ADAM BEDE ^9
Dramatized from George Eliot's Novel
MABEL CLARE CRAFT
Copyright by Mabel Clare Craft, 1901.
Pkkss of The Oakland Teibune
Two Curao HtceivED
NOV. 20 1901
CLASS /S" XXa No.
U/ i5 / i?
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Place; — Staffordshire and Berkshire, England.
Time — 1 799-1800.
CAPTAIN ARTHUR DONNI-
MARTIN POYSER, Jr.
MISS LYDIA DONNI-
BAILIFF OF COURT
CLERK OF COURT
FOREMAN OF THE JURY
A COUNSELLOR AT LAW
TENANTS, JURORS, ETC.
(PLACE: The kitchen of the Hall Farm. TIME: July 16,
1799. At the right of the stage a door leading to the yard; at
the left a big open fireplace and a cupboard. Above the fireplace
a high mantel, with brass candlesticks in a row. A tall oak
clock of old-fashioned make and brilliantly polished, stands at the
back of the stage, under the stairs an oak table,
brightly polished and turned up against the wall.
Above it are the shelves of bright pewter dishes and blue and
white plates. At the back of the stage (left) is an alcove,
one step up with a wide entrance, and here are seen churns
and shelves on which stand mounds of butter and cheeses. The
earthenware is cream and red with soft brown wood and bright
tin, making a pretty color study. By the side of the dairy a
flight of steps lead upstairs.
In the kitchen are Mrs. Poyser and Dinah Morris. Mrs. Poyser
stands in the open door in bright sunshine, busily knitting a
gray stocking at which she seldom glances. Mrs. Poyser is a
good-looking matron of thirty-eight, of fair complexion and
dark hair, well-shaped, light-footed. She wears a plain dark
gown and a white cap with a little frill around her face. The most
conspicuous article of her attire is a big, checkered linen apron,
which almost covers her skirt. Her eyes are very keen and are
constantly glancing about from the dairy to the yard and back
again, as though looking for dust or careless servants. She only
melts at sight of her little daughter, Totty. Her tongue is not
less keen than her eye. She steps quickly and lightly and her
voice is sharp.
Dinah Morris, her niece, is seated mending a sheet. Dinah re-
sembles her aunt in complexion, but is paler and her expression
is of the utmost mildness. Dinah is twenty-five, wears a
perfectly plain black gown and a white net cap, severely plain,
high-crowned and without a border. Dinah's dark hair is parted
in the middle and brought down smoothly over her ears. Her eyes
6 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
are clear and her voice extremely soft and gentle and sweet.
Occasionally a young girl passes across the wide opening of
the dairy. The girl is bnt seventeen and distractingly pretty. Her
curling hair shows beneath her coquettishly fluted cap. Hetty's
cheeks are pink as a rose petal, her dark lashes are long, she
has dimples in cheeks and arms. She wears a low bodice of
plum-colored cloth, with a white neckerchief spotted with pink,
which is tucked inside her bodice. Her ankle-length skirt is of
the plum- colored cloth, almost covered with a big linen butter-
making apron with a bib. She wears brown stockings and neat
little shoes with large square steel buckles. Her sleeves are
turned up above the elbows. She tosses the butter she is making
with pretty and graceful gestures, with great play of her pouting
lips and much making of eyes. She makes little patting
and rolling movements with the palm of her hand and the but-
ter is like marble under a pale yellow light. As she works she
sings snatches of "Walking in the Dew Makes the Milk Maids
Fair" — old English.
Mrs. Poyser comes and sits down opposite Dinah and looks
at her with meditative eyes, knitting automatically, while Hetty
works and sings.)
You look th' image o' your Aunt Judith, Dinah, when
you sit a-sewing. I could almost fancy it was thirty
years back, and I was a little gell at home, looking at
Judith as she sat at her work, after she'd done th* house
She was a blessed woman. God had given her a lov-
ing, self-forgetting nature, and he perfected it by grace.
She used to say, "You'll have a friend on earth in your
Aunt Rachel, if I'm taken away from you: for she has a
kind heart;" and I'm sure I've found it so.
I don't know how, child; anybody ud' be cunning to do
anything for you; you're like the birds o' th' air, and live
nobody knows how. I'd ha' been glad to behave to you
like a mother's sister, if you'd come and live i' this
country, where there's some shelter and victual for man
and beast, and folks don't live on the naked hills, like
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
poultry a-scratching on a gravel bank. But Where's the
use o' talking, if you wonna be persuaded and settle down
like any other woman in her senses, i' stead o' wearing
yourself out, with walking and preaching. And all be-
cause you've got notions i' your head about religion more
nor what's i' the Catechism and the Prayer-book.
But not more than what's in the Bible, aunt.
MRS. POYSER (sharply.)
Yes, and the Bible, too, for that matter, else why
shouldn't them as know best what's in the Bible— the
parsons and people as have got nothing to do but learn
it— do the same as you do? But, for the matter o' that,
if everybody was to do like you, the world must come to
a standstill, and everybody 'ud be running after every-
body else to preach to 'em, i' stead o' bringing up their
families, and laying by against a bad harvest. It stands
to sense as that can't be the right religion.
Nay, dear aunt, you never heard me say that all people
are called to forsake their work and their famiUes, We
can all be servants of God, wherever our lot is cast, but
he gives us different sorts of work, according as he fits
us for it and calls us to do it. I can no more help spend-
ing my life in trying to do what I can for the souls of
others than you could help running if you heard little
Totty crying at the other end of the house; the voice
would go to your heart, and you couldn't rest running to
help her and comfort her.
(Rising and walking towards the door, still knitting.)
I know it 'ud be just the same if I was to talk to you
for hours. You'd make me the same answer at the end. I
might as well talk to the running brook and fell it to
(In a flurried, awe-struck tone.)
If there isn't Captain Donnithorne and Mr. Irwine a-
coming into the yard. I'll lay my life they're coming
to speak about your preaching on the Green, Dinah; it's
8 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
you must answer 'em, for I'm dumb. I've said enough
a'ready about your bringing such disgrace upo' your
uncle's family. I wouldn't ha' minded if you'd been Mr.
Poyser's own piece; folks must put up wi' their own kin
as they put up wi' their own noses — it's their own flesh
and blood. But to think of a niece o' mine being cause o'
my husband's being turned out o' his farm,
DINAH (interrupting gently.)
Nay, dear Aunt Rachel, you have no cause for such
fears. I've strong assurance that no evil will happen to
you and my uncle from anything I've done. I didn't
preach without direction.
(Knitting in a rapid, agitated manner.)
Direction! I know very well what you mean by di-
rection. When there's a bigger maggot than usual in
your head you call it "direction," and then nothing can
stir you. I hanna common patience with you.
(Mrs. Poyser goes out onto the doorstep curtseying low and
repeatedly, trembling between her anger at Dinah and her anx-
iety to conduct herself with perfect propriety on this important
Mr. Irwine enters with stately cordiality. He is a rather stout
man of about 50, wuth a ruddy complexion, a finely cut profile, a
genial face and powdered hair tied with a black ribbon. He
wears clerical dress and carries a riding whip. He is a jovial,
hearty, well-fed man of the world in contrast to Dinah's spirit-
Captain Arthur Donnithorne, who enters just behind him, Is
not yet twenty-one, with a clean-shaven face, soft brown hair,
a tall well-set figure. He wears a striped waist coat, a long-
tailed coat and low boots, and carries a riding whip alsa)
Well, Mrs. Poyser, how are you after this stormy morn-
ing. Our feet are quite dry; we shall not soil your beau-
Oh, sir, don't mention it. Will you and the captain
please to walk into the parlor?
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
(Looking eagerly around the kitchen as though he were
looking for something he did not find.)
No, indeed, thank you, Mrs. Poyser. I delight in your
kitchen. I think it is the most charming room I know.
I should like every farmer's wife to come and look at It
for a pattern.
(Dinah rises as the gentlemen come in, still keeping hold of
her sheet, and curtseys respectfully. She seats herself when
the gentlemen seat themselves. Mr. Irwine draws a chair close
to hers and looks at her intently, occasionally addressing her.
She replies in monosyllables, and continues to sew. Their con-
versation is inaudible to the audience.)
(Relieved a little by this compliment and the captain's evident
good humor, but stlil glancing anxiously at Mr. Irwine.)
Oh' you're pleased to say so, sir: pray take a seat.
(Seating himself where he can see into the dairy.)
Poyser isn't at home is he?
No, sir, he isn't; he's gone to Rosseter to see about
(Still looking into the dairy. Hetty's song comes at intervals.
She is invisible.)
Well, I'll just look at the whelps, and leave a message
about them to your shepherd. I must come another day
and see your husband. I want to have a consultatioji
with him about horses. Do you know when he's likely
to be at liberty?
Why, sir, you can hardly miss him, excepts it's o' Tred-
des'on market day — that's of a Friday, you know; for if
he's anywhere on the farm we can send for him in a
By the by, I've never seen your dairy. I must see your
dairy, Mrs. Poyser.
10 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Indeed sir, it's not fit for you to go in. Hetty's in the
middle o' making- the butter, for the churning was thrown
late, and I'm quite ashamed.
Oh, I've no doubt it's in capital order. Take me in.
(He leads the way. Mrs. Poyser follows. Hetty meets them
at the door, curtseying deeply. They disappear within the
And have you been long in the habit of preaching?
I first took to the work four years since, when I was
Your society sanctions women's preaching then?
It doesn't forbid them, sir, when they've a clear call to
the work, and when their ministry is owned by the con-
version of sinners and the strengthening of God's people.
Tell me — if I may ask, and I am really interested in
knowing it — how you first came to think of preaching?
Indeed, sir, I didn't think of it at all — I'd been used
from the time I was sixteen to talk to the little children
and teach them, and sometimes I had had my heart en-
larged to speak in class, and was much drawn out in
prayer with the sick. But I felt no call to preach.
I was called to preach quite suddenly, and since then I
have never been left in doubt about the work that was
laid upon me.
But tell me the circumstances — ^just how it was, the
very day you began to preach.
(Letting fall her work for the first time and standing with a
rapt expression, her hands clasped.)
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
It was one Sunday I walked with Brother Marlowe, who
was an aged man, one of the local preachers, all the way
to Hetton-Deeps— that's a village where the people get
their living by working in the lead mines, and where
there's no church nor preacher, but they live like sheep
without a shepherd. Before we got to Hetton, Brother
Marlowe was seized with dizziness, for he overworked
himself sadly at his years, in watching and praying, and
walking so many miles to speak the Word, as well as
carrying on his trade of linen-weaving. And when we got
to the village the people were expecting him, and many
of them were assembled on a spot where the cottages
were thickest. But he was forced to lie down in the first
we came to. So I went to tell the people, thinking we'd
go into one of the houses, and I would read and pray with
them. But as I passed along by the cottages and saw the
aged trembling women at the doors, and the hard looks
of the men, who seemed to have their eyes no more filled
with the sight of the Sabbath morning than if they had
been dumb oxen that never looked up to the sky, I felt a
great movement in my soul, and I trembled as if I was
shaken by a strong spirit entering into my weak body.
And I spoke the words that were given to
me abundantly. And they came round me out of all the
cottages, and many wept over their sins. That was the
beginning of my preaching, sir, and I've preached ever
(After a decided pause.)
Some of our most intelligent workmen about here are
Methodists and think as you do. I dare say you know
the Cranages. They are Methodists.
Yes, I know them well — sincere and without offense.
Perhaps you don't know the trouble that has just hap-
pened to them? Their father was drowned in the Willow
Brook last night. I'm going now to see them.
12 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
(With pitying eyes.)
Oh, the poor mother. She will mourn heavily. I must
g'o and see if I can give her any help.
(She rises and begins to fold her work.)
(Looking out the open door.)
There goes Luke, and I promised my sister to see him
about his poultry. Mrs. Poyser has some beautiful
speckled hens. I hear you are going away soon; but this
will rot be the last visit you will pay your aunt — so we
shall meet again, I hope.
(She goes up the stairs as Mr. Irwine goes out the door. Mrs.
Poyser, Captain Donnithorne and Hetty appear from the dairy.)
I hope you Avill be ready for a great holiday on the
thirtieth of July, Mrs. Poyser, when I come of age. I
shall expect you to be one of the guests who come earliest
and leave latest. Will you promise me your hand for two
dances. Miss Hetty? If I don't get your promise now, I
know I shall hardly have a chance, for all the smart
young farmers will take care to secure you.
(Hetty blushes and casts down her eyes.)
(Interrupting quickly, before Hetty has time to answer.)
Indeed, sir, you're verj'^ kind to take that notice of her.
And I'm sure whenever you're pleased to dance with her
she'll be proud and thankful, if she stood still all the rest
o' the evening.
(Determined to make Hetty look at him.)
Oh, no, no, that would be too cruel to all the other
young fellows who can dance. But you will promise me
two dances won't you?
(Dropping a very pretty little curtsey and glancing up half-
Yes; thank you, sir.
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
And you must bring all your children, you know, Mrs.
Poyser; your little Totty, as well as the boys. I want all
the youngest children on our estate to be there — all those
who will be fine young men and women when I'm a bald
Oh dear, sir, that 'ull be a long time first.
But where IS Totty today? I want to see her.
Where is the little 'un, Hetty? She came In here not
She went into the brewhouse to Nancy, I think.
(Mrs. Poyser hurries out of the door.)
And do you cai-ry the butter to market when you've
Oh, no, sir; not when it's so heavy. I'm not strong
enough to carry it. Alick takes it on horseback.
No, I'm sure your pretty arms were never meant for
such heavy weights. But you go out for a walk some-
times these pleasant evenings, don't you? Why don't you
have a walk in the Chase sometimes, now it's so green
and pleasant? I hardly ever see you anywhere except at
home and church.
(Lifting her eyes archly.)
Aunt doesn't like me to go a- walking only when I'm
going somewhere. But I go through the Chase some-
And don't you ever go to see Mrs. Best, our house-
keeper? I think I saw you once in the housekeeper's
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
It isn't Mrs. Best, it's Mrs. Pomfret, the lady's maid, as
I go to see. She's teaching me tent- stitch and lace- mend-
ing. I'm going to tea with her tomorrow afternoon.
Do you go every week to see Mrs. Pomfret?
