“Don’t be like that, Damon!” she murmured. “I didn’t see anything. You vanished out of sight, and then I looked round at the bonfires and came in.”
“Perhaps this is not the only time you have dogged my steps. Are you trying to find out something bad about me?”
“Not at all! I have never done such a thing before, and I shouldn’t have done it now if words had not sometimes been dropped about you.”
“What do you mean?” he impatiently asked.
“They say—they say you used to go to Alderworth in the evenings, and it puts into my mind what I have heard about—”
Wildeve turned angrily and stood up in front of her. “Now,” he said, flourishing his hand in the air, “just out with it, madam! I demand to know what remarks you have heard.”
“Well, I heard that you used to be very fond of Eustacia—nothing more than that, though dropped in a bit-by-bit way. You ought not to be angry!”
He observed that her eyes were brimming with tears. “Well,” he said, “there is nothing new in that, and of course I don’t mean to be rough towards you, so you need not cry. Now, don’t let us speak of the subject any more.”
And no more was said, Thomasin being glad enough of a reason for not mentioning Clym’s visit to her that evening, and his story.
The Night of the Sixth of November
Having resolved on flight Eustacia at times seemed anxious that something should happen to thwart her own intention. The only event that could really change her position was the appearance of Clym. The glory which had encircled him as her lover was departed now; yet some good simple quality of his would occasionally return to her memory and stir a momentary throb of hope that he would again present himself before her. But calmly considered it was not likely that such a severance as now existed would ever close up: she would have to live on as a painful object, isolated, and out of place. She had used to think of the heath alone as an uncongenial spot to be in; she felt it now of the whole world.
Towards evening on the sixth her determination to go away again revived. About four o’clock she packed up anew the few small articles she had brought in her flight from Alderworth, and also some belonging to her which had been left here: the whole formed a bundle not too large to be carried in her hand for a distance of a mile or two. The scene without grew darker; mud-coloured clouds bellied downwards from the sky like vast hammocks slung across it, and with the increase of night a stormy wind arose; but as yet there was no rain.
Eustacia could not rest indoors, having nothing more to do, and she wandered to and fro on the hill, not far from the house she was soon to leave. In these desultory ramblings she passed the cottage of Susan Nunsuch, a little lower down than her grandfather’s. The door was ajar, and a riband of bright firelight fell over the ground without. As Eustacia crossed the firebeams she appeared for an instant as distinct as a figure in a phantasmagoria—a creature of light surrounded by an area of darkness: the moment passed, and she was absorbed in night again.