Adam himself was not come back from Stoniton, for though he shrank from
seeing Hetty, he could not bear to go to a distance from her again.
"It's no use, sir," he said to the rector, "it's no use for me to go back. I can't go to
work again while she's here, and I couldn't bear the sight o' the things and folks
round home. I'll take a bit of a room here, where I can see the prison walls, and
perhaps I shall get, in time, to bear seeing her."
Adam had not been shaken in his belief that Hetty was innocent of the crime she
was charged with, for Mr. Irwine, feeling that the belief in her guilt would be a
crushing addition to Adam's load, had kept from him the facts which left no hope
in his own mind. There was not any reason for thrusting the whole burden on
Adam at once, and Mr. Irwine, at parting, only said, "If the evidence should tell
too strongly against her, Adam, we may still hope for a pardon. Her youth and
other circumstances will be a plea for her."
"Ah, and it's right people should know how she was tempted into the wrong way,"
said Adam, with bitter earnestness. "It's right they should know it was a fine
gentleman made love to her, and turned her head wi' notions. You'll remember,
sir, you've promised to tell my mother, and Seth, and the people at the farm, who
it was as led her wrong, else they'll think harder of her than she deserves. You'll
be doing her a hurt by sparing him, and I hold him the guiltiest before God, let her
ha' done what she may. If you spare him, I'll expose him!"
"I think your demand is just, Adam," said Mr. Irwine, "but when you are calmer,
you will judge Arthur more mercifully. I say nothing now, only that his punishment
is in other hands than ours."
Mr. Irwine felt it hard upon him that he should have to tell of Arthur's sad part in
the story of sin and sorrow--he who cared for Arthur with fatherly affection, who
had cared for him with fatherly pride. But he saw clearly that the secret must be
known before long, even apart from Adam's determination, since it was scarcely
to be supposed that Hetty would persist to the end in her obstinate silence. He
made up his mind to withhold nothing from the Poysers, but to tell them the worst
at once, for there was no time to rob the tidings of their suddenness. Hetty's trial
must come on at the Lent assizes, and they were to be held at Stoniton the next
week. It was scarcely to be hoped that Martin Poyser could escape the pain of
being called as a witness, and it was better he should know everything as long
beforehand as possible.
Before ten o'clock on Thursday morning the home at the Hall Farm was a house
of mourning for a misfortune felt to be worse than death. The sense of family
dishonour was too keen even in the kind-hearted Martin Poyser the younger to
leave room for any compassion towards Hetty. He and his father were simple-
minded farmers, proud of their untarnished character, proud that they came of a
family which had held up its head and paid its way as far back as its name was in