Thomas Hardy.

Desperate remedies : a novel. In three volumes (Volume 2) online

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" Though a course of adventures which are only connected with each other by
hfivmg happened to the same individual is what most frequently occurs in
nature, yet the province of the romance-writer being artificial, there ^is more
required from him than a mere compliance with the simplicity of reahty."

Sm W. Scott.




[The Right of Translation it RiS€)"oed.\


















§ 1. From September the twenty -first to the
middle of November,

The foremost figure within Cjtlierea^s
horizon, exclusive of the inmates of Knapwater
House, was now the steward, Mr. Man.ston. It
was impossible that they should live within a
quarter of a mile of each other, be engaged in
the same service, and attend the same Church,
without meeting at some spot or another, twice
or thrice a week. On Sundays, in her pew,
when by chance she turned her head, Cytherea
found his eyes waiting desirously for a glimpse
of hers, and, at first more strangely, the eyes of



Miss AldclyfFe fiirtively resting on liim. On
coming out of Church he frequently walked
beside Cytherea till she reached the gate at
which residents in the House turned into the
shrubbery. By degrees a conjecture grew to a
certainty. She knew that he loved her.

But this strange fact was connected with the
development of his love.

He was palpably making the strongest efforts
to subdue, or at least to hide, the weakness, and
as it sometimes seemed, rather from his own
conscience than from surrounding eyes. Hence
she found that not one of his encounters with
her was anything more than the result of pure
accident. He made no advances whatever :
without avoiding her, he never sought her : the
words he had whispered at their first interview
now proved themselves to be quite as much the
result of unguarded impulse as was her answer.
Something held him back, bound his impulse
down, but she saw that it was neither pride of
his person^ nor fear that she would refuse him,
— a course she unhesitatingly resolved to take


should he think fit to declare himself. She was
interested in him and his marvellous beauty, as
she might have been in some fascinating
panther or leopard, — for some undefinable
reason she shrank from him, even whilst she
admired. The key-note of her nature, a warm
" precipitance of soul " as Coleridge happily
writes it, which Manston had so directly
pounced upon at their very first interview, gave
her now a tremulous sense of being in some way
in his power.

The state of mind was on the whole a
dangerous one for a young and inexperienced
woman ; and perhaps the circumstance which,
more than any other, led her to cherish
Edward's image now, was that he had taken
no notice of the receipt of her letter, stating
that she discarded him. It was plain then, she
said, that he did not care deeply for her, and
she thereupon could not quite leave off caring
deeply for him : —

" Ing-enium mulienun,

Nolunt ubi veils, ubi nolis cupiunt ultro."

B 2


The month of October passed, and November
began its course. The inhabitants of the
village of Carriford grew weary of supposing
that Miss AldcljfFe was going to marry her
steward. New whispers arose and became
very distinct (though they did not reach Miss
AldclyfFe's ears) to the effect that, the steward
was deeply in love with Cytherea Graye.
Indeed the fact became so obvious that there
was nothing left to say about it except that
their marriage would be an excellent one for
both ; — for her in point of money — and for him
in point of love.

As circles in a pond grow wider and wider,
the next fact, which at first had been patent
only to Cytherea herself, in due time spread to
her neighbours, and they too wondered that he
made no overt advances. By the middle of
November, a theory made up of a combination
of the other two was received with general
favour : its substance being, that a guilty
intrigue had been commenced between Manston
and Miss Aldclyffe, some years before, when he


was a very young man, and she still in the
enjoyment of some womanly beauty, but now
that her seniority began to grow emphatic she
was becoming distasteful to him. His fear of
the effect of the lady's jealousy, would, they
said, thus lead him to conceal from her his new
attachment to Cytherea. Almost the only
woman who did not believe this was Cytherea
herself, on unmistakable grounds, which were
hidden from all besides. It was not only in
pubhc, but even more markedly in secluded
places, on occasions when gallantry would have
been safe from all discovery, that this guarded
course of action was pursued, all the strength of
a consuming passion burning in his eyes the

§ 2. November the eighteenth.

