“Who’s there?” he cried.
Light footsteps shifted their position in the porch, and he could just distinguish in a plaintive female voice the words, “O Clym, come down and let me in!”
He flushed hot with agitation. “Surely it is Eustacia!” he murmured. If so, she had indeed come to him unawares.
He hastily got a light, dressed himself, and went down. On his flinging open the door the rays of the candle fell upon a woman closely wrapped up, who at once came forward.
“Thomasin!” he exclaimed in an indescribable tone of disappointment. “It is Thomasin, and on such a night as this! O, where is Eustacia?”
Thomasin it was, wet, frightened, and panting.
“Eustacia? I don’t know, Clym; but I can think,” she said with much perturbation. “Let me come in and rest—I will explain this. There is a great trouble brewing—my husband and Eustacia!”
“I think my husband is going to leave me or do something dreadful—I don’t know what—Clym, will you go and see? I have nobody to help me but you! Eustacia has not yet come home?”
She went on breathlessly: “Then they are going to run off together! He came indoors tonight about eight o’clock and said in an off-hand way, ‘Tamsie, I have just found that I must go a journey.’ ‘When?’ I said. ‘Tonight,’ he said. ‘Where?’ I asked him. ’I cannot tell you at present,’ he said; ‘I shall be back again tomorrow.’ He then went and busied himself in looking up his things, and took no notice of me at all. I expected to see him start, but he did not, and then it came to be ten o’clock, when he said, ‘You had better go to bed.’ I didn’t know what to do, and I went to bed. I believe he thought I fell asleep, for half an hour after that he came up and unlocked the oak chest we keep money in when we have much in the house and took out a roll of something which I believe was bank-notes, though I was not aware that he had ’em there. These he must have got from the bank when he went there the other day. What does he want bank-notes for, if he is only going off for a day? When he had gone down I thought of Eustacia, and how he had met her the night before—I know he did meet her, Clym, for I followed him part of the way; but I did not like to tell you when you called, and so make you think ill of him, as I did not think it was so serious. Then I could not stay in bed; I got up and dressed myself, and when I heard him out in the stable I thought I would come and tell you. So I came downstairs without any noise and slipped out.”
“Then he was not absolutely gone when you left?”
“No. Will you, dear Cousin Clym, go and try to persuade him not to go? He takes no notice of what I say, and puts me off with the story of his going on a journey, and will be home tomorrow, and all that; but I don’t believe it. I think you could influence him.”
“I’ll go,” said Clym. “O, Eustacia!”