Yes, sir; every Thursday.
And she's teaching you something, is she?
Yes, sir, the lace- mending as she learned abroad, and
the stocking-mending — it looks just like the stocking, you
can't tell it's been mended; and she teaches me cutting-
Are YOU going to be a lady's maid?
I should like to be one very much indeed.
I suppose Mrs. Pomfert always expects you at a certain
Yes; about four. That gives us time before Miss Don-
nithorne's bell rings.
Do you always come back through the Chase in the
evening, or are you afraid over so lonely a road?
Oh, no, sir, it's never late; I always set out by eight
o'clock, and it's so light now in the evening. My aunt
would be angry with me if I didn't get home before nine.
Perhaps Craig, the gardener, comes to take care of you?
I'm sure he doesn't. I'm sure he never did. I wouldn't
ADAM BEDE A PLAY J 5
let him. I don't like him.
(A tear of vexation drops down her cheek.)
(Putting his arm around her, his voice very gentle.)
Why, Hetty, what makes you cry? I didn't mean to
vex you. I wouldn't vex you for the world, you little
blossom. Come, don't cry; look at me, else I shall think
you won't forgive me.
(He lays his hand on the arm nearer him and stoops with a
lock of entreaty.)
See, here is something I got for you at Rosseter the
last time I was there. I know you like pretty things.
There's room for another lock of hair in it — and yours
is such a pretty color. You must always think of me
when you look at it. But don't let your aunt see it. She
has sharp eyes.
(He slips a gold locket into Hetty's hand as he speaks.)
Oh, how kind of you, sir. How beautiful it is.
(She smiles delightedly and runs to see the effect of the
locket against her throat, as reflected in the shining doors of
the cupboard. She drops it hastily into her apron pocket and
turns around as a noise is heard at the door.)
(Just showing his head inside the door.)
Come along Arthur. I must be off.
Just ride slowly on, Irwine. I'll overtake you in three
minutes. I'm going to speak to the shepherd about the
whelps. Goodby, Hetty; tell Mr. Poyser 1 shall come and
have a long talk with him soon.
(Hetty curtseys, the captain goes out and Hetty goes into the
dairy. Dinah c^bmes downstairs with her bonnet on and Mrs.
Poyser enter.-? from the back yard.)
Wheriver is that Totty? In the curran' bushes, I'll be
bound. So, Dinah, Mr. Irwine wasn't angry, then. Didn't
he scold you for preaching''
16 ADAM BEUE A PLAY
No, he was not angry at all. He was very friendly to
me. I was quite drawn out to speak to him.
But what's your bonnet on for?
Mr. Irwine told me something that I'm sure will cause
you sorrow. Thias Cranage was drowned last night in the
Willow Brook, and I'm thinking that the aged mother
will be greatly in need of comfort.
(In a gentler tone.)
Dear heart! Dear heart! But you must have a cup of
tea first, child. I
I musn't stop now, aunt. She may be needing me. I'll
be back tomorrow.
(Dinah goes out.)
Hetty, d'you hear what's happened?
(Coming from the dairy.)
No; how should I hear anything?
Not as you'd care much, I dare say, if you did hear;
for you're too feather-headed to mind if everybody was
dead, so as you could stay up-stairs a-dressing yourself
for two hours by the clock. Poor Thias Cranage- was
drownded last night in Willow Brook.
(Trying to look serious.)
Oh, how dreadful!
(She smiles at her image reflected in the glass doors of the
cupboard, takes off her cap and fluffs her hair.)
And I want you to go out right away and look for
Totty. wonder the blessed child isn't drownded long ago,
so little care as you take of her. And while you're there,
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 17
go and look at the curran's. I doubt not that the child-
ren have eaten more than they've picked.
(Hetty goes out without making a reply. Mrs. Poyser goes into
the dairy, but remains in view of the audience. She is crush-
ing a cheese. A knock at the door.)
ADAM BEDE (outside.)
Mrs. Poyser within?
(Adam is a stalwart fellow, 26 years old, six feet tall, with
dark curling hair, keen dark eyes, prominent and mobile eye-
brows. He wears a paper cap, leather breeches and blue
worsted stockings and carries a box or basket of tools on his
MRS. POYSER (from the dairy.)
Come in, Mr. Bede, come in. Come into the dairy, if
you will, for I canna justly leave the cheese.
(Adam walks toward the dairy and stands in the entrance.)
Why, you might think you was come to a dead-house.
They're all i' the meadow; but Martin's sure to be in be-
fore long, for they're leaving the hay cocked tonight,
ready for carrying first thing tomorrow. And I've been
forced t' gether the red curran's tonight. The fruit al-
ays ripens so contrary just when every hand's wanted.
Hetty's seein' to it, for there's no trustin' the children
to gether it, for they put more into their mouths nor into
the basket; you might as well set the wasps to gether the
I could be looking at your spinning wheel then, and see
what wants doing to it. Perhaps it stands in the house
where I can find it.
No, I've put it away, but let it be till I can fetch it an'
show it you. I'd be glad now if you'd go into the garden,
and tell Hetty to send Totty in. I know Hetty's lettin'
her eat too many curran's, and there's the York an' Lank-
ester roses beautiful in the garden now— you'll like to
see 'em. But you'd like a drink o' whey first, p'r'aps; I
know you're fond o' whey, as most folks is when they
hanna got tc crush it out.
Ig ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Thank you, Mrs. Poyser, a drink o' whey is allays a
treat to me. I'd rather have it than beer any day.
(Reaching a small white basin from the shelf and dipping it
into the whey tub.)
Ay, ay, the smell o' bread's sweet t' everybody but the
baker. A farmhouse is a fine thing for them as look on, an'
don't know the liftin' an' the stannin', an' the worritin' o'
the inside as belongs to't.
Why, Mrs. Poyser, you wouldn't like to live any place
else but in a farm-house, so well as you manage it.
(Takes the basin.)
Here's to your health, and may you allers have strength
to look after your own dairy, and set a pattern t' all the
farmers' wives in the country.
(As Adam sets dov.'n the basin.)
Have a little more, Mr. Bede.
No, thank you. I'll go into the garden now and send
in the little lass.
(Adam goes out. Mrs. Poyser continues her work in the
dairy. Mr. Poyser comes in, his two sons of 9 and 7 behind him
and Bartle Massey, the schoolmaster, with him. The boys have
very rosy cheeks and black eyes, and wear little fustian-tailed
coats and knee breeches. Mr. Poyser wears a suit of drab, with
a red and green waistcoat. His watch ribbon is green with a
carnelian seal atta,ched and hangs pendent like a plumb-line from
the promontory where his watch pocket is situated. He wears
grey- ribbed stockings, and a silk handkerchief of a dull yellow
about his neck.
Bartle Massey has an aquiline nose, and a transparent yellow
skin and in his forehead the blue veins are prominent. His
forehead is high and is surrounded by thick, bushy, grey hair,
about an inch long. He wears spectacles, and walks with a
knotted stick. Though quite lame, he still walks very briskly.
ITis face is rather irritable.)
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 19
Rachel, here's Mr. Massey, as I've brought home to
supper. I hope you've got one o' your stuffed chines.
(Coming from the dairy.)
How d' do, how d' do, Mr. Massey. Mr. Bede's here,
Poyser, and as soon as Molly and me can get ready,
we'll have supper, for I know you're tired and hungry.
That I am, Rachel. Rosseter is pretty far.
(Poyser and Bartle Massey seat themselves and the boys stand
by Mr. Massey, who talks to them. During the subsequent dia-
logue, Mrs. Poyser and Molly, who enters from the dairy, let down
the table leaf, pull it out and commence to set the table and put
out the supper things.)
How's the milk from the new short-horn, Rachel?
I've twice as much butter from that little yallo-.v cow
as doesn't give half the milk.
Why, thee't not like the women in general; they like
the short-horns, as give such a lot o' milk. There's
Chowne's wife wants him to buv no other sort.
What's it sinnify what Chowne's wife likes? A poor
soft thing, wi' no more head-piece nor a sparrow. She'd
take a big cullender to strain her lard wi', and then won-
der as the scratchin's run through. Her cheese rose like ,
a loaf in a tin last year, an' then she talks o' the weather
bein' i' fault, as there's folks 'ud stand on their heads
and then say the fault was i' their boots.
I dare say, she's like the rest o' the women — thinks
two and two'U come to make five if she bothers enough
Ay, ay, one 'ud think, an' hear some folks talk, as the
20 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
men war cute enough to count the corns in the bag o'
wheat wi' only smelling at it. They can see through a
barn door, THEY can. Perhaps that's the reason they
see so little o' this side on't.
(Martin ?oyser shakes ^vith delighted but silent laughter.)
Ah, the women are quick enough — they're quick enough.
They know the rights of a story before they hear it, and
can tell a man what his thoughts are before he knows
Like enough, for the men are mostly so slow, their
thoughts overrun 'em an' they onl5' catch 'em by the
tail. I can count a stocking-top while a man's getting's
tongue ready; an' when he outs wi' his speech at last,
there's little broth to be made on't. It's your dead chicks
take the longest hatchin'. However, I'm not denyin' the
women are foolish: God Almighty made 'em to match
Match! Ay, as vinegar matches one's teeth. If a man
says a word his wife'U match it with a contradiction; if
he's a mind for hot meat, his wife'U match him with
whimpering. She's such a match as th' horse-fly is to
th' horse; she's got the right venom to sting him with
— the right venom to sting him with.
Yes, I know what the men like — a poor soft as 'ud sim-
per at 'em like the picture o' the sun, whether they did
right or wrong, an' say thank you' for a kick, an' pretend
she dinna know which end she stood uppermost, till her
husband told her. That's what a man wants in a wife
mostly: he wants to make sure 'o one fool as'll tell him
he's wise. But there's some men can do wi'out that — they
think so much o' themselves a'ready; an' that's how it
is there's old bachelors.
(Jocosely, and looking admiringly at his wife.)
Come, Bartle, you mun get married pretty quick, else
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
you'll be set down for an old bachelor; an' you see what
the women'll think on you. Now I like a woman o' sper--
rit — a cliverish woman — a managing woman.
You're out there, Poyser, you're out there. You judge
o' your own garden stufE on a better plan than that: j^ou
pick the things for what they can excel in — for what
they can excel in. You don't value your peas for their
roots, or your carrots for their flowers. Now that's the
way you should choose women; their ci.evernessll never
come to much — never come to much; but they make ex-
cellent simpletons, ripe, and strong-flavored.
(Throwing himself back and looking merrily at his wife.'i
What dost say to that"
(A dangerous fire kindling in her eyes.)
Say! Why, I can see a cat i' the dairy wi'out wonder-
ing what she's come for. Some folk's tongues are like
the clocks as run on strikin', not to tell you the time o'
day, but because there's summat wrong i' their own in-
(Totty com.es running in, in a pink pinafore, stained with
currants. Her mouth and hands are also stained. Mrs. Poy-
ser stops and her voice changes as she stoops to pick up Totty.)
Bless her sweat face! The child's allays i' mischief if
your back's turned a minute. What shall I do to you,
you naughty, naughty gell? Molly, take the child and
put her to bed. She's too full of curran's to want her
(Molly goes upstairs with Totly in her arms. Adam Bede
and Hetty come in together at the door. Adam carries a big
basket of currants, which he sets down. He shakes hands with
Mr. Poyser and Bartle Massey and Hetty curtseys to the school-
Well, Adam, I'm glad to see ye. What, ye've been help-
ing Hetty to gether the currants, eh? Come, sit ye down,
sit ye down. Why, it's pretty near a three- week since
22 ADAM BEUE A PLAY
y* had your supper wi' us; and the missis has got one of
her rare stuffed chines. I'm glad ye're come.
(Mr. Poyser and Bartle Massey talk together, while Mrs.
Peyser goes on arranging the supper table.)
(Taking a rose from his coat and handing it to Hetty.)
How pretty the roses are now! See'. I stole the pret-
tiest, but I didna mean to keep it myself. Stick it in your
frock, and then you can put it in water after. It 'ud be
a pity to let it fade.
(Hetty smiles as she takes the rose. She is without her cap
now, and she sticks the rose in her curly hair just above the left
ear, and looks at Adam coquettishly.)
Ah, that's like the ladies in the pictures at the Chase.
They've mostly got flowers, or gold things i' their hair,
but somehow I don't like to see 'em; they allays put me 1'
mind o' the painted woman outside the shows at Tred-
dles'on fair. What can a woman have to set her off bet-
ter than her own hair, when it curls so, like 3'ours? If
a woman's young and prettj', I think you can see her
good looks all the better for her being plain dressed.
Why, Dinah Morris looks very nice, for all she wears
such a plain cap and gown. It seems to me as a woman's
face doesna want flowers; it's almost like a flower itself,
(tenderly) I'm sure yours is.
(Pouting and taking the rose out of her hair.)
Oh, very well. I'll put one o' Dinah's caps on, and
you'll see if I look better in it.
Nay, nay, I don't want you to wear a Methodist cap
like Dinah's. I dare say it's a very ugly cap. and I used
to think as it was nonsense for her to dress different t'
other people; but I never rightly noticed her till last
night, and then I thought the cap seemed to fit her face
somehow as th' acorn-cap fits th' acorn, and I shouldn't
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
like to see her so well without it. But you've got another
sort o' face; I'd have you just as you are now, without
anything to interfere with your own looks.
Hetty, run upstairs, and send Molly down. She's put-
ting Totty to bed, and I v,ant her to draw th' ale, for
Nancy's busy yet i' the dairy. You can see to the child.
But whativer did you let her run away from you along
wi' Tommy for, and stuff herself wi' fruit as she can't
eat a bit o' good victual?
Come Mr. Bede, come Mr. Massey. I'm sure ye've
been waiting long enough.
(They seat themselves, the boys at either side of their mother,
with a place for Hetty between her uncle and Adam Bede. AH
the company except Mr. Poyser have their backs or sides toward
the outer door. Molly comes downstairs and goes out the door
as they sit down to supper.)
(Dispensing slices of stuffed chine (backbone of beef), cold veal
and fresh lettuce. The table cloth is of whitey-brown home-
s=pun and the service of shining pewter.)
