Thomas Hardy.

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

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son of her tenant and inferior, could have
become an educated man, Tvdio had learnt to
feel his individuality, to view society from a
Bohemian stand-point, far outside the farming
grade in Carriford parish, and that hence he
had all a developed man s unorthodox opinion
about the subordination of classes. And fully
conscious of the labyrinth into which he had
wandered between his wish to behave honour-
ably in the dilemma of his engagement to his
cousin Adelaide, and the intensity of his love
for Cytherea, Springrove was additionally sen-
sitive to any allusion to the case. He had
spoken to Miss Aldclyffe with considerable
warmth.

And Miss Aldcljffe was not a woman likely
to be far behind any second person in warming
to a mood of defiance. It seemed as if she
was prepared to put up with a cold refusal,
but that her haughtiness resented a criticism
of her conduct ending in a rebuke. By this,
]\ranston^s discreditable object, which had been



128 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

made hers by compulsion onl}^, was now adopted
by choice. She flung herself into the work.

A fiery man in such a case would have re-
linquished persuasion and tried palpable force.
A fiery woman added unscrupulousness and
evolyed daring strategy ; and in her obstinacy,
and to sustain herself as mistress, she descended
to an action the meanness of which haunted
her conscience to her dying hour.

" I don't quite see, Mr. Springrove," she said,
" that I am altogether what you are pleased to
call a stranger. I have known your family, at
any rate, for a good many years, and I know
Miss Graye particularly well, and her state of
mind with regard to this matter.''

Perplexed love makes us credulous and
curious as old women. Edward was willing,
he owned it to himself, to get at Cytherea's
state of mind, even through so dangerous a
medium.

''A letter I received from her," he said, with
assumed coldness, "tells me clearly enough
what Miss Grave's mind is."



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 129

" You think she still loves you ? 0, yes, of
course you do — all men are like that."

'•' I have reason to." He could feign no
further than the first speech.

"I should be interested in knowing what
reason '? '' she said, with sarcastic archness.

Edward felt he was allowing her to do, in
fractional parts, w^iat he rebelled against wdien
reo;ardino; it as a whole : but the fact that his
antagonist had the presence of a queen, and
features only in the early evening of their
beauty, was not without its influence upon
a keenly conscious man. Her bearing had
charmed him into toleration, as ]\rary Stuart's
charmed the indignant Puritan visitors. He
again answered her honestly.

'' The best of reasons — the tone of her letter."

*' Pooh, Mr. Springrove ! "

" Xot at all. Miss Aldclyffe ! Miss Graye de-
sired that w^e should be strangers to each other
for the simple practical reason that intimacy could
only make wretched complications w^orse, not
from lack of love— love is only suppressed."



130 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

"Don't you know yet, that in thus puttmg
aside a man, a woman's pity for the pain she
inflicts gives her a kindness of tone which is
often mistaken for suppressed love "? '' said Miss
Aldclyffe, with soft insidiousness.

This was a translation of the ambiguity of
Cytherea's tone which he had certainly never
thought of ; and he was too ingenuous not to
own it.

•' I had never thought of it,'' he said.

" And don't beheve it 1 "

"Not unless there was some other evidence
to support the view."

She paused a minute and then began hesitat-
ingly,

" My intention was — what I . did not dream
of owning to you — my intention was to try
to induce you to fulfil your promise to ]\Iiss
Hinton not solely on her account and yours
(though partly). I. love Cytherea Graye with
all my soul, and I want to see her happy even
more than I do you. I did not mean to drag
her name into the affair at all, but I am driven



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 131

to say that she wrote that letter of dismissal to
you — for it was a most pronounced dismissal —
not on account of your engagement. She is
old enough to know that engagements can be
broken as easily as they can be made. She
wrote it because she loved another man ; very
suddenly, and not with any idea or hope of
marrying him, but none the less deeply."

" Who ? "

'' Mr. Manston."

" Good ! I can't listen to you for an

instant, madam ; why, she hadn't seen him ! "

" She had ; he came here the day before she
wrote to you ; and I could prove to you, if it
were worth while, that on that day, she went
voluntarily to his house, though not artfully
or blamably ; stayed for two hours playing
and singing ; that no sooner did she leave him
than she went straight home, and wrote the
letter saying she should not see you again,
entirely because she had seen him and fallen
desperately in love with him — a perfectly
natural thing for a young girl to do, con-

K 2



132 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

sidering that he 's the handsomest man in the
county. "Why else should she not have written
to you before *? "

" Because I was such a — because she did not
know of the connection between me and my
cousin until then."

