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Charley is one of the Egdon mummers for the present year, and he and the other mummers practice in Captain Vye's house for the play "Saint George." On the night they are to perform in Mrs. Yeobright's house, Eustacia arranges to take Charley's place in order to see Clym and study him in the guise of the Turkish Knight. Some of the boys recognize her.
Eustacia observes Clym during the performance, but when the mummers are invited to sit down and eat, she panics, not wanting to be recognized. She notices Clym talking to Thomasin and has the uneasy feeling that he might fall in love with his cousin. She feels frustrated and angry that he cannot see her, since she is dressed as a boy. Clym follows her as she rushes outside and guesses that she is a woman. They talk briefly. While returning home, Eustacia remembers that she was to have met Wildeve, but is indifferent to the fact that she has stood him up and he may be disappointed. Her attention is now focused on Clym.
The Christmas mumming, like so many other events, is a tradition on the heath and is performed every year in spite of the fact that people have lost interest in it. Since Captain Vye's helper, Charley, is part of the mumming, practices are being held at Vye's house. Humphrey, Sam, and Fairway watch the pitiful efforts of the juvenile population during their rehearsal. Eustacia also observes and decides to take Charley's place in the play, for it will allow her to observe Clym unnoticed by others. The play is to be performed at Mrs. Yeobright's house.
The reader sees Clym for the first time through Eustacia's eyes as she performs in the Christmas play, disguised as a boy. Her first sight of Clym's face reveals that "the face was well shaped, even excellently . . the beauty here visible." But something preys upon his face, as if he finds it difficult to live with himself. Eustacia also notices that he appears thoughtful and serious; he appears to be a sharp contrast in personality to Eustacia, who is filled with emotion and longing. Although Clym has just been physically introduced to the novel, Hardy is already foreshadowing that there will be differences and difficulties between Eustacia and Clym.
Eustacia meets Venn again; this time she agrees to encourage the marriage of Wildeve and Thomasin, since her interest now is centered solely on Clym. Knowing that Wildeve will be awaiting Eustacia on Rainbarrow that night, Venn offers to deliver to him a letter from Eustacia to explain her feelings. After reading the letter, Wildeve wants to make Eustacia suffer, so he decides to marry Thomasin after all. Venn cleans himself up, and goes to Thomasin's house to propose to her again, but finds that Wildeve has beaten him to it and that Thomasin has accepted, in order to protect her respectability and to please her family.
As Thomasin plans the wedding, she decides that she does not want Mrs. Yeobright to be present at the ceremony; she also wants the marriage to be accomplished by the time Clym returns from visiting friends. In fact, Clym returns on her wedding day, and hearing about the ceremony, he rushes towards the church. On the way he is met by Venn, who informs him that the wedding has taken place. Only Venn and Eustacia have been invited to the ceremony; Venn has stood up with Wildeve, and Eustacia has given away the bride.
It is ironic that Thomasin and Wildeve are married in the presence of only two people, Eustacia and Venn. Eustacia has been the groom's lover, and Venn is still in love with the bride. It is doubly ironic that when Eustacia is giving Thomasin away, she is literally giving Wildeve to her since she is no longer interested in him and has cast him aside. Neither the bride nor the groom has entered into this marriage for the proper reasons. For Wildeve, he is trying to get even with Eustacia. Thomasin has wanted to stop the rumors about her, to please her family, and to gain respectability through the marriage. Love does not seem to enter into the picture for either of them. As a result, there is not much hope for their happiness.
Venn again plays a part in the novel in the role of reporter. He meets Clym on the street and tells him the wedding is over, supplying him with all the details. This is all the information that the reader receives about the wedding. It has taken place behind closed doors.