for him so pleasantly that the keen strong face became suffused with a timid
tenderness. The light footstep moved about the kitchen, followed by the sound of
the sweeping brush, hardly making so much noise as the lightest breeze that
chases the autumn leaves along the dusty path; and Adam's imagination saw a
dimpled face, with dark bright eyes and roguish smiles looking backward at this
brush, and a rounded figure just leaning a little to clasp the handle. A very foolish
thought--it could not be Hetty; but the only way of dismissing such nonsense from
his head was to go and see WHO it was, for his fancy only got nearer and nearer
to belief while he stood there listening. He loosed the plank and went to the
"How do you do, Adam Bede?" said Dinah, in her calm treble, pausing from her
sweeping and fixing her mild grave eyes upon him. "I trust you feel rested and
strengthened again to bear the burden and heat of the day."
It was like dreaming of the sunshine and awaking in the moonlight. Adam had
seen Dinah several times, but always at the Hall Farm, where he was not very
vividly conscious of any woman's presence except Hetty's, and he had only in the
last day or two begun to suspect that Seth was in love with her, so that his
attention had not hitherto been drawn towards her for his brother's sake. But now
her slim figure, her plain black gown, and her pale serene face impressed him
with all the force that belongs to a reality contrasted with a preoccupying fancy.
For the first moment or two he made no answer, but looked at her with the
concentrated, examining glance which a man gives to an object in which he has
suddenly begun to be interested. Dinah, for the first time in her life, felt a painful
self-consciousness; there was something in the dark penetrating glance of this
strong man so different from the mildness and timidity of his brother Seth. A faint
blush came, which deepened as she wondered at it. This blush recalled Adam
from his forgetfulness.
"I was quite taken by surprise; it was very good of you to come and see my
mother in her trouble," he said, in a gentle grateful tone, for his quick mind told
him at once how she came to be there. "I hope my mother was thankful to have
you," he added, wondering rather anxiously what had been Dinah's reception.
"Yes," said Dinah, resuming her work, "she seemed greatly comforted after a
while, and she's had a good deal of rest in the night, by times. She was fast
asleep when I left her."
"Who was it took the news to the Hall Farm?" said Adam, his thoughts reverting
to some one there; he wondered whether SHE had felt anything about it.
"It was Mr. Irwine, the clergyman, told me, and my aunt was grieved for your
mother when she heard it, and wanted me to come; and so is my uncle, I'm sure,
now he's heard it, but he was gone out to Rosseter all yesterday. They'll look for