Summary of Chapter 11: In the Cottage
The next morning Dinah rises early in the Bede cottage and cleans the kitchen to prepare the breakfast. Adam hears her and at first imagines Hetty has come, then is surprised to see Dinah there. They introduce themselves and speak of Lisbeth. When Adam stares at Dinah, she is self-conscious as a woman for the first time in her life and blushes. Both Gyp, the dog, and Lisbeth like Dinah, and they are usually hard to please. Lisbeth comes in to see breakfast all prepared and says it is almost as good as hers. She doesn’t want Dinah to go. They speak of Dinah’s home in Stonyshire and compare it to Loamshire. Adam and Seth get up to make their father’s coffin, but Lisbeth insists Adam do it alone. Seth is disappointed because it means he will not get to be near Dinah on her last day in Hayslope; he gives in graciously and goes off to work. Dinah tells Seth his conscience will be clear from having pleased his mother, and she will walk home with him when he comes back. Adam speaks privately to Seth telling him that Dinah is not like other women, and she will probably come around to his wooing. He wonders at how mysterious love is that a man will only be pleased with one woman.
Commentary on Chapter 11
The pleasant breakfast scene brings out the personalities of the characters. Seth is sweet but nonassertive and is easily directed by the desires of others. Dinah speaks of her attachment to her home as she waits on the others. She fits into the family circle effortlessly. Lisbeth approves of Dinah but has to tell her sons that she cannot come up to the mother’s mark in cooking or housework, and that they will appreciate their old mother when they marry. Lisbeth is always worried about being displaced and threatens that she should follow her husband now because she is not wanted. Adam does not like his mother’s controlling emotional ways. He is a man of action and thinks to himself that even in adversity, he has his work to keep him going. The nature of life doesn’t change, and that is a comfort to him.
The surprise is the chemistry between Adam and Dinah. She blushes at his gaze, the first time such a thing has happened to her in her twenty-five years. This is significant. Both Adam and Dinah perceive the special qualities of each other, although Adam only thinks of Dinah as Seth’s intended. The other thing of note is how Adam and Dinah both speak of their love of the land they are attached to.