Adam Bede HTML version

Adam's conversation for himself, and Hetty laid her small plots and imagined her
little scenes of cunning blandishment, as she walked along by the hedgerows on
honest Adam's arm, quite as well as if she had been an elegantly clad coquette
alone in her boudoir. For if a country beauty in clumsy shoes be only shallow-
hearted enough, it is astonishing how closely her mental processes may
resemble those of a lady in society and crinoline, who applies her refined intellect
to the problem of committing indiscretions without compromising herself. Perhaps
the resemblance was not much the less because Hetty felt very unhappy all the
while. The parting with Arthur was a double pain to her--mingling with the tumult
of passion and vanity there was a dim undefined fear that the future might shape
itself in some way quite unlike her dream. She clung to the comforting hopeful
words Arthur had uttered in their last meeting-- "I shall come again at Christmas,
and then we will see what can be done." She clung to the belief that he was so
fond of her, he would never be happy without her; and she still hugged her
secret-- that a great gentleman loved her--with gratified pride, as a superiority
over all the girls she knew. But the uncertainty of the future, the possibilities to
which she could give no shape, began to press upon her like the invisible weight
of air; she was alone on her little island of dreams, and all around her was the
dark unknown water where Arthur was gone. She could gather no elation of
spirits now by looking forward, but only by looking backward to build confidence
on past words and caresses. But occasionally, since Thursday evening, her dim
anxieties had been almost lost behind the more definite fear that Adam might
betray what he knew to her uncle and aunt, and his sudden proposition to talk
with her alone had set her thoughts to work in a new way. She was eager not to
lose this evening's opportunity; and after tea, when the boys were going into the
garden and Totty begged to go with them, Hetty said, with an alacrity that
surprised Mrs. Poyser, "I'll go with her, Aunt."
It did not seem at all surprising that Adam said he would go too, and soon he and
Hetty were left alone together on the walk by the filbert-trees, while the boys
were busy elsewhere gathering the large unripe nuts to play at "cob-nut" with,
and Totty was watching them with a puppylike air of contemplation. It was but a
short time--hardly two months--since Adam had had his mind filled with delicious
hopes as he stood by Hetty's side un this garden. The remembrance of that
scene had often been with him since Thursday evening: the sunlight through the
apple-tree boughs, the red bunches, Hetty's sweet blush. It came importunately
now, on this sad evening, with the low-hanging clouds, but he tried to suppress it,
lest some emotion should impel him to say more than was needful for Hetty's
"After what I saw on Thursday night, Hetty," he began, "you won't think me
making too free in what I'm going to say. If you was being courted by any man as
'ud make you his wife, and I'd known you was fond of him and meant to have
him, I should have no right to speak a word to you about it; but when I see you're
being made love to by a gentleman as can never marry you, and doesna think o'