The Return of the Native eBook

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

For the rest, she suffered much from depression of spirits, and took slow walks to recover them, in which she carried her grandfather’s telescope and her grandmother’s hourglass—­the latter because of a peculiar pleasure she derived from watching a material representation of time’s gradual glide away.  She seldom schemed, but when she did scheme, her plans showed rather the comprehensive strategy of a general than the small arts called womanish, though she could utter oracles of Delphian ambiguity when she did not choose to be direct.  In heaven she will probably sit between the Heloises and the Cleopatras.

VIII

Those Who Are Found Where There Is Said to Be Nobody

As soon as the sad little boy had withdrawn from the fire he clasped the money tight in the palm of his hand, as if thereby to fortify his courage, and began to run.  There was really little danger in allowing a child to go home alone on this part of Egdon Heath.  The distance to the boy’s house was not more than three-eighths of a mile, his father’s cottage, and one other a few yards further on, forming part of the small hamlet of Mistover Knap:  the third and only remaining house was that of Captain Vye and Eustacia, which stood quite away from the small cottages, and was the loneliest of lonely houses on these thinly populated slopes.

He ran until he was out of breath, and then, becoming more courageous, walked leisurely along, singing in an old voice a little song about a sailor-boy and a fair one, and bright gold in store.  In the middle of this the child stopped:  from a pit under the hill ahead of him shone a light, whence proceeded a cloud of floating dust and a smacking noise.

Only unusual sights and sounds frightened the boy.  The shrivelled voice of the heath did not alarm him, for that was familiar.  The thorn-bushes which arose in his path from time to time were less satisfactory, for they whistled gloomily, and had a ghastly habit after dark of putting on the shapes of jumping madmen, sprawling giants, and hideous cripples.  Lights were not uncommon this evening, but the nature of all of them was different from this.  Discretion rather than terror prompted the boy to turn back instead of passing the light, with a view of asking Miss Eustacia Vye to let her servant accompany him home.

When the boy had reascended to the top of the valley he found the fire to be still burning on the bank, though lower than before.  Beside it, instead of Eustacia’s solitary form, he saw two persons, the second being a man.  The boy crept along under the bank to ascertain from the nature of the proceedings if it would be prudent to interrupt so splendid a creature as Miss Eustacia on his poor trivial account.

After listening under the bank for some minutes to the talk he turned in a perplexed and doubting manner and began to withdraw as silently as he had come.  That he did not, upon the whole, think it advisable to interrupt her conversation with Wildeve, without being prepared to bear the whole weight of her displeasure, was obvious.

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The Return of the Native from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.