Under the Greenwood Tree
Thomas Hardy

Part 3 out of 4

"No, no. But he called, and she looked at him in such a way, and at
me in such a way--quite different the ways were,--and as I was
coming off, there was he hanging up her birdcage."

"Well, why shouldn't the man hang up her bird-cage? Turk seize it
all, what's that got to do wi' it? Dick, that thou beest a white-
lyvered chap I don't say, but if thou beestn't as mad as a cappel-
faced bull, let me smile no more."

"O, ay."

"And what's think now, Dick?"

"I don't know."

"Here's another pretty kettle o' fish for thee. Who d'ye think's
the bitter weed in our being turned out? Did our party tell 'ee?"

"No. Why, Pa'son Maybold, I suppose."

"Shiner,--because he's in love with thy young woman, and d'want to
see her young figure sitting up at that queer instrument, and her
young fingers rum-strumming upon the keys."

A sharp ado of sweet and bitter was going on in Dick during this
communication from his father. "Shiner's a fool!--no, that's not
it; I don't believe any such thing, father. Why, Shiner would never
take a bold step like that, unless she'd been a little made up to,
and had taken it kindly. Pooh!"

"Who's to say she didn't?"

"I do."

"The more fool you."

"Why, father of me?"

"Has she ever done more to thee?"


"Then she has done as much to he--rot 'em! Now, Dick, this is how a
maid is. She'll swear she's dying for thee, and she is dying for
thee, and she will die for thee; but she'll fling a look over
t'other shoulder at another young feller, though never leaving off
dying for thee just the same."

"She's not dying for me, and so she didn't fling a look at him."

"But she may be dying for him, for she looked at thee."

"I don't know what to make of it at all," said Dick gloomily.

"All I can make of it is," the tranter said, raising his whip,
arranging his different joints and muscles, and motioning to the
horse to move on, "that if you can't read a maid's mind by her
motions, nature d'seem to say thou'st ought to be a bachelor. Clk,
clk! Smiler!" And the tranter moved on.

Dick held Smart's rein firmly, and the whole concern of horse, cart,
and man remained rooted in the lane. Hew long this condition would
have lasted is unknown, had not Dick's thoughts, after adding up
numerous items of misery, gradually wandered round to the fact that
as something must be done, it could not be done by staying there all

Reaching home he went up to his bedroom, shut the door as if he were
going to be seen no more in this life, and taking a sheet of paper
and uncorking the ink-bottle, he began a letter. The dignity of the
writer's mind was so powerfully apparent in every line of this
effusion that it obscured the logical sequence of facts and
intentions to an appreciable degree; and it was not at all clear to
a reader whether he there and then left off loving Miss Fancy Day;
whether he had never loved her seriously, and never meant to;
whether he had been dying up to the present moment, and now intended
to get well again; or whether he had hitherto been in good health,
and intended to die for her forthwith.

He put this letter in an envelope, sealed it up, directed it in a
stern handwriting of straight dashes--easy flourishes being
rigorously excluded. He walked with it in his pocket down the lane
in strides not an inch less than three feet long. Reaching her gate
he put on a resolute expression--then put it off again, turned back
homeward, tore up his letter, and sat down.

That letter was altogether in a wrong tone--that he must own. A
heartless man-of-the-world tone was what the juncture required.
That he rather wanted her, and rather did not want her--the latter
for choice; but that as a member of society he didn't mind making a
query in jaunty terms, which could only be answered in the same way:
did she mean anything by her bearing towards him, or did she not?

This letter was considered so satisfactory in every way that, being
put into the hands of a little boy, and the order given that he was
to run with it to the school, he was told in addition not to look
behind him if Dick called after him to bring it hack, but to run
along with it just the same. Having taken this precaution against
vacillation, Dick watched his messenger down the road, and turned
into the house whistling an air in such ghastly jerks and starts,
that whistling seemed to be the act the very furthest removed from
that which was instinctive in such a youth.

The letter was left as ordered: the next morning came and passed--
and no answer. The next. The next. Friday night came. Dick
resolved that if no answer or sign were given by her the next day,
on Sunday he would meet her face to face, and have it all out by
word of mouth.

"Dick," said his father, coming in from the garden at that moment--
in each hand a hive of bees tied in a cloth to prevent their egress-
-"I think you'd better take these two swarms of bees to Mrs.
Maybold's to-morrow, instead o' me, and I'll go wi' Smiler and the

It was a relief; for Mrs. Maybold, the vicar's mother, who had just
taken into her head a fancy for keeping bees (pleasantly disguised
under the pretence of its being an economical wish to produce her
own honey), lived near the watering-place of Budmouth-Regis, ten
miles off, and the business of transporting the hives thither would
occupy the whole day, and to some extent annihilate the vacant time
between this evening and the coming Sunday. The best spring-cart
was washed throughout, the axles oiled, and the bees placed therein
for the journey.



An easy bend of neck and graceful set of head; full and wavy bundles
of dark-brown hair; light fall of little feet; pretty devices on the
skirt of the dress; clear deep eyes; in short, a bunch of sweets:
it was Fancy! Dick's heart went round to her with a rush.

The scene was the corner of Mary Street in Budmouth-Regis, near the
King's statue, at which point the white angle of the last house in
the row cut perpendicularly an embayed and nearly motionless expanse
of salt water projected from the outer ocean--to-day lit in bright
tones of green and opal. Dick and Smart had just emerged from the
street, and there on the right, against the brilliant sheet of
liquid colour, stood Fancy Day; and she turned and recognized him.

Dick suspended his thoughts of the letter and wonder at how she came
there by driving close to the chains of the Esplanade--incontinently
displacing two chairmen, who had just come to life for the summer in
new clean shirts and revivified clothes, and being almost displaced
in turn by a rigid boy rattling along with a baker's cart, and
looking neither to the right nor the left. He asked if she were
going to Mellstock that night.

"Yes, I'm waiting for the carrier," she replied, seeming, too, to
suspend thoughts of the letter.

"Now I can drive you home nicely, and you save half an hour. Will
ye come with me?"

As Fancy's power to will anything seemed to have departed in some
mysterious manner at that moment, Dick settled the matter by getting
out and assisting her into the vehicle without another word.

The temporary flush upon her cheek changed to a lesser hue, which
was permanent, and at length their eyes met; there was present
between them a certain feeling of embarrassment, which arises at
such moments when all the instinctive acts dictated by the position
have been performed. Dick, being engaged with the reins, thought
less of this awkwardness than did Fancy, who had nothing to do but
to feel his presence, and to be more and more conscious of the fact,
that by accepting a seat beside him in this way she succumbed to the
tone of his note. Smart jogged along, and Dick jogged, and the
helpless Fancy necessarily jogged, too; and she felt that she was in
a measure capture I and made a prisoner.

"I am so much obliged to you for your company, Miss Day," he
observed, as they drove past the two semicircular bays of the Old
Royal Hotel, where His Majesty King George the Third had many a time
attended the balls of the burgesses.

To Miss Day, crediting him with the same consciousness of mastery--a
consciousness of which he was perfectly innocent--this remark
sounded like a magnanimous intention to soothe her, the captive.

"I didn't come for the pleasure of obliging you with my company,"
she said.

The answer had an unexpected manner of incivility in it that must
have been rather surprising to young Dewy. At the same time it may
be observed, that when a young woman returns a rude answer to a
young man's civil remark, her heart is in a state which argues
rather hopefully for his case than otherwise.

There was silence between them till they had left the sea-front and
passed about twenty of the trees that ornamented the road leading up
out of the town towards Casterbridge and Mellstock.

"Though I didn't come for that purpose either, I would have done
it," said Dick at the twenty-first tree.

"Now, Mr. Dewy, no flirtation, because it's wrong, and I don't wish

Dick seated himself afresh just as he had been sitting before,
arranged his looks very emphatically, and cleared his throat.

"Really, anybody would think you had met me on business and were
just going to commence," said the lady intractably.

"Yes, they would."

"Why, you never have, to be sure!"

This was a shaky beginning. He chopped round, and said cheerily, as
a man who had resolved never to spoil his jollity by loving one of
womankind--"Well, how are you getting on, Miss Day, at the present
time? Gaily, I don't doubt for a moment."

"I am not gay, Dick; you know that."

"Gaily doesn't mean decked in gay dresses."

"I didn't suppose gaily was gaily dressed. Mighty me, what a
scholar you've grown!"

"Lots of things have happened to you this spring, I see."

"What have you seen?"

"O, nothing; I've heard, I mean!"

"What have you heard?"

"The name of a pretty man, with brass studs and a copper ring and a
tin watch-chain, a little mixed up with your own. That's all."

"That's a very unkind picture of Mr. Shiner, for that's who you
mean! The studs are gold, as you know, and it's a real silver
chain; the ring I can't conscientiously defend, and he only wore it

"He might have worn it a hundred times without showing it half so

"Well, he's nothing to me," she serenely observed.

