Adam Bede eBook

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

“Yes, my boy, yes—­it’s taken all the time since I first went; but they’re slow, they’re slow; and there’s the counsel they’ve got for her puts a spoke in the wheel whenever he can, and makes a deal to do with cross-examining the witnesses and quarrelling with the other lawyers.  That’s all he can do for the money they give him; and it’s a big sum—­it’s a big sum.  But he’s a ’cute fellow, with an eye that ’ud pick the needles out of the hay in no time.  If a man had got no feelings, it ’ud be as good as a demonstration to listen to what goes on in court; but a tender heart makes one stupid.  I’d have given up figures for ever only to have had some good news to bring to you, my poor lad.”

“But does it seem to be going against her?” said Adam.  “Tell me what they’ve said.  I must know it now—­I must know what they have to bring against her.”

“Why, the chief evidence yet has been the doctors; all but Martin Poyser—­poor Martin.  Everybody in court felt for him—­it was like one sob, the sound they made when he came down again.  The worst was when they told him to look at the prisoner at the bar.  It was hard work, poor fellow—­it was hard work.  Adam, my boy, the blow falls heavily on him as well as you; you must help poor Martin; you must show courage.  Drink some wine now, and show me you mean to bear it like a man.”

Bartle had made the right sort of appeal.  Adam, with an air of quiet obedience, took up the cup and drank a little.

“Tell me how she looked,” he said presently.

“Frightened, very frightened, when they first brought her in; it was the first sight of the crowd and the judge, poor creatur.  And there’s a lot o’ foolish women in fine clothes, with gewgaws all up their arms and feathers on their heads, sitting near the judge:  they’ve dressed themselves out in that way, one ’ud think, to be scarecrows and warnings against any man ever meddling with a woman again.  They put up their glasses, and stared and whispered.  But after that she stood like a white image, staring down at her hands and seeming neither to hear nor see anything.  And she’s as white as a sheet.  She didn’t speak when they asked her if she’d plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty,’ and they pleaded ’not guilty’ for her.  But when she heard her uncle’s name, there seemed to go a shiver right through her; and when they told him to look at her, she hung her head down, and cowered, and hid her face in her hands.  He’d much ado to speak poor man, his voice trembled so.  And the counsellors—­who look as hard as nails mostly—­I saw, spared him as much as they could.  Mr. Irwine put himself near him and went with him out o’ court.  Ah, it’s a great thing in a man’s life to be able to stand by a neighbour and uphold him in such trouble as that.”

“God bless him, and you too, Mr. Massey,” said Adam, in a low voice, laying his hand on Bartle’s arm.

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Adam Bede from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.