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Adam Bede by George Eliot [pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans]

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"Come, Hetty, get to bed," said Mr. Poyser, in a soothing tone, as
he himself turned to go upstairs. "You didna mean to be late,
I'll be bound, but your aunt's been worrited to-day. Good-night,
my wench, good-night."

Chapter XV

The Two Bed-Chambers

HETTY and Dinah both slept in the second story, in rooms adjoining
each other, meagrely furnished rooms, with no blinds to shut out
the light, which was now beginning to gather new strength from the
rising of the moon--more than enough strength to enable Hetty to
move about and undress with perfect comfort. She could see quite
well the pegs in the old painted linen-press on which she hung her
hat and gown; she could see the head of every pin on her red cloth
pin-cushion; she could see a reflection of herself in the old-
fashioned looking-glass, quite as distinct as was needful,
considering that she had only to brush her hair and put on her
night-cap. A queer old looking-glass! Hetty got into an ill
temper with it almost every time she dressed. It had been
considered a handsome glass in its day, and had probably been
bought into the Poyser family a quarter of a century before, at a
sale of genteel household furniture. Even now an auctioneer could
say something for it: it had a great deal of tarnished gilding
about it; it had a firm mahogany base, well supplied with drawers,
which opened with a decided jerk and sent the contents leaping out
from the farthest corners, without giving you the trouble of
reaching them; above all, it had a brass candle-socket on each
side, which would give it an aristocratic air to the very last.
But Hetty objected to it because it had numerous dim blotches
sprinkled over the mirror, which no rubbing would remove, and
because, instead of swinging backwards and forwards, it was fixed
in an upright position, so that she could only get one good view
of her head and neck, and that was to be had only by sitting down
on a low chair before her dressing-table. And the dressing-table
was no dressing-table at all, but a small old chest of drawers,
the most awkward thing in the world to sit down before, for the
big brass handles quite hurt her knees, and she couldn't get near
the glass at all comfortably. But devout worshippers never allow
inconveniences to prevent them from performing their religious
rites, and Hetty this evening was more bent on her peculiar form
of worship than usual.

Having taken off her gown and white kerchief, she drew a key from
the large pocket that hung outside her petticoat, and, unlocking
one of the lower drawers in the chest, reached from it two short
bits of wax candle--secretly bought at Treddleston--and stuck them
in the two brass sockets. Then she drew forth a bundle of matches
and lighted the candles; and last of all, a small red-framed
shilling looking-glass, without blotches. It was into this small
glass that she chose to look first after seating herself. She
looked into it, smiling and turning her head on one side, for a
minute, then laid it down and took out her brush and comb from an
upper drawer. She was going to let down her hair, and make
herself look like that picture of a lady in Miss Lydia
Donnithorne's dressing-room. It was soon done, and the dark
hyacinthine curves fell on her neck. It was not heavy, massive,
merely rippling hair, but soft and silken, running at every
opportunity into delicate rings. But she pushed it all backward
to look like the picture, and form a dark curtain, throwing into
relief her round white neck. Then she put down her brush and comb
and looked at herself, folding her arms before her, still like the
picture. Even the old mottled glass couldn't help sending back a
lovely image, none the less lovely because Hetty's stays were not
of white satin--such as I feel sure heroines must generally wear--
but of a dark greenish cotton texture.

Oh yes! She was very pretty. Captain Donnithorne thought so.
Prettier than anybody about Hayslope--prettier than any of the
ladies she had ever seen visiting at the Chase--indeed it seemed
fine ladies were rather old and ugly--and prettier than Miss
Bacon, the miller's daughter, who was called the beauty of
Treddleston. And Hetty looked at herself to-night with quite a
different sensation from what she had ever felt before; there was
an invisible spectator whose eye rested on her like morning on the
flowers. His soft voice was saying over and over again those
pretty things she had heard in the wood; his arm was round her,
and the delicate rose-scent of his hair was with her still. The
vainest woman is never thoroughly conscious of her own beauty till
she is loved by the man who sets her own passion vibrating in

But Hetty seemed to have made up her mind that something was
wanting, for she got up and reached an old black lace scarf out of
the linen-press, and a pair of large ear-rings out of the sacred
drawer from which she had taken her candles. It was an old old
scarf, full of rents, but it would make a becoming border round
her shoulders, and set off the whiteness of her upper arm. And
she would take out the little ear-rings she had in her ears--oh,
how her aunt had scolded her for having her ears bored!--and put
in those large ones. They were but coloured glass and gilding,
but if you didn't know what they were made of, they looked just as
well as what the ladies wore. And so she sat down again, with the
large ear-rings in her ears, and the black lace scarf adjusted
round her shoulders. She looked down at her arms: no arms could
be prettier down to a little way below the elbow--they were white
and plump, and dimpled to match her cheeks; but towards the wrist,
she thought with vexation that they were coarsened by butter-
making and other work that ladies never did.

Captain Donnithorne couldn't like her to go on doing work: he
would like to see her in nice clothes, and thin shoes, and white
stockings, perhaps with silk clocks to them; for he must love her
very much--no one else had ever put his arm round her and kissed
her in that way. He would want to marry her and make a lady of
her; she could hardly dare to shape the thought--yet how else
could it be? Marry her quite secretly, as Mr. James, the doctor's
assistant, married the doctor's niece, and nobody ever found it
out for a long while after, and then it was of no use to be angry.
The doctor had told her aunt all about it in Hetty's hearing. She
didn't know how it would be, but it was quite plain the old Squire
could never be told anything about it, for Hetty was ready to
faint with awe and fright if she came across him at the Chase. He
might have been earth-born, for what she knew. It had never
entered her mind that he had been young like other men; he had
always been the old Squire at whom everybody was frightened. Oh,
it was impossible to think how it would be! But Captain
Donnithorne would know; he was a great gentleman, and could have
his way in everything, and could buy everything he liked. And
nothing could be as it had been again: perhaps some day she should
be a grand lady, and ride in her coach, and dress for dinner in a
brocaded silk, with feathers in her hair, and her dress sweeping
the ground, like Miss Lydia and Lady Dacey, when she saw them
going into the dining-room one evening as she peeped through the
little round window in the lobby; only she should not be old and
ugly like Miss Lydia, or all the same thickness like Lady Dacey,
but very pretty, with her hair done in a great many different
ways, and sometimes in a pink dress, and sometimes in a white one--
she didn't know which she liked best; and Mary Burge and
everybody would perhaps see her going out in her carriage--or
rather, they would HEAR of it: it was impossible to imagine these
things happening at Hayslope in sight of her aunt. At the thought
of all this splendour, Hetty got up from her chair, and in doing
so caught the little red-framed glass with the edge of her scarf,
so that it fell with a bang on the floor; but she was too eagerly
occupied with her vision to care about picking it up; and after a
momentary start, began to pace with a pigeon-like stateliness
backwards and forwards along her room, in her coloured stays and
coloured skirt, and the old black lace scarf round her shoulders,
and the great glass ear-rings in her ears.

How pretty the little puss looks in that odd dress! It would be
the easiest folly in the world to fall in love with her: there is
such a sweet babylike roundness about her face and figure; the
delicate dark rings of hair lie so charmingly about her ears and
neck; her great dark eyes with their long eye-lashes touch one so
strangely, as if an imprisoned frisky sprite looked out of them.

Ah, what a prize the man gets who wins a sweet bride like Hetty!
How the men envy him who come to the wedding breakfast, and see
her hanging on his arm in her white lace and orange blossoms. The
dear, young, round, soft, flexible thing! Her heart must be just
as soft, her temper just as free from angles, her character just
as pliant. If anything ever goes wrong, it must be the husband's
fault there: he can make her what he likes--that is plain. And
the lover himself thinks so too: the little darling is so fond of
him, her little vanities are so bewitching, he wouldn't consent to
her being a bit wiser; those kittenlike glances and movements are
just what one wants to make one's hearth a paradise. Every man
under such circumstances is conscious of being a great
physiognomist. Nature, he knows, has a language of her own, which
she uses with strict veracity, and he considers himself an adept
in the language. Nature has written out his bride's character for
him in those exquisite lines of cheek and lip and chin, in those
eyelids delicate as petals, in those long lashes curled like the
stamen of a flower, in the dark liquid depths of those wonderful
eyes. How she will dote on her children! She is almost a child
herself, and the little pink round things will hang about her like
florets round the central flower; and the husband will look on,
smiling benignly, able, whenever he chooses, to withdraw into the
sanctuary of his wisdom, towards which his sweet wife will look
reverently, and never lift the curtain. It is a marriage such as
they made in the golden age, when the men were all wise and
majestic and the women all lovely and loving.

It was very much in this way that our friend Adam Bede thought
about Hetty; only he put his thoughts into different words. If
ever she behaved with cold vanity towards him, he said to himself
it is only because she doesn't love me well enough; and he was
sure that her love, whenever she gave it, would be the most
precious thing a man could possess on earth. Before you despise
Adam as deficient in penetration, pray ask yourself if you were
ever predisposed to believe evil of any pretty woman--if you ever
COULD, without hard head-breaking demonstration, believe evil of
the ONE supremely pretty woman who has bewitched you. No: people
who love downy peaches are apt not to think of the stone, and
sometimes jar their teeth terribly against it.

Arthur Donnithorne, too, had the same sort of notion about Hetty,
so far as he had thought of her nature of all. He felt sure she
was a dear, affectionate, good little thing. The man who awakes
the wondering tremulous passion of a young girl always thinks her
affectionate; and if he chances to look forward to future years,
probably imagines himself being virtuously tender to her, because
the poor thing is so clingingly fond of him. God made these dear
women so--and it is a convenient arrangement in case of sickness.

After all, I believe the wisest of us must be beguiled in this way
sometimes, and must think both better and worse of people than
they deserve. Nature has her language, and she is not
unveracious; but we don't know all the intricacies of her syntax
just yet, and in a hasty reading we may happen to extract the very
opposite of her real meaning. Long dark eyelashes, now--what can
be more exquisite? I find it impossible not to expect some depth
of soul behind a deep grey eye with a long dark eyelash, in spite
of an experience which has shown me that they may go along with
deceit, peculation, and stupidity. But if, in the reaction of
disgust, I have betaken myself to a fishy eye, there has been a
surprising similarity of result. One begins to suspect at length
that there is no direct correlation between eyelashes and morals;
or else, that the eyelashes express the disposition of the fair
one's grandmother, which is on the whole less important to us.

