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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 427 pages of information about The Return of the Native.

He shook his head at her.  “I know you too well, my Eustacia; I know you too well.  There isn’t a note in you which I don’t know; and that hot little bosom couldn’t play such a coldblooded trick to save its life.  I saw a woman on Rainbarrow at dusk looking down towards my house.  I think I drew out you before you drew out me.”

The revived embers of an old passion glowed clearly in Wildeve now; and he leant forward as if about to put his face towards her cheek.

“O no,” she said, intractably moving to the other side of the decayed fire.  “What did you mean by that?”

“Perhaps I may kiss your hand?”

“No, you may not.”

“Then I may shake your hand?”

“No.”

“Then I wish you good night without caring for either.  Good-bye, good-bye.”

She returned no answer, and with the bow of a dancing-master he vanished on the other side of the pool as he had come.

Eustacia sighed:  it was no fragile maiden sigh, but a sigh which shook her like a shiver.  Whenever a flash of reason darted like an electric light upon her lover—­as it sometimes would—­and showed his imperfections, she shivered thus.  But it was over in a second, and she loved on.  She knew that he trifled with her; but she loved on.  She scattered the half-burnt brands, went indoors immediately, and up to her bedroom without a light.  Amid the rustles which denoted her to be undressing in the darkness other heavy breaths frequently came; and the same kind of shudder occasionally moved through her when, ten minutes later, she lay on her bed asleep.

VII

Queen of Night

Eustacia Vye was the raw material of a divinity.  On Olympus she would have done well with a little preparation.  She had the passions and instincts which make a model goddess, that is, those which make not quite a model woman.  Had it been possible for the earth and mankind to be entirely in her grasp for a while, had she handled the distaff, the spindle, and the shears at her own free will, few in the world would have noticed the change of government.  There would have been the same inequality of lot, the same heaping up of favours here, of contumely there, the same generosity before justice, the same perpetual dilemmas, the same captious alteration of caresses and blows that we endure now.

She was in person full-limbed and somewhat heavy; without ruddiness, as without pallor; and soft to the touch as a cloud.  To see her hair was to fancy that a whole winter did not contain darkness enough to form its shadow:  it closed over her forehead like nightfall extinguishing the western glow.

Her nerves extended into those tresses, and her temper could always be softened by stroking them down.  When her hair was brushed she would instantly sink into stillness and look like the Sphinx.  If, in passing under one of the Egdon banks, any of its thick skeins were caught, as they sometimes were, by a prickly tuft of the large Ulex Europaeus—­which will act as a sort of hairbrush—­she would go back a few steps, and pass against it a second time.

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