“Dick,” said his father, coming in from the garden at that moment—in each hand a hive of bees tied in a cloth to prevent their egress—“I think you’d better take these two swarms of bees to Mrs. Maybold’s to-morrow, instead o’ me, and I’ll go wi’ Smiler and the wagon.”
It was a relief; for Mrs. Maybold, the vicar’s mother, who had just taken into her head a fancy for keeping bees (pleasantly disguised under the pretence of its being an economical wish to produce her own honey), lived near the watering-place of Budmouth-Regis, ten miles off, and the business of transporting the hives thither would occupy the whole day, and to some extent annihilate the vacant time between this evening and the coming Sunday. The best spring-cart was washed throughout, the axles oiled, and the bees placed therein for the journey.
An easy bend of neck and graceful set of head; full and wavy bundles of dark-brown hair; light fall of little feet; pretty devices on the skirt of the dress; clear deep eyes; in short, a bunch of sweets: it was Fancy! Dick’s heart went round to her with a rush.
The scene was the corner of Mary Street in Budmouth-Regis, near the King’s statue, at which point the white angle of the last house in the row cut perpendicularly an embayed and nearly motionless expanse of salt water projected from the outer ocean—to-day lit in bright tones of green and opal. Dick and Smart had just emerged from the street, and there on the right, against the brilliant sheet of liquid colour, stood Fancy Day; and she turned and recognized him.
Dick suspended his thoughts of the letter and wonder at how she came there by driving close to the chains of the Esplanade—incontinently displacing two chairmen, who had just come to life for the summer in new clean shirts and revivified clothes, and being almost displaced in turn by a rigid boy rattling along with a baker’s cart, and looking neither to the right nor the left. He asked if she were going to Mellstock that night.
“Yes, I’m waiting for the carrier,” she replied, seeming, too, to suspend thoughts of the letter.
“Now I can drive you home nicely, and you save half an hour. Will ye come with me?”
As Fancy’s power to will anything seemed to have departed in some mysterious manner at that moment, Dick settled the matter by getting out and assisting her into the vehicle without another word.
The temporary flush upon her cheek changed to a lesser hue, which was permanent, and at length their eyes met; there was present between them a certain feeling of embarrassment, which arises at such moments when all the instinctive acts dictated by the position have been performed. Dick, being engaged with the reins, thought less of this awkwardness than did Fancy, who had nothing to do but to feel his presence, and to be more and more conscious of the fact, that by accepting a seat beside him in this way she succumbed to the tone of his note. Smart jogged along, and Dick jogged, and the helpless Fancy necessarily jogged, too; and she felt that she was in a measure captured and made a prisoner.