No eyelashes could be more beautiful than Hetty's; and now, while
she walks with her pigeonlike stateliness along the room and looks
down on her shoulders bordered by the old black lace, the dark
fringe shows to perfection on her pink cheek. They are but dim
ill-defined pictures that her narrow bit of an imagination can
make of the future; but of every picture she is the central figure
in fine clothes; Captain Donnithorne is very close to her, putting
his arm round her, perhaps kissing her, and everybody else is
admiring and envying her--especially Mary Burge, whose new print
dress looks very contemptible by the side of Hetty's resplendent
toilette. Does any sweet or sad memory mingle with this dream of
the future--any loving thought of her second parents--of the
children she had helped to tend--of any youthful companion, any
pet animal, any relic of her own childhood even? Not one. There
are some plants that have hardly any roots: you may tear them from
their native nook of rock or wall, and just lay them over your
ornamental flower-pot, and they blossom none the worse. Hetty
could have cast all her past life behind her and never cared to be
reminded of it again. I think she had no feeling at all towards
the old house, and did not like the Jacob's Ladder and the long
row of hollyhocks in the garden better than other flowers--perhaps
not so well. It was wonderful how little she seemed to care about
waiting on her uncle, who had been a good father to her--she
hardly ever remembered to reach him his pipe at the right time
without being told, unless a visitor happened to be there, who
would have a better opportunity of seeing her as she walked across
the hearth. Hetty did not understand how anybody could be very
fond of middle-aged people. And as for those tiresome children,
Marty and Tommy and Totty, they had been the very nuisance of her
life--as bad as buzzing insects that will come teasing you on a
hot day when you want to be quiet. Marty, the eldest, was a baby
when she first came to the farm, for the children born before him
had died, and so Hetty had had them all three, one after the
other, toddling by her side in the meadow, or playing about her on
wet days in the half-empty rooms of the large old house. The boys
were out of hand now, but Totty was still a day-long plague, worse
than either of the others had been, because there was more fuss
made about her. And there was no end to the making and mending of
clothes. Hetty would have been glad to hear that she should never
see a child again; they were worse than the nasty little lambs
that the shepherd was always bringing in to be taken special care
of in lambing time; for the lambs WERE got rid of sooner or later.
As for the young chickens and turkeys, Hetty would have hated the
very word "hatching," if her aunt had not bribed her to attend to
the young poultry by promising her the proceeds of one out of
every brood. The round downy chicks peeping out from under their
mother's wing never touched Hetty with any pleasure; that was not
the sort of prettiness she cared about, but she did care about the
prettiness of the new things she would buy for herself at
Treddleston Fair with the money they fetched. And yet she looked
so dimpled, so charming, as she stooped down to put the soaked
bread under the hen-coop, that you must have been a very acute
personage indeed to suspect her of that hardness. Molly, the
housemaid, with a turn-up nose and a protuberant jaw, was really a
tender-hearted girl, and, as Mrs. Poyser said, a jewel to look
after the poultry; but her stolid face showed nothing of this
maternal delight, any more than a brown earthenware pitcher will
show the light of the lamp within it.

It is generally a feminine eye that first detects the moral
deficiencies hidden under the "dear deceit" of beauty, so it is
not surprising that Mrs. Poyser, with her keenness and abundant
opportunity for observation, should have formed a tolerably fair
estimate of what might be expected from Hetty in the way of
feeling, and in moments of indignation she had sometimes spoken
with great openness on the subject to her husband.

"She's no better than a peacock, as 'ud strut about on the wall
and spread its tail when the sun shone if all the folks i' the
parish was dying: there's nothing seems to give her a turn i' th'
inside, not even when we thought Totty had tumbled into the pit.
To think o' that dear cherub! And we found her wi' her little
shoes stuck i' the mud an' crying fit to break her heart by the
far horse-pit. But Hetty never minded it, I could see, though
she's been at the nussin' o' the child ever since it was a babby.
It's my belief her heart's as hard as a pebble."

"Nay, nay," said Mr. Poyser, "thee mustn't judge Hetty too hard.
Them young gells are like the unripe grain; they'll make good meal
by and by, but they're squashy as yet. Thee't see Hetty 'll be
all right when she's got a good husband and children of her own."

"I don't want to be hard upo' the gell. She's got cliver fingers
of her own, and can be useful enough when she likes and I should
miss her wi' the butter, for she's got a cool hand. An' let be
what may, I'd strive to do my part by a niece o' yours--an' THAT
I've done, for I've taught her everything as belongs to a house,
an' I've told her her duty often enough, though, God knows, I've
no breath to spare, an' that catchin' pain comes on dreadful by
times. Wi' them three gells in the house I'd need have twice the
strength to keep 'em up to their work. It's like having roast
meat at three fires; as soon as you've basted one, another's

Hetty stood sufficiently in awe of her aunt to be anxious to
conceal from her so much of her vanity as could be hidden without
too great a sacrifice. She could not resist spending her money in
bits of finery which Mrs. Poyser disapproved; but she would have
been ready to die with shame, vexation, and fright if her aunt had
this moment opened the door, and seen her with her bits of candle
lighted, and strutting about decked in her scarf and ear-rings.
To prevent such a surprise, she always bolted her door, and she
had not forgotten to do so to-night. It was well: for there now
came a light tap, and Hetty, with a leaping heart, rushed to blow
out the candles and throw them into the drawer. She dared not
stay to take out her ear-rings, but she threw off her scarf, and
let it fall on the floor, before the light tap came again. We
shall know how it was that the light tap came, if we leave Hetty
for a short time and return to Dinah, at the moment when she had
delivered Totty to her mother's arms, and was come upstairs to her
bedroom, adjoining Hetty's.

Dinah delighted in her bedroom window. Being on the second story
of that tall house, it gave her a wide view over the fields. The
thickness of the wall formed a broad step about a yard below the
window, where she could place her chair. And now the first thing
she did on entering her room was to seat herself in this chair and
look out on the peaceful fields beyond which the large moon was
rising, just above the hedgerow elms. She liked the pasture best
where the milch cows were lying, and next to that the meadow where
the grass was half-mown, and lay in silvered sweeping lines. Her
heart was very full, for there was to be only one more night on
which she would look out on those fields for a long time to come;
but she thought little of leaving the mere scene, for, to her,
bleak Snowfield had just as many charms. She thought of all the
dear people whom she had learned to care for among these peaceful
fields, and who would now have a place in her loving remembrance
for ever. She thought of the struggles and the weariness that
might lie before them in the rest of their life's journey, when
she would be away from them, and know nothing of what was
befalling them; and the pressure of this thought soon became too
strong for her to enjoy the unresponding stillness of the moonlit
fields. She closed her eyes, that she might feel more intensely
the presence of a Love and Sympathy deeper and more tender than
was breathed from the earth and sky. That was often Dinah's mode
of praying in solitude. Simply to close her eyes and to feel
herself enclosed by the Divine Presence; then gradually her fears,
her yearning anxieties for others, melted away like ice-crystals
in a warm ocean. She had sat in this way perfectly still, with
her hands crossed on her lap and the pale light resting on her
calm face, for at least ten minutes when she was startled by a
loud sound, apparently of something falling in Hetty's room. But
like all sounds that fall on our ears in a state of abstraction,
it had no distinct character, but was simply loud and startling,
so that she felt uncertain whether she had interpreted it rightly.
She rose and listened, but all was quiet afterwards, and she
reflected that Hetty might merely have knocked something down in
getting into bed. She began slowly to undress; but now, owing to
the suggestions of this sound, her thoughts became concentrated on
Hetty--that sweet young thing, with life and all its trials before
her--the solemn daily duties of the wife and mother--and her mind
so unprepared for them all, bent merely on little foolish, selfish
pleasures, like a child hugging its toys in the beginning of a
long toilsome journey in which it will have to bear hunger and
cold and unsheltered darkness. Dinah felt a double care for
Hetty, because she shared Seth's anxious interest in his brother's
lot, and she had not come to the conclusion that Hetty did not
love Adam well enough to marry him. She saw too clearly the
absence of any warm, self-devoting love in Hetty's nature to
regard the coldness of her behaviour towards Adam as any
indication that he was not the man she would like to have for a
husband. And this blank in Hetty's nature, instead of exciting
Dinah's dislike, only touched her with a deeper pity: the lovely
face and form affected her as beauty always affects a pure and
tender mind, free from selfish jealousies. It was an excellent
divine gift, that gave a deeper pathos to the need, the sin, the
sorrow with which it was mingled, as the canker in a lily-white
bud is more grievous to behold than in a common pot-herb.

By the time Dinah had undressed and put on her night-gown, this
feeling about Hetty had gathered a painful intensity; her
imagination had created a thorny thicket of sin and sorrow, in
which she saw the poor thing struggling torn and bleeding, looking
with tears for rescue and finding none. It was in this way that
Dinah's imagination and sympathy acted and reacted habitually,
each heightening the other. She felt a deep longing to go now and
pour into Hetty's ear all the words of tender warning and appeal
that rushed into her mind. But perhaps Hetty was already asleep.
Dinah put her ear to the partition and heard still some slight
noises, which convinced her that Hetty was not yet in bed. Still
she hesitated; she was not quite certain of a divine direction;
the voice that told her to go to Hetty seemed no stronger that the
other voice which said that Hetty was weary, and that going to her
now in an unseasonable moment would only tend to close her heart
more obstinately. Dinah was not satisfied without a more
unmistakable guidance than those inward voices. There was light
enough for her, if she opened her Bible, to discern the text
sufficiently to know what it would say to her. She knew the
physiognomy of every page, and could tell on what book she opened,
sometimes on what chapter, without seeing title or number. It was
a small thick Bible, worn quite round at the edges. Dinah laid it
sideways on the window ledge, where the light was strongest, and
then opened it with her forefinger. The first words she looked at
were those at the top of the left-hand page: "And they all wept
sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him." That was enough
for Dinah; she had opened on that memorable parting at Ephesus,
when Paul had felt bound to open his heart in a last exhortation
and warning. She hesitated no longer, but, opening her own door
gently, went and tapped on Hetty's. We know she had to tap twice,
because Hetty had to put out her candles and throw off her black
lace scarf; but after the second tap the door was opened
immediately. Dinah said, "Will you let me come in, Hetty?" and
Hetty, without speaking, for she was confused and vexed, opened
the door wider and let her in.

What a strange contrast the two figures made, visible enough in
that mingled twilight and moonlight! Hetty, her cheeks flushed
and her eyes glistening from her imaginary drama, her beautiful
neck and arms bare, her hair hanging in a curly tangle down her
back, and the baubles in her ears. Dinah, covered with her long
white dress, her pale face full of subdued emotion, almost like a
lovely corpse into which the soul has returned charged with
sublimer secrets and a sublimer love. They were nearly of the
same height; Dinah evidently a little the taller as she put her
arm round Hetty's waist and kissed her forehead.

"I knew you were not in bed, my dear," she said, in her sweet
clear voice, which was irritating to Hetty, mingling with her own
peevish vexation like music with jangling chains, "for I heard you
moving; and I longed to speak to you again to-night, for it is the
last but one that I shall be here, and we don't know what may
happen to-morrow to keep us apart. Shall I sit down with you
while you do up your hair?"

"Oh yes," said Hetty, hastily turning round and reaching the
second chair in the room, glad that Dinah looked as if she did not
notice her ear-rings.

Dinah sat down, and Hetty began to brush together her hair before
twisting it up, doing it with that air of excessive indifference
which belongs to confused self-consciousness. But the expression
of Dinah's eyes gradually relieved her; they seemed unobservant of
all details.

"Dear Hetty," she said, "It has been borne in upon my mind to-
night that you may some day be in trouble--trouble is appointed
for us all here below, and there comes a time when we need more
comfort and help than the things of this life can give. I want to
tell you that if ever you are in trouble, and need a friend that
will always feel for you and love you, you have got that friend in
Dinah Morris at Snowfield, and if you come to her, or send for
her, she'll never forget this night and the words she is speaking
to you now. Will you remember it, Hetty?"

"Yes," said Hetty, rather frightened. "But why should you think I
shall be in trouble? Do you know of anything?"

Hetty had seated herself as she tied on her cap, and now Dinah
leaned forwards and took her hands as she answered, "Because,
dear, trouble comes to us all in this life: we set our hearts on
things which it isn't God's will for us to have, and then we go
sorrowing; the people we love are taken from us, and we can joy in
nothing because they are not with us; sickness comes, and we faint
under the burden of our feeble bodies; we go astray and do wrong,
and bring ourselves into trouble with our fellow-men. There is no
man or woman born into this world to whom some of these trials do
not fall, and so I feel that some of them must happen to you; and
I desire for you, that while you are young you should seek for
strength from your Heavenly Father, that you may have a support
which will not fail you in the evil day."