"Not any more than I am?"

"Now, Mr. Dewy," said Fancy severely, "certainly he isn't any more
to me than you are!"

"Not so much?"

She looked aside to consider the precise compass of that question.
"That I can't exactly answer," she replied with soft archness.

As they were going rather slowly, another spring-cart, containing a
farmer, farmer's wife, and farmer's man, jogged past them; and the
farmer's wife and farmer's man eyed the couple very curiously. The
farmer never looked up from the horse's tail.

"Why can't you exactly answer?" said Dick, quickening Smart a
little, and jogging on just behind the farmer and farmer's wife and

As no answer came, and as their eyes had nothing else to do, they
both contemplated the picture presented in front, and noticed how
the farmer's wife sat flattened between the two men, who bulged over
each end of the seat to give her room, till they almost sat upon
their respective wheels; and they looked too at the farmer's wife's
silk mantle, inflating itself between her shoulders like a balloon
and sinking flat again, at each jog of the horse. The farmer's
wife, feeling their eyes sticking into her back, looked over her
shoulder. Dick dropped ten yards further behind.

"Fancy, why can't you answer?" he repeated.

"Because how much you are to me depends upon how much I am to you,"
said she in low tones.

"Everything," said Dick, putting his hand towards hers, and casting
emphatic eyes upon the upper curve of her cheek.

"Now, Richard Dewy, no touching me! I didn't say in what way your
thinking of me affected the question--perhaps inversely, don't you
see? No touching, sir! Look; goodness me, don't, Dick!"

The cause of her sudden start was the unpleasant appearance over
Dick's right shoulder of an empty timber-wagon and four journeymen-
carpenters reclining in lazy postures inside it, their eyes directed
upwards at various oblique angles into the surrounding world, the
chief object of their existence being apparently to criticize to the
very backbone and marrow every animate object that came within the
compass of their vision. This difficulty of Dick's was overcome by
trotting on till the wagon and carpenters were beginning to look
rather misty by reason of a film of dust that accompanied their
wagon-wheels, and rose around their heads like a fog.

"Say you love me, Fancy."

"No, Dick, certainly not; 'tisn't time to do that yet."

"Why, Fancy?"

"'Miss Day' is better at present--don't mind my saying so; and I
ought not to have called you Dick."

"Nonsense! when you know that I would do anything on earth for your
love. Why, you make any one think that loving is a thing that can
be done and undone, and put on and put off at a mere whim."

"No, no, I don't," she said gently; "but there are things which tell
me I ought not to give way to much thinking about you, even if--"

"But you want to, don't you? Yes, say you do; it is best to be
truthful. Whatever they may say about a woman's right to conceal
where her love lies, and pretend it doesn't exist, and things like
that, it is not best; I do know it, Fancy. And an honest woman in
that, as well as in all her daily concerns, shines most brightly,
and is thought most of in the long-run."

"Well then, perhaps, Dick, I do love you a little," she whispered
tenderly; "but I wish you wouldn't say any more now."

"I won't say any more now, then, if you don't like it, dear. But
you do love me a little, don't you?"

"Now you ought not to want me to keep saying things twice; I can't
say any more now, and you must be content with what you have."

"I may at any rate call you Fancy? There's no harm in that."

"Yes, you may."

"And you'll not call me Mr. Dewy any more?"

"Very well."


Dick's spirits having risen in the course of these admissions of his
sweetheart, he now touched Smart with the whip; and on Smart's neck,
not far behind his ears. Smart, who had been lost in thought for
some time, never dreaming that Dick could reach so far with a whip
which, on this particular journey, had never been extended further
than his flank, tossed his head, and scampered along with exceeding
briskness, which was very pleasant to the young couple behind him
till, turning a bend in the road, they came instantly upon the
farmer, farmer's man, and farmer's wife with the flapping mantle,
all jogging on just the same as ever.

"Bother those people! Here we are upon them again."

"Well, of course. They have as much right to the road as we."

"Yes, but it is provoking to be overlooked so. I like a road all to
myself. Look what a lumbering affair theirs is!" The wheels of the
farmer's cart, just at that moment, jogged into a depression running
across the road, giving the cart a twist, whereupon all three nodded
to the left, and on coming out of it all three nodded to the right,
and went on jerking their backs in and out as usual. "We'll pass
them when the road gets wider."

When an opportunity seemed to offer itself for carrying this
intention into effect, they heard light flying wheels behind, and on
their quartering there whizzed along past them a brand-new gig, so
brightly polished that the spokes of the wheels sent forth a
continual quivering light at one point in their circle, and all the
panels glared like mirrors in Dick and Fancy's eyes. The driver,
and owner as it appeared, was really a handsome man; his companion
was Shiner. Both turned round as they passed Dick and Fancy, and
stared with bold admiration in her face till they were obliged to
attend to the operation of passing the farmer. Dick glanced for an
instant at Fancy while she was undergoing their scrutiny; then
returned to his driving with rather a sad countenance.

"Why are you so silent?" she said, after a while, with real concern.


"Yes, it is, Dick. I couldn't help those people passing."

"I know that."

"You look offended with me. What have I done?"

"I can't tell without offending you."

"Better out."

"Well," said Dick, who seemed longing to tell, even at the risk of
offending her, "I was thinking how different you in love are from me
in love. Whilst those men were staring, you dismissed me from your
thoughts altogether, and--"

"You can't offend me further now; tell all!"

"And showed upon your face a pleased sense of being attractive to

"Don't be silly, Dick! You know very well I didn't."

Dick shook his head sceptically, and smiled.

"Dick, I always believe flattery IF POSSIBLE--and it was possible
then. Now there's an open confession of weakness. But I showed no
consciousness of it."

Dick, perceiving by her look that she would adhere to her statement,
charitably forbore saying anything that could make her prevaricate.
The sight of Shiner, too, had recalled another branch of the subject
to his mind; that which had been his greatest trouble till her
company and words had obscured its probability.

"By the way, Fancy, do you know why our quire is to be dismissed?"

"No: except that it is Mr. Maybold's wish for me to play the

"Do you know how it came to be his wish?"

"That I don't."

"Mr. Shiner, being churchwarden, has persuaded the vicar; who,
however, was willing enough before. Shiner, I know, is crazy to see
you playing every Sunday; I suppose he'll turn over your music, for
the organ will be close to his pew. But--I know you have never
encouraged him?"

"Never once!" said Fancy emphatically, and with eyes full of earnest
truth. "I don't like him indeed, and I never heard of his doing
this before! I have always felt that I should like to play in a
church, but I never wished to turn you and your choir out; and I
never even said that I could play till I was asked. You don't think
for a moment that I did, surely, do you?"

"I know you didn't, dear."

"Or that I care the least morsel of a bit for him?"

"I know you don't."

The distance between Budmouth and Mellstock was ten or eleven miles,
and there being a good inn, "The Ship," four miles out of Budmouth,
with a mast and cross-trees in front, Dick's custom in driving
thither was to divide the journey into three stages by resting at
this inn going and coming, and not troubling the Budmouth stables at
all, whenever his visit to the town was a mere call and deposit, as

Fancy was ushered into a little tea-room, and Dick went to the
stables to see to the feeding of Smart. In face of the significant
twitches of feature that were visible in the ostler and labouring
men idling around, Dick endeavoured to look unconscious of the fact
that there was any sentiment between him and Fancy beyond a
tranter's desire to carry a passenger home. He presently entered
the inn and opened the door of Fancy's room.

"Dick, do you know, it has struck me that it is rather awkward, my
being here alone with you like this. I don't think you had better
come in with me."

"That's rather unpleasant, dear."

"Yes, it is, and I wanted you to have some tea as well as myself
too, because you must be tired."

"Well, let me have some with you, then. I was denied once before,
if you recollect, Fancy."

"Yes, yes, never mind! And it seems unfriendly of me now, but I
don't know what to do."

"It shall be as you say, then." Dick began to retreat with a
dissatisfied wrinkling of face, and a farewell glance at the cosy

"But you don't see how it is, Dick, when you speak like that," she
said, with more earnestness than she had ever shown before. "You do
know, that even if I care very much for you, I must remember that I
have a difficult position to maintain. The vicar would not like me,
as his schoolmistress, to indulge in a tete-a-tete anywhere with

"But I am not ANY body!" exclaimed Dick.

"No, no, I mean with a young man;" and she added softly, "unless I
were really engaged to be married to him."

"Is that all? Then, dearest, dearest, why we'll be engaged at once,
to be sure we will, and down I sit! There it is, as easy as a

"Ah! but suppose I won't! And, goodness me, what have I done!" she
faltered, getting very red. "Positively, it seems as if I meant you
to say that!"

"Let's do it! I mean get engaged," said Dick. "Now, Fancy, will
you be my wife?"

