35.The Hidden Dread
IT was a busy time for Adam--the time between the beginning of November and
the beginning of February, and he could see little of Hetty, except on Sundays.
But a happy time, nevertheless, for it was taking him nearer and nearer to March,
when they were to be married, and all the little preparations for their new
housekeeping marked the progress towards the longed-for day. Two new rooms
had been "run up" to the old house, for his mother and Seth were to live with
them after all. Lisbeth had cried so piteously at the thought of leaving Adam that
he had gone to Hetty and asked her if, for the love of him, she would put up with
his mother's ways and consent to live with her. To his great delight, Hetty said,
"Yes; I'd as soon she lived with us as not." Hetty's mind was oppressed at that
moment with a worse difficulty than poor Lisbeth's ways; she could not care
about them. So Adam was consoled for the disappointment he had felt when
Seth had come back from his visit to Snowfield and said "it was no use--Dinah's
heart wasna turned towards marrying." For when he told his mother that Hetty
was willing they should all live together and there was no more need of them to
think of parting, she said, in a more contented tone than he had heard her speak
in since it had been settled that he was to be married, "Eh, my lad, I'll be as still
as th' ould tabby, an' ne'er want to do aught but th' offal work, as she wonna like
t' do. An' then we needna part the platters an' things, as ha' stood on the shelf
together sin' afore thee wast born."
There was only one cloud that now and then came across Adam's sunshine:
Hetty seemed unhappy sometimes. But to all his anxious, tender questions, she
replied with an assurance that she was quite contented and wished nothing
different; and the next time he saw her she was more lively than usual. It might
be that she was a little overdone with work and anxiety now, for soon after
Christmas Mrs. Poyser had taken another cold, which had brought on
inflammation, and this illness had confined her to her room all through January.
Hetty had to manage everything downstairs, and half-supply Molly's place too,
while that good damsel waited on her mistress, and she seemed to throw herself
so entirely into her new functions, working with a grave steadiness which was
new in her, that Mr. Poyser often told Adam she was wanting to show him what a
good housekeeper he would have; but he "doubted the lass was o'erdoing it--she
must have a bit o' rest when her aunt could come downstairs."
This desirable event of Mrs. Poyser's coming downstairs happened in the early
part of February, when some mild weather thawed the last patch of snow on the
Binton Hills. On one of these days, soon after her aunt came down, Hetty went to
Treddleston to buy some of the wedding things which were wanting, and which
Mrs. Poyser had scolded her for neglecting, observing that she supposed "it was
because they were not for th' outside, else she'd ha' bought 'em fast enough."