Dinah paused and released Hetty's hands that she might not hinder
her. Hetty sat quite still; she felt no response within herself
to Dinah's anxious affection; but Dinah's words uttered with
solemn pathetic distinctness, affected her with a chill fear. Her
flush had died away almost to paleness; she had the timidity of a
luxurious pleasure-seeking nature, which shrinks from the hint of
pain. Dinah saw the effect, and her tender anxious pleading
became the more earnest, till Hetty, full of a vague fear that
something evil was some time to befall her, began to cry.

It is our habit to say that while the lower nature can never
understand the higher, the higher nature commands a complete view
of the lower. But I think the higher nature has to learn this
comprehension, as we learn the art of vision, by a good deal of
hard experience, often with bruises and gashes incurred in taking
things up by the wrong end, and fancying our space wider than it
is. Dinah had never seen Hetty affected in this way before, and,
with her usual benignant hopefulness, she trusted it was the
stirring of a divine impulse. She kissed the sobbing thing, and
began to cry with her for grateful joy. But Hetty was simply in
that excitable state of mind in which there is no calculating what
turn the feelings may take from one moment to another, and for the
first time she became irritated under Dinah's caress. She pushed
her away impatiently, and said, with a childish sobbing voice,
"Don't talk to me so, Dinah. Why do you come to frighten me?
I've never done anything to you. Why can't you let me be?"

Poor Dinah felt a pang. She was too wise to persist, and only
said mildly, "Yes, my dear, you're tired; I won't hinder you any
longer. Make haste and get into bed. Good-night."

She went out of the room almost as quietly and quickly as if she
had been a ghost; but once by the side of her own bed, she threw
herself on her knees and poured out in deep silence all the
passionate pity that filled her heart.

As for Hetty, she was soon in the wood again--her waking dreams
being merged in a sleeping life scarcely more fragmentary and

Chapter XVI


ARTHUR DONNITHORNE, you remember, is under an engagement with
himself to go and see Mr. Irwine this Friday morning, and he is
awake and dressing so early that he determines to go before
breakfast, instead of after. The rector, he knows, breakfasts
alone at half-past nine, the ladies of the family having a
different breakfast-hour; Arthur will have an early ride over the
hill and breakfast with him. One can say everything best over a

The progress of civilization has made a breakfast or a dinner an
easy and cheerful substitute for more troublesome and disagreeable
ceremonies. We take a less gloomy view of our errors now our
father confessor listens to us over his egg and coffee. We are
more distinctly conscious that rude penances are out of the
question for gentlemen in an enlightened age, and that mortal sin
is not incompatible with an appetite for muffins. An assault on
our pockets, which in more barbarous times would have been made in
the brusque form of a pistol-shot, is quite a well-bred and
smiling procedure now it has become a request for a loan thrown in
as an easy parenthesis between the second and third glasses of

Still, there was this advantage in the old rigid forms, that they
committed you to the fulfilment of a resolution by some outward
deed: when you have put your mouth to one end of a hole in a stone
wall and are aware that there is an expectant ear at the other
end, you are more likely to say what you came out with the
intention of saying than if you were seated with your legs in an
easy attitude under the mahogany with a companion who will have no
reason to be surprised if you have nothing particular to say.

However, Arthur Donnithorne, as he winds among the pleasant lanes
on horseback in the morning sunshine, has a sincere determination
to open his heart to the rector, and the swirling sound of the
scythe as he passes by the meadow is all the pleasanter to him
because of this honest purpose. He is glad to see the promise of
settled weather now, for getting in the hay, about which the
farmers have been fearful; and there is something so healthful in
the sharing of a joy that is general and not merely personal, that
this thought about the hay-harvest reacts on his state of mind and
makes his resolution seem an easier matter. A man about town
might perhaps consider that these influences were not to be felt
out of a child's story-book; but when you are among the fields and
hedgerows, it is impossible to maintain a consistent superiority
to simple natural pleasures.

Arthur had passed the village of Hayslope and was approaching the
Broxton side of the hill, when, at a turning in the road, he saw a
figure about a hundred yards before him which it was impossible to
mistake for any one else than Adam Bede, even if there had been no
grey, tailless shepherd-dog at his heels. He was striding along
at his usual rapid pace, and Arthur pushed on his horse to
overtake him, for he retained too much of his boyish feeling for
Adam to miss an opportunity of chatting with him. I will not say
that his love for that good fellow did not owe some of its force
to the love of patronage: our friend Arthur liked to do everything
that was handsome, and to have his handsome deeds recognized.

Adam looked round as he heard the quickening clatter of the
horse's heels, and waited for the horseman, lifting his paper cap
from his head with a bright smile of recognition. Next to his own
brother Seth, Adam would have done more for Arthur Donnithorne
than for any other young man in the world. There was hardly
anything he would not rather have lost than the two-feet ruler
which he always carried in his pocket; it was Arthur's present,
bought with his pocket-money when he was a fair-haired lad of
eleven, and when he had profited so well by Adam's lessons in
carpentering and turning as to embarrass every female in the house
with gifts of superfluous thread-reels and round boxes. Adam had
quite a pride in the little squire in those early days, and the
feeling had only become slightly modified as the fair-haired lad
had grown into the whiskered young man. Adam, I confess, was very
susceptible to the influence of rank, and quite ready to give an
extra amount of respect to every one who had more advantages than
himself, not being a philosopher or a proletaire with democratic
ideas, but simply a stout-limbed clever carpenter wlth a large
fund of reverence in his nature, which inclined him to admit all
established claims unless he saw very clear grounds for
questioning them. He had no theories about setting the world to
rights, but he saw there was a great deal of damage done by
building with ill-seasoned timber--by ignorant men in fine clothes
making plans for outhouses and workshops and the like without
knowing the bearings of things--by slovenly joiners' work, and by
hasty contracts that could never be fulfilled without ruining
somebody; and he resolved, for his part, to set his face against
such doings. On these points he would have maintained his opinion
against the largest landed proprietor in Loamshire or Stonyshire
either; but he felt that beyond these it would be better for him
to defer to people who were more knowing than himself. He saw as
plainly as possible how ill the woods on the estate were managed,
and the shameful state of the farm-buildings; and if old Squire
Donnithorne had asked him the effect of this mismanagement, he
would have spoken his opinion without flinching, but the impulse
to a respectful demeanour towards a "gentleman" would have been
strong within him all the while. The word "gentleman" had a spell
for Adam, and, as he often said, he "couldn't abide a fellow who
thought he made himself fine by being coxy to's betters." I must
remind you again that Adam had the blood of the peasant in his
veins, and that since he was in his prime half a century ago, you
must expect some of his characteristics to be obsolete.

Towards the young squire this instinctive reverence of Adam's was
assisted by boyish memories and personal regard so you may imagine
that he thought far more of Arthur's good qualities, and attached
far more value to very slight actions of his, than if they had
been the qualities and actions of a common workman like himself.
He felt sure it would be a fine day for everybody about Hayslope
when the young squire came into the estate--such a generous open-
hearted disposition as he had, and an "uncommon" notion about
improvements and repairs, considering he was only just coming of
age. Thus there was both respect and affection in the smile with
which he raised his paper cap as Arthur Donnithorne rode up.

"Well, Adam, how are you?" said Arthur, holding out his hand. He
never shook hands with any of the farmers, and Adam felt the
honour keenly. "I could swear to your back a long way off. It's
just the same back, only broader, as when you used to carry me on
it. Do you remember?"

"Aye, sir, I remember. It 'ud be a poor look-out if folks didn't
remember what they did and said when they were lads. We should
think no more about old friends than we do about new uns, then."

"You're going to Broxton, I suppose?" said Arthur, putting his
horse on at a slow pace while Adam walked by his side. "Are you
going to the rectory?"

"No, sir, I'm going to see about Bradwell's barn. They're afraid
of the roof pushing the walls out, and I'm going to see what can
be done with it before we send the stuff and the workmen."

"Why, Burge trusts almost everything to you now, Adam, doesn't he?
I should think he will make you his partner soon. He will, if
he's wise."

"Nay, sir, I don't see as he'd be much the better off for that. A
foreman, if he's got a conscience and delights in his work, will
do his business as well as if he was a partner. I wouldn't give a
penny for a man as 'ud drive a nail in slack because he didn't get
extra pay for it."

"I know that, Adam; I know you work for him as well as if you were
working for yourself. But you would have more power than you have
now, and could turn the business to better account perhaps. The
old man must give up his business sometime, and he has no son; I
suppose he'll want a son-in-law who can take to it. But he has
rather grasping fingers of his own, I fancy. I daresay he wants a
man who can put some money into the business. If I were not as
poor as a rat, I would gladly invest some money in that way, for
the sake of having you settled on the estate. I'm sure I should
profit by it in the end. And perhaps I shall be better off in a
year or two. I shall have a larger allowance now I'm of age; and
when I've paid off a debt or two, I shall be able to look about

"You're very good to say so, sir, and I'm not unthankful. But"--
Adam continued, in a decided tone--"I shouldn't like to make any
offers to Mr. Burge, or t' have any made for me. I see no clear
road to a partnership. If he should ever want to dispose of the
business, that 'ud be a different matter. I should be glad of
some money at a fair interest then, for I feel sure I could pay it
off in time."

"Very well, Adam," said Arthur, remembering what Mr. Irwine had
said about a probable hitch in the love-making between Adam and
Mary Burge, "we'll say no more about it at present. When is your
father to be buried?"

"On Sunday, sir; Mr. Irwine's coming earlier on purpose. I shall
be glad when it's over, for I think my mother 'ull perhaps get
easier then. It cuts one sadly to see the grief of old people;
they've no way o' working it off, and the new spring brings no new
shoots out on the withered tree."

"Ah, you've had a good deal of trouble and vexation in your life,
Adam. I don't think you've ever been hare-brained and light-
hearted, like other youngsters. You've always had some care on
your mind."

"Why, yes, sir; but that's nothing to make a fuss about. If we're
men and have men's feelings, I reckon we must have men's troubles.
We can't be like the birds, as fly from their nest as soon as
they've got their wings, and never know their kin when they see
'em, and get a fresh lot every year. I've had enough to be
thankful for: I've allays had health and strength and brains to
give me a delight in my work; and I count it a great thing as I've
had Bartle Massey's night-school to go to. He's helped me to
knowledge I could never ha' got by myself."

"What a rare fellow you are, Adam!" said Arthur, after a pause, in
which he had looked musingly at the big fellow walking by his
side. "I could hit out better than most men at Oxford, and yet I
believe you would knock me into next week if I were to have a
baltle with you."

"God forbid I should ever do that, sir," said Adam, looking round
at Arthur and smiling. "I used to fight for fun, but I've never
done that since I was the cause o' poor Gil Tranter being laid up
for a fortnight. I'll never fight any man again, only when he
behaves like a scoundrel. If you get hold of a chap that's got no
shame nor conscience to stop him, you must try what you can do by
bunging his eyes up."

Arthur did not laugh, for he was preoccupied with some thought
that made him say presently, "I should think now, Adam, you never
have any struggles within yourself. I fancy you would master a
wish that you had made up your mind it was not quite right to
indulge, as easily as you would knock down a drunken fellow who
was quarrelsome with you. I mean, you are never shilly-shally,
first making up your mind that you won't do a thing, and then
doing it after all?"

"Well," said Adam, slowly, after a moment's hesitation, "no. I
don't remember ever being see-saw in that way, when I'd made my
mind up, as you say, that a thing was wrong. It takes the taste
out o' my mouth for things, when I know I should have a heavy
conscience after 'em. I've seen pretty clear, ever since I could
cast up a sum, as you can never do what's wrong without breeding
sin and trouble more than you can ever see. It's like a bit o'
bad workmanship--you never see th' end o' the mischief it'll do.
And it's a poor look-out to come into the world to make your
fellow-creatures worse off instead o' better. But there's a
difference between the things folks call wrong. I'm not for
making a sin of every little fool's trick, or bit o' nonsense
anybody may be let into, like some o' them dissenters. And a man
may have two minds whether it isn't worthwhile to get a bruise or
two for the sake of a bit o' fun. But it isn't my way to be see-
saw about anything: I think my fault lies th' other way. When
I've said a thing, if it's only to myself, it's hard for me to go

"Yes, that's just what I expected of you," said Arthur. "You've
got an iron will, as well as an iron arm. But however strong a
man's resolution may be, it costs him something to carry it out,
now and then. We may determine not to gather any cherries and
keep our hands sturdily in our pockets, but we can't prevent our
mouths from watering."

