Thus as his sight grew accustomed to the first blinding halo kindled about him by love and beauty, Yeobright began to perceive what a strait he was in. Sometimes he wished that he had never known Eustacia, immediately to retract the wish as brutal. Three antagonistic growths had to be kept alive: his mother’s trust in him, his plan for becoming a teacher, and Eustacia’s happiness. His fervid nature could not afford to relinquish one of these, though two of the three were as many as he could hope to preserve. Though his love was as chaste as that of Petrarch for his Laura, it had made fetters of what previously was only a difficulty. A position which was not too simple when he stood wholehearted had become indescribably complicated by the addition of Eustacia. Just when his mother was beginning to tolerate one scheme he had introduced another still bitterer than the first, and the combination was more than she could bear.
Sharp Words Are Spoken, and a Crisis Ensues
When Yeobright was not with Eustacia he was sitting slavishly over his books; when he was not reading he was meeting her. These meetings were carried on with the greatest secrecy.
One afternoon his mother came home from a morning visit to Thomasin. He could see from a disturbance in the lines of her face that something had happened.
“I have been told an incomprehensible thing,” she said mournfully. “The captain has let out at the Woman that you and Eustacia Vye are engaged to be married.”
“We are,” said Yeobright. “But it may not be yet for a very long time.”
“I should hardly think it would be yet for a very long time! You will take her to Paris, I suppose?” She spoke with weary hopelessness.
“I am not going back to Paris.”
“What will you do with a wife, then?”
“Keep a school in Budmouth, as I have told you.”
“That’s incredible! The place is overrun with schoolmasters. You have no special qualifications. What possible chance is there for such as you?”
“There is no chance of getting rich. But with my system of education, which is as new as it is true, I shall do a great deal of good to my fellow-creatures.”
“Dreams, dreams! If there had been any system left to be invented they would have found it out at the universities long before this time.”