There was much shaking of hands mingled with “God bless you’s” and other good wishes to the four couples, at the churchyard gate, Mr. Poyser answering for the rest with unwonted vivacity of tongue, for he had all the appropriate wedding-day jokes at his command. And the women, he observed, could never do anything but put finger in eye at a wedding. Even Mrs. Poyser could not trust herself to speak as the neighbours shook hands with her, and Lisbeth began to cry in the face of the very first person who told her she was getting young again.
Mr. Joshua Rann, having a slight touch of rheumatism, did not join in the ringing of the bells this morning, and, looking on with some contempt at these informal greetings which required no official co-operation from the clerk, began to hum in his musical bass, “Oh what a joyful thing it is,” by way of preluding a little to the effect he intended to produce in the wedding psalm next Sunday.
“That’s a bit of good news to cheer Arthur,” said Mr. Irwine to his mother, as they drove off. “I shall write to him the first thing when we get home.”
It is near the end of June, in 1807. The workshops have been shut up half an hour or more in Adam Bede’s timber-yard, which used to be Jonathan Burge’s, and the mellow evening light is falling on the pleasant house with the buff walls and the soft grey thatch, very much as it did when we saw Adam bringing in the keys on that June evening nine years ago.
There is a figure we know well, just come out of the house, and shading her eyes with her hands as she looks for something in the distance, for the rays that fall on her white borderless cap and her pale auburn hair are very dazzling. But now she turns away from the sunlight and looks towards the door.
We can see the sweet pale face quite well now: it is scarcely at all altered—only a little fuller, to correspond to her more matronly figure, which still seems light and active enough in the plain black dress.
“I see him, Seth,” Dinah said, as she looked into the house. “Let us go and meet him. Come, Lisbeth, come with Mother.”
The last call was answered immediately by a small fair creature with pale auburn hair and grey eyes, little more than four years old, who ran out silently and put her hand into her mother’s.
“Come, Uncle Seth,” said Dinah.
“Aye, aye, we’re coming,” Seth answered from within, and presently appeared stooping under the doorway, being taller than usual by the black head of a sturdy two-year-old nephew, who had caused some delay by demanding to be carried on uncle’s shoulder.
“Better take him on thy arm, Seth,” said Dinah, looking fondly at the stout black-eyed fellow. “He’s troublesome to thee so.”
“Nay, nay: Addy likes a ride on my shoulder. I can carry him so for a bit.” A kindness which young Addy acknowledged by drumming his heels with promising force against Uncle Seth’s chest. But to walk by Dinah’s side, and be tyrannized over by Dinah’s and Adam’s children, was Uncle Seth’s earthly happiness.