"That's true, sir, but there's nothing like settling with
ourselves as there's a deal we must do without i' this life. It's
no use looking on life as if it was Treddles'on Fair, where folks
only go to see shows and get fairings. If we do, we shall find it
different. But where's the use o' me talking to you, sir? You
know better than I do."

"I'm not so sure of that, Adam. You've had four or five years of
experience more than I've had, and I think your life has been a
better school to you than college has been to me."

"Why, sir, you seem to think o' college something like what Bartle
Massey does. He says college mostly makes people like bladders--
just good for nothing but t' hold the stuff as is poured into 'em.
But he's got a tongue like a sharp blade, Bartle has--it never
touches anything but it cuts. Here's the turning, sir. I must
bid you good-morning, as you're going to the rectory."

"Good-bye, Adam, good-bye."

Arthur gave his horse to the groom at the rectory gate, and walked
along the gravel towards the door which opened on the garden. He
knew that the rector always breakfasted in his study, and the
study lay on the left hand of this door, opposite the dining-room.
It was a small low room, belonging to the old part of the house--
dark with the sombre covers of the books that lined the walls; yet
it looked very cheery this morning as Arthur reached the open
window. For the morning sun fell aslant on the great glass globe
with gold fish in it, which stood on a scagliola pillar in front
of the ready-spread bachelor breakfast-table, and by the side of
this breakfast-table was a group which would have made any room
enticing. In the crimson damask easy-chair sat Mr. Irwine, with
that radiant freshness which he always had when he came from his
morning toilet; his finely formed plump white hand was playing
along Juno's brown curly back; and close to Juno's tail, which was
wagging with calm matronly pleasure, the two brown pups were
rolling over each other in an ecstatic duet of worrying noises.
On a cushion a little removed sat Pug, with the air of a maiden
lady, who looked on these familiarities as animal weaknesses,
which she made as little show as possible of observing. On the
table, at Mr. Irwine~s elbow, lay the first volume of the Foulis
AEschylus, which Arthur knew well by sight; and the silver coffee-
pot, which Carroll was bringing in, sent forth a fragrant steam
which completed the delights of a bachelor breakfast.

"Hallo, Arthur, that's a good fellow! You're just in time," said
Mr. Irwine, as Arthur paused and stepped in over the low window-
sill. "Carroll, we shall want more coffee and eggs, and haven't
you got some cold fowl for us to eat with that ham? Why, this is
like old days, Arthur; you haven't been to breakfast with me these
five years."

"It was a tempting morning for a ride before breakfast," said
Arthur; "and I used to like breakfasting with you so when I was
reading with you. My grandfather is always a few degrees colder
at breakfast than at any other hour in the day. I think his
morning bath doesn't agree with him."

Arthur was anxious not to imply that he came with any special
purpose. He had no sooner found himself in Mr. Irwine's presence
than the confidence which he had thought quite easy before,
suddenly appeared the most difficult thing in the world to him,
and at the very moment of shaking hands he saw his purpose in
quite a new light. How could he make Irwine understand his
position unless he told him those little scenes in the wood; and
how could he tell them without looking like a fool? And then his
weakness in coming back from Gawaine's, and doing the very
opposite of what he intended! Irwine would think him a shilly-
shally fellow ever after. However, it must come out in an
unpremeditated way; the conversation might lead up to it.

"I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day,"
said Mr. Irwine. "No dust has settled on one's mind then, and it
presents a clear mirror to the rays of things. I always have a
favourite book by me at breakfast, and I enjoy the bits I pick up
then so much, that regularly every morning it seems to me as if I
should certainly become studious again. But presently Dent brings
up a poor fellow who has killed a hare, and when I've got through
my 'justicing,' as Carroll calls it, I'm inclined for a ride round
the glebe, and on my way back I meet with the master of the
workhouse, who has got a long story of a mutinous pauper to tell
me; and so the day goes on, and I'm always the same lazy fellow
before evening sets in. Besides, one wants the stimulus of
sympathy, and I have never had that since poor D'Oyley left
Treddleston. If you had stuck to your books well, you rascal, I
should have had a pleasanter prospect before me. But scholarship
doesn't run in your family blood."

"No indeed. It's well if I can remember a little inapplicable
Latin to adorn my maiden speech in Parliament six or seven years
hence. 'Cras ingens iterabimus aequor,' and a few shreds of that
sort, will perhaps stick to me, and I shall arrange my opinions so
as to introduce them. But I don't think a knowledge of the
classics is a pressing want to a country gentleman; as far as I
can see, he'd much better have a knowledge of manures. I've been
reading your friend Arthur Young's books lately, and there's
nothing I should like better than to carry out some of his ideas
in putting the farmers on a better management of their land; and,
as he says, making what was a wild country, all of the same dark
hue, bright and variegated with corn and cattle. My grandfather
will never let me have any power while he lives, but there's
nothing I should like better than to undertake the Stonyshire side
of the estate--it's in a dismal condition--and set improvements on
foot, and gallop about from one place to another and overlook
them. I should like to know all the labourers, and see them
touching their hats to me with a look of goodwill."

"Bravo, Arthur! A man who has no feeling for the classics
couldn't make a better apology for coming into the world than by
increasing the quantity of food to maintain scholars--and rectors
who appreciate scholars. And whenever you enter on your career of
model landlord may I be there to see. You'll want a portly rector
to complete the picture, and take his tithe of all the respect and
honour you get by your hard work. Only don't set your heart too
strongly on the goodwill you are to get in consequence. I'm not
sure that men are the fondest of those who try to be useful to
them. You know Gawaine has got the curses of the whole
neighbourhood upon him about that enclosure. You must make it
quite clear to your mind which you are most bent upon, old boy--
popularity or usefulness--else you may happen to miss both."

"Oh! Gawaine is harsh in his manners; he doesn't make himself
personally agreeable to his tenants. I don't believe there's
anything you can't prevail on people to do with kindness. For my
part, I couldn't live in a neighbourhood where I was not respected
and beloved. And it's very pleasant to go among the tenants here--
they seem all so well inclined to me I suppose it seems only the
other day to them since I was a little lad, riding on a pony about
as big as a sheep. And if fair allowances were made to them, and
their buildings attended to, one could persuade them to farm on a
better plan, stupid as they are."

"Then mind you fall in love in the right place, and don't get a
wife who will drain your purse and make you niggardly in spite of
yourself. My mother and I have a little discussion about you
sometimes: she says, 'I ll never risk a single prophecy on Arthur
until I see the woman he falls in love with.' She thinks your
lady-love will rule you as the moon rules the tides. But I feel
bound to stand up for you, as my pupil you know, and I maintain
that you're not of that watery quality. So mind you don't
disgrace my judgment."

Arthur winced under this speech, for keen old Mrs. Irwine's
opinion about him had the disagreeable effect of a sinister omen.
This, to be sure, was only another reason for persevering in his
intention, and getting an additional security against himself.
Nevertheless, at this point in the conversation, he was conscious
of increased disinclination to tell his story about Hetty. He was
of an impressible nature, and lived a great deal in other people's
opinions and feelings concerning himself; and the mere fact that
he was in the presence of an intimate friend, who had not the
slightest notion that he had had any such serious internal
struggle as he came to confide, rather shook his own belief in the
seriousness of the struggle. It was not, after all, a thing to
make a fuss about; and what could Irwine do for him that he could
not do for himself? He would go to Eagledale in spite of Meg's
lameness--go on Rattler, and let Pym follow as well as he could on
the old hack. That was his thought as he sugared his coffee; but
the next minute, as he was lifting the cup to his lips, he
remembered how thoroughly he had made up his mind last night to
tell Irwine. No! He would not be vacillating again--he WOULD do
what he had meant to do, this time. So it would be well not to
let the personal tone of the conversation altogether drop. If
they went to quite indifferent topics, his difficulty would be
heightened. It had required no noticeable pause for this rush and
rebound of feeling, before he answered, "But I think it is hardly
an argument against a man's general strength of character that he
should be apt to be mastered by love. A fine constitution doesn't
insure one against smallpox or any other of those inevitable
diseases. A man may be very firm in other matters and yet be
under a sort of witchery from a woman."

"Yes; but there's this difference between love and smallpox, or
bewitchment either--that if you detect the disease at an early
stage and try change of air, there is every chance of complete
escape without any further development of symptoms. And there are
certain alternative doses which a man may administer to himself by
keeping unpleasant consequences before his mind: this gives you a
sort of smoked glass through which you may look at the resplendent
fair one and discern her true outline; though I'm afraid, by the
by, the smoked glass is apt to be missing just at the moment it is
most wanted. I daresay, now, even a man fortified with a
knowledge of the classics might be lured into an imprudent
marriage, in spite of the warning given him by the chorus in the

The smile that flitted across Arthur's face was a faint one, and
instead of following Mr. Irwine's playful lead, he said, quite
seriously--"Yes, that's the worst of it. It's a desperately
vexatious thing, that after all one's reflections and quiet
determinations, we should be ruled by moods that one can't
calculate on beforehand. I don't think a man ought to be blamed
so much if he is betrayed into doing things in that way, in spite
of his resolutions."

"Ah, but the moods lie in his nature, my boy, just as much as his
reflections did, and more. A man can never do anything at
variance with his own nature. He carries within him the germ of
his most exceptional action; and if we wise people make eminent
fools of ourselves on any particular occasion, we must endure the
legitimate conclusion that we carry a few grains of folly to our
ounce of wisdom."

"Well, but one may be betrayed into doing things by a combination
of circumstances, which one might never have done otherwise."

"Why, yes, a man can't very well steal a bank-note unless the
bank-note lies within convenient reach; but he won't make us think
him an honest man because he begins to howl at the bank-note for
falling in his way."

"But surely you don't think a man who struggles against a
temptation into which he falls at last as bad as the man who never
struggles at all?"

"No, certainly; I pity him in proportion to his struggles, for
they foreshadow the inward suffering which is the worst form of
Nemesis. Consequences are unpitying. Our deeds carry their
terrible consequences, quite apart from any fluctuations that went
before--consequences that are hardly ever confined to ourselves.
And it is best to fix our minds on that certainty, instead of
considering what may be the elements of excuse for us. But I
never knew you so inclined for moral discussion, Arthur? Is it
some danger of your own that you are considering in this
philosophical, general way?"

In asking this question, Mr. Irwine pushed his plate away, threw
himself back in his chair, and looked straight at Arthur. He
really suspected that Arthur wanted to tell him something, and
thought of smoothing the way for him by this direct question. But
he was mistaken. Brought suddenly and involuntarily to the brink
of confession, Arthur shrank back and felt less disposed towards
it than ever. The conversation had taken a more serious tone than
he had intended--it would quite mislead Irwine--he would imagine
there was a deep passion for Hetty, while there was no such thing.
He was conscious of colouring, and was annoyed at his boyishness.

"Oh no, no danger," he said as indifferently as he could. "I
don't know that I am more liable to irresolution than other
people; only there are little incidents now and then that set one
speculating on what might happen in the future."

