The Well - Beloved
'Well,' said he, 'here we are, arrived at the fag-end of my holiday. What a pleasant
surprise my old home, which I have not thought worth coming to see for three or four
years, had in store for me!'
'You must go to-morrow?' she asked uneasily.
Something seemed to overweigh them; something more than the natural sadness of a
parting which was not to be long; and he decided that instead of leaving in the daytime as
he had intended, he would defer his departure till night, and go by the mail-train from
Budmouth. This would give him time to look into his father's quarries, and enable her, if
she chose, to walk with him along the beach as far as to Henry the Eighth's Castle above
the sands, where they could linger and watch the moon rise over the sea. She said she
thought she could come.
So after spending the next day with his father in the quarries Jocelyn prepared to leave,
and at the time appointed set out from the stone house of his birth in this stone isle to
walk to Budmouth-Regis by the path along the beach, Avice having some time earlier
gone down to see some friends in the Street of Wells, which was halfway towards the
spot of their tryst. The descent soon brought him to the pebble bank, and leaving behind
him the last houses of the isle, and the ruins of the village destroyed by the November
gale of 1824, he struck out along the narrow thread of land. When he had walked a
hundred yards he stopped, turned aside to the pebble ridge which walled out the sea, and
sat down to wait for her.
Between him and the lights of the ships riding at anchor in the roadstead two men passed
slowly in the direction he intended to pursue. One of them recognized Jocelyn, and bade
him good-night, adding, 'Wish you joy, sir, of your choice, and hope the wedden will be
'Thank you, Seaborn. Well--we shall see what Christmas will do towards bringing it
'My wife opened upon it this mornen: "Please God, I'll up and see that there wedden,"
says she, "knowing 'em both from their crawling days."'
The men moved on, and when they were out of Pierston's hearing the one who had not
spoken said to his friend, 'Who was that young kimberlin? He don't seem one o' we.'