Adam Bede HTML version

6. The Hall Farm
EVIDENTLY that gate is never opened, for the long grass and the great
hemlocks grow close against it, and if it were opened, it is so rusty that the force
necessary to turn it on its hinges would be likely to pull down the square stone-
built pillars, to the detriment of the two stone lionesses which grin with a doubtful
carnivorous affability above a coat of arms surmounting each of the pillars. It
would be easy enough, by the aid of the nicks in the stone pillars, to climb over
the brick wall with its smooth stone coping; but by putting our eyes close to the
rusty bars of the gate, we can see the house well enough, and all but the very
corners of the grassy enclosure.
It is a very fine old place, of red brick, softened by a pale powdery lichen, which
has dispersed itself with happy irregularity, so as to bring the red brick into terms
of friendly companionship with the limestone ornaments surrounding the three
gables, the windows, and the door-place. But the windows are patched with
wooden panes, and the door, I think, is like the gate--it is never opened. How it
would groan and grate against the stone fioor if it were! For it is a solid, heavy,
handsome door, and must once have been in the habit of shutting with a
sonorous bang behind a liveried lackey, who had just seen his master and
mistress off the grounds in a carriage and pair.
But at present one might fancy the house in the early stage of a chancery suit,
and that the fruit from that grand double row of walnut-trees on the right hand of
the enclosure would fall and rot among the grass, if it were not that we heard the
booming bark of dogs echoing from great buildings at the back. And now the half-
weaned calves that have been sheltering themselves in a gorse- built hovel
against the left-hand wall come out and set up a silly answer to that terrible bark,
doubtless supposing that it has reference to buckets of milk.
Yes, the house must be inhabited, and we will see by whom; for imagination is a
licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogs, but may climb over walls and peep in
at windows with impunity. Put your face to one of the glass panes in the right-
hand window: what do you see? A large open fireplace, with rusty dogs in it, and
a bare boarded floor; at the far end, fleeces of wool stacked up; in the middle of
the floor, some empty corn-bags. That is the furniture of the dining-room. And
what through the left-hand window? Several clothes-horses, a pillion, a spinning-
wheel, and an old box wide open and stuffed full of coloured rags. At the edge of
this box there lies a great wooden doll, which, so far as mutilation is concerned,
bears a strong resemblance to the finest Greek sculpture, and especially in the
total loss of its nose. Near it there is a little chair, and the butt end of a boy's
leather long-lashed whip.