Return of the Native Book 5, Chapters 7 - 9
On the 6th of November, as Eustacia prepares to flee Egdon, she has fleeting memories of Clym that lift her hopes, but she finally decides that he will never want her again.
"She would have to live on as a painful object, isolated, and out of place. She had used to think of the heath alone as an uncongenial spot to be in; she felt it now of the whole world." Book 5, Chapter 7, pg. 267
After signaling Wildeve at eight o'clock, Eustacia waits impatiently in her room for the midnight hour to arrive. While Eustacia is upstairs, Timothy Fairway drops by the Vyes' to bring Eustacia Clym's letter. Captain Vye leaves the letter in the parlour, when he sees that Eustacia's room is dark and believes her to be sleeping. He is about to go to bed himself when he notices a flash of light on the flagpole and realizes that Eustacia must be awake. He goes to tell Eustacia of the letter she has received, but he finds that she has already left.
Eustacia sets out to meet Wildeve, discovering that it has begun to rain. She stops at Rainbarrow to think; she suddenly realizes that she has forgotten to bring money with her. She feels degraded and humiliated that she is fleeing with Wildeve as his mistress: "He's not great enough for me to give myself--he does not suffice for my desire!" Book 5, Chapter 7, pg. 271 Feeling that the whole world is against her, she bemoans her fate as a woman destined for cruelty from the moment she was born. She realizes the futility of her fate:
"I have no money to go alone! And if I could, what comfort to me? I must drag on next year, as I have dragged on this year, and the year after that as before. How have I tried and tried to be a splendid woman, and how destiny has been against me! I do not deserve my lot! O, the cruelty of putting me into this ill-conceived world! I was capable of much; but I have been injured and blighted and crushed by thins beyond my control! O, how hard it is of Heaven to devise such tortures for me, who have done no harm to Heaven at all!" Book 5, Chapter 7, pg. 271
As Eustacia bitterly cries out against the turn fate has dealt her, she echoes the turbulent, desperate sentiments of the raging, crushing storm.
Meanwhile, Susan Nunsuch has seen Eustacia pass by her house and believes her to be bewitching her son Johnny, who is ill. Looking at Eustacia with disgust and hatred, Susan prepares to counteract the curse she believes Eustacia has set on her son by making a wax effigy of Eustacia. Susan molds the little effigy from wax, dresses the voodoo doll as Eustacia, from her red ribbon to her sandals. Taking the little effigy in hand, Susan mercilessly sticks pins in it and burns it with great satisfaction.
Clym waits impatiently at home alone, hoping that Eustacia will return to him when she receives his letter. He is uneasy about the violent storm outside. About to head to bed himself between ten and eleven o'clock, he is surprised and disappointed to see Thomasin, not his wife, at the door. A worried Thomasin has come with her baby to tell him her fear that Wildeve may be eloping with Eustacia that night. She explains that Wildeve has told her he had to go on a short trip suddenly, but has taken a large amount of bank-notes with him. The money convinces her that Wildeve perhaps did not plan on returning to the heath for some time.
Clym leaves to dissuade Wildeve from leaving Thomasin, but before he can leave, Captain Vye comes to ask Clym if Eustacia is there with him. When Clym informs him that Eustacia may be eloping with Wildeve, Captain Vye hopes that Eustacia's reason for leaving is only elopement and nothing more. He tells Clym that Eustacia has been looking at his pistols and fears she may be thinking about killing herself. Clym ignores the captain's tactless words of scorn directed at him for driving Eustacia away, and invites the captain to accompany him to Wildeve's. Captain Vye decides to return home, believing that Eustacia will come home, and Clym rushes off.
Thomasin cannot stand being in the house alone when she fears that there may be trouble brewing. Wrapping the baby warmly, she leaves the house in a great hurry. She is anxious to know what happened with her husband and Eustacia. The storm does not frighten her, nor does the landscape of the heath disturb her as it does Eustacia:
"To her there were not, as to Eustacia, demons in the air, and malice in every bush and bough. The drops which lashed her face were not scorpions, but prosy rain; Egdon in the mass was no monster whatever, but impersonal open ground. Her fears of the place were rational, her dislikes of its worst moods reasonable. At this time it was in her view a windy, wet place, in which a person might experience much discomfort, lose the path without care, and possibly catch cold." Book 5, Chapter 8, pg. 278
However, Thomasin loses her way because the winds blow her in the wrong direction. She stumbles upon Diggory Venn's van.
When Venn asks her why she has returned, Thomasin is confused until Venn explains that he has seen a woman pass by. Thomasin realizes that it must have been Eustacia who passed by on her way to meet Wildeve and she decides to leave to find them. Venn accompanies her, leading the way to the inn. The storm does not distract him from walking in the right direction; he knows the heath well.
Thomasin sees a light in the direction of the inn, but Venn tells her that the light is not from the inn. He points out that the light comes from a place below the inn, on the marsh. Thomasin asks him to lead her to the light.
At the same time, Wildeve is waiting for Eustacia anxiously at their meeting spot beside the Shadwater Weir. He knows the storm might have detained her, so he waits patiently. He is surprised to find Clym approaching, not Eustacia. They argue until they hear the deadly sound of a body fall into the water and fear it might be Eustacia. They discover that Eustacia did fall into the water and both jump in to rescue her. Venn and Thomasin arrive to find all three in the weir; Venn also jumps into the water to save them. Venn finds the two men first, a submerged Wildeve clinging to Clym's legs. Other heath-men join the rescue team and they all search for Eustacia. Venn finally finds the cold, lifeless body of a woman, all that is left of the "desperate Eustacia."
Taking all three bodies to the inn, the villagers manage to revive Clym, but Eustacia and Wildeve are dead. Venn leaves the grief-stricken scene and returns home; he feels out of place there, as he believes he is a stranger to them. When he thinks about the emotional turmoil Thomasin must feel, he decides that he must see her and try to help her in this sorrowful time.
When Venn arrives at the inn, the servants and neighbors are bustling about. Thomasin's nurse finds the wet bank-notes in Wildeve's pocket and hangs them to dry. Venn figures that Wildeve must have planned not to return to Egdon for some time. Charley then arrives, having been sent by Captain Vye to inquire about Eustacia. Venn tells the lovesick boy that Eustacia is dead; Charley is horrified and anguished. Clym enters the room, and seeing Charley's bereaved face, invites Charley and Venn to see the dead Eustacia. As Clym says wistfully, Eustacia looks even more beautiful and dignified in death. Clym then shows them Wildeve's body.
Clym confides to Venn that he killed Eustacia by driving her away from him and wishes that he were dead instead. No matter how much Venn comforts him, Clym believes that he has done an unforgivable deed and his regret is that, "for what I have done no man or law can punish me" Book 5, Chapter 9, pg. 289.