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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 427 pages of information about The Return of the Native.

“I thought as much.”

“He wishes the marriage to be at once.”

“Indeed!  What—­is he anxious?” Mrs. Yeobright directed a searching look upon her niece.  “Why did not Mr. Wildeve come in?”

“He did not wish to.  You are not friends with him, he says.  He would like the wedding to be the day after tomorrow, quite privately; at the church of his parish—­not at ours.”

“Oh!  And what did you say?”

“I agreed to it,” Thomasin answered firmly.  “I am a practical woman now.  I don’t believe in hearts at all.  I would marry him under any circumstances since—­since Clym’s letter.”

A letter was lying on Mrs. Yeobright’s work-basket, and at Thomasin’s word her aunt reopened it, and silently read for the tenth time that day:—­

What is the meaning of this silly story that people are circulating about Thomasin and Mr. Wildeve?  I should call such a scandal humiliating if there was the least chance of its being true.  How could such a gross falsehood have arisen?  It is said that one should go abroad to hear news of home, and I appear to have done it.  Of course I contradict the tale everywhere; but it is very vexing, and I wonder how it could have originated.  It is too ridiculous that such a girl as Thomasin could so mortify us as to get jilted on the wedding-day.  What has she done?

“Yes,” Mrs. Yeobright said sadly, putting down the letter.  “If you think you can marry him, do so.  And since Mr. Wildeve wishes it to be unceremonious, let it be that too.  I can do nothing.  It is all in your own hands now.  My power over your welfare came to an end when you left this house to go with him to Anglebury.”  She continued, half in bitterness, “I may almost ask, why do you consult me in the matter at all?  If you had gone and married him without saying a word to me, I could hardly have been angry—­simply because, poor girl, you can’t do a better thing.”

“Don’t say that and dishearten me.”

“You are right:  I will not.”

“I do not plead for him, aunt.  Human nature is weak, and I am not a blind woman to insist that he is perfect.  I did think so, but I don’t now.  But I know my course, and you know that I know it.  I hope for the best.”

“And so do I, and we will both continue to,” said Mrs. Yeobright, rising and kissing her.  “Then the wedding, if it comes off, will be on the morning of the very day Clym comes home?”

“Yes.  I decided that it ought to be over before he came.  After that you can look him in the face, and so can I. Our concealments will matter nothing.”

Mrs. Yeobright moved her head in thoughtful assent, and presently said, “Do you wish me to give you away?  I am willing to undertake that, you know, if you wish, as I was last time.  After once forbidding the banns I think I can do no less.”

“I don’t think I will ask you to come,” said Thomasin reluctantly, but with decision.  “It would be unpleasant, I am almost sure.  Better let there be only strangers present, and none of my relations at all.  I would rather have it so.  I do not wish to do anything which may touch your credit, and I feel that I should be uncomfortable if you were there, after what has passed.  I am only your niece, and there is no necessity why you should concern yourself more about me.”

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