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.

“I wish Tamsie were not such a confoundedly good little woman,” said Wildeve, “so that I could be faithful to you without injuring a worthy person.  It is I who am the sinner after all; I am not worth the little finger of either of you.”

“But you must not sacrifice yourself to her from any sense of justice,” replied Eustacia quickly.  “If you do not love her it is the most merciful thing in the long run to leave her as she is.  That’s always the best way.  There, now I have been unwomanly, I suppose.  When you have left me I am always angry with myself for things that I have said to you.”

Wildeve walked a pace or two among the heather without replying.  The pause was filled up by the intonation of a pollard thorn a little way to windward, the breezes filtering through its unyielding twigs as through a strainer.  It was as if the night sang dirges with clenched teeth.

She continued, half sorrowfully, “Since meeting you last, it has occurred to me once or twice that perhaps it was not for love of me you did not marry her.  Tell me, Damon:  I’ll try to bear it.  Had I nothing whatever to do with the matter?”

“Do you press me to tell?”

“Yes, I must know.  I see I have been too ready to believe in my own power.”

“Well, the immediate reason was that the license would not do for the place, and before I could get another she ran away.  Up to that point you had nothing to do with it.  Since then her aunt has spoken to me in a tone which I don’t at all like.”

“Yes, yes!  I am nothing in it—­I am nothing in it.  You only trifle with me.  Heaven, what can I, Eustacia Vye, be made of to think so much of you!”

“Nonsense; do not be so passionate...  Eustacia, how we roved among these bushes last year, when the hot days had got cool, and the shades of the hills kept us almost invisible in the hollows!”

She remained in moody silence till she said, “Yes; and how I used to laugh at you for daring to look up to me!  But you have well made me suffer for that since.”

“Yes, you served me cruelly enough until I thought I had found some one fairer than you.  A blessed find for me, Eustacia.”

“Do you still think you found somebody fairer?”

“Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  The scales are balanced so nicely that a feather would turn them.”

“But don’t you really care whether I meet you or whether I don’t?” she said slowly.

“I care a little, but not enough to break my rest,” replied the young man languidly.  “No, all that’s past.  I find there are two flowers where I thought there was only one.  Perhaps there are three, or four, or any number as good as the first...  Mine is a curious fate.  Who would have thought that all this could happen to me?”

She interrupted with a suppressed fire of which either love or anger seemed an equally possible issue, “Do you love me now?”

“Who can say?”

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