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Chapter 30

  • Farfrae's words to his landlady had referred to the removal of his boxes an_ther effects from his late lodgings to Lucetta's house. The work was no_eavy, but it had been much hindered on account of the frequent pause_ecessitated by exclamations of surprise at the event, of which the good woma_ad been briefly informed by letter a few hours earlier.
  • At the last moment of leaving Port-Bredy, Farfrae, like John Gilpin, had bee_etained by important customers, whom, even in the exceptional circumstances, he was not the man to neglect. Moreover, there was a convenience in Lucett_rriving first at her house. Nobody there as yet knew what had happened; an_he was best in a position to break the news to the inmates, and giv_irections for her husband's accommodation. He had, therefore, sent on hi_wo-days' bride in a hired brougham, whilst he went across the country to _ertain group of wheat and barley ricks a few miles off, telling her the hou_t which he might be expected the same evening. This accounted for he_rotting out to meet him after their separation of four hours.
  • By a strenuous effort, after leaving Henchard she calmed herself in readines_o receive Donald at High-Place Hall when he came on from his lodgings. On_upreme fact empowered her to this, the sense that, come what would, she ha_ecured him. Half-an-hour after her arrival he walked in, and she met him wit_ relieved gladness, which a month's perilous absence could not hav_ntensified.
  • "There is one thing I have not done; and yet it is important," she sai_arnestly, when she had finished talking about the adventure with the bull.
  • "That is, broken the news of our marriage to my dear Elizabeth-Jane."
  • "Ah, and you have not?" he said thoughtfully. "I gave her a lift from the bar_omewards; but I did not tell her either; for I thought she might have hear_f it in the town, and was keeping back her congratulations from shyness, an_ll that."
  • "She can hardly have heard of it. But I'll find out; I'll go to her now. And, Donald, you don't mind her living on with me just the same as before? She i_o quiet and unassuming."
  • "O no, indeed I don't," Farfrae answered with, perhaps, a faint awkwardness.
  • "But I wonder if she would care to?"
  • "O yes!" said Lucetta eagerly. "I am sure she would like to. Besides, poo_hing, she has no other home."
  • Farfrae looked at her and saw that she did not suspect the secret of her mor_eserved friend. He liked her all the better for the blindness. "Arrange a_ou like with her by all means," he said. "It is I who have come to you_ouse, not you to mine."
  • "I'll run and speak to her," said Lucetta.
  • When she got upstairs to Elizabeth-Jane's room the latter had taken off he_ut-door things, and was resting over a book. Lucetta found in a moment tha_he had not yet learnt the news.
  • "I did not come down to you, Miss Templeman," she said simply. "I was comin_o ask if you had quite recovered from your fright, but I found you had _isitor. What are the bells ringing for, I wonder? And the band, too, i_laying. Somebody must be married; or else they are practising for Christmas."
  • Lucetta uttered a vague "Yes," and seating herself by the other young woma_ooked musingly at her. "What a lonely creature you are," she presently said;
  • "never knowing what's going on, or what people are talking about everywher_ith keen interest. You should get out, and gossip about as other women do, and then you wouldn't be obliged to ask me a question of that kind. Well, now, I have something to tell you."
  • Elizabeth-Jane said she was so glad, and made herself receptive.
  • "I must go rather a long way back," said Lucetta, the difficulty of explainin_erself satisfactorily to the pondering one beside her growing more apparen_t each syllable. "You remember that trying case of conscience I told you o_ome time ago—about the first lover and the second lover?" She let out i_erky phrases a leading word or two of the story she had told.
  • "O yes—I remember the story of YOUR FRIEND," said Elizabeth drily, regardin_he irises of Lucetta's eyes as though to catch their exact shade. "The tw_overs—the old one and the new: how she wanted to marry the second, but fel_he ought to marry the first; so that she neglected the better course t_ollow the evil, like the poet Ovid I've just been construing: 'Video melior_roboque, deteriora sequor.'"
  • "O no; she didn't follow evil exactly!" said Lucetta hastily.
  • "But you said that she—or as I may say you"—answered Elizabeth, dropping th_ask, "were in honour and conscience bound to marry the first?"
  • Lucetta's blush at being seen through came and went again before she replie_nxiously, "You will never breathe this, will you, Elizabeth-Jane?"
  • "Certainly not, if you say not.
  • "Then I will tell you that the case is more complicated—worse, in fact—than i_eemed in my story. I and the first man were thrown together in a strange way, and felt that we ought to be united, as the world had talked of us. He was _idower, as he supposed. He had not heard of his first wife for many years.
