“It’s no use thinking o’ that,” said Seth, despondingly. “She spoke so firm, and she’s not the woman to say one thing and mean another.”
“Nay, but her feelings may grow different. A woman may get to love by degrees—the best fire dosna flare up the soonest. I’d have thee go and see her by and by: I’d make it convenient for thee to be away three or four days, and it ’ud be no walk for thee—only between twenty and thirty mile.”
“I should like to see her again, whether or no, if she wouldna be displeased with me for going,” said Seth.
“She’ll be none displeased,” said Adam emphatically, getting up and throwing off his coat. “It might be a great happiness to us all if she’d have thee, for mother took to her so wonderful and seemed so contented to be with her.”
“Aye,” said Seth, rather timidly, “and Dinah’s fond o’ Hetty too; she thinks a deal about her.”
Adam made no reply to that, and no other word but “good-night” passed between them.
In Hetty’s Bed-Chamber
It was no longer light enough to go to bed without a candle, even in Mrs. Poyser’s early household, and Hetty carried one with her as she went up at last to her bedroom soon after Adam was gone, and bolted the door behind her.
Now she would read her letter. It must—it must have comfort in it. How was Adam to know the truth? It was always likely he should say what he did say.
She set down the candle and took out the letter. It had a faint scent of roses, which made her feel as if Arthur were close to her. She put it to her lips, and a rush of remembered sensations for a moment or two swept away all fear. But her heart began to flutter strangely, and her hands to tremble as she broke the seal. She read slowly; it was not easy for her to read a gentleman’s handwriting, though Arthur had taken pains to write plainly.
“Dearest Hetty—I have spoken truly when I have said that I loved you, and I shall never forget our love. I shall be your true friend as long as life lasts, and I hope to prove this to you in many ways. If I say anything to pain you in this letter, do not believe it is for want of love and tenderness towards you, for there is nothing I would not do for you, if I knew it to be really for your happiness. I cannot bear to think of my little Hetty shedding tears when I am not there to kiss them away; and if I followed only my own inclinations, I should be with her at this moment instead of writing. It is very hard for me to part from her—harder still for me to write words which may seem unkind, though they spring from the truest kindness.