“Dinah,” said Tommy, running forward to meet her, “mother says you’ll never marry anybody but a Methodist cripple. What a silly you must be!” a comment which Tommy followed up by seizing Dinah with both arms, and dancing along by her side with incommodious fondness.
“Why, Adam, we missed you i’ the singing to-day,” said Mr. Poyser. “How was it?”
“I wanted to see Dinah—she’s going away so soon,” said Adam.
“Ah, lad! Can you persuade her to stop somehow? Find her a good husband somewhere i’ the parish. If you’ll do that, we’ll forgive you for missing church. But, anyway, she isna going before the harvest supper o’ Wednesday, and you must come then. There’s Bartle Massey comin’, an’ happen Craig. You’ll be sure an’ come, now, at seven? The missis wunna have it a bit later.”
“Aye,” said Adam, “I’ll come if I can. But I can’t often say what I’ll do beforehand, for the work often holds me longer than I expect. You’ll stay till the end o’ the week, Dinah?”
“Yes, yes!” said Mr. Poyser. “We’ll have no nay.”
“She’s no call to be in a hurry,” observed Mrs. Poyser. “Scarceness o’ victual ‘ull keep: there’s no need to be hasty wi’ the cooking. An’ scarceness is what there’s the biggest stock of i’ that country.”
Dinah smiled, but gave no promise to stay, and they talked of other things through the rest of the walk, lingering in the sunshine to look at the great flock of geese grazing, at the new corn-ricks, and at the surprising abundance of fruit on the old pear-tree; Nancy and Molly having already hastened home, side by side, each holding, carefully wrapped in her pocket-handkerchief, a prayer-book, in which she could read little beyond the large letters and the Amens.
Surely all other leisure is hurry compared with a sunny walk through the fields from “afternoon church”—as such walks used to be in those old leisurely times, when the boat, gliding sleepily along the canal, was the newest locomotive wonder; when Sunday books had most of them old brown-leather covers, and opened with remarkable precision always in one place. Leisure is gone—gone where the spinning-wheels are gone, and the pack-horses, and the slow waggons, and the pedlars, who brought bargains to the door on sunny afternoons. Ingenious philosophers tell you, perhaps, that the great work of the steam-engine is to create leisure for mankind. Do not believe them: it only creates a vacuum for eager thought to rush in. Even idleness is eager now—eager for amusement; prone to excursion-trains, art museums, periodical literature, and exciting novels; prone even to scientific theorizing and cursory peeps through microscopes. Old Leisure was quite a different personage. He only read one newspaper, innocent of leaders, and was free from that periodicity of sensations which we call post-time. He was a contemplative, rather stout gentleman, of excellent digestion; of quiet perceptions, undiseased