Was there a motive at work under this strange reluctance of
Arthur's which had a sort of backstairs influence, not admitted to
himself? Our mental business is carried on much in the same way
as the business of the State: a great deal of hard work is done by
agents who are not acknowledged. In a piece of machinery, too, I
believe there is often a small unnoticeable wheel which has a
great deal to do with the motion of the large obvious ones.
Possibly there was some such unrecognized agent secretly busy in
Arthur's mind at this moment--possibly it was the fear lest he
might hereafter find the fact of having made a confession to the
rector a serious annoyance, in case he should NOT be able quite to
carry out his good resolutions? I dare not assert that it was not
so. The human soul is a very complex thing.

The idea of Hetty had just crossed Mr. Irwine's mind as he looked
inquiringly at Arthur, but his disclaiming indifferent answer
confirmed the thought which had quickly followed--that there could
be nothing serious in that direction. There was no probability
that Arthur ever saw her except at church, and at her own home
under the eye of Mrs. Poyser; and the hint he had given Arthur
about her the other day had no more serious meaning than to
prevent him from noticing her so as to rouse the little chit's
vanity, and in this way perturb the rustic drama of her life.
Arthur would soon join his regiment, and be far away: no, there
could be no danger in that quarter, even if Arthur's character had
not been a strong security against it. His honest, patronizing
pride in the good-will and respect of everybody about him was a
safeguard even against foolish romance, still more against a lower
kind of folly. If there had been anything special on Arthur's
mind in the previous conversation, it was clear he was not
inclined to enter into details, and Mr. Irwine was too delicate to
imply even a friendly curiosity. He perceived a change of subject
would be welcome, and said, "By the way, Arthur, at your colonel's
birthday fete there were some transparencies that made a great
effect in honour of Britannia, and Pitt, and the Loamshire
Militia, and, above all, the 'generous youth,' the hero of the
day. Don't you think you should get up something of the same sort
to astonish our weak minds?"

The opportunity was gone. While Arthur was hesitating, the rope
to which he might have clung had drifted away--he must trust now
to his own swimming.

In ten minutes from that time, Mr. Irwine was called for on
business, and Arthur, bidding him good-bye, mounted his horse
again with a sense of dissatisfaction, which he tried to quell by
determining to set off for Eagledale without an hour's delay.

Book Two

Chapter XVII

In Which the Story Pauses a Little

"THIS Rector of Broxton is little better than a pagan!" I hear one
of my readers exclaim. "How much more edifying it would have been
if you had made him give Arthur some truly spiritual advice! You
might have put into his mouth the most beautiful things--quite as
good as reading a sermon."

Certainly I could, if I held it the highest vocation of the
novelist to represent things as they never have been and never
will be. Then, of course, I might refashion life and character
entirely after my own liking; I might select the most
unexceptionable type of clergyman and put my own admirable
opinions into his mouth on all occasions. But it happens, on the
contrary, that my strongest effort is to avoid any such arbitrary
picture, and to give a faithful account of men and things as they
have mirrored themselves in my mind. The mirror is doubtless
defective, the outlines will sometimes be disturbed, the
reflection faint or confused; but I feel as much bound to tell you
as precisely as I can what that reflection is, as if I were in the
witness-box, narrating my experience on oath.

Sixty years ago--it is a long time, so no wonder things have
changed--all clergymen were not zealous; indeed, there is reason
to believe that the number of zealous clergymen was small, and it
is probable that if one among the small minority had owned the
livings of Broxton and Hayslope in the year 1799, you would have
liked him no better than you like Mr. Irwine. Ten to one, you
would have thought him a tasteless, indiscreet, methodistical man.
It is so very rarely that facts hit that nice medium required by
our own enlightened opinions and refined taste! Perhaps you will
say, "Do improve the facts a little, then; make them more
accordant with those correct views which it is our privilege to
possess. The world is not just what we like; do touch it up with
a tasteful pencil, and make believe it is not quite such a mixed
entangled affair. Let all people who hold unexceptionable
opinions act unexceptionably. Let your most faulty characters
always be on the wrong side, and your virtuous ones on the right.
Then we shall see at a glance whom we are to condemn and whom we
are to approve. Then we shall be able to admire, without the
slightest disturbance of our prepossessions: we shall hate and
despise with that true ruminant relish which belongs to undoubting

But, my good friend, what will you do then with your fellow-
parishioner who opposes your husband in the vestry? With your
newly appointed vicar, whose style of preaching you find painfully
below that of his regretted predecessor? With the honest servant
who worries your soul with her one failing? With your neighbour,
Mrs. Green, who was really kind to you in your last illness, but
has said several ill-natured things about you since your
convalescence? Nay, with your excellent husband himself, who has
other irritating habits besides that of not wiping his shoes?
These fellow-mortals, every one, must be accepted as they are: you
can neither straighten their noses, nor brighten their wit, nor
rectify their dispositions; and it is these people--amongst whom
your life is passed--that it is needful you should tolerate, pity,
and love: it is these more or less ugly, stupid, inconsistent
people whose movements of goodness you should be able to admire--
for whom you should cherish all possible hopes, all possible
patience. And I would not, even if I had the choice, be the
clever novelist who could create a world so much better than this,
in which we get up in the morning to do our daily work, that you
would be likely to turn a harder, colder eye on the dusty streets
and the common green fields--on the real breathing men and women,
who can be chilled by your indifference or injured by your
prejudice; who can be cheered and helped onward by your fellow-
feeling, your forbearance, your outspoken, brave justice.

So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make
things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but
falsity, which, in spite of one's best efforts, there is reason to
dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is
conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin--the
longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that
marvellous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake
us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your
words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to
be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even
about your own immediate feelings--much harder than to say
something fine about them which is NOT the exact truth.

It is for this rare, precious quality of truthfulness that I
delight in many Dutch paintings, which lofty-minded people
despise. I find a source of delicious sympathy in these faithful
pictures of a monotonous homely existence, which has been the fate
of so many more among my fellow-mortals than a life of pomp or of
absolute indigence, of tragic suffering or of world-stirring
actions. I turn, without shrinking, from cloud-borne angels, from
prophets, sibyls, and heroic warriors, to an old woman bending
over her flower-pot, or eating her solitary dinner, while the
noonday light, softened perhaps by a screen of leaves, falls on
her mob-cap, and just touches the rim of her spinning-wheel, and
her stone jug, and all those cheap common things which are the
precious necessaries of life to her--or I turn to that village
wedding, kept between four brown walls, where an awkward
bridegroom opens the dance with a high-shouldered, broad-faced
bride, while elderly and middle-aged friends look on, with very
irregular noses and lips, and probably with quart-pots in their
hands, but with an expression of unmistakable contentment and
goodwill. "Foh!" says my idealistic friend, "what vulgar details!
What good is there in taking all these pains to give an exact
likeness of old women and clowns? What a low phase of life! What
clumsy, ugly people!"

But bless us, things may be lovable that are not altogether
handsome, I hope? I am not at all sure that the majority of the
human race have not been ugly, and even among those "lords of
their kind," the British, squat figures, ill-shapen nostrils, and
dingy complexions are not startling exceptions. Yet there is a
great deal of family love amongst us. I have a friend or two
whose class of features is such that the Apollo curl on the summit
of their brows would be decidedly trying; yet to my certain
knowledge tender hearts have beaten for them, and their
miniatures--flattering, but still not lovely--are kissed in secret
by motherly lips. I have seen many an excellent matron, who could
have never in her best days have been handsome, and yet she had a
packet of yellow love-letters in a private drawer, and sweet
children showered kisses on her sallow cheeks. And I believe
there have been plenty of young heroes, of middle stature and
feeble beards, who have felt quite sure they could never love
anything more insignificant than a Diana, and yet have found
themselves in middle life happily settled with a wife who waddles.
Yes! Thank God; human feeling is like the mighty rivers that
bless the earth: it does not wait for beauty--it flows with
resistless force and brings beauty with it.

All honour and reverence to the divine beauty of form! Let us
cultivate it to the utmost in men, women, and children--in our
gardens and in our houses. But let us love that other beauty too,
which lies in no secret of proportion, but in the secret of deep
human sympathy. Paint us an angel, if you can, with a floating
violet robe, and a face paled by the celestial light; paint us yet
oftener a Madonna, turning her mild face upward and opening her
arms to welcome the divine glory; but do not impose on us any
aesthetic rules which shall banish from the region of Art those
old women scraping carrots with their work-worn hands, those heavy
clowns taking holiday in a dingy pot-house, those rounded backs
and stupid weather-beaten faces that have bent over the spade and
done the rough work of the world--those homes with their tin pans,
their brown pitchers, their rough curs, and their clusters of
onions. In this world there are so many of these common coarse
people, who have no picturesque sentimental wretchedness! It is
so needful we should remember their existence, else we may happen
to leave them quite out of our religion and philosophy and frame
lofty theories which only fit a world of extremes. Therefore, let
Art always remind us of them; therefore let us always have men
ready to give the loving pains of a life to the faithful
representing of commonplace things--men who see beauty in these
commonplace things, and delight in showing how kindly the light of
heaven falls on them. There are few prophets in the world; few
sublimely beautiful women; few heroes. I can't afford to give all
my love and reverence to such rarities: I want a great deal of
those feelings for my every-day fellow-men, especially for the few
in the foreground of the great multitude, whose faces I know,
whose hands I touch for whom I have to make way with kindly
courtesy. Neither are picturesque lazzaroni or romantic criminals
half so frequent as your common labourer, who gets his own bread
and eats it vulgarly but creditably with his own pocket-knife. It
is more needful that I should have a fibre of sympathy connecting
me with that vulgar citizen who weighs out my sugar in a vilely
assorted cravat and waistcoat, than with the handsomest rascal in
red scarf and green feathers--more needful that my heart should
swell with loving admiration at some trait of gentle goodness in
the faulty people who sit at the same hearth with me, or in the
clergyman of my own parish, who is perhaps rather too corpulent
and in other respects is not an Oberlin or a Tillotson, than at
the deeds of heroes whom I shall never know except by hearsay, or
at the sublimest abstract of all clerical graces that was ever
conceived by an able novelist.

And so I come back to Mr. Irwine, with whom I desire you to be in
perfect charity, far as he may be from satisfying your demands on
the clerical character. Perhaps you think he was not--as he ought
to have been--a living demonstration of the benefits attached to a
national church? But I am not sure of that; at least I know that
the people in Broxton and Hayslope would have been very sorry to
part with their clergyman, and that most faces brightened at his
approach; and until it can be proved that hatred is a better thing
for the soul than love, I must believe that Mr. Irwine's influence
in his parish was a more wholesome one than that of the zealous
Mr. Ryde, who came there twenty years afterwards, when Mr. Irwine
had been gathered to his fathers. It is true, Mr. Ryde insisted
strongly on the doctrines of the Reformation, visited his flock a
great deal in their own homes, and was severe in rebuking the
aberrations of the flesh--put a stop, indeed, to the Christmas
rounds of the church singers, as promoting drunkenness and too
light a handling of sacred things. But I gathered from Adam Bede,
to whom I talked of these matters in his old age, that few
clergymen could be less successful in winning the hearts of their
parishioners than Mr. Ryde. They learned a great many notions
about doctrine from him, so that almost every church-goer under
fifty began to distinguish as well between the genuine gospel and
what did not come precisely up to that standard, as if he had been
born and bred a Dissenter; and for some time after his arrival
there seemed to be quite a religious movement in that quiet rural
district. "But," said Adam, "I've seen pretty clear, ever since I
was a young un, as religion's something else besides notions. It
isn't notions sets people doing the right thing--it's feelings.
It's the same with the notions in religion as it is with
math'matics--a man may be able to work problems straight off in's
head as he sits by the fire and smokes his pipe, but if he has to
make a machine or a building, he must have a will and a resolution
and love something else better than his own ease. Somehow, the
congregation began to fall off, and people began to speak light o'
Mr. Ryde. I believe he meant right at bottom; but, you see, he
was sourish-tempered, and was for beating down prices with the
people as worked for him; and his preaching wouldn't go down well
with that sauce. And he wanted to be like my lord judge i' the
parish, punishing folks for doing wrong; and he scolded 'em from
the pulpit as if he'd been a Ranter, and yet he couldn't abide the
Dissenters, and was a deal more set against 'em than Mr. Irwine
was. And then he didn't keep within his income, for he seemed to
think at first go-off that six hundred a-year was to make him as
big a man as Mr. Donnithorne. That's a sore mischief I've often
seen with the poor curates jumping into a bit of a living all of a
sudden. Mr. Ryde was a deal thought on at a distance, I believe,
and he wrote books, but as for math'matics and the natur o'
things, he was as ignorant as a woman. He was very knowing about
doctrines, and used to call 'em the bulwarks of the Reformation;
but I've always mistrusted that sort o' learning as leaves folks
foolish and unreasonable about business. Now Mester Irwine was as
different as could be: as quick!--he understood what you meant in
a minute, and he knew all about building, and could see when you'd
made a good job. And he behaved as much like a gentleman to the
farmers, and th' old women, and the labourers, as he did to the
gentry. You never saw HIM interfering and scolding, and trying to
play th' emperor. Ah, he was a fine man as ever you set eyes on;
and so kind to's mother and sisters. That poor sickly Miss Anne--
he seemed to think more of her than of anybody else in the world.
There wasn't a soul in the parish had a word to say against him;
and his servants stayed with him till they were so old and
pottering, he had to hire other folks to do their work."

