intolerable to Lisbeth's habits of order and cleanliness seemed to her now just
what should be: it was right that things should look strange and disordered and
wretched, now the old man had come to his end in that sad way; the kitchen
ought not to look as if nothing had happened. Adam, overcome with the
agitations and exertions of the day after his night of hard work, had fallen asleep
on a bench in the workshop; and Seth was in the back kitchen making a fire of
sticks that he might get the kettle to boil, and persuade his mother to have a cup
of tea, an indulgence which she rarely allowed herself.
There was no one in the kitchen when Lisbeth entered and threw herself into the
chair. She looked round with blank eyes at the dirt and confusion on which the
bright afternoon's sun shone dismally; it was all of a piece with the sad confusion
of her mind--that confusion which belongs to the first hours of a sudden sorrow,
when the poor human soul is like one who has been deposited sleeping among
the ruins of a vast city, and wakes up in dreary amazement, not knowing whether
it is the growing or the dying day--not knowing why and whence came this
illimitable scene of desolation, or why he too finds himself desolate in the midst of
At another time Lisbeth's first thought would have been, "Where is Adam?" but
the sudden death of her husband had restored him in these hours to that first
place in her affections which he had held six-and-twenty years ago. She had
forgotten his faults as we forget the sorrows of our departed childhood, and
thought of nothing but the young husband's kindness and the old man's patience.
Her eyes continued to wander blankly until Seth came in and began to remove
some of the scattered things, and clear the small round deal table that he might
set out his mother's tea upon it.
"What art goin' to do?" she said, rather peevishly.
"I want thee to have a cup of tea, Mother," answered Seth, tenderly. "It'll do thee
good; and I'll put two or three of these things away, and make the house look
"Comfortable! How canst talk o' ma'in' things comfortable? Let a-be, let a-be.
There's no comfort for me no more," she went on, the tears coming when she
began to speak, "now thy poor feyther's gone, as I'n washed for and mended, an'
got's victual for him for thirty 'ear, an' him allays so pleased wi' iverything I done
for him, an' used to be so handy an' do the jobs for me when I war ill an'
cumbered wi' th' babby, an' made me the posset an' brought it upstairs as proud
as could be, an' carried the lad as war as heavy as two children for five mile an'
ne'er grumbled, all the way to Warson Wake, 'cause I wanted to go an' see my
sister, as war dead an' gone the very next Christmas as e'er come. An' him to be
drownded in the brook as we passed o'er the day we war married an' come home
together, an' he'd made them lots o' shelves for me to put my plates an' things
on, an' showed 'em me as proud as could be, 'cause he know'd I should be