Adam Bede eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about Adam Bede.
by hypothesis; happy in his inability to know the causes of things, preferring the things themselves.  He lived chiefly in the country, among pleasant seats and homesteads, and was fond of sauntering by the fruit-tree wall and scenting the apricots when they were warmed by the morning sunshine, or of sheltering himself under the orchard boughs at noon, when the summer pears were falling.  He knew nothing of weekday services, and thought none the worse of the Sunday sermon if it allowed him to sleep from the text to the blessing; liking the afternoon service best, because the prayers were the shortest, and not ashamed to say so; for he had an easy, jolly conscience, broad-backed like himself, and able to carry a great deal of beer or port-wine, not being made squeamish by doubts and qualms and lofty aspirations.  Life was not a task to him, but a sinecure.  He fingered the guineas in his pocket, and ate his dinners, and slept the sleep of the irresponsible, for had he not kept up his character by going to church on the Sunday afternoons?

Fine old Leisure!  Do not be severe upon him, and judge him by our modern standard.  He never went to Exeter Hall, or heard a popular preacher, or read Tracts for the Times or Sartor Resartus.

Chapter LIII

The Harvest Supper

As Adam was going homeward, on Wednesday evening, in the six o’clock sunlight, he saw in the distance the last load of barley winding its way towards the yard-gate of the Hall Farm, and heard the chant of “Harvest Home!” rising and sinking like a wave.  Fainter and fainter, and more musical through the growing distance, the falling dying sound still reached him, as he neared the Willow Brook.  The low westering sun shone right on the shoulders of the old Binton Hills, turning the unconscious sheep into bright spots of light; shone on the windows of the cottage too, and made them a-flame with a glory beyond that of amber or amethyst.  It was enough to make Adam feel that he was in a great temple, and that the distant chant was a sacred song.

“It’s wonderful,” he thought, “how that sound goes to one’s heart almost like a funeral bell, for all it tells one o’ the joyfullest time o’ the year, and the time when men are mostly the thankfullest.  I suppose it’s a bit hard to us to think anything’s over and gone in our lives; and there’s a parting at the root of all our joys.  It’s like what I feel about Dinah.  I should never ha’ come to know that her love ’ud be the greatest o’ blessings to me, if what I counted a blessing hadn’t been wrenched and torn away from me, and left me with a greater need, so as I could crave and hunger for a greater and a better comfort.”

He expected to see Dinah again this evening, and get leave to accompany her as far as Oakbourne; and then he would ask her to fix some time when he might go to Snowfield, and learn whether the last best hope that had been born to him must be resigned like the rest.  The work he had to do at home, besides putting on his best clothes, made it seven before he was on his way again to the Hall Farm, and it was questionable whether, with his longest and quickest strides, he should be there in time even for the roast beef, which came after the plum pudding, for Mrs. Poyser’s supper would be punctual.

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Adam Bede from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.