Return of the Native Book 3: The Fascination, Chapters 1 - 4
Clym Yeobright is an intelligent young man, destined for greatness. The heath-men are awed that Clym has been making a fortune in Paris and are fascinated by his literary and artistic achievements. However, Clym has always loved the heath and was reluctant to leave Egdon when a neighbor sent him to Budmouth, then London and finally Paris. Clym understands and appreciates the heath for what it is and brings to life. He said to be a "product" of the heath. His first toys were rocks of the heath, his friends were the flowers and furze. Clym fondness for the heath is as strong as Eustacia's hatred of it.
Clym's stay in Egdon arouses curiosity in the heath-men, for he has stayed past the length of a regular holiday. When the heath-men gather at Timothy Fairway's home on Sunday morning for their weekly hair-cutting, they discuss Clym's staying at home so long.
Clym walks by and Fairway admits that they have been talking about him. Clym informs the heath-men that he has longed to return home. His stay in Egdon has made him realize that his business in Paris is the "idlest, vainest, most effeminate business that a man could be put to." Book 3, Chapter 1, pg. 130 He speaks with passion: "I would give it up and try to follow some rational occupation among the people I knew best, and to whom I could be of most use." Book 3, Chapter 1, pg. 130
Clym tells them of his intention to start a school for Egdon inhabitants. The heath-men think him good-hearted for dreaming of teaching, but they doubt his chances of success.
Clym tells his mother that he will not be returning to Paris, that he is going to stay on the heath and become a schoolteacher. Mrs. Yeobright is disappointed in her son for wanting to pursue the education business, which she considers futile. She asks him to reconsider his job as a manager to a Paris diamond mine. Christian Cantle interrupts their discussion to inform the Yeobrights of the latest heath news: during church, Susan Nunsuch stuck a needle in Eustacia Vye's arm for bewitching her children. Clym is concerned for Eustacia and is embarrassed for the behavior of his fellow heath-men.
Mrs. Yeobright vows to her son that she intends to see that Clym escapes the heath for a better life and not waste his life trying to become a schoolteacher.
Sam comes by to borrow rope from the Yeobrights--Captain Vye needs rope to fetch his bucket in the well.
Sam provides Clym with information about Eustacia: how she hardly socializes with heath-men, how good-looking she is, how some heath-men believe she is a witch. Mrs. Yeobright is uneasy about Clym's interest in Eustacia. Clym, intrigued by this mysterious woman, asks Sam if Eustacia might like to teach children, but Sam doubts it. However, Sam tells Clym that he can see her when the heath-men help Captain Vye with his bucket later that evening. Clym agrees to join them, to his mother's chagrin, in hopes of meeting Eustacia.
Clym joins the throng of heath-men in fetching the captain's bucket, and Mrs. Yeobright unhappily expects that Clym and Eustacia will meet. Clym is leaning over the well when he hears a voice call from inside to tie a rope around him. He immediately recognizes the voice as the unknown mummer--and knows it is Eustacia Vye. He thinks her thoughtful to say so. When Eustacia comes outside, he is taken with her and offers to bring her water the next morning, as the Vyes' bucket is still knocked down. She thanks him, but declines his offer. Although she and her grandfather can drink from the pool of water next to Vyes' home, Eustacia is too proud to drink pool water. Eustacia and Clym try to fetch the bucket, but Eustacia's hand is burned from holding the rope. When Clym speaks of her wound from Susan Nunsuch's needle, he is embarrassed by the actions of his fellow heath-men. It is painfully evident to Eustacia that although Clym is embarrassed, he cares very much for his home--of it he says, "It is the most exhilarating, and strengthening, and soothing. I would rather live on these hills than anywhere else in the world." Book 3, Chapter 3, pg. 142
Eustacia tells Clym that she cannot endure the heath and longs for bigger and more glamorous cities.
Clym admits to his mother that he has been seeing Eustacia. Mrs. Yeobright is annoyed and even despairs at the news of Clym's involvement with Eustacia. Clym continues to meet Eustacia day after day, week after week. One day in March, Mrs. Yeobright confides to her son that she fears that he is wasting his life spending time with Eustacia. She does not believe that Eustacia is good enough for her son and thinks him to be blinded by Eustacia's beauty. Mrs. Yeobright declares that she will save him from that "hussy", as she refers to Eustacia. Clym refuses to listen to his mother's jealous, angry words. This argument is the beginning of their estrangement.
Clym and his mother hardly speak to one another after the argument. If Clym is not seeing Eustacia, he is studying. Every night, he goes to meet Eustacia on Rainbarrow, and one night she voices her fears that Mrs. Yeobright will influence Clym against her. Clym assures her that his mother will not stop him from seeing her, as she knows that they are romantically involved. Clym proposes to Eustacia; she asks for time to think it over and begs him to talk about Paris. She tells him that she will marry him if he will take her back to Paris. Clym is destined to do far greater things with his life than staying on the heath, Eustacia believes, although Clym disagrees. He has vowed to stay on the heath and become a schoolteacher. Eustacia suddenly decides to marry him, as she does not believe his education scheme will pan out. She says,
"Though I should like Paris, I love you for yourself alone. To be your wife and live in Paris would be heaven to me; but I would rather live with you in a hermitage here than not be yours at all." Book 3, Chapter 4, pg. 152
As the two of them walk back to Mistover, Clym thinks about three obstacles to his future happiness: his mother's trust in him, his plan to become a schoolteacher, and Eustacia's own happiness.