“Gentleman enough for me? That is just what I feel. I am sorry now that I asked you, and I won’t think any more of him. At the same time I must marry him if I marry anybody—that I will say!”
“I don’t see that,” said Clym, carefully concealing every clue to his own interrupted intention, which she plainly had not guessed. “You might marry a professional man, or somebody of that sort, by going into the town to live and forming acquaintances there.”
“I am not fit for town life—so very rural and silly as I always have been. Do not you yourself notice my countrified ways?”
“Well, when I came home from Paris I did, a little; but I don’t now.”
“That’s because you have got countrified too. O, I couldn’t live in a street for the world! Egdon is a ridiculous old place; but I have got used to it, and I couldn’t be happy anywhere else at all.”
“Neither could I,” said Clym.
“Then how could you say that I should marry some town man? I am sure, say what you will, that I must marry Diggory, if I marry at all. He has been kinder to me than anybody else, and has helped me in many ways that I don’t know of!” Thomasin almost pouted now.
“Yes, he has,” said Clym in a neutral tone. “Well, I wish with all my heart that I could say, marry him. But I cannot forget what my mother thought on that matter, and it goes rather against me not to respect her opinion. There is too much reason why we should do the little we can to respect it now.”
“Very well, then,” sighed Thomasin. “I will say no more.”
“But you are not bound to obey my wishes. I merely say what I think.”
“O no—I don’t want to be rebellious in that way,” she said sadly. “I had no business to think of him—I ought to have thought of my family. What dreadfully bad impulses there are in me!” Her lips trembled, and she turned away to hide a tear.
Clym, though vexed at what seemed her unaccountable taste, was in a measure relieved to find that at any rate the marriage question in relation to himself was shelved. Through several succeeding days he saw her at different times from the window of his room moping disconsolately about the garden. He was half angry with her for choosing Venn; then he was grieved at having put himself in the way of Venn’s happiness, who was, after all, as honest and persevering a young fellow as any on Egdon, since he had turned over a new leaf. In short, Clym did not know what to do.
When next they met she said abruptly, “He is much more respectable now than he was then!”
“Who? O yes—Diggory Venn.”
“Aunt only objected because he was a reddleman.”
“Well, Thomasin, perhaps I don’t know all the particulars of my mother’s wish. So you had better use your own discretion.”
“You will always feel that I slighted your mother’s memory.”
“No, I will not. I shall think you are convinced that, had she seen Diggory in his present position, she would have considered him a fitting husband for you. Now, that’s my real feeling. Don’t consult me any more, but do as you like, Thomasin. I shall be content.”