“Did you see my mother the day before she died?”
“No, I did not.”
Yeobright’s face expressed disappointment.
“But I zeed her the morning of the same day she died.”
Clym’s look lighted up. “That’s nearer still to my meaning,” he said.
“Yes, I know ’twas the same day; for she said, ’I be going to see him, Christian; so I shall not want any vegetables brought in for dinner.’”
“See you. She was going to your house, you understand.”
Yeobright regarded Christian with intense surprise. “Why did you never mention this?” he said. “Are you sure it was my house she was coming to?”
“O yes. I didn’t mention it because I’ve never zeed you lately. And as she didn’t get there it was all nought, and nothing to tell.”
“And I have been wondering why she should have walked in the heath on that hot day! Well, did she say what she was coming for? It is a thing, Christian, I am very anxious to know.”
“Yes, Mister Clym. She didn’t say it to me, though I think she did to one here and there.”
“Do you know one person to whom she spoke of it?”
“There is one man, please, sir, but I hope you won’t mention my name to him, as I have seen him in strange places, particular in dreams. One night last summer he glared at me like Famine and Sword, and it made me feel so low that I didn’t comb out my few hairs for two days. He was standing, as it might be, Mister Yeobright, in the middle of the path to Mistover, and your mother came up, looking as pale—”
“Yes, when was that?”
“Last summer, in my dream.”
“Pooh! Who’s the man?”
“Diggory, the reddleman. He called upon her and sat with her the evening before she set out to see you. I hadn’t gone home from work when he came up to the gate.”
“I must see Venn—I wish I had known it before,” said Clym anxiously. “I wonder why he has not come to tell me?”
“He went out of Egdon Heath the next day, so would not be likely to know you wanted him.”
“Christian,” said Clym, “you must go and find Venn. I am otherwise engaged, or I would go myself. Find him at once, and tell him I want to speak to him.”
“I am a good hand at hunting up folk by day,” said Christian, looking dubiously round at the declining light; “but as to nighttime, never is such a bad hand as I, Mister Yeobright.”
“Search the heath when you will, so that you bring him soon. Bring him tomorrow, if you can.”
Christian then departed. The morrow came, but no Venn. In the evening Christian arrived, looking very weary. He had been searching all day, and had heard nothing of the reddleman.
“Inquire as much as you can tomorrow without neglecting your work,” said Yeobright. “Don’t come again till you have found him.”
The next day Yeobright set out for the old house at Blooms-End, which, with the garden, was now his own. His severe illness had hindered all preparations for his removal thither; but it had become necessary that he should go and overlook its contents, as administrator to his mother’s little property; for which purpose he decided to pass the next night on the premises.