unforeseen consequences of his owndeed isone that might well make us tremble to look into it.  Theevilconsequences that may lie folded in a single act of selfishindulgenceis a thought so awful that it ought surely to awakensomefeeling less presumptuous than a rash desire to punish.  Youhave amind that can understand this fullyAdamwhen you arecalm. Don't suppose I can't enter into the anguish that drivesyou intothis state of revengeful hatred.  But think of this: ifyou wereto obey your passion--for it IS passionand you deceiveyourselfin calling it justice--it might be with you precisely asit hasbeen with Arthur; nayworse; your passion might lead youyourselfinto a horrible crime."

"No--notworse" said Adambitterly; "I don't believe it's worse--I'd soonerdo it--I'd sooner do a wickedness as I could sufferfor bymyself than ha' brought HER to do wickedness and then standby and see'em punish her while they let me alone; and all for abit o'pleasureasif he'd had a man's heart in himhe'd ha'cut hishand off sooner than he'd ha' taken it.  What if he didn'tforeseewhat's happened?  He foresaw enough; he'd no right toexpectanything but harm and shame to her.  And then he wanted tosmooth itoff wi' lies.  No--there's plenty o' things folks arehanged fornot half so hateful as that.  Let a man do what hewillifhe knows he's to bear the punishment himselfhe isn'thalf sobad as a mean selfish coward as makes things easy t'himselfand knows all the while the punishment 'll fall onsomebodyelse."

"Thereagain you partly deceive yourselfAdam.  There is no sortof wrongdeed of which a man can bear the punishment alone; youcan'tisolate yourself and say that the evil which is in you shallnotspread.  Men's lives are as thoroughly blended with each otheras the airthey breathe: evil spreads as necessarily as disease.I knowIfeel the terrible extent of suffering this sin ofArthur'shas caused to others; but so does every sin causesufferingto others besides those who commit it.  An act ofvengeanceon your part against Arthur would simply be another eviladded tothose we are suffering under: you could not bear thepunishmentalone; you would entail the worst sorrows on every onewho lovesyou.  You would have committed an act of blind fury thatwouldleave all the present evils just as they were and add worseevils tothem.  You may tell me that you meditate no fatal act ofvengeancebut the feeling in your mind is what gives birth tosuchactionsand as long as you indulge itas long as you do notsee thatto fix your mind on Arthur's punishment is revengeandnotjusticeyou are in danger of being led on to the commissionof somegreat wrong.  Remember what you told me about yourfeelingsafter you had given that blow to Arthur in the Grove."

Adam wassilent: the last words had called up a vivid image of thepastandMr. Irwine left him to his thoughtswhile he spoke toBartleMassey about old Mr. Donnithorne's funeral and othermatters ofan indifferent kind.  But at length Adam turned roundand saidin a more subdued tone"I've not asked about 'em at th'Hall Farmsir.  Is Mr. Poyser coming?"

"Heis come; he is in Stoniton to-night.  But I could not advisehim to seeyouAdam.  His own mind is in a very perturbed stateand it isbest he should not see you till you are calmer."

"IsDinah Morris come to 'emsir?  Seth said they'd sent forher."

"No. Mr. Poyser tells me she was not come when he left.  They'reafraid theletter has not reached her.  It seems they had no exactaddress."

Adam satruminating a little whileand then said"I wonder ifDinah 'udha' gone to see her.  But perhaps the Poysers would ha'beensorely against itsince they won't come nigh her themselves.But Ithink she wouldfor the Methodists are great folks forgoing intothe prisons; and Seth said he thought she would.  She'da verytender way with herDinah had; I wonder if she could ha'done anygood.  You never saw hersirdid you?"

"YesI did.  I had a conversation with her--she pleased me a gooddeal. And now you mention itI wish she would comefor it ispossiblethat a gentle mild woman like her might move Hetty toopen herheart.  The jail chaplain is rather harsh in his manner."

"Butit's o' no use if she doesn't come" said Adam sadly.

"IfI'd thought of it earlierI would have taken some measuresforfinding her out" said Mr. Irwine"but it's too late nowIfear...WellAdamI must go now.  Try to get some rest to-night.God blessyou.  I'll see you early to-morrow morning."

 

 ChapterXLII TheMorning of the Trial

 

AT oneo'clock the next dayAdam was alone in his dull upperroom; hiswatch lay before him on the tableas if he werecountingthe long minutes.  He had no knowledge of what was likelyto be saidby the witnesses on the trialfor he had shrunk fromall theparticulars connected with Hetty's arrest and accusation.This braveactive manwho would have hastened towards any dangeror toil torescue Hetty from an apprehended wrong or misfortunefelthimself powerless to contemplate irremediable evil andsuffering. The susceptibility which would have been an impellingforcewhere there was any possibility of action became helplessanguishwhen he was obliged to be passiveor else sought anactiveoutlet in the thought of inflicting justice on Arthur.Energeticnaturesstrong for all strenuous deedswill often rushaway froma hopeless suffereras if they were hard-hearted.  Itis theovermastering sense of pain that drives them.  They shrinkby anungovernable instinctas they would shrink from laceration.Adam hadbrought himself to think of seeing Hettyif she wouldconsent tosee himbecause he thought the meeting might possiblybe a goodto her--might help to melt away this terrible hardnessthey toldhim of.  If she saw he bore her no ill will for what shehad doneto himshe might open her heart to him.  But thisresolutionhad been an immense effort--he trembled at the thoughtof seeingher changed faceas a timid woman trembles at thethought ofthe surgeon's knifeand he chose now to bear the longhours ofsuspense rather than encounter what seemed to him themoreintolerable agony of witnessing her trial.

Deepunspeakable suffering may well be called a baptismaregenerationthe initiation into a new state.  The yearningmemoriesthe bitter regretthe agonized sympathythe strugglingappeals tothe Invisible Right--all the intense emotions which hadfilled thedays and nights of the past weekand were compressingthemselvesagain like an eager crowd into the hours of this singlemorningmade Adam look back on all the previous years as if theyhad been adim sleepy existenceand he had only now awaked tofullconsciousness.  It seemed to him as if he had always beforethought ita light thing that men should sufferas if all that hehadhimself endured and called sorrow before was only a moment'sstrokethat had never left a bruise.  Doubtless a great anguishmay do thework of yearsand we may come out from that baptism offire witha soul full of new awe and new pity.

"OGod" Adam groanedas he leaned on the table and lookedblankly atthe face of the watch"and men have suffered like thisbefore...andpoor helpless young things have suffered likeher....Sucha little while ago looking so happy and sopretty...kissing'em allher grandfather and all of 'emand theywishingher luck....O my poorpoor Hetty...dost think on it now?"

Adamstarted and looked round towards the door.  Vixen had beguntowhimperand there was a sound of a stick and a lame walk onthestairs.  It was Bartle Massey come back.  Could it be allover?

Bartleentered quietlyandgoing up to Adamgrasped his handand said"I'm just come to look at youmy boyfor the folks aregone outof court for a bit."

Adam'sheart beat so violently he was unable to speak--he couldonlyreturn the pressure of his friend's hand--and Bartledrawingup theother chaircame and sat in front of himtaking off hishat andhis spectacles.

"That'sa thing never happened to me before" he observed"to goout o' thedoor with my spectacles on.  I clean forgot to take 'emoff."

The oldman made this trivial remarkthinking it better not torespond atall to Adam's agitation: he would gatherin anindirectwaythat there was nothing decisive to communicate atpresent.

"Andnow" he saidrising again"I must see to your having abitof theloafand some of that wine Mr. Irwine sent this morning.He'll beangry with me if you don't have it.  Comenow" he wentonbringing forward the bottle and the loaf and pouring some wineinto acup"I must have a bit and a sup myself.  Drink a dropwith memy lad--drink with me."

Adampushed the cup gently away and saidentreatingly"Tell meabout itMr. Massey--tell me all about it.  Was she there?  Havetheybegun?"

"Yesmy boyyes--it's taken all the time since I first went; butthey'reslowthey're slow; and there's the counsel they've gotfor herputs a spoke in the wheel whenever he canand makes adeal to dowith cross-examining the witnesses and quarrelling withthe otherlawyers.  That's all he can do for the money they givehim; andit's a big sum--it's a big sum.  But he's a 'cute fellowwith aneye that 'ud pick the needles out of the hay in no time.If a manhad got no feelingsit 'ud be as good as a demonstrationto listento what goes on in court; but a tender heart makes onestupid. I'd have given up figures for ever only to have had somegood newsto bring to youmy poor lad."

"Butdoes it seem to be going against her?" said Adam.  "Tellmewhatthey've said.  I must know it now--I must know what they haveto bringagainst her."

"Whythe chief evidence yet has been the doctors; all but MartinPoyser--poorMartin.  Everybody in court felt for him--it was likeone sobthe sound they made when he came down again.  The worstwas whenthey told him to look at the prisoner at the bar.  It washard workpoor fellow--it was hard work.  Adammy boythe blowfallsheavily on him as well as you; you must help poor Martin;you mustshow courage.  Drink some wine nowand show me you meanto bear itlike a man."

Bartle hadmade the right sort of appeal.  Adamwith an air ofquietobediencetook up the cup and drank a little.

"Tellme how SHE looked" he said presently.

"Frightenedvery frightenedwhen they first brought her in; itwas thefirst sight of the crowd and the judgepoor creatur.  Andthere's alot o' foolish women in fine clotheswith gewgaws allup theirarms and feathers on their headssitting near the judge:they'vedressed themselves out in that wayone 'ud thinkto bescarecrowsand warnings against any man ever meddling with a womanagain. They put up their glassesand stared and whispered.  Butafter thatshe stood like a white imagestaring down at her handsandseeming neither to hear nor see anything.  And she's as whiteas asheet.  She didn't speak when they asked her if she'd plead'guilty'or 'not guilty' and they pleaded 'not guilty' for her.But whenshe heard her uncle's namethere seemed to go a shiverrightthrough her; and when they told him to look at hershe hungher headdownand coweredand hid her face in her hands.  He'dmuch adoto speak poor manhis voice trembled so.  And thecounsellors--wholook as hard as nails mostly--I sawspared himas much asthey could.  Mr. Irwine put himself near him and wentwith himout o' court.  Ahit's a great thing in a man's life tobe able tostand by a neighbour and uphold him in such trouble asthat."

"Godbless himand you tooMr. Massey" said Adamin a lowvoicelaying his hand on Bartle's arm.

"Ayeayehe's good metal; he gives the right ring when you tryhimourparson does.  A man o' sense--says no more than'sneedful. He's not one of those that think they can comfort youwithchatteringas if folks who stand by and look on knew a dealbetterwhat the trouble was than those who have to bear it.  I'vehad to dowith such folks in my time--in the southwhen I was introublemyself.  Mr. Irwine is to be a witness himselfby and byon hersideyou knowto speak to her character and bringing up."

"Butthe other evidence...does it go hard against her!" said Adam."Whatdo you thinkMr. Massey? Tell me the truth."

"Yesmy ladyes.  The truth is the best thing to tell.  It mustcome atlast.  The doctors' evidence is heavy on her--is heavy.But she'sgone on denying she's had a child from first to last.These poorsilly women-things--they've not the sense to know it'sno usedenying what's proved.  It'll make against her with thejuryIdoubther being so obstinate: they may be less forrecommendingher to mercyif the verdict's against her.  But Mr.Irwine'ull leave no stone unturned with the judge--you may relyupon thatAdam."

"Isthere nobody to stand by her and seem to care for her in thecourt?"said Adam.

"There'sthe chaplain o' the jail sits near herbut he's a sharpferrety-facedman--another sort o' flesh and blood to Mr. Irwine.They saythe jail chaplains are mostly the fag-end o' the clergy."

"There'sone man as ought to be there" said Adam bitterly.Presentlyhe drew himself up and looked fixedly out of the windowapparentlyturning over some new idea in his mind.

"Mr.Massey" he said at lastpushing the hair off his forehead"I'llgo back with you.  I'll go into court.  It's cowardly of meto keepaway.  I'll stand by her--I'll own her--for all she's beendeceitful. They oughtn't to cast her off--her own flesh andblood. We hand folks over to God's mercyand show noneourselves. I used to be hard sometimes: I'll never be hard again.I'll goMr. Massey--I'll go with you."

There wasa decision in Adam's manner which would have preventedBartlefrom opposing himeven if he had wished to do so.  He onlysaid"Take a bitthenand another supAdamfor the love ofme. SeeI must stop and eat a morsel.  Nowyou take some."

Nerved byan active resolutionAdam took a morsel of bread anddrank somewine.  He was haggard and unshavenas he had beenyesterdaybut he stood upright againand looked more like theAdam Bedeof former days.

