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   Chapter 5 THE NINTH OF JULY

Desperate Remedies By Thomas Hardy Characters: 2646

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


The day of their departure was one of the most glowing that the climax of a long series of summer heats could evolve. The wide expanse of landscape quivered up and down like the flame of a taper, as they steamed along through the midst of it. Placid flocks of sheep reclining under trees a little way off appeared of a pale blue colour. Clover fields were livid with the brightness of the sun upon their deep red flowers. All waggons and carts were moved to the shade by their careful owners, rain-water butts fell to pieces; well-buckets were lowered inside the covers of the well-hole, to preserve them from the fate of the butts, and generally, water seemed scarcer in the country than the beer and cider of the peasantry who toiled or idled there.

To see persons looking with children's eyes at any ordinary scenery, is a proof that they possess the charming faculty of drawing new sensations from an old experience-a healthy sign, rare in these feverish days-the mark of an imperishable brightness of nature.

Both brother and sister could do this; Cytherea more noticeably. They watched the undulating corn-lands, monotonous to all their companions; the stony and clayey prospect succeeding those, with its angular and abrupt hills. Boggy moors came next, now withered and dry-the spots upon which pools usually

spread their waters showing themselves as circles of smooth bare soil, over-run by a net-work of innumerable little fissures. Then arose plantations of firs, abruptly terminating beside meadows cleanly mown, in which high-hipped, rich-coloured cows, with backs horizontal and straight as the ridge of a house, stood motionless or lazily fed. Glimpses of the sea now interested them, which became more and more frequent till the train finally drew up beside the platform at Budmouth.

'The whole town is looking out for us,' had been Graye's impression throughout the day. He called upon Mr. Gradfield-the only man who had been directly informed of his coming-and found that Mr. Gradfield had forgotten it.

However, arrangements were made with this gentleman-a stout, active, grey-bearded burgher of sixty-by which Owen was to commence work in his office the following week.

The same day Cytherea drew up and sent off the advertisement appended:-

'A YOUNG LADY is desirous of meeting with an engagement as

governess or companion. She is competent to teach English,

French, and Music. Satisfactory references-Address, C. G.,

Post-Office, Budmouth.'

It seemed a more material existence than her own that she saw thus delineated on the paper. 'That can't be myself; how odd I look!' she said, and smiled.

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