"Well," I said, "that was an excellent way of preaching in the
weekdays; but I daresay, if your old friend Mr. Irwine were to
come to life again, and get into the pulpit next Sunday, you would
be rather ashamed that he didn't preach better after all your
praise of him."

"Nay, nay," said Adam, broadening his chest and throwing himself
back in his chair, as if he were ready to meet all inferences,
"nobody has ever heard me say Mr. Irwine was much of a preacher.
He didn't go into deep speritial experience; and I know there s a
deal in a man's inward life as you can't measure by the square,
and say, 'Do this and that 'll follow,' and, 'Do that and this 'll
follow.' There's things go on in the soul, and times when
feelings come into you like a rushing mighty wind, as the
Scripture says, and part your life in two a'most, so you look back
on yourself as if you was somebody else. Those are things as you
can't bottle up in a 'do this' and 'do that'; and I'll go so far
with the strongest Methodist ever you'll find. That shows me
there's deep speritial things in religion. You can't make much
out wi' talking about it, but you feel it. Mr. Irwine didn't go
into those things--he preached short moral sermons, and that was
all. But then he acted pretty much up to what he said; he didn't
set up for being so different from other folks one day, and then
be as like 'em as two peas the next. And he made folks love him
and respect him, and that was better nor stirring up their gall
wi' being overbusy. Mrs. Poyser used to say--you know she would
have her word about everything--she said, Mr. Irwine was like a
good meal o' victual, you were the better for him without thinking
on it, and Mr. Ryde was like a dose o' physic, he gripped you and
worreted you, and after all he left you much the same."

"But didn't Mr. Ryde preach a great deal more about that spiritual
part of religion that you talk of, Adam? Couldn't you get more
out of his sermons than out of Mr. Irwine's?"

"Eh, I knowna. He preached a deal about doctrines. But I've seen
pretty clear, ever since I was a young un, as religion's something
else besides doctrines and notions. I look at it as if the
doctrines was like finding names for your feelings, so as you can
talk of 'em when you've never known 'em, just as a man may talk o'
tools when he knows their names, though he's never so much as seen
'em, still less handled 'em. I've heard a deal o' doctrine i' my
time, for I used to go after the Dissenting preachers along wi'
Seth, when I was a lad o' seventeen, and got puzzling myself a
deal about th' Arminians and the Calvinists. The Wesleyans, you
know, are strong Arminians; and Seth, who could never abide
anything harsh and was always for hoping the best, held fast by
the Wesleyans from the very first; but I thought I could pick a
hole or two in their notions, and I got disputing wi' one o' the
class leaders down at Treddles'on, and harassed him so, first o'
this side and then o' that, till at last he said, 'Young man, it's
the devil making use o' your pride and conceit as a weapon to war
against the simplicity o' the truth.' I couldn't help laughing
then, but as I was going home, I thought the man wasn't far wrong.
I began to see as all this weighing and sifting what this text
means and that text means, and whether folks are saved all by
God's grace, or whether there goes an ounce o' their own will
to't, was no part o' real religion at all. You may talk o' these
things for hours on end, and you'll only be all the more coxy and
conceited for't. So I took to going nowhere but to church, and
hearing nobody but Mr. Irwine, for he said notning but what was
good and what you'd be the wiser for remembering. And I found it
better for my soul to be humble before the mysteries o' God's
dealings, and not be making a clatter about what I could never
understand. And they're poor foolish questions after all; for
what have we got either inside or outside of us but what comes
from God? If we've got a resolution to do right, He gave it us, I
reckon, first or last; but I see plain enough we shall never do it
without a resolution, and that's enough for me."

Adam, you perceive, was a warm admirer, perhaps a partial judge,
of Mr. Irwine, as, happily, some of us still are of the people we
have known familiarly. Doubtless it will be despised as a
weakness by that lofty order of minds who pant after the ideal,
and are oppressed by a general sense that their emotions are of
too exquisite a character to find fit objects among their everyday
fellowmen. I have often been favoured with the confidence of
these select natures, and find them to concur in the experience
that great men are overestimated and small men are insupportable;
that if you would love a woman without ever looking back on your
love as a folly, she must die while you are courting her; and if
you would maintain the slightest belief in human heroism, you must
never make a pilgrimage to see the hero. I confess I have often
meanly shrunk from confessing to these accomplished and acute
gentlemen what my own experience has been. I am afraid I have
often smiled with hypocritical assent, and gratified them with an
epigram on the fleeting nature of our illusions, which any one
moderately acquainted with French literature can command at a
moment's notice. Human converse, I think some wise man has
remarked, is not rigidly sincere. But I herewith discharge my
conscience, and declare that I have had quite enthusiastic
movements of admiration towards old gentlemen who spoke the worst
English, who were occasionally fretful in their temper, and who
had never moved in a higher sphere of influence than that of
parish overseer; and that the way in which I have come to the
conclusion that human nature is lovable--the way I have learnt
something of its deep pathos, its sublime mysteries--has been by
living a great deal among people more or less commonplace and
vulgar, of whom you would perhaps hear nothing very surprising if
you were to inquire about them in the neighbourhoods where they
dwelt. Ten to one most of the small shopkeepers in their vicinity
saw nothing at all in them. For I have observed this remarkable
coincidence, that the select natures who pant after the ideal, and
find nothing in pantaloons or petticoats great enough to command
their reverence and love, are curiously in unison with the
narrowest and pettiest. For example, I have often heard Mr.
Gedge, the landlord of the Royal Oak, who used to turn a bloodshot
eye on his neighbours in the village of Shepperton, sum up his
opinion of the people in his own parish--and they were all the
people he knew--in these emphatic words: "Aye, sir, I've said it
often, and I'll say it again, they're a poor lot i' this parish--a
poor lot, sir, big and little." I think he had a dim idea that if
he could migrate to a distant parish, he might find neighbours
worthy of him; and indeed he did subsequently transfer himself to
the Saracen's Head, which was doing a thriving business in the
back street of a neighbouring market-town. But, oddly enough, he
has found the people up that back street of precisely the same
stamp as the inhabitants of Shepperton--"a poor lot, sir, big and
little, and them as comes for a go o' gin are no better than them
as comes for a pint o' twopenny--a poor lot."

Chapter XVIII


"HETTY, Hetty, don't you know church begins at two, and it's gone
half after one a'ready? Have you got nothing better to think on
this good Sunday as poor old Thias Bede's to be put into the
ground, and him drownded i' th' dead o' the night, as it's enough
to make one's back run cold, but you must be 'dizening yourself as
if there was a wedding i'stid of a funeral?"

"Well, Aunt," said Hetty, "I can't be ready so soon as everybody
else, when I've got Totty's things to put on. And I'd ever such
work to make her stand still."

Hetty was coming downstairs, and Mrs. Poyser, in her plain bonnet
and shawl, was standing below. If ever a girl looked as if she
had been made of roses, that girl was Hetty in her Sunday hat and
frock. For her hat was trimmed with pink, and her frock had pink
spots, sprinkled on a white ground. There was nothing but pink
and white about her, except in her dark hair and eyes and her
little buckled shoes. Mrs. Poyser was provoked at herself, for
she could hardly keep from smiling, as any mortal is inclined to
do at the sight of pretty round things. So she turned without
speaking, and joined the group outside the house door, followed by
Hetty, whose heart was fluttering so at the thought of some one
she expected to see at church that she hardly felt the ground she
trod on.

And now the little procession set off. Mr. Poyser was in his
Sunday suit of drab, with a red-and-green waistcoat and a green
watch-ribbon having a large cornelian seal attached, pendant like
a plumb-line from that promontory where his watch-pocket was
situated; a silk handkerchief of a yellow tone round his neck; and
excellent grey ribbed stockings, knitted by Mrs. Poyser's own
hand, setting off the proportions of his leg. Mr. Poyser had no
reason to be ashamed of his leg, and suspected that the growing
abuse of top-boots and other fashions tending to disguise the
nether limbs had their origin in a pitiable degeneracy of the
human calf. Still less had he reason to be ashamed of his round
jolly face, which was good humour itself as he said, "Come, Hetty--
come, little uns!" and giving his arm to his wife, led the way
through the causeway gate into the yard.

The "little uns" addressed were Marty and Tommy, boys of nine and
seven, in little fustian tailed coats and knee-breeches, relieved
by rosy cheeks and black eyes, looking as much like their father
as a very small elephant is like a very large one. Hetty walked
between them, and behind came patient Molly, whose task it was to
carry Totty through the yard and over all the wet places on the
road; for Totty, having speedily recovered from her threatened
fever, had insisted on going to church to-day, and especially on
wearing her red-and-black necklace outside her tippet. And there
were many wet places for her to be carried over this afternoon,
for there had been heavy showers in the morning, though now the
clouds had rolled off and lay in towering silvery masses on the

You might have known it was Sunday if you had only waked up in the
farmyard. The cocks and hens seemed to know it, and made only
crooning subdued noises; the very bull-dog looked less savage, as
if he would have been satisfied with a smaller bite than usual.
The sunshine seemed to call all things to rest and not to labour.
It was asleep itself on the moss-grown cow-shed; on the group of
white ducks nestling together with their bills tucked under their
wings; on the old black sow stretched languidly on the straw,
while her largest young one found an excellent spring-bed on his
mother's fat ribs; on Alick, the shepherd, in his new smock-frock,
taking an uneasy siesta, half-sitting, half-standing on the
granary steps. Alick was of opinion that church, like other
luxuries, was not to be indulged in often by a foreman who had the
weather and the ewes on his mind. "Church! Nay--I'n gotten
summat else to think on," was an answer which he often uttered in
a tone of bitter significance that silenced further question. I
feel sure Alick meant no irreverence; indeed, I know that his mind
was not of a speculative, negative cast, and he would on no
account have missed going to church on Christmas Day, Easter
Sunday, and "Whissuntide." But he had a general impression that
public worship and religious ceremonies, like other non-productive
employments, were intended for people who had leisure.

"There's Father a-standing at the yard-gate," said Martin Poyser.
"I reckon he wants to watch us down the field. It's wonderful
what sight he has, and him turned seventy-five."