What a time that gell is drawing th' ale, to be sure. I
think she sets the jug under and forgets to turn the tap.
as there's nothing you can't believe o' them wenches;
they'll set th' empty kettle on the fire' and then come an
hour after to see if the water boils.
Perhaps she's drawing for the men,too. Thee shouldst
ha' told her to bring our jug first.
Told her? Yis I might spend all the wind i' my body,
an' take the bellows, too, if I was to tell them gells every-
thing as their own sharpness wonna tell'em. Mr. Massey,
will you take some vinegar with your lettuce? Ay, you're
i' the right not. It spoils the flavor o' the chine, to my
thinking. It's poor eating where the flavor o' the meat
lies i' the cruets. There's folks as make bad butter, and
trusten to the salt t' hide it.
24 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
(Molly enters carrying- a large jug-, two small mugs and four
drinking cans, all full of ale. Her mouth is wide open as she
walks with her eyes fixed on the double cluster of vessels in
Molly, I niver knew your equils — to think o' your poor
mother as is a widow, an' I took you wi' as good a' no
character, an' the time an 'times I've told you.
(Molly starts and hastens her steps toward a far table where
she may set down her cans, catches her foot in her apron and
falls with a crash into a pool of beer. There is a tittering ex-
plosion from the two small boys. Mr. Poyser ejaculates, "Ello,"
and Bartle Massey settles back in his chair with an "I-told-you-
(In a cutting tone, rising and going toward the cupboard,
while Molly with a doleful face begins to pick up the pieces of
There you go! It's what I told you 'ud come over and
over aga,in ; and there's your month's wage gone, an'
more, to pay for the jug as I've had 1' the house this ten
year, and nothing ever happened to 't before; but the
crockery you've broke sin' here in th' house you've been
'ud make a parson swear — God forgi' me for saying so.
Anybody'd think you'd got the St. Vitus?' dance, to see
the things you've throwed down.
(Molly begins to cry, and as the beer is flowing toward the
feet of the guests converts her apron into a mop.
MRS. POYSER opening the cupboard and turning a blighting
eye upon her.)
Ah, you'll do no good wi' crying an' making more wet
to wipe up. It's all your own wilfulness, as I tell you,
for there's nobody no call to break anything if they'll go
the right way to work. But wooden folks would need ha'
wooden things t' handle. And here must I take the
brown-and-white jug, as it's never been used three times
this year and go down i' th cellar myself.
(Mrs. Poyser turns round from the cupboard with a brown-
and-M'hite jug in her hand. She stares at the
farther end of the kitchen, where Hetty has appeared like a
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 25
wraith in Dinah's prim cap and gown with her hair parted and
smoothed down. The jug falls to the ground, parting forever
from its spout and handle. The others have not seen Hetty.
The boys laugh loudly at their mother.)
(In a lowered tone, with a moment's bewildered glance around
Did iver anybody see the like? The jugs are bewitched,
I think. It's them nasty glazed handles — they slip o'er
the finger like a snail.
(Joining in the laugh.)
Whj', thees't let thy own whip fly in thy face.
MRS. POYSER (angrily.)
It's all very fine to look on and grin, but there's times
when the crockery seems alive, an' flies out o' your hand
like a bird. What is to be broke will be broke, for I never
dropped a thing 1' my life for want o' holding it, else I
should never have kept the crockery all these years as I
bought at my own wedding. And, Hetty, are you mad?
Whativer do you mean by coming down i' that way, and
making one think as there's a ghost a -walking i' th'
(Thcjre is a fresh outbreak of laughter dur'ng Mrs. Povser's
speech, as all turn and look at Hetty. The boys leave their chairs
and dance around Hetty, jumping and clapping their hands.
During the confusion Mrs. Poyser reaches down a great pewter
measure from the cupboard. This she hands to Molly who is
going out with fragments of her mugs.)
Why, Hetty, lass, are ye turned Methodis? You must
pull your face a deal longer before you'll do for one;
mustna she, Adam? How come ye to put them things on,
(Who has seated herself demurely.)
Adam said he liked Dinah's cap and gown better nor
my clothes. He says folk look better in ugly clothes.
ADAM BEDE A tLA.Y
(Looking at her admiringly.)
Nay, nay. I only said they seemed to suit Dinah. But
if I'd said you'd look pretty in 'em I should ha' said
nothing but what was true.
(To Mrs. Poyser, who has seated herself.)
Why, you thought Hetty war a ghost; you look'd as
scared as scared.
It little sinnifies how I looked. Looks 'uU mend no
jugs, nor laughing neither, as I see. Mr. Bede, I'm sorry
you've to wait so long for your ale, but it's coming in a
minute. Make yourself at home wi' the cold potatoes, Mr.
Massey, I know you like 'em. Tommy, I'll send you to bed
this minute, if you don't give over laughing. What is
there to laugh at, I should like to know? I'd sooner cry
nor laugh at the sight o' that poor thing's cap; and
there's them as 'ud be better if they could make their-
selves like her i' more ways nor putting on her cap. It
little becomes anybody i' this house to make fun o' my
sister's child, an' I know one thing as if trouble was to
come, (tears in her voice) we might be glad to get sight
o' Dinah's cap again, wi' her own face under it, border or
no border. For she's one o' them things as looks the
brightest on a rainy day, and loves you the best when
you're most i' need on't .
(To Hetty.) ,
You'd better take the things off again, my lass; it
hurts your aunt to see 'em.
(Hetty goes upstairs. Molly brings in the ale and pours it
and leaves the stage.)
You heerd about poor Thias Cranage, Mr. Bede?
Dinah's gone to the poor mother, though I doubt not
that his death's a relief to the family, and he such a
drunkard. (To her husband). An' Captain Donnithorne
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 27
and Mr. Irwine were here today. The captain was most
pleasant, and Mr. Irwine was that agreeable to Dinah.
When I saw 'em-a-comin' I'd no doubt but they'd come to
chide her for preaching- on the green. The captain in-
sisted on seein' the dairy.
I'll warrant he said that Mrs. Satchell's cream and
butter woudn't bear comparison with yours.
Well, he did say summat like that, and I told him that
I couldn't say, as I seldom saw other folks' butter —
though there's some on it as one's no need to see — the
Mr. Irwine must a' been surprised to see Dinah so
young and comely. He likes the young people.
It's a poor look-out when th' ould folks doesna like the
Ay, it's ill livin' in a hen-roost for them as doesn't
like fleas. We've all had our turn at bein' young, I
(Adam rises from the table, as does Mr. Massey. Hetty is
just coming down stairs.)
I shall go a step farther, to see Mester Burge, for he
wasn't at church, and I've not seen him for a week past.
I've never hardly known him to miss church before.
But you'll never think o' going there at this hour o'
(It is still twilight, about 8 o'clock.)
Oh, Mr. Burge sits up late. He's never in bed till it's
I wouldna have him live wi' me, then, a- dropping
28 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
candle-grease about, as you're like to tumble down o' the
floor the first thing i' the morning.
Ay, eleven o'clock's late— it's late. I ne'er sot up so i'
my life, not to say as it warna a marr'in, or a christenin',
or wake, or th' harvest supper. Eleven o'clock's late.
Why, I sit up till after twelve often, but it isn't to eat
and drink extry, it's to work extry.
ADAM AND MASSEY.
Goodnight, Mrs. Poyser. Goodnight, Hetty.
(Hetty smiles and shakes hands with them.)
(Holding out a large hand.)
Come again, come again, both.
(Adam and Massey go out.)
Ay, think o' that, now. Sitting up till past twelve to
do extry work. Ye'll not find many men o' six-an'-twenty
as 'ull do to put i' the shafts wi 'him. If you catch Adam
for a husband, Hetty, you'll ride 'i your own spring-cart
some day, I'l be your warrant.
(Hetty tosses her head and puts her hand in her pocket where
the locket is.)
Go eat your supper, Hetty.
I don't want any supper.
Why, what nonsense that is to talk. Do you think you
can live wi'out eatin', and nourish your inside wl'
stickin' red ribbons on your head? Go an' get your supper
this minute, child.
(Hetty eats a little.)
Come Rachel, thee't tired. It's time thee wast in bed.
Thee't bring on the pain in thy side again.
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 29
Get me the matches down Hetty, for I must have the
rushlight burning i' my room. You may make the door fast
now Poyser. I declare, Tommy's asleep already.
(Rolling the heavy wooden bolts in the house door winding the
clock and looking to the shutters, while the twilight gathers.
Hetty still lingers with a far-away glance.)
Come, Hetty, get to bed. You did na' mean any harm,
but your aunt's been worritted today. Goodnight, my
(Mrs. Poyser is slowly ascending the stairs, with her arm
around the sleepy Tommy. The other boy is rubbing his
eyes. Martin Poyser follows his wife and children and Hetty
goes last, taking out her locket to look at it, while the twilight
deepens in the room, and
The Curtain Falls.
^ iiiiiii ■■■■iiMHii m—imi— ^ — ■~— — ^n— .-^
(PI.ACE— The entrance hall of Donnithorne Hall in Stafford-
shire. TIME— July 30, 1799. The lofty walls and ceiling are
ornamented with stucco angels with trumpets and flower
wreaths. Great medallions of heroes on the wall alternate with
niches in which stand statues. The wholo place is decorated with
green boughs, for this is the night of the young squire's coming
of age. At the right of the stage goes up to the second story
a wide stone staircase, coming well out into the hall. The
stairs are covered with cushions for the children and serving
maids who are to sit here to see the dancing. The room is lit
with many colored lamps hidden among the green boughs and
giving an air of festivity. At the back of the stage is a raised
dais on which the gentle people sit, and on it, as the curtain
rises, is seen Miss Lydia Donnithorne, a slender maiden lady
of about fifty and Arthur's aunt. She is elaborately gowned in
a stiff yellow brocade with jewels. Mrs. Irwine, the mother of
the rector, sits with her. Mrs. Irwine is seventy, exceedingly
handsome and stately, with splendid rings on her old brown
hands, a sweeping gown of lavender brocade and filmy black
lace that falls over her white hair and veils her face and neck. The
old Squire Donnithorne, a man of seventy, in black evening
dress of the period and leaning on a stick, stands by the do.is,
which is bordered by hothouse plants. At the left rear of the
stage is the entrance door, and at this door, as the curtain rises,
stand Captain Arthur Donnithorne and Mr. Irwine receiving
the tenants. Arthur wears the uniform of a Captain in the
Staffordshire militia, and the rector is in black evening dress of
the time. His hair is powdered and tied with a ribbon as before.
The tenants enter with much laughter. Their faces are
slightly flushed, as they have just come from the tenant's din-
ner, also served at the Hall, of which they are talking. There
are several well-to-do farmers with their wives and daughters,
all well and gaily dressed — for only the principal tenants are
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 31
bififlen to the dance. The servants and children are conducted
to the stairway. The men and women are hatless, having loft
their outer wraps where they dined. First to enter and shake
hands with the captain and rector are Bartle Massey and Adam
Bede. Bartle and Adam wear their Sunday clothes, with long
coats and knee breeches. Bartle's is black, Adam's brown.
Both wear bright waistcoats and stockings, the color of their
clothes. They salute the ladies on the dais and then come al-
most to the front of the stage, near the stairway and where the
children are to sit, and facing the door by which the tenants
are coming in. These do not come in so rapidly but what the
two men have an opportunity for a few words of conversation.)
There's something in the wind — there's something
in the wind. The Captain meant something by asking
you here tonight Adam — you've never danced here be-
Why, yes; I'll tell you, because I believe you can keep a
still tongue in your head if you like; and I hope you'll
not let drop a word till it's common talk, for I've par-
ticular reasons against its being known.
Trust to me, my boy, trust to me. I've got no wife to
worm it out of me, and then run out and cackle it in
everybody's hearing. If you trust a man let him be a
bachelor — let him be a bachelor.
Well, then, it was so far settled yesterday, that I'm to
take the management o' the woods. The captain sent
for me, t' offer it me, and I've agreed to't. But if any-
body asks any questions, just you take no notice, and
turn the talk to something else, and I'll be obliged.
(During this the Poysers have come in — Mr. and Mrs. Poyser,
Hetty, the two boys and Molly with Totty. Mr. Poyser and the
two boys are dressed as in the first act, but Mrs. Poyser wears
an ample gown of the most vivid pea green poplin — a beautiful
shade. Totty wears white and Hetty looks as though she were
made of roses. Her frock has pink polka-dots (or roses)
ADAM BEUE A PLAY
sprinkled on a white cotton ground, her sleeves are short and
her neck low and a flchu of real lace (white) is about her
shoulders. She wears white silk stockings and little buckled
shoes with red heels, and in her hair is a knot of black velvet
ribbon and a pink rose. Her cheeks are very pink, her neck
and arms very white; her hands not so white, for she does
much work. Around her bare neck is a string of dark brown
berries or beads which falls out of sight inside the front oi
Mr. Poyser joins Adam and Bartle. Molly and Hetty and the
children go to the stairway. Mrs. Poyser talks with the other
tenants' wives. During the conversation which follows. Totty
is very cross and fractious and Is handed from Molly to Hetty
and back again. Both giils try vainly to quiet and amuse Totty,
who is distinctlj'^ cross.)
What's this I hear, Adam, what's this I hear about you
and the woods? It's a fine step up in the world for you,
my lad. You'll be your own master now, and soon be
taking a wife.
(With a glance at Hetty.)
A working man 'ud be badly off without a wife to see
to th' house and the victual and make things clean and
Nonsense, it's the silliest lie a sensible man like you
ever believed, to say a woman makes a house comfort-
able. It's a story got up because the women are there
and something must be found for 'em to do. I tell you
that a woman'll bake a pie every week of her life and
never come to see that the hotter the oven the shorter
the time. I don't say but what God might have made
Eve to be a companion of Adam in Paradise; there was
no cooking to be spoiled there and no women to cackle
with, though you see what mischief she did as soon as
she'd an opportunity, but it's an impious, unscriptural
opinion to say a Avoman's a blessing to a man now;
you might as well say adders and wasps are a bless-
ing, when they're only the evils that belong to a state
ADAM BEDE — A PLAY 33
Of probation, which it's lawful for a man to keep as clear
of as he can i' this life, hoping to get quit of 'em for-
ever in another— hoping to get quit of 'em forever In
Nay, Mr. Massey, don't be so hard on the creatures
God has made to be companions for us (glancing at
Hetty). God bless her! I'd make her life a happy 'un if
a strong arm to work for her and a heart to love her
could do it.
