“Did he know it was my glove?”
“Yes. I told him.”
Thomasin was so surprised by the explanation that she quite forgot to lecture the girl, who glided silently away. Thomasin did not move further than to turn her eyes upon the grass-plat where the Maypole had stood. She remained thinking, then said to herself that she would not go out that afternoon, but would work hard at the baby’s unfinished lovely plaid frock, cut on the cross in the newest fashion. How she managed to work hard, and yet do no more than she had done at the end of two hours, would have been a mystery to anyone not aware that the recent incident was of a kind likely to divert her industry from a manual to a mental channel.
Next day she went her ways as usual, and continued her custom of walking in the heath with no other companion than little Eustacia, now of the age when it is a matter of doubt with such characters whether they are intended to walk through the world on their hands or on their feet; so that they get into painful complications by trying both. It was very pleasant to Thomasin, when she had carried the child to some lonely place, to give her a little private practice on the green turf and shepherd’s-thyme, which formed a soft mat to fall headlong upon when equilibrium was lost.
Once, when engaged in this system of training, and stooping to remove bits of stick, fern-stalks, and other such fragments from the child’s path, that the journey might not be brought to an untimely end by some insuperable barrier a quarter of an inch high, she was alarmed by discovering that a man on horseback was almost close beside her, the soft natural carpet having muffled the horse’s tread. The rider, who was Venn, waved his hat in the air and bowed gallantly.
“Diggory, give me my glove,” said Thomasin, whose manner it was under any circumstances to plunge into the midst of a subject which engrossed her.
Venn immediately dismounted, put his hand in his breastpocket, and handed the glove.
“Thank you. It was very good of you to take care of it.”
“It is very good of you to say so.”
“O no. I was quite glad to find you had it. Everybody gets so indifferent that I was surprised to know you thought of me.”
“If you had remembered what I was once you wouldn’t have been surprised.”
“Ah, no,” she said quickly. “But men of your character are mostly so independent.”
“What is my character?” he asked.
“I don’t exactly know,” said Thomasin simply, “except it is to cover up your feelings under a practical manner, and only to show them when you are alone.”
“Ah, how do you know that?” said Venn strategically.
“Because,” said she, stopping to put the little girl, who had managed to get herself upside down, right end up again, “because I do.”
“You mustn’t judge by folks in general,” said Venn. “Still I don’t know much what feelings are now-a-days. I have got so mixed up with business of one sort and t’other that my soft sentiments are gone off in vapour like. Yes, I am given up body and soul to the making of money. Money is all my dream.”