Adam Bede HTML version

neck. It must take a long time to dress that old lady in the morning! But it seems
a law of nature that she should be dressed so: she is clearly one of those
children of royalty who have never doubted their right divine and never met with
any one so absurd as to question it.
"There, Dauphin, tell me what that is!" says this magnificent old lady, as she
deposits her queen very quietly and folds her arms. "I should be sorry to utter a
word disagreeable to your feelings."
"Ah, you witch-mother, you sorceress! How is a Christian man to win a game off
you? I should have sprinkled the board with holy water before we began. You've
not won that game by fair means, now, so don't pretend it."
"Yes, yes, that's what the beaten have always said of great conquerors. But see,
there's the sunshine falling on the board, to show you more clearly what a foolish
move you made with that pawn. Come, shall I give you another chance?"
"No, Mother, I shall leave you to your own conscience, now it's clearing up. We
must go and plash up the mud a little, mus'n't we, Juno?" This was addressed to
the brown setter, who had jumped up at the sound of the voices and laid her
nose in an insinuating way on her master's leg. "But I must go upstairs first and
see Anne. I was called away to Tholer's funeral just when I was going before."
"It's of no use, child; she can't speak to you. Kate says she has one of her worst
headaches this morning."
"Oh, she likes me to go and see her just the same; she's never too ill to care
about that."
If you know how much of human speech is mere purposeless impulse or habit,
you will not wonder when I tell you that this identical objection had been made,
and had received the same kind of answer, many hundred times in the course of
the fifteen years that Mr. Irwine's sister Anne had been an invalid. Splendid old
ladies, who take a long time to dress in the morning, have often slight sympathy
with sickly daughters.
But while Mr. Irwine was still seated, leaning back in his chair and stroking Juno's
head, the servant came to the door and said, "If you please, sir, Joshua Rann
wishes to speak with you, if you are at liberty."
"Let him be shown in here," said Mrs. Irwine, taking up her knitting. "I always like
to hear what Mr. Rann has got to say. His shoes will be dirty, but see that he
wipes them Carroll."
In two minutes Mr. Rann appeared at the door with very deferential bows, which,
however, were far from conciliating Pug, who gave a sharp bark and ran across