“I’ll go with you, lad,” said Bartle; “I’ll go with you before my ears are split.”
“I’ll go round by the Common and see you home, if you like, Mr. Massey,” said Adam.
“Aye, aye!” said Bartle; “then we can have a bit o’ talk together. I never get hold of you now.”
“Eh! It’s a pity but you’d sit it out,” said Martin Poyser. “They’ll all go soon, for th’ missis niver lets ’em stay past ten.”
But Adam was resolute, so the good-nights were said, and the two friends turned out on their starlight walk together.
“There’s that poor fool, Vixen, whimpering for me at home,” said Bartle. “I can never bring her here with me for fear she should be struck with Mrs. Poyser’s eye, and the poor bitch might go limping for ever after.”
“I’ve never any need to drive Gyp back,” said Adam, laughing. “He always turns back of his own head when he finds out I’m coming here.”
“Aye, aye,” said Bartle. “A terrible woman!—made of needles, made of needles. But I stick to Martin—I shall always stick to Martin. And he likes the needles, God help him! He’s a cushion made on purpose for ’em.”
“But she’s a downright good-natur’d woman, for all that,” said Adam, “and as true as the daylight. She’s a bit cross wi’ the dogs when they offer to come in th’ house, but if they depended on her, she’d take care and have ’em well fed. If her tongue’s keen, her heart’s tender: I’ve seen that in times o’ trouble. She’s one o’ those women as are better than their word.”
“Well, well,” said Bartle, “I don’t say th’ apple isn’t sound at the core; but it sets my teeth on edge—it sets my teeth on edge.”
The Meeting on the Hill
Adam understood Dinah’s haste to go away, and drew hope rather than discouragement from it. She was fearful lest the strength of her feeling towards him should hinder her from waiting and listening faithfully for the ultimate guiding voice from within.
“I wish I’d asked her to write to me, though,” he thought. “And yet even that might disturb her a bit, perhaps. She wants to be quite quiet in her old way for a while. And I’ve no right to be impatient and interrupting her with my wishes. She’s told me what her mind is, and she’s not a woman to say one thing and mean another. I’ll wait patiently.”
That was Adam’s wise resolution, and it throve excellently for the first two or three weeks on the nourishment it got from the remembrance of Dinah’s confession that Sunday afternoon. There is a wonderful amount of sustenance in the first few words of love. But towards the middle of October the resolution began to dwindle perceptibly, and showed dangerous symptoms of exhaustion. The weeks were unusually long: Dinah must surely have had more than enough time to make up her mind. Let a woman say what she will after she has once told a man that she loves him,