It was on a Friday in this month of
November that Owen Graye paid a visit to his

His zealous integrity still retained for him


the situation at Creston, and in order that there
should be as little interruption as possible to
his duties there, he had decided not to come to
Knapwater till late in the afternoon, and to
return to Creston by the first train the next
morning, Miss Aldclyffe having made a point of
frequently offering him lodging for an unlimited
period, to the great pleasure of Cytherea,

He reached the liouse about four o'clock, and
ringing the bell of the side entrance, asked of
the page who answered it for Miss Graye,

When Graye spoke the name of his sister,
Manston, who was just coming out from an
interview with Miss Aldclyffe. passed him in
the vestibule and heard the question. The
steward's face grew hot, and he secretly
clenched his hands. He half crossed the Court,
then turned his head and saw^ that the lad still
stood at the door, though Owen had been
shown into the house. Manston went back to

*' Who was that man V he said.

" I don't know, sir."


" Has he ever been here before '? "

'' Yes, sir.''

'•' How many times ? "

" Three.''

" You are sure you don't know him 1 "

" I think he is Miss Graye's brother, sir."

'' Then, why the devil didn't you say so
before ! " Manston exclaimed, and again went
on his w^ay.

" Of course, that was not the man of my
dreams — of course, it couldn't be ! " he said to
himself " That I should be such a fool — such
an utter fool. Good God ! to allow a girl to
influence me like this, day after day, till I am
jealous of her very brother. A lady's de-
pendent, a waif, a helpless thing entirely at the
mercy of the world ; yes, curse it ; that is just
why it is ; that fact of her being so helpless
against the blows of circumstances which
renders her so dehciously sweet ! "

He paused opposite his house. Should he get
his horse saddled '? No.

He went down the drive and out of the park,


having started to proceed to an outlying spot on
the estate concerning some draining, and to call
at the potter's yard to make an arrangement
for the supply of pipes. But a remark T\^hich
Miss Aldclyffe had dropped in relation to Cy-
therea, Avas ^diat still occupied his mind, and
had been the immediate cause of his excitement
at the sight of her brother. Miss Aldclyffe had
meaningly remarked during their intercourse,
that Cytherea was wildly in love with Edward
Springrove, in spite of his engagement to his
cousin Adelaide.

" How I am harassed ! " he said aloud, after
deep thought for half an hour, while still con-
tinuing his walk with the greatest vehemence.
"How I am harassed by these emotions of
mine ! " He calmed himself by an effort.
" Well, duty after all it shall be, as nearly as
I can effect it. ' Honesty is the best poHcy/ "
with which vigorously uttered resolve, he once
more attempted to turn his attention to the
prosy object of his journey.

The evening had closed in to a dark and


dreary night when tlie steward came from the
potter's door to proceed homewards again. The
gloom did not tend to raise his spirits, and in
the total lack of objects to attract his eye, he
soon fell to introspection as before. It was
along the margin of turnip fields that his path
lay, and the large leaves of the crop struck
flatly against his feet at every step, pouring
upon them the rolling drops of moisture
gathered upon their broad surfaces ; but the
annoyance was unheeded. iSi'ext reaching a fir-
plantation, he mounted the stile and followed
the path into the midst of the darkness pro-
duced by the overhanging trees.

After walking under the dense shade of the
inky boughs for a few minutes, he fancied he
had mistaken the path, which as yet was
scarcely familiar to him. This was proved
directly afterwards by his coming at right
angles upon some obstruction, which careful
feehno- ^^th outstretched hands soon told him
to be a rail fence. However, as the wood was
not large, he experienced no alarm about finding


the path again, and with some sense of pleasure
halted awhile against the rails, to listen to the
intensely melancholy yet musical wail of the
fir-tops, and as the wind passed on, the prompt
moan of an adjacent plantation in reply. He
could just dimly discern the airy summits of the
two or three trees nearest him waving rest-
lessly backwards and forwards, and stretching
out their boughs like hairy arms into the dull
sky. The scene, from its striking and emphatic
loneliness, began to grow congenial to his mood ;
all of human kind seemed at the antipodes.

