Adam Bede HTML version

The idea of Hetty had just crossed Mr. Irwine's mind as he looked inquiringly at
Arthur, but his disclaiming indifferent answer confirmed the thought which had
quickly followed--that there could be nothing serious in that direction. There was
no probability that Arthur ever saw her except at church, and at her own home
under the eye of Mrs. Poyser; and the hint he had given Arthur about her the
other day had no more serious meaning than to prevent him from noticing her so
as to rouse the little chit's vanity, and in this way perturb the rustic drama of her
life. Arthur would soon join his regiment, and be far away: no, there could be no
danger in that quarter, even if Arthur's character had not been a strong security
against it. His honest, patronizing pride in the good-will and respect of everybody
about him was a safeguard even against foolish romance, still more against a
lower kind of folly. If there had been anything special on Arthur's mind in the
previous conversation, it was clear he was not inclined to enter into details, and
Mr. Irwine was too delicate to imply even a friendly curiosity. He perceived a
change of subject would be welcome, and said, "By the way, Arthur, at your
colonel's birthday fete there were some transparencies that made a great effect
in honour of Britannia, and Pitt, and the Loamshire Militia, and, above all, the
'generous youth,' the hero of the day. Don't you think you should get up
something of the same sort to astonish our weak minds?"
The opportunity was gone. While Arthur was hesitating, the rope to which he
might have clung had drifted away--he must trust now to his own swimming.
In ten minutes from that time, Mr. Irwine was called for on business, and Arthur,
bidding him good-bye, mounted his horse again with a sense of dissatisfaction,
which he tried to quell by determining to set off for Eagledale without an hour's