"Ay - of course - to be sure," he replied in his leonine way. "Do as you like - or rather as your mother advises ye. 'Od send - I've nothing to say to't!"
Indoors she appeared with her hair divided by a parting that arched like a white rainbow from ear to ear. All in front of this line was covered with a thick encampment of curls; all behind was dressed smoothly, and drawn to a knob.
The three members of the family were sitting at breakfast one day, and Henchard was looking silently, as he often did, at this head of hair, which in colour was brown - rather light than dark. "I thought Elizabeth- Jane's hair - didn't you tell me that Elizabeth-Jane's hair promised to be black when she was a baby?" he said to his wife.
She looked startled, jerked her foot warningly, and murmured, "Did I?"
As soon as Elizabeth was gone to her own room Henchard resumed. "Begad, I nearly forgot myself just now! What I meant was that the girl's hair certainly looked as if it would be darker, when she was a baby."
"It did; but they alter so," replied Susan.
"Their hair gets darker, I know - but I wasn't aware it lightened ever?"
"O yes." And the same uneasy expression came out on her face, to which the future held the key. It passed as Henchard went on:
"Well, so much the better. Now, Susan, I want to have her called Miss Henchard - not Miss Newson. Lots o' people do it already in carelessness - it is her legal name - so it may as well be made her usual name - I don't like t'other name at all for my own flesh and blood. I'll advertise it in the Casterbridge paper - that's the way they do it. She won't object."
"No. O no. But - "
"Well, then, I shall do it," said he, peremptorily. "Surely, if she's willing, you must wish it as much as I?"
"O yes - if she agrees let us do it by all means," she replied.
Then Mrs Henchard acted somewhat inconsistently; it might have been called falsely, but that her manner was emotional and full of the earnestness of one who wishes to do right at great hazard. She went to Elizabeth-Jane, whom she found sewing in her own sitting-room upstairs, and told her what had been proposed about her surname. "Can you agree - is it not a slight upon Newson - now he's dead and gone?"
Elizabeth reflected. "I'll think of it, mother," she answered.
When, later in the day, she saw Henchard, she adverted to the matter at once, in a way which showed that the line of feeling started by her mother had been persevered in. "Do you wish this change so very much, sir?" she asked.
"Wish it? Why, my blessed fathers, what an ado you women make about a trifle! I proposed it - that's all. Now, 'Lizabeth-Jane, just please yourself. Curse me if I care what you do. Now, you understand, don't 'ee go agreeing to it to please me."
Here the subject dropped, and nothing more was said, and nothing was done, and Elizabeth still passed as Miss Newson, and not by her legal name.
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