A sudden rattle on his light hand caused
him to start from his reverie, and turn in that

There, before him, he saw rise up from among
the trees a fountain of spari^s and smoke, then
a red glare of light coming forward towards
him ; then a flashing panorama of illuminated
oblong pictures ; then the old darkness, more
impressive than ever.

The surprise, which had owed its origin to his
imperfect acquaintance witli the topographical


features of that end of tlie estate, had been but

The disturbance, a well-known one to dwellers
bj a railway, was caused by the 6.50 down-
train passing along a shallow cutting in the
midst of the wood immediately below where
he stood, the driver having the fire door of the
engine open at the minute of going by. The
train had, when passing him, already consider-
ably slackened sjoeed, and now a whistle was
heard, announcing that Carriford-Road Station
was not far in its van.

But contrary to the natural order of things,
the discovery that it was only a common-place
train had not caused Manston to stir from his
position of facing the railway.

If the 6.50 down-train had been a flash of
forked lightning transfixing him to the earth,
he could scarcely have remained in a more
trance-like state. He still leant against the
railings, his right hand still continued pressing
on his walking-stick, his weight on one foot,
his other heel raised, his eyes wide open to-


wards tlie blackness of the cutting. The only
movement in him was a slight dropping of the
lower jTl^Y, separating his previously closed lips
a little way, as when a strange conviction rushes
home suddenly upon a man.

A new surprise, not nearly so trivial as the
first, had taken possession of him.

It was on this account. At one of the illumi-
nated windows of a second-class carriage in the
series gone by, he had seen a pale face, reclining
npon one hand, the light from the lamp falling
full upon it. The face was a woman's.

At last he moved ; gave a whispering kind of
whistle, adjusted his hat, and walked on again.

He was cross-questioning himself in every
direction as to how a piece of knowledge he had
carefully concealed had found its way to another
person's intelligence. " How can my address
have become known," he said at length, audibly.
" Well, it is a blessing I have been circumspect
and honourable, in relation to that — yes, I will
say it, for once, even if the words choke me,
that darling of mine, Cytherea, never to be my


own, never. I suppose all will come out now.
All ! " The great sadness of his utterance
proved that no mean force had been exercised
upon himself to sustain the circumspection he
had just claimed.

He wheeled to the left, pursued the ditch
beside the railway fence, and presently emerged
from the wood, stepping into a road which
crossed the railway by a bridge.

As he neared home, the anxiety lately written
in his face, merged by degrees into a grimly
humorous smile, which hung long upon his lips,
and he quoted aloud a line from the Book of
Jeremiah : —

" A woman shall compass a man."

§ 3. November the nineteenth. Daybreak.

Before it was hght the next morning, two
little naked feet pattered along the passage in
Knapwater House, from which Owen Graye's
bedroom opened, and a tap was given upon his


" Owen, Owen, are you awake ? " said
Cytherea in a whisper througli the keyhole.
" You must get up directl}^ or you'll miss the

When he descended to his sister's little room,
he found her there already waiting with a cup
of cocoa and a grilled rasher on the table for
him. A hasty meal was despatched in the
intervals of putting on his overcoat and finding
his hat, and they then went softly through the
long deserted passages, the kitchen-maid who
had prepared their breakfast walking before
them with a lamp held high above her head,
which cast long wheeling shadow\s down cor-
ridors intersecting the one they followed, their
remoter ends being lost in darkness. The door
was unbolted and they stepped out.

Owen had preferred walking to the station
to accepting the pony-carriage which Miss Ald-
clyffe had placed at his disposal, having a
morbid horror of giving trouble to people above
him in rank, and especially to their men-ser-
vants, who looked down upon him as a hybrid


monster from regions far below the touch-my-
hat stage of supremacy. Cytherea proposed to
walk a little way with him.

'' I want to talk to you as long as I can," she
said, tenderly.

