Later in the day Sam, the turf-cutter, entered. “I’ve come a-borrowing, Mrs. Yeobright. I suppose you have heard what’s been happening to the beauty on the hill?”
“Yes, Sam: half a dozen have been telling us.”
“Beauty?” said Clym.
“Yes, tolerably well-favoured,” Sam replied. “Lord! all the country owns that ’tis one of the strangest things in the world that such a woman should have come to live up there.”
“Dark or fair?”
“Now, though I’ve seen her twenty times, that’s a thing I cannot call to mind.”
“Darker than Tamsin,” murmured Mrs. Yeobright.
“A woman who seems to care for nothing at all, as you may say.”
“She is melancholy, then?” inquired Clym.
“She mopes about by herself, and don’t mix in with the people.”
“Is she a young lady inclined for adventures?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“Doesn’t join in with the lads in their games, to get some sort of excitement in this lonely place?”
“Mumming, for instance?”
“No. Her notions be different. I should rather say her thoughts were far away from here, with lords and ladies she’ll never know, and mansions she’ll never see again.”
Observing that Clym appeared singularly interested Mrs. Yeobright said rather uneasily to Sam, “You see more in her than most of us do. Miss Vye is to my mind too idle to be charming. I have never heard that she is of any use to herself or to other people. Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon.”
“Nonsense—that proves nothing either way,” said Yeobright.
“Well, of course I don’t understand such niceties,” said Sam, withdrawing from a possibly unpleasant argument; “and what she is we must wait for time to tell us. The business that I have really called about is this, to borrow the longest and strongest rope you have. The captain’s bucket has dropped into the well, and they are in want of water; and as all the chaps are at home today we think we can get it out for him. We have three cart-ropes already, but they won’t reach to the bottom.”
Mrs. Yeobright told him that he might have whatever ropes he could find in the outhouse, and Sam went out to search. When he passed by the door Clym joined him, and accompanied him to the gate.
“Is this young witch-lady going to stay long at Mistover?” he asked.
“I should say so.”
“What a cruel shame to ill-use her, She must have suffered greatly—more in mind than in body.”
“’Twas a graceless trick—such a handsome girl, too. You ought to see her, Mr. Yeobright, being a young man come from far, and with a little more to show for your years than most of us.”
“Do you think she would like to teach children?” said Clym.
Sam shook his head. “Quite a different sort of body from that, I reckon.”
“O, it was merely something which occurred to me. It would of course be necessary to see her and talk it over—not an easy thing, by the way, for my family and hers are not very friendly.”