"Do you know, Dick, it was rather unkind of you to say what you did
coming along the road," she remarked, as if she had not heard the
latter part of his speech; though an acute observer might have
noticed about her breast, as the word 'wife' fell from Dick's lips,
a soft silent escape of breaths, with very short rests between each.

"What did I say?"

"About my trying to look attractive to those men in the gig."

"You couldn't help looking so, whether you tried or no. And, Fancy,
you do care for me?"


"Very much?"


"And you'll be my own wife?"

Her heart quickened, adding to and withdrawing from her cheek
varying tones of red to match each varying thought. Dick looked
expectantly at the ripe tint of her delicate mouth, waiting for what
was coming forth.

"Yes--if father will let me."

Dick drew himself close to her, compressing his lips and pouting
them out, as if he were about to whistle the softest melody known.

"O no!" said Fancy solemnly.

The modest Dick drew back a little.

"Dick, Dick, kiss me and let me go instantly!--here's somebody
coming!" she whisperingly exclaimed.

* * *

Half an hour afterwards Dick emerged from the inn, and if Fancy's
lips had been real cherries probably Dick's would have appeared
deeply stained. The landlord was standing in the yard.

"Heu-heu! hay-hay, Master Dewy! Ho-ho!" he laughed, letting the
laugh slip out gently and by degrees that it might make little noise
in its exit, and smiting Dick under the fifth rib at the same time.
"This will never do, upon my life, Master Dewy! calling for tay for
a feymel passenger, and then going in and sitting down and having
some too, and biding such a fine long time!"

"But surely you know?" said Dick, with great apparent surprise.
"Yes, yes! Ha-ha!" smiting the landlord under the ribs in return.

"Why, what? Yes, yes; ha-ha!"

"You know, of course!"

"Yes, of course! But--that is--I don't."

"Why about--between that young lady and me?" nodding to the window
of the room that Fancy occupied.

"No; not I!" said the innkeeper, bringing his eyes into circles.

"And you don't!"

"Not a word, I'll take my oath!"

"But you laughed when I laughed."

"Ay, that was me sympathy; so did you when I laughed!"

"Really, you don't know? Goodness--not knowing that!"

"I'll take my oath I don't!"

"O yes," said Dick, with frigid rhetoric of pitying astonishment,
"we're engaged to be married, you see, and I naturally look after

"Of course, of course! I didn't know that, and I hope ye'll excuse
any little freedom of mine, Mr. Dewy. But it is a very odd thing; I
was talking to your father very intimate about family matters only
last Friday in the world, and who should come in but Keeper Day, and
we all then fell a-talking o' family matters; but neither one o'
them said a mortal word about it; knowen me too so many years, and I
at your father's own wedding. 'Tisn't what I should have expected
from an old neighbour!"

"Well, to say the truth, we hadn't told father of the engagement at
that time; in fact, 'twasn't settled."

"Ah! the business was done Sunday. Yes, yes, Sunday's the courting
day. Heu-heu!"

"No, 'twasn't done Sunday in particular."

"After school-hours this week? Well, a very good time, a very
proper good time."

"O no, 'twasn't done then."

"Coming along the road to-day then, I suppose?"

"Not at all; I wouldn't think of getting engaged in a dog-cart."

"Dammy--might as well have said at once, the WHEN be blowed!
Anyhow, 'tis a fine day, and I hope next time you'll come as one."

Fancy was duly brought out and assisted into the vehicle, and the
newly affianced youth and maiden passed up the steep hill to the
Ridgeway, and vanished in the direction of Mellstock.


It was a morning of the latter summer-time; a morning of lingering
dews, when the grass is never dry in the shade. Fuchsias and
dahlias were laden till eleven o'clock with small drops and dashes
of water, changing the colour of their sparkle at every movement of
the air; and elsewhere hanging on twigs like small silver fruit.
The threads of garden spiders appeared thick and polished. In the
dry and sunny places, dozens of long-legged crane-flies whizzed off
the grass at every step the passer took.

Fancy Day and her friend Susan Dewy the tranter's daughter, were in
such a spot as this, pulling down a bough laden with early apples.
Three months had elapsed since Dick and Fancy had journeyed together
from Budmouth, and the course of their love had run on vigorously
during the whole time. There had been just enough difficulty
attending its development, and just enough finesse required in
keeping it private, to lend the passion an ever-increasing freshness
on Fancy's part, whilst, whether from these accessories or not,
Dick's heart had been at all times as fond as could be desired. But
there was a cloud on Fancy's horizon now.

"She is so well off--better than any of us," Susan Dewy was saying.
"Her father farms five hundred acres, and she might marry a doctor
or curate or anything of that kind if she contrived a little."

"I don't think Dick ought to have gone to that gipsy-party at all
when he knew I couldn't go," replied Fancy uneasily.

"He didn't know that you would not be there till it was too late to
refuse the invitation," said Susan.

"And what was she like? Tell me."

"Well, she was rather pretty, I must own."

"Tell straight on about her, can't you! Come, do, Susan. How many
times did you say he danced with her?"


"Twice, I think you said?"

"Indeed I'm sure I didn't."

"Well, and he wanted to again, I expect."

"No; I don't think he did. She wanted to dance with him again bad
enough, I know. Everybody does with Dick, because he's so handsome
and such a clever courter."

"O, I wish!--How did you say she wore her hair?"

"In long curls,--and her hair is light, and it curls without being
put in paper: that's how it is she's so attractive."

"She's trying to get him away! yes, yes, she is! And through
keeping this miserable school I mustn't wear my hair in curls! But
I will; I don't care if I leave the school and go home, I will wear
my curls! Look, Susan, do! is her hair as soft and long as this?"
Fancy pulled from its coil under her hat a twine of her own hair,
and stretched it down her shoulder to show its length, looking at
Susan to catch her opinion from her eyes.

"It is about the same length as that, I think," said Miss Dewy.

Fancy paused hopelessly. "I wish mine was lighter, like hers!" she
continued mournfully. "But hers isn't so soft, is it? Tell me,

"I don't know."

Fancy abstractedly extended her vision to survey a yellow butterfly
and a red-and-black butterfly that were flitting along in company,
and then became aware that Dick was advancing up the garden.

"Susan, here's Dick coming; I suppose that's because we've been
talking about him."

"Well, then, I shall go indoors now--you won't want me;" and Susan
turned practically and walked off.

Enter the single-minded Dick, whose only fault at the gipsying, or
picnic, had been that of loving Fancy too exclusively, and depriving
himself of the innocent pleasure the gathering might have afforded
him, by sighing regretfully at her absence,--who had danced with the
rival in sheer despair of ever being able to get through that stale,
flat, and unprofitable afternoon in any other way; but this she
would not believe.

Fancy had settled her plan of emotion. To reproach Dick? O no, no.
"I am in great trouble," said she, taking what was intended to be a
hopelessly melancholy survey of a few small apples lying under the
tree; yet a critical ear might have noticed in her voice a tentative
tone as to the effect of the words upon Dick when she uttered them.

"What are you in trouble about? Tell me of it," said Dick
earnestly. "Darling, I will share it with 'ee and help 'ee."

"No, no: you can't! Nobody can!"

"Why not? You don't deserve it, whatever it is. Tell me, dear."

"O, it isn't what you think! It is dreadful: my own sin!"

"Sin, Fancy! as if you could sin! I know it can't be."

"'Tis, 'tis!" said the young lady, in a pretty little frenzy of
sorrow. "I have done wrong, and I don't like to tell it! Nobody
will forgive me, nobody! and you above all will not! . . . I have
allowed myself to--to--fl--"

"What,--not flirt!" he said, controlling his emotion as it were by a
sudden pressure inward from his surface. "And you said only the day
before yesterday that you hadn't flirted in your life!"

"Yes, I did; and that was a wicked story! I have let another love
me, and--"

"Good G--! Well, I'll forgive you,--yes, if you couldn't help it,--
yes, I will!" said the now dismal Dick. "Did you encourage him?"

"O,--I don't know,--yes--no. O, I think so!"

"Who was it?" A pause. "Tell me!"

"Mr. Shiner."

After a silence that was only disturbed by the fall of an apple, a
long-checked sigh from Dick, and a sob from Fancy, he said with real
austerity -

"Tell it all;--every word!"

"He looked at me, and I looked at him, and he said, "Will you let me
show you how to catch bullfinches down here by the stream?" And I--
wanted to know very much--I did so long to have a bullfinch! I
couldn't help that and I said, "Yes!" and then he said, "Come here."
And I went with him down to the lovely river, and then he said to
me, "Look and see how I do it, and then you'll know: I put this
birdlime round this twig, and then I go here," he said, "and hide
away under a hush; and presently clever Mister Bird comes and
perches upon the twig, and flaps his wings, and you've got him
before you can say Jack"--something; O, O, O, I forget what!"

"Jack Sprat," mournfully suggested Dick through the cloud of his

"No, not Jack Sprat," she sobbed.

