Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy - Страница 1 из 519


THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE
by Thomas Hardy
PREFACE
The date at which the following events are assumed to have occurred may
be set down as between 1840 and 1850, when the old watering place herein
called "Budmouth" still retained sufficient afterglow from its Georgian
gaiety and prestige to lend it an absorbing attractiveness to the
romantic and imaginative soul of a lonely dweller inland.
Under the general name of "Egdon Heath," which has been given to the
sombre scene of the story, are united or typified heaths of various real
names, to the number of at least a dozen; these being virtually one in
character and aspect, though their original unity, or partial unity, is
now somewhat disguised by intrusive strips and slices brought under the
plough with varying degrees of success, or planted to woodland.
It is pleasant to dream that some spot in the extensive tract whose
southwestern quarter is here described, may be the heath of that
traditionary King of Wessex--Lear.
July, 1895.
"To sorrow
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind."
BOOK ONE -- THE THREE WOMEN
1--A Face on Which Time Makes but Little Impression
A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight,
and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned


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