Adam Bede HTML version

29.The Next Morning
ARTHUR did not pass a sleepless night; he slept long and well. For sleep comes
to the perplexed--if the perplexed are only weary enough. But at seven he rang
his bell and astonished Pym by declaring he was going to get up, and must have
breakfast brought to him at eight.
"And see that my mare is saddled at half-past eight, and tell my grandfather
when he's down that I'm better this morning and am gone for a ride."
He had been awake an hour, and could rest in bed no longer. In bed our
yesterdays are too oppressive: if a man can only get up, though it be but to
whistle or to smoke, he has a present which offers some resistance to the past--
sensations which assert themselves against tyrannous memories. And if there
were such a thing as taking averages of feeling, it would certainly be found that in
the hunting and shooting seasons regret, self-reproach, and mortified pride weigh
lighter on country gentlemen than in late spring and summer. Arthur felt that he
should be more of a man on horseback. Even the presence of Pym, waiting on
him with the usual deference, was a reassurance to him after the scenes of
yesterday. For, with Arthur's sensitiveness to opinion, the loss of Adam's respect
was a shock to his self-contentment which suffused his imagination with the
sense that he had sunk in all eyes--as a sudden shock of fear from some real
peril makes a nervous woman afraid even to step, because all her perceptions
are suffused with a sense of danger.
Arthur's, as you know, was a loving nature. Deeds of kindness were as easy to
him as a bad habit: they were the common issue of his weaknesses and good
qualities, of his egoism and his sympathy. He didn't like to witness pain, and he
liked to have grateful eyes beaming on him as the giver of pleasure. When he
was a lad of seven, he one day kicked down an old gardener's pitcher of broth,
from no motive but a kicking impulse, not reflecting that it was the old man's
dinner; but on learning that sad fact, he took his favourite pencil-case and a
silver-hafted knife out of his pocket and offered them as compensation. He had
been the same Arthur ever since, trying to make all offences forgotten in benefits.
If there were any bitterness in his nature, it could only show itself against the man
who refused to be conciliated by him. And perhaps the time was come for some
of that bitterness to rise. At the first moment, Arthur had felt pure distress and
self-reproach at discovering that Adam's happiness was involved in his relation to
Hetty. If there had been a possibility of making Adam tenfold amends--if deeds of
gift, or any other deeds, could have restored Adam's contentment and regard for
him as a benefactor, Arthur would not only have executed them without
hesitation, but would have felt bound all the more closely to Adam, and would
never have been weary of making retribution. But Adam could receive no
amends; his suffering could not be cancelled; his respect and affection could not