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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
page 2 of 435 (00%)
interchanging fustian folds, now in the left leg, now in the right, as
he paced along.

What was really peculiar, however, in this couple's progress, and would
have attracted the attention of any casual observer otherwise disposed
to overlook them, was the perfect silence they preserved. They walked
side by side in such a way as to suggest afar off the low, easy,
confidential chat of people full of reciprocity; but on closer view it
could be discerned that the man was reading, or pretending to read, a
ballad sheet which he kept before his eyes with some difficulty by the
hand that was passed through the basket strap. Whether this apparent
cause were the real cause, or whether it were an assumed one to escape
an intercourse that would have been irksome to him, nobody but himself
could have said precisely; but his taciturnity was unbroken, and the
woman enjoyed no society whatever from his presence. Virtually she
walked the highway alone, save for the child she bore. Sometimes the
man's bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to
his side as was possible without actual contact, but she seemed to
have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it; and far from
exhibiting surprise at his ignoring silence she appeared to receive it
as a natural thing. If any word at all were uttered by the little group,
it was an occasional whisper of the woman to the child--a tiny girl in
short clothes and blue boots of knitted yarn--and the murmured babble of
the child in reply.

The chief--almost the only--attraction of the young woman's face was its
mobility. When she looked down sideways to the girl she became pretty,
and even handsome, particularly that in the action her features
caught slantwise the rays of the strongly coloured sun, which made
transparencies of her eyelids and nostrils and set fire on her lips.