“Well, I didna know as the Methody women war like ye, for there’s Will Maskery’s wife, as they say’s a big Methody, isna pleasant to look at, at all. I’d as lief look at a tooad. An’ I’m thinkin’ I wouldna mind if ye’d stay an’ sleep here, for I should like to see ye i’ th’ house i’ th’ mornin’. But mayhappen they’ll be lookin for ye at Mester Poyser’s.”
“No,” said Dinah, “they don’t expect me, and I should like to stay, if you’ll let me.”
“Well, there’s room; I’n got my bed laid i’ th’ little room o’er the back kitchen, an’ ye can lie beside me. I’d be glad to ha’ ye wi’ me to speak to i’ th’ night, for ye’ve got a nice way o’ talkin’. It puts me i’ mind o’ the swallows as was under the thack last ’ear when they fust begun to sing low an’ soft-like i’ th’ mornin’. Eh, but my old man war fond o’ them birds! An’ so war Adam, but they’n ne’er comed again this ’ear. Happen they’re dead too.”
“There,” said Dinah, “now the kitchen looks tidy, and now, dear Mother—for I’m your daughter to-night, you know—I should like you to wash your face and have a clean cap on. Do you remember what David did, when God took away his child from him? While the child was yet alive he fasted and prayed to God to spare it, and he would neither eat nor drink, but lay on the ground all night, beseeching God for the child. But when he knew it was dead, he rose up from the ground and washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes, and ate and drank; and when they asked him how it was that he seemed to have left off grieving now the child was dead, he said, ’While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.’”
“Eh, that’s a true word,” said Lisbeth. “Yea, my old man wonna come back to me, but I shall go to him—the sooner the better. Well, ye may do as ye like wi’ me: there’s a clean cap i’ that drawer, an’ I’ll go i’ the back kitchen an’ wash my face. An’ Seth, thee may’st reach down Adam’s new Bible wi’ th’ picters in, an’ she shall read us a chapter. Eh, I like them words—’I shall go to him, but he wonna come back to me.’”
Dinah and Seth were both inwardly offering thanks for the greater quietness of spirit that had come over Lisbeth. This was what Dinah had been trying to bring about, through all her still sympathy and absence from exhortation. From her girlhood upwards she had had experience among the sick and the mourning, among minds hardened and shrivelled through poverty and ignorance, and had gained the subtlest perception of the mode in which they could best be touched and softened into willingness to receive words of spiritual consolation or warning. As Dinah expressed it, “she was never left to herself; but it was always given her when to keep silence and when to speak.” And do we not all agree to call rapid thought and noble impulse by the name of inspiration? After our subtlest analysis of the mental process, we must still say, as Dinah did, that our highest thoughts and our best deeds are all given to us.