One day just before this time Wildeve was standing at the door of the Quiet Woman. In addition to the upward path through the heath to Rainbarrow and Mistover, there was a road which branched from the highway a short distance below the inn, and ascended to Mistover by a circuitous and easy incline. This was the only route on that side for vehicles to the captain’s retreat. A light cart from the nearest town descended the road, and the lad who was driving pulled up in front of the inn for something to drink.
“You come from Mistover?” said Wildeve.
“Yes. They are taking in good things up there. Going to be a wedding.” And the driver buried his face in his mug.
Wildeve had not received an inkling of the fact before, and a sudden expression of pain overspread his face. He turned for a moment into the passage to hide it. Then he came back again.
“Do you mean Miss Vye?” he said. “How is it—that she can be married so soon?”
“By the will of God and a ready young man, I suppose.”
“You don’t mean Mr. Yeobright?”
“Yes. He has been creeping about with her all the spring.”
“I suppose—she was immensely taken with him?”
“She is crazy about him, so their general servant of all work tells me. And that lad Charley that looks after the horse is all in a daze about it. The stun-poll has got fondlike of her.”
“Is she lively—is she glad? Going to be married so soon—well!”
“It isn’t so very soon.”
“No; not so very soon.”
Wildeve went indoors to the empty room, a curious heartache within him. He rested his elbow upon the mantelpiece and his face upon his hand. When Thomasin entered the room he did not tell her of what he had heard. The old longing for Eustacia had reappeared in his soul; and it was mainly because he had discovered that it was another man’s intention to possess her.
To be yearning for the difficult, to be weary of that offered; to care for the remote, to dislike the near; it was Wildeve’s nature always. This is the true mark of the man of sentiment. Though Wildeve’s fevered feeling had not been elaborated to real poetical compass, it was of the standard sort. He might have been called the Rousseau of Egdon.
The Morning and the Evening of a Day
The wedding morning came. Nobody would have imagined from appearances that Blooms-End had any interest in Mistover that day. A solemn stillness prevailed around the house of Clym’s mother, and there was no more animation indoors. Mrs. Yeobright, who had declined to attend the ceremony, sat by the breakfast table in the old room which communicated immediately with the porch, her eyes listlessly directed towards the open door. It was the room in which, six months earlier, the merry Christmas party had met, to which Eustacia came secretly and as a stranger.