Brother and sister then emerged by the heavy
door into the drive. The feeling and aspect
of the hour were precisely similar to those under
which the steward had left the house the
evening previous, excepting that apparently
unearthly reversal of natural sequence, which
is caused by the world getting hghter instead
of darker. '^ The tearful glimmer of the languid
dawn " was just sufficient to reveal to them the
melancholy red leaves, lying thickly in the
channels by the roadside, ever and anon loudly
tapped on by heavy drops of water, which the
bouo;hs above had collected from the foo-o-y air.

They passed the Old House engaged in a
deep conversation, and had proceeded about
twenty yards b}^ a cross route, in the direction
of the turnpike road, when the form of a woman
emerged from the porch of the building.


She Tvas wrapped in a grey "waterproof cloak,
the hood of which was drawn over her head and
closely round her face — so closely that her eyes
were the sole features uncovered.

With this one exception of her appearance
there, the most perfect stillness and silence
pervaded the steward's residence from base-
ment to chimney. Not a shutter was open ;
not a twine of smoke came forth.

Underneath the ivy-covered gateway she
stood still and listened for two, or possibly three
minutes, till she became conscious of others in
the park.

Seeing the pair she stepped back, with the
apparent intention of letting them pass out of
sight, and evidently wishing to avoid observa-
tion. But looking at her watch, and returning
it rapidly to her pocket, as if surprised at the
lateness of the hour, she hurried out again, and
across the park by^^a. still more oblique line than
that traced by Owen and his sister.

These in the meantime had got into the road,
and were walking along it as the woman came


up on the other side of the boundary hedge,
looking for a gate or stile, by which she too
might get off the grass upon hard ground.

Their conversation, of which every word was
clear and distinct, in the still air of the dawn, to
the distance of a quarter of a mile, reached her
ears, and withdrew her attention from all other
matters and sights whatsoever. Thus arrested
she stood for an instant as precisely in the
attitude of Imogen by the cave of Belarius, as
if she had studied the position from the play.

When they had advanced a few steps, she
followed them in some doubt, still screened by
the hedge.

" Do you believe in such odd coincidences '? ''
said Cytherea.

"How do you mean, believe in them'?
They occur sometimes."

'^ Yes, one will occur often enough — that is,
two disconnected events wiU fall strangely
together by chance, and people scarcely notice
the fact beyond sayir;*-, ' Oddly enough it hap-
pened that so and so were the same,' and so on.



But when three such events coincide without
any apparent reason for the coincidence, it
seems as if there must be invisible means at
work. You see, three things faUing together in
that manner are ten times as singular as two
cases of coincidence which are distinct.''

" Well of course : wdiat a mathematical head
you have, Cytherea. But I don't see so much to
marvel at in our case. That the man who kept
the public-house in which Miss Aldclyffe fainted,
and who found out her name and position, lives
in this neighbourhood, is accounted for by the
fact that she got him the berth to stop his
tongue. That you came here was simply owing
to Springrove."

" Ah, but look at this. Miss Aldclyffe is the
woman our father first loved, and I have come
to Miss Aldclyflfe's; you can't get over that."

From these premises, she proceeded to argue
like an elderly divine on the designs of Provi-
dence wdiich were apparent in such conjunc-
tures, and went into a variety of details con-
nected with Miss Aldclyffe's history.


"Had I better tell 31iss Aldclyffe that I
know all this 1 " she inquired at last.

"What's the usel" he said. "Your pos-
sessing the knowledge does no harm ; jou are
at any rate comfortable here, and a confession
to Miss Aldcljffe might only irritate her. Xo,
hold your tongue, Cytherea."

"' I fancy I should have been tempted to tell
her too," Cytherea went on, '•' had I not found
out that there exists a very odd, almost imper-
ceptible, and yet real connection of some kind
between her and Mr. Manston, which is more
than that of a mutual interest in the estate.''

"She is in love with him!" exclaimed Owen,
"fancy that!"

"Ah' — that's what every body says who has
been keen enough to notice anything. I said
so at first. And 3'et now I cannot persuade
myself that she is in love with him at all."

