Adam Bede HTML version

"Why, the Scotch tunes are just like a scolding, nagging woman," Bartle went on,
without deigning to notice Mr. Craig's remark. "They go on with the same thing
over and over again, and never come to a reasonable end. Anybody 'ud think the
Scotch tunes had always been asking a question of somebody as deaf as old
Taft, and had never got an answer yet."
Adam minded the less about sitting by Mr. Casson, because this position
enabled him to see Hetty, who was not far off him at the next table. Hetty,
however, had not even noticed his presence yet, for she was giving angry
attention to Totty, who insisted on drawing up her feet on to the bench in antique
fashion, and thereby threatened to make dusty marks on Hetty's pink-and-white
frock. No sooner were the little fat legs pushed down than up they came again,
for Totty's eyes were too busy in staring at the large dishes to see where the
plum pudding was for her to retain any consciousness of her legs. Hetty got quite
out of patience, and at last, with a frown and pout, and gathering tears, she said,
"Oh dear, Aunt, I wish you'd speak to Totty; she keeps putting her legs up so,
and messing my frock."
"What's the matter wi' the child? She can niver please you," said the mother. "Let
her come by the side o' me, then. I can put up wi' her."
Adam was looking at Hetty, and saw the frown, and pout, and the dark eyes
seeming to grow larger with pettish half-gathered tears. Quiet Mary Burge, who
sat near enough to see that Hetty was cross and that Adam's eyes were fixed on
her, thought that so sensible a man as Adam must be reflecting on the small
value of beauty in a woman whose temper was bad. Mary was a good girl, not
given to indulge in evil feelings, but she said to herself, that, since Hetty had a
bad temper, it was better Adam should know it. And it was quite true that if Hetty
had been plain, she would have looked very ugly and unamiable at that moment,
and no one's moral judgment upon her would have been in the least beguiled.
But really there was something quite charming in her pettishness: it looked so
much more like innocent distress than ill humour; and the severe Adam felt no
movement of disapprobation; he only felt a sort of amused pity, as if he had seen
a kitten setting up its back, or a little bird with its feathers ruffled. He could not
gather what was vexing her, but it was impossible to him to feel otherwise than
that she was the prettiest thing in the world, and that if he could have his way,
nothing should ever vex her any more. And presently, when Totty was gone, she
caught his eye, and her face broke into one of its brightest smiles, as she nodded
to him. It was a bit of flirtation--she knew Mary Burge was looking at them. But
the smile was like wine to Adam.