"Then 'twas Jack Robinson!" he said, with the emphasis of a man who
had resolved to discover every iota of the truth, or die.

"Yes, that was it! And then I put my hand upon the rail of the
bridge to get across, and--That's all."

"Well, that isn't much, either," said Dick critically, and more
cheerfully. "Not that I see what business Shiner has to take upon
himself to teach you anything. But it seems--it do seem there must
have been more than that to set you up in such a dreadful taking?"

He looked into Fancy's eyes. Misery of miseries!--guilt was written
there still.

"Now, Fancy, you've not told me all!" said Dick, rather sternly for
a quiet young man.

"O, don't speak so cruelly! I am afraid to tell now! If you hadn't
been harsh, I was going on to tell all; now I can't!"

"Come, dear Fancy, tell: come. I'll forgive; I must,--by heaven
and earth, I must, whether I will or no; I love you so!"

"Well, when I put my hand on the bridge, he touched it--"

"A scamp!" said Dick, grinding an imaginary human frame to powder.

"And then he looked at me, and at last he said, 'Are you in love
with Dick Dewy?' And I said, 'Perhaps I am!' and then he said, 'I
wish you weren't then, for I want to marry you, with all my soul.'"

"There's a villain now! Want to marry you!" And Dick quivered with
the bitterness of satirical laughter. Then suddenly remembering
that he might be reckoning without his host: "Unless, to he sure,
you are willing to have him,--perhaps you are," he said, with the
wretched indifference of a castaway.

"No, indeed I am not!" she said, her sobs just beginning to take a
favourable turn towards cure.

"Well, then," said Dick, coming a little to his senses, "you've been
stretching it very much in giving such a dreadful beginning to such
a mere nothing. And I know what you've done it for,--just because
of that gipsy-party!" He turned away from her and took five paces
decisively, as if he were tired of an ungrateful country, including
herself "You did it to make me jealous, and I won't stand it!" He
flung the words to her over his shoulder and then stalked on,
apparently very anxious to walk to the remotest of the Colonies that
very minute.

"O, O, O, Dick--Dick!" she cried, trotting after him like a pet
lamb, and really seriously alarmed at last, "you'll kill me! My
impulses are bad--miserably wicked,--and I can't help it; forgive
me, Dick! And I love you always; and those times when you look
silly and don't seem quite good enough for me,--just the same, I do,
Dick! And there is something more serious, though not concerning
that walk with him."

"Well, what is it?" said Dick, altering his mind about walking to
the Colonies in fact, passing to the other extreme, and standing so
rooted to the road that he was apparently not even going home.

"Why this," she said, drying the beginning of a new flood of tears
she had been going to shed, "this is the serious part. Father has
told Mr. Shiner that he would like him for a son-in-law, if he could
get me;--that he has his right hearty consent to come courting me!"


"That IS serious," said Dick, more intellectually than he had spoken
for a long time.

The truth was that Geoffrey knew nothing about his daughter's
continued walks and meetings with Dick. When a hint that there were
symptoms of an attachment between them had first reached Geoffrey's
ears, he stated so emphatically that he must think the matter over
before any such thing could be allowed that, rather unwisely on
Dick's part, whatever it might have been on the lady's, the lovers
were careful to be seen together no more in public; and Geoffrey,
forgetting the report, did not think over the matter at all. So Mr.
Shiner resumed his old position in Geoffrey's brain by mere flux of
time. Even Shiner began to believe that Dick existed for Fancy no
more,--though that remarkably easy-going man had taken no active
steps on his own account as yet.

"And father has not only told Mr. Shiner that," continued Fancy,
"but he has written me a letter, to say he should wish me to
encourage Mr. Shiner, if 'twas convenient!"

"I must start off and see your father at once!" said Dick, taking
two or three vehement steps to the south, recollecting that Mr. Day
lived to the north, and coming back again.

"I think we had better see him together. Not tell him what you come
for, or anything of the kind, until he likes you, and so win his
brain through his heart, which is always the way to manage people.
I mean in this way: I am going home on Saturday week to help them
in the honey-taking. You might come there to me, have something to
eat and drink, and let him guess what your coming signifies, without
saying it in so many words."

"We'll do it, dearest. But I shall ask him for you, flat and plain;
not wait for his guessing." And the lover then stepped close to
her, and attempted to give her one little kiss on the cheek, his
lips alighting however, on an outlying tract of her back hair by
reason of an impulse that had caused her to turn her head with a
jerk. "Yes, and I'll put on my second-best suit and a clean shirt
and collar, and black my boots as if 'twas a Sunday. 'Twill have a
good appearance, you see, and that's a great deal to start with."

"You won't wear that old waistcoat, will you, Dick?"

"Bless you, no! Why I--"

"I didn't mean to be personal, dear Dick," she said, fearing she had
hurt his feelings. "'Tis a very nice waistcoat, but what I meant
was, that though it is an excellent waistcoat for a settled-down
man, it is not quite one for" (she waited, and a blush expanded over
her face, and then she went on again)--"for going courting in."

"No, I'll wear my best winter one, with the leather lining, that
mother made. It is a beautiful, handsome waistcoat inside, yes, as
ever anybody saw. In fact, only the other day, I unbuttoned it to
show a chap that very lining, and he said it was the strongest,
handsomest lining you could wish to see on the king's waistcoat

"_I_ don't quite know what to wear," she said, as if her habitual
indifference alone to dress had kept back so important a subject
till now.

"Why, that blue frock you wore last week."

"Doesn't set well round the neck. I couldn't wear that."

"But I shan't care."

"No, you won't mind."

"Well, then it's all right. Because you only care how you look to
me, do you, dear? I only dress for you, that's certain."

"Yes, but you see I couldn't appear in it again very well."

"Any strange gentleman you mid meet in your journey might notice the
set of it, I suppose. Fancy, men in love don't think so much about
how they look to other women." It is difficult to say whether a
tone of playful banter or of gentle reproach prevailed in the

"Well then, Dick," she said, with good-humoured frankness, "I'll own
it. I shouldn't like a stranger to see me dressed badly, even
though I am in love. 'Tis our nature, I suppose."

"You perfect woman!"

"Yes; if you lay the stress on 'woman,'" she murmured, looking at a
group of hollyhocks in flower, round which a crowd of butterflies
had gathered like female idlers round a bonnet-shop.

"But about the dress. Why not wear the one you wore at our party?"

"That sets well, but a girl of the name of Bet Tallor, who lives
near our house, has had one made almost like it (only in pattern,
though of miserably cheap stuff), and I couldn't wear it on that
account. Dear me, I am afraid I can't go now."

"O yes, you must; I know you will!" said Dick, with dismay. "Why
not wear what you've got on?"

"What! this old one! After all, I think that by wearing my gray one
Saturday, I can make the blue one do for Sunday. Yes, I will. A
hat or a bonnet, which shall it be? Which do I look best in?"

"Well, I think the bonnet is nicest, more quiet and matronly."

"What's the objection to the hat? Does it make me look old?"

"O no; the hat is well enough; but it makes you look rather too--you
won't mind me saying it, dear?"

"Not at all, for I shall wear the bonnet."

"--Rather too coquettish and flirty for an engaged young woman."

She reflected a minute. "Yes; yes. Still, after all, the hat would
do best; hats ARE best, you see. Yes, I must wear the hat, dear
Dicky, because I ought to wear a hat, you know."



Dick, dressed in his 'second-best' suit, burst into Fancy's sitting-
room with a glow of pleasure on his face.

It was two o'clock on Friday, the day before her contemplated visit
to her father, and for some reason connected with cleaning the
school the children had been given this Friday afternoon for
pastime, in addition to the usual Saturday.

"Fancy! it happens just right that it is a leisure half day with
you. Smart is lame in his near-foot-afore, and so, as I can't do
anything, I've made a holiday afternoon of it, and am come for you
to go nutting with me!"

She was sitting by the parlour window, with a blue frock lying
across her lap and scissors in her hand.

"Go nutting! Yes. But I'm afraid I can't go for an hour or so."

"Why not? 'Tis the only spare afternoon we may both have together
for weeks."

"This dress of mine, that I am going to wear on Sunday at Yalbury;--
I find it fits so badly that I must alter it a little, after all. I
told the dressmaker to make it by a pattern I gave her at the time;
instead of that, she did it her own way, and made me look a perfect

"How long will you be?" he inquired, looking rather disappointed.

"Not long. Do wait and talk to me; come, do, dear."

Dick sat down. The talking progressed very favourably, amid the
snipping and sewing, till about half-past two, at which time his
conversation began to be varied by a slight tapping upon his toe
with a walking-stick he had cut from the hedge as he came along.
Fancy talked and answered him, but sometimes the answers were so
negligently given, that it was evident her thoughts lay for the
greater part in her lap with the blue dress.

