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Far from the Madding Crowd

31.
Blame – Fury
THE next evening Bathsheba, with the idea of getting out of the way of Mr.
Boldwood in the event of his returning to answer her note in person, proceeded
to fulfil an engagement made with Liddy some few hours earlier. Bathsheba's
companion, as a gage of their reconciliation, had been granted a week's holiday
to visit her sister, who was married to a thriving hurdler and cattle-crib-maker
living in a delightful labyrinth of hazel copse not far beyond Yalbury. The
arrangement was that Miss Everdene should honour them by coming there for a
day or two to inspect some ingenious contrivances which this man of the woods
had introduced into his wares.
Leaving her instructions with Gabriel and Maryann, that they were to see
everything carefully locked up for the night, she went out of the house just at the
close of a timely thunder-shower, which had refined the air, and daintily bathed
the coat of the land, though all beneath was dry as ever. Freshness was exhaled
in an essence from the varied contours of bank and hollow, as if the earth
breathed maiden breath; and the pleased birds were hymning to the scene.
Before her, among the clouds, there was a contrast in the shape of lairs of fierce
light which showed themselves in the neighbourhood of a hidden sun, lingering
on to the farthest north-west corner of the heavens that this midsummer season
allowed.
She had walked nearly two miles of her journey, watching how the day was
retreating, and thinking how the time of deeds was quietly melting into the time of
thought, to give place in its turn to the time of prayer and sleep, when she beheld
advancing over Yalbury hill the very man she sought so anxiously to elude.
Boldwood was stepping on, not with that quiet tread of reserved strength which
was his customary gait, in which he always seemed to be balancing two
thoughts. His manner was stunned and sluggish now.
Boldwood had for the first time been awakened to woman's privileges in
tergiversation even when it involves another person's possible blight. That
Bathsheba was a firm and positive girl, far less inconsequent than her fellows,
had been the very lung of his hope; for he had held that these qualities would
lead her to adhere to a straight course for consistency's sake, and accept him,
though her fancy might not flood him with the iridescent hues of uncritical love.
But the argument now came back as sorry gleams from a broken mirror. The
discovery was no less a scourge than a surprise.
He came on looking upon the ground, and did not see Bathsheba till they were
less than a stone's throw apart. He looked up at the sound of her pit-pat, and his
changed appearance sufficiently denoted to her the depth and strength of the
feelings paralyzed by her letter.
"Oh; is it you, Mr. Boldwood?" she faltered, a guilty warmth pulsing in her face.
Those who have the power of reproaching in silence may find it a means more
effective than words. There are accents in the eye which are not on the tongue,
and more tales come from pale lips than can enter an ear. It is both the grandeur
 
 
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