" I must think she did."

" On what ground '? "

" On the strong ground of my having told
her so, distinctly, the very first day she came to
live with me."

" Well, what do you seek to impress upon me
after all ? This — that the day Miss Graye
wrote to me, saying it was better we should
part, coincided with the day she had seen a
certain man "

"A remarkably handsome and talented
man."

" Yes, I admit that.^'

" And that it coincided with the hour just
subsequent to her seeing him."

" Yes, just when she had seen him.''

" And been to his house alone with him.''



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 133

" It is nothing."

" And stayed there playing and singing ^\'ith
him."

''Admit that, too," he said; "an accident
might have caused it."

" And at the same instant that she wrote
your dismissal she wrote a letter referring to a
secret appointment with him."

" Never, by God, madam ! never ! "

" What do you say, sir '? "

" Never."

She sneered.

" There's no accounting for beliefs, and the
whole history is a very trivial matter ; but I am
resolved to prove that a lady's word is truthful,
though upon a matter which concerns neither
you nor herself. You shall learn that she did
write him a letter concerning an assignation —
that is, if Mr. Manston still has it, and will be
considerate enough to lend it me."

" But besides," continued Edward, " a married
man to do what would cause a young girl to
write a note of the kind you mention ! "



134 DESPERATE KEMEDIEi^.

She flushed a little.

" That I don't know anything about/' she
stammered. "But Cytherea didn't, of course,
dream any more than I did, or others in the
parish, that he was married."

*' Of course she didn't.''

"And I have reason to believe that he told
her of the fact directly afterwards, that she
might not compromise herself, or allow him to.
It is notorious that he struggled honestly and
hard against her attractions, and succeeded
in hiding his feelings, if not in quenching
them.''

" We'll hope that he did."

" But circumstances are changed now."

" Very greatly changed," he murmured, ab-
stractedly.

"You must remember," she added, more
suasively, " that Miss Graye has a perfect right
to do what she likes with her own — her heart,
that is to say."

Her descent from irritation was caused by
perceiving that Edward's faith was really dis-



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 135

turbed by her strong assertions, and it gratified
her.

Edward's thoughts flew to his father, and the
object of his interview with her. Tongue-
fencing was utterly distasteful to him.

*' I will not trouble you by remaining longer,
madam," he remarked, gloomily ; " our conver-
sation has ended sadly for me.*^

" Don't think so,"' she said, '•' and don't be
mistaken. I am older than you are, many years
older, and I know many things."

Full of miserable doubt, and bitterly regret-
ting that he had raised his father's expectations
by anticipations impossible of fulfilment, Edward
slowly w^ended his way into the village, and ap-
proached his cousin's house. The farmer was
at the door looking eagerly for him. He had
been waitim;- there for more than half-an-hour.
His eye kindled quickly.

" Well, Ted, what does she say 1 " he asked,
in the intensely sanguine tones which fall sadly
upon a listener's ear, because, antecedently, they



136 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

raise pictures of inevitable disappointment for
the speaker, in some direction or another.

" Nothing for us to be alarmed at," said
Edward, with a forced cheerfulness.

" But must we rebuild 1 "

" It seems we must, father."

The old man's eye swept the horizon, then he
turned to go in, without making another obser-
vation. All light seemed extinguished in him
again. When Edward went in he found his
father with the bureau open, unfolding the leases
with a shaking hand, folding them up again
without reading them, then putting them in
their niche only to remove them again.

Adelaide was in the room. She said thought-
fully to Edward, as she watched the farmer, —

" I hope it won't kill poor uncle, Edward.
What should w^e do if anything w^ere to happen
to him 1 He is the only near relative you and
I have in the w^orl.d." It was perfectly true,
and somehow Edward felt more bound up with
her after that remark.

She continued, " And he was only saying so



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 137

hopefully the day before the fire, that he
wouldn't for the world let anyone else give me
away to you vrhen we are married."

