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LI B R.AR.Y
OF THE
I UNIVERSITY

Of ILLINOIS



V. I



BftRE BOOK ROOM



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/returnofnative01hard



THK



RETURN OF THE NATIVE

FIRST VOLUME



SKETOH MAP OF THE SCEISOE OP THE STOUT




THE



RETURN OF THE NATIVE



BY

THOMAS HARDY

Al'THOK f)K



( ,.



KAK FROM THE MADDING CROWD' 'a i'AIK OF BLUE EYES ETC.



' To sorrow

I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind ;

But cheerly, cheerly,

She loves me dearly ;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.

I would deceive her,

And so leave her.
But ah ! she is so constant and so kind



IN THREE VOLUMES— VOL. I.



LONDON
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE

1878

[A U riglits reserved\






CONTENTS

OF

THE FIRST VOLUME.



BOOK FIRST.
THE THREE WOMEN.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A Face on which Time makes but little

Impression. . . • • 3
11. Humanity appears upon the scene,

hand in hand with trouble . 1 3

III. The Custom of the Country . . 27

IV. The Halt on the Turnpike-road . 73
V. Perplexity among Honest People . . 85

VI. The Figure against the Sky . .114

VII. Queen of Night . . . . 145



VI CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

CHAPTER PAGE

VIII. Those who are found where there

IS SAID TO BE Nobody . . .160

IX. Love leads a shrewd Man into Stra-
tegy . . . . . 172

X. A desperate Attempt at Persuasion . 193

XI. The Dishonesty of an Honest Woman 213



BOOK SECOND.
THE ARRIVAL.



I. Tidings of the Comer . . . 235

II. The People at Blooms-End make ready 246

III. How a little Sound produced a great

Dream ..... 256

IV. EUSTACIA IS LED ON TO AN AdVENTURE . 266

V. Through the Moonlight . . . 288



BOOK FIRST.

THE THREE WOMEN



VOL. T. 1?



CHAPTER I.

A FACE ON WHICH TIME MAKES BUT LITTLE
IMPRESSION.

A Saturday afternoon In November was
approaching the time of twilight, and the
vast tract of unenclosed wild known as
Egdon Heath embrowned Itself moment b}'
moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of
whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as
a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.
The heaven being spread with this pallid
screen, the earth with the darkest vegetation,
their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly
marked. In such contrast the heath wore
the appearance of an instalment of night
which had taken up Its place before its as-
tronomical hour was come : darkness had to
a great extent arrived hereon, while day

B 2



4 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

Stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards,
a furze-cutter would have been incHned to
continue work ; looking down, he would have
decided to finish his faggot and go home.
The distant rims of the world and of the
firmament seemed to be a division in time no
less than a division in matter. The face of
the heath by Its mere complexion added
half-an-hour to eve ; it could in like manner
retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the
frowning of storms scarcely generated, and
intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight
to a cause of shaking and dread.

In fact, precisely at this transitional point
of its nightly roll into darkness the great and
particular glory of the Egdon waste began,
and nobody could be said to understand the
heath who had not been there at such a time.
It could best be felt when It could not clearly
be seen. Its complete effect and explanation
lay in this and the succeeding hours before
the next dawn : then, and only then, did it
tell Its true tale. The spot was, Indeed, a



THE THREE WOMEN. 5

near relation of night, and when night showed
itself an apparent tendency to gravitate to-
gether could be perceived in its shades and
the scene. The sombre stretch of rounds
and hollows seemed to rise and meet the
evening gloom in pure sympathy, the heath
exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens
precipitated it. The obscurity in the air and
the obscurity in the land closed together in a
black fraternisation towards which each ad-
vanced half-way.

The place became full of a watchful in-
tentness now. When other things sank
brooding to sleep, the heath appeared slowly
to awake and listen. Every night its Titanic
form seemed to await something ; but it had
waited thus, unmoved, during so many cen-
turies, through the crises of so many things,
that it could only be imagined to awai: one
last crisis — the final overthrow.