The clock struck three. Dick arose from his seat, walked round the
room with his hands behind him, examined all the furniture, then
sounded a few notes on the harmonium, then looked inside all the
books he could find, then smoothed Fancy's head with his hand.
Still the snipping and sewing went on.

The clock struck four. Dick fidgeted about, yawned privately;
counted the knots in the table, yawned publicly; counted the flies
on the ceiling, yawned horribly; went into the kitchen and scullery,
and so thoroughly studied the principle upon which the pump was
constructed that he could have delivered a lecture on the subject.
Stepping back to Fancy, and finding still that she had not done, he
went into her garden and looked at her cabbages and potatoes, and
reminded himself that they seemed to him to wear a decidedly
feminine aspect; then pulled up several weeds, and came in again.
The clock struck five, and still the snipping and sewing went on.

Dick attempted to kill a fly, peeled all the rind off his walking-
stick, then threw the stick into the scullery because it was spoilt,
produced hideous discords from the harmonium, and accidentally
overturned a vase of flowers, the water from which ran in a rill
across the table and dribbled to the floor, where it formed a lake,
the shape of which, after the lapse of a few minutes, he began to
modify considerably with his foot, till it was like a map of England
and Wales.

"Well, Dick, you needn't have made quite such a mess."

"Well, I needn't, I suppose." He walked up to the blue dress, and
looked at it with a rigid gaze. Then an idea seemed to cross his



"I thought you said you were going to wear your gray gown all day
to-morrow on your trip to Yalbury, and in the evening too, when I
shall be with you, and ask your father for you?"

"So I am."

"And the blue one only on Sunday?"

"And the blue one Sunday."

"Well, dear, I sha'n't be at Yalbury Sunday to see it."

"No, but I shall walk to Longpuddle church in the afternoon with
father, and such lots of people will be looking at me there, you
know; and it did set so badly round the neck."

"I never noticed it, and 'tis like nobody else would."

"They might."

"Then why not wear the gray one on Sunday as well? 'Tis as pretty
as the blue one."

"I might make the gray one do, certainly. But it isn't so good; it
didn't cost half so much as this one, and besides, it would be the
same I wore Saturday."

"Then wear the striped one, dear."

"I might."

"Or the dark one."

"Yes, I might; but I want to wear a fresh one they haven't seen."

"I see, I see," said Dick, in a voice in which the tones of love
were decidedly inconvenienced by a considerable emphasis, his
thoughts meanwhile running as follows: "I, the man she loves best
in the world, as she says, am to understand that my poor half-
holiday is to be lost, because she wants to wear on Sunday a gown
there is not the slightest necessity for wearing, simply, in fact,
to appear more striking than usual in the eyes of Longpuddle young
men; and I not there, either."

"Then there are three dresses good enough for my eyes, but neither
is good enough for the youths of Longpuddle," he said.

"No, not that exactly, Dick. Still, you see, I do want--to look
pretty to them--there, that's honest! But I sha'n't be much

"How much?"

"A quarter of an hour."

"Very well; I'll come in in a quarter of an hour."

"Why go away?"

"I mid as well."

He went out, walked down the road, and sat upon a gate. Here he
meditated and meditated, and the more he meditated the more
decidedly did he begin to fume, and the more positive was he that
his time had been scandalously trifled with by Miss Fancy Day--that,
so far from being the simple girl who had never had a sweetheart
before, as she had solemnly assured him time after time, she was, if
not a flirt, a woman who had had no end of admirers; a girl most
certainly too anxious about her frocks; a girl, whose feelings,
though warm, were not deep; a girl who cared a great deal too much
how she appeared in the eyes of other men. "What she loves best in
the world," he thought, with an incipient spice of his father's
grimness, "is her hair and complexion. What she loves next best,
her gowns and hats; what she loves next best, myself, perhaps!"

Suffering great anguish at this disloyalty in himself and harshness
to his darling, yet disposed to persevere in it, a horribly cruel
thought crossed his mind. He would not call for her, as he had
promised, at the end of a quarter of an hour! Yes, it would be a
punishment she well deserved. Although the best part of the
afternoon had been wasted he would go nutting as he had intended,
and go by himself.

He leaped over the gate, and pushed up the lane for nearly two
miles, till a winding path called Snail-Creep sloped up a hill and
entered a hazel copse by a hole hike a rabbit's burrow. In he
plunged, vanished among the bushes, and in a short time there was no
sign of his existence upon earth, save an occasional rustling of
boughs and snapping of twigs in divers points of Grey's Wood.

Never man nutted as Dick nutted that afternoon. He worked like a
galley slave. Half-hour after half-hour passed away, and still he
gathered without ceasing. At last, when the sun had set, and
bunches of nuts could not be distinguished from the leaves which
nourished them, he shouldered his bag, containing quite two pecks of
the finest produce of the wood, about as much use to him as two
pecks of stones from the road, strolled down the woodland track,
crossed the highway and entered the homeward lane, whistling as be

Probably, Miss Fancy Day never before or after stood so low in Mr.
Dewy's opinion as on that afternoon. In fact, it is just possible
that a few more blue dresses on the Longpuddle young men's account
would have clarified Dick's brain entirely, and made him once more a
free man.

But Venus had planned other developments, at any rate for the
present. Cuckoo-Lane, the way he pursued, passed over a ridge which
rose keenly against the sky about fifty yards in his van. Here,
upon the bright after-glow about the horizon, was now visible an
irregular shape, which at first he conceived to be a bough standing
a little beyond the line of its neighbours. Then it seemed to move,
and, as he advanced still further, there was no doubt that it was a
living being sitting in the bank, head bowed on hand. The grassy
margin entirely prevented his footsteps from being heard, and it was
not till he was close that the figure recognized him. Up it sprang,
and he was face to face with Fancy.

"Dick, Dick! O, is it you, Dick!"

"Yes, Fancy," said Dick, in a rather repentant tone, and lowering
his nuts.

She ran up to him, flung her parasol on the grass, put her little
head against his breast, and then there began a narrative,
disjointed by such a hysterical weeping as was never surpassed for
intensity in the whole history of love.

"O Dick," she sobbed out, "where have you been away from me? O, I
have suffered agony, and thought you would never come any more!
'Tis cruel, Dick; no 'tisn't, it is justice! I've been walking
miles and miles up and down Grey's Wood, trying to find you, till I
was wearied and worn out, and I could walk no further, and had come
back this far! O Dick, directly you were gone, I thought I had
offended you and I put down the dress; 'tisn't finished now, and I
never will finish, it, and I'll wear an old one Sunday! Yes, Dick,
I will, because I don't care what I wear when you are not by my
side--ha, you think I do, but I don't!--and I ran after you, and I
saw you go up Snail-Creep and not look back once, and then you
plunged in, and I after you; but I was too far behind. O, I did
wish the horrid bushes had been cut down, so that I could see your
dear shape again! And then I called out to you, and nobody
answered, and I was afraid to call very loud, lest anybody else
should hear me. Then I kept wandering and wandering about, and it
was dreadful misery, Dick. And then I shut my eyes and fell to
picturing you looking at some other woman, very pretty and nice, but
with no affection or truth in her at all, and then imagined you
saying to yourself, "Ah, she's as good as Fancy, for Fancy told me a
story, and was a flirt, and cared for herself more than me, so now
I'll have this one for my sweetheart." O, you won't, will you,
Dick, for I do love you so!"

It is scarcely necessary to add that Dick renounced his freedom
there and then, and kissed her ten times over, and promised that no
pretty woman of the kind alluded to should ever engross his
thoughts; in short, that though he had been vexed with her, all such
vexation was past, and that henceforth and for ever it was simply
Fancy or death for him. And then they set about proceeding
homewards, very slowly on account of Fancy's weariness, she leaning
upon his shoulder, and in addition receiving support from his arm
round her waist; though she had sufficiently recovered from her
desperate condition to sing to him, "Why are you wandering here, I
pray?" during the latter part of their walk. Nor is it necessary to
describe in detail how the bag of nuts was quite forgotten until
three days later, when it was found among the brambles and restored
empty to Mrs. Dewy, her initials being marked thereon in red cotton;
and how she puzzled herself till her head ached upon the question of
how on earth her meal-bag could have got into Cuckoo-Lane.


Saturday evening saw Dick Dewy journeying on foot to Yalbury Wood,
according to the arrangement with Fancy.

The landscape being concave, at the going down of the sun everything
suddenly assumed a uniform robe of shade. The evening advanced from
sunset to dusk long before Dick's arrival, and his progress during
the latter portion of his walk through the trees was indicated by
the flutter of terrified birds that had been roosting over the path.
And in crossing the glades, masses of hot dry air, that had been
formed on the hills during the day, greeted his cheeks alternately
with clouds of damp night air from the valleys. He reached the
keeper-steward's house, where the grass-plot and the garden in front
appeared light and pale against the unbroken darkness of the grove
from which he had emerged, and paused at the garden gate.

