Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 1, Chapter 8

By Thomas Hardy

Book 1, Chapter 8

Those Who Are Found Where There Is Said to Be Nobody

  • After our little Eustacia-centric interlude, we rejoin the story in the present.
  • Little Johnny is running home with his money, singing a song.
  • He's not scared of the heath at night.
  • But then he spies some unusual lights and is afraid. He turns back to Captain Vye's house in order to ask for a servant to walk him home.
  • He arrives as Eustacia and Wildeve are having their lover's quarrel, and so he eavesdrops, of course.
  • Johnny is highly confused by the whole conversation and decides to take his chances walking home on his own.
  • Then he comes across the reddleman's cart, which turns out to be the source of the weird lights. So, not aliens.
  • The boy is freaked out since everyone knows the reddleman is some sort of ghost/devil/monster thing.
  • Johnny then fails at stealth and rolls down the hill, stopping at the reddleman's feet. Whoops.
  • But then the reddleman starts talking like a normal person and Johnny feels a bit better.
  • Johnny has lost his money through all that rolling, though, so the two look for it. And the reddleman nicely bandages the cut Johnny got on his hand after reenacting The Princess Bride and rolling down a hill.
  • Johnny asks lots of questions about being a reddleman, as nosey kids do.
  • Then Johnny gets chatty and tells Diggory all about Eustacia's weird meeting with some random guy, who apparently had not gotten married today.
  • Diggory is very intrigued and also mad at Wildeve for being a cad.
  • Johnny is still confused. He leaves to go home finally.
  • Diggory then sits back down by his fire and gets back to mending a sock. Diggory's social life is depressing us.