It was a spot which returned upon the
memory of those who loved it with an aspect
of peculiar and kindly congruity. Smiling



6 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

champaigns of flowers and fruit hardly do
this, for they are permanently harmonious
only with an existence of better reputation
as to its issues than the present. Tv/ilight
combined with the scenery of Egdon Heath
to evolve a thing majestic without severity,
impressive without showiness, emphatic in its
admonitions, grand in its simplicity. The
qualifications which frequently invest the
facade of a prison with far more dignity than
is found in the facade of a palace double its
size lent to this heath a sublimity in which
spots renowned for mere prettiness are
utterly wanting. Gay prospects wed happily
with gay times ; but alas, if times be not gay !
Men have oftener suffered from the mockery
of a place too smiling for their reason than
from the oppression of surroundings over-
sadly tinged. Haggard Egdon appealed to
a subtler and scarcer instinct, to a more
recently learnt emotion, than that which
responds to the sort of beauty called charm-
ing.



THE THREE WOMEN. 7

Indeed, It is a question if the exclusive
reign of this orthodox beauty Is not approach-
ing Its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempe
may be a gaunt waste In Thule : human
souls may find themselves In closer and
closer harmony with external things wearing
a sombreness distasteful to our race when
it was young. The time seems near, If It
has not actually arrived, when the mournful
sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a mountain
will be all of nature that Is absolutely In
keeping with the moods of the more think-
ing among mankind. And ultimately, to the
co'mmonest tourist, spots like Iceland may
become what the vineyards and myrtle-
gardens of South Europe are to him now ;
and Heidelberg and Baden be passed un-
heeded as he hastens from the Alps to the
sand-dunes of Schevenlngen.

The most thorough-going ascetic could
feel that he had a natural right to wander
on Egdon : he was keeping within the line
of legitimate indulgence when he laid himself



8 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

open to influences such as these. Colours
and beauties so far subdued were, at least,
the birthright of all, Only in summer days
of highest feather did its mood touch the
level of gaiety. Intensity was more usually
reached by way of the solemn than by way
of the brilliant, and such a sort of intensity
was often arrived at during winter darkness,
tempests, and mists. Then Egdon was
aroused to reciprocity. The storm was its
lover ; and the wind was its friend. Then
it became the home of strange phantoms ;
and it was found to be the hitherto unrecog-
nised original of those wild regions of ob-
scurity which are vaguely felt to be com-
passing us about in midnight dreams of flight
and disaster, and are never thought of after
the dream till revived by scenes like this.

It was at present a place perfectly ac-
cordant with man's nature — neither ghastly,
hateful, nor ugly : neither commonplace, un-
meaning, nor tame ; but, like man, slighted
and enduring ; and withal singularly colossal



THE THREE WOiMEX. 9

and mysterious in its swarthy monotony.
As with some persons who have long lived
apart, solitude seemed to look out of its
countenance. It had a lonely face, suggest-
ing tragical possibilities.

This obscure, obsolete, superseded country
figures in Domesday. Its condition is re-
corded therein as that of heathy, furzy,
briary wilderness — ' Bruaria.' Then follows
the length and breadth in leagues ; anci,
though some uncertainty exists as to the
exact extent of this ancient lineal measure,
it appears from the figures that the area of
Egdon down to the present day has but
little diminished. ' Turbaria Bruaria ' — the
rio^ht of cuttinof heath-turf — occurs in charters
relating to the district. ' Overgrown with
heth and mosse,' says Leland of the same
dark sweep of country.

Here at least were intelligible facts re-
garding landscape — far-reaching proofs pro-
ductive of genuine satisfaction. The un-
tameable, Ishmaelitish thing that Egdon now



lO THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

was It always had been. Civilisation was its
enemy. Ever since the beginning of vege-
tation its soil had worn the same antique
brown dress, the natural and invariable
garment of the formation. In its venerable
one coat lay a certain vein of satire on
human vanity in clothes. A person on a
heath in raiment of modern cut and colours
wears more or less an anomalous look. We
seem to want the oldest and simplest human
clothing where the clothing of the . earth is
so primitive.

