Adam Bede eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about Adam Bede.

Arthur stood still without speaking, and no other word passed between them till they were at the side entrance, where he hoped to get in without being seen by any one.  He said then, “Thank you; I needn’t trouble you any further.”

“What time will it be conven’ent for me to see you to-morrow, sir?” said Adam.

“You may send me word that you’re here at five o’clock,” said Arthur; “not before.”

“Good-night, sir,” said Adam.  But he heard no reply; Arthur had turned into the house.

Chapter XXIX

The Next Morning

Arthur did not pass a sleepless night; he slept long and well.  For sleep comes to the perplexed—­if the perplexed are only weary enough.  But at seven he rang his bell and astonished Pym by declaring he was going to get up, and must have breakfast brought to him at eight.

“And see that my mare is saddled at half-past eight, and tell my grandfather when he’s down that I’m better this morning and am gone for a ride.”

He had been awake an hour, and could rest in bed no longer.  In bed our yesterdays are too oppressive:  if a man can only get up, though it be but to whistle or to smoke, he has a present which offers some resistance to the past—­sensations which assert themselves against tyrannous memories.  And if there were such a thing as taking averages of feeling, it would certainly be found that in the hunting and shooting seasons regret, self-reproach, and mortified pride weigh lighter on country gentlemen than in late spring and summer.  Arthur felt that he should be more of a man on horseback.  Even the presence of Pym, waiting on him with the usual deference, was a reassurance to him after the scenes of yesterday.  For, with Arthur’s sensitiveness to opinion, the loss of Adam’s respect was a shock to his self-contentment which suffused his imagination with the sense that he had sunk in all eyes—­as a sudden shock of fear from some real peril makes a nervous woman afraid even to step, because all her perceptions are suffused with a sense of danger.

Arthur’s, as you know, was a loving nature.  Deeds of kindness were as easy to him as a bad habit:  they were the common issue of his weaknesses and good qualities, of his egoism and his sympathy.  He didn’t like to witness pain, and he liked to have grateful eyes beaming on him as the giver of pleasure.  When he was a lad of seven, he one day kicked down an old gardener’s pitcher of broth, from no motive but a kicking impulse, not reflecting that it was the old man’s dinner; but on learning that sad fact, he took his favourite pencil-case and a silver-hafted knife out of his pocket and offered them as compensation.  He had been the same Arthur ever since, trying to make all offences forgotten in benefits.  If there were any bitterness in his nature, it could only show itself against the man who refused to be conciliated by him.  And perhaps

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Adam Bede from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.