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Clym and Eustacia are living in their little house at Alderworth, and Clym spends his time studying. Eustacia is still hopeful that he will decide to return to Paris. Mrs. Yeobright is puzzled as to why Clym has said nothing to her about the money she has sent him. Then she learns from Christian that he has lost it all to Wildeve.
When Mrs. Yeobright is in Mistover Knap, she visits Eustacia and asks a lot of questions. Eustacia grows irritated at the quizzing, and they wind up fighting with one another. Eustacia longs to leave the heath more than ever. When she tells Clym about her argument with his mother, she again asks Clym to consider going back to Paris.
Clym's reading results in an "acute inflammation" of the eye, which puts an end to his study. To keep his mind and body busy, Clym takes up furze cutting with Humphrey. Eustacia is bothered by this kind of work, but Clym seems to enjoy it. One day Eustacia hears him singing while at work, and they have a quarrel. It is apparent to both of them that their feelings for one another are beginning to change.
When Eustacia is questioned by her husband about the quarrel with his mother, she replies, "It may have been the fault of circumstances." Circumstance, or fate, continues to dominate the novel. But when Clym has an eye inflammation and happily takes up furze cutting, Eustacia grows fearful that her fate is not going to lead her to Paris. When she quizzes her husband about returning there, Clym firmly denies that he has ever led her to "expect such a thing." Disappointed with her continued existence on the heath and resentful that her husband seems to enjoy the lowly task of furze cutting, Eustacia begins to quarrel with Clym. The relationship grows strained.
It is ironic that Clym has to become almost blind to have his eyes metaphorically opened to the real Eustacia. He begins to understand why she has married him and realizes she will never be content to live the life of a matron on the heath. But Clym is still determined to stay in his native home. As Mrs. Yeobright has said earlier, Clym "can be as hard as steel." It is ironic that while Clym's world grows smaller and smaller, from Paris to the heath to the limited world of a person with impaired vision, Eustacia constantly dreams of enlarging her world and living in a large city, like Paris.