“Aye, it’s ill livin’ in a hen-roost for them as doesn’t like fleas,” said Mrs. Poyser. “We’ve all had our turn at bein’ young, I reckon, be’t good luck or ill.”
“But she must learn to ’commodate herself to young women,” said Mr. Poyser, “for it isn’t to be counted on as Adam and Seth ’ull keep bachelors for the next ten year to please their mother. That ’ud be unreasonable. It isn’t right for old nor young nayther to make a bargain all o’ their own side. What’s good for one’s good all round i’ the long run. I’m no friend to young fellows a-marrying afore they know the difference atween a crab an’ a apple; but they may wait o’er long.”
“To be sure,” said Mrs. Poyser; “if you go past your dinner-time, there’ll be little relish o’ your meat. You turn it o’er an’ o’er wi’ your fork, an’ don’t eat it after all. You find faut wi’ your meat, an’ the faut’s all i’ your own stomach.”
Hetty now came back from the pantry and said, “I can take Totty now, Aunt, if you like.”
“Come, Rachel,” said Mr. Poyser, as his wife seemed to hesitate, seeing that Totty was at last nestling quietly, “thee’dst better let Hetty carry her upstairs, while thee tak’st thy things off. Thee’t tired. It’s time thee wast in bed. Thee’t bring on the pain in thy side again.”
“Well, she may hold her if the child ’ull go to her,” said Mrs. Poyser.
Hetty went close to the rocking-chair, and stood without her usual smile, and without any attempt to entice Totty, simply waiting for her aunt to give the child into her hands.
“Wilt go to Cousin Hetty, my dilling, while mother gets ready to go to bed? Then Totty shall go into Mother’s bed, and sleep there all night.”
Before her mother had done speaking, Totty had given her answer in an unmistakable manner, by knitting her brow, setting her tiny teeth against her underlip, and leaning forward to slap Hetty on the arm with her utmost force. Then, without speaking, she nestled to her mother again.
“Hey, hey,” said Mr. Poyser, while Hetty stood without moving, “not go to Cousin Hetty? That’s like a babby. Totty’s a little woman, an’ not a babby.”
“It’s no use trying to persuade her,” said Mrs. Poyser. “She allays takes against Hetty when she isn’t well. Happen she’ll go to Dinah.”
Dinah, having taken off her bonnet and shawl, had hitherto kept quietly seated in the background, not liking to thrust herself between Hetty and what was considered Hetty’s proper work. But now she came forward, and, putting out her arms, said, “Come Totty, come and let Dinah carry her upstairs along with Mother: poor, poor Mother! she’s so tired—she wants to go to bed.”
Totty turned her face towards Dinah, and looked at her an instant, then lifted herself up, put out her little arms, and let Dinah lift her from her mother’s lap. Hetty turned away without any sign of ill humour, and, taking her hat from the table, stood waiting with an air of indifference, to see if she should be told to do anything else.