The Sad Life of Amos Barton
[This is the first of the Scenes of Clerical Life published by George
Eliot. It is available on-line at http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/eliot/scenes/
This edition was prepared by Laura Caton and Glenn Everett.
The writings of George Eliot show an interesting transition from nonfiction
to fiction, and Scenes of Clerical Life is the bridge to understanding
Eliot's past and future writings. The pictures of the places Eliot
is talking about in the collection make us realize the close and blurred
barrier between fiction and nonfiction. Because Eliot concentrated
so fully on character, it is nice to be able to visualize the background
settings for these stories. --Laura Caton]
ONLY once again in his life has Amos Barton visited Milly's grave.
It was in the calm and softened light of an autumnal afternoon, and he
was not alone. He held on his arm a young woman, with a sweet, grave face,
which strongly recalled the expression of Mrs Barton's, but was less lovely
in form and colour. She was about thirty, but there were some premature
lines round her mouth and eyes, which told of early anxiety.
himself was much changed. His thin circlet of hair was nearly white, and
his walk was no longer firm and upright. But his glance was calm, and even
cheerful, and his neat linen told of a woman's care. Milly
did not take all her love from the earth when she died. She had left some
of it in Patty's heart.
All the other children were now grown up, and had gone their several ways.
Dickey, you will be glad to hear, had shown remarkable talents as an engineer.
His cheeks are still ruddy, in spite of mixed mathematics, and his eyes
are still large and blue; but in other respects his person would present
no marks of identification for his friend Mrs Hackit, if she were to see
him; especially now that her eyes must be grown very dim, with the wear
of more than twenty additional years. He is nearly six feet high, and has
a proportionately broad chest; he wears spectacles, and rubs his large
white hands through a mass of shaggy brown hair. But I am sure you have
no doubt that Mr Richard Barton is a thoroughly good fellow, as well as
a man of talent, and you will be glad any day to shake hands with him,
for his own sake as well as his mother's.
Patty alone remains by her father's side, and makes the evening sunshine
of his life.
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