Mr. Poyser entered with interest into a project which seemed a step towards Adam’s becoming a “master-man,” and Mrs. Poyser gave her approbation to the scheme of the movable kitchen cupboard, which was to be capable of containing grocery, pickles, crockery, and house-linen in the utmost compactness without confusion. Hetty, once more in her own dress, with her neckerchief pushed a little backwards on this warm evening, was seated picking currants near the window, where Adam could see her quite well. And so the time passed pleasantly till Adam got up to go. He was pressed to come again soon, but not to stay longer, for at this busy time sensible people would not run the risk of being sleepy at five o’clock in the morning.
“I shall take a step farther,” said Adam, “and go on to see Mester Massey, for he wasn’t at church yesterday, and I’ve not seen him for a week past. I’ve never hardly known him to miss church before.”
“Aye,” said Mr. Poyser, “we’ve heared nothing about him, for it’s the boys’ hollodays now, so we can give you no account.”
“But you’ll niver think o’ going there at this hour o’ the night?” said Mrs. Poyser, folding up her knitting.
“Oh, Mester Massey sits up late,” said Adam. “An’ the night-school’s not over yet. Some o’ the men don’t come till late—they’ve got so far to walk. And Bartle himself’s never in bed till it’s gone eleven.”
“I wouldna have him to live wi’ me, then,” said Mrs. Poyser, “a-dropping candle-grease about, as you’re like to tumble down o’ the floor the first thing i’ the morning.”
“Aye, eleven o’clock’s late—it’s late,” said old Martin. “I ne’er sot up so i’ my life, not to say as it warna a marr’in’, or a christenin’, or a wake, or th’ harvest supper. Eleven o’clock’s late.”
“Why, I sit up till after twelve often,” said Adam, laughing, “but it isn’t t’ eat and drink extry, it’s to work extry. Good-night, Mrs. Poyser; good-night, Hetty.”
Hetty could only smile and not shake hands, for hers were dyed and damp with currant-juice; but all the rest gave a hearty shake to the large palm that was held out to them, and said, “Come again, come again!”
“Aye, think o’ that now,” said Mr. Poyser, when Adam was out of on the causeway. “Sitting up till past twelve to do extry work! Ye’ll not find many men o’ six-an’ twenty as ‘ull do to put i’ the shafts wi’ him. If you can catch Adam for a husband, Hetty, you’ll ride i’ your own spring-cart some day, I’ll be your warrant.”
Hetty was moving across the kitchen with the currants, so her uncle did not see the little toss of the head with which she answered him. To ride in a spring-cart seemed a very miserable lot indeed to her now.
The Night-School and the Schoolmaster
Bartle Massey’s was one of a few scattered houses on the edge of a common, which was divided by the road to Treddleston. Adam reached it in a quarter of an hour after leaving the Hall Farm; and when he had his hand on the door-latch, he could see, through the curtainless window, that there were eight or nine heads bending over the desks, lighted by thin dips.