"Not altogether despise them. Yet not quite like or respect them."
Lucetta winced again. Her past was by no means secure from investigation, even in Casterbridge. For one thing Henchard had never returned to her the cloud of letters she had written and sent him in her first excitement. Possibly they were destroyed; but she could have wished that they had never been written.
The rencounter with Farfrae and his bearing towards Lucetta had made the reflective Elizabeth more observant of her brilliant and amiable companion. A few days afterwards, when her eyes met Lucetta's as the latter was going out, she somehow knew that Miss Templeman was nourishing a hope of seeing the attractive Scotchman. The fact was printed large all over Lucetta's cheeks and eyes to any one who could read her as Elizabeth-Jane was beginning to do. Lucetta passed on and closed the street door.
A seer's spirit took possession of Elizabeth, impelling her to sit down by the fire and divine events so surely from data already her own that they could be held as witnessed. She followed Lucetta thus mentally - saw her encounter Donald somewhere as if by chance - saw him were his special look when meeting women, with an added intensity because this one was Lucetta. She depicted his impassioned manner; beheld the indecision of both between their lothness to separate and their desire not to be observed; depicted their shaking of hands; how they probably parted with frigidity in their general contour and movements, only in the smaller features showing the spark of passion, thus invisible to all but themselves. This discerning silent witch had not done thinking of these things when Lucetta came noiselessly behind her and made her start.
It was all true as she had pictured - she could have sworn it. Lucetta had a heightened luminousness in her eye over and above the advanced colour of her cheeks.
"You've seen Mr Farfrae," said Elizabeth demurely.
"Yes," said Lucetta. "How did you know?"
She knelt down on the hearth and took her friend's hands excitedly in her own. But after all she did not say when or how she had see him or what he had said.
That night she became restless; in the morning she was feverish; and at breakfast-time she told her companion that she had something on her mind - something which concerned a person in whom she was interested much. Elizabeth was earnest to listen and sympathize.
"This person - a lady - once admired a man much - very much," she said tentatively.
"Ah," said Elizabeth-Jane.
"They were intimate - rather. He did not think so deeply of her as she did of him. But in an impulsive moment, purely out of reparation, he proposed to make her his wife. She agreed. But there was an unexpected hitch in the proceedings; though she had been so far compromised with him that she felt she could never belong to another man, as a pure matter of conscience, even if she should wish to. After that they were much apart, heard nothing of each other for a long time, and she felt her life quite closed up for her."
"Ah - poor girl!"
"She suffered much on account of him; though I should add that he could not altogether be blamed for what had happened. At last the obstacle which separated them was providentially removed; and he came to marry her."
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