Hate you — no," said Thomasin soothingly. "It is only that he loves her too well. Look at it quietly — do. It is not so very bad of him. Do you know, I thought it not the worst match he could have made. Miss Vye's family is a good one on her mother's side; and her father was a romantic wanderer — a sort of Greek Ulysses."
"It is no use, Thomasin; it is no use. Your intention is good; but I will not trouble you to argue. I have gone through the whole that can be said on either side times, and many times. Clym and I have not parted in anger; we have parted in a worse way. It is not a passionate quarrel that would have broken my heart; it is the steady opposition and persistence in going wrong that he has shown. O Thomasin, he was so good as a little boy — so tender and kind!"
"He was, I know."
"I did not think one whom I called mine would grow up to treat me like this. He spoke to me as if I opposed him to injure him. As though I could wish him ill!"
"There are worse women in the world than Eustacia Vye."
"There are too many better that's the agony of it. It was she, Thomasin, and she only, who led your husband to act as he did — I would swear it!"
"No," said Thomasin eagerly. "It was before he knew me that he thought of her, and it was nothing but a mere flirtation."
"Very well; we will let it be so. There is little use in unravelling that now. Sons must be blind if they will. Why is it that a woman can see from a distance what a man cannot see close? Clym must do as he will — he is nothing more to me. And this is maternity — to give one's best years and best love to ensure the fate of being despised!"
"You are too unyielding. Think how many mothers there are whose sons have brought them to public shame by real crimes before you feel so deeply a case like this."
"Thomasin, don't lecture me — I can't have it. It is the excess above what we expect that makes the force of the blow, and that may not be greater in their case than in mine — they may have foreseen the worst....I am wrongly made, Thomasin," she added, with a mournful smile. "Some widows can guard against the wounds their children give them by turning their hearts to another husband and beginning life again. But I always was a poor, weak, one-idea'd creature — I had not the compass of heart nor the enterprise for that. Just as forlorn and stupefied as I was when my husband's spirit flew away I have sat ever since — never attempting to mend matters at all. I was comparatively a young woman then, and I might have had another family by this time, and have been comforted by them for the failure of this one son."
"It is more noble in you that you did not."
"The more noble, the less wise."
"Forget it, and be soothed, dear Aunt. And I shall not leave you alone for long. I shall come and see you every day."
And for one week Thomasin literally fulfilled her word. She endeavoured to make light of the wedding; and brought news of the preparations, and that she was invited to be present. The next week she was rather unwell, and did not appear. Nothing had as yet been done about the guineas, for Thomasin feared to address her husband again on the subject, and Mrs. Yeobright had insisted upon this.
One day just before this time Wildeve was standing at the door of the Quiet Woman. In addition to the upward path through the heath to Rainbarrow and Mistover, there was a road which branched from the highway a short distance below the inn, and ascended to Mistover by a circuitous and easy incline. This was the only route on that side for vehicles to the captain's retreat. A light cart from the nearest town descended the road, and the lad who was driving pulled up in front of the inn for something to drink.
"You come from Mistover?" said Wildeve.
"Yes. They are taking in good things up there. Going to be a wedding." And the driver buried his face in his mug.
Wildeve had not received an inkling of the fact before, and a sudden expression of pain overspread his face. He turned for a moment into the passage to hide it. Then he came back again.
"Do you mean Miss Vye?" he said. "How is it — that she can be married so soon?"
"By the will of God and a ready young man, I suppose."
"You don't mean Mr. Yeobright?"
"Yes. He has been creeping about with her all the spring."
"I suppose — she was immensely taken with him?"
"She is crazy about him, so their general servant of all work tells me. And that lad Charley that looks after the horse is all in a daze about it. The stun-poll has got fond-like of her."
"Is she lively — is she glad? Going to be married so soon — well!"
"It isn't so very soon."
"No; not so very soon."
Wildeve went indoors to the empty room, a curious heartache within him. He rested his elbow upon the mantelpiece and his face upon his hand. When Thomasin entered the room he did not tell her of what he had heard. The old longing for Eustacia had reappeared in his soul — and it was mainly because he had discovered that it was another man's intention to possess her.
To be yearning for the difficult, to be weary of that offered; to care for the remote, to dislike the near; it was Wildeve's nature always. This is the true mark of the man of sentiment. Though Wildeve's fevered feeling had not been elaborated to real poetical compass, it was of the standard sort. His might have been called the Rousseau of Egdon.