The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy Book 1: Chapters 6-7

"Or else it was coming into this wild heath. I was happy enough at Budmouth. O the times, O the days at Budmouth! But Egdon will be brighter again now."

"I hope it will," said Wildeve moodily. "Do you know the consequence of this recall to me, my old darling? I shall come to see you again as before, at Rainbarrow."

"Of course you will."

"And yet I declare that until I got here tonight I intended, after this one good-bye, never to meet you again."

"I don't thank you for that," she said, turning away, while indignation spread through her like subterranean heat. "You may come again to Rainbarrow if you like, but you won't see me; and you may call, but I shall not listen; and you may tempt me, but I won't give myself to you any more."

"You have said as much before, sweet; but such natures as yours don't so easily adhere to their words. Neither, for the matter of that, do such natures as mine."

"This is the pleasure I have won by my trouble," she whispered bitterly. "Why did I try to recall you? Damon, a strange warring takes place in my mind occasionally. I think when I become calm after you woundings, 'Do I embrace a cloud of common fog after all?' You are a chameleon, and now you are at your worst colour. Go home, or I shall hate you!"

He looked absently towards Rainbarrow while one might have counted twenty, and said, as if he did not much mind all this, "Yes, I will go home. Do you mean to see me again?"

"If you own to me that the wedding is broken off because you love me best."

"I don't think it would be good policy," said Wildeve, smiling. "You would get to know the extent of your power too clearly."

"But tell me!"

"You know."

"Where is she now?"

"I don't know. I prefer not to speak of her to you. I have not yet married her; I have come in obedience to your call. That is enough."

"I merely lit that fire because I was dull, and thought I would get a little excitement by calling you up and triumphing over you as the Witch of Endor called up Samuel. I determined you should come; and you have come! I have shown my power. A mile and half hither, and a mile and half back again to your home — three miles in the dark for me. Have I not shown my power?"

He shook his head at her. "I know you too well, my Eustacia; I know you too well. There isn't a note in you which I don't know; and that hot little bosom couldn't play such a cold-blooded trick to save its life. I saw a woman on Rainbarrow at dusk looking down towards my house. I think I drew out you before you drew out me."

The revived embers of an old passion glowed clearly in Wildeve now; and he leant forward as if about to put his face towards her cheek.

"O no," she said, intractably moving to the other side of the decayed fire. "What did you mean by that?"

"Perhaps I may kiss your hand?"

"No, you may not."

"Then I may shake your hand?"


"Then I wish you good night without caring for either. Good-bye, good-bye."

She returned no answer, and with the bow of a dancing-master he vanished on the other side of the pool as he had come.

Eustacia sighed — it was no fragile maiden sigh, but a sigh which shook her like a shiver. Whenever a flash of reason darted like an electric light upon her lover — as it sometimes would — and showed his imperfections, she shivered thus. But it was over in a second, and she loved on. She knew that he trifled with her; but she loved on. She scattered the half-burnt brands, went indoors immediately, and up to her bedroom without a light. Amid the rustles which denoted her to be undressing in the darkness other heavy breaths frequently came; and the same kind of shudder occasionally moved through her when, ten minutes later, she lay on her bed asleep.

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