(With a gesture that takes in the room.)
Oh, these women — they've got no headpieces to nour-
ish, so their food all runs to fat or brats. Simple ad-
dition enough! Add one fool to another fool and in six
years' time six fools more — they're all of one denomina-
tion, big and little's nothing to do with the sum.
(Mrs. Poyser joins the group.)
Hast heard the news about Adam?
About the woods? Ay, I've long suspected it.
Thee never saidst a word to me about it.
Well, I aren't like a bird-clapper, forced to make a
rattle when the wind blows.
Oh, dear, aunt, I wish you'd speak to Totty; she keeps
putting her legs up so and mussing my frock.
What's the matter wi' the child? She can niver please
you. Let her come by the side o' me. I can put up with
(Draws Totty to her. Hetty turns smiling toward a young
farmer who ust come up to her and chats with him.
Mrs. Peyser chats v/ith her husband, the others having turned to
speak to some of the arriving tenants.)
ADAM BEDE A FLAY
Hetty's no better nor a peacock, as 'ud strut about
on the wall and spread its tail when the sun shone if all
the folks i' the parish was dying; there's nothing seems
to give her a turn i' th' inside, not even when we thought
Totty had tumbled into the pit. It's what rag she can
get to stick on her as she's thinking on from morning
till night; as I often ask her if she wouldn't like to be
the scare-crow 1' the field, for then she'd be made o*
rags inside and out. It's my belief her heart's as hard
as a pibble.
Nay, nay, thee mustn't judge Hetty too hard. Them
young gells are like th' unripe grain — they'll take a
good meal by and by, but they're squashy as yit. Thee't
see Hetty'll be all right when she's got a good husband
an' children of her own.
(They turn as the old squire comes up on his way around
the hall. He bows punctiliously, and addresses them with
Good evening, Mrs. Poyser. I hope that your health is
much improved. Tou must be sure to take the cold
baths which I recommended to you and keep away from
the drugs. That's what I do — keep away from the drugis.
(Curtesying deeply as the squire passes on.)
Your sarvant, sir. (To her husband.) I'll lay my life
he's brewing some nasty turn against us. Old Harry
doesna wag his tail so for nothin'.
(All the tenants having come in. Captain Donnithorne and
the rector are making the round of the Hall, chatting with
everybody. They pause before the group of the Poysers and
Massey and Adam.)
ARTHUR (to Mr. Poyser.)
Well, Poyser, that was a very fine speech you made at
the dinner, and I tell you I shall always remember and
try to live up to some of the things you said.
Well, sir, as I said at dinner, "You speak fair and you
act fair, an' we're joj^ul when we look forward to your
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 35
being our la,ndlord, for we b'lieve you mean to do right
by everybody an' 'ull make no man's bread bitter to
him if you can help it."
ARTHUR DONNITHORNE (wincing a little.")
Weren't you pleased to liear your husband make such
a good speech today, Mrs. Poyser?
Oh, sir, the men are mostly so tongue-tied — you're
forced partly to guess what they mean, as you do wi'
the dumb creeturs.
MR. IRWINE (laushin.a:.)
"What, you think you could have made it better for
Well, sir, when I want to say anything, I can mostly
find words to say it in, thank God. Not as I'm a-flnding
faut wi' my husband, for, if he's a man o' few words,
what he says he'll stand to.
(Arthur Donnithorne passes on to speak to the girls and
children near the steps and stands near Hetty.)
How gracefully Arthur proposed his grandfather's
health today, when we had all of us forgotten It.
Well, that's as you think. To my notion it's as well
not to stir a kettle of sour broth.
(The musicians are heard tuning their instruments and the
strains of a brisk country dance are heard. Most of the ten-
ants fall back and stand close to the walls or sit on the seats
around the walls.)
Mrs. Poyser, I'm come to request the favor of your
hand for the first dance; and Mr. Poyser, you must let
me take you to my aunt, for she claims you as her part-
(Mrs. Poyser hands Totty to Molly. Four or six or
couples join in the dance. Among them should
be Miss Lydia Donnithorne with Mr. Poyser, Mrs.
Poyser and Arthur Dennithorne, Adam Bede and
36 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Hetty — the others are unnamed tenants. The dance
is a country dance — a sort of modified lancers, of
which the special feature is a ladies' chain — during which every
man meets and swings every woman who is dancing. There
is much merry stamping, a gracious nodding of the heads, a
waving bestowal of the hand. Mr. Poyser has a holiday
sprightliness and pays gallant little compliments to his wife
when he meets her in the dance. Hetty and Adam should face
the audience at the commencement of the dance with Arthur
and Mrs. Poyser opposite them with their backs to the audi-
ence. The ladies move, while the gentlemen retain their
places to swing the ladies as they come. ?5Vhen it comes time
for Arthur to balance with Hetty they are together at the cen-
ter and front of the stage.)
ARTHUR (to Hetty, in a low and hurried tone.)
I shall be in the wood the day after tomorrow at seven;
come as early as you can.
(Hetty flushes and smiles up at him. When the dance is over
Arthur conducts Mrs. Poyser, who is flushed r.nd panting to a
seat. Mills, the butler, brings her ice. Arthur devotes himself
to the other tenants. After the dance, Adam has conducted
Hetty over to the stairway where Totty has gone to sleep in
Molly's arms. Molly gives Totty to Hetty and goes upstairs after
Let me hold her. The children are so heavy when
(Hetty starts to hand Totty over to Adam, but this rouses
Totty, who strikes out with one fist at Adam and with the
other seizes the chain of beads around Hetty's neck. The
string breaks and locket and beads fly wide over the floor.)
(In a loud, frightened whisper.)
My locket, my locket, never mind the beads.
(Picking up the locket.)
It isn't hurt.
Oh, it doesn't matter. I don't mind about it.
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Not matter? You seemed very frightened about it.
I'll hold it till you're ready to take it. (Molly comes
back and takes Totty away.) Hetty, Hetty, whose is the
hair inside? Is thee foolin' me, my girl, and you as good
as my promised wife? Oh, Hetty, have you forgotten
the night in the curran' bushes and what you said then,
and just now, when I'm to have the woods and every-
thing! Oh, Hetty, Hetty.
(Hetty buries her face in her hands, while Adam looks at
her steadfastly. The band is playing softly, Arthur
leads out another stout tenant's lady and the couples
form for another dance as
The Curtain Falls.
ACT UK !
TIME— August 1, 1799. PLACE— Mappletoii, Staffordshire.
The wood. At the back of the stage is a long vista of trees, and
at the left a rustic building, the Hermitage. Seats are scattered
among the trees. It is not yet twilight. The
curtain rises as Hetty and Art.hiir Donnithorne come
through the open door and down the steps of the Hermitage, his
arm about her. Her hair is a bit dishevelled, and she has her
bonnet and cape in her hands. Arthur helps hor playfully to tie
them on. They chat and smile and his manner is most affec-
tionate. Hers is loving and trustful and full of wistful pride
and shyness. Arthur is in evening dress. Hetty wears a pretty
cotton frock and a little scoop bonnet with a wreath of pinlc
roses inside. Her cape is a pretty shade of green and her bon-
net is tied with wide rose-colored ribbon strings.)
Hasn't this summer been a little bit of heaven, Hetty'
How I shall miss you when I'm in Windsor. But it's
just as well, perhaps, that I'm called away, for sometime
or other your aunt would be sure to suspect us and then
there'd be the devil and all to pay. I don't doubt but
what she'd go to my grandfather f.ast enough. Why. even
Mr. Irwine has been taking me to task lately for admiring
you too much and keeping off the young swains who
adore those lovely eyes and sweet cheeks of yours.
But I'm sure I don't want any of them, sir. It's happi-
ness enough for me to know that you love me. Captain
Donnithorne, even if the other girls don't know it. But
I just wish that Mary Burdge knew what you said — that
you'd rather kiss me than any fine lady you ever saw,
and that she knew that we'd met here in the wood twice
every week these last two months.
ADAM BEDE A ['LAV 39
But that wouldn't do fit all, Hetty, and darling have you
been very careful to remember never to show vour locket,
earrings or any of the trifles I've given you? I know you'd
like to wear them, vain little puss (pinching her cheek),
but I can't blame you. If I had such pretty ears as
yours or such a beautiful neck (kisses her throat) — though
really you need no adorning, beautiful one. You're quite
bewitching enough to turn any head just as you are.
Indeed, Mr. Arthur, I've never shown my things to
anyone, nor had them on except in my room at night,
with the door locked and everyone asleep — much as I'd
like to. What's the use of having things that you can't
wear? (pouting). But one person's seen my locket,
sir, and asked me about it.
Who was that? You never told me.
It was Adam Bede, the night of the coming of age.
That ugly Totty pulled at my bead chain after the danc-
ing and the locket fell to the oor. Adam was standin'
by me and picked it up and couldn't help seein' that there
was two kinds of hair in it — the dark and light. And
then he turned it over and asked me who gave it me.
Insolent! And what did you say?
I didn't say anything, for just then aunt came up
and we went home, and I haven't seen Adam alone since.
Oh, well, Adam's a good fellow. If anyone had to
know, I'd rather it would be Adam. Now if it were
Craig, the gardener, or somebody who would be jealous
of me, I should mind it more. Besides, Adam would
likely think you saved your money to buy it yourself —
he knows nothing of the values of such things — and
perhaps he'd think the hair was yours and that of your
father or mother or someone.
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
(Tossing her head.)
Well, it don't matter much what he thinks so long
as he doesnt' tell aunt and uncle; but, oh, Mr. Arthur,
how lonely it will be while you're in Windsor. And
there'll be many pretty girls there, I doubt not. (wist-
But none so pretty as you, Hetty. Ah, little girl, you
don't know how hard and fast you've twined yourself
around my heart. Many and many a time I've resolved
not to see you alone again and I've ridden Vixen most
to death while I made good resolutions about not seeing
you— and broken them within half a day. And you don't
know the reason why I went away to Ellaston. But
the real reason was to get away from you, and I made
up my mind, oh ever so many times, that I wouldn't see
you again, come what might. And the very first night
after I came home, found me waiting here for you in
the wood. Tou didn't come, either, and I can't ever
remember being so disappointed since my first trousers
failed to come from the tailor's. Strange what power to
draw a man lies under long lashes and in scarlet,
(They are sitting on one of the benches now, and he kisses
Why wasn't I born in a cottage, Hetty, or why weren't
you born in the Hall, and then we might have married
each other in the gray old church and been as happy
as only you and I know how to be.
But, sir, aren't we to be married':* When you come
back from Windsor, you'll marry me and make a lady of
me, and I shall wear gold things on my head
like the ladies in the pictures at the Chase, and, oh,
I'd love you very much, I'm sure.
I'm sure you would, dear — love me as much as you have
these delicious evenings in the wood and in the Her-
mitage, Hetty. Oh, you sweet little blossom, j'ou. You
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 41
madden me and make me forget every rule of caste and
every good resolution. It's only when I see your uncle
and aunt that I've enough will power left to feel sorry.
Then I feel like the deceitful brute I am. What would
they say, Hetty, if they suspected?
But when I live at the Chase I shan't see them often,
and I'm sure I don't care what they think. We might
be married secretly like the doctor's niece and the apoth-
ecary's assistant, and then when they found it out it
wouldn't matter what they thought, for it would be too
late to do anything.
Well, we'll see, dear, we'll see WHEN I come home
from Windsor. You must forget me while I'm away,
sweet, and go to the harvest suppers and the dances,
and have a good time Avith Luke Britton and all the like-
ly young farmers, for I don't want my Hetty pale and
pining. And now you must go home for it's getting late
and your aunt will miss you, and will have more to say
about your being too fond of Mrs. Pomfret and the ser-
vants at the Hall. I wish I could go all the way with
you, Hetty, but you won't be afraid, dear, will you, for
I don't think it's best for me to go beyond the trees.
Hetty, tell me again that you love me. And then, a
long, long kiss, for I shan't have any more kisses for a
long while — not until I get back from Windsor.
(He folds her in his arms and they kiss lingeringly and pas-
sionatelj^ They have risen from the seat and do not see Adam
Bede approaching through the trees from the right with his
tools on his shoulder. He sees them wrapped in each other's
arms and halts in astonishment. He makes a slight noise.
Hetty and Arthur start apart. Without looking to see who it
is she runs swiftly from the stage to the left and Arthur turns
to meet the intruder.
Adam halts and waits for Arthur to come up to him. They
make a striking contrast, Arthur in his evening clothes — Adam
in his working garb. Arthur advances nonchalantly.)
Well, Adam, you have been looking at the fine old
42 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
beeches, eh? They're not to be come near by the
hatchet, though; this is a sacred grove. I overtook pretty
little Hetty Sorrel as I was coming to my den — the Her-
mitage there. She ought not to come home this way so
late. So I took care of her to the gate, and asked a kiss
for my pains. But I must get back now, for this road Is
confoundedly damp. Good-night, Adam; I shall see you
tomorrow — to say goodby, you know.
(He walks past Adam.)
(Without turning round, in a hard, peremptory tone.)
Stop a bit, sir. I've got a word to say to you.
Adam, what do you mean?
(In the same harsh voice, still without turning around.)
I mean, sir, that you don't deceive me by your light
words. This is not the first time you've met Hetty Sor-
rel in this grove, and this is not the first time you've
Well, sir, what then?
Why, then, instead of acting like th' upright, honor-
able man we've all believed you to be, you've been acting
the part of a selfish, light-minded scoundrel. You know,
as well as I do, what it's to lead to, when a gentleman like
you kisses and makes love to a young woman like Hetty,
and gives her presents as she's frightened for other folks
to see. And I say it again, you're acting the part of a
selfish, light-minded scoundrel, though it cuts me to th'
heart to say so, and I'd rather ha' lost my right hand.
(Trying to speak carelessly.)
Let me tell you, Adam, you're not only devilishly im-
pertinent, but you're talking nonsense. Every pretty
girl is not such a fool as you, to suppose that when a
gentleman admires her beauty and pays her a little at-
tention, he must mean something particular. Every man
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 43
likes to flirt with a pretty g:irl and every pretty girl
likes to be flirted with. The wider the distance between
them the less harm there is, for then she is not likely
to deceive herself.
