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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about Adam Bede.
generation of our peasant artisans—­with an inheritance of affections nurtured by a simple family life of common need and common industry, and an inheritance of faculties trained in skilful courageous labour:  they make their way upwards, rarely as geniuses, most commonly as painstaking honest men, with the skill and conscience to do well the tasks that lie before them.  Their lives have no discernible echo beyond the neighbourhood where they dwelt, but you are almost sure to find there some good piece of road, some building, some application of mineral produce, some improvement in farming practice, some reform of parish abuses, with which their names are associated by one or two generations after them.  Their employers were the richer for them, the work of their hands has worn well, and the work of their brains has guided well the hands of other men.  They went about in their youth in flannel or paper caps, in coats black with coal-dust or streaked with lime and red paint; in old age their white hairs are seen in a place of honour at church and at market, and they tell their well-dressed sons and daughters, seated round the bright hearth on winter evenings, how pleased they were when they first earned their twopence a-day.  Others there are who die poor and never put off the workman’s coal on weekdays.  They have not had the art of getting rich, but they are men of trust, and when they die before the work is all out of them, it is as if some main screw had got loose in a machine; the master who employed them says, “Where shall I find their like?”

Chapter XX

Adam Visits the Hall Farm

Adam came back from his work in the empty waggon—­that was why he had changed his clothes—­and was ready to set out to the Hall Farm when it still wanted a quarter to seven.

“What’s thee got thy Sunday cloose on for?” said Lisbeth complainingly, as he came downstairs.  “Thee artna goin’ to th’ school i’ thy best coat?”

“No, Mother,” said Adam, quietly.  “I’m going to the Hall Farm, but mayhap I may go to the school after, so thee mustna wonder if I’m a bit late.  Seth ’ull be at home in half an hour—­he’s only gone to the village; so thee wutna mind.”

“Eh, an’ what’s thee got thy best cloose on for to go to th’ Hall Farm?  The Poyser folks see’d thee in ’em yesterday, I warrand.  What dost mean by turnin’ worki’day into Sunday a-that’n?  It’s poor keepin’ company wi’ folks as donna like to see thee i’ thy workin’ jacket.”

“Good-bye, mother, I can’t stay,” said Adam, putting on his hat and going out.

But he had no sooner gone a few paces beyond the door than Lisbeth became uneasy at the thought that she had vexed him.  Of course, the secret of her objection to the best clothes was her suspicion that they were put on for Hetty’s sake; but deeper than all her peevishness lay the need that her son should love her.  She hurried after him, and laid hold of his arm before he had got half-way down to the brook, and said, “Nay, my lad, thee wutna go away angered wi’ thy mother, an’ her got nought to do but to sit by hersen an’ think on thee?”

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