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.

“But you can’t charge yourself with crimes in that way,” said Venn.  “You may as well say that the parents be the cause of a murder by the child, for without the parents the child would never have been begot.”

“Yes, Venn, that is very true; but you don’t know all the circumstances.  If it had pleased God to put an end to me it would have been a good thing for all.  But I am getting used to the horror of my existence.  They say that a time comes when men laugh at misery through long acquaintance with it.  Surely that time will soon come to me!”

“Your aim has always been good,” said Venn.  “Why should you say such desperate things?”

“No, they are not desperate.  They are only hopeless; and my great regret is that for what I have done no man or law can punish me!”

BOOK SIXTH AFTERCOURSES

I

The Inevitable Movement Onward

The story of the deaths of Eustacia and Wildeve was told throughout Egdon, and far beyond, for many weeks and months.  All the known incidents of their love were enlarged, distorted, touched up, and modified, till the original reality bore but a slight resemblance to the counterfeit presentation by surrounding tongues.  Yet, upon the whole, neither the man nor the woman lost dignity by sudden death.  Misfortune had struck them gracefully, cutting off their erratic histories with a catastrophic dash, instead of, as with many, attenuating each life to an uninteresting meagreness, through long years of wrinkles, neglect, and decay.

On those most nearly concerned the effect was somewhat different.  Strangers who had heard of many such cases now merely heard of one more; but immediately where a blow falls no previous imaginings amount to appreciable preparation for it.  The very suddenness of her bereavement dulled, to some extent, Thomasin’s feelings; yet, irrationally enough, a consciousness that the husband she had lost ought to have been a better man did not lessen her mourning at all.  On the contrary, this fact seemed at first to set off the dead husband in his young wife’s eyes, and to be the necessary cloud to the rainbow.

But the horrors of the unknown had passed.  Vague misgivings about her future as a deserted wife were at an end.  The worst had once been matter of trembling conjecture; it was now matter of reason only, a limited badness.  Her chief interest, the little Eustacia, still remained.  There was humility in her grief, no defiance in her attitude; and when this is the case a shaken spirit is apt to be stilled.

Could Thomasin’s mournfulness now and Eustacia’s serenity during life have been reduced to common measure, they would have touched the same mark nearly.  But Thomasin’s former brightness made shadow of that which in a sombre atmosphere was light itself.

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