I don't know what you mean by flirting, but if you
mean behaving to a woman as if j'^ou loved her, and yet
not loving her all the while, I say that's not th' action
of an honest man, and what isn't honest does come f
harm. I'm not a fool, and you're not
a fool, and you know better than v/hat
you're saying. You know it couldn't be made public as
you've behaved to Hetty as you've done, without her los-
ing her character, and bringing shame and trouble on
her and her relations. What if you meant nothing by
your kissing and your presents? Other folks won't be-
lieve as you've meant nothing; and don't tell me about
her not deceiving herself. I tell you as you've flUed her
mind so with the thought of you as it'll mayhap poison
her life; and she'll never love another man as 'ud make
her a good husband.
(In a tone of friendly concession.)
Well, Adam, you're perhaps right. Perhaps I've gone a
little too far in taking notice of the pretty little thing,
and stealing a kiss now and then. You're such a grave,
steady fellow, you don't understand the temptation to
such trifling. I'm sure I wouldn't bring trouble or
annoyance on her and the good Poysers on any account
if I could help it. But I think you look a little too seriously
at it. You know I'm going away immediately, so I
shan't make any more mistakes of the kind. But let us
say good-night (Arthur turns round to walk on) and
talk no more about the matter. The whole thing will
soon be forgotten.
(Throwing down his tools and striding around until he is
in front of Arthur.)
No, by God, it'll not soon be forgot, as you've come in
between her and me, when she might ha' loved me— it'll
44 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
not soon be forgot, as you've robbed me o' my happiness,
while I thought you was my best friend, and a noble-
minded man, as I was proud to work for. And you've
been kissing her and meaning nothing, have you? And
I never kissed her i' my life, but I'd ha' worked hard for
years for the right to kiss her. And you make light of it.
Tou think little o' doing what may daimage other folks,
so as you get your bit o' trifling, as means nothing. I
throw back your favors, for you'r not the man I took
you for. I'll never count you my friend any more. I'd
rather you'd act as my enemy, and fight me where I
stand — it's all th' amends you can m.ake me.
(Arthur's expression changes as he learns for the first time
that Adam loves Hetty. Adam throws off his cap and jacket,
but Arthur stands motionless with his hands in his waistcoat
Go away, Adam, I don't want to fight you.
No, you don't want to fight me; you think I'm a com-
mon man, as you can injure without answering for it.
Tou know I won't strike you while you stand so.
I never meant to injure you. I didn't know you loved
But you made her love j'ou. You're a double-faced man
— I'll never believe a word you say again.
Go away, I tell you, or we shall both repent.
(In a convulsed voice.)
No, I swear I won't go away without fighting you. Do
you want provoking any more? I tell you you're a coward
and a scoundrel ,and I despise you.
(Arthur clinches his right hand and deals Adam a blow which
sends him reeling backward. They exchange several blows
Finally Adam strikes Arthur. Arthur falls, his head lyin^
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 45
concealed in a tuft of fern. Adam waits for him to rise. There
is no si^n of life. Adam falls on his knees beside Arthur wltft
a world of apprehension in his face. Adam loosens Arthur's
cravat and collar. No sign of life.)
(He lays a hand on Arthur's heart. Arthur stirs a little.)
Do you feel any pain, sir?
(Arthur turns his head and stares vaguely at Adam. He
shivers and says nothing.)
Do vou feel any hurt, sir?
(Arthur puts his hand to his waistcoat buttons, and when
Adam has unbuttoned it, takes a long breath.)
Lay my head down and get me some water, if you can.
(Adam lays Arthur's head down on the fern again and, empty-
ing the tools out of the basket, goes out, to return almost im-
mediately with the basket dripping.)
(Kneeling to raise Arthur's head.)
Can you drink a drop out of your hand, sir?
No, dip my cravat in and souse it on my head.
(He raises himself a little higher and rests on Adam's
Do you feel any hurt inside, sir?
No — no hurt, but rather done up. I suppose I fainted
when you knocked me down.
Yes, sir, thank God. I thought it was worse.
What, you thought you'd done for me, eh? Come help
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
me on my legs. (Adam helps him up.) I feel terribly-
shaky and dizzy. That blow of yours must have come
against me like a battering ram. I don't believe I can
Lean on me, sir; I'll get you along. Or will you sit
down a bit longer on my coat here? I'll prop ye up.
You'll perhaps be better in a minute or two.
(Sinking down on Adam's coat.)
I believe I will rest a little. I don't feel good for much.
(.Sits also. After a little bit.)
My temper got the better of me, and I said things as
wasn't true. I'd no right to speak as if you'd known
you was doing me an injury. You'd no grounds for know-
ing it. I've always kept what I felt for her as secret
as I could. And perhaps I judged j^ou too harsh — you
may have acted out o' thoughtlessness more than I
should ha' believed was possible for a man with a heart
and a conscience. We're not all put together alike, and
we inay misjudge one another. God knows, it's all the
joy I could have now, to think the best of you.
Say no more about our anger, Adam. I forgive your
momentary injustice — it was quite natural, with the ex-
aggerated notions you had in your mind. We shall be none
the worse friends in the future, I hope, because we've
fought; you had the best of it, and that was as it should
be, for I believe I've been most in the wrong of the two.
Come, let us shake hands.
(Arthur holds out his hand, but Adam sits still.)
I dont like to say "No," to that, sir, but I can't shake
hands till it's clear what we mean by't. I was wrong when
I spoke as if you'd done me an injury knowingly, but I
wasn't wrong in what I said before about your behavior
t'Hetty, and I can't shake hands with you as if I held
you my friend the same as ever till you've cleared that
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
I don't know what you mean by clearinar up, Adam,
I've told you already that you think too seriously of a
little flirtation. But if you are right in supposing there
is any danger in it — I'm going away on Saturday, and
there will be an end to it. As for the pain it has given you,
I'm heartily sorry for it. I can say no more.
(Rising and looking down on Arthur.)
It'll be better for me to speak plain, though it's hard
work. You see, sir, this isn't a trifle to me, whatever
it may be to you. I'm none o' them men as can go mak-
ing love to first one woman, and then t' another, and don't
think it much odds which of them I take. What I feel
for Hetty's a different sort o' love, such as I believe no-
body can know much about but them as feel it, and
God as has given it to them. She's more nor everything
else to me, all but my conscience and my good name.
If it's only trifling and flirting, as you call it, as'll be put
an end to by your going away — why, then, I'd wait, and
hope her heart 'ud turn to me after all. I'm loth to
think you'd speak false to me, and I'll believe your word
however things may look.
(Violentlj' starting up from the ground.)
You would be wronging Hetty more than me not to
believe it. (More feebly) but you seem to forget that, in
suspecting me, you are casting imputations upon her.
Nay sir. Nay, sir. Things don't lie level between
Hetty and you. You're acting with your eyes open,
whatever you may do; but how do you know what's
been in her mind? She's all but a child — as any man
with a conscience in him ought to feel bound to take
care on. And whatever you may think, I know you've
disturbed her mind. I know she's been fixing her heart
on you; for there's many things clear to me now as I
didn't understand before. But you seem to make light
o' what she may feel — you don't think o' that.
48 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Good God, Adam, let me alone! I feel it enough
without you worrying me.
Well, then, if you feel it, if you feel as you may ha'
put false notions into her mind, and made her beileve
as you loved her, when all the while you mean nothing,
I've this demand to make of you — I'm not speaking for
myself, but for her. I ask you f undeceive her before
you go away. Y'arn't going away forever; and ,if you
leave her behind with a notion in her head o' your feel-
ing about her the same as she feels about you, she'll
be hankering after you, and the mischief maj'^ get worse.
It may be a smart to her now, but it'll save her pain i'
the end. I ask you to write a letter — you may trust to my
seeing as she gets it; tell her the truth, and take blame to
yourself for behaving as you'd no right to do to a young
woman as isn't your equal. I speak plain, sir. But I
can't speak any other way. There's nobody can take
care o' Hetty in this thing but me.
I can do what I think needful in the matter without
giving promises to you. I shall take what measures I
No, that won't do. I must know what ground I'm tread-
ing on. I must be safe as you've put an end to what
ought never to ha' been begun. I don't forget what's
owing to you as a gentleman; but in this thing we're
man and man, and I can't give up.
I'll see you tomorrow. I can bear no more now, I'm ill.
(Barring his way.)
You won't see her again? Either tell me now she can
never be my wife — tell me you've been lying — or else
promise me what I've said, not tomorrow, but now.
ADAM BEDE — A PLAY 49
I promise — let me go. I'll write it now — in tiie Her-
I'll wait for it, sir. Youre not well enough to walk
alone. Take my arm. (assisting him to the Hermitage.)
(Turning at the door of the Hermitage.)
Remember this letter is all your work, Adam. I
leave it to you to decide whether you will be doing best
to deliver it to Hetty or to return it to me. Ask your-
self once more whether you are not taking a measure
which may pain her more than m.ere silence. We
shall meet w'ith better feelings some months hence.
Perhaps you're right about that, sir. It's no use meet-
ing to say more hard words, and it's no use meeting to
shake hands and say we're friends again. Were not
friends and it's better not to pretend it. I know for-
giveness is a man's duty, but to my thinking, that can
only mean as you're to give up all thoughts of taking re-
venge; it can never mean as you're t' have your old feel-
ings back again, such as we've had since we w^ere little
fellows, for that's not possible. You're not the same man
to me, and I can't feel the same toward you. God help me!
I don't know whether I feel the same toward anybody; I
seem as if I'd been measuring my work from a false line,
and had got it all to measure over again.
(Arthur closes the door of the Hermitage after him and
an instant later passes the window with a lighted candle.
Adam gives a sob^passes his hand over his eyes — and is
gathering the scattered tools as
The Curtain Falls.
r ACT IV. J
PLACE — The parlor of the Green Man — a small inn in Wind-
Bor. Time, February, 1800. A pleasant-looking woman of
fifty in apron and cap is in the room as the curtain rises. Im-
mediately the door opens to admit a fat and jolly-looking land-
lord who supports Hetty, pale and thinner and with dark circles
undor her eyes. She comes into the room very wearily. Hetty
throughout the act wears a full red cape, which falls to her
knees, a brown stuff skirt and a small round bonnet of some so-
ber color. On her arm she has a basket. She is footsore and
weary, having left Mappleton and the Hall Farm some days be-
fore. She has walked and ridden hundreds of miles to reach
Arthur at Windsor.)
THE INNKEEPER (Cordially.)
Come in, young woman, come in and have a drop o'
something. You're pretty near beat out. T can see
that, (to his wife) Here, missis, get this young woman
summat to eat. She's a little overcome.
(Setting out meat and bread and beer on one of the small
tables, while Hetty eyes her hungrily, and glancing at Hetty's
Draw up your chair and have something. (Signifi-
cantly.) "Why, you're not very fit for traveling. Have
you come far?
HETTY (Eating ravenously.)
Yes, I've come a good long Avay, and it's very tiring,
but I'm better now. Could you tell me which way to
go to this place?
(Taking from her pocket a letter folded over to show an .ad-
dress at the end.)
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 51
(Coming: up and looking- at the paper.)
Why, what do you want at that house?
I want to see a gentleman as is there.
But there's no gentleman there. It's shut up — been
shut up for a fortnight. "What gentleman is it you
want? Perhaps I can let you know where to find him?
It's Captain Donnithorne.
Captain Donnithorne! Stop a bit. Was he in the
Staffordshire militia? A tall young officer with a fair-
ish skin and smooth- shaven, and had a servant by the
name o' Pym?
Yes; yes. You know him. Where is he?
A fine sight o' miles from here; the Staffordshire
militia's gone to Ireland. It's been gone this fortnight.
Look there! She's fainting.
(The landlord supports Hetty and with his wife carries her
to a sofa, where the woman removes her bonnet.
(Bringing some water.)
Here's a bad business, I suspect.
Ah! it's plain enough what sort of business it is.
She's not a common flaunting dratchell, I can see that.
She looks like a respectable country girl, and she comes
from a good way off, to judge by her tongue. She talks
something like that hostler we had that come from the
north; he was as honest a fellow as we ever had about
the house; they're all honest folks in the north.
52 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
I never saw a prettier young woman in my life. She's
like a picture in a shop-winder. It goes to one's heart
to look at her.
It 'ud have been a good deal better for her if she'd
been uglier and had more conduct. But she's coming to
again. Fetch a drop more water.
(Hetty shows signs of life and the landlord goes out.)
Poor child, poor child (rubbing Hetty's forehead) I'd
a darter of me own once,
HETTY (Starting up.)
Oh, I thought you were my aunt Poyser and were go-
ing to scold me.
There, there, child. Nobody's going to scold you.
We'll send you home in a day or .
No, no, I don't want to go home. Why they'd turn
me from the house. I can't go home now.
Oh, they'd never be that cruel, and you so young and
pretty. Haven't ye a mother, child?
No, no mother. She died when I was a little 'un and
my father, too, an' you don't know Avhat a sharp tongue
my aunt's got. No, no, I doubt not they'd turn me out
on the parish, and I'd be like that woman what was
found against the church wall one Sunday last winter.
She was near dead wi' cold and hunger and they took
her and the baby to the PARISH. (Hetty pronounces
this last word as though it were the very depth of hu-
miliation and disgrace.) But she died after. Oh, no,
I'll never go back. I'd sooner drown myself.
Talk not of drowning— so young as you. This trouble
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 53
will pass, my dear. Come, hadn't you better tell me
all about it? Perhaps I can help you or anyway coun-
sel you a bit. I'm an old woman, child.
I'm sure you're very kind. No one else has spoken so
kindly to me since I left home Friday was a fortnight.
Oh, what a big world it is and how hard to find one's way
about in it. And now to think he's gone.
Poor child, poor child. I doubt not you've had strange
adventuring of late— so pretty and young as you are. I
used to live on a farm when I was a girl, too. There's
nothing like it.
The coaches were too dear. I had to give thorn up
after the first da5% but one man was kind to me and
wrote me down the places tnat came before Windsor. I
walked most o' the way with sometimes a carrier's
cart, and one day I went wrong and walked for a whole
day to the wrong place. The village where I come from
is more nor a hundred miles from here.
