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.

“Now please go away.  If I decide on this escape I can only meet you once more unless—­I cannot go without you.  Go—­I cannot bear it longer.  Go—­go!”

Wildeve slowly went up the steps and descended into the darkness on the other side; and as he walked he glanced back, till the bank blotted out her form from his further view.

VI

Thomasin Argues with Her Cousin, and He Writes a Letter

Yeobright was at this time at Blooms-End, hoping that Eustacia would return to him.  The removal of furniture had been accomplished only that day, though Clym had lived in the old house for more than a week.  He had spent the time in working about the premises, sweeping leaves from the garden-paths, cutting dead stalks from the flower-beds, and nailing up creepers which had been displaced by the autumn winds.  He took no particular pleasure in these deeds, but they formed a screen between himself and despair.  Moreover, it had become a religion with him to preserve in good condition all that had lapsed from his mother’s hands to his own.

During these operations he was constantly on the watch for Eustacia.  That there should be no mistake about her knowing where to find him he had ordered a notice board to be affixed to the garden gate at Alderworth, signifying in white letters whither he had removed.  When a leaf floated to the earth he turned his head, thinking it might be her footfall.  A bird searching for worms in the mould of the flower-beds sounded like her hand on the latch of the gate; and at dusk, when soft, strange ventriloquisms came from holes in the ground, hollow stalks, curled dead leaves, and other crannies wherein breezes, worms, and insects can work their will, he fancied that they were Eustacia, standing without and breathing wishes of reconciliation.

Up to this hour he had persevered in his resolve not to invite her back.  At the same time the severity with which he had treated her lulled the sharpness of his regret for his mother, and awoke some of his old solicitude for his mother’s supplanter.  Harsh feelings produce harsh usage, and this by reaction quenches the sentiments that gave it birth.  The more he reflected the more he softened.  But to look upon his wife as innocence in distress was impossible, though he could ask himself whether he had given her quite time enough—­if he had not come a little too suddenly upon her on that sombre morning.

Now that the first flush of his anger had paled he was disinclined to ascribe to her more than an indiscreet friendship with Wildeve, for there had not appeared in her manner the signs of dishonour.  And this once admitted, an absolutely dark interpretation of her act towards his mother was no longer forced upon him.

On the evening of the fifth November his thoughts of Eustacia were intense.  Echoes from those past times when they had exchanged tender words all the day long came like the diffused murmur of a seashore left miles behind.  “Surely,” he said, “she might have brought herself to communicate with me before now, and confess honestly what Wildeve was to her.”

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