For the first time a conscientious doubt arose
in Edward's mind as to the justice of the course
he was pursuing in resolving to refuse the
alternative offered by ]\Iiss Aldclyffe. Could it
be selfishness as well as independence 1 How
much he had thought of his own heart, how little
he had thought of his father's peace of mind !

The old man did not speak again till supper-
time, when he began asking his son an endless
number of hypothetical questions on what might
induce Miss Aldclyffe to listen to kinder terms :
speaking of her now not as an unfair woman,
but as a Lachesis or Fate whose course it
behoved nobody to condemn. In his earnest-
ness he once turned his eyes on Edward's face :
their expression was woful : the pupils were
dilated and strange in aspect.

" If she will only agree to that ! " he reiter-
ated for the hundredth time, increasing the sad-
ness of his listeners.



13S DESPERATE REMEDIES.

An aristocratic knocking came to the door,
and Jane entered with a letter, addressed

"Mr. Edward Springroye, Junior.''

" Charles from Knapwater House brought it,"
she said.

"Miss AldclyfFe's writing," said Mr. Sprin-
grove, before Edward had recognised it himself.
" "Now 'tis all right ! she's going to make an
offer ; she doesn't want the houses there, not
she ; they are going to make that the w^ay into
the park."

Edward opened the seal and glanced at the
inside. He said, with a supreme effort of self-
command, — '

" It is oiil}^ directed by Miss Aldclyffe, and
refers to nothing connected with the fire. I
wonder at her taking the trouble to send it to-
night."

His father looked absently at him and turned
away again.

Shortly afterwards they retired for the night.
Alone in his bedroom Edward opened and read



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 139

what he had not dared to refer to in their
presence.

The envelope contained another envelope in
Cytherea's handwriting, addressed to " — Man-
ston, Esq., Old Manor House/' Inside this was
the note she had written to the steward after her
detention in his house by the thunderstorm : —

" Knapwater House,

" I find I cannot meet you at seven
o'clock by the waterfall as I promised. The
emotion I felt made me forgetful of realities.

'' C. Gkaye."

Miss Aldclyffe had not written a line, and, by
the unvarying rule observable when words are
not an absolute necessity, her silence seemed ten
times as convincing as any expression of opinion
could have been.

He then, step by step, recalled all the con-
versation on the subject of Cytherea's feelings
that had passed between himself and Miss



140 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

Aldclyffe in the afternoon, and by a confusion
of thought, natural enough under the trying
experience, concluded that because the lady was
truthful in her portraiture of effects, she must
necessarily be right in her assumption of causes.
That is, he ^Yas convinced that Cytherea — the
hitherto-believed faithful Cytherea — had, at any
rate, looked with something more than indiffer-
ence upon the extremely handsome face and
form of ^lanston.

Did he blame her, as guilty of the impro-
priety of allowing herself to love him in the face
of his not being free to return her love 1 No :
never for a moment did he doubt that all had
occurred in her old, innocent, impulsive way :
that her heart was gone before she knew it —
before she knew anything, beyond his existence,
of the man to whom it had flown. Perhaps the
very note enclosed to him was the result of first
reflection. Manston he would unhesitatingly
have called a scoundrel, but for one strikingly
redeeming fact. It had been patent to the
whole parish, and had come to Edward's own



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 141

knowledge by that indirect channel, that
Manston, as a married man, conscientiously
avoided Cytherea after those first few days of
his arrival during which her irresistibly beauti-
ful and fatal glances had rested upon him — his
upon her.

Taking from his coat a creased and pocket-
worn envelope containing Cytherea's letter to
himself, Springrove opened it and read it
through. He was upbraided therein, and he
was dismissed. It bore the date of the letter
sent to Manston, and by containing within it
the phrase, "All the day long I have been
thinking," afforded justifiable ground for assum-
ing that it was written subsequently to the
other, (and in Edward's sight far sweeter one),
to the steward.

But though he accused her of fickleness, he
would not doubt the genuineness, of its kind, of
her partiality for him at Creston. It was a
short and shallow feeling : not genuine love : —

*' Love is not love
" Whicli alters when it alteration finds."



142 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

But it was not flirtation ; a feeling had been
born in her and had died. It would be well for
his peace of mind if his Love for her could flit
away so softly, and leave so few traces behind.

