Adam Bede HTML version

15. The Two Bed-Chambers
HETTY and Dinah both slept in the second story, in rooms adjoining each other,
meagrely furnished rooms, with no blinds to shut out the light, which was now beginning
to gather new strength from the rising of the moon--more than enough strength to enable
Hetty to move about and undress with perfect comfort. She could see quite well the pegs
in the old painted linen-press on which she hung her hat and gown; she could see the
head of every pin on her red cloth pin-cushion; she could see a reflection of herself in the
old- fashioned looking-glass, quite as distinct as was needful, considering that she had
only to brush her hair and put on her night-cap. A queer old looking-glass! Hetty got into
an ill temper with it almost every time she dressed. It had been considered a handsome
glass in its day, and had probably been bought into the Poyser family a quarter of a
century before, at a sale of genteel household furniture. Even now an auctioneer could
say something for it: it had a great deal of tarnished gilding about it; it had a firm
mahogany base, well supplied with drawers, which opened with a decided jerk and sent
the contents leaping out from the farthest corners, without giving you the trouble of
reaching them; above all, it had a brass candle-socket on each side, which would give it
an aristocratic air to the very last. But Hetty objected to it because it had numerous dim
blotches sprinkled over the mirror, which no rubbing would remove, and because, instead
of swinging backwards and forwards, it was fixed in an upright position, so that she could
only get one good view of her head and neck, and that was to be had only by sitting down
on a low chair before her dressing-table. And the dressing-table was no dressing-table at
all, but a small old chest of drawers, the most awkward thing in the world to sit down
before, for the big brass handles quite hurt her knees, and she couldn't get near the glass
at all comfortably. But devout worshippers never allow inconveniences to prevent them
from performing their religious rites, and Hetty this evening was more bent on her
peculiar form of worship than usual.
Having taken off her gown and white kerchief, she drew a key from the large pocket that
hung outside her petticoat, and, unlocking one of the lower drawers in the chest, reached
from it two short bits of wax candle--secretly bought at Treddleston--and stuck them in
the two brass sockets. Then she drew forth a bundle of matches and lighted the candles;
and last of all, a small red-framed shilling looking-glass, without blotches. It was into this
small glass that she chose to look first after seating herself. She looked into it, smiling
and turning her head on one side, for a minute, then laid it down and took out her brush
and comb from an upper drawer. She was going to let down her hair, and make herself
look like that picture of a lady in Miss Lydia Donnithorne's dressing-room. It was soon
done, and the dark hyacinthine curves fell on her neck. It was not heavy, massive, merely
rippling hair, but soft and silken, running at every opportunity into delicate rings. But she
pushed it all backward to look like the picture, and form a dark curtain, throwing into
relief her round white neck. Then she put down her brush and comb and looked at herself,
folding her arms before her, still like the picture. Even the old mottled glass couldn't help
sending back a lovely image, none the less lovely because Hetty's stays were not of white