Under the Greenwood Tree HTML version
PART IV: 4. The Spell
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
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