 

 ChapterXLIII TheVerdict

 

THE placefitted up that day as a court of justice was a grand oldhallnowdestroyed by fire.  The midday light that fell on theclosepavement of human heads was shed through a line of highpointedwindowsvariegated with the mellow tints of old paintedglass. Grim dusty armour hung in high relief in front of the darkoakengallery at the farther endand under the broad arch of thegreatmullioned window opposite was spread a curtain of oldtapestrycovered with dim melancholy figureslike a dozingindistinctdream of the past.  It was a place that through therest ofthe year was haunted with the shadowy memories of oldkings andqueensunhappydiscrownedimprisoned; but to-day allthoseshadows had fledand not a soul in the vast hall felt thepresenceof any but a living sorrowwhich was quivering in warmhearts.

But thatsorrow seemed to have made it itself feebly felthithertonow when Adam Bede's tall figure was suddenly seen beingushered tothe side of the prisoner's dock.  In the broad sunlightof thegreat hallamong the sleek shaven faces of other menthemarks ofsuffering in his face were startling even to Mr. Irwinewho hadlast seen him in the dim light of his small room; and theneighboursfrom Hayslope who were presentand who told HettySorrel'sstory by their firesides in their old agenever forgotto say howit moved them when Adam Bedepoor fellowtaller bythe headthan most of the people round himcame into court andtook hisplace by her side.

But Hettydid not see him.  She was standing in the same positionBartleMassey had describedher hands crossed over each other andher eyesfixed on them.  Adam had not dared to look at her in thefirstmomentsbut at lastwhen the attention of the court waswithdrawnby the proceedings he turned his face towards her with aresolutionnot to shrink.

Why didthey say she was so changed?  In the corpse we loveit isthelikeness we see--it is the likenesswhich makes itself feltthe morekeenly because something else was and is not.  There theywere--thesweet face and neckwith the dark tendrils of hairthelong darklashesthe rounded cheek and the pouting lips--pale andthinyesbut like Hettyand only Hetty.  Others thought shelooked asif some demon had cast a blighting glance upon herwitheredup the woman's soul in herand left only a harddespairingobstinacy.  But the mother's yearningthat completesttype ofthe life in another life which is the essence of realhumanlovefeels the presence of the cherished child even in thedebaseddegraded man; and to Adamthis palehard-lookingculpritwas the Hetty who had smiled at him in the garden undertheapple-tree boughs--she was that Hetty's corpsewhich he hadtrembledto look at the first timeand then was unwilling to turnaway hiseyes from.

Butpresently he heard something that compelled him to listenandmade thesense of sight less absorbing.  A woman was in thewitness-boxa middle-aged womanwho spoke in a firm distinctvoice. She said"My name is Sarah Stone.  I am a widowand keepa smallshop licensed to sell tobaccosnuffand tea in ChurchLaneStoniton.  The prisoner at the bar is the same young womanwho camelooking ill and tiredwith a basket on her armandasked fora lodging at my house on Saturday eveningthe 27th ofFebruary. She had taken the house for a publicbecause there wasa figureagainst the door.  And when I said I didn't take inlodgersthe prisoner began to cryand said she was too tired togoanywhere elseand she only wanted a bed for one night.  Andherprettinessand her conditionand something respectable aboutherclothes and looksand the trouble she seemed to be in made meas Icouldn't find in my heart to send her away at once.  I askedher to sitdownand gave her some teaand asked her where shewas goingand where her friends were.  She said she was goinghome toher friends: they were farming folks a good way offandshe'd hada long journey that had cost her more money than sheexpectedso as she'd hardly any money left in her pocketand wasafraid ofgoing where it would cost her much.  She had beenobliged tosell most of the things out of her basketbut she'dthankfullygive a shilling for a bed.  I saw no reason why Ishouldn'ttake the young woman in for the night.  I had only oneroombutthere were two beds in itand I told her she might staywith me. I thought she'd been led wrongand got into troublebut if shewas going to her friendsit would be a good work tokeep herout of further harm."

Thewitness then stated that in the night a child was bornandsheidentified the baby-clothes then shown to her as those inwhich shehad herself dressed the child.

"Thoseare the clothes.  I made them myselfand had kept them byme eversince my last child was born.  I took a deal of troubleboth forthe child and the mother.  I couldn't help taking to thelittlething and being anxious about it.  I didn't send for adoctorfor there seemed no need.  I told the mother in the day-time shemust tell me the name of her friendsand where theylivedandlet me write to them.  She saidby and by she wouldwriteherselfbut not to-day.  She would have no naybut shewould getup and be dressedin spite of everything I could say.She saidshe felt quite strong enough; and it was wonderful whatspirit sheshowed.  But I wasn't quite easy what I should do aboutherandtowards evening I made up my mind I'd goafter Meetingwas overand speak to our minister about it.  I left the houseabouthalf-past eight o'clock.  I didn't go out at the shop doorbut at theback doorwhich opens into a narrow alley.  I've onlygot theground-floor of the houseand the kitchen and bedroomboth lookinto the alley.  I left the prisoner sitting up by thefire inthe kitchen with the baby on her lap.  She hadn't cried orseemed lowat allas she did the night before.  I thought she hada strangelook with her eyesand she got a bit flushed towardsevening. I was afraid of the feverand I thought I'd call andask anacquaintance of minean experienced womanto come backwith mewhen I went out.  It was a very dark night.  I didn'tfasten thedoor behind me; there was no lock; it was a latch witha boltinsideand when there was nobody in the house I alwayswent outat the shop door.  But I thought there was no danger inleaving itunfastened that little while.  I was longer than Imeant tobefor I had to wait for the woman that came back withme. It was an hour and a half before we got backand when wewent inthe candle was standing burning just as I left itbuttheprisoner and the baby were both gone.  She'd taken her cloakandbonnetbut she'd left the basket and the things in it....Iwasdreadful frightenedand angry with her for going.  I didn'tgo to giveinformationbecause I'd no thought she meant to do anyharmandI knew she had money in her pocket to buy her food andlodging. I didn't like to set the constable after herfor she'da right togo from me if she liked."

The effectof this evidence on Adam was electrical; it gave himnewforce.  Hetty could not be guilty of the crime--her heart musthave clungto her baby--else why should she have taken it withher? Shemight have left it behind.  The little creature had diednaturallyand then she had hidden it.  Babies were so liable todeath--andthere might be the strongest suspicions without anyproof ofguilt.  His mind was so occupied with imaginary argumentsagainstsuch suspicionsthat he could not listen to the cross-examinationby Hetty's counselwho triedwithout resulttoelicitevidence that the prisoner had shown some movements ofmaternalaffection towards the child.  The whole time this witnesswas beingexaminedHetty had stood as motionless as before: nowordseemed to arrest her ear.  But the sound of the nextwitness'svoice touched a chord that was still sensitiveshe gavea startand a frightened look towards himbut immediately turnedaway herhead and looked down at her hands as before.  Thiswitnesswas a mana rough peasant.  He said:

"Myname is John Olding.  I am a labourerand live at Tedd'sHoletwomiles out of Stoniton.  A week last Mondaytowards oneo'clock inthe afternoonI was going towards Hetton Coppiceandabout aquarter of a mile from the coppice I saw the prisonerina redcloaksitting under a bit of a haystack not far off thestile. She got up when she saw meand seemed as if she'd bewalking onthe other way.  It was a regular road through thefieldsand nothing very uncommon to see a young woman therebutI tooknotice of her because she looked white and scared.  Ishouldhave thought she was a beggar-womanonly for her goodclothes. I thought she looked a bit crazybut it was no businessof mine. I stood and looked back after herbut she went right onwhile shewas in sight.  I had to go to the other side of thecoppice tolook after some stakes.  There's a road right throughitandbits of openings here and therewhere the trees have beencut downand some of 'em not carried away.  I didn't go straightalong theroadbut turned off towards the middleand took ashorterway towards the spot I wanted to get to.  I hadn't got farout of theroad into one of the open places before I heard astrangecry.  I thought it didn't come from any animal I knewbutI wasn'tfor stopping to look about just then.  But it went onand seemedso strange to me in that placeI couldn't helpstoppingto look.  I began to think I might make some money of itif it wasa new thing.  But I had hard work to tell which way itcame fromand for a good while I kept looking up at the boughs.And then Ithought it came from the ground; and there was a lot oftimber-choppingslying aboutand loose pieces of turfand atrunk ortwo.  And I looked about among thembut could findnothingand at last the cry stopped.  So I was for giving it upand I wenton about my business.  But when I came back the sameway prettynigh an hour afterI couldn't help laying down mystakes tohave another look.  And just as I was stooping andlayingdown the stakesI saw something odd and round and whitishlying onthe ground under a nut-bush by the side of me.  And Istoopeddown on hands and knees to pick it up.  And I saw it was alittlebaby's hand."

At thesewords a thrill ran through the court.  Hetty was visiblytrembling;nowfor the first timeshe seemed to be listening towhat awitness said.

"Therewas a lot of timber-choppings put together just where thegroundwent hollowlikeunder the bushand the hand came outfrom amongthem.  But there was a hole left in one place and Icould seedown it and see the child's head; and I made haste anddid awaythe turf and the choppingsand took out the child.  Ithad gotcomfortable clothes onbut its body was coldand Ithought itmust be dead.  I made haste back with it out of thewoodandtook it home to my wife.  She said it was deadand I'dbettertake it to the parish and tell the constable.  And I said'I'll laymy life it's that young woman's child as I met going tothecoppice.'  But she seemed to be gone clean out of sight. AndI took thechild on to Hetton parish and told the constableandwe went onto Justice Hardy.  And then we went looking after theyoungwoman till dark at nightand we went and gave informationatStonitonas they might stop her.  And the next morninganotherconstable came to meto go with him to the spot where Ifound thechild.  And when we got therethere was the prisoner a-sittingagainst the bush where I found the child; and she criedout whenshe saw usbut she never offered to move.  She'd got abig pieceof bread on her lap."

Adam hadgiven a faint groan of despair while this witness wasspeaking. He had hidden his face on his armwhich rested on theboardingin front of him.  It was the supreme moment of hissuffering:Hetty was guilty; and he was silently calling to Godfor help. He heard no more of the evidenceand was unconsciouswhen thecase for the prosecution had closed--unconscious that Mr.Irwine wasin the witness-boxtelling of Hetty's unblemishedcharacterin her own parish and of the virtuous habits in whichshe hadbeen brought up.  This testimony could have no influenceon theverdictbut it was given as part of that plea for mercywhich herown counsel would have made if he had been allowed tospeak forher--a favour not granted to criminals in those sterntimes.

At lastAdam lifted up his headfor there was a general movementroundhim.  The judge had addressed the juryand they wereretiring. The decisive moment was not far off Adam felt ashudderinghorror that would not let him look at Hettybut shehad longrelapsed into her blank hard indifference.  All eyes werestrainedto look at herbut she stood like a statue of dulldespair.

'There wasa mingled rustlingwhisperingand low buzzingthroughoutthe court during this interval.  The desire to listenwassuspendedand every one had some feeling or opinion toexpress inundertones.  Adam sat looking blankly before himbuthe did notsee the objects that were right in front of his eyes--thecounsel and attorneys talking with an air of cool businessand Mr.Irwine in low earnest conversation with the judge--did notsee Mr.Irwine sit down again in agitation and shake his headmournfullywhen somebody whispered to him.  The inward action wastoointense for Adam to take in outward objects until some strongsensationroused him.

It was notvery longhardly more than a quarter of an hourbefore theknock which told that the jury had come to theirdecisionfell as a signal for silence on every ear.  It issublime--thatsudden pause of a great multitude which tells thatone soulmoves in them all.  Deeper and deeper the silence seemedto becomelike the deepening nightwhile the jurymen's nameswerecalled overand the prisoner was made to hold up her handand thejury were asked for their verdict.

"Guilty."

It was theverdict every one expectedbut there was a sigh ofdisappointmentfrom some hearts that it was followed by norecommendationto mercy.  Still the sympathy of the court was notwith theprisoner.  The unnaturalness of her crime stood out themoreharshly by the side of her hard immovability and obstinatesilence. Even the verdictto distant eyeshad not appeared tomove herbut those who were near saw her trembling.

Thestillness was less intense until the judge put on his blackcapandthe chaplain in his canonicals was observed behind him.Then itdeepened againbefore the crier had had time to commandsilence. If any sound were heardit must have been the sound ofbeatinghearts.  The judge spoke"Hester Sorrel...."

The bloodrushed to Hetty's faceand then fled back again as shelooked upat the judge and kept her wide-open eyes fixed on himas iffascinated by fear.  Adam had not yet turned towards herthere wasa deep horrorlike a great gulfbetween them.  But atthe words"and then to be hanged by the neck till you be dead" apiercingshriek rang through the hall.  It was Hetty's shriek.Adamstarted to his feet and stretched out his arms towards her.But thearms could not reach her: she had fallen down in afainting-fitand was carried out of court.

 

 ChapterXLIV Arthur'sReturn

 

WhenArthur Donnithorne landed at Liverpool and read the letterfrom hisAunt Lydiabriefly announcing his grand-father's deathhis firstfeeling was"Poor Grandfather!  I wish I could have gotto him tobe with him when he died.  He might have felt or wishedsomethingat the last that I shall never know now.  It was alonelydeath."

