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Adam Bede

23.Dinner-Time
WHEN Adam heard that he was to dine upstairs with the large tenants, he felt
rather uncomfortable at the idea of being exalted in this way above his mother
and Seth, who were to dine in the cloisters below. But Mr. Mills, the butler,
assured him that Captain Donnithorne had given particular orders about it, and
would be very angry if Adam was not there.
Adam nodded and went up to Seth, who was standing a few yards off. "Seth,
lad," he said, "the captain has sent to say I'm to dine upstairs--he wishes it
particular, Mr. Mills says, so I suppose it 'ud be behaving ill for me not to go. But I
don't like sitting up above thee and mother, as if I was better than my own flesh
and blood. Thee't not take it unkind, I hope?"
"Nay, nay, lad," said Seth, "thy honour's our honour; and if thee get'st respect,
thee'st won it by thy own deserts. The further I see thee above me, the better, so
long as thee feel'st like a brother to me. It's because o' thy being appointed over
the woods, and it's nothing but what's right. That's a place o' trust, and thee't
above a common workman now."
"Aye," said Adam, "but nobody knows a word about it yet. I haven't given notice
to Mr. Burge about leaving him, and I don't like to tell anybody else about it
before he knows, for he'll be a good bit hurt, I doubt. People 'ull be wondering to
see me there, and they'll like enough be guessing the reason and asking
questions, for there's been so much talk up and down about my having the place,
this last three weeks."
"Well, thee canst say thee wast ordered to come without being told the reason.
That's the truth. And mother 'ull be fine and joyful about it. Let's go and tell her."
Adam was not the only guest invited to come upstairs on other grounds than the
amount he contributed to the rent-roll. There were other people in the two
parishes who derived dignity from their functions rather than from their pocket,
and of these Bartle Massey was one. His lame walk was rather slower than usual
on this warm day, so Adam lingered behind when the bell rang for dinner, that he
might walk up with his old friend; for he was a little too shy to join the Poyser
party on this public occasion. Opportunities of getting to Hetty's side would be
sure to turn up in the course of the day, and Adam contented himself with that for
he disliked any risk of being "joked" about Hetty--the big, outspoken, fearless
man was very shy and diffident as to his love- making.
"Well, Mester Massey," said Adam, as Bartle came up "I'm going to dine upstairs
with you to-day: the captain's sent me orders."
 
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