He had scarcely been there a minute when he beheld a sort of
procession advancing from the door in his front. It consisted first
of Enoch the trapper, carrying a spade on his shoulder and a lantern
dangling in his hand; then came Mrs. Day, the light of the lantern
revealing that she bore in her arms curious objects about a foot
long, in the form of Latin crosses (made of lath and brown paper
dipped in brimstone--called matches by bee-masters); next came Miss
Day, with a shawl thrown over her head; and behind all, in the
gloom, Mr. Frederic Shiner.

Dick, in his consternation at finding Shiner present, was at a loss
how to proceed, and retired under a tree to collect his thoughts.

"Here I be, Enoch," said a voice; and the procession advancing
farther, the lantern's rays illuminated the figure of Geoffrey,
awaiting their arrival beside a row of bee-hives, in front of the
path. Taking the spade from Enoch, he proceeded to dig two holes in
the earth beside the hives, the others standing round in a circle,
except Mrs. Day, who deposited her matches in the fork of an apple-
tree and returned to the house. The party remaining were now lit up
in front by the lantern in their midst, their shadows radiating each
way upon the garden-plot like the spokes of a wheel. An apparent
embarrassment of Fancy at the presence of Shiner caused a silence in
the assembly, during which the preliminaries of execution were
arranged, the matches fixed, the stake kindled, the two hives placed
over the two holes, and the earth stopped round the edges. Geoffrey
then stood erect, and rather more, to straighten his backbone after
the digging.

"They were a peculiar family," said Mr. Shiner, regarding the hives

Geoffrey nodded.

"Those holes will be the grave of thousands!" said Fancy. "I think
'tis rather a cruel thing to do."

Her father shook his head. "No," he said, tapping the hives to
shake the dead bees from their cells, "if you suffocate 'em this
way, they only die once: if you fumigate 'em in the new way, they
come to life again, and die o' starvation; so the pangs o' death be
twice upon 'em."

"I incline to Fancy's notion," said Mr. Shiner, laughing lightly.

"The proper way to take honey, so that the bees be neither starved
nor murdered, is a puzzling matter," said the keeper steadily.

"I should like never to take it from them," said Fancy.

"But 'tis the money," said Enoch musingly. "For without money man
is a shadder!"

The lantern-light had disturbed many bees that had escaped from
hives destroyed some days earlier, and, demoralized by affliction,
were now getting a living as marauders about the doors of other
hives. Several flew round the head and neck of Geoffrey; then
darted upon him with an irritated bizz.

Enoch threw down the lantern, and ran off and pushed his head into a
currant bush; Fancy scudded up the path; and Mr. Shiner floundered
away helter-skelter among the cabbages. Geoffrey stood his ground,
unmoved and firm as a rock. Fancy was the first to return, followed
by Enoch picking up the lantern. Mr. Shiner still remained

"Have the craters stung ye?" said Enoch to Geoffrey.

"No, not much--on'y a little here and there," he said with leisurely
solemnity, shaking one bee out of his shirt sleeve, pulling another
from among his hair, and two or three more from his neck. The rest
looked on during this proceeding with a complacent sense of being
out of it,--much as a European nation in a state of internal
commotion is watched by its neighbours.

"Are those all of them, father?" said Fancy, when Geoffrey had
pulled away five.

"Almost all,--though I feel one or two more sticking into my
shoulder and side. Ah! there's another just begun again upon my
backbone. You lively young mortals, how did you get inside there?
However, they can't sting me many times more, poor things, for they
must be getting weak. They mid as well stay in me till bedtime now,
I suppose."

As he himself was the only person affected by this arrangement, it
seemed satisfactory enough; and after a noise of feet kicking
against cabbages in a blundering progress among them, the voice of
Mr. Shiner was heard from the darkness in that direction.

"Is all quite safe again?"

No answer being returned to this query, he apparently assumed that
he might venture forth, and gradually drew near the lantern again.
The hives were now removed from their position over the holes, one
being handed to Enoch to carry indoors, and one being taken by
Geoffrey himself.

"Bring hither the lantern, Fancy: the spade can bide."

Geoffrey and Enoch then went towards the house, leaving Shiner and
Fancy standing side by side on the garden-plot.

"Allow me," said Shiner, stooping for the lantern and seizing it at
the same time with Fancy.

"I can carry it," said Fancy, religiously repressing all inclination
to trifle. She had thoroughly considered that subject after the
tearful explanation of the bird-catching adventure to Dick, and had
decided that it would be dishonest in her, as an engaged young
woman, to trifle with men's eyes and hands any more. Finding that
Shiner still retained his hold of the lantern, she relinquished it,
and he, having found her retaining it, also let go. The lantern
fell, and was extinguished. Fancy moved on.

"Where is the path?" said Mr. Shiner.

"Here," said Fancy. "Your eyes will get used to the dark in a
minute or two."

"Till that time will ye lend me your hand?" Fancy gave him the
extreme tips of her fingers, and they stepped from the plot into the

"You don't accept attentions very freely."

"It depends upon who offers them."

"A fellow like me, for instance." A dead silence.

"Well, what do you say, Missie?"

"It then depends upon how they are offered."

"Not wildly, and yet not careless-like; not purposely, and yet not
by chance; not too quick nor yet too slow."

"How then?" said Fancy.

"Coolly and practically," he said. "How would that kind of love be

"Not anxiously, and yet not indifferently; neither blushing nor
pale; nor religiously nor yet quite wickedly."

"Not at all."

Geoffrey Day's storehouse at the back of his dwelling was hung with
bunches of dried horehound, mint, and sage; brown-paper bags of
thyme and lavender; and long ropes of clean onions. On shelves were
spread large red and yellow apples, and choice selections of early
potatoes for seed next year;--vulgar crowds of commoner kind lying
beneath in heaps. A few empty beehives were clustered around a nail
in one corner, under which stood two or three barrels of new cider
of the first crop, each bubbling and squirting forth from the yet
open bunghole.

Fancy was now kneeling beside the two inverted hives, one of which
rested against her lap, for convenience in operating upon the
contents. She thrust her sleeves above her elbows, and inserted her
small pink hand edgewise between each white lobe of honeycomb,
performing the act so adroitly and gently as not to unseal a single
cell. Then cracking the piece off at the crown of the hive by a
slight backward and forward movement, she lifted each portion as it
was loosened into a large blue platter, placed on a bench at her

"Bother these little mortals!" said Geoffrey, who was holding the
light to her, and giving his back an uneasy twist. "I really think
I may as well go indoors and take 'em out, poor things! for they
won't let me alone. There's two a stinging wi' all their might now.
I'm sure I wonder their strength can last so long."

"All right, friend; I'll hold the candle whilst you are gone," said
Mr. Shiner, leisurely taking the light, and allowing Geoffrey to
depart, which he did with his usual long paces.

He could hardly have gone round to the house-door when other
footsteps were heard approaching the outbuilding; the tip of a
finger appeared in the hole through which the wood latch was lifted,
and Dick Dewy came in, having been all this time walking up and down
the wood, vainly waiting for Shiner's departure.

Fancy looked up and welcomed him rather confusedly. Shiner grasped
the candlestick more firmly, and, lest doing this in silence should
not imply to Dick with sufficient force that he was quite at home
and cool, he sang invincibly -

"'King Arthur he had three sons.'"

"Father here?" said Dick.

"Indoors, I think," said Fancy, looking pleasantly at him.

Dick surveyed the scene, and did not seem inclined to hurry off just
at that moment. Shiner went on singing

"'The miller was drown'd in his pond,
The weaver was hung in his yarn,
And the d- ran away with the little tail-or,
With the broadcloth under his arm.'"

"That's a terrible crippled rhyme, if that's your rhyme!" said Dick,
with a grain of superciliousness in his tone.

"It's no use your complaining to me about the rhyme!" said Mr.
Shiner. "You must go to the man that made it."

Fancy by this time had acquired confidence.

"Taste a bit, Mr. Dewy," she said, holding up to him a small
circular piece of honeycomb that had been the last in the row of
layers, remaining still on her knees and flinging back her head to
look in his face; "and then I'll taste a bit too."

"And I, if you please," said Mr. Shiner. Nevertheless the farmer
looked superior, as if he could even now hardly join the trifling
from very importance of station; and after receiving the honeycomb
from Fancy, he turned it over in his hand till the cells began to be
crushed, and the liquid honey ran down from his fingers in a thin

Suddenly a faint cry from Fancy caused them to gaze at her.

"What's the matter, dear?" said Dick.

"It is nothing, but O-o! a bee has stung the inside of my lip! He
was in one of the cells I was eating!"

"We must keep down the swelling, or it may be serious!" said Shiner,
stepping up and kneeling beside her. "Let me see it."

"No, no!"