It isimpossible to say that his grief was deeper than that.  Pityandsoftened memory took place of the old antagonismand in hisbusythoughts about the futureas the chaise carried him rapidlyalongtowards the home where he was now to be masterthere was acontinuallyrecurring effort to remember anything by which hecould showa regard for his grandfather's wisheswithoutcounteractinghis own cherished aims for the good of the tenantsand theestate.  But it is not in human nature--only in humanpretence--fora young man like Arthurwith a fine constitutionand finespiritsthinking well of himselfbelieving that othersthink wellof himand having a very ardent intention to give themmore andmore reason for that good opinion--it is not possible forsuch ayoung manjust coming into a splendid estate through thedeath of avery old man whom he was not fond ofto feel anythingverydifferent from exultant joy.  Now his real life wasbeginning;now he would have room and opportunity for actionandhe woulduse them.  He would show the Loamshire people what a finecountrygentleman was; he would not exchange that career for anyotherunder the sun.  He felt himself riding over the hills in thebreezyautumn dayslooking after favourite plans of drainage andenclosure;then admired on sombre mornings as the best rider onthe besthorse in the hunt; spoken well of on market-days as afirst-ratelandlord; by and by making speeches at electiondinnersand showing a wonderful knowledge of agriculture; thepatron ofnew ploughs and drillsthe severe upbraider ofnegligentlandownersand withal a jolly fellow that everybodymustlike--happy faces greeting him everywhere on his own estateand theneighbouring families on the best terms with him.  TheIrwinesshould dine with him every weekand have their owncarriageto come infor in some very delicate way that Arthurwoulddevisethe lay-impropriator of the Hayslope tithes wouldinsist onpaying a couple of hundreds more to the vicar; and hisauntshould be as comfortable as possibleand go on living at theChaseifshe likedin spite of her old-maidish ways--at leastuntil hewas marriedand that event lay in the indistinctbackgroundfor Arthur had not yet seen the woman who would playthelady-wife to the first-rate country gentleman.

These wereArthur's chief thoughtsso far as a man's thoughtsthroughhours of travelling can be compressed into a fewsentenceswhich are only like the list of names telling you whatare thescenes in a long long panorama full of colourof detailand oflife.  The happy faces Arthur saw greeting him were notpaleabstractionsbut real ruddy faceslong familiar to him:MartinPoyser was there--the whole Poyser family.

What--Hetty?

Yes; forArthur was at ease about Hetty--not quite at ease aboutthe pastfor a certain burning of the ears would come whenever hethought ofthe scenes with Adam last Augustbut at ease about herpresentlot.  Mr. Irwinewho had been a regular correspondenttellinghim all the news about the old places and peoplehad senthim wordnearly three months ago that Adam Bede was not to marryMaryBurgeas he had thoughtbut pretty Hetty Sorrel.  MartinPoyser andAdam himself had both told Mr. Irwine all about it--that Adamhad been deeply in love with Hetty these two yearsandthat nowit was agreed they were to be married in March.  Thatstalwartrogue Adam was more susceptible than the rector hadthought;it was really quite an idyllic love affair; and if it hadnot beentoo long to tell in a letterhe would have liked todescribeto Arthur the blushing looks and the simple strong wordswith whichthe fine honest fellow told his secret.  He knew Arthurwould liketo hear that Adam had this sort of happiness inprospect.

Yesindeed!  Arthur felt there was not air enough in the room tosatisfyhis renovated lifewhen he had read that passage in theletter. He threw up the windowshe rushed out of doors into theDecemberairand greeted every one who spoke to him with an eagergaietyasif there had been news of a fresh Nelson victory.  Forthe firsttime that day since he had come to Windsorhe was intrueboyish spirits.  The load that had been pressing upon him wasgonethehaunting fear had vanished.  He thought he could conquerhisbitterness towards Adam now--could offer him his handand askto be hisfriend againin spite of that painful memory whichwouldstill make his ears burn.  He had been knocked downand hehad beenforced to tell a lie: such things make a scardo what wewill. But if Adam were the same again as in the old daysArthurwished tobe the same tooand to have Adam mixed up with hisbusinessand his futureas he had always desired before theaccursedmeeting in August.  Nayhe would do a great deal morefor Adamthan he should otherwise have donewhen he came into theestate;Hetty's husband had a special claim on him--Hetty herselfshouldfeel that any pain she had suffered through Arthur in thepast wascompensated to her a hundredfold.  For really she couldnot havefelt muchsince she had so soon made up her mind tomarryAdam.

Youperceive clearly what sort of picture Adam and Hetty made inthepanorama of Arthur's thoughts on his journey homeward.  It wasMarch now;they were soon to be married: perhaps they were alreadymarried. And now it was actually in his power to do a great dealfor them. Sweet--sweet little Hetty!  The little puss hadn'tcared forhim half as much as he cared for her; for he was a greatfool abouther still--was almost afraid of seeing her--indeedhadnot caredmuch to look at any other woman since he parted fromher. That little figure coming towards him in the Grovethosedark-fringedchildish eyesthe lovely lips put up to kiss him--thatpicture had got no fainter with the lapse of months.  And shewould lookjust the same.  It was impossible to think how he couldmeet her:he should certainly tremble.  Strangehow long thissort ofinfluence lastsfor he was certainly not in love withHettynow.  He had been earnestly desiringfor monthsthat sheshouldmarry Adamand there was nothing that contributed more tohishappiness in these moments than the thought of their marriage.It was theexaggerating effect of imagination that made his heartstill beata little more quickly at the thought of her.  When hesaw thelittle thing again as she really wasas Adam's wifeatwork quiteprosaically in her new homehe should perhaps wonderat thepossibility of his past feelings.  Thank heaven it hadturned outso well!  He should have plenty of affairs andintereststo fill his life nowand not be in danger of playingthe foolagain.

Pleasantthe crack of the post-boy's whip!  Pleasant the sense ofbeinghurried along in swift ease through English scenesso likethoseround his own homeonly not quite so charming.  Here was amarket-town--verymuch like Treddleston--where the arms of theneighbouringlord of the manor were borne on the sign of theprincipalinn; then mere fields and hedgestheir vicinity to amarket-towncarrying an agreeable suggestion of high renttillthe landbegan to assume a trimmer lookthe woods were morefrequentand at length a white or red mansion looked down from amoderateeminenceor allowed him to be aware of its parapet andchimneysamong the dense-looking masses of oaks and elms--massesreddenednow with early buds.  And close at hand came the village:the smallchurchwith its red-tiled rooflooking humble evenamong thefaded half-timbered houses; the old green gravestoneswithnettles round them; nothing fresh and bright but thechildrenopening round eyes at the swift post-chaise; nothingnoisy andbusy but the gaping curs of mysterious pedigree.  What amuchprettier village Hayslope was!  And it should not beneglectedlike this place: vigorous repairs should go oneverywhereamong farm-buildings and cottagesand travellers inpost-chaisescoming along the Rosseter roadshould do nothingbut admireas they went.  And Adam Bede should superintend all therepairsfor he had a share in Burge's business nowandif helikedArthur would put some money into the concern and buy theold manout in another year or two.  That was an ugly fault inArthur'slifethat affair last summerbut the future should makeamends. Many men would have retained a feeling of vindictivenesstowardsAdambut he would not--he would resolutely overcome alllittlenessof that kindfor he had certainly been very much inthe wrong;and though Adam had been harsh and violentand hadthrust onhim a painful dilemmathe poor fellow was in loveandhad realprovocation.  NoArthur had not an evil feeling in hismindtowards any human being: he was happyand would make everyone elsehappy that came within his reach.

And herewas dear old Hayslope at lastsleepingon the hilllike aquiet old place as it wasin the late afternoon sunlightandopposite to it the great shoulders of the Binton Hillsbelowthem thepurplish blackness of the hanging woodsand at last thepale frontof the Abbeylooking out from among the oaks of theChaseasif anxious for the heir's return.  "Poor Grandfather!And helies dead there.  He was a young fellow oncecoming intothe estateand making his plans.  So the world goes round!  AuntLydia mustfeel very desolatepoor thing; but she shall beindulgedas much as she indulges her fat Fido."

The wheelsof Arthur's chaise had been anxiously listened for atthe Chasefor to-day was Fridayand the funeral had already beendeferredtwo days.  Before it drew up on the gravel of thecourtyardall the servants in the house were assembled to receivehim with agravedecent welcomebefitting a house of death.  Amonth agoperhapsit would have been difficult for them to havemaintaineda suitable sadness in their faceswhen Mr. Arthur wascome totake possession; but the hearts of the head-servants wereheavy thatday for another cause than the death of the old squireand morethan one of them was longing to be twenty miles awayasMr. Craigwasknowing what was to become of Hetty Sorrel--prettyHettySorrel--whom they used to see every week.  They had thepartisanshipof household servants who like their placesand werenotinclined to go the full length of the severe indignation feltagainsthim by the farming tenantsbut rather to make excuses forhim;neverthelessthe upper servantswho had been on terms ofneighbourlyintercourse with the Poysers for many yearscould nothelpfeeling that the longed-for event of the young squire'scominginto the estate had been robbed of all its pleasantness.

To Arthurit was nothing surprising that the servants looked graveand sad:he himself was very much touched on seeing them allagainandfeeling that he was in a new relation to them.  It wasthat sortof pathetic emotion which has more pleasure than pain init--whichis perhaps one of the most delicious of all states to agood-naturedmanconscious of the power to satisfy his goodnature. His heart swelled agreeably as he said"WellMillshowis myaunt?"

But nowMr. Bygatethe lawyerwho had been in the house eversince thedeathcame forward to give deferential greetings andanswer allquestionsand Arthur walked with him towards thelibrarywhere his Aunt Lydia was expecting him.  Aunt Lydia wasthe onlyperson in the house who knew nothing about Hetty.  Hersorrow asa maiden daughter was unmixed with any other thoughtsthan thoseof anxiety about funeral arrangements and her ownfuturelot; andafter the manner of womenshe mourned for thefather whohad made her life importantall the more because shehad asecret sense that there was little mourning for him in otherhearts.

But Arthurkissed her tearful face more tenderly than he had everdone inhis life before.

"DearAunt" he said affectionatelyas he held her hand"YOURloss isthe greatest of allbut you must tell me how to try andmake it upto you all the rest of your life."

"Itwas so sudden and so dreadfulArthur" poor Miss Lydia beganpouringout her little plaintsand Arthur sat down to listen withimpatientpatience.  When a pause camehe said:

"NowAuntI'll leave you for a quarter of an hour just to go tomy ownroomand then I shall come and give full attention toeverything."

"Myroom is all ready for meI supposeMills?" he said to thebutlerwho seemed to be lingering uneasily about the entrance-hall.

"Yessirand there are letters for you; they are all laid on thewriting-tablein your dressing-room."

Onentering the small anteroom which was called a dressing-roombut whichArthur really used only to lounge and write inhe justcast hiseyes on the writing-tableand saw that there wereseveralletters and packets lying there; but he was in theuncomfortabledusty condition of a man who has had a long hurriedjourneyand he must really refresh himself by attending to histoilette alittlebefore he read his letters.  Pym was theremakingeverything ready for himand soonwith a delightfulfreshnessabout himas if he were prepared to begin a new dayhewent backinto his dressing-room to open his letters.  The levelrays ofthe low afternoon sun entered directly at the windowandas Arthurseated himself in his velvet chair with their pleasantwarmthupon himhe was conscious of that quiet well-being whichperhapsyou and I have felt on a sunny afternoon whenin ourbrightestyouth and healthlife has opened a new vista for usand longto-morrows of activity have stretched before us like alovelyplain which there was no need for hurrying to look atbecause itwas all our own.

The topletter was placed with its address upwards: it was in Mr.Irwine'shandwritingArthur saw at once; and below the addresswaswritten"To be delivered as soon as he arrives." Nothingcould havebeen less surprising to him than a letter from Mr.Irwine atthat moment: of coursethere was something he wishedArthur toknow earlier than it was possible for them to see eachother. At such a time as that it was quite natural that Irwineshouldhave something pressing to say.  Arthur broke the seal withanagreeable anticipation of soon seeing the writer.

 

"Isend this letter to meet you on your arrivalArthurbecause Imay thenbe at Stonitonwhither I am called by the most painfulduty ithas ever been given me to performand it is right thatyou shouldknow what I have to tell you without delay.

"Iwill not attempt to add by one word of reproach to theretributionthat is now falling on you: any other words that Icouldwrite at this moment must be weak and unmeaning by the sideof thosein which I must tell you the simple fact.

"HettySorrel is in prisonand will be tried on Friday for thecrime ofchild-murder."...

 

Arthurread no more.  He started up from his chair and stood for asingleminute with a sense of violent convulsion in his wholeframeasif the life were going out of him with horrible throbs;but thenext minute he had rushed out of the roomstill clutchingtheletter--he was hurrying along the corridorand down thestairsinto the hall.  Mills was still therebut Arthur did notsee himas he passed like a hunted man across the hall and outalong thegravel.  The butler hurried out after him as fast as hiselderlylimbs could run: he guessedhe knewwhere the youngsquire wasgoing.

