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In Alderworth, the newlyweds live a secluded life. At first Eustacia is hopeful that she can persuade Clym to return to Paris; but as the novel progresses, her hopes grow dim. Still she cannot reconcile herself to life on the miserable heath. She takes her frustrations out on others, and openly quarrels with Mrs. Yeobright. Eustacia grows more depressed when Clym's eyesight fails and he takes up furze cutting, which he seems to enjoy.
Venn, the reddleman who is a general do-gooder, persuades Mrs. Yeobright to call on her son and daughter-in-law as an act of reconciliation. Since it is August and very hot when she sets out across the heath, she stops to rest. While resting, she sees Eustacia admit a man into the house; but when Mrs. Yeobright arrives and knocks at the door, Eustacia does not let her in, thinking Clym will hear her knock. Frustrated and angry, Clym's mother departs; on her way home, she is bitten by an adder and dies. Clym blames himself for her death, and Eustacia does not tell her husband the truth about the incidents of the day.
Sunk in gloom and depression, Eustacia thinks of committing suicide. Charley, her sixteen-year-old admirer, lights a bonfire on the 5th of November for the sake of pleasing her. Thinking it to be a signal, Wildeve comes to her, and she begs him to take her away from the heath. The next night, Eustacia signal Wildeve that the time is right for her departure. She leaves Captain Vye's just before Clym's letter of apology arrives.
Because of her despondency, Eustacia is unable to carry through with her plan to flee the heath with the help of Wildeve; instead, she throws herself into a stream. Though Wildeve and Clym try to rescue her, it is a vain attempt, and Wildeve loses his life in the process. Diggory Venn, as always, appears at the right moment and saves Clym and rescues Eustacia's body.
Thomasin moves into Bloomsend, her aunt's house, after her husband's death. Clym feels obliged to ask her to marry him, as it was his mother's wish. However, Venn, who has given up the reddle trade, calls on her, rekindles her interest, and marries her. The story closes with Clym as a preacher, delivering moral lectures atop Rainbarrow.