Under the Greenwood Tree HTML version
PART IV: 5. After Gaining Her Point
The visit to Geoffrey passed off as delightfully as a visit might have been expected to
pass off when it was the first day of smooth experience in a hitherto obstructed love-
course. And then came a series of several happy days, of the same undisturbed serenity.
Dick could court her when he chose; stay away when he chose,--which was never; walk
with her by winding streams and waterfalls and autumn scenery till dews arid twilight
sent them home. And thus they drew near the day of the Harvest Thanksgiving, which
was also the time chosen for opening the organ in Mellstock Church.
It chanced that Dick on that very day was called away from Mellstock. A young
acquaintance had died of consumption at Charmley, a neighbouring village, on the
previous Monday, and Dick, in fulfilment of a long-standing promise, was to assist in
carrying him to the grave. When on Tuesday, Dick went towards the school to acquaint
Fancy with the fact, it is difficult to say whether his own disappointment at being denied
the sight of her triumphant debut as organist, was greater than his vexation that his pet
should on this great occasion be deprived of the pleasure of his presence. However, the
intelligence was communicated. She bore it as she best could, not without many
expressions of regret, and convictions that her performance would be nothing to her now.
Just before eleven o'clock on Sunday he set out upon his sad errand. The funeral was to
be immediately after the morning service, and as there were four good miles to walk,
driving being inconvenient, it became necessary to start comparatively early. Half an
hour later would certainly have answered his purpose quite as well, yet at the last moment
nothing would content his ardent mind but that he must go a mile out of his way in the
direction of the school, in the hope of getting a glimpse of his Love as she started for
Striking, therefore, into the lane towards the school, instead of across the ewelease direct
to Charmley, he arrived opposite her door as his goddess emerged.
If ever a woman looked a divinity, Fancy Day appeared one that morning as she floated
down those school steps, in the form of a nebulous collection of colours inclining to blue.
With an audacity unparalleled in the whole history of village-school-mistresses at this
date--partly owing, no doubt, to papa's respectable accumulation of cash, which rendered
her profession not altogether one of necessity--she had actually donned a hat and feather,
and lowered her hitherto plainly looped-up hair, which now fell about her shoulders in a
profusion of curls. Poor Dick was astonished: he had never seen her look so distractingly
beautiful before, save on Christmas-eve, when her hair was in the same luxuriant
condition of freedom. But his first burst of delighted surprise was followed by less
comfortable feelings, as soon as his brain recovered its power to think.