When Millsgot to the stablesa horse was being saddledandArthur wasforcing himself to read the remaining words of theletter. He thrust it into his pocket as the horse was led up tohimandat that moment caught sight of Mills' anxious face infront ofhim.

"Tellthem I'm gone--gone to Stoniton" he said in a muffled toneofagitation--sprang into the saddleand set off at a gallop.

 

 ChapterXLV In thePrison

 

NEARsunset that evening an elderly gentleman was standing withhis backagainst the smaller entrance-door of Stoniton jailsaying afew last words to the departing chaplain.  The chaplainwalkedawaybut the elderly gentleman stood stilllooking downon thepavement and stroking his chin with a ruminating airwhenhe wasroused by a sweet clear woman's voicesaying"Can I getinto theprisonif you please?"

He turnedhis head and looked fixedly at the speaker for a fewmomentswithout answering.

"Ihave seen you before" he said at last.  "Do yourememberpreachingon the village green at Hayslope in Loamshire?"

"Yessirsurely.  Are you the gentleman that stayed to listen onhorseback?"

"Yes. Why do you want to go into the prison?"

"Iwant to go to Hetty Sorrelthe young woman who has beencondemnedto death--and to stay with herif I may be permitted.Have youpower in the prisonsir?"

"Yes;I am a magistrateand can get admittance for you.  But didyou knowthis criminalHetty Sorrel?"

"Yeswe are kin.  My own aunt married her uncleMartin Poyser.But I wasaway at Leedsand didn't know of this great trouble intime toget here before to-day.  I entreat yousirfor the loveof ourheavenly Fatherto let me go to her and stay with her."

"Howdid you know she was condemned to deathif you are only justcome fromLeeds?"

"Ihave seen my uncle since the trialsir.  He is gone back tohis homenowand the poor sinner is forsaken of all.  I beseechyou to getleave for me to be with her."

"What! Have you courage to stay all night in the prison?  She isverysullenand will scarcely make answer when she is spoken to."

"Ohsirit may please God to open her heart still.  Don't let usdelay."

"Comethen" said the elderly gentlemanringing and gainingadmission"I know you have a key to unlock hearts."

Dinahmechanically took off her bonnet and shawl as soon as theywerewithin the prison courtfrom the habit she had of throwingthem offwhen she preached or prayedor visited the sick; andwhen theyentered the jailer's roomshe laid them down on a chairunthinkingly. There was no agitation visible in herbut a deepconcentratedcalmnessas ifeven when she was speakingher soulwas inprayer reposing on an unseen support.

Afterspeaking to the jailerthe magistrate turned to her andsaid"Theturnkey will take you to the prisoner's cell and leaveyou therefor the nightif you desire itbut you can't have alightduring the night--it is contrary to rules.  My name isColonelTownley: if I can help you in anythingask the jailer formy addressand come to me.  I take some interest in this HettySorrelfor the sake of that fine fellowAdam Bede.  I happenedto see himat Hayslope the same evening I heard you preachandrecognizedhim in court to-dayill as he looked."

"Ahsircan you tell me anything about him?  Can you tell mewhere helodges?  For my poor uncle was too much weighed down withtrouble toremember."

"Closeby here.  I inquired all about him of Mr. Irwine.  Helodgesover a tinman's shopin the street on the right hand asyouentered the prison.  There is an old school-master with him.Nowgood-bye: I wish you success."

"Farewellsir.  I am grateful to you."

As Dinahcrossed the prison court with the turnkeythe solemneveninglight seemed to make the walls higher than they were bydayandthe sweet pale face in the cap was more than ever like awhiteflower on this background of gloom.  The turnkey lookedaskance ather all the whilebut never spoke.  He somehow feltthat thesound of his own rude voice would be grating just then.He strucka light as they entered the dark corridor leading to thecondemnedcelland then said in his most civil tone"It'll beprettynigh dark in the cell a'readybut I can stop with my lighta bitifyou like."

"Nayfriendthank you" said Dinah.  "I wish to go inalone."

"Asyou like" said the jailerturning the harsh key in the lockandopening the door wide enough to admit Dinah.  A jet of lightfrom hislantern fell on the opposite corner of the cellwhereHetty wassitting on her straw pallet with her face buried in herknees. It seemed as if she were asleepand yet the grating ofthe lockwould have been likely to waken her.

The doorclosed againand the only light in the cell was that oftheevening skythrough the small high grating--enough to discernhumanfaces by.  Dinah stood still for a minutehesitating tospeakbecause Hetty might be asleepand looking at the motionlessheap witha yearning heart.  Then she saidsoftly"Hetty!"

There wasa slight movement perceptible in Hetty's frame--a startsuch asmight have been produced by a feeble electrical shock--butshe didnot look up.  Dinah spoke againin a tone made strongerbyirrepressible emotion"Hetty...it's Dinah."

Againthere was a slight startled movement through Hetty's frameandwithout uncovering her faceshe raised her head a littleasiflistening.

"Hetty...Dinahis come to you."

After amoment's pauseHetty lifted her head slowly and timidlyfrom herknees and raised her eyes.  The two pale faces werelooking ateach other: one with a wild hard despair in ittheother fullof sad yearning love.  Dinah unconsciously opened herarms andstretched them out.

"Don'tyou know meHetty?  Don't you remember Dinah?  Did youthink Iwouldn't come to you in trouble?"

Hetty kepther eyes fixed on Dinah's face--at first like an animalthatgazesand gazesand keeps aloof.

"I'mcome to be with youHetty--not to leave you--to stay withyou--to beyour sister to the last."

Slowlywhile Dinah was speakingHetty rosetook a step forwardand wasclasped in Dinah's arms.

They stoodso a long whilefor neither of them felt the impulseto moveapart again.  Hettywithout any distinct thought of ithung onthis something that was come to clasp her nowwhile shewassinking helpless in a dark gulf; and Dinah felt a deep joy inthe firstsign that her love was welcomed by the wretched lostone. The light got fainter as they stoodand when at last theysat downon the straw pallet togethertheir faces had becomeindistinct.

Not a wordwas spoken.  Dinah waitedhoping for a spontaneousword fromHettybut she sat in the same dull despaironlyclutchingthe hand that held hers and leaning her cheek againstDinah's. It was the human contact she clung tobut she was notthe lesssinking into the dark gulf.

Dinahbegan to doubt whether Hetty was conscious who it was thatsat besideher.  She thought suffering and fear might have driventhe poorsinner out of her mind.  But it was borne in upon herassheafterwards saidthat she must not hurry God's work: we areoverhastyto speak--as if God did not manifest himself by oursilentfeelingand make his love felt through ours.  She did notknow howlong they sat in that waybut it got darker and darkertill therewas only a pale patch of light on the opposite wall:all therest was darkness.  But she felt the Divine presence moreandmore--nayas if she herself were a part of itand it was theDivinepity that was beating in her heart and was willing therescue ofthis helpless one.  At last she was prompted to speakand findout how far Hetty was conscious of the present.

"Hetty"she said gently"do you know who it is that sits by yourside?"

"Yes"Hetty answered slowly"it's Dinah."

"Anddo you remember the time when we were at the Hall Farmtogetherand that night when I told you to be sure and think ofme as afriend in trouble?"

"Yes"said Hetty.  Thenafter a pauseshe added"But you cando nothingfor me.  You can't make 'em do anything.  They'll hangme o'Monday--it's Friday now."

As Hettysaid the last wordsshe clung closer to Dinahshuddering.

"NoHettyI can't save you from that death.  But isn't thesufferingless hard when you have somebody with youthat feelsforyou--that you can speak toand say what's in yourheart?...YesHetty: you lean on me: you are glad to have me withyou."

"Youwon't leave meDinah?  You'll keep close to me?"

"NoHettyI won't leave you.  I'll stay with you to thelast....ButHettythere is some one else in this cell besidesmesomeone close to you."

Hettysaidin a frightened whisper"Who?"

"Someone who has been with you through all your hours of sin andtrouble--whohas known every thought you have had--has seen whereyou wentwhere you lay down and rose up againand all the deedsyou havetried to hide in darkness.  And on Mondaywhen I can'tfollowyou--when my arms can't reach you--when death has partedus--He whois with us nowand knows allwill be with you then.It makesno difference--whether we live or diewe are in thepresenceof God."

"OhDinahwon't nobody do anything for me?  Will they hang meforcertain?...I wouldn't mind if they'd let me live."

"Mypoor Hettydeath is very dreadful to you.  I know it'sdreadful. But if you had a friend to take care of you afterdeath--inthat other world--some one whose love is greater thanmine--whocan do everything?...If God our Father was your friendand waswilling to save you from sin and sufferingso as youshouldneither know wicked feelings nor pain again?  If you couldbelieve heloved you and would help youas you believe I love youand willhelp youit wouldn't be so hard to die on Mondaywouldit?"

"ButI can't know anything about it" Hetty saidwith sullensadness.

"BecauseHettyyou are shutting up your soul against himbytrying tohide the truth.  God's love and mercy can overcome allthings--ourignoranceand weaknessand all the burden of ourpastwickedness--all things but our wilful sinsin that we clingtoandwill not give up.  You believe in my love and pity foryouHettybut if you had not let me come near youif youwouldn'thave looked at me or spoken to meyou'd have shut me outfromhelping you.  I couldn't have made you feel my love; Icouldn'thave told you what I felt for you.  Don't shut God's loveout inthat wayby clinging to sin....He can't bless you whileyou haveone falsehood in your soul; his pardoning mercy can'treach youuntil you open your heart to himand say'I have donethis greatwickedness; O Godsave memake me pure from sin.'While youcling to one sin and will not part with itit must dragyou downto misery after deathas it has dragged you to miseryhere inthis worldmy poorpoor Hetty.  It is sin that bringsdreadanddarknessand despair: there is light and blessednessfor us assoon as we cast it off.  God enters our souls thenandteachesusand brings us strength and peace.  Cast it off nowHetty--now:confess the wickedness you have done--the sin you havebeenguilty of against your Heavenly Father.  Let us kneel downtogetherfor we are in the presence of God."

Hettyobeyed Dinah's movementand sank on her knees.  They stillheld eachother's handsand there was long silence. Then Dinahsaid"Hettywe are before God.  He is waiting for you to tellthetruth."

Stillthere was silence.  At last Hetty spokein a tone ofbeseeching--

"Dinah...helpme...I can't feel anything like you...my heart ishard."

Dinah heldthe clinging handand all her soul went forth in hervoice:

 

"Jesusthou present Saviour!  Thou hast known the depths of allsorrow:thou hast entered that black darkness where God is notand hastuttered the cry of the forsaken.  Come Lordand gatherof thefruits of thy travail and thy pleading.  Stretch forth thyhandthouwho art mighty to save to the uttermostand rescuethis lostone.  She is clothed round with thick darkness.  Thefetters ofher sin are upon herand she cannot stir to come tothee. She can only feel her heart is hardand she is helpless.She criesto methy weak creature....Saviour!  It is a blind cryto thee. Hear it!  Pierce the darkness!  Look upon her with thyface oflove and sorrow that thou didst turn on him who deniedtheeandmelt her hard heart.

"SeeLordI bring heras they of old brought the sick andhelplessand thou didst heal them.  I bear her on my arms andcarry herbefore thee.  Fear and trembling have taken hold on herbut shetrembles only at the pain and death of the body.  Breatheupon herthy life-giving Spiritand put a new fear within her--the fearof her sin.  Make her dread to keep the accursed thingwithin hersoul.  Make her feel the presence of the living Godwhobeholds all the pastto whom the darkness is as noonday; whois waitingnowat the eleventh hourfor her to turn to himandconfessher sinand cry for mercy--nowbefore the night of deathcomesandthe moment of pardon is for ever fledlike yesterdaythatreturneth not.

"Saviour! It is yet time--time to snatch this poor soul fromeverlastingdarkness.  I believe--I believe in thy infinite love.What is mylove or my pleading?  It is quenched in thine.  I canonly claspher in my weak arms and urge her with my weak pity.Thou--thouwilt breathe on the dead souland it shall arise fromtheunanswering sleep of death.

"YeaLordI see theecoming through the darkness cominglikethemorningwith healing on thy wings.  The marks of thy agonyare uponthee--I seeI see thou art able and willing to save--thou wiltnot let her perish for ever.  "Comemighty Saviour!Let thedead hear thy voice.  Let the eyes of the blind be opened.Let hersee that God encompasses her.  Let her tremble at nothingbut at thesin that cuts her off from him.  Melt the hard heart.Unseal theclosed lips: make her cry with her whole soul'FatherI havesinned.'..."

 

"Dinah"Hetty sobbed outthrowing her arms round Dinah's neck"Iwill speak...I will tell...I won't hide it any more."