And did no one give you a lift on the road?
Oh yes, sometimes, but I'm not used to long walks, and
the mile -stones were so far apart. I walked five miles
from Stoniton and then it began to rain. I tried to get
on to another village, but I had had no breakfast and I
had that gone feeling and couldn't walk fast. There
came a rumbling of wheels behind me and then a cov-
ered wagon, with the driver cracking his whip along-
side. The man had such a gruff voice. I had never
asked for charity before. I couldn't have this time, but
on the front seat I saw a little white spaniel and then
I knew that the man was kind. I asked him would he
take me up and he let me lie inside on the wool packs
out of the rain and in that way I came to Ashby.
54 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Ashby, Ashby, I don't remember that name. It must
be a long ways from here.
Oh it is — a long, long- way. From Ashby I started
walking again for I was anxious to get out o' the towns^ —
the men stared so. I walked until I was so overcome I
had to sit down by the wayside. There was a return
chaise came along, and the postilion asked me if I
wouldn't ride, but he was drunk and twisted himself
around in the saddle, and shouted questions at me, and
galloped the horses all the way until I was near fright-
ened to death. And oh how different that country is
from ours — all flat flelds and hedge rows and dotted
houses. Do you know how sweet it is in Staffordshire
where the Gueldres roses bloom in at the windows?
Yes, yes. I was there when I was first married. But
didn't you have any money?
Yes, a little, but the coaches cost so and eating at the
public comes high and when I found out it was so much
further to Windsor nor I thought I counted the shillings
that were left and I found that by eating three buns
a day and walking all the way I could just get here
before my last six-pence was gone.
It's a wonder you had the courage.
Oh, I tried to drown myself. Sometimes I left the
highroad that I might walk slowly and not care how my
face looked. One day I came to a dark pool that the
rains had filled up until the elder bushes were underneath
the water. I thought that by the time the pool got
shallow in summer they couldn't find out that IT was
my body nor why I drowned myself — (breaks into a fit
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 55
LANDLADY (Trying to quiet her.)
There, there, it's wicked to drown oneself.
I don't care. It was dark and there was no hurry. I
had all night to do it in. I got some stones and put
them in my basket so that it mightn't float, and then I
ate some buns that I had bought in the morning, and
then I must have fallen asleep. When I woke up it
was deep night and cold, so cold. I got up to walk
about to warm myself, because I'd be better able to do it
then, for I couldn't drown myself while I was so cold.
Sleeping in the fields o' night. Oh, what a shame.
And I'd never cared much for my home when I was
well and happy, but I thought of it that night, the
bright fire, and the polished pewter and them all sitting
down to supper. And the good man who loved me; the
fields and the dairy and the dogs and the children^ — and
oh, I loved them all. And I stretched out my arms to
'em, but something deep and black was between and I
knew that I should never go back or see 'em again.
And then I thought of HIM and I cursed him there in
But you didn't go into the pool.
No, I durst not. It was as though I was dead and
knew it and longed to get back into life again. I was
sorry and glad at the same time — sorry that I dast not
face death; glad tha,t I was still in life, and as I walked
in the field, I brushed against the dear warm body of a
sheep and I knew that I might yet know light and
warmth again, for I remembered when I felt the sheep
that I had seen a hovel in the next field, such as Alick
used at home in lambing time, and I thought that if I
could get to it I would be warmer. I took the stones
from my basket and climbed the stile.
56 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
.. THE LANDLADY.
You never slept in one o' them dirty hovels?
Yes and was glad to. I felt my way along the rails
and something pricked my hand sharply — it was the
prickling of the gorsy wall of the hovel. Oh the joy of
it, the shelter, the roof, the warm, close smell! There
was straw on the floor of the hovel and I knelt there
and I kissed my arms, I was so glad to be alive.
Dear heart, dear heart.
And I had dreams — one after another — and the
dreams slid into one another until I thought that I was
in the hovel and my aunt standing over me with a
candle in her hand. But there was no candle, only the
light of the early morning through the open door and
there was a face looking down at me — a man in a smock-
frock. And he was very rough to me and said terrible
things to me and frightened me. I told him I was
traveling south'ard and that I'd lost my way an' he
laughed at me and said anybody would think I was a
wild woman to look at me. And the day was as hard
as the night.
But surely there is someone you could go to? The
young man you spoke of — not Captain Donnithorne —
but the young man as loved you. Couldn't you go to
Adam? Oh, you don't know Adam. He loved me,
but he's as proud as proud. He'd never ha'
asked me to marry him if he'd known the truth. And
if I'd ha' known it then, I'd never ha' promised, either.
But I kept thinking that something must happen to
save me — I couldn't stand to be disgraced in my own
village where we've allays held our heads so high. And
then Aunt said folks couldn't be married like cuckoos
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 57
and we must wait till March and I couldn't wait till
March. I couldn't ha' borne to hear what my aunt
would a-said, and Adam too, if they'd a-known.
But Captain Donnithorne, couldn't he help you?
Oh he was away all the time — here in Windsor — and
before he went he wrote me a letter and told me that
he coudn't marry me. Adam knew that there'd been
something between us, for he brought me the letter —
the one that I showed to your man. But Adam never
guessed the truth. And then I thought when I couldn't
wait till March and couldn't marry Adam that I'd come
to the Captain d.t Windsor and ask him to hide me
somewhere, for though I knew from his letter that he
wouldn't mind about me as he used to. he promised to
be good to me.
That's the way wi' them fine gentlemen. Much they
care what the poor girl suffers, and he gone off to Ireland,
HETTY (Crying again.)
Oh, he didn't mean to be cruel and though I cursed
him that night by the pool, he couldn't know what's
happened to me. Only I thought all the time that he'd
marry me and make a lady of me until I got his letter
— that cruel, cruel letter. He told me that I should
never be happy except I married a man in my own sta-
tion, and that if he married me he'd only be adding
to the wrong he had done, as well as offending against
his duty to his relations. He said we mustn't feel like
lovers any more, and that I must think of him as little
as I could and then he said as how he'd always be my
Affectionate friend, indeed.
But of course he never thought and I'm sure I never
did cf— what happened. And I just didn't dare stay at
68 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
home any longer and face Adam and my aunt and them
all, and have the finger of shame pointed at me. Oh,
dear, I was like a fox in a trap. All day as I'd go about
the house, this weight sat upon me and at night I'd
wake up and try to push it off and every day it grew
worse, and I came to be afraid that my aunt would
find out. And then I said that I'd go to visit a niece of
my aunt's — she's a Methodist preacher in Derbyshire —
but I never stopped at the town where she lives but
came straight here, trusting that Captain Donnithorne
would be good to me.
He cared nothing about you as a man ought to care.
He trifled with you and made a plaything of you.
Yes he DID care for me at first. But it began by little
an' little till at last I couldn't throw it off. And I did
believe he'd make me the right amends,
If he'd cared for you rightly he'd never have behaved
He meant nothing by his kissing and presents, but I
trusted to his loving me well enough to marry me, for
all he's a gentleman. I was so young. I had no
mother. I hadn't seen much o' what goes on in the
world. But it's a terrible thing to have folks speak
light o' you and lose your character.
Well, well, there's probably a great hue and cry over
you at home by this time. "When was you expected
In a week and it's already gone a fortnight, but I'll
never go back, never, never. The pool or the parish is
better nor that. And if anyone should come inquiring
of me, which isn't likely, you'll say you haven't seen me,
won't you, won't you? (She is weeping bitterly again
now.) Say you will.
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 5a
(Smoothing Hetty's hair as she lies on the lounge.)
We won't tell on you. There, there, don't cry. We
must find a way. You shall stay at the Green Man un-
til you're rested a bit and then we'll try if we can't find
you a situation, though it'll be hard, I doubt not. Cry
it out if you want to. You'll feel the better for it, I'll
talk It over with my man, but I doubt not he'll be per-
suaded to let you stay for a while at least. We need
a barmaid. I'll likely persuade him. We had a dar-
ter of cur own once.
(The landlord comes in now.)
THE LANDLADY (To her husband.)
The poor girl's that beat. I'm going to take her up-
stairs. She must rest a bit — it's a bed she needs, and
when she's rested we can find something for her to do
about the Green Man.
I'd have you to know that the Green Man's a respectable
public inn and the name o' Stone has always been an
honor'ble one. I'll not have it disgraced now, nor have
base-born brats in my house either.
Lor', I never thought you'd be that hard. 'Twas you
yourself brought her in. And whose money, I want to
know, helped you to buy the Green Man.
THE LANDLORD (Ignoring the last remark.)
I could see she was beat out, but you've given her to
eat and drink and that's enough. Now let her get on.
This thing's likely to breed trouble, harboring runaway
farm gells, and I want no trouble in my house.
But you wor sayin' only the other day as you wished
we had a young and pretty barmaid and I'm sure she's
young and pretty enough and in a little while she can
tend the bar for ye.'
60 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
But I'll have none but respectable gells in this
house. This thing's like to bring trouble — gells as have
(Join's with line gentlemen — and beside who's to pay
for the doctorin' before that? That's what I want to
I've no money but I've a locket and earrings that
might bring something — enough to pay for a day or two
and then I'll go on if you please (falteringly.)
(She takes the things from a red case in her pocket and lays
them on the table before him.)
We might take 'em to the jeweler's shop, for there's
one not far off: but Lord bless you, they wouldn't give
you a quarter o' what the things are worth. And you
wouldn't like to part with 'em?
Oh I don't mind. I'd ruther have the money.
And they might think the things were stolen, as you
wanted to sell 'em, for it isn't usual for a young woman
like you to have fine jew'lery like that.
HETTY (Drawing herself up.)
I belong to respectable folk. I'm not a thief.
THE LANDLADY (Indignantly.)
No, that you aren't. I'll be bound, and you've no call
to say that. The things were gev to her; that's plain
enough to be seen.
THE LANDLORD (Apologetically.)
I didn't mean as I thought so, but I said it was what
the jeweler might think, and so he wouldn't be offer-
ing much money for 'em.
Well, suppose you were to advance some money on
the things yourself, and then if she liked to redeem
'em arter, she could.
,AL)AM BEDE A PLAY 61
Well, have it your own way, Sarah.
(The landlady puts her arm around Hetty and they leave the
room. As they reach the door the landlady turns and says to
And if anyone should come inquirin' you haven't seen
any girl from the north.
Well, all right. Nobody ever said as John Stone
couldn't keep a secret.
(He takes out the locket and trinkets and examines them
by the window. The door opens and Adam Bede comes in. He
has a stick and a bundle and appears to have walked a long way.
He looks worn and dusty and very anxious.)
Ye haven't seen any young woman here as was trav-
What sort of a young woman?
Very young and pretty, eighteen years old, with grey
eyes and curly hair and a red cloak on a.nd a basket on
her arm. Tou couldn't forget her if you saw her.
Nay, I'n seen no young woman.
Think, are you quite sure'' Her name is Hetty — Hetty
How long ago might it be?
She left Mappieton Friday Avas a fortnight and was
goin' to visit a young woman in Stoniton. But she
never went there, and I can't trace her further nor Ash-
62 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Mayhap she's run away, but I'n seen no young wo-
man. Won't you have a pint o' ale? You seem tired-
No, I'll push on. The highway forks a few miles
back and I maun take the other road. Happen she
went in that direction.
THE LANDLADY (Entering quickly.)
The poor child is that — (stops suddenly on seeing
Goodbye, (goes out.)
(Bowing by the door.)
I'm sorry I'm not able to serve you.
Why, who was that? Another stranger from the
Yes, he was inquirin' for a young girl in a red cloak
as had run away from the north. He said her name
was Hetty — Hetty Sorrel.
THE LANDLADY (Running to the window.)
Well, she couldn't go home now, that's for certain,
and she told us not to tell. It's better so, perhaps, it's
Well, I gi' ye my word I wouldn't tell, but I doubt not
trouble'll come o' it. I don't like this deceivin.'
(Coaxingly, laying a hand on his arm.)
But you couldn't be hard on the poor thing. Do you
know how old our Mary would ha' been an' she'd lived?
(The landlord rubs the back of his hand over his eyes, and the
landlady goes to a chest that stands at one side of the room
and begins to take out a baby's shirts and little dresses, laying
them on the floor in a little white pile as
The Curtain Falls.
r ACT V. J
(SCENE, a Courtroom, Time, February, 1800. At the back of
the room a line of high pointed windows, variegated with the
mellow tints of old stained glass. At one side is an oak gal-
lery with dusty armor decorating its front. At the other side
is a gallery with a curtain of old tapestry, covered with dim,
indistinct figures. On the bench sits a grim judge in a black
gown and white powdered wig. In front of him and below him
is a table at which sit the clerk of the court, the prosecutor and
a barrister who acts as Hetty's attorney, all in wigs and gowns.
On one side is the jury of twelve men and at the other the
prisoner's dock in which Hetty stands, very pale, dressed in
black with white collar and cuffs, with her hands clasped before
her. The court room is filled with people, among whom sits
Mr. Irwine next to Martin Poyser, the jail chaplain, Bartle Mas-
sey and Adam Bede. Adam sits as near the prisoner's dock as he
can get, with his head part of the time bowed forward on the rail.
The rest of the spectators are imknown to the audience, ex-
cept that some of the tenants who appeared at the Hall in the
second act might naturally be seen among them. There .are
also ladies in the court room, fashionably and elaborately dress-
ed after the fashion of the time, with big feathered bonnets and
lorgnettes which they put up to stare at the prisoner and then
to whisper. The ladies are seated in the galleries. When the
curtain goes up, there is a witness in the witness chair — an el-
derly man in rusty black. He is in the act of being sworn as
the curtain rises, and the clerk mumbles the oath at him, much
as is done in a modern court of law. The words cannot be un-
derstood by the audience except the "s — elp — y — God" at the
end. Instead of raising his hand as the oath is administered the
witness kisses the book.)
What is your name, sir?
64 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Mark Buford, M. D.
You know this defendant?
I have seen her before.
At the Green Man, an inn in Windsor, where I was
called two weeks ago to treat her.
State the nature of the treatment, doctor.
I delivered her of a child.
Was the child born alive?
It was, sir.
When did you last see that child, doctor?