Miss Aldclyffe had shown herself desperately
concerned in the whole matter by the alacrity
with which she had obtained the letter from
Manston, and her labours to induce himself to
marry his cousin. Taken in connection with
her apparent interest in, if not love for Cythe-
rea, her eagerness, too, could only be accounted
for on the ground that Cytherea indeed loved
the steward.



§ 5. December the fourth.

Edward passed the night he scarcely knew
how, tossing feverishly from side to side, the
blood throbbing in his temples, and singing in
his ears.

As soon as day began to break he dressed
himself. On going out upon the landing he
found his father's bedroom door already open.



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 143

Edward concluded tbat the old man had risen
softly, as was his wont, and gone out into the
fields to start the labourers.

But neither of the outer doors was unfastened.
He entered the front room, and found it
empty. Then animated by a new idea, he went
round to the little back parlour, in wdiich the
few wrecks saved from the fire were deposited,
and looked in at the door. Here, near the
window, the shutters of which had been opened
half way, he saw his father leaning on the
bureau, his elbows resting on the flap, his body
nearly doubled, his hands clasping his forehead.
Beside him were ghostly-looking square folds
of parchment — the leases of the houses
destroyed.

His father looked up when Edward entered,
and wearily spoke to the young man as his face
came into the faint light.

" Edward, why did you get up so early 1 "
'•'I was uneasy, and could not sleep."
The farmer turned a2;ain to the leases on the
bureau, and seemed to become lost in reflection.



144 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

In a minute or two, without lifting his eyes, he
said,

*' This is more than we can bear, Ted, more
than we can bear ! Ted, this will kill me. Not
the loss onl}^ — the sense of my neglect about
the insurance and everything. Borrow^ I never
Avill. 'Tis all misery now. God help us — all
misery now ! ''

Edward did not answer, continuing to look
fixedly at the dreary daylight outside.

" Ted/' the farmer went on, *' This upset of
been burnt out o' home makes me very nervous
and doubtful about everything. There's this
troubles me besides — our liven here with your
cousin, and fillen up her house. It must be
very awkward for her. But she says she
doesn't mind. Have you said anything to her
lately about when you are going to marry her?"

"Nothing at all lately."

" Well perhaps you may as well, now^ we are
so mixed in together. You know, no time has
ever been mentioned to her at all, first or last,
and I think it right that now, since she has



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 145

waited so patiently and so long — you are
almost called upon to say you are ready. It
would simplify matters very mucli, if you were
to walk up to church wi' her one of these
mornings, get the thing done, and go on Hven
here as we are. If you don't I must get a
house all the sooner. It would lighten my
mind, too, ahout the two little freeholds over the
hill — not a morsel a-piece, divided as they were
between her mother and me, but a tidy bit tied
together again. Just think about it, will ye,
TedV

He stopped from exhaustion produced by the
intense concentration of his mind upon the
weary subject, and looked anxiously at his son.

" Yes, I will," said Edward.

"But I am going to see Her of the Great
House this morning," the farmer went on, his
thoughts reverting to the old subject. " I must
know the rights of the matter, the when and
the where. I don't like seen her, but I'd rather
talk to her than the steward. I wonder what
she'll say to me."



146 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

The younger man knew exactly what she
would say. If his father asked her what he
was to do, and when, she would simply refer
him to Manston : her character was not that of
a woman who shrank from a proposition she
had once laid down. If his father were to say
to her that his son had at last resolved to
marry his cousin within the year, and had given
her a promise to that effect, she would say,
" Mr. Springrove, the houses are hurnt : we'll
let them go : trouble no more about them."

His mind was already made up. He said
calmly, " Father, when you are talking to Miss
Aldclyflfe, mention to her that I have asked
Adelaide if she is willing to marry me next
Christmas. She is interested in my union with
Adelaide, and the news will be welcome to her.''

"And yet she can be iron with reference to
me and her property," the farmer murmured;
"Very well, Ted, Til tell her."



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 147

§ 6. December the fifth.

Of the many contradictory particulars con-
stituting a woman's heart, two had shown their
vigorous contrast in Cytherea's bosom just at
this time.

