"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 horizon.