Adam Bede HTML version

11. In the Cottage
IT was but half-past four the next morning when Dinah, tired of lying awake
listening to the birds and watching the growing light through the little window in
the garret roof, rose and began to dress herself very quietly, lest she should
disturb Lisbeth. But already some one else was astir in the house, and had gone
downstairs, preceded by Gyp. The dog's pattering step was a sure sign that it
was Adam who went down; but Dinah was not aware of this, and she thought it
was more likely to be Seth, for he had told her how Adam had stayed up working
the night before. Seth, however, had only just awakened at the sound of the
opening door. The exciting influence of the previous day, heightened at last by
Dinah's unexpected presence, had not been counteracted by any bodily
weariness, for he had not done his ordinary amount of hard work; and so when
he went to bed; it was not till he had tired himself with hours of tossing
wakefulness that drowsiness came, and led on a heavier morning sleep than was
usual with him.
But Adam had been refreshed by his long rest, and with his habitual impatience
of mere passivity, he was eager to begin the new day and subdue sadness by his
strong will and strong arm. The white mist lay in the valley; it was going to be a
bright warm day, and he would start to work again when he had had his
"There's nothing but what's bearable as long as a man can work," he said to
himself; "the natur o' things doesn't change, though it seems as if one's own life
was nothing but change. The square o' four is sixteen, and you must lengthen
your lever in proportion to your weight, is as true when a man's miserable as
when he's happy; and the best o' working is, it gives you a grip hold o' things
outside your own lot."
As he dashed the cold water over his head and face, he felt completely himself
again, and with his black eyes as keen as ever and his thick black hair all
glistening with the fresh moisture, he went into the workshop to look out the wood
for his father's coffin, intending that he and Seth should carry it with them to
Jonathan Burge's and have the coffin made by one of the workmen there, so that
his mother might not see and hear the sad task going forward at home.
He had just gone into the workshop when his quick ear detected a light rapid foot
on the stairs--certainly not his mother's. He had been in bed and asleep when
Dinah had come in, in the evening, and now he wondered whose step this could
be. A foolish thought came, and moved him strangely. As if it could be Hetty! She
was the last person likely to be in the house. And yet he felt reluctant to go and
look and have the clear proof that it was some one else. He stood leaning on a
plank he had taken hold of, listening to sounds which his imagination interpreted