Adam Bede HTML version

19.Adam on a Working Day
NOTWITHSTANDING Mr. Craig's prophecy, the dark-blue cloud dispersed itself
without having produced the threatened consequences. "The weather"--as he
observed the next morning-- "the weather, you see, 's a ticklish thing, an' a fool
'ull hit on't sometimes when a wise man misses; that's why the almanecks get so
much credit. It's one o' them chancy things as fools thrive on."
This unreasonable behaviour of the weather, however, could displease no one
else in Hayslope besides Mr. Craig. All hands were to be out in the meadows this
morning as soon as the dew had risen; the wives and daughters did double work
in every farmhouse, that the maids might give their help in tossing the hay; and
when Adam was marching along the lanes, with his basket of tools over his
shoulder, he caught the sound of jocose talk and ringing laughter from behind the
hedges. The jocose talk of hay-makers is best at a distance; like those clumsy
bells round the cows' necks, it has rather a coarse sound when it comes close,
and may even grate on your ears painfully; but heard from far off, it mingles very
prettily with the other joyous sounds of nature. Men's muscles move better when
their souls are making merry music, though their merriment is of a poor
blundering sort, not at all like the merriment of birds.
And perhaps there is no time in a summer's day more cheering than when the
warmth of the sun is just beginning to triumph over the freshness of the morning--
when there is just a lingering hint of early coolness to keep off languor under the
delicious influence of warmth. The reason Adam was walking along the lanes at
this time was because his work for the rest of the day lay at a country-house
about three miles off, which was being put in repair for the son of a neighbouring
squire; and he had been busy since early morning with the packing of panels,
doors, and chimney- pieces, in a waggon which was now gone on before him,
while Jonathan Burge himself had ridden to the spot on horseback, to await its
arrival and direct the workmen.
This little walk was a rest to Adam, and he was unconsciously under the charm of
the moment. It was summer morning in his heart, and he saw Hetty in the
sunshine--a sunshine without glare, with slanting rays that tremble between the
delicate shadows of the leaves. He thought, yesterday when he put out his hand
to her as they came out of church, that there was a touch of melancholy kindness
in her face, such as he had not seen before, and he took it as a sign that she had
some sympathy with his family trouble. Poor fellow! That touch of melancholy
came from quite another source, but how was he to know? We look at the one
little woman's face we love as we look at the face of our mother earth, and see all
sorts of answers to our own yearnings. It was impossible for Adam not to feel that
what had happened in the last week had brought the prospect of marriage nearer
to him. Hitherto he had felt keenly the danger that some other man might step in