"Ah, I often think it's wi' th' old folks as it is wi' the
babbies," said Mrs. Poyser; "they're satisfied wi' looking, no
matter what they're looking at. It's God A'mighty's way o'
quietening 'em, I reckon, afore they go to sleep."

Old Martin opened the gate as he saw the family procession
approaching, and held it wide open, leaning on his stick--pleased
to do this bit of work; for, like all old men whose life has been
spent in labour, he liked to feel that he was still useful--that
there was a better crop of onions in the garden because he was by
at the sowing--and that the cows would be milked the better if he
stayed at home on a Sunday afternoon to look on. He always went
to church on Sacrament Sundays, but not very regularly at other
times; on wet Sundays, or whenever he had a touch of rheumatism,
he used to read the three first chapters of Genesis instead.

"They'll ha' putten Thias Bede i' the ground afore ye get to the
churchyard," he said, as his son came up. "It 'ud ha' been better
luck if they'd ha' buried him i' the forenoon when the rain was
fallin'; there's no likelihoods of a drop now; an' the moon lies
like a boat there, dost see? That's a sure sign o' fair weather--
there's a many as is false but that's sure."

"Aye, aye," said the son, "I'm in hopes it'll hold up now."

"Mind what the parson says, mind what the parson says, my lads,"
said Grandfather to the black-eyed youngsters in knee-breeches,
conscious of a marble or two in their pockets which they looked
forward to handling, a little, secretly, during the sermon.

"Dood-bye, Dandad," said Totty. "Me doin' to church. Me dot my
netlace on. Dive me a peppermint."

Grandad, shaking with laughter at this "deep little wench," slowly
transferred his stick to his left hand, which held the gate open,
and slowly thrust his finger into the waistcoat pocket on which
Totty had fixed her eyes with a confident look of expectation.

And when they were all gone, the old man leaned on the gate again,
watching them across the lane along the Home Close, and through
the far gate, till they disappeared behind a bend in the hedge.
For the hedgerows in those days shut out one's view, even on the
better-managed farms; and this afternoon, the dog-roses were
tossing out their pink wreaths, the nightshade was in its yellow
and purple glory, the pale honeysuckle grew out of reach, peeping
high up out of a holly bush, and over all an ash or a sycamore
every now and then threw its shadow across the path.

There were acquaintances at other gates who had to move aside and
let them pass: at the gate of the Home Close there was half the
dairy of cows standing one behind the other, extremely slow to
understand that their large bodies might be in the way; at the far
gate there was the mare holding her head over the bars, and beside
her the liver-coloured foal with its head towards its mother's
flank, apparently still much embarrassed by its own straddling
existence. The way lay entirely through Mr. Poyser's own fields
till they reached the main road leading to the village, and he
turned a keen eye on the stock and the crops as they went along,
while Mrs. Poyser was ready to supply a running commentary on them
all. The woman who manages a dairy has a large share in making
the rent, so she may well be allowed to have her opinion on stock
and their "keep"--an exercise which strengthens her understanding
so much that she finds herself able to give her husband advice on
most other subjects.

"There's that shorthorned Sally," she said, as they entered the
Home Close, and she caught sight of the meek beast that lay
chewing the cud and looking at her with a sleepy eye. "I begin to
hate the sight o' the cow; and I say now what I said three weeks
ago, the sooner we get rid of her the better, for there's that
little yallow cow as doesn't give half the milk, and yet I've
twice as much butter from her."

"Why, thee't not like the women in general," said Mr. Poyser;
"they like the shorthorns, as give such a lot o' milk. There's
Chowne's wife wants him to buy no other sort."

"What's it sinnify what Chowne's wife likes? A poor soft thing,
wi' no more head-piece nor a sparrow. She'd take a big cullender
to strain her lard wi', and then wonder as the scratchin's run
through. I've seen enough of her to know as I'll niver take a
servant from her house again--all hugger-mugger--and you'd niver
know, when you went in, whether it was Monday or Friday, the wash
draggin' on to th' end o' the week; and as for her cheese, I know
well enough it rose like a loaf in a tin last year. And then she
talks o' the weather bein' i' fault, as there's folks 'ud stand on
their heads and then say the fault was i' their boots."

"Well, Chowne's been wanting to buy Sally, so we can get rid of
her if thee lik'st," said Mr. Poyser, secretly proud of his wife's
superior power of putting two and two together; indeed, on recent
market-days he had more than once boasted of her discernment in
this very matter of shorthorns. "Aye, them as choose a soft for a
wife may's well buy up the shorthorns, for if you get your head
stuck in a bog, your legs may's well go after it. Eh! Talk o'
legs, there's legs for you," Mrs. Poyser continued, as Totty, who
had been set down now the road was dry, toddled on in front of her
father and mother. "There's shapes! An' she's got such a long
foot, she'll be her father's own child."

"Aye, she'll be welly such a one as Hetty i' ten years' time, on'y
she's got THY coloured eyes. I niver remember a blue eye i' my
family; my mother had eyes as black as sloes, just like Hetty's."

"The child 'ull be none the worse for having summat as isn't like
Hetty. An' I'm none for having her so overpretty. Though for the
matter o' that, there's people wi' light hair an' blue eyes as
pretty as them wi' black. If Dinah had got a bit o' colour in her
cheeks, an' didn't stick that Methodist cap on her head, enough to
frighten the cows, folks 'ud think her as pretty as Hetty."

"Nay, nay," said Mr. Poyser, with rather a contemptuous emphasis,
"thee dostna know the pints of a woman. The men 'ud niver run
after Dinah as they would after Hetty."

"What care I what the men 'ud run after? It's well seen what
choice the most of 'em know how to make, by the poor draggle-tails
o' wives you see, like bits o' gauze ribbin, good for nothing when
the colour's gone."

"Well, well, thee canstna say but what I knowed how to make a
choice when I married thee," said Mr. Poyser, who usually settled
little conjugal disputes by a compliment of this sort; "and thee
wast twice as buxom as Dinah ten year ago."

"I niver said as a woman had need to be ugly to make a good missis
of a house. There's Chowne's wife ugly enough to turn the milk
an' save the rennet, but she'll niver save nothing any other way.
But as for Dinah, poor child, she's niver likely to be buxom as
long as she'll make her dinner o' cake and water, for the sake o'
giving to them as want. She provoked me past bearing sometimes;
and, as I told her, she went clean again' the Scriptur', for that
says, 'Love your neighbour as yourself'; 'but,' I said, 'if you
loved your neighbour no better nor you do yourself, Dinah, it's
little enough you'd do for him. You'd be thinking he might do
well enough on a half-empty stomach.' Eh, I wonder where she is
this blessed Sunday! Sitting by that sick woman, I daresay, as
she'd set her heart on going to all of a sudden."

"Ah, it was a pity she should take such megrims into her head,
when she might ha' stayed wi' us all summer, and eaten twice as
much as she wanted, and it 'ud niver ha' been missed. She made no
odds in th' house at all, for she sat as still at her sewing as a
bird on the nest, and was uncommon nimble at running to fetch
anything. If Hetty gets married, theed'st like to ha' Dinah wi'
thee constant."

"It's no use thinking o' that," said Mrs. Poyser. "You might as
well beckon to the flying swallow as ask Dinah to come an' live
here comfortable, like other folks. If anything could turn her, I
should ha' turned her, for I've talked to her for a hour on end,
and scolded her too; for she's my own sister's child, and it
behoves me to do what I can for her. But eh, poor thing, as soon
as she'd said us 'good-bye' an' got into the cart, an' looked back
at me with her pale face, as is welly like her Aunt Judith come
back from heaven, I begun to be frightened to think o' the set-
downs I'd given her; for it comes over you sometimes as if she'd a
way o' knowing the rights o' things more nor other folks have.
But I'll niver give in as that's 'cause she's a Methodist, no more
nor a white calf's white 'cause it eats out o' the same bucket wi'
a black un."

"Nay," said Mr. Poyser, with as near an approach to a snarl as his
good-nature would allow; "I'm no opinion o' the Methodists. It's
on'y tradesfolks as turn Methodists; you nuver knew a farmer
bitten wi' them maggots. There's maybe a workman now an' then, as
isn't overclever at's work, takes to preachin' an' that, like Seth
Bede. But you see Adam, as has got one o' the best head-pieces
hereabout, knows better; he's a good Churchman, else I'd never
encourage him for a sweetheart for Hetty."

"Why, goodness me," said Mrs. Poyser, who had looked back while
her husband was speaking, "look where Molly is with them lads!
They're the field's length behind us. How COULD you let 'em do
so, Hetty? Anybody might as well set a pictur' to watch the
children as you. Run back and tell 'em to come on."

Mr. and Mrs. Poyser were now at the end of the second field, so
they set Totty on the top of one of the large stones forming the
true Loamshire stile, and awaited the loiterers Totty observing
with complacency, "Dey naughty, naughty boys--me dood."

The fact was that this Sunday walk through the fields was fraught
with great excitement to Marty and Tommy, who saw a perpetual
drama going on in the hedgerows, and could no more refrain from
stopping and peeping than if they had been a couple of spaniels or
terriers. Marty was quite sure he saw a yellow-hammer on the
boughs of the great ash, and while he was peeping, he missed the
sight of a white-throated stoat, which had run across the path and
was described with much fervour by the junior Tommy. Then there
was a little greenfinch, just fledged, fluttering along the
ground, and it seemed quite possible to catch it, till it managed
to flutter under the blackberry bush. Hetty could not be got to
give any heed to these things, so Molly was called on for her
ready sympathy, and peeped with open mouth wherever she was told,
and said "Lawks!" whenever she was expected to wonder.

Molly hastened on with some alarm when Hetty had come back and
called to them that her aunt was angry; but Marty ran on first,
shouting, "We've found the speckled turkey's nest, Mother!" with
the instinctive confidence that people who bring good news are
never in fault.

"Ah," said Mrs. Poyser, really forgetting all discipline in this
pleasant surprise, "that's a good lad; why, where is it?"

"Down in ever such a hole, under the hedge. I saw it first,
looking after the greenfinch, and she sat on th' nest."

"You didn't frighten her, I hope," said the mother, "else she'll
forsake it."

"No, I went away as still as still, and whispered to Molly--didn't
I, Molly?"

"Well, well, now come on," said Mrs. Poyser, "and walk before
Father and Mother, and take your little sister by the hand. We
must go straight on now. Good boys don't look after the birds of
a Sunday."

"But, Mother," said Marty, "you said you'd give half-a-crown to
find the speckled turkey's nest. Mayn't I have the half-crown put
into my money-box?"

"We'll see about that, my lad, if you walk along now, like a good

The father and mother exchanged a significant glance of amusement
at their eldest-born's acuteness; but on Tommy's round face there
was a cloud.

"Mother," he said, half-crying, "Marty's got ever so much more
money in his box nor I've got in mine."

"Munny, me want half-a-toun in my bots," said Totty.

"Hush, hush, hush," said Mrs. Poyser, "did ever anybody hear such
naughty children? Nobody shall ever see their money-boxes any
more, if they don't make haste and go on to church."

This dreadful threat had the desired effect, and through the two
remaining fields the three pair of small legs trotted on without
any serious interruption, notwithstanding a small pond full of
tadpoles, alias "bullheads," which the lads looked at wistfully.

The damp hay that must be scattered and turned afresh to-morrow
was not a cheering sight to Mr. Poyser, who during hay and corn
harvest had often some mental struggles as to the benefits of a
day of rest; but no temptation would have induced him to carry on
any field-work, however early in the morning, on a Sunday; for had
not Michael Holdsworth had a pair of oxen "sweltered" while he was
ploughing on Good Friday? That was a demonstration that work on
sacred days was a wicked thing; and with wickedness of any sort
Martin Poyser was quite clear that he would have nothing to do,
since money got by such means would never prosper.