To recline on a stump of thorn in the
central valley of Egdon, between afternoon
and night, as now, where the eye could
reach nothing of the world outside the
summits and shoulders of heathland which
filled the whole circumference of its glance,
and to know that everything around and
underneath had been from prehistoric times
as unaltered as the stars overhead, gave
ballast to the mind adrift on change, and
harassed by the irrepressible New. . The



THE THREE WOMEN. II

great inviolate place had an ancient per-
manence which the sea cannot claim. Who
can say of a particular sea that it is old ?
Distilled by the sun, kneaded by the moon, it
is renewed in a year, in a day, or in an hour.
The sea changed, the fields changed, the
rivers, the villages, and the people changed,
yet Egdon remained. Those surfaces were
neither so steep as to be destructible by
weather, nor so flat as to be the victims of
floods and deposits. With the exception of
an aged highway, and a still more aged
barrow presently to be referred to — them-
selves almost crystallised to natural products
by long continuance — even the trifling irregu-
larities were not caused by pickaxe, plough,
or spade, but remained as the very finger-
touches of the last geological change.

The above-mentioned highway traversed
in a curved line the lower levels of the
heath, from one horizon to another. In
many portions of its course it overlaid an
old vicinal way, which branched from the



12 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

great Western road of the Romans, the Via
Icenlana, or Ikenild Street, hard by. On
the evening under consideration it would
have been noticed that, though- the gloom
had increased sufficiently to confuse the
minor features of the heath, the white sur-
face of the road remained almost as clear
as ever.



CHAPTER II.

HUMANITY APPEARS UPON THE SCENE, HAND
IN HAND WITH TROUBLE.

Along the road walked an old man. He
was white-headed as a mountain, bowed in
the shoulders, and faded in general aspect.
He wore a glazed hat, an ancient boat-cloak,
and shoes ; his brass buttons bearing an
anchor upon their face. In his hand was a
silver-headed walking-stick, which he used as
a veritable third leg, perseveringly dotting
the ground with its point at every few inches
interval. One would have said that he had
been, in his day, a naval officer of some order
or other.

Before him stretched the long, laborious
road, dry, empty, and white. It was quite



14 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

open to the heath on each side, and bisected
that vast dark surface like the parting-line
on a head of raven hair, diminishing and
bending away on the furthest horizon.

The old man frequently stretched his eyes
ahead to gaze over the tract that he had yet
to traverse. At length he discerned, a long
distance In front of him, a moving spot,
which appeared to be a vehicle, and it proved
to be going the same way as that In which
he himself was journeying. It was the
single atom of life that the scene contained,
and It only served to render the general
loneliness more evident. Its rate"of advance
was slow, and the old man gained upon It
sensibly.

When he drew nearer he perceived It to
be a spring van, ordinary in shape, but sin-
gular in colour, this being a lurid red. The
driver walked beside It. Like his van, he
was completely red. One dye of that tinc-
ture covered his clothes, the cap upon his
head, his boots, his face, his hands. He was



THE THREE WOMEN. 1 5

not temporarily overlaid with the colour : it
permeated him.

The old man knew the meaning of this.
The traveller with the cart was a reddleman
— a person whose vocation it was to supply
farmers with redding for their sheep. He
was one of a class rapidly becoming extinct
in Wessex, filling at present in the rural
world the place which, during the last cen-
tury, the dodo occupied in the world of
animals. He is a curious, interesting, and
nearly perished link between obsolete forms
of life and those which generally prevail.

The decayed officer, by degrees, came
up alongside his fellow-wayfarer, and wished
him good evening. The reddleman turned his
head, and replied in sad and occupied tones.
He was young, and his face, if not exactly
handsome, approached so near to handsome
that nobody would have contradicted an
assertion that it really was so in its natural
colour. His eye, which glared so strangely
through his stain, was in itself attractive —



1 6 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

keen as that of a bird of prey, and blue as
autumn mist. He had neither whisker nor
moustache, which allowed the soft curves of
the lower part of his face to be apparent.
His lips were thin, and though, as it seemed,
compressed by thought, there was a pleasant
twitch at their corners now and then. He was
clothed throughout in a tight-fitting suit of
corduroy, excellent in quality, not much worn,
and well chosen for its purpose ; but deprived
of its original colour by his trade. It showed
to advantage the good shape of his figure.
A certain well-to-do air about the man sug-
gested that he was not poor for his degree.
The natural query of an observer would have
been. Why should such a promising being as
this have hidden his prepossessing exterior
by adopting that singular occupation ?

After replying to the old man's greeting
he showed no inclination to continue in talk,
although they still walked side by side, for
the elder traveller seemed to desire company.
There were no sounds but that of the boom-



TPIE THREE WOMEN. 1 7

ing wind upon the stretch of tawny herbage
around them, the cracking wheels, the tread
of the men, and the footsteps of the two
shaggy ponies which drew the van. They
were small, hardy animals, of a breed be-
tween Galloway and Exmoor, and were
known as ' heath-croppers ' here.

