“You know what is the matter,” he said huskily. “I see it in your face.”
Her hand relinquished the rope of hair and dropped to her side, and the pile of tresses, no longer supported, fell from the crown of her head about her shoulders and over the white night-gown. She made no reply.
“Speak to me,” said Yeobright peremptorily.
The blanching process did not cease in her, and her lips now became as white as her face. She turned to him and said, “Yes, Clym, I’ll speak to you. Why do you return so early? Can I do anything for you?”
“Yes, you can listen to me. It seems that my wife is not very well?”
“Your face, my dear; your face. Or perhaps it is the pale morning light which takes your colour away? Now I am going to reveal a secret to you. Ha-ha!”
“O, that is ghastly!”
“There’s reason for ghastliness. Eustacia, you have held my happiness in the hollow of your hand, and like a devil you have dashed it down!”
She started back from the dressing-table, retreated a few steps from him, and looked him in the face. “Ah! you think to frighten me,” she said, with a slight laugh. “Is it worth while? I am undefended, and alone.”
“What do you mean?”
“As there is ample time I will tell you, though you know well enough. I mean that it is extraordinary that you should be alone in my absence. Tell me, now, where is he who was with you on the afternoon of the thirty-first of August? Under the bed? Up the chimney?”
A shudder overcame her and shook the light fabric of her night-dress throughout. “I do not remember dates so exactly,” she said. “I cannot recollect that anybody was with me besides yourself.”
“The day I mean,” said Yeobright, his voice growing louder and harsher, “was the day you shut the door against my mother and killed her. O, it is too much—too bad!” He leant over the footpiece of the bedstead for a few moments, with his back towards her; then rising again: “Tell me, tell me! tell me—do you hear?” he cried, rushing up to her and seizing her by the loose folds of her sleeve.
The superstratum of timidity which often overlies those who are daring and defiant at heart had been passed through, and the mettlesome substance of the woman was reached. The red blood inundated her face, previously so pale.