"Just let ME see it," said Dick, kneeling on the other side: and
after some hesitation she pressed down her lip with one finger to
show the place. "O, I hope 'twill soon be better! I don't mind a
sting in ordinary places, but it is so bad upon your lip," she added
with tears in her eyes, and writhing a little from the pain.

Shiner held the light above his head and pushed his face close to
Fancy's, as if the lip had been shown exclusively to himself, upon
which Dick pushed closer, as if Shiner were not there at all.

"It is swelling," said Dick to her right aspect.

"It isn't swelling," said Shiner to her left aspect.

"Is it dangerous on the lip?" cried Fancy. "I know it is dangerous
on the tongue."

"O no, not dangerous!" answered Dick.

"Rather dangerous," had answered Shiner simultaneously.

"I must try to bear it!" said Fancy, turning again to the hives.

"Hartshorn-and-oil is a good thing to put to it, Miss Day," said
Shiner with great concern.

"Sweet-oil-and-hartshorn I've found to be a good thing to cure
stings, Miss Day," said Dick with greater concern.

"We have some mixed indoors; would you kindly run and get it for
me?" she said.

Now, whether by inadvertence, or whether by mischievous intention,
the individuality of the YOU was so carelessly denoted that both
Dick and Shiner sprang to their feet like twin acrobats, and marched
abreast to the door; both seized the latch and lifted it, and
continued marching on, shoulder to shoulder, in the same manner to
the dwelling-house. Not only so, but entering the room, they
marched as before straight up to Mrs. Day's chair, letting the door
in the oak partition slam so forcibly, that the rows of pewter on
the dresser rang like a bell.

"Mrs. Day, Fancy has stung her lip, and wants you to give me the
hartshorn, please," said Mr. Shiner, very close to Mrs. Day's face.

"O, Mrs. Day, Fancy has asked me to bring out the hartshorn, please,
because she has stung her lip!" said Dick, a little closer to Mrs.
Day's face.

"Well, men alive! that's no reason why you should eat me, I
suppose!" said Mrs. Day, drawing back.

She searched in the corner-cupboard, produced the bottle, and began
to dust the cork, the rim, and every other part very carefully,
Dick's hand and Shiner's hand waiting side by side.

"Which is head man?" said Mrs. Day. "Now, don't come mumbudgeting
so close again. Which is head man?"

Neither spoke; and the bottle was inclined towards Shiner. Shiner,
as a high-class man, would not look in the least triumphant, and
turned to go off with it as Geoffrey came downstairs after the
search in his linen for concealed bees.

"O--that you, Master Dewy?"

Dick assured the keeper that it was; and the young man then
determined upon a bold stroke for the attainment of his end,
forgetting that the worst of bold strokes is the disastrous
consequences they involve if they fail.

"I've come on purpose to speak to you very particular, Mr. Day," he
said, with a crushing emphasis intended for the ears of Mr. Shiner,
who was vanishing round the door-post at that moment.

"Well, I've been forced to go upstairs and unrind myself, and shake
some bees out o' me" said Geoffrey, walking slowly towards the open
door, and standing on the threshold. "The young rascals got into my
shirt and wouldn't be quiet nohow."

Dick followed him to the door.

"I've come to speak a word to you," he repeated, looking out at the
pale mist creeping up from the gloom of the valley. "You may
perhaps guess what it is about."

The keeper lowered his hands into the depths of his pockets, twirled
his eyes, balanced himself on his toes, looked as perpendicularly
downward as if his glance were a plumb-line, then horizontally,
collecting together the cracks that lay about his face till they
were all in the neighbourhood of his eyes.

"Maybe I don't know," he replied.

Dick said nothing; and the stillness was disturbed only by some
small bird that was being killed by an owl in the adjoining wood,
whose cry passed into the silence without mingling with it.

"I've left my hat up in chammer," said Geoffrey; "wait while I step
up and get en."

"I'll be in the garden," said Dick.

He went round by a side wicket into the garden, and Geoffrey went
upstairs. It was the custom in Mellstock and its vicinity to
discuss matters of pleasure and ordinary business inside the house,
and to reserve the garden for very important affairs: a custom
which, as is supposed, originated in the desirability of getting
away at such times from the other members of the family when there
was only one room for living in, though it was now quite as
frequently practised by those who suffered from no such limitation
to the size of their domiciles.

The head-keeper's form appeared in the dusky garden, and Dick walked
towards him. The elder paused and leant over the rail of a piggery
that stood on the left of the path, upon which Dick did the same;
and they both contemplated a whitish shadowy shape that was moving
about and grunting among the straw of the interior.

"I've come to ask for Fancy," said Dick.

"I'd as lief you hadn't."

"Why should that be, Mr. Day?"

"Because it makes me say that you've come to ask what ye be'n't
likely to have. Have ye come for anything else?"


"Then I'll just tell 'ee you've come on a very foolish errand. D'ye
know what her mother was?"


"A teacher in a landed family's nursery, who was foolish enough to
marry the keeper of the same establishment; for I was only a keeper
then, though now I've a dozen other irons in the fire as steward
here for my lord, what with the timber sales and the yearly
fellings, and the gravel and sand sales and one thing and 'tother.
However, d'ye think Fancy picked up her good manners, the smooth
turn of her tongue, her musical notes, and her knowledge of books,
in a homely hole like this?"


"D'ye know where?"


"Well, when I went a-wandering after her mother's death, she lived
with her aunt, who kept a boarding-school, till her aunt married
Lawyer Green--a man as sharp as a needle--and the school was broke
up. Did ye know that then she went to the training-school, and that
her name stood first among the Queen's scholars of her year?"

"I've heard so."

"And that when she sat for her certificate as Government teacher,
she had the highest of the first class?"


"Well, and do ye know what I live in such a miserly way for when
I've got enough to do without it, and why I make her work as a
schoolmistress instead of living here?"


"That if any gentleman, who sees her to be his equal in polish,
should want to marry her, and she want to marry him, he sha'n't be
superior to her in pocket. Now do ye think after this that you be
good enough for her?"


"Then good-night t'ee, Master Dewy."

"Good-night, Mr. Day."

Modest Dick's reply had faltered upon his tongue, and he turned away
wondering at his presumption in asking for a woman whom he had seen
from the beginning to be so superior to him.


The next scene is a tempestuous afternoon in the following month,
and Fancy Day is discovered walking from her father's home towards

A single vast gray cloud covered the country, from which the small
rain and mist had just begun to blow down in wavy sheets,
alternately thick and thin. The trees of the fields and plantations
writhed like miserable men as the air wound its way swiftly among
them: the lowest portions of their trunks, that had hardly ever
been known to move, were visibly rocked by the fiercer gusts,
distressing the mind by its painful unwontedness, as when a strong
man is seen to shed tears. Low-hanging boughs went up and down;
high and erect boughs went to and fro; the blasts being so
irregular, and divided into so many cross--currents, that
neighbouring branches of the same tree swept the skies in
independent motions, crossed each other, or became entangled.
Across the open spaces flew flocks of green and yellowish leaves,
which, after travelling a long distance from their parent trees,
reached the ground, and lay there with their under-sides upward.

As the rain and wind increased, and Fancy's bonnet-ribbons leapt
more and more snappishly against her chin, she paused on entering
Mellstock Lane to consider her latitude, and the distance to a place
of shelter. The nearest house was Elizabeth Endorfield's, in Higher
Mellstock, whose cottage and garden stood not far from the junction
of that hamlet with the road she followed. Fancy hastened onward,
and in five minutes entered a gate, which shed upon her toes a flood
of water-drops as she opened it.

"Come in, chiel!" a voice exclaimed, before Fancy had knocked: a
promptness that would have surprised her had she not known that Mrs.
Endorfield was an exceedingly and exceptionally sharp woman in the
use of her eyes and ears.

Fancy went in and sat down. Elizabeth was paring potatoes for her
husband's supper.

Scrape, scrape, scrape; then a toss, and splash went a potato into a
bucket of water.

Now, as Fancy listlessly noted these proceedings of the dame, she
began to reconsider an old subject that lay uppermost in her heart.
Since the interview between her father and Dick, the days had been
melancholy days for her. Geoffrey's firm opposition to the notion
of Dick as a son-in-law was more than she had expected. She had
frequently seen her lover since that time, it is true, and had loved
him more for the opposition than she would have otherwise dreamt of
doing--which was a happiness of a certain kind. Yet, though love is
thus an end in itself, it must be believed to be the means to
another end if it is to assume the rosy hues of an unalloyed
pleasure. And such a belief Fancy and Dick were emphatically denied
just now.