The child was born on February 16, and the day after
when I called, the landlady of the inn informed me that
the mother and child had left the place and she did not
know v/here they had gone.
In your judgment, was the mother insane?
Not at all, sir. She asked perfectly rational ques-
tions concerning the child and seemed a fine, buxom
young country woman.
That will do, doctor.
(As the doctor steps down from the chair Hetty stares at
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 65
(As though speaking to herself.)
I never had no child. I never had no child.
THE BAILIFF (Tapping with a staff.)
Order in court; order in court.
THE CLERK (Sonorously.)
(Martin Foyser, still rotund, but not nearly so rosy, takes
the chair. He is sworn as the doctor was.)
Martin Poyser. (Hetty starts visibly as though she had
not seen him before.)
Where do you reside?
In the parish of Mappleton, county of Staffordshire.
Have you ever seen the defendant before?
Yes, sir, she is my sister's child.
When did you last see the defendant?
Five weeks ago come Friday, sir.
Where did she reside?
At my house, up to that time, sir.
Did she have a child when you last saw her?
She did not and I'm sure
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
That will do. Answer the question, please. Do you
know of any reason why the witness should murder
I do not, sir.
That will do.
I should like to ask this witness a question.
Was the defendant's reputation good in her parish?
None better. She was allays a good gell and her aunt —
I object to this line of questioning at this time.
No further questions will be allowed. (To Poyser)
That is all.
(Mr. Poyser leaves the courtroom. Mr. Irwine joins him
and puts his arm around his shoulder encouragingly.)
Call Sarah Stone.
(The bailiff goer, out and his voice is heard outside bellow-
Sarah Stone, Sarah Stone. Sarah Stone, come into
(The landlady of the Green Man enters the room. She is
respectably clad in bonnet and shawl, and looks very unhappy.
She is sworn like the others and takes her seat in the witness
Tell us your name.
ADAM BEDE A FLAi
My name is Sarah Stone.
What is your occupation or your husband's occupa-
My husband and I keep the Oreen Man, a licensed
inn in Windsor, \
Toll us how you came to know the prisoner at the
The prisoner is the same young woman who came
looking ill and tired, with a basket on her arm and
asked for lodgings at the Green Man. That was Feb-
ruary 14. My husband asked her to come in and eat,
she looked that tired. The prisoner began to cry and
against mj^ husband's advice 1 asked her to stay at
least for the night. Her prettiness, and something re-
spectable about her clothes and looks, and the trouble
she seemed to be in, made me as I couldn't find it in my
heart to send her away at once. She'd hardly any
money left in her pocket, but I saw no reason why I
shouldn't take her in. I thought she'd been led wrong
and got into trouble, and it would be a good work to
keep her out of farther harm.
THE PROSECUTOR (Holding out some baby clothes.)
Have you seen these clothes before?
Yes sir. I made them myself, and had kept them by
me ever since my last child was born. I took a deal
of trouble both for the child and the mother. I
couldn't help taking to the little thing and being anx-
ious about it. The second night after she came the
child was born, and the next day the mother would
have no nay but would get up and be dressed, in spite
of everything I could say. She said she felt quite
6» ADAM BEDE A PLAY
strong enough, and it was wonderful what spirit she
sliowed. But I wasn't quite easy what I should do
about her, and towards evening I made up my mind
I'd go and speak to the doctor about it. I left the
house about half-past eight o'clock.
Youi honor, I object.
Objection overruled. Go on.
I left the prisoner sitting up by the fire in the
kitchen with the baby on her lap. She hadn't cried or
seemed low at all, as she did the night before. I
thought she had a strange look with her eyes, and she
got a bit flushed toward evening. I was afraid of the
fever. I was longer than I meant to be, and it was
an hour and a half before I got back, and when I went
in, the candle was burning just as I left it, but the
prisoner and the baby were both gone. She'd taken
her cloak and bonnet, but she'd left her basket and
things in it. I was dreadful frightened, and angry
with her for going. I didn't go to give infor-
mation because I'd no thought she meant to do any
harm, and I knew she had enough money in her pocket
to buy food and lodging. I didn't like to set the con-
stable after her, for she'd a right to go from me if she
That will do. Mistress Stone.
(Hetty's face is a study during the giving of this witness'
testimony. The landlady leaves the stand, looking pittyingly
Call John Olding.
The bailiff (as before outside the courtroom)
John Olding, John Olding, John Olding, come into
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 69
(A man in a smock frock enters and takes the witness stand.
He is sworn as the others were.)
John Olding-, sir.
What do you work at?
I'm a laborer, sir.
Where do you live?
At Tedd's Hole, two miles out o' Windsor.
Tell us when 5'ou first saw this prisoner.
A week last Monday, toward one o'clock in the af-
ternoon, I was going toward Hetton Coppice, and about
a quarter of a mile from the coppice I saw the prison-
er, in a red cloak, sitting under a bit of a haystack not
far off the stile. She got up when she saw me, and
seemed as if she'd be walking on the other way. It
was a regular road through the fields, and nothing very
uncommon to see a young woman there, but I took no-
tice of her because she looked white and scared. I
should have thought she was a beggar woman only
for her good clothes. I thought she looked a bit crazy,
but it was no business of mine. I stood and looked
back arter her, but she went right on while she was in
sight. I had to go t' other side of the coppice to
look after some stakes. I hadn't gone far afore I heard
a strange cry. I thought it didn't come from any ani-
mal I knew, but I wasn't for stopping to look about just
then. But it went on, and seemed so strange to me In
that place, I couldn't help stopping to look. But I'd
hard work to tell which way it came from, and for a
70 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
good while I kept looking up at the boughs. And
then I thought it came from the ground; and there
was a lot o' timber- choppings lying about, and loose
pieces o' turf, and a trunk or two. And I looked about
among them, but .at last the cry stopped. So I was for
giving it up, and went on about my business. But when
I come back the same way pretty nigh an hour arter,
I couldn't help a-lj'ing down my stakes to h.ave another
look. And just as I was stoopin' and a-layin' down o' the
stakes, I saw somthing odd and round and whitish ly-
ing on the ground under a nut-bush by the side of me.
And I stooped down on hands and knees to pick it up.
And I saw it war a little baby's hand.
(At these words an audible thrill runs through the court.
Hetty trembles visibly.)
There were a lot o' timber-choppings put together
just where the ground went hollow-like, under the
bush, and the hand come out from among 'em. But
there were a hole left in one place, and I could see down
it, and see the child's head; and I made haste and did
away the turf and the choppings, and took out the child.
It had got comfortable clothes on, but its body was
cold, and I thought it must be dead. I made haste back
with ii out o' the wood, and took it home to my wife.
She said it war dead, and I'd better take it to the
parish and tell the constable. And I said. Til lay my
life it's that young woman's child, as I met going to the
coppice.' But she seemed to be gone clean out of
sight. And I took the child on to Hetton parish and
told the constable, and we went on to Justice Hardy.
And then we went lookin' arter the young woman till
dark at night, and we went and gave information at
Stoniton as they might stop her. And the next morn-
ing another constable come to me, to go with him to
the spot where I found the child. And when we got
there, there was the prisoner a-sitting against the bush
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 71
where I found the child; and she cried out when she
saw us, but she never offered to move. She'd got a big
piece o' bread on her lap.
(As the witness finishes Adam gives a despairing groan and
drops his head on the railing in front of him. The witness
leaves the court room.)
That is the case for the Crown.
Call the Reverend Mr. Irwine.
Rector Irwine, Rector Irwine, Rector Irwine.. come
(Mr. Irwine takes his place in the witness' chair.)
Your name, sir?
MR. IRWINE. J
You are a church incumbent?
Yes — of the parishes of Donnithorne and Mappleton.
You know the prisoner at the bar?
Yes. She is one of my parishioners — a member of
one of the most excellent families in the parish.
Had the prisoner to your knowledge ever committed
Never, so far as I know. She is a verj' young girl,
only eighteen, of highly respectable antecedents and
connections — a regular attendant at church, quiet and
72 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
Did you know that she had left home?
Yes, over a fortnight ago. One of my parishioners
came to me and told me that Hetty had gone to visit
a relative in another parish, but had never reached
there and it was feared that something had befallen
her. Search was made.
Do you know any reason why she should kill her
child, supposing that she did kill it?
None at all. I believe that her friends would have
cared for her in her trouble.
That will do, sir.
) (Mr. Irwine takes a place beside Adam.)
Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the evidence
in this case. You have heard the testimony of the doc-
tor who delivered the prisoner of her child; you have
heard the evidence of the woman who sheltered her
and from whom she ran away; you have heard the
testimony of the laborer who found the dead child in
the field after seeing the mother leave the place hurried-
ly. The child was dressed in clothes which have been
identified by the witness Stone. You have heard the
testimony of the uncle of the prisoner who gave her a
home and of the rector of her parish who believes that
her friends would have forgiven her had she confessed
her fault to them. You have seen the obstinate bear-
ing of the prisoner and you have heard her deny, in
the face of the evidence, that she ever had a child. It
is now your duty to decide the question of fact — did the
prisoner at the bar bury her new-born child, with the
intention of abandoning it to its fate? The fact that
it was alive when its cries were heard by Olding has
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 73
nothing to do with the case — the intent to kill is the
same. You will now retire and consider your verdict.
If you believe the witnesses that you have heard tes-
tify you must bring in a verdict of guilty.
(The jury flies out of the box ami off the stage. The judge
goes in the opposite direction and is followed by Hetty between
her jailers. The court room breaks into a low hum of con-
Is he come back?
No, he is not.
ADAM (looking hard at Mr. Irwine, in a tone of angry sus-
You needn't deceive me, sir, I only want justice.
I want him to feel what she feels. It's his work. . . .
she was a child as it 'ud ha' gone t'anybody's heart to
look at. . . I don't care what she's done. . . It
was him brought her to it. And he shall know it. .
he shall feel it. . . if there's a just God, he shall feel
what it is t' ha' brought a child like her to sin and
misery. . .
I'm not deceiving you, Adam, Arthur Donnithorne is
not come back — was not come back when I left. I have
left a letter for him; he will know all as soon as he ar-
rives. ' I
But you don't mind about it. You think it doesn't
matter as she stands here in shame and misery, and
he knows nothing about it — he suffers nothing.
Adam, he WILL know — he WILL suffer, long and
bitterly. He has a heart and a conscience; I can't be
entirely deceived in his character. He may be weak,
but he is not callous, not coldly selfish. I am persuad-
ed that this will be a shock of which he will feel the
effects all his life. Why do you crave vengeance In this
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
way? No amount of torture thai you could inflict on
HIM could benefit HER.
ADAM (Groaning aloud.)
No — Oh God, no, but this is the deepest curse of all.
. . that's what makes the blackness of it. . . IT
CAN NEVER BE UNDONE. My poor Hetty. . . she
can never be my sweet Hetty again. . . the prettiest
thing that God had made— smiling up at me. . . I
thought she loved me. . . and was good. . . But
she isn't as guilty as they say? You don't think she Is,
sir? She can't ha' done it.
MR. IRWINE (Gently.)
That perhaps can never be known with certainty,
Adam. But suppose the worst; you have no right to
say that the guilt of her crime lies with him, and that
he ought to bear the punishment. It is not for us men
to apportion the shares of moral guilt and retribution.
We find it impossible to avoid mistakes even in deter-
mining who has committed a single criminal act, and
the problem how far a man is to be held responsible for
the unforeseen consequences of his own deed, is one
that might well make us tremble to look into it.. Don't
suppose I can't enter into the anguish that drives you
into this state of revengeful hatred; but think of this:
if you were to obey your passion — for it IS passion,
and you deceive yourself in calling it justice — it might
be with j'ou precisely as it has been with Arthur; nay,
worse; your passion might lead you yourself into a
No — not worse. I don't believe it's worse. I'd soon-
er do a wickedness as I could suffer for myself, than
ha' brought HER to do wickedness and then stand by
and see 'em punish her while they let me alone; and all
for a bit o' pleasure, as, if he'd had a man's heart in
him, he'd ha' cut his hand off sooner than he'd ha'
taken it. What if he didn't foresee what's happened?
He foresaw enough; he'd no right t' expect anything
ADAM BEDE A FLAY 75
but hai^m and shame to her. And then he wanted to
sniooth it over \vi' lies. No — there's plenty o' things
folks are hanged for not half so hateful as that; let a
man do what he will, if he knows he's to bear the pun-
ishment himself, he isn't half so bad as a mean selfish
coward as makes things easy t' himself, and knows all
the while the punishment 'ull fall on somebody else.
(The knock of the jury is heard. The clerk hastens away
to summon the judge. The court room, which has been in dis-
order, sinks into the deepest silence as the judge comes back
through the door by which he left, with Hetty and her jail-
ers following. She stands again in the prisoner's dock. The
bailiff raps for order and shouts "Order in court," as the door
opens and the jury files in. Everyone except Hetty leans for-
ward, scrutinizing tlie faces. She alone seems turned to
THE CLERK (calling off the names of the jurors.)
Luke Bannister, Silas Marner, Seth Britton, John
Casson, James Taft, Michael Holdsworth, Willum
Craig, Joshua Rann, Willum Downes, Benjamin Ga-
waine, John Satchell, Job Knowles, have j'ou agreed
upon a verdict?
FOREMAN OF THE JURY.
THE CLERK (To Hetty.)
Hold up your hand. (She holds it up.)
(To the jury). What is your verdict?
FOREMAN OF THE JURY.
(In the midst of intense silence the judge puts on his black
cap and the jail chaplain in canonicals appears behind him.)
Hester Sorrel, what have you to say why sentence
should not be passed upon you?
I never had any child. I never had any child.
76 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
THE JUDGE (Frowning.)
Hester Sorrel, you have been found guilty by a jury of
your peers of a murder most foul and barbarous — to-wit,
child murder — for which the laws of your country have
affixed the punishment of death. The re.sult of your
trial pronounces you a guilty person and it now awaits
you to hear the sentence under which you are to re-
ceive your country's justice. That sentence is that
you, Hester Sorrel, be taken from the bar of the court
where you now stand to the place whence you came,
the jail, and thence you are to be conveyed on Monday
next to the common place of execution and there you
are to be hanged by the neck until you are dead and
the Lord have mercy on your soul'
(As the judge pronounces the words "until you are dead,"
Hetty gives a piercing shriek, Adam jumps to his feet and
stretches his arms toward her, but cannot reach her, and she
falls fainting inside the prisoner's dock, not a soul stretching a
hand to save her, as the judge pronounces the final phrases.
