“O Diggory, how wicked!” said Thomasin reproachfully, and looking at him in exact balance between taking his words seriously and judging them as said to tease her.
“Yes, ’tis rather a rum course,” said Venn, in the bland tone of one comfortably resigned to sins he could no longer overcome.
“You, who used to be so nice!”
“Well, that’s an argument I rather like, because what a man has once been he may be again.” Thomasin blushed. “Except that it is rather harder now,” Venn continued.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because you be richer than you were at that time.”
“O no—not much. I have made it nearly all over to the baby, as it was my duty to do, except just enough to live on.”
“I am rather glad of that,” said Venn softly, and regarding her from the corner of his eye, “for it makes it easier for us to be friendly.”
Thomasin blushed again, and, when a few more words had been said of a not unpleasing kind, Venn mounted his horse and rode on.
This conversation had passed in a hollow of the heath near the old Roman road, a place much frequented by Thomasin. And it might have been observed that she did not in future walk that way less often from having met Venn there now. Whether or not Venn abstained from riding thither because he had met Thomasin in the same place might easily have been guessed from her proceedings about two months later in the same year.
The Serious Discourse of Clym with His Cousin
Throughout this period Yeobright had more or less pondered on his duty to his cousin Thomasin. He could not help feeling that it would be a pitiful waste of sweet material if the tender-natured thing should be doomed from this early stage of her life onwards to dribble away her winsome qualities on lonely gorse and fern. But he felt this as an economist merely, and not as a lover. His passion for Eustacia had been a sort of conserve of his whole life, and he had nothing more of that supreme quality left to bestow. So far the obvious thing was not to entertain any idea of marriage with Thomasin, even to oblige her.
But this was not all. Years ago there had been in his mother’s mind a great fancy about Thomasin and himself. It had not positively amounted to a desire, but it had always been a favourite dream. That they should be man and wife in good time, if the happiness of neither were endangered thereby, was the fancy in question. So that what course save one was there now left for any son who reverenced his mother’s memory as Yeobright did? It is an unfortunate fact that any particular whim of parents, which might have been dispersed by half an hour’s conversation during their lives, becomes sublimated by their deaths into a fiat the most absolute, with such results to conscientious children as those parents, had they lived, would have been the first to decry.