“Aye, aye, he’s good metal; he gives the right ring when you try him, our parson does. A man o’ sense—says no more than’s needful. He’s not one of those that think they can comfort you with chattering, as if folks who stand by and look on knew a deal better what the trouble was than those who have to bear it. I’ve had to do with such folks in my time—in the south, when I was in trouble myself. Mr. Irwine is to be a witness himself, by and by, on her side, you know, to speak to her character and bringing up.”
“But the other evidence...does it go hard against her!” said Adam. “What do you think, Mr. Massey? Tell me the truth.”
“Yes, my lad, yes. The truth is the best thing to tell. It must come at last. The doctors’ evidence is heavy on her—is heavy. But she’s gone on denying she’s had a child from first to last. These poor silly women-things—they’ve not the sense to know it’s no use denying what’s proved. It’ll make against her with the jury, I doubt, her being so obstinate: they may be less for recommending her to mercy, if the verdict’s against her. But Mr. Irwine ’ull leave no stone unturned with the judge—you may rely upon that, Adam.”
“Is there nobody to stand by her and seem to care for her in the court?” said Adam.
“There’s the chaplain o’ the jail sits near her, but he’s a sharp ferrety-faced man—another sort o’ flesh and blood to Mr. Irwine. They say the jail chaplains are mostly the fag-end o’ the clergy.”
“There’s one man as ought to be there,” said Adam bitterly. Presently he drew himself up and looked fixedly out of the window, apparently turning over some new idea in his mind.
“Mr. Massey,” he said at last, pushing the hair off his forehead, “I’ll go back with you. I’ll go into court. It’s cowardly of me to keep away. I’ll stand by her—I’ll own her—for all she’s been deceitful. They oughtn’t to cast her off—her own flesh and blood. We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves. I used to be hard sometimes: I’ll never be hard again. I’ll go, Mr. Massey—I’ll go with you.”
There was a decision in Adam’s manner which would have prevented Bartle from opposing him, even if he had wished to do so. He only said, “Take a bit, then, and another sup, Adam, for the love of me. See, I must stop and eat a morsel. Now, you take some.”
Nerved by an active resolution, Adam took a morsel of bread and drank some wine. He was haggard and unshaven, as he had been yesterday, but he stood upright again, and looked more like the Adam Bede of former days.