The Curtain Falls.
(The stage is entirely dark as the curtain rises on Hetty's
cell. Dinah enters through a door at the back, opened for her
by a turnkey with a key which grates in the lock. He has a
lantern. He steps into the cell and his lantern searches out
the gloom of the room, revealing Hetty with her head on her
knees seated on a truckle-bed of straw. She is very pale and
dressed in black, without a cap, her hair disordered and with
only a white neckerchief at her throat. Dinah wears black with
a white collar and cuffs and her plain white cap. She looks like
a sister of mercy. She also is very pale. Dinah waits till the
door closes behind the turnkey with a clang. He leaves his
lantern behind him. A ray of light falls on Hetty.)
ADAM BEJ)E A PLAY 77
(No answer or movement from Hetty.)
Hetty — it's Dinah.
(Hetty makes a little motion.)
Hetty — Dinah is come to you.
(Hetty lifts her head slowly from her knees. Dinah stretches
out her arms to her.)
Don't you know me, Hetty? Don't you remember Di-
nah? Did you think I wouldn't come to you in trouble?
(Hetty fixes her eyes on Dinah's face.)
I'm come to be with yovi. Hetty — not to leave you —
to stay with you — to be your sister to the last.
(Hetty rises, takes a step forward and is clasped in Dinah's
arms> After a pause they sit down side by side on the bed.)
DINAH (Very pently.)
Hetty, do you know who it is that sits by your side?
Yes — it's Dinah.
Oh, if I'd only known sooner of this, but I was in
Leeds and came the moment I heard. Do you remem-
ber the time we were at the Hall Farm together, and I
told you to be sure and think of me as a friend in
Yes — but you can do nothing for me now. You
can't make 'em do anything. They'll hang me in the
morning. It's arter midnight now.
(She shudders and clings to Dinah.)
No, Hetty, I can't save you from that death. But
Isn't the suffering less hard when you have somebody
78 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
with you, that feels for you — that you can speak to,
and say what's in your heart? . . Hetty, lean on me;
you are glad to have me with you?
You won't leave me, Dinah? You'll keep close to
No, Hetty, I won't leave you. I'll stay with you to
the last . . . But, Hetty, there is some one else in
this cell besides me, some one close to you.
HETTY (In a frightened whisper.)
Some one who has been with you through all your
hours of sin and trouble — who has known every thought
you have had — has seen where you went, where you laid
down and rose up again, and all the deeds you have
tried to hide in darkness. And in the morning, when I
can't follow you — when my arms can't reach you — when
death has parted us — He who is with us now, and
knows all, will be with you then. It makes no difference
— whether we live or die, we are in the presence of
Oh, Dinah, won't nobody do anything for me? WILL
they hang me for certain? ... I wouldn't mind if
they'd let me live.
My poor Hetty, death is very dreadful to you. I
know it's dreadful. But if you had a friend to take care
of you after death — in that other world — some one
whose love is greater than mine — who can do every-
thing. . . If God our Father was your friend, and
was willing to save you from sin and suffering, so as
you should neither know wicked feelings nor pain
again? If you could believe He loved you and would
help you, as you believe that I love you and will help
you, it wouldn't be so hard to die would it?
iDAM BEDE A PLAY 79
But I can't know anything about it.
Because, Hetty, you are shutting up your soul
against Him by trying to hide the truth. God's love
and mercy can overcome all things — ignorance, and
weakness, and all the burden of our past wickedness
— all things but our willful sin; sin that we cling to,
and will not give up. . . He can't bless you while
you have one falsehood in your soul; His mercy can't
reach you until you open your heart, and say, 'I have
done this great wickedness; O God, save me, make me
pure from sin.' Cast it off, now, Hetty — now; confess
the wickedness you have done — the sin you have been
guilty of against your heavenly Father. Let us kneel
down together, for we are in the presence of God.
(Holding Hetty's hand, Dinah kneels and Hetty follows her.)
Hetty, we are before God; He is waiting for you to
tell the truth.
Dinah. . . help me. . . I can't feel anything like
you. . . my heart is hard.
DINAH (Her whole soul in her voice.)
Jesus, thou present Saviour! Thou hast known the
depths of all sorrow; Thou hast entered that black dark-
ness where God is not, and has uttered the cry of the
forsaken. Come, Lord, and gather of the fruits of Thy
travail and Thy pleading; stretch forth Thy hand. Thou
who art mighty to save to the uttermost, and rescue
this lost one. She is clothed round with thick dark-
ness, the fetters of her sin are upon her, and she can-
not stir to come to Thee; she can only feel that her
heart is hard, and she is helpless. She cries to me. Thy
weak creature. . . Saviour! It is a blind cry to
thee. Hear it! Pierce the darkness! T^ook upon her
with Thy face of love and sorrow, that Thou didst turn
on him who denied Thee; and melt her hard heart.
80 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
See, Lord — I bring her, as they of old brought th»
sick and helpless, and Thou didst heal them; I bear her
on my arms and carry her before Thee. Saviour! it is
yet time — time to snatch this poor soul from everlasting
darkness. I believe — I believe in Thy infinite love. What
is MY love or MY pleading? It is quenched in Thine.
I can only clasp her in my weak arms, and urge her
with my weak pity. Thou^ — Thou wilt breathe on the
dead soul, and it shall arise from the unanswering sleep
of death. Lord, I see Thee, coming through the dark-
ness, coming, like the morning, with healing on Thy
wings. The marks of Thy agony are upon Thee — I see
I see Thou art able and willing to save — Thou wilt not
let her perish forever. Come, mighty Saviour; let the
dead hear Thy voice; let the eyes of the blind be opened;
let her see that God encompasses her; let her tremble at
nothing but at the sin that cuts her off from Him.
Melt the hard heart; unseal the closed lips: ma,ke her
cry with her whole soul, "Father, I have sinned!"
HETTY (Sobbing and throwing her arms around Dinah's neck.)
Dinah, I will speak. . . I will tell. ... I won't
hide it any more.
(They sit on the bed.)
I did do it, Dinah. . . I buried it in the wood. . .
the little baby. . . and it cried. . I heard it cry
. . . ever such a way off. . . all night. . . and
I went back because it cried. . . (after a pause) But
I thought perhaps it wouldn't die — there might some-
body find it. I didn't kill — I didn't kill it myself. I
put it down there and covered it up, and when I came
back it was gone. . . It was because I was so very
miserable, Dinah. . . I didn't know where to go. . .
and I tried to kill myself before, and I couldn't. Oh,
I tried so to drown myself in the pool, and I couldn't.
I went to Windsor. I ran away — did you know? I went
to find him, as he might take care of me; and he was
gone; and then I didn't know what to do. I daredn't
go back home again — I couldn't bear it. I couldn't
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 81
have bore to look at anybody, for they'd have scorned
me. I thought o' you sometimes, and thought I'd come
to you, for 1 didn't think you'd be cross with me, and
cry shame on me; I thought I could tell you. But then,
the other folks 'ud come to know it at last, and I couldn't
bear that. I was so frightened at going wandering
about till I was a beggar-woman, and had nothing; and
sometimes it seemed as if I must go back to the Farm
sooner than that. Oh! it was so dreadful, Dinah I
was so miserable. . . I wished I'd never been born
Into this world. I should never like to go into the fields
again — I hated 'em so in my misery.
My poor child.
And then I got to Windsor and the little baby was
born, when I didn't expect it; and the thought came in-
to my mind that I miglit get rid of it, and go home
again. The thought came all of a sudden, as I was
lying in the bed, and it got stronger and stronger. . .
I longed to go back again. . . I couldn't bear being
so lonely and coming to beg for want. And it gave
me strength to get up and dress myself. I felt I must
do it. . . I didn't know how. . . I thought I'd
find a pool, if I could; like that other, in the corner of
the field in the dark. And when the woman went out,
I felt as if I was strong enough to do anything. . . I
thought I should get rid of all my misery and go back
home, and never let 'em know why I ran away. I put
on my bonnet and cloak and went out into the dark
street with the baby under my cloak, and I walked fast
till I got into a street a ^ood way oft and there was a
public inn and I got some warm stuff to drink and some
bread. And I walked on and on, and I hardly felt the
ground I trod on; and it got lighter, for there came the
moon — oh, Dinah! it frightened me when it first looked
at me out o' the clouds — it never looked so before; and
I turned out of the road into the fields, for I was afraid
o' meeting anybody with the moon shining on me. And
82 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
I came to a . hay- stack, where I thought I could lie
down and keep myself warm all night. There was a
place cut into it, where I could make me a bed; and I
lay comfortable, and the baby was warm against me;
and I must have gone to sleep for a good while, for
vrhen I woke it was morning, but not very light, and
the baby was crying. And I saw a wood a little way off.
. . . I thought there'd perhaps be a ditch or a pond
there. . . and it was so early I thought I could hide
the child there, and get a long way off before the folks
was up. And then I thought I'd go home — I'd get rides
in carts and go home, and tell 'em I'd been to try and
seek for a place and couldn't get one. I longed so for it,
Dinah — I longed so to be safe at home. I don't know
how I felt about the baby. I seemed to hate it — it was
like a heavy weight hanging round my neck; and yet
its crying went through me, and I dared not look at its
little hands and face. But I went on to the wood, and
I walked about, but there was no water.
(Hetty shudders. After a silence she goes on in a loud
I came to a place where there were lots of chips and
turf, and I sat down on the trunk of a tree to think
what I should do. And all of a sudden I saw a hole
under the nut-tree, like a little grave. And it darted In-
to me like lightning — I'd lay the baby there, and cover it
with the grass and the chips. I couldn't kill it any
other way. And I'd done it in a minute; and oh, it
cried so, Dinah — I COULDN'T cover it quite up. I
thought perhaps somebody 'ud come and take care of
it, and then it wouldn't die. And I made haste out of
the wood, but I could hear it crying all the while; and
when I got out into the fields, it was as if I was held
fast — I couldn't go away, for all I wanted so to go. And
I pat against the haystack to watch if a^nybody 'ud come;
I was. very hungry, and I'd only a bit of bread left; but
I couldn't go away. And after ever such a while — hours
and hours — the man came — him in the smock-frock —
and he looked at me so, I was frightened, and I made
ADAM BEDE A PLAY 83
haste and went on. I thought he was going to the wood
and would, perhaps, find the baby. And I went right
on, till I came to a village, a long way off from the
wood; and I was very sick, and faint, and hungry. 1
got something to eat there, and bought a loaf. But I
was fiightened to stay. I heard the baby crying, and
thoogbt the other folks heard it too — and I went on.
But I was so tired, and it was getting toward dark.
And at last by the roadside there was a barn — ever such
a way off any house — and I thought I could go in there
and hide myself among the hay and straw, and nobody
'ud be likely to come. I went in, and it was half full o'
trusses of straw, and there was some hay too. And I
made myself a bed, ever so far behind, where nobody
could find me; and I was so tired and weak, I went to
sleep. . . But oh, the baby's crying kept waking me;
and I thought that man as looked at me so was come
and laying hold of me. But I must have slept a long
while at last, though I didn't know; for when I got up
and went out of the barn, I didn't know whether it was
night or morning. But it was morning, for it kept get-
ting lighter; and I turned back the way I'd come. I
couldn't help it, Dinah; it was the baby's crying made
me go; and yet I was frightened to death. I thought
that man in the smock-frock 'ud see me, and know I
put the baby there. But I went on, for I'd left off think-
ing about going home — it had gone out o' my mind. I
saw nothing but that place in the wood where I'd buried
the baby. . . I see it now. Oh, Dinah! shall I allays
(Clings to Dinah, shuddering, but goes on again.)
I met nobody, for it was very early, and I got into the
wood. . . I knew the way to the place. . . the
place against the nut-tree; and I could hear it crying
at every step. . . I thought it was alive. . I don't
know whether I was frightened or glad. . , I don't
know what I felt. I only know I was in the wood and
heard the cry. I don't know what I felt till I saw the
baby was gone. And when I'd put it there, I thought
84 ADAM BEDE A PLAY
I should like somebody to find it, and save it from dy-
ing; but when I saw it was gone, I was struck like a
stone with fear. I never thought o' stirring, I felt so
weak. I knew I couldn't run away, and everybody as
saw me 'ud know about the baby. My heart went like
a stone; I couldn't wish or try for anything; it seemed
like as if I should stay there forever, and nothing 'ud
ever change. But they came and took me away.
Dinah, do you think God will take away that crying
and the place in the wood, now I've told everything?
Let us fall on our knees again, and pray to the God of
(The key is heard grating in the lock and Hetty, with a
shriek, clings to Dinah. The door opens to admit Adam.)
Speak to him Hetty, tell him what is in your heart.
Adam. . . I'm very sorry. . . I behaved very
wrong to you. . . will you forgive me. . . before
ADAM (With a half sob.)
Yes, I iorgive thee, Hetty; I forgave thee long ago.
HETTY (Keeping hold of Dinah's hand, goes up to Adam and
Will you kiss me again, Adam, for all I've been so
(Adam takes her hand and they give the solemn kiss of
a lifelong parting.)
HETTY (In a stronger voice.)
And tell him. . . tell him. . . for there's no-
body else to tell him. . . as I went after him and
couldn't find him. . . and I hated him and cursed
him once. . . but Dinah says I should forgive him. .
and I try. . , for else God won't forgive ms
(There is a noise at the door of the cell and a key turns in
ADAM BEDE A PLAY
the lock. There is a crowd of jailers at the door, with th©
prison chaplain and Mr. Irv/ine. Hetty stares at them,
clasping Dinah's hand as
The Curtain Falls.
The curtain rises to show Hetty and Dinah standing in the
death cart on the way to execution. The time is 7:30 of a
March morning, and the dawn is yet brilliant in the east.
Hetty wea.rs a long black cloak, her hair blows wild, and she
is clasped in Dinah's arms. Dinah's eyes are fixed on the
heavens and her lips move.
The Curtain Falls.
pramatizcd from 6(orfl< €lief'$ novel
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