As soon as Hetty had determined on this scheme, she rose from the grassy bank of the pool, took up her basket, and went on her way to Treddleston, for she must buy the wedding things she had come out for, though she would never want them. She must be careful not to raise any suspicion that she was going to run away.
Mrs. Poyser was quite agreeably surprised that Hetty wished to go and see Dinah and try to bring her back to stay over the wedding. The sooner she went the better, since the weather was pleasant now; and Adam, when he came in the evening, said, if Hetty could set off to-morrow, he would make time to go with her to Treddleston and see her safe into the Stoniton coach.
"I wish I could go with you and take care of you, Hetty," he said, the next morning, leaning in at the coach door; "but you won't stay much beyond a week — the time 'ull seem long."
He was looking at her fondly, and his strong hand held hers in its grasp. Hetty felt a sense of protection in his presence — she was used to it now: if she could have had the past undone and known no other love than her quiet liking for Adam! The tears rose as she gave him the last look.
"God bless her for loving me," said Adam, as he went on his way to work again, with Gyp at his heels.
But Hetty's tears were not for Adam — not for the anguish that would come upon him when he found she was gone from him for ever. They were for the misery of her own lot, which took her away from this brave tender man who offered up his whole life to her, and threw her, a poor helpless suppliant, on the man who would think it a misfortune that she was obliged to cling to him.
At three o'clock that day, when Hetty was on the coach that was to take her, they said, to Leicester — part of the long, long way to Windsor — she felt dimly that she might be travelling all this weary journey towards the beginning of new misery.
Yet Arthur was at Windsor; he would surely not be angry with her. If he did not mind about her as he used to do, he had promised to be good to her.