The Return of the Native eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 427 pages of information about The Return of the Native.
detection of that most noble trick...  Eustacia, didn’t any tender thought of your own mother lead you to think of being gentle to mine at such a time of weariness?  Did not one grain of pity enter your heart as she turned away?  Think what a vast opportunity was then lost of beginning a forgiving and honest course.  Why did not you kick him out, and let her in, and say I’ll be an honest wife and a noble woman from this hour?  Had I told you to go and quench eternally our last flickering chance of happiness here you could have done no worse.  Well, she’s asleep now; and have you a hundred gallants, neither they nor you can insult her any more.”

“You exaggerate fearfully,” she said in a faint, weary voice; “but I cannot enter into my defence—­it is not worth doing.  You are nothing to me in future, and the past side of the story may as well remain untold.  I have lost all through you, but I have not complained.  Your blunders and misfortunes may have been a sorrow to you, but they have been a wrong to me.  All persons of refinement have been scared away from me since I sank into the mire of marriage.  Is this your cherishing—­to put me into a hut like this, and keep me like the wife of a hind?  You deceived me—­not by words, but by appearances, which are less seen through than words.  But the place will serve as well as any other—­as somewhere to pass from—­into my grave.”  Her words were smothered in her throat, and her head drooped down.

“I don’t know what you mean by that.  Am I the cause of your sin?” (Eustacia made a trembling motion towards him.) “What, you can begin to shed tears and offer me your hand?  Good God! can you?  No, not I. I’ll not commit the fault of taking that.” (The hand she had offered dropped nervelessly, but the tears continued flowing.) “Well, yes, I’ll take it, if only for the sake of my own foolish kisses that were wasted there before I knew what I cherished.  How bewitched I was!  How could there be any good in a woman that everybody spoke ill of?”

“O, O, O!” she cried, breaking down at last; and, shaking with sobs which choked her, she sank upon her knees.  “O, will you have done!  O, you are too relentless—­there’s a limit to the cruelty of savages!  I have held out long—­but you crush me down.  I beg for mercy—­I cannot bear this any longer—­it is inhuman to go further with this!  If I had—­killed your—­mother with my own hand—­I should not deserve such a scourging to the bone as this.  O, O!  God have mercy upon a miserable woman!...  You have beaten me in this game—­I beg you to stay your hand in pity!...  I confess that I—­wilfully did not undo the door the first time she knocked—­but—­I—­should have unfastened it the second—­if I had not thought you had gone to do it yourself.  When I found you had not I opened it, but she was gone.  That’s the extent of my crime—­towards her.  Best natures commit bad faults sometimes, don’t they?—­I think they do.  Now I will leave you—­for ever and ever!”

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The Return of the Native from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.