Return of the Native Book 1, Chapters 5 - 9
Thomasin, who's humiliated, explains to her aunt that she is not married because the marriage license Wildeve had gotten is invalid and the parson would not marry them. Although Thomasin regrets that she had loved him and vows not to marry him, Mrs. Yeobright thinks otherwise--she is determined to confront Wildeve and walks them toward the Quiet Woman Inn. Thomasin explains that she had run away from her fiancé because she had been humiliated by the fact that they had not gotten married and had asked Diggory Venn to take her home.
At the inn, Wildeve--a handsome young man--greets Thomasin with affection. He explains that their marriage license is made out for Budmouth, not Anglebury. Thomasin asks her aunt for a few minutes alone with Wildeve, and apologizes desperately to him. With dignity, Thomasin tells him that she can live without him, but she cannot risk the humiliation of her aunt and cousin if she does not marry him. Thomasin becomes angry when Wildeve says Mrs. Yeobright's demand that they marry is unreasonable, since it's only being done now for the family to save face. But Wildeve seems to feel obligated to go through with the marriage. When Thomasin asks Wildeve for his hand in marriage, he consents, but with a clearly careless attitude about it all.
Meanwhile, the crowd of loud, boisterous villagers has arrived at the inn to serenade the supposedly-married couple. Mrs. Yeobright remains in the back room with Thomasin, while Wildeve goes to see the crowd. After the crowd of men joins Wildeve inside for food and drink, they talk about Thomasin Yeobright's father, who was a renowned musician before he died. The talk then turns to the subject of Captain Vye's granddaughter, and how the fire she had lit earlier is still burning steadily. Wildeve gives a significant look at this news, a look that the villages miss because they are distracted by Timothy Fairway and Christian Cantle, who reason that the fact she keeps the fire burning so long might have a certain meaning: she might be a witch. When the men leave, Wildeve also sees that Mrs. Yeobright and Thomasin have left. He decides to take the bottle of wine to the Dowdens', when the fire on Mistover Knap catches his eye. He drops the bottle of wine off at the Dowden house and heads the opposite way from his home. The fire on Mistover is evidently a signal light intended for him. Resignedly, Wildeve goes to see Eustacia.
The figure Diggory Venn spots on top of Rainbarrow is Eustacia Vye, who returns to the summit of the barrow, waiting and watching for the man she loves and hates, Damon Wildeve. She had returned only when she was sure the villagers had left the barrow. Tall and proud-looking, she stands alone and still. She looks through a telescope in the direction of the Quiet Woman Inn, and seeing nothing in the windows, closes the telescope. She seems to be waiting for someone to arrive. She leaves Rainbarrow, anxious and despondent, and heads for home.
The small fire on Mistover Knap is still burning when she arrives. Her home on Mistover Knap is kept by her grandfather, the elderly naval officer who was walking up the path earlier. A large pool of water is next to their home. Johnny Nunsuch, Susan Nunsuch's little boy, keeps the fire going with hard branches of wood. Captain Vye asks Eustacia to come inside and get ready for bed, but she refuses to put out the fire and demands that Johnny continue burning branches for the fire. She tells him to listen for a frog jumping into the pond, as she tells him the frog is a sign of rain. Impatiently waiting, Eustacia is restless and moves about. When Johnny hears a frog jump in the pond, Eustacia hurriedly sends him away with sixpence (money) and waits for the man she's been expecting--Wildeve, her lover.
Although both Wildeve and Eustacia have feelings for each other, each of them toys with the other's feelings. Wildeve asks her to leave him alone, to stop summoning him with bonfires. After all, Eustacia had lit a bonfire last November for the same purpose, and he had come to see her under Rainbarrow. Eustacia has a triumphant tone in her voice when she speaks to Wildeve; she declares that she knew her bonfire would bring him to her. She passionately declares that she knows he loves her more than Thomasin, for he has not married Thomasin. Eustacia tells him she forgives him for leaving her, thinking that he's returned to her. Wildeve asks her how she knows that he is not married. He will not give her an answer to her questions about his and Thomasin's marriage. Angered by his words, Eustacia sends him away, refusing to let him kiss her hand. They part with no real confirmation of their relationship, although Eustacia knows in her heart that she will never admit that she still loves him.
Eustacia, as the "Queen of the Night," is described as strikingly beautiful; her eyes are dark, her hair is lustrous, and her features are made for emotion. She despises Egdon Heath--she wants to live somewhere more exotic, more worldly, more exciting. The only daughter of a Corfu musician and an English mother, Eustacia has been living with her grandfather, her only living relative after the death of her parents, moving from fashionable Budmouth to dreary Egdon. She hated the idea of moving to Egdon, and feels it a kind of exile from the happier days of her adolescence, when she was surrounded by music, people and activity. She abhors the various customs of the heath, especially that the heath inhabitants work as furze-gatherers and turf-cutters. She does not try to enjoy life on the heath; she knows that she will never be content living in Egdon.
Eustacia loves Wildeve because there is no one better on the heath for her to idealize. "To be loved to madness" is her greatest wish. She feels that love is the only thing that might lift her depressed and lonely spirit, and deep, passionate love absorbs her soul.
Johnny Nunsuch runs into Diggory Venn, the reddleman, on his way home. At first, Johnny is afraid of Venn, as children fear reddlemen from old legends that they're connected to the devil, but eventually he warms up to the young man.
When Venn asks him why Eustacia needed him to light her bonfire for so long, Johnny explains that she had been waiting for a man, who is her lover. The man had told Eustacia that he loved her more than the woman he was supposed to marry, and that the two of them would meet again under Rainbarrow. When Venn has received all the information he can get from Johnny, he sends the boy away.
Diggory Venn has been in love with Thomasin Yeobright since two years ago, when he was still in the dairy trade. He reads a letter she had written him back then, when he'd proposed to her and she had gently refused, because her aunt did not approve of his low class. Thomasin is the reason he changed occupations and is now a reddleman. Although he does not see Thomasin when traveling around the heath, selling reddle, he takes pleasure in the fact that she is nearby. He is proud that Thomasin has entrusted him with bringing her home. Although he does not believe Wildeve's feelings to be honest, Venn wants Thomasin to be happy even if her happiness means marriage to Wildeve.
Now that he knows that Eustacia is the cause of Wildeve's not marrying Thomasin, he considers her an enemy to Thomasin. He decides to spy on Eustacia and Wildeve at their secret meeting place and eavesdrops on their conversation. Wildeve asks Eustacia if he should marry Thomasin, saying, "I wish Tamsie were not such a confoundedly good little woman so that I could be faithful to you without injuring a worthy person," Part 1, Chapter 9, pg. 64. He did not marry Thomasin, he says, because of their invalid license and because she had run away; he also hints that Thomasin's aunt is another good reason for marring Thomasin. Eustacia, who wants him to say it was her who swayed Wildeve from Tomasin, declares that he will always love her more than Thomasin and will always want to marry her. Wildeve agrees, expressing both of their desires to leave the heath forever. They both abhor the heath, and its mournful and lonely landscape.
Wildeve asks her to go to America with him, but Eustacia is hesitant. She finally has her chance to leave the heath forever, but her pride gets in the way--she cannot marry a man she considers herself to be superior to. As the two of them leave, Venn returns to his van, troubled and worried. He vows to see Eustacia as soon as possible.