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Adam Bede by George Eliot

It was Bartle Massey come back


"O

God," Adam groaned, as he leaned on the table and looked blankly at the face of the watch, "and men have suffered like this before...and poor helpless young things have suffered like her....Such a little while ago looking so happy and so pretty...kissing 'em all, her grandfather and all of 'em, and they wishing her luck....O my poor, poor Hetty...dost think on it now?"

Adam started and looked round towards the door. Vixen had begun to whimper, and there was a sound of a stick and a lame walk on the stairs. It was Bartle Massey come back. Could it be all over?

Bartle entered quietly, and, going up to Adam, grasped his hand and said, "I'm just come to look at you, my boy, for the folks are gone out of court for a bit."

Adam's heart beat so violently he was unable to speak--he could only return the pressure of his friend's hand--and Bartle, drawing up the other chair, came and sat in front of him, taking off his hat and his spectacles.

"That's a thing never happened to me before," he observed, "to go out o' the door with my spectacles on. I clean forgot to take 'em off."

The old man made this trivial remark, thinking it better not to respond at all to Adam's agitation: he would gather, in an indirect way, that there was nothing decisive to communicate at present.

"And now,"

he said, rising again, "I must see to your having a bit of the loaf, and some of that wine Mr. Irwine sent this morning. He'll be angry with me if you don't have it. Come, now," he went on, bringing forward the bottle and the loaf and pouring some wine into a cup, "I must have a bit and a sup myself. Drink a drop with me, my lad--drink with me."

Adam pushed the cup gently away and said, entreatingly, "Tell me about it, Mr. Massey--tell me all about it. Was she there? Have they begun?"

"Yes, my boy, yes--it's taken all the time since I first went; but they're slow, they're slow; and there's the counsel they've got for her puts a spoke in the wheel whenever he can, and makes a deal to do with cross-examining the witnesses and quarrelling with the other lawyers. That's all he can do for the money they give him; and it's a big sum--it's a big sum. But he's a 'cute fellow, with an eye that 'ud pick the needles out of the hay in no time. If a man had got no feelings, it 'ud be as good as a demonstration to listen to what goes on in court; but a tender heart makes one stupid. I'd have given up figures for ever only to have had some good news to bring to you, my poor lad."

"But does it seem to be going against her?" said Adam. "Tell me what they've said. I must know it now--I must know what they have to bring against her."

"Why, the chief evidence yet has been the doctors; all but Martin Poyser--poor Martin. Everybody in court felt for him--it was like one sob, the sound they made when he came down again. The worst was when they told him to look at the prisoner at the bar. It was hard work, poor fellow--it was hard work. Adam, my boy, the blow falls heavily on him as well as you; you must help poor Martin; you must show courage. Drink some wine now, and show me you mean to bear it like a man."


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