"Why can't your"'

"She doesn't act as if she were. She isn't —

you will know I don't say it from any vanity,

Owen, — she isn't the least jealous of me."

c 2


" Perhaps she is in some way in his power."

'• Xo — she is not. He was openly advertised
for, and chosen from forty or fifty who answered
the advertisement, without knowing w^hose it
was. And since he has been here, she has cer-
tainly done nothing to compromise herself in
any way. Besides, why should slie have brought
an enemy here at allV

" Then she must have fallen in love with him.
You know as well as I do, Cyth, that with
women there's nothing between the two poles
of emotion towards an interesting male ac-
quaintance. 'Tis either love or hate."

They walked for a few minutes in silence,
when Cytherea's eyes accidentally fell upon her
brother's feet.

'' Owen,'' she said, " do you know that there
is something unusual in your manner of walk-

"What is it like r". he asked.

" I can't quite say, except that you don't walk
so regularly as you used to."

The woman behind the hedge, who had still


continued to dog their footsteps, made an im-
patient movement at this change in their con-
versation, and looked at her watch again.

Yet she seemed reluctant to give over Hsten-

•' Yes,'' Owen returned with assumed care-
lessness, " I do know it. I think the cause of
it, is that mysterious pain which comes just
above my ankle sometimes. You remember
the first time I had it? That dav we went bv
steam-packet to Lewborne Bay, when it hin-
dered me from coming back to you, and com-
pelled me to sleep with the gateman we have
been talking about.''

"But is it anything serious, dear Owen'?"
Cytherea exclaimed with some alarm.

" nothing at all. It is sure to go off again.
I never find a sign of it when I sit in the office."

Again their unperceived companion made a
gesture of vexation, and looked at her watch.

But the dialogue still flowed on upon this
new subject, and showed no sign of returning
to its old channel.


Gathering up her skirt decisively she re-
nounced all further hope, and hurried along the
ditch till she had dropped into a yailey, and
came to a gate which ^^'as beyond the view of
those coming behind. This she softly opened,
and came out upon the road, following it in the
direction of the railway station.

Presently she heard Owen Gra^^e's footsteps
in her rear, his quickened pace implying that he
had parted frona his sister. The woman there-
upon increased her rapid walk to a run, and in
a few minutes safely distanced her fellow tra-

The railway at Carriford-Road consisted only
of a single line of rails; and the short local
down-train by which Owen was going to
Creston was shunted on to a siding, whilst the
first up-train passed. Graye entered the wait-
ing room, and the door being open he listlessly
observed the movements of a woman wearing a
long grey cloak, and closely hooded, who had
asked for a ticket for London.

He followed her with his eyes on to the plat-


form, saw her waiting there and afterwards
stepping into the train : his recollection of her
ceasing with the perception.

§ 4. EigJit to ten o clock, a.m.

Mrs. Crickett, twice a widow, and now the
parish clerk's wife, a fine-framed, scandal-loving
woman, with a peculiar corner to her eye by
which, without turning her head, she could see
what people were doing almost behind her,
lived in a cottage standing nearer to the old
manor-house than any other in the village of
Carriford, and she had on that account been
temporarily engaged by the steward, as a re-
spectable kind of charwoman and general
servant, until a settled arrangement could be
made with some person as jDermanent domestic.

Every morning, therefore, Mrs. Crickett,
immediately she had lighted the fire in her
own cottage, and prepared the breakfast for
herself and husband, wended her way to the
Old House to do the same for Mr. Manston.


Then she went home to breakfast, and when
the steward had partaken of his, and had gone
out on his rounds, she returned again to clear
away, make his bed, and put the house in order
for the day.

On the morning of Owen Graye's departure,
she went through the operations of her first
visit as usual — proceeded home to breakfast,
and went back again, to perform those of the

Entering Manston's empty bedroom, with her
hands on her hips, she indifferently cast her
eyes upon the bed, previously to dismantling it.

Whilst she looked, she thought in an in-
attentive manner, "What a remarkably quiet
sleeper Mr. Manston must be ! " The upper

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