Pearston Said "Goodnight!" And a Reply Was Returned to Him in an Accent Which Was Not That of an Englishman. Moreover, the Voice Was Faint and Shaken. Pearston Halted.
Walter Paget (1863-1935)
17.8 cm high by 13.8 cm wide.
Illustrated London News, 10 December 1892, page 741
Scene from Chapter XXIX, "The Elusiveness Continues" (page 742) in Thomas Hardy's The Pursuit of The Well-Beloved: A Sketch of a Temperament.
Pearston has determined that a trip to their native ground may enable them to escape "this nightmare," and so arranges for his wife to go straight to her mother's house (ostensibly the visit is to put the girl beside her mother's sickbed) while stops the night in Budmouth, then walks across to Portland. He sees Avice in the distance, then stops to talk to an islander about the beautiful young woman in the distance. Providentially, walking along the pebble-bank near Henry VIII's Castle, Jocelyn happens to meet the young French teacher with whom his young wife is in love. We encounter the sculptor and the asthmatic young man (the more-than-ample caption beneath suggesting why he is sitting on the rocks, but not that he is Avice's romantic interest) in the serial before we reach the page on which Hardy describes the moment of their meeting. However, at the very opening of the instalment it is already clear that the marriage is crumbling: "It was the first time they had slept under different roofs" (741) implying an emotional as well as a physical separation.
What Avice had been doing out on the road earlier becomes apparent to the reader, for the well-dressed young gentleman had crossed that morning from Le Havre with the intention of proceeding directly to Portland to see her (not knowing of her recent marriage and removal to London). In the background is the village of Slopeway Well, at the foot of the island, where Jocelyn helps the Frenchman find lodgings and gets him medical attention. Although Paget has depicted in abundance "the dry, pale pebbles" the blood-covered white handkerchief indicating the haemorrhage is not apparent, and Paget's Jocelyn seems far less concerned about the stranger's state of health than Hardy's. Although in the text the meeting occurs by moolight after nine o'clock train's departure, Paget gives us no sense of that time of day.
Last modified 22 September 2002