It was a dark morning, the morning after
old Mr. Springrove's visit to jMiss Aldclyflfe,
which had terminated as Edward had intended.
Having risen an hour earlier than was usual
w^ith her, Cytherea sat at the window of an
elegant httle sitting-room on the ground floor,
which had been appropriated to her by the
kindness or whim of Miss Aldclyffe, that she
might not be driven into that lady's presence
against her will. She leant with her face on
her hand, looking out into the gloomy grey air.
A yellow glimmer from the flapping flame of
the newly-lit fire fluttered on one side of her
face and neck like a butterfly about to settle
there, contrasting warmly with the other side
of the same fair face, which received from the
window the faint cold morning light, so weak

L 2



1-iS DESPERATE REMEDIES.

that her shadow from the fire had a distinct
outhne on the window-shutter in spite of it.
There the shadow danced hke a demon, blue
and grim.

The contradiction alluded to was that in
spite of the decisive mood which two months
earlier in the year had caused her to write a
peremptory and final letter to Edward, she was
now hoping for some answer other than the
only possible one a man wdio, as she held, did
not love her wildly, could send to such a com-
munication. For a lover who did love wildly,
she had left one little loophole in her otherwise
straightforward epistle. Why she expected
the letter on some morning of this particular
w^eek was, that hearing of his return to Carri-
ford, she fondly assumed that he meant to ask
for an interview before he left. Hence it was,
too, that for the last few days, she had not
been able to keep in bed later than the time
of the postman's arrival.

The clock pointed to half-past seven. She
saw the postman emerge from beneath the



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 149

bare boughs of the park trees, come through
the wicket, dive through the shrubbery, re-
appear on the lawn, stalk across it without re-
ference to paths — as country postmen do — and
come to the porch. She heard him fling the
bag down on the seat, and turn away towards
the village, without hindering himself for a
single pace.

Then the butler opened the door, took
up the bag, brought it in, and carried it
up the staircase to place it on the slab
by Miss Aldclyfife's dressing - room door.
The whole proceeding had been depicted by
sounds.

She had a presentiment that her letter was
in the bag at last. She thought then in
diminishing pulsations of confidence, " He asks
to see me ! perhaps he asks to see me : I hope
he asks to see me.''

A quarter to eight : Miss Aldclyffe's bell
— rather earher than usual. " She must have
heard the post-bag brought," said the maiden,
as, tired of the chilly prospect outside, she



150 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

turned to the fire, and drew imaginative
pictures of her future therein.

A tap came to the door, and the lady's maid
entered. " Miss AldclyfFe is awake/' she said;
*' and she asked if you were moving yet, miss."

"I'll run up to her," said Cytherea, and
flitted off with the utterance of the words.
" Very fortunate this," she thought ; " I shall
see what is in the bag this morning "all the
sooner."

She took it up from the side table, went into
Miss Aldclyfi'e's bedroom, pulled up the blinds,
and looked round upon the lady in bed, calcu-
lating the minutes that must elapse before she
looked at her letters.

*' Well, darling, how are you ? I am glad
you have come in to see me," said Miss Ald-
clyffe. " You can unlock the bag this morning,
child, if you like," she continued, yawning
factitiously.

" Strange ! " Cytherea thought ; " it seems
as if she knew there was likely to be a letter
for me."



THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS. 151

From her bed Miss Aldclyffe watched the
girFs face as she trembhngly opened the post-
bag and found there an envelope addressed to
her in Edward's handwriting ; one he had
written the day before, after the decision he
had come to on an impartial, and on that
account torturing, survey of his own, his
father's, his cousin Adelaide's, and what he
believed to be, Cytherea's position.

The haughty mistress's soul sickened remorse-
fully within her, when she saw suddenly appear
upon the speaking countenance of the young
lady before her, a wan desolate look of agony.

The master-sentences of Edward's letter were
these ; *' You speak truly. That we never meet
again is the wisest and only proper course.
That I regret the past as much as you do
yourself, it is hardly necessary for me to say."



CHAPTER IV.

THE EYEXTS OP TEN MONTHS.

§ 1. December to Jpril.

Week after week, month after month, the
time had flown by. Christmas had passed :
dreary winter with dark evenings had given
place to more dreary winter with hght evenings.
Thaws had ended in rain, rain in wind,
wind in dust. Showery days had come — the
period of pink dawns and white sunsets: with
the third week in April the cuckoo had ap-
peared ; with the fourth, the nightingale.

Edward Springrove was in London, attending
to the duties of his new ofiSce, and it had
become known throughout the neighbourhood
of Carriford that the engagement between


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