But thetears and sobs were too violent.  Dinah raised her gentlyfrom herknees and seated her on the pallet againsitting down byher side. It was a long time before the convulsed throat wasquietandeven then they sat some time in stillness and darknessholdingeach other's hands.  At last Hetty whispered"I did doitDinah...I buried it in the wood...the little baby...and itcried...Iheard it cry...ever such a way off...all night...and Iwent backbecause it cried."

Shepausedand then spoke hurriedly in a louderpleading tone.

"ButI thought perhaps it wouldn't die--there might somebody findit. I didn't kill it--I didn't kill it myself.  I put it downthere andcovered it upand when I came back it was gone....Itwasbecause I was so very miserableDinah...I didn't know wheretogo...and I tried to kill myself beforeand I couldn't.  OhItried soto drown myself in the pooland I couldn't.  I went toWindsor--Iran away--did you know? I went to find himas he mighttake careof me; and he was gone; and then I didn't know what todo. I daredn't go back home again--I couldn't bear it.  Icouldn'thave bore to look at anybodyfor they'd have scorned me.I thoughto' you sometimesand thought I'd come to youfor Ididn'tthink you'd be cross with meand cry shame on me.  Ithought Icould tell you.  But then the other folks 'ud come toknow it atlastand I couldn't bear that.  It was partly thinkingo' youmade me come toward Stoniton; andbesidesI was sofrightenedat going wandering about till I was a beggar-womanandhadnothing; and sometimes it seemed as if I must go back to thefarmsooner than that.  Ohit was so dreadfulDinah...I was somiserable...Iwished I'd never been born into this world.  Ishouldnever like to go into the green fields again--I hated 'emso in mymisery."

Hettypaused againas if the sense of the past were too strongupon herfor words.

"Andthen I got to Stonitonand I began to feel frightened thatnightbecause I was so near home.  And then the little baby wasbornwhenI didn't expect it; and the thought came into my mindthat Imight get rid of it and go home again.  The thought cameall of asuddenas I was lying in the bedand it got strongerandstronger...I longed so to go back again...I couldn't bearbeing solonely and coming to beg for want.  And it gave mestrengthand resolution to get up and dress myself.  I felt I mustdo it...Ididn't know how...I thought I'd find a poolif I couldlike thatotherin the corner of the fieldin the dark.  Andwhen thewoman went outI felt as if I was strong enough to doanything...Ithought I should get rid of all my miseryand goback homeand never let 'em know why I ran away I put on mybonnet andshawland went out into the dark streetwith the babyunder mycloak; and I walked fast till I got into a street a goodway offand there was a publicand I got some warm stuff todrink andsome bread.  And I walked on and onand I hardly feltthe groundI trod on; and it got lighterfor there came the moon--ohDinahit frightened me when it first looked at me out o' theclouds--itnever looked so before; and I turned out of the roadinto thefieldsfor I was afraid o' meeting anybody with the moonshining onme.  And I came to a haystackwhere I thought I couldlie downand keep myself warm all night.  There was a place cutinto itwhere I could make me a bedand I lay comfortableandthe babywas warm against me; and I must have gone to sleep for agoodwhilefor when I woke it was morningbut not very lightand thebaby was crying.  And I saw a wood a little way off...Ithoughtthere'd perhaps be a ditch or a pond there...and it was soearly Ithought I could hide the child thereand get a long wayoff beforefolks was up.  And then I thought I'd go home--I'd getrides incarts and go home and tell 'em I'd been to try and seefor aplaceand couldn't get one.  I longed so for itDinahIlonged soto be safe at home.  I don't know how I felt about thebaby. I seemed to hate it--it was like a heavy weight hanginground myneck; and yet its crying went through meand I daredn'tlook atits little hands and face. But I went on to the woodandI walkedaboutbut there was no water...."

Hettyshuddered.  She was silent for some momentsand when shebeganagainit was in a whisper.

"Icame to a place where there was lots of chips and turfand Isat downon the trunk of a tree to think what I should do.  Andall of asudden I saw a hole under the nut-treelike a littlegrave. And it darted into me like lightning--I'd lay the babythere andcover it with the grass and the chips.  I couldn't killit anyother way.  And I'd done it in a minute; andohit criedsoDinah--I couldn't cover it quite up--I thought perhapssomebody'ud come and take care of itand then it wouldn't die.And I madehaste out of the woodbut I could hear it crying allthe while;and when I got out into the fieldsit was as if I washeldfast--I couldn't go awayfor all I wanted so to go.  And Isatagainst the haystack to watch if anybody 'ud come.  I was veryhungryand I'd only a bit of bread leftbut I couldn't go away.And afterever such a while--hours and hours--the man came--him inasmock-frockand he looked at me soI was frightenedand Imade hasteand went on.  I thought he was going to the wood andwouldperhaps find the baby.  And I went right ontill I came toa villagea long way off from the woodand I was very sickandfaintandhungry.  I got something to eat thereand bought aloaf. But I was frightened to stay.  I heard the baby cryingandthoughtthe other folks heard it too--and I went on.  But I was sotiredandit was getting towards dark.  And at lastby theroadsidethere was a barn--ever such a way off any house--like thebarn inAbbot's Closeand I thought I could go in there and hidemyselfamong the hay and strawand nobody 'ud be likely to come.I went inand it was half full o' trusses of strawand there wassome haytoo.  And I made myself a bedever so far behindwherenobodycould find me; and I was so tired and weakI went tosleep....Butohthe baby's crying kept waking meand I thoughtthat manas looked at me so was come and laying hold of me.  But Imust haveslept a long while at lastthough I didn't knowforwhen I gotup and went out of the barnI didn't know whether itwas nightor morning.  But it was morningfor it kept gettinglighterand I turned back the way I'd come.  I couldn't help itDinah; itwas the baby's crying made me go--and yet I wasfrightenedto death.  I thought that man in the smock-frock 'udsee me andknow I put the baby there.  But I went onfor allthat. I'd left off thinking about going home--it had gone out o'my mind. I saw nothing but that place in the wood where I'dburied thebaby...I see it now.  Oh Dinah! shall I allays see it?"

Hettyclung round Dinah and shuddered again.  The silence seemedlongbefore she went on.

"Imet nobodyfor it was very earlyand I got into the wood....Iknew theway to the place...the place against the nut-tree; and Icould hearit crying at every step....I thought it was alive....Idon't knowwhether I was frightened or glad...I don't know what Ifelt. I only know I was in the wood and heard the cry.  I don'tknow whatI felt till I saw the baby was gone.  And when I'd putit thereI thought I should like somebody to find it and save itfromdying; but when I saw it was goneI was struck like a stonewithfear.  I never thought o' stirringI felt so weak.  I knewIcouldn'trun awayand everybody as saw me 'ud know about thebaby. My heart went like a stone.  I couldn't wish or try foranything;it seemed like as if I should stay there for everandnothing'ud ever change.  But they came and took me away."

Hetty wassilentbut she shuddered againas if there was stillsomethingbehind; and Dinah waitedfor her heart was so full thattears mustcome before words.  At last Hetty burst outwith asob"Dinahdo you think God will take away that crying and theplace inthe woodnow I've told everything?"

"Letus praypoor sinner.  Let us fall on our knees againandpray tothe God of all mercy."

 

 ChapterXLVI TheHours of Suspense

 

ON Sundaymorningwhen the church bells in Stoniton were ringingformorning serviceBartle Massey re-entered Adam's roomafter ashortabsenceand said"Adamhere's a visitor wants to seeyou."

Adam wasseated with is back towards the doorbut he started upand turnedround instantlywith a flushed face and an eager look.His facewas even thinner and more worn than we have seen itbeforebut he was washed and shaven this Sunday morning.

"Isit any news?" he said.

"Keepyourself quietmy lad" said Bartle; "keep quiet. It's notwhatyou're thinking of.  It's the young Methodist woman come fromtheprison.  She's at the bottom o' the stairsand wants to knowif youthink well to see herfor she has something to say to youabout thatpoor castaway; but she wouldn't come in without yourleaveshesaid.  She thought you'd perhaps like to go out andspeak toher.  These preaching women are not so back'ardcommonly"Bartle muttered to himself.

"Askher to come in" said Adam.

He wasstanding with his face towards the doorand as Dinahenteredlifting up her mild grey eyes towards himshe saw atonce thegreat change that had come since the day when she hadlooked upat the tall man in the cottage.  There was a tremblingin herclear voice as she put her hand into his and said"BecomfortedAdam Bedethe Lord has not forsaken her."

"Blessyou for coming to her" Adam said.  "Mr. Masseybrought mewordyesterday as you was come."

They couldneither of them say any more just yetbut stood beforeeach otherin silence; and Bartle Masseytoowho had put on hisspectaclesseemed transfixedexamining Dinah's face.  But herecoveredhimself firstand said"Sit downyoung womansitdown"placing the chair for her and retiring to his old seat onthe bed.

"Thankyoufriend; I won't sit down" said Dinah"for I musthastenback.  She entreated me not to stay long away.  What I cameforAdamBedewas to pray you to go and see the poor sinner andbid herfarewell.  She desires to ask your forgivenessand it ismeet youshould see her to-dayrather than in the early morningwhen thetime will be short."

Adam stoodtremblingand at last sank down on his chair again.

"Itwon't be" he said"it'll be put off--there'll perhapscome apardon. Mr. Irwine said there was hope.  He saidI needn't quitegive itup."

"That'sa blessed thought to me" said Dinahher eyes fillingwithtears.  "It's a fearful thing hurrying her soul away sofast."

"Butlet what will be" she added presently.  "You willsurelycomeandlet her speak the words that are in her heart.  Althoughher poorsoul is very dark and discerns little beyond the thingsof thefleshshe is no longer hard.  She is contriteshe hasconfessedall to me.  The pride of her heart has given wayandshe leanson me for help and desires to be taught.  This fills mewithtrustfor I cannot but think that the brethren sometimes errinmeasuring the Divine love by the sinner's knowledge.  She isgoing towrite a letter to the friends at the Hall Farm for me togive themwhen she is goneand when I told her you were hereshesaid'Ishould like to say good-bye to Adam and ask him toforgiveme.'  You will comeAdam?  Perhaps you will even now comeback withme."

"Ican't" Adam said.  "I can't say good-bye whilethere's anyhope. I'm listeningand listening--I can't think o' nothing butthat. It can't be as she'll die that shameful death--I can'tbring mymind to it."

He got upfrom his chair again and looked away out of the windowwhileDinah stood with compassionate patience.  In a minute or twohe turnedround and said"I will comeDinah...to-morrowmorning...ifit must be.  I may have more strength to bear itifI know itmust be.  Tell herI forgive her; tell her I will come--at thevery last."

"Iwill not urge you against the voice of your own heart" saidDinah. "I must hasten back to herfor it is wonderful how sheclingsnowand was not willing to let me out of her sight.  Sheused neverto make any return to my affection beforebut nowtribulationhas opened her heart.  FarewellAdam.  Our heavenlyFathercomfort you and strengthen you to bear all things."  Dinahput outher handand Adam pressed it in silence.

BartleMassey was getting up to lift the stiff latch of the doorfor herbut before he could reach itshe had said gently"Farewellfriend" and was gonewith her light step down thestairs.

"Well"said Bartletaking off his spectacles and putting theminto hispocket"if there must be women to make trouble in theworldit's but fair there should be women to be comforters underit; andshe's one--she's one.  It's a pity she's a Methodist; butthere's nogetting a woman without some foolishness or other."

Adam neverwent to bed that night.  The excitement of suspenseheighteningwith every hour that brought him nearer the fatalmomentwas too greatand in spite of his entreatiesin spite ofhispromises that he would be perfectly quietthe schoolmasterwatchedtoo.

"Whatdoes it matter to melad?" Bartle said: "a night's sleepmore orless?  I shall sleep long enoughby and byunderground.Let mekeep thee company in trouble while I can."

It was along and dreary night in that small chamber.  Adam wouldsometimesget up and tread backwards and forwards along the shortspace fromwall to wall; then he would sit down and hide his faceand nosound would be heard but the ticking of the watch on thetableorthe falling of a cinder from the fire which theschoolmastercarefully tended.  Sometimes he would burst out intovehementspeech"If I could ha' done anything to save her--if mybearinganything would ha' done any good...but t' have to sitstillandknow itand do nothing...it's hard for a man tobear...andto think o' what might ha' been nowif it hadn't beenforHIM....O Godit's the very day we should ha' been married."

"Ayemy lad" said Bartle tenderly"it's heavy--it's heavy. Butyou mustremember this: when you thought of marrying heryou'd anotionshe'd got another sort of a nature inside her.  You didn'tthink shecould have got hardened in that little while to do whatshe'sdone."

"Iknow--I know that" said Adam.  "I thought she wasloving andtender-heartedand wouldn't tell a lieor act deceitful.  Howcould Ithink any other way?  And if he'd never come near herandI'dmarried herand been loving to herand took care of hershemightnever ha' done anything bad.  What would it ha' signified--my havinga bit o' trouble with her?  It 'ud ha' been nothing tothis."

"There'sno knowingmy lad--there's no knowing what might havecome. The smart's bad for you to bear now: you must have time--you musthave time.  But I've that opinion of youthat you'llrise aboveit all and be a man againand there may good come outof thisthat we don't see."

"Goodcome out of it!" said Adam passionately.  "Thatdoesn'talter th'evil: HER ruin can't be undone.  I hate that talk o'peopleasif there was a way o' making amends for everything.They'dmore need be brought to see as the wrong they do can neverbealtered.  When a man's spoiled his fellow-creatur's lifehe'sno rightto comfort himself with thinking good may come out of it.Somebodyelse's good doesn't alter her shame and misery."

"Wellladwell" said Bartlein a gentle tonestrangely incontrastwith his usual peremptoriness and impatience ofcontradiction"it's likely enough I talk foolishness.  I'm an oldfellowand it's a good many years since I was in trouble myself.It's easyfinding reasons why other folks should be patient."

"Mr.Massey" said Adam penitently"I'm very hot and hasty. Iowe yousomething different; but you mustn't take it ill of me."

"NotIlad--not I."

So thenight wore on in agitation till the chill dawn and thegrowinglight brought the tremulous quiet that comes on the brinkofdespair.  There would soon be no more suspense.

"Letus go to the prison nowMr. Massey" said Adamwhen he sawthe handof his watch at six.  "If there's any news comewe shallhear aboutit."

The peoplewere astir alreadymoving rapidlyin one directionthroughthe streets.  Adam tried not to think where they weregoingasthey hurried past him in that short space between hislodgingand the prison gates.  He was thankful when the gates shuthim infrom seeing those eager people.

No; therewas no news come--no pardon--no reprieve.

Adamlingered in the court half an hour before he could bringhimself tosend word to Dinah that he was come.  But a voicecaught hisear: he could not shut out the words.

"Thecart is to set off at half-past seven."

It must besaid--the last good-bye: there was no help.

In tenminutes from that timeAdam was at the door of the cell.Dinah hadsent him word that she could not come to him; she couldnot leaveHetty one moment; but Hetty was prepared for themeeting.

He couldnot see her when he enteredfor agitation deadened hissensesand the dim cell was almost dark to him.  He stood amomentafter the door closed behind himtrembling and stupefied.

But hebegan to see through the dimness--to see the dark eyeslifted upto him once morebut with no smile in them.  O Godhowsad theylooked!  The last time they had met his was when hepartedfrom her with his heart full of joyous hopeful loveandtheylooked out with a tearful smile from a pinkdimpledchildishface.  The face was marble now; the sweet lips werepallid andhalf-open and quivering; the dimples were all gone--allbut onethat never went; and the eyes--Othe worst of all wasthelikeness they had to Hetty's.  They were Hetty's eyes lookingat himwith that mournful gazeas if she had come back to himfrom thedead to tell him of her misery.

She wasclinging close to Dinah; her cheek was against Dinah's.It seemedas if her last faint strength and hope lay in thatcontactand the pitying love that shone out from Dinah's facelookedlike a visible pledge of the Invisible Mercy.

When thesad eyes met--when Hetty and Adam looked at each other--she feltthe change in him tooand it seemed to strike her withfreshfear.  It was the first time she had seen any being whosefaceseemed to reflect the change in herself: Adam was a new imageof thedreadful past and the dreadful present.  She trembled moreas shelooked at him.

"Speakto himHetty" Dinah said; "tell him what is in yourheart."

Hettyobeyed herlike a little child.

"Adam...I'mvery sorry...I behaved very wrong to you...will youforgiveme...before I die?"

Adamanswered with a half-sob"YesI forgive thee Hetty.  Iforgavethee long ago."

It hadseemed to Adam as if his brain would burst with the anguishof meetingHetty's eyes in the first momentsbut the sound of hervoiceuttering these penitent words touched a chord which had beenlessstrained.  There was a sense of relief from what was becomingunbearableand the rare tears came--they had never come beforesince hehad hung on Seth's neck in the beginning of his sorrow.

Hetty madean involuntary movement towards himsome of the lovethat shehad once lived in the midst of was come near her again.She kepthold of Dinah's handbut she went up to Adam and saidtimidly"Will you kiss me againAdamfor all I've been sowicked?"

Adam tookthe blanched wasted hand she put out to himand theygave eachother the solemn unspeakable kiss of a lifelong parting.

"Andtell him" Hetty saidin rather a stronger voice"tellhim...forthere's nobody else to tell him...as I went after himandcouldn't find him...and I hated him and cursed him once...butDinah saysI should forgive him...and I try...for else God won'tforgiveme."

There wasa noise at the door of the cell now--the key was beingturned inthe lockand when the door openedAdam sawindistinctlythat there were several faces there.  He was tooagitatedto see more--even to see that Mr. Irwine's face was oneof them. He felt that the last preparations were beginningandhe couldstay no longer.  Room was silently made for him todepartand he went to his chamber in lonelinessleaving BartleMassey towatch and see the end.

 

 ChapterXLVII TheLast Moment

 

IT was asight that some people remembered better even than theirownsorrows--the sight in that grey clear morningwhen the fatalcart withthe two young women in it was descried by the waitingwatchingmultitudecleaving its way towards the hideous symbol ofadeliberately inflicted sudden death.

AllStoniton had heard of Dinah Morristhe young Methodist womanwho hadbrought the obstinate criminal to confessand there wasas mucheagerness to see her as to see the wretched Hetty.

But Dinahwas hardly conscious of the multitude.  When Hetty hadcaughtsight of the vast crowd in the distanceshe had clutchedDinahconvulsively.

"Closeyour eyesHetty" Dinah said"and let us pray withoutceasing toGod."

And in alow voiceas the cart went slowly along through themidst ofthe gazing crowdshe poured forth her soul with thewrestlingintensity of a last pleadingfor the trembling creaturethat clungto her and clutched her as the only visible sign oflove andpity.

Dinah didnot know that the crowd was silentgazing at her with asort ofawe--she did not even know how near they were to the fatalspotwhenthe cart stoppedand she shrank appalled at a loudshouthideous to her earlike a vast yell of demons.  Hetty'sshriekmingled with the soundand they clasped each other inmutualhorror.

But it wasnot a shout of execration--not a yell of exultantcruelty.

It was ashout of sudden excitement at the appearance of ahorsemancleaving the crowd at full gallop.  The horse is hot anddistressedbut answers to the desperate spurring; the rider looksas if hiseyes were glazed by madnessand he saw nothing but whatwas unseenby others.  Seehe has something in his hand--he isholding itup as if it were a signal.

TheSheriff knows him: it is Arthur Donnithornecarrying in hishand ahard-won release from death.

 

 ChapterXLVIII Another Meeting in the Wood

 

THE nextdayat eveningtwo men were walking from oppositepointstowards the same scenedrawn thither by a common memory.The scenewas the Grove by Donnithorne Chase: you know who the menwere.

The oldsquire's funeral had taken place that morningthe willhad beenreadand now in the first breathing-spaceArthurDonnithornehad come out for a lonely walkthat he might lookfixedly atthe new future before him and confirm himself in a sadresolution. He thought he could do that best in the Grove.

Adam toohad come from Stontion on Monday eveningand to-day hehad notleft homeexcept to go to the family at the Hall Farm andtell themeverything that Mr. Irwine had left untold.  He hadagreedwith the Poysers that he would follow them to their newneighbourhoodwherever that might befor he meant to give up themanagementof the woodsandas soon as it was practicablehewould windup his business with Jonathan Burge and settle with hismother andSeth in a home within reach of the friends to whom hefelt boundby a mutual sorrow.

"Sethand me are sure to find work" he said.  "A man that'sgotour tradeat his finger-ends is at home everywhere; and we mustmake a newstart.  My mother won't stand in the wayfor she'stold mesince I came homeshe'd made up her mind to being buriedin anotherparishif I wished itand if I'd be more comfortableelsewhere. It's wonderful how quiet she's been ever since I cameback. It seems as if the very greatness o' the trouble hadquietedand calmed her.  We shall all be better in a new countrythoughthere's some I shall be loath to leave behind.  But I won'tpart fromyou and yoursif I can help itMr. Poyser.  Trouble'smade uskin."

"Ayelad" said Martin.  "We'll go out o' hearing o' thatman'sname. But I doubt we shall ne'er go far enough for folks not tofind outas we've got them belonging to us as are transported o'erthe seasand were like to be hanged.  We shall have that flyin'up in ourfacesand our children's after us."

That was along visit to the Hall Farmand drew too strongly onAdam'senergies for him to think of seeing othersor re-enteringon his oldoccupations till the morrow.  "But to-morrow" he saidtohimself"I'll go to work again.  I shall learn to like itagain sometimemaybe; and it's right whether I like it or not."

Thisevening was the last he would allow to be absorbed by sorrow:suspensewas gone nowand he must bear the unalterable.  He wasresolvednot to see Arthur Donnithorne againif it were possibleto avoidhim.  He had no message to deliver from Hetty nowforHetty hadseen Arthur.  And Adam distrusted himself--he hadlearned todread the violence of his own feeling.  That word ofMr.Irwine's--that he must remember what he had felt after givingthe lastblow to Arthur in the Grove--had remained with him.

Thesethoughts about Arthurlike all thoughts that are chargedwithstrong feelingwere continually recurringand they alwayscalled upthe image of the Grove--of that spot under theoverarchingboughs where he had caught sight of the two bendingfiguresand had been possessed by sudden rage.

"I'llgo and see it again to-night for the last time" he said;"it'lldo me good; it'll make me feel over again what I felt whenI'dknocked him down.  I felt what poor empty work it wasas soonas I'ddone itbefore I began to think he might be dead."

In thisway it happened that Arthur and Adam were walking towardsthe samespot at the same time.

Adam hadon his working-dress againnowfor he had thrown offthe otherwith a sense of relief as soon as he came home; and ifhe had hadthe basket of tools over his shoulderhe might havebeentakenwith his pale wasted facefor the spectre of the AdamBede whoentered the Grove on that August evening eight monthsago. But he had no basket of toolsand he was not walking withthe olderectnesslooking keenly round him; his hands were thrustin hisside pocketsand his eyes rested chiefly on the ground.He had notlong entered the Groveand now he paused before abeech. He knew that tree well; it was the boundary mark of hisyouth--thesignto himof the time when some of his earlieststrongestfeelings had left him.  He felt sure they would neverreturn. And yetat this momentthere was a stirring ofaffectionat the remembrance of that Arthur Donnithorne whom hehadbelieved in before he had come up to this beech eight monthsago. It was affection for the dead: THAT Arthur existed nolonger.

He wasdisturbed by the sound of approaching footstepsbut thebeechstood at a turning in the roadand he could not see who wascominguntil the tall slim figure in deep mourning suddenly stoodbefore himat only two yards' distance.  They both startedandlooked ateach other in silence.  Oftenin the last fortnightAdam hadimagined himself as close to Arthur as thisassailinghim withwords that should be as harrowing as the voice ofremorseforcing upon him a just share in the misery he hadcaused;and oftentoohe had told himself that such a meetinghad betternot be.  But in imagining the meeting he had alwaysseenArthuras he had met him on that evening in the Grovefloridcarelesslight of speech; and the figure before himtouchedhim with the signs of suffering.  Adam knew what sufferingwas--hecould not lay a cruel finger on a bruised man.  He felt noimpulsethat he needed to resist.  Silence was more just thanreproach. Arthur was the first to speak.

"Adam"he saidquietly"it may be a good thing that we have methereforI wished to see you.  I should have asked to see you to-morrow."

He pausedbut Adam said nothing.

"Iknow it is painful to you to meet me" Arthur went on"butitis notlikely to happen again for years to come."

"Nosir" said Adamcoldly"that was what I meant to write toyouto-morrowas it would be better all dealings should be at anendbetween usand somebody else put in my place."

Arthurfelt the answer keenlyand it was not without an effortthat hespoke again.

"Itwas partly on that subject I wished to speak to you.  I don'twant tolessen your indignation against meor ask you to doanythingfor my sake.  I only wish to ask you if you will help meto lessenthe evil consequences of the pastwhich isunchangeable. I don't mean consequences to myselfbut to others.It is butlittle I can doI know.  I know the worst consequenceswillremain; but something may be doneand you can help me.  Willyou listento me patiently?"

"Yessir" said Adamafter some hesitation; "I'll hear what itis. If I can help to mend anythingI will.  Anger 'ull mendnothingIknow.  We've had enough o' that."

"Iwas going to the Hermitage" said Arthur.  "Will yougo therewith meand sit down?  We can talk better there."

TheHermitage had never been entered since they left it togetherfor Arthurhad locked up the key in his desk.  And nowwhen heopened thedoorthere was the candle burnt out in the socket;there wasthe chair in the same place where Adam rememberedsitting;there was the waste-paper basket full of scrapsand deepdown initArthur felt in an instantthere was the little pinksilkhandkerchief.  It would have been painful to enter this placeif theirprevious thoughts had been less painful.

They satdown opposite each other in the old placesand Arthursaid"I'mgoing awayAdam; I'm going into the army."

