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Clym dreams about his mother while asleep and, once awake, determines to go and see her. Eustacia is fearful that Mrs. Yeobright will tell Clym about what has just transpired at their house and tries to persuade him not to go. Her words fall on deaf ears, for Clym is determined to set things right with him mother again. He sets out across the heat and soon comes upon his barely conscious mother. Clym picks her up and carries her to a hut near Bloomsend. After making her comfortable, he sets out to get help. When he returns, it is discovered that an adder has bitten her. Until a qualified doctor can be summoned, the old remedy of treating the bite with the fat of another adder is used.
Shortly after Clym leaves, Captain Vye arrives at Alderworth and tells Eustacia the news that Wildeve has inherited eleven thousand pounds. Eustacia starts out for Bloomsend and meets Wildeve on the way. He reveals that he plans to invest the bulk of the money and use the rest to travel. They are about to part when they see the group at the hut. They hide and observe what is going on. Eustacia and Wildeve learn that Mrs. Yeobright is dying, and both Thomasin and Clym are at her side. Johnny Nunsuch, led by his mother Susan, enters the hut to faithfully repeat to everyone the dead Mrs. Yeobright's last words to him.
The situation surrounding the death of Mrs. Yeobright is filled with fateful irony. Clym is obviously dreaming about his mother while she stands outside his door. When he awakens from his deep sleep, he is motivated by the dream to hasten and see her in order to make the long overdue reconciliation. It is ironic that this occurs at the same time his mother lies unconscious on the heat. Fate destines that it is to be Clym that finds Mrs. Yeobright.
The irony continues with the arrival of Captain Vye, who tells Eustacia about Wildeve's good fortune. She has just been thinking that Wildeve is really a better choice for her than Clym. With the news of his inheritance, she is certain about it. When her grandfather leaves and she goes out to look for Clym, she is thinking about Wildeve. Fate has it that she should see the man of her thoughts approaching. Wildeve talks about his money and his plans to travel, making Eustacia even more certain that she has chosen the wrong man.
It is also fate that leads Wildeve and Eustacia right past the hut at the moment that Mrs. Yeobright is dying. They hide themselves close-by and observe all that is going on. Therefore, all the main characters that have unwittingly contributed to Mrs. Yeobright's death are standing quite close to her. Clym is there, and he has postponed the reconciliation with his mother, thus causing her to come out in the heat across the heath. Eustacia is nearby, and she has failed to open the door to Mrs. Yeobright, assuming that Clym will awaken and let her in. Wildeve is also close-by; if he had not come to Alderworth to see Eustacia on this fateful afternoon, Eustacia would have let her mother-in-law in, even though Clym was at home to do so. Johnny Nonesuch is inside; after walking a short way with Mrs. Yeobright and knowing that she was having difficulty, he deserts her, partially out of fear and partially due to his desire to get home.
The greatest irony of the Fourth Book is that just when Mrs. Yeobright has at last determined to take the great step that will put everything right, that the "demon of mischance begins his game and plays it out to the death." Then Eustacia, instead of accepting responsibility for what she has done in denying Mrs. Yeobright entry, squarely lays the blame on " the shoulders of some indistinct colossal prince of the World, who had framed her situation and ruled her lot." The theme of the novel, that humans live in an indifferent and hostile world controlled by fate, is clearly emphasized.
It is important to notice that a young child, Johnny Nunsuch, performs the important function of reporting the last words of Mrs. Yeobright to Clym and the company at large: "I was to say I seed her and she was a broken-hearted woman and cast off by her son." These words brand themselves on Clym's soul for the rest of his life, and when Eustacia, covertly observing him, hears his gasp of anguish, she has a sense of foreboding about her own fate.
It is also important to notice that Book Four, just like the previous three, ends in a dramatic way. Since the story first appeared as a serial publication, Hardy tried to end each book with excitement in order to hold the reader's interest until the next installment appeared.