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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about Adam Bede.
telling your fortune.  The small brown hand with which she is lifting her queen is laden with pearls, diamonds, and turquoises; and a large black veil is very carefully adjusted over the crown of her cap, and falls in sharp contrast on the white folds about her neck.  It must take a long time to dress that old lady in the morning!  But it seems a law of nature that she should be dressed so:  she is clearly one of those children of royalty who have never doubted their right divine and never met with any one so absurd as to question it.

“There, Dauphin, tell me what that is!” says this magnificent old lady, as she deposits her queen very quietly and folds her arms.  “I should be sorry to utter a word disagreeable to your feelings.”

“Ah, you witch-mother, you sorceress!  How is a Christian man to win a game off you?  I should have sprinkled the board with holy water before we began.  You’ve not won that game by fair means, now, so don’t pretend it.”

“Yes, yes, that’s what the beaten have always said of great conquerors.  But see, there’s the sunshine falling on the board, to show you more clearly what a foolish move you made with that pawn.  Come, shall I give you another chance?”

“No, Mother, I shall leave you to your own conscience, now it’s clearing up.  We must go and plash up the mud a little, mus’n’t we, Juno?” This was addressed to the brown setter, who had jumped up at the sound of the voices and laid her nose in an insinuating way on her master’s leg.  “But I must go upstairs first and see Anne.  I was called away to Tholer’s funeral just when I was going before.”

“It’s of no use, child; she can’t speak to you.  Kate says she has one of her worst headaches this morning.”

“Oh, she likes me to go and see her just the same; she’s never too ill to care about that.”

If you know how much of human speech is mere purposeless impulse or habit, you will not wonder when I tell you that this identical objection had been made, and had received the same kind of answer, many hundred times in the course of the fifteen years that Mr. Irwine’s sister Anne had been an invalid.  Splendid old ladies, who take a long time to dress in the morning, have often slight sympathy with sickly daughters.

But while Mr. Irwine was still seated, leaning back in his chair and stroking Juno’s head, the servant came to the door and said, “If you please, sir, Joshua Rann wishes to speak with you, if you are at liberty.”

“Let him be shown in here,” said Mrs. Irwine, taking up her knitting.  “I always like to hear what Mr. Rann has got to say.  His shoes will be dirty, but see that he wipes them Carroll.”

In two minutes Mr. Rann appeared at the door with very deferential bows, which, however, were far from conciliating Pug, who gave a sharp bark and ran across the room to reconnoitre the stranger’s legs; while the two puppies, regarding Mr. Rann’s prominent calf and ribbed worsted stockings from a more sensuous point of view, plunged and growled over them in great enjoyment.  Meantime, Mr. Irwine turned round his chair and said, “Well, Joshua, anything the matter at Hayslope, that you’ve come over this damp morning?  Sit down, sit down.  Never mind the dogs; give them a friendly kick.  Here, Pug, you rascal!”

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