Elizabeth Endorfield had a repute among women which was in its
nature something between distinction and notoriety. It was founded
on the following items of character. She was shrewd and
penetrating; her house stood in a lonely place; she never went to
church; she wore a red cloak; she always retained her bonnet indoors
and she had a pointed chin. Thus far her attributes were distinctly
Satanic; and those who looked no further called her, in plain terms
a witch. But she was not gaunt, nor ugly in the upper part of her
face, nor particularly strange in manner; so that, when her more
intimate acquaintances spoke of her the term was softened, and she
became simply a Deep Body, who was as long-headed as she was high.
It may be stated that Elizabeth, belonged to a class of suspects who
were gradually losing their mysterious characteristics under the
administration of the young vicar; though, during the long reign of
Mr. Grinham, the parish of Mellstock had proved extremely favourable
to the growth of witches.

While Fancy was revolving all this in her mind, and putting it to
herself whether it was worth while to tell her troubles to
Elizabeth, and ask her advice in getting out of them, the witch

"You be down--proper down," she said suddenly, dropping another
potato into the bucket.

Fancy took no notice.

"About your young man."

Fancy reddened. Elizabeth seemed to be watching her thoughts.
Really, one would almost think she must have the powers people
ascribed to her.

"Father not in the humour for't, hey?" Another potato was finished
and flung in. "Ah, I know about it. Little birds tell me things
that people don't dream of my knowing."

Fancy was desperate about Dick, and here was a chance--O, such a
wicked chance--of getting help; and what was goodness beside love!

"I wish you'd tell me how to put him in the humour for it?" she

"That I could soon do," said the witch quietly.

"Really? O, do; anyhow--I don't care--so that it is done! How
could I do it, Mrs. Endorfield?"

"Nothing so mighty wonderful in it."

"Well, but how?"

"By witchery, of course!" said Elizabeth.

"No!" said Fancy.

"'Tis, I assure ye. Didn't you ever hear I was a witch?"

"Well," hesitated Fancy, "I have heard you called so."

"And you believed it?"

"I can't say that I did exactly believe it, for 'tis very horrible
and wicked; but, O, how I do wish it was possible for you to be

"So I am. And I'll tell you how to bewitch your father to let you
marry Dick Dewy."

"Will it hurt him, poor thing?"

"Hurt who?"


"No; the charm is worked by common sense, and the spell can only be
broke by your acting stupidly."

Fancy looked rather perplexed, and Elizabeth went on:

"This fear of Lizz--whatever 'tis -
By great and small;
She makes pretence to common sense,
And that's all.

"You must do it like this." The witch laid down her knife and
potato, and then poured into Fancy's ear a long and detailed list of
directions, glancing up from the corner of her eye into Fancy's face
with an expression of sinister humour. Fancy's face brightened,
clouded, rose and sank, as the narrative proceeded. "There," said
Elizabeth at length, stooping for the knife and another potato, "do
that, and you'll have him by-long and by-late, my dear."

"And do it I will!" said Fancy.

She then turned her attention to the external world once more. The
rain continued as usual, but the wind had abated considerably during
the discourse. Judging that it was now possible to keep an umbrella
erect, she pulled her hood again over her bonnet, bade the witch
good-bye, and went her way.


Mrs. Endorfield's advice was duly followed.

"I be proper sorry that your daughter isn't so well as she might
be," said a Mellstock man to Geoffrey one morning.

"But is there anything in it?" said Geoffrey uneasily, as he shifted
his hat to the right. "I can't understand the report. She didn't
complain to me a bit when I saw her."

"No appetite at all, they say."

Geoffrey crossed to Mellstock and called at the school that
afternoon. Fancy welcomed him as usual, and asked him to stay and
take tea with her.

"I be'n't much for tea, this time o' day," he said, but stayed.

During the meal he watched her narrowly. And to his great
consternation discovered the following unprecedented change in the
healthy girl--that she cut herself only a diaphanous slice of bread-
and-butter, and, laying it on her plate, passed the meal-time in
breaking it into pieces, but eating no more than about one-tenth of
the slice. Geoffrey hoped she would say something about Dick, and
finish up by weeping, as she had done after the decision against him
a few days subsequent to the interview in the garden. But nothing
was said, and in due time Geoffrey departed again for Yalbury Wood.

"'Tis to be hoped poor Miss Fancy will be able to keep on her
school," said Geoffrey's man Enoch to Geoffrey the following week,
as they were shovelling up ant-hills in the wood.

Geoffrey stuck in the shovel, swept seven or eight ants from his
sleeve, and killed another that was prowling round his ear, then
looked perpendicularly into the earth as usual, waiting for Enoch to
say more. "Well, why shouldn't she?" said the keeper at last.

"The baker told me yesterday," continued Enoch, shaking out another
emmet that had run merrily up his thigh, "that the bread he've left
at that there school-house this last month would starve any mouse in
the three creations; that 'twould so! And afterwards I had a pint
o' small down at Morrs's, and there I heard more."

"What might that ha' been?"

"That she used to have a pound o' the best rolled butter a week,
regular as clockwork, from Dairyman Viney's for herself, as well as
just so much salted for the helping girl, and the 'ooman she calls
in; but now the same quantity d'last her three weeks, and then 'tis
thoughted she throws it away sour."

"Finish doing the emmets, and carry the bag home-along." The keeper
resumed his gun, tucked it under his arm, and went on without
whistling to the dogs, who however followed, with a bearing meant to
imply that they did not expect any such attentions when their master
was reflecting.

On Saturday morning a note came from Fancy. He was not to trouble
about sending her the couple of rabbits, as was intended, because
she feared she should not want them. Later in the day Geoffrey went
to Casterbridge and called upon the butcher who served Fancy with
fresh meat, which was put down to her father's account.

"I've called to pay up our little bill, Neighbour Haylock, and you
can gie me the chiel's account at the same time."

Mr. Haylock turned round three quarters of a circle in the midst of
a heap of joints, altered the expression of his face from meat to
money, went into a little office consisting only of a door and a
window, looked very vigorously into a book which possessed length
but no breadth; and then, seizing a piece of paper and scribbling
thereupon, handed the bill.

Probably it was the first time in the history of commercial
transactions that the quality of shortness in a butcher's bill was a
cause of tribulation to the debtor. "Why, this isn't all she've had
in a whole month!" said Geoffrey.

"Every mossel," said the butcher--"(now, Dan, take that leg and
shoulder to Mrs. White's, and this eleven pound here to Mr.
Martin's)--you've been treating her to smaller joints lately, to my
thinking, Mr. Day?"

"Only two or three little scram rabbits this last week, as I am
alive--I wish I had!"

"Well, my wife said to me--(Dan! not too much, not too much on that
tray at a time; better go twice)--my wife said to me as she posted
up the books: she says, "Miss Day must have been summer during that
hot muggy weather much for us; for depend upon't," she says, "she've
been trying John Grimmett unknown to us: see her account else."
'Tis little, of course, at the best of times, being only for one,
but now 'tis next kin to nothing."

"I'll inquire," said Geoffrey despondingly.

He returned by way of Mellstock, and called upon Fancy, in
fulfilment of a promise. It being Saturday, the children were
enjoying a holiday, and on entering the residence Fancy was nowhere
to be seen. Nan, the charwoman, was sweeping the kitchen.

"Where's my da'ter?" said the keeper.

"Well, you see she was tired with the week's teaching, and this
morning she said, "Nan, I sha'n't get up till the evening." You
see, Mr. Day, if people don't eat, they can't work; and as she've
gie'd up eating, she must gie up working."

"Have ye carried up any dinner to her?"

"No; she don't want any. There, we all know that such things don't
come without good reason--not that I wish to say anything about a
broken heart, or anything of the kind."

Geoffrey's own heart felt inconveniently large just then. He went
to the staircase and ascended to his daughter's door.


"Come in, father."

To see a person in bed from any cause whatever, on a fine afternoon,
is depressing enough; and here was his only child Fancy, not only in
bed, but looking very pale. Geoffrey was visibly disturbed.

"Fancy, I didn't expect to see thee here, chiel," he said. "What's
the matter?"

"I'm not well, father."

"How's that?"

"Because I think of things."

"What things can you have to think o' so mortal much?"

"You know, father."

"You think I've been cruel to thee in saying that that penniless
Dick o' thine sha'n't marry thee, I suppose?"

No answer.

"Well, you know, Fancy, I do it for the best, and he isn't good
enough for thee. You know that well enough." Here he again looked
at her as she lay. "Well, Fancy, I can't let my only chiel die; and
if you can't live without en, you must ha' en, I suppose."

"O, I don't want him like that; all against your will, and
everything so disobedient!" sighed the invalid.

"No, no, 'tisn't against my will. My wish is, now I d'see how 'tis
hurten thee to live without en, that he shall marry thee as soon as
we've considered a little. That's my wish flat and plain, Fancy.
There, never cry, my little maid! You ought to ha' cried afore; no
need o' crying now 'tis all over. Well, howsoever, try to step over
and see me and mother-law to-morrow, and ha' a bit of dinner wi'

"And--Dick too?"

"Ay, Dick too, 'far's I know."

"And WHEN do you think you'll have considered, father, and he may


Back to Full Books