Summary of Chapter 13: Evening in the Wood
Hetty can hardly keep her mind on her needlework in Mrs. Pomfret’s room and hurries away after three hours there, hoping to see Arthur on the way home. She walks in the wood looking for him at every turn and just when she thinks he isn’t coming, she bursts into tears. He comes around the corner, and his resolutions go to pieces. He had planned on being formal with her to explain that they must not meet any more, but when he sees Hetty crying, he becomes protective and puts his arm around her. She says she is crying because she thought he wasn’t coming. They kiss and walk to the end of the wood. Arthur’s conscience is beginning to hurt him. He knows it is not the same as flirting with a girl of his own class. This can only harm both of them, since he can’t marry her or even be seen with her. He is confused by his own lack of control and decides to confess to Mr. Irwine, who will help him.
Commentary on Chapter 13
Arthur’s indecision is not helped by Hetty’s behavior. She is not shy and goes to meet her fate with open arms. Unthinking she may be, but her natural emotions are too much for Arthur, who cannot then be stern with her. Neither one of them has any clear idea where they are going with this courting and don’t want to. They yield to youth and the moment. Arthur feels emotionally overwhelmed when they kiss, for it is like a romance. Hetty, however, is overcome because of Arthur’s station and what he represents in her world. Of the two, Arthur is the more culpable because of his education and station. He alone knows the real situation, that he will never marry Hetty. He knows the social scandal it would cause both of them, but Hetty is oblivious of these facts. He begins to understand this is a real temptation, and that he is not equal to it. He seeks his friend and pastor for help.