Adam Bede HTML version

27.A crisis
IT was beyond the middle of August--nearly three weeks after the birthday feast.
The reaping of the wheat had begun in our north midland county of Loamshire,
but the harvest was likely still to be retarded by the heavy rains, which were
causing inundations and much damage throughout the country. From this last
trouble the Broxton and Hayslope farmers, on their pleasant uplands and in their
brook-watered valleys, had not suffered, and as I cannot pretend that they were
such exceptional farmers as to love the general good better than their own, you
will infer that they were not in very low spirits about the rapid rise in the price of
bread, so long as there was hope of gathering in their own corn undamaged; and
occasional days of sunshine and drying winds flattered this hope.
The eighteenth of August was one of these days when the sunshine looked
brighter in all eyes for the gloom that went before. Grand masses of cloud were
hurried across the blue, and the great round hills behind the Chase seemed alive
with their flying shadows; the sun was hidden for a moment, and then shone out
warm again like a recovered joy; the leaves, still green, were tossed off the
hedgerow trees by the wind; around the farmhouses there was a sound of
clapping doors; the apples fell in the orchards; and the stray horses on the green
sides of the lanes and on the common had their manes blown about their faces.
And yet the wind seemed only part of the general gladness because the sun was
shining. A merry day for the children, who ran and shouted to see if they could
top the wind with their voices; and the grown-up people too were in good spirits,
inclined to believe in yet finer days, when the wind had fallen. If only the corn
were not ripe enough to be blown out of the husk and scattered as untimely
And yet a day on which a blighting sorrow may fall upon a man. For if it be true
that Nature at certain moments seems charged with a presentiment of one
individual lot must it not also be true that she seems unmindful uncon-scious of
another? For there is no hour that has not its births of gladness and despair, no
morning brightness that does not bring new sickness to desolation as well as
new forces to genius and love. There are so many of us, and our lots are so
different, what wonder that Nature's mood is often in harsh contrast with the great
crisis of our lives? We are children of a large family, and must learn, as such
children do, not to expect that our hurts will be made much of--to be content with
little nurture and caressing, and help each other the more.
It was a busy day with Adam, who of late had done almost double work, for he
was continuing to act as foreman for Jonathan Burge, until some satisfactory
person could be found to supply his place, and Jonathan was slow to find that
person. But he had done the extra work cheerfully, for his hopes were buoyant
again about Hetty. Every time she had seen him since the birthday, she had