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

“No.  But she will be leaving soon.  You may possibly meet her at the corner.”

Venn made a farewell obeisance, and walked back to his former position, where the by-road from Mistover joined the highway.  Here he remained fixed for nearly half an hour, and then another pair of lights came down the hill.  It was the old-fashioned wheeled nondescript belonging to the captain, and Thomasin sat in it alone, driven by Charley.

The reddleman came up as they slowly turned the corner.  “I beg pardon for stopping you, Mrs. Wildeve,” he said.  “But I have something to give you privately from Mrs. Yeobright.”  He handed a small parcel; it consisted of the hundred guineas he had just won, roughly twisted up in a piece of paper.

Thomasin recovered from her surprise, and took the packet.  “That’s all, ma’am—­I wish you good night,” he said, and vanished from her view.

Thus Venn, in his anxiety to rectify matters, had placed in Thomasin’s hands not only the fifty guineas which rightly belonged to her, but also the fifty intended for her cousin Clym.  His mistake had been based upon Wildeve’s words at the opening of the game, when he indignantly denied that the guinea was not his own.  It had not been comprehended by the reddleman that at half-way through the performance the game was continued with the money of another person; and it was an error which afterwards helped to cause more misfortune than treble the loss in money value could have done.

The night was now somewhat advanced; and Venn plunged deeper into the heath, till he came to a ravine where his van was standing—­a spot not more than two hundred yards from the site of the gambling bout.  He entered this movable home of his, lit his lantern, and, before closing his door for the night, stood reflecting on the circumstances of the preceding hours.  While he stood the dawn grew visible in the north-east quarter of the heavens, which, the clouds having cleared off, was bright with a soft sheen at this midsummer time, though it was only between one and two o’clock.  Venn, thoroughly weary, then shut his door and flung himself down to sleep.

BOOK FOURTH THE CLOSED DOOR

I

The Rencounter by the Pool

The July sun shone over Egdon and fired its crimson heather to scarlet.  It was the one season of the year, and the one weather of the season, in which the heath was gorgeous.  This flowering period represented the second or noontide division in the cycle of those superficial changes which alone were possible here; it followed the green or young-fern period, representing the morn, and preceded the brown period, when the heathbells and ferns would wear the russet tinges of evening; to be in turn displaced by the dark hue of the winter period, representing night.

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