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Adam Bede

than a month since we saw her unlock that drawer before, and now it holds new
treasures, so much more precious than the old ones that these are thrust into the
corner. Hetty would not care to put the large coloured glass ear-rings into her
ears now; for see! she has got a beautiful pair of gold and pearls and garnet,
lying snugly in a pretty little box lined with white satin. Oh, the delight of taking
out that little box and looking at the ear-rings! Do not reason about it, my
philosphical reader, and say that Hetty, being very pretty, must have known that
it did not signify whether she had on any ornaments or not; and that, moreover,
to look at ear- rings which she could not possibly wear out of her bedroom could
hardly be a satisfaction, the essence of vanity being a reference to the
impressions produced on others; you will never understand women's natures if
you are so excessively rational. Try rather to divest yourself of all your rational
prejudices, as much as if you were studying the psychology of a canary bird, and
only watch the movements of this pretty round creature as she turns her head on
one side with an unconscious smile at the ear-rings nestled in the little box. Ah,
you think, it is for the sake of the person who has given them to her, and her
thoughts are gone back now to the moment when they were put into her hands.
No; else why should she have cared to have ear-rings rather than anything else?
And I know that she had longed for ear-rings from among all the ornaments she
could imagine.
"Little, little ears!" Arthur had said, pretending to pinch them one evening, as
Hetty sat beside him on the grass without her hat. "I wish I had some pretty ear-
rings!" she said in a moment, almost before she knew what she was saying--the
wish lay so close to her lips, it WOULD flutter past them at the slightest breath.
And the next day--it was only last week--Arthur had ridden over to Rosseter on
purpose to buy them. That little wish so naively uttered seemed to him the
prettiest bit of childishness; he had never heard anything like it before; and he
had wrapped the box up in a great many covers, that he might see Hetty
unwrapping it with growing curiosity, till at last her eyes flashed back their new
delight into his.
No, she was not thinking most of the giver when she smiled at the ear-rings, for
now she is taking them out of the box, not to press them to her lips, but to fasten
them in her ears--only for one moment, to see how pretty they look, as she peeps
at them in the glass against the wall, with first one position of the head and then
another, like a listening bird. It is impossible to be wise on the subject of ear-rings
as one looks at her; what should those delicate pearls and crystals be made for,
if not for such ears? One cannot even find fault with the tiny round hole which
they leave when they are taken out; perhaps water-nixies, and such lovely things
without souls, have these little round holes in their ears by nature, ready to hang
jewels in. And Hetty must be one of them: it is too painful to think that she is a
woman, with a woman's destiny before her--a woman spinning in young
ignorance a light web of folly and vain hopes which may one day close round her
and press upon her, a rancorous poisoned garment, changing all at once her
fluttering, trivial butterfly sensations into a life of deep human anguish.