Adam Bede HTML version

41.The Eve of the Trial
AN upper room in a dull Stoniton street, with two beds in it--one laid on the floor.
It is ten o'clock on Thursday night, and the dark wall opposite the window shuts
out the moonlight that might have struggled with the light of the one dip candle by
which Bartle Massey is pretending to read, while he is really looking over his
spectacles at Adam Bede, seated near the dark window.
You would hardly have known it was Adam without being told. His face has got
thinner this last week: he has the sunken eyes, the neglected beard of a man just
risen from a sick-bed. His heavy black hair hangs over his forehead, and there is
no active impulse in him which inclines him to push it off, that he may be more
awake to what is around him. He has one arm over the back of the chair, and he
seems to be looking down at his clasped hands. He is roused by a knock at the
"There he is," said Bartle Massey, rising hastily and unfastening the door. It was
Mr. Irwine.
Adam rose from his chair with instinctive respect, as Mr. Irwine approached him
and took his hand.
"I'm late, Adam," he said, sitting down on the chair which Bartle placed for him,
"but I was later in setting off from Broxton than I intended to be, and I have been
incessantly occupied since I arrived. I have done everything now, however--
everything that can be done to-night, at least. Let us all sit down."
Adam took his chair again mechanically, and Bartle, for whom there was no chair
remaining, sat on the bed in the background.
"Have you seen her, sir?" said Adam tremulously.
"Yes, Adam; I and the chaplain have both been with her this evening."
"Did you ask her, sir...did you say anything about me?"
"Yes," said Mr. Irwine, with some hesitation, "I spoke of you. I said you wished to
see her before the trial, if she consented."
As Mr. Irwine paused, Adam looked at him with eager, questioning eyes.
"You know she shrinks from seeing any one, Adam. It is not only you--some fatal
influence seems to have shut up her heart against her fellow-creatures. She has
scarcely said anything more than 'No' either to me or the chaplain. Three or four