Adam Bede HTML version

where the coach stopped, she hastened away with her basket to another part of
the town. When she had formed her plan of going to Windsor, she had not
foreseen any difficulties except that of getting away, and after she had overcome
this by proposing the visit to Dinah, her thoughts flew to the meeting with Arthur
and the question how he would behave to her--not resting on any probable
incidents of the journey. She was too entirely ignorant of traveling to imagine any
of its details, and with all her store of money--her three guineas--in her pocket,
she thought herself amply provided. It was not until she found how much it cost
her to get to Stoniton that she began to be alarmed about the journey, and then,
for the first time, she felt her ignorance as to the places that must be passed on
her way. Oppressed with this new alarm, she walked along the grim Stoniton
streets, and at last turned into a shabby little inn, where she hoped to get a
cheap lodging for the night. Here she asked the landlord if he could tell her what
places she must go to, to get to Windsor.
"Well, I can't rightly say. Windsor must be pretty nigh London, for it's where the
king lives," was the answer. "Anyhow, you'd best go t' Ashby next--that's
south'ard. But there's as many places from here to London as there's houses in
Stoniton, by what I can make out. I've never been no traveller myself. But how
comes a lone young woman like you to be thinking o' taking such a journey as
"I'm going to my brother--he's a soldier at Windsor," said Hetty, frightened at the
landlord's questioning look. "I can't afford to go by the coach; do you think there's
a cart goes toward Ashby in the morning?"
"Yes, there may be carts if anybody knowed where they started from; but you
might run over the town before you found out. You'd best set off and walk, and
trust to summat overtaking you."
Every word sank like lead on Hetty's spirits; she saw the journey stretch bit by bit
before her now. Even to get to Ashby seemed a hard thing: it might take the day,
for what she knew, and that was nothing to the rest of the journey. But it must be
done--she must get to Arthur. Oh, how she yearned to be again with somebody
who would care for her! She who had never got up in the morning without the
certainty of seeing familiar faces, people on whom she had an acknowledged
claim; whose farthest journey had been to Rosseter on the pillion with her uncle;
whose thoughts had always been taking holiday in dreams of pleasure, because
all the business of her life was managed for her--this kittenlike Hetty, who till a
few months ago had never felt any other grief than that of envying Mary Burge a
new ribbon, or being girded at by her aunt for neglecting Totty, must now make
her toilsome way in loneliness, her peaceful home left behind for ever, and
nothing but a tremulous hope of distant refuge before her. Now for the first time,
as she lay down to-night in the strange hard bed, she felt that her home had