It was more than half-past eight when Adam and his mother were talking in this
way, so that when, about ten minutes later, Hetty reached the turning of the lane
that led to the farmyard gate, she saw Dinah and Seth approaching it from the
opposite direction, and waited for them to come up to her. They, too, like Hetty,
had lingered a little in their walk, for Dinah was trying to speak words of comfort
and strength to Seth in these parting moments. But when they saw Hetty, they
paused and shook hands; Seth turned homewards, and Dinah came on alone.
"Seth Bede would have come and spoken to you, my dear," she said, as she
reached Hetty, "but he's very full of trouble to-night."
Hetty answered with a dimpled smile, as if she did not quite know what had been
said; and it made a strange contrast to see that sparkling self-engrossed
loveliness looked at by Dinah's calm pitying face, with its open glance which told
that her heart lived in no cherished secrets of its own, but in feelings which it
longed to share with all the world. Hetty liked Dinah as well as she had ever liked
any woman; how was it possible to feel otherwise towards one who always put in
a kind word for her when her aunt was finding fault, and who was always ready to
take Totty off her hands--little tiresome Totty, that was made such a pet of by
every one, and that Hetty could see no interest in at all? Dinah had never said
anything disapproving or reproachful to Hetty during her whole visit to the Hall
Farm; she had talked to her a great deal in a serious way, but Hetty didn't mind
that much, for she never listened: whatever Dinah might say, she almost always
stroked Hetty's cheek after it, and wanted to do some mending for her. Dinah
was a riddle to her; Hetty looked at her much in the same way as one might
imagine a little perching bird that could only flutter from bough to bough, to look
at the swoop of the swallow or the mounting of the lark; but she did not care to
solve such riddles, any more than she cared to know what was meant by the
pictures in the Pilgrim's Progress, or in the old folio Bible that Marty and Tommy
always plagued her about on a Sunday.
Dinah took her hand now and drew it under her own arm.
"You look very happy to-night, dear child," she said. "I shall think ot you often
when I'm at Snowfield, and see your face before me as it is now. It's a strange
thing--sometimes when I'm quite alone, sitting in my room with my eyes closed,
or walking over the hills, the people I've seen and known, if it's only been for a
few days, are brought before me, and I hear their voices and see them look and
move almost plainer than I ever did when they were really with me so as I could
touch them. And then my heart is drawn out towards them, and I feel their lot as if
it was my own, and I take comfort in spreading it before the Lord and resting in
His love, on their behalf as well as my own. And so I feel sure you will come
She paused a moment, but Hetty said nothing.