"never went boozin' with that set at Casson's, a- sittin' soakin' in drink, and
looking as wise as a lot o' cod-fish wi' red faces."
It was probably owing to the conversation she had had with her husband on their
way from church concerning this problematic stranger that Mrs. Poyser's
thoughts immediately reverted to him when, a day or two afterwards, as she was
standing at the house- door with her knitting, in that eager leisure which came to
her when the afternoon cleaning was done, she saw the old squire enter the yard
on his black pony, followed by John the groom. She always cited it afterwards as
a case of prevision, which really had something more in it than her own
remarkable penetration, that the moment she set eyes on the squire she said to
herself, "I shouldna wonder if he's come about that man as is a-going to take the
Chase Farm, wanting Poyser to do something for him without pay. But Poyser's a
fool if he does."
Something unwonted must clearly be in the wind, for the old squire's visits to his
tenantry were rare; and though Mrs. Poyser had during the last twelvemonth
recited many imaginary speeches, meaning even more than met the ear, which
she was quite determined to make to him the next time he appeared within the
gates of the Hall Farm, the speeches had always remained imaginary.
"Good-day, Mrs. Poyser," said the old squire, peering at her with his short-
sighted eyes--a mode of looking at her which, as Mrs. Poyser observed, "allays
aggravated me: it was as if you was a insect, and he was going to dab his finger-
nail on you."
However, she said, "Your servant, sir," and curtsied with an air of perfect
deference as she advanced towards him: she was not the woman to misbehave
towards her betters, and fly in the face of the catechism, without severe
"Is your husband at home, Mrs. Poyser?"
"Yes, sir; he's only i' the rick-yard. I'll send for him in a minute, if you'll please to
get down and step in."
"Thank you; I will do so. I want to consult him about a little matter; but you are
quite as much concerned in it, if not more. I must have your opinion too."
"Hetty, run and tell your uncle to come in," said Mrs. Poyser, as they entered the
house, and the old gentleman bowed low in answer to Hetty's curtsy; while Totty,
conscious of a pinafore stained with gooseberry jam, stood hiding her face
against the clock and peeping round furtively.
"What a fine old kitchen this is!" said Mr. Donnithorne, looking round admiringly.
He always spoke in the same deliberate, well- chiselled, polite way, whether his