Now, as they thus pursued their way, the
reddleman occasionally left his companion's
side, and, stepping behind the van, looked into
its interior through a small window. The
look was always anxious. He w^ould then
return to the old man, who made another
remark about the state of the country, to
which the reddleman again abstractedly re-
plied, and then again they would lapse into
silence. The silence conveyed to neither
any sense of awkwardness ; in these lonely
places wayfarers, after a first greeting, fre-
quently plod on for miles without speech ; con-
tiguity amounts to a tacit conversation where,
otherwise than in cities, such contiguity can
be put an end to on the merest inclination,

VOL. I. C



1 8 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

and where not to put an end to It is inter-
course in itself.

Possibly these two might not have spoken
again till their parting, had it not been for
the reddleman's visits to his van. When he
returned from his fifth time of looking in the
old man said, ' You have something inside
there besides your load ? '

' Yes.'

' Somebody who wants looking after ? '

' Yes.'

Not long after this a faint cry sounded
from the interior. The reddleman hastened
to the back, looked in, and came away again.

' You have a child there, my man ? '

' No, sir, I have a woman.'

' The deuce you have ! Why did she cry
out?'

' Oh, she has fallen asleep, and not being
used to travelling, she's uneasy, and keeps
dreaming.'

* A young woman ? '

^ Yes, a young woman.'



THE THREE WOMEN. 1 9

' That would have interested me forty
years ago. Perhaps she's your wife ? '

' My wife ! ' said the other bitterly. ' She's
above mating with such as I. But there's no
reason why I should tell you about that'

' That's true. And there's no reason why
you should not. What harm can I do to you
or to her ? '

The reddleman looked In the old man's
face. ' Well, sir,' he said at last, ' I knew
her before to-day, though perhaps it would
have been better if I had not. But she's
nothing to me, and I am nothing to her ;
and she wouldn't have been in m}^ van
if any better carriage had been there to
take her.'

' Where, may I ask ? '

' At Southerton.'

' I know the town well. What was she
doinof there ? '

'Oh, not much — to gossip about. How-
ever, she's tired to death now, and not at all
well, and that's what makes her so restless.

C 2



20 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

She dropped ofif into a nap about an hour
ago, and 'twill do her good.'

* A nice-looking girl, no doubt ? '

* You would say so.'

The other traveller turned his eyes with
interest towards the van window, and, with-
out withdrawing them, said, ' I presume I
might look in upon her ? '

' No,' said the reddleman, abruptly. ' It
is getting too dark for you to see much of
her ; and, more than that, I have no right to
allow you. Thank God she sleeps so well :
I hope she won't wake till she's home.'

' Who is she ? • One of the neighbour-
hood ? '

' 'TIs no matter who, excuse me.'

* It is not that girl of Blooms-end, who
has been talked about more or less lately ?
If so, I know her; and I can guess what has
happened.'

* 'TIs no matter. . . . Now, sir, I am
sorry to say that we shall soon have to part
company. My ponies are tired, and I have



THE THREE WOMEN. 21

further to go, and I am going to rest them
under this bank, for an hour.'

The elder traveller nodded his head in-
differently, and the reddleman turned his
horses and van in upon the turf, saying,
' Good-night.' The old man replied, and
proceeded on his way as before.

The reddleman watched his form as it
diminished to a speck on the road and be-
came absorbed in the thickening films of
night. He then took some hay from a truss
which was slung up under the van, and,
throwing a portion of it in front of the horses,
made a pad of the rest, which he laid on the
ground beside his vehicle. Upon this he sat
down, leaning his back against the wheel.
From the interior a low soft breathine came
to his ear. It appeared to satisfy him, and
he musingly surveyed the scene, as if con-
sidering the next step that he should take.

To do things musingly, and by small de-
grees, seemed, indeed, to be a duty in the
Egdon valleys at this transitional hour, for



22 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

there was that in the condition of the heath
itself which resembled protracted and halting
dubiousness. It was the quality of the re-
pose appertaining to the scene. This was
not the repose of actual stagnation, but the
apparent repose of Incredible slowness. A
condition of healthy life so nearly resembling
the torpor of death is a noticeable thing of its
sort ; to exhibit the inertness of the desert,
and at the same time to be exercising powers
akin to those of the meadow, and even of the
forest, awakened in those who thought of it
the attentiveness usually engendered by un-
derstatement and reserve.

