Nothing was seen of him for four hours. When he came back by the same path it was dusk, and the dews were coating every green thing. The boisterous music had ceased; but, entering the premises as he did from behind, he could not see if the May party had all gone till he had passed through Thomasin’s division of the house to the front door. Thomasin was standing within the porch alone.
She looked at him reproachfully. “You went away just when it began, Clym,” she said.
“Yes. I felt I could not join in. You went out with them, of course?”
“No, I did not.”
“You appeared to be dressed on purpose.”
“Yes, but I could not go out alone; so many people were there. One is there now.”
Yeobright strained his eyes across the dark-green patch beyond the paling, and near the black form of the Maypole he discerned a shadowy figure, sauntering idly up and down. “Who is it?” he said.
“Mr. Venn,” said Thomasin.
“You might have asked him to come in, I think, Tamsie. He has been very kind to you first and last.”
“I will now,” she said; and, acting on the impulse, went through the wicket to where Venn stood under the Maypole.
“It is Mr. Venn, I think?” she inquired.
Venn started as if he had not seen her—artful man that he was—and said, “Yes.”
“Will you come in?”
“I am afraid that I—”
“I have seen you dancing this evening, and you had the very best of the girls for your partners. Is it that you won’t come in because you wish to stand here, and think over the past hours of enjoyment?”
“Well, that’s partly it,” said Mr. Venn, with ostentatious sentiment. “But the main reason why I am biding here like this is that I want to wait till the moon rises.”
“To see how pretty the Maypole looks in the moonlight?”
“No. To look for a glove that was dropped by one of the maidens.”
Thomasin was speechless with surprise. That a man who had to walk some four or five miles to his home should wait here for such a reason pointed to only one conclusion: the man must be amazingly interested in that glove’s owner.
“Were you dancing with her, Diggory?” she asked, in a voice which revealed that he had made himself considerably more interesting to her by this disclosure.
“No,” he sighed.
“And you will not come in, then?”
“Not tonight, thank you, ma’am.”
“Shall I lend you a lantern to look for the young person’s glove, Mr. Venn?”
“O no; it is not necessary, Mrs. Wildeve, thank you. The moon will rise in a few minutes.”
Thomasin went back to the porch. “Is he coming in?” said Clym, who had been waiting where she had left him.
“He would rather not tonight,” she said, and then passed by him into the house; whereupon Clym too retired to his own rooms.