  • But the wife returned, and we parted. She is now dead, and the husband come_aying me addresses again, saying, 'Now we'll complete our purposes.' But, Elizabeth-Jane, all this amounts to a new courtship of me by him; I wa_bsolved from all vows by the return of the other woman."
  • "Have you not lately renewed your promise?" said the younger with quie_urmise. She had divined Man Number One.
  • "That was wrung from me by a threat."
  • "Yes, it was. But I think when any one gets coupled up with a man in the pas_o unfortunately as you have done she ought to become his wife if she can, even if she were not the sinning party."
  • Lucetta's countenance lost its sparkle. "He turned out to be a man I should b_fraid to marry," she pleaded. "Really afraid! And it was not till after m_enewed promise that I knew it."
  • "Then there is only one course left to honesty. You must remain a singl_oman."
  • "But think again! Do consider——"
  • "I am certain," interrupted her companion hardily. "I have guessed very wel_ho the man is. My father; and I say it is him or nobody for you."
  • Any suspicion of impropriety was to Elizabeth-Jane like a red rag to a bull.
  • Her craving for correctness of procedure was, indeed, almost vicious. Owing t_er early troubles with regard to her mother a semblance of irregularity ha_errors for her which those whose names are safeguarded from suspicion kno_othing of. "You ought to marry Mr. Henchard or nobody—certainly not anothe_an!" she went on with a quivering lip in whose movement two passions shared.
  • "I don't admit that!" said Lucetta passionately.
  • "Admit it or not, it is true!"
  • Lucetta covered her eyes with her right hand, as if she could plead no more, holding out her left to Elizabeth-Jane.
  • "Why, you HAVE married him!" cried the latter, jumping up with pleasure afte_ glance at Lucetta's fingers. "When did you do it? Why did you not tell me, instead of teasing me like this? How very honourable of you! He did treat m_other badly once, it seems, in a moment of intoxication. And it is true tha_e is stern sometimes. But you will rule him entirely, I am sure, with you_eauty and wealth and accomplishments. You are the woman he will adore, and w_hall all three be happy together now!"
  • "O, my Elizabeth-Jane!" cried Lucetta distressfully. "'Tis somebody else tha_ have married! I was so desperate—so afraid of being forced to anythin_lse—so afraid of revelations that would quench his love for me, that _esolved to do it offhand, come what might, and purchase a week of happines_t any cost!"
  • "You—have—married Mr. Farfrae!" cried Elizabeth-Jane, in Nathan tones
  • Lucetta bowed. She had recovered herself.
  • "The bells are ringing on that account," she said. "My husband is downstairs.
  • He will live here till a more suitable house is ready for us; and I have tol_im that I want you to stay with me just as before."
  • "Let me think of it alone," the girl quickly replied, corking up the turmoi_f her feeling with grand control.
  • "You shall. I am sure we shall be happy together."
  • Lucetta departed to join Donald below, a vague uneasiness floating over he_oy at seeing him quite at home there. Not on account of her friend Elizabet_id she feel it: for of the bearings of Elizabeth-Jane's emotions she had no_he least suspicion; but on Henchard's alone.
  • Now the instant decision of Susan Henchard's daughter was to dwell in tha_ouse no more. Apart from her estimate of the propriety of Lucetta's conduct, Farfrae had been so nearly her avowed lover that she felt she could not abid_here.
  • It was still early in the evening when she hastily put on her things and wen_ut. In a few minutes, knowing the ground, she had found a suitable lodging, and arranged to enter it that night. Returning and entering noiselessly sh_ook off her pretty dress and arrayed herself in a plain one, packing up th_ther to keep as her best; for she would have to be very economical now. Sh_rote a note to leave for Lucetta, who was closely shut up in the drawing-roo_ith Farfrae; and then Elizabeth-Jane called a man with a wheel-barrow; an_eeing her boxes put into it she trotted off down the street to her rooms.
  • They were in the street in which Henchard lived, and almost opposite his door.
  • Here she sat down and considered the means of subsistence. The little annua_um settled on her by her stepfather would keep body and soul together. _onderful skill in netting of all sorts—acquired in childhood by making seine_n Newson's home—might serve her in good stead; and her studies, which wer_ursued unremittingly, might serve her in still better.
  • By this time the marriage that had taken place was known throughou_asterbridge; had been discussed noisily on kerbstones, confidentially behin_ounters, and jovially at the Three Mariners. Whether Farfrae would sell hi_usiness and set up for a gentleman on his wife's money, or whether he woul_how independence enough to stick to his trade in spite of his brillian_lliance, was a great point of interest.