Adam Bede HTML version

plum-coloured stuff boddice, or how the linen butter-making apron, with its bib,
seemed a thing to be imitated in silk by duchesses, since it fell in such charming
lines, or how her brown stockings and thick-soled buckled shoes lost all that
clumsiness which they must certainly have had when empty of her foot and
ankle--of little use, unless you have seen a woman who affected you as Hetty
affected her beholders, for otherwise, though you might conjure up the image of
a lovely woman, she would not in the least resemble that distracting kittenlike
maiden. I might mention all the divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you
had never in your life utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the
mounting lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened
blossoms fill them with a sacred silent beauty like that of fretted aisles, where
would be the use of my descriptive catalogue? I could never make you know
what I meant by a bright spring day. Hetty's was a spring-tide beauty; it was the
beauty of young frisking things, round-limbed, gambolling, circumventing you by
a false air of innocence--the innocence of a young star- browed calf, for example,
that, being inclined for a promenade out of bounds, leads you a severe
steeplechase over hedge and ditch, and only comes to a stand in the middle of a
And they are the prettiest attitudes and movements into which a pretty girl is
thrown in making up butter--tossing movements that give a charming curve to the
arm, and a sideward inclination of the round white neck; little patting and rolling
movements with the palm of the hand, and nice adaptations and finishings which
cannot at all be effected without a great play of the pouting mouth and the dark
eyes. And then the butter itself seems to communicate a fresh charm--it is so
pure, so sweet-scented; it is turned off the mould with such a beautiful firm
surface, like marble in a pale yellow light! Moreover, Hetty was particularly clever
at making up the butter; it was the one performance of hers that her aunt allowed
to pass without severe criticism; so she handled it with all the grace that belongs
to mastery.
"I hope you will be ready for a great holiday on the thirtieth of July, Mrs. Poyser,"
said Captain Donnithorne, when he had sufficiently admired the dairy and given
several improvised opinions on Swede turnips and shorthorns. "You know what is
to happen then, and I shall expect you to be one of the guests who come earliest
and leave latest. Will you promise me your hand for two dances, Miss Hetty? If I
don't get your promise now, I know I shall hardly have a chance, for all the smart
young farmers will take care to secure you."
Hetty smiled and blushed, but before she could answer, Mrs. Poyser interposed,
scandalized at the mere suggestion that the young squire could be excluded by
any meaner partners.
"Indeed, sir, you are very kind to take that notice of her. And I'm sure, whenever
you're pleased to dance with her, she'll be proud and thankful, if she stood still all
the rest o' th' evening."