Adam Bede eBook

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

There was only one cloud that now and then came across Adam’s sunshine:  Hetty seemed unhappy sometimes.  But to all his anxious, tender questions, she replied with an assurance that she was quite contented and wished nothing different; and the next time he saw her she was more lively than usual.  It might be that she was a little overdone with work and anxiety now, for soon after Christmas Mrs. Poyser had taken another cold, which had brought on inflammation, and this illness had confined her to her room all through January.  Hetty had to manage everything downstairs, and half-supply Molly’s place too, while that good damsel waited on her mistress, and she seemed to throw herself so entirely into her new functions, working with a grave steadiness which was new in her, that Mr. Poyser often told Adam she was wanting to show him what a good housekeeper he would have; but he “doubted the lass was o’erdoing it—­she must have a bit o’ rest when her aunt could come downstairs.”

This desirable event of Mrs. Poyser’s coming downstairs happened in the early part of February, when some mild weather thawed the last patch of snow on the Binton Hills.  On one of these days, soon after her aunt came down, Hetty went to Treddleston to buy some of the wedding things which were wanting, and which Mrs. Poyser had scolded her for neglecting, observing that she supposed “it was because they were not for th’ outside, else she’d ha’ bought ’em fast enough.”

It was about ten o’clock when Hetty set off, and the slight hoar-frost that had whitened the hedges in the early morning had disappeared as the sun mounted the cloudless sky.  Bright February days have a stronger charm of hope about them than any other days in the year.  One likes to pause in the mild rays of the sun, and look over the gates at the patient plough-horses turning at the end of the furrow, and think that the beautiful year is all before one.  The birds seem to feel just the same:  their notes are as clear as the clear air.  There are no leaves on the trees and hedgerows, but how green all the grassy fields are!  And the dark purplish brown of the ploughed earth and of the bare branches is beautiful too.  What a glad world this looks like, as one drives or rides along the valleys and over the hills!  I have often thought so when, in foreign countries, where the fields and woods have looked to me like our English Loamshire—­the rich land tilled with just as much care, the woods rolling down the gentle slopes to the green meadows—­I have come on something by the roadside which has reminded me that I am not in Loamshire:  an image of a great agony—­the agony of the Cross.  It has stood perhaps by the clustering apple-blossoms, or in the broad sunshine by the cornfield, or at a turning by the wood where a clear brook was gurgling below; and surely, if there came a traveller to this world who knew nothing of the story of man’s life upon it, this image of agony would seem to him strangely out of place in the midst of this joyous

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Adam Bede from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.