“Now, I should think, cap’n, that Miss Eustacia had about as much in her head that comes from books as anybody about here?”
“Perhaps if Miss Eustacia, too, had less romantic nonsense in her head it would be better for her,” said the captain shortly; after which he walked away.
“I say, Sam,” observed Humphrey when the old man was gone, “she and Clym Yeobright would make a very pretty pigeon-pair—hey? If they wouldn’t I’ll be dazed! Both of one mind about niceties for certain, and learned in print, and always thinking about high doctrine—there couldn’t be a better couple if they were made o’ purpose. Clym’s family is as good as hers. His father was a farmer, that’s true; but his mother was a sort of lady, as we know. Nothing would please me better than to see them two man and wife.”
“They’d look very natty, arm-in-crook together, and their best clothes on, whether or no, if he’s at all the well-favoured fellow he used to be.”
“They would, Humphrey. Well, I should like to see the chap terrible much after so many years. If I knew for certain when he was coming I’d stroll out three or four miles to meet him and help carry anything for’n; though I suppose he’s altered from the boy he was. They say he can talk French as fast as a maid can eat blackberries; and if so, depend upon it we who have stayed at home shall seem no more than scroff in his eyes.”
“Coming across the water to Budmouth by steamer, isn’t he?”
“Yes; but how he’s coming from Budmouth I don’t know.”
“That’s a bad trouble about his cousin Thomasin. I wonder such a nice-notioned fellow as Clym likes to come home into it. What a nunnywatch we were in, to be sure, when we heard they weren’t married at all, after singing to ’em as man and wife that night! Be dazed if I should like a relation of mine to have been made such a fool of by a man. It makes the family look small.”
“Yes. Poor maid, her heart has ached enough about it. Her health is suffering from it, I hear, for she will bide entirely indoors. We never see her out now, scampering over the furze with a face as red as a rose, as she used to do.”
“I’ve heard she wouldn’t have Wildeve now if he asked her.”
“You have? ’Tis news to me.”
While the furze-gatherers had desultorily conversed thus Eustacia’s face gradually bent to the hearth in a profound reverie, her toe unconsciously tapping the dry turf which lay burning at her feet.
The subject of their discourse had been keenly interesting to her. A young and clever man was coming into that lonely heath from, of all contrasting places in the world, Paris. It was like a man coming from heaven. More singular still, the heathmen had instinctively coupled her and this man together in their minds as a pair born for each other.