The door closed again, and the only light in the cell was that of the evening sky, through the small high grating—enough to discern human faces by. Dinah stood still for a minute, hesitating to speak because Hetty might be asleep, and looking at the motionless heap with a yearning heart. Then she said, softly, “Hetty!”
There was a slight movement perceptible in Hetty’s frame—a start such as might have been produced by a feeble electrical shock—but she did not look up. Dinah spoke again, in a tone made stronger by irrepressible emotion, “Hetty...it’s Dinah.”
Again there was a slight startled movement through Hetty’s frame, and without uncovering her face, she raised her head a little, as if listening.
“Hetty...Dinah is come to you.”
After a moment’s pause, Hetty lifted her head slowly and timidly from her knees and raised her eyes. The two pale faces were looking at each other: one with a wild hard despair in it, the other full of sad yearning love. Dinah unconsciously opened her arms and stretched them out.
“Don’t you know me, Hetty? Don’t you remember Dinah? Did you think I wouldn’t come to you in trouble?”
Hetty kept her eyes fixed on Dinah’s face—at first like an animal that gazes, and gazes, and keeps aloof.
“I’m come to be with you, Hetty—not to leave you—to stay with you—to be your sister to the last.”
Slowly, while Dinah was speaking, Hetty rose, took a step forward, and was clasped in Dinah’s arms.
They stood so a long while, for neither of them felt the impulse to move apart again. Hetty, without any distinct thought of it, hung on this something that was come to clasp her now, while she was sinking helpless in a dark gulf; and Dinah felt a deep joy in the first sign that her love was welcomed by the wretched lost one. The light got fainter as they stood, and when at last they sat down on the straw pallet together, their faces had become indistinct.
Not a word was spoken. Dinah waited, hoping for a spontaneous word from Hetty, but she sat in the same dull despair, only clutching the hand that held hers and leaning her cheek against Dinah’s. It was the human contact she clung to, but she was not the less sinking into the dark gulf.
Dinah began to doubt whether Hetty was conscious who it was that sat beside her. She thought suffering and fear might have driven the poor sinner out of her mind. But it was borne in upon her, as she afterwards said, that she must not hurry God’s work: we are overhasty to speak—as if God did not manifest himself by our silent feeling, and make his love felt through ours. She did not know how long they sat in that way, but it got darker and darker, till there was only a pale patch of light on the opposite wall: all the rest was darkness. But she felt the Divine presence more and more—nay, as if she herself were a part of it, and it was the Divine pity that was beating in her heart and was willing the rescue of this helpless one. At last she was prompted to speak and find out how far Hetty was conscious of the present.