The scene before the reddlemans eyes
was a gradual series of ascents from the level
of the road backward into the heart of the
heath. It embraced hillocks, pits, ridges,
acclivities, one behind the other, till all was
finished by a high hill cutting against the still
light sky. The traveller's eye hovered about
these things for a time, and finally settled
upon one noteworthy object up there. It



THE THREE WOMEN. 23

was a barrow. This bossy projection of
earth above its natural level occupied the
loftiest ground of the loneliest height that the
heath contained. Although from the vale it
appeared but as a wart on an Atlantean brow,
its actual bulk was great. It formed the pole
and axis of this heathery world.

As the resting man looked at the barrow
he became aware that its summit, hitherto
the highest object in the whole pros-
pect round, was surmounted by something
higher. What the barrow was to the hill
supporting it the object was to the barrow.
It rose from the semi-globular mound like a
spike from a helmet. The first instinct of an
imaginative stranger might have been to sup-
pose it the person of one of the Celts who
built the barrow, so far had all of modern
date withdrawn from the scene. It seemed
a sort of last man among them, musing for
a moment before dropping into eternal night
with the rest of his race.

There the form stood, motionless as the



24 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

hill beneath. Above the plain rose the hill,
above the hill rose the barrow, above the
barrow rose the figure. Above the figure
was nothing that could be mapped elsewhere
than on a celestial globe.

Such a perfect, delicate, and necessary
finish did the figure give to the dark pile of
hills that it seemed to be the only obvious
justification of their outline. Without it,
there was the dome without the lantern ;
with It, the architectural demands of the
mass were satisfied. The scene was
strangely homogeneous. The vale, the
upland, the barrow, and the figure above
it, all of these amounted only to unity.
Looking at this or that member of the
group was not observing a complete thing,
but a fraction of a thing.

The form was so much like an organic
part of the entire motionless structure that
to see it move would have impressed the
mind as a strange phenomenon. Immobility
being the chief characteristic of that whole



THE THREE WOMEN. 25

which the person formed portion of, the dis-
continuance of ImmoblHty In any quarter
suggested confusion.

Yet that is what happened. The figure
perceptibly gave up Its fixity, shifted a step
or two, and turned round. As If alarmed,
it descended on the right side of the barrow,
with the glide of a water-drop down a bud,
and then vanished. The movement had
been sufficient to show more clearly the
characteristics of the figure ; It was a wo-
man's.

The reason of her sudden displacement
now appeared. With her dropping out of
sight on the right side a new-comer, bear-
ing a burden, protruded Into the sky on
the left side, ascended the tumulus, and de-
posited the burden on the top. A second
followed, then a third, a fourth, a fifth, and
ultimately the whole barrow was peopled
with burdened figures.

The only intelligible meaning In this
sky-backed pantomime of silhouettes was



26 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

that the woman had no relation to the
party which had taken her place, was sedu-
lously avoiding these, and had come thither
for another object than theirs. The imagi-
nation of the observer clung by preference
to that vanished, solitary figure, as to some-
thing more interesting, more important, more
likely to have a history worth knowing than
these new-comers, and unconsciously re-
garded them as intruders. But they re-
mained, and established themselves ; and
the lonely person who hitherto had been
queen of the solitude did not at present
seem likely to return.



27



CHAPTER III.

THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY.

Had a looker-on been posted in the imme-
diate vicinity of the barrow he would have
learned that these persons were boys and
men of the neighbouring hamlets. Each, as
he ascended the barrow, had been heavily
laden with furze-faggots, carried upon the
shoulder by means of a long stake sharp-
ened at each end for impaling them easily
— two in front and two behind. They came
from a part of the heath a quarter of a
mile to the rear, where furze almost exclu-
sively prevailed as a product.

Every individual was so involved in
furze by his method of carrying the faggots
that he appeared like a bush on legs till he
had thrown them down. The party had



2 8 THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE.

marched in trail, like a travelling flock of
sheep; that is to say, the strongest first,
the weak and vounor behind.


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