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

“Never mind that question, Grandfer.  Stir your stumps and get some more sticks.  ’Tis very nonsense of an old man to prattle so when life and death’s in mangling.”

“Yes, yes,” said Grandfer Cantle, with melancholy conviction.  “Well, this is a bad night altogether for them that have done well in their time; and if I were ever such a dab at the hautboy or tenor-viol, I shouldn’t have the heart to play tunes upon ’em now.”

Susan now arrived with the frying-pan, when the live adder was killed and the heads of the three taken off.  The remainders, being cut into lengths and split open, were tossed into the pan, which began hissing and crackling over the fire.  Soon a rill of clear oil trickled from the carcases, whereupon Clym dipped the corner of his handkerchief into the liquid and anointed the wound.

VIII

Eustacia Hears of Good Fortune, and Beholds Evil

In the meantime Eustacia, left alone in her cottage at Alderworth, had become considerably depressed by the posture of affairs.  The consequences which might result from Clym’s discovery that his mother had been turned from his door that day were likely to be disagreeable, and this was a quality in events which she hated as much as the dreadful.

To be left to pass the evening by herself was irksome to her at any time, and this evening it was more irksome than usual by reason of the excitements of the past hours.  The two visits had stirred her into restlessness.  She was not wrought to any great pitch of uneasiness by the probability of appearing in an ill light in the discussion between Clym and his mother, but she was wrought to vexation; and her slumbering activities were quickened to the extent of wishing that she had opened the door.  She had certainly believed that Clym was awake, and the excuse would be an honest one as far as it went; but nothing could save her from censure in refusing to answer at the first knock.  Yet, instead of blaming herself for the issue she laid the fault upon the shoulders of some indistinct, colossal Prince of the World, who had framed her situation and ruled her lot.

At this time of the year it was pleasanter to walk by night than by day, and when Clym had been absent about an hour she suddenly resolved to go out in the direction of Blooms-End, on the chance of meeting him on his return.  When she reached the garden gate she heard wheels approaching, and looking round beheld her grandfather coming up in his car.

“I can’t stay a minute, thank ye,” he answered to her greeting.  “I am driving to East Egdon; but I came round here just to tell you the news.  Perhaps you have heard—­about Mr. Wildeve’s fortune?”

“No,” said Eustacia blankly.

“Well, he has come into a fortune of eleven thousand pounds—­uncle died in Canada, just after hearing that all his family, whom he was sending home, had gone to the bottom in the Cassiopeia; so Wildeve has come into everything, without in the least expecting it.”

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