Adam Bede HTML version

12. In the Wood
THAT same Thursday morning, as Arthur Donnithorne was moving about in his
dressing-room seeing his well-looking British person reflected in the old-
fashioned mirrors, and stared at, from a dingy olive-green piece of tapestry, by
Pharaoh's daughter and her maidens, who ought to have been minding the infant
Moses, he was holding a discussion with himself, which, by the time his valet
was tying the black silk sling over his shoulder, had issued in a distinct practical
"I mean to go to Eagledale and fish for a week or so," he said aloud. "I shall take
you with me, Pym, and set off this morning; so be ready by half-past eleven."
The low whistle, which had assisted him in arriving at this resolution, here broke
out into his loudest ringing tenor, and the corridor, as he hurried along it, echoed
to his favourite song from the Beggar's Opera, "When the heart of a man is
oppressed with care." Not an heroic strain; nevertheless Arthur felt himself very
heroic as he strode towards the stables to give his orders about the horses. His
own approbation was necessary to him, and it was not an approbation to be
enjoyed quite gratuitously; it must be won by a fair amount of merit. He had never
yet forfeited that approbation, and he had considerable reliance on his own
virtues. No young man could confess his faults more candidly; candour was one
of his favourite virtues; and how can a man's candour be seen in all its lustre
unless he has a few failings to talk of? But he had an agreeable confidence that
his faults were all of a generous kind--impetuous, warm- blooded, leonine; never
crawling, crafty, reptilian. It was not possible for Arthur Donnithorne to do
anything mean, dastardly, or cruel. "No! I'm a devil of a fellow for getting myself
into a hobble, but I always take care the load shall fall on my own shoulders."
Unhappily, there is no inherent poetical justice in hobbles, and they will
sometimes obstinately refuse to inflict their worst consequences on the prime
offender, in spite of his loudly expressed wish. It was entirely owing to this
deficiency in the scheme of things that Arthur had ever brought any one into
trouble besides himself. He was nothing if not good-natured; and all his pictures
of the future, when he should come into the estate, were made up of a
prosperous, contented tenantry, adoring their landlord, who would be the model
of an English gentleman-- mansion in first-rate order, all elegance and high taste-
-jolly housekeeping, finest stud in Loamshire--purse open to all public objects--in
short, everything as different as possible from what was now associated with the
name of Donnithorne. And one of the first good actions he would perform in that
future should be to increase Irwine's income for the vicarage of Hayslope, so that
he might keep a carriage for his mother and sisters. His hearty affection for the
rector dated from the age of frocks and trousers. It was an affection partly filial,
partly fraternal-- fraternal enough to make him like Irwine's company better than