PoorArthur felt that Adam ought to be affected by thisannouncement--oughtto have a movement of sympathy towards him.But Adam'slips remained firmly closedand the expression of hisfaceunchanged.

"WhatI want to say to you" Arthur continued"is this: one ofmyreasonsfor going away is that no one else may leave Hayslope--mayleavetheir home on my account.  I would do anythingthere is nosacrificeI would not maketo prevent any further injury toothersthrough my--through what has happened."

Arthur'swords had precisely the opposite effect to that he hadanticipated. Adam thought he perceived in them that notion ofcompensationfor irretrievable wrongthat self-soothing attemptto makeevil bear the same fruits as goodwhich most of allroused hisindignation.  He was as strongly impelled to lookpainfulfacts right in the face as Arthur was to turn away hiseyes fromthem.  Moreoverhe had the wakeful suspicious pride ofa poor manin the presence of a rich man.  He felt his oldseverityreturning as he said"The time's past for thatsir.  Aman shouldmake sacrifices to keep clear of doing a wrong;sacrificeswon't undo it when it's done.  When people's feelingshave got adeadly woundthey can't be cured with favours."

"Favours!"said Arthurpassionately; "no; how can you suppose Imeantthat?  But the Poysers--Mr. Irwine tells me the Poysers meanto leavethe place where they have lived so many years--forgenerations. Don't you seeas Mr. Irwine doesthat if theycould bepersuaded to overcome the feeling that drives them awayit wouldbe much better for them in the end to remain on the oldspotamong the friends and neighbours who know them?"

"That'strue" said Adam coldly.  "But thensirfolks'sfeelingsare not soeasily overcome.  It'll be hard for Martin Poyser to goto astrange placeamong strange faceswhen he's been bred up onthe HallFarmand his father before him; but then it 'ud beharder fora man with his feelings to stay.  I don't see how thething's tobe made any other than hard.  There's a sort o' damagesirthatcan't be made up for."

Arthur wassilent some moments.  In spite of other feelingsdominantin him this eveninghis pride winced under Adam's modeoftreating him.  Wasn't he himself suffering?  Was not he tooobliged torenounce his most cherished hopes?  It was now as ithad beeneight months ago--Adam was forcing Arthur to feel moreintenselythe irrevocableness of his own wrong-doing.  He waspresentingthe sort of resistance that was the most irritating toArthur'seager ardent nature.  But his anger was subdued by thesameinfluence that had subdued Adam's when they first confrontedeachother--by the marks of suffering in a long familiar face.Themomentary struggle ended in the feeling that he could bear agreat dealfrom Adamto whom he had been the occasion of bearingso much;but there was a touch of pleadingboyish vexation in histone as hesaid"But people may make injuries worse byunreasonableconduct--by giving way to anger and satisfying thatfor themomentinstead of thinking what will be the effect in thefuture.

"If Iwere going to stay here and act as landlord" he addedpresentlywith still more eagerness--"if I were careless aboutwhat I'vedone--what I've been the cause ofyou would have someexcuseAdamfor going away and encouraging others to go.  Youwould havesome excuse then for trying to make the evil worse.But when Itell you I'm going away for years--when you know whatthat meansfor mehow it cuts off every plan of happiness I'veeverformed--it is impossible for a sensible man like you tobelievethat there is any real ground for the Poysers refusing toremain. I know their feeling about disgrace--Mr. Irwine has toldme all;but he is of opinion that they might be persuaded out ofthis ideathat they are disgraced in the eyes of their neighboursand thatthey can't remain on my estateif you would join him inhisefforts--if you would stay yourself and go on managing the oldwoods."

Arthurpaused a moment and then addedpleadingly"You knowthat's agood work to do for the sake of other peoplebesides theowner. And you don't know but that they may have a better ownersoonwhomyou will like to work for.  If I diemy cousinTradgettwill have the estate and take my name.  He is a goodfellow."

Adam couldnot help being moved: it was impossible for him not tofeel thatthis was the voice of the honest warm-hearted Arthurwhom hehad loved and been proud of in old days; but nearermemorieswould not be thrust away.  He was silent; yet Arthur sawan answerin his face that induced him to go onwith growingearnestness.

"Andthenif you would talk to the Poysers--if you would talk thematterover with Mr. Irwine--he means to see you to-morrow--andthen ifyou would join your arguments to his to prevail on themnot togo....I knowof coursethat they would not accept anyfavourfrom me--I mean nothing of that kind--but I'm sure theywouldsuffer less in the end.  Irwine thinks so too.  And Mr.Irwine isto have the chief authority on the estate--he hasconsentedto undertake that.  They will really be under no man butone whomthey respect and like.  It would be the same with youAdamandit could be nothing but a desire to give me worse painthat couldincline you to go."

Arthur wassilent again for a little whileand then saidwithsomeagitation in his voice"I wouldn't act so towards youIknow. If you were in my place and I in yoursI should try tohelp youto do the best."

Adam madea hasty movement on his chair and looked on the ground.Arthurwent on"Perhaps you've never done anything you've hadbitterlyto repent of in your lifeAdam; if you hadyou would bemoregenerous.  You would know then that it's worse for me thanfor you."

Arthurrose from his seat with the last wordsand went to one ofthewindowslooking out and turning his back on Adamas hecontinuedpassionately"Haven't I loved her too?  Didn't I seeheryesterday?  Shan't I carry the thought of her about with me asmuch asyou will?  And don't you think you would suffer more ifyou'd beenin fault?"

There wassilence for several minutesfor the struggle in Adam'smind wasnot easily decided.  Facile natureswhose emotions havelittlepermanencecan hardly understand how much inwardresistancehe overcame before he rose from his seat and turnedtowardsArthur.  Arthur heard the movementand turning roundmetthe sadbut softened look with which Adam said"It's true whatyou saysir.  I'm hard--it's in my nature.  I was too hard withmy fatherfor doing wrong.  I've been a bit hard t' everybody buther. I felt as if nobody pitied her enough--her suffering cutinto meso; and when I thought the folks at the farm were too hardwith herI said I'd never be hard to anybody myself again.  Butfeelingovermuch about her has perhaps made me unfair to you.I've knownwhat it is in my life to repent and feel it's too late.I felt I'dbeen too harsh to my father when he was gone from me--Ifeel itnowwhen I think of him.  I've no right to be hardtowardsthem as have done wrong and repent."

Adam spokethese words with the firm distinctness of a man who isresolvedto leave nothing unsaid that he is bound to say; but hewent onwith more hesitation.

"Iwouldn't shake hands with you oncesirwhen you asked me--butif you'rewilling to do it nowfor all I refused then..."

Arthur'swhite hand was in Adam's large grasp in an instantandwith thataction there was a strong rushon both sidesof theoldboyish affection.

"Adam"Arthur saidimpelled to full confession now"it wouldnever havehappened if I'd known you loved her.  That would havehelped tosave me from it.  And I did struggle.  I never meant toinjureher.  I deceived you afterwards--and that led on to worse;but Ithought it was forced upon meI thought it was the bestthing Icould do.  And in that letter I told her to let me know ifshe werein any trouble: don't think I would not have doneeverythingI could.  But I was all wrong from the very firstandhorriblewrong has come of it.  God knowsI'd give my life if Icould undoit."

They satdown again opposite each otherand Adam saidtremulously"How did she seem when you left hersir?"

"Don'task meAdam" Arthur said; "I feel sometimes as if Ishould gomad with thinking of her looks and what she said to meand thenthat I couldn't get a full pardon--that I couldn't saveher fromthat wretched fate of being transported--that I can donothingfor her all those years; and she may die under itandnever knowcomfort any more."

"Ahsir" said Adamfor the first time feeling his own painmerged insympathy for Arthur"you and me'll often be thinking o'the samethingwhen we're a long way off one another.  I'll prayGod tohelp youas I pray him to help me."

"Butthere's that sweet woman--that Dinah Morris" Arthur saidpursuinghis own thoughts and not knowing what had been the senseof Adam'swords"she says she shall stay with her to the verylastmoment--till she goes; and the poor thing clings to her as ifshe foundsome comfort in her.  I could worship that woman; Idon't knowwhat I should do if she were not there.  Adamyou willsee herwhen she comes back.  I could say nothing to heryesterday--nothingof what I felt towards her.  Tell her" Arthurwent onhurriedlyas if he wanted to hide the emotion with whichhe spokewhile he took off his chain and watch"tell her I askedyou togive her this in remembrance of me--of the man to whom sheis the onesource of comfortwhen he thinks of...I know shedoesn'tcare about such things--or anything else I can give herfor itsown sake.  But she will use the watch--I shall like tothink ofher using it."

"I'llgive it to hersir" Adam said"and tell her your words.She toldme she should come back to the people at the Hall Farm."

"Andyou will persuade the Poysers to stayAdam?" said Arthurremindedof the subject which both of them had forgotten in thefirstinterchange of revived friendship.  "You will stayyourselfand helpMr. Irwine to carry out the repairs and improvements ontheestate?"

"There'sone thingsirthat perhaps you don't take account of"said Adamwith hesitating gentleness"and that was what made mehang backlonger.  You seeit's the same with both me and thePoysers:if we stayit's for our own worldly interestand itlooks asif we'd put up with anything for the sake o' that.  Iknowthat's what they'll feeland I can't help feeling a littleof itmyself.  When folks have got an honourable independentspiritthey don't like to do anything that might make 'em seembase-minded."

"Butno one who knows you will think thatAdam.  That is not areasonstrong enough against a course that is really moregenerousmore unselfish than the other.  And it will be known--itshall bemade knownthat both you and the Poysers stayed at myentreaty. Adamdon't try to make things worse for me; I'mpunishedenough without that."

"Nosirno" Adam saidlooking at Arthur with mournfulaffection. "God forbid I should make things worse for you.  Iused towish I could do itin my passion--but that was when Ithoughtyou didn't feel enough.  I'll staysirI'll do the bestI can. It's all I've got to think of now--to do my work well andmake theworld a bit better place for them as can enjoy it."

"Thenwe'll part nowAdam.  You will see Mr. Irwine to-morrowandconsult with him about everything."

"Areyou going soonsir?" said Adam.

"Assoon as possible--after I've made the necessary arrangements.Good-byeAdam.  I shall think of you going about the old place."

"Good-byesir.  God bless you."

The handswere clasped once moreand Adam left the Hermitagefeelingthat sorrow was more bearable now hatred was gone.

As soon asthe door was closed behind himArthur went to thewaste-paperbasket and took out the little pink silk handkerchief.

 

 

BookSix   ChapterXLIX At theHall Farm

 

THE firstautumnal afternoon sunshine of 1801--more than eighteenmonthsafter that parting of Adam and Arthur in the Hermitage--wason theyard at the Hall Farm; and the bull-dog was in one of hismostexcited momentsfor it was that hour of the day when thecows werebeing driven into the yard for their afternoon milking.No wonderthe patient beasts ran confusedly into the wrong placesfor thealarming din of the bull-dog was mingled with more distantsoundswhich the timid feminine creatureswith pardonablesuperstitionimagined also to have some relation to their ownmovements--withthe tremendous crack of the waggoner's whiptheroar ofhis voiceand the booming thunder of the waggonas itleft therick-yard empty of its golden load.

Themilking of the cows was a sight Mrs. Poyser lovedand at thishour onmild days she was usually standing at the house doorwithherknitting in her handsin quiet contemplationonly heightenedto akeener interest when the vicious yellow cowwho had oncekickedover a pailful of precious milkwas about to undergo thepreventivepunishment of having her hinder-legs strapped.

To-dayhoweverMrs. Poyser gave but a divided attention to thearrival ofthe cowsfor she was in eager discussion with Dinahwho wasstitching Mr. Poyser's shirt-collarsand had bornepatientlyto have her thread broken three times by Totty pullingat her armwith a sudden insistence that she should look at"Baby"that isat a large wooden doll with no legs and a longskirtwhose bald head Tottyseated in her small chair at Dinah'ssidewascaressing and pressing to her fat cheek with muchfervour. Totty is larger by more than two years' growth than whenyou firstsaw herand she has on a black frock under herpinafore. Mrs. Poyser too has on a black gownwhich seems toheightenthe family likeness between her and Dinah.  In otherrespectsthere is little outward change now discernible in our oldfriendsor in the pleasant house-placebright with polished oakandpewter.

"Inever saw the like to youDinah" Mrs. Poyser was saying"whenyou've once took anything into your head: there's no moremoving youthan the rooted tree.  You may say what you likebut Idon'tbelieve that's religion; for what's the Sermon on the Mountaboutasyou're so fond o' reading to the boysbut doing whatotherfolks 'ud have you do?  But if it was anything unreasonabletheywanted you to dolike taking your cloak off and giving it to'emorletting 'em slap you i' the faceI daresay you'd be readyenough. It's only when one 'ud have you do what's plain commonsense andgood for yourselfas you're obstinate th' other way."

"Naydear Aunt" said Dinahsmiling slightly as she went on withher work"I'm sure your wish 'ud be a reason for me to doanythingthat I didn't feel it was wrong to do."