"It a'most makes your fingers itch to be at the hay now the sun
shines so," he observed, as they passed through the "Big Meadow."
"But it's poor foolishness to think o' saving by going against
your conscience. There's that Jim Wakefield, as they used to call
'Gentleman Wakefield,' used to do the same of a Sunday as o'
weekdays, and took no heed to right or wrong, as if there was
nayther God nor devil. An' what's he come to? Why, I saw him
myself last market-day a-carrying a basket wi' oranges in't."

"Ah, to be sure," said Mrs. Poyser, emphatically, "you make but a
poor trap to catch luck if you go and bait it wi' wickedness. The
money as is got so's like to burn holes i' your pocket. I'd niver
wish us to leave our lads a sixpence but what was got i' the
rightful way. And as for the weather, there's One above makes it,
and we must put up wi't: it's nothing of a plague to what the
wenches are."

Notwithstanding the interruption in their walk, the excellent
habit which Mrs. Poyser's clock had of taking time by the forelock
had secured their arrival at the village while it was still a
quarter to two, though almost every one who meant to go to church
was already within the churchyard gates. Those who stayed at home
were chiefly mothers, like Timothy's Bess, who stood at her own
door nursing her baby and feeling as women feel in that position--
that nothing else can be expected of them.

It was not entirely to see Thias Bede's funeral that the people
were standing about the churchyard so long before service began;
that was their common practice. The women, indeed, usually
entered the church at once, and the farmers' wives talked in an
undertone to each other, over the tall pews, about their illnesses
and the total failure of doctor's stuff, recommending dandelion-
tea, and other home-made specifics, as far preferable--about the
servants, and their growing exorbitance as to wages, whereas the
quality of their services declined from year to year, and there
was no girl nowadays to be trusted any further than you could see
her--about the bad price Mr. Dingall, the Treddleston grocer, was
giving for butter, and the reasonable doubts that might be held as
to his solvency, notwithstanding that Mrs. Dingall was a sensible
woman, and they were all sorry for HER, for she had very good kin.
Meantime the men lingered outside, and hardly any of them except
the singers, who had a humming and fragmentary rehearsal to go
through, entered the church until Mr. Irwine was in the desk.
They saw no reason for that premature entrance--what could they do
in church if they were there before service began?--and they did
not conceive that any power in the universe could take it ill of
them if they stayed out and talked a little about "bus'ness."

Chad Cranage looks like quite a new acquaintance to-day, for he
has got his clean Sunday face, which always makes his little
granddaughter cry at him as a stranger. But an experienced eye
would have fixed on him at once as the village blacksmith, after
seeing the humble deference with which the big saucy fellow took
off his hat and stroked his hair to the farmers; for Chad was
accustomed to say that a working-man must hold a candle to a
personage understood to be as black as he was himself on weekdays;
by which evil-sounding rule of conduct he meant what was, after
all, rather virtuous than otherwise, namely, that men who had
horses to be shod must be treated with respect. Chad and the
rougher sort of workmen kept aloof from the grave under the white
thorn, where the burial was going forward; but Sandy Jim, and
several of the farm-labourers, made a group round it, and stood
with their hats off, as fellow-mourners with the mother and sons.
Others held a midway position, sometimes watching the group at the
grave, sometimes listening to the conversation of the farmers, who
stood in a knot near the church door, and were now joined by
Martin Poyser, while his family passed into the church. On the
outside of this knot stood Mr. Casson, the landlord of the
Donnithorne Arms, in his most striking attitude--that is to say,
with the forefinger of his right hand thrust between the buttons
of his waistcoat, his left hand in his breeches pocket, and his
head very much on one side; looking, on the whole, like an actor
who has only a mono-syllabic part entrusted to him, but feels sure
that the audience discern his fitness for the leading business;
curiously in contrast with old Jonathan Burge, who held his hands
behind him and leaned forward, coughing asthmatically, with an
inward scorn of all knowingness that could not be turned into
cash. The talk was in rather a lower tone than usual to-day,
hushed a little by the sound of Mr. Irwine's voice reading the
final prayers of the burial-service. They had all had their word
of pity for poor Thias, but now they had got upon the nearer
subject of their own grievances against Satchell, the Squire's
bailiff, who played the part of steward so far as it was not
performed by old Mr. Donnithorne himself, for that gentleman had
the meanness to receive his own rents and make bargains about his
own timber. This subject of conversation was an additional reason
for not being loud, since Satchell himself might presently be
walking up the paved road to the church door. And soon they
became suddenly silent; for Mr. Irwine's voice had ceased, and the
group round the white thorn was dispersing itself towards the

They all moved aside, and stood with their hats off, while Mr.
Irwine passed. Adam and Seth were coming next, with their mother
between them; for Joshua Rann officiated as head sexton as well as
clerk, and was not yet ready to follow the rector into the vestry.
But there was a pause before the three mourners came on: Lisbeth
had turned round to look again towards the grave! Ah! There was
nothing now but the brown earth under the white thorn. Yet she
cried less to-day than she had done any day since her husband's
death. Along with all her grief there was mixed an unusual sense
of her own importance in having a "burial," and in Mr. Irwine's
reading a special service for her husband; and besides, she knew
the funeral psalm was going to be sung for him. She felt this
counter-excitement to her sorrow still more strongly as she walked
with her sons towards the church door, and saw the friendly
sympathetic nods of their fellow-parishioners.

The mother and sons passed into the church, and one by one the
loiterers followed, though some still lingered without; the sight
of Mr. Donnithorne's carriage, which was winding slowly up the
hill, perhaps helping to make them feel that there was no need for

But presently the sound of the bassoon and the key-bugles burst
forth; the evening hymn, which always opened the service, had
begun, and every one must now enter and take his place.

I cannot say that the interior of Hayslope Church was remarkable
for anything except for the grey age of its oaken pews--great
square pews mostly, ranged on each side of a narrow aisle. It was
free, indeed, from the modern blemish of galleries. The choir had
two narrow pews to themselves in the middle of the right-hand row,
so that it was a short process for Joshua Rann to take his place
among them as principal bass, and return to his desk after the
singing was over. The pulpit and desk, grey and old as the pews,
stood on one side of the arch leading into the chancel, which also
had its grey square pews for Mr. Donnithorne's family and
servants. Yet I assure you these grey pews, with the buff-washed
walls, gave a very pleasing tone to this shabby interior, and
agreed extremely well with the ruddy faces and bright waistcoats.
And there were liberal touches of crimson toward the chancel, for
the pulpit and Mr. Donnithorne's own pew had handsome crimson
cloth cushions; and, to close the vista, there was a crimson
altar-cloth, embroidered with golden rays by Miss Lydia's own

But even without the crimson cloth, the effect must have been warm
and cheering when Mr. Irwine was in the desk, looking benignly
round on that simple congregation--on the hardy old men, with bent
knees and shoulders, perhaps, but with vigour left for much hedge-
clipping and thatching; on the tall stalwart frames and roughly
cut bronzed faces of the stone-cutters and carpenters; on the
half-dozen well-to-do farmers, with their apple-cheeked families;
and on the clean old women, mostly farm-labourers' wives, with
their bit of snow-white cap-border under their black bonnets, and
with their withered arms, bare from the elbow, folded passively
over their chests. For none of the old people held books--why
should they? Not one of them could read. But they knew a few
"good words" by heart, and their withered lips now and then moved
silently, following the service without any very clear
comprehension indeed, but with a simple faith in its efflcacy to
ward off harm and bring blessing. And now all faces were visible,
for all were standing up--the little children on the seats peeping
over the edge of the grey pews, while good Bishop Ken's evening
hymn was being sung to one of those lively psalm-tunes which died
out with the last generation of rectors and choral parish clerks.
Melodies die out, like the pipe of Pan, with the ears that love
them and listen for them. Adam was not in his usual place among
the singers to-day, for he sat with his mother and Seth, and he
noticed with surprise that Bartle Massey was absent too--all the
more agreeable for Mr. Joshua Rann, who gave out his bass notes
with unusual complacency and threw an extra ray of severity into
the glances he sent over his spectacles at the recusant Will

I beseech you to imagine Mr. Irwine looking round on this scene,
in his ample white surplice that became him so well, with his
powdered hair thrown back, his rich brown complexion, and his
finely cut nostril and upper lip; for there was a certain virtue
in that benignant yet keen countenance as there is in all human
faces from which a generous soul beams out. And over all streamed
the delicious June sunshine through the old windows, with their
desultory patches of yellow, red, and blue, that threw pleasant
touches of colour on the opposite wall.

I think, as Mr. Irwine looked round to-day, his eyes rested an
instant longer than usual on the square pew occupied by Martin
Poyser and his family. And there was another pair of dark eyes
that found it impossible not to wander thither, and rest on that
round pink-and-white figure. But Hetty was at that moment quite
careless of any glances--she was absorbed in the thought that
Arthur Donnithorne would soon be coming into church, for the
carriage must surely be at the church-gate by this time. She had
never seen him since she parted with him in the wood on Thursday
evening, and oh, how long the time had seemed! Things had gone on
just the same as ever since that evening; the wonders that had
happened then had brought no changes after them; they were already
like a dream. When she heard the church door swinging, her heart
beat so, she dared not look up. She felt that her aunt was
curtsying; she curtsied herself. That must be old Mr.
Donnithorne--he always came first, the wrinkled small old man,
peering round with short-sighted glances at the bowing and
curtsying congregation; then she knew Miss Lydia was passing, and
though Hetty liked so much to look at her fashionable little coal-
scuttle bonnet, with the wreath of small roses round it, she
didn't mind it to-day. But there were no more curtsies--no, he
was not come; she felt sure there was nothing else passing the pew
door but the house-keeper's black bonnet and the lady's maid's
beautiful straw hat that had once been Miss Lydia's, and then the
powdered heads of the butler and footman. No, he was not there;
yet she would look now--she might be mistaken--for, after all, she
had not looked. So she lifted up her eyelids and glanced timidly
at the cushioned pew in the chancel--there was no one but old Mr.
Donnithorne rubbing his spectacles with his white handkerchief,
and Miss Lydia opening the large gilt-edged prayer-book. The
chill disappointment was too hard to bear. She felt herself
turning pale, her lips trembling; she was ready to cry. Oh, what
SHOULD she do? Everybody would know the reason; they would know
she was crying because Arthur was not there. And Mr. Craig, with
the wonderful hothouse plant in his button-hole, was staring at
her, she knew. It was dreadfully long before the General
Confession began, so that she could kneel down. Two great drops
WOULD fall then, but no one saw them except good-natured Molly,
for her aunt and uncle knelt with their backs towards her. Molly,
unable to imagine any cause for tears in church except faintness,
of which she had a vague traditional knowledge, drew out of her
pocket a queer little flat blue smelling-bottle, and after much
labour in pulling the cork out, thrust the narrow neck against
Hetty's nostrils. "It donna smell," she whispered, thinking this
was a great advantage which old salts had over fresh ones: they
did you good without biting your nose. Hetty pushed it away
peevishly; but this little flash of temper did what the salts
could not have done--it roused her to wipe away the traces of her
tears, and try with all her might not to shed any more. Hetty had
a certain strength in her vain little nature: she would have borne
anything rather than be laughed at, or pointed at with any other
feeling than admiration; she would have pressed her own nails into
her tender flesh rather than people should know a secret she did
not want them to know.

What fluctuations there were in her busy thoughts and feelings,
while Mr. Irwine was pronouncing the solemn "Absolution" in her
deaf ears, and through all the tones of petition that followed!
Anger lay very close to disappointment, and soon won the victory
over the conjectures her small ingenuity could devise to account
for Arthur's absence on the supposition that he really wanted to

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