"Wrong! You drive me past bearing.  What is there wrongI shouldlike toknowi' staying along wi' your own friendsas are th'happierfor having you with 'em an' are willing to provide foryouevenif your work didn't more nor pay 'em for the bit o'sparrow'svictual y' eat and the bit o' rag you put on?  An' whois itIshould like to knowas you're bound t' help and comforti' theworld more nor your own flesh and blood--an' me th' onlyauntyou've got above-groundan' am brought to the brink o' thegravewelly every winter as comesan' there's the child as sitsbeside you'ull break her little heart when you goan' thegrandfathernot been dead a twelvemonthan' your uncle 'ull missyou so asnever was--a-lighting his pipe an' waiting on himan'now I cantrust you wi' the butteran' have had all the troubleo'teaching youand there's all the sewing to be donean' I musthave astrange gell out o' Treddles'on to do it--an' all becauseyou mustgo back to that bare heap o' stones as the very crows flyover an'won't stop at."

"DearAunt Rachel" said Dinahlooking up in Mrs. Poyser's face"it'syour kindness makes you say I'm useful to you.  You don'treallywant me nowfor Nancy and Molly are clever at their workand you'rein good health nowby the blessing of Godand myuncle isof a cheerful countenance againand you have neighboursandfriends not a few--some of them come to sit with my unclealmostdaily.  Indeedyou will not miss me; and at Snowfieldthere arebrethren and sisters in great needwho have none ofthosecomforts you have around you.  I feel that I am called backto thoseamongst whom my lot was first cast.  I feel drawn againtowardsthe hills where I used to be blessed in carrying the wordof life tothe sinful and desolate."

"Youfeel!  Yes" said Mrs. Poyserreturning from a parentheticglance atthe cows"that's allays the reason I'm to sit down wi'whenyou've a mind to do anything contrairy.  What do you want tobepreaching for more than you're preaching now?  Don't you goofftheLord knows whereevery Sunday a-preaching and praying?An'haven't you got Methodists enow at Treddles'on to go and lookatifchurch-folks's faces are too handsome to please you?  An'isn'tthere them i' this parish as you've got under handandthey'relike enough to make friends wi' Old Harry again as soon asyourback's turned?  There's that Bessy Cranage--she'll beflauntingi' new finery three weeks after you're goneI'll bebound. She'll no more go on in her new ways without you than adog 'ullstand on its hind-legs when there's nobody looking.  ButI supposeit doesna matter so much about folks's souls i' thiscountryelse you'd be for staying with your own auntfor she'snone sogood but what you might help her to be better."

There wasa certain something in Mrs. Poyser's voice just thenwhich shedid not wish to be noticedso she turned round hastilyto look atthe clockand said: "See there!  It's tea-time; an' ifMartin'si' the rick-yardhe'll like a cup.  HereTottymychickenlet mother put your bonnet onand then you go out intotherick-yard and see if Father's thereand tell him he mustn'tgo awayagain without coming t' have a cup o' tea; and tell yourbrothersto come in too."

Tottytrotted off in her flapping bonnetwhile Mrs. Poyser setout thebright oak table and reached down the tea-cups.

"Youtalk o' them gells Nancy and Molly being clever i' theirwork"she began again; "it's fine talking.  They're all the sameclever orstupid--one can't trust 'em out o' one's sight a minute.They wantsomebody's eye on 'em constant if they're to be kept totheirwork.  An' suppose I'm ill again this winteras I was thewinterbefore last?  Who's to look after 'em thenif you're gone?An'there's that blessed child--something's sure t' happen to her--they'lllet her tumble into the fireor get at the kettle wi'theboiling lard in'tor some mischief as 'ull lame her for life;an' it'llbe all your faultDinah."

"Aunt"said Dinah"I promise to come back to you in the winterif you'reill.  Don't think I will ever stay away from you ifyou're inreal want of me.  Butindeedit is needful for my ownsoul thatI should go away from this life of ease and luxury inwhich Ihave all things too richly to enjoy--at least that Ishould goaway for a short space.  No one can know but myself whatare myinward needsand the besetments I am most in danger from.Your wishfor me to stay is not a call of duty which I refuse tohearken tobecause it is against my own desires; it is atemptationthat I must resistlest the love of the creatureshouldbecome like a mist in my soul shutting out the heavenlylight."

"Itpasses my cunning to know what you mean by ease and luxury"said Mrs.Poyseras she cut the bread and butter.  "It's truethere'sgood victual enough about youas nobody shall ever say Idon'tprovide enough and to sparebut if there's ever a bit o'odds an'ends as nobody else 'ud eatyou're sure to pick itout...butlook there!  There's Adam Bede a-carrying the little unin. I wonder how it is he's come so early."

Mrs.Poyser hastened to the door for the pleasure of looking atherdarling in a new positionwith love in her eyes but reproofon hertongue.

"Ohfor shameTotty!  Little gells o' five year old should beashamed tobe carried.  WhyAdamshe'll break your armsuch abig gellas that; set her down--for shame!"

"Naynay" said Adam"I can lift her with my hand--I've no needto take myarm to it."

Tottylooking as serenely unconscious of remark as a fat whitepuppywasset down at the door-placeand the mother enforced herreproofwith a shower of kisses.

"You'resurprised to see me at this hour o' the day" said Adam.

"Yesbut come in" said Mrs. Poysermaking way for him; "there'sno badnewsI hope?"

"Nonothing bad" Adam answeredas he went up to Dinah and putout hishand to her.  She had laid down her work and stood upinstinctivelyas he approached her.  A faint blush died away fromher palecheek as she put her hand in his and looked up at himtimidly.

"It'san errand to you brought meDinah" said Adamapparentlyunconsciousthat he was holding her hand all the while; "mother'sa bitailingand she's set her heart on your coming to stay thenight withherif you'll be so kind.  I told her I'd call and askyou as Icame from the village.  She overworks herselfand Ican'tpersuade her to have a little girl t' help her.  I don'tknowwhat's to be done."

Adamreleased Dinah's hand as he ceased speakingand wasexpectingan answerbut before she had opened her lips Mrs.Poysersaid"Look there now!  I told you there was folks enow t'help i'this parishwi'out going further off.  There's Mrs. Bedegetting asold and cas'alty as can beand she won't let anybodybut you goa-nigh her hardly.  The folks at Snowfield have learntby thistime to do better wi'out you nor she can."

"I'llput my bonnet on and set off directlyif you don't wantanythingdone firstAunt" said Dinahfolding up her work.

"YesI do want something done.  I want you t' have your teachild;it's all ready--and you'll have a cupAdamif y' arena intoo big ahurry."

"YesI'll have a cupplease; and then I'll walk with Dinah.  I'mgoingstraight homefor I've got a lot o' timber valuations towriteout."

"WhyAdamladare you here?" said Mr. Poyserentering warm andcoatlesswith the two black-eyed boys behind himstill lookingas muchlike him as two small elephants are like a large one."Howis it we've got sight o' you so long before foddering-time?"

"Icame on an errand for Mother" said Adam.  "She's gota touchof her oldcomplaintand she wants Dinah to go and stay with hera bit."

"Wellwe'll spare her for your mother a little while" said Mr.Poyser. "But we wonna spare her for anybody elseon'y herhusband."

"Husband!"said Martywho was at the most prosaic and literalperiod ofthe boyish mind.  "WhyDinah hasn't got a husband."

"Spareher?" said Mrs. Poyserplacing a seed-cake on the tableand thenseating herself to pour out the tea.  "But we must spareheritseemsand not for a husband neitherbut for her ownmegrims. Tommywhat are you doing to your little sister's doll?Making thechild naughtywhen she'd be good if you'd let her.You shannahave a morsel o' cake if you behave so."

Tommywith true brotherly sympathywas amusing himself byturningDolly's skirt over her bald head and exhibiting hertruncatedbody to the general scorn--an indignity which cut Tottyto theheart.

"Whatdo you think Dinah's been a-telling me since dinner-time?"Mrs.Poyser continuedlooking at her husband.

"Eh! I'm a poor un at guessing" said Mr. Poyser.

"Whyshe means to go back to Snowfield againand work i' themillandstarve herselfas she used to dolike a creatur as hasgot nofriends."

Mr. Poyserdid not readily find words to express his unpleasantastonishment;he only looked from his wife to Dinahwho had nowseatedherself beside Tottyas a bulwark against brotherlyplayfulnessand was busying herself with the children's tea.  Ifhe hadbeen given to making general reflectionsit would haveoccurredto him that there was certainly a change come over Dinahfor shenever used to change colour; butas it washe merelyobservedthat her face was flushed at that moment.  Mr. Poyserthoughtshe looked the prettier for it: it was a flush no deeperthan thepetal of a monthly rose.  Perhaps it came because heruncle waslooking at her so fixedly; but there is no knowingforjust thenAdam was sayingwith quiet surprise"WhyI hopedDinah wassettled among us for life.  I thought she'd given up thenotion o'going back to her old country."

"Thought! Yes" said Mrs. Poyser"and so would anybody else ha'thoughtas had got their right end up'ards.  But I suppose youmust be aMethodist to know what a Methodist 'ull do.  It's illguessingwhat the bats are flying after."

"Whywhat have we done to you.  Dinahas you must go away fromus?"said Mr. Poyserstill pausing over his tea-cup.  "It'slikebreakingyour wordwellyfor your aunt never had no thought butyou'd makethis your home."

"NayUncle" said Dinahtrying to be quite calm.  "When IfirstcameIsaid it was only for a timeas long as I could be of anycomfort tomy aunt."

"Wellan' who said you'd ever left off being a comfort to me?"said Mrs.Poyser.  "If you didna mean to stay wi' meyou'd betternever ha'come.  Them as ha' never had a cushion don't miss it."

"Naynay" said Mr. Poyserwho objected to exaggerated views."Theemustna say so; we should ha' been ill off wi'out herLadyday was atwelvemont'.  We mun be thankful for thatwhether shestays orno.  But I canna think what she mun leave a good homeforto goback int' a country where the landmost on'tisnaworth tenshillings an acrerent and profits."

"Whythat's just the reason she wants to goas fur as she cangive areason" said Mrs. Poyser.  "She says this country'stoocomfortablean' there's too much t' eatan' folks arenamiserableenough.  And she's going next week.  I canna turn hersay what Iwill.  It's allays the way wi' them meek-faced people;you may'swell pelt a bag o' feathers as talk to 'em.  But I sayit isnareligionto be so obstinate--is it nowAdam?"

Adam sawthat Dinah was more disturbed than he had ever seen herby anymatter relating to herselfandanxious to relieve herifpossiblehe saidlooking at her affectionately"NayI can'tfind faultwith anything Dinah does.  I believe her thoughts arebetterthan our guesseslet 'em be what they may.  I should ha'beenthankful for her to stay among usbut if she thinks well togoIwouldn't cross heror make it hard to her by objecting.  Weowe hersomething different to that."

As itoften happensthe words intended to relieve her were justtoo muchfor Dinah's susceptible feelings at this moment.  Thetears cameinto the grey eyes too fast to be hidden and she got uphurriedlymeaning it to be understood that she was going to puton herbonnet.

"Motherwhat's Dinah crying for?" said Totty.  "She isn't anaughtydell."

"Thee'stgone a bit too fur" said Mr. Poyser.  "We've no rightt'interferewith her doing as she likes.  An' thee'dst be as angryas couldbe wi' meif I said a word against anything she did."

"Becauseyou'd very like be finding fault wi'out reason" saidMrs.Poyser.  "But there's reason i' what I sayelse I shouldnasay it. It's easy talking for them as can't love her so well asher ownaunt does.  An' me got so used to her!  I shall feel asuneasy asa new sheared sheep when she's gone from me.  An' tothink ofher leaving a parish where she's so looked on.  There'sMr. Irwinemakes as much of her as if she was a ladyfor all herbeing aMethodistan' wi' that maggot o' preaching in her head--Godforgi'e me if I'm i' the wrong to call it so."

"Aye"said Mr. Poyserlooking jocose; "but thee dostna tell Adamwhat hesaid to thee about it one day.  The missis was sayingAdamasthe preaching was the only fault to be found wi' Dinahand Mr.Irwine says'But you mustn't find fault with her forthatMrs.Poyser; you forget she's got no husband to preach to.I'llanswer for ityou give Poyser many a good sermon.'  Theparson hadthee there" Mr. Poyser addedlaughing unctuously.  "ItoldBartle Massey on itan' he laughed too."

"Yesit's a small joke sets men laughing when they sit a-staringat oneanother with a pipe i' their mouths" said Mrs. Poyser."GiveBartle Massey his way and he'd have all the sharpness tohimself. If the chaff-cutter had the making of uswe should allbe strawI reckon.  Tottymy chickengo upstairs to cousinDinahandsee what she's doingand give her a pretty kiss."

Thiserrand was devised for Totty as a means of checking certainthreateningsymptoms about the corners of the mouth; for Tommynolongerexpectant of